As a temporary break from the research that I am so generously publicly funded to do, a few notes and irrelevant digressions on the responses to a - rhetorically brilliant and thought-provoking, if, to put it mildly, problematic - post at Splintering Bone Ashes, from Leniency and K-Punk. Ben Noys coins the term 'accelerationism' to describe this mode of thought - in short, the belief that by accentuating capitalism's most extreme, deterritorialising aspects, a revolutionary moment can come about, either through the new, inhuman non-subject it creates, or perhaps via the opposition this untold destruction would necessarily create. While I really have no interest whatsoever in a political philosophy that appears to claim that the problem with the world today is that there is too much state intervention, and not enough uprooting, cruelty, suffering, chaos and destruction (as if this isn't more than enough), the post has a kernel of politically straightforward truth. If these bailouts and 'nationalisations' (aptly described by K-Punk as a sort of PFI for the financial sector, where capital holds most of the power, but state power provides the majority of the actual capital) hadn't happened, then the entire edifice would literally have fallen to pieces, and by now we'd be looking at the very real possibility of a barter economy.
Other than that, though, as actual political strategy this ends up in little more than the old Stalinist 'Third Period', a sort of Deleuzo-Thaelmannism to go with the Deleuzo-Thatcherism - the belief that if only things get ever worse, then the revolutionary moment will come - a sort of catastrophist Hegelianism, where capital's teleology of disaster elicits a Whig interpretation of apocalypse, or, to be outright mean, a nihilist singularity. Appropriately, Leniency lists Brecht - whose finest works, from Threepenny to The Measures Taken and Kuhle Wampe, are the poetry of the Third Period - as one of a series of possible models of 'Accelerationism', cultural and political. There's another element of Accelerationism, and one which gives Brecht's version of it something of a (very partial) historical explanation. This is something much more sober, on the face of it,than the catastrophic version of Accelerationism that is Xenoeconomics. That is, the belief that an accelerated, anti-humanist capitalism (particularly in the era of the second industrial revolution) produces forms which somehow have socialism promised within them. You can find this in Gramsci's analysis of Taylorism and Fordism, that the new modes of work were more rational, promising a discarding of peasant remnants, the illusion of the survival of craftsmanship under industrial capital, while the ancien regime's last remnants are swept away by the muscular power of blue-collar American capital - Oh, Americanism! Oh Undertaker!
This also puts another possible spin on the anti-humanist thrill of Detroit techno's preference for 'Ford's robots over Berry Gordy's music', in Juan Atkins' immortal phrase. In the unlikely event of the new society, those of us not hanging onto the grim legacy of workerism would surely be in favour of an even more widespread deployment of Ford's robots, delegating the tedious work produced by Fordism to what Paul Lafargue called 'our new race of slaves'. Capital's automation might immiserate now, but it promises the abolition of alienation in the future. This kind of accelerationist socialism has its own application to the Third Industrial Revolution, as this lecture by Richard D Wolff, with its culmination in a proposal for a Communism based on the work practices of silicon valley, would seem to attest. However, the accelerationism of Brecht and his productivist contemporaries was based to a large degree on the erroneous belief that a 'better America', an better application of the technologies of accelerated Fordist capital, was being forged in the blast furnaces of Magnitogorsk. By assuming that capital would provide the outlines of the new society, the latter ended up replicating it in an even more ruthlessly exploitative form. It's one thing for acceleration to progress over the body of capital, but in actuality this merely results in other, softer bodies being run over.
(not, of course, that anyone is at the moment advocating accelerationism in exactly this manner, as SBA's accelerationism is a very different beast to Brecht's - doing for neoliberalism what he did with Fordism; destructivism, rather than productivism, we could call it. But, off-topic, and as evidence for the aptness of definition of New Labour as 'market Stalinism', it's worth noting exactly what 'public works' Chancellor Darling is planning as a 'Keynesian' measure to deal with recession. It has long been a mistake to attack New Labour for a lack of public spending, but rather for how that money is spent - on PFI schemes as back-door privatisations, expansion of bureaucracy and security, and now, massive bailouts of banks. So instead of say, a council housing scheme, Darling promises the Olympics, a 'new nuclear deterrent', Crossrail, as an infrastructural aid to class cleansing, and some more prisons. Marvellous.)