The “Accelerationist” Subject of Modernity: A Stray Thought

…let us recall the formation of national identity through resistance to colonialist domination: what precedes colonialist domination is self-enclosed ethnic awareness, which lacks the strong will to resist and to assert its identity forcefully against the Other; only as a reaction to colonialist domination is this awareness transformed into active political will to assert one’s national identity against an oppressor — anti-colonialist national liberation movements are stricto sensu generated by colonialist oppression; that is to say, it is this oppression which brings about the shift from passive ethnic self-awareness grounded in mythical tradition to the eminently modern will to assert one’s ethnic identity in the form of a nation-state. One is tempted to say that the will to gain political independence from the coloniser in the guise of a new independent nation-state is the ultimate proof that the colonized ethnic group is thoroughly integrated into the ideological universe of the colonizer. We are dealing here with the contradiction between the enunciated content and the position of enunciation: as for the enunciated content, the anti-colonialist movement, of course, conceives itself as a return to pre-colonial roots, as asserting one’s cultural, etc., independence from the colonizer — but the very form of this assertion is already taken over from the colonizer: it is the form of Western nation-state political autonomy — no wonder the Congress Party in India, which led to independence, was instigated by English liberals and organized by Indian intellectuals studying at Oxford. Does not the same hold for the multitude of quests for national sovereignty among the ethnic groups of the ex-Soviet Union? Although Chechens evoke their hundred-year-old struggle against Russian domination, today’s form of this struggle is clearly the outcome of the modernizing effect of the Russian colonization of traditional Chechen society.

Against [Judith] Butler, one is this tempted to emphasize that Hegel was well aware of the retroactive process by means of which oppressive power itself generates the form of resistance — is not this very paradox contained in Hegel’s notion of positing the presuppositions, that is, of how the activity of positing-mediating does not merely elaborate the presupposed immediate-natural Ground, it thoroughly transforms the very core of its identity? The very In-itself to which Chechens endeavour to return is already mediated-posited by the process of modernization, which deprived them of their ethnic roots.

This argumentation may appear Eurocentrist, condemning the colonized to repeat the European imperialist pattern by means of the very gesture of resisting it — however, it is also possible to give it precisely the opposite reading. That is to say: if we ground our resistance to imperialist Eurocentrism in the reference to some kernel of previous ethnic identity, we automatically adopt the position of a victim resisting modernisation, of a passive object on which imperialist procedures work. If, however, we conceive our resistance as an excess that results from the way brutal imperialist intervention disturbed our previous self-enclosed identity, our position becomes stronger, since we can claim that our resistance is grounded in the inherent dynamics of the imperialist system — that the imperialist system itself, through its inherent antagonism, activates forces that will bring about its own demise.

When the Accelerationist blogosphere rejects the violent far-right white nationalist form of “accelerationism” as an embodiment of the very subject Accelerationism first set out to critique, surely the above — taken from Žižek‘s The Ticklish Subject, of all places — perfectly encapsulates why.

In asserting an ethnic grounding to whiteness, given form by modernisation, by violently rejecting the other social processes inherent to modernity, they don’t realise how they are embodying rather than protesting the process in which they are complicit.

Philosophical accelerationism, in all of its guises, and no matter what we think of them, is at least an attempt to map out and engage with these spiralling logics with a certain amount of self-awareness. 4chan Accelerationism does not.

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