Accelerationism and Hubris

“We must all die as egos and be born again in the swarm…”

Today the internet has been infuriated with “The Anarcho-Accelerationist”. Earlier, they posted a weird tweet and it instantly became a meme:

Please stop asking me philosophy questions. I have never cared about philosophy, I haven’t read whatever philosopher you assume that I have, I have no plans to read them either.

I became a major acc thinker without reading any Deleuze. I assume philosophy just isn’t important.

Whilst the experience of a Twitter pile-on is never great, it is rare for anyone around these parts to get ratio’d like this, and there’s arguably a lesson to be learned from the wreckage.

“The Anarcho-Accelerationist” has interpreted the lesson of their own ridiculing to be that people don’t like to hear that philosophy is useless, but most instead seem to be ridiculing their self-aggrandising position regarding accelerationism and the online discourse surrounding it.

There’s potential to see the reactions to this as bitter gatekeeping but I think there is more to it than that. I’d say it’s true that you don’t need to read any specific thinker to understand what accelerationism is getting at but, in their case, it’d probably help… A lot.

One of the central threads that runs through the two works that constitute Capitalism & Schizophrenia is the idea of an “anti-ego”, and this is primarily where Anarcho-Accelerationism falls repeatedly on its face, for me, as a political project. Take, for instance, these two bullet points, supposedly articulating interpretations of my own work on accelerationism through an anarchist prism:

• There is a war against the imagination. Fight back.

• You are not significant. Seek your own freedom, do not futilely try to change the entire world.

I sort of see what they are getting at here but there’s a sentiment that is wholly absent from this and it is, ironically enough, the sentiment of acceleration.

Yes, there is a war going on against the imagination, but you don’t remedy that by disappearing up inside yourself in search of “your own freedom”… That’s okay though — all is not lost! In fact, Deleuze can help you with this.

On reading the point about “seeking your own freedom”, I was reminded of a passage from the sixth plateau on making yourself a Body Without Organs in which D+G write:

Where psychoanalysis says, “Stop, find your self again,” we should say instead, “Let’s go further still, we haven’t found our BwO yet, we haven’t sufficiently dismantled the self.”

This process of going further still is the process that accelerationism is arguably most concerned with. It is the acceleration of ego-dissolution that capitalism itself, in piggybacking on our own desires, encourages despite itself.

Here, the ego is the “I”, the monolithic subject — total; holistic, just as The Anarcho-Accelerationist seems to view capital itself. For D+G, however, the fundamental problem with the ego is that it is a scalable entity, applicable to the self, the family, the state, the world itself. What they argue for, instead, is its dissolution at every level.

Every so-called accelerationist that has bastardised this philosophy’s ideas, whether violently or innocuously, always seems to miss this point.

Alex picked up on this in perhaps the most brutal dismissal of the Anarcho-Accelerationist’s grandstanding when they tweeted: “No offense but even the New Zealand shooter is a far more major acc thinker than this guy.” There’s a darkly prescient point to be made with this burn.

Repeatedly the point has been made, by numerous people, that the tragic irony of the Christchurch shooter’s affiliation with 4chan Accelerationism is that he was, in fact, the very subject that accelerationism initially sets out to critique: the sort of subject that, when feeling trapped within the pressure cooker of modernity, lashes out in a violent attempt to demonstrate the strength of their own identitarian category. (Think: “You will not replace us.”)

Bolstering your own desires by simply affirming them out loud is a bad look whether you’re on the right or the left — even more so if you’re in your own individualised political quadrant. (“De-individualise” was Foucault’s advice for leading a non-fascist life, in light of Anti-Oedipus, lest we forget.) Instead, it is precisely the hunkering down underneath your own ego when under threat that constitutes the insignificance of the modern subject and it is this which constantly undermines the Anarcho-Accelerationist’s project. Even when it seems to hit all of the right notes and pay lip service to all the right ideas, something still stinks about it — and it has been clear for a while that this is an over-abundance of ego.

If you want to get accelerationism, pay closer attention to these moments of hubris when they’re pointed out to you. Reading Deleuze and Guattari — both for the philosophical content of their works and the actual experience of reading it — is still the best place to start if you want to take a scalpel to your ego.

That’s not useless. For The Anarcho-Accelerationist in particular, it’s essential.

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