- No speed without space. There is no way to address questions of speed or acceleration without also addressing the reorientation of space that coalesces with, gives rise to, and arises from them: doing so today means, at least, addressing not the earthly, not the worldly, not the global, but the planetary. Not the embedding of the local, the national, or the regional into a larger, more universal home, but the disembedding of environment as such into a properly transgalactic homelessness. Already, the subjective time of humans and humanity has been displaced by the deep time of the planetary: concepts like cosmism, geo-strata, the arche-fossil, and xenoism, are all testimony to this. But even phenomenologically, concepts like critical space, the empire of speed, grey ecology, and distance pollution have indicated the manner in which increasing speed collapses the distinction between the local, the national, the regional, the global, and the universal. Only the planetary is adequate for these transformations, and only the planetary, along with its transpatial correlates (planetary / transplanetary, galactic / transgalactic), will survive the coming transformations.
- No space without progress. There is no way to reorient our relation to space without also reorienting our relationship to progress, given that it has been deployed as a synonym of speed only in the actual sense: moving faster, communicating faster, accumulating faster. As such, progress has been denounced as part and parcel of colonialism and similar developments, while acceleration has been rearticulated as synonymous with speed. On the level of individuation, transitions from infancy to childhood, and from childhood to adulthood, have sped up quantitatively to the point of obliterating childhood and adulthood alike, while progress has been brought to a standstill, restraining our collective generational potentiality. Rather than accelerating along with transportation and communication, the contemporary condition of universal infantilization reterritorializes countercultural rejections of maturity from the recent past. Progress then must be repurposed as a transcultural autoceleration, or navigational acceleration: but rather than embracing infantilization, today’s cardinal demand should be that of facilitating maturation achieved via, rather than in opposition to, postindustrialism and postcapitalism. Spatially, this might mean taking advantage of, for instance, opportunities to automate voter registration and the virtualization of the voting process, so that no space would need to be traversed, while time could also be deployed to effectively encourage participation by scheduling voting for the weekends.
- No progress without strategy. There is no way to reorient our relation to progress without also reorienting our relationship to strategy: the postwar assemblage of SF authors, political theorists, theoretical physicists, journalists, antiwar activists, mathematical philosophers, and artists (Asimov, Clarke, Cronkite, Einstein, Gandhi, Huxley, Russell, Sagan, Vonnegut, & Wells, for instance) who briefly fought for a world state that would enforce an end to war and poverty across the planet are now long gone. And yet, even at the time, the various genres in which they wrote and spoke for this outcome only really took a posthuman or planetary form in the genre of SF. Throughout the remainder of the 20th century, reorienting the planet’s inhabitants to hyperstitionally intergalactic norms became just as scarce as did the prevalence of the strategic over the tactical. The scale of today’s challenges demands a renewal of this strategic assemblage along Promethean, hyperstitional, planetary, and intergalactic lines, but the strategy should be rethought according to a logic of navigational acceleration, or autoceleration, rather than speed. The recent proliferation of manifestos and declarations, from the #Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics to the Xenofeminist Manifesto, from the policy statements of post-neoliberal figures like Corbyn and Sanders to Varoufakis’s DiEM25, and from the revival of Afrofuturism to indigenous futurism, are all inchoate expressions of what this might begin to look like.
- No strategy without governance. There is no way to reorient our relationship to strategy without also reorienting our relationship to governance: from the treaty of Westphalia through to the present, the primary mode of governance has been that of the nation-state, arguably a special institutional effect of print media, which collapsed distance through paper money, newspapers, and other print forms in accordance with periodical transportation capacities. Reducing the real number of political communities from 500,000 distinct entities three millennia ago to less than 200 today, the 99.96% decrease in the number of political communities involved makes the overall trajectory more than clear. But while the shift from print to digital renders planetary-level consolidation inevitable, conceptions of governance remain locked in a nation-state world of militarist anarchy. As such, either the image of a reorganized United Nations or of a new world state are posited as the only alternatives, when there are in fact many more. Only by thinking the future spatially and temporally at once can we begin to move beyond the thought frames consolidated by the nation-state era to prepare not for the UN- or world-state, but for a planetary government. This means merging a futurist orientation with contemporary science and with political agency, so that the epoch of militarist anarchy can be brought to an end. Rather than regressing into individualist or nation-statist competition, planetary government can set a new basis upon which to collectively organize.
- No governance without delegation. There is no way to reorient our relation to governance without also reorienting our relationship to delegation: for most of the history of modern democratic models of governance, critical emphasis has focused upon either direct democracy as a (partially inaccurate) hearkening back to pre-nation state forms of participatory governance, or upon the hoped-for perfection of representative democracy through public elections, restraining monetary influence, and the like. But neither direction nor representation are feasible on a planetary scale, since direct democracy tends to privilege the small-scale, while representative democracy generally privileges the medium-scale. Instead of either, what is needed is transpatial experimentation with multiple models of delegative democracy, including a largely-unknown allotment of concepts: demarchy, diagonality, lottocracy, sortition, and stochocracy. Each of these forms retain the participatory, legitimizing appeal of direct democracy while at the same time intensifying the scalability of representative democracy. Meanwhile, the emphasis on chance intensifies commitment to planetary isonomia, since more wealthy, educated, older, religious, and otherwise privileged people would no longer retain a stranglehold on decision-making power. Unlike the current inevitability of incompetence, chance would affirm a deeper level of competence, and could occur on a planetary scale.
- No delegation without planetarity. There is no way to reorient our relation to delegation without also reorienting our relationship to planetarity: at present, the human relationship to planetarity is marked by the concept of home, and by the sense of where one belongs vs. where one doesn’t belong. The nation-state and its citizen-subject is one such example, as is the world and its global citizen. Yet even the keener phenomenologists rejected the idea of any “inner man”, preferring instead to assert that it is only via external context that one knows oneself, which means that one’s sense of self is just as much subject to change as the external context. Given that the logic of delegative democracy, as opposed to direct or representative democracy, is that anyone is fit to rule, that there is no a priori designation for that capacity in terms of wealth, education, age, religion, or other forms of privilege, and if the contemporary period is that of the planetary, it follows that this ‘anyone’ must derive from the same planetary scale that hegemonizes our technology and political economy today. Rather than the earthly, the worldly, or the global, it is time to begin from the planetary, the only designator which recognizes the likelihood that life on Earth most likely did not even originate here, nor is it destined to remain here. As for the reverse case, as NASA’s John Grunsfeld pointed out to a call-in guest during the announcement that water traces had been located on Mars, “we know there’s life on Mars already, because we sent it there.” And according to NASA’s Steven Benner, all Terran life is likely descendant from Martian life which arrived here billions of years ago via meteorites. Either all known Martian life is actually Terran or all known Terran life is actually Martian – both are true, in their own way. Ontologically, this would mean the term “alien,” would be a much more accurate signifier to describe all known life in either location, since no presently-known life on Mars or Earth originates autochthonously.
- No planetarity without defense. There is no way to reorient our relationship to planetarity without also reorienting our relationship to defense: the military and the police remain the two primary modes of collective defense, and yet, as institutions, they derive from what are now print- and broadcast-era archaisms, just as the technologically and economically-outmoded nation-state itself is. While contemporary modes of communication enable new forms of transpatial planetarity, so too do they enable new modes of defense. Unlike the popular defense of the pre-logistical era, however, they do so on a transnational and intergalactic scale, even though the authority of existing institutions remains aparliamentary and suffers from lack of enforcement more than ever before. Today, UN resolutions are easily circumvented by the most powerful nation-states, while security council demands are treated as sacrosanct, even in the absence of the slightest popular control over them. What can be done in the realm of militarism can also be done in that of policing: just as a properly-empowered planetary government could, theoretically, disarm and abolish every military on earth, transforming the institution from a state of permanent preparation for war amongst anarchically-organized nation-states into an on-call planetary body, so too could it institute universal standards for regional self-defense which would no longer function as policing (through permanently seeking out opportunities for the identification of crime), but would instead respond only to situations in which a series of democratically ramified conditions had been met, and in which demographically balanced citizen panels called for it. Rather than total disarmament, the abolition of both military and police institutions could involve transarmament combined with the illegalization of ammunition, which would be held in stockpiles openable only through collective, participatory procedures.
- No defense without isonomia. There is no way to reorient our relationship to defense without also reorienting our relationship to isonomia: only the reorganization of national citizen-subjectivity into full planetary citizenship for every person will accommodate the changes presently in the offing. And, only a universal basic income attained and distributed via a wholly planetary government can ensure that the universalization of citizenship results in planetary isonomia. Further, the universalization of isonomia should be extended to animals and the environment, treating both in the same manner that a planetary basic income would: as absolutely necessary for ensuring the transspatial equality of the human, animal, and plant inhabitants of every region of the planet. This would mean enacting enforceable planetary structures and programs through which human, animal, and plant equality would be ensured through both economic and environmental equality. And given that a planetary government would be the starting point, in the latter case large scale strategies of geoengineering could be readily enacted that would otherwise be impossible to achieve, due to the anarchic structure of international governance. Rather than producing a partial economic and environmental utopia only in the advanced economies of the world, the planetarity of such changes would ensure true isonomia on every possible level. And as a result, rather than simply being made to accept the effects of increasing technocultural and political economic speed in the advanced economies, the political unification of all parts of the world would ensure the collectivity of the process of navigational acceleration, or autoceleration.
- No isonomia without permeability. There is no way to reorient our relation to isonomia without also reorienting our relationship to permeability: the greatest risk of planetary consolidation is not only the possible failure of isonomia, but also that the potential for further extension of isonomia beyond the planet itself will become closed off, as a planetary identity settles into earthly identity. Since humans have not encountered intelligent life from other planets and only have the animals and plants found on this planet to compare themselves to, we do not know for certain what our own nature consists of, or how it stands in relation to that of the intergalactic as such. This lack of knowledge should be acknowledged and retained in the process of planetary consolidation through the development of a planetary space program. In doing so, the permeability of the human estate could be equally extended internally as well, negotiating relations between planetary and regional government structures, the latter of which would govern most of their own day-to-day affairs, while promoting the mutual resonance and self-determination of cultures.
This text is a transcript of a talk delivered at the “Reinventing Horizons” conference held in Prague in March 2016, responding to Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ #Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics, as well as their book, Inventing the Future (Verso, 2015). Beginning from their assertion that “neoliberalism confuses speed with acceleration,” and that what is needed is “an acceleration which is also navigational, an experimental process of discovery within a universal space of possibility,” it asserts that only a diagonally-democratized and conceptually-reoriented planetary government can address the disjunctures between a global technoculture and political economy on one side and a fragmented world of nation-state and non-state formations on the other. Circumventing print- and broadcast-era archaisms that continue to hegemonize the nation-state, military, and police institutions inaugurated by those mediums, the talk introduces an Overton Window to shift our understanding of the state towards a more Promethean mode of poststatism capable of resonating with the postcapitalism of contemporary political economic thinking. Rather than the nightmare image of a dictatorial world state, it imagines a planetary government charged with only five central powers: overseeing and implementing a planetary universal basic income, a non-military / non-police planetary security structure, a planetary environmental strategy, a planetary space program, and regional, planetary and interplanetary relations. In the process of addressing these questions, the talk engages long-standing conceptual stalemates between the earthly and the global, state and government, militarism and popular defense, policing and community self-defense, direct democracy and representative democracy, speed and acceleration, all the while emphasizing alternatives, including those of planetary government, transarmament, delegative democracy, and autoceleration. Though not directly name-checked, the talk draws upon the works of Ray Brassier, Arthur C. Clarke, Laboria Cuboniks, Jodi Dean, Gilles Deleuze, Boris Groys, Donna Haraway, Katerina Kolozova, Karl Marx, Quentin Meillassoux, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jacques Rancière, Nick Srnicek, Tiziana Terranova, Paul Virilio, Alexander Wendt, Alex Williams, and Robert Wise, among others.