Why Nick Land Hates Hegel

The Dangerous Maybe
29 min readDec 26, 2023

In an interview that Dave McKerracher and I conducted with Slavoj Žižek, I gave a little summary of Nick Land’s philosophy. In this summary, I said something like “Land hates Hegel”, which would be of interest to Žižek, since he is a card-carrying Hegelian. Dave recently reposted our interview with Žižek in the form of short clips (here’s the link to the full playlist). Dave and I are currently trying to organize a discussion (“debate”) between Žižek and Land on the topics of capitalism, artificial intelligence, democracy, equality, culture war, etc. In our second interview with Žižek, he happily agreed to have this discussion with Land. All we need now is for Land to agree to it. Anyway, in the comment section of one of the short clips, some “Hegelian” chimed in to correct my assertion that “Land hates Hegel”. Now, anybody with any familiarity with Land knows that his greatest philosophical enemy is Hegel. In fact, Land (AKA Outsideness) once said on Twitter that “Hegel is brain cancer” — a true term of endearment for a philosopher if ever there was one. However, this wasn’t sufficient proof for the “Hegelian” in the comments, who also claimed that Land often mentions Hegel in ways that have “positive connotations” (spoiler alert: Land doesn’t), so I decided to use this as an opportunity to reflect on Land’s own words on Hegel. I went through every book and essay of Land’s I could find in order to gather up every single direct reference to Hegel Land has ever made. What follows is my response to that “Hegelian”, but the reason why I’m posting this here is because I now intend for it to serve as a resource for anybody engaged in a serious study of Land’s interpretation of Hegel. Here in bold (that’s fitting) is the “Hegelian” commentator’s original comment (everything after that is my response to it):

Nick Land doesn’t hate Hegel. As a Hegelian who is quite interested in Nick Land, there are several mentions of Hegel in Fanged Noumena who contain a positive connotation. Criticism is very much present, but Land still labels Hegel as a “high church” philosopher and agrees with Bataille’s interpretation of Hegel as a philosopher who “reached the absolute limit, but then mutilated himself (or something along those lines)”. The only completely negative thing he has said about Hegelian philosophy on X is that it is “brain cancer”.

Challenge accepted. I personally think Land publicly declaring on Twitter that “Hegel is brain cancer” is quite sufficient in itself to justify my assertion that Land hates Hegel, since it amounts to saying that Hegel’s philosophy rots your fucking mind away until it dies, but let’s actually take an in-depth look at Land’s own words concerning Hegel. I do not find Land referring to Hegel with any “positive connotations”; rather, I find him either attacking Hegelianism or referring to it with a scholar’s neutrality for the sake of contextualization and conceptual clarification. Land, as a serious philosopher, is fully capable of objectively explicating his opponent’s position without drenching it in vitriol, but that doesn’t make those explications into “positive connotations”. Now, you mentioned Land’s references to Hegel in Fanged Noumena, but you said nothing about The Thirst for Annihilation in which Land frequently discusses Hegel. It’s in that book that Land says that Hegel is one of his philosophical enemies (along with Aquinas and Derrida):

In writing this book I have read almost nothing except for Bataille’s Oeuvres Complètes, supplemented only by those writers with whom I have had some previous intimacy, most important of whom are Kant and Nietzsche, but including also Sade, Freud, Marx, Boltzmann, Rimbaud, Miller, and a few others, amongst whom are such enemies as Aquinas, Hegel, and Derrida.
(The Thirst for Annihilation, Bibliography, p. 154)

Philosophically speaking, Land does hate Hegel. I’m not saying that Land has some personal vendetta against Hegel, that Land would stab Hegel in the throat if he could, but I am saying that Land stands vehemently opposed to the core of Hegelian philosophy. In that sense, Land hates Hegel. Consider the fact that Hegel’s two major works, his Phenomenology of Spirit and Science of Logic, are each devoted to the modes of experience and thinking of human beings. Phenomenology of Spirit is devoted to the dialectal investigation of modalities of experience, to the study of phenomena, to the appraisal of modes of consciousness, while Science of Logic is focused on the core logico-ontological categories of thought, of Reason, etc. For Land, however, this only makes Hegel the most philosophically sophisticated and nuanced apologist of the Great Indoors, of the anthropocentric Inside, of the Human Security System. Land, on the contrary, is the champion of the Great Outdoors, the Lovecraftian Outside, Lemuria, etc.

Land also opposes dialectics to cybernetics. From his perspective, dialectics is essentially a human endeavors — especially a political one. Land has no patient for the whole thing about the struggle between opposing forces and their inevitable reconciliation in a higher synthesis (I reject this reading of the Hegelian dialectic on Žižekian-McGowanian grounds, but that’s another story). Cybernetics, unlike dialectics, is a non-human process. Cybernetics is true materialism insofar as its how matter itself accesses and actualizes the virtual potentialities of the body without organs and the plane of immanence (matter was doing this long before it actualized us with our capacities of experience, thought, and reason). According to Land, the production of the New, that is, “desiring-production”, is rooted in positive feedback loops — these are the circuits of the Outside. For Land, the Hegelian dialectic ultimately remains the differential unfolding of the Same, of the phenomenal Inside, whereas Deleuzo-Guattarian cybernetics facilities alien invasions of radical alterity from the noumenal Outside (the Unknown).

For Land, traditional Marxism was rooted in “standing Hegel on his head”, that is, in tarrying with the intrinsic contradictions of the economy and specifically that of the capitalist mode of production. Land celebrates Deleuze and Guattari for taking Marxism and gutting it of “all Hegelianism”, of all talk of dialectical contradiction:

The germinal catalyst for Accelerationism was a call in Deleuze & Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus (1972) to “accelerate the process”. Working like termites within the rotting mansion of Marxism, which was systematically gutted of all Hegelianism until it became something utterly unrecognizable, D&G vehemently rejected the proposal that anything had ever “died of contradictions”, or ever would. Capitalism was not born from a negation, nor would it perish from one.
(A Nick Land Reader, ‘Re-Accelerationism’, p. 154)

And as Deleuze himself said:

This liberation of Marx from Hegel, this reappropriation of Marx, this uncovering of differential and affirmative mechanisms in Marx, isn’t this what Althusser is accomplishing so admirably? In any case, under the false opinions, under the false oppositions, you discover much more explosive systems, unsymmetrical wholes in disequilibrium (fetishes, for example, both economic and psychoanalytic).
(Desert Islands and Other Texts, ‘Gilles Deleuze Talks Philosophy’, p. 145)

Ok, now let’s check out Land’s own words on Hegel.

Land on Hegel in The Thirst for Annihilation:

First things first, the opening chapter of the book titled ‘The Death of Sound Philosophy’ is arguably the best piece of philosophizing Land ever produced. It’s rich in original lines of thought. And it’s in this chapter that we have the majority of the book’s references to Hegel, who is a constant presence in the first fifteen or so pages. I cannot unpack everything Land says here, since Hegel is present for the first 24 pages, but I’ll highlight the key quotations.

Hegel considered Kant’s basic failing to be an inability to see that the limits of reason are self-legislated, so that when intelligibility is absolutely consummated the ethical order is recognized as commanding for nature. Spirit must abandon itself to its noumenal extinction in the confidence that it cannot be identified with its perishable pupal stages, but instead finds eternal life in the thinkability of death. Finitude is only possible through a spiritual production transcending and comprehending it as a necessary moment of itself. Humanity becomes God in the mode of a return by expiating its finitude on the cross of history, whereby alterity is neutralized into the reconciliatory phenomenology of absolute spirit=God. So much for the novelty of the Hegelian imagination.

Since Hegel the word phenomenology has fallen even further into disrepute. Compared to the majestic pomp of the Hegelian system the philosophy of Edmund Husserl — with which the word ‘phenomenology’ is now inextricably tangled — is a mere neo-Kantian eccentricity.
(The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘The Death of Sound Philosophy’, pp. 6–7)

Since Hegel, according to Land, ultimately thought that the destiny of humanity was to transcend its finitude in assimilating and reconciling itself to the Absolute Spirit (God), Hegel is lacking in originality insofar as the structure of this narrative is found in Hinduism and in Christianity. Despite Hegel’s philosophical wizards, he, for Land, remains a generic religious thinker. Land also takes a jab at Hegel for being a phenomenologist, though one with “majestic pomp” when compared to the lowly modesty of Husserl. Land is even harsher in the next quote:

In terms of the social dissemination of his discourse Derrida is perhaps our Hegel; an assimilator in the service of ‘the great tradition’ of authoritarian reason and toothless academic professionalism.
(The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘The Death of Sound Philosophy’, p. 20)

Land thinks Hegel is a lackey or sycophant of the most authoritarian of all anthropocentric authorities — Reason. Land was always quick to strike at Reason because he viewed it as brimming with hubris insofar as it thinks it can master Nature, tame the Outside. If the Outside was a shark, then we’d definitely need a bigger boat than that of Reason. Cthulhu will not wear the chains of dialectical logic. On top of that, Land views Hegel (and Derrida) as a toothless academic concerned with doing professional philosophy. In opposition to this “professionalism”, Land and the CCRU stroke to make philosophy exciting by turning it into a transgressive subculture that would be a insurrectional force inside academia.

Now, Land’s aim in the first chapter is to develop his philosophy of libidinal materialism. Land is retroactively constructing his own lineage of philosophy and it runs from Kant to Schopenhauer to Nietzsche to Freud to Bataille to Deleuze and Guattari to Land. The primary figures in the libidinal materialist tradition, the ones Land identifies with the most, are Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bataille, and D&G, but Land also has a love/hate relation to Kant and Freud. The thinkers he hates, the ones he fundamentally opposes, are Derrida, Aquinas, Husserl, Heidegger, Lacan, and Hegel most of all. I can’t quote and explicate the first 24 pages of this chapter, but Land makes it quit clear that he is not Hegelian at all. Remember, Land is primarily Deleuzo-Guattarian and if there was one philosopher Deleuze opposed, it was certainly Hegel. Deleuze was very quick to point this out:

I myself “did” history of philosophy for a long time, read books on this or that author. But I compensated in various ways: by concentrating, in the first place, on authors who challenged the rationalist tradition in this history (and I see a secret link between Lucretius, Hume, Spinoza, and Nietzsche, constituted by their critique of negativity, their cultivation of joy, the hatred of interiority, the externality of forces and relations, the denunciation of power. . . and so on). What I most detested was Hegelianism and dialectics.
(Negotiations, ‘Letter to a Harsh Critic’, p. 6)

I will, however, do my best to briefly summarize the main points regarding Hegelianism sprawled across these 24 pages. On pages 1–5, Land is unpacking the Kantian context of his (Land’s) own philosophizing. He discusses the importance of the “transcendental” and of “critique”, and he explains that Hegel attempted to refine these concepts. Hegel was trying to redeem metaphysics, which Kantian critical philosophy attacked, but from a Kantian perspective. As Land says, “Hegel’s philosophy is the life-support machine of Kantianism” (The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘The Death of Sound Philosophy’, p. 3). Land touches on Bataille’s relation to Kant and Hegel (Kojéve’s Hegel) and on the connection between Kantian critique and capitalism. Next, there’s discussion of the difference between Kantian infinity and Hegelian infinity. Land says that the fact that Hegel prostituted himself to the Prussian State only becomes intelligible when we abstractly view such a abject, deceitful, debased gesture as being “definitive humanity” (p. 4). But this, Land states, does not provide us with a justification for philosophically dismissing Hegel, since, in truth, “Hegel remains strictly unintelligible to us, and any claims to the contrary are anaemic tokens of bourgeois apologetic” (p. 4). We can’t justify dismissing Hegel, since no one has ever truly understood him and those who claim they have offer nothing but boring and uninteresting “tokens”, i.e., middle-class (PMC) excuses for Hegel’s State-conformism.

On pages 5–8 house Land’s interpretation of Hegel’s reworking of the Kantian thing-in-itself as well as the difference between how Hegel and Schelling conceptualized the transcendental (Land’s explication is of the highest order while still maintaining his anti-Hegelian position). There’s a couple references to Hegel in passing on pp. 11–14, but they’re really not noteworthy. Things, however, get interesting again on p. 16. From pages 16–20, Land unpacks Derrida’s “method” of deconstruction and it’s relation to Hegel (among many other relations). And the final mention of Hegel in this chapter is on p. 23, which connects Hegel and Aristotle on the principle of all determination is negation. That’s it. No where does Land heap any praise on Hegel. One thing is clear to me: nowhere in these 24 pages does Land ever write Hegel a love letter.

Moving on. In Land’s discussion of libidinal energetics found in ‘The Curse of the Sun’, Land argues that a materialist theory of desire will involve the concept of work being “freed of its Hegelian pathos” (The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘The Curse of the Sun’, p. 42).

Ok, Land mentions Hegel three times in ‘Transgression’. The first mention is just Land conceptually clarifying Sade’s “politics” to Hegel’s concept of abstract negation/negative freedom.

Where Kant consolidated the modern pact between philosophy and the state, Sade fused literature with crime in the dungeons of both old and new regimes. Sade insisted upon reasoning about God repeating original sin, but even after obliterating him with a blizzard of theoretical discourse his hunger for atheological aggression remained insatiable, Sade does not seek to negotiate with God or the state, but to ceaselessly resist their possibility. Accordingly, his political pamphlets do not appeal for improved institutions, but only for the restless vigilance of armed masses in the streets. ‘Abstract negation’ or ‘negative freedom’ are Hegel’s expressions for this sterilizing resistance which erases the position of the subject. It could equally be described as real death.
(The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘Transgression’, pp. 60–1)

The second mention is contains Land’s nicest statement concerning Hegel. Land gives Hegel credit for how meticulous he was in analyzing his juridical concept of crime in the Philosophy of Right, but I can’t bring myself to count this as a “positive connotation”. Why? Because after acknowledging Hegel’s philosophical meticulousness towards the concept of crime, Land immediately goes on to say that this very juridical concept of crime is all wrong. Simply put, according to Land, Hegel’s concept of crime is bullshit.

If transgression appears as the negation of law, it is only because law is coextensive with the unachievable negation of solar flow, just as base matter is deemed negative because it exhibits no resistance to death. Nevertheless, insofar as crime receives its formulation in the court-room it is quite properly understood as a speculative development of legality, as Hegel demonstrates so meticulously in his Philosophy of Right. Such an apprehension of crime through the optic of the trial is no merely empirical projection, but a bias rooted in the juridical advantage of existence. Death has no representatives. Which is to say that transgression has no subject. There is only the sad wreck who Nietzsche calls ‘the pale criminal’, de Rais at his trial for instance, terrified of Satan, separated from his crimes by an unnavigable gulf of oblivion. The truth of transgression, at once utterly simple and yet ungraspable, is that evil does not survive to be judged.
(The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘Transgression’, pp. 70–1)

The third and final mention is a mere gloss on Hegel’s development of Kant’s theory of justice.

However difficult or repellent the matter at stake might be, we can scarcely avoid the search for the sense of transgression, which is the requirement of relating it to the Kantianism which forms our philosophical actuality. It is because Kant completes the understanding of the difference between laws and cases that his involvement is already implicit in any attempt to judge crimes. (Hegel will of course suggest that to merely understand justice is still insufficient, and that it remains to justify it.)
(The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘Transgression’, p. 72)

There is a single reference to Hegel in Chapter Five and its one Land makes only in passing; he’s just saying that Western history has long emphasized that human beings are beings who must wrestle with death (mortality).

From the first verse of John’s Gospel to Hegel’s Science of Logic, and beyond, Western history traverses a thanatological plateau. Man is the animal that knows it will die, determined in its essence by a knowledge whose specific mode is an immortalizing sublimation.
(The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘Dear God’, p. 83)

There are references to Hegel on one page of ‘The Rage of Jealous Time’. Here, Land is opposing Hegel’s concept of determinate negation to what Land calls “ferocious negation”. We can think of the former as an Inside-negation and the latter as an Outside-negation.

The in- of indetermination can only be read as either the formal negation or the speculative development of determination if it is itself understood as eliminative, which is to say, determinate. Such a move is of course — when fully explicit — Hegelianism itself. Quite different is the indeterminate sense of indeterminate negation, which is not eliminative, but ferocious. Ferocious negation is radically heterogenous in respect to the annihilation it effects, so that it is intrinsic to its definition that it cannot be derived from its eliminative consequences by either formal or speculative logic.
(The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘The Rage of Jealous Time’, p. 103)

Land would return to the question concerning Hegel and negation many years later:

§103 — Abstract negation, as Hegel perhaps understood, in deriding it, is the only kind that escapes. He recoils from a negativity that does no work or even (precisely) the opposite, and which redoubles without self-cancelation while still turning endlessly into itself. Abstract negation is already a doubling, of such redundancy that it sheds the pretense to generic negativity like Ouroboros skin — and in fact like nothing at all.
(Chasm, p. 137)

In the chapter ‘Fanged Noumenon (Passion of the Cyclone)’, Land writes:

The noumenon is the absence of the subject, and is thus inaccessible in principle to experience. If there is still a so-called ‘noumenal subject’ in the opening phase of the critical enterprise it is only because a residue of theological reasoning conceives a stratum of the self which is invulnerable to transition, or synonymous with time as such. This is the ‘real’ or ‘deep’ subject, the self or soul, a subject that sloughs-off its empirical instantiation without impairment, the immortal subject of mortality. It only remains for Hegel to rigorously identify this subject with death, with the death necessitated by the allergy of Geist to its finitude, to attain a conception of deaths for itself. But this is all still the absence of the subject, even when ‘of’ is translated into the subjective genitive, and at zero none of it makes any difference.
(The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘Fanged Noumenon’, p. 110)

Land is simply laying out the conceptual developments in the concept of the noumenal subject, which entails a historical gloss on Hegel’s development of it, which comes to identify noumenal subjectivity with death itself.

Next up we turn to the two references to Hegel in the chapter called ‘Aborting the Human Race’. First, Land refers to Hegel’s striving for Auflösung (resolution, sublation, reconciliation, Aufhebung, synthesis) as “pitifully stupid”. Land writes, “The dissipation of the soul would not relate to thought as an object of theoretical representation. There would be something almost touching about Hegel’s clutching for philosophical Auflösung if it were not so pitifully stupid” (The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘Aborting the Human Race’’, p. 152) When I asked my Todd McGowan, author of Emancipation After Hegel: Achieving a Contradictory Revolution, about Hegel’s Auflösung (and Land’s interpretation of it), he said:

This is what happens to contradiction as one moves from moment to moment in the dialectic. Auflösung can be translated either as the resolution or the dissolution of contradiction. Obviously, I would lean to the former rather than the latter. I have to confess that I have no idea at all what that first sentence from Land means. But the second misreads Hegel’s entire project, in my view, since there is Auflösung doesn’t ultimately eliminate contradiction for Hegel. That’s pretty clear to me.

Second, Land describes how Bataille and Nietzsche are opposed to “Kantian industrialism” and its associations to Hegel and teleology (“industrialism” here means the pursuit of success, profit, achievement of a goal, procurement of self-interest, etc). Obviously, Land sides with Bataille and Nietzsche against Kant and Hegel, with “the naked risk of chaos, war, eroticism, and surrender to the sacred”.

Against the abortive consolidation of Kantian industrialism associated with Hegel and teleology, Bataille counterposes Nietzsche and the naked risk of chaos, war, eroticism, and surrender to the sacred.
(The Thirst for Annihilation, ‘Aborting the Human Race’, p. 157)

That’s all Land says about Hegel in The Thirst for Annihilation. The closest Land ever comes to praising Hegel is when he (Land) said that he (Hegel) was “meticulous” in his examination of the juridical concept of crime. Every other reference to Hegel is either negative or neutral (neutral for scholarly purposes). Let’s now move on to the references to Hegel in Fanged Noumena.

Land on Hegel in Fanged Noumena:

In all of the 666 pages of Fanged Noumena (by the way, not a coincidence), Hegel only shows up on 23 pages and usually only in passing. Before getting to Land’s own words, I want to look at two quotes from Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier as well as one quote from Mark Fisher (all three of whom have greater familiarity with Land’s philosophy than any of us do, since both Mackay and Fisher were members of the CCRU and Brassier was a close associate of theirs). In the Editor’s Introduction to Fanged Noumena, Mackay and Brassier wrote:

Fuelled by disgust at the more stupefying inanities of academic ortho­doxy and looking to expectorate the vestigial theological superstitions afflicting mainstream post-Kantianism, Land seized upon Deleuze-Guattari’s transcendental material­ism — years before its predictable institutional neutering — and subjected it to ruthless cybernetic streamlining, excising all vestiges of Bergsonian vitalism to reveal a deviant and explicitly thanatropic machinism. The results of this reconstructive surgery provide the most illumi­nating but perhaps also the most disturbing distillation of what Deleuze called ‘transcendental empiricism’. In Land’s work, this becomes the watchword for an experimental praxis oriented entirely towards contact with the unknown. Land sought out this exteriority, the impersonal and anonymous chaos of absolute time, as fervently as he believed Kantianism and Hegelianism, along with their contemporary heirs, deconstruction and critical theory, were striving to keep it out.
(Fanged Noumena, Editor’s Introduction, p. 5)

Land notes how philosophic reason (ratio), whose most symptomatic representative is of course Hegel, has systematically turned away from the contingent or nomadic ‘strewing’ of real difference, preferring to subordinate it to ideal order, and ultimately to identity. Land concurs with Deleuze’s Nietzsche and Philosophy in crediting Nietzsche with the inception of a ‘post-Aristotelian’ but non-dialectical ‘logic’ of gradation without negativity. It is this ‘logic’ that attains its fullest and most sophisticated articulation in Deleuze-Guattari’s ‘stratoanalysis’.
(Fanged Noumena, Editor’s Introduction, pp. 22–3)

Both of these quotes point out how Land’s philosophy is radically opposed to that of Hegel’s. Land finds in Deleuze and Nietzsche the two great anti-Hegelian philosophers, which would make Land the third. And we also find Mark Fisher echoing this in his little summary of Land’s (anti-vitalist) Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophy:

What, then, is Land’s philosophy about? In a nutshell: Deleuze and Guattari’s machinic desire remorselessly stripped of all Bergsonian vitalism, and made backwards-compatible with Freud’s death drive and Schopenhauer’s Will. The Hegelian-Marxist motor of history is then transplanted into this pulsional nihilism: the idiotic autonomic Will no longer circulating on the spot, but upgraded into a drive, and guided by a quasi-teleological artificial intelligence attractor that draws terrestrial history over a series of intensive thresholds that have no eschatological point of consum­mation, and that reach empirical termination only contingently if and when its material substrate burns out. This is Hegelian-Marxist historical materialism inverted: Capital will not be ultimately unmasked as exploited labour power; rather, humans are the meat puppet of Capital, their identities and self-understandings are simulations that can and will be ultimately be sloughed off.
(‘Terminator vs Avatar’, #ACCELERATE: The Accelerationist Reader, p. 342)

When I say that Land hates Hegel, philosophically speaking, I have Mackay, Brassier, and Fisher, on my side. Time to check out Land’s own words on Hegel in Fanged Noumena. I’m not going to quote every mention of Hegel, but I will note each one and give a brief interpretation. Ok, Land does mention Hegel some relative frequency in ‘Narcissism and Dispersion in Heidegger’s 1953 Trakl Interpretation’ (all the references in this essay run from pages 105–9). Starting on p. 105, Deleuze discusses Hegel within the context of real differences (in the Deleuzean sense) and their relations to mathematics and cosmology. Land, of course, will oppose the Deleuzean concept of difference to that of Hegel’s as well as Hegel’s interpretation of cosmological elements, e.g., stars, the distribution of stars, starlight. Land brings up Hegel theory of cosmology and its relation to difference in order to contrast Hegel’s position with Trakl’s (whom Land sides with). Here’s the core of the debate:

The fading of stars is, therefore, among other things, a name for a necessary stage in Hegel’s system. The senseless distribu­tion of stellar material is repressed in the interest of the particularized(sub-)planetary body, which in turn furthers geocentrism and the infinitizing of light. is movement crushes difference under a logicized notion of significance. In contrast, Trakl brings the thought of the sign together with that of stellar dispersion.
(Fanged Noumena, ‘Narcissism and Dispersion in Heidegger’s 1953 Trakl Interpretation’, p. 109)

Land brings up Hegel again in ‘Delighted to Death’ on pages 125–6. Here, Land points out that Hegel ended up working out the speculative type of philosophical system that Kant had only dreamt of producing. Then Land quotes Hegel’s description of the French revolution and the secular freedom it sought to unleash, which Land, then, connects to Sade. That’s all for that essay (no positive connotations here). But we do get one mention of Hegel in ‘Art as Insurrection: the Question of Aesthetics in Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche’. In it, Land defends Kant’s concept of genius (“unconscious creative energy”) against the post-Kantian reductions of it found in Schelling, Hegel, and even Schopenhauer — Land, therefore, is being anti-Hegelian here. Here it is:

Irrational surplus, or the ineliminable and beautiful danger of unconscious creative energy: nature with fangs. How do we hold on to this thought? It is perpetually by collapse; by a reversion to a depressive philosophy of work, whether theological or humanistic. The three great strands of post-Kantian exploration — marked by the names Hegel, Schelling, and Schopenhauer — are constantly tempted by the prospect of a reduction to forgotten or implicit labour; to the agency of God, spirit, or man, to anything that would return this ruthless artistic force of the generative unconscious to design, intention, project, teleology. Kant’s word ‘genius’ is the immensely difficult and confused but emphatic resistance to such reductions; the thought of an utterly impersonal creativity that is historically registered as the radical discontinuity of the example, of irresponsible legislation, as ‘order’ without anyone giving the orders.
(Fanged Noumena, ‘Art as Insurrection’, p. 151)

Next up is ‘Spirit and Teeth’. All of the references to Hegel are located on pp. 175–7. Obviously, Land is going to have to discuss Hegel if he’s going to discuss Spirit (Geist). On p. 175, Land is just setting up the historical and philosophical context of the meaning of “Spirit”, which, of course, must center around Hegel. This brings us to the quote you mentioned. You cited this one as evidence of Land referring to Hegel with positive connotations, but I hate to break it to you that this is an example of the exact opposite. Check it out:

But as for spirit! — that can only be parody or nostalgia. Who could still use such a word without humor or disdain? Spirit is less a misleading or dangerous word than a ridiculous one; a Coelecanth of a word. Yet it persists: the mark of a clownish incompetence at death .

Such incompetence has its doctrine, rituals, and lit­urgy, its orthodoxies and heresies. It is the entire and prolonged refusal of the impersonal summarizable as ‘phenomenology.’ Whether high-church (Hegel), or low-church (Husserl), phenomenology is the definitive ideology of propriety; systematically employing the inter­rogative mode in order to distill out everything for which proper subjectivity cannot claim responsibility, and thus entrenching the humanistic dimension of Western phi­losophy ever more rigidly.
(Fanged Noumena, ‘Spirit and Teeth’, p. 176)

First off, the word “church” itself carries negative connotations for Land (at least it did for young Land), since the Church is essential part of the Human Security System. The Church is precisely what guards us against “fanged noumena”, which Land would prefer to be devoured by. Also, one of Land’s main philosophical targets is phenomenology. The whole thing about fixating on the structures and interiority of our experiences is repulsive to Land. Phenomenology simply amounts to the exploration and strengthening of the Great Indoors. Land is absolutely at war, philosophically speaking, with phenomenology — be it the ornate or “Catholic” (high-church) phenomenology of Hegel or the humble or “Protestant” (low-church) of Husserl. But Land’s last reference to Hegel in this text relates to this point: “If spirit largely disappears between Hegel and Husserl it is because, compared to the transcendental ego, it seems a little too complicit with the outside” (Fanged Noumena, ‘Spirit and Teeth’, p. 176). The idea is that “spirt” disappears in Husserl’s phenomenology precisely because it had a little too much Outsideness about for Husserl. The point is that Hegel’s phenomenon of Spirit was not phenomenological enough for Husserl.

We find two mentions of Hegel in ‘After the Law’. On p. 231, Land laughs off attempts to identify history with the meaning of the West as “incredible” (ridiculous), which, for Land, is a project attempted by Plato, Aquinas, and Hegel.

Those seeking to defend the human management of social processes (where ‘man’ speculatively unites with the God of anthropomorphic monotheism) can have no project but to restore a history whose ideal sense would reconnect with the meaning of the West, such as those prof­fered by Plato, Aquinas and Hegel. Such restoration is a modernist aspiration which strikes me as incredible.
(Fanged Noumena, ‘After the Law’, p. 231)

And the only other reference to Hegel (p. 250) in this particular essay is merely a gloss on Hegel’s fascination with the dialectical image of war.

Let’s move on to ‘Making it with Death: Remarks on Thanatos and Desiring-Production’. On p. 261, Land only brings up Hegel to say that Deleuze and the context of his philosophizing must not be reduced to the reaction against Hegel that was so stylish in France during the late 1960s. The next mention on p. 262 simply makes a distinction between two streams of modern philosophy of which Nietzsche is one and Hegel is the other. Land talks about how Hegelian philosophy sought to speculatively revitalize politics in the “wake of Capital”. Land will go on to further distinguish Deleuze from Hegel:

It is not Hegel’s social managerialism that is most relevantly contrasted with Deleuzian nomadism. Hegelianism was only ever the black humour of modern history. It is rather the non-exclusive polity of decon­struction or cruder neo-Kantian liberal theories, with their abstractly re-composable humanities, which are the true counterpole to Deleuze’s anti-political economism.
(Fanged Noumena, ‘Making it with Death’, p. 264)

And the last mention is a gloss on the Hegelian struggle for recognition:

A consummate libidinal materialism is distinguished by its complete indifference to the category of work. Wherever there is labour or struggle there is a repression of the raw creativity which is the atheological sense of matter and which — because of its anegoic effortlessness — seems identical with dying. Work, on the other hand, is an idealist principle used as a supplement or compensation for what matter cannot do. One only ever works against matter, which is why labour is able to replace violence in the Hegelian struggle for recognition.
(Fanged Noumena, ‘Making it with Death’, pp. 286–7)

Next, we have the three Hegel references in ‘Circuitries’ (none of which carry any positive connotations). The first one attacks the “decaying Hegelian socialist heritage”. The second one refers to Hegelianism as involving a “preposterous humanism”. The third speaks of how it’s in Hegel’s theory of judgment that the doctrine of judgment reaches its “senile dementia”. Take a look for yourself.

Traditional schemas which oppose technics to nature, to literate culture, or to social relations, are all dominated by a phobic resistance to the side-lining of human intelligence by the coming techno sapiens. Thus one sees the decaying Hegelian socialist heritage clinging with increasing desperation to the theological sentimentalities of praxis, reification, alienation, ethics, autonomy, and other such mythemes of human creative sovereignty.
(Fanged Noumena, ‘Circuitries’, p. 294)

Deleuze and Guattari are amongst the great cyberneticists, but that they also surrender cybernetics to its modernist definition is exhibited in a remark on capital in The Anti-Oedipus: “an axiomatic of itself is by no means a simple technical machine, not even an automatic or cybernetic machine”. It is accepted that cybernetics is beyond mere gadgetry (“not even”), it has something to do with automation, and yet axiomatics exceeds it. This claim is almost Hegelian in its preposterous humanism.
(Fanged Noumena, ‘Circuitries’, p. 297)

Transcendental philosophy is the consummation of philosophy construed as the doctrine of judgment, a mode of thinking that finds its zenith in Kant and its senile dementia in Hegel. Its architecture is determined by two fundamental principles: the linear application of judgment to its object, form to intuition, genus to species, and the non-directional reciprocity of relations, or logical symmetry. Judgment is the great fiction of transcendental philosophy, but cybernetics is the reality of critique.
Where judgment is linear and non-directional, cyber­netics is non-linear and directional. It replaces linear appli­cation with the non-linear circuit, and non-directional logical relations with directional material flows. The cybernetic dissolution of judgment is an integrated shift from transcendence to immanence, from domination to control, and from meaning to function. Cybernetic innovation replaces transcendental constitution, design loops replace faculties.
(‘Circuitries’, Fanged Noumena, pp. 267–8)

And, finally, we get the single “mention” of Hegel in ‘Meltdown’, which is not really a mention, since Land is talking about “re-Hegelianized ‘western marxism’”, but notice that he does refer to this re-Hegelianizing of Marxism in negative terms, e.g., “degenerates”, “state-sympathizing monotheology”, “siding with fascism”:

The Superiority of Far Eastern Marxism. Whilst Chinese materialist dialectic denegativizes itself in the direction of schizophrenizing systems dynamics, progres­sively dissipating top-down historical destination in the Tao-drenched Special Economic Zones, a re-Hegelianized ‘western marxism’ degenerates from the critique of politi­cal economy into a state-sympathizing monotheology of economics, siding with fascism against deregulation. The left subsides into nationalistic conservatism, asphyxiating its vestigial capacity for ‘hot’ speculative mutation in a morass of ‘cold’ depressive guilt-culture.
(Fanged Noumena, ‘Meltdown’, pp. 447–8)

That all the Hegel references we get in Fanged Noumena. Where exactly are all the positive connotations your spoke of? I’m having real trouble finding any of them. It’s like you were . . . I don’t know . . . talking out of your ass. Anyway, let’s move on to The Dark Enlightenment.

Land on Hegel in The Dark Enlightenment:

Land only brings up Hegel three times in The Dark Enlightenment. In the first one, Land is indirectly opposing Hegel’s privileging of abstract theory over concrete facts (on this point, Land is tapped into his roots of British empiricism). The second mention indirectly and subtly links Hegel to liberal PMCs in the Cathedral and to their God-State. The third mention just connects Hegelian dialectics to our modern-day court dramas, our “show trials”. That’s all we get of Land discussing Hegel in this text. Here are the three quotes:

“If the facts do not agree with the theory, so much worse for the facts” Hegel asserted. It is the Zeitgeist that is God, historically incarnated in the state, trampling mere data back into the dirt. By now, everybody knows where this ends. An egalitarian moral ideal, hardened into a universal axiom or increasingly incontestable dogma, completes modernity’s supreme historical irony by making ‘tolerance’ the iron criterion for the limits of (cultural) toleration. Once it is accepted universally, or, speaking more practically, by all social forces wielding significant cultural power, that intolerance is intolerable, political authority has legitimated anything and everything convenient to itself, without restraint.
(The Dark Enlightenment, Part 3, pp. 25–6)

Even amongst libertarian-slanted conservatives, a firm commitment to ‘natural rights’ is unlikely to proceed confidently and emphatically to their divine origination. For modern ‘liberals’, believers in the rights-bestowing (or entitlement) State, such archaic ideas are not only absurdly dated, but positively obstructive. For that reason, they are associated less with revered predecessors than with the retarded, fundamentalist thinking of political enemies. Sophisticates of the Cathedral core understand, as Hegel did, that God is no more than deep government apprehended by infants, and as such a waste of faith (that bureaucrats could put to better use).
(The Dark Enlightenment, Part 4, p. 35)

Dialectical enthusiasm finds its definitive expression in a courtroom drama that combines lawyers, journalists, community activists, and other agents of the revolutionary superstructure in the production of a show trial. Social contradictions are staged, antagonistic cases articulated, and resolution institutionally expected. This is Hegel for prime-time television (and now for the Internet). It is the way that the Cathedral shares its message with the people.
(The Dark Enlightenment, Part 4b, p. 56)

Land on Hegel in Crypto-Current:

In Crypto-Current: Bitcoin and Philosophy, we get six references to Hegel — all of which are in footnotes. These references are made for historical and philosophical clarification. I don’t think any of them merit exegesis, but here they are in case you want to inspect them for yourself.

The ‘thought’ that matters is produced in advance of any explicitly philosophical apprehension. (This fatality will no doubt evoke Hegel’s “Owl of Minerva” among those receptive to speculative communization, whose problems will be touched upon later in this book.)
(Crypto-Current: Bitcoin and Philosophy, footnote 12)

Kant explicitly denies intellectual intuition to man. This is a proscription that has been generally considered foundational for philosophical anthropology in the Western tradition. It anticipates a technical apprehension of write-protected programming, as this arises within genomics, neurology, and electronic software. A proscribed loop secures the foundations of a being against the meddling of that being. Theology intersects with robotics at this junction, where technology identifies its own temptation to ‘play God’. Within Occidental philosophy, sustained attention to the problem of intellectual intuition reaches its apex in German idealism, where it rapidly transforms into a revolt against the Kantian proscription, and even against the theological order of the universe. Schelling, most notably, conceived intellectual intuition radically as “the organ of all transcendental thinking” (Organ alles transzendentalen Denkens), presupposed by the mere existence of transcendental philosophy (as its condition of possibility). Only insofar as the boundaries of Kantian philosophical anthropology had already been crossed could the critical enterprise have even been imaginable. The Hegelian completion of German Idealism elaborates itself from this contention as if from an elementary formula. In the determination of a limit, Reason has already superseded it. We will have continuous occasion to challenge this speculative idealist resolution of the problem, on fundamentalist Kantian grounds, throughout this work.
(Crypto-Current: Bitcoin and Philosophy, footnote 67)

The critical argument basic to Marx’s analysis of capital is that labor power, the transcendental condition of possibility for all social production (of commodities/objects), is itself subjected to objectification as a commodity. Capital production is thus denounced, implicitly, as a materialized metaphysics, or a system of illegitimate objectification. This theoretical identification of a systematic confusion grounds the Marxian theory of exploitation, since under normal capitalistic conditions, labor power is traded at a price consistent with the labor inputs required for its social reproduction, rather than that of its own productive capacity. Transcendental dialectic is no longer primarily expressed as insoluble philosophical disputation, but rather as class struggle. The contention that such antagonism is productive (and not merely a sterile diversion of theoretical attention) reflects Marx’s Hegelian departure from the Kantian matrix, and the conversion of the antinomies of pure reason into historical dialectics.
(Crypto-Current: Bitcoin and Philosophy, footnote 75)

From a certain perspective — which is not itself isolable as a ‘left-wing’ or ‘right-wing’ theoretical orientation — there is no right-wing politics. The political, by its own dialectical logic (of organized controversy and reconciliation), can only reach conclusion on the left. Insofar as social process conforms to a structure of argumentation, its sinister destination is assured originarily, as the Left Hegelians were the first to distinctively, if only implicitly — and not (of course) at all uncontroversially — comprehend. For the right, agreement to pursue the social argument is already to lose it.
(Crypto-Current: Bitcoin and Philosophy, footnote 163)

‘Nature’ is denounced as the mystified representation of alienated collective desire. This is sheer Schopenhauer, in an ironical, communistic configuration. The deep structure of critique has pre-programmed it, by setting the topic for a multi-century project of institutional absorption (whether conceived as a process of statist-Hegelian formation applied to critical-Schopenhauerean matter, or as a political-institutional interiorization of the thing-in-itself).
(Crypto-Current: Bitcoin and Philosophy, footnote 167)

The cultural homology with a religious myth of incarnation is unmistakable. When conceived as a positive philosophical project of social theology, the outcome is Hegelianism, which is to say speculative metaphysics without regret.
(Crypto-Current: Bitcoin and Philosophy, footnote 213)


I want to say that there are no direct references to Hegel in any of the following works by Land: CCRU Writings 1997–2003, Templexity, Calendric Dominion, Suspended Animation, Xinjiang Horizons, Shanghai Times, Dragon Tales, Phil-Undhu, and Xenosystems Fragments (the single reference to “Hegelianism” is in the essay ‘Re-Accelerationism’, which I already quoted, but I cited it from the collection titled A Nick Land Reader — the essay is contained in both volumes — so I don’t count that one). . Now, what I’m not going to do is comb through the archives of all of Land’s blogs just to see if he ever mentioned Hegel in any of his unpublished writings. If you want to undertake that project just to show that Land once said something really nice about Hegel, then have it. With all that being said, with all this exegetical evidence counting as propositions in my argument, I’ll end with the following conclusion: Therefore, Land hates Hegel. Merry Christmas!