Speculation as a Mode of Production
Vishmidt, Marina. 2017. Speculation as a Mode of Production. Leiden: Brill. [Book] (Forthcoming)No full text available
Abstract or Description
Why 'speculation as a mode of production'? The formulation conjoins the two senses of speculation pertinent to this thesis – the speculative praxis of art, and the speculative logic of capital. It also attempts to give a specific critical valence to the phenomenon of the 'creative industries' which was based on the ideological elision of these two registers of the speculative with the goal of founding a new regime of accumulation on their union. Since that time, we have seen the global economic and social crisis displace this idea from the centre of policy-makers' agendas as the always-latent coercive side of 'creativity' is revealed: creativity as a survival strategy for disinvested populations as 'wealthcreators' go on accumulating. At the same time, there are attempts to re-start accumulation on ever more marginal and self-exploiting grounds, at best as homespun alternatives rather than organized challenges to the dominance of abstract value. In this situation, it is more than ever necessary to find the points of convergence between the desires for capital maximization and social emancipation, and ways to disentangle them which the impacts of the crisis may bring to light. I take artistic production as my field of analysis because this is where these ideologies intersect most dramatically. While speculative thought refers mainly to art and aesthetics, particularly in their connection to reimagining social relations, the 'speculative logic of capital' can be broadly defined as the self expanding, or self-valorising, dynamic of capital as such – speculation as social form - rather than a subset of it which can be named as 'the financial industry', although finance has specificities which are discussed in their own right. 'Speculation as a mode of production' thus refers to the open-ended processes of art and politics, as well as the overdetermined process of value expansion in capital. It seeks to encompass both a subjective and an objective mode for the social expression of capital in the ongoing era of neoliberalism. This period has witnessed the subjective qualities of creativity, flexibility and innovation become the objective factors of workplace productivity, while objective productivity itself shifts to the indeterminacy and risk associated with 'creative financial instruments' as the primary mode of capital accumulation. This thesis will draw a parallel between contemporary capital and contemporary art as they come to constitute the poles of a society structured around speculation.