Rob Myers on Sun, 4 Sep 2016 11:02:52 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> On Accelerationism (Fred Turner)

On 02/09/16 01:48 PM, nettime's slow reader wrote:
> [...]
> [1] To their credit, Srnicek and Williams do not ask us to dissolve into
> digital ones and zeros, as John Perry Barlow once did. Their call for a
> universal basic income makes a kind of grounded sense that has eluded
> earlier accelerationists. So too does their critique of Folk Politics.
> [2] Yet, the problem of politics writ large remains. How can we build a more
> just, more egalitarian society when our devices already surround us with
> so many of the personalized delights we might want such a society to
> offer? Meetings are boring. Talking to people unlike ourselves is hard.
> How can we turn away from the mediasphere long enough to rediscover the
> pleasures of that difficult work? And how can we sustain it when we do?
> To these kinds of questions [*2], the accelerationists have no answers [*1].

Numbers added by me to illustrate the error that this essay shares with
a couple of other responses to "Inventing The Future": Universal Basic
Income is intended to support, among other things, precisely the kinds
or organization and meaningful social action that the author is calling
for here.

The answer to [2] is [1].

Peter Wolfendale has commented on eight other problems with this essay:

Peter Wolfendale, philosopher and an instructor of the Critical
Philosophy Program at The New Centre for Research & Practice7
responded on Facebook to Fred Turner. Here are his points published
here with permission.

(1) The equation of embracing/accelerating technological process and 'the
spread of capitalism' is a severe misreading of Nick and Alex that
opens the rhetorical door to most of the other criticisms.

(2) "Imitating neoliberal tactics is one thing; arguing that commerce and
technology will bring about utopia is another. Srnicek and Williams
want both." - This is a blatant straw man. They argue for commerce
and technology as sites of struggle, and even if they have things to
say about the generally emancipatory character of technology they
certainly don't say similar things about commerce.

(3) We have authentic selves, they argue, and to work for wages, we must
leave our authentic desires at home." - This is also categorically
false. The critique of 'authenticity' is part and parcel of the
critique of immediacy. What they call 'synthetic freedom' has fuck
all to do with Romanticism and any latent manner in which this is
exploited by employers in cultivating the subjectivity of workers.
He could have easily connected this to Mark Fisher's 'Capitalist
Realism', which is an obvious precursor to Nick and Alex on these
issues of workplace subjectivation.

(4) Turner seems to have little to no understanding of what Cybersyn13
was, and thus bases his comments entirely on the 'star trek bridge'
look of the control centre, which is a highly misleading visual
analogy. There's an importance to the fact that the chairs are laid
out in a circle, with no central 'captain's chair' for a start. More
importantly though, the decentralised feedback processes that the
system is designed around are completely obscured by it. 

(5) If this sounds more than a little like a marketing campaign for
Uber, it should. This is the same logic that drives the rhetoric of
the sharing economy. And that should make us nervous." - I find this
particular cheap shot (i.e., 'this sounds like Uber and you don't
understand the evils of Uber') pretty galling, given that Nick is
literally a world expert on Uber, the sharing economy, and 'Platform
Capitalism' (the title of his forthcoming book).

(6) Srnicek and Williams are blinded by their faith in all things
digital." - Utter bilge. Every one of the questions he raises about
the perils of automation are actually asked in the book. Even if you
don't think they were addressed satisfactorily, you can't just pretend
they've been ignored.

(7) Say we succeed in building a new Cybersyn. Who will sit in the
armchairs of command?" - Such a cheap shot. See point (4).

(8) Everything about Noys and the CCRU is essentially irrelevant in my
view, and again, provides an obvious set of cheap shots to reach for
in lieu of actually engaging with newer work. It's worth remembering
that Noys barely discusses the manifesto or anything beyond the
CCRU in MV, and it really shows. It's not so much a bad critique
as one that completely fails to connect with the 'contemporary
accelerationism' that it's supposed to be aimed at.

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