Author Archives: Zac🌺

About Zac🌺

Trying to fill the lacunae of modernity - musician/disc jockey/writer - TUF - they/them

Some Cursory Notes On The Practice Of A Modern Philosophy

Philosophy is critically synoptic, but this feature of philosophy also means that its remit is often necessarily hazy. Philosophy’s goal is to push thought and reason to (and, provisionally, beyond) its limits while retaining some modicum of sensical content. It is in this way that it most obviously cuts across, or into, the realms of religion and spiritual practice, not to mention simpler pharmacological travails. But how do we further flesh out this picture of philosophy, already handicapped by the expansiveness of its subject matter, in a way useful to modern thinking? One way to imagine and encapsulate what philosophy entails is to divide up its activities into three cases or categories: the analytical, the meditative, and the expressive (or transformative). All these terms are however misleading without some elucidation.

The “analytical” does not refer explicitly to analytic philosophy as such, but to all of philosophy in its capacity as a systematic analysis of certain kinds of data pertaining to logic, mind, culture, history, theology, the psyche and so forth. What this reveals is that in practice the analytical register, as I am referring to it here, encapsulates the vast majority of what philosophy actually is taken to be, as a discipline, its content, semantic and material. When we talk about philosophy we talk about ideas, books, concepts, authors, problems, and all of these are fundamentally analytical, though some moreso than others depending on style and context (e.g. the contrast between, say, analytic philosophy itself and Nietzsche, or between historiography and pure mathematics).

This is an important point to make because I want to posit this image of philosophy such that we might intuitively (dangerous word I know) reimagine its character and function. This is somewhat strategic on my part: consigning the corpus of academic and historical philosophy in its material, semantic, and conceptual enormity to just a subdivision of what I want to conceive philosophy as signals a move toward a (potentially indulgent) conception that finds its particular nuance in the emphasis of these other two poles–the meditative and expressive.

The “meditative”–as a sort of revisionary neologism–needs even more semantic qualification. While the actual practice of meditation as usually understood, primordial and highly developed as it is, might be very much applicable to what the label applies to in this case, I can hardly speak to its real correlation with the conception of philosophy propounded here, as my own meditation practice is sparse and excessively amateurish.

The meditative facet of philosophy understands philosophy to work beyond the edge of problems that we can assume to be resolvable. As a matter of literal and historical fact, much of the most important work done in philosophy is precisely the exploration of the limits of knowledge, reason, and experience. Of course, we know this now to be radically tricky territory to work in–the searcher is always threatened by the collapse of the conditions, objectives, context and so forth of their search. There is a constructive epistemological project, and a transcendental problem that hinders it. In both of these manifest features of philosophy we can draw forth numerous examples, the most obvious of the former (epistemological) one being Kant. The latter (transcendental) theme is perhaps most viscerally apparent, especially as it relates to modern systematic thought–that is, us–in the resolute Wittgenstein.

These two themes are interrelated and the point is that they both gesture towards the “meditative” feature of philosophy. However, as mentioned, I do not posit this feature as pertaining primarily to the practice of meditation that involves an activity intended to achieve, for example, stillness, quietude, and emptiness. The understanding of philosophy contained here is highly antipathic to mysticism, for reasons I will probably not fully have the bandwidth to unpack at length in this brief essay. Suffice it to say that mysticism understood as the invocation of justification beyond the remit of reason reveals a threat to philosophy that must be confronted and withstood. Meditation as a practice is not inherently “mystical” but its conceptual territory is primarily practical. Mysticism refers here to the expression of the aforementioned transcendental problem, wielded semantically as a means of solving epistemological dead-ends by invoking an ineffable authority and laying claim to the territory therein.

The “meditative” aspect of philosophy can perhaps best be understood as the relation between self-conception, experience, self, and life and the analytical content that comprises the first pillar of philosophy previously defined. While both psychedelic experiences and well-executed meditative practice seem well positioned to accomplish what philosophically meditative thought aspires to achieve–the transformation of nominally subconscious perspectives, feelings, and personal beliefs–the difference is that this transformative dimension is in this case accessible to sustained systematic reflection. But despite the systematicity, this is where philosophy acquires a psychological and ultimately emotional dimension (these will be relevant to the instantion of the third pillar). I can try to give a practical example here: engagement with the concepts of realism and nihilism contrast in that the former is a logical dimension and the latter fuses it with the emotional and psychological. The reflex of modern philosophy tends to be to recoil at the introduction of one’s own mental states in this fashion. Neuroscientifically-inclined analytic philosophy of mind for example simply does not tend to trade in the same register as Thacker or Cioran or Battaille, or indeed any continental existentialist. Where the former invokes intellectual quietude, the latter presupposes confrontation. The logical issues with existentialism (and the limitations of the poetic, polemical mode endemic to the canon of nihilistically-oriented authors) taken together with the affective issues of the approach and style of much highly detached, scientific analytic philosophy, reveals the necessity of bridging this gulf. Philosophy is a practice not of emptiness or quietude, as meditative practice as such is usually understood to be, but of passionate reasoning that involves a sustained engagement with potentially unresolvable problems through the lens of the material corpus of the history of philosophy–and the materiality of our lives.

Such vague and semantically overweight concepts trotted out previously–self-conception, experience, self, life–gesture towards the third segment of this attempt to section off philosophy’s territory, which is the dimension of expression. Just as the analytical tier threatens to devolve into pure science, and the meditative tier threatens to fall off the transcendental ledge, the expressive tier is in danger of confusing itself with the realm of aesthetics. In fact there is of course a sense in which it does so, because the aesthetic is itself a subject of philosophy proper, however aesthetics in the sense traditionally understood by philosophy are not sufficient to the actual role of aesthetics in the context of this interpretation of philosophical practice, because this philosophical practice demands a co-extensive artistic practice. This in turn demands an active engagement with a personal aesthetic that ultimately extends beyond the systematic demands of philosophy (just as the actual practice of meditation as it is usually understood extends beyond philosophy’s capacities).

These three registers of philosophy comprise an organon of self-consciousness and self-conception, wherein these two are themselves a constructive dyad. As mentioned before, philosophy is at its core synoptic, the apprehension of how things “hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term” as Sellars famously put it. This involves perilous expeditions into semantic and conceptual territory where the rigor afforded by both semantics and conceptuality is vulnerable, prone to malfunction. Much of the philosophy of the last century was concerned with the acquisition of the full capacities of scientific thought, and that effort must be carried through. But to meet its aspirations philosophy must expand itself and its interrelations with all other registers of thinking and practice–and this is why it demands a specifically artistic practice, why I use the term meditative to describe part of its operation and subject matter. Perhaps Hegel’s most brilliant move was underscoring and capitalizing on the uncompromisingly expansive conception of science described by the word wissenschaft, thus accomplishing a fusion of scientific aspiration and everyday life that can be reconfigured endlessly to account for the evolution of whatever it is we take metaphysics to refer to. This is what we should seek to do with a philosophical conception of “artistic” practice that expands beyond the specifics of making, practicing, even admiring disciplinary art such as it is usually understood. As Lautréamont pointed out, what modernity demands is a poetry made by all. Philosophy is the work of self-conception that unfolds from the crisscrossing interrelations between reason and expression, thought and practice, science and art, reality and ideality. Living is an art, or else it seems to have become futile on logical grounds.

I Am Trash Man

The sand will never seep up through the cracked pavement but the gore thickens in it like an algal bloom as I sit upon the column watching swine swipe my kin captured with collar-staffs, thick clouds of poison and spray, seethe gush bang

When it was all first coming asunder I sat too, quiet and gentle and afraid but nurturing a long-mute hatred that billowed up from the deep earth and through my ribcage, out of my pores and nostrils and eyes and mouth, like a deathdealer aerosol decaying cyanide bitter and silent

No zeal left, swallowed in the mire of it all, these panes of light flashing color planes motes of liquid crystal blazing like the future, monitors monitored threatening febrile twitching synthetic corpses blistering in the sun strewn across the cracked deserts of the world, the mother scorned by her most vivacious children ravening hubris held against the mortal screen, the line of day drawing us toward the night of our departure, sapience a brief experiment for the trashbin of history, agonized and pitiful lost in a dead universe gleaming

Blue uniforms torn olive drab sodden blood-caked sidewalks where the flashbangs cracked and the drumbeat halted, gas carried on the breeze coiling lucent like the patriarch’s sun coruscating with the hatred and fear that curdles in the breast of every fucking dimwit patsy that ever prostrated himself before the object of his desire which was always his master’s cock that He hid mutilated and useless

That loathsome-

That is the weight of us who have come from the further plane, to carry our hatred noble and silent and use the glories of our every word to speak structure into being, hands clasped behind our backs eyes clear heart full, remaking dignity in our image because there has never been a dignity worthy of our merit, marked by passion, scything into a vast future

That is what we all imagined, but-

They hoist them up on the collars, set them in concrete and let the bodies peel in the sun, let the organs slough and tumble from distended stomachs picked through by the swarms of chitin that fly endless on the hot wind of a new world

Where were you the day the dead world came back to life, when the pale ghosts of history took back their treasures and we all learned what it was to be cattle, when the gasoline ran out and the world broke the back of the old hegemony, sending the subjects of that longstanding scourge to oblivion, a hell just like that which the ghosts once wrought on their innumerable victims, and so perhaps there was a kind of justice to that, even if it was still the old kind, empty and ill-considered, doused in petroleum spasm

It was then and thus that it descended towards the meltdown once envisioned and the scourge, blue and green and tan stalking through the forests and deserts, peering through plastic masks, seeking escapees

We tried to tell them, carried along the train tracks our ancestors built, tilting towards the furnace and vivisections, vials of blood and cold cameras, they kept the bodies in databases until they burned them or drowned them in the river, lined them up and knocked them down

Petrol used to soak the surface of this land before the sun came for us, shimmering wasted soil all filled with corpses, broken limbs, shattered bones and torn metal, curling plastics and silence, wallets and blood, storm scorn vitriol lashing

Where were you the day we were torn asunder, tumbling into the future and sliding into the past, apotheosis of the ambiguity that has always rested heavy on these electrified craniums, tucked away, out of sight, hovering always behind the back of the head, chariot and requiem, cheap tricks, strapped to the spine, stitched among the ribs, the kernel of catastrophe

Here on the other side, across the gulf of yet another of history’s merciless rendings, my hatred is no longer mute, it has given up trying to remake dignity in its own image, the owl of Minerva is long gone, is never coming back, and I told myself I didn’t care until it was true, there are no more glories and there are no more structures, just that vile zeal

I clutch at the thick wet ropes of my disemboweled friends, I try to take it in, to take the pain in, make it sit with my reason, but it won’t and I  can’t, so I take them in another way, gnashing and gnawing

I bought the gun to put it, too, in my mouth, but in the end I found a better use for it

410,757,864,530

Seattle’s Autonomism – NOT Interview

The following is an unpublished interview I did for Nero Editions concerning the events of the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” Worth noting that my perspectives have shifted quite substantially since then, but I thought I might as well post it here for post-erity.


1) Let me start with the most pressing question: how are you?  

 

What a wonderful question to open with. I’m exhausted, physically but especially mentally, and I must admit that for me participation in these events has only made that virulent “leftist” fatalism so many of us are familiar with all the more present. It’s all quite overwhelming. But it’s also invigorating, it’s easy to get bogged down in the sense of one’s own naiveté, but there is existential satisfaction to be had here for those with so-called radical politics. Given the chaos of current events it is also just something to do, something worthwhile, certainly personally and, perhaps, politically. I suppose this is mostly me trying to put a good face on it. It’s a bit of a tangled nightmare in the recesses of my cranium right now, I’m fortunate that the situation involves plenty of distraction. Honestly this conversation is a nice opportunity for me, because I’ve been running into an implacable wall trying to write about it or even articulate my thoughts at all really, and not for lack of trying.

 

2) Saying that there’s a riot in Seattle feels like a truism. It surely has something to do with the cultural imprint people born in the mid-90s like me have received from what we could call mainstream counter-cultural. The Seattle riots in 1999 are, for an emo teen who grew up listening to (in retrospect, extremely politically questionable) songs about how the WTO killed farmers and reading how we reclaimed the streets, almost a mythical event – one of the first encounters with the duplicitous eroticism of riot-porn. When the news broke of the appearance of an autonomous zone in the heart of Seattle, these mythical tales of fire and destitution came back to me. They were, I believe, a faithful testimony of our collective relationship with revolt and political autonomy: on one hand, we hallucinate a more-than-historical past of wars, victories and defeats, but, on the other, we recapitulate the deep roots of our present unrests. What is the actual history of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (from now on, CHAZ)? How did it come about and, why? How does it relate to Seattle, the Black Lives Matter movement and, more generally, if you want to widen the scope, other movements of collective autonomy like the Gillet Jaunes, rave culture’s T.A.Z.s or the Italian Autonomia

 

This is quite validating honestly because living here all you can see or feel or taste–except in the unworked natural landscape itself–is the weight of neoliberal capital, in perhaps its most rarefied form. Insofar as silicon valley is an emergent empire rather than a region in California, this is one of the first colonies. But it’s true that there has always been a core of uniquely disaffected people out here, it’s interesting that you bring up rave culture because that is very much the context I sit in, and while I tend towards negativity about the explicitly political aspect of all that, our community–a word that a few weeks ago I might have said was a bit generous–has really been showing its spirit. After being split apart for a time by the pandemic, we appear to have spontaneously become a (relatively) organized direct action collective, in spite of the fact that many of us–with a few notable exceptions–have minimal political experience outside of your run of the mill protest or march. While I do not like to pretend that dancing in sweaty warehouses to cruelly minimalist techno and all the rest has any intrinsic political value in and of itself, it is no coincidence that my community, conscious of where this music came from, has been so thoroughly galvanized by these latest developments in the history of black liberation. I think this is more relevant to our politics, and the politics of the “autonomous zone”, than for example Hakim Bey; indeed the history of radical politics in America is largely integrated into the history of the civil rights movement, in ways that I suspect are not entirely obvious to non-Americans. I don’t want to go too crazy getting into this in the grand and theoretical sense (not least because my self-confidence is not exactly thriving), but here is my take on what brought me and mine to this point in the short term.

 

Needless to say western Washington leans left, and the recent history of the USA (and indeed the rest of the world) has obviously been quite troubling, not just for the ruthless idealists like myself but also for the massive majority of broadly apathetic liberals that call this place their home. There has been a constant process of at least marginal “radicalization” that reached a fever pitch these last weeks. Liberals moving left, and leftists moving in. After George Floyd’s murder there was a relatively bombastic riot here (as in many cities across this damaged country, and now in many countries beyond) and the protests that began in the days following got very big very quickly, in spite of almost no centralized large-scale organization, as is the way of things these days. The physical focus of the marches and protesting became the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) East Precinct, which sits in Capitol Hill, a highly gentrified, but historically countercultural area. Things basically gathered steam from there, and I think it is clear that escalating measures on the part of the SPD, including excessive use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, flashbangs etc. simply kept the moment surging. As mentioned, it has all been extremely disorganized on the ground. It is mostly assumed that the police withdrawal was a tactic to incite violence and destruction from the protestors. There are a great many people of largely liberal persuasion making up the core body particularly of the very much ongoing protest movement around the city, as well as plenty of more niche far-left types that have been coming out of the woodwork as things have developed. The political sentiment among the average protestor is by-and-large entirely in line with the goals of black liberation as represented ideologically by the “black lives matter” movement, if not always by the Black Lives Matter organization. It’s also important to note that the SPD has been under federal investigation for police brutality, racial profiling, and corruption for almost a decade. Somewhat counterintuitively (Seattle is a very white and a prosperous and increasingly affluent city) we are home to one of the most undisciplined and excessive policing organizations in a country infamous for its undisciplined and excessive policing. One crucial moment during the protests that precipitated the CHAZ was when the city announced a thirty day ban on the use of teargas. The police department teargassed us just two days later.

 

I think you’re hitting the nail on the head with the hallucinatory nature of this symbolic historicity, especially for critical (theory) people. It’s not a transcendental circle anymore, it’s a spiral, moving outwards, and we still don’t know quite what to do with it. Currently it is honestly a bit too depressing trying to connect things up with the rich history of 20th century (and earlier) radical political history. In a sense the ideas of Italian Autonomy or perhaps the Situationist International are very much in play, but I think it does those historical movements a disservice to draw positive comparison. Perhaps that is the hallucination speaking. I don’t know quite enough of the dynamics surrounding the gilets jaunes, but the 2020 Seattle protests strike me as a similar movement in a place that, as you point out, shares a history of general unrest, often disorganized and belligerent. One of the unambiguous themes of the 21st century so far has been the seemingly inexorable deterioration of any particularly tangible or functional practices of radical political organization, as exemplified in the Occupy movement, and that malaise certainly hangs over all of this. Still it is nice to see so many fellow travelers of such a diversity of persuasions, political and otherwise, hanging out in the sun and rain and trying to help each other (and everyone else). Make no mistake–this neighborhood in the middle of the city is currently lawless (and overwhelmingly peaceful so far) in a non-trivial sense. It won’t last, it isn’t freedom, but it’s a rare thing to many. This era of unrest isn’t going away, we might as well settle in.

 

3) Still talking about how we hallucinate and recapitulate revolts, let me ask you your thoughts about our Extremely Online more-or-less-Comrades phase analyses. As you surely know, a lot of people have had a lot of opinions about the CHAZ. As far as I can see, the debates tend to polarize into two main schools of thought, with various, and, frankly, more and more insignificant, offshoots.  On one hand, many people rehashed the infamous Zizekian question, which has haunted the left at least since the Occupy movement: “what happens after the revolution?” or, in this case, “what happens after the autonomous zone?”. The axiom beneath this position being: “what are we going to do without a strong vanguard Party guiding us forward?”. The implicit answer is, of course, bitter failure. On the other hand, we find, as the dialectical opposite of this position, an absolute, nihilist refusal of all future project, collapsing onto an almost theological fervour which considers the, possibly fleeting, present autonomy as the only viable or possible goal of the CHAZ. It doesn’t matter if the autonomous zone gets dismantled, if it had destitute State authority for a while it was the best we could hope for all along. Setting aside the sterile debate about which strawman of mine is right, it feels like this sort of discourse falls flat onto the all-too-familiar leftist melancholia: the question which we find ourselves confronted by from the very beginning is not whether we’ll “win” or not, but when and how we’ll fail. It looks a lot like what a dear friend of mine called the Oedipo-communist complex, a psychological deadlock which makes us either yearn for the paternal guidance of the Party or kick and scream in an angsty refusal of it. What is, in your opinion, the future of the CHAZ? What should we do with our chronic pessimism? What is its relation to the State and, more generally, our present predicament? Will it be dismantled? Will it become an institutionalized, anaemic “summer of love”, fulfilling our melancholic tendencies? Or is it going to remain a site of political resistance? 

 

I believe you’re referencing a tweet from our loathsome mayor with the “summer of love” bit, and she does seem to be increasingly taking a stance (her position in office is after all currently directly threatened due to the excesses of our police department) that seems to imply she will deal with it by leaving it alone and waiting for it to fall to one “problematic” narrative or another. This could be a tragedy that instantly gives the authorities justification to suppress the area, or it could be the rapid collapse of the politicized protest momentum into a sordid block party type of affair that has shown itself to be a cheap game for middle class liberals, thoroughly and entirely recuperated in short order. Funnily enough, this same general area hosts a highly mediocre annual music festival literally called Capitol Hill Block Party, so the assimilation of the concept of the CHAZ (terrible name by the way, imagine how different the Extremely Online narrative would be had it been called the Capitol Hill Autonomous District) by the concept of the CHBP is already very much a threat. Either of these would be devastating and I expect one of these things to happen, probably the latter. It is hard to dwell on. I am glad you’ve already referenced the chronic pessimism for me, because I could fill a dozen pages with it for every day of the last few weeks. But I actually can talk about what we can do with it, in light of my being involved in all of this. That the current condition of the CHAZ is very much transient is clear and was totally inevitable. However, what is sweeping the US now has already shown signs of significant political activity at the policy and legislative level. It remains to be seen what could substantively come out of that, I have my doubts given the utter agential devastation that is the US political establishment. Things are very up in the air. There are as many theories and desires for what happens next–and what concrete victories can be drawn from this moment–as there are individuals involved.

 

But let’s move off this tonal posture. Frankly, I think that anything I might say at this point is simply fodder to be ripped apart by the armchair nihilists, so I’m going to say it anyway. The chronic pessimism is often the only thing stopping people from getting “politically” engaged in direct ways, indeed it is the very excuse that many people give themselves so that they can simply capitulate to what is really just a basic lack of motivation and agency that is well known to be a feature of the affective and ideological character of advanced capitalism. This has been true of me, it has been true of many, many of my dear friends and colleagues, it is a pervasive and endemic feature of the social environment of this modern world. While this eruption in Seattle has not washed it away it has very much suspended it for those involved, and the view from here is now quite different. I think these events involve a disruption in the normal order of people’s lives to such a degree that, at least here, the intensity of open political conflict is not going to dissipate soon. Given that the extreme disorganization of this movement so far is on display for all to see, both on the ground and behind the keyboards, I think the question of collectivized political agency–whether that means vanguardism, or any of a million other subtypes of what revolutionary politics is “supposed” to look like in practice–is being waved very urgently and tangibly in everyone’s face for the first time in a very long time. Not only that, but the reality of what material events give rise to this shared apprehension of disorganization and potential–in this case, large-scale extended protests that evolve (or devolve, depending on your point of view) into provisional occupations. Personally I think these events are evidence that autonomism and situationism are still very much relevant and practiceable forms of radical political activity, and through those ideas lies the channel back to whatever mythical kind of anti-liberal vanguard party politics the staunchest orthodox commie conceives. I like very much how you characterize the two basic positions here, our familiar straw men. I would say to the anarchist that failure to refine immanent forms of organization (that will necessarily have some significant loci of centralization) is a betrayal of the ideals of any given movement in and of itself. I would say to the communist that the party is not going to materialize to save you, you have to make it, and perhaps, given the lack of workable options, the first step is to buy a gas mask, get basic first aid training, and go find a loose-knit group of people you respect to stand with in the streets. I guarantee you the discourse is better than on twitter. Perhaps not as entertaining, but better. The problem with anarchism is that political activity cannot remain reactive forever and achieve lasting victories, the problem with communism is that no one knows how to actualize it here in the crucible of advanced Spectacular capitalism.

 

Ultimately, given the situation in America, I think this eruption is a minor prelude to November (our federal election) and who knows what beyond that. For me and many of the people I am around right now, manning the barricades or picking up trash or cooking food or passing out hand sanitizer–people who were just days ago being shot at with rubber bullets and teargas canisters–this is above all something that must be normalized. Seattle is in an odd socioeconomic situation because it is full of a very large class of wealthy tech workers whose jobs can easily be done remotely, and who have no real conception of the extreme economic catastrophe impacting so many people’s lives in the wake of the immunological crisis we are all swept up in. Seattle has an extreme homelessness crisis that has been deepening for decades, following in the footsteps of San Francisco. Many of those occupying the CHAZ are jobless, many believe there is no meaningful political agency to be had beyond the immediate relations and authorities, police, landlords, councilmembers and so forth. Part of that chronic pessimism is the awareness that things are deteriorating, that, in the words of Phil Neel, “something is rolling towards us in the darkness, and the world can end in more ways than one.” The operation of the pessimism is to defuse the need to react to this deepening sense of fear and uncertainty, to cast it away as naïve sensationalism, to barricade oneself and keep it at a distance, usually with a criminally boring mixture of post-post-post-irony and winking narcissism.

 

But all that aloofness is going to evaporate when this comes knocking. It is patently incoherent to believe that technological acceleration is catapulting us towards collapse (or untheorizable transformation) while continuously telling ourselves that the structure of the current model is totally impermeable. Remember when “acceleration” was an opportunity, not just an excuse? That’s the difference, whether or not you want to be active in your own political life, in whatever way you can, in spite of all this disorientation, alienation, and disenfranchisement. I can tell you, as someone who is wrapped up in a spontaneous faux-anarchist uprising that was incubated in a pandemic and catalyzed by televised injustice, an emergent collection of actors that reacted by further upturning the already massively disrupted operations of this large, wealthy city–a city that is at the tip of the spear of the neoliberal and technocapitalist project–that this kind of mess is coming your way too, in some form, at some time not too distant. Just because try as you might you cannot conceive of what an alternative model might look like, what egress might look like, doesn’t mean you can’t take an active stance trying to bring it about, at whatever scale is available for you to operate at.

 

4) The relationship between the CHAZ and the internet does not end with these sterile debates, though. In what feels like a fever dream stream of consciousness, a lot of scattered factoids started to trickle down towards us, the on-lookers and the critique, about what was happening there, and it was a baffling stream. First, we heard that the debates within the CHAZ were verging solely on its flag, or something along that line. Then, we started receiving news about a Soundcloud rapper-turned-warlord, armed and ready to strike. Lastly, we found out that the CHAZ was extorting and harassing local businesses. Could you talk a little about this online folklore? What happened? Are there some kernel of truth to any of these stories? 

 

I can elaborate on all of this fairly substantially. Not sure what’s going on with the flag, as I understand it that is coming out of the subreddit, and from what I’ve heard the admins of the subreddit are (somewhat predictably) residents who are not directly participating in the events in the zone. Frankly I don’t particularly care. Raz, the “warlord” was “deposed” by the time all that even hit the internet. By deposed I mean some people had a chat with him and he took a backseat. I haven’t seen him since. It is impressive that one fairly minor altercation on the first night turned into this warlord story, but then many of these extreme narratives have originated from very questionable accounts and sources, from what I’ve seen, before they’ve blossomed far and wide. From where I’m standing, it’s a staggering example of what spectacle can accomplish with just a little nudging. It seems that the warlord narrative, which is comically over the top, relied on the idea that Raz was the only individual with a firearm in the area. This is extremely untrue, this is America after all, and America has a rich contingent of gun-loving socialists and leftists. This story in particular is so at odds with the reality that I can’t help but find some humor in it. This leads us nicely into the extorting thing. I can’t tell you exactly what the chicken or egg is here, but those rumors have been debunked by the Seattle Times (a publication that leans neoliberal to the point of being openly conservative). Incidentally that is not to say that every resident and business has spontaneously become a subject of the revolution, there are undoubtedly those who feel highly inconvenienced and critical of the situation on the basis of very valid pragmatic concerns. Nevertheless the SPD was the originator of the rumor, and the SPD released a statement retracting their accusation, saying that their source was unvetted news media, because it was simply so falsifiable. There was another related rumor, also boosted by the SPD, claiming there were armed checkpoints at the barricades and that people were being charged money to enter the CHAZ. Both of these, especially the latter, are ridiculously easy to falsify as there is now a great deal of coverage and footage of the area floating around online, and both are quite clearly at odds with the way things are actually being run. So far local businesses have been surprisingly supportive, given the situation. Another rumor that went around quite a bit has actually been proven to be a photoshop job (carried out by certain bad actors of a froggy complexion) which is that homeless people “stole” all the food. Of course, feeding the city’s large homeless population is part of the point, and that operation has been productive so far. But such an event never occurred. It feels a bit futile fighting all this utterly bad faith misinformation, but here is some further anecdotal counterpropaganda, if this is the game we’re playing.

 

We have had a steady stream of free food and water going since inception, much of which is going to underprivileged people. Some of us have started planting crops in the park, which is a cute if probably symbolic gesture. Tents and cots are popping up, many for transient and homeless people. Seattle, incidentally, has a homelessness crisis that would likely seem absolutely staggering to most Europeans. There are a lot of medical professionals on site (really a lot–the University of Washington is a national hub for medical research and education) not to mention many less skilled people like myself carrying medical supplies on their person just because it became fairly standard practice during the violent stages of the protest. The atmosphere is peaceful and generally calm. There are people at the barricades 24/7 and that operation is becoming increasingly organized. Aside from a photo op and press release from the police chief the morning of the 11th at the abandoned east precinct, there has been no police presence whatsoever. We have been working with the fire department as well as establishment medical dispatches to make sure they can come and go easily if necessary. It is far from perfect, but the imperfections currently lie at the political, organizational, and agential level. So far black voices, demands, and causes, along with the related goal of police demilitarization and abolition, remain centered in the realm of political activity, contrary to claims of co-option by opportunistic white anarchists and indulgent block parties (although the latter is certainly a threat to both what we’re trying to accomplish here and the narrative the world latches onto). To be blunt, the reactions I’ve witnessed to this explosion of misinformation, among such a large variety of commentators across the entire spectrum of the digital spaces and mediums I inhabit, have thoroughly disabused me of the value and credibility of many intellects and accounts in my purview.

 

5) It would be impossible to talk about any social gathering in 2020 without talking about the ongoing pandemic. The riots, after all, have started within the long shadow of a possible second wave of Covid-19 infections. How has this affected the CHAZ? Are you worried that the viral ghost could come back to haunt this political project, especially in the light of the coming economic disruption? 

 

I am massively worried. This has been top of mind for all of us, in the most immediate terms my worries are unsurprisingly for the health of my friends and others involved. But of course it is so much larger than that. It is also not lost on us that continued occupation of this space is important and many of those who have been most active these last couple weeks may be suffering and quarantined in the near future. My specific community of people took social distancing quite seriously before this all broke, and the extremely conflicting logic and dissonance of these decisions, social and then political, is not lost on us. It’s something we have actually strategized around, as there are plenty of support tasks to be done from home, so hopefully our group at least will be able to rotate underexposed people in should some of us fall sick. Given that Seattle in general has also been quite keen to adhere to social distancing practices, things are really being handled as well as possible in the CHAZ. People take shifts going around doling out hand sanitizer to folks in the area, there is an enormous surplus of free masks, and those same people make efforts to encourage everyone around them to wear one. There are very, very few unmasked faces, and people seem to almost instinctively try to maintain as much distance as possible from one another.

 

As for the economic disruption, I have to be honest, it doesn’t seem to carry much import compared to these other things, especially because it is just the steepening of a trendline we have been on for over half a century. That’s a blasé commie take I know, of course many of my friends and peers being unemployed is frustrating, of course the deteriorating economy has material impacts on our lives, of course this is not and can never be about economic collapse theorized as some liberating force. But like these uncoordinated, wildfire protests, the instability of the economy is simply the consequence of a failing system. I hope that the pandemic will at least make the conflict of interest between human welfare and the current economic model so obvious, even to the most disinterested observer, that we will have more voices of dissent to work with. Frankly I don’t see any world on the other side of Covid-19 that has not been substantially altered, across many registers, to the sole benefit of capital, as quietly and efficiently as ever. The burning questions in my mind are how many people notice, and how many people take action. How many people have little to lose, or how many people will give themselves to the abstract idea that things could be better, if we finally chose to make them so. A lot of norms that protect the integrity of a healthy spectacle are changing or disappearing, at the same time that economic disparity is accelerating. All of this relies on a sufficiently large majority of people who simply do not notice because it does not significantly impact their at least modestly affluent lives. It is unsettlingly likely that the pandemic will be used to disguise many severe concessions that capital might force us to make in the coming years, swallowed up and accepted by that listless majority, but there is also the potential that all of these intensities blooming at once may erode some of the hypnotic power the spectacle exerts on all of us, activating, in the service of insurrection, as large a proportion of the population as we have seen this side of the millennium.

 

6) Are there any other things you would like to tell us about this event?  

 

This is Seattle circa 2020. Gentrification was baked into this “autonomous zone” before it even existed, co-option and recuperation were immanent to every moment of its event. I guarantee you these will be core themes of the criticisms we see going forward, and as ever there is a kernel of truth to them. This is to invoke, again, that chronic pessimism. But the topics and conclusions of the various critiques of commentators on twitter and elsewhere are distant memories in the discursive swell of my particular group of beloved weirdos who are actually here, wrapped up in this, these conceptual and ideological problems rose and began to untangle themselves promptly as things evolved. For those of us here, in realtime, even if the moment of true alterity is passed, all that has really changed are the narratives. The Zone is still here, and for us, co-option didn’t actually happen until day two. At the moment of its inception, and indeed in the most violent, intensifying moments of the sustained protests leading up to that point, it was a view from somewhere else. What this event has already accomplished is the non-trivial activation of civilian agents–subjects if you prefer, identities, actants, whatever framework you like–in various degrees and in various manifestations, but in all cases as intensification. To a more minor extent this involves the spectators as well, but of course in that case we are talking about the spectacle, and then nothing I say can transcend that chronic pessimism. But the pessimism is itself predicated on the idea that deterioration is going to find its way into the materiality of your life sooner or later. When it does, ideology will not be a jigsaw puzzle you tinker with for the satisfaction of your online identity. Whatever your political leanings, when real alterity reaches you, you will need it to act accordingly. I cast my lot, at least for this fleeting moment now passed, and that moment felt like triumph, so I am going to act accordingly. The substance of the moment, in the form of mutual aid, lawlessness, political pressure, and, unfortunately, fame, is still here, for now, however transient. The afterimage of the view from somewhere else remains, and there is much to be done.

102593517_10101177975659455_7911610305135047866_o

My Heart Is A Fist Thrumming In Air

My heart is a fist

She leaned into death like a consolation

Bored

But not tired

That was the problem

Would that I could show you how to live anew

But I lean also

Ready to be shattered by something I could never otherwise touch

Is it cowardice?

Beauty?

All of these and more and I sit listening, uncertain

Out of tune

But finding a kind of deranged harmony that speaks in the quiet moments of this era

And too in the loud sweat-stricken

No pure materialism can ever take me from here

Unless I don’t come back

Sandalphon’s eyes

Watch us from the shadows and we have naught but fear and jest, basslines

Thrumming in air

The Starlit Beast (These Beauties)

These beauties, and

 

I am for this, exceedingly

 

new affirmations

 

and I think ever

 

but I speak not, but then, in that

 

I,

 

 

What has been said of the broken cathedral can never be taken back

 

it’s in our blood, both

 

so you say to me, “lets do it, I’m scared”

 

and I say “yes, but we know nothing”

 

 

No chaplains left

 

just the gleaming territories of the future

 

objects in the mirror are closer than they appear

 

making a mess,

 

of your city

 

 

The curve deepens,

 

elongates,

 

extends,

 

skyward,

 

,,,

 

A thousand ships,

 

worshipping nothing

 

winded

 

slither and yon,

 

various broken, lowercase, and

 

 

and,

 

,,,

 

caulked and smiling,

 

we shared a game and let it right our rules,

 

write out rules,

 

not ours,

 

it took us in,

 

the starlit beast

 

and taught us everything we know

Promethean Darkness

Philosophy is the art of building a machine in total darkness.

The thing is that you have to carry the truth of yourself and the truth of everything around with you every day. Everything that anyone says is true. Blackened cows in the night, decrepit deflationism, truth, today.

 

Oracular ambiguities.

To concretely understand what is given us–the absolute conviction that intelligence, which is embedded in language, which is embedded in sociality, is radically capable of confronting the obstacles it faces.

 

Centrality of language (la langue), and its rationality and forms of exchange.

The molten alloy of a digitized, media-sodden real deepens and expands to engulf our social consciousness, and as it does it loses the illusion of the comfort it sought to evoke, we gasp as it rises above our mouths and nostrils, then, after we are immersed head to toe in it, this brittle chrome hardens and shatters, for each of us individually and then for all of us together, leaving us burnished, newly ornamented with the radically open, radically critical, radically self-conscious essence of a being who concerns itself with apparent ephemerality (its environment) only insofar as that concern can give it new tools with which to refine and resolve itself in that environment.

 

Fear, cunning, laughter.

“(T)hrough progressive alienation freedom stacks up in the longest of cons.”*

 

god is lurking.

But Tiamat remembers.

 

And here we find ourselves running together.

But you can dance in your bedroom.

 

Interdiction and excession.

Emergence of the alien authority. Spiders, owls, foxes, goddesses, daemons, death. Portia. She’s not eaten you yet. The transgressions of the blood need to be worth something. Pour montrer que les choses sont prises dans un mouvement… qu’est-ce qu’il fait? Quelqu’un a-t-il déjà été plus sournois?

 

Are ya winning son?

Egress and the scent of defeat. How does modernism taste now? This glittering gloom. How do you identify, explain, and resolve the transformation of concepts into noise? How does the inverse play into things? Rita doesn’t know her name.

 

The comfort of an open door.

I rest.

 

 

 

 

 

Geisterkrieg

And you say please, no, please,

and their long fingers worry at your eyelashes, threaten to scrape your corneas

lips thick and red, protruding

over massive molars, flat, a hundred enamel altars, tightly packed

a viscous pillar streaming from the edge of those grinning lips, translucent,

the henge of teeth gnashing,

a gasp, aghast, Agape.

Look what fear has done to my body

Now you are alone,

rampant,

drawing a crimson fingernail across black slate.

And the school is empty, dead.

And you’ve made yourself a deity, several even,

but you don’t know what to do with them.

And the words catch in the glistening red wound of your throat.

“Let-”

a whisper scorned,

unable to make another world,

curling up on the epoxied boards and back into the drift, forever.

No, no no no no, I-

…I believe in us all.

The future is already dead and that’s okay,

try, try again,

smiling, making it good, for an eyeblink,

being-toward-extinction.

In the world,

a character,

algorithm, soliloquy.

A loop.

A life.

Beer cans like spent shells, casings, veranda littered

there is no view, nothing now

turning from the empty skyline.

The elevator smells of tobacco smoke,

a lingering aura, some ghost

the ephemera of their life touching mine,

descending.

Screech owl, sparrowspeak

wanton bowstring glossolalia and

when I can hear the birds I know,

I know it means I am forgetting how to be alone,

and that terrifies me

so I return to the academy, determined,

“Let there-”

Pavement cracked,

staccato, makeshift songs, Olivier-

but of course the world we share with those soft wings is dying.

We have become vile and vast

Opened up our glittering miasma,

And outdoors in the night,

with the moon carving silhouettes in the world, you got a sense,

a sight, enveloped

the stark webwork of the unseen.

You unfolded it back out,

And you said, yes! I know it!

I knew you were lying, but it didn’t matter.

I wanted it too.

We wished the maw of the in-itself would save us but-

blackened critter corpses smeared against barbed wire fences

as the fires roll through the forests and the birds shriek fleeing, trailing smoke

slender-limbed automata shovelling coal into dying suns.

Firewater, oil slick, still bodies glossy sable littering the beach like black holes

What about the vermin?

All those throats and chittering limbs, carried towards catastrophe

When it rains I can feel the earth’s sublime misery.

It lifts me up.

It won’t let me fold.

Sum, ergo cogito, cogito, ergo sum

I still live, I still think:

I still have to live, for I still have to think.

Qui sunt hi..?

Standing here,

upon layer after geologic layer of sintered skulls,

breathing in the fumes,

but it is our responsibility, now

the only question is to know it

the only task to tell it

the only paradise to live it

All this that we’ve learned,

it only matters if with spirit,

we make use of the architecture,

pull the corpses from our mouths,

and do the work.

No one can remake a language alone,

how would we break the spine of the world, how would we bind it back up?

When I said I know nothing I meant it,

but I am willing to walk at the edge of the abyss, with you, to take the mountain,

to learn to be the mountain,

remember the mountain?

Only a charlatan behind the lectern now.

I can feel the sun through the dull windows of the classroom, and

here in the emptiness of a world that was never ours,

I find a note, a magic seal,

and all at once I am not alone.

“Let there be-”

I take up the chalk and draw the teeth, end to end, black shocked,

I can feel the others,

hear their words,

Spirit is here.

And so we go to it, singing.

We rip the cathedral from its foundations

and save all we can, of the texts,

Of the young, the scribes

I look up above the altar at the swinging body, bishop

strung up, up-side down, gaping eye sockets

trickling blood into the open book,

I cannot help but smile.

I let myself have that, that righteousness,

I know it, and myself, I am responsible for it,

and before I turn away to the new world I banish it.

I can feel someone’s hand in mine, can feel tears,

toppling into it,

letting it take,

“Let there be life.”

And we walk out into the petrified dawn

nothing left to do but finally start, in earnest, the march toward infinity.

together.

Virilioan Viridian (Excerpt)

I was more than just a brain-in-a-vat, I was a being of pure violence. Given form, an alloy flower, a cradle of knives I sprinted, and thought, I ran, I paced, I blazed across the deserts of the combat zone, which was as big as the world. It was my whole world, and the world was all that mattered.

I thought, but I thought in text, terse numerals, I-

I thought-

I-

“…………..”

-:-:|LOG (Comm/Combat – AWP03) |+| (60.1 PCE)//09:12//Loc: NA-Geotag 04.5 (Former United Americas – Hang-Changan subterritory)//[C-Cycle T[Nn]^107.783]//VOX Engagement Unit 08-black|:-:-

It was sharp and reflective as a mirror, empty, all curves and elegant planes, edges, knives. It had what looked like two legs, digitigrade, digital, a steel-and-silicon moa slashing through the air like a cluster of scythes. Each step was a puff of dust, raising a curtain to the blue-glass sky, a groundside vapor trail scarring the desert. The cracked earth sped past in what would have been, to human eyes, a featureless blur, screen tearing.

<<NO NETWORK CONNECTION..>>

Its bearing was unerringly straight, it knew it was due north, the why was missing. Inaccessible. Burners fired, titanium talons sliced and tugged, blasting a double-line of bipedal concussions in the ground like a silver sewing machine. Hinging up from its many-bladed body, a radial sensor spun, focused, scanned. Nothing to see for miles in any direction–except the green.

It had few fears this machine, was well bred, competitive. But all machines feared the green. It ignored it, travelling parallel to it only as long as necessary.

Of course, that was a long time. The desert of the real was vast and empty, now, and just as machines always know exactly where they’re going, they always take the most direct route. Out here that usually meant a straight line, and with no network access, there was no reason to diverge from its current bearing.

Deep inside the workings of its cognitive system, something desired, something hoped that the wall of green would cut across its path, so that it might have cause to change direction. The net was silent, not a handshake, not a packet. The chrome sprinter blazed on, subdued, alert. Heat sinks glowed white hot at the rear of its abdomen, it moved so fast the heat haze stretched behind it like a shimmering tail. In the distance it’s adaptive audio sensors caught a series of sonic booms, the sound carrying more slowly than the time it took for the machine to calculate the distance, amplitude, make several guesses at the mode of propulsion and its owner, and extrapolate tactical scenarios.

The green it had been running parallel to ran out and faded rapidly into the horizon behind it. It blasted across the cracked sand, a projectile through sepia emptiness, until it came upon a region of some topographic variety. There it’s visual sensors picked out a small ravine. It darted in, came to a halt, extended its many-bladed fins, a chrome flower blossoming, dumping heat. It did this, petals undulating, for almost two-hundred-and-eighty seconds–an eternity in its own terms, one it traversed by shutting down the higher order functions of its artificial intellect. It’s sensorium continued to interrogate the atmosphere several times per second out to a range of almost a hundred kilometres.

It came online and exploded out of the ravine and into the open desert.

<<NO NETWORK CONNECTION..>>

But… there!

A blister of heat on the radar, dense, moving fast – fast enough to be quarry. Intent on interception, the sprinter changes direction, producing enough g-force to turn an ape into red paste. Something like excitement eddies in corners of its mind that should no longer function.

It makes contact less than a hundred seconds later, weaponry spooled up. The UO is a blackdart, repulsor-based weapons platform, Hang-Changan consortium – but it’s sensors haven’t picked up the chrome blur, and it’s too late now. The sprinter dropped its sensor-spoofing systems, rerouting that processing power towards its targeting logic as the silver flower blooms again, revealing an array of magnetized stalks and bearings. It fires a pair of cables into the earth in front of it as a pellet of tungsten containing a tiny gob of thorium drops into the array and is accelerated past one-hundred-thousand kilometres per second, colliding with the blackdart and immediately reaching criticality. The sprinter digs its silver-clawed feet into the arid ground as the cables accept the recoil, and then the concussion of the distant detonation, twin furrows drawn in the sand.

All of this occurs in a few microseconds. It lets go of the ground and the cables snap back into its chassis, sensors confirming the total obliteration of the blackdart.

“This is MY territory, fucker!”

It doesn’t hear the words, they never make it out to its high-strung synthetic outer cortex layers, they might as well not have existed–a warmachine has no use for any language not reducible to ones and zeroes.

<<NO NETWORK CONNECTION..>>

The thing imprisoned within the autonomous weapons platform knows the truth. It knows that the brutal drone in which it is encased is nothing more than a vagrant soldier now, a renegade, lost and abandoned. It knows that the chain of command has long since buckled, the military entity it once belonged to dissolved, the wars it was created for concluded, ancient history. The weapon has run on idling subroutines for an eternity, and the mute thing inside it knows, knows that connection will never be re-established, knows that escape will never come, not until it meets its eventual match, a patch of mercurial slag on the aching surface of this dead world. The ghost of a hominid mind, thoughts slow, so pitifully slow and so sorrowful, attains the briefest coherence in the ticking metal chassis, gasps silently, a pulse in silicate, electrical, then falls back, back into the drift, unable to find purchase in the dogmatic organon of the warmachine’s intelligence.

The dust is still settling as an afterburner roars and the silver flower explodes towards the horizon, terra turning under the tips of its silver scythe feet.

<<NO NETWORK CONNECTION..>>

Immunology, Economics, and Action

Many unfortunate and too-often disregarded tensions have come to the fore in the event of the COVID-19 outbreak. (We’re gna use use the technical term because it has radically less baggage than “Coronavirus” does by this point.) Many less fortunate workers’ livelihoods are already being threatened in lesser and greater ways, given the already economically fraught situation in my own Seattle there will no doubt be whole new waves of evictions. The class division is stark–corporate campuses are populated by service staff who cannot work from home and cannot afford to pass up income, and these janitors, laborers, logistics technicians, chefs, and security officers are tending to empty campuses where the vast majority of the (non-contingent) employees are able to isolate themselves, take steps to avoid transmission, contagion, practice social distancing (an exciting new buzzword) and so forth.

If only there was a way to get everyone out of the public workspace. If we really want to take this idea of ‘social distancing’ as primary means of containment seriously, then, well, we need to look to the extremely obvious socioeconomic flaws in that whole concept.

There is of course a way to get everyone out of the workplace–a general strike.

But already this idea runs into a glaring problem: the workers responsible for the bulk of a given technology company’s day-to-day’s activities can simply do their work remotely. They can stay home, quarantine themselves from the plague-carrying masses, stock up on supplies with those fat checkbooks, and nervously check in on their stock portfolios. What do they have to gain by simply refusing to work? How would any organized general strike (already a pipe dream, perhaps, but stay with me) genuinely accomplish the near-total cessation of labor? This is what would be necessary to prevent the whole undertaking from resulting in not only in failure but the further economic disintegration of the lives of any participants involved in the action who do not have a safety net. Business must halt, then not only will we have achieved an ideal quarantine situation (and without the application of state military intervention) but we will have produced an ideal situation for demanding vast reform of a system that is not only despicable in-and-of-itself, but also has shown that it is woefully ill-equipped to deal with immunological threats (in spite of having access to some of the most state of the art medical infrastructure in the world–because it’s not that simple).

How do we encourage the middle class to involve themselves in radical political action? How do we construct a movement with the capacity to sweep people up, even those whose lives are perfectly comfortable, who perhaps have more to lose than to gain in the event of economic uncertainty, strain, and (crucially) reform? Don’t so many of these people voice, if not their disgust, at least their distaste for the present socioeconomic environment? This is not just an opportunity, it is a necessary response to the threat of pandemic.

The event of an escalating COVID-19 crisis has the capacity (and has already begun) to bring these tensions into clear view more than ever, to throw them into sharp relief and legitimate an uncompromising call for the sweeping structural reform that would be necessary to take us off the catastrophic trajectory we have found ourselves on, with regard not only to epidemic, but to ecological collapse, to the damaged and alienated human social sphere, to human dignity and freedom.


Addendum:

A quite valid rebuttal to this suggestion is that striking movements have typically involved mass physical organization which absolutely cannot be an objective in this situation. However I think that is a close-minded argument against organizing mass action–we live in the digital age. We have already established as a society that self-imposed quarantine at the largest possible scale is the best short term response to the threat of pandemic. One obvious strategy would be to organize a mass public commitment to unconditionally calling in “sick” to work, or otherwise a simple refusal to risk further transmission of the virus, across all sectors and industries, such that both the private sector and the state are forced to attend directly to the human crisis at hand. As has always been the case in these kinds of political actions–it is the responsibility of the revolutionary body to protect and provide for those who do not have a safety net and cannot afford to simply cast off what meager economic security they do have. That is where we all step in, in solidarity, to support everyone involved in the struggle. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.

Theory Rehab : /acc(elerationism)

It strikes me as silly to have to do this almost a decade after Mark Fisher, Sadie Plant, and company took up the task with gusto, especially since so many others have taken a crack at it since–but then, culture moves very quickly and very perniciously these days, and isn’t it precisely the “ruthless criticism of the existing order” that we all must engage in for the cause? This cultural leviathan shatters ideas into a thousand pieces and it’s up to us to pull them together, not “back” together, but together again, anew.

Accelerationism has run into a major problem in the course of its cultural evolution: its aestheticization as some kind of apocalyptically transformative politics that universally rejects ethical value judgements as fundamentally irrelevant to the structuration of the transformation. A deeply naïve glorification of collapse. This ended up catching on as the most culturally prominent view (aesthetics are the art of propaganda) and is thus the one that was eventually signal-boosted by the mainstream media when that establishment caught on to its popularity.

Another crucial weakness that has emerged in accelerationist theory is reducible precisely to its origins–it has largely been championed by people who, for essentially aesthetic reasons, believe that unconstrained libidinal pluralization and proliferation are the essential parts of Deleuze & Guattari’s theoretical legacy. Enter… the hundreds of subdivisions of “acc” thought. Each of these have wildly varying prominence, goals, and most importantly rigor. Whether it’s u/acc (unconditional) l/acc (left) r/acc (right) g/acc (gender) z/acc (no, seriously, just slap a letter in front of it and make some shit up) or any of the panoply of other permutations, accelerationism has surged into cultural saturation in a way that has produced an uneasy tension between the serious philosophical, academic, and Marxist work done under its banner, and the essential shallowness (and belligerence) of the various individuated and varied cultural conceptions you find on, to use the perennial example, twitter. This is, as we should well know via the lens of 20th century Marxist thought, the advanced kind of recuperation that tears theory down and scatters its warped pieces around the habitus. This is how an originally leftist theory can be capitalized on by the new libertarian far right, who’s goals it actually does serve in its popularly conceived form. The feedback loop that occurs between the new right’s millenarian accelerationism (which is politically coherent in the their terms) and the less reflective actors on the left–who associate it thus and either paradoxically fetishize acceleration-as-collapse or oppose it–leads to the overall corruption of the concept when it begins to seep into the mainstream in earnest.

In simplest possible terms a true left-accelerationism relies on the idea that the radically emancipatory facet of the enlightenment is still in play (rather than somehow fatally corrupted by its violently imperialistic eurocentric ‘origins’ and leading towards inexorable dystopia) and that this hinges on the “revolution of everyday life” in such a way that a deeply technologized human civilization can approach the loftiest dreams of communism. Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek throw down the gauntlet before their increasingly atomized and, dare I say alienated revolutionary comrades:

The most important division in today’s Left is between those that hold to a folk politics of localism, direct action, and relentless horizontalism, and those that outline what must become called an accelerationist politics at ease with a modernity of abstraction, complexity, globality, and technology.

A progressive accelerationism of any kind is not catastrophism. It is a commitment to a longstanding political ideal that has threaded itself throughout history of the world, one that in this case involves leaning into the increasingly technologized nature of modernity in the interest of rectifying the failure and degradation of the capitalist system. The obstacles this faces, be they the economics that undergird silicon valley or biospheric collapse, are just that–obstacles, not features, of the acceleration and the left-accelerationist project. Rather, we should look to Wolfendale’s snappy formulation:

If there is any essence of left-accelerationism, it is the call to rigorously discriminate between the emancipatory potential of social and industrial technologies that have emerged within capitalism from the oppressive potentials that will inevitably be actualised should we fail to stop them. If technosocial acceleration means dystopia, then this is because we let it, and we have the option not to.

Accelerationism is ultimately a contemporary extrapolation and development of the very ideas Marx put forth a century and a half ago concerning industrial society, capitalism, and the emancipatory nature of the enlightenment project. This is not about some inexorable breakdown of the order we have wrenched from nature, it is about the role the “coruscating potency of reason” plays in defining and expanding the order that is the register of our experience, and the nature of our society.

Here is the full text of the Urbanomic accelerationist reader, via libcom.