Original location can be found here: https://parallaxoptics.com/2020/03/16/on-z-acc/
A big thank you to Parallax Optics for putting this together.
As a theorist Meta-Nomad’s method is deeply synthetic. Out of a delirious synthesis of Kant, Marx, Deleuze, Land, Serres, Greer and innumerable others, Meta-Nomad arrives at the apocalyptic vision of Zero Accelerationism. Z/Acc is the ultimate Black Pill – simultaneously the productive motor and great filter pulsating at the core of Accelerationism.
During our pre-interview discussion, you outlined the conceptual territory of Z/Acc as one which includes – at a minimum – collapse, cybernetics, determinism, Accelerationism, anti-humanism and a transcendental understanding of politics. These are deeply complex, higher-order concepts which some readers may be unfamiliar with. I’d like to begin by inviting you to unpack / interrelate each of these, from your own particular perspective.
So, you asked me to unpack some key topics which I lucidly ascribed to Z/Acc, namely: Collapse, Cybernetics, Determinism, Accelerationism, Anti-Humanism and a transcendental understanding of politics. Now, I will get to those in time, but in thinking about those ideas I hit so many mental blocks with regards to articulation that I believe a hasty retreat is needed, both for my own sanity regarding Z/Acc and for means of articulation. It’s something Heidegger and Kant understood well, if you begin at an incorrect conclusion or junction, then what follows is complex-conjecture, of course, in the Deleuzian manner, those caught in the middle of a year’s long dogmatic conversation – as with those caught in a machinic process – know no different.
Firstly, let’s begin with Accelerationism (from now on ‘ACC’). I will admit to a multitude of frustrations regarding where this term has been forcefully – with agency – taken. This humanist rerouting of the term has caused nothing but confusion, annoyance and ignorance as far as I’m concerned. A large majority of the people who’ve been working with the theory of ACC are reluctant to say ACC means X or Y precisely because the process itself eludes definition; much like capitalism – and we have to remember, ACC is Capitalism(ism) – ACC rebuilds and deconstructs itself continually, fits and starts etc. This is nothing new of course, but this also works with respect to simple phenomena. ACC is Kantian, and Kant is most importantly a philosopher of time. You could argue he’s a philosopher of time and space and I wouldn’t argue back, but he made sure that time was always the former in that duo. Space is simply the ‘space’ which time uses to perform various tortures. Now, if to take this as a sort of proof that ACC is primarily a theory of time is seen as syllogistic, I don’t entirely care, ACC is time in-itself, it is process. In some way we can say it’s the ‘why’ of Heraclitus’ river, but I don’t think that helps matters.
Anyway, back to the problem of phenomena in relation to ACC. I’m assuming here that the reader is familiar with Kant’s transcendental aesthetic. What capitalism is, in its most unconscious, meta-historical and teleoplexic sense, is the Singularity. Of course, there’s a wide array of aesthetic attachments to the Singularity, Skynet etc. and these are all interesting and fun to think about, but at its most Kantian-Materialist (Landian) sense, it’s the temporal formation of a gateway between phenomena and noumena, a gateway which utilizes virulent language forms (Maths, Kabbalah, Alphanomics, Code etc.) as a way for synthetic a priori knowledge to be possible. We can’t say that such knowledge wasn’t possible prior to the ‘event’ of capitalism, we could say however that if such knowledge existed, it wasn’t created or found with a vector already targeted at its own uncovering. Counting the sheep in one’s field, is far different to the min-maxing of crop yield. You’re thinking what the hell does any of this have to do with contemporary assumptions regarding ACC or even Z/Acc? Good question. See, as the gateway (Zero) pulses, erodes, fluxes, mutates, corrodes and…works, we find a form of communication coming through from the Outside (‘through’ is a false term, no directional term works correctly with Critique, it’s used only for ease of understanding). Am I a Serresean in the sense that I think communication is greater than production, no, they’re of equal merit. What is produced – with, alongside as often as production-in-itself – in the Outside, is communicated as phenomena on the Inside, unfortunately, our cognitive faculties are lacking in multiple respects, senses and sensation is already void of a large multitude of needs required to decipher the goal-oriented potential of these phenomena.
When people begin talking about ACC as people wanting to bring about the collapse of society, or it meaning X, Y or Z, they are almost always doing so in the respect of an I, they, ego or humanism. I will put my neck on the line here and simply state that if you are taking ACC to mean something like this, you are wrong. Wrong in both your sense of understanding the underpinning philosophy, and also incorrect in understanding how your desires, thoughts and pronouncements are affecting the gateway; not that anyone has such power, but hyperstition can really fuck the vector, James Mason’s Siege is the clearest example. He places the word ACC in that text and takes it to mean those who wish to bring about the end of society.
Perhaps you could briefly unpack Hyperstition as a concept / process and relate it back to ACC?
Hyperstition is a portmanteau of ‘superstition’ and ‘hyper’ created by the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit in the 1990’s, and is a conception which tracks and adheres to the evolutionary success of an idea within culture or; the abstract definition of the way in which an idea infects culture from the Outside.
Not only are ‘Hyperstitions’ successful ideas, but they influence the course of events, they are nodes of possible futures. Hyperstitional ideas are assimilated into culture under the covert, mainstream mechanism of fiction, and likewise, act as if fictional. In this manner the future can be retroactively traced by the analysis of fiction becoming fact. Religious or mystic teaching, Occult conspiracies or theories, sci-fi or mutated fantasy, socio-economic predictions or crypto-political –prophecies all begin their lives as minute fictions, emanating from both creative cultural anxiety and moments of Outsideness invasion.
By moments of Outsideness invasion, what I mean to say is commonplace happening or events which are often subsumed into the contemporary psychological guise of coincidences, which is the materialist way of saying ‘We can’t really explain what happened, but the Outside isn’t real… so it can’t be that!’. Ultimately, Hyperstitions couldn’t care less about whether or not you believe in them; it doesn’t matter if you believe in the monsters, it only matters if they believe in you. Anyway, Hyperstitions don’t really care at all, they are most aptly described as immanent symbolisms communed with via fiction. When one looks at a clear leap forward within history one will find, retroactively attached to it, a fiction. That is to say, what is now fact, was once fiction.
Quite lazily Hyperstition has entered culture itself as ‘self-fulfilling’ prophecy, or ‘the law of attraction’, but both these terms humanize its trajectory, leaving its purpose as suspiciously clear. Wherein actuality, what we witness when such a Hyperstitional synchronicity occurs, is the Outside coming in. When one walks into a room and covertly understands that they should leave, or intuits they should not head down a certain path, what they are intuiting is the injection of the Outside as Hyperstitional feedback, or in – very – short, they are intuiting the creation of a new reality, or at least, the mutation of the current reality.
Hyperstitional mechanisms open channels to the Outside, encouraging a reality of belief as opposed to belief in a single reality. When linear, Westernized History comes face to face with Hyperstition it folds into itself under the weight of the Outside. When you mix academic history with Hyperstition you create a theoretical substance which acidically burns off the layers of rationalist prayer, and humanist pseudo-safety. Hyperstition makes history possible.
Now, as soon as we’re talking about wants, theys and human-desires we are no longer talking about ACC as the process, which is what ACC is, we are simply talking – once again – about desire. Not only are we talking about desire, we are once again talking about desire with regard to ideology. How is ideology-X going to help me get what I want? ACC is prior to this. It is prior to all this. Zizek states that ‘You are not immune to ideology’, well guess what, ACC is pure-immunity with one simple exception, the only thing this system lets through is synthetic potentiality for greater positive orientation.
ACC is what leftists, centrists, liberals, classicals and all those bowing to simplistic orthogonality fear most, that which slices diagonally in all directions between the great political cross of humanistic misconception. These people will try to tether, staple and glue anything they can to ACC to try bend it to their will, making the mistake of not realizing that time-itself comes before will; the wills of these crypto-humanists are thoroughly attached to the common sense notion of linear time, ‘If we do A, then B will follow, then C, then D, etc.’. This is the determinist/free-will aspect coming into focus. To quote Nick Land on this:
“If we keep getting time wrong then we’re going to be just babbling nonsense in this antinomian structure that is irresolvable, no one’s going to win between a freewill/determinism debate, however it looks one way or the other because the two concepts are mutually complicit and mutually confused and they’re both symptoms of a pre-critical understanding of time. – The past, present and future, that structure of time comes out of time, it’s transcendental. It doesn’t come out of any particular part of time. It doesn’t come out of the past, doesn’t come exclusively out of the future. It doesn’t come out of the present. Time comes out of time. If you think that in terms of the implicit common sensical structures, of course, then the future comes out of the present and the present has come out of the past, but that that can’t be right, an elementary grasp of transcendental philosophy proves it cannot possibly be right. And now once you stop thinking of that as being a meaningful way of thinking about things, then what are you saying about these freewill and determinism arguments?”
Now, once this is taken into account what the hell do L/Acc, G(reen)/Acc, Anarcho/Acc, Bl/Acc etc. look like? Well they’re nothing but ideological hopes once again, which are stuck within a pre-critical understanding of time. Take L/Acc for instance, they want UBI’s, automation and that Fully Automated Luxury Communist stuff, but that form of whig-progression is only theoretically possible in an incorrect form of time, so it’s quite frankly hopeless. These are not only pre-critical understandings of time however, but also space. The phenomena which is experienced is taken in the purely human manner and not questioned via communion, possession or mathematical/kabbalistic pondering. And so, the ACC of Siege makes sense only if your theorization of ACC is caught up in pre-Kantian, rationalist and progressive notions of history and time; if we do X (burn down modernity) then Y (?) will happen – this is NOT what ACC is. Without patting myself on the back too much here, if anyone is now asking well what is ACC then? I would direct them to my M.A. dissertation of ACC, Accelerationism: Capitalism as Critique. The entire point of the dissertation was to remove ACC from politics and articulate it in its true Kantian philosophical dwelling. Once this is understood then we can get into discussions regarding the few ACCs I believe are of merit, namely: R/Acc, U/Acc and Z/Acc.
Let’s take each of these of Accelerationism’s in turn: U/Acc, as I understand it, was an attempt by Vince Garton et al to de-anthropomorphise and de-politicise Accelerationism, following a) the advent of the axis of L/acc and b) the perceived “contamination” of Accelerationism by its association with NRx – a label Nick Land, the “father” of contemporary Accelerationism, had embraced enthusiastically.
You’ve granted me the keys here to a minefield. No one working within the specialization of ACC wants to define things, and not because of its continental obscurantist roots, but because definition and process almost never assimilate, unless one of them falters. That is, if you define Accelerationism it is no longer Accelerationism. If a definition can fit into the process of ACC, well that definition is lost in its temporal-tumult.
But hell, I like minefields and I like putting my neck on the line. I’m sick of back peddling on these issues and I’m sick of being tolerant to ignorance. If you want society to burn down, burn it down. If you want Anarchism, promote Kropotkin or Bakunin. If you want to investigate the epistemology, (post-critical) metaphysics, cybernetics and teleonomic system lying ‘behind’ the transcendental nature of capitalism, then use ACC. Otherwise, shut up.
Moving on, you wanted me to start with Garton’s U/Acc here in relation to L/Acc. As much as I despise L/Acc, one thing we can actually say of it is that it is an extremely useful anchor from which to navigate our discussion. “Left-accelerationism” attempts to press “the process of technological evolution” beyond the constrictive horizon of capitalism, for example by repurposing modern technology for socially beneficial and emancipatory ends. (Quick and Dirty- Land). There’s so many pre-critical stumbles here that to anyone taking Kant seriously it seems like a daydream as opposed to a coherent system. Let’s just focus on the word ‘press’. The questions that instantly arise are the following: What are we ‘pressing’? Who’s doing this pressing? What does it mean to ‘do’ in this manner? Why are we pressing? Etc. The whole thing is wrapped up in so much Marxist romanticism that finding anything original is nigh impossible, largely because nothing original is actually there. Marx saw Communism as developing out of Capitalism, and Trotsky propagated the idea of pushing the worst aspects of Capitalism to their limits to bring about the revolution; ‘If you can’t beat them join them…and then infect their system with your toxicly tolerant ideology from the inside’, this is the Leftist modus operandi. (See: Industrial Society and its Future).
Let’s look at U/Acc. It’s practically unarguable now that the most contentious issue within contemporary ACC debate is between U/Acc and R/Acc, that is Unconditional/Acc vs Right/Acc. Here’s the thing…it’s a non-issue, always has been, and always will be. Anyone who understands the (sorry for repeating myself) pre-critical philosophy underpinning ACC will already get this. If you want a deep-dive into ACC ‘history’ and U/Acc theorizations Xengothic’s U/Acc Primer is brilliant, though not without its political and cultural bias’, then again, that is what one ‘wilts’ as much as I ‘wilt’ a patchwork too. Let’s turn to Vince Garton though:
“The unconditional accelerationist, instead, referring to the colossal horrors presented to the human agent all the way from the processes of capital accumulation and social complexification to the underlying structure, or seeming absence of structure, of reality itself, points to the basic unimportance of unidirectional human agency. We ‘hurl defiance to the stars’, but in their silence—when we see them at all—the stars return only crushing contempt. To the question ‘What is to be done?’, then, she can legitimately answer only, ‘Do what thou wilt’—and ‘Let go.’ […]
‘Do what thou wilt’, since with human agency displaced, the world will route around our decisions, impressing itself precisely through our glittering fractionation. Taking the smallest steps beyond good and evil, the unconditional accelerationist, more than anyone else, is free at heart to pursue what she thinks is good and right and interesting—but with the ironical realisation that the primary ends that are served are not her own. For the unconditional accelerationist, the fastidious seriousness of the problem-solvers who propose to ‘save humanity’ is absurd in the face of the problems they confront. It can provoke only Olympian laughter. And so, ‘in its colder variants, which are those that win out, [accelerationism] tends to laugh.’”
Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s much ambiguity to be had there. It’s unconditional, and in its Kantian reality the subject-object distinction is removed entirely. The relationship between the subject and the object is one where both begin to be questioned as processes potentially acting upon each other. This is what Deleuze – working strictly in the Kantian sense – understood when he replaced subject-object transcendental system with an immanentized version wherein the former is a desiring-machine and the latter is an inverted communicatory economy. It’s production and consumption all the way down. What can we say of ‘man’ caught in the belly of process, very little. Let’s take for examples the ‘Copernican Revolution’ indebted to Kant. Not only is this Copernican Revolution of philosophy overlooked, but – much like the Death of God – its continual ‘happening’ is ignored. Copernicus of course found that we (man) were not the centre of the galaxy, and metaphorically speaking, were not the primary focus of the universe, Kant then theorizes that we are not the centre of our common relations (subject/object), but merely an interpretive/subjective/communicative part of it with respect to our cognitive faculties, Freud then continues this tradition in the sense of revealing that we are not even the masters of these faculties (the unconscious). This is the common trio which are often ascribed to a proto-unanthropomorphic perspective of reality. As far as I can see there have been 2 further continuations on this, namely in the work of Georges Bataille and Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari. Bataille isn’t as important, but his work on the ‘black solar anus’ is important with respect to the telos of man. In short: The suns rays are a random dispersion, they are not solely focused on the Earth, making our position in the universe one of entropic/thermodynamic randomness, a life founded upon the waste product of a cosmic anus. Deleuze & Guattari’s continuation of the Copernican Revolution is a post-critical understanding of the position from which Freud ended. The problem is with the unconscious, it’s one which is still attuned to a humanist vision, why is it – we never ask – that Freud’s unconscious can always retain and be interpreted with respect to human desire? Such an unconscious cannot said be truly devoid of pleading tampering. Which is where Deleuze & Guattari step in. Welcome to the machine(ic unconscious). –
“Welcome, my son
Welcome to the machine
What did you dream?
It’s alright, we told you what to dream.” – Welcome to the Machine, Pink Floyd
I never thought I’d reference Pink Floyd in something like this. Their pseudo-sincere hippy vibes never sat right with me, but then again, I wasn’t there…mannnn. Anyway, the lyrics to that song actually bring about something fairly important regarding the difference between the unconscious and the machinic unconscious, namely it what it is which ‘told’ us what to dream. There is a rather school boyish implication in this song that the system we experience directly is telling us what to dream, that is, the Foucauldian power structures themselves are telling us what to dream. This is a critical error. These structures are devices conveying a message from the Outside, beyond that their complexity only matters with respect to what needs to be articulated. What Anti-Oedipus is, in its most abstract use as an object of knowledge, is a grimoire. I must expand of course, on how it is so, and why this is a clear continuation of the critical Copernican Revolution – Z/Acc does eventually arise out of the end of all this, you have my word:
“A grimoire (also known as a “book of spells”) is a textbook of magic, typically including instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms and divination, and how to summon or invoke supernatural entities such as angels, spirits, deities and demons.”
Am I stating that Anti-Oedipus gives you clear instructions with regards to summoning and performing ritual? No, not in the sense that Alan Chapman’s Advanced Magick For Beginners will (I do NOT endorse this text). However, between the lines of Anti-Oedipus is the workings of a partnered communion between two vessels. Deleuze and Guattari state at the outset of that book that they became many voices. They understood that to write such a non/a/off-human text could only be achieved by the confused assimilation of 2 separate voices; the actualizing of two voices into one, is the actualizing of a multiplicity of thought, like Foucault’s Pendulum two voices can never settle, and over time this leads only to greater and greater fragmentation. The Freudian decentring of the mind is still reliant on the notion that our mind, our thought, our inner sense is beholden to its own sense, which is a recursive dilemma. It is the origin of all anxiety, a mind cannot argue with itself, as such, one must talk. This however does not settle the dilemma of whereabouts the initial sense comes from, there must be an Outside, an area of potentiality, pure-creation and pure-difference for there to be any possibility of even the most momentary relief. Socratic Method is impossible without the Outside. Two human vessels both caught at terminal capacity of thought need difference for an evolution of intelligent discussion and creation to be made possible. Any (non-stagnant) continuation is indebted to the Outside coming in. Anti-Oedipus takes the Outside seriously. It finds means to commune and work with the Outside. These means are not-human, but are entirely process based. The clearest examples are found in the machinicisms of paranoia, neurosis and schizophrenia; what is it to follow the path of an ontology which doesn’t care about those it is prepared to inhabit? And that’s the Deleuzoguattarian Copernican Revolutionary step, Copernicus shed our cosmo-centric belief, Kant shed our empiricist-centric belief, Freud shed our mind-centric belief…Deleuze & Guattari taught us to become sovereign shedders who target their threshing at centrality, unification and wholeness, they immanentized the critical revolution into the schizo-machinations of an inner sense communing with the Outside. What we can see from this is that those who ascribe meanings to the term ACC are doing so from the actual process of ACC. They are working with phenomenology. They are making the mistake of momentary agreement. Hell, this goes back to Zeno. Very simply – Those are state with certainty that ACC is X, Y or Z are the same people who would state that a single frame of Zeno’s arrow in flight is how the process of flight is in its entire. That’s as much as I can really say about U/Acc philosophically. What there is to be said about U/Acc has been said already, however, I do have a little comment regarding ACC and personal politics.
You mentioned that one of the covert-aims of L/Acc was to remove it from its association with Neoreaction (NRx). Because Nick Land is heralded as the ‘father of Accelerationism’ – some kind of cruel psychoanalytical post-ironic joke – and Land has an interest in Neoreactionary politics the two got confused. It’s not difficult to see why this is, technically both are working with time in some sense. But I personally think that all the confusion and discussion here is really down to personal preference. Land has made his definition of ACC very clear – positive oriented cybernetics, the means of production seizing themselves and exit from man – NRx deals with ACC in the same way the Communism deals with ACC. ACC is the underlying process. A shoddy metaphor would be how 2 separate bits of accounting software deal with the same coding language. An even better metaphor would be Michel Serres’ notion of ‘the helmsman’.
“Thus the prince, formerly a shepherd of beasts, will have to turn to the physical sciences and become a helmsman or cybernetician.” – The Natural Contract, p18
“The helmsman governs. Following his intended route and according to the direction and force of the sea-swell, he angles the blade of the governail, or rudder. His will acts on the vessel, which acts on the obstacle, which acts on his will, in a series of circular interactions. First and then last, first a cause and then a consequence, before once again becoming a cause, the project of following a route adapts in real time to conditions that unceasingly modify it, but through which it remains stubbornly invariant. The helmsman’s project decides on a subtle and fine tilt of the rudder, a tilt selected within the directional movement of objective forces, so that in the end the route can be traced through the set of constraints. Cybernetics was the name given to the literally symbiotic art of steering or governing by loops, loops engendered by these angles and that engender, in turn, other directional angles. This technique was once specific to helmsmen’s work, but it has recently passed into other technologies just as intelligent as this command of seaworthy vessels; it has moved from this level of sophistication to the grasping of even more general systems, which could neither subsist nor change globally without such cycles. But this whole arsenal of methods remained only a metaphor when it came to the art of governing men politically.” – The Natural Contract, p42-43
Who is the helmsman in the case of ACC? For those of pre-critical thought it seems clear that it is man who is the oh-so-grand helmsman. This is a mistake. Serres’ writing can be cryptic, but his passages on the helmsman are some of the most clear (and beautiful). The helmsman cannot forget about the swell of the sea, the waves, the wind, the weather, the currents, the flows and all the circuitry of the cybernetic ocean. He has his ship – state, school, institution, community, group etc. – and he has the tools allowed to him by that structure, but there are no such tools which can control the swell of the ocean itself. A great helmsman might be able to take a shorter path or clearer route, a great inventor might be able to engineer his way into greater turbulence, but the ocean will forever be its own beast; even if the entire ocean was tamed the process of perpetually taming it still remains. There’s no thermodynamically neutral way of stopping spontaneous declination, man is beholden to the ocean, he is beholden to the process, beholden to ACC. Leaving U/Acc aside here. L/Acc, G/Acc, Bl/Acc and all these humanist suffixes are helmsman in their own right, they are allowed the freedom of their own vessel, but it is their own responsibility to check if they’ve mapped the charts correctly before drawing up plans for a fancy boat. It doesn’t matter if your vessel has the best gadgetry available if you don’t believe in the idea of a captain. Eventually the crew will pull in multiple directions and rip the vessel itself apart. They also make the mistake of not continually updating their navigational charts, they were updated in 1917 and haven’t been since. The sea has changed since then, but they still find ways to apply their old charts to the current sea, unfortunately this is a case where the original will subsume the simulacrum into it with no hesitation.
U/Acc was an invocation of “anti-praxis” and constituted a recognition that the apparition of “human agency” was a “congealed by-product” captured within an energetic-cybernetic matrix / fate-line, receding deep into the unknown past and, simultaneously, reaching deep into the unknown future. However, U/Acc arguably failed to de-politicise in terms of the sympathies / positions held and expressed by many of its advocates (ie Xenofeminism) and was therefore seen on the Right as a form of crypto-leftist ACC.
Let me get down to brass tax on the U/Acc – R/Acc ‘thing’. It’s nothing really. Beneath all of it both parties are actually in agreement with the philosophical proposition of U/Acc – positive oriented cybernetics as capitalism’s motor. The disagreements have come from personal grievances regarding affiliation. Most people using the U/Acc term are left-wing or Communist, most of those using the R/Acc term are right-wing or reactionary. The political motivations come last, I believe both camps understand this. Anyone ascribing some form of political motivation to their preferred ACC or – most tyrannically – ACC in general, should have a copy of The Critique of Pure Reason thrown at their head full force. Politics is a nice little thing to play around with after the process is understood. It’s not exactly a surprise to me that U/Acc is seen as a crypto-leftist ACC, but that’s a problem of grouped affiliation as opposed to a theoretical or transcendental error. And I have very little time to talk about personalities.
R/Acc was generally (mis)characterised as a call for conscious / directed statecraft, utilising NRx innovations (Patchwork) and principals (autocracy combined with free-market competition) to form a launchpad for ACC, while simultaneously guarding against the twin evils of the Great Stagnation and Total Collapse, which could / would derail the Process – at least temporarily. However, there is another take on R/Acc in which R primarily stands not for “Right” but for “Real”. It recognises that Reality has a curve / gradient bending towards the Right because co-operation is a sub-set of competition – totally enveloped by it.
Is Patchwork an ‘Nrx innovation’? I don’t think so. Patchwork, Archipelago, Polis’, Meta-Utopias, fragmentation, dispersion, do these not all name the same thing? Which is at its root a thermodynamic problem regarding stability in a closed system. Anyone clinging to the idea of unification has to cling harder and harder over time, eventually having their limbs ripped off and not admitting to it. As far as I can see any current unification is an illusory bunching of parts only acting as a whole because it works to their benefit to blend in. If we take your reading of what R/Acc means there to be the true definition, then its easiest to return to the definition of the helmsman once again. R/Acc in this manner is the group which understands the most effective way to sail the sea. They understand that a great voyage needs a great captain, and that more often than not an anonymous captain leaves little room for dispute. They also understand that multiple small vessels are far less likely to have mutinies than one large one, because smaller groups can form sympathetic ways of living which a large group cannot. R/Acc also understands that the ocean is what it is and isn’t going anywhere. There’s one leftist who understood this by the way, Mark Fisher, that’s what Capitalist Realism is, a leftist who pains himself to admit (realism) that capitalist has won, and what we’re left with is the question of how to deal with this current. Now, to some bleeding-heart communist this is a nightmare, to anyone with any sense of non-melancholic imagination this is an absolute chasm of excitement. (See: Critique of Transcendental Miserablism – Nick Land).
Onto your statement: “It recognises that Reality has a curve / gradient bending towards the Right because co-operation is a sub-set of competition – totally enveloped by it.” I thought you’d read more Moldbug? I jest. Cthulhu swims left is still a poignant statement where anyone on the right is concerned. I think it’s a little difficult to place the right and co-operation together in this manner. That word, co-operation has been taken on by leftists to mean a sort of post-70’s voluntary soup-kitchen-esque passivity. There’s a place for that kind of thing, but as you state, the form of co-operation the right is working with is one which is already understood within the framework of competition. I’m not going to state that everything here is some Hegelian dialectic, and that history is this grand competitive discussion and agreement. I think the majority of the right would ironically agree that there is little worse than an agreement in the form of a compromise. Which is exactly where Exit comes in. If reality didn’t have so many parasites – along with willing hosts –within it, we’d have already colonized mars. Unfortunately, there are those who have taken their reason to be terminal and have unconsciously made it their life’s work to spew their sense onto everything else. It is easier now to imagine right to mean not-left as opposed to its own position, of course, ‘not-left’ is the implication of leaving the left. It is therefore easier to make rightism and exit synonymous. Reactionary politics is its own beast. The left want discussion, the reactionaries want loyalty, the right want to up and leave. I think in this manner you could have left-reactionaries who are reverent of Marx, Lenin or Trotsky’s particular ideas and loyal to them. You could also have right-reactionaries who want to exit to somewhere/something/someone they will then be loyal to. What you absolutely cannot have however, is someone who wants to discuss exit, because that implies they are already disallowing exit in the form you would like. Any discussion of ‘terms of exit’ removes sovereignty.
There are political aspects to L/Acc and R/Acc of course. As much as R/Acc (prior to politics) is synonymous with U/Acc, the kind of ships, helmsman and navigational techniques it believes would cause greater positive orientation with respect to capital are very different to those of L/Acc and U/Acc. Where L & U/Acc (once again after a critical understanding)believe democracy, egalitarianism, tolerance and liberalism will allow us to sail the waves as a…diverse-whole, R/Acc believe that laissez faire markets structures, sovereign corporations, fragmentation inclusive of borders and the dispersion of globalism will allow us to cause greater positive orientation and sail the circuitry more effectively. I must stress that all of this is thought after the understanding that positive orientation is already happening. We’re already at sea.
Z/Acc, in stark contrast, was ACC inverted. Its absolute negative image. A frenzied cartography of Total Collapse, and the cybernetic, civilizational dynamics / lock-in effects making descent into “Zombie” or “Zero” acceleration inevitable – Z/Acc is the ultimate Black Pill.
Yes, let’s finally talk about Z/Acc. Which, I hope to articulate in alignment with the scene from Rosemary’s Baby where she finally sees the baby for the first time. “What have you done to him?! What have you done to his eyes?! *shrieks*.” I still like that very first tweet from Land about Z/Acc:
I don’t like or enjoy the whole ‘pill’ thing, but Z/Acc is blackpill, its even the process of how blackpills come about. There is a little confusion relating to the naming of Z/Acc, if my memory serves me correctly somewhere on Xenosystems there’s a few mentions of Z/Acc as Zombie/Acc with Land’s own theorizations of zombies in relation to democracy etc. My own working of Z/Acc isn’t far from this, it just takes it a little further, so I don’t mind if they’re mistaken for one another. For me Z/Acc is Zero Accelerationism, Z = Zero. Two massive common semantic mathematical errors are placed next to another here. Accelerationism isn’t about speeding things up, and Zero isn’t nothing. Both these terms are injected with that oh-so important continental meth and converted into the burncore of temporal vectors. Welcome to the workings of hell. I just really want to expand on Zero for some time here, it’s possibly my favourite philosophical term/theory, and it’s a Bataillean meditation if there ever was one.
Let’s begin with Sam Neill explaining Zero in Event Horizon:
This is a physics-centric view of Zero. The folding of space so that an object can move from point A to point B without having to travel through time and space. What Neill’s character doesn’t explain in Event Horizon is that in folding time and space in this manner you’re – once again – opening a gateway, it is not what inhabits the space which should worry you, for that is only phenomena, but it’s what inhabits the time found in the fold which should worry you. I turn once again to the work of Michel Serres here, whose conception of time is extremely helpful with respect to the critical temporality of ACC, alongside the juxtaposed theory of convergent and divergent waves.
“If you take a handkerchief and spread it out in order to iron it, you can see in it certain fixed distances and proximities. If you sketch a circle in one area, you can mark out nearby points and measure far-off distances. Then take the same handkerchief and crumple it, by putting it in your pocket. Two distant points suddenly are close, even superimposed. If, further, you tear it in certain places, two points that were close can become very distant. This science of nearness and rifts is called topology, while the science of stable and well-defined distances is called metrical geometry. Classical time is related to geometry, having nothing to do with space, as Bergson pointed out all too briefly, but with metrics. On the contrary, take your inspiration from topology, and perhaps you will discover the rigidity of those proximities and distances you consider arbitrary. And their simplicity, in the literal sense of the word pli [fold]: it’s simply the difference between topology (the handkerchief is folded, crumpled, shredded) and geometry (the same fabric is ironed out flat). […] – Sketch on the handkerchief some perpendicular networks, like Cartesian coordinates, and you will define the distances. But, if you fold it, the distance from Madrid to Paris could suddenly be wiped out, while, on the other hand, the distance from Vincennes to Colombes could become infinite.” – Conversations on science, culture, and time / Michel Serres with Bruno Latour; p.60, 61
In the fold we find Zero. Critical temporality is a cosmic topology which communicates between crumples, folds and meetings. Often, when we talk of letting the Outside in, we are talking of two ‘distant points’ in time meeting each other; there is little difference between Lucretian Atomism and Non-linear dynamics, and yet our perception of time as linear and chronic has differentiated them, but this is a meaningless difference, what has come in from the Outside was/is always the same infection. Serres however isn’t necessarily talking of Zero here, I don’t think he would work with something that is so caustic and seemingly unnatural. Let’s turn to Land:
“The homeostatic-reproducer usage of zero is that of a sign marking the transcendence of a standardized regulative unit, which is defined outside the system, in contrast to the cyberpositive zero which indexes a threshold of phase-transition that is immanent to the system, and melts it upon its outside.” – Fanged Noumena, p329
The Zero I write of is – at first, I make one key alteration – cyberpositive, it is the immanentization of event upon the Outside of a chronic phenomenology. In this way, it matters not what phenomena is affected, or in what way, it makes no difference to the process of Zero itself, becoming is itself becoming, a change appearance is not the actual becoming.
“The zero-glyph does not mark a quantity, but an empty magnitude shift: abstract scaling function, 0000.0000 = 0 ‘K = 0 … corresponds to the limit of a smooth landscape’” – Fanged Noumena, p367
The more you think or meditate on Zero (and not infinity) the more your mind swells and pains, agonizes. 0000.0000 is useless without its functionality on the Outside; an origin of pure-difference and production-in-itself the 0 glyph is a causura of language, it leaves a blazing lacuna in the flesh which approaches it, to approach it is to begin to shed everything. Zero doesn’t regonize completion or conclusion, only that which is perturbating and fluxing, Zero knows that time will eventually return that which fluxes to its cold embrace, or:
“The apprehension of death as time-in-itself = intensive continuum degree-0” – Fanged Noumena, p369
“() ( or (()) ((or ((()))))) does not signify absence. It manufactures holes, hooks for the future, zones of unresolved plexivity,” – p372
Zero is the burning sun of positive-oriented-nihilism. It is the abyss production-in-itself willingly crosses, without hesitation nor discrimination.
I will move away from cold romantic metaphors here and begin to spell out what I mean.
“What had to happen to the West for it to become modern? What was the essential event? The answer (and our basic postulate): Zero arrived.”
“Capitalism – or techno-commercial explosion – massively promoted calculation, which normalized zero as a number.” – Zero-Centric History
Of course, Land’s title here is a little tongue-in-cheek, what does it mean to be centred on Zero? Nothing. Without Zero you cannot have accountancy, finance, metrics, conversion, interest, positivity, continuums, banking, saving, investment, competition, division, fragmentation or capitalism. It is the end of a fit the simultaneous beginning of a start. It is the process within the learning process which understands the rot and decay to be had, and shoots itself off in a competitive manner towards its next innovative venture. Zero here acts as a plane, a plane of entropic and negentropic communication. As previously stated, beginnings don’t exist, only middles, as such to begin at Zero – continuously – is to make clear the restarts of midpoints between events.
“The proportions of attraction and repulsion on the body without organs produce, starting from zero, a series of states in the celibate machine.” (Deleuze, G. Guattari, F, 2013: p33).
In this manner Zero is a plane of swerves. Attraction and repulsion or; declination-as-stagnation back into the plane of Zero (old), and declination-as-difference repelled from the plane of Zero (new) – entropy and negentropy. Zero’s relation to classical entropic forces is as a theoretical quasi-replacement within modernity, a communicational link between entropy (decay) of the Inside and its inherent productive process on the Outside. In this manner Zero is the transcendental machinic replacement of degradation, decay and destruction in favour of quantifiable productive output. The utilization, and pure assimilation by capitalism through man as an ‘alien force’ of machinic-standardization is capital’s mechanistic backbone, its structure. Zero as a computational mode of productive evolution allows for the dynamic of profit and loss to infiltrate the transcendental – as this alien force – on behalf of capitalism. Zero is capitalism’s utilization of the entropic outcomes of the Inside as a selection device with regard to production.
Z/Acc then is an understanding of limitation, beginnings and most importantly, ends. Things end over and over again, before they begin over and over again. There is no birth without a learned death. We can have the positive-oriented-cyberpositive Zero of ACC, but we cannot have it apart from the thermodynamic reality of critical materialism. ‘The walk up the hill is also the walk down the hill’ or ‘What goes up must come down’ are two mistaken sayings. The walk up is simultaneously the walk down, what is up is also down, and is held to the same standards of energy expenditure. If you wish to risk multiple divisions by Zero, multiple communions with the Outside, then you must be prepared for the calculator to break before it intelligently evolves.
You’ve persuasively articulated a communicational connectivity between entropy / decay on the Inside gravitationally / relationally provoking a reciprocal productive process on the Outside. Let us (momentarily) step away from the edge of the mind-melting void / vortex that is Zero and consider Collapse dynamics in terms of their terrestrial manifestation – how they are revealed / recorded on the Inside. What does Collapse look like on the Inside – what are its vectors? Can you outline some of the factors and dynamics currently engaged, which you believe make Collapse inevitable and break the calculator before it intelligently evolves?
Look, I don’t want to linger on The Critique of Pure Reason like some obsessed Kant fanatic, but it fits here too. The vectors of collapse are phenomena, we can read and interpret them in multiple ways. Unfortunately, due largely to human stupidity, we take them as if they are firsts and lasts, 1s and 0s, binary options within a finite history. Another pre-critical error. There’re multiple vectors at play and they’re all intertwined. Economics, resources, cultural, societal, thermodynamic, humanist, natural etc. These are all fantastic things to look at and understand as moments, events or vectors of decay and ruin, but why bother looking at those phenomena if you’re not going to try glimpse at the bigger picture?
What’s the bigger picture then? Decay, ruin, impermanence, flux, fragmentation, disintegration, rot and death. That all seems rather edgy, but it isn’t, it’s just what is. When we talk about vectors or moments of collapse, we often talk about them as singular events against a supposedly perfect unification. Of course, this is incorrect. Any theorization of a whole, unity or completion which if without possibility of degradation if thwart with errors, both transcendental and material. People talk about economic, social or resource collapse as if these are singular possibilities delaying an otherwise perfect linearity, the problem is, that linearity itself (the universal idea of progression) is placed within what can only be defined as Hell.
Hence the term ‘Hell-Baked’:
“The logical consequence of Social Darwinism is that everything of value has been built in Hell.
It is only due to a predominance of influences that are not only entirely morally indifferent, but indeed — from a human perspective — indescribably cruel, that nature has been capable of constructive action. Specifically, it is solely by way of the relentless, brutal culling of populations that any complex or adaptive traits have been sieved — with torturous inefficiency — from the chaos of natural existence. All health, beauty, intelligence, and social grace has been teased from a vast butcher’s yard of unbounded carnage, requiring incalculable eons of massacre to draw forth even the subtlest of advantages. This is not only a matter of the bloody grinding mills of selection, either, but also of the innumerable mutational abominations thrown up by the madness of chance, as it pursues its directionless path to some negligible preservable trait, and then — still further — of the unavowable horrors that ‘fitness’ (or sheer survival) itself predominantly entails. We are a minuscule sample of agonized matter, comprising genetic survival monsters, fished from a cosmic ocean of vile mutants, by a pitiless killing machine of infinite appetite.”
Collapse then is the built-in inverted motor of Accelerationism. It’s the entropic chaos of the laminar plane, the ever tightening and tougher journey down river. I think it’d be wrong to map ACC to negentropy and Collapse to entropy, because both of these meet at Zero. And that’s Z/Acc, the meeting point of potentiality, remove all humanisms, desires, wants, lusts, needs, systems, Mothers, Fathers, structures and logos’, eventually you hit Zero. At Zero you have 3 options: reverence, death or unbridled ignorance. The fits and starts of Capitalism are not yours to pick and choose, they are shot from Zero as an energy expenditure stretching its legs, to eventually be pulled back into the embrace of its folded-flux.
Collapse events such as market crashes, resource depletion, droughts, tornadoes, pandemics etc. These are nothing but test-kits for X-risk, and they’ve nothing primarily do with humanity. We are there as are rats and amoebas. Who survives is simply a matter of Hell-Baking. You survive, you either thrive or await the next potential death event. Hell has no time for praise, completion or reward. Your reward is further existence in Hell, either work with it, or wait for your demise. Collapse events are the Outside coming in, they are the workings of the noumenal which adhere to a transcendentally Darwinian language. A stock market crash is little more than mathematical X-risk happenstance coming in from the Outside, on the Inside – as phenomena – we witness as this test rips through life as an apocalypse: Mises was survivability +1, Keynes was -1, humans don’t get a Zero, only compromise.
Seen from the Inside – the human vantage point – Z/Acc charts a ‘perfect storm’ of interconnected, degenerative dynamic processes: endemic degradation of human capital via dysgenics and defective civilizational incentive structures; institutional hyper-regulation; bureaucratic constraints and ossification combined with the sprawling metastasis of administrative structures; normative ‘progressive’ ‘neo-religious’ values and memetic pre-conditions fundamentally out of synch with underlying reality; depletion of low-hanging sources of energy / natural resources; taxation destroying productivity incentives; demographic shifts and weaponised migration; fragility of globalised supply chains; diminishing returns on energy investment; viral pandemic Black Swans; proliferating X-risk… all waves inevitably / inexorably converging in the direction / telos of Collapse.
Are you able to expand on this and provide a roadmap of the dangers ahead?
You’re really pushing for me to get into the nitty-gritty of phenomenal entropic returns here, and that’s very sweet of you. Don’t fret, I will begin listing very soon. But in that question you actually raise one of the primary problems of the ‘perfect storm’ as you put it, which is ‘interconnectedness’. This to me looks like another name for unification or wholeness. Inclusivity, tolerance, loyalty, compromise etc., all these do is eventually weaken multiple distinct strengths into one homogenous bore. But this isn’t the major problem of an interconnected existence, there’s a problem of origin. Once everyone and everything is bereft of source and origin, you’re left with pure atomization. Free-floating consumption/production units of temporarilty adhering to the latest excitement as a means to simply pass time.
Honestly, I think it’d be very boring to point out the common collapse themes and how they’re connected. But for sake of argument let’s take a clear one, an oil shortage. I’m not even talking about peak oil here, I’m just going to go with an oil shortage, or even an oil price rise, take whatever possible trigger you like and understand that the scenario is this: Oil suddenly becomes quite difficult to acquire. Well of course people can no longer drive to work, or have to alter their entire lives to be able to afford to. The production of a mass of plastic materials ceases due to it no longer being profitable. Trucks can no longer deliver goods as regularly as they used to and towns begin to go without prescriptions and essentials for weeks at a time. The lack of people driving to and from work means that entire industries begin to falter; mechanics, car dealers, roadworkers, carwashes etc. The death of these industries sends waves through local and interconnected economies and it eventually ripples out. Henry Hazlitt dedicates a whole chapter to this knock-on effect in Economics in One Lesson. It really is the most basic of economic ideas, so I don’t think it begs too much repetition.
What does need a little articulation is what you refer to as – “institutional hyper-regulation; bureaucratic constraints and ossification combined with the sprawling metastasis of administrative structures; normative ‘progressive’ ‘neo-religious’ values and memetic pre-conditions fundamentally out of synch with underlying reality.”
I’d argue that all of this can be bracketed under the term ‘power structure’ which is heavily utilized – and arguably ‘invented’ – by Michel Foucault. I won’t go too deep into the Foucauldian specifics, but at the most basic level what we’re talking about here is the intersection of knowledge and power, and how one begets the other and vice-versa; power-knowledge is its own miniature feedback loop which doesn’t want to stop. Now, the problem with the loop is that eventually it runs out of resources from a historically determined knowledge bank (Tradition, classics, habit, risk/reward, incentives, success, winning, colonization, declaration etc.) and begins to deconstruct and invent new forms and means of knowledge as a way to extend its power. Once an institution is powerful enough to move the goalposts of what it means to be correct, that institution holds power. Such a regime of truth also invents its own punishments, namely and primarily expulsion and alienation from the ‘norm’, alongside ridicule, slander and belittlement. Once X is defined as the culturally and systematically correct and right thing to do, those who do not do X are punished. I’m not talking of crime, I’m talking of personal preference, belief systems, ideas etc. Hyper-regulation is a symptom of control, regulation is apparently for our own benefit. Bureaucratic and administrative legislation and control mechanisms relating to how one comports themselves in all their actions are so covertly dull and minute at first that they’re basically non-existent, and yet, much like the economic connections destroyed by an oil shortage, certain cultural requirements also cause ripples throughout society. Such ripples cause further and further dulling, numbing and anaesthetizing of the populace. Z/Acc is also the potential for the rupture in this interconnected heresy. Any flirtation with Zero will bring people back to reality harder than they can imagine. School systems and government institutions will be seen for what they are – prisons. Regulations, permits and legislation will be seen for what it is – control. Politicians, planners and council members will be seen for who they are – jobsworths and brown-noses, and finally, history will be seen – very briefly – for what it is – cyclical.
Taiter’s complexity / diminishing returns spiral articulates an ontological lock-in, whereby diminishing returns are inscribed into the structure of problem solving itself. So, there is a fatalism to Capital acceleration, but there is also a competing fatalism to Collapse dynamics. Why is it impossible to circumvent Collapse? What is the lock-in effects, omnipresent in a complex civilization, which conspire to make it impossible to reverse our current trajectory and make Collapse inevitable?
This is really a physics problem. Which is one regarding thermodynamics, entropy and negentropy. A closed system with a finite amount of resources will eventually hit Zero with regard to energy output. This isn’t some theoretical idea, this is a cold hard fact in relation to human material reality. To say there is a fatalism to capital acceleration is really a non-statement, there’s a fatalism inbuilt into existence where energy is concerned. To circumvent collapse would be to break the second law of thermodynamics, everything has an end, a death, a conclusion, a long drawn out deathrattle, unfortunately for us civilizations – which are complex systems – have the ability to counter that which is causing them, or going to cause them, to die. So it’s a long game of push and shove with ever-diminishing returns, there’s always loss.
Finally, in his Quick-and-Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism Land says: “No contemporary dilemma is being entertained realistically until it is also acknowledged that the opportunity for doing so is fast collapsing”. This points to an interesting synergy with Z/Acc and the implosion of decision space. Let us return to Zero. Can you conclude by revisiting why Z/Acc a form of ACC, what exactly is ‘accelerative’ about anti-acceleration and civilizational collapse dynamics? And how precisely is the Z/Acc ontology cybernetic?
There’s a problem here with your use of the word ‘accelerative’, of course collapse seems to have little to do with acceleration in the traditional semantic sense of increasing speed, but that of course isn’t how I’m using it. Acceleration as in ACC is increased deterritorialization and reterritorialization, whether this process happens fast or slow is besides the point. As such, collapse isn’t so much the inverse of this process, but is the physical, fatalist and natural restraints built-in to the territory in the first place. Deterritorialization and reterritorialization happen as abstract processes devoid of any moralist, pragmatic or conservatory limitations, they’re non-actors, they’re processes. The Z of Z/Acc then, is the understanding of the implicit ability for territory to fail and to reverse its potential into a dysgenic and collapse-esque mess. As for cybernetics, what is cybernetics? It’s simply goal-orientation, and the way in which the circuitry, system or structure at hand vectors itself towards a goal. Z/Acc is cybernetic in the way that anything that is goal-oriented is cybernetic, the only exception being is that much like a cancer, Z/Acc’s ‘goal’ is a detrimental one, and the goal of Z/Acc doesn’t begin until Acc itself begins a territorialization. Z/Acc loathes life and its complexity, it is the growing rot within unification. If you have something which is creating or building itself, Z/Acc is its a priori limitation waiting for its moment to pounce, which will always come.