Accelerationism

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‘Accelerationism’ is a term used by white supremacists and other extremist groups to refer to “their desire to hasten the collapse of society as we know it”. Generally, acceleration is used in the context of white genocide conspiracy theories, which believes white people are under threat and are being systematically targeted through e.g. immigration and other means.

A collapse of modern societal structures and political systems is seen as the only means through which to stop these perceived injustices against white people. Indeed, many accelerationist groups desire this collapse and call for replacing modern society and governance with one founded on ethnonationalism.

Accelerationism continues to have a growing international audience. Terrorist groups like the Atomwaffen Division, which embrace and promote accelerationism, were founded in the United States but have produced offshoots (e.g. the Sonnenkrieg Division and the Feuerkrieg Division) across Europe and Australia.


Why is it dangerous?

Accelerationism is at its core an encouragement of civil discord that employs an “ends justify the means” approach towards violence. Most white supremacist accelerationists view violence as a necessary means for catalysing societal collapse and implementing new power structures that prioritise the “needs” of white people.

There have already been notable instances of violence affiliated with accelerationist ideology. For example, the perpetrator of the terror attack against the Muslim community of Christchurch in 2019, dedicated an entire section of his “manifesto” to accelerationism. The perpetrator of the Poway synagogue shooting in 2019 similarly expressed accelerationist beliefs, saying he “used a gun for the same reason that [the Christchurch attacker] used a gun… the goal is for the US government to start confiscating guns. People will defend their rights to own a firearm – civil war has just started”.

Accelerationism is therefore not just dangerous because of its potential to encourage violence, but in the fact that violence is seen as the primary means to bring about the desired goal of societal collapse.

Background

Accelerationism comes from an amalgamation of:

⏩ Neoreaction, or NRx – a doctrine developed by Nick Land and Curtis Yarvin, which claims democracy doesn’t work nor does it allow for good governance. Neoreaction instead embraces autocracy or authoritarian rule, where a single individual is given full power to lead. Neoreactionaries often liken what they perceive to be valid and effective national leadership to that of corporate governance, where a national ruler should lead a country similarly to how a chief executive officer would his company.

⏩ White supremacist beliefs that “‘white identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ‘their’ civilization.” As opposed to neoreactionary belief, which posits democracy as the biggest obstacle to a better future, white supremacists tend to scapegoat Jewish people and other religious and ethnic minorities as the greatest barrier to a future that upholds white dominion.

⏩ Siege culture – a violent subculture of white supremacy inspired by James Mason and his neo-Nazi essays, SIEGE. Mason argues that “only the full collapse of American democracy and society will bring conditions sufficient to bring order through Nazism”, and calls for violence to expedite this collapse. More on SIEGE can be found below.

Accelerationism derives from cross-pollination of these ideologies, combining anti-democratic neoreactionary beliefs with white supremacist siege culture to manifest a belief that the “future of the white race is bleak,” and that a better future can be secured through an escalation of social disorder that facilitates the collapse and replacement of existing political and societal structures (referred to by accelerationists as “the System”).

Accelerationism visualised

*Accelerationists view most phenomena that spur public anxiety and/or disorder, including things like COVID-19, as potential catalysts for recruitment and eventual societal collapse.

Related Narratives and Terminology

White Genocide

White supremacist accelerationists believe white people are experiencing an ongoing genocide caused by multiculturalism, immigration and deliberate attacks on white people both culturally, through politically correct establishment and individually, through violence committed by minorities. A collapse of modern political and social institutions is seen as the only way to counter this threat and to reimplement structures that prioritise white people. Similar conspiracies like the ‘Great Replacement’, which argues white Europeans and Americans are being “deliberately replaced at an ethnic and cultural level through migration and the growth of minority communities”, are also prominent in accelerationist circles.

Race War and Racist Tropes

The societal collapse desired by accelerationists is often framed in the context of a “race war” that would bring about the end of American democracy and enable the implementation of a white nationalist system of governance. To this end, white supremacist accelerationists propagate racist tropes that treat non-white communities as inferior, physically, emotionally and intellectually, to white people. Further, “race-mixing”, non-white immigration and multiculturalism are all seen as part and parcel of efforts to decimate the white race. Most accelerationists therefore desire racial segregation through the implementation of a white ethnostate.

The Turner Diaries

The Turner Diaries is a foundational text of contemporary white supremacist movements in the US. Written by William Pierce, leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance until his death in 2002, the fiction novel tells the story of Eric Turner, who, as part of a white supremacist revolutionary army, helps overthrow the US government and implement an Aryan republic. The novel is rife with antisemitism, giving a platform to antisemitic tropes that claim Jewish people are deceitful and that they are “Satan’s
spawn.” Further, violence is a key part of the story, presented as a necessary means through which to achieve white domination not just in the US, but globally.

The novel is affiliated with notable instances of violence, including Timothy McVeigh’s terror attack in Oklahoma City in 1995, which killed 168 and injured over 600. The white supremacist terrorist group, The Order, was founded by an affiliate of Pierce and, inspired by The Turner Diaries, committed assassinations and other crimes in an attempt to incite white revolution.

SIEGE and Siege Culture

SIEGE by James Mason is a compilation of neo-Nazi esssays. The book graphically incites violence against Jewish and Black communities across the US, claiming “civil war, a total revolution” would give these communities the “death they so richly deserve”. The book is so influential in white supremacist circles that it has inspired what is now dubbed ‘siege culture‘, referring to violent accelerationist groups and their forums online.

Antisemitism

Tying in with conspiracies about white genocide are antisemitic beliefs that blame Jewish people for these perceived threats against white people, building on antisemitic tropes that claim Jews control major financial and media institutions around the world.

The Anti-Defamation League reports, for example, an anonymous 8Chan post that reads “‘acceleration’ means… making things worse… [the Christchurch perpetrator] understood that ZOG would double down on censorship, gun grabbing, free speech, etc.,” where ZOG stands for “Zionist Occupied Government”, a conspiracy that claims the US government is controlled by Jews. Here, the user clearly alludes to the accelerationist domino effect, in which the Christchurch terror attack is seen as a catalyst for increased government imposition and censorship, which would inspire those “on the fence” to choose anti-state groups and/or to contribute to civil disorder through violence or otherwise.

Tying in Contemporary Events

Accelerationists leverage contemporary events to recruit and further their agenda to take down “the System.” Among others, accelerationist discourse in the past year has addressed:

⏩ Black Lives Matter protests – especially those where there was confrontation with law enforcement, were viewed by some accelerationists as potential catalysts for civil war. White supremacists have also “infilrated” these protests, vandalizing properties to provoke disorder.

⏩ COVID-19 – where public confusion spurred by inconsistent government messaging has been exploited by accelerationists to “prove” that existing political structures are incapable of managing crises. COVID-19 conspiracism is also prevalent in accelerationist discourse, where the virus is claimed to be a weapon used by the ‘New World Order‘, the Chinese government and others to decimate the white race.

⏩ The Second Amendment – accelerationists rely on increased gun control legislation to catalyse disorder and violence. They hope stricter gun ownership legislation will inspire (violent) backlash and encourage more individuals to take on the accelerationist agenda of societal collapse.

⏩ January 6 attack on the Capitol – the insurrection at the US Capitol Building on January 6 2021 was celebrated by many accelerationists as a key catalyst for their desired civil war.

These are a few examples that demonstrate how accelerationists rely on public disorder and violence to further their narratives – accelerationists believe that the more chaos ensues, the more people are likely to abandon moderate views or political stances for the extreme.

Affiliated Movements and Forums

⏩ Atomwaffen Division (AWD) is a white supremacist group that “encourages violence to intimidate minority populations in pursuit of its goal of destabilizing society to instigate a race war.” AWD has many off offshoots and similar movements are dotted across Europe and Australia, the biggest of which are the Sonnenkrieg Division, Feuerkrieg Division and Antipodean resistance.

⏩ The Base, founded in 2018, is a militant neo-Nazi group that claims a race war is a necessary and desirable means to catalyse societal collapse and implement a white ethnostate. The group recruits online and offline, with related propaganda sited throughout the US and Canada. The group has also been tied with a number of arrests, with charges ranging from drug possession to conspiracy to commit murder.

⏩ The Order was a terrorist group active in the 1980s and founded by Robert Jay Matthews, a known affiliate of William Pierce, author of the racist and violent text, “The Turner Diaries”. The Order is responsible for multiple felonies, including assassinations, committed to incite a white supremacist revolution. Although the group is no longer active, their members still celebrated as heroes and martyrs amongst contemporary white supremacists.

⏩ Siege-Culture, Fascist Forge and Iron March are part of accelerationism’s significant digital presence, using existing platforms like Telegram, Parler, Discord and others to network. They have also created their own forums, which have served as hotbeds for planning and inciting violence and as directories for extremist propaganda, including Mason’s SIEGE. Iron March, for example, is a now defunct neo-Nazi forum that is “considered to have been key to the formation of [AWD}”, which has been linked to white supremacist violence offline. Fascist Forge is considered a successor to Iron March and similarly emphasizes violence as a means to expedite societal collapse.

The Accelerationist ‘Brand’ – Imagery

White supremacist accelerationist movements generally use logos and imagery that present “grittiness” or “roughness” and militancy. This imagery often integrates neo-Nazi symbolism. This is supplemented with narratives that propagate racist and antisemitic tropes. Terminology found in white supremacist forums embodies the homogeny with which perceived enemies of the white race are viewed (e.g. “the Jew”, intended as a catch-all phase to refer to all Jewish people, or “the System”, referring to existing governance and mainstream institutions and media).

The ‘SS bolts’ (pictured) derive from the Shutzstaffel, a paramilitary organisation operating under Hitler in Nazi Germany. Other symbols co-opted by Nazism and used by white supremacists today include the Sonnenrad and the Wolfsangel.

Accelerationism imagery

Examples of Accelerationist imagery.

 


Further Reading

The following sources were used to inform the contents of this document and are recommended for further reading about accelerationism.

On accelerationism specifically:

Accelerationism in America: Threat Perceptions” by the Global Network on Extremism & Technology (GNET)

Accelerationism: the obscure idea inspiring white supremacist killers around the world” by Zack
Beauchamp at Vox News

Neo-Nazi Accelerationists Celebrating Attack on Congress as Start of Civil War” by Ben Makuch and Mack Lamoreux for VICE

“‘There is no political solution’: Accelerationism in the White Power Movement” by the Southern
Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

Think Global, Act Local: Reconfiguring Siege Culture” by Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST)

White Supremacists Embrace ‘Accelerationism’” by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

 

On related narratives and movements:

Atomfwaffen Division by the SPLC

Atomwaffen and the SIEGE parallax: how one neo-Nazi’s life’s work is fuelling a younger generation” by the SPLC

COVID-19 Disinformation Briefing – Far-Right Mobilisation” by ISD

From memes to race war: How extremists use popular culture to lure recruits” by Marc Fisher for the Washington Post

Popular Among Antigovernment Extremists, ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ Resolutions Pose
Risks” by the SPLC

Special Report: the Atomwaffen Division: the Evolution of the White Supremacy Threat” by the
Soufan Center

The Alt-Right is Killing People” by the SPLC

The Base by the ADL

The Great Replacement” by ISD

The Long Road to the Capitol” three-part blog series by ISD

Uniting for Total Collapse: The January 6th Boost to Accelerationism” by Brian Hughes and Cynthia Miller-Idriss for the Combating Terrorism Center

Visions of Chaos: Weighing the Violent Legacy of Iron March” by SPLC

White Supremacists and the Weaponization of the Coronavirus” – intel brief by the Soufan Center

White Supremacists Embrace ‘Race War’” by the ADL

 

Produced with support from 

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