In his writings, Paul Virilio ontologised the correlation between substance and accident, coming up with the idea of the integral accident: a landscape of events that becomes the environment. Unlike the case of instantaneous contagion, this theory of event employs the idea that every technology includes the potential of negativity; for example, the invention of the locomotive entailing the act of derailment. We would like to detach the term from Virilio’s museum of accidents and with its help, see new operational and strategic levels of modern warfare.
However, as there are direct precursors of this notion in the fields of velocity, vision machines and logistics of perception, we feel the urge to dislocate the term from its original context and see it in the tension that ‘oscillates between two poles—AI and nuclear’, as Svitlana Matviyenko pointed out in the first weeks of Russia’s destructive, imperialist war against Ukraine.
From this perspective, we can instead refer to the imminence of the event, where the war becomes an integral element of the extractivist and imperialist regime. The logic of extraction leads to military invasion, as it has transpired with various militaristic and expansionist forms of cybernetics; in the same way, automated systems and computation originating in the Soviet Union are shaping the current state of warfare. The integrality of the event becomes a necropolitical environment. At the same time, an integral accident could be seen as ‘a malfunction intrinsic to and inevitable for viral cyberweapons’, when the technical specificity of malware becomes ungoverned by sovereign power and methodologically infects other systems. (Aleksei Borisionok)