Leviathan Rots | Vincent Garton

Vincent Garton PhD studies history and political theory at Cambridge, and advocates what he and some of the fun people on the internets are calling “Unconditional Accelerationism“.
In a recent essay with Urbanomic Garton calls for an “unconditional retheorisation that moves beyond both the restoration of the state and its neocameralist multiplication.”
Below are excerpts from that essay.

‘Leviathan Rots’  (Excerpts)

by Vincent Garton

On Catastrophe:

“The term ‘catastrophe’ in the general sense in which we use it today originates in the prophetic upheaval of the Hobbesian era, the English Civil War. Perhaps the earliest surviving usage is to be found in a short Fifth-Monarchist pamphlet of 1654 entitled, appropriately, The Grand Catastrophe: here, the ‘grand catastrophe’ is identified with God’s ‘resolve […] to change the forme of Government from what it was now […] unto what it was better’. The historical significance of this obscure text far exceeds the content of its arguments. It stands, chronologically, at the head of an entire ‘catastrophic’ literature of the later seventeenth century that purported to divine the significance of the ongoing motions of politics according to the movements of the heavens. In the 1680s we find the Catastrophe Mundi, or, Europe’s many mutations of the mathematician and astrologer John Holwell beside the similarly titled Catastrophe Mundi, or Merlin Reviv’d of the magician, associate of John Dee, and former Civil War propagandist William Lilly, each offering its occult prognoses of the impending arrival of a new order of the European states.”
“If the occult stands at the historical root of the concept of catastrophe, however, there is also something peculiarly catastrophic about the occult. The term disaster, after all, is equally astrological: dis-aster, the falling constellation—‘the stars down to earth’. The association between turmoil in heaven and earth is in itself hardly specific to the Western occult tradition, of course: this is the heart of astrology as such, reaching back to the ancient magi of Babylon, repeated equally on the other side of the world in the Chinese notion of the ‘mandate of heaven’ or ‘heaven’s command’, tianming, 天命, which locates the underlying order of the labyrinth of the political in the will of heaven made manifest as fate. But where tianming posits a transcendent order, it is ostensibly in the modern West—beginning in the Hobbesian moment and extended in the relentless naturalisation of ‘catastrophe’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, firstly after the great Lisbon earthquake, and then in the geological theory of catastrophism—that the occult reality of ‘catastrophe’ assumes the aspect of something truly monstrous, a figure of absolute exteriority, of heterotopic nightmare.”

Garton gives away his organizing eidos here:

“The character of the state—not just in the architecture of Hobbes’s theory, but as such—is precisely that of a demonic machine.”

Here is meat of it for me:

Ripping up Leviathan is harder than it seems. Perhaps we will be better served by another vehicle that Land has mobilised to restrain the power of Leviathan—at least on the level of its extensive territoriality. This is the neo-Westphalian theory of the patchwork. Derived from the neoreactionary thinker Curtis Yarvin [aka. Mencius Moldbug], the patchwork presents an image of endless fission, ‘a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries’, each with its own internal, ‘neocameralist’ sovereign.25 This image should not be dismissed as ‘fascist’. It reprises a tradition of Western political thought that reaches back across the doctrine of cuius regio to the very origins of nationalism in the medieval French reaction against the universalist pretences of the Emperor; in its substance, it is clearly antagonistic to the universality of the fascist state with its insatiable thirst for conquest and death. Yet patchwork remains, despite itself, peculiarly ambivalent.
It is obsessed with the state: creating new states, cutting up states, states on top of states… To truly move beyond Leviathan in all its universalising terror requires not the multiplication of Leviathans, at which point we are already within the Hobbesian trap, encouraging the monster in its sectarianism, provoking the pathologies that have led to imperium. It requires a radical ambivalence to the state as such—an uncompromising identification with those processes today of mass production and mass flows of politics that overwhelm and obsolesce the state itself. States, of course, decay. It is something altogether more radical to posit that the state form itself will decay. We must turn from a patchwork of states to the infectious patchwork within the state, a recursive dissolution that leaves not a network of states, but an endless flux in which the state itself disintegrates into the very war that sustains it. For this conception, we must turn to Nietzsche…….


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