"Is Consuming Like Crazy the Best Way to End Capitalism?": Vice interview with Steven Shaviro
Hang out on Tumblr or in a dorm lounge long enough and eventually the talk will turn to ending capitalism. These discussions are all theoretical, of course—there have been endless attempts at shifting from our market-based economy to something more egalitarian and enlightened, but nothing has stuck, and some of the larger scale efforts have turned into horrific disasters. Anti-capitalists of various stripes haven't stopped coming up with theories about how this system could finally fall, however. One of these theories is called accelerationism—the idea is that hyper-stimulation of the market on a mass scale will end with the collapse of capitalism. Consume like crazy, only drink from styrofoam, and throw handfuls of dead batteries into our oceans so the impending apocalypse can hurry up and get over with.
The spread of this idea is rooted in Marx's belief that capitalism can't sustain itself forever and will eventually fizzle out. The means by which people will bring about its end are unclear, but that's where the ideas about accelerationism come from. Accelerationism is essentially the belief that the best way to shorten capitalism's lifespan is to push it to the extreme. If normal capitalism is Mick Jagger, accelerationism is Jim Morrison.
A while back, Steven Shaviro, who teaches at Detroit's Wayne State and studies the impact of technological capitalism on culture and everyday life, wrote an essay about accelerationism, explaining what it is in language that wasn't clouded by the usual academic jargon. Accelerationism has been explored by philosophers like Nick Land and Reza Negarestani, but Shaviro has become known as an authority on the topic—probably because he can articulate these complex philosophical ideas in a simple way that we plebs can understand. Shaviro just finished up a book out on accelerationism called No Speed Limit, so I called him up to learn more about the theory and see whether my Amazon Prime addiction is actually helping society.