In the spirit of Dominic Fox’s comments, I thought I would post a few thoughts about the recent discussion between Anthony Paul Smith and Pete Wolfendale.
One of the things that’s striking to me is the call, on the part of Accelerationists, for interpretive charity. I mention this not primarily because I want to protest it, nor because I want to defend a certain flippancy in responding to Accelearationism (which no doubt I could be pinned with at times), but simply to analyze it. My question, very simply, is why it is that critiques of Accelerationism seem to be received as if they were lacking in charity. Is it because the Accelerationist project is imagined as having a value such that too hasty critique of it would lead to a dismissal that would be ultimately unfortunate? (If so, in virtue of what is this value derived?) Is it because the Accelerationist project is imagined as being fundamentally right, such that critiques of it could not touch its essence but only stem from seizing on an accidental misphrasing? … Again, these are serious / honest questions – I don’t mean to phrase them in such a way that they are already read to be lacking charity.
On a related point, I wanted to clarify a bit about the nature of the critique of Accelerationism that I, at least, advance. It is, rather (perhaps too) bluntly, that it is a developmentalist project, which is to say that it is, in the narrative and possible positions it sets up, structurally complicit in the colonialism and anti-black racism that are entangled in modernity. (Perhaps this could be disentangled – I don’t think so, but in any case, given the historical reality I think the burden of demonstrating this disentanglement is on those who advance the modern project, and this means, at the very least, that critical awareness of such entanglement ought not be pathologized in advance as a kind of refusal to participate in a “positive” project of emancipation or “space of reasons.”)
Anyway, I think it’s important to emphasize that this critique is an “objective” critique. By this, I mean that it is aimed at the actual argument articulated in, for instance, the Accelerate Manifesto. Accordingly, when I make this critique about Accelerationism, it is not aimed at the supposed intentions of individuals advocating Accelerationism, it is rather about the objective character of the claims. To get into a kind of moralistic debate about individual intentions is a distraction. My interest is not to start a debate over whether an individual advocate of Accelerationism is or is not colonial, nor to urge individual Accelerationists to do this or that in order to avoid the risk of colonialism; it is something both less and more than this, namely to say that the Accelerationist project is, in its objective articulation, colonialist.
Furthermore, the reason that I, at least, do this is because I think it is important to say what it is. This is to say that I am not optimistic about the capacity of Accelerationism to expand itself, or to be more inclusive – to let more people in, as it has sometimes been phrased. It is simply that Accelerationism, given the relatively strong attention it has garnered, becomes a significant thesis – and if a thesis has serious problems, then it’s important to point that out. It is a matter of analysis, rather than an investment in Accelarationism’s survival.
Also, regarding the modality of analysis (or study): there seems to me (and I say “seems,” as I may be wrong) to be a sense in which Accelerationism understands claims that it is entangled in coloniality as somehow multiculturalist or as motivated, following Dominic’s comments, by a “preferential option for the poor” – that is, by a kind of representationalizing discourse. I don’t think this reflects the nature of such critiques. Again, at least for my part, it is simply a matter of analyzing the Accelerationist argument, rather than any kind of moral judgment – in other words, the point is not “Accelerationism is excluding people / Accelerationism needs to do a better job of representing the oppressed,” it is rather (to say it again) that “Accelerationism is, in its objective articulation, colonial.” I am a realist in the sense that there is anti-black racism, there is coloniality … and so analysis of what is said and called for involves analysis of such realities. On my analysis, Accelerationism’s relation to modernity is one that furthers – or at the very least does not substantively antagonize – these realities. One could have a debate on this, but if so, then that should be the debate, apart from any attachment to questions of representationalism.