Two weeks ago, on the “Chimerica” stream, audience member Diem Golightly asked to “apply Nick Land to current Chi-Virus situation.” Let’s give it a short try and talk Accelerationism.
First things first: ever since its conception as a philosophical model of late-capitalist future expectations by the Ccru crew in the mid-nineties, and its subsequent transmission to the political sphere by Benjamin Noys’ The Persistence of the Negative: A Critique of Contemporary Continental Theory in 2010, Accelerationism proper has grown into a quite peculiar multitude of sub-ideologies and subsets of sub-ideologies. This development certainly underlines Accelerationism’s viability as one of the very few authentically radical concepts of dismantling the liberal-capitalist backbone of Western societies. It also illustrates, however, the disintegrating effect politicization has on abstract thinking, tearing apart and devouring the conceptual superstructure into an incomprehensible mess of identity politics from feminist Accelerationism (“Xenofeminism”) to, of course, “Gender Accelerationism and Lesbian Neoreaction.” Go figure.
(Bear in mind that we’re talking the somewhat “authentic” Accelerationism of the likes of Nick Land here, not any sort of veiled Christian-apocalyptic boogaloo / Helter Skelter meme or 1970s-tier NATO/CIA “Strategy of Tension” gay ops. Palingenesis is a cute concept, but if Western liberalism ever comes crashing down, it will be for economical reasons, not because of random violence. The system is built and hardened to withstand such attacks. If you try to topple it, it will—directly or indirectly—kill you and, quite possibly, many people associated with you. Get over it, guys. Better focus on your family and community to build some resilience yourselves. The Leviathan is already dead and dismembered; we’re all pretty late for the feast.)
With that said, what’s most important to understand about Accelerationism proper is that it’s not all about the total breakdown of terminal liberal civilization and the re-emergence of “trad.” On the contrary: the whole concept is set against retrogression, reaction, and retardation. Instead, it aims to transcend the liberal-capitalist worldview that determines modernity by accelerating its very own contradictions and centrifugal forces instead of resisting or reducing them. This mode of action is thus intended as a positive feedback loop; as an allegory, Nick Land himself has pointed to the control mechanism of a pressurized water reactor, in which boron rods are used to stabilize and, if necessary, terminate the reaction. If liberal-capitalist modernity is thought of as the fissionable material, Accelerationism seeks to remove the control rods one after the other, until criticality is reached and something unimaginable happens.
Unimaginable, because our Western minds have known no other way of processing reality ever since the early modern age. Land traces the root of this modern-capitalist-liberal mindset back to the shift from Roman to Arabic numerals and the introduction of zero which laid the groundwork for commercial arithmetics. As well as, consequentially, for the emergence of feudal and industrial business empires and even the national state. Thus, every oppositional or dissident position must be inherently corrupted, since even the most “trad” anti-modernists like René Guénon or Julius Evola remain infested by the modern-capitalist-liberal “thought contagion.” Yes, that’s pretty esoteric. No, it’s not just some insane prattling.
It rather takes us right back to the initial question. The excited reactions to the Coronavirus pandemic by dissidents, who somewhat lean towards Accelerationism and now believe to hear liberalism’s death knell already, pretty much reinforce the aforementioned reservations regarding the criticism of capitalist-liberal modernity from within it. Bear in mind the nuclear fission allegory: what we are seeing now due to the Coronavirus is, first and foremost, the collapse of compartmentalized, independent economical structures on a global scale. It is not too hard to see how this is not the removal of control rods from the reactor. Yes, there are massive layoffs and closures already, with many more to come. Yes, the unemployment figures are staggering across most Western countries, in many cases the worst since 1945. While this is a human catastrophe, it is of virtually no importance to Accelerationist thought, which purposefully dismisses the human factor in favor of economy and technology (a perspective that has only become more reasonable during the 25 years since its conception) and has, for that, succinctly been dubbed “anti-human” by rather sappy observers.
Yes, the West’s liberal political elites have proven to be just as incompetent, sluggish, and inflexible as dissidents have warned against throughout the ages, just as Richard Spencer ranted recently. What a surprise. And yet, the superstructure does not care. While you’re reading this, we all bear witness to the Western liberal-capitalist paradigm (or, if you will, “globohomo”) simply changing gears. Sweatshops produce masks and safety goggles now, auto manufacturers use their industrial-tier 3D printers to make ventilator parts—all this while the stock market is kept on life support with literal trillions of tax dollars. If the Coronavirus pandemic affects the economy in the long run at all, then it merely serves to stabilize the most powerful global players like Amazon. When the dust settles, they will be left shaken, but still standing, with a lot of smaller competitors gone and millions of unemployed or short-time working people to lure into late-capitalist serfdom. The governments will crow over their restructured stranglehold on their respective populations “for their safety,” with a lot of new digital movement and health profiles to evaluate, while they adopt market economy measures even more.
This is pretty much it. No Accelerationism. No boogaloo. No end of the world, as we loathe it. Just the prospect of more domestic huddled masses. Just some more money for the crooked and some more supercorporations turning into hypercorporations. Just the prospect of an even more powerful managerial class, interlaced with healthcare-industrial technocrats invited to pull the political strings for their crisis handling abilities (as is already demanded by the increasingly redundant blabbing class). Maybe, since people are no longer able to congregate as before, we might see the death of Movementarism; that’d be a plus. But with that, the political side of this crisis will probably have reached the end of the line. Nick Land could’ve written a laconic horror story about these expectations—if he hasn’t done so already.