Dambusted: Some Thoughts on Recent Events

The last week in our house has been dominated by the news coming out of Whaley Bridge.

We have lots of friends and family that live in the area and I lived in the village myself for six months back in 2016. We’ve spent so many summers there and we still go up for Christmas every year.

It’s my girlfriend’s neck of the woods more than mine and so she has been more resolutely glued to every passing development. Thankfully everyone she knows lives outside the danger zone but it’s been intriguing to hear from family and friends and realised that the news reports don’t quite do the anxiety of the situation justice whilst also preying on any slip in local resolve.

We laughed that one news report talked about a town at emotional breaking point after a journalist saw one woman crying when, according to the people we’ve spoken to who were not evacuated, the intense air pressures whipped up by the Chinook dropping sandbags on the dam have caused more stress than the dam itself. Apparently, the sound of the thing has been threatening to blow out windows all over the town.

Things were very tough-and-go for a minute though. Were the dam to have given way with an overflowing reservoir, the resulting flood would have likely destroyed large parts of not just Whaley Bridge but two other towns down the valley. It was a real disaster movie scenario.

Thankfully they’re now in the clear.

One of the most interesting things to come out of this week, for me, has been discussions around “fake news” in orbit of all this. A strange phrase rendered completely devoid of meaning by its association with Donald Trump, it is nonetheless interesting when something, somewhere or someone you know so intimately is being plastered all over the national press. The inaccuracies are frequent and egregious.

Trump evidently sees press reporting as particularly hostile to his existence. This is to be expected — he is a shitstain — but I also wonder what it is like to read the news from his perspective. I’m sure, from the myopia of his own individual position, that “fake news” is likewise peppered with genuine — if nonetheless innocuous — inaccuracies.

But it takes a special kind of narcissist to reject the practice of journalism as a whole in light of a few indiscrepancies. The day-to-day fallibility of journalism is, arguably, necessary. Infuriating, yes, but anything too holistic and adamant in its worldview skirts the edge of propaganda. The likes of Piers Morgan — who Trump obviously likes — who spews mind-numbingly predictable and opinionated bile, is nonetheless seen as more trustworthy to some because of the brick-wall adamance of his own position.

I’m left feeling like you need the flaws for journalism to feel discursive and human.

Toddbrook Reservoir, 2013

On a similar note, the less said about the press coverage around accelerationism this week the better. That dam is likewise busted and it feels like the flood of outside scrutiny is due any day now.

As far as I’m concerned, everything I need to say has been said already. However, I don’t want to share my old post on the Christchurch shooter here without a little further context.

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.

Personally, I feel like my conscience is clean. Whilst it was likewise only written for this corner of the internet, the spread of my U/Acc Reader as a counterpoint to the alt-right definition on the imageboards where these shooters are emerging from is not something I expected. But I’m glad to see it.

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.


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