Landslides and Avalanches, The Run Out, Accelerationism, Post Post Modernity.
Permanently moved is a personal podcast 301 seconds in length, written and recorded in one hour by @thejaymo
The Run Out
When a landslide occurs. The severity of the event is measured by the distance of its ‘run out’. IE The distance and depth that the landslide travels.
The snow, mud or rubble follows the topology of the landscape. Following the route of least resistance landslides plough down the slope.
The global banking landslide that was the 2008 financial crash never actually came to rest. Its run out headed into civil society, culture, politics, and other parts of the economy manifesting as zero hours contracts and austerity and extreme edge continues to creep along. The events of 9/11 were nearly 20 years ago but its effects also continue to run out. Surveillance structures and Snowden.
Globally, with Covid-19 the mud is still only just beginning to pour from the top of the mountain. How long and deep the run out will be is anyone’s guess.
Lego Grad Student went viral last week with the following tweet.
If 20 formative years of your life involve a major terrorist attack, two recessions, exorbitantly expensive and unnecessary wars, tangibly worsening inequality, climate emergencies, and incompetence during a global pandemic, it might make you think things aren’t good.
The topology of the landscape that Covid-19 has begun to run into is a grand valley with very few obstacles. Already a graveyard with rising waters at the mouth of the river . A denuded ecological landscape that this event is ploughing into and over.
The effects of Covid-19 have only begun. This run out doesn’t end when we all re-emerge blinking in the early summer sunlight, the ground will continue to shift under our feet, soft and prone to collapse.
It will be years even decades until the earth has settled. Our descendants will live with the final effects of the current situation. The world might be a very different place and the maps will need to be redrawn.
I use the landslide as a metaphor for two reasons:
1. The long run out is a term with a lot of utility when thinking about events like these.
2. Exponential laws are used in the study of them – as in epidemiology.
A lot has been written about the exponential nature of pandemics. I won’t repeat them here. However, it is important to understand the nature and ‘feeling’ of an exponential Event.
Writing in Nautilus magazine Aubrey Clayton wrote the following:
Nearly everything that has happened in the COVID-19 crisis has happened in the last week. But everything is happening faster every day—so guess what? A week from now, the same will be true: Nearly everything that has happened will have happened in the last week. Everything will accelerate, and we’ll struggle to adapt. If we continue reacting too late, as we have, it will only slow down when the virus starts to run out of new people to infect.Aubrey Clayton – To Beat COVID-19, Think Like a Fighter Pilot
The feeling of speed is one that we are all experiencing, and have been experiencing for a long time. Whilst it is dangerous to directly link or blame the outbreak on global capitalism I have some sympathy with the point of view – They both elicit the same feeling.
Our friend Lenin of course was entirely correct when he said
There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.LENIN – (citation needed)
There is of course a strain of ontology, or philosophy that has been talking about the nature of this condition for a while. Accelerationism.
Accelerationism isn’t a political project per-say, but more of a philosophical exploration of the condition we are all experiencing. It was born from the polis, not the ivory towers of academia. Matt (@Xenogothic) wrote on his blog last week:
There’s no such thing as “being an accelerationist” because there’s nothing I can do to impact the process of acceleration. It is something that is happening to us already (and has been for centuries) rather than something I can do. It’s naive to think any of us have our foot on the throttle of global capitalism. In that sense, “accelerationism” is a bad name.MATT COLQUHOuN – YOU ARE NOT AN ACCELERATIONIST
He goes on to quote someone else that Accelerology might be a better term.
Responding to the same essay, Paul Graham Raven noted:
I’m tempted to see accelerationism as Colquhoun sees it — which, I concede, may not be a universal conception of that term — as being a condition rather than a creed, in the same sense that postmodernity was a condition rather than a creed; in both cases, the conditionality may suggest certain stances in response, but that’s a very different thing to waving a flag that says “postmodernity, yay!”
(I wonder, then, if accelerationism might be the term to replace the awkward placeholder terms of “post-postmodernity”, “altermodernity” etc. Given Colquhoun’s closeness to the thought of Mark Fisher, it might also be seen as the dialectical successor to capitalist realism… which, one might argue, is what the coronavirus pandemic is currently killing off.)
What it is not, is a term synonymous with ethnonationalism. Or the idea that violence should be used to push Western countries into becoming failed states. It’s appearance in the long rambling manifestos of the far right I believe is an acknowledgement of the experience of the condition or sensation.
So today From my isolated cave in south west London I can feel the landslide, peering over the cliff at the old world that is falling away. Trying to project and see where tits long run out will flow.
At some point we will all need to precariously pick our way down the slopes. As we encounter more fellow travellers with whom we’ll need to decide which route we intend to go.
The above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.