#1532 Accelerationism is the Brick on the Gas Pedal of the Runaway Car of Society (Transcript)

Air Date 12/17/2022

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Don't forget that we have collected into one place all of our favorite ways that you can support the show while doing any holiday shopping this year, including real books, audiobooks, various apparel and merch—not just our stuff, but other great stuff—and of course, gift memberships. Find all that at bestoftheleft.com/holiday. We appreciate your support. Again, that's bestoftheleft.com/holiday.

And now, welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast, in which we shall take a look at the fringe philosophy of accelerationism that is having a bigger impact on society than you will have likely realized, as it's been behind some of the worst terror attacks in recent years and is likely behind attacks on infrastructure which is targeting society as a whole.

Clips today are from Philion, Tech Against Terrorism, White Hot Hate, Angry Planet, The Rachel Maddow Show, the World Affairs Council of Monterey Bay, and RSA [00:01:00] Podcasts, with an additional members only clip from Wisecrack. And just a heads up that this episode does contain some pretty extreme, not to mention profane, material.

The Dystopian Philosophy You've Never Heard Of - Philion - Air Date 6-26-22

PHILIP RUSNACK - HOST, PHILION: Would you believe me if I told you that there is a dystopian political ideology that treats the apocalypse as a gift? This philosophy exists both on the right and left, and is based off a sci-fi novel, and currently we are seeing the real world effects of technocrats and extremists who adopt these principles.

Accelerationism is stepping on the gas of a technocratic capitalistic society. Technocratic, meaning a society driven by technology, dominated by powerful oligarchs -- it's no secret our modern society adopts some of these principles. An example of this is; global warming is happening; let's make it happen faster.

Accelerationists believe in taking on any consequence as a result of pushing through to the next phase. This is through production, industrialization, and constantly [00:02:00] advancing, no matter the cost. In other words, fully unleashing capitalism to create a utopia.

The earliest ideas of accelerationism in philosophy and politics were due to French Marxists in the 1970s. In 1972, philosopher Deleuze and Psychoanalyst Guattari published Anti-Oedipus and explored the idea of capitalism and how it has the ability to liberate and oppress, but wanted to go still further. In 1974, Lyotard in his book, the Libidinal Economy, states that capitalism was also enjoyed by those whose lives have been accelerated. To him, the system of capital is, when all said and done, natural.

From 1987 to 1998, a Warwick professor named Nick Land created accelerationism based on a sci-fi novel called Lord of Light. Nick Land was and still is an absolute mad lad. Nick Land was known for giving fantastical lectures, spewing out buzzwords, climbing over chairs, laying on the [00:03:00] ground making guttural noises from his throat, anything to get a strange reaction from his students.

In 1995, he founded what is called the CCRU or the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit. This can be described as an experimental cultural theorist collective, or a really weird academic think tank. Nick Land created the CCRU with Sadie Plant, a fellow professor at Warwick. Mark Fisher, student of Sadie Plant, was also a founding member.

The CCRU cover topics ranging from futurism, technoscience, philosophy, mysticism, numerology, complexity theory, and science fiction. This would begin his dissent into madness. He became a satanic cultist, fled to China, and coined the term "the dark enlightenment."

Mark Fisher would ultimately distance himself from Nick Land and would become a left accelerationist, focusing less on capitalism because he thought of it as more of a hamster wheel of production than any actual progress. To him, capitalism was a disappointment to [00:04:00] Accelerationism.

Central to accelerationism is the idea of hyperstition. According to an interview between Delphi Carstens and Nick Land, hyperstition is best described as a positive feedback circuit, including culture as a component. It can be defined as the experimental technoscience of self-fulfilling prophecies.

Superstitions are merely false beliefs, but hyperstitions, by their very existence as ideas, function casually to bring about their own reality. Capitalist economics is extremely sensitive to hyperstition, where confidence acts as an effective tonic, and inversely, the fictional idea of cyberspace contributed to the influx of investment that rapidly converted it into a techno social reality.

No, I hear ya. I'm just as confused as you.

There are four elements of hyperstition. Number one, it is an element of effective culture that makes itself real. Think of the stock market. It can either go up or down, depending on speculation.

Number two, it is fictional. The future is made up, but it's actually real because of society's [00:05:00] visions of the future. Think of Brave New World, 1984, Terminator, I, Robot, or even Ex Machina.

Number three, hyperstitions are coincidence intensifiers. This means that accelerated fictions come true faster. An example of this would be capitalism. Technology increases and continues to feed back into itself. New technology means faster progress, which means more new technology.

Number four, hyperstition is a call to the old ones. On the other side of tech exists Nature itself. All of this sounds like a sci-fi novelist's wet dream. Technology is the answer that humans have to unlock to find the truth. The idea here is that there's no need for a left or right when the true answer is technology.

In fact, there will be no need to fight over policies when everyone's problems are simply solved because of technological advancements. Modern examples of people who would fall under the accelerationist umbrella would include Steve Bannon, chief strategist of the White House under Trump; Peter Thiel, co-founder of [00:06:00] PayPal and Palantir; Mark Andreessen, the man who literally invented the internet in the form of Netscape; and Curtis Yarvin, a.k.a. Mencius Moldbug. Have you ever heard of taking the red pill? It's literally tossed around every day on every corner of the internet. Curtis Yarvin, under the Harry Potter-esque pseudonym of Mencius Moldbug, an alt-right technocrat blogger, coined the term in 2009, taking the metaphor from The Matrix.

Years later, accelerationism would then be fully actualized in the form of "the dark enlightenment." Nick Land's ideas were expanded upon by Curtis Yarvin under the pseudonym Mencius Moldbug. The dark enlightenment is synonymous with neoreactionaries, or NRX for short.

According to Kali Yuga Accelerationists, we are living in the Kali Yuga or dark times. And as you know by now, surfing the Kali Yuga means embracing the darkness, letting things happen, and even stepping on the gas. Not surfing the Kali Yuga refers to Traditionalism, but this is an escapist answer to modern problems.

On the spectrum, you have traditionalism and modernity. Traditionalism is an escape from modern times. [00:07:00] Traditionalists want to live like civilizations in the past, and they define tradition as truth. It's simply hating the modern world and yearning for a return of the "good days."

I put "good days" in quotations because I think we've all read a history book or two. Modernity is the reality that we live in now. And capitalism is the vehicle that drives modernity. Accelerationism is one of the alt-right answers to getting out of the Kali Yuga or the Dark Age.

To these people, modern times are so bad and estranged from tradition that we are living in an apocalypse or the Kali Yuga.

To summarize the different types of accelerationism, Inventing the Future from Srnicek and Williams, and the CCRU are examples of left accelerationism or contemporary accelerationism. Left Accelerationists believe in full automation and universal basic income. They believe the only way for a society to collapse is to be pushed to the breaking point, or accelerated so that a true socialist society [00:08:00] can exist in the aftermath. However, after Nick Land left the CCRU, he accelerated a little too hard and created a new sect of accelerationism called Landian Accelerationism, which is synonymous with right accelerationism. Landian accelerationists, or R/Acc, believe that machines are going to take over the world and kill everyone, because technology has gotten to a point where it is irreversible. But this is a good thing, because we will surrender ourselves to the one true God, technology.

And lastly, far-right accelerationists have been lumped into the pot with white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups. They advocate for a civil war or assassinations to speed up the process of anarchy.

Man, I really just need to go outside and touch some grass.

A Foiled Plot in Texas: The Threat of Violent Fringe Online Networks - Tech Against Terrorism - Air Date 2-22-22

ANNE CRAANEN - HOST, TECH AGAINST TERRORISM: Matt Kriner is a research analyst at the forefront of accelerationism studies. He's a senior research scholar at CTEC and managing director at ARC. He explains how the [00:09:00] concept of accelerationism overlaps with fascism and how it came about after the second World War.

MATT KRINER: So after World War II, there was a predominance of liberal democracy taking over global geopolitics. We had the UN emerging, we had the cold war, putting the United States against communist Russia. And really what we see is as the war winds down and much of the fascist movement, which obviously is at the time predominantly tied to Nazism, Italian fascism, and Spanish Francoism, the dictator in Spain at the time, we really see this change in understanding what is our far right, which is essentially where fascism comes from -- conservative, lower "c", not American conservatives, but this broader reactionary notion of what are we now in relation to America, to Russia, how do we deal with that? And you know, as those movements deal with this -- this is all very, by the way, simplified; I apologize to any fascist historians out there that are listening to this thinking, good God, man, you're really destroying that -- but the reality is they start to grapple internally with [00:10:00] themselves, with their own national identities, with their pan area and if they believed in that, or broader European identity structures. And they kept asking themselves, are we bigger than just our national identity? Are we bigger than just our political party? Is there something more there?

And what they all collectively, at varying levels, agreed to is, well, the problem is really liberalism. The problem is this notion of equality, and everybody has a seat at the table. And that voting ultimately degrades human -- in their minds -- capabilities and the progression of society. To them and to fascists, as we move through this big chunk of time, they start to contend with the systems. But ultimately what we see is that this doctrine and tactics emerge that effectively means we have to get rid of liberalism in any way, shape or form, and we have to do it as quick as possible.

But the proto-accelerationist mindset is really encapsulated in the after-war period of Italy and how the fascist movements there really solidified their identities.

After that, we start to see the influence of Evola really spike. Now, Evola was very [00:11:00] prominently influenced, especially in the years that lead within the neofascist groups that were active in terrorism, things of that nature. It's well documented at this point. And he was brought before a judge at one point, though not found guilty -- had something to do with him being paralyzed. They didn't really think that he could be involved in terrorism if he was paralyzed.

ANNE CRAANEN - HOST, TECH AGAINST TERRORISM: We heard Matt talking about Julius Evola there. He was a far-right Italian philosopher whose anti-Semite and Nazi thinking influenced far-right Italian movements during the 1950s and sixties.

MATT KRINER: When we really look at that shift out of the seventies into the eighties and nineties, what we really see is this metaphysical assumption of identity for fascists. Not all fascists obviously, but what we get is this notion that there is something more to being a fascist. There's something more to being an Arian. And they start to really elevate their notions into this metaphysical space. They really believe the society is degradated to a point that it can't be saved. All social structures are corrupt. There's a lot of antisemitism and racism tied up in this, and I won't bog us down in that discussion at all. Just know it's [00:12:00] really racist, really terribly antisemitic. And the justification that they come up with, the tactic they come up with, and this is again, very simplified, is to race through this period, to get back to the golden age, which comes afterwards.

So there's where we get the notion of accelerationism. It's this belief that one no longer get engaged with the political systems that are available. In fact, to do so is counterproductive entirely. At one point they believe maybe we can turn back this time cycle. But no, and they now believe we cannot do that.

The only way is to go through.

“It only takes a few” - White Hot Hate - Air Date 11-28-21

ARCHIVE NEWS CLIP: Virginia Democrats plans to enact a sweeping series of gun measures have already fired a rebellion in dozens of counties. Now, armed gun rights supporters from across the country are planning to sweep into Richmond on Martin Luther King Day.

The rally even getting the president's attention. He tweeted, "your second Amendment is under very serious attack at the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That's what happens when you vote for Democrats. They will take your guns away."[00:13:00]

MICHELLE SHEPHARD - HOST, WHITE HOT HATE : Most years, the annual Lobby Day in Virginia organized by Pro-gun advocates attracts a few hundred participants.

ARCHIVE NEWS CLIP: Either show up or shut up. You can take time off. You can find a way, because if you don't, then you're given up on the Second Amendment.

MICHELLE SHEPHARD - HOST, WHITE HOT HATE : In January, 2020 though, anticipation was building about a much larger rally. Virginia was on the cusp of passing gun control laws that, among other measures, would include mandatory background checks to purchase firearms. Buzz was building not just among gun lobbyists who planned to turn out in force, but also militia groups, conspiracy theorists, and far right extremists. It felt like a toxic brew.

ALEX JONES: But we're gonna be there. We're gonna be covering it all. This is the real fight for America. This is asymmetrical warfare by the deep state against our country. We need all eyes and ears on the ground in Virginia and DC...

ARCHIVE NEWS CLIP: As the gun control debate is heating up across Virginia, some are the number of guns [00:14:00] being walked out of stores.

MICHELLE SHEPHARD - HOST, WHITE HOT HATE : Police were on high alert, and those who were monitoring The Base and like-minded accelerationist groups were especially concerned. By this time, the FBI had installed a hidden CCTV camera and microphone in Matthews and Lemley's apartment. They'd recorded the men discussing the assault rifle they were making, as well as hours and hours of them spewing racist rhetoric against African Americans and Jews.

PATRIK MATTHEWS : Something that a lot of people don't know. A lot of race riots back in the day were started by whites. We would start the riots and you best believe we finished them. We need to go back for the days of fucking decimating Blacks and getting rid of them wherever they stand.

MICHELLE SHEPHARD - HOST, WHITE HOT HATE : And Matthews had this to say about the upcoming pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia.

PATRIK MATTHEWS : Get your [00:15:00] asses there and the minute things escalate, get to every single thing you can take out, power lines, everything. We need to fucking escalate this and spread that idea and just say, fucking bring the system down. When Virginia happens, we fucking kill the system. We, we stop the whole fucking thing.

MICHELLE SHEPHARD - HOST, WHITE HOT HATE : The plan was to create bloody mayhem.

PATRIK MATTHEWS : Fan the flames. Pour gasoline on the fire, and just let it fucking burn.

MICHELLE SHEPHARD - HOST, WHITE HOT HATE : If you're wondering why neo-Nazis would target a crowd of conservative and predominantly white gun enthusiasts. Well, I had the same question and I asked Ryan Thorpe.

RYAN THORPE: I think you have to go back and contextualize it within the framework of accelerationism. It does seem somewhat counterintuitive that these people who would be very pro-gun rights would attack a pro-gun rights rally. But it just makes me think of Matthews in the park where he was [00:16:00] saying, I want the liberals to get five terms in office. You know, I want Black Lives Matter active in every white neighborhood. They don't care who they mame or hurt or kill. It's difficult to get yourself into this mindset, but you have to understand just the level of disregard for human life.

Matthews and Lemley who are members of The Base, were now targeted for execution by the members of the Georgia cell. So not only was this organization fine with attacking right wing, pro-Second Amendment protestors, they were fine attacking each other. It's like when you get that deep into terroristic revolutionary ideology or activity, it's a circular firing squad. They wanna cause chaos. They wanna cause bloodshed. What they want to do is increase polarization, heighten the contradictions. Let's turn up the heat to get everyone more likely to take rash action. So actually I think it makes sense. I don't think it was an odd target for them to identify for an attack. I think it fits entirely in with their [00:17:00] ideology.

Proud Boys, January 6, and When a U-Haul Is a Clown Car - Angry Planet - Air Date 6-17-22

MATTHEW GAULT - HOST, ANGRY PLANET: The Patriot front bust that happened over the weekend. Can you tell the audience in case they don't know what happened, you're both nodding, and what you made of it?

JON LEWIS: So over the weekend a neo-Nazi group known as the Patriot Front was arrested as they arrived in a U-Haul to a Pride rally taking place in Idaho. And I think it's really important just to make very clear that, despite the fact that this group is typically decked out in American flags, American Eagles, the same kind of uniforms that we see them in pretty frequently, that this is a neo-Nazi group. And this is a group that, time and time again, has used rhetoric, has used hateful language that not only insights violence against the outgroup, but this is specifically a group that time and time again has evidenced the ability and the means to commit violence in the name of that ideology.

MATTHEW KRINER: And you started out by saying it's a bit tangential, but there's actually a through line between the [00:18:00] Proud Boys and the Patriot Front elements that we see today. Very active in the political violence or political intimidation space, and that's accelerationism. Both entities have a through line of that in their core constituency and their membership and their factions.

And with Patriot Front, what we've really seen over the last year or so here is that the influence of the Rise Above Movement or its successor entities, Will to Rise and the so-called active clubs. They've been training members of Patriot Front and helping radicalize them further for many months, and when I say training, I mean literally physically training them, getting them out into open parks where they do physical combat training and really just push them to their physical limits. And that's a part of the militant accelerationist playbook.

And what we've seen with this targeting of the Pride Rally is actually probably more the influence of the RAM and Active Club ideology which is a bit of a departure for Patriot Front, which likes to do these really ridiculous shows up at the, out of the back of a U-Haul. They did this in Philly, they did it in Washington, DC. They put a bunch of those American flags out and they walk [00:19:00] around like they're the coolest kids on campus, but in reality they're often fairly cowardly and they run away pretty quickly from any kind of confrontation. The influence of the Will to Rise and the Rights Above Movement larger network is actually discouraging for us because it tells us that the Patriot front members that are being influenced by them or interacting with them are probably going to stop being so cowardly and start to be a little bit more proactive or willing to fight. And that's gonna really change the tenor of Patriot Front overall.

MATTHEW GAULT - HOST, ANGRY PLANET: You see the images of these, what is it like 30 of them in the back of a U-haul getting pulled out. Some of them were obviously mugging for the camera as they were being arrested. They look ridiculous. The proud boys on the surface, when you start learning about, especially the early days, like the tattoos and the being punched as an initiation ritual while you are reciting cereal brands, it's so silly. A lot of this stuff is so silly and bizarre and ridiculous and it's easy to look at that and dismiss it, I think.

MATTHEW KRINER: It is. And I [00:20:00] think that there's a double edged sword when we talk about this. As researchers or as observers of this, we look at that and think, what the hell are they up to? Like why are they punching each other over cereal names? But it serves a couple of purposes. One, it I think takes the edge off some of the hardened elements of the core, " what are we as proud boys?" Ultimately the goal is for them to get out and go beat the hell outta somebody else. That's really what their purpose is.

The same thing with RAM. Ultimately, they're pushing people towards this positioning of getting out and beating somebody up, if not worse. Patriot Front talks a big game. They get caught up in these little U-Haul moments and they look really stupid, objectively stupid on social media, but that's part of the goal is to get more attention, get people focusing on them so that when they do something again, it seems like, "oh wow, they're really all over the country," but the arrest records show us that it's actually a few select number of individuals that are traveling all around doing this stuff. They had to bring people from out of state to accomplish that goal.

On the other side, we look at this as researchers and analysts, and we say, there's a darker element to making it fun to be in the initiatic spaces of these [00:21:00] organizations. You start to really make it more comfortable for someone to make a joke out of beating somebody up. You get more comfortable physically, emotionally and mentally, that's really critical when we talk about radicalization practices of these organizations, particularly in the far right. Who are heavily dehumanizing their outgroup or their people they don't like.

And when it comes to things like the Pride attack or attempts of that kind of thing, or whether it's political enemies, you have to do a little bit more to make that person truly a dehumanized thing in the minds of those they're radicalizing, cuz ultimately they're, they still look an American. They're still just standing there in front of you, so you have to get them over that hump of, "I'm not quite ready to throw a punch at that." And that initial bit, those cereals and stuff, those have a really important role to play in getting someone more comfortable just throwing a fist at a random person.

 JASON FIELDS - HOST, ANGRY PLANET: I just want to get to grips with one thing, cuz we're talking about 15 guys in a van here, and and I guess we're talking about a larger number on January 6th, but I really always wanted to understand the kind of threat these [00:22:00] guys really genuinely pose. They don't seem to be planting bombs. Not that I'm trying to give them ideas, but the kinds of terrorism that other groups have carried out, they seem very public.

MATTHEW KRINER: Yeah, this is a really good point. I think it gets to the sort of third angle of when we talk about the aesthetics or the practices of that seem a little idiosyncratic or jokey, sort of shit posting in a real life, if you will, of these organizations, and that's the fact that organizationally speaking, whether they're networks or hierarchical structures, they have a tendency to fall apart at times. Whether it's due to egotistical infighting, whether it's due to informants or FBI infiltration or local law enforcement infiltration or even anti-fascist infiltration who do incredible work getting in there and just kind of messing with their heads.

Patriot Front's probably one of the best example of anti-fascist activists sitting in their chats, waiting for a moment and then just saying, "Hey, by the way, I'm Antifa," and they all just scatter like cockroaches in the light. It's one of those moments where you you want to have that schadenfreude, but at the same time, we have to [00:23:00] recognize that that's one or maybe two or three individuals sitting in a group of a couple hundred on the national calls for the Patriot Front.

So I think that when we look at this we see, okay, one, organizationally, they're not always the most effective, which means their output in terms of whether we're gonna get to the point of them throwing bombs or placing bombs in situations, probably not likely. I think that's realistic to say that Patriot Front's probably not gonna put bombs down anytime soon. But that leaves a whole host of other activities that are just as dangerous and violent. Intimidating people in a political manner, that's still a form of terrorism. That's still a form of political violence. Discouraging people from showing up at polling stations or their school board like the Proud Boys do or making them feel uncomfortable going to a thing that's protected by the First Amendment, such as a Pride event, those things are still forms of political violence that create danger in a community, and other people will gravitate toward that regardless if they themselves are a part of that organization.

So we saw individuals with AR15s in the periphery of that Pride event, these are like lights that bring bugs in the dark. You know [00:24:00] that moths will come to these spaces. The flame is lit. Someone might still do something even if they're not part of the Patriot Front. So that culmination of activity raises the overall tenor and risk for those spaces.

And then three, the fact that they're willing to engage in physical violence above and beyond just the intimidation, that's a very real threat. And that's something that I think people often overlook when we talk about domestic violence extremists or domestic terrorists. —I'm using air quotes there for those that are just listening—and I think what we have to understand is that is in and of itself a considerable risk to the American public. People weren't throwing bombs, people weren't shooting guns on January 6th, they were throwing punches, taking physical blunt objects and beating the crap out of cops and trying to stop the election. These things are not disconnected, they're tied together. One activity in Idaho ultimately can lead to things like that. In January 6th in Washington DC.

Right-Wing, Domestic Terror Eyed In N.C. Infrastructure Sabotage As Facts Remain Elusive - The Rachel Maddow Show - Air Date 12-6-22

RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: It was just southeast of San Jose, California. Started at 12:58 AM in an unincorporated, sort of semi-rural area, not far from Silicon Valley near the [00:25:00] 101 Freeway. 12:58 AM.

Somehow someone, almost certainly more than one person, opened up the heavy metal cover of an underground vault on the side of the road. It wasn't a normal manhole cover like you see in the street everywhere, the kind of thing you might be able to lift up yourself. It was much bigger than that, heavier than that, which is why investigators think it would've likely taken more than one person to open this thing up.

But whoever it was, they opened it up, they got inside that underground vault, and when they were in there, they cut the fiber optic cables that ran through it. Then nine minutes later, they did it again, a different nearby underground vault containing fiber optic cables. They pulled open the doors, got in there and sliced off the fiber.

And the consequences of that were immediate: people all over the area instantly lost cell phone service and [00:26:00] landline phone service, and 911 call service went down.

Police would ultimately have to tell people in the area that if they were having an emergency and they needed to call 911, they should try to do that from a cell phone. If that didn't work, they should try to do it from a landline. If that didn't work, police advised people in the area, you're gonna have to drive to the nearest fire station and ask for help in person, because we have no other way for you to reach us.

21 minutes after they cut the second set of fiber optic cables, whoever it was started shooting into that electrical power substation with AK-47 style rifles. Gators say the shooters fired more than a hundred bullets into the electrical substation over a period of about 19 minutes. They were firing carefully enough and with enough well-informed deliberation that in that 19 minute period where they were shooting all those dozens of rounds, they were able to knock out 17 [00:27:00] different electrical transformers in that substation, some of them by shooting them directly, and some of them by causing them to melt down.

"The shooters appeared to have aimed at the transformer's oil-filled cooling systems. Riddled with bullet holes, the transformers leaked 52,000 gallons of oil, then overheated. The first bank of them started crashing at 1:45 AM."

So between hitting the oil that was used as a cooling fluid for the transformers and hitting the transformers themselves with more than a hundred rounds of AK-47 rifle fire, 17 transformers were knocked out in that electrical power substation. And with the cutting of the fiber optic cables nearby, cell phone, landline and 911 service was knocked out. That Northern California attack in 2013 altogether, all those different components of it, it took less than an hour. And by the time the police turned up, the perpetrators were gone.[00:28:00]

It took 27 days for authorities to make the repairs and get that substation up and running and get that fiber connected again. So again, that took place April, 2013 in Northern California. That attack remains unsolved. Nobody ever publicly claimed responsibility. Nobody, as far as we know, was ever arrested. No motive was ever ascribed to whoever carried out that attack.

Now, fast forward to this year, February of this year, February 2022. Three men -- one from Ohio, one from Wisconsin, one from Indiana and Texas -- pled guilty to a plot to do much the same thing. Inspired by white supremacist ideology.

Department of Justice press release: "Three men plead guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a plot to attack power grids in the United States. Domestic terrorism plot was in furtherance of white supremacist ideology." And the plea agreement in that case, again from earlier this year, spells it out. Says, "In the [00:29:00] fall of 2019, 2 young men, one age 20, one age 24, met in an online forum. One suggested that yep, to the other, that they hatch a plan to take out electrical power substations in various parts of the country, to try to set off civil unrest and to hopefully try to set off a race war in the United States." This is from the plea agreement: "The plan was to attack the substations with powerful rifles that would penetrate the electrical transformers. Members of the group estimated that would cost the government millions of dollars to recover. In addition, the defendants believe that time associated with replacing the substations would cause confusion and unrest for Americans in the region. There were also conversations about how the possibility of the power being out for many months could cause a race war. Additionally, without power across the country, they hoped it could cause the next great depression. People wouldn't show up to work, the economy would crash, and there would be a ripe opportunity for potential white leaders to [00:30:00] rise up." That plea agreement, unsealed by the government earlier this year, explains how these young men decided they would need to cause a big explosion as a distraction. They wanted to set off some kind of big explosion that would tie up the police and distract police from what they were going to do to the power substations, which is something again, that they hope would cause millions of dollars of damage, something that would take months to be able to repair.

To set off just the distraction explosion, they admitted to buying bomb components and starting to test explosives to suit that part of their plan. They also obtained multiple so-called "ghost guns", guns with no serial numbers, so they couldn't be traced. They built what the government describes as multiple AR-47 style semi-automatic rifles. They built the rifles, they were building more, and they started training with them at firing ranges. When the FBI searched their homes, they found multiple firearms, including firearms with no serial number, multiple silencers, [00:31:00] milling tools, weapons modification manuals, explosives, production diagrams and manuals, chemicals and components that an FBI lab determined could be used to create an explosive device.

Prosecutors said they found "a large amount of Nazi-related materials such as videos, books, and images." Also detailed US power infrastructure information, a list of specific power substations, and quote, "an article regarding the sabotage of a power substation in California."

So that California attack on that power substation was in 2013. Still unsolved. This year we get neo-Nazis trying to set off a race war, planning what appears to have been a copycat attack, copying what happened in California. Also, to the extent that they're also planning on using high powered rifles to shoot up electrical substations and try to knock out the power. [00:32:00]

The guilty pleas to the plot that was uncovered by federal prosecutors, those guilty pleas were earlier this year in federal court in Ohio.

And now this weekend, here we are again. Moore County, North Carolina.

SHERIFF RONNIE FIELDS: Shortly after 7:00 PM, power outages began here in the Carthage area. Shortly thereafter, the outages would spread to the greater majority of central and southern Moore County. Upon the arrival of the power crews and our deputies, extensive damage was found at their substations. Evidence at the scene indicated that the showed that the firearm had been used to disable the equipment.

RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Power out for what they call 45,000 customers. Customers, in this case means 45,000 homes and businesses. All together, we're talking about over a hundred thousand people. Well, it [00:33:00] was initially 45,000 customers, 45,000 homes and businesses. It's now down to 33,000 homes and businesses, but that's still tens of thousands of Americans tonight with zero power. Zero.

And this isn't like lines down in a storm. They go out and rewire the lines and put 'em back up. This is two electrical substations shot up with firearms like in California in 2013, and like the neo-Nazis just pled guilty to planning in Ohio earlier this year.

Accelerationism: The International Apocalyptic Doctrine That's Unifying the Far Right - World Affairs Council Monterey Bay - Air Date 5-29-21

ALEX NEWHOUSE: Accelerationism is a doctrine in a strategic framework, it is not an ideology. That means that it actually cuts across ideologies. There have been far right accelerationists connected to violent Maoists, connected to communists, connected to boogaloo people. There's very much this what we call coalitional nature of accelerationism that leads to these people and these movements making alliances of convenience, all in the furtherance of this war against the [00:34:00] modern world. So basically each of these movements may not agree ideologically with one another, but they will make alliances with each other because they believe that they will ultimately come out on top after the apocalyptic break has happened.

As I've already mentioned before, specific groups are not as important as overarching networks. Groups collapse and reform constantly, and this is actually a strategy both to throw off media coverage, to throw off government reaction, and also to spread ideas further and further.

One of the most interesting parts and unique parts of accelerationism is it's aesthetic. Accelerationist movements often have very, very striking aesthetics and use very unique imagery. This means that the aesthetics of accelerationism are one of the best ways we have of actually understanding and identifying acceleration is in the wild. As I mentioned before, you can't identify based on ideology because accelerationism cuts across ideology, so what you can do is use aesthetic and visual markers to identify.

One of the clearest [00:35:00] red flags for accelerationist influence is the appearance of skull masks among activists. I'm sure a lot of you have seen these skull masks in the wild, but for those who haven't, this is what it looks like. This is an Atomwaffen Division membership photo. So this particular skull mask, and it should be noted, there are many different types of skull masks, but this particular one that is worn by these Atomwaffen members is the one that is most strongly associated with accelerationists.

So accelerationism isn't just in theory, it has also been implemented in practice to pretty horrific and tragic ends. There's been a pretty large set of confirmed accelerationist violence that's happened over the past couple of decades. In this, I'll only list a handful and I'll split it up by Skull Mask and Boogaloo.

So on the skull mask side, some of the mass shooters that have perpetrated horrific attacks over the past 10 years have been directly linked to the neo-fascist, neo-Nazi accelerationist network. These include [00:36:00] Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch shooter; Patrick Crusius who was directly inspired by Tarrant; Robert Bowers, who was the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter; and Timothy Wilson, who was a member of the National Socialist Movement and also promoted the Boogaloo. He was the individual who was killed in FBI shootout in Missouri when he was on his way to attempt to bomb a hospital back in early 2020, soon after the pandemic had started.

On the Boogaloo side, in addition to Timothy Wilson, Steven Carillo was a confirmed Boogaloo adherent and he allegedly murdered two sheriffs, two police officers in California. And then the Michigan Wolverines in Michigan where a Boogaloo cell who are accused of plotting to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan.

So what makes accelerationism so difficult to address? Why am I talking about it here and why am I so concerned about it? So first, it's anti-ideological. [00:37:00] A lot of conventional counterterrorism and counter extremism relies on ideological analysis. We can't rely on ideological groupings for accelerationism because it is latent within so many different ideologies. It cuts across ideologies.

Accelerationism is also syncretic. It encompasses and pulls in references and learnings from a whole bunch of different extremist philosophies, extremist movements, religions, literature, and many of which are extraordinarily niche and our hard are recognize unless you're very, very deeply immersed in accelerationist rhetoric.

It's very decentralized, and as a result, leaders are hard to identify. Many are often in flux, and so leadership of specific brands can come and go and can change very quickly. It's also, as I've mentioned before, significantly networked. Adherents from many different groups intermix in encrypted chats and on Telegram channels, and they share [00:38:00] tactics, propaganda and often will actually share membership with various different groups.

And then finally, one of the core tactics within accelerationist movements is strategic infiltration. Accelerationist will actually join non-accelerationist movements specifically to escalate them to revolutionary violence. This happened quite a bit. It happened, actually, in the Atomwaffen Division itself, and it has happened elsewhere too. There are many researchers who believe it's currently happening in the Proud Boys, and even possibly within QAnon.

So what can we do to actually address this? Well, mapping out the networks that I've talked about throughout this talk helps solve for adversarial tactics like the creation of groups that actually don't have any substance to them solely to throw off media coverage. And it can also work to address the root cause, the actual set of individuals who are creating these groups. So whereas designating a single group like Atomwaffen Division can't get at the broader network, if you actually map out the network and try to[00:39:00] take action against that, instead of the groups, you will have a much better time of preventing the groups from reforming and reorganizing like they always have been.

Cooperation across social platforms is also extremely important for pushing back against accelerationist influence. These actors will often exploit gaps in social media monitoring to actually propagandize and recruit new people. They walk the lines of content moderation very effectively, and so cooperation across social platforms to take down these accelerationist and to use network analysis to do it is very important for, resisting accelerationist violence.

And then finally, transnational connections can actually be used as leverage for domestic enforcement. So while taking action against domestic terrorists and domestic extremists is very difficult, especially in the United States, the fact that these are such transnational networks means that the linkages between, say, the Russian Imperial movement [00:40:00] and the Atomwaffen Division can potentially be used to give more political leeway for undertaking action against these extremists and mitigating them. That use of transnational connections is also a good way of disrupting global networks rather than trying to play whack-a-mole with designating groups.

Accelerationists, in conclusion, pose a very unique and very novel challenge for counterterrorism and counter extremism professionals across the world. However, there are some things that we know that we can do and some things that we have started working on already. Network mapping from one of them is probably the single best thing that we can do. We absolutely need to move on from this exclusive focus on individual groups and start looking at the broader transnational map of all of these different accelerationist, how they interact with each other, and how they cooperate. And if we can get there, then it'll be a very good start for actually mitigating this long term.

The seductive dangers of speed - RSA Podcasts - Air Date 7-5-17

ANDY BECKETT: The core of the piece is, let's try and tell the story [00:41:00] over 30 or 40 years of how this idea, accelerationism, this tendency, came into being and how it's become influential. So the article kind of traces the origins of these ideas in Marx. Marx was very interested, as we all know, in the kind of dynamism of capitalism, as well as obviously criticizing it.

And that tendency on the left to kind of be fascinated by, as well as horrified by, capitalism, I'd argue in the piece, has been around since Marx. And it kind of resurfaced most strongly in the seventies in a few French writers: Guattari, Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, who wrote these kind of heretical books in the early seventies, essentially saying that people on the left should stop trying to resist capitalism, but they should in some way embrace it, embrace it's kind of liberating, sort of chaotic, possibilities and thus find their way to a new kind of version of politics that perhaps might not even be on the left. So those ideas were around a bit in the early seventies or right about then, but then the [00:42:00] idea really takes hold at the University of Warwick in the mid nineties with people like the philosopher Nick Land, who explored it much more thoroughly and saw its manifestations in things like action films, drum and bass music, faster and faster music that was being enabled by technology. And I kind of tell the story in the article of the kind of, almost the cult, that grew up around Nick Land and at Warwick University, people studying these ideas, still not really calling themselves accelerationist, but celebrating kind of speed and technology and capitalism and being in love with the thing that also kind of horrified them.

And then the article kind of moves forward to the naughties and, and even more recently where some people on the left begin to discover accelerationist ideas and people like Alex Williams and Nick Cernacek posit this idea that the left needs to think much harder about speed and technology and see the possibilities for liberation in things like automation, in getting away from traditional capitalism into some kind of new automated capitalism.

So the article kind of follows that story through the [00:43:00] characters, through the development of those ideas and the way that these accelerationist ideas appear, and then they kind of disappear and they resurface, and why that is. And I guess it concludes by saying that there's a kind of tremendous danger in these ideas because they can lead you from a Guardian point of view anyway into quite dangerous territory of the far right, which is where Nick Land in some ways is now.

But also that there's perhaps an unexplored potential there for a set of philosophical ideas that can speak to how we're actually living now. And quite early on in the research for the piece, I was talking to my girlfriend about it and she said, oh, it's just a load of men. I'm drinking too much coffee and getting excited and writing.

But actually, the more I researched it, I felt these ideas, even though I didn't like all of them, did resonate with how I was living and how people I knew were living. So it's not, I think, just a kind of esoteric, macho kind of movement. It's something that has a purchase on how we're living. A very flawed purchase, but a purchase.

MATTHEW TAYLOR - HOST, RSA PODCASTS: So, Ben, Nina, I mean, I guess [00:44:00] there's always a kind of ambivalence when a mainstream journalist takes something that you know about deeply as an academic and makes it more accessible to people. Do you think Andy did justice to the idea of accelerationism in his piece and what would you have wanted to add to it?

BENJAMIN NOYS: Um, yeah, I mean, I think, uh, the piece is a very fair piece. As Andy had said, it's a kind of discussion that engages with the major players, both pro and anti and in between. So I think it kind of garners quite a few views, which I try to do in the book, but I'm kind of also interested in these other historical resonances of accelerationism as a strategy, that it doesn't just take place in Warwick and around the CCRU, that there are other kinds of situations that I talk about around Italian futurism, um, communist revolutions in 20th century, strategies around, as we just discussed, dance music, electronic music. So I'm not just interested in Nick Land and the CCRU, whether they're a very direct articulation of the desire to accelerate [00:45:00] and to punch through the self, really, to kind of dissolve the self into these fluxes and flows of capitalism.

MATTHEW TAYLOR - HOST, RSA PODCASTS: Would you agree with that, Nina? That in a sense we need to understand accelerationism as the latest, or one variant of a kind of a recurring theme in ideas of modernity?

NINA POWER: There's often this kind of impulse for a kind of technophila, you know, love of technology, a kind of, you know, fascination with kind of speeding things up, making things kind of more exciting. And I think we have to acknowledge there's something kind of very seductive. There's something seductive about posthumanism, transhumanism, thinking about how we can merge the human with the robot or with technology or, you know, these ideas of, you know, cybernetics, I guess used to be the term people used.

I think it's enormously seductive for people in Silicon Valley, for example, you know, and I think they're very influenced, obviously by kind of accelerationist ideas, both on the left and on the right. We have to think carefully about these different political strands of accelerationism. It can veer to the right and people, figures like Nick Land, but there's also kind of interesting debates around left accelerationism, [00:46:00] which are really trying to deal with these kind of serious questions about the future of work, for example. You know, what impact will automation have on employment, you know, and on these kind of big questions that do affect millions of people?

MATTHEW TAYLOR - HOST, RSA PODCASTS: Taking that point forward, Neil, where do you situate accelerationism in the kind of cosmology of political ideas? As you say, it has this kind of promiscuous feel because it can be adopted by people with alt-right views, with revolutionary left views, as you say, there's a kind of link to a kind of Silicon Valley view, which is, which expounded by kind of monopoly capitalist. So how much use is an idea which can be repurposed in so many ways?

NINA POWER: One way of looking at it is to think about the role of Marx and the fragment on the machines, his famous fragment, which can be read in multiple different ways. So in a way you can trace it back to kind of a sort of Marxist, almost ambivalence really, about what capitalism can do in terms of the kind of productivity and advances that it does bring about, and the kind of destruction of tradition and all of those things, which, you know, we can't really think about communism without thinking [00:47:00] about what capitalism does as well historically. So I think, yeah, we can think of it as coming from Marx, but just very, very different from different positions really.

MATTHEW TAYLOR - HOST, RSA PODCASTS: And that it seems to me is one of the kind of interesting things, if you are part of doing a more mainstream left, is that there is a kind of assumption that what the left is about is restraining capitalism, Ben, but this is a different idea. And of course it is an idea that reflects Marx, which is that it's only when you, when capitalism, you know, fully developed that we can expect to move to a post-capitalist society.

BENJAMIN NOYS: I mean, I would tend to argue that accelerationism is a strategy rather than something like an idea. You know, it's a kind of mode of implementation by its own definition to accelerate. And I guess a lot depends on then what is being proposed to be accelerated and by whom and to what end. But I definitely think, as Nina's saying, it speaks to these sort of contradictions of, not just capitalism, but capitalist modernity, this kind of desire to enter a new age, back to the kind of French Revolution. I think it's Robespierre said, you know, there is a duty to accelerate the revolution. Once you're in a kind of revolutionary [00:48:00] moment, how do you keep that going? And then in the 19th century, the obsession with the idea of progress, as people have said, you know, virtually everyone in the 19th century inhabits, uh, are thinking of progress, and not just Marx, but also, as Nina can talk about as well, Nietzsche, being a kind of key figure, Nietzsche's idea of European nihilism values are becoming kind of equalized and emptied.

And then he sees that as a process that also needs to be accelerated, the kind of empty out values to kind of achieve something new. So there's this dual, at least, context of thinkers that produce these ideas that then get enacted, you know, in different ways. And I think that's why it's so kind of promiscuous, because it's a strategy that can be taken up at various points, and by the left.

MATTHEW TAYLOR - HOST, RSA PODCASTS: I know this is a tough question, but have a go at explaining to us the difference between left accelerationism and right acceleration.

BENJAMIN NOYS: I think the simplest way to think about it is right accelerationists are accelerating capitalism, so there's only one subject capitalism, [00:49:00] and they're pushing that further and further forward.

So this is the kind of technological, neoliberal kind of model. So you're accelerating that by immersing yourself within it.

MATTHEW TAYLOR - HOST, RSA PODCASTS: Let's assume capitalism goes on forever.

BENJAMIN NOYS: Yeah, I mean, in Nick Land it goes into some kind of weird thing, so it becomes a kind of monstrous, terrifying thing that will undo and destroy the earth, in one sense. But that's kind of what, they're almost welcoming. There's a kind of, uh, enjoyment in this sort of nihilism of capital. The capital doesn't care about...

MATTHEW TAYLOR - HOST, RSA PODCASTS: There's nothing after it then, in other words.

BENJAMIN NOYS: No, it's a kind of absolute horizon, except almost to kind of realize it to its absolute extent, you know, to make it the purest kind of capitalism you can have. And then I think the left accelerationists, obviously, as we've been talking about, have kind of abandoned the term largely. I mean, I think their argument would be that it's important to engage with abstraction, modernity, technology to repurpose those things for a left wing project of hegemony. This is their kind of argument that they want to organize on a mass scale. So precisely rejecting kind of [00:50:00] localist, organicist, what they call folk political solutions. So that would be the kind of core of their program. But I think what they share, in a sense, is this vision of a kind of mastery or a desire to kind of master everything, you know, whether it's from one side or the other.

Why We’re All Rooting for the Apocalypse - Wisecrack - Air Date 4-8-22

MICHAEL BURNS - HOST, WISECRACK: Almost as long as humanity has existed, we've been trying to figure out how it's all going to end.

The Vikings, for instance, told stories about Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods, which was a series of events that included a great battle, death of Gods, like Odin, and the Earth ultimately being flooded. The Aztecs meanwhile not only believed that the world would end, they believed that it already had ended on four previous occasions, but first it was destroyed by jaguars, then by a hurricane, then by a rain of fire, and then by a great flood.

This flooding thing is a bit of a theme. Next, it was going to be destroyed in an earthquake. In fact, for them, the end of the world was an event which had to be constantly warded off by human [00:51:00] sacrifices to help keep the sun alive. But in our opinion, no one else has ever really quite done the end times quite like Christianity.

The story of Revelation closes out the Bible telling us in no uncertain terms that when the end does come, it'll make the final episode of Game of Thrones look like child's play, including lots of fire and dragons. Of course, at the end, Christ returns and redeems everything. And there's no more suffering and death.

But this brand new start is of course predicated on a bunch of destruction, proving that there's really no such thing as a free lunch. Throughout the past couple of centuries, religious leaders, fringe writers, charlatans, and cultists of various stripes have confidently predicted that all the world was gonna end often on some definite date, and maybe even very soon.

In the Middle Ages, some people got really fired up about the year 1000, with the millennium of Christ's birth kicking off a wave of apocalyptic mania that ended up being pretty [00:52:00] anti-climactic over the course of the next millennium. Plenty of the apocalyptic, hungry, faithful would wrongly believe that the end times had finally come. These included the Millerites, an American doomsday sect from the middle of the 19th century who prepared for the apocalypse, not once, but three times before eventually giving up and deciding they'd have to commit to being alive all the time. You might say it was Miller Times. Members of the group later founded the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which now claims over 20 million members, 18 million of whom have knocked on your door.

Meanwhile, over the course of the 20th century, the apocalypse got even weirder with groups like Heaven's Gate preaching that the end of the world will be brought about through UFOs, which is definitely more creative than the terrifyingly plausible possibility that the Earth might be destroyed through manmade climate change.

But whether or not you're in an actual cult, the sense that we're all about to die has steadily become more universal. But why have people always been [00:53:00] so obsessed with the end of the world? One general fact about apocalypse narratives is that even though the end of humankind would be very bad, the apocalypse brings about an ultimately positive result At the end of the Ragnarok story, two human survivors are supposed to repopulate the earth after the flood. After Christ's second coming, death no longer exists. After the UFOs come, the cult members will transcend their physical bodies and realize some sort of paradise and outer space, plus matching sneakers and. Interestingly, one interpretation of the revelation narrative is that it was actually a story told by persecuted members of the early Christian Church to comfort themselves.

One day the old world would fall and the emperor would stop feeding you to lions for sports. The end of the world is therefore supposed to redeem humankind, or at least the people who died for the right thing, and if the world around you sucks, it's very comforting to hope that a fresh start is right around the corner.

This is especially the case for [00:54:00] historically oppressed groups who were waiting for some kind of Messiah to destroy this world and create a new one, grounded in some type of justice. Psychoanalysts like Freud have offered their own interpretations on this religious narrative using the concept of the death drive to explain the fundamental human instinct to go back towards an inorganic state and in his work Civilization and its Discontents, Freud argues that the reason we have a civilization in the first place is to contain fundamental human aggressions caused by this death drive. On this reading, the desire for the end of life is just sort of wired into our unconscious.

One good boy who read Freud was Frankfurt School critical theorist Theodor Adorno. Adorno lived through the rise of the Nazi, escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to America, which he hated and witnessed the invention of the A-bomb. For him, all of this was a sign that life was so irredeemably bad that he named it the wrong life.

According to Adorno, right living was no longer possible. For [00:55:00] him this extended from seriously awful things like death camps to pleasant things, like jazz, all the way down to banal things like door handles and refrigerators. No, seriously, he wrote about this stuff. Adorno explored these thoughts in his book, Minima Moralia, a sort of philosophical document of his experiences in exile in America. To understand Minima Moralia, imagine a book written by Larry David if he just read loads of Hegel instead of writing about soup, Nazis and no F contest. After approximately 200 or so pages detailing the many ways in which modern life both sucks and is completely hopeless, Adorno declares that actually we can do one good thing. In the book's final section, aptly titled "Finale", he writes that the only philosophy which can be responsibly practiced in the face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption. We have to develop perspectives, Adorno said, that displace and estrange the world, reveal [00:56:00] it to be with its rifts and cre, as indigent and distorted as it will appear one day in the Messianic light. So in short, if everything is terrible, if all life is wrong and we can't live it rightly, there's still one thing we can do: look forward to the rapture. Now, Adorno's messianism was merely theoretical. He just thought people should try to think about the world as if the Messiah was about to come down and finally set everything right.

But it's certainly possible to see how this sort of thinking might translate into a yearning for the literal apocalypse. And alternative to Adorno's messianism can be found in the work of German philosopher Walter Benjamin. For Benjamin, an apocalyptic hell wasn't in the near future. It was already here for the majority of the world's suppressed people. But unlike Adorno, he thought revolutionary politics was all about bringing about a messianic moment in which time would rupture. This would mean the end of the old world and the birth of something new. In this way, theological redemption [00:57:00] becomes political redemption. Of course, this argument might sound slightly odd when applied to climate change or nuclear war, after all, how are those potentially apocalyptic events supposed to be redeeming? What sort of messianism is to be found in the world burning? And that's not surprising. Humans tend to like being right to the point where, when something huge is on the line, it easily devolves into moral absolutism, like, say, the end of the world, or, you know, whether pineapple belongs on pizza. The Doomer mindset makes its own sort of sense.

The Doomer has abandoned any possibility of hope, and they may find that comforting. Maybe the world will end, maybe the world will end soon, but at least if it does, the Doomer won't have been wrong. In their minds, the optimistic people, those who thought that maybe the end of the world might have been prevented, will not only have to endure the end of all things, they'll also have been very wrong as the flaming comets fall.

They'll know they've been [00:58:00] played for chumps, but this idea that the world is already definitely ending an idea shared by our friend, Bo Burnham, you say the whole world's ending as explored by philosophers and anthropologists writing about the anthropocene, i.e., the era of Earth that has been marked by humankind's domination of geology and ecology.

Many of these theorists think the age of the anthropocene and, thus, humanity is absolutely coming to an end and that it's all our fault. Scholar Gregory Marks, in an essay on the end of the world, quotes Déborah Danowski and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro as saying that it is certain that although it began with us, it will end without us.

The anthropocene will only give way to a new geological epoch long after we have disappeared from the face of the Earth. So if the end of the world ever comes, it will almost certainly be our fault. But that's weirdly good news because even if you don't have a lot of power, you do have some, it might [00:59:00] not be obvious what we ought to do, but we do have at least some control over our lives and thus in some small way over the fate of the species as a whole.

This is what Jean Paul Sartre meant when he said that existence precedes essence. While we might find ourselves restricted in many ways, there is something about humanity which makes us free to define ourselves in relation to those restrictions, to spot possibilities for action and choose to actualize them whenever we can.

And what happens when we don't embrace that freedom when we use external circumstances as an excuse for our inaction? That's what Sartre called bad faith for him. Our freedom means that we are without excuse. We are responsible for our own actions, for the good or bad we do within whatever conditions we happen to find ourselves.

Nihlism, on the other hand, seeks to give everyone the ultimate excuse. There's no point doing anything since we're all going to die soon anyway, and even Sartre shifted his position in his later years, [01:00:00] where he tried to fuse the existentialist emphasis on human freedom with a Marxist emphasis on social inequality.

He eventually argued that even our freedom can be limited by material conditions and that it is actually the work of collective human projects to affect any real change in the world. For Sartre, the looming end of the world would be just the type of threat that could unify disparate humans together into what he would call a group infusion.

People who previously had nothing in common could be rallied and united in the mission of stopping the apocalypse. For him, this totalizing doom might be just the sort of thing that could lead to an uprising of real collective freedom. So it'd be like if there was, let's say, I don't know, a lomming ecological crisis on the horizon that was certain to radically alter all human life and those humans could get together and use their collective power to stop that thing from happening, or something like that. Does that sound crazy? Is that a crazy example that, if the world does anything, we get together and we try to fix it? Is that stupid? Am I crazy? Are you [01:01:00] crazy? Is anyone? I don't know.

Summary 12-17-22

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with Philion laying out some of the history and depths of depravity of accelerationism. Tech Against Terrorism explained the connection to neo-fascist ideology coming out of the end of World War II. White Hot Hate looked at one plot that highlighted the irrelevance of political alliances for people looking to bring down all of society. Angry Planet discussed groups like The Proud Boys and Patriot Front and the dangers they pose, even if they're not committing terrorist attacks. The Rachel Maddow Show explained three plots to attack the electric grid and what appear to be efforts to sow chaos and weaken society to the point of collapse. The World Affairs Council of Monterey Bay featured a talk of breaking down some of the philosophical elements of accelerationism, and why attention needs to be paid more to networks rather than to individual groups. And RSA Podcasts looked at left wing accelerationism and the differences between left and [01:02:00] right.

That's what everybody heard, but members also heard a bonus clip from Wisecrack looking into why humans always seem to be obsessed with predicting, avoiding, or precipitating the end of the world. To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at BestoftheLeft.com/Support or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.

And now we'll hear from you.

Sign that union card and support striking unions! - Nick From California

VOICEMAILER: NICK FROM CALIFORNIA: Hey Jay, it's Nick from California. I haven't called in in a long time. I've been busy, but I also haven't really felt I had anything to add to the show. I felt like I was, uh, taking it in, but didn't really be like I had something to contribute, but I do on labor unions, and I wanted to tell everybody to make sure that if you're in a unionized environment, I understand that I probably don't have to say this to Jay's [01:03:00] audience, but just in case, make sure you sign that union card.

No excuses. On average, union workers make about a million more dollars lifetime earnings. On top of that, they get better retirement benefits when they do retire, so union work is the way to go. Work union, but the only way that your labor union can essentially be on the top part of that curve, cuz mind you, this is an aggregate, not every unionized worker.

If you want your union to be able to secure those better pay and benefits you deserve, you have to give your union the muscle it needs by making sure that you've signed that membership card. Only by signing a membership card do management know that you have the strength to do job action. Membership is what brings them to the table and gets you a good contract.

If you're not in a union environment and you have charitable giving still to do, obviously you're giving it to Jay, which you should, you should donate to the [01:04:00] Best of the Left. But if you have some left over, again you might wanna find a strike. I, I'm sure there are plenty of strikes going on right now. I am not involved with the University of California system in any way but I do know that the lecturers and the graduate students and teaching assistants are on strike.

They're unions on strike. The tenure track faculty are not unionized, but the other faculty and other people actually teaching the undergraduate students grading the papers, they are on strike. You should go support them. Go and look up their strike page and maybe donate to their strike fund to give those workers something a little bit while they're on strike during these hard times.

So, support your labor unions, and if you are in a unionized environment, absolutely you need to join. Thank you. Have a good one.

Final comments giving some helpful advice to White supremacists looking to start a race war

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played [01:05:00] on the show, you can record or text us a message at 202-999-3991 or send an email to [email protected].

Now, thanks to Nick for that message we just heard. Obviously, I echo his sentiments on unions and we have added a link to the Union Strike Fund that he mentioned.

And now just a last couple of thoughts on accelerationists, in particular, and White supremacists more generally. Number one, we came across a comment during our research for the show that we found pretty amusing, but ended up not featuring because of the source that it came from wasn't quite up to our standards, but the comment on its own was pretty solid, so I'll just tell you what it was.

A person was warning those pining for an ethnostate of their very own that they could live in, surrounded by people who look just like them, that although that might sound like a good idea to a White supremacist, those good feelings would only last for a few months at most [01:06:00] because after that they would just find different things to be really annoyed at their neighbors for.

There would never be an everlasting sense of bliss associated with getting their wish for a Whites-only ethno state because humans always find something to complain about. And so going through all that effort of a race war and the logistics of a race-based deportation policy would really just be a giant waste of time and energy. So keep that in mind before you write your next manifesto. And, number two is just a small point that I made on a recent bonus show, which was about a sort of revelation I had about the race war that White supremacists are attempting to start. What I realized is that race war is a misnomer. It won't be a race war, it'll be a racism war. It won't be White versus non-White people fighting in this war, it'll be between White racist people and everyone else, [01:07:00] which is a huge difference numerically compared to if the warring factions really were gonna be divided by race. Because there are a whole lot of non-racist White people who would not get down with fighting with the White people for the sake of the White race. It's just not gonna happen. So to all of you White supremacists who I'm sure are listening to this podcast, that's just some helpful advice for you that doesn't have anything to do with us suggesting that you need to give up your hateful ideology. That's a separate conversation. Just know that the end games of your race hatred are very unlikely to play out as you imagine, so you'd really be better off focusing your efforts elsewhere. I'm just here to help.

As always, keep the comments coming in and remember that our old number now does new tricks. You can leave a voicemail as always, or you can send us a text, find us on WhatsApp or on the Signal messaging app, all with the same number, [01:08:00] 202-999-3991 or keep it seriously old school by emailing me to [email protected].

That is gonna be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show, and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Brian, for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app.

As I said, during the show now is a particularly important time for you to sign up if you've been considering it at all. So please think about it, and membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes, all through [01:09:00] your regular podcast player.

So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, D.C. My name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.

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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2022-12-17 18:35:42 -0500
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