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Nina Power on accelerationism and "decapitalism"


In a preview of its forthcoming Spring 2015 issue, Filip magazine has made available on its website a piece by Nina Power that will appear in the issue. The piece is a critique of accelerationism as outlined in Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’s widely circulated “#Accelerate Manifesto,” and in the subsequent Accelerationist Reader.

In constrast to the accelerationist thesis that calls for pushing the mechanisms of capitalism to their breaking point, Power proposes the idea of “decapitalism”:

I want to place in opposition to this smooth accelerated image of technology in post-capitalist, post-terrestrial space an idea of “decapitalism” rather than “anti-capitalism,” the latter too tainted by Srnicek and Williams’s dismissive critique of “the folk politics of localism, direct action and relentless horizontalism.” What I am proposing as “decapitalism” is linguistically and conceptually like Illich’s idea of “deschooling,” but also similar to “decolonization”: the point is to take back what is left, along with the technologies that have contributed to despoliation and exploitation, and turn it back against this same destruction. This does not depend upon a “going through” capitalism to get to the other side, but rather involves cutting off the heads of those who control technology—decapitating capitalism, as it were. This proposed redistribution of an already highly advanced series of technologies (industrial, communicative, medical) does not imply some kind of neo-Luddism, but rather a recognition of what resources already exist and a mapping of production, consumption, and the amount of time it would take, say, to clean polluted waters or to distribute food adequately. This project of decapitalism is not, then, a call for slowing down, a call as open to recapture as acceleration itself (and I appreciate Srnicek and Williams’s attempt to detach acceleration from speed in this respect), but rather a beginning with a recognition of the damage and depletion that has been done and continues to be done, without lapsing into fatalist despair or a desire to fuse with machines, capitalism, and technology and somehow come out the other side (as what?). The version of decapitalism I’m describing starts by recognizing that which is often hidden in plain sight but without which systems, both capitalist and communist, would fall apart. I’ll begin with labour.

Read Nina Power’s full essay at the Filip website.