Blogpost / Do not work, accelerate!

This contribution is written by Antonio Fabio, a bachelor student at the University of Groningen. He is graduating in International Relations and International Organizations and Philosophy of Economics and Social Sciences.


“If production is the basis of exploitation implemented by capital, changing mode of production means changing the mode of exploitation, it does not mean eliminating exploitation.”[1]

I have lost my future, and you too. Workers’ struggles, unions, student movements, parties, and collectives all seem to have lost a project for the upcoming. The Left has always (theoretically) worked with the normative commitment of emancipating the working force however, the appeal to utopic futures, to new possible worlds has seemingly lost its force throughout the 20th century. The normative task of this blog post is to claim the necessity of inventing futures for leftist theory to be actual. In this paper, I will be making a case for the rejection of Labour and the possibility for technological development to be at the centre of this project. In particular, I will be looking into the theoretical and normative foundations that make anti-laborial hyperstitions extremely relevant in today’s society. To do so, in the first section of the blog post will be placing the conversation within the theoretical framework of Baudrillard’s neo-Marxism. In particular, I will be discussing the relationship of labour to capital in Marx’s and Baudrillard’s views. This will allow me to define labour not as productive but as reproductive capital. In the second section, I will delve into the normative considerations regarding the newly defined modes of production. In particular, I will be linking the discussion of reproduction by Baudrillard with the concept of the loss of the future. In support of Baudrillard’s perspective, I will illustrate Mark Fischer’s analysis of music production. The latter, I claim, allows us to grasp first-hand the effects of late capitalist production. I conclude that anti-laborial hyperstitions are extremely important tools for emancipatory struggles in the capitalist society. 

Wage Labour and Capital 

The process of production in Marx was described along the following lines: the capitalist buys labour power to expand capital, and in turn, the work and the wage of labourers expand capital. [2] In the process of production, capital necessitates labour power to finalise the project of expansion. Human beings as labourers not only act upon nature in the process of production but also on each other. They work together in a specific manner, they enter into relations and only then production takes place. [3] In Marx, labour power and the process of production at large, are seen not only as processes of material production but also as active processes of social constitution. Moreover, at the centre of the very system of capital production, there is a dialectical relationship between capital and labour power. Labour power presupposes capital and capital presupposes labour power, they both perish in the absence of each other. [4] The relations of production constitute the very society within which we live. Therefore, the process of production in Marx is not only limited to the production of material objects but also to the very creation of social bodies, thus, production is a social form. Therefore, labour as power is a revolutionary force, insofar as it is a commodity which exceeds the mere reproduction of value. Labour ceases to be power when it stops reproducing its opposite (capital), this is what happens with the constitution of collective labour bodies. In collective labour a large part of workers ceases to be productive, by not actively participating in the production of capital and becomes reproductive of labour as a collective enterprise in itself. It is central now to understand the process through which collective labour detaches workers from the production of capital. In Marx we can read:

 “It is no longer necessary for the individual to put hands on the object, but it is sufficient to be an organ of the collective labourer and perform any one of its subordinate functions. Material production holds for the collective labourer as a whole but not for individual workers.” [5]

“Objectified labour does not appeal in the form of product, or of the means of production, but in the form of the force of production itself.” [6]

Objectified labour is close to the concept of fixed labour, which is the knowledge of the collective social body, crystallised and captured by the fixed means of production. The fixed means of production (the machinery, the collective knowledge of labour) is seen as being in contrast with living labour and is defined as “dead labour”. Dead labour is capital which absorbs the accumulation of knowledge of skill of the general productive forces, dead labour abstracts from the living its productive force. [7] The original force of production, which was represented by living labour and labour power, is totalized in the unity of labour through collective machinery. Labour power, detaches from the production of capital, in the form of dead labour, and takes control of the productive forces. Marx predicted, or was at least concerned, with a stage where the very living labour steps aside from the production process. [8] Baudrillard subscribes to this understanding of collective labour, in the above mentioned quote when labour ceases to be material for the individual, it is the first instance of labour becoming symbolic. Thus, it is labour which is alienated from its material form individually, and yet still performed collectively as a form of sustainment. This is a central observation to move to neo-marxist analysis. 

Labour as a sign, and the end of production

In Marx even though the labourer works to be alive, “he does not count the labour itself as part of his life, it is rather a sacrifice.” The life of a worker in modernity was what developed outside of the working place. It was a sacrifice to abandon the rhythms, relations and organisation of your own life for working in a factory. Seen through Hegelian lenses, work is seen as a sacrifice to make because it stems from lost duel between master and slave, whereby one will subscribe to work because of their submission. In this view, work is retained also to be the very weapon of the slave against the master because of its material necessity. Therefore, the emancipatory possibility for the slave lies exactly in the activity of work. Without knowing the process of production the master is unable to sustain himself, and for this reason relies on the productive force of the labourer to do so. 

 This very last point is of central importance to introduce the neo-Marxist analysis of labour. According to Baudrillard, work has ceased to be understood as a sacrifice on the side of the labourers and has become a unilateral gift from the master. This together with the increasingly and extremely advanced formation of collective labour has stripped workers of their revolutionary potential and has made it a system of complete and pure domination under capital. Understanding the shift from work as a “sacrifice” (in modernity) to “gift” (in post-modernity), is essential to move beyond Marx for radical political theorization. In western late capitalist societies, it is increasingly visible how the work ethic has taken up a central role in the individual and collective development of life. Work has become a rather non-detrimental action which seems to realise the human project on earth, a realisation of life rather than a sacrifice. Working has become to form the very system of moral standards which direct the historical time in contemporary society, we are labour-societies. Labour has been introduced as the limit at the horizon that sets the pace of our walk upon earth.  

Through disciplining and societal goals propelled through mass information, capital has made the whole society its factory, where labour is largely performed as a collective symbolic act and alienated from its material production. The flexibilization of the market, the tailoring of specific personal jobs, the rhetoric of realisation into work all contribute to build a system of signification where labour becomes a sign for inscription into the very society we live in. [9] Moreover, the very organisation of labour is something that is little or not dependent on the capitalist will, but it is an algorithm based cycle. In an extremely abstracted economy, where financial flows, geopolitical events, biological subjectivities determine the fluctuations of demand and supply, it is impossible to have anything but an algorithm to govern the rhythms and matters of production. Labour has become a sign intertwined with a whole set of semiotic sequences within the larger idea of morality and well being in society, which is market expansion and capital reproduction. This is the very stage of the end of production, when the productive forces are crystallised into the dead labour (the code of the general machinery of production). The mischievous game of capital was to totalize and permeate all of society through its logic. [10]

The code of production (capital reproduction) that permeates the whole person in society, capital that produces a mass of capital (the labour body) and labour that reproduces capital, full circularity, production for production: reproduction of capital. 

Capitalism does not need workers, technology will push the fixed capital or dead labour even further, meanwhile, employment will not rise. Capital has freed itself from the needs of living labour as a force and therefore, as a socially constitutive process. Labour (as code of reproduction of capital) becomes a form of fundamental repression, a constant occupation of spaces and time. Lifted from the conscription to a specific place, labour can expand as a regulatory framework in every aspect of social life by becoming desirable. Labour is everywhere because everywhere we are given the possibility of life through labour, consumption or production has no other finality than reproducing capital. Fixed labour, the technology in the production of society and of the material world, has crystalized the labour relations necessitated for its infinite reproduction. If we then apply once again the understanding of collective labour as an alienating practice to the master-slave dialectic, we can argue that the very potential for the slave to emancipate from an unequal position can hardly be met. Because there is no actual production of materiality, no slaves can have claims against the master, because they too are abstracted from the process of material formation. Even further, the central role that work has taken up in our daily lives, the absolute necessity of finding a job in the 21st century, have sterilised the possibility of social bonding even outside of the workplace. [11]

If works and production of capital become the organising principles of our work and our leisure, and such  principle is emptied of its active social production, we live our everyday with the impossibility of escaping from this code of organisation. The domination is so intense and inevitable because it is inseparable from our desires. 

The age of reproduction and the loss of the future

To make a case for the end of production as a socially constitutive process, I will be using Mark Fisher’s analysis of music production and genres. For the British author, one of the defining marks of modernity (20th-century productive society) was the very feeling of attachment through music to a specific historical and societal moment. Music production contributed to expressing and channelling the generational feelings and visions of everyday life. Artists, bands and songwriters also strongly contributed to the creation of envisioning new possible futures in the Modern era. [12] Revolutionary songwriting like the “cancion de protesta” in South America or the musical experiments of the ‘68, endorsed the political and cultural struggles of their generations as the very core of their art. This production of music, which is historical in its form, is endowed of a contingent understanding of past, present and future which can be noted as “historical naturalism”. [13] The future is not an obvious concept, it is a cultural construction and project which involves arts, people, technology and so forth. [14] The myth of the future is a contingent phenomenon of the modern era (the Marxian world), whereby technological and knowledge expansion permitted a vision of the future brighter than the present. Therefore, it might be argued that it is possible to look at when the musical production which had a hold on the future started to decline, and how since that moment the reproduction of music has made it a sterile enterprise with little or no claims on the future. 

Since the 70s/80s with the advent of punk culture, society started to live the slow cancellation of the future, with the emergence of the “there is no future” generation. [15] In the age of the cancellation of the future, the modern linearity of time is reversed upon its past, with a renewed understanding of archaic forms. The sense of novelty and the expectation of novelty have slowly withered away from the process of societal imagination. The change in the modality of production towards reproduction can be strongly linked to the arrest of historical time. Capital reproducing its already experienced forms, and the exhaustion of energy in the process of reproduction are symptomatic and co-constitutive of the cancellation of the future. In the age of production, music was constantly revolutionised at an incredible pace. In the 80s the appearance of electronic sounds forever changed what music could be. In 20 years, from the 50s to the 70s artists like Elvis Presley and the Sex Pistols succeeded one another. [16] In the post-modern changes in the genre are hardly perceptible, music is reproduced over and over without any significant changes. Think of pop music, from the 2000 to the 2020s there has been little or no revolutionary change in music production. We are trapped in the reproduction of musical forms from the past, music from the 70s, the 80s, and the 90s distributed through high-quality medium or at instant internet speed. With this our expectations of having groundbreaking music have ceased, we do not expect music to be much different than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Extending this analysis to fields beyond music it is possible to see the effects of the reversal of time and of the loss of future in politics. The 20th century was the age of the futurists, the afro-futurists, the punks, the hippies, the communists, and the anarchists. All, withstanding the darkness of the present, were proposing visions of the future had a hold upon it. All these movements were active producers of society, and they had a claim over the destiny of production, be it cultural or material. Now all of this seems lost, the semiocapitalist society where we live has insisted a much deeper form of control, one where violence is exhibited at the level of the sign and never at the level of materiality. [17] The very inscription in late capitalism, which means giving up the claim to be part of the production of society, the indifference that governs the code strongly affects the ability of people to perceive their historical belonging and the historical making of society. Going back to the analogy with music culture, What is the sound of 2008? Or 2003? It is almost impossible to differentiate specific historico-musical actualisations of these years, they all mesh into each other under the indifference of pop. think instead of the sound of the ‘75, or of ‘94, or of the ‘55? Even if you were not born in those times, you can almost clearly associate these years with specific music cultures, of sounds representing the historical time they were created in. [18] History interpreted as a linear understanding of time with a finality, has lost its very finality and it reproduces its archaic forms, futures are lost in the flattened circularity of the present and of past through the present.

The necessity of rejecting labour

In light of the changes in production, as described in the first paragraph, and the cultural consequences outlined in the second section, it is now a question of how to reappropriate time and future. The code of the sign of labour, which characterises the post-modern, can be considered as a semiotizer which produces models for the organisation of those which are produced. [19] The question of the future lies in the realm of possibility and potency, where it is necessary to envision the liberating potential of the socio-technological forms that surround us. The Hegelian, dialectical relationship that was used by Marx to understand the possibility of revolutionary action by the workers is shaken at its very foundations by this renewed understanding of labour. The structure we are talking about, and that I described in the first section, is one whereby individuals and societies are lured into believing that our living activity can be equalled with work, and salaried work is necessary for our survival. [20] The paradox lying at the core of the current society is that technology is actively reducing the necessity of labour, yet, it punishes workers to work more and more for even smaller amounts of money. And yet  “Technical innovation emancipates time from work, and this time can instead be dedicated to social activities that cannot be exchanged with money without losing something of their authenticity: health care, self-care, education, food preparation and affection. [21] The old concepts of labour, wage and production can hardly stay on track with the changes brought about by digitalisation and automation, and the superstitious belief that they can still hold is exactly what keeps together a largely void castle. [22] The call is to radically change our understanding of labour and automation and use it for the service of societal good. If Labour has ceased to be socially productive, its possibility to exceed the paradigm of capitalist domination has been lost. Framing Labour as the very reproductive force of capital would be a fatal strategy, one where the paradigm of production is at stake. The claim, therefore, is to abolish work as it is understood and experienced in late capitalist life. At the core of this claim there is a delicate distinction which needs to be clarified. Labour as a sign and labour as-being-in-the-world are two essentially different concepts. To claim for the abolition of labour it is not to claim that all work which is carried out should be eliminated. Neither is it to claim that there is some necessary labour over some fictitious and abstract one. Rather, it is claimed that the immanent relationship between individual and collective life is totalised within a market-based understanding of being in the world. Therefore, it is important to reject the contingent way in which we perceive our historical being as a society, which is one heavily mediated through the existence of labour occupation. Work will still have to be carried out, and this over-dependency upon labour positions and jobs has to be rejected. We are currently already living in a post-scarcity economy whereby we are taken hostage by the “necessities” of living, through the very machinery and code of labour reproduction. A radical redistribution of this abundance, where robots can take care of healthcare and basic manufacturing and where the result of this is not unemployment but freedom from labour as such. Some good hints to the viability of this theory come from the great fear of economists regarding “robots taking over the productive world” and leaving thousands unemployed, which is a false problem if labour is destitute as a necessary precondition of human existence. The call is to abandon the workplace, envision ways to self organise production and reduce labour necessity, reject paid labour. The change is essentially cultural and technological, there is a practical and theoretical necessity to evade work and advance anti laborial theories. It is of utmost importance that we oppose labour as a way of existence in the world. Fight for technological advancement which will actually make less work needed and demand everything, demand the richness that is produced, redistribute it. It is a matter of reappropriating the organisation of our free time, and this will come at great costs. Moreover we have the task to envision and work on how to have cheap and non-ecologically destructive energy-extracting practices to sustain and boost the accelerating processes of current society. [23] Guided by the promising data on renewable energy, anti-laborial claims need to make use of green and renewable energies. [24] Envisioning a future, where solar panels and wave-based production of energy are the main sources of energy thus, lifting our living from the burden of environmental disaster. The struggle of a world without work is necessarily an ecologically informed struggle for its realisation to be truly sustainable and possible. 


In this blogpost I have made the case for anti laborial theories. In the first section, I have outlined the fundamental axioms of Marxist analysis for the understanding of the post-modern condition. From the key Marxist insight of collective labour I have then started the discussion of labour as a sign in Baudrillard. I have discussed the extent to which labour has become abstracted and permeating all spheres of social life. There I was able to discuss the ways in which labour has ceased to be productive and it has become reproductive capital, thus making it an activity emptied of its revolutionary potential. Only so, I could argue that the postmodern condition is one where the processes of social formation, and therefore of social struggles, have been stripped from people via the propagation of work as an organising principle of life. To corroborate the thesis that cultural production in postmodern condition is halted by the reproduction of capital, I have illustrated Mark Fischer’s analysis on the dynamics of music production. Only then I was able to make a normative and political case for the rejection of labour as an organising principle, and for the need to use technology as a means to exceed the algorithmic reproduction of life under capital. In particular, I have argued that it is of necessary importance for social life to be revitalised to reject labour and strive for a world without work. Thus, the title: “Do not work, Accelerate!”. 


[1] Bonanno, Alfredo Maria. Armed joy. London: Elephant Editions, 1998.

[2] Marx, Karl. Wage-labour and capital. Socialist Labour Press, 1910. P.10

[3] Marx, Karl. Wage-labour and capital. Socialist Labour Press, 1910. P.9

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Marx, Karl. Grundrisse: Foundations of the critique of political economy. Penguin UK, 2005.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Baudrillard, Jean. “Symbolic exchange and death.” Symbolic Exchange and Death (2016): p.16

[9] Kellner, Douglas, “Jean Baudrillard”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), 

[10] Berardi’s (2009) picture on the vernacularity of Capital’s logic of depersonalization : “The informatic procedures of the recombination of semiotic material have the effect of liquefying the objective time necessary to produce the info-commodity. The human machine is there, pulsating and available, like a brain-sprawl in waiting. The extension of time is meticulously cellularized: cells of productive time can be mobilised in punctual, casual and fragmentary forms. The recombination of these fragments is automatically realised in the network. The mobile phone is the tool that makes possible the connection between the needs of semio-capital and the mobilisation of the living labour of cyberspace. The ringtone of the mobile phone calls the workers to reconnect their abstract time to the reticular flux.”

[11] For a discussion on social alienation and labour: Bousquet, Chris (2023). Work and Social Alienation. Philosophical Studies 180 (1):133-158.

[12] For a discussion of the intersection between music making, performance and politics in Paris ‘68: Drott, Eric. Music and the elusive revolution: Cultural politics and political culture in France, 1968–1981. Vol. 12. Univ of California Press, 2011.

[13] Walter Benjamin’s formulation “historical naturalism” is of utmost relevance for the discussion of modernity and of the idea of progress. For more on this: Osborne, Peter and Matthew Charles, “Walter Benjamin”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

[14] Berardi, Franco. After the future. AK press, 2011. p.12.

[15] Ibid, p. 15.

[16] Fisher, Mark. Ghosts of my life: Writings on depression, hauntology and lost futures. John Hunt Publishing, 2014.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Berardi, Franco. Futurability: The age of impotence and the horizon of possibility. Verso Books, 2017 p.112.

[20] Ibid, p. 123.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Fraser, Peter: “Four futures”. Jacobin, New York, uploaded 12.13.2011.

[24] Gillam, William Joseph. 2023. “A Solarpunk Manifesto: Turning Imaginary into Reality” Philosophies 8, no. 4: 73., Paragraph 3.


Alfredo Maria, Bonanno. Armed joy. London: Elephant Editions, 1998. 

Douglas, Kellner “Jean Baudrillard”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.

Eric, Drott. Music and the elusive revolution: Cultural politics and political culture in France, 1968–1981. Vol. 12. Univ of California Press, 2011. 

Franco, P. Berardi . After the future. AK press, 2011

Berardi, Franco: Precarious, Rhapsody: Semiocapitalism & The Pathologies Of The Post-Alpha Generation (2009). Minor CoMposition, London. P. 33 

Franco, P. Berardi. Futurability: The age of impotence and the horizon of possibility. Verso Books, 2017 

Jean, Baudrillard. “Symbolic exchange and death.” Symbolic Exchange and Death (2016)

Karl, Marx. Grundrisse: Foundations of the critique of political economy. Penguin UK, 2005.

Karl, Marx. Wage-labour and capital. Socialist Labour Press, 1910.

Mark, Fischer. Ghosts of my life: Writings on depression, hauntology and lost futures. John Hunt Publishing, 2014.

Fraser, Peter: “Four futures”. Jacobin, 12.13.2011:

Peter, Osborne and Matthew Charles, “Walter Benjamin”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

 William, Gillam Joseph. 2023. “A Solarpunk Manifesto: Turning Imaginary into Reality” Philosophies 8, no. 4: 73.

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