I’m back on deep assignment in Cornwall this month with various excursions planned whilst I’m temporarily (and I hope it is only temporarily) free from regular employment, so expect more pictures than writing this month as I absorb all the weird and eeriness that Cornwall has to offer.
On the way down to the England’s utter southwest, we stopped by Stonehenge today — an overdue pilgrimage captured by Robin.
It was great. I’ve seen some serious megaliths before — the region around the Carnac stones was twice a destination for the annual family holiday when I was a child — but the very fact that this monument has been unquestionably designed, and its design remains mostly in tact, is awe-inspiring.
What I want to talk about today is patchwork and accelerationism, and how they are intrinsically related, but that feels like a difficult task at the moment…
In fact, I had a whole other talk planned for today, presenting some recent research on this topic which goes back to the naturphilosophie of Schelling and Fichte and how post-Kantian debates around theodicy and the temporality of evil offer us something today in how we think about capitalism, filling in the blindspots of some more explicitly Kantian thinking along these lines.
As thrilling as that might sound, it felt too far removed from the events of the last few weeks.
One of the major talking points of the last week has been the appearance of the word “accelerationism” in the manifesto of the perpetrator of the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand, a xenophobic and particularly Islamophobic terrorist attack which killed 50 people.
Suffice it to say, it’s been a bad week for the discourse.
I wrote a quick blogpost about this the other day, wanting to address this situation head on, writing about how this shooter’s form of “accelerationism” should be completely unrecognisable to an accelerationist who has been influenced by this thought as it has emerged from its source — and I think that’s true whether you’re on the left or the right.
This was a post that looked inevitably trivial in the face of the horror of that attack. Of everything that needed to be said in the aftermath of that event, the defence of one obscure word from the peripheries of political philosophy, which appeared on just one page of a meandering and incoherent manifesto, might suggest that my priorities are in the wrong place. But I also think that it’s important that we firmly hold onto the terms and politics we have developed for ourselves. To denounce a word in the face of its abhorrent appropriation feels too much like giving in and being complicit in the rejection of radical politics that that attack really represents. This kind of politics wants to override the intentions of progressive discourses, lest we forget the shooter defended his ethnonationalism on environmentalist grounds also.
This is what the enemy wants — the dilution of the words and signifiers that we think hold power for us. With that in mind, I’d personally much rather take a stand on what I believe in and its fundamental rejection of the shooter’s politics than let it all melt away, just like everything else around us, into the nondescript swamp of PR politics.
This extended form of defence is — admittedly — something I’ve engaged in far too much over the last week and, frankly, I’m exhausted by it now. Twitter is probably not the best place for it anyway and today I feel, in many ways, completely done with Twitter. What’s worse, though, is that this prospective counter-discourse appears to have even more of an uphill climb ahead of it than I initially anticipated. Gregory Marks, who goes by the handle @thewastedworld on Twitter, recently did noone any favours by creating a Twitter bot that retweets all mentions of “Accelerationism”. Gregory is a really great writer and I cast no shade on him in pointing to his new creation, even if he is the Doctor Frankenstein in this situation, because, as cursed as his Twitter invention may be, it has revealed the enormity of a pill that was already difficult to swallow — that is, that the shooter’s particular brand of accelerationism seems to dominate Twitter in many respects, and that’s on both the right and the left. Regarding the latter, I’ve also written against these widespread left-wing misunderstandings of accelerationism recently, in particular how they have proliferated more locally, but I personally had no idea just how far these misconceptions spread across the internet. These is certainly not a form of this politics that I come across online or in my everyday life.
This talk isn’t going to be a recounting of those defensive arguments but this is nonetheless the background onto which this talk has all written and the message central to those previous posts bares repeating here before I continue, because it demonstrates the mechanism just discussed in the Q&A with Enrico on the hegemonic consolidation of myths — in that here we see an idea of accelerationism which is abhorrently violent and superficial but which we can interpret as only helping to embolden present ideological hegemonies by ejecting the radical outsideness of accelerationism, and in many ways calls for change in themselves, out onto the scorched earth of political extremism. This is a message has direct implications for patchwork politics as well and which we can see examples of around the world. Palestine might be the most obvious example, where patch-adjacent demands of self-determination are dismissed as being complicit in terrorism and must be denounced across all political lines.
So, hopefully, especially in present company, I hope it goes without saying that the shooter’s form of accelerationism is utterly superficial, calling for nothing more than the intensification of social change in order to combat social change. These so-called “accelerationists” simply want identity politics to eat itself, and I mean that quite literally. They worship the political figure of the ouroboros — the snake that eats its own tail (likewise referred to by Enrico in his talk); it is a form that is self-destructive and self-constituting in equal measure. It is a sort of tactical destruction and fear-mongering that aims to keep things exactly where they are in their frenzied stasis.
This is not the accelerationism I know and study. It is, in fact, fundamentally opposed to this way of thinking. It is precisely this in-grown process of self-destruction and self-constitution that accelerationism points to and tries to exit. It sees the ouroboros for what it is and looks for ways to kill it.
This is something already explored by Enrico in his talk — this sort of in-grown logic of performative exit which is, in fact, the spectacle of an already hegemonic system flexing its own limits, and as Enrico also pointed out, this is something I’ve written about a few times recently.
I personally adhere by the Mark Fisher definition of accelerationism. In a 2014 essay entitled “Postcapitalist Desire”, Fisher defines accelerationism as follows:
Capitalism is a necessarily failed escape from feudalism, which, instead of destroying encastement, reconstitutes social stratification in the class structure. It is only given this model that Deleuze and Guattari’s call to “accelerate the process” makes sense. It does not mean accelerating any or everything in capitalism willy-nilly, in the hope that capitalism will thereby collapse. Rather, it means accelerating the processes of destratification that capitalism cannot but obstruct.
What is meant by this is that a true accelerationist wants to affirm capitalism’s own outward-facing orientation — and this orientation is a central insight of Karl Marx. The desire that fuels a capitalist system is insatiable but, in constantly reaching beyond itself, it also puts itself at risk. It threatens its own destruction every time it attempts to assimilate a new outside. In that sense, capitalism does not refer to some state of things outside ourselves. Capitalism is nothing without us — that is, our desires — and so, as an aside, I want to be clear here, when I say capitalism in this talk, know this refers to the entire system, from the oppressive forces of the state and the economic systems that escape its boundaries, but also ourselves and our internalised sense of our bordered constitution. Capital and subject are, in this way, horrific mirrors of each other. To quote Mark Fisher again:
… the most Gothic description of Capital is also the most literal. Capital is an abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and zombie-maker; but the living flesh it converts into dead labour is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.
So, accelerationism, for Mark Fisher and others, is an intensification of this process of destratification, of finding the outsides to our presently cloistered existence, but it is also an intensification of our awareness of this process as it already occurs. It’s a call to hold open the moments of capitalism’s own exit so that we might see what else may inadvertently come through from the other side. Because, as both Nick Land and Mark Fisher have written repeatedly, to find ways out is to let the outside in.
As things present stand and churn, capitalism only wants to let enough of the outside in so that it might be able to sustain itself. It was the belief of Mark Fisher that to let the outside of capitalism in might transform capitalism — and ourselves with it — into something radically new. This is not say that we, as people, as agents, can accelerate capitalism’s processes of destratification in themselves, but rather that we might become better at seeing the exits that capitalism opens up for us and exploit them accordingly. Because, as Fisher writes in his 2009 book, Capitalist Realism, capitalism is an ideological system that is adept at covering over its own failings and inconsistencies. It attempts to hide the doors it cannot help but open out onto the new.
Fisher would go on to hint at this further in his final book before his untimely death, 2016’s The Weird and the Eerie, in which ghost stories and weird fictions are seen as parables for exploring the emergence of new worlds. He asks, perhaps far too implicitly, how we might sustain our grasp on the anomalies of this world, on the weird, so that the weird might begin to change the system in which it appears.
For accelerationists — and unfortunately this is something common to both the terroristic and DeleuzoGuattarian varieties — political anomalies should be encouraged for this same reason. Many anti-accelerationist think-pieces attribute this tactic to the frogmen of 4chan prior to Trump’s election — those individuals who wanted to see Trump become president so that he might exacerbate and demonstrate the impotency of a modern progressivism. However, by the same token, in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn could likewise be seen as such an anomaly, and his elevation within the public consciousness has certainly revealed, to an unprecedented degree, the cloying conservatism that is rife within all corners of British politics.
There are some other instances too, in which we are more attuned to this capitalistic process of outsideness — although, for the most part, these instances are often only seen with the benefit of hindsight. The most obvious example of this comes in the form of radical geographies. We have thoroughly plotted the lines along which capitalism has reached into its geographical outsides through the processes of colonialism. More recently, however, we see other discourses emerging which highlight capitalism’s ideological exits — for example, where brands and businesses increasingly want to be seen as being “woke”. Whilst the right-wing has only noticed the existence of this tendency very recently, deploring capitalism’s contemporary tendency to ignore the right’s well-founded pro-capitalist and conservative opinions, it has been a criticism on the left for decades, particularly in queer discourses under the names Pink Capitalism or homocapitalism, where we see criticism of banks and major corporations that sponsor and want to be seen as supporting LGBT movements for no reason other than to legitimate their own continued existence. The increasing social acceptance of LGBT peoples presents queerness as a new ground for capitalism to colonised, albeit this time it is a new corner within our collective consciousness rather than within the world around us.
This is perhaps the perfect example of capitalism’s own progressivism, leaving behind its grassroots supporters in favour of new markets, for no reason other than its desire to sustain itself.
Now, it’s here that we might do well to re-introduce patchwork into the accelerationist equation.
Patchwork thinking is an explicit form of accelerationist thinking which takes these geographical and ideological issues and makes them its primary battleground.
This is not just a recently constructed preference but a foundation of this discourse. Nick Land may connect Accelerationism to a Moldbuggian Patchwork on his Xenosystems blog but Deleuze and Guattari also speak of acceleration and patchwork in their seminal collaborative work, Capitalism and Schizophrenia.
Being so closely related to accelerationism, patchwork is also not without its controversies, and I’ve previously writtennumerous blog posts that attempted to counter the suggestion that patchwork is a project of state fragmentation that would lead to nothing but the proliferation of ethnostates. The argument, just like that of accelerationism, is quite to the contrary.
This is because the accelerationist outsight, its outsideness, is inherently scalable. It’s not just capitalism, as a socioeconomic and ideological system, which runs on an engine of stratifying and destratifying itself. As Deleuze and Guattari reveal this to us, this is a cyclical process that is common to the state, to social institutions, to the subject, to the planet itself. Theirs is a structuralist critique which takes structuralism to its absolute limits. If you dig deep enough, you will find that nothing is as self-sustaining and self-constituting as it necessarily thinks it is.
An ethnonationalism, just like that held by the Christchurch shooter, is antithetical to this position, and this is a form of right-wing thought that even Nick Land has denounced. On his Xenosystems blog, in a post called “Outsideness”, Land writes how an inwards-facing neoreactionary (or NRx) thought holds “a firmly consolidated core identity [as its] central ambition.” It is “a micro-culture [which] models itself on a protected state, in which belonging is sacred, and boundaries rigorously policed.”
By contrast, an outwardly-oriented neoreactionary thought, which Land himself claims to adhere to, is “defined primarily by Exit, relat[ing] itself to what it escapes.” He notably mentions patchwork in relation to this outwards-facing position, calling it “a set of options, and opportunities for leverage, rather than a menu of potential homes.” Outer-NRx, then, for him, “is intrinsically nomad[ic], unsettled, and micro-agitational. Its culture consists of departures it does not regret.”
Now, I’m not a neoreactionary, but I think this internal analysis of the movement is productively nuanced and insightful. It is the kind of insight that the left also desperately needs. The contemporary left, as I understand it, at least here in the UK, has no sense of itself along these lines. But these lines are deeply important, not least for a defense of an accelerationist discourse and practice that fundamentally opposes the world view of terrorists like the Christchurch shooter.
The shooter is, undoubtedly, an observer of this inward-facing online discourse because, like him, an inward-facing neoreactionary politics is, by and large, ethnonationalist and isolationist. It doesn’t define itself by what it exits. It’s a grumpy and inarticulate teenager slamming the door behind them as they hide in a room in the house that the rest of us nevertheless have to live in, maybe playing their music really loud to make living here a misery for the rest of us, but being ultimately unwilling and unable to move out and live on their own. An outer-neoreactionary makes no such fuss. It simply packs a bag and leaves in the night, perhaps with nowhere to go.
For me, in my writing, I’ve been trying to explore the tensions of a leftist politics that nonetheless holds these same distinctions within itself, albeit typically unacknowledged. For example, Left-Accelerationism is often frequently derided online in certain circles, because it represents what began as a desire for an exit from capitalism that chose to reduce itself to a technosocialism — that is, a socialism that embraces technology, and particularly the state’s use of technology, to bring about utopian social change — i.e. fully automated labour, universal basic income, and things like that. This thought might not be ethnocentric but it nonetheless demands a firmly consolidated core identity. This could be an internationalism rather than a plain old nationalism, but the core identity is still central. And this is the same kind of tension that is central and unacknowledged with a project like the European Union today.
Personally, I’m all for the social freedoms that the EU proclaims to support and insist upon, and technologically improving our lives within that club would sure be nice, but I nonethless reject it as a fundamentally neoliberal project wherein our proud shared identity as Europeans is defined by a blanket neoliberalism and capitalism, where an inability and unwillingness to keep up with the herd is a punishable offence. This principle does have its benefits — wherein states and production lines are all held to the same standards when it comes to issues of human or animal rights, for instance, but this likewise applies to standards that are wholly capitalistic and neoliberal.
This point is particularly poignant for me this weekend as I spent most of yesterday on a Put It To The People march through central London. This was a one-million-strong march organised by a political group which is calling for any final Brexit deal to be put to the people in a final referendum. For reasons explored elsewhere, mostly my blog, I’ve noted how I am pro-exit but anti-Brexit. Brexit is a rejection of neoliberalism abroad in favour of neoliberalism at home. It is not an exit that I choose to recognise as such and so, personally, I’d be in favour of having the opportunity to judge that final exit plan and have a say in whether we go through with it and leave or reject it and remain.
What struck me was that, in defending accelerationism for much of the past week and denouncing the suggestion that I am in bed with fascists and terrorists, it was on this democratic people’s march that I felt more complicit in the terrors of a static pro-capitalist neoliberalism than I have ever previously felt, standing for three hours in Parliament Square only to leave after hearing a keynote speech from former deputy prime minister for the Conservative party under Margaret Thatcher, Michael Heseltine, who did not mince words, declaring the European project to be the direct result of the legacy of war-mongering racist Winston Churchill and queen amongst arseholes, his friend Margaret Thatcher.
I don’t want to leave the EU on Theresa May’s terms but I definitely don’t want to remain under the terms of Churchill and Thatcher.
It is this feeling of being caught between a rock and a hard place that the left fails to adequately acknowledge and counter, and it is because of this that I feel that we must make room for difference. There must be room for a thinking about the possible ways in which our expressions of desire can exist beyond the present state of things rather than always being expressed within them.
Patchwork, for me, is the name of prospective geopolitical desire which does not define itself by what it is already within — that is, by the infrastructures and institutions of capitalist nationhood — but rather defines itself by what it exits.
For many, this is a difficult thought to comprehend and make consistent with a leftist worldview, but that is not because it is in anyway right-wing. It is down to nothing other than the left’s own inward-facing and reductive sense of itself.
Let me explain this way: previously, via Mark Fisher, we defined accelerationism as a philosophical project which looks to the outside and attempts to sustain the exits that are opened out onto it by the systems in which we already live. And this is, in many respects, at least at the level of the individual subjectivity, a sort of first principle which defines many modern texts on ethics.
Emmanuel Levinas, for instance, defines his ethics by the primacy of the encounter with the Other — that is, a being who is outside oneself. Georges Bataille would likewise plot an ethics in this vein. However, Bataille emphasises the inherent evil of this encounter, that is, the risk it poses to the self. To communicate with another, for him, is to threaten one’s own life, figuratively speaking. We see ourselves just as we see capitalism, as we see the state, as self-contained and self-constituting beings, and in communicating with others we risk the violent destruction of that illusion.
This is precisely the tension that exists at the heart of inward- and outward-facing accelerationist politics. One response to this risk, which the Christchurch shooter undoubtedly felt about himself and white people more generally, is to turn away and fold back in on oneself. But this won’t do.
Whilst Bataille may see communication in itself as being “evil”, in its inherent risk to the self, it is a necessary evil. He writes in his book On Nietzsche:
The human being without evil would be folded onto himself, enclosed in his independent sphere. But the absence of “communication” — empty solitude — would be without any doubt a greater evil.
He continues — and I noticed that this is a quote which featured on the poster for this event:
… “communication” cannot take place without wounding or defiling the beings, is itself guilty. The good, in whatever way one envisions it, is the good of beings, but in wanting to attain it, we must ourselves question — in the night, through evil — the very being in relation to which we want it.
A fundamental principle is expressed as follows: “Communication” cannot take place between one full and intact being and another: it wants beings who question being in themselves, who place their being at the limit of death, of nothingness. The moral summit is the moment of risk, of the suspension of the being beyond itself, at the limit of nothingness.
This is the heart of Bataille’s ethical project, which takes the full weight of a communal living upon itself. This is also the heart of patchwork for me, which is too an ethical project as I see it.
Patchwork is the suspension of the nation-state beyond itself. It is an occulted image of the nation-state which defiles and wounds itself, and in the process defiles and wounds others around it, not with physical violence or warfare, but with thought and communication as instances of symbolic, linguistic, cognitive and technological perforation. It is a communication which demands an openness from that which is being communicated with. It is not a neoliberal multiculturalism, in this sense, which consolidates different within distinct nationalised totalities. It demands for the very real perforation of borders and boundaries. It is a system where nation-states question their very nature. They don’t sustain themselves on myths of foundation and constitution but embrace the amorphous and nomadic nature of the subjects which truly constitute their existence.
In a blog post written before his extended online hiatus back in 2017, Vince Garton would write on the misguided task of excavating accelerationism’s antedecents within writings on politics and philosophy. Finding previous examples of this sensation of acceleration might be thrilling and interesting but we need to jettison the past into the future, not simply point to it from the present. As such, Vince writes, concluding his blog post, that
the intellectual history and genealogy of accelerationism must look beyond the contingencies of its present expressions. To have any value, it must tap into the subterranean current of communication itself.
This, for me, is the role of patchwork in discussions around accelerationism — patchwork as that which accelerationism opens out onto — and this is something that I think Chris‘s talk explored in incredible depth. It is a world rethought along currents of communication rather than capital. It is a world that puts the other first in a way that capitalism cannot even conceive of. It is an almost Bataillean project of collective subjectivity and one which may transgress the world we know but only so we might egress out onto a world we don’t. It is not the strengthening of present borders of power. It is not the strengthening of patriarchy, of whiteness, of capitalism, of colonialism, of nationhood. Any project which calls for those things is no project of ours. We must accelerate the anomalies which emerge within these categories of hegemony and build a patchwork out of the amorphous results.
the problem with leftism being similar to religious belief isn’t that defiant conviction is a bad thing, quite the contrary really, but that it tends to become a source of comfort and secure identification in the present rather than a drive towards its practical overcoming 
since this is a bit abstract, there are people who will get upset if you treat any obstacle to leftist goals, be it reactionary ideologies or the historical unfolding of capitalism, as anything other than a problem that is already sufficiently addressed by the left 
Two tweets from @adornofthagn, posted the other day, that I am thinking about a lot. Posted here because I will inevitably want to refer back to them again in future.
I have been writing about an inner and outer left in various places recently, following on from a recent reading of the “Outsideness” post on Xenosystems in which Nick Land comments on an understanding of an Inner- and Outer-NRx.
The left has no understanding of itself alone these lines but it could do with one — @adornofthagn nails it on why.
In 2017, it felt like Accelerationism had reached its zenith in the UK’s public consciousness, being the subject of a “Long Read” on The Guardian and then later being humorously denounced by MP Jon Cruddas in The New Statesman as a “cyborg socialism” that the leftist humanists must vehemently reject.
The definitions of Accelerationism doing the rounds at that time were still the same annoying ones that have been around forever — “accelerate everything now!” — but it was mostly framed as positive and exciting. It was the last hurrah of Left-Accelerationism and the denouncement from Cruddas only helped frame this outside-seeking technological thinking as something cool for the kids.
The article, written by Rob Waugh, effectively equates Accelerationism with ethnonationalism across the board. Whilst the author of the article initially hints at some nuance, acknowledging that “Accelerationism” is a term that “is used in various different ways — at first referring to the idea that capitalism and technology should be ‘speeded up’ to bring about social change”, it goes on to contextualise accelerationism exclusively by its infrequent appearances in far-right discourses.
A bit of digging suggests that the entire article is based on “research” done by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which writes in its own article on Brenton Tarrant’s interests:
The alleged killer also espoused a belief in “accelerationism,” the idea that violence should be used to push Western countries into becoming failed states. Adherents hope the collapse will give rise to radical, presently unthinkable changes in our society.
Accelerationism is pushed heavily by admirers of the book Siege, a racist and pro-terrorism manifesto published over multiple years as a newsletter by neo-Nazi James Mason. It’s also a belief system that was promoted heavily on the neo-Nazi forum Iron March, users of which are linked to murders and terrorism in multiple Western countries.
Accelerationism being the suggestion that “violence should be used to push Western countries into becoming failed states” might be an entirely original definition as far as I can tell. It would surely only take a cursory Google to challenge what is an extremely niche appropriation.
A little further digging suggests that the SPLC first came across accelerationism in orbit of the far-right website Iron March. They have a separate article which explores the website’s belief in a “Trumpian fascist utopia”, which apparently means trying to implement a globalised national socialism — do you mean international socialism…? — that wants to smash nations in favour of an ethnonationalism. This is a series of backflips that I don’t think even the murdering terrorist in question could rationalise. They write:
Seemingly every news event discussed on Iron March was framed in the context of how it potentially could portend the collapse of society, giving way to a national socialist, genocidal planet. The convicted killer Arthurs even suggested in 2015, for example, that not Trump, but Jewish Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, could be “great” from an “accelerationist perspective.”
“Well, his policies would be suicidal for the state it would cost the state something like 24 trillion dollars,” Arthurs wrote as TheWeissewolfe on Sept. 23, 2015. “From an accelerationist perspective he’s great, on the other hand he could have far more devious and terrible policies that could harm us.”
Accelerationism refers to the idea that our neoliberal social order should be pushed to such an extreme degree that Western countries become failed states, giving rise to changes that would reshape our world in radical ways.
“[T]he collapse of society, giving way to a national socialist, genocidal planet” is just a string of discordant and contradictory concepts, revealing nothing but the hysteria of a nationalist realism, and, as a result, it weirdly resembles the sorts of critique I received last year when I wrote “State Decay“. The same concerns I had then arise again now.
What happens when popular media and apparently respectable political analysts react hysterically and squeamishly to anything that calls for change? The response to the shooter is, of course, proportionate — what he did was fucking horrific and nauseating — but why does this often lead to a doubling down on a middle-of-the-road inactivity and complacency in the flurry of op-eds and hot tweets that follow?
I joked about this on Twitter at first — it makes the political analysis of recent Twitter critics appear on a par with the nation’s most frequently discarded commuter-fodder, and they’ve certainly demonstrated that again today following the hub-bub around this article on Twitter (case in point) — but it also speaks to another theory that I have.
The right loves to make these kinds of vague calls towards radical social upheaval in order to raise false flags for the sake of their own conservatism. The more they shout loudly about change, the more people reject change in itself out of fear of being associated with the far-right. (My CuriousCat anon-troll demonstrated this very well.) This might sound silly but we’ve seen it happen repeatedly since 2017 and it is, ultimately, what killed off Left-Accelerationism as it climbed down into the more comfortable space of technosocialism.
So much is said, in the aftermath of these kinds of horrific events, about how these sorts of manifestos and massacres embolden the right — and the news cycle was peppered with suspected copycat cases in the days after the Christchurch massacres — but no one talks about how discourse on the supposed “left” becomes incredibly dumb and complicit in lesser evils in the aftermath, as calls for change are equated with the worst kinds of violence and complacency with the boring dystopia of the present becomes the moral high ground.
“Change”, as the vaguest of concepts, is jettisoned into extremism as the endgame of the Centrist Dad ouroboros. All the while, the right doubles down on its convictions whilst the left waivers from theirs, rejecting anything that may have been contaminated by a performative outsideness.
In the Communist Manifesto, for instance, Marx and Engels call for a “constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, [and] everlasting uncertainty and agitation”. We can find arguments for each of these things in the shooter’s manifesto, and in the portion on “accelerationism” in particular, when read in isolation, but only an idiot would compare these two manifestos based on their threats to the social order alone.
If this is all the context you require to denounce accelerationism, then you must surely denounce revolutionary politics of any kind.
I know I’m preaching to the converted here, but we live in some fucking weird times.
Update: Some further comments from Robin:
One thing to notice that makes these types F- at /acc: resentment at disappointed delusional faith in state and ‘voice’: always say ‘we were not consulted when our govt decided global technocapital & collapse of trad values.’ Daddy didn’t keep us safe so gonna beat up little bro. 
In this sense you can see the logic of saying that democracy, imperfectly implemented (ahem) as it always is, may just be fascism in a holding pattern. Once it becomes all too evident to brats that their voice means less than nothing, you’re gonna get a crayon in the eye 
Not that such a thing could happen here in Merrie England 
Yr essential point is good, indiscriminate troublemaking for the purposes of wanton destruction has a certain potentialcrossover with /acc (actually, we know someone like that) but their wholesale conflation is…dumb 
/acc seeks to be adequate to hypercapitalism as the irreversible breaching of horizon of any possible trad politics, this seems if anything about instrumental ‘acceleration’ of putrescence of libdem state in order to replace it with a different kind of state i.e. trad politics 
Noys is generally cited as having coined the term “Accelerationism” — intended to be an insult before being positively reclaimed by Mark Fisher. His book Malign Velocities is often cited as an important contemporary text by some; by others, it’s to blame for a torrent of bad and lazy readings of ?/Acc discourses.
Not that anyone should care, rightly, but I have spent a long time carefully explaining to a journalist why ‘accelerationism’ is not cognate with the NZ manifesto and that ‘left accelerationism’ is not catastrophist. In fact, it seems, that this ‘manifesto’, from what I have seen reported and quoted, has a classic logic of terror argument in the ‘exemplary act’ of violence. This is then linked to a internet culture notion of ‘chaos’ and ‘subversion’ as the scrambling of political signifiers (including that of accelerationism, which does of course have its right / NRx form). Anyway, while trivial in the face of the horror of that act, which is so despicable, not allowing this ‘chaos’ to spread into all our signifiers is something.
Update #3: I have expanded on all of the above in my recent #WYRDPATCHWORKSHOP presentation, which you can read here.
Update #4: A softened stance on this is explored here:
My post on the Christchurch shooting and the mention of accelerationism in the killer’s manifesto upset a lot of people I know IRL. I heard from a few people in the aftermath who had begun questioning my politics and saw the post as somehow apologist, putting the press discrepancies above the act itself on which they were reporting. As such, the lack of a hard-line disavowal when it came to an association with something I’m personally invested in was seen as misguided.
I didn’t understand why at the time but I see it now. That post was written within and for this online milieu but the post spread much further. It had the tone of someone preaching to the converted but I failed to appreciate, at the time, just how small a minority that is and was. Reading it now, I can hear that defiance against the press and various mainstream institutions that Trump likewise espouses.
Because no matter how reductive their article on accelerationism, attacking the Southern Poverty Law Centre is not a good look.
I’ve been doing some soul-searching about this all week and I think others have too. Where does the blame lie? And how much of it is attributable to Acc Twitter specifically?
As complete as the imageboard bastardisation of accelerationism is, the call to “exacerbate schism” in the social sphere is nonetheless in line with some of Nick Land’s more recent writings. But then, wasn’t that Mark’s position to some extent too? Wasn’t his call to reweird the world articulating the same thing — albeit semiotically rather than through direct and violent action? (Not that Land has ever advocated for violence — that seems to be the central innovation of the imageboard contingent.)
I feel there is a single observation at the root of all for accelerationism: the generation of alternatives within a system is an innately entropic process. That’s true of physics and surely also politics. If we can boil accelerationism down to anything, it is that observation.
This is something we see described in explicitly scientific terms by the right and something only gestured to by the left. (Again, this is something under the surface of all of Mark’s writings, even if he left the explicitly talk of entropy to Land.) However, as mentioned on Twitter recently, to sum up this purely scientific definition as “chaos reigns” is a woefully subjective reduction for a right-wing that frequently declares that facts don’t care about your feelings.
This is the mire of accelerationism to date. U/Acc’s previous attempts to re-emphasise the original (un)ground of accelerationism is arguably a response to the promiscuous and often problematic praxes that are built on top of a few sociopolitical observations — to the extent that the original observations are lost.
I can’t say what impact it is having beyond the appearance of imageboards in my WordPress referrals but if it means someone ends up as a hikikomori Kantian rather than white supremacist gun nut, I’ll take that lesser of the two evils any day.
Am I a blog nerd? Or am I a one-man black metal band? Do I write about patchwork? Or am I all about patch work? As my identity crisis continues, I’m trying to keep up the illusion this awesome logo belongs to something much cooler…
Over at the long-neglected Xenogothic BigCartel, you can now buy your very own Xenogothic back patch! They are 20 x 20 cm, white ink screenprinted on black fabric, featuring the wonderful Xenogothic logo designed by Matthew Fall McKenzie last year.
(A note on shipping: if the country you live in isn’t listed at check out, just email me or @ me on Twitter and I’ll sort it out.)
UPDATE: Books have all gone.
As a bonus, I found six copies of The Fisher-Function recently, a collection of essays by Mark Fisher that I helped put together back in 2017 for the summer term public lecture programme in the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths, University of London.
The book functioned as a reader which people could use and bring with them to the series of lectures, as they contained all the works by Mark that were to be discussed, and each one comes with a new introduction too.
These books were free to attendees and we’re in quite high demand. We contributors were given a few copies to share around as we saw fit but I never really found an opportunity to do anything with mine. In the end, I forgot all about them but then, when I came across them again at the back of a cupboard whilst digging out the sewing machine to put on this patch, it felt like now was a good time.
So, if you want one, the first six patch orders that say “BOOK PLZ!” in the “Notes or Instructions” bit of the checkout process will come with a free book, as a thank you for supporting this blog and for wanting to represent patchwise.
This session is gonna feature presentations from Chris Shaw who blogs over at The Libertarian Ideal who writes a lot of really great stuff and how has been exploring patchwork and its potentials in a great deal of depth (big fan!).
There will also be a talk from Rhett, the Gruppo Di Nun meatpuppet who blogs over here and who has written some brilliantly occulted accelerations texts over the past year (also a big fan!).
And, finally, there’ll be a presentation from Limits Are Us!, a Czech “open grassroots civic movement against coal mining and coal burning”. I’m not familiar with Limits Are Us! — I’m sorry to say — but it’s always great when we blogospheric agoraphobes are subjected to real-world activists.
Way back in October, I spent another week away in Cornwall, although this time with my girlfriend rather than on “deep assignment” at Urbanomic HQ.
For the first half of the week, I was sick with my first cold of the season. The second half of the week, it was my girlfriend’s turn… We got up to lots nonetheless but that dual autumnal burn-out was a very difficult one to get over. It lasted for most of the rest of the year, in fact, and it was so mentally corrosive that I ended up completely forgetting I’d even started this post in the subsequent haze.
As such, it’s a bit of a futile endeavour to try and finish it. I wanted to write about things whilst they were fresh but now it’s almost 6 months ago. Nevertheless, reshaping what was already here will no doubt be useful. I really want to write something long-form on Cornwall at some point and this is not it. I suspect there are far more conversations needed with Robin before something more substantial can coalesce between us but there is certainly something there, waiting for its moment. (There is another Cornwall visit on the cards so we’ll see what happens then.) For now, this is an attempt to write down a couple of things before they fall completely out of my mind-sieve.
Here’s what I (can remember that I) did on my holidays…
My old post, “Lovers Flight“, on the Yorkshire Gothic and Deleuzean patchwork, has continued bubbling in the background on this blog since I first wrote it. It was the most important post of last year for me. It galvanised something in my thinking — much more than its precursor: “State Decay“, despite that post being considerably more popular — and so I’ve been trying to extend this out into something much more long-form and rigorous, taking in some of the other areas of the UK that share a natural and cultural affinity with the Gothic, but it’s not happened yet. It’s a project that feels so big I think it will have to be book number two. But I really need to finish book number one first…
Daphne Du Maurier has felt like the next literary genius worthy of consideration within this project but linking the Yorkshire and Cornish moors felt like a pretty tenuous leap to make, at first, without enough to justify ignoring their 300-mile disconnection. However, walking through a collector’s fair in St. Ives back in October, I came across a second-hand book stall which was selling about six different editions of a book by Du Maurier herself called Vanishing Cornwall, an exploration of her adopted home that poignantly made the Brontë connection for me. She writes:
The four surviving children, Charlotte, Emily, Anne and the brother Bramwell, had a Cornish mother whom they barely remembered, and a Cornish aunt to instruct them in their most formative years. This heritage played an undoubted part in the development of later genius, and if Emily Bronte, and Wuthering Heights, will always be associated with the Yorkshire moors it must not be forgotten that both her mother and her aunt had on their own doorstep, through childhood and adolescence, the wild moorland scenery, the stories and the legends of West Penwith.
Whilst I cannot profess to have any Cornish relatives to instil me with a moorland mentality, my mother, whilst she was still lucid, would obsess over Du Maurier’s book Rebecca. (Until last year, I didn’t think Du Maurier was “cool” at all because my Mum liked her so much. How wrong I was!) My main memory of going to Cornwall, as a kid, aside from listening to lots of Limp Bizkit, is going to see “Manderley” — although, in the most wonderfully disorientating fashion, I’ve since realised that this visit has become an oneiric entanglement of fact and fiction. I vividly remember the feeling of seeing “Manderley” in the flesh but the vision of the house in my mind’s eye is very much confused with the images of the place conjured up by Alfred Hitchcock and whoever did the set design for a stage adaptation my Mum dragged me too one time at the Hull New Theatre.
So, as much as I have previously played up a kind of tongue-in-cheek Yorkshire nationalism on this blog, in orbit of the prospect of an independence movement, it must be said that what has stuck me most about my various jaunts around this weird little island is that Yorkshire shares many strong affinities with other counties and countries, that are all rooted in the futile Celtic resistance of English imperialism. (Yes, at “home” as well as abroad.) The attraction of moors and the eerie countryside more generally seems, to me, to be based in a Gothic refusal to conform to a consolidated sense of Englishness. As such, my affirmation of my home’s difference is most important to me because it is a difference shared.
The affinities that Yorkshire shares with other territories around the United Kingdom are precisely rooted in this Hobbesian horror — darkened corners of this kingdom that may not have identified with but nonetheless live in the shadow of leviathan, moulded to its shape over centuries by state oppression and class war. The combined heritages of neglect and, in particular, mining mean these affinities go back a long way. I remember feeling this most intensely in Wales. In fact, many other Yorkshire folk I met whilst I was living in Wales a few years back spoke of a very similar natural affinity to its landscape and cultural identity, and people I’d meet in Wales who’d been to Yorkshire would acknowledge the same thing.
These anti-English, or more broadly anti-imperialist, folk traditions — which is to say, folk traditions that survive today as an indirect but no doubt conscious two fingers up to English cultural erasure — are directly linked to the occult, and this is likewise an attraction I have felt existing between Wales and my Yorkshire home — I lived down the road from the Welsh birthplace of Arthur Machen, for instance — and also to Cornwall.
This is to say that, everywhere I’ve lived — except London, notably — it always felt like class consciousness and an affinity with the occult have gone hand-in-hand and Cornwall is no different. Its history of tin mining collides with its various archaeological sights and the mists of its moors. In Cornwall with Robin, this sense of an occultural weather was felt most prominently as we trekked across moors in thick fog and fine drizzle, in search of a crop of standing stones with only an Ordinance Survey map for guidance, carving out a meandering path, avoiding the map markers for abandoned mine shafts.
With far less fog on this October trip, our situation was less moored and more marooned. We found the various standing stones and outcrops with ease and, with the sun blaring down on us, we instead elected to spend a lot more of our time along the coast.
However, it is worth noting that, with visibility high, you get a sense of Cornwall’s illusory island mentality when, from some vantage points on the moors, you can see the whole Cornish peninsula stretch out in front of you with the sea encroaching on both sides. At Land’s End, where we spent one of our days, this sensation is heightened further still, with the expanse of the sea in front of you taking on the weight of the whole of this weird little nation as it unfolds for infinity behind you.
You feel like you’re at the absolute ends of the earth, with the land not stopping, transitioning from earth to beach, but petering out as jagged rock, as if the land forgets itself, dissolving into the abyss like everything else.
A little further round the coast at Lizard Point, the feeling is much the same. Whilst Land’s End is the furthest flung extremity of England, Lizard is its most southernly point. Rather than visit it for this fact alone, it was the first coastal spot on a secret musical sightseeing tour.
Countless times I had listened to Brian Eno’s track of the same name, thinking what this place might actually be like. It did not disappoint as a treacherous bit of coast littered with shipwrecks, caves and seals, although the wealth of tourist activity did dilute the mystery somewhat.
This was the case at a number of other musical spots as well. We went to Logan Rock too, for instance, looking for the Logan Rock Witch but found nothing but a quaint dock and a picturesque sun trap.
However, as is the case with many other popular tourist spots in Cornwall, there is a sense that you would find the atmosphere you were looking for if you were to return at a less sociable hour. It felt like, to see Cornwall properly, when it wasn’t trying to sell itself, you had to see it at night.
St. Michael’s Mount was another Aphex Twin tourist landmark but this one, at least, retained the wonder of its spectacle. It also had an intriguing and potent Gothic history.
On a wall in the visitor centre, it says:
In medieval times, St Michael was thought to determine whether the souls of the recently dead went to Heaven or Hell.
Holy places on hills and mountains were often dedicated to him as the mediator between God and man, which was the case with St Michael’s Mount. We still honour this tradition.
It is surprising, reading this, that there are no other St Michael’s Mounts in Cornwall. It is a part of the world drenched in the sublime. This is felt in equal amounts of terror and wonder. Indeed, there were times when these coastal settlements felt somewhat like they were trying to harness something not of this world, sometimes against better judgement.
We visited one hamlet, for instance, that was nothing but a dock and a few cottages. New houses and a caravan park had been recently built not far away but there was a sense that the original settlers here had not wanted to be bothered. They were tucked very much into the landscape.
It felt like Innsmouth, with the harbour only there to keep up a pretence whilst they communed with something from below. Because the harbour didn’t go out to sea. It simply added a further barrier to something from within an already cloistered cove, embedded within an already existing natural frontier. It felt like something untoward was being kept out. But you couldn’t say what.
We spent a lot of time finding places such as this along the coast. I took hundreds of pictures of them. Too many to fit in this post. One other particularly notable example of this kind of sublime communion, however, was the Minack Theatre — an open-air theatre built over a 50-year period directly into the cliff face.
It was built, originally, to perform Shakespeare on during and after the war. If I remember correctly, one of the first plays performed there was The Tempest and what a perfect play to perform on this coastline of all coastlines.
Further examples exist inland. There are standing stones and stone circles everywhere. Walking through them, you might feel something pass through you. Everyone seems to be built on the perfect spot where land and sky fold into one another.
This is something felt more profoundly than anything on this trip. Of course this strip of land is littered with the archaeological detritus of sun worship.
I’m reminded, at every turn, of Bataille’s text The Solar Anus, describing this great entropic churn back to the plane of immanence. The Cornish coast feels attuned to it. It is the land’s end, England’s end, and it knows it. It loves it. Cornwall is born where England comes to die, its corpse tossed around by the tide.
Plants rise in the direction of the sun and then collapse in the direction of the ground.
Trees bristle the ground with a vast quantity of flowered shafts raised up to the sun.
The trees that forcefully soar end up burned by lightning, chopped down, or uprooted. Returned to the ground, they come back up in another form.
But their polymorphous coitus is a function of uniform terrestrial rotation.
The simplest image of organic life united with rotation is the tide. From the movement of the sea, uniform coitus of the earth with the moon, comes the polymorphous and organic coitus of the earth with the sun.
But the first form of solar love is a cloud raised up over the liquid element. The erotic cloud sometimes becomes a storm and falls back to earth in the form of rain, while lightning staves in the layers of the atmosphere.
The rain is soon raised up again in the form of an immobile plant.
Animal life comes entirely from the movement of the seas and, inside bodies, life continues to come from salt water.
The sea, then, has played the role of the female organ that liquefies under the excitation of the penis.