United Sea-Nations II

Following the announcement last week that someone recently pitched seasteading to the UN, an article has appeared over on CityLab which goes into more detail over the project’s reception. It also ends on an oddly moot note:

Floating infrastructure and neighborhoods may work well in some parts of the world, like the Netherlands. But in many other places, “it’s not clear at all that retreating to these pod cities of 10,000 people each is going to solve anything,” Goh said. In Jakarta, for instance, if the city keeps sinking at the same rate it is now, 4 to 5 million people might be displaced. A dozen Oceanix Cities would barely make a dent in that crisis.

The flaw in the Oceanix vision is not its utopianism: Utopian thinking is essential, now more than ever. But this is a narrow, escapist, apolitical utopia, rather than a truly bold and capacious one. In Goh’s words, “We do need utopian visions” for sustainable cities in the era of climate change. “But the utopian visions have been wrong so far.”

The cynicism and realism is welcomed and to be expected. It certainly is a sort of utopian thinking, but I think the suggestion that seasteading’s new rebrand is an apolitical utopianism is very interesting. Precisely because to call it that previously would have been utterly bizarre. What has arguably held the project back so far has been its affiliation with an explicitly libertarian utopianism; an oceanic Randianism. To others, it’s BioShock overtones have made it politically dystopian. At no point in its development, until now, could it have ever been considered to be apolitical.

So, perhaps understandably, if you’re a seasteading PR person, you argue that they should remove the politics and try to sell it to a largely “centrist” world organisation in the UN, with its primary focus being on common issues and big pots of cash, pitching it in a way that might be more intriguing to its diverse member-states. It is obviously going to appear somewhat apolitical.

Apparently, that’s no good either. So what is the solution?

One solution is, of course, to just pack it up and go home, but to play devil’s advocate for seasteading, I think the real problem here is the paradox of “utopian thinking” in general.

We do need utopian visions … but the utopian visions have been wrong so far

This is the persistent catch-22 of all utopian thinking, isn’t it? There is never going to be a utopia that is utopian for all. So to still parrot that response to an engineering project which was largely built on the secessionist sympathies of Silicon Valley makes me wonder where the real issues are here. It is, by design, scalable and modular. Is the problem really the new lack of politics and that they’re just not going to be big enough? Or is it instead to do with the underlying and prospective issue of sovereign grey areas making nations unsteady?

United Sea-Nations

A further update to this blog’s very infrequent charting of seasteading developments.

Yesterday, Business Insider India posted a Twitter thread and article about the UN’s full repackaging of the Seasteading Institute’s patchwork vision for the future of “urban” development.

The @UN just unveiled a design for a new floating city that can withstand Category 5 hurricanes [1]

What once seemed like the moonshot vision of tech billionaires and idealistic architects could soon become a concrete solution to several of the world’s most pressing challenges. [2]

At a @UN roundtable on Wednesday, a group of builders, engineers, and architects debuted a concept for an affordable floating city. [3]

The company believes a floating city project would address both dire housing shortages and threats from rising sea levels. The structures themselves would be designed to withstand all sorts of natural disasters, including floods, tsunamis, and Category 5 hurricanes. [4]

The city would essentially be a collection of hexagonal platforms that can each hold around 300 residents. [5]

The designers consider a group of six platforms to be a “village.” The entire city would contain six villages, for a total of around 10,000 residents. [6]

The villages wouldn’t allow any high-emitting cars or trucks. [7]

The concept calls for “ocean farming,” which would involve growing food beneath the surface of the water. [8]

Though it’s referred to as a “floating city,” the community would actually be moored to the ocean floor. [9]

The city could also contain an aquifer system that pulls clean water out of the air. [10]

Pulling off a floating city concept is difficult, but within reach. It’s somewhat akin to landing on the moon. [11]

The scepticism which followed this thread — “This is how dystopian YA novels begin” [12]; “Presumably to be used by the rich in international waters to avoid paying tax.” [13] — is the same as it ever was, and with most being sceptical about how sound the engineering of these seasteads would be.

From what I’ve seen, seastead engineering is the least of its problems, with some brilliant people contributing to the project in its various guises.

However, I agree that the issue of who controls these spaces is a big issue. The “Oceanic Randianism” inherent to a lot of the Seasteading Institute’s PR ventures was poison if they wanted it to take hold within the popular imagination and last time I wrote about this it was following a major shift in how the Institute was presenting itself to the public. There was a major quietening of its founders’ political allegiances — although it’s uncertain if this was a genuine attempt to be more open or just a PR move.

There was a moment, about a year ago, when the Seasteading Institute’s project seemed dead in the water. Deals with certain nation-states to build in their waters quickly soured as trust evaporated into the same pervasive scepticism. The UN’s plans, though, whilst totally rebranded, seem to be exactly the same as what the Seasteading Institute was selling a year ago, so I do wonder about what has been going on behind the scenes… Selling it wholesale to the United Nations is certainly a major compromise on the part of the Seasteading Institute’s exit-oriented beginnings (if these two things truly are related). Perhaps this could be a smart move? But it’s hard not to assume it is a cunning one also.

Personally, I’m distrustful of the UN, anyway. There is a sense that it is nothing but a xenosystem for hegemonic neoliberal ideals. As such, I’m not sure if an intergovernmental approach to seasteading sounds like even more of a recipe for disaster than keeping it as a Silicon Valley pet project… The UN’s general position as an extraterritorial organisation is an interesting one, however, and this could be an interesting step towards the perforation of consolidated state powers and their proneness to tantrums over sovereignty, but all I see in its future is the UN’s member-states squabbling over various rights and protections. I’d like to be proven wrong, though.

One comment on this thread made the suggestion that this could be a great solution to various refugee crises, with seasteads becoming havens for forced or wilful nomads. That could start something really positive but, of course, there is a lot that remains to be seen…

God Disembowels Himself: Further Notes on Accelerationism & Patchwork

If this post appears somewhat fragmented, that is because I’ve built it out of some stuff that got discarded whilst I was working on my #WYRDPATCHWORKSHOP talk a few weeks back. I’d recommend giving that a read first for some broader context but it’s not essential.

Patchwork, in the work of Nick Land in particular, is seen as a geopolitical desire that is, explicitly, strapped onto the branch of contemporary political philosophy known as Accelerationism. For Land, it seems, “accelerating the process” patchwise, in a way that is socioeconomically affective, relates to cutting out the middleman when it comes to capitalism’s influence.

Rather than having governments hire corporations, just accept that governments can’t keep up with the new techonomic world and, instead, let’s have a do-over.

This is a major generalisation, of course, and it is one which favours a particularly dystopian vision of the world from the left. However, whilst many see Land’s arguments as being associated with the “sovereign corporations” of Mencius Moldbug, hard to favour in light of contemporary inequality and the rampant ineffectuality of privatisation, there are also arguments to be made for a patchwork that could likewise resemble a fragmentary socialism where the “nationalisation” of industry is not just the further consolidation of state power. It could be seen less as the absorption of all business into the state and instead the absorption of the state by local business. This too is a generalisation — I’m trying to be brief — but suffice it to say that the overarching point of patchwork is that, regardless of where your politics lie, what comes under fire is the modern state form as the most formidable barrier to new political imaginaries.

This observation might sound all well and good but, predictably, patchwork ends up coming up against many of the same problems that accelerationism has in recent years. To enforce any particular left or right variant is sort of antithetical to what patchwork as a mode of thought is trying to attune itself to. This is not to simply hold up multiplicity as an end unto itself but rather to better account for the ground from which various contemporary tendencies move outwards from.

I recently published a primer on this intention as it is found in the discourse around unconditional accelerationism. Unconditional accelerationism, in contrast to a left or right accelerationism (and a dozen other variations of this philosophy that proliferate online) attempts to describe a process which unfolds beyond the realm of politics. This is not to ignore politics but rather to acknowledge that politics itself is expressed from within an overarching process from which it is not, in itself, distinct. We could even say that politics is dependent on this process — to quote a recent Ed Berger tweet: “the conditioned is dependent on the unconditional“.

As far as I am concerned, patchwork thinking is the real-world political arm of this analysis. It says: Here is the tendency that we see unfolding across decades, even centuries — that is, the unruly spread of capitalist nationhood, symptomatic of an attempt to quieten a certain ‘jangling of nerves’ — and here are a series of speculative geopolitical predictions which we see as worthy of encouragement if we want to effectuate real change from within the midst of this process rather than be mindless slaves to its affectations.

This makes patchwork a sort of antistatecraft. Just like capitalism, the territorialisation of the state, in its restlessness, opens doors for us which reveal new ways of geopolitical organisation, and patchwork attempts to provide a way of thinking them which are beyond the conditioned imaginary of the modern state form. It is an attempt to chart the unruly development of the state form itself to reveal its contingency as just one of a plurality of possible forms of interrelation between peoples and peoples-to-come. It is to follow the innate line of flight of the “state-form” we know in order to produce other kinds of state.

I sort of discussed this during my first #WYRDPATCHWORKSHOP talk, when I talked about how the Wyrd Sisters in Shakespeare’s Macbeth offer us an example of an occulted, minoritarian outsideness, but one that is also strangely fatalistic. The fatalistic nature of this example has continue to be a issue in my mind and so the question lingers: when we talk about processes of deterritorialisation — innate entropic death drives within systems which pull towards their own demise — to what extent does this betray a deterministic approach to capitalism or geopolitics — that is, a sense of inevitability, or fatalism.

I wrote the U/Acc primer in part to try and address this problem as it is found in accelerationism. I was frustrated that accelerationism was being frequently reduced to the belief that we need to somehow speed up capitalism’s downfall no matter the cost — as if we have any real say in the matter — but I was also frustrated by a tendency to equate this determinism with a straight-up delusional religiosity which is betrayed by an interest in sci-fi or weird fiction; or narrative, fiction and myth more generally.

For me, the implicit reason for enjoying this approach is to suggest that we can read something like H.P. Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu, for example, and rather than just do the Cultural Studies thing of saying what the text is doing in the most boring way possible, we can instead try to tap into the power of that story and replicate the power of that mythos for our present moment, by putting into the very process of cultural production an occulted thinking that these sorts of stories bring to light at the limits of our conditioned realities. So, we shouldn’t just analyse culture in this way but actively try to produce it in its own outsider image.

Despite this, for some, this approach is reduced to such dumb dismissals as “Accelerationism is a sci-fi Cthulhu Cult that believes a giant dead octopus at the bottom of the ocean controls the world’s economy and doesn’t care about real-world affects and risks”…

And yet, in contrast to accelerationism, patchwork has never quite had to deal with this kind of critique, at least not to the same extent, perhaps because we’re a lot more familiar with thinking about the state in this way. Thomas Hobbes, for example, way back in 1651, wrote Leviathan, in which the state is presented to us in abstract, evoking the spectacle of a great whale, a kraken, a sea monster, albeit one cast in a positive light. Leviathan — used to give an image to a strong, undivided government — is, for Hobbes, despite the innate horror of the image, something to strive for.

Vincent Garton, on the Urbanomic website in 2017, wrote a marvellous essay — and a key patchwork text — in which he critiques Hobbes’ use of this image and calls, instead, for the formulation of “an Anti-Leviathan” — Leviathan Rots. Vince writes that what we need is “an enthusiasm that will be absolute, not relative, comfortable in its disjuncture, a theoretical orientation that is not dependent on a praxis of repetition of hegemony, but is open and expectant towards the processes that are ripping up the Leviathan — divesting it of its oceanic pretences, and drowning it in the expansive flux of the deep, green sea….”

Vince is a very interesting character within all of this, and a key contributor to these ideas. Between 2016 and 2017, he had a persistent online presence and was known for being a prolific and authoritative blogger on the topic of “unconditional accelerationism”. Then, at some point, he disappeared.

Vince’s last blog post, at this time, published on his Cyclonograph blog in July 2017, discussed the potential excavation of the antecedents of accelerationism — accelerationism, he writes, is, on “the most superficial level”, only about a decade old but it is also, at “its unspoken core … impossibly ancient.” This is because, he continues, accelerationism is “more a ‘jangling of the nerves’ than a set of doctrines”. It can be traced back through many paths and many cultures. Acceleration is, he says, a “sensation”, perhaps described most frequently by those in the West but it is nonetheless felt around the world. To reduce this tendency to any singular canonical trajectory is to reductively construct a bad genealogy. To relativise it is a mistake. Just as he calls for in Leviathan Rots, we need an “Absolute” approach to accelerationism — an unconditional approach.

We might say that accelerationism, then, is a philosophy which attempts to describe the unruly nature(s) of the politics we see erupting out of modernity and treat them accordingly, rejecting the consolidatory tendency of the state form and its striving for a total(itarian)ising theory which is innately false, only choosing to acknowledge a select number of the inputs that give it its form — that is, ejecting that which betrays the system of nation-state or capitalism as insufficient. As such, Vince writes, ending his previous blog on something of a cliffhanger: “When it is written, then, the intellectual history and genealogy of accelerationism must look beyond the contingencies of its present expressions.”

A year later, in July 2018, Vince returned, with a new blog, Cyclonograph II, and a seemingly new focus. His first piece of writing published around this time was an essay for the online magazine Jacobite entitled “Catholicism and the Gravity of Horror“, detailing his Catholicism and the horror integral to such a religious position, which many seemed to read, on the one hand, as a retraction of past political dalliances, or, on the other, as a conflation of Accelerationism with Catholicism itself. (Not a manoeuvre attractive to many tech-savvy secularists.)

But what Vince is describing here is the way in which the Church have followed the lead of the State in consolidating itself into an authoritative institution despite the ways in which its “ground” suggests an antithetical approach. He is putting forward a Catholicism which looks beyond the contingencies of its present expressions. He writes:

The Church today, mystical body of Christ that it remains, is not the ideal Church. Across its history it has been all too easy to founder, driven to despair by its mysteries or — far more common today — losing sight of them entirely, falling into a simplistic world of smooth and total immanence and giving up the commission of self-surrender. The theologian walks a precipice, and must take care neither to collapse, like Luther, into the oppressive darkness of a fallen world, nor to dissolve in the false light of an insipid liberalism that averts its gaze because it has forgotten how to fear.

What I find here, in connecting Vince’s past and present blogs, is a favouring, perhaps, of one particular “jangling of the nerves” — an unconditional one — and, as such, a jangling which, again, looks beyond contingent expressions, leading him to acknowledge the ways in which “modern philosophy, particularly aesthetic philosophy, driven for centuries with all its enlightened instincts away from religion, comes at its edge once more and continually into contact with theology.”

This is because what transcendental philosophies — and even transcendental politics — share with modern religion is a (somewhat performative) attempt to commune with that which is outside themselves. It considers its conditions of existence, establishing an outside of which it can say nothing. This has been the effect of Kantian philosophy on the world as we know it. What we find in Kant is precisely an attempt to give thought its conditions; to sketch out its edges, the areas beyond which thought itself cannot go. We find this within most popular conceptions of accelerationism too, placing conditions on politics in order to adequately describe their limits. As such, whether we call this radical Outside “Nature” or “God” or “the thing-in-itself” or the “Other” or “Cthulhu”, what we find is the acknowledgement of a process which is beyond ourselves but of which we can say nothing in particular. So, for Kant, everything we experience is conditioned by perception. We cannot speak to the world as it would be without us. We cannot even speak of ourselves understood outside of perception and it is from here that we find the limit of Lovecraftian horror and Catholic reasoning.

But the story does not end there. To finish the story with our terror before the unthinkable and unimaginable is, arguably, to accept impotence, failing to consider the thought that has emerged after this.

This is something I’m researching at the moment — the development and critique of Kantian thought to be found amongst the Post-Kantian German Idealists. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, in particular, emerges as an important figure who attempts to address the recursive nature of Kant’s position. Yes, we can say nothing of the “Outside”, but at the same time we must acknowledge that we ourselves are a product of it. Just as Judeo-Christian theology insists that we have been made in God’s image, we find a Post-Kantian thought which finds that whilst “Nature” may be inaccessible to us “in itself”, we also are nature-in-itself, and so thought becomes a way in which nature thinks itself. As Iain Hamilton Grant writes in his book Philosophies of Nature After Schelling:

… the grounds of the finitude of transcendental reflection are not simply logical, as Hegel will present it, but rather physical, and concern the relation between productivity and product. The transcendental is productive in the pursuit of conditions, but, having established such conditions as conditions, mere product when it accordingly determines a thought as thus conditions. There is an energetic cost, in other words, to thought about thought.

Now, I won’t pretend have any authoritative grasp on this as yet — this is an ongoing area of research for me, and new terrain to boot — but as I understand it, this manoeuvre in naturephilosophy is an attempt to rebuild the subject, in particular, as the product of a productive natural history by reversing through the strata of the subject to find its unconditioned core; its “nature”. But, if thought is nature thinking itself, then what is the ground of nature? And what is the ground of that ground? What is nature understood unconditionally? This is something which is likewise developed by Deleuze and Guattari, and whilst their Kantian thinking is often explored by philosophers, the influence of naturephilosophy on their ideas seems to be a lot less prevalent around these blogospheric parts, but there are some who have explored this in great depth. I know that Ben Woodard is soon to publish a book on Schelling, for instance; Thomas Murphy is incredibly knowledgeable about this period in the history of philosophy; and, last but certainly not least, there is also Thomas Moynihan’s forthcoming book Spinal Catastrophism (recently announced and out in September) which pursues these ideas with an explicitly post-CCRU bent.

It is via the CCRU that we can see the retention of a predilection for Gothic horror in naturephilosophy. In considering Schelling’s interjection of the human subject as nature which thinks itself, I’m reminded of the opening scene from Begotten, for instance, where we see God disembowel himself. Such is deterritorialisation, and the ultimate horrific impact of a Nature which performs persistent biopsies on itself. As such, there is a sense that, in hoping to understand Nature, we have to delve inside ourselves as we already are and so the energetic cost that is spent is nature itself; is us.

But, of course, in the film, out of the bowels of God emerges Mother Nature. Nature begets nature begets nature, each time in a new and appropriately unholy form.

And so, as Iain Hamilton Grant continues, in a chapter of his book which is notably titled “‘What thinks in me is what is outside of me'”:

It is in consequence of the derivative nature of the product with respect to productivity that Schelling’s transcendentalism begins with the assertion ‘nature IS a priori‘, but immediately raises the problem of how a nature can be thus a priori and, at the same time, ‘unconditioned’. Accordingly, Schelling completely reinvents a transcendental philosophy that must reverse through the series of conditions until it discovers either the ‘unconditioned is nature’ that ‘cannot be any thing‘, or that nature is unconditional.

This seemingly proto-structuralist account of nature is likewise taken up and taken to its extremes by Deleuze and Guattari in their call for a geology of morals. Their question, “Who does the earth think it is?”, might be qualified with a small addition: “Who does the earth think it is unconditionally?”

What becomes critical here, and which I’ll hopefully explore more in future, is the way in which, as already suggested, this geological approach to nature likewise produces new natures. By digging down, new matter is brought to the surface.

As Grant writes at the start of his book, introducing Schelling and his naturephilosophy:

Philosophy does not, according to Schelling, consist in a redescription of otherwise available phenomena, but launches ‘thought-operations’ in the ‘medium of the universal and the impersonal’. It is ‘not [a] demonstrative, but [a] generative‘ process through which productive nature itself acts on, or produces, itself: ‘to philosophise about nature means to create nature’.

We might do well to think of accelerationism and patchwork in much the same way.

Anomalous Worlds: On Accelerationism & Patchwork

This was a talk given at the fourth #WYRDPATCHWORKSHOP event, organised by Diffractions Collective and held at Punctum in Prague. Listen above, read below.

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 written numerous 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.


Next Sunday (March 24th), Diffractions Collective are hosting their 4th WYRDPATCHWORKSHOP in Prague. The event will take place at Punctum but if you’re not local, you can stream the whole thing on YouTube over here.

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.

I’ll be giving my second WYRDPATCHWORKSHOP presentation — you can read a transcript of my first here — and it will be falling somewhere between Chris and Rhett’s talks, I think. We’ll see…

Come hang out next Sunday!

Catholic Patchwork

@Outsideness has shared an article that argues for the breaking up of the Catholic Church. The author, one David M. Simon, writes:

Splitting the Catholic Church into several or many separate churches is the best way to sharply reduce church sex crime, corruption, and cover-ups. The separate churches would compete with each other for members and clergy in the same way that non-Catholic churches do. The competition would produce more transparency and better practices that would minimize church crime and corruption. Some of the separate Catholic churches would be scandal-free; others would not. But as with non-Catholic churches, both worshippers and clergy would vote with their feet, move to better-run churches, and thereby impose competitive discipline, financial and otherwise, on poorly run churches.

It’s a Moldbuggian argument which goes off piste from there, however, arguing that the second-best way to tackled sex crime in the Catholic Church is to end the requirement of celibacy. “Prohibitions don’t prevent activities. They produce black markets and crime.” Celibacy, of course, applies specifically to adults, presumably. Prohibitions on child sex abuse would surely remain without the requirement of celibacy… Big danger of slipping into weird territory here, mate. We’ll come back to this bizarre point in a minute…

The article continues:

Splitting up the Catholic Church would require the pope and the top levels of the Church’s hierarchy to cede much of their power, but separate Catholic churches could adhere to the same theological doctrines, celebrate the same Mass, and continue their educational and charitable good work. They also could theologically diverge and form different denominations, as Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, and other Protestant denominations have.

The breakup of the Catholic Church could be accomplished in a variety of ways. A “big bang” approach would declare each parish, diocese, or archdiocese an independent church entity and allow the new independent entities to organize into associations, remain standalone churches, or further subdivide. Another approach would call for conventions of Catholics in each nation to organize their churches. Like non-Catholic churches, the resulting separate Catholic churches could end up organized in a myriad of ways. The Orthodox Church has 22 self-governing churches with the same or very similar theology and worship. Protestant churches range from those with a single building to the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Splitting up the Catholic Church, however it is done, would increase competition, produce more transparency and better practices, and accomplish what the existing Catholic Church has proven it cannot: sharply reduce church crime and corruption.

The Catholic Church is not too big to fail. It’s time to break it up. 

I admire the sentiment and the transparency. It’s unintentionally humorous, however. I’m interested in it though, not as a Catholic but because this is something I’ve written about before, in what is effectively my first essay written on the topics that have come to define this blog: “Monastic Vampirism“.

I don’t stand by it all but my initial interest in monasticism, the Catholic Church and Agamben was that I wondered whether monasticism itself could constitute a form of exit? In my reading of Giorgio Agamben’s The Highest Poverty I found a Franciscan monasticism that was proto-anarchist in nature, advocating radical self-discipline over any hierarchical prohibition, use over ownership, and I ended up comparing these outside-oriented communities to the clinic at La Borde made famous by Felix Guattari.

I won’t recount the whole thing, although I’d warn any first-time readers that it does wander around in places (to a fault), but the question remains interesting for me: does the form-of-life encouraged by Franciscan monasticism reveal just where the modern church has — and continues — to go wrong?

Land himself, I assume, remains against monasticism on principle — with the relevant passages where he writes against its practice quoted in the old post also — but is that still the case? Even when thought of as a form of exit from law and the state, and church preemptively?

The church absorbed the monasteries precisely because it did not trust them to function beyond its power and control. For it to fragment now, as Simon suggests, then, does not go far enough. Fragmenting the law does not stop it being the law. Simon seems to argue for something beyond prohibition without considering just how much these forms of competition would undoubtedly require it to remain. He is nonetheless right to suggest that prohibition does nothing to desire — it might even encourage it — but how is that an ethical argument for the prevention of pedophilic sex abuse? It doesn’t work, precisely because it is a form-of-life that is required. The Church has to reinvent its infrastructure even more radically than proposed here to reacquire that.

Update: A further point made by the Woke Space Jesuit:

Really don’t understand the argument of the OP — the catholic church is already lots of literally or de facto seperate churches

To which I replied:

True. It’s very ambiguous about what it wants or why. It just reads like someone who’s read Moldbug and decided to apply it thickly to their own world without nuance.

Outside Mill’s Door

Some further thinking on patchwork epistemologies emerging in me after watching — of all things — the latest episode of Philosophy Tube about Brexit and democracy. I liked this section of his video — quoted below and starting at 29:10 — because it basically lays down the problematic foundation that has been at the heart of patchwork chat over the last 18 months in terms that are explicitly leftist.

It is this intellectual history that has long fascinated me and particularly the ways in which many leftists fail to recognise the teachings of their own in the mouths of those they don’t agree with. That doesn’t mean people better start agreeing with each other but I think it is telling.

As far as I can tell, democracy is in crisis in much the same way that capitalism is in crisis — which is to say by virtue of its own flawed internal logic. It can’t help but encourage its innards to escape and we can see it grasping desperately at those things which slip through the cracks.

True progress means moving beyond these cloistered systems. The thing not to do is to allow the system to auto-correct and eat itself (again).

Emphasise the instances of progress without falling into the temptation to course-correct and uphold the hegemonic boundary. Be minoritarian, push through and resist.

Apparently, people are becoming less fond of democracy. A study by the anti-racist advocacy group Hope Not Hate claims that the British public are losing faith in democratic institutions as a result of the government’s handling of Brexit. The Washington Post expressed similar opinions following the 2016 American election, using words like “cynical” and “distrustful” to describe the apparently blossoming anti-democratic feelings of the American people. Supposedly, we’re becoming more divided and polarised and the whole thing is affecting our characters.

[John Stuart] Mill thought that democracy could promote good character by encouraging people to take an interest in how their country is run and cultivate the intelligence required to participate. We might call these “epistemic virtues” … The flip side of that, though, is that a lack of democracy could promote bad characters and epistemic vices.

[Quoting Mill]: “It is a great discouragement to an individual, and a still greater one to a class, to be left out of the constitution; to be reduced to plead from outside the door to the arbiters of their destiny, not taken into consultation within.”

We might want to reply to Mill that people’s characters are affected by a lot more than just the political system they live under, but this idea of democracy relating to epistemic character is something that the philosopher José Medina picked up on in his book Epistemic Resistance. Medina wants us all to become a little bit more aware of how we construct the frames through which we see the world. For instance, I’ve talked on the show about how a lot of professional philosophy tends to be written by white people and that can affect the kind of stuff that gets written. Epistemic resistance might involve challenging that. […]

Whereas some people might worry about societies becoming increasingly divided, Medina might say, “No, that’s a feature, not a bug, of democracy.” It shows that democratic participation in widening — at least epistemically if not in terms of the numbers of actual people voting — because there are more ideas in the public sphere than perhaps there were before; more frameworks from which to choose.

The philosopher Antonio Gramsci coined the term “cultural hegemony” to describe the dominant value system of a society through which its members view almost everything, and arguably one of the most useful and terrifying things about democracy is that it contains within it both the possibility for unjust hegemonies to form and the seeds of epistemic resistance against it. It constantly invites us to consider radically different ways of looking at things and poses the question of just how willing we are to live alongside those who hold them.

Do U (Even) /Acc, Bro?

I heard on the grapevine there was some very cursed accelerationist chat on the latest episode of Parallax Views — specifically some chat about U/Acc — and, against all better judgement, I decided to check it out.

It was disappointing but not all that surprising to hear the usual misconceptions and not a lot else. I’d really love to hear what people’s sources are for a lot of this stuff. I don’t mind that people don’t like U/Acc writing or ideas or whatever — to each their own — but it is irritating when people trot out the same straw men again and again, as if these are things which aren’t addressed in the earliest U/Acc (and more broadly accelerationist) writings already.

It seems like someone who hasn’t read anything makes a comment and then that comment is parroted by other people who haven’t read anything either. It feels like a bizarre psyop implemented by people who just don’t know any better. The blind leading the blind. It’s boring. It’d be great to have a better class of opponent.

This happens a lot, obviously, but I take particular umbrage with this instance because JG Michael and Michael James have been around for some time. Heck, they’ve been hanging around these parts longer than I have, probably. They’re well-known interlocutors. So what’s the excuse? Have they inadvertently betrayed their own laziness? Their own superficial readings? As fellow chroniclers of a lot of online debates, I’m really struggling to understand how this episode is peppered with so many basic errors. It’s embarrassing.

That said, I have no intention of writing some waste-of-time point-by-point deconstruction of anything here — I’ll be keeping this short — but it does feel like these things haven’t been reiterated in a while. And since the weird takes from nowhere continue to proliferate ad nauseum, it can’t hurt if we all take a minute to revise the basics, right?

So, without further ado…

In the written intro to the episode, podcast host JG Michael points to our little corner of the internet and describes us as “the meme-loving denizens of U/Acc ‘Cave Twitter’ who advocate for accelerating capitalism to it’s endpoint regardless of it’s outcome.” You hear this all the time but I don’t know when anyone has ever said this?

I mean, okay, it’s The Guardian‘s view of accelerationism… But everyone knows that article is utterly reductive and flawed… right? Are we really using that as our theoretical touchstone here?

It’s the summary that has been thrown at accelerationism — no matter the substrate — for over a decade but who knows how it has managed to stick in the minds of so many supposedly educated people.

Mark Fisher said it most clearly in his essay “Postcapitalist Desire” back in 2014. This is — and always has been — Accelerationism 101:

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.

In this sense, U/Acc isn’t a new mutation. It’s the original idea brought back to the fore after the woeful distractions of its left and right divergences — which led to its explicit dumbing down and dilution rather than being understood simply as “capitalist” and “anti-capitalist” variants. If U/Acc attempts to separate itself from these discussions, that’s only to shift focus to the further work done to exacerbate and rigorise the ‘Philosophy of Time’ elements that were buried in the writings of the Ccru and glossed over far too quickly by the subsequent L/R discussions.

The further critique explored on PV, particularly by Michael James, is that U/Acc supposedly rejects agency and instead believes in capitalism as a theological entity to be worshipped, as if its all a big Cthulhu Club LARP. This, again, is common and the result of people seeing the dramatised and poeticised experiments with Accelerationist ideas and taking them to be all too literal, failing to understand the distinct merits of (but nonetheless close relationship between) poetics and philosophy. (This has been discussed in orbit of the work of JG Ballard and Simon Sellars on this blog here.)

This is to say: yes, various accelerationist texts have used the style and language of occulted knowledges and theological beliefs, precisely to lampoon and refer to those (effectively hyperstitional) properties of human civilisation and thought when faced with something that we don’t (and, perhaps, can’t) fully understand.

Further to this is an investigation of the limits of a philosophical humanism when talking about climate change politics, the very things that James says he’s all about.

I quoted Vincent Garton on this in a post published just yesterday. In one of the initial texts which birthed U/Acc into the blogosphere, Vince writes in his essay “Unconditional Accelerationism as Anti-Praxis“:

The problem has been muddied by its own continual posing in humanist terms, which have provoked a refusal to understand the enormity of the issues at stake. From this perspective of humanism, thought is assimilated entirely to the objective of negotiating the problems that are held to confront humanity. Philosophically, it is concerned with epistemological understanding founded implicitly or not on the centrality of a coherent human subject; critically, it reduces the world to the relations of power practiced by humans towards humans; politically, it immerses itself in defining and putting into motion a better human society. Thought is rendered finally as a series of technical questions that constitute the tactical mapping of a topography whose ultimate form is placed beyond dispute.

This insistent backwater parochialism has eclipsed the intellectually interesting content of accelerationism. In colloquial usage on the left, for instance, ‘accelerationism’ has come to denote merely the idea that the situation of humanity must get worse before it gets better. At the heart of this definition lies the insistent, obsessional humanist question, ‘What is to be done?’, the fundamental question of praxis. The answer is rendered: ‘We must make things worse, so that they get better.’ This uninteresting idea has provoked an avalanche of furious critique of a commensurate intellectual scale. It is the doctrine, we are told, of ‘a dim child, trapped in a train about to crash, pretending he’s the driver’. Quite right, yet the critics protest too much: this is a feeling that has been characteristic of modern radicalism for centuries.

Frankly, I think it says it all how far below this point James’ ideas are when you consider how he has gone on a podcast and introduced his own blog as being built out of an “exhaustion with the theoretical limits of philosophy” and then all he does is demonstrate the limits of his comprehension, as if to say “If I can’t think it, no one can”, betraying the identitarian foundations of a politics he likes to pretend are far more radical.

In truth, it is an individualism that dresses itself up as a humanism. Through and through, his thoughts are always a factor of 10 below the scale he thinks he’s addressing. It’s the ingrown logic of a coveted individualist who LARPs being all about collective action. (In the next few minutes of the podcast, without a lick of irony, U/Acc is accused of being an “anhedonic mindset” but please show me anything more depressing than James’ logic.)

Likewise, the points made about U/Acc wanting to decimate the “human subject” — where is this coming from? The human subject, as we currently understand it, is riven through with the conservative logics of capitalism. It’s the argument of capitalist realism. The human subject is limited by present state infrastructures. It’s the argument of and a further challenge to Foucault’s biopolitics, more than anything.

But James instead goes on about how “there are still people who make decisions”.

Yes, there are. Well done. But anyone who’s powerful enough to make decisions about the future of our planet is a capitalist. They are most likely a capitalist subject par excellence. And so the beast eats its tale. Which comes first? Or, better yet: what ends first? Capitalism or the capitalist? James’ argument is, well, when the world ends and we all die out, they’ll both be gone…

The man’s a genius. Please, tell us again how wanting to radicalise and find exits from present infrastructures and subjectivities whilst we still can is depressive and all about giving up.

(Sidenote: @mutual_ayyde makes the point that it’s not just about capitalists: “modern complexity means that any intentional change period is difficult”. I agree: This is “more to challenge the point made in the podcast but any intentional change being difficult is why u/acc splits with both L and R wishful thinking.”)

My favourite line of this segment must go to James, again. It’s a doozy.

People don’t see a way out, right? It’s almost a giving up. It’s almost like a depression that’s set in. It’s like, “Okay, if we can’t be human, or if we can’t find a way out of this system, let’s just be complicit with becoming something new.”

Michael James’ Twitter has been a frequent source of tradical logic in recent months and here it is encapsulated beautifully. The depressive complicity of becoming something new.

Actually, you know what, I take that back. That’s perfect. That’s exactly what U/Acc is. In fact, it’s an Accelerationism laid out in precisely the same terms as Fisher, previously quoted — “accelerating the processes of destratification that capitalism cannot but obstruct.” It’s a complicity with capitalism’s self-destructive tendencies, the exacerbating of our desires for the new — which capitalism encourages materialistically — short-circuited towards a new system beyond itself. Because that’s the trick, right? Capitalism already contains its own demise. Playing chicken with its own redundancy is how it keeps its edge. U/Acc recognises this and says, “What can we do for ourselves that encourages it a little bit further over the edge?” We can’t give it the final push but we can sure throw our weight behind its own momentum. This is what it means to “accelerate the process”.

Ultimately, that’s how accelerationism has always seen us transitioning out. (“Transitioning” being something of a double entendre here, of course, with the beautiful shitposting of U/Acc’s transgender community persistently striking the cloistered limits of the real anhedonic logic of a cisgendered realism in stark relief — oh, the fragility of the (truly) complicit trad.)

Furthermore, as Fisher once said, capitalism can’t be voted out. It takes a libidinal usurping — a change of mind; a fundamental change of the subject hardwired into maintaining the status quo — to change the system. Politics alone won’t change anything…

Same with climate change, right, Michael?

In Capitalist Realism, remember, Fisher demands a new collective subject, which does not exist but has long been promised. Michael James seems to argue for this himself elsewhere, but repeatedly betrays a squeamishness as to its real implications. It’s all hot air and bitterness and tweeting about not caring about twitter. The holier-than-thou piety of a deluded egoist, hiding under the very nihilism he denounces in others.

Oh, and please forgive U/Acc for heading for the exits and having fun with the most radical subjects that popular culture has to offer. They are the seeds for a new realism, after all.


That Parallax Views segment is just a load of waffle between two people who evidently don’t have a clue what they’re on about.

Update: I see Max Castle has taken on many of the same issues with the podcast on Twitter:

One of the more difficult things about staking a position and defending it against criticism is the way interlocutors feint stupidity as a defense for a particular bad point. [1]

For example, look at a recent episode of @ViewsParallax with Michael James (@brightabyss). The host, J.G. Michael, asked James about accelerationism and we got the sort of criticism one has come to expect. [2]

The host’s criticism was especially galaxy brain level stuff: “Accelerationists love the Blade Runner aesthetic but if there aren’t humans, you can’t have Blade Runner.” I’m going to treat this ‘critique’ with more seriousness than it deserves. [3]

Accelerationism is NOT an aesthetic theory nor does it have a favored aesthetic. It is a theory of Capital. Cyberpunk/BR is a way to imagine a DIY response to obstacles in the flow of capital. It is not the official aesthetic ACC. [4]

That all being said, “All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.” [5]

How can this point be so consistently missed? Obvious BA will come back with some sort of point about idol worshipping Marx, but shit the guy got Capital. Maybe the Marxists should pay attention. [6]

BA’s critique is only slightly better. Here they are:

(1) Accelerationism makes him have the bad feels.

(2) Corporation and CEOs make decisions.

(3) He doesn’t see accelerationists living the accelerationist life. [7]

So, in order:

(1) Who cares if you get the feels? Why must we assume that a theory of Capital must also include a political plan? This is not assumed of any other theory and points to a clear misunderstanding of the purposes of thought. [8]

(2) Yes, humans make decisions but the point is that these decisions are driven by a logic existing at a higher level. This logic is not the product of simple CEO desires but is the mechanism that drives their desires. [9]

(3) What part of beyond individual control is BA struggling with? [10]

On the point about “accelerationists not living the accelerationist life”, I’ll point — once again — to my old post on this: “U/ACC … argues that what is open to ‘us’ is perhaps only the possibility of, as Deleuze writes in Logic of Sense, a ‘becoming the quasi-cause of what is produced within us’.” 

Further Update:

Reader: he never did post it. You can, however, now read my U/Acc Primer which is filled with lots more evidence proving MJ is clueless. Is that a further tantrum? Or is it an attempt to actually inform people instead of parroting under-researched misgivings? You decide.

Notes on an Unconditional Geopoetics

Lots of people in my various social media feeds are talking about the new book from Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes, which promises to rewrite the “origin stories” of the Anthropocene.

A summary of the book from University of Minnesota Press reads:

Kathryn Yusoff examines how the grammar of geology is foundational to establishing the extractive economies of subjective life and the earth under colonialism and slavery. She initiates a transdisciplinary conversation between black feminist theory, geography, and the earth sciences, addressing the politics of the Anthropocene within the context of race, materiality, deep time, and the afterlives of geology.

I’m interested to read it and will hopefully pick it up soon but I was also interested to read this essay for Verso from McKenzie Wark.

The essay was sent over by Robin and there were no surprises as to why, with much of what Wark explores echoing Robin’s own research and interests.

Indeed, this geological thread is central to a lineage that runs prior to, after but also straight through the Ccru, with its shades of Nietzschean materialism, Bataillean gnosticism, DeleuzoGuattarian schizoanalysis, Landian catastrophism, Negarestanian terrestrial apostacism, and Robin’s continuing study of geotraumatics through which he has continued to mine the earth to even greater depths of geopoetic resonance.

Wark writes:

What Yusoff advocates as an alternative is undoing geopolitics through geopoetics. Maybe there is another writing of the earth, against or outside the division of matter into active and passive, where the active includes only whiteness and the passive reduces Blackness to the status of thing or instrument. “A new language of the earth cannot be resolved in biopolitical modes (of inclusion) because of the hierarchical divisions that mark the biocentric subject.” (56)

What’s interesting is that, following this, Wark points out, albeit in their own flawed way, that there is no political guarantee to any of this. But isn’t that precisely the point already? Such is the primary lesson of schizoanalysis in A Thousand Plateaus, as that which avoids our persistent tendency towards “reductionist modifications which simplify the complex.” Wark continues:

This counter project has a delicious name: “there is a need to de-sediment the social life of geology, to place it in the terror of its coercive acts and the interstitial movements of its shadow geology — what I call a billion Black Anthropocenes…. There is an invisible agent that carries those Golden Spikes, in their flesh, chains, hunger, and bone, and in their social formations as sound, radical poetry, critical black studies and subjective possibility realized against impossible conditions: there are a billion Black Anthropocenes that are its experiential witness…” (59-60)

So far so good, and very intriguing. But Wark then summarises:

Yusoff: “Geology then becomes a spacing in the imagination that is used to separate forms of the human into permissible modes of exchange and circulation. This is the geotrauma of a billion Black Anthropocenes.” (84) This is to be a speculative geology of geotrauma. Although one has to point out that as form or style or genre this poetics is not necessarily always on the right side of any history. Nick Land favors a poetics of geotauma too. Forms of knowledge don’t in and of themselves act as political guarantees.

Indeed, so much of Wark’s essay hints at an attempted course-correct of the kind that is central to so many ostensibly left-wing political philosophies in recent years. Points are highlighted in quotations and then the subsequent readings of said quotations betray a thinking that the quotations themselves hint at a counter to.

For example, ultimately, the Landian scare-flag Wark is raising here does more harm than good and, in fact, moves contrary to the general project which Yusoff just described, because such a new writing of the Earth as that which Yusoff supposedly calls to seems to be one which mitigates the hangups of walking over a contemporary landscape of political eggshells. It returns to the foundation, highlighting the ground on which these eggshells are sprinkled on, often despite themselves.

The real tension here comes from differentiating between the senses of the “new” being deployed — in the sense that one of them is not all that new at all. Writing from present articulations of ideas in the common nomenclature of our ideological era or in a newly decolonised language does not make the ideas and concepts and science themselves new and, in fact, that seems to be precisely what Yusoff is calling to.

This is to say that, whilst the “new” is not new to thought, its present representations certainly are. And surely the point is that much of the real story of geology exists beyond representation. And so, to handle the Anthropocene with nothing but the naive enthusiasm of a new art world trend, as Wark inevitably does, is a regression regardless of the shiny new political subtext. (That is why, we could argue, the Ccru prefer to use numerology to sketch out these cryptic contours.)

Of course, you can’t hold your breathe on issues such as this from the University of Minnesota Press, who are best known in these parts as the publishers of Dark Deleuze — a paradoxical attempt at diversifying a discourse through a reductive reading — and so it remains unclear here, without having read both texts, who is really guilty of the conceptual flub — Yusoff or Wark.

At present, though, Wark feels like a very safe bet…

To me, the way that Wark frames A Billion Black Anthropocenes makes it sound strangely like a rewrite of Cyclonopedia for our present moment, albeit in the poetic stylings of Fred Moten rather than Gilles Deleuze (to match current trends). For many, that is worthwhile in itself — usurp the white canon — although this is made more complicated by Reza’s appropriation being so embedded within his own cultural background: diversifying rather than decolonising Deleuze.

This makes it resemble something of a DeleuzoGuattarian schizoanalytic project in its a knotted tackling of issues of geo- and biopolitics and their inherent entwinement with one another, and it likewise echoes an argument had on Twitter the other week between @wokeytliberal and those Hysteric Bad Marxists Who Shall Not Be Named, with the latter seemingly misunderstanding what an “immanent critique” is in trying to discuss the inherent “whiteness” or “blackness” of capitalism. (The immanence of the critique holds the two in tandem — or it should and many now go further in this than Marx ever did in Das Kapital to more widely implement his own theory.)

Before we explore this in more detail, however — a caveat: I’m reminded at this point of a discussion had on the latest edition of Novara Media’s #TyskySour YouTube show in which Ash Sarkar and Kehinde Andrews discuss the “Decolonise The Curriculum” movement — starting at the 55:47 mark if you’d like to see it for yourself.

Both make the point that you can “diversify” a curriculum but not “decolonise” it — the academy is too far gone. James Butler then goes on to make a comparison between the contemporaneous campus “free speech” war of the last couple of years (which loudly decries complaints of curriculums being too white as being typical of millennial snowflakery) and the “theory wars” of the 1970s and ’80s, in which attempts to diversify curriculums to include queer, feminist and other perspectives were dismissed as “faddish or trendy obscurantism” in much the same way.

The danger, I think, of present discussions around geopoetics is that they fall somewhere between the two sides of this argument due to the very nature of what is being discussed. Some — a minority; not all — loudly left-wing writers and theorists do deploy an obscurantism relative to the scale of the subject at hand, because the argument for diversification is precisely the result of a thought that “poeticises” the findings of a science like geology — poetry, here, perhaps best understood in the Blanchotian sense, as that which births philosophy; as that which cannot ordinarily be put into words — the effect of which is, first and foremost, a humiliation of the human subject.

This subject is, of course, stratified and a focus on the more minoritarian strata is endlessly illuminating but to lose sight of a geopoetics’ wider implications in its response to these findings is to lose the essence of its immanent critiques.

I’ve been writing about this for myself elsewhere, particularly in orbit of a line from Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques in which he writes how Freud, Marx and the science of geology all “demonstrate that understanding consists in reducing one type of reality to another; that the true reality is never the most obvious; and that the nature of truth is already indicated by the care it takes to remain elusive”. (This is a central part of Landian thought too, we should note, regardless of what you think of his personal politics.)

As I see it, so much of the discourse around the Anthropocene as an art world fad is — quite literally — related to its myopic concentration on one strata at the expense of the broader understanding that was its original intent. This is why a “geology of morals”, then — as Deleuze and Guattari call their preliminary excavation in A Thousand Plateaus — is far more than a Nietzschean genealogy, which reveals to us, relatively superficially, where we are now. The intention is always to go deeper.

All of these anthropocentric texts arguably share this same goal, which is to raise consciousness to a planetary scale (or rather, I’d argue, given this geological scale: to raise an unconsciousness) about the present conditions of reality. Geology — and geopoetics — exert a particular influence due to the fact they might just help us predict what comes next; predict the next steps and ruptures within the earth’s primary process. They might just help us find the fault lines and make ourselves ready for when the ground underneath gives way under the constant strain of our political processes.

This is to say that it speaks to a larger unconscious but also — further removed than this — an “unconditional” process which runs underneath the chattering of political disputes, in precisely the same terms as those described by an Unconditional Accelerationism.

To quote Vincent Garton:

The problem has been muddied by its own continual posing in humanist terms, which have provoked a refusal to understand the enormity of the issues at stake. From this perspective of humanism, thought is assimilated entirely to the objective of negotiating the problems that are held to confront humanity. Philosophically, it is concerned with epistemological understanding founded implicitly or not on the centrality of a coherent human subject; critically, it reduces the world to the relations of power practiced by humans towards humans; politically, it immerses itself in defining and putting into motion a better human society. Thought is rendered finally as a series of technical questions that constitute the tactical mapping of a topography whose ultimate form is placed beyond dispute.

U/Acc’s controversies continue to quietly bubble away at present but, to me, this seems to be the same point inferred by Ash Sarkar when she dismisses the haranguing of school children concerned about climate change that we have seen from the Boomer contingent of the Right in the UK and in the US over the last two weeks. Sarkar says, with incredulity: “What is identitarian about not wanting the planet to die?” Glibly put, but the underlying point resonates. The politics of climate change can quickly (and perhaps should be encouraged to) become unhumanist, and yet we continue to see such issues discussed in identitarian terms by both sides of a political divide. (The benefits of the Right’s patronising posturing is that it shows just how moronic such a position is to the benefit of a climate-change-affirming left.)

So, Wark’s pointing to Land as a kind of warning is surely a moot point. Land’s — and, by extension, early Negarestani’s — favouring of a geopoetics is not a sign that geopoetics is politically promiscuous but rather that it is ostensibly cryptic, in much the same sense that Lévi-Strauss describes, and so it must be understood as being riven with veins for the mining of many properties. As Robin likewise made clear years ago: “The theory of trauma was a crypto-geological hybrid from the very start.”

Patchwork Epistemologies (Part 6): Complex Communisms

← Part Five

All this talk of world-building and speculative sandboxes allowed us to find common ground, I think. Reza’s definition of world-building as “a way of understanding the existing world(s)” is precisely the point for me, particularly in a post-Brexit referendum UK, where it is clear that a establishment “media class” does not understand the patchworked intersection of different politics and sentiments that are persistently upsetting the electorate. It has created an insidious feedback loop where this lack of understanding spreads and eats itself, further unsettling the national psyche. He responded:

Right, I can see that. But of course, this comes down to this so-called fact that to so many non-UK people these revolutionary ambitions made in response to purely UK-centric paradigms have no relevance to a broader global context. I mean, look at the British orthodox marxists: nothing is more detached from a global reality than these people.

But I think that even these very specifically British scenarios can be expanded to a wider political logic. We should neither dismiss them nor should we take them out of their territorial / geographic context. And that’s why, once we take British politics — across the left and right spectra — seriously as no more than an important exemplar, then we need to do the actual job of investigating them in terms of whether they are methodologically sound (with regards to the context, the system of specific socio-economic relations, mode of governance, etc) or not.

I agree with that, of course, and I’ve repeatedly said that my focus on the UK — which I do recognise to be a nation that already takes up far too much oxygen in the grand scheme of things — is simply because I would not be comfortable writing about anywhere else. It’s all I know.

But that’s not to say that these points cannot be extrapolated outwards more broadly to relate to other parts of the world. The response from many of my readers have confirmed this and I’ve very grateful for their input, particularly by Brazilian, Czech and Slovenian readers who have greatly enriched this debate over the last year.

Reza continued:

If so many people experience the same set of tribulations and issues, then as you say, these quasi-problems should be recognised as real problems: Problems for which we have not yet found final solutions. That’s why we not only need to uncover and assiduously investigate our current models of problems, but to develop hypothetical models from whose standpoints the limits of our current models and problems can be fleshed out and renegotiated.

Again, I find myself agreeing with Reza whilst likewise being made aware of my own philosophical blindspots:

Until and unless we embark on the task of real investigation (the skepticos), we just don’t know how many of our problems are actually pseudo-problems. That’s why the broad question of epistemology is important in addressing what we should do and why we should do it.

At the risk of retreading already well-trodden ground (on this blog and in this series itself), I went on to further address the influence of Mark Fisher’s work here, far beyond Capitalist Realism.

What has powered this blog since the start is the relationship I see — now left unexplored by Fisher himself — between his final book The Weird & The Eerie and what was to be his next book, Acid Communism.

Mark didn’t simply favoured communism because it was an edgy and notorious failure. He hoped to explore its broad history, its moments of impotent or squashed revolution — specifically the 1970s in Europe and North and South America — and, most specifically, he hoped to analyse what failed in us that led to communism’s destitution as an ideal or a goal.

With all this in mind, I see The Weird and the Eerie, despite its brevity, as an extension of Mark’s eternal project: How do you re-acquire an intuitive desire for this form of political collectivity against the captive forces of capitalism?

In my reading, I think Mark recognised in The Weird and the Eerie that weird fiction and horror (and SF more generally) already contains variations on this same question in their inherent (re)weirding of the mundane. Robin and I have likewise talked about this in terms of the British countryside — particularly where he lives in Cornwall with its megalithic structures, postindustrial detritus and its gothic literary tradition. (Reza: “Robin is exactly that kind of interlocutor you need, someone who refuses to settle his mind on this or that option without being whimsical.”) Whilst many environmental writers talk about a “rewilding” of our landscapes in this country, Robin has repeatedly suggested that what is closer to the surface and far more useful in the present moment is a practice of “reweirding” instead.

My interest in this process is related to a bastardisation of Mark’s “capitalist realism” which I wrote about on the blog a few months ago: a “nationalist realism” — the suggestion being that too often our speculative remodelling of how we might organise ourselves and our societies beyond the state-form is prematurely judged to be reckless. We are as squeamish about alternatives to the state-form as we are to capitalism as an economic system and I think the mechanisms for this bad faith are entirely related to one another. (Capitalism wouldn’t exist without the state-form, of course.)

In attempting to rethink a new political collectivity in this regard — a collectivity that is certainly counterfactual to how most people currently understand themselves as “national subjects” — I think a patchwork thinking precisely allows for the creation of a new world where new things are permitted which are nonetheless based on a familiar cultural history: specifically, in the case of this blog, the Gothic as an entwined commentary on a shifting state and subject — both necessarily affecting their other.

And so, it’s been my project on this blog to try and explore how a shift in how we think about the State will allow for a shift in how we think about the Subject, breaking us out of our individualisms and our more vampiric tendencies, in a way that means we have far more political control over ourselves than being at the whims of capitalism’s “libidinal engineering” (as Mark would call it). Reza writes:

Yes, I do agree with your point regarding the task of subject-engineering. There is an abstract generic subject (in the Kantian sense) but there is no generic concrete subject. We cannot simply jump from the former to the latter. The concrete subject should always be gauged in its determinate relations to what you called the rigorous explication of the state and the idea of we.

Here again, we see an example of what we have been talking about with regards to understanding the contexts and particularities of fragmentation as ways of new modes of integration which can ultimately afford us new differences of which we were unaware of in our own established particularities.  

Acid Communism remains a really potent idea for thinking about these questions for me and what I hoped to do by the end of my conversation with Reza was to really drive this point home and see what his thoughts are on it.

I may not be well versed in my Hegel, Carnap, Sellars or Quine. The sight of an equation might still trigger a certain nausea left over from my school days. But this is what patchwork is about for me. It’s an acidic dissolution of current paradigms that we might rebuild brickwise. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:

‘Acid’ is desire, as corrosive and denaturalising multiplicity, flowing through the multiplicities of communism itself to create alinguistic feedback loops; an ideological accelerator through which the new and previously unknown might be found in the politics we mistakenly think we already know, reinstantiating a politics to come.

I’m going to end this series with Reza’s comments on this. I agreed with every word and, whilst our back-and-forth had been immensely enjoyable and productive, it felt like a good and natural place to stop (all the while considering when and where we might be able to pick things up again.) I still think patchwork, as so many people have been exploring it, fits with these demands. All we need next, if enough people have their interest piqued, is to see some results…

Yes, I think this confusion between communism as a process of discovering true alternatives and a failed experimentation at statecraft is partly due to Marx and Engels’s own puzzlement. In German Ideology, they give a brilliant definition of what communism is: a real movement that suspends the established order of things. But on other occasions, they sound as if they are peddling a kind of utopia for the sake of utopia. I would say, this is actually the enigma of communism that should be understood first.

The process view (the adventure for new alternatives) by itself is too vague. Its potentials should be tested against the existing world which means that from the standpoint of particular historical moments (presents) communism as a process should be arrested as a specific configuration of social and economic relations (a system). Otherwise, it would be just novelty for the sake of novelty, difference for the sake of difference, which is too abstract, too bewildered to make a concrete difference in the status quo or the current order of things.

So, in this sense, the craft of a communist state should be seen as something positive and determinate, pitting the real movement or process against the actual world.

Now of course, as you mentioned, this moment of arresting the real movement (line of flight if we want to be a tad D&Gishly cheesy) can be assimilated by the current order. The break, deterritorialization and arrest mechanisms were invented to thwart the pathologies of acceleration, deterritorialization and pure escape. But then what can warrant that we are safe from the pathologies of deceleration, capture and reterritorialization when communism as a process turns into a planetary scale stifling state?

This is the question that we should try to answer in an elaborate and popular manner: how can we experiment with alternatives without becoming the slaves of uncritical differences which might as a matter of fact be just the projections of our own identititarian egos? And how can we pierce through these kitsch marxist versions of communism which seek to establish an actual counterpart of the process?

The end.