On 16th January at 21.00 UTC+1, I’ll be giving a talk at the Association for the Design of History.
I’ll be sharing some new research for this event, framing Evan Calder Williams and China Miéville’s concept of “salvagepunk” as the missing link between hauntology and accelerationism — two conceptual approaches to late capitalism that are often seen as opposed to one another but which can nonetheless be traversed diagonally and generatively.
The Philosophy of Salvagepunk: On the Missing Link between Accelerationism and Hauntology
The mid-2000s were a melting pot of philosophical experimentation. New names and new positions were thrust into the open with a brash regularity. A few of these names and positions caught on, only to fall into disrepute. Hauntology — associated with Mark Fisher and Simon Reynolds, and initially borrowed from Jacques Derrida — was one such name. It spoke to the lingering presence of apparently thwarted cultural trends, and the effect of this haunting on emergent new movements. It was later denounced as a pretentious byword for middle-aged nostalgia, coming to represent the very tendency he sought to critique.
Another name was accelerationism, introduced to the blogosphere by Benjamin Noys and Alex Williams. Hauntology’s hyperactive cousin, accelerationism was a “political heresy” that sought to midwife political newness by gutting a conservative belief in the “end of history”. It, too, has fallen on its own sword, now a byword for society’s most reactionary tendencies in the 21st century — again, coming to represent the very thing it sought to critique.
Between these two maligned philosophies lies another that has managed to pass under the radar, successfully synthesising their individual sensibilities whilst avoiding the cannibalistic contradictions of contemporary critical theory. Its name is salvagepunk, coined by Evan Calder Williams and China Miéville.
This talk will consider what this missing link between accelerationism and hauntology can teach us today, and what its aesthetic considerations mean for any new cultural movement that hopes to design new spaces for future politics using the untapped potentials of past radicalisms.