A philosophical intro to Accelerationism.
It's time to learn, newfaggots.
Any cunt trying to figure out what they think about accelerationism better do so quickly. That’s the nature of the thing, mate. It was already caught up with trends that seemed too fast to track when it began to become self-aware, decades ago. It has picked up tons of speed since then.
Accelerationism is more than old enough to have arrived in multiple waves, which is to say insistently, or recurrently, and each time the challenge is more urgent. Among its predictions is the expectation that you’ll be too slow to deal with it coherently. Yet if you fumble the question it poses – because rushed – you lose, perhaps very badly. It’s hard. (For our purposes here “you” are standing in as a bearer of “the opinions of mankind”.)
t-pressure, by its essential nature, is difficult to think about. Generally, while the opportunity for deliberation is not necessarily presumed, it is at least – with overwhelming likelihood – mistaken for an historical constant, rather than a variable. If there was ever time to think, we think, there still is and will always be. The definite probability that the allotment of time to decision-making is undergoing systematic compression remains a neglected consideration, even among those paying explicit and exceptional attention to the increasing rapidity of change.
In philosophical terms, the deep problem of acceleration is transcendental. It describes an absolute horizon – and one that is closing in. Thinking takes time, and accelerationism suggests we’re running out of time to think that through, if we haven’t already. No contemporary dilemma is being entertained realistically until it is also acknowledged that the opportunity for doing so is fast collapsing.
The suspicion has to arrive that if a public conversation about acceleration is beginning, it’s just in time to be too late. The profound institutional crisis that makes the topic ‘hot’ has at its core an implosion of social decision-making capability. Doing anything, at this point, would take too long. So instead, events increasingly just happen. They seem ever more out of control, even to a traumatic extent. Because the basic phenomenon appears to be a brake failure, accelerationism is picked up again.
Accelerationism links the implosion of decision-space to the explosion of the world – that is, to modernity. It is important therefore to note that the conceptual opposition between implosion and explosion does nothing to impede their real (mechanical) coupling. Thermonuclear weapons provide the most vividly illuminating examples. An H-bomb employs an A-bomb as a trigger. A fission reaction sparks a fusion reaction. The fusion mass is crushed into ignition by a blast process. (Modernity is a blast.)
In socio-historical terms, the line of deterritorialization corresponds to uncompensated capitalism. The basic – and, of course, to some real highly consequential degree actually installed – schema is a positive feedback circuit, within which commercialization and industrialization mutually excite each other in a runaway process, from which modernity draws its gradient. Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche were among those to capture important aspects of the trend. As the circuit is incrementally closed, or intensified, it exhibits ever greater autonomy, or automation. It becomes more tightly auto-productive (which is only what ‘positive feedback’ already says). Because it appeals to nothing beyond itself, it is inherently nihilistic. It has no conceivable meaning beside self-amplification. It grows in order to grow. Mankind is its temporary host, not its master. Its only purpose is itself.
“Accelerate the process,” recommended Deleuze & Guattari in their 1972 Anti-Oedipus, citing Nietzsche to re-activate Marx. Although it would take another four decades before “accelerationism” was named as such, critically, by Benjamin Noys, it was already there, in its entirety. The relevant passage is worth repeating in full (as it would be, repeatedly, in all subsequent accelerationist discussion):