Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Slimelight Campaign

Now that the protest outside the Sol/6 Comm gig is over, it's time to ask precisely what was achieved. According to supporters of the bands the campaign was a failure because the gig went ahead. It's true that the immediate aim was to get Slimelight management to cancel the event and, since the management didn't budge, you could say that LMHR failed in it's main objective - but that is to look at things from a short-term point of view and to ignore the bigger picture.

I'd expected only a small band of committed anti-racist activists to turn up to leaflet on Saturday, but they were considerably outnumbered by non-aligned people wanting to join the protest. There was even a contingent from the Unitarian Church - hardly the 'antifa thugs' the band's supporters had promised the fans would be there to intimidate them. Throughout the course of the evening a total of about 70-80 people took part in leafleting outside the club, with a maximum of around 50 people present at its peak.

The original plan had been to leaflet only earlier in the evening (to make the point that the event was aimed at convincing users of the club generally and not at confronting those going to the gig specifically), and only at the nearby tube station (Angel). But as people turned up in such large numbers it was considered safe enough to move immediately outside the club. Contrary to the accusations made online that the point was to physically confront the fans, that was never the intention, as had been made plain throughout the campaign.  The idea was only to put it to club-goers that Slimelight was prepared to host events by people with known connections to (various exotic flavours of) racism and fascism, and that they should put pressure on the management by expressing their opposition. In that, the leafleting was certainly successful.

A huge number of leaflets were handed out to members of the public and to people attending Slimelight, and a number of club-goers took extra leaflets to distribute inside the club. The response from most fans was overwhelmingly positive - as might be expected, given that most users of Slimelight are anti-racist and anti-fascist.

There were a definite - though small - group of people who were there because they actively welcomed the presence of Sol Invictus at the club, and were hostile to the protesters (not too vocally hostile, though, as they were so obviously outnumbered). There was another definite minority who were really glad to see something being done at last to address the issues of racism and fascism in the culture generally. Some attendees spoke to the protesters at length, proudly describing themselves as anti-fascists, and a small number even refused to go in to the concert as a result of the protest. Then there were people who could not understand the protest, and argued with the protesters about Sol and the bands, or just wanted to be loyal to the venue, etc. Some of these people couldn't be persuaded, but many could, and a lot of useful discussions and arguments were had without even a hint of intimidation on either side. I hope that those fans who were convinced about the need to take responsibility for what happens in their own clubs find a way to extend the discussions that were had on the night and take them to even more people. In any case, to all of those who were willing to debate and discuss the problem - thanks. It was good to meet you.

To me, simply starting a debate around the issue among the fans is success enough. But you can add to that the fact that at almost the exact point at which this blog published an article about Andrew King's racist and pro-fascist comments in an interview with Michael Moynihan's journal Tyr, King, who was supposed to be performing with Sol that night, was 'mysteriously' dropped from the band. I think it's clear that King was dropped (or resigned - accounts differ) because his presence embarrassed those who had been claiming that the musicians and groups involved had no ongoing relationship to the far right.

About the Online Debate

One aspect of the online discussion of the protest that struck me was how many people seemed interested only in provoking and heightening confrontation. At it's worst this included people posting details of individuals online on various blogs. This seemed to be some kind of deliberate strategy (several of the relevant comments were simultaneously posted to different sites), and not necessarily initiated by partisans in the debate. A number of people submitted comments to this blog naming individuals they thought were 'behind' the blog or the LMHR campaign (actually two entirely separate things, since this blog's contributors took different positions regarding the protest) in order to exacerbate hostility to them. At least one comment submitted provided what was claimed to be the address of one of the musicians involved in the concert. All of these comments were blocked by the blog's administrators. As it is vital to prevent - let's call them - 'certain interested parties' from stoking up confrontation (in order to justify their own intervention?), we're going to be more active in future in blocking anything inflammatory, or any directly personal attacks, on the blog.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Andrew King and 'Traditionalism'

Note: This post was taken down by Blogger after they received a 'DCMA Takedown Notification' on the grounds that the post infringed copyright. According to the notification I received I should have been able to find out the details of the complaint in order to rectify the mistake by searching the site ChillingEffects.Org. In fact I could not find any reference there to the complaint, so I am reposting this, minus the original image and the full lyrics to David E Williams's song 'Wotan Rains on Plutocracts Parade', as they could both conceivably be the subject of copyright claims. The authors of the complaint did not seek to contact me directly before registering their complaint. Therefore I currently have no way of knowing what the precise nature of their complaint was

One of the most often mentioned facts used to justify the campaign against the forthcoming Sol/6 Comm gig is that Andrew King, a member of Sol Invictus and part of a duo with Tony Wakeford, Duo Noir, has released a song with racist and fascist lyrics. The song is called 'Wotan Rains on Plutocrats Parade', and was not written by King himself but by David E. Williams.

King's only lyrical innovation in his cover version was, apparently, to substitute 'bongo drums' for 'battle drums'. In some local media reports the owner of Slimelight is quoted as saying this song will be performed on the night of the gig. I find it pretty unlikely that he said that (though obviously it isn't impossible). Why on earth would the venue manager know the set lists for individual groups weeks in advance of the gig? In any case, it's a solo Andrew King release and not a Sol Invictus song. On top of that, while King is an occasional member of Sol Invictus, I have no idea whether he will even be playing with them at this particular gig. I don't know for sure, but no one should assume that he is.

But whatever the case with King's attendance or non-attendance at the gig, the lyrics certainly bear on the question of how seriously we should take Tony Wakeford's claim that he would never have a racist or fascist in his band.

Now, some people have suggested (on this blog and elsewhere) that King's lyrics may be disgusting, but that he intends the song ironically, and that he has no connection with such sentiments and does not believe any of them himself. The reference to 'building a fortress' of Hitler biographies is offered as evidence of King's (and Williams's original) satirical intent, and is, it is claimed, aimed at Nazi fantasists. This could even be true - but since this has been argued in his defence, it is worth asking what Andrew King's politics actually are. Therefore I read with great interest an interview with King I recently discovered in the journal Tyr.

Before saying anything about the interview itself, let me just point out that Tyr was founded - and the issue of Tyr I will refer to (#3, 2007-2008) was edited by - Michael Moynihan of the group Blood Axis. Moynihan is a former collaborator of Boyd Rice, and an active ideologue of both racist paganism and the 'radical / traditionalism' of the extreme right. The post 'Michael Moynihan's Siege Mentality' discusses Moynihan's publication of Siege, a collection of articles by the ultra-fascist James Mason. In Siege, Mason celebrates the random killings of Jews, blacks, socialists, 'mixed-race couples', and so on. He is a holocaust denier, but also says "it was indeed a damnable shame that Hitler did not, in fact, kill at least six million Jews during the war. We... know what the Jews were and are all about and we can shed no tears for any of them". Speaking of his enemies generally, he says "for the United States there will be no need for concentration camps of any kind, for not a single transgressor will survive long enough to make it to that kind of haven". All of this was published enthusiastically by Moynihan in 1992, in a luxury edition hardback book of 450 or so pages, which Moynihan transcribed and edited, and for which he also wrote the introduction. 

Tyr itself is obviously aimed at a slightly more - let's call it - sophisticated audience - or perhaps is just more circumspect about how it presents itself. On the journal's cover it says that Tyr "celebrates the traditional myths, culture and social institutions of pre-Christian, pre-modern Europe", which may sound simply a bit modishly pagan and not a problem as such; but the 'radical traditionalism' it stands for is that of, for example, the fascist Julius Evola (whose influence on the neo-folk/martial/industrial scene is discussed here), and one of the central preoccupations of the journal appears to be to promote the ideas of Alain de Benoist and his various collaborators in the French Nouvelle Droite (New Right). The New Right aim to create a Europe based on exclusive tribal groups, which will be led by a 'traditional hierarchy'. Essentially they are rebranding fascism, drawing on traditionalism, paganism, aspects of the thought of the Italisn 'super-fascist' Julius Evola, and so on. If Tyr is often critical of particular de Benoist formulations, it's criticism is generally from a position even further to the right.

Now, in issue #3 of Tyr there is an interview with King in which he discusses his attitude to traditional folk music. I won't go into the details of the interview, but enough to say that King has a broad and detailed knowledge of English folk tradition (he has been employed as an archivist for the National Sound Archive of the British Library) even if his understanding of it is very much shaped by his politics - one of his claims is that the reception of folk music (including within neo-folk) has been skewed by the fact that the "father figures" of English folk (Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd) were Marxists (p. 392). Now, there's nothing wrong with that as such: what is really alarming is the politics that King believes should replace such an understanding.

In the course of the interview King argues that "the media, cultural and educational establishments have unequivocally abandoned their cultural heritage in favour of postmodern irony and rootless cosmopolitanism." (p. 388) Now, I don't know about you, but most of us understand that the term 'rootless cosmopolitanism' is a euphemism for the Jews. While most of King's interview is framed using language that steers well clear of the inflammatory rhetoric of James Mason, nevertheless it is clear that King shares much of the worldview of Tyr's editors.

His main complaint - and his explanation as to why folk music is not given it's due weight - is that:
"Not only do we have the damage of modernism to deal with, but also that of its descendants, a plethora of vested interests whose ideologies (relativism, multiculturalism, rights-issues and cosmopolitanism) are deeply inimical to the central historic virtues of our culture. The most brazen and shameful manifestation of this is the total abdication of the postwar liberal elite of the West's claim to moral and cultural superiority." (p. 391)
He then calls on the "post-industrial / experimental scene" to act "as a harbinger of moral cultural change" (p. 391): ie. he hopes to influence it in that direction. To put it another way, he sees the folk revival of the neo-folk scene as an opportunity to turn back 'multiculturalism', etc. That is his agenda. His ideal is a a situation in which people concentrate on "the more overtly obvious aspects of their own country's 'Volks-culture'" (p. 392). Regarding the content of his work, he says that "while the historical and cultural references can be very cerebral, it is also obvious that the truly emblematic imagery comes from, inhabits, and returns to, the nether regions of the subconscious as well as the race memory of the West." (p. 404). I'd love to see him defend the lyrics of 'Wotan's Rains' in terms of how it embodies 'race memory'.

His final thoughts in the interview concern the First and Second World Wars, which he discusses in the context of his painting of the figure of Judith above the ruins of Dresden. For him, Judith represents the "wholesale destruction that happens when a culture forgets itself". He argues that "By allowing itself to succumb to the bloodletting exercise of the two world wars... the West tragically abdicated its position of political, moral and cultural superiority." Again, while there is none of racist ranting of 'Wotan Rains' or Siege, it's pretty clear here that King shares the fascist / radical traditionalist view that the war against fascism was a tragedy, a 'war between brothers', because it prevented the building a fascist Imperium across Europe.

I won't beat the point to death - it hardly matters what the protagonists say or do, there is always some supporter of the 'scene' who will make excuses for it. But to me it seems as clear as day that one of Tony Wakeford's most important collaborators openly shares the views of the extreme, neo-fascist right, loathes multiculturalism and ''rights-issues', and sees the neo-folk milieu as a forum in which he can promote those ideas. Incidentally, King is not only interviewed in Moyhihan's journal, but has also collaborated with him since then in Moyhihan's musical project, Blood Axis. Supporters of Sol Invictus are fond of pointing out that it's members have included Jews and Lesbians, missing the point that our objection is not to them, but to the anti-Semites and opponents of (gay and lesbian?) 'rights' that it also manages to coexist with.

So, whether King will play at the gig or not, is it really reasonable to think that Tony Wakeford - who is very familiar with the 'radical traditionalist' ideas of Evola - isn't familiar with the import of King's politics? So where does that leave his claim that he would not work with racists or fascists?

Plenty of people have complained that the opposition to the Slimelight gig is based essentially on the fact that Wakeford was once in the National Front, and that the critics simply refuse to believe that he could have changed. But that is to misunderstand the argument; his membership of the NF is simply used as an entry point into a wider argument about a whole network of musicians who work together, promote one another, appear on one another's records, and who - to very different degrees, admittedly - in various ways either actively promote racist and fascist ideas or collude with those who do. That happens whether it is a matter of Wakeford (who has a certain kudos as a founder member of Death in June - the founders of the genre) continuing to work with people like King, whose language in this interview is peppered with the 'dog whistle' ideas and terms of the far-right, or whether it is the issue of King himself (also a member of Sol Invictus, let's not forget) working happily alongside Moynihan - who surely after the Mason business is indefensible by pretty much anyone who would consider themselves anti-fascist.

Monday, 20 June 2011

LMHR: Love Slimelight Hate Racism





(click to view)
In a previous post, Slimelight Campaigns: Some Clarifications and Questions, I said that I thought LMHR's arguments in their petition about the Sol/6 Comm gig were mistaken, and seemed aimed at the wrong people.  I just received this, the leaflet they intend to use at the venue, and I think it's a vast improvement. They're asking people to join them on the evening to leaflet the event and talk to club-goers about why Slimelight needs to clean up its act. The text of the leaflet is as follows:
 "On Saturday 25th June, the Slimelight club in Islington will host a concert featuring bands with a history of fascist and racist links.


Love Music Hate Racism approached the Slimelight management, asking them to cancel the event because we believe racisma nd fascism have no place in our community. Hosting such events gives encouragement to racists and violent thugs everywhere.

Slimelight have refused to cancel.

Slimelight’s owner, May Uan Mak, insists the gig must go ahead, despite knowing the history and views of the bands, saying: “These bands do have clear fascist connections... It would be impossible for me to deny that” and “art can be fascist too. The fascist language can be just as powerful as any other language.”
 

Tony Wakeford, founder of the headlining group Sol Invictus, was an activist in the National Front. Since then, he has taken part in initiatives supporting the extreme right. He has often worked with known fascists, such as Michael Moynihan, who published a book which celebrates the random killing of Jews and mixed-race couples. One member of his band, Andrew King recently released a recording of a song with lyrics about “monkey men” and “only the smell of blood will smother the smell of subhuman dung”, and concludes: “you’ll never kill the Aryan soul... White man was born for battle”?
 

We believe that the majority attending the gig will not be racists or fascists, nor
be aware of the extrreme right wing links shared by Sol Invictus and their support acts.


This is certainly the case for most people who use and enjoy the venue on other nights.
 

We appeal to those fans to join Love Music Hate Racism, anti-racist groups, trade unionists, local activists and the diverse community in Islington in condemning this concert.
 

We believe that such associations are reason enough not to allow this concert to go ahead. We also believe that the vast majority of Slimelight fans reject the vile
beliefs of racists, and we call on them to join us in telling Slimelight to cancel the
concert."


SAY NO TO RASCISM AND FASCISM AT SLIMELIGHT!

Islington South Labour MP Emily Thornberry says: “It’s a shame and a disgrace that these peddlers of poison are playing in Islington. We have a proud history of tolerance in this borough”. 

Contact Love Music Hate Racism on 020 7801 2781 or email northlondon.lmhr@gmail.com to get involved, or just come to show your support and help keep our streets racist-free.

Slimelight (Electrowerkz)
7 Torrens Street, Islington
Saturday June 25th 7pm

The leaflet puts the argument really well by addressing itself directly to club-goers, calling on them to support the call for management to cancel the gig. This makes it absolutely clear that the campaign has nothing to do with the bullshit about 'censorship' or 'intimidation' that the groups supporters use as a smokescreen, and instead has everything to do with people - fans, club-goers, the local community - saying they simply don't want racist crap or the people who promote it given a platform in their clubs and venues.
 
All those concerned about the gig who can make it should support the LMHR campaign on the night - you can join them at the venue from 7pm onward if you want to join in with the leafleting, talk about what else can be done, or just take leaflets to distribute yourself.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Far-Right Tendencies in the Wave and Gothic Scene

By Arne Gräfrath
Originally from D-A-S-H.org

(Note: despite several attempts to contact D-A-S-H, I heard nothing back. Consequently, this article is used without permission)

To start out with, an explanation of the term, 'wave and gothic scene', or subculture: in the following essay, this term refers to the whole spectrum of the so-called 'black scene' with all its sub-genres like dark wave, gothic, EBM, industrial, fetish, etc. This is done knowing that some will therefore be forced into a niche where they don’t belong.

Since about the end of the 1980s, far-right tendencies have been observed again and again in the bands of the wave and gothic scene. But neither general (far-right) developments can be defined in the wave/gothic scene (WGS), nor can the attitudes of or statements made by groups or individual people be seen to be representative of the musical and cultural scene as a whole. This article addresses accepted phenomena and appearances within the scene.

Far-right influences in the wave and gothic scene

Neo-Nazi attempts to infiltrate the wave scene have been around as long as the musical genre has. The wave/gothic scene developed out of the punk movement of the seventies – it saw itself however as an apolitical counter-culture. Every opinion that possessed connecting elements to the wave scene was tolerated (thereby allowing the extreme right’s first successes). It is striking in this context that tolerance is often confused with ignorance, disinterest and lack of criticism. It is the lack of criticism towards neo-fascist opinions and content that makes the contradiction within the scene so obvious – on the one hand, the WGS sees itself as a critique of and counter-culture to a technocratic society that is contemptuous of human life; on the other hand, it flirts with symbols that cannot be more contemptuous of human life. It shares with the neo-Nazi subculture elements of esotericism, occultism and neo-paganism.

When The Cure released the song 'Killing An Arab' in 1979, the British neo-Nazis (belonging to the BNP or British National Party) made their first attempts to break into the punk/wave scene and to claim the song and band for themselves. These attempts failed, however, thanks to The Cure’s immediate and vehement opposition to this development and due to regular conflicts between neo-Nazis and goths at concerts.

As so-called neo-folk bands became popular towards the end of the 1980s / beginning of the 90s, the WGS’s iconography was increasingly marked by paganism and elements of fascist ideology. A clear interest in the goths’ counter-culture could be seen on the part of the so-called 'new right' (and especially the far-right newspaper, Junge Freiheit or Young Freedom).

Roland Bubik, recipient of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s grant and a writer for the Junge Freiheit (JF), wrote in JF’s Culture section in the fall of 1993: "the youth culture of today offers promising approaches (..) A curious consciousness of living in a phase of decline is virulent. The 'age of destruction' is spoken of. Parties in the techno scene are like macabre funeral ceremonies for the era. One (…) mistrusts the explicability of the world, turns backwards even, for example in the forms of the various independent scenes." In his texts, Bubik refers to the Italian cultural philosopher and representative of Anti-Modernism, Julius Evola (1898 – 1974), whom Umberto Eco called a 'fascist guru'. Bubik believes he recognizes Evola’s Revolt against the Modern World in the dark wave scene.

After Bubik’s dreams of the techno scene ('Stahlgewitter als Freizeitspaß', or in English, 'Storm of steel (i.e. battle) as a leisure activity') turned out to be nonsense ('mental rape by beat-computers and the masses'), he thought he found links in the neo-folk and gothic scene. He points to bands like Dead Can Dance or Qntal, whose 'medieval ’music’ [speaks] a different, non-modern language'. The truth is that neither of the bands has anything to do with far-right ideology. Qntal belongs in the same category as German dark wave bands (e.g. Deine Lakaien, Estampie, Das Ich), which repeatedly and vehemently speak out against the far-right Kulturkampf (cultural war) (see also 'Aufruf zum Dark-X-Mas-Festival 1992'). And Bubik’s co-editor, Peter Bossdorf (see below) had to concede that Dead Can Dance know no (musical) borders and cannot be reduced to the category of medieval music. On the release of their CD 'Spiritchaser' (4 AD/Rough Trade 1996), he is disappointed to find that: "the Orient is parodied in an affected pose, (…) accompanied by unsurpassably boring, jungle-type percussion. (…) If this is supposed to be world music, the world is not to be envied." (JF 29/96)

But the scene did have real connections to the extreme right: Bubik’s girlfriend, Simone Satzger (alias Felicia), singer in the gothic band called Impressions of Winter, propagated far-right cultural instrumentalization in 1995, recommending that one "open oneself to current cultural and political phenomena in order to use them for one’s own purposes"(1). Beyond that, there existed even then a number of bands which were genuinely far-right. The gothic scene’s tendency towards mysticism was of particular interest to the 'new right'. The relation to romanticism, paganism and esotericism on the part of certain gothic subcultures is also of interest to the right, as it can be exploited for the purposes of far-right propaganda.


(1) from 'Elemente', published in Bubik’s (ed.) Wir 89er, 1995, Bands, publishers, fanzines – the combination of commerce and ideology.

'Operation Dark Wave' took its course in the Junge Freiheit (a far-right newspaper). A writer who was familiar with the dark wave scene could be found via a 'competition for new blood'; she soon threw in the towel. In an open letter to Rainer 'Easy' Ettler, the publisher of a fanzine called Zillo, she urgently warned of a far-right culture war and advised the goths that, for the right, they are only "useful wackos on the path to power." (Unfortunately the letter was never published by Zillo, although it belonged right there in 1996 and a wider debate on the issue still hasn’t taken place.)

In the mid-90s, Peter Bossdorf, a Junge Freiheit editor who can look back to a long history with, among other institutions, the Thule Seminar and the Republikaner Party, was hired by the magazine, which had the highest circulation in the 'independent scene': Zillo was not above repeatedly printing far-right ads, among others for the Junge Freieheit (Zillo 2/96). Cooperation between Zillo and Junge Freiheit was well known due to protests within the scene: the Hamburg wave label, 'Strange Ways', (producer of the band, 'Goethes Erben', among others) and the distributor, Indigo, made the scandal public. After Rainer Ettler, Zillo’s editor-in-chief, died, Peter Bossdorf was finally thrown out in the spring of 1997.

But that does not signal the end of the far-right Kulturkampf. In the meantime, solid structures and networks have been developed. Publishers, magazines and a great number of bands have gained attention for their continued work for a far-right 'cultural revolution'.


Excursus: Death in June

Death in June are the most important name in this context. They achieved a 'first': in 1997 an article on the band appeared in RockNord, the Nazi skinhead equivalent of Bravo (German teen magazine). The band’s name is their platform: they openly refer to the 'national Bolshevik' wing of the NSDAP, led by the head of the SA, Röhm, who was killed in the so-called Night of the Long Knives on 30 June, 1934, by order of the NSDAP leadership.

Also worthy of mention is the fanzine, Sigill (subtitled 'Magazine for Europe’s Conservative Cultural Avant Garde'), which in its conception is perhaps the magazine most worthy of being taken seriously in the so-called 'black scene'. The nucleus of the dark wave scene’s far-right faction expresses itself here: Death In June, Sol Invictus, Radio Werewolf, Kirlian Camera, Orplid, Strength Through Joy, Allerseelen, Forthcoming Fire, The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud, etc. Even if Sigill places great value on not being seen as a Nazi publication, the choice of authors, including Markus Wolff (Waldteufel), Kadmon (Allerseelen) and Martin Schwarz, who also writes for the NPD (the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany) publication, Stimme, tells another story. So do their articles, fed as they are through the 'German machine': compact discs are not called CDs as they usually are, but the German literal equivalent of 'Lichtscheiben'. This is linguistic preparation for what Sol Invictus has joyfully sung about: 'The Death of the West'. The far-right label with an affiliated book publishing house, VAWS, is another example.

Many members of far-right neo-folk and industrial bands also work part-time for far-right publishers and magazines that intellectually deepen the far-right ideology already present in their lyrics. In the long run, fans don’t just buy the records of their favourite artists, but are also interested in what they have to say in writing. Almost all the magazines named above share a mix of reporting on new far-right band projects from neo-folk, black metal and industrial genres; pagan issues; Germanic, Celtic and Viking cults; the study of runes; and more or less clearly Nazi, anti-Semitic or national/revolutionary issues. They recurrently appeal to 'freedom of expression', 'artistic freedom' and 'free thought' independent of 'clichés' like left and right. At first glance, this makes things very confusing and contradictory, when people like Moynihan called themselves 'anarchists' while at the same time using liberal and democratic freedoms to spout Social-Darwinist, anti-Semitic and racist 'Blood and Soil' drivel, and to associate or even found far-right circles.

>Even if the circulation of all far-right 'wave' magazines are not a cause for panic, they are still important links between the far-right Kulturkampf and goths who are interested in featured bands or in paganism. The extreme right uses these links to rehabilitate the whole esoteric/mystical side of the Nazi regime (for example the SS Ahnenerbe and the school connected with it, Wewelsburg bei Paderborn); the national/revolutionary factions of the NS, like the SA; Italian fascism and the artistic genre of futurism that is so closely connected with it; the fascist Iron Guard from Romania and its founder, Corneliu Codreanu; Nazi artists like Riefenstahl, Thorak and Speer; Germanic cults; Social Darwinism; and anti-Semitism, and thereby the decisive ideological components of fascist, national/revolutionary and national socialist groups and organizations. Through the often playfully disguised removal of taboos associated with symbols like the swastika and the cross potent, and the establishment of Germanic runes, the extreme right is also trying step by step to change views on the Third Reich and ultimately world history in accordance with their own.

The magazines that have been mentioned can be obtained at certain festivals, like the International Wave Gothic Meeting in Leipzig, at concerts and in record stores. The records can be also be found in stores whose owners or managers are neither far-right nor unaware. Commercial interests make it especially easy for the far-right Kulturkampf.

It must be mentioned in this context that a large number of fans of bands like Death in June, Sol Invictus or Kirlian Camera are themselves not far-right, but simply enjoy these neo-folk bands’ music. Most people are aware of the bands’ 'far-right image'. But especially in Germany, the fans fall back on the bands’ excuses and statements of disassociation that are published in music magazines and that claim their critics 'misunderstand' them. There are, however, documented cases of fans who, through their involvement with neo-folk bands, suddenly became interested in sponsored ideologues like Ernst Jünger or Julius Evola and, as a result of their fascination with them, became part of the far-right Kulturkampf themselves. Fans who sincerely don’t want to have anything to do with it often have real difficulties parting with 'their band'. Again and again, we could observe genuinely painful parting processes, which anyone can understand who imagines 'having to' disassociate themselves from their own favourite band.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Keeping Things in Perspective: Some Comradely Comments on the Slimelight Campaign

Guest Post by John Eden

[I have made my own statement about the LMHR petition as part of a previous post, and I disagree somewhat with John - my position is that, for all that I might criticise  LMHR's formulations, I think we should not only call for the gig to be cancelled but, specifically, we should be supporting LMHR's demo and campaign, albeit critically, in the hope that they might take on board what we have to say. Still, John's arguments certainly reflect those of many other readers and contributors to this blog - in fact, judging by the comments and private mails I have received, his position probably has more support than mine-AS]

Earlier this year I was having lunch with my family in a cafe in Springfield Park in North London. Some Goths came in, including a woman wearing a Death In June t-shirt with a huge Totenkopf on it. The cafe is near Stamford Hill, which hosts one of the largest Hasidic Jewish communities in the world, and as usual many Jewish families were out in the sunshine enjoying the park.

Even after reading some of the ridiculous comments on this site, I was amazed that someone would be stupid or brazen enough to wander around in broad daylight wearing what most people would recognise as the logo of the SS.

I couldn’t help staring, but decided that making a scene would be counterproductive. It’s possible that my anger was obvious, because she covered up the logo pretty sharpish with her jacket. As usual, my tales of anti-fascism don’t exactly bolster my reputation as a courageous warrior. Staring at a Goth isn’t really on a par with The 43 Group’s work in 1940s Hackney, but I suppose I simply made a judgement at the time about what an effective intervention would be. I know others who would have expressed their displeasure verbally, or even physically. People disagree on tactics. I am conscious that I am at the more “touchy feely” end of the anti-fascist response to Neofolk, probably because, as I explained in a previous article, I used to be a fan myself.

I mention this because I’ve been following the debate about the forthcoming Slimelight gig with some interest. While I am opposed to the bands involved and am quite happy for them to be inconvenienced, I am not entirely convinced that call for the gig to be cancelled is the right tactic. More particularly I feel that the way it has been done is not an effective intervention.

It should be clear to anyone who has read the articles on this website that there are fascist tendencies within Neofolk, but these tendencies generally express themselves obliquely and in the cultural sphere. This needs to be contrasted with the overt Nazism of the skinhead Blood & Honour groups who openly incite racial hatred and have inspired violence towards minorities after their events.

I am not aware of violent incidents taking place after Neofolk concerts, so we can probably assume that there is no direct threat to the communities that host them, apart from the distaste people rightly feel when they see idiots dressed like Nazis prancing down Upper Street.

Indeed I believe that this is the whole point, from a political point of view, of fascist involvement in Neofolk (and let me be clear that I don’t think everyone involved in Neofolk is a fascist or that it is an inherently fascist genre). It is about normalising fascist ideas and aesthetics, not actually establishing fascism in the here and now through violence or electoral politics.

As I said in my previous article on this site “One of the devices used by people who defend neo-Folk is the claim that its critics are outsiders who don’t understand the nuances of the genre.” Fascist currents within Neofolk require an informed anti-fascism, which is sadly lacking from some of the opponents of the Slimelight gig.

I hadn’t intended to voice my reservations publicly until after the date of the gig had passed because I didn’t want to undermine the campaign. Unfortunately I have now been forced to do so because of the petition being circulated by Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR). This petition includes a number of outright errors such as Death In June having “donated to” the National Front and half-truths such as “The Nazi organisation Stormfront is promoting the event and have declared that its supporters will descend on Islington for the night” when it’s more a case of a handful of Nazi keyboard warriors discussing the event on an internet forum. (I have seen no evidence that Stormfront, as an organisation, is promoting the gig – or indeed that Death In June have donated to the National Front. If there is evidence then I will of course retract my comments.)

Neofolk fans and their sympathisers will know that the claims are not true. This undermines anti-fascism in general. We should be exposing the lies of fascists, not creating our own.

LMHR seem more interested in playing to the gallery than effective anti-fascism in this case. I assume they are exaggerating and simplifying their claims to generate support for their campaign. In doing this they alienate the one crucial factor – the non-aligned (or not consciously fascist) Neofolk fans.

A protest outside the event by uninformed LMHR supporters will have the same effect – making the opposition to Neofolk appear ridiculous.

Furthermore I think it's entirely likely that whilst discussing the closure of the gig, someone (be it the Slimelight management, the Police, Islington Council or the media) will discover that the matter is more complicated than it first appears. This makes LMHR look hysterical and not a credible source, which means that the bands and promoters and their weasel-worded excuses may be seen as reasonable and proportionate by those who can actually determine whether or not the event goes ahead.

Ever since reading James Cavanagh’s “Shower of Shit Expected Over Islington” text I’ve thought it unlikely that the concert will actually be cancelled, precisely because of the complexity of the issue.

The key question is: if the gig does go ahead, will fascists operating in Neofolk be stronger or weaker? My feeling is that whilst they may be on the back foot temporarily, they will be in a much stronger position in future. People will be able say “Islington Council and the Police looked into all this and they couldn't find anything wrong". This will then be lapped up by fans and fascist apologists and quoted ad nauseum alongside Tony Wakeford’s content-free statement from 2007.

My position is that the main role we have is still to discuss, expose and theorise about Neofolk - to attack it on the cultural level that it operates. Perhaps that can include intervening at events (and count me in if any glaring at Goths is needed). But let’s get it right – taking shortcuts is completely counterproductive.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Slimelight Campaigns: Some Clarifications and Questions

Note: This post was taken down by Blogger after they received a 'DCMA Takedown Notification' on the grounds that the post infringed copyright. According to the notification I received I should have been able to find out the details of the complaint in order to rectify the mistake by searching the site ChillingEffects.Org. In fact I could not find any reference there to the complaint, so I am reposting this, adding a credit to the photograph of Tony Wakeford on Brick Lane, as this could conceivably be the subject of copyright claim. Another image has been removed as I am not sure of its legal provenance. The authors of the complaint did not seek to contact me directly before registering their complaint. Therefore I currently have no way of knowing what the precise nature of their complaint was, and no way of addressing any concerns they might have had regarding copyright or anything else.

A recent article on this blog - Weather Warning: Shower of Shit Expected Over Islington, by James Cavanagh - briefly described the backgrounds of some of those playing at the Slimelight gig by Sol Invictus, 6 Comm and others, scheduled for Sat 25th June, arguing that "anti-fascists everywhere should be making their objections loudly", and (implicitly) calling for the gig to be called off. That post has received more comments than any other since the blog was launched, reflecting the anger and confusion on both sides about this issue.

Some time later the (newly formed) anarchist group Islington Alarm posted an article, Stop the Fascists in Islington, which also called for people to contact the venue to demand that the gig be cancelled - as did, for example, the journal Principia Dialectica. Then, Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR - probably the biggest UK group campaigning against fascism and racism in music, and associated with Unite Against Fascism, who have been heavily involved in campaigning against the BNP, EDL, etc.) called for the management at Slimelight to cancel the gig because of the racist & fascist connections and connotations of some of those involved. As the management have declined to do this, LMHR have called a protest at Slimelight on the evening of the gig. The intention of the protest, as far as I understand it, is to take the argument about far-right infiltration of their 'scene' to those attending the gig as well as those who use Slimelight generally (the venue has separate dance floors and gig areas, so the majority of those turning up on the night will not be going to the gig itself). I guess the idea is that they want to talk individuals into boycotting the gig, and probably also the club generally, on the grounds that this will put community pressure on Slimelight not to host such events in future. I am told that the LMHR campaign has the support of various local trade unions, anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigners, possibly the Trades Council, local political campaigners, etc. In other words, I believe that it has real roots in the local community.

At the same time, the Slimelight management have created a page on Facebook, None So Deaf as Those Who Will Not Hear, stating their case and encouraging fans of the club to air their views. Most of the comments there are solidly in favour of the gig going ahead. However, at least one supporter of Slimelight - 'Lilith Mort' - also voiced opposition to the gig (indeed, she called for people to contact the police with their concerns, leading a commentator on this blog to accuse us of doing the same. We didn't. Lilith has no connection with this blog, and has never posted or commented here, as far as I can see) on the grounds that it will give the club a bad reputation. She subsequently received a series of responses - primarily, but not exclusively, from Patrick Leagas - which she perceived to be threatening enough for her to say that she was taking legal action in response. Whether she will actually do so is anybody's guess, but she claims to be a barrister, so you never know. Leagas is also threatening people with legal action, though he doesn't specify precisely who. He says that "We as a group  are going to seek legal advise (sic) and will go to the highest places in law if we have to", adding that they will also be approaching "the authorities and the police". Lilith Mort's comments seem now to have disappeared from the site. The administrators say that they have not deleted them. Possibly Lilith deleted them herself after the way she was abused and intimidated.

Yesterday Islington Alarm posted a follow-up article, Love Slimelight, Hate Racism, affirming their opposition to the gig, but drawing back from any mass protest, arguing that "We do not seek to create a mass public campaign that is why we stated that individuals should voice their concerns... No anti-fascist lightly takes the decision to propose cancellation of a gig, or prevent artistic expression. However we feel that unfortunately seeing as the far-right has used art, in particular music over the past few years to engage younger audiences, it is necessary to oppose fascism in music, the best means being cancellation. We are not fascists or totalitarian, however we feel a need to oppose fascism wherever it may be and in whatever context... If Slimelight were to cancel the gig it should be and would be entirely their decision."

Islington Alarm wish to distance themselves from the LMHR campaign, but their arguments seem wrong-headed to me. Most anarchists I know would laugh at the idea that a mass campaign constitutes some sort of 'totalitarianism', and they would find it even stranger than an anarchist site should argue that, in dealing with these matters, the final decision should be entirely that of management (in this case, the management of Slimelight). I actually find it quite bizarre.

As is inevitable, different groups and individuals have different arguments about why the gig should not be held. Just as predictably, those defending the bands simply lump all of their opponents together into an amorphous mass despite the considerable disagreements that exist between the various groups and individuals who are concerned about the concert. Not only that, but the arguments in favour of stopping the concert are misrepresented entirely. And since, in the online commentary and in the press, this blog, LMHR, Islington Alarm, Lilith Mort and various other individuals and organisations are considered somehow to be working in concert, when in reality they all have their own beliefs and agendas and are largely working entirely separately, I thought it would be useful, as the administrator of this site, to lay out my own take on some of the issues.

It's Not Simply About Fascist Iconography

First, I'd like to address the argument that comes up most often from those who oppose any action at all; the idea that the entire campaign is inspired by the belief that anyone who wears or uses fascist - or even just militaristic - clothing and iconography, must be a fascist. This, the argument runs, would mean banning the Sex Pistols, the Banshees, the Skids (remember them? Probably not) and - perhaps more pertinently - Throbbing Gristle, and many other similar 'transgressive' bands who have used such imagery.

Now, the use of such imagery is fraught with dangers, and most people who use it do not deal with or take into account these problems, and probably shouldn't be using the imagery the way they do. But I also think it is trivially obvious that many of them are neither racist or fascist. This means that, contrary to what you will read elsewhere, the blog does not believe that anyone using such imagery must a fascist. Maybe they should be argued with on other grounds, but the goths, neo-folk fans and fetishists, etc., who use such imagery are not usually fascists. Indeed, many (most?) of them would consider themselves anti-fascist.

But the arguments about Sol Invictus and similar groups is much more sophisticated than that, and they hinge around the claim that certain strains of fascism (and revolutionary traditionalism, 'national anarchism', etc.)  have adopted a strategy by which they deny being fascists and concentrate instead, not on promoting fascism but on promoting cultural concepts, etc., that will help normalise and make acceptable key elements of fascist belief. The intention is not to recruit directly to fascist organisations but to create communities, sub-cultures, currents of opinion, etc., that are more conducive to fascism, thus preparing the ground for future fascist growth. I don't want to talk about this - admittedly, key - idea at length here, but will just refer to Anton Shekhovtsov's excellent essay on the issue, Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and ‘Metapolitical Fascism’.

Now, you may reject these arguments entirely but, even if you do, the fact remains that, at least as far as this blog is concerned, the case against the Slimelight gig does not hinge on the bare fact that some of the musicians make heavy use of fascist iconography. Therefore it makes no sense at all to say - as one commentator on the Slimelight event page did - that stopping this gig will lead to actors being prevented from wearing Nazi uniforms in films. Such gross misrepresentations of the argument do nobody any favours; nobody apart from fascists, that is.

Note too, that apart from all that, the arguments against Sol, etc., also address matters that go beyond the use of imagery - discussing, for example, lyrics, essays, statements made by the musicians concerned, and so on. In some cases we are also talking about membership of, or support for, fascist organisations. In any case it is disingenuous to argue that this blog wants to stop the gig simply because the musicians use unpleasant imagery. I'd very much defend their right to do so, if that is all that was involved.

But Aesthetics are Important

On the other hand, I don't accept the defence which says that the use of fascist imagery is acceptable because it is simply a matter of aesthetics, and that aesthetics has nothing to do with politics. One of the defining ideas of this blog - which may well not be shared by many of its readers - is that fascist aesthetics are just as much a part of fascism as fascist ideas. The aesthetics express and articulate a fascistic, authoritarian sense of one's place in the world - as discussed, eg., in this article by Susan Sontag. As above, this doesn't mean that the use of such imagery should always be opposed on principle, nor does it mean that the people who use it are necessarily fascist, but it does mean that the aesthetics of these groups are part of a wider picture, and are not wholly neutral and unremarkable.

One thing the defenders of Slimelight have to get to understand that, while it is true that there are many people who use fascist imagery without being either racist or fascist, there is another group of people who may also be keen on this music and also keen on fascist imagery; namely... fascists. Does anyone seriously believe that, while there may be fascists in your workplace or your housing estate, and while fascists can get elected to local councils and even to parliament, it is inconceivable that they might also go to concerts or play in bands?

Fascists Not Necessarily Socially Conservative

And then there are those who imagine that being a fascist means being socially conservative, and therefore that fascists could not, by definition, be involved in anything even vaguely 'counter-cultural', and would not be seen within a mile of a place like Slimelight. Such a position is only possible if you ignore the history of fascist modernism - for example, the fact that some of the Italian futurists were enthusiastic fascists. It also ignores more recent developments in which fascists have tried to move precisely into 'counter-cultural' movements. For instance, Troy Southgate, of the martial industrial band H.E.R.R, happily manages to combine denying that he's a fascist with hosting meetings of the  New Right which feature notorious fascists and antisemites - see this article from Searchlight on The Men Who Are Creating a New BNP Ideology, and this article by Graham Macklin, Co-opting the Counter Culture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction, printed originally in the academic journal Patterns of Prejudice.

Beyond that there is the fact that fascists elsewhere have been able to build the beginnings of large-scale movements that have something of the tone and flavour of counter-cultural movements - see, for example, this article by Moyote Project on Casa Pound and the New Right in Italy. It is true that the fascists in this country have not been particularly successful in this regard - but that is only because they faced serious organised opposition from the likes of the Anti-Nazi League and Anti-Fascist Action. With regard specifically to fascist influence in culture, Rock Against Racism was crucial to helping defeat fascist influence in music when it was on the rise in the late 70s and early 80s. In calling for the Slimelight gig to be cancelled, this blog stands in the same traditions which have proved successful in the past in countering the growth and influence of fascism and racism.


Neo-Folk Itself is Not Fascist or Racist

I have no doubt that the vast majority of neo-folk fans are not fascists, and neither are they deliberately covering for fascists. Some people consider the genre itself as problematic, but I don't. As is made clear in the 'About' pages for the blog: "It is not a matter of condemning these subcultures [Neo-Folk, Industrial, Martial - AS], which in fact contain many non-fascist, liberal, socialist, anti-fascist, etc., supporters, but rather of drawing a clear line between the fascists and non-fascists within them by showing the latter the nature and extent of the problem, in the hope that they will themselves marginalise and ultimately reject fascist participation in their 'scene'."

Therefore it is my belief that we should be arguing with fans of the genre (and of related genres such as martial industrial) about the problem they have of neo-fascist, 'revolutionary traditionalist', 'national anarchist', etc., influence and infiltration. The fascists and racists believe that a culture with such an enthusiasm for transgression, and in which 'art' is seen as an end in itself, is a perfect place to spread their ideas and build alliances and contacts, and the best response to that is for the people within the culture to spew them out and refuse to have any truck with their ideas, refuse to play on the same bill, and to boycott their records.

However, that doesn't mean that other anti-racists and anti-fascists should simply sit back and wait for the fans to get their act together. It is the job of anti-racists, etc., to take the argument above to the fans - which is what LMHR will be doing at their demo.


Are They Really Fascists?

Tony Wakeford (left) with Ian Anderson (right) and
the NF on Brick Lane, London, 29th Aug 1982
 
© David Hoffman, Hoffmanphotos
The problem with this question is that it is hard to work out what it really means, or rather that it means different things to different people. I personally doubt that any of the musicians playing the disputed gig are still card-carrying members of fascist organisations - although one at least has been, and, more than that, is documented as having been an activist rather than just a passive supporter (the image here shows Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus - on the far left of the picture - on a National Front stall in Brick Lane in the 80s - close to the Slimelight venue. You can read more about the significance of the NF presence at Brick Lane in the article Tony Wakeford on Manouevres). However, this blog has not argued that the gig should be stopped simply because of, eg., Wakeford's past membership of the National Front, but rather because our main contributors believe there is a significant continuity between his beliefs then and his beliefs now.

It's well known that Wakeford - after coming under a lot of pressure - issued a statement in which he says: "Many years ago I was a (sic) once a member of the National Front. It was probably the worse decision of my life and one I very much regret. However, I have no connection with, sympathy for, or interest in those ideas nor have I had for around 20 years." Some people take this at face value to mean that he has had no connection with fascism in the last twenty years. But that is not true - he has collaborated with racists, fascists and anti-Semites in various ways, and he continued to sell the openly fascist 'Above the Ruins' recordings long after that. He says that he has had no connection with the ideas of the National Front - but, then, he wouldn't, since he adopted the position of the ITP / political soldier faction before leaving the NF - and their ideas were completely at odds with the NF drive to make themselves respectable and electable, much as the BNP has tried to do more recently. The political soldier faction - led by people such as Nick Griffin, current leader of the BNP - believed that the NF was merely a radical version of the Tory Party, and argued for a revolutionary fascist strategy that embraced violence and illegality. This faction was very much influenced by a group of Italian fascists, led by Roberto Fiore, who had fled to Britain to escape the Italian police. According to Wikipedia: "In England Fiore became a close friend of Nick Griffin and following Griffin's departure from the National Front he helped to organise the International Third Position, becoming a founding member. Fiore had connections with the traditionalist philosopher and has written about topics such as traditionalism and the third position.Julius Evola"

I do not have the time to go into the details of this argument now, but this review of an academic treatment of neo-folk takes up the argument as to why Wakeford's claims are dubious, and tries to show how ideas drawn from revolutionary traditionalism (an offshoot of fascism that, via the work of Evola, for example, was influential on the fascist milieu Wakeford was a part of) continue to influence the lyrics and themes he and some of his friends deal with. Incidentally, his group, 'Above the Ruins', was named as a tribute to Evola's work 'Men Among the Ruins'.

Comments on the LMHR Petition and Campaign

LMHR have issued a petition as follows, asking people to sign and support it:
No to Slimelight’s Nazi-fest in Islington
 

Love Music Hate Racism has discovered that the Slimelight club in Islington has booked bands with deep links to fascist and neo-Nazi groups. They will play on Saturday 25 June. All of the acts on the night use racist lyrics and decorate their set with swastika symbols and Nazi images. The Nazi organisation Stormfront is promoting the event and have declared that its supporters will descend on Islington for the night. The event is organised by Tony Wakeford, who is founding member of Nazi band 'Sol Invictus' and an ex-member of the Nazi National Front (NF). He continues to move in fascist circles. Wakeford is the founding member of known fascist bands such as 'Death in June' and 'Above the Ruins' both of which have donated to the NF and are promoted in fascist magazines. We believe that these Nazi bands represent a threat to community cohesion in Islington are an insult to those that have suffered at the hands of fascists. We call on the organisers cancel this Nazi-fest. It is in all our interests to keep Islington free from racism, violence and fear.
Several people have contacted me to say that, while they support the campaign for the gig to be cancelled, they cannot sign the petition because it contains a number of errors. For instance, Tony Wakeford is not the organiser of the gig (that's Gaya Donadio, aka Hagshadow) and neither is it true that  "All of the acts on the night use racist lyrics and decorate their set with swastika symbols and Nazi images". The fear is that such errors exaggerate the charges against the performers in a way that will make it harder to win the support of some of the fans because they will see that some of these charges can't be sustained.

Now, I think that the reason they have taken this approach is because, with groups such as the NF, BNP and EDL it has been important to establish that, despite their denials, they are essentially fascist organisations (and 'Nazi' is here used as a synonym of 'fascist'). I think they were right about that. However, in this situation the problem is that many of the fans of these bands (and most of the fans of Slimelight) are neither racist nor fascist, but they believe that people should be allowed to say and do whatever they like without being opposed, even if what they are saying promotes racism and fascism.

Therefore this blog has always argued that the key to the situation is to win the argument with the fans that clubs, etc., should not be providing a platform for artists who promote racist and fascist ideas. The problem is that the really dubious performers already understand perfectly well that most fans will not accept racism and fascism, and so they deny that they are either fascist or racist. In that situation the job is to 'patiently explain' to the fans what the issues are. If they are approached with the claim that they are willingly attending a 'Nazi-fest', as if it were the BNP summer camp, they won't find it credible and will therefore be more inclined to support the gig.

Despite all this I would encourage people to support the call to stop the gig, not because I agree with the text of the petition but - given that Islington ALARM have decided against any sort of mass action (see above) - it is now the only game in town in terms of an active campaign. People should either compose their own statement as to why the gig should not go ahead and send that to LMHR (which you can do here), or, if you don't want to go through LMHR, make a comment below or contact me directly with a statement and I'll collect them and send them to  the press, the venue, etc. But if you don't want to do either of those things I hope you sign the LMHR petition itself despite its exaggeration.

The danger is that people take a purist, abstract position on all this. We have to realise that it is a step forward for activist campaigners such as LMHR to take the issue seriously. At the same time, they are new to this territory and are bound to get the details and emphasis wrong to start with, and it seems to me abstentionist to refuse to support their effort until they get it right. Hic Rhodes! Hic Salta!

The job of the LMHR picket/demo is to argue with the punters about why Slimelight should not provide a platform for such gigs, hoping that enough pressure can be put on the venue management to make them back down. This simply isn't going to work if they assume that the people attending the gig (and, even more so, those attending the venue generally) are willingly participating in a 'Nazi-fest' - the vast majority of the attendees are not the enemy, but are potential friends and allies, and if the campaign isn't aimed at convincing these people then it will be counter-productive.

A Question for Slimelight Supporters

I may add to this post later, as more thoughts occur to me concerning the campaign against the Slimelight gig, and in response to later developments. In the meantime I would like to ask supporters of the Slimelight management: if you really want to have nothing to do with racism and fascism, and if the artists playing on the 25th have nothing to do with racism and fascism, can you explain why Gaya Donadio (in her guise as 'Hagshadow') - who is, I believe Patrick Leagas's partner, and who is promoting the Sol Invictus / 6 Comm gig - has managed to book a gig at Slimelight for later this year featuring Sutcliffe Jugend and Peter Sotos?

To give an idea of the lyrical and literary themes dealt with by Peter Sotos, I will merely quote some extracts from a review by Trevor Blake of Sotos's fanzine 'Pure';
"Kiddie Torture" speaks of "the sublime pleasure" of child abuse and the "added pleasure" in witnessing the pain of the parents whose children are murdered. It focuses specifically on Ian Brady, whose domination of Myra Hindley is glorified as is their murder of Lesley Downey (age 10) and Marie Payne (age 4).

The twelve pages headed "Nazi Triumphs" are mostly photographs of emaciated dead people and victims of medical experiments, with one page of commentary by the editor and scattered quotes from concentration camp commandants and Hitler. 


Sotos describes women as dogs, garbage, dirt, shit... yet must somehow delight in Myra Hindley's role in the Moors murders. He accomplishes this by ignoring the fact that she is a woman. Women to Sotos are victims or they do not exist. 
The arguments around Sotos are different to those about Sol Invictus - while the content of his work is much more extreme, the political context is more complex. I mention him not because I think it is problematic in the same way, but because it too raises complex issues about what is and isn't acceptable. My point is that I find it completely irresponsible to take the position that any and all art should be welcomed just because it's called 'art'.

On a similar note I should  mention that the headliners, Sutcliffe Jugend, contributed a track to this release, 'White Power', from 1983. Perhaps they have repudiated this, but if so I haven't heard about it. But in any case, even if the group are not fascists (I don't see any reason to think they are, as it happens), don't you think this might possibly count as promoting, encouraging or affirming fascist ideas?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Karl Blake Comments

I thought it might be useful to collect together a group of comments made earlier (16th-21st May) on the blog by Karl Blake, a onetime member of Sol Invictus-AS: 

[An earlier comment had mentioned Karl's presence at a festival that Boyd Rice played at in London recently]


"... having been alerted by a friend I just have come here to reply to the above poster - Ben 14th May, above.

I was at the Mute 'do' because a friend of mine has made a film about Mark Stewart of the Pop Group and Maffia. He is over from Berlin for that purpose and I am giving him somewhere to stay. He asked me if i wanted to go and I said I didn't mind either way. I would have gone on friday and was quite prepared to confront the piece of shit that is Boyd Rice - I am, contrary to your suggestion, unhappy to even share this earth with him - and as down as I am on myself at times for once I am elitist enough to believe I rate more worthy of survival than that particular specimen - And I was quite prepared to look for [and confront] other pieces of crap that might be adhering to the jerks coattails too. I am also disgusted by Daniel Miller's attitude - but as was pointed out of course he'll defend the 'not needing defending' boyd rice - I can speak from experience that he can be very charming and very funny... BUT... I like to imagine Boyd on the Mrs. Merton show: 'so, boyd, why are you so nice to the multi-millionaire [probably], promotor and financer of your records, payer of your occasional wages, and Jewish[?], Daniel Miller?'

I do understand Daniel Miller. I too defended an undeserving creep for far-too many years. THE INTERNET WASN'T THEN WHAT IT IS NOW THOUGH - IT DIDN'T HAVE WEBSITES SUCH AS THIS THAT DO A VERY MUCH NEEDED JOB.

SEARCHLIGHT MAGAZINE, FOR EXAMPLE - SHOULD PUT ALL OF ITS BACK ISSUES ONLINE

However, I could not get in on the Friday. I toyed with the idea of waiting outside for my ex-friends to arrive so as I could spoil their days in however small a way but as it was still early and the prospect of seeing the moron parade depressed me I went instead to the wonderful Morrisons supermarket, and thence home. Another friend who was there on the Friday reported that Boyd was flouncing around the building as you reported. He also said that, pleasingly, and contrary to what you said, ANTIFA did make an appearance outside and there was trouble between them and security - the latter of which was particularly large in number. My other friend didn't see anything. I suppose it depends where you were. Its perfectly possible for people to be unaware inside a very noisy big building - what is happening in one small corner - when I shouted at the fuckwit mentioned above the people I was with not far ahead were unaware also.

I did attend saturday, however, and had the pleasure of telling a traitorous creep exactly what I thought of him [he is the subject of a blog on here] - I had to hurry to see the film or I would have spent more time on him. Later I spent time walking round the edges and at the entrance at the back of the Hall when Laibach played looking out for his and any 'faces' I knew may be there to share 'thoughts' with - but there were none further - unless you, 'ben' were one of the three largish men one with bluish camo trousers who went through the other door and looked and sounded as if you were going to come over but changed your mind ... you should of: I welcome telling people what and why I believe what I do.

But I suspect your motives for coming here instead... and I have theories of who you may be. The bit about Asians at the front doesn't surprise me in the slightest - or prove anything. Its odd that someone as well informed as you on other matters seem to think it might - were YOU there to protest?

I am increasingly being driven to give account for my past. I am quite open to doing an interview about exactly what my position is. Ironically it is a friend of a friend of Wakeford who has been pushing for this to happen - I look forward to giving him exactly what he deserves - soon. I did do an interview for a book mentioned within this site [in 2006 I think] - and not unconnected with what I said earlier, but my comments and those of Eric Roger also were ignored. I also did an interview for a mag in Germany - but the subject of Sol Invictus must have been so boring or my rambling so unbearably tedious and hard to follow that I was 'nowhere' - its still a bloody good mag though...

I'll give you one or two quotes - I was always convinced the man [Wakeford] whilst remaining stupid in his opinions - nevertheless was inactive in Politics - in fact I was assured of this by both him and David Tibet [1987]. I hold up my hand and say I was politically almost totally ignorant, but my attitude was that as long as people were not pouring petrol through peoples letter boxes they were entitled to their opinions - as long as I wasn't helping promote such disagreeable opinions. I didn't see the codes or whatever contained within the music. When i said to Wakeford, why don't we play that song "LONG LIVE DEATH' from the first album he didn't enlighten me [I wasn't on the first album, by the way, and the first gig I played was in Tokyo at the end of '88 I think - there had apparently been Sol gig[s] before - at least he [Wakeford] said - "private parties" - singular or plural I cannot remember...

Maybe there is a tape of these - maybe a release? "down on griffins farm" as a possible title - I wonder?

Wakeford said to me when he was due to marry Renee Rosen [who is jewish] that "I've lost friends as a result of this " [or words to that effect] - this was in 1998 - I replied "well, they are friends not worth having, aren't they, Tony?" to which he merely grunted. At some time prior to this Tony had warned me off of doing an interview for a [possibly belgian] magazine, as he was aware it was politically dodgy. So there did seem to be indications that he was learning, and after all his mate Richard Lawson and his funny [i mean that in a good way] wife seemed perfectly reasonable types] and many others thought the same. It wasn't until I had a meeting with Stewart Home after a chance meeting at a party in late 2005 that I knew who he REALLY was. Wakeford also made disparaging remarks about Combat 18 after some documentary on TV, which I hadn't heard - and I went to a pub with him once in Borough High Street and he recognised people who came in as Charlie Sergeant and other Combat 18 people and he got quite agitated.

Events in 2005 finally swung my opinion [I was still in the band at this time - my last gig was Leipzig in May 2005 - the tour prior to this had been disrupted [in retrospect] by what I now know to be perfectly reasonable antifa action - and this is an odd one - we were told that it had occurred as a result of a stirring up of action by a certain Vienna-based musician who himself was a raving nazi who hated Wakeford for various reasons - Renee being jewish one of them and the other as I thought recently as possibly a result of the exclusion of a prospective musician from Sol because of his presence on said persons label. Eric Roger did tell the story of his story on a french forum but sadly it was taken down - it is quite right that both of our stories need telling. I will stress though that If Wakeford dropped dead tomorrow I would continue to try to find out more and expose all the other people for doing what they are doing and have done. There is updating needed [connections are not old and dusty cobwebs whatever people may say] and the problems that other people mention are equally relevant it doesn't diminish the significance of this movement - a lot may just be unfortunate fashion victims and others, such as Wakeford, may now be still keeping his/their rightist connections partly only for the money - small beer though it may now be. As Eric Owens said to Wakeford in 2000 "you may not like it, but unfortunately for you we are your audience". If I saw mention of Sol being fascist I would alert Wakeford to it and expect him to do something about it - it was his baggage not mine - or, for that matter the baggage of the people I recruited to the band whom I forewarned of Wakefords past. He asked me why I told them and I said that it was only right and proper if we were getting gigs cancelled at times for what I believed was him being an idiot at some point in his life. In retrospect I was an idiot. This probably strengthened his 'need to know' basis [or I possibly I was the not-need-to-know bassist from then on...] as I presume was the case when I asked whatever happened to that nice chap Tony Williams who we shared a holiday with in 1991 in Cornwall "because he had a car"
 ...some sort of evasive and effective answer obviously, because I didn't know the answer to that until 2005/6 -[see David Copeland - Bomber].

Enough. For now. So - if any genuinely antifascist magazine, individual, website or whatever that I am convinced of wants to talk to me about this who like me believe in 'NO PLATFORM FOR NAZIS' [to me - I will not argue about satanist nazis or anti-satanist nazis - they are all morons and all nazis - and I use that word because I want to - irrespective of 'theoretical inaccuracy - as Alan Trench said - if it looks like a Nazi, it is a Nazi].

OK - FIRSTLY - As regards Wakeford - - I think I'll christen him 'TEFLON TONY' - from what I can ascertain, going by what he said in "Englands Hidden Reverse" about being put away [by the police] for a very long time, this does not add up. He says this was for petty crime and it doesn't explain, why, in about 2000 he was briefly taken to one side by two police on entering the country. He returned to us [some of the band] visibly shaken and said " Err, they said "WE KNOW YOU". His constant "Leagas and Pearce were wholly innocent - it was just me" smacks to me of mutual silence being beneficial rather being than being motivated by friendship. On the quiet his talk about them was - "Dougs lost the plot" - when Douglas was fighting World Serpent, and anger at bootlegs of DIJ that Patrick had put out without paying anyone else.

He is morally lax and totally defined by heightened self-interest, and because he dislikes certain kinds of confrontations is inclined to be two faced in his actions. Curiously, I noted in the booklet you mentioned [Satan etc.] that Sol Invictus were mentioned - but in no depth whatsoever - merely as a link to get to the subject of Ian Read - an enemy of Wakefords [as a result of real jealousy - not the 'supposed' jealousy I suffer from]. He was also too loose-tongued in public for Wakeford's liking]. I suspect, therefore, that Wakeeford keeps a foot in many camps rather than taking sides: one camp being the Nazi who wrote the booklet "Satan etc... which incidently does supply valuable info on the "enemy", despite having a bizarre theory about Paul Macartneys "Mull of Kintyre"!!!

Some time after my tenure with the Sol Invictus ended I discovered a Searchlight article from 1997, or maybe 1998, that dealt with Wakeford, Read and Freya Aswynn and others, which Wakeford undoubtedly knew about. This is one example of his total selfishness - rather than inform us [the rest of the band] about the article and let us decide about our position in the light of its publication ['we' = the band - you should note that all the releases read "Tony Wakeford with..." in other words he was Sol Invictus]. When it suited him we all were Sol Invictus - ie. when he wanted to prove to antifa that he couldn't possibly be fash of any kind. To give an example; there was an incident in England, early in the band's existence, when we were told of a threat to firebomb the queue for a gig with Death in June in Clapham Junction. [The Sol gig was cancelled the DIJ moved] - Wakeford used the band to claim - "We're not fascist - i've got an anti-apartheid'[sic] on cello, a chaos musician on drums, and a nutter on bass!". This has been his regular defense technique ever since - to hide behind his ill-informed band's ethnicity, faith or whatever.

 My own theory is that Wakeford is first and foremost a casuist [but one that he would prefer that some kind of fascist state existed]. He bites his lip and writes pap about a mythical world of kings, queens and fools. I think he feels that way politically irrespective of any nonsense about his wife being Jewish or his bassist being a lesbian [and I bet he never told the latter that the title of her photo exhibition was lifted from a line of my Underneath project in 1986 - 'World Turn Green' - from the track 'Smear Ghosts' - he did ask my permission at the time]. He hides behind the laymans view of 'fascism' . A recent posting on Stormfront England said that his friend Richard Lawson's wife Eve was in fact part-Jewish - which in turn made his daughter, who the poster also said was an activist - Jewish also - and yet he [Lawson] is credited with anti-semetic writings in the 70s and 80s [aside from being the [ghost] author of a pamphlet called 'Lifting the Lid on the Anti-Nazi League' - and his mate Patrick Harrington - NF and latterly a BNP defender from the position of boss of the 'fake' union - Solidarity], worked with Jewish activist [and separatist] Rabbi Schiller. This again is rambling - but there are facts that need to be aired.
Anyway, music is part of the unifying zeitgeist and as a part of a cultural organism is open to infection, which is exactly what is happening and I don't think it is just tied to the neo-ghetto. This site makes an error at times of knocking the music - and that is neither a here or there - it's the Vessel and not the Essence. I too grew through a loose reactionary culture of transgression and believe in the flag of freedom... but only up to a point. The far right use civil rights for their own ends as well - use tolerance to defend their intolerance. I recall again how the KKK was represented by a black lawyer when fighting for their right to have their own public TV in the U.S.A. - and government repression is used as a shared bogey man to hide in amongst or alongside the extreme left, for example Casa Pound in Italy. My response about "looks like a nazi" in that case may well be sorely tested. If I come out with "hate-speech against hate speech" it is my reactionary shift against all of that - I've got 'Neo-poisoning' if you like! I really am fed up with it and a lot of that is down to feeling thoroughly used and duped. I hold my hand up and say I enjoyed going abroad and playing all the time - and recording. Its my own fault that I took the path of least resistance and sat back and took the easy option of just turning up and playing bass and laughing at all the idiots with silly haircuts and anal-aryan uniforms. I will agree that I am now, by contrast - guilty of "kill 'em all - let God decide" type reasoning here with the comment I made in an earlier post.

One other thing - the compilation "Not Alone" - a five cd benefit album put out in 2006 (http://www.discogs.com/Various-Not-Alone/release/638749) - and compiled by David Tibet. Profits were/are to go to medicin san frontiere to combat aids in Africa. How many compilations are Sol Invictus on? Loads - but not that one - even though Wakeford had his own studio at that point or could of, like my own Shock Headed Peters, given an old unreleased track - his reply to me when I mentioned it at the time was [talking about Tibet's request for a track] "you know what my response was, don't you" - so, no Sol on that release.....
Anyway - to Ben, again -

I advise you further to try to contact the webmaster here to do a piece about Jobbik and any cultural sources they may be feeding on and music they may like etc..

And you asked about Laibach - to me on cursory glance they are the musical version of "Romper Stomper" or "American History X" - supposed moral counters critiquing the far-right but 'turned around' and used as visual/aural pornography IN PART by the far-right [as sadly I have seen this website described as 'making fascism sexy";-{ ] - in the same way peedos might use innocent pics of babies for their own ends. I liked some of Laibach's music at the Roundhouse - I didn't like the literal porn [the blow job footage - but thats just my own prejudice] - I don't know what they [Laibach] actually represent - I have heard rumours about some people connected to them - I prefer truth and facts however and will continue to look...
So - in answer to your last and probably most important question:

"Fascism needs opposing and tackling where it is developing an organized and coherent political program and political force, is this music scene a real site for that type of development?" - Yes it should be tackled even if it apparently doesn't apparently conform to the "organised and coherent" dictum for, as ROBIN RELIANT said above "Can we get beyond this semantic hall of mirrors and look at ways in which dangerous ideas are drawn from 'politics' and amplified in 'art'? To suggest that anything exists in isolation these days is equally disingenuous: just look at the CV and 'political' associations of someone like Alex Kurtagić (Supernal Music) -and I'll say also if people like Troy Southgate, Jonathan Bowden - friends and associates of Kurtagić as well as would-be politicians [or activists] first and foremost are connected and interested to this area of music then yes - opposition and investigation and taking it seriously is needed however small and insignificant the scene may seem... the old English saying "look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves" - i'd say look after the pennies as well as the pounds... I'd call what we are taking on here a form of "investment fascism" - all these idiots with their uniform and badges today are the middle-management, bankers, scientists, web designers etc. of tomorrow

...thats the problem with not having constant linkage to the internet. Someone asks you something and a whole load of other people respond in the interim - and I am afraid I haven't the time to do an in depth reply to all now.
But I must say this - my 'being sacked' from Sol Invictus came about as a result of a couple of things - the specific one relating to this being that Eric Roger was sacked for objecting to the [i'd say] 95% fashtype line-up we [Sol] were being grouped with in a particular hall over 2 days as part of the Leipzig Gothik Treffen [2005]. Eric spoke to Wakeford about this first and he agreed that it sounded bad. Eric himself then contacted the promoter - which caused considerable flack - the first I heard about it was to get a phone call from Tony saying " hes gone mad!!" Wakeford then sent Eric an email telling him as much [that he'd gone mad] but that he could continue in Orchestre Noir as he valued his abilities... Eric understandably refused Wakefords 'kind' offer by not reponding at which point Wakeford had a further meltdown.

I had agreed to do the gig so honoured my responsibilities, but not without aggravation from Wakeford as It had already been arranged for me to be in Paris to rehearse with Eric before his 'departure' so transport became more complicated. When I eventually got to Leipzig I had with me a list of the bands and dodgy connections that Eric had done for me - as these were European and some [most] I hadn't heard of before. I offered it to Wakeford to look at but he refused to do so. He also failed to confront Albin Julius who was at the top of the stairs at the venue having said when I told him about Albin's presence that he didn't see him - he was still only a few metres away. Wakeford previously had said he would do various things to him as a result of the tour problems that we had been told were caused by Julius, and neither did he seek to avenge comments made sometime earlier by Julius to a World Serpent Person [I believe] about Wakefords wife].

I decided to leave Sol Invictus myself soon after this gig - and mentioned this to a third party who may well have informed Wakeford. I refused a [Polish?] gig we were offered in October '05 and Wakeford [on the phone] said he was thinking about changes - he wasn't sure what to do about Sol - this was the last time we spoke. I found out from the same 'third party' above in Jan or Feb of '06 [who contacted me to complain about Wakefords behaviour to them and a friend] that this [around the time of the Wakeford phone call] was when I was sacked!. This is a boiled-down version of events - I'm sure Eric can fill in [and I hope he does] - we have emails to prove this chain of events and no doubt will have to do so etc. etc. I must hurry - my access is very limited - they rush at me wanting to re-attach the straight-jacket and feed me pills - as they see the slight glimmer of carpet tile in my eyes!! ;-}

So - I am mentally ill, am I ? Seems a particular Nazi type of accusation - and no doubt the person who said that has a particular Nazi solution to that problem. After all, I may be dangerous, you know...

The tiles in question took a maximum of say one minute to mention on that fucking awful tour I did because I needed the money. I should have paid attention to Wakeford that time ["oo-er you knew what they were like!". Just to establish - they really are interesting carpet tiles - Heuga Felt - made with boars hair, pitch [thats tar] and hessian - and need a light watering every month to start with. The only consistently decent company on that tour was John Murphy - Ian Read went on about things such as why he was in the Masons, the Hollow Earth theory, dissing Albin's ex-girlfriend because her facial shape showed that she was a 'Slav' or somesuch, theories about if a black man had sex with a woman some chemical trace remained??? - and [admiringly] about two old men he had met who had head calipers to measure someones aryan status - and it was he [Read] and not I who had the piss ripped out of him. He said to me as a result - "You know, Karl, they are like this because this is all they have but I have this and also am the sixth most important person in the occult world today!" [or words very much to that effect]. Then he came back home and spoke to one of World Serpent - who we were united in being angry with for different reasons on on that tour - and told them the carpet tile story.

Doug and Boyd would be drinking at eleven in the morning or thereabouts. Albin was busy being unfaithful to his girlfriend and exhibiting an ego so large that his partner in Der Bloodyawful was telling us that he'd had enough of him and was thinking of going home. O.K., this will be taken out of context, but here goes: I was intent on making Wakefords life a misery at some point after Liepzig because of the treachery he had shown and lies he had told. However, as a result of what I learnt subsequently, had Wakeford dropped dead say at the end of 2005 I would still be pursuing what I think is a worthwhile activity - and thats fighting fascism in neofolk and elsewhere. What I thought consisted of merely a few idiots, was wrong, which I subsequently learned through discussion with people such as Eric Roger and Stewart Home, and any previous allegiances as mentioned above were purely and simply musical - and a degree of [in some cases] misplaced friendship. I could have just walked away when my time in Sol ended - I could have played up to the neofolkers and done OK had I been so disposed. I didn't take the easy path - and by the way, Shock Headed Peters were effectively "given an offer they had to refuse" in 1997 and were effectively thrown off of World Serpent for poor sales. I have never hidden this nor did it cause any rancour in my relationship with Wakeford at that time - why should it? If you look at my Myspaces it probably says the same somewhere - and I've always made a point of my "arm, a leg and an eye for an eye" policy [boy, the books getting big - payout time soon] - I also have said I have had to cut off from some people who I was to a degree sad to see go. This isn't a career move, this is all to do with conscience and sense of right and wrong - and I really hate liars.

I was politically ignorant as I said - but only up to a point - I was unaware, say, of the political significance of Runes, of 2nd W.W. history, of the Black Sun - I always stood against what I understood as fascism - which was racism and ultra-authoritarianism - Boyd Rice said to to me at the end of this tour "I guess Karl you'll have to be de-Nazified" - and I overheard him talking about me also - "Hes ANTI-EVERYTHING!"...
He also said "You know, he didn't get involved in the thing that united us the most on this tour" - this was reference to the confrontation with three supposed 'minders' of a group of coach party of people of southern Mediterranean appearance in a motorway service station.[which maybe started when the other member of Der Blutwaddever - the well-over 6ft bloke from Tesco Org with alopecia, muttered under his breath when they entered the shop "Untermensch"....] Rice obviously thought that I should have taken their side after this idiot had made this despicable comment...

One last observation of this tour - every place in Germany we went to they [including John] would all visit the Army Surplus stores in search of 'memorabilia' [eg. swastika belt-buckles].

More, MUCH more, later. And I said that I thought the original 'a.julius' was a fake - I think I know who it was - they'll do, anyway. Hi, anyway to the real Albin [Sunlight....] - but I still don't like or believe you [looks like I'm not alone], and you do Sky Saxon a disservice - maybe you confuse him with Kurt Saxon?"