The top organizer for last Wednesday’s Stop the Steal rally, which preceded a bloody attack on the U.S. Capitol, has repeatedly mentioned “accelerationists” in recent days, name-checking a theory that’s been adopted by far-right figures to advocate for civil war in the wake of the attacks.
Ali Alexander, the director of the Stop the Steal movement that disputes the legality of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, emailed a private listserv of conservative activists to declare that “Accelerationists may have been right” about Big Tech’s moves to deplatform conservatives.
“Accelerationists may have been right. Only way to consolidate our buying power and play while we still have some strength,” Alexander emailed in response to a thread about how conservatives could respond to major tech companies’ decision to remove Trump and his allies for using rhetoric that could incite violence.
The email, obtained by VICE News, was sent to a private listserv of conservative digital strategists made up mostly of mainstream Republicans on Monday—days after a pro-Trump mob that contained numerous militia members attacked Congress as it was voting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
Alexander denies that he used the term the way that violent extremists have, arguing his comments were in the “context of technology.”
But it’s not the only time that Alexander has referenced the term in recent days.
“I am the most successful accelerationist in American history apparently. And I’m not even an accelerationist. All is being revealed,” Alexander wrote in a cryptic and possibly sardonic Instagram post on Saturday.
“I started a movement and now our slavery is naked,” he said in a comment on the post.
VICE News took a screen shot of his post before Facebook took down his accounts on Monday.
What Did Alexander Mean?
The term “accelerationism” was originally coined in the 1970s to describe the Marxist theory that capitalism would collapse in on itself, and that the worse and more damaging capitalism could be made, the faster it would collapse. It’s been repurposed in the digital age to argue that computer technology and global capitalism should be accelerated and encouraged as much as possible until it collapses and a new order emerges—and argues that social and political upheaval is in itself valuable.
But its most common modern use is by far-right extremists like the Boogaloo Bois, neo-Nazi terrorists, and militiamen who advocate for acts of violence or insurrection, such as the events on Capitol Hill last week or terror plots to bomb the power grid, to hasten the collapse of the U.S. government and force it into a standoff with some kind of homegrown insurgency.
Alexander replied to an initial text from VICE News with a nine-paragraph statement which claimed that Stop the Steal’s supporters had nothing to do with the violent Capitol Hill siege, argued that his social media freeze-out was keeping him from advocating peace, and stated that he was encouraging Trump supporters to stay out of D.C.
“I am actively encouraging people not to attend any demonstration of any kind in DC this month. I fight for civil rights. I believe this election was stolen. I petitioned my government. I’m being punished for organizing millions of people. Being unable to communicate to millions allows bad actors and dark elements to hijack my movement. My appeal to the Big Tech Corporations is to now allow this to happen,” he texted. “I refuse to be a slave to this Satanic System. I only fear God.”
“I refuse to be a slave to this Satanic System. I only fear God.”
When asked about his email and Instagram post mentioning accelerationists, he said that the private email had nothing to do with the fringe, violent theory.
“My comments about technology accelerationists in that thread was just that—in the context of technology, deplatforming—which is why I mentioned buying power and not weapons. They have speculated that we need to accelerate the exodus from platforms and create our own. It's a theory that looks more and more true. That has nothing to do with what you've asserted or the thread said,” Alexander said in a text message before demanding that VICE News never contact him again. “People must be peaceful.”
He did not address the context of his Instagram post, which makes no reference to technology.
Experts found his remarks concerning.
"It echoes conversations white supremacist forums online are having regarding how last week’s events, including the U.S. Capitol attack and the de-platforming, are indicating that accelerationists were right all along. These forums are also sharing strategies on how to co-opt disillusioned Trump supporters to join the movement and realize that there is no political solution. Accelerationists believe that violence is the only way forward,” said Mollie Saltskog, an intelligence analyst with the Soufan Group who specializes in white supremacist extremism. "Flaunting this very violent ideology to followers, even if sarcastically, is disturbing."
Far-right accelerationists have complained about being the target of widespread deplatforming on mainstream social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, which forced them to use less-popular apps like Telegram, a messaging and posting network that has taken a more hands-off approach to content moderation. According to them, those mass deplatforming campaigns were the result of an overall liberal conspiracy involving Silicon Valley companies cleansing the U.S. of conservative discourse in a bid to make the country anti-white.
After the president and a rash of rightwing MAGA types were booted from Twitter and Facebook over the weekend for links to the violence on Capitol Hill, Telegram lit up with posts from accelerationists gloating that they had warned them.
“It is hilarious to watch all these conservatives and magaboomers crying about being deplatformed,” one post reads, viewed thousands of times from a known neo-Nazi account. “Remember when they didn't care when it was just [Nazis]? Well, excuse us while we laugh when it is now you.”
An unofficial Proud Boys account on Telegram took a similar tack when it came to rightwing activists like Alexander complaining about being deplatformed.
“We're all [on Telegram] because we've been deplatformed, and very few people cared when it happened,” said the account, in a post that received over 20,000 views from followers. “Now you know, no matter how hard you virtue signal and scream 'WE'RE NOT RACIST' at the top of your lungs; you end up here with us.”
How Alexander Became A Trump VIP
Alexander is no stranger to incendiary rhetoric.
For years, he’s worked on the right fringe of the conservative movement. Originally known as Ali Akbar, he was a well-known blogger in the Tea Party movement of the early 2010s.
Alexander got in with the Conservative Political Action Conference crowd, and launched the National Bloggers Club, which was billed as a nonprofit but reportedly never actually registered with the Internal Revenue Service.
Republican operatives who have crossed paths with him in the past variously described him to VICE News as “grandiose,” “a grifter,” “nuts,” “volatile,” ” “sinister” and “manipulative.”
“He gave off bad vibes and I immediately sensed this was someone we didn’t want anything to do with. He just exuded a sense of being a con artist who was eventually going to cause significant trouble,” said Liz Mair, a GOP digital strategist.
Mair said that while she was at the Republican National Committee in 2008, the organization made sure to keep Alexander at arm’s length. "People found it very weird how aggressive he was,” she said.
He reemerged in the Trump era using the surname Alexander, an increasingly bombastic presence pushing the president. He was rewarded with access: Alexander was invited to the White House for a “social media summit” in 2019, and when he tweeted that Kamala Harris was not an “American Black” he was retweeted by Donald Trump, Jr. (who later deleted the tweet).
He’s struck up a relationship with InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and has appeared on various other far-right platforms, including a lengthy conversation on Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnis’s podcast last summer. (Gavin McInnes was a co-founder of VICE. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then. He later founded the Proud Boys in 2016.)
After the election, Alexander launched Stop the Steal, an organization that spread Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him and pressured local Republican officials to investigate claims of voter fraud that often had already been rejected in court. He quickly drew other pro-Trump activists looking to reject Biden’s election victory. The group held protests and rallies in numerous states that Biden won narrowly, and Alexander appeared onstage at many of them, including a Georgia rally with pro-Trump local attorney and provocateur Lin Wood and Trump attorney Sidney Powell, of “kraken” fame.
His rhetoric became even more inflammatory in recent weeks.
“One of our organizers in one state said, ‘We’re nice patriots, we don’t throw bricks.’ I leaned over and I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet!’ Haven’t you read about a little tar-and-feathering? Those were second-degree burns!” he said at a mid-December Arizona rally, according to the Daily Beast.
“We’re going to convince them to not certify the vote on January 6 by marching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of patriots, to sit their butts in D.C. and close that city down, right?” he continued. “And if we have to explore options after that … ‘yet.’ Yet!”
On Christmas, he tweeted that he was “the last stop before civil war.”
“We are desperately trying to exhausted [sic] every peaceful remedy and come to a shared understanding before that sacred moral obligation to fight for liberty,” he tweeted. “Please stop gaslighting and listen to our concerns. We will not lose.”
Alexander mentioned in that speech and others that he’d been in touch with people at the White House, and later claimed before Jan. 6 that he’d organized the Washington, D.C. rally with Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks as well as Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar.
“First official day of the rebellion,” he tweeted on Jan. 6, before Trump’s speech and before the insurrection.
Alexander posted photos and videos of the VIP section at Trump’s speech before pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol complex.
“Nice seats,” Alexander tweeted. “Thank you @realdonaldtrump!”
The fringe right-wing site InfoWars posted a video showing him alongside Alex Jones as he delivered a speech, and later on the West steps of the U.S. Capitol, where Jones used a bullhorn to encourage rioters to leave the building and come to his rally, which had a legally permitted space south of the Capitol.
Alexander called for peace on Twitter during the riots, tweeting “remain peaceful and rowdy” and encouraging protestors to leave the front of the Capitol and move to the south side, where his group had a permit to protest.
“This is ‘we the people.’ The growing frustrations of the government and what’s happening now is exactly what I warned about. I said that we need to make fair elections and transparent counting so that the people do not feel that the last resort is public demonstrations of this,” he said in a video recorded during the siege. (It’s unclear how much Alexander knew of what was taking place in the moment.) “I don’t disavow this. I do not denounce this. This is completely peaceful it looks like so far, and there are a couple of agitators that I obviously don’t endorse but this is completely peaceful.”
Later, he sought to blame the left for the day’s bloodshed.
“Democrats and Media ended the republic and the people responded. Welcome to ‘duhhh’,” he tweeted, later adding “Antifa agitation!”in a seeming effort to blame the left for what was clearly a pro-Trump riot.
Alexander was booted from Twitter not long after last Wednesday’s bloody chaos, and this past Monday Facebook and Instagram disabled his accounts.
Alexander has kicked off a fundraiser. His Instagram, before it was suspended, linked to a campaign on GiveSendGo (a sort of Christian GoFundMe) to raise money that he says will go towards “security” and staff. As of Wednesday afternoon, it had raised $20,000 of its $40,000 goal.
“Ali Alexander and his patriotic, Christian work is being deplatformed by dark corporate forces and political opponents,” Please help Ali bring light to the world by finding a security and administrative team to be with him 24/7,” reads the page’s description. “Please help and let other patriots and believers know where to assist!”