Malign Velocities

Malign Velocities

Accelerationism and Capitalism

Against the need for speed, Malign Velocities tracks acceleration as the symptom of the ongoing crises of capitalism.


We are told our lives are too fast, subject to the accelerating demand that we innovate more, work more, enjoy more, produce more, and consume more. That’s one familiar story. Another, stranger, story is told here: of those who think we haven’t gone fast enough. Instead of rejecting the increasing tempo of capitalist production they argue that we should embrace and accelerate it. Rejecting this conclusion, "Malign Velocities" tracks this 'accelerationism' as the symptom of the misery and pain of labour under capitalism. Retracing a series of historical moments of accelerationism - the Italian Futurism; communist accelerationism after the Russian Revolution; the 'cyberpunk phuturism' of the ’90s and ’00s; the unconscious fantasies of our integration with machines; the apocalyptic accelerationism of the post-2008 moment of crisis; and the terminal moment of negative accelerationism - suggests the pleasures and pains of speed signal the need to disengage, negate, and develop a new politics that truly challenges the supposed pleasures of speed.

Longlisted for the BREAD AND ROSES PRIZE 2015


Always deterritorialize! Or so goes the mantra of recent "accelerationist" theory. Intoxication against intoxication, schizophrenia against schizophrenia, delirium against delirium--the accelerationist tendencies of millennial life are laid bare in this concise volume by the author who first suggested the term. From the historical avant-garde, through Detroit techno and science fiction, to Nick Land and the Cybernetic Cultures Research Unit (CCRU), Benjamin Noys reveals the ideological fantasies of speed. We should dismiss accelerationism for its capitalophilia, he concludes, but preserve it for its extremism: go far, go deep and go negative to get real. ~ Alexander R. Galloway

'The notion that 'the worse, the better' has an obvious appeal to disempowered communists in a time of capitalist crisis. Malign Velocities steps in and registers the futurist thrill of those theorists who would arrive at communism via an advanced, high tech capitalism - and registers the often disastrous results of these 'accelerations', which took us more often to Stalinism or neoliberalism than to utopia. Noys' writing is erudite, clear, and coloured by the darkest humour' ~ Owen Hatherley, author Militant Modernism, Zero Books 2009

In the midst of a hair-shirt neoliberalism, with growth-rates stagnating and accumulation reliant on ever-deeper dispossession, the sirens of speed are once again luring the advocates of radical theory. Malign Velocities diagnoses the moment of 'accelerationism' with exacting lucidity, revisiting prior iterations of the idea of an excessive exit from the clutches of capital – from futurism to cyberpunk – and uncovering these theories' political-economic unconscious, the accelerationist's fantasy of labour. Noys's book is a model of dialectical critique, combining a sophisticated account of accelerationism's historical conditions of possibility with an incisive verdict about its incapacity to generate strategies adequate to this conjuncture of crisis. Malign Velocities succeeds in both being true to the materialist injunction not to tell oneself stories and in weaving an engrossing tale of theory's struggles with the limits and compulsions of capitalism. ​ ~ Alberto Toscano, Reader in Critical Theory, Goldsmiths, and author of "Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea"

Benjamin Noys
Benjamin Noys Benjamin Noys is a UK-based theorist and critic who teaches at the University of Chichester and writes extensively on contemporary theory, t...
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