November 19, 2020


Race Consciousness: Fascism and Frank Herbert's "Dune" (Jordan S. Carroll, NOVEMBER 19, 2020, LA Review of Books)

FASCISTS LOVE Dune: Denis Villeneuve's film adaptation was highly anticipated on white nationalist sites such as Counter-Currents and the Daily Stormer. As soon as the trailer dropped, they began poring over it for signs of deviation from their pet interpretations of Frank Herbert's 1965 science fiction novel.

Popular SF narratives like Dune play a central role in white nationalist propaganda. The alt-right now regularly denounces or promotes science fiction films as part of its recruiting strategy: fascist Twitter popularized the "white genocide" hashtag during a boycott campaign against inclusive casting in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But Villeneuve's film seemed to provoke greater outrage than normal because Herbert's book is such a key text for the alt-right.

Dune was initially received as a countercultural parable warning against ecological devastation and autocratic rule, but geek fascists see the novel as a blueprint for the future. Dune is set thousands of years from now in an interstellar neofeudal society that forestalled the rise of dangerous artificial intelligences by banning computers and replacing them with human beings conditioned with parapsychological disciplines that allow them to perform at the same level as thinking machines. Spaceships navigate through space using the superhuman abilities of psychics whose powers are derived from a mind-enhancing drug known as melange, a substance found only on the desert planet of Arrakis.

The narrative follows the rise of Paul Atreides, a prince who reconquers Arrakis, controls the spice, and eventually becomes the messianic emperor of the Known Universe. Dune was first published in serial form in John W. Campbell's Analog Science Fiction and Fact and, like many protagonists in Campbell-edited stories, Paul is a mutant ├╝bermensch whose potential sets him apart from everyone else. He turns out to be the product of a eugenics program that imbues him with immense precognitive abilities that allow him to bend the galaxy to his will. Paul's army also turns out to be selected for greatness: the harsh desert environment of Arrakis culls the weak, evolving a race of battle-hardened warriors.

In the fascist reading of the novel, space colonization has scattered the human species, but what Herbert calls a "race consciousness" moves them to unite under Paul, who sweeps away all opposition in a jihad that kills 60,000,000,000. For the alt-right, Paul stands as the ideal of a sovereign ruler who violently overthrows a decadent regime to bring together "Europid" peoples into a single imperium or ethnostate. 

It would be fun to crush that state too.

Posted by at November 19, 2020 4:25 PM