Accelerationism

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Accelerationism is a range of ideas in critical and social theory that propose that social processes, such as capitalist growth and technological change, should be drastically intensified to create further radical social change referred to as "acceleration".[1] The term can also refer to the post-Marxist idea that because of capitalism's internal contradictions and instabilities, the abolition of the capitalist system and its class structures could be brought about by its acceleration.[2][3][4] Various ideas, including French critical theorists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's idea of deterritorialization, as well as aspects of the theoretical systems and processes developed by English philosopher, and later alt-right commentator, Nick Land,[1] are crucial influences on accelerationism, which aims to analyze and subsequently promote the social, economic, cultural, and libidinal forces that constitute the process of acceleration.[5]

Contemporary accelerationism has since been ideologically divided into mutually contradictory left-wing and right-wing variants. Both support the indefinite intensification of capitalism and its structures as well as the growth of a potential technological singularity, a hypothetical point in time where technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible.[6][7][8] The term has also been appropriated and placed into contexts distanced from traditional accelerationist ideas. Right-wing extremists such as Neo-fascists, Neo-nazis, White nationalists, and White supremacists have been known to refer to an "acceleration" of racial conflict through violent means such as assassinations, murders, terrorist attacks, and societal collapse, in order to achieve the building of a White ethnostate.[9][10][11][12]

Background and precursors[edit]

The term "accelerationism" was first coined as a neologism by professor and author Benjamin Noys in his 2010 book The Persistence of the Negative to describe the trajectory of certain post-structuralists who embraced unorthodox Marxist and counter-Marxist overviews of capital, such as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their 1972 book Anti-Oedipus, Jean-François Lyotard in his 1974 book Libidinal Economy and Jean Baudrillard in his 1976 book Symbolic Exchange and Death.[13]

English alt-right theorist and writer Nick Land,[1] commonly credited with creating and inspiring accelerationism's basic ideas and concepts, cited a number of philosophers who express anticipatory accelerationist attitudes in his 2017 essay "A Quick-and-Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism".[14][15] Firstly, Friedrich Nietzsche argued in a fragment in The Will to Power that "the leveling process of European man is the great process which should not be checked: one should even accelerate it."[16] Then, taking inspiration from this notion for Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari speculated on an unprecedented "revolutionary path" to further perpetuate capitalism's tendencies that would later become a central idea of accelerationism:

But which is the revolutionary path? Is there one?—To withdraw from the world market, as Samir Amin advises Third World countries to do, in a curious revival of the fascist "economic solution"? Or might it be to go in the opposite direction? To go still further, that is, in the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization? For perhaps the flows are not yet deterritorialized enough, not decoded enough, from the viewpoint of a theory and a practice of a highly schizophrenic character. Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to "accelerate the process," as Nietzsche put it: in this matter, the truth is that we haven't seen anything yet.[17]

Land also cites Karl Marx, who in his 1848 speech "On the Question of Free Trade" anticipated accelerationist principles a century before Deleuze and Guattari by describing free trade as socially destructive and fuelling class conflict, then effectively arguing for it:

But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade.[18]

Contemporary accelerationism[edit]

The Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU), an experimental theory collective that existed from 1995 to 2003,[19] included Land as well as other influential social theorists such as Mark Fisher and Sadie Plant as members.[20] Prominent contemporary left-wing accelerationists include Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, authors of the "Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics";[7] and the Laboria Cuboniks collective, who authored the manifesto "Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation".[21] For Mark Fisher, writing in 2012, "Land's withering assaults on the academic left [...] remain trenchant", although problematic since "Marxism is nothing if it is not accelerationist".[22] Benjamin H. Bratton's book The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty has been described as concerning accelerationist ideas, focusing on how information technology infrastructures undermine modern political geographies and proposing an open-ended "design brief". Tiziana Terranova's "Red Stack Attack!" links Bratton's stack model and left-wing accelerationism.[23] Out of Xenofeminism grew a strand of accelerationist thought labeled "gender accelerationism," asserting that the destruction of the patriarchy and the gender binary is not just a preferred future, but an outright inevitability of capitalism's acceleration.[24] Aria Dean notably synthesized the theory of Racial Capitalism with accelerationism, arguing that the binary between humans, and machines and capital, is already blurred by the scars of the Atlantic slave trade.[25]

Left-wing accelerationism[edit]

Left-wing accelerationism, commonly referred to as "L/Acc", is often attributed to Mark Fisher, a prior CCRU member and mentor for Srnicek and Williams.[26] Left-wing accelerationism seeks to explore, in an orthodox and conventional manner, the ways in which modern society has the momentum to create futures that are equitable and liberatory.[27] While both strands of accelerationist thinking remain rooted in a similar range of thinkers, left accelerationism appeared with the intent to use their ideas for the goal of achieving an egalitarian future.[26] In response to this strand of accelerationism and its optimism for egalitarianism and liberation, which departs from prior interests in experimentation and delirium, Land rebuked its ideas in an interview with The Guardian, saying that "the notion that self-propelling technology is separable from capitalism is a deep theoretical error".[1]

Other uses of the term[edit]

Since "accelerationism" was coined in 2010, the term has taken on several new meanings, particularly by right-wing extremist movements and terrorist organizations,[9] that has led the term to be sensationalized on multiple occasions.[2] Several commentators have used the label accelerationist to describe a controversial political strategy articulated by the Slovenian philosopher, Freudo-Marxist theorist, and writer Slavoj Žižek.[28][29] An example often cited of this is when, in a November 2016 interview with Channel 4 News, Žižek asserted that were he an American citizen, he would vote for former U.S. president Donald Trump as the candidate more likely to disrupt the status quo of politics in that country.[30]

Far-right accelerationist terrorism[edit]

In spite of its original philosophical and theoretical interests, since the late 2010s international networks of Neo-fascists, Neo-Nazis, White nationalists, and White supremacists have increasingly appropriated the term "accelerationism" to refer to right-wing extremist goals and reactionary ideals, and have been known to refer to an "acceleration" of racial conflict through violent means such as assassinations, murders, terrorist attacks, and societal collapse, in order to achieve the building of a White ethnostate.[9][10][11][12] Far-right accelerationism has been widely considered as detrimental to public safety.[31] The inspiration for this distinct variation is occasionally cited as American Nazi Party and National Socialist Liberation Front member James Mason's newsletter Siege, where he argued for sabotage, mass killings, and assassinations of high-profile targets to destabilize and destroy the current society, seen as a system upholding a Jewish and multicultural New World Order.[9] His works were republished and popularized by the Iron March forum and Atomwaffen Division, right-wing extremist organizations strongly connected to various terrorist attacks, murders, and assaults.[9][32][33][34] According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups and files class action lawsuits against discriminatory organizations and entities, "on the case of white supremacists, the accelerationist set sees modern society as irredeemable and believe it should be pushed to collapse so a fascist society built on ethnonationalism can take its place. What defines white supremacist accelerationists is their belief that violence is the only way to pursue their political goals."[34][10]

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shootings that killed 51 people and injured 49 others, had embraced right-wing accelerationism in a section of his manifesto titled "Destabilization and Accelerationism: tactics". It also influenced John Timothy Earnest, the man accused of causing the Escondido mosque fire at Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque in Escondido, California; and committing the Poway synagogue shooting which resulted in one dead and three injured, and influenced Patrick Crusius, the man accused of committing the El Paso Walmart shooting that killed 23 people and injured 23 others.[9][35]

Although these right-wing extremist variants and their connected strings of terrorist attacks and murders are regarded as certainly uninformed by critical theory, which was a prime source of inspiration for Land's original ideas that led to accelerationism, Land became interested in the Atomwaffen-affiliated theistic Satanist organization Order of Nine Angles (ONA), that adheres to the ideology of Neo-Nazi terrorist accelerationism, describing the ONA's works as "highly-recommended" in a blog post.[36] Since the 2010s, the political ideology and religious worldview of the Order of Nine Angles, founded by the British Neo-Nazi leader David Myatt in 1974,[9] have increasingly influenced militant Neo-fascist and Neo-Nazi insurgent groups associated with right-wing extremist and White supremacist international networks,[9] most notably the Iron March forum.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Beckett, Andy (11 May 2017). "Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 11 May 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b "What is accelerationism?". New Statesman. 5 August 2016. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  3. ^ Shaviro, Steven (2010). Post Cinematic Affect. Ropley: O Books. p. 136.
  4. ^ Adams, Jason (2013). Occupy Time: Technoculture, Immediacy, and Resistance After Occupy Wall Street. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 96.
  5. ^ Wolfendale, Peter (2014). "So, Accelerationism, what's all that about?". Dialectical Insurgency. Archived from the original on 14 December 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  6. ^ Jiménez de Cisneros, Roc (5 November 2014). "The Accelerationist Vertigo (II): Interview with Robin Mackay". Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  7. ^ a b Williams, Alex; Srnicek, Nick (14 May 2013). "#ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics". Critical Legal Thinking. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  8. ^ Land, Nick (13 February 2014). "#Accelerate". Urban Future (2.1). Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Upchurch, H. E. (22 December 2021). Cruickshank, Paul; Hummel, Kristina (eds.). "The Iron March Forum and the Evolution of the "Skull Mask" Neo-Fascist Network" (PDF). CTC Sentinel. West Point, New York: Combating Terrorism Center. 14 (10): 27–37. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 December 2021. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  10. ^ a b c "White Supremacists Embrace "Accelerationism"". Anti-Defamation League. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  11. ^ a b Bloom, Mia (30 May 2020). "Far-Right Infiltrators and Agitators in George Floyd Protests: Indicators of White Supremacists". Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law. Just Security.
  12. ^ a b Owen, Tess (29 May 2020). "Far-Right Extremists Are Hoping to Turn the George Floyd Protests Into a New Civil War". Vice. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  13. ^ Noys, Benjamin (2010). The Persistence of the Negative: A Critique of Contemporary Continental Theory. Edinburgh University Press. p. 5.
  14. ^ Colquhoun, Matt (4 March 2019). "A U/Acc Primer". Xenogothic. Archived from the original on 2 June 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  15. ^ Land, Nick (25 May 2017). "A Quick-and-Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism". Jacobite Magazine. Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  16. ^ Quoted in Strong, Tracy (1988). Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 211. Original in The Will to Power §898.
  17. ^ Deleuze, Gilles; Guattari, Félix (2004). Anti-Oedipus. London: Continuum. p. 260.
  18. ^ Marx, Karl, On the Question of Free Trade. Archived 26 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Speech to the Democratic Association of Brussels, 9 January 1848.
  19. ^ "CCRU". V2_Institute for the Unstable Media. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  20. ^ Schwarz, Jonas Andersson (2013). Online File Sharing: Innovations in Media Consumption. New York: Routledge. pp. 20–21.
  21. ^ "After Accelerationism: The Xenofeminist manifesto". &&& Journal. 11 June 2015. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  22. ^ Mark Fisher (2014). "Terminator vs Avatar". In Robin Mackay; Armen Avanessian (eds.). #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader. Urbanomic. pp. 335–46: 340, 342.
  23. ^ Terranova, Tiziana (8 March 2014). "Red Stack Attack! Algorithms, Capital and the Automation of the Common" (in Italian). EuroNomade. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  24. ^ n1x (31 October 2018). "Gender Acceleration: A Blackpaper". Vast Abrupt. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  25. ^ Dean, Aria (December 2017). "Notes on Blacceleration". E-flux Journal (87).
  26. ^ a b Gardiner, Michael E. (2020). "Automatic for the People? Cybernetics and Left-Accelerationism". Constellations. n/a (n/a). doi:10.1111/1467-8675.12528. ISSN 1467-8675. S2CID 225363854.
  27. ^ Brassier, Ray (13 February 2014). "Wandering Abstraction". Mute. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  28. ^ "Melenchon and Žižek; Accelerationism and Edgelordism – Infinite Coincidence". infinite-coincidence.com. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  29. ^ Coyne, Richard (14 May 2017). "What's wrong with accelerationism – Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture". Archived from the original on 1 October 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  30. ^ "Slavoj Žižek would vote for Trump". zizek.uk. 3 November 2016. Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  31. ^ Taub, Amanda; Bennhold, Katrin (7 June 2021). "From Doomsday Preppers to Doomsday Plotters". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  32. ^ Poulter, James (13 October 2020). "The Obscure Neo-Nazi Forum Linked to a Wave of Terror". Vice.
  33. ^ "Atomwaffen and the SIEGE parallax: how one neo-Nazi's life's work is fueling a younger generation". Hatewatch. Southern Poverty Law Center. 22 February 2018. Archived from the original on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  34. ^ a b Miller, Cassie (23 June 2020). "'There Is No Political Solution': Accelerationism in the White Power Movement". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  35. ^ Beauchamp, Zack (18 November 2019). "Accelerationism: the obscure idea inspiring white supremacist killers around the world". Vox. Vox Media. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  36. ^ Land, Nick (11 October 2020). "Occult Xenosystems". Xenosystems.net. Archived from the original on 6 January 2018.

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