Smith on left, Browning second from right
Smith was also a member of No Remorse, one of the most extreme and explicit of the White Power / Blood and Honour skinhead groups. No Remorse also featured Will 'The Beast' Browning, leader (alongside Charlie Sargent) of the ultra-violent Nazi street-fighting group Combat 18. No Remorse subsequently gained a degree of notoriety for their recording Barbecue in Rostock, which celebrated the 1992 riots and arson attack on an apartment block housing asylum seekers in that city. Above the Ruins, on the other hand, revealed similar allegiances when they contributed a track to the National Front benefit album No Surrender vol 1 alongside the Nazi groups Skrewdriver and Brutal Attack. Clearly Above the Ruins were part of the same general movement as those Blood and Honour groups even if their music was just as clearly aimed at a different audience (ie. not the usual Nazi boneheads but those who prefer their racist claptrap served up with a drum machine and some moody synthesiser on the side).
The following two images are stills taken from a 1991 Panorama TV report entitled 'Race Hate UK', an expose of the racist British National Party (BNP). A person who appears to be Gary Smith is filmed marching on a BNP demo through through the East End of London chanting 'Rights for Whites' and giving the Nazi salute to bystanders.
|Gary Smith with the BNP|
As the commentator says, the BNP at that time were an openly racist party concerned explicitly not with nationality but race. In the course of the film barking, swivel-eyed BNP spokesman Richard Edmonds calls for "a final solution to the racial problems in this country". Gary Smith is precisely the kind of person Wakeford worked with and befriended when he was an open fascist.
These days Wakeford claims to have broken with the ideas he held at that time, but refuses to say exactly what those ideas were. In particular he refuses to say whether they included notions, taken in part from Evola, about 'metapolitical fascism', in which openly fascist politics are abandoned in favour of cultural / artistic work aimed at expanding the influence of anti-democratic, traditionalist and fascist ideas, preparing the ground for a future fascist resurgence - and these are the sort of ideas associated with the neo-folk scene and groups such as Wakeford's own Sol Invictus. He certainly seems to have been thinking in that direction at the time, saying at one point that "In the end economics, even politics, doesn't matter and only a living culture can guarantee a people's, a nation's future."1 While I am quite prepared to believe that Wakeford has long ago dropped active membership of the NF (forerunner to the BNP as the party of choice for Britain's racists) the cultural themes he learned during his time with them, as aspects of their ideology ('Eurocentrism', Paganism, etc.) remain central to his work as a musician.
Another member of Above the Ruins and the original Sol Invictus was Ian Read, a Nazi Odinist who continues to be active with his band Fire + Ice, and who we'll no doubt talk about in future. As Stewart Home has already discussed this period of Wakeford's life at some length, I'll say no more for now other than to comment, first and most obviously, that these images and the film they are taken from offer a close-up view of the kind of world Wakeford immersed himself in before going all 'metapolitical' and obtuse on everyone. The other point concerns the dishonest nature of Wakeford's halting and half-hearted repudiation of his own past. First he denied making music as a fascist at all, then details of his involvement in Above the Ruins began to emerge. He has been known to say that the first incarnation of Sol Invictus was after his association with fascism, but then the evidence emerged that the first Sol Invictus line-up was in fact the same line-up as Above the Ruins, who were clearly identified with the NF through the No Surrender release mentioned above. Not only that but, according to the official version of the story, Wakeford was jettisoned from Death in June when he became a hardcore NF activist, yet a photograph we recently unearthed would seem to suggest that he'd been active for some years in both Death in June and the NF simultaneously before the parting of the ways. Other questions remain: was Wakeford working with David Tibet on the Current 93 album Imperium2 at the same time as he was working with Read and Smith? What role, if any, did Mark Sutherland (Skrewdriver drummer) play in these early bands?
The story keeps on changing. No wonder Wakeford says that he no longer wants to talk about that period: every time he's done so in the past it has turned out later either that he'd lied or had left gaping holes in his story to cover up the extent of his (and other people's?) active involvement in fascist politics. It looks very much as though there may be a lot more to be discovered about the history of Tony Wakeford's fascism and his political relations with other players in the neo-folk 'scene'.
1. Tony Wakeford, Scorpion # 9, Spring 1986, p 31
2. whose title, incidentally, is probably taken from Francis Parker Yockey or (more likely in my opinion) Evola again