Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Peter Webb Investigates

In an earlier post I said of sociologist and Goldsmiths lecturer Peter Webb that "he is either unwilling or unable to do the work required to comprehend his chosen field". I think I owe it to Webb to bear that opinion out by looking more closely at his work. In a section of the book that concerns us, Networked Worlds of Popular Music: Milieu Cultures, he discusses the 'apocalyptic folk, postindustrial, folk-noir, neo-folk' scene through the work of the three core members of the group Death in June - Tony Wakeford, Doug Pearce and Patrick Leagas - who, he tells us, have been "central to the developing British underground and postindustrial/post-Punk milieu"1. Webb is well aware of the controversy surrounding these musicians due to their use of fascist imagery and symbols2, and their promotion of arguments associated with various strands of contemporary esoteric fascist and 'conservative revolutionary' thought derived from Ernst Jünger, Julius Evola, Savitri Devi, Otto and Gregor Strasser and others. He knows that Wakeford was a member of the fascist National Front, and he certainly should know of the fascist connections of some of the group's collaborators, such as Boyd Rice, Albin Julius and Michael Moynihan, since they have been widely publicised. Given this, what is staggering is the extent to which he accepts their excuses and evasions at face value and refuses in any way to critically examine the ideas they promote, or place them in a context that would make sense of them. Instead of challenging any of this he chooses to descend into the gutter with his heroes to join them in condemning the 'fascistic censoriousness' and 'McCarthyism' of the left3. The result is a complete whitewashing of the people concerned, and the corresponding destruction of any credibility Webb might have had as a researcher or commentator.

In his chapter on method ('The Theoretical Development of the Milieu'4) Webb says that his concept of 'the milieu' addresses "the networks of interaction, production and influence that music makers and actors in the particular music 'scenes' (are) involved in [and] articulates a set of overlapping levels of meaning, relevance, disposition and understanding"5. He argues that "there are three main levels of theoretical abstraction" that must be addressed in order to understand a milieu6, encompassing three sets of relations; those internal to the milieu itself, those between different milieus and different orders of milieu (specifically in this case, between the musical milieu and the record industry), and a third level of interaction between the milieu and the surrounding "culture, economy and politics"7. Anyone reading the latter might imagine that Webb would therefore want to examine - to pick some minor examples at random - what Patrick Leagas means when he says he has a "sense of being English" despite the fact that "I do not recognise this as England"8, or perhaps Doug Pearce's claim to have been part of a "reawakening of... Eurocentrism" in the milieu9, or any of the many similar statements that litter the interviews here.

Webb repeatedly mentions the group's interest in 'traditionalism'10 without bothering to find out if this might refer not to a vague hankering after Morris Dancers and cricket on the village lawn but rather the traditionalism of René Guénon and the 'super-fascist' Julius Evola11 - who's work, after all, has been edited and published by a key collaborator of the group, Michael Moynihan (of Blood Axis), who is mentioned repeatedly in the book12 and whose connection to Evola is even noted13. Similarly you'd expect that he might be interested to know whether the group's interest in "occult influences in the social and cultural order"14 might possibly be connected with Evola's idea that an occult war is being waged for control of society, in which Jews and Masons work for the "forces of subversion" seeking to overthrow the "forces of order"15. According to Evola this plan was revealed in The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the infamous anti-Semitic tract for which he wrote an introduction when it was published in Italian in 1937, and the veracity of which he continued to defend long after it had been exposed as a forgery16 cooked up by the Czarist secret police. Since Evola's arguments on the matter are taken from a book edited and published by Moynihan there is every chance that this is precisely what was intended, but Webb is in no hurry to find out. Indeed, Webb seems not even to be curious about the politics involved: his bibliography lists none of the relevant texts by or about the fascist ideologues who have inspired so many members of this 'scene'.

Despite the constant use by the group of dog-whistle references to ideas from the radical right17, Webb consistently steers clear of any attempt to find out what the members of Death in June and their friends actually think. In fact, if we are to believe Webb his subjects have few real opinions18. Instead they seem to suffer from an incurable case of chronic ideological indeterminacy which prevents them from concluding anything at all; they are forever 'exploring' and 'investigating', apparently without arriving at any definite convictions. So, his musicians have "a thirst for esoteric knowledge, and an art of self-questioning and soul searching"19; they 'deal with' "the traditions of Europe"20 and 'allude to' "paganism, heathenism, Europe, the West"21; they have "explored and looked at a variety of philosophies and pagan knowledges"22 and "sought out ideas and ways of understanding"23; they are "searching for something else"24; they 'take inspiration' "from a wide variety of sources and (show) "their thirst for knowledge and new ways of interpreting things"25; and the neo-folk milieu as a whole has created a space in which "a variety of ideas can be explored and developed"26. But it is impossible to imagine how any idea could be 'developed' if everyone involved in its development refused to say what they thought of it, how they interpreted it, or whether they believed it to be true. But, again, Webb puts his blind eye up to the glass and refuses to see.

To some small extent this dereliction of duty simply reflects Webb's declared methodology. In an early chapter ('A Journey Through Theories of the Intersection of Music and Culture'27) he offers a potted overview of the history of popular culture studies in which, broadly, the (pseudo-) Marxism of Dick Hebdige and the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) is given a rap on the knuckles for placing undue emphasis on structure above agency, and a string of post-modernists are wheeled out to make a case for privileging instead "the subjective meanings of subculturalists rather than deriving these from a pre-given totalising theory"28. While I have no interest in the minutia of such debates within the sociology department, it's clear from Webb's arguments that he simply wants to justify his preferred approach, in which he can tell his story from an insider's point of view, as a fan of the genre, its cod philosophy, kitsch aesthetics and atavistic politics. To some extent, then, the problem is that Webb, in his enthusiasm to paint himself as the hippest and most edgy sociologist in town29, has simply 'gone native'. His 'phenomenological' approach is solipsistic, allowing him to seal off his favourite musicians from even the possibility of criticism. This is hinted at in the tendentious example he provides of a 'momentary milieu', in which someone from "a Socialist background", on meeting a Nationalist, may "respond with disdain and contempt", in which case their "momentary exposure to this other political milieu is... fenced off by the rigidity of his or her particular political vision"30.

This relativism is mirrored by a corresponding blurring of moral lines. At one point he considers the lyrics to the Death in June track 'C'est un Reve' (It's a Dream):
Ou est Klaus Barbie?
Il est dans le coeur
Il est dans le coeur noir

c'est un reve
Webb concludes that Barbie (an SS captain in occupied France known as 'The Butcher of Lyon', who personally tortured his victims and had as many as 4,000 murdered) is to be found "in the heart" of everyone31; a repulsive argument which attempts to capsize the moral distinction to be made between Barbie and his victims32. Webb offers this as an example of "the direction of Death in June's art" which works to "enliven, question, re-examine and provoke a response"33. Certainly  arguments like this are going to 'provoke a response', if only because they are so repellant, but that hardly justifies the art. If it did then we would have to be similarly grateful to Barbie himself for also 'making us think'.

Another gear in Webb's machinery of obfuscation is his idealist concept of art. For Webb the aesthetic is a privileged domain in which no one needs to say what they think or be held responsible for the results. He claims that the racists and fascists who attend neo-folk concerts have "taken the symbols and references... directly and uncomplicatedly", not understanding that the bands are using them "for artistic purposes"34, as if the re-presentation of an idea in the context of a song somehow means we can ignore its meaning or the intentions of the singer. Of course a song can express opinions on behalf of a character other than the singer, but in the case of Death in June the two may often coincide. If we were to rely on Webb we would never know: he might have tried to find out one way or the other, but instead he uses the idea of 'artistic ambiguity' to avoid the question. Similar feelings about the sublimity of art are common among those postindustrial fans who claim they are interested in 'the aesthetics of fascism' but not the politics, ignoring the fact that, as the anti-fascist critic Walter Benjamin argued, fascism crucially involves precisely the admixing of aesthetics and politics, such that the two cannot be so neatly separated35.

Webb relies extensively on his half-baked notion of 'ambiguity' to provide cover for his pop idols. Of course such ambiguity can be central to the artwork, but it can also provide the perfect cover for supporters of the radical right pursuing a strategy of 'right-wing Gramscianism'. This strategy has been developed by Alain de Benoist and other supporters of the Nouvelle Droite / European New Right (ENR), whose ideas chime neatly not only with the 'third way' faction of the NF that Wakeford mixed with but also with the positions defended by him to this day. As Anton Shekhovtsov has explained, the aim of the strategy is;

"to modify the dominant culture and make it more susceptible to a non-democratic mode of politics... the adherents of the ENR believe that one day the allegedly decadent era of egalitarianism and cosmopolitanism will give way to ‘an entirely new culture based on organic, hierarchical, supra-individual, heroic values’. It is important to emphasize, however, that ‘metapolitical fascism’ focuses... on the battle for hearts and minds rather than for immediate political power. Following Evola’s precepts, the ENR tries to distance itself from both historical and contemporary fascist parties and regimes."36
Webb notes that Death in June "deliberately were ambiguous about any political meaning that they might be conveying"37, but fails to register that if someone dresses up on stage as a fascist and sings songs promoting fascist ideas while waving a fascist flag around, but then denies being a fascist, what they are engaged in is not ambiguity but subterfuge. He notes that "this milieu acts as a source of pathways into a set of... ideas"38 but refuses to consider what those ideas might actually be behind the blabber and smoke.

If that were all there were to it this book would be just another example of the vacuity of academic sociology, the impotence of postmodernism and the dangers of letting a fanboy loose in the academy. But Webb's self-imposed myopia becomes a shade more sinister when you consider the gaping aporias he leaves scattered around his text so that his boys can emerge from it unsullied. For instance, in telling the story of the group's origins he omits to mention that their name commemorates the 'Night of the Long Knives', in June 1934, when the Nazi regime executed the leadership of the Sturmabteilung (SA - The Stormtroopers, or Brownshirts), including Gregor Strasser, a major influence on sections of the National Front with which Tony Wakeford has been associated. This event, in which the Nazi leadership dispatched the left-facing wing of their movement, was also known as Operation Hummingbird, which also happens to be the title of an album the group recorded with Albin Julius, whose band, Der Blutharsch have been banned from playing in Israel and elsewhere because of their stance. Such coincidences are certainly going make the audience think; unless, of course, they are sociologists or phenomenologists from Goldsmiths University.

Webb discusses Crisis at some length, since they were the band Wakeford and Pearce belonged to back in the days when they were, respectively, members of the Socialist Wokers Party (SWP) and International Marxist Group (IMG). Strangely, though, he has nothing to say about the group Wakeford formed on leaving Death in June - Above the Ruins - whose members reputedly (Wakeford will neither confirm nor deny) included Gary Smith, previously of the openly Nazi band No Remorse (who were part of Ian Stuart's Blood and Honor organisation and also, co-incidentally, recorded an album that referred to the Brownshirts; The New Stormtroopers) and Nazi activist Ian Read. The band contributed a track to an a album, No Surrender, which was produced as a fundraiser for the British National Front, and which included a track by Skrewdriver, the first and most notorious White Power band, and their name is presumably derived from the title of Evola's book, 'Men Among the Ruins'. None of this gets a mention from Webb. Perhaps Wakeford himself never mentioned the band or its members to him. This is possible, since Wakeford has admitted lying to and misleading interviewers in the past (on preparing for a particular interview he says "I better dig out my bumper book of fibs"39), but then such evasions could be got around by a little independent research. But it seems that Webb has no interest in doing such research, preferring to base his work entirely on the say-so of his subjects - in the name of 'phenomenology'.

Similarly, when Webb discusses Wakeford's involvement in the online fanzine Flux Europa he tells us that the magazine "discussed postmodernism, art, literature, philosophy, film and music", reassuring us that "the content was diverse". He proves this by mentioning the articles it contained "on Camille Paglia, Jack London and Ezra Pound"40. What Webb conspicuously fails to mention is that, as reported by Stewart Home, Flux Europa was an extension of the cultural activities of Transeuropa, which itself emerged from the wreckage of National Front cultural-intellectual group IONA (Islands of the North Atlantic) - both organisations that Wakeford has had some involvement with. And - a tiny detail but one that is highly revealing - while Webb mentions Camille Paglia, Ezra Pound and Jack London as artists about whom Flux Eropa had published articles, what he omits to mention is that they are among a small group of people who are included under the site's 'Personae' section, which is presumably how Webb came to choose them in the first place, and at the time Webb was doing his research that section contained biographies of just two other people; the Vorticist and fascist supporter Wyndham Lewis, and Ernst Jünger, the German Nationalist fanatic who celebrated war, death and pain, and whose Stirnerian concept of the sovereign individual as 'Anarch' has inspired subsequent generations of radical rightists and neo-fascists - including Troy Southgate of the neo-folk band H.E.R.R. In an act of blatant self-censorship, Webb chooses not to mention these names. Of course, if he wanted to exclude all of the fascist supporters on the list then he'd have omitted to mention Ezra Pound too - but that wouldn't have left him with much of a list.

Another curious omission concerns Death in June's album Rose Clouds of Holocaust, which was banned from sale in Germany by the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young People), who found that the title song cast doubt on the occurrence of the Holocaust on account of lyrics that run "Rose clouds of Holocaust/ Rose clouds of lies/ Rose clouds of bitter/ Bitter, bitter lies"41. As we have now come to expect, none of this is mentioned by Webb.

Boyd Rice
Webb applies his now familiar uncritical and tendentious attitude to Wakeford's supposed renunciation of his fascist past, hastily posted to the Sol Invictus website when the heat was beginning to be turned up on him, and which is worded so ambiguously as to convince me that he still holds to at least some of the core ideas he learned as a member of the National Front (NF). He says; "I have no connection with, or sympathy for, or interest in [the ideas of the NF], nor have I had for around 20 years"42, but then that would be true of other ex-members who also moved on to more diverse forms of radical rightist politics since that party's collapse. When Wakeford adds that "none of the artists I work with hold such views either" you know that he is throwing sand in your face given that he has worked with the likes of Boyd Rice, who is quite happy to promote the white power skinhead party, the American Front, appearing in full Nazi uniform alongside its leader, Bob Heick. Webb, on the other hand, accepts the statement as definitive proof that Wakeford has nothing to answer for. Stranger still, he continues to believe Wakeford's reassurances despite having been shown to have been misled by him. As Stewart Home has argued, Wakeford's attempt at rehabilitating himself falls a long way short of what you would expect from someone who had truly broken with their fascist past.

Apart from covering up for this gaggle of neo-fascists Webb has little or nothing of interest to say about the milieu or its art. His analysis of the music on offer would make even the the most lazy and inept music hack blush. Generally all he can muster is the observation that the music is 'melancholic': so Nico made "intense melancholic music"43; Scott Walker's work combines "simple melody... with the melancholy of the words"44; Death in June are attracted to "melancholic poetry"45 and their work is pervaded by "a type of melancholia"; neo-folk has added "melancholia" to industrial music46, and so on. It never occurs to him to ask what the artists are melancholic about. He doesn't bother to speculate about why folk music, which idealises the pre-capitalist past, should be so appealing to his subjects. His attempts at analysing the use of collage in art are laughable: he  manages to compare Death in June's deliberately evasive and dishonest jumble of fascist iconography with John Heartfield's superbly pointed and polemical anti-Nazi collages47, and he thinks that what Death in June do "is like a more structured version of William Burroughs and Brian (sic) Gysin's cut up method" adding "(reference needed here)"48. Indeed, a reference is the very least that would be required to make this argument get off the mortuary table - it's like saying that a car maintenance manual 'is like a more structured version' of an exploding library.

Peter Webb has written a book which deals with a milieu that is riddled with neo-fascists and supporters of the radical right. He claims that he wants to explain the milieu by considering the relationship between it and the wider 'culture, economy and politics', and admits that "there are many questions [concerning] the political and cultural implications of a scene such as this", but he finally concludes that "These questions are outside of the remit of this book"49. To the rest of us this looks like exactly what it is; an attempt to justify an utterly craven and dishonest book that fails to meet even the most minimal academic or intellectual standards.

NB. Peter Webb subsequently replied to these criticisms in a statement that we have also published - Strelnikov, 11/10/10

Evola, Julius. 1953. Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, (2002: tr. Guido Stucco, ed. Michael Moynihan, Inner Traditions, Rochester NY)
Shekhovtsov, Anton. 2009, Apoliteic Music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and “Metapolitical Fascism"’, in Patterns of Prejudice, Volume 43, Issue 5 (December 2009), pp. 431-457. This excellent essay is also available online.
Sykes, Alan. 2005. The Radical Right in Britain, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
Webb, Peter. 2007. Exploring the Networked Worlds of Popular Music: Milieu Cultures, Routledge, Abbingdon.

1. Webb, 2007, p65
2. ibid, pp93f
3. ibid, pp94f. In an extraordinary page-long digression from his thesis, he also claims that these 'fascistic tendencies' are also behind the hounding of former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), who we must assume are his former comrades since I see no other justification for his dragging in them into the argument at this point.
4. ibid, pp29-38
5. ibid, p30
6. ibid, p37
7. ibid, p38
8. ibid, p96
9. ibid, p97
10. ibid, pp 98, 99, 105
11. Evola, Julius. 'Things Put in Their Proper Place and Some Plain Words', in La Torre, issue #5, April 1930, quoted in H.T.Hansen, 'Introduction', Evola, 2002, p42. Here Evola explains that he is an 'anti-fascist', critical of Mussolini and Hitler, only to the extent that he is a 'super-fascist' and wants to go much further.
12. Webb, 2007, pp 66, 67
13. ibid, p92
14. ibid, p97
15. Evola, 2002, p236
16. ibid, p239f
17. My use of the terms 'fascist', 'revolutionary conservative' and 'the radical right' is sometimes fairly loose since with many of the people concerned it is hard to say exactly where they stand in the spectrum of ultra-right thought. But I follow Alan Sykes in seeing the 'radical right' as a term that encompasses fascism. I also include within this the 'traditionalism' of Evola and others, as well as movements that could be described as 'reactionary modernist', 'radical imperialist' or similar. Sykes, 2005, p2.
18. Although in the case of Patrick Leagas this may well be true, since he admits that "coming to a conclusion about anything at all is beyond me!". Webb, 2007, p81
19. Webb, 2007, p66
20. ibid, p68
21. ibid, p68
22. ibid, p81
23. ibid, p85
24. ibid, p85
25. ibid, p89
26. ibid, p105
27. ibid, pp11-28
28. ibid, p21
29. "This book has been inspired by a love of popular music for over three decades", ibid, p7
30. ibid, p30-31 
31. ibid, p79
32. In April 1944 Barbie ordered the deportation to Auschwitz of a group of 44 Jewish children from an orphanage at Izieu. He was also responsible for a massacre in Rehaupal in September 1944. See Wikipedia.
33. Webb, 2007, p79
34. ibid, p92
35. Walter Benjamin, 'Epilogue', 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction'
36. Shekhovtsov, 2009. Apoliteic Music
37. Webb, 2007, p76
38. ibid, p105
39. Wakeford, Sol Invictus profile, Facebook, 26 July 2008
40. Webb, 2007, p89
41. Shekhovtsov, 2009. Apoliteic Music, note #6.
42. Wakeford, 'A Message From Tony', tursa.com 14 Feb 2007
43. Webb, 2007, p61
44. ibid, p62
45. ibid, p98
46. ibid, p105
47. ibid, p93
48. ibid, p78
49. ibid, p105


  1. You seem to have left out the fact that the rest of Webb's book discusses Hip-Hop, Trip-hop, Crass, Independent House Music and musicians from many different scenes. Webb is describing the Neo-folk scene in the chapter and states that the politics of the scene are outside the remit of this chapter, but I imagine his take on it will appear in another piece on this scene. You also seem to pick the odd word and sections out of context to make your point rather than read what he actually means e.g:

    "His attempts at analysing the use of collage in art are laughable: he manages to compare Death in June's deliberately evasive and dishonest jumble of fascist iconography with John Heartfield's superbly pointed and polemical anti-Nazi collages47"

    He is actually referring to a thesis by Stephanie Obodda (2002) where she is discussing the use of Heartfield, Douglas Kahn and Dawn Ades ideas on photomontage in terms of Gothic and Industrial music. She references the work of Laibach, Throbbing Gristle, Boyd Rice and DIJ and their use of juxtaposition. Webb states that neo-folk musicians use this process as one strategy of making their work but also that there is an obvious elitism within the scene that sees its audience as too stupid to interpret the symbolism or reference points used.

    You also accuse Webb of obfuscation and therefore complicity with the fascism of some of these artists (not all I may add). I know that Webb is an active anti-fascist and has been involved in campaigns against the BNP and NF. He is also an anti-racist, humanist and promoter of Global justice issues so maybe before defaming him on a public forum you should talk to him first rather than take your cues from the ill informed who seem more energized going after a tiny music scene than actual campaigning against practicing fascist parties!

  2. "I know that Webb is an active anti-fascist and has been involved in campaigns against the BNP and NF. He is also an anti-racist, humanist and promoter of Global justice issues"

    I've been told as much and don't dispute it. But that makes his approach all the more odd. The most generous interpretation would be that his broadly phenomenological / postmodern approach leads him to deliberately bracket the political context but, as I say in the post, the string of omissions in his text makes that argument hard to swallow as a complete explanation.

    For the record, I think Webb is foolish and naive. I don't think he sympathises personally with fascist politics. He is 'complicit' indirectly, by virtue of what he doesn't say and the questions he doesn't ask. I don't think he's complicit in the sense being any kind of conspirator.

    Webb continues to accept personal reassurances from the artists concerned at face value and will not consider that perhaps they are being less than entirely honest with him, even when that can be shown to be the case (as with the matter of his not being told anything about Above the Ruins or the early Sol Invictus line-up). To get to the bottom of the matter he (like the rest of us) would have to take what the musicians say and do and compare it with the work of the ideologues they refer to in order to work out their relation to them: do they really just 'index' those ideas, the way that an image or icon might be indexed within a collage? Or do they actually accept the ideas? That is something that can only be determined by doing the kind of reasearch Webb conspicuously avoids (see, eg., my point about his bibliography).

    And yet, without doing that work he gives them a clean bill of health. How can that be?

    As for the collage / Obadda business, I don't know the original work so I won't comment, but Webb's use of it is certainly naive, because the only artist mentioned, John Heartfield, simply cannot be compared to the neo-folk 'artists' being discussed. I defy you to point to a Heartfield montage (note: montage) that has anything in common with the sort of political shell games that characterise the neo-folk artists use of imagery. For one thing, it is perfectly plain from his work where Heartfield stood politically, whereas in the other case, to put it mildly, the opposite applies. Webb's point seems to be that neo-folk artists are elitists because they assume a high level of aesthetic and intellectual discrimination among their audience - an idea I find hilarious on a number of levels. Certainly, given Webb's own understanding of the aesthetics of collage and montage, his absurd comparison with Burroughs' & Gysin's cut-ups, etc., he isn't doing much to demonstrate any such elite understanding himself.

    Finally, I agree that people should campaign against practicing fascist parties. I just don't think that such campaigning precludes discussing related aesthetic and politico-cultural matters. And, let's face it, neither does Peter Webb; he's written extensively on these topics and even earns a living by doing so, whereas all I've managed is a few blog posts.

  3. >> even when that can be shown to be the case (as
    >> with the matter of his not being told anything
    >> about Above the Ruins or the early Sol
    >> Invictus line-up).

    It is hard to believe that he did not know about ATR etc. because he seems to know the scene pretty well -


    "Pete Webb" emilklimov
    Wed Nov 6, 2002 6:01 pm


    I have been a member of the list for quite some time and haven't introduced myself. I am a long time DIJ supporter from the Crisis days through to the present. I have seen many line up changes and developments in the music and still think douglas is involved in one of the most interesting and challenging musical projects around. I chose this moment to introduce myself as I was just about to fill you in about the `Born Again' 12" when douglas beat me to it. However I don't know if there a few different versions of the 12" with that cover (Patrick Leagas did rerelease it as a picture disc aswell) but the one I have has The Calling (mk.2.) and Carousel (bolt mix) on the second side. The music is very much Nada era i.e. still with the same DIJ atmosphere but slightly more dance orientated beats and Patrick's vocals. I used to play these tracks and Heaven street as a DJ in a club in Bristol, England.

    I was in the States the last two weeks and stopped off to see the Chicago show. Well worth the effort, although Boyd Rice's performance was a little low on volume. It was good to see DIJ again and I thought the performance worked really well. I still remember my first DIJ gig at the Clarendon in Hammersmith, London about 1981 (i think) with a very young In The Nursery and the band Joy of Life who released a mini album on NER. Very powerful performance, Doug and Patrick were joined by two others (I think tony had just left/been asked to leave) and combined kettle drums, bass, a variety of keyboards, tape loops and trumpet to great effect. This gig happened prior to the release of an NER compilation which included 2 DIJ tracks, In the Nursery, Current 93 and a few others - I haven't got time to check my collection but I think it was called `From Torture to Conscience'.

    Anyone else out there remember any early DIJ gigs?


  4. Curious comments above from anon bearing in mind that one of the creeps Webb ends up defending is Tony Wakeford. Of course Wakeford also had a track record as an anti-racist and anti-fascist at the point he joined the fascist National Front (but the plain fact is he had moved from being an anti-fascist to being a neo-Nazi).

    Those currently wanting to defend Wakeford and some of the bands he has been involved in such as Death In June and Sol Invictus sometimes pointlessly bring up the issue of Wakeford being a Socialist Workers Party activist before he became a fascist activist. So by analogy I don't think anon claiming that Webb has an anti-fascist and anti-racist track record is very useful here.

    I guess for now the jury is out on whether Webb is just very naive and a really poor academic or something more sinister like a belief in convergence is going on with him. Convergence was always the plan of the fascist faction of which Wakeford is still a part. It is idiotic of anyone on the left to think they can work with the extreme right in opposing capitalism but this is the con line long touted by Wakeford's political soldier comrades. If Webb has fallen for such nonsense (I'm not saying he has but it remains possible) then this is very sad indeed.

  5. I am privy to a new piece that Webb has written where he clearly attacks Boyd Rice, DIJ etc for being part of a cultural milieu that has tried to regenerate a conservative revolutionary and traditionalist politics whilst being ineffective in actually being able to maximise this through lack of clarity/fear of exposure. It seems that this is a statement of how he views the politics of the scene. Again speculation as to his political position is useless unless there is any clarification. He is in no way a convergence theorist and has no belief in any form of fascism. I have met him and heard him talk on this area recently and was left in no doubt of his disgust for that element of this scene.

  6. I bumped into Peter Webb at a gig about three or four years ago and he subsequently interviewed me for his book, but eventually chose not to include the material I submitted. However, regardless of the claims made on this website, I am not and have never been a fascist of any description. You would have thought that anyone who reads my books and articles, many of which openly attack Italian fascism and German national-socialism for their allegiance with big business and other capitalist interests, would be able to appreciate this fact right away. Furthermore, Tony Wakeford has a Jewish partner and sells t-shirts bearing Hebrew slogans, so he can hardly be tarred with this brush, either. People like Stewart Home and other paranoid nutters have a personal interest in perpetuating these lies.

  7. Troy Southgate: I have read your book as well as various other online articles and am well aware that you prefer not to be called a fascist. But no matter how syncretic your politics have become your core ideology remains essentially fascist, and it is clear to anyone with any kind of critical intelligence that your rejection of the term has more to do with your 'convergence' strategy and entrist tactics than any rejection of fascist ideology per se.

    As you say in your article 'The Case for National Anarchist Entryism'; "Not everyone is suited to this kind of work, however, because individuals who have a high profile or a past history of street activism must be excluded. People who have blown their cover, so to speak, are really no use to us in this regard.... Once the target has been chosen, get one or two people to join through the usual channels (i.e. membership forms, invitations to meetings etc.). Appear keen, but not over keen and keep your politics to yourself".

    Since your target groups for such entrism are not only the obvious far-right candidates (BNP, etc.) but also anarchists and environmental activists I assume that places some sort of premium on denying that you are, or ever have been, a fascist so as to 'keep your politics to yourself', because most (though sadly, not all) anarchists are instinctively hostile to fascists and fascism.

    Anyway, I'm astonished that you can say you "have never been a fascist of any description" given your membership of the National Front, the International Third Position (ITP) and English Nationalist Movement (ENM), in all of which you have played some sort of (more or less) leading role. Belonging to such organisations alongside the likes of Roberto Fiore and Derek Holland definitely counts as 'having a fascist past' by any meaningful standards. And as the ITP cadre originally included Nick Griffin - perhaps the best known of contemporary British fascists these days, albeit at the same time despised by many of them - it seems bizarre that you would try to dissociate yourself from 'fascism' so implausibly. Wakeford's approach of pretending it is all behind him at least recognises the facts of his own history. As for why I think you remain a fascist, I hope to write about that in future.

    Attacking 'Italian Fascism and German National Socialism' is perfectly possible even for those whose position is itself essentially fascist. To take a very pertinent example, of which you are certainly well aware, Julius Evola also criticised both of the main variants of fascism in his time without at all ceasing to be a fascist - or, as he put it himself, a 'super-fascist'.

    Finally, I'm surprised that someone like yourself, who aspires to a degree at least of ideological sophistication, should raise the complete red herring concerning Wakeford's wife. For obvious reasons it is indeed uncommon for those with fascist sympathies to take a Jewish partner; but it is also far from unknown. What is more surprising is that Wakeford and his supporters should try to use the fact that his partner is Jewish as proof that he has broken with fascism when Wakeford chose as his best man for the ceremony a leading Strasserite/Nazi ideologist and activist (Richard Lawson). I mean, he really should have thought that one through.

  8. Regarding my article on entryism, it does indeed encourage people to mask their true intentions in order to inflitrate other organisations, but that shouldn't automatically imply that behind the mask there lies a fascist. That has never been my starting point. In fact when I joined the NF as an anti-Thatcherite teenager in the mid-80s it was as a result of the group's economic policies and Race was completely meaningless to me. Someone handed me a newspaper of theirs in a pub and when I read it on the train home I discovered that it had a big feature on the Mondragon complex in Spain and something about Distributism. My acceptance of the racial separatist issue - not racism or supremacy, mind - came much later on when I realised there were also Black people who wished to preserve their identity, too. Even so, having a 'controversial' position on Race should not lead people to assume that I am a fascist. In fact I loathe fascism, but whilst I would fight tooth and nail against the imposition of any fascist government I would not go so far as to describe myself an an 'anti-fascist' due to the negative connotations that entails. I'm not suggesting that it's negative to oppose fascism, of course, in fact it's very positive for anyone genuinely wishing to defend their freedom and individuality from totalitarian regimes of this nature, but most people who describe themselves as 'anti-fascists' are little more than fascists themselves and I completely reject that kind of coercion. Moving on, I have a new book coming out in two or three weeks, called 'Nazis, Fascists or Neither: Ideological Credentials of the British Far Right, 1987-1994'. In this book I deal with the fascist reactionaries in the ITP in strong terms, pointing out that the fascist revivalism of people like Fiore was one of the chief reasons for leaving the group back in September 1992. Evola's position, meanwhile, was rather ambiguous and confused. He probably was a fascist, despite his criticisms of the systems in Italy and Germany. But I reject much of Evola's thought, anyway, and in particular any links with fascism. I take your point about Wakeford, I don't know him personally (nor Lawson, for that matter, Stewart Home gets this completely wrong) and can't really comment. But surely people change over time, or must they be forever associated with their past? Wakeford isn't involved in politics, either, so even if he was a fascist - which I strongly doubt - he's no threat to anyone. Bear in mind, too, that his more Left-wing excursions with Crisis are still very popular, too. Does this mean that he should apologise to his fascist mates for daring to promote Left-wing views back in the old days? Of course not. Whatever Wakeford is, or was, it really doesn't matter. Perhaps, if youi're that worried, you need to spend more time looking at the audience, rather than the people who - most of time - simply flirt with these concepts, be they Left or Right, with no real intention of becoming embroiled in political matters themselves.

  9. I did not say that if someone masked their true political intentions they were therefore a fascist: I said that the fact that you are trying to hide your politics in order to infiltrate and take control of other organisations explains why you deny being a fascist even though you are one.

    The main problem with the debate about fascism and neo-folk, etc., is that most people caught in the middle of it really have no idea what contemporary fascists think, relying instead on images of Tory, empire fascists of the past (as well as the obvious NSDAP & fascisti) as their model of what constitutes 'fascism'. This allows people like yourself to promote ideas you have taken from Evola, Traditionalism, the European New Right (ENR), etc., (and in your case a dash of the Bakunin, etc.) and present them as being "beyond left and right", "beyond capitalism and socialism" (that was, of course, the idea that came to be called the 'third position'), and so supposedly also "beyond fascism", whereas what those ideas really represent is merely an updating of fascism to take into account modern tastes and circumstances. Most of all it allows you to sell ideas to people who wouldn't accept them if they understood that they were intended to bolster a fascist program.

    'Racial Separatism' is simply the language the ENR and others have come up with try to make their racism respectable. They forget that the South Africans already had a word for this policy - Apartheid (the clue is in the name) - and so we already know what it means in practice.

    As for Wakeford's fascist past, I've said repeatedly that I couldn't really care less about his past sins as such. The problem is that although he tries to distance himself from that past, and would prefer if none of us ever mentioned it again, he hasn't fully broken with the ideas he held then. To prove that means examining the real history of his involvement with fascism, which, sadly for him, means raking up his sordid past. People can, of course, change over time, and Wakeford could silence all of his critics once and for all if he did the decent thing and came out clearly against fascism and against related ideas that are swimming around the neo-folk scene (due in large part to his own activity).

    I'm going to close the comments on this post as we have wondered off topic, but I intend to take up your arguments when I write about National Anarchism in future.

  10. Correction - I'll leave comments open but only allow those through that address the issues around Peter Webb's book. I want him and his supporters to be able to reply to the arguments if they can.

  11. Well, at the risk of going off-topic one final time, I must say that look forward to reading your dissection of National-Anarchism very much, not least because I'm still completely unconvinced by your contention that I'm apparently a 'fascist' when, in fact, I support decentralisation right down to the lowest possible unit (including decentralisation for advocates of multi-racialism, homosexuality or anything else). I hope you'll read my forthcoming book on the British Far Right, too. Just quickly, regarding 'Apartheid' in South Africa, I don't believe it was an authentic example of racial separatism at all, because the White regime exploited Black labour for its own ends by bringing people in to wipe their backsides for them in the morning and then sending them back to the misery and squalor of the townships later the same day. In fact it was capitalist exploitation of the worst possible kind. But hey, let's not blame modern Afrikaners for the sins of their fathers, many of them - including wiomen and children - are being systematically terrorised today and I don't hear much in the way of support from 'anti-fascists' or any other self-professed opponents of State terror.

  12. Michael Woodbridge5 Oct 2010, 23:18:00

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. @ Troy Southgate:

    "I am not and have never been a fascist of any description".

    It's entertaining to see that a month after your laughable post here this appeared on your publisher Artkos' website in the blurb for your new book on, guess who... Hitler!

    "Troy Southgate's wonderful and exciting first novel is a dark and brooding narrative, full of drama and suspense. The author explores the more sensitive and quintessentially human aspects of Hitler's personality in light of the inextricable links he has with his own recent past."


    Nice that. You should have called it "Hitler- all-round nice guy". And what, do you think they mean by "in light of the inextricable links he has to his own past" do you think?
    Funny too that you should choose to publish with Artkos, a publisher with a taste for Alain de Benoist, Corneliu Codreanu, Alexander Jacob, Francis Parker Yockey, Julius Evola, and a host of runic crap, grab-bag mysticism, Nazi mythology, and European New Right bollocks.
    You, Southgate, are a fascist, and a comedy fascist at that.

  14. Anyone with any clue of the life and works of Ernst Jünger will understand that the following sentence from above is completely non-sensical, internally illogical:

    "... and Ernst Jünger, the German Nationalist fanatic who celebrated war, death and pain, and whose Stirnerian concept of the sovereign individual as 'Anarch' has inspired subsequent generations of radical rightists and neo-fascists".

    Evidently neither the writer nor the ´generations of radical rightists and neo-fascists inspired by his concept of the anarch´ (what nonsense!) have ever actually read Eumeswil and seriously studied what Jünger meant with this figure. They just extract bits and pieces out of context for their own use - always the same old story...

    There is almost no relation between the admittedly nationalistic very young Jünger (barely more than a teenager) and the mature author of Eumeswil etc. Hence putting them together in one sentence with one implied meaning indicates sheer ignorance of Jünger by the writer.

    Anyone who actually read Eumeswil, even a half-wit, would understand that the anarch has absolutely no interest in or loyalty to political movements of any kind - except to study their tragic futility as they change form through the centuries. That is, he is interested in them as a historian. Abusing/misunderstanding Jünger´s anarch in a political sense only reflects the abusers´own agenda, which they project into his writing.

    (Why am I even bothering here, given who will probably read this? Because hopefully there is at least one GENUINE anarch out there. And because Jünger´s writing cannot be abused in this manner without correction.)

    The anarch also has no need to associate with other like-minded people, unlike anarchists or all the political radicals talked about on this blog. He is interested in his own inner liberation from society´s bonds; not only does he realize that external liberation will forever remain a pipe dream, he also likes playing the game of living in society because it affords him good material for study, personal growth and measuring his own grade of inner freedom.

    To anyone who my comments strike a chord with, please visit my own site to get a better idea of the anarch! ernst-juenger.org

    And read Eumeswil for yourselves!

    The politicized among you need not waste your time - you will only be bored or confused.

  15. @Junger: I accept that your knowledge of your mentor seems exemplary (I wouldn't know for sure); sadly your understanding of Evolian Traditionalism is perhaps less so.

    The fact that the anarch is indifferent to politics and the world is precisely why he fits neatly with the Evolian ideal of leadership, according to which the spiritually advanced man rules disinterestedly, without personal investment or gain - in a sense, apolitically. Anything less than this is populism, demagoguery, and essentially lunar and female rather than male, solar and phallic, etc. For the Traditionalist this constitutes the difference between the mere soldier and the warrior. The Traditionalist ideal of the warrior requires that his actions be decathected and without material charge. To the rest of us this ideal of airless action is an expression of neurotic anxiety but, either way, a lack a regard for politics and worldliness is just what would make the anarch, as you describe him, the ideal candidate for the role of leader.

  16. Did I mention Evola or Traditionalism? In fact I did not, so I don't know who you intended your comment for.

    I am no expert on Evola. On the other hand, in what I have read and from your own description of his leadership ideal, I find little to object to. Why would personal investment or gain improve leadership? Look at how the contrary is proved day in, day out by politicians and other power wielders.

    Perhaps Evola was in some ways on a higher plane than "the rest of us"? See my own speculative comparison of Evola's "differentiated man" and Jünger´s anarch on my blog.


    And by the way, an anarch, according to Jünger and in my opinion quite logically, has no inclination to lead. He may gain to leadership positions and even excel, perhaps for the reasons you mention, but he does not seek it out. It could also be a real hassle. As Jünger points out, he is not an Übermensch striving at all costs to express his will to power. He is more like Stirner´s Einziger - "none of my business...".

  17. The point is that both Junger's idea of 'the anarch' (as I understand it and as you outline it) and Evola's model of the warrior and leader (certainly) are based on totally idealist bullshit.

    In Evola's case the notion of authority and leadership involved is a Platonic abstraction designed to justify his aristocratic fear and hatred of democracy and 'the mob'. Loathing of 'the masses' - their defence of their own material well-being and their inclination to occasionally wheel out the guillotine and overthrow their rulers - means Evola can find no point of purchase in the material world (material interest, classes, sexuality, the body) for the authority he believes belongs by right to ('spiritually superior') types such as himself, so he grounds it instead in occult religiosity and a bastardised form of Platonism, dressed up as 'spirituality'. His philosophical system has its foundations in the sky above; authority is conferred divinely and transmits downwards, through philosopher kings, via their lieutenants, eventually reaching right down to the slaves at the bottom (the rest of us). As philosophy it is stupid and simply ignores everything mankind has discovered about itself over the course of thousands of years; as politics it is reactionary and potentially infinitely violent because it believes that what really matters in life is not people, but the ideas they are fit only to serve.

    "Perhaps Evola was in some ways on a higher plane than "the rest of us"

    That is exactly what this blog is here to dispute - the idea that there are individuals on a 'higher plane' who the rest of us are only fit to serve. In the real world there are no 'higher planes', just arguments and movements for and against democracy, truth and human liberation.

  18. @ Jack Spot

    Yes, well done Sherlock. So I guess this means that from now on one must judge and deduce all author's views from the subject matter they write about? With this bit of logic Daniel Silva must also be a Nazi?

    FYI though, Southgate's book 'Hitler: The Adjournment' takes a pro-Otto Strasserite, anti-Hitler POV.

    Juuuuuuust sayin'!


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