Accelerationism, amphetamine philosophy, and the Death Trip

Jules Evans
15 min readJan 21

This is a story about dangerous ideas, and words’ magical power to heal and to harm. It’s about AI, Charles Manson, dubstep, Neo-Nazis, occultism, and a lot of amphetamine, but it’s mainly about Nicholas Land.

Nick Land in the 1990s

In 1993, techno-feminist Sadie Plant set up a research unit in the philosophy department at Warwick University called the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU). It wasn’t a ‘real’ academic centre — it didn’t have a large grant or any institutional status, it was just a piece of paper on a door. But the name drew people into its vortex. The dominant influence in the CCRU became a 30-year-old mid-career researcher called Nick Land — a fan of continental critical theorists like Deleuze, Guattari and George Bataille.

Land and the CCRU mixed together cyberpunk, science-fiction, cryptocurrency, drugs and post-humanism, drained it through the mesh of continental theory, and created Accelerationism. Guardian journalist Andy Beckett has a good definition:

Accelerationists argue that technology, particularly computer technology, and capitalism, particularly the most aggressive, global variety, should be massively sped up and intensified — either because this is the best way forward for humanity, or because there is no alternative. Accelerationists favour automation. They favour the further merging of the digital and the human. They often favour the deregulation of business, and drastically scaled-back government. They believe that people should stop deluding themselves that economic and technological progress can be controlled. They often believe that social and political upheaval has a value in itself.

Accelerationalism began life as the British cousin of the Californian philosophy of Extropianism, which also began in the early 1990s (as I wrote here). There’s a similar anarcho-libertarianism, hyper-capitalism, worship of new technology and expectation of a sudden leap beyond the human. But this wasn’t California, it was Coventry — and Accelerationism was much darker and more nihilistic than Californian transhumanism. After all, Land’s first book was called ‘Thirst for Annihilation’.

Land has said: ‘I have no interest in human liberation, or liberation of the human species. I’m interested in liberation of the means of…

Jules Evans