Monday, October 24, 2016

A conversation about accelerationism

Joseph Camosy started a FB IPS discussion on the topic here. Our dialog so far. See the thread for more.

JC: My hypothesis is that Integral Theory can also be see as a form of Accellerationism. According to the paper, there are two strands of Accellerationism:

- Right Accellerationism (what Noys calls "Cthulhu Capitalism")
- Left Accellerationism (aiming for a post-capitalist future)

Me:  It seems AQALingus would be more the right version, where Rifkin's work would be more on the left side of accelerationism. One of the criticisms of left accelerationism is that it has a belief that tech can fix everything but lacks a paradigm that includes less use of resources and a focus on ecological balance. But according to Rifkin the emerging collaborative commons indeed is a shift in consciousness that includes such concerns. Tech is not the sole solution, but what kinds of tech and how they are used to support an ecological worldview.

As but one obvious example, platforms like Uber are used to maintain the capitalist paradigm, whereas there are collaborative platforms that promote worker-owned ride sharing companies with the same type of app.

JC: Regarding Accellerationism, the difficult thing to imagine is HOW this change might take place. The last time such seismic economic shifts took place was with the Russian revolution and before that, the abolishment of slavery. Both of these emerged out of upheaval and war. To use an analogy from evolution, mammals may have existed and thrived while the dinosaurs still ruled, but it still took some kind of cataclysm to remove the dinosaurs before the mammals could expand to be the dominant form of evolved life. Mammals alone would have never defeated the dinosaurs in a direct competition. Something else had to radically change - something that the mammals could adapt to, but that the dinosaurs could not.

Up until the present, nothing has been as effective at adaptation as Capitalism. So for there to be a shift to "post-Capitalism" something has to occur that Capitalism will prove unable to adapt to. This is what will create the breathing space which will allow other alternatives a chance to fill in that gap. What will be this "thing" that Capitalism will be unable to adapt to? Climate change? Large surplus populations? Resource depletion? Overpopulation?

Me: Well, the precursor was the financial crash of '08. And another one is likely on the horizon, since the same types of laws are still in place. A huge financial crash would likely be that catalyst to finally realize capitalism is not the way to proceed. Hartmann has a book about it, The Crash of 2016. Those already divested from capitalism and invested in the collaborative commons will survive and thrive, the oligarchy will collapse. That's one reason I like Rifkin's work, as he details how it is already happening. Rifkin calls that 'thing' zero marginal cost, the trojan horse inside capitalism that will bring it down. 

JC: I found the Zero marginal cost argument to be unconvincing, except for perhaps virtual goods. For any real resources (food, water, air, minerals, etc...) even if the $money cost (what a society symbolizes as "valuable") approaches zero, the cost to the environment is still very real.

Me: But that book details the conversion to renewable energy, reducing the environmental cost substantially. Also things like local 3-D printing of products not only stimulates local economies but reduces the huge environmental costs of transportation of said goods. And so on. It's an entire paradigm shift in consciousness that supports the conservation of natural resources.  



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