The Adamic Signifier of (Neo)liberal Capitalism: Comparing Steven Shaviro and Stafford Beer

Adam Foster, PhD. Candidate Political Science at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa


The question “can capitalism be replaced?” is far from a new one. In fact, it is at the very core of Marxist theory. To Marxists, it is not a question of “can capitalism be replaced,” but rather “how can capitalism be replaced.” The emerging Accelerationist school of thought, championed by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams in their provocative “#ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics”, argues that the only way capitalism can be replaced is by speeding up capitalist development. It advocates pushing capitalism to its absolute limit, until it reaches a breaking point and something new can take its stead. I draw on Stafford Beer's CBC Massey Lectures “Designing Freedom” to articulate the mechanics by which such a change could emerge if capitalism is theorized systemically while also drawing on Steven Shaviro's recent pessimistic commentary on Accelerationism, No Speed Limit: Three Essays on Accelerationism as a cautious lens that perhaps such changes are not possible. Capitalism is resilient and all encompassing. Perhaps, much like the Big Banks of the 2008 global recession, capitalism is too big to fail.