Ten years ago, Dave Neiwert warned us of what the white supremacist GOP was becoming with his book The Eliminationists in which he described the right's violent rhetorical reaction to Obama's election as a precursor to what was coming in deeds, not just words, should they ever regain power.
Eliminationism: a politics and a culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas in favor of the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through suppression, exile, and ejection, or extermination.
Neiwert saw this coming a decade ago. Here in 2019, the Anti-Defamation League has defined the next step in the process as the eliminationists have now become the accelerationists, to turn the words and strategy of eliminationism into the collapse of societal norms into chaos in order to take advantage.
Accelerationism is a term white supremacists have assigned to their desire to hasten the collapse of society as we know it. The term is widely used by those on the fringes of the movement, who employ it openly and enthusiastically on mainstream platforms, as well as in the shadows of private, encrypted chat rooms. We have also recently seen tragic instances of its manifestation in the real world.
The concept of acceleration has existed for years as a fringe philosophy. Some of the earliest examples are rooted in a Marxist notion that the intensification of an unhinged force, such as capitalism, for example, will inevitably result in that force’s own self-destruction. However, some white supremacists have adopted the terminology and determined that a societal collapse is both imminent and necessary. On March 21, 2019, one anonymous 8chan user, who promoted white supremacist views, wrote, “I used to think acceleration was a marxist [sic] trick…Now, however, I see its value.”
Brenton Tarrant, the alleged perpetrator of the mosque massacres in New Zealand, subscribed to accelerationism -- the concept was specifically articulated in his manifesto, which he posted moments before his shooting spree. Tarrant dedicates an entire section of his manifesto to this concept under the heading “Destabilization and Accelerationism: Tactics for Victory.”
Tarrant’s actions seemed to breathe new life into the discussion of accelerationism and spurred a resurgence of references, paired with praise for his actions, on platforms including Gab, YouTube, Reddit, 8chan and others.
The term “acceleration” references and encompasses two opposing forces. On one end, extremists identify “acceleration” as the perceived escalation by nefarious entities to advance “degenerate” values and influences such as multiculturalism, liberalism and diversity, among others. In line with deeply anti-Semitic views that dominate white supremacist beliefs, Jews are often blamed for their perceived role in promoting these elements—which white supremacists believe contribute to an imminent “genocide” of the white race. This view is expressly articulated by Discord user EagleJarl on November 4, 2017, “The jews [sic] are the real accelerationists.” Discord is a chat platform for gamers to communicate with each other in real time.
Accelerationism, however, also serves as a reactionary call against the antagonistic forces that are causing society to spiral out of control. In one Discord post from December 22, 2017, user Dr. Goebbowls wrote, “Anyone with half a brain and enough time can find the information to realize that accelerationism is the last resort of the white man of the modern age.”
Fueled by the perception that the future of the white race is bleak, these white supremacists believe they must employ any means necessary to expedite the collapse of the current system. Solutions to bring down the system range from the most extreme form, violence, to deliberate political engagement that supports destructive and divisive societal elements. For example, Tarrant referenced the need to bring about collapse by leaning in to disruptive forces, even those antithetical to white supremacist beliefs, writing, “A vote for a radical candidate that opposes your values and incites agitation or anxiety in your own people works far more in your favour than a vote for a milquetoast political candidate that has no ability or wish to enact radical change.”
Accelerationists believe that setting off a series of reactions, even if they result in changes that directly threaten the white race, can actually be a useful tool for motivating more reticent white supremacists. Following an extremist terrorist attack such as the Tree of Life shooting or Christchurch rampage, accelerationists identify a domino effect that is set into motion – a chain of societal reactions that further exacerbate the feeling of alienation among white supremacists, and, theoretically, a greater impulse to engage in violence or other destructive behavior.
And if this doesn't succintly explain what is going on right now, from the White House on down to the grubby social media cesspools of Discord, Reddit, and Gab, I've yet to see a better explanation.
Break the world, indeed.