When I was young, I often wondered what it must have felt like to be a member of the petty gentry in 1780s France, or a part of the Russian upper middle class in St. Petersburg in the early 1910s. Would I sense the doom approaching? Or would I carry on with my day-to-day life, ignorant to the fact that the society I had known my entire life was a few years away from total destruction?
Up until very recently, the concept of “accelerationism”—that is, the purposeful sharpening of the contradictions supposedly inherent in our stagnant liberal democracies to force a breaking point—was mostly an internet joke. A great deal of things—from voting for Donald Trump in 2016 to not sorting your recyclables—could be construed as “accelerationist.”
Unfortunately, it is beginning to look like accelerationism has escaped the low-stakes ball pit of anonymous social media and wormed its way into the hearts and minds of our political leaders.
Today, in 2022, it is much easier to place oneself in the shoes of those ill-fated victims of history. Every time one checks the news, there is something that betrays an attitude of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” In Scandinavia, NATO accession has been rammed through with little public debate. The problem has less to do with the Western Alliance in and of itself—I personally believe there is a solid case to be made in favor of membership—than it does with the blitheness with which national survival is now being treated.