From Green Accelerationism to Appropriate Accelerationism (App/ACC)

2nd November 2019 |
g/acc

Accelerationism has always had a tenuous relationship with ecology and green politics. Lets just quickly mention R/ACC’s (i.e. Nick Land’s) fetish for eugenics as the absolute guarantor of political relations and his embrace of social Darwinism, or the largely stillborn treatment of Srnicek and William in their Inventing the Future, where the ecological collapse is indeed regarded as “imminent,” but otherwise provides only a type of backstory for the real project of inventing the future. Ecology, one of the central fields and issues of the future existence of humanity, is largely disregarded and only mentioned as an appendix to economic theory, logistics, and supply chain optimization. 

Apart from the largely a-political (or negatively political) approach of U/ACC, ecological theory and the central role of ecological collapse in Accelerationist thought has came into its own with Metanomad’s Z/ACC or Zero-Accelerationism. In his Z/ACC Primer, Metanomad writes that “we’re not going to accelerate, not the process of deterritorializing capital, we’re not going to accelerate actual progress, overcoming, capital, utopian dreams, nothing…we’re going to accelerate absolutely nothing.” In light of recent ecological developments, such a statement hits home, insofar as it takes stock of the quagmire within which the Stack of cybernetic control is sinking ever deeper – a view which both R/ACC and L/ACC either disregard as irrelevant, or shy away from. 

But in April 2019, @baroquespiral framed his Green Accelerationism which put ecology in the very center of Accelerationist thinking and now, perhaps more importantly, there is App/Acc – or Appropriate Accelerationism. Here I will briefly compare and contrast Paul Chaney’s App/ACC and @baroquespiral’s Green/ACC.

First, what is Green Accelerationism? The 7 points of it are available HERE but, in a nutshell, @baroquespiral speaks about the need for accelerationism to wholly embrace the ecological situation which so many communities of the world are facing and not only that; he proposes to see climate change as a “positive opportunity” which should not be only “mitigate[d],” but rather “harness[ed]”. 

Apart from a few similarly lite green/rose tinted comments, there are however a number of valid points which he makes in the text. Simply the thesis statement that “Climate change is irreversible” is a blatantly true one. Also, he posits Green/ACC as a platform which adopts a “general critique of extractivism.” Also indeed necessary, as the processes of runaway capital, largely based in extractivist practices of corporatist fossil fuel and ore mining and natural habitat destruction must currently be battled everywhere they might rear their ugly head. Today, productive political praxis largely employs the tactic of subversion, undermining and decelerating the corporate-state apparatuses which had gotten us into this mess in the first place (as can be seen in the ongoing protests of Extinction Rebellion and other grassroots movements currently clamoring against ecological and economic precarity), and they deserve support (It must be noted, however that these movements are highly vulnerable to co-optation, and must similarly be checked at every turn they take). 

However, Green/ACC largely makes the mistake of holding onto the unified, coherent polis, as its fundamental subject of politics, insofar as it proposes to apply the “large energetic surplus and sophisticated, redundant social, political and ecological technologies” which ‘we’ currently have towards productive and emancipatory ends. Who has the means of production? Who has had the means of production for the past, historically relevant decades – multi-national capital operating in collusion with the state and the elite private sector. It seems mistaken to cast one’s lot in such a basket. 

In his point 3, @baroquspiral further writes that “Technology, ecology and politics are no longer feasibly separable.” This is the case only up to a certain point, as the fracturing of the social texture so well perceived by U/ACC and Z/ACC (a result of economic disparity, unequal opportunity, rabid and accelerating migration and displacement, food precarity), have gotten us beyond the point when politics, ecology and tech may have potentially been self-reinforcing in a drive towards emancipatory or socialist ends. The text in this sense reads like something coming from the 1970s progressive left movements, and in this sense Green/ACC is much closer to L/ACC. Only with L/ and Green/ Accelerationism, the game is played not for localized production plants or means of production, such as in the Operaist or Autonomia movements, but rather for the ideal planet. This is one of the weak points in both L/ACC and Green/ACC: they posit a utopia of a unified planetary system and then clamor for a particular modus operandi of that imaginary system. But the dispositions of the real system (and the obstacles are not only political, as L/ACC would have us believe, they indeed are also technical) simply do not exist. 

Furthermore, in its belief that “The economic, as a direct site of energy circulation is a more useful site of contestation, and traditional working class tactics of organization and disruption will likely remain valuable tools for redirecting energy into more sustainable cycles,” Green/ACC implicitly builds on the tendency of the market to fracture and dissipate a traditional nation-state nomos, unless a technocratic military-state apparatus steps in to curb the animal spirits. Both options are not where the heart of Green/ACC lies – or does it?

Suspicions of NWO state-craft aside, the reality of social and geopolitical collapse is here to stay, and in this sense the only way to move forward is to, following Ben Bratton, have “one world […] strategically fall apart into another.” [Benjamin Bratton, The Stack (MIT Press, 2015) 104] This is when App/ACC comes into the picture.

In the collection Speculative Ecologies: Plotting Through the Mesh (Litteraria Pragensia Books, 2019), Paul Chaney writes that “An appropriate accelerationism would take the technologies and organizational models available to us at the moment and pick the ones that have the lowest negative impact and highest positive yield. This approach carves the techno-social landscape into categories where high-tech meets low-tech in various ways, eliminating obviously unsustainable models first and then initiating brute force tests of everything that looks like it might scale.” (p. 128) First difference from Green/ACC: App/ACC moves from the grassroots, taking stock of the immediate needs which a given community might be facing. There are no solutions that would be universally applicable and (at least tentatively) sustainable in the mid- to long-term. App/ACC thus moves from the means at hand to suggest a very basic thing: “that we start with approaching at least one of the most basic needs every human can get involved with – food – and see what happens.” (p. 129) 

It does not advocate, like Green/ACC, to currently worry about “clean space travel [as] an ideal non-destructive outlet for excess energy,” rather, it attempts to integrate the surplus into survival through community-building, and cultivating the necessary skills which go along with it. In the context of the ongoing ecological catastrophe, and in line with Z/ACC, App/ACC projects would not aspire to be validated through the monetary system and its profit-driven investor logic. Rather, App/ACC embraces the local insofar as it is the site of potentially less alienated production and, perhaps more importantly, is aware of the material limitations which the bottom 99% of the world population will be facing in the near- to mid-term. In the age of the sixth extinction, and with the repercussions of soil erosion, draught, floods, fires and rising sea levels, going back to the land is all that might sustain a struggling community. 

One point of collusion between Green/ACC can temper this seemingly sedentary and passive-regressive approach, insofar as properly DIY tech (a practical project currently being developed by the App/ACC affiliated Digital Garden Lab) can in fact provide affordance for potential transplantation of the know-how and, potentially, the careful relocation of the nourishing patch itself. In this sense App/ACC embraces @baroquespiral’s view that contemporary “technocapital is not the genie, it is the bottle,” and that “The unharnessed share of solar energy increasingly exceeds that enclosed in existing ‘technocapital.’” App/ACC is indeed about the repurposing of existing technology, but the scale of implementation is focused on the underwhelmingly manageable, rather than being intended for grand planetary astroturfing like in the case of Green/ACC. App/ACC thus provides a catabolic contingency plan for those communities fortunate enough to have the luxury of gradual preparation for a post-sustainable, post-capitalist regime. 

Whereas Green/ACC largely keeps its options open for becoming a template intended for a unified planetary order, the present socio-political and environmental pressures do not provide the affordances for its materialization (and as a child of the Eastern European post-socialist regime, one can say but ‘tank goodness’). App/ACC thus takes up the call of Green Accelerationism to “strive not only for interdependence but independence and the right to exit,” and combines it with a robust social orientation that works towards the saturation of nutritional and social needs. This patchwork model is one which takes stock of the potential crumbling of the social state, but provides an alternative to the Moldbugian NRx version of such a patchwork template insofar as it prepares the ground for a socialist patchwork where one patch would be able to accommodate more parallel realms. In the looming era of potential food insecurity and social upheaval, such a project is the best chance a community might have. 

Diffract this //

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