Nick Land: On Williams and Srnicek #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics

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Nick Land on his Uraban Future (2.1) blog has a few posts up on Accelerationism (here), (here) and (here) with the last two on Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics. Although there are only two post so far it looks as if he will add more seeing that he is dividing it up thematically. He seems to agree that both sides of the spectrum, Left and Right, are seeking to realign the social, political, aesthetic lines of modernism which exploded just before the Great War and after… Have we read our Pynchon lately? Against the Day could be used as the lead in for this return since it forges the links from the 1893 Worlds Fair to the Great War – “With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, global geopolitical power struggle, mysticism, and evil intent in high places.”  Is this not our age writ large? The age of Pound and Eliot, Futurism and Dada, the worlds of Piccasso and Matisse… and, much like our own age it was a time of anarchists, socialists, feminists, vegetarians… as Peter Gay tells it the moderns no matter what stripe embodied two attributes: first, the lure of heresy that impelled their actions as they confronted conventional sensibilities; and, second, a commitment to a principled self-scrutiny.1 Is this what these Back to the Future Accelerationists seek? Or do they seek something else altogether? Maybe Ray Brassier is on to something in Wandering Abstraction?:

“What is required is an account of the link between the conceptual and the social at the level of practice, which is to say, an account of the way in which cognitive function supervenes on social practices. This is what neither accelerationism nor communisation currently provide.”

– Ray Brassier

From Land I take one comment:

“The accelerationist renovation of the Left, like every species of deep modernist renovation, aims to re-activate lines of development dating back to the high-modernism of the early 20th century when — as the authors fully, if perhaps only intuitively, understand the fundamental dynamic of modernity crested and broke. Or are we seriously to believe that “back to the mid-1970s!” is the implicit rallying cry?”

– Nick Land on Williams and Srnicek

 Some videos as well: http://xlrt.org/videos.html

Along with #ACCELERATE: The Accelerationist Reader from Urbonomic forthcoming…

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1. Gay, Peter (2010-08-16). Modernism: The Lure of Heresy (Kindle Locations 273-274). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

6 thoughts on “Nick Land: On Williams and Srnicek #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics

  1. Land correctly identifies nostalgia in #accelerate manifesto, but he’s writing that from a glass house. #neoreaction if it exists at all, is also a nostalgic movement. One of rare points of agreement between neoreactionaries is an imaginary point in the past where it all went wrong and its vague colocation and causation [1] with onset of historical Enlightement. So, both accelerationist and neoreactionary project are going in the black hole to travel back in time to find the ineffable perfect embodiement of idea that slipped through their fingers a long time ago, or so the story goes. For accelerationism, that would be a century, for neoreaction, three centuries ?

    Nostalgia becomes necromancy if taken far enough [2]. Digging up corpses and performing ideological rites on them to turn them into zombies never worked to any extent. Still, #accelerate may nurture some small hope that corpse is not a corpse but a sleeping beauty in deep hibernation. The princess of neoreaction is clearly in a much more decrepit state after all that time, and in many scattered pieces. Maybe, if Dr. Frankenstein was an archeologist and a neoreactionary and there was a lucky lighting from the skies … but even then, is it worth putting the legendary Humpty Dumpty together again, even if it were possible at all ?

    I suspect that looking for that ineffable body of murdered neoreactionary prince or princess is a lost cause and that these Hamlets just want to kill their own father. Technology and science were in dark age until Enlightenment and modernity happened, and Capitalism was born with industrial revolution. If there was no Enlightement, there would be no technocapitalism for Land to fetishize, no Internet to transmit neoreactionary thought and no hardware for Moldbug to Urbit [3]. So, neoreaction seems like an ordinary parasitic cultural phenomena, a mold on the bread of modernity, a lichen on the stones of the Cathedral ? In any case, Moldbug is a rather appropriate name.

    But let’s get back to Land and annotations on annotated #acceleration manifesto. There are two interesting irritations:

    First is climate change, which #accelerate points out as a catastrophic, but Land dismisses this as Cathedral material. No other reason given, maybe it’s that one should never trust the Cathedral, maybe Land loves positive feedbacks or it’s just that Moldbug links to Climate Audit on his blog ? In any case, with positive feedbacks working within decades and negative over thousands of years, I would hope that anyone dealing with nonlinear dynamics and real world would appreciate the risk and gamble involved.

    Second one is neoliberalism, which, according to Land, is not a serious concept. Yeah, sure. Nick believes in wisdom of Azatoth, the blind idiot god of the markets and that us monkeys should close our eyes wide shut and let the Market manifest itself fully in our feeble minds and bodies, even if that means we sacrifice ourselves on altar of Market Forces . That is almost identical to neoliberal position, as argued by Philip Mirowski.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/08/fixing-old-markets-with-new-markets-the-origins-and-practice-of-neoliberalism.html

    http://overland.org.au/previous-issues/issue-210/feature-philip-mirowski-jeremy-walker-antoinette-abboud/

    “In the neoliberal version of the world, nature is not something external that hems in or constrains the economy. Rather, nature is something that we humans can never really know, except for the information that is absorbed by the market and distilled for us into price signals. Science is not an independent mode of truth discovery: it is a boutique knowledge format only validated by ‘the marketplace of ideas’. Consequently, natural scientists cannot pronounce on economic policy, because this would imply that the market could be wrong.

    Neoliberals don’t believe in simple laissez faire, although they have been known to promote this doctrine as a distraction. Rather, they subscribe to the doctrine of a strong state, one poised and willing to build and maintain the world of markets. This sometimes appears confusing to outsiders who cannot understand how neoliberals can so blithely demonise the state and yet simultaneously seek to capture it. Their prescription for market failures is always more markets – yet that prescription can only be imposed by a strong state capable of keeping the electorate in line. The state must be stripped of obligations to society and used instead to insulate the market from democracy.”

    So, Lands dismissal of neoliberalism seems like magicians sleight of hand to obscure his true name, neocameralist state is hard to distinguish from an ideal neoliberal one and technological wing of neoreaction could be described as thaumaturgical wing of neoliberal Cathedral. [5] .

    I can imagine a straight line from time when Nick Land was a renegade monk of the Cathedral to his current job as a neoreactionary prophet, it seems like a remarkably consistent career. As for fractal complications on the way, I’ll never know. Demonic posession, toxic magic, profit, boredom ? Does it matter ?

    http://energyflashbysimonreynolds.blogspot.com/2009/11/renegade-academia-cybernetic-culture.html

    [1] Correlation and causation seem hard to distinguish in neoreactionary thought
    [2] Pet Sematary is a nice fable to illustrate the point
    [3] Sure, it’s possible to imagine different past and parallel history with neoreactionary tech. But that seems a much worse affliction that all the wishful thinking documented in Red Plenty. How, how could it be otherwise ?
    [4] Urbit is the pinnacle of neoreactionary thought and a good case study. Rehash of existing ideas, put together in a rather whimsical way, won’t fly out of Turing tarpit. Oh yes, there is reactive deus ex machina (Nock jets). Pigs will fly with Nock jets. Still, I would prefer to mount them on Unlambda, if I had to.
    [5] But don’t listen to such heresies, it’s just a conspiracy of the leftist communist Cathedral, of which I am but a humble tool 😉

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    • An impressively intelligent critique, and the Overland quote is superb, thanks.

      If Neoliberalism meant something close to this, consistently, my irritability would be immediately dispelled. The problem: it is used predominantly as a name for the ‘hegemonic ideology’ of the contemporary world. I’m assuming you don’t believe Neocameralism has (yet) triumphed over social democracy? So, clearly, ‘Neoliberalism’ is extremely unclear.

      As for AGW, you still believe that’s happening? I hope you’ve got your epicycles prepared:
      http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5297

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      • PS. You make it sound as if I was criticizing #Accelerate for its latent Decopunk retrofuturism — nothing could be further from the case. (And I agree that retrofuturism cannot be about going back, as I’m sure they would too.)

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      • Thank you for making the effort of analysing the manifesto on Urban Futures and pointing out clearly that there’s no propulsion inside. Personally, I find the manifesto so sad I can barely manage to mock it for its clusterfuck cargo cult stupidity. It reads like Khruschev was a ghost writer on Ouija board, the one who wanted to #accelerate past the United States in his Trabant spaceship with no fuel pump [1] Or was it Stalin or Mao or Lenin, these red philosopher kings, ruthless designers of the first stage booster for capitalist futures of China and Russia ? If anyone killed the communist future, they did.

        WRT climate change pause, the only epicycle I see here is mind numbing cyclical repeat of stupid pause meme by monkeys riding on forecast curves they don’t understand.

        But that’s beside the point. Prophetic invocation of climate change in #acceleration as an apocalyptic event which will kill the capitalist Dragon and cause the second coming of Marx clearly shows the authors haven’t really thought about it at all. Corporations [2] have and have plans how to profit.

        But let’s forget the evil corpses, the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela is powered with oil and CO2 emissions. If #accelerate ever accelerates in realistic time frame, it will need oil for propulsion as well.

        In closing, both left and right live in houses of cards. It’s probably the best to tear them down and do some Tarot.

        [1] Red Plenty for all.
        [2] Monsanto, to state the obvious.

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  2. Concerning the general state of modern society have you may be interested in Rene Guenon’s “The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times” – a masterpiece work of traditional metaphysics from 1945.

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