The absurd thesis of neoreaction used to be that America was a communist country. Now, it seems, according to Nick Land, America, and Britain, and, I guess, the whole of Europe are fascist. Defining fascism has, of course, been controversial but even holding a broad, inclusive understanding of the term I fail to see how this is anything but ludicrous. The Western world has not been marked by themes of decline or victimhood; militarisation or racial supremacism; the cult of the masculine; the cult of leadership or the rejection of modernism. Quite the opposite. It has been optimistically, guiltily internationalist, immersed in deconstruction and progressivism. But, says Land, we have adopted “blatantly fascistic” policy objectives such as, well, nationalisation. Never mind that nationalisation predates fascism. Never mind that in cases such as those of the rail services and the Royal Mail it has been rolled back. Fascism means what he wants it to mean.
Land is on firmer ground when he insists that “tribal mobilization”, fuelled by “demographic engineering” and “partisan asymmetry”, could lead to a resurgence of at least quasi-fascism. True, the fact that this has come about because of highly cosmopolitan, internationalist and morally progressive politicians, academics and corporate executives, along with trends towards economic globalisation and social stratification, undermines his eccentric revisionist theory of modern fascism. If anything, overreaction against ideas associated with the Axis powers has been more problematic. But when Land worries Weimarishly he does have half a point. The right has been on the rise in Europe, and America, and its radicalisation is at least plausible. His determinist assumption that this is the inevitable apex of democratic politics, however, seems wrongheaded. We do not observe this in Japan, or South Korea, or even more conservative European countries like Switzerland. It is not impossible that democratic governments could ease the situation. But Land’s is a counsel of despair – despair, anyway, if one gives a damn.