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41

Parasites on the Body of Capital

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Shaviro, S. (2015). Parasites on the Body of Capital. In Shaviro, S. No Speed Limit: Three Essays on Accelerationism. University Of Minnesota Press, pp. 41-59

44

[...] In today's neoliberal, globalized network society, "the monopoly of capital" has indeed become "a fetter upon the mode of production." We can see this in all sorts of ways. So-called austerity programs transfer ever more wealth to the already rich, at the price of undermining living standards for the population as a whole. The privatization of formerly public services and the expropriation of formerly common resources undermine the very infrastructures that are essential for long-term survival. "Digital rights management" and copy protection restrict the flow of data and cripple the power of the computing technologies that make them possible in the first place. [...]

And yet, none of these contradictions have caused the system to collapse or have even remotely menaced its expanded reproduction. As Deleuze and Guattari say, "no one has ever died from contradictions". Instead, capitalism perpetuates itself through a continual series of readjustments. Despite the fact that we have reached a point where capitalist property relations have become an onerous "fetter upon the mode of production" that they initially helped to put into motion, this fetter shows no sign of being lifted. [...] The "capitalist integument" has failed to "burst asunder"; instead, it has calcified into a rigid carapace, well-nigh suffocating the life within.

—p.44 by Steven Shaviro 6 years, 1 month ago

[...] In today's neoliberal, globalized network society, "the monopoly of capital" has indeed become "a fetter upon the mode of production." We can see this in all sorts of ways. So-called austerity programs transfer ever more wealth to the already rich, at the price of undermining living standards for the population as a whole. The privatization of formerly public services and the expropriation of formerly common resources undermine the very infrastructures that are essential for long-term survival. "Digital rights management" and copy protection restrict the flow of data and cripple the power of the computing technologies that make them possible in the first place. [...]

And yet, none of these contradictions have caused the system to collapse or have even remotely menaced its expanded reproduction. As Deleuze and Guattari say, "no one has ever died from contradictions". Instead, capitalism perpetuates itself through a continual series of readjustments. Despite the fact that we have reached a point where capitalist property relations have become an onerous "fetter upon the mode of production" that they initially helped to put into motion, this fetter shows no sign of being lifted. [...] The "capitalist integument" has failed to "burst asunder"; instead, it has calcified into a rigid carapace, well-nigh suffocating the life within.

—p.44 by Steven Shaviro 6 years, 1 month ago
46

Capitalism has to transform plenitude into scarcity, because it cannot endure its own abundance. Again and again, as Marx and Engels say in the Manifesto, under capitalism "there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity--the epidemic of over-production". The wealth that capitalism actually produces undermines the scarcity that remains its raison d'etre. For once scarcity has been overcome, there is nothing left to drive competition. The imperative to expand and intensity production simply becomes absurd. In the face of abundance, therefore, capitalism needs to generate an imposed scarcity, simply in order to keep itself going.

Accelerationism is best understood as a response to this strange dilemma. [...] capitalism has already provided us with the conditions for universal abundance. We no longer need to wait for some distant future: because, as William Gibson famously put it, "the future is already here--it's just not very evenly distributed."

—p.46 by Steven Shaviro 6 years, 1 month ago

Capitalism has to transform plenitude into scarcity, because it cannot endure its own abundance. Again and again, as Marx and Engels say in the Manifesto, under capitalism "there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity--the epidemic of over-production". The wealth that capitalism actually produces undermines the scarcity that remains its raison d'etre. For once scarcity has been overcome, there is nothing left to drive competition. The imperative to expand and intensity production simply becomes absurd. In the face of abundance, therefore, capitalism needs to generate an imposed scarcity, simply in order to keep itself going.

Accelerationism is best understood as a response to this strange dilemma. [...] capitalism has already provided us with the conditions for universal abundance. We no longer need to wait for some distant future: because, as William Gibson famously put it, "the future is already here--it's just not very evenly distributed."

—p.46 by Steven Shaviro 6 years, 1 month ago