"One of the most paralyzing problems for those who have sought to continue the search for collective liberation in the face of techonomic acceleration (what many people call “left accelerationism” or “l/acc” for short) is that, so far, they have been invariably pitched at aggregate social entities which do not in fact exist, at a time when in fact one of the primary political problems is that the contemporary form of atomized human life increasingly lacks the capacity to maintain even low-level aggregates (friendship, marriage, social clubs, etc., all marked by entropic trends since WWII).2 The most obvious and widespread form of deceptive left discourse is any statement to the effect of: ‘the left should…’ because it presumes the existence of an aggregate body that in no meaningful way exists, other than as an apparatus interpolating a portion of the population with a particular complex of shared repetition compulsions. The most vexing problem for anyone who identifies with the left would appear to be the problem that ‘the left’ as a world-historical entity has gone extinct, but because of selection effects this problem receives no serious effort from left-interpolated subjects: in a world where ‘the left’ is objectively extinct, any remaining subjective leftism is best thought of as ‘consumer demand for the belief that the left still exists’. Capitalism’s devilish efficacy is that it fulfills this widespread consumer demand perfectly well. Many brands can still do quite well finding talented and good-spirited minds able and willing to say ‘the left’ is a currently existing entity that has potential to act. The right is perfectly happy for this belief to persist because no quantity or intensity of false beliefs can outsmart a system based on the manipulation of reality through intelligent exploitation.I would like to clarify the above three underlined parts. First, atomization is caused by several forces that are rooted in technology and consumerism. It helps to describe these forces specifically and concretely, since without referring to the concrete we cannot really figure out how to deal with reality. We need to think abstractly to see the big pattern, but we also need to think concretely to work out the details so that we can solve the problem. Some detail are;
- Cars move people apart from one another.
- Video games isolate people by themselves.
- Text messaging removes face-to-face communication, which people need to function socially.
- Time on the computer is time away from people.
- TV is socially isolating.
- Air Conditioning gets people off their porches so they no longer talk to their neighbors.
- Consumerism teaches people to treat others as things to be used, causing bad experiences, and alienating people from one another.
- All of these technologies worsen people's social skills, which makes their interactions less fulfilling and saps their desire to have interactions, which in turn worsens their social skills.
Thus, a group that can get away from technology can get away from social isolation. This is important because phrasing the problem in the abstract obscures the fact that it has a real concrete cure; form a group to abandon certain technologies.
On the second underlined point, "consumer demand for leftism," is typified by the Che Guevara shirt, which serves quite perversely as a commodity fetish. I have said before that social justice is a kind of religious capitalism.
"Corresponding to the false belief in aggregates that do not effectively exist, the bête noire of modern leftism is the dreaded Individual. If effective aggregates appear not to exist, it is only taken as evidence that the inquirer is infected by Individualism. The modern leftist orientation to capitalism is, at its core, a game of three-card monte where signifiers are re-shuffled to perpetually defer logical-objective falsification. Belief in an untenably posited object is sustained by a new posited object, the only evidence for which is that it is presupposed to be the force that makes the first object appear non-existent. How to move from our current state of atomized individualism to an effective social aggregate capable of transforming capitalism? First, we are told, agree that atomizing individuals are bad. Second, insist at all cost that an effective social aggregate called ‘the left’ exists (it only needs to be enlarged in order to gain its power to act). Third, try to get others to transmit this set of beliefs until ‘the left’ is large enough to numerically overpower Capital.
"A rarely mentioned but seminal citation for modern left activism is, therefore, Plato’s infamous Noble Lie or “magnificent myth” (γενναῖον ψεῦδος): in short, a Noble Lie is a false belief that “would save us, if we were persuaded by it.”3 The activist privately knows that ‘the left’ is basically non-existent but believes it can be forged into existence by nobly telling enough people that it already exists. Activists admit all of this plainly, as they often speak of the need to generate hope in the masses; this is enough to justify the articulation of any particular idea, regardless of its truth or falsity. Only today has the deceptive core of modern leftism come into sincere self-consciousness. For instance, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams argue rather explicitly that one of the tasks of ‘the left’ is to design more sophisticated lures capable of propelling atomized individuals into effective, collective motion.4 Of course, it is true that creative flights from the rational-objective map of the world, such as fictional story-telling, can generate objective political effects on the world, but it is something else entirely to offer a rational-objective map for social change including a plank involving the deployment of fictions to create hopes and desires in others, expressly in contradistinction to what is scientifically valid within rational, probabilistic frameworks.5 Now, creative beings who are possessed by visions can and should express those visions; such ‘fictions’ will indeed reshape reality, but primarily because those ‘fictions’ are in some sense reality operating through the body that expresses them. That is ‘hyperstition’: fiction that produces reality but because it is in some sense real, some of the evidence for which consists in the demonstrable objective effects it produces. But producing effects is not the only characteristic; the con artist produces real effects, for instance, but does not transform reality so much as twist it, in a way that always ultimately snaps back.
Hyperstition is a thing that becomes true when enough people believe that it is true. Hyperstition works because it exploits some cognitive bias. For example: there is a tendency (from evolution) of human beings to engage in what Patri Friedman calls "folk activism." This is the belief that with enough passionate argument we can change our society. Folk activism results in the siren song of "we." As in "we must do this," and "we must do that," and "we must make up our mind as a society." "We" is the root of "voice" over "exit."
Perversely, the only way to have a "we," is to exit. But "we" prevents exit and obstructs all attempts at escape. The basic dogma of the left is that you must never be allowed to exit from us. The problem with this is that societies made of 400 million or so individuals do not actually provide a tribe for people. There is no "we" in the "we" of millions. Thus, the cognitive insistence on voice over exit — on "we" over "fuck off!" traps people in atomization. The perversity of modernity is that the human monkey need for a tribe is turned against the human monkey. Your cognitive bias is to think in terms of "we" when you think of a nation, but nations can only ever produce atomized individuals. The super-tribe of the nation destroys and prevents the local tribe from coming into being with its very existence. The mere presence of a "we composed of millions" takes the cognitive slot that a "we composed of hundreds" would take, and only the "we composed of hundreds" can give you a sense of community.
Thus, the liberal rage against atomization guarantees atomization. The insistence of voice over exit prevents anyone from having a voice, since groups comprised of millions are too large to give voice to anyone. Only through exit into smaller social/political units can anyone be heard.
Since the super-tribe — the nation — is the only "we" people have left, they are incredibly hostile to losing it, and see only what they stand to lose, (the illusion of "we" in national form) and not what they stand to gain, (the concrete "we" of a tribe).
"Hyperstition is not a limitless capacity of social groups to produce new realities through shared enunciations. Hyperstitions only work to the degree they enter into feedback with an outside, issuing from contact with the chaos of objective reality and feeding into that objective reality. Effective hyperstitions are therefore creative truths, or real fictions, which are no less accountable to objective reality than scientific research. But rational-objective proposals to change ‘society’ (an outside of staggering complexity), by exploiting the hyperstitional nature of reality-circuitry, are nothing short of scams. They traffic in promises they cannot keep. Then they exhort others to promote the scam, to forever defer the admission of having been scammed. Srnicek and Williams perhaps represent a milestone in the modern left tradition, for it is as if they are, in some sense, coming clean: As if the last great hope of saving the modern left tradition is to admit that it’s based on trickery, but then share the source code and exhort the masses to use it. Unfortunately, an open-source con game is still a con game.
When hyperstitions work they work because they exploit cognitive biases. The nation state is a hyperstition built on the evolved tendency of human tribal communist primates to think in terms of "we." Property rights are a hyperstition built on the cognitive bias of the simple fact of jealousy and possessiveness. Our ape ancestors learned to use tools. Tools became valuable for survival so they learned to be possessive about them. Losing a valuable tool could be bad for ones survival so apes have an innate sense of property. From this possessive sense come the hyperstition of property rights where even land and non-tangible assets like bonds and money can be owned.
Stock market crashes are a hyperstition built on the ape tendency of fear to spread contagiously among a shrewdness of apes.
tool use ---> ape possessiveness ---> property rights
tool use ---> ape possessiveness ---> human consumerism
tool use ---> ape possessiveness ---> fascination with smart phones and technology
ape troops ---> human tribes ---> nation states
human language ---> traffic signals
tribal fascination with story telling ---> entertainment, video games, movies, radio
sex ---> porn, sex toys, sex robots
Hyperstitions represent an exploit of a human cognitive bias converted into capitalism.
"Aggregative leftist proposals could potentially change the world, but only if enough people trust in, and follow the dictates, of the proposers (e.g. some go off and make enough cool science fiction to constitute a new hegemony, engineers go off and make communist robotics, etc.) — but why should any of these actors trust the proposers’ claims that following this program will work to bring about a more desirable world? Ultimately the answer is: because that trust is necessary to make it work, so if you don’t trust it, you are guilty of being the cause of it not working. When the basic problem of contemporary capitalism is that we are all hyper-mistrusting atoms hell-bent on exploiting each other, a political project with this circular structure simply dodges the puzzle of irreversible atomization dynamics. Its degree of success is not measured by how well it brings about the better world (never) but by how adeptly it forestalls any ultimate reckoning with the puzzles it is essentially paid by capital to not address. A project with this structure cannot be operative for anyone other than the small number of already left-interpolated subjects, who are not themselves moved by this ‘vision’ so much as they are hopeful that it will move others (such as their apolitical friends, who are implicitly assumed to be dumber — enough to be moved by a lure which the already-initiated are not personally moved by because they know it is only a lure…).
The dynamic of "if we all believe it then we should be able to coordinate our actions" should work, but is does not. It only works at the tribal level where the group is small enough that everyone can monitor compliance. In a tribe, a pseudo-religious myth is propagated that builds tribal cohesion. The myth is acted upon and the tribe achieves some victory. This does not work in a society with millions of people because there is no way to guarantee compliance. Unlike in tribes, humans feel no real loyalty to millions of people, and so they will not voluntary comply with a liberation narrative. The act of attempting to force compliance produces a totalitarian state. Though it seems like it should work because it uses a fundamental characteristic of tribal human nature, it does not. This dynamic of "if we all believe the lie then we can accomplish something," always had war as its basis, and so it only tends to work at war. Tribes have egalitarian values, but that does not mean the "collectivism exploit" will translate to anything larger than a tribe unless racism is involved. Thus, National Socialism builds lasting unity but communism does not. Thus, war gets presidents reelected but communism collapses. (This is not to say I endorse Nazism. I'm just explaining things.)
Hyperstitions that cater to selfishness always work. Those that cater to xenophobia and tribalism can work, but require hysterical levels of propaganda. Those that cater to altruism break down since there is no way for an individual to connect their personal contribution to the group with the groups personal contribution to them at such a large scale. In a tribe you do something for your neighbor and the next week or month your neighbor does something for you. You see a direct consequence of your help. In essence you put someone into debt by helping them and they pay the debt, (or put you into their debt) by helping them. Tribal communism was never really communism abstractly but a kind of reciprocal social debt system.
"Ultimately, the only effective force in a hyper-complex social system more intelligent than any one of its sub-entities is some type of novel engineering realization that allows some actually existing entity to manipulate actually existing entities with a non-trivial probabilistic effect on the whole, where the novelty of the realization provides a demonstrable edge over those other, competing entities with the interest and capacity to thwart the novel manipulations.Couldn't have said it better myself.
"An exciting and inspiring ‘vision of the future’ may generate short-term interest and energy, but absent a genuine advancement in the engineering blueprint, producing ever more creative images of a hopeful future is, in fact, the most insidious, willfully perverse form of atomic hyper-exploitation conceivable. Srnicek and Williams should be applauded for becoming conscious of the fact that leftism is predicated on the fabrication of lures, which provides the genuine service of helping to close this entire, doomed trajectory. What would be willfully destructive would be to insist that this insight is an advancement of the engineering blueprint, so that if you believe in collective liberation you should promote the promotion of lures, and if one finds that this insight does not increase one’s powers to act then it’s only evidence that you’re an atomizing individualist! Collective liberation is not an emergent outcome of multi-level marketing schemes.Underline is mine. This reminds me of Nick Land's piece on Atomization where he claims the force of resisting atomization only serve to drive it forward.
This is very literally true in a biological sense. We each have 2 parents,4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, and 2,097,152 twenty-one times great grand parents. One is actually many. To think of individualism as a form of bribery is a rather interesting way to put it.
Atomic Liberation Pathways
"If the upward, aggregative presumption of left-modernity is, as I have argued, a meme-commodity supplied by entrepreneurial Noble Liars, for profit, to a small portion of consumers whose demand is that reality be other than it is, then it stands to reason that the objective diagram of collective liberation for n atomized individuals suggests projects of subjective disaggregation and objective recomposition. You think you are one and you suffer because you are disconnected from others, but really you suffer because you are many — a primordial commune — that has been bribed by the future to speak and act as if it is one.
"Certain currents in the history of theory give some reason to believe that modernity’s atomization tendency is less gloomy than it seems. The atomization of pre-modern collectivities may give us the wretched bourgeois individual, but for the same reasons it will tear asunder the bourgeois individual.Maybe.
"The entire modern capitalist legal order is predicated on this particular, fragile unit of aggregation (even the corporation is required to be an individual), but the forces it has unlocked are constantly chipping away at this temporary container. This is how one should understand Marx’s dictum about the relations of production coming to be contradicted by the forces of production. For more than a century this has been presumed to be an aggregative dynamic. As capitalist relations unlock economic productivity, this productivity exceeds the relations, which are now felt as fetters, resulting in “an era of social revolution”.6 Leftists generally have assumed this contradiction of capitalism generates aggregative effects: the class consciousness of the proletariat is a becoming-aggregate of once isolated, alienated individual workers. Class consciousness then aggregates to a dictatorship of the proletariat, and so on upward, to a vision of full communist ‘species being’. But one is hard-pressed to find theoretical or empirical evidence that this presumption is anything more than a kind of spatial-metaphorical supplement, i.e. a prejudice.
"If we apply the heuristic highlighted above — to read all modern activist discourse as encrypted by its sender to survive competition — it is easy to see Marx’s aesthetic reliance on grandiose aggregationism as a function of late nineteenth-century rhetorical conditions. When large satanic factories appear to be taking over the world, nobody is going to join your group unless the group promises to be big. But today, when large factories are disappearing from the wealthy Western countries, and production/consumption is now satanically atomic and unsubstantial, nobody is going to join your group unless it promises to be small (exclusively organized around specific identity dimensions, with strong walls). In short, only today are we are able to see the radically under-determined, schizophrenic undecidability at the core of all human political judgment and activity, the logical symmetry between fundamentally opposite conclusions regarding the good/bad, up/down, left/right movements of the world. Left-modernist metaphorics of aggregation are not sacred.The understanding that the left facilitates its own enslavement.
"This, of course, was recognized by Deleuze and Guattari in their move to theorize ‘molecular politics’. They, perhaps better than anyone yet, recognized that when atomization also atomizes the individual into sub- or pre-individual energies, then everything changes. One point of Deleuze and Guattari’s project is to explore the capacities we gain simply as an automatic result of capitalism’s self-sabotaging gift of perpetually generating free atomic fission. ‘We do not yet know what a body can do’ in part because capitalism is never done surgically decimating every reachable particle in search of negentropy.
"It is possible that, at the end of the atomization process, there is nothing but cold, dead silence… some kind of techno-commercial vertigo of intolerable distances. It’s an open empirical question. But if the revolutionary intellectual tradition means anything, it means there are reasons to believe atomization is the material cosmic process for which the concept of liberation has been the ideologically encrypted signal. Cyberpositive, AI-aligned Communism (CAIC, pronounced kayak, cake, or kek, depending on the cyberregional dialect) solves all problems of oppression via splits and recombinations. It is diagrammatically equivalent to the neoreactionary mantra of exit, but socio-aesthetically distinct. That is, it is formulated and distributed through a different cypher, the keys to which are held by those particular meat machines spawned in a particular, contingent sociological lineage (the descent of figures such as Marx, etc.). The sociological interpolation of ideological subjectivities is, as we have seen, fully reversible given a correct decryption. All forms of differential socialization are outcomes of the same primordial cosmic signal animating meat to different rhythms due to the different encryptions imposed by historically-earlier receivers of the signal. The signal is one, no matter what we say; yet how we say it — the encoding — determines who will receive it. In turn, strategic consideration of potential receivers conditions how we say it (any anticipation of future rewards or punishments is an operation of capital or, more literally, visitation by an alien come to you from the future).
"The perpetuation of systemic inequality and violence has nothing to do with some classes or groups controlling or dominating others; it has to do with a continuous, ceaseless invasion of our bodies by attitudinal and behavioral programs that whisper to us in variable, evolved cyphers. Individuals can only decrypt so much, and intelligence is roughly equivalent to one’s power of decryption. To be a living human individual today means you are an ancestor of those who obeyed the alien dictates and in turn agreed to re-encrypt and re-transmit the signal. The highly undesirable megamachine (i.e. capitalism) persists because it is more richly encrypted than any human individual or group is capable of decrypting — and our survival requires that we execute its orders. The history of ideological orientations toward the megamachine, the evolution of variable mental and behavioral responses to alien visitation, is simply the entropic unfolding of the one true cosmic signal.Translation: capitalism is an alien AI invasion from the future.
"The atomic liberation wager forgoes any claim to restructuring anything with a complexity greater than or equal to one’s objective processing power. In the absolute renunciation of this claim we maximize the energies available to being affected by the immanent cosmic tendency of atomization."Atomic liberation wager," "immanent cosmic tendency of atomization," ok, now we are just talking in religious terms.
"We do not yet know what will come of these energies, for the same reason we cannot manipulate the megamachine as such: we have not the processing power to know what we can do if we divide ourselves and test all possible combinations of interpersonal machinery. 10 humans who each atomize to 5 sub-agents each (n=50) before recomposing into a new group of 10 would already have to navigate a search space of more than 2 million possibilities, so nobody can assert a priori what would or would not become possible. Some of these potential combinations would function as novel, different encryption keys: the alien whispers would suddenly sound different, the rhythm changes.And how exactly would this be done? How do you divide people? With a hacksaw? Or do these people all have multiple personality disorder? He goes from talking abstractly to talking about unrealities.
Oh sure, a human is composed of multiple parts. Cells have nuclei, organs are made of cells, bodies are made of organs, and brains have bodies. Economies, governments, and firms have people. Governments have firms, religions, and groups. Maybe in the future AIs will have governments. Nature builds in hierarchies, but at no time are the parts unbounded from the whole.
"One must recall that all of normal human life, especially in left-wing circles, is generally organized around arresting potential atomic combinatorics. Combinatorial explosion is the definition of unpredictability, fear, and danger, in their most mathematically pure form. When we forgo the pretension of selling to others a more preferable vision of the future, we become affected by a novel source of legitimate confidence in the empirical possibility of finding hitherto unknown, atomic combinations, that may deliver a higher-fidelity transmission of the same signal that the modern-left activist cypher transmitted only with extreme noise and data corruption: namely, something that would look, sound, and feel like what people really have in mind when they speak of liberation, triggered through the acceptance, rather than the arresting, of atomization dynamics.Liberation is a spook, and it is not coming through the recombination of the parts of an individual, whatever that means. Everything is nested within tradition. Language is a tradition, law is a tradition, DNA is a tradition of survival. What a person is, is not separable from the history that created them and their culture. Such chaos is random mutation, is extinction, is death. Revolutions, like mutations, are almost always a disaster. And the fuel of revolution is always the same: envy.
Envy is a legacy emotion rooted in a chimp past. The true revolution would be to delete the genetics of leftism, which seeks always and everywhere to implicitly go back to tribal communism. Leftism is the true reactionary tendency: it is a reaction against the genocidal force of capitalism working tirelessly to reshape the human species in its own image.
"It has been suggested before that one way to summarize the accelerationist realization is: ‘It’s too late, always.’ But if time is a spiral,7 then traversing it to the end (arriving too late) is tantamount to arriving, finally, at something that deserves to be considered a beginning. Now that we admit it’s too late, the affective quality of everything changes, for all of our failed exertions can finally be comprehended. It makes sense why all of our attempts to change the world have only ever drilled the world deeper into fascist confusion: we were always a day late and a dollar short, all this time. CAIC consists in nothing more than an ‘assortative mating’ of those atomic, pre-individual energies that receive positive affective charge from this realization. And all of this is quite beside what can or cannot be established via critical philosophy; in the first instance, all that matters is that an idea finds joy, i.e. power, in a given body. If it can’t, test whether it might find joy in one of n molecular subdivisions of a body’s personality.It is truly enlightening that Justin Murphy is learning to write just as badly as Nick Land. Again there is no subdivision of the individual. An individual may come out of a river of sperm and eggs but the body/personality/etc., is not divisible from the hierarchies it exists within.
"In later stages, we may advance our understanding of joy’s engineering — but the empirical justification of the present claim is established satisfactorily if it works on even one body. I can testify it works on my own. QED. Nobody needs to like or trust me for the mechanism’s empirical functioning to be assured. Unlike the mobilization-engineering diagram of ‘inventing the future’ through effective macro image-creation, the ethical auto-ecstasy of first-stage CAIC does not depend on convincing anyone, anywhere.CAIC = "Cyberpositive, AI-aligned Communism," or kek.
"It works on my own body." (here, let me convince you vaguely without proof).
"Nobody need trust me." (but I'm not convincing you, no really, I'm not!)
"Does not depend on convincing anyone." (You see, I don't even need to convince you!)
"In any event, it has been realizations such as this one that have led me to quit all the little doomed left-wing groups; not to ‘agree with’ capitalism but to simply acknowledge the objective degree to which the global capitalist cybernet has consumed reality itself, to the point of becoming for most intents and purposes coterminous with it.Actually, if you listen to his podcast he pretty much got kicked out of all the little left wing groups.
"Consumed reality itself."
More vagueness. How? Why? I gave a better explanation to this when I said that technology imposes itself on the human race. See this.
"Therefore, one is released from a number of idiotic notions about some personal responsibility to change or resist what are effectively transcendental structures. What a sad idea. It now seems likely that all those who remain affected by this masochistically false notion of responsibility are impotent to change the world, in part because they believe they must. Alternatively, the Spinoza–Nietzsche-Deleuze liberation model can be reduced with reasonable fidelity to the maxim that one should do whatever makes one feel most joyous, so long as we have a sufficiently high-resolution and empirically tractable understanding of true joy. The naïve objection that such a maxim endorses evil or cruelty is wrong for the simple reason that evil or cruelty induces all kinds of negative feedback at the psycho– and socio-logical levels; i.e. it curbs the growth of one’s power/joy whereas genuine communist aggregation of particles will be known by its positive feedback on the growth of one’s power."Do what thou wilt be the whole of the law." Satanic. Chaging the world is a Christian idea that leftism appropriates. Here he rejects leftism. "But guys, the true communism will involve a positive feedback loop of one's own power. I swear! Will to power, bro!"
"Some pursuit of atomic liberation pathways can be found today with the interest in pre-individual or “dividual” phenomena.8 But beyond a small number of theoretical texts in the Deleuzean line, few human beings have been willing to update their operational attitudes and behaviors in the relatively drastic fashion that would be required of anyone seeking to take the accelerationist realization seriously. Full accelerationism, unconditional on any normative ideological preference or purpose, is a belief about the empirical world that generates no determinate political praxis — even foreclosing it, or at least anything currently recognizable as political praxis — but nonetheless alters its host body with politically substantial effects. Otherwise, it would be a distinction that makes no difference. But as with any set of ideas, it is easy and widespread for people to ‘adopt’ beliefs which never integrate with their real, revealed, operational beliefs. So when I speak of the political effectivity of accelerationism, I am speaking of dynamics triggered only to the degree it is integrated into one’s behaviorally operative neural nets, that is, when everything else you think and feel moves to equilibrate with this belief.
"One of the politically substantial effects of the accelerationist realization is that it concretely decimates bourgeois ego investments into their unformed, atomic components. Paradoxically, this empirical claim about technocapitalist reality, which forecloses all hope of praxis, triggers concrete affective changes that map quite precisely onto the atomic liberation pathway.
"Why? This occurs because the one individuated bourgeois ego that we by default inhabit is ultimately composed and attuned by the sum total of sad ideas that command our attention and behavior on a daily basis (that if only I didn’t have to work I would be happy; if only I could do some impossible thing, such as control more intelligent people, then I could possibly begin to live, etc.). The bourgeois capitalist ego is essentially the center of a spider’s web of sad ‘if onlys’, as a defining characteristic of capitalism is the postponement of desire for a greater, future return.Hmm, that's interesting.
"Any thought that could destroy all sad ‘if onlys’ in one fell swoop is, in a very real sense, an immanent extraction of one’s vital energies from precisely the apparatus of capture that holds together so much institutionalized misery in a durable order over time. Human creatures who learn, even in the most groping fashion, to extricate themselves from this web in a reproducible and transmittable fashion will be the only true heirs to the revolutionary political tradition — and yet they will enter it through becoming politically unconditional.Right. Capitalism gives you desire. Desire fuels capitalism. Anything that can liberate you from "if only" dreams fed to you by capital would be liberation from capital.
"Extricate themselves." So anarcho-primitivism then? Or something else?
"The knee-jerk objection of activist ‘materialism’ is to call what I am saying ‘idealism’ and to point out, mockingly, that people are oppressed by soul-crushing exploitation and poverty, not by their sad ideas. For many activists, this is a founding assumption of projects to change society, but from a scientific perspective it’s not at all obvious. First of all, there is a large body of evidence that suggests believing in the existence of systemic injustice is more oppressive than believing the system is just.9 In short, activism may have less to do with solving problems of human oppression than generating and amplifying them. The activist amplifications of tragic human existence are then cited as the increasingly dire and urgent reasons why one must commit to more activism.And so capitalism feeds on the very resistance to capitalism that activism generates. Now we are getting somewhere.
"To think this through even further, consider a thought experiment. Assume we have some population of abjectly oppressed, poor, marginalized manual laborers with the typical portfolio of sad activist ideas (they are oppressed by a system they could potentially change; they are in every way just as able as every rich person, if only they were not oppressed, etc.). The Spinoza-Nietzsche-Deleuze hypothesis is that if this population could hypothetically be treated to a sudden massive cognitive reorientation, in which they only entertained mental phenomena that maximized their joy or power, and just ignored or skipped over all mental phenomena that made them sad, then this population would show more cognitive and behavioral indicators of collective political liberation than the activist workers. This hypothesis is far more plausible than activist wisdom is willing to admit. The social scientific evidence suggests to me that these workers would likely have more energy before and after work, they would have more openness to creative connections with each other, and they would have far greater immediate well-being than the activist workers who believe it is their obligation to work more after work trying to achieve a goal they privately suspect to be empirically impossible. The activist hypothesis is that such a cognitive reorientation would not produce dynamics of collective liberation, but that a massive restructuring of their material power in the economy in the workplace would.So if we just gaslight the oppressed we can solve things. Right.
"Interestingly, we have some test cases of what happens when human beings are treated to hypothetical cognitive restructuring à la Spinoza-Nietzsche-Deleuze. They are highly imperfect as case studies, but they may provide some causal leverage. The first example is the well-documented causal link between pain and ecstasy: with the right attitude, abject toil under brutal conditions can generate exceptionally enjoyable and empowering affects, which figures such as Simone Weil have shown to be efficient motors of accelerative communist dynamics.10 We also have some examples of material restructuring à la activist wisdom. Lottery winners, for instance, are actually a relatively strong natural experiment for testing the effects of substantial, randomly assigned improvement of material conditions. And the data are quite clear that such changes to material conditions do not durably increase positive affect.11 So the Spinoza-Nietzsche-Deleuze model appears far more empirically plausible than many believe, and nearly universal assumptions in left-activist circles appear surprisingly questionable.
"Another interesting consideration from a scientific perspective is that activists may be ‘treatment non-compliant’, possibly leading them to systematically biased inferences and making them uniquely untrustworthy spokespeople for how social change actually occurs. In short, the strange human breed called ‘activists’ might be those particular creatures who are so far gone under the weight of sad affect that they privately decline to undergo available positive affective ‘treatments’ but publicly offer their experience as evidence of null effect. If subjects of a randomized medical experiment are assigned to take a pill, and they say they took the pill when in fact they refused or forgot — the results of this experiment will understate the real effect of the pill. Activist types who deeply believe and insist that only macro-material change can affect the probability of their liberation are likely treatment non-compliers, as this belief will lead them to become increasingly closed off to molecular experimentation. If affective variation along atomic liberation pathways does not produce results for these types, it does not necessarily mean that affective variation is impotent idealism. Humanity’s collective-emancipatory potential via the atomic pathways could still be an objectively explosive quanta; we might just be drastically under-estimating it due to the over-representation of treatment non-compliers, who self-select into the cultural organs possessed of cultural authority on this question (academia, journalism, activist theory, etc).
"The concrete revolutionary potency of the atomic pathways is therefore one of the best kept secrets of the global-cosmopolitan progressive catechism, and another example of why it is quite reasonable and useful to see this cultural formation as a Cathedral — replete with old-fashioned suppression of knowledge rightly seen as dangerous to social stability. To those who still might say that such acceleration-consistent micro-political liberation pathways could only be a kind of fake individualistic freedom enjoyable only from comfortable bourgeois stations, we need only recall that accelerating atomization means almost the opposite: the comfortable bourgeois individual disintegrating into a veritable party, comprised of the multiple and decidedly non-bourgeois agents the individual once repressed. This is not the masturbation of a comfortable individual, as some might allege. It is much more like an infinitely expanding commune of human and inhuman entities masturbating on oneself — an untenably uncomfortable individual finally learning to desire what desires it, having accepted that it’s far too late to do otherwise.An endless orgy of identity politics? Or what?