The atomization of culture, society, and self has liquefied experience. This mode contributes the critical realization that perfect coherence is neither necessary nor even desirable.
At a practical, intuitive, kinesthetic level, we have become much more tolerant of nebulosity: of paradox, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Accepting nebulosity is a major step toward the complete stance, and toward the fluid mode.
Abandoning coherence altogether produces an overwhelming ocean of meanings that do not relate to each other in any way. That gives an impression of pervasive triviality. Value judgments—even aesthetic ones—seem impossible when nothing hangs together. Society cannot function without coherent relationships.
And yet… we do make value judgements, and society does still function. We have developed skills for navigating the seas of meaning. Mainly without explicit understanding, we constantly re-create relative coherence. We have learned to assemble atoms of meaning into temporary sea-worthy vessels, and to let go of those as they dissolve.
We are, in other words, already in the fluid mode. As we always have been.
There’s a useful acronym in occult circles, TSW—the polite version of its meaning is “this stuff works”—and everyone who’s ever taught magic to novices is used to the inevitable TSW panic, the vertiginous moment at which the student finally grasps that there’s more to magic than make-believe, and usually has to be talked down from a state close to hysteria. The chans went through their own TSW moment that day.
… fifty years from now, there will doubtless still be people who get their moth-eaten pussy hats down from a box in the attic, and reminisce fondly about the good old days when the United States could still pretend to be the world’s irreplaceable nation, when Barack Obama used drone strikes to vaporize wedding parties on the other side of the world and the deplorables still knew their place. That’s the nature of outworn aristocracies; on a broader scale, it’s the nature of historical change—especially when the deep patterns of the collective psyche surge into action and leave the presumptions of a fading era shattered in their wake.
The appearance of a recent surge in right-wing ideology, from “alt-right” internet trolls to neo-Nazi marches, is an artifact of the most socially liberal cultural consensus the United States has ever known. There is no evidence of a surge or rise in these types of ideologies. It only appears that with Trump, several strands of the socially unacceptable right-wing have moved from extremely marginalized silence, to extremely marginalized public display. The sudden appearance of a very small quantity of something that is at a historically all-time low is likely to appear as a substantial increase. But it’s not. In the case of explicitly racist white nationalism, this appears to be what is happening. None of this says anything about how such groups should be dealt with.
It seems fair to say that overt white racists have probably never been less numerous than they are right now. There is some risk that if Trump continues to foster this comfort among white nationalists, there could be some long-term resurgence of that ideology. But that’s only a hypothesis, and it’s not at all obvious. You could just as well hypothesize that the extreme cultural prohibition of far-right ideas has led to a long-term festering of ignorance, confusion, and resentment that is precisely what brought someone like Trump into office. You could plausibly hypothesize that letting white racists express their stupid and unconscionable viewpoints is the only real way to let them fizzle out via learning and socialization. But again, that’s only a hypothesis, too.
This post has refrained from polemics (mostly), but it seems appropriate to add just one point. If sane folks on the left and right did nothing more than separate their hypotheses from the data, it could make a huge, positive difference in the direction of contemporary politics.
Capitalist and state organisations have an absolutely immense investment in disabling the telecoms dynamics of the forthcoming digital media system. But that doesn’t mean that much has yet been done that is particularly exciting with this telecoms infrastructure. The more of it the better, the more that you have a multi-switched high bandwidth communications oriented digital system rather than a one to many broadcast oriented, media-production-media-consumption oriented system, the more chance there is of actually eliciting innovative behaviour out of innovative systems. But I’d be very cynical with regard to the extent to which we have seen any of that yet.
“In Silicon Valley,” says Fred Turner, a leading historian of America’s digital industries, “accelerationism is part of a whole movement which is saying, we don’t need [conventional] politics any more, we can get rid of ‘left’ and ‘right’, if we just get technology right. Accelerationism also fits with how electronic devices are marketed – the promise that, finally, they will help us leave the material world, all the mess of the physical, far behind.”
To Turner, the appeal of accelerationism is as much ancient as modern: “They are speaking in a millenarian idiom,” promising that a vague, universal change is close at hand. [Benjamin] Noys warns that the accelerationists are trying to “claim the future.”
Power — you’ll come across the word often if you read the defenses of Jeong, its invocations having an unmistakable Marxist pedigree. It’s just as we feared: beneath the smiling, civility-minded liberal is a demonic red beast, but one that is difficult to paint with the blood-crimson brush of Bolshevism. The characterizations of neo-Marxism or cultural Marxism, brought by more erudite conservatives, aren’t really correct, either. Identifiably Marxist modes of praxis are absent. Pieces of such things have been taken and subordinated to an elite that has a neuroses about its own power and needs to sanitize it. Talking about “phasing out” white people is cool, but to liberate the working class from a capitalist mode of production? That’s weird and old-fashioned, and also not very appealing to the folks on top.