Accelerationism: The obscure idea inspiring white supremacist killers around the world
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- The extremist philosophy that's more violent than the alt-right and growing in popularity
- Nov 11 2019
- Word count
- 4607 words
I think this article does a decent job about describing the rash of white nationalist violence that has been building around the world over the last couple of years, but I think the author is missing a good bit of key historical context to the current accelerationist movement.
Going back decades now, the white nationalist movement in America at least has always had the same pull and push of those trying to advance their cause by building political support and those working to force a race war through terrorism and violence.
The fact that Vox neglects to mention the Turner Diaries in this piece is a real oversight in my view. The Turner Diaries is a self-published white supremacist book that is insanely popular in racist circles. The story describes how a group of militant extremists overthrow the federal government through acts of terrorism and start a race war that culminates in "the day of the rope" where all minorities and so-called race traitors are lynched en masse around the country. This is a hugely popular theme still today where you will often see folks on /pol/, /r/the_donald, and other altright spaces talk about how certain people or groups "need the rope" if not just outright calling for a Day of the Rope in real life.
One thing that I find super notable from the Turner Diaries is that the entire premise for the book kicks off due to a mass confiscation of all guns in America by the government. This is used as a rallying cry in the book for the formation of the white nationalist militant group. We have seen this same theory play out constantly in white supremacist circles today where the fear of the government taking guns is used as propaganda for their cause. As Vox notes in thier piece, this was stated by several mass shooters as reason that they used guns for their violence, to try and provoke government actions against guns to start a race war.
I think that the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and other western democracies is the largest threat facing society today, second only to climate change. It is a travesty that we are not taught more about the history of white supremacy in our schools to better understand its long roots in society.
I recently listened to Robert Evans series on fascism in America and was amazed at how little I knew about the topic. I highly recommend it for those wanting to know more on it. Here is a link to the first episode in his series, The Eternal Fascist.
Lately I have been wondering if the reason why racism and white supremacy has clawed it's way into everything in this country is because we have gone too easy on the people who have those views. I know that this community has spoken of the paradox of tolerance in many places, but I think that might just be the underlying reason why we cannot ever defeat racism. We are far too willing to allow people like that to keep spreading their shitty worldview.
While I don't think that joining a local Antifa group to physically assault them is a good option (you can't beat the ideology out of a person), I am at a loss to how to correct this problem. Even when mainstream society abandons them, they just group together online. And it's not like you can educate them out of it because their ideology is not based on logic or evidence.
I think that racism and white supremacy have always been a part of the fabric of American culture. Our country was founded on chattel slavery, followed by Jim Crow, the KKK, redlining, criminal justice discrimination, and so much more.
I think the reason it may seem more pronounced is because of the growing social pressure against it and the fact that minority voices are being taken more seriously. This is driving the most hardcore racists to be more violent as they see their privileged position in society slipping.
I fully agree with you. I was speaking to a friend on slack recently and their excuse for being friends with racists online was that "I guess i'm just more tolerant of them because I grew up in the South and I am used to it." I was frustrated that they gave me such a bullshit cop-out answer, but I think its a good example of the fact that a lot of white folks that claim to be liberal are more than happy to excuse racist behavior to maintain the status quo and not rock the boat. This kind of excusing and cowardly behavior is exactly why it has taken so long to make the little progress we have.
Personally, I think the best course of action is deplatforming. If you remove their ability to organize on Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook, then they are driven to smaller and smaller platforms that are less accessible to current members and less capable of recruiting new people to their cause.
In addition, a lot of these folks are radicalized from high-profile altright and alt-lite social media personalities. By removing these high-profile folks like Milo and Alex Jones from these platforms, it also does great damage to their ability to mobilize and recruit.
To add a bit more information, it was in the context of moderating the white nationalist meme sub /r/CringeAnarchy, as well as several somewhat lesser ones like /r/SubredditCancer. They did raise the same points as you that being friends with the racists gives them the opportunity to change their minds, I just have little faith that the second step is actually taking place.
I fully get what you are saying as far as talking to conservatives and some Trump supporters that way. I have several family members that are conservative, some of which support Trump. I think it is important to maintain those relationships and try to reason with them and shift their beliefs if possible, so long as they do not dive off the deep-end of conspiracies and hate. That being said, in this instance I was speaking about some hardcore racists on Reddit and certain folks that enable their behavior and defend them, and I think that crosses a clear line.
It is based on logic and evidence. It might not be *sound* logic and evidence - but that's almost irrelevant - the key point is that a lot of these people genuinely believe they are morally and logically in the right. We've all heard 'despite making up only 13% of the population...' - well, there's a lot more where that came from.
You are basically rephrasing my argument. I am saying that these are people who are deliberately keeping themselves ignorant so they can keep their beliefs. They are constantly in denial because they base their world on their feelings, and their feelings are based on the fact set they have selected for themselves. They have turned their lives into a spiral of negativity, and they are too afraid what is outside the spiral to accept any rope you may throw them.
This is true of everyone - racists and non racists alike
At first, maybe, but then one is expected to learn more and apply that knowledge as they age. There is a fundamental difference between people who learn a fact and change their oppinion and those who disregard the facts to reinforce what they already feel.
Yup, its surprisingly common on some far-left circles as well like /r/ChapoTrapHouse.
I think there are some important distinctions between the two groups. Far-right white supremacists want to use violence and terror to cause a mass race-war that will leave America with an all-white fascist state. Leftist like @vord think that we just need to elect far-right politicians to power directly to cause some sort of societal collapse that will magically leave America with a socialist state at the end.
I think from the leftist, it shows an extremely misguided view of politics and is a super selfish worldview that says fuck you to anyone that would be oppressed by said far-right politicians they are supporting or would be harmed by whatever collapse/revolution that they desire.
I'll just copy a comment I left in the thread you linked here to end:
Ah yes, I should have figured that post would come back to haunt me, so I'll make a mild attempt to defend myself now that I'm in a clearer headspace.
Re-reading it, I definitely should have chosen a less inflammatory headline, as it was poorly worded, clickbaity, and honestly a bit out of character. I'll take this moment to retitle it:
Choosing centerist, establishment Democrats for primary elections will almost certainly result in a 2020 Trump (or whatever R runs if the impeachment amounts to anything tangible).
I most certainly don't want far right politicians to win. However, the fundamental problem that everyone seems to forget with astonishing speed is that Trump is not as bad as it gets. At the rate we are going... The next Republican president will have the same or worse values as Trump, do all of the same horrible things, but will hide under a cloak of secrecy and charisma instead of blurting out blatant crimes on Twitter.
I concede that a centerist running things in 2020 will be preferable to Trump, but what then? 4 more years of tepid "reach across the aisle bipartisanship" policy that fails to inspire the masses longing for genuine improvement? Then, in 2024 the R fields a well spoken, squeaky clean "moderate" that does basically everything Trump does, but in secrecy? Doesn't sound too appealing to me.
I think I would have been accused of being a hyper-left accelerationist if the terminology had existed at the time, but seeing the danger from the other side of the coin has given me some pause.
I, too, feared that a centrist would lead to a slow decline that missed pivotal opportunities to course correct. Back in 2016 I thought a Trump presidency would be enough of a shock to the system that we would start to bounce back and the pendulum would swing heavy in the opposite direction. I now think I was wrong, given the right’s acceptance of Trump after meaningless posturing while he was campaigning.
I don’t have the ability to have a meaningful presidential vote (living in NYC), so I voted 3rd party in hopes that there was enough political animosity that the likes of Gary Johnson or Jill Stein could win at least 5% of the national vote, thereby unlocking existing campaign financing that’s paid by taxes of millions of Americans every year (intended to equalize the playing field...). I thought that our political discourse would be aided by introducing stances that weren’t so polarizing. Instead, Gary “Aleppo” Johnson got just under 3%, and FB recently decided to let moneied interests control political dialogue online. The situation doesn’t look hopeful for radical views.
The reason I think I might have been seen as an accelerationist is because unlike others in the thread, I don’t think the alt-right / white nationalists are the single biggest problem: I believe climate change is the single unifying issue that should bring us together, before it gets so bad we are doomed regardless.
Because climate change shouldn’t be a “political” issue (quotes to emphasize that there is still a debate over whether it is fact), it could go unaddressed while we bicker over the cause (which I also think is mostly factual), and this uncertainty will surely lead to our future children’s demise.
My previous leftist accelerationism wasn’t (consciously) driven by a point of privilege (which I surely have), but because I treat climate change as an all-or-nothing affair. Everyone is affected from climate change, and if we don’t take action now, then everyone will die in the future. You could also argue that historically low socioeconomic communities will be the first to be affected by climate change as well, to counter the argument that deprioritizing white supremacy is a purely racist initiative.
I’ve had to change my opinions over time as the world changes around us, so I don’t want others to takeaway that I must be a neo-racist with more convoluted reasoning...but opinions should change as new information becomes available. Perhaps I’m not predicting he future well, and a new civil war would actually kill more people in the near term (yet likely also prevent climate change initiative at the same time). That being said, I wanted to provide some perspective to a stance I once held in the hope it helps others.
Agree that climate change is the biggest factor, but if we're only allowing for the ballot box to sway the course, the end result is the same. The Republican party is entirely refusing to remedy these problems, and the Democrats at least acknowledge the facts.
I might seem a shill for the political compass, but I think it helps bring perspective to political discussions. Very, very few politicians on the national stage are outside the Authoritarian Right quadrant. Bernie is the only one running for 2020 Democratic candidacy. Even Warren is in that quadrant, although much closer to the center. To properly address climate change, we must be willing to sacrifice capitalist interests in the name of saving the environment. I don't foresee anybody more authoritarian or right than Warren willing to make the kinds of policies that have enough teeth to them to make a real difference. Sure a Democratic president will certainly sign some changes, but I'm betting if it's a Biden presidency those changes will mostly be vapid half-measures with long deadlines and minimal punishments for violations.
I agree with a desire to have a more progressive/leftist Democratic candidate, but from what I have seen, polling is pretty consistent that pretty much any Dem at this point can beat Trump. However, head-to-head polling is slightly more favorable to Biden currently, who is very much a moderate.
Obama brought us two left-wing Supreme Court Justices in Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor (should have been three with Merick Garland), passed the Affordable Care Act which helped get millions of people health insurance, brought us out of the great recession and cut unemployment dramatically, helped get marriage equality, signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau championed by Elizabeth Warren, repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, negotiated the Iran Nuclear Deal, signed the Fair Pay Act, signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act making it a federal crime to assault someone on gender or sexual identity, signed the Clean Power Plan and passed sweeping automotive fuel economy laws.
Obama could have accomplished much more if he had not lost the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, but I think it is quite a stretch to claim that he was only doing reach across the aisle bipartisanship.
That being said, if you want to have a President that isn't constrained by GOP opposition, then we need to have a majority in both the House and Senate to coincide with a Democratic President.
Being disillusioned by one Presidential term and then disengaging from voting or saying the Democrats are not doing enough is playing into the strategy Republicans have been working towards for year.
When you say "almost certainly" that's being far too confident about your ability to predict the future. We simply don't know who will win the next presidential election, just like we didn't know who would win the last one. It was very close and there were unforeseeable events that might have changed things if the timing was a little different.
These are times of uncertainty. We should be uncertain.
The far Left and the far Right have a lot of things in common. I really don't want to offend anyone, but the type of people you are talking about are people who base their worldview on personal experience instead of logic and reason. There are many people who have mainstream views who are the same; I'm pretty positive that most people aren't invested in objective truths. The only difference between this crowd and Trump supporters is that they have incompatible ideologies.
This is especially problematic when it comes to national politics. We constantly push people to vote, but we should be pushing people to figure out what's actually happening in this world and why.
I have to be honest with you, as someone who wants to call himself a "radical leftist", I find statements like these to not only be incorrect, but also offensive and degrading.
The similarities between far-left and far-right ideologies begin and end at their opposition to liberal democracies and globalization.
Also, it is imperative to understand that the reasons that the more extreme ends of the left-right political spectrum each oppose the center could not be more different from each other.
The horseshoe theory is bogus. It's a gross simplification of the beliefs held at the extreme ends of politics and tries to blatantly, irresponsibly lump inherently authoritarian ideologies (fascism, nazism, white supremacy) into the same basket as ideologies focused on the liberation and communalization of populations (socialism, communism, anarchism).
That being said, if by:
you mean accelerationists and not necessarily everyone or most people who fall onto extreme ends of the left-right spectrum, then I'm sorry that I misinterpreted your comment.
I was largely speaking about the accellerationists, but not them exclusively. When you say left, you mean ideologically; when I say left, I mean politically. In a sane world, they would be almost synonymous, but we aren't quite, are we? To reiterate, I am not taking about extremes as in who has the most far-out dreams for the country, but who is cheering the loudest for their side.
You are certainly not part of the group I am talking about; you believe what you do because you have learned a great deal and have reasoned it to be the best option. I am rather talking about people who have not taken those steps and are either following the crowd or base their views on their feelings.
The article mentions this before it jumps back on track as an exploration of far-right accelerationism.
There's even centrist accelerationism, like when people believe electing an extremist into office will shake the country bad enough to get stuff done, but from a position of limited or bipartisan political bias.