Monday, 11 July 2011

Datacide: From Subculture to Hegemony: Transversal Strategies of the New Right in Neofolk and Martial Industrial

by Christoph Fringeli of Datacide

Neo-Folk and Martial Industrial are two sub-categories of Industrial Music, which developed in the 1980’s. Industrial as such was a direction that – parallel to Punk Rock – worked with the latest electronics in order to create an aesthetic of futuristic noise machines of the late 20th century and research extreme zones of contemporary society and history. Throbbing Gristle already thematized concentration camps, serial killers, Aleister Crowley etc by using cut-up techniques of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin and thus with strategies of liberation from brain washing. Similarly, Cabaret Voltaire were said to wage a “propaganda war against the propaganda war” (Industrial Culture Handbook). With SPK this was combined with a critique of Psychiatry and a presentation of extremes of the body and death. In the 80’s there were agitational and critical bands such as Test Dept., Nocturnal Emissions and Bourbonese Qualk which were often associated with the ever broadening spectrum of “Industrial”. However, with Laibach the critique of totalitarianism became more ambivalent. This ambivalence was at first seemingly shared by Death In June, the band that in many ways was at the origin of what is now considered Neo-Folk and Martial Industrial.

Death In June has already been the subject of an article in datacide by Stewart Home.

Although the band’s name derives from the 'night of the long knives' when the SA leadership and other elements in German fascism were liquidated by Hitler and the SS in June 1934, DIJ’s left wing origins as well as their collaboration with a number of musicians not suspected to have far right leanings seemed to suggest to followers of 80’s industrial that their use of fascist imagery had some sort of critical element to it. There was a romantic and fetishistic element to it and and when Tony Wakeford was sacked from the band (supposedly) for his membership in the National Front it seemed to show that indeed they were rejecting politics and their use of fascist themes and imagery was on the level of aesthetic provocation.

In the course of the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s a number of other bands flocked to the use of this strategy creating a small sub-culture heavy with far right symbolisms and content, sometimes more, sometimes less explicit and politically oriented. Although there is no doubt that this scene harbours a lot of entirely 'unpolitical' elements, there are definite personal connections to some elements of the organized far right who are trying to use a 'metapolitical' strategy of intervention to fight their fascist kulturkampf.

Right wing sub-cultures are still mostly associated with White Power rock, Skinhead and Oi!-music. This has historical reasons. Central in this is the band Skrewdriver around Ian Stuart Donaldson. The first couple of 7”s and the first album came out on the pub/punk rock label Chiswick Records in 1977. Lack of success however made the band dissolve twice until they reformed again in 1982 and released a 12” on Last Resort’s Boot and Braces Records and then a couple of 7”s on the National Front’s White Noise Records. By now they had become the quintessential White Power band and played numerous “Rock Against Communism” festivals, the NF-answer to the much more popular Rock Against Racism festivals at the time. In 1987, Ian Stuart fell out with Patrick Harrington and Derek Holland of the White Noise Club, the National Front’s “musical” arm, and founded his own Blood & Honour network, in which he played a leading role until his death in a car accident in 1993.

Two things have to be stated in our context here:

1. The ludicrous paranoid race hate ramblings present in the lyrics of Skrewdriver and a host of other like-minded bands that joined them just didn’t lead them anywhere in terms of commercial success, which is something Stuart by his own admission wanted to achieve.

2. With that avenue barred, this scene didn’t and doesn’t have problems outing themselves as National Socialists. To present their political ideas they can do without references to obscure authors of the 'conservative revolution' or völkish occultists, and are quite happy to chant their primitive slogans undiluted.
The same is true with National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM), the openly neo-nazi section of the Black Metal scene and certain White Power Noise Bands. There seems to be a competition to pronounce the most inhuman, brutal and anti-Semitic messages. Song titles as 'Die Juden sind unser Unglück', 'Systematische Judische Vernichtung' (Deathkey), 'Sieg Heil Vaterland', 'Europa Erwache!' (Der Stürmer), 'The Whitest Power', 'Blood Banner SS', 'Juda Verrecke' (Streicher) are quite common.

With Neo-Folk and other outgrowths of the Industrial scene this is different. A great importance is attached to avoid being easily associated with the brown swamp. Their attitude is intellectual and elitist with adoration for Ernst Jünger and Julius Evola not Hitler and Mussolini. Even with key figures who have undeniably been members of far right political groups (in Britain this is crystallized around the mid-80’s National Front and its “Political Soldier” faction), there is a surprising eagerness to distance themselves from allegations of “fascism”. This has a historical precedent in the French “Nouvelle Droite” (see appendix) who, motivated to get out of the neo-Nazi cul-de-sac, and on their march through the institutions, tried hard to avoid being tagged fascists while serving old wine in new bottles, or old ideology in new phraseology for to the present day.

Troy Southgate, head of the group HERR, seems particularly eager not to be branded a fascist despite his history as a wanderer from one group of the extreme right to the other (such as the National Front, the International Third Position, the English Nationalist Movement, the National Revolutionary Faction etc). Presumably this is a tactical move not to scare away potential recruits to his more recent 'National Anarchist Movement'. With a list of his favorite authors including pre-cursors like Bakunin, Proudhon and Nietzsche, 'classic' fascist and National-Bolshevik authors such as Julius Evola, the Strasser Brothers, Ernst Jünger, Martin Heidegger, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Ernst Niekisch, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Karl Haushofer, and finally more contemporary fascists and esoteric Hitlerists like Francis Parker Yockey, Miguel Serrano and Savitri Devi, one wonders why he pretends to be so allergic to the f-word. While this is not necessarily a homogenous bunch of authors, and most of them are not 'Nazis' in the sense of toeing the line of the NSDAP, all of them (minus the 19th century pre-cursers) can reasonably be called fascist in the sense of using 'fascism' as an umbrella term for tendencies including the conservative revolution, national bolshevism, the Hitler-Nazis to the various strains of the contemporary New Right.

Armin Mohler, a historian and speaker of the 'conservative revolution' said: “Fascism for me, is when disappointed liberals and disappointed socialists come together for something new. Out of this emerges what is called conservative revolution.” He somewhat modifies this point in 1973/74: “Apart from a few extras from the ‘lunatic fringe’, no one was defining themselves as ‘fascist’ anymore.” He then tries to define what 'fascist' means. He chooses a procedural method he terms the 'physiognomic approach': “In any case all attempts to understand fascism from its theoretical declarations, or (which is not the same) to reduce it to a theory, are doomed to fail (…) In this area of politics the relationship to the concept (Begriff) is just instrumental, indirect, retrospective. Preceding there is a decision for a gesture, a rhythm, in short: a style. This style can of course express itself in words – fascism is not mute, on the contrary. It loves words – but they are not there to communicate a logical context”, rather, according to Mohler, they lead “most of the time” to “random and arbitrary results”. “To summarize we can say that fascists can obviously easily accept discrepancies in theory, because their communication is happening in a shorter curve, exactly through ‘style’”. (Von Rechts gesehen, 181f.)

Mussolini declared in an almost more radical fashion: “Fascism is to the highest degree a relativist movement, because it never made the attempt to clothe its multi-layered and powerful mentality in a defined program. Its success lies rather in the fact that it has followed constantly changing individual inspirations (…) Us fascists have always expressed out complete indifference towards any theory…” Mohler (1920-2003) himself was increasingly openly calling himself a fascist towards the end of his life, while the younger 'new right' adepts on the contrary try to utilize an ideological fog machine to obscure their positions.

While Southgate only more recently added a musical 'career' to his CV, his former comrade in the NF, Tony Wakeford, has been involved with music longer than his involvement with far right politics. In fact, Wakeford did have roots in the far left scene as a member of the Socialist Workers Party when he was in the band Crisis (see Datacide 7). Douglas Pearce who was also simultaneously in the International Marxist Group. Crisis was dissolved apparently out of disillusionment with the left, and Death In June was founded in 1981.

Shortly afterwards Tony Wakeford joined the National Front. The NF had been the most important party of British neo-fascism in the 1970’s. However, in the early 80’s it already was in a state of decline and internal factional disputes. There was soon a de facto split between the 'Official NF' and the 'Flag Group'. In control of the 'Official NF' was the 'Political Soldier' faction around Nick Griffin and Patrick Harrington, and it was with this latter faction that Wakeford was sympathizing. Supposedly Wakeford had to leave the band DIJ for this reason, although this seems strange, given that this was right at the point when the NF took a turn to Strasserism, the so-called 'left wing' of National Socialism. Douglas Pearce himself said in 1992 that when “searching for a new political perspective we stumbled across nationalist Bolshevism (…) people like Gregor Strasser and Ernst Röhm, who were later known as the ‘second revolutionaries’”.
This is a position that would have been compatible with the 'Political Soldiers' from the NF.

The question has to be inserted here: why wasn’t DIJ immediately recognised as a far right band by most people? There are different reasons for this. Their background was explicitly left, texts and imagery seemed to be ambivalent, one wanted to recognise not a glorification but also a critique, and when the band was singing the 'Horst Wessel Lied', it was seen as a provocation embedded in a historical collage. One could and should have been more critical, but songs like 'Death of the West' were serving both 'left' and 'right'-wing anti-Western resentment. People like John Balance and David Tibet, who seemed unsuspicious, were playing on DIJ records and Douglas Pearce was working for a time in Rough Trade record shop, which was supposed to be politically correct – hadn’t they banned Whitehouse records for the fact the band shared the same address as the fascist League of St. George? And last but not least hadn’t Wakeford been sacked from the band for his involvement with the NF?

After leaving DIJ, Wakeford founded the band Above The Ruins with the bassist Gary Smith of No Remorse, which was an openly neo-nazi band similar to Skrewdriver both in terms of musical style and ideological direction. Above The Ruins released one album and became effectively the first line-up of the new band Sol Invictus, in which Wakeford is still active. Sol Invictus first album was called Against The Modern World in homage to Julius Evola, on which Smith still played bass, and was joined by Ian Read and Liz Gray. Wakeford has denied this connection for many years, although there was a re-release of the album in 1996 which was also sold through the Sol Invictus mail order. Above the Ruins featured on a National Front benefit sampler called No Surrender alongside the likes of Skrewdriver on the Rock-o-Rama label, who have as recently as 2008 released a track by No Remorse on a 30 years anniversary compilation. Interesting detail: The track 'Waiting' had not previously been released on Rock-o-Rama, but was on the Songs of the Wolf album. This album, released originally on cassette tape in 1984, then on vinyl in 1986, had already reaped praise in Scorpion magazine from Michael Walker, who is another figure of the British New Right as former NF member.

What is certain is that Wakeford makes some sort of effort at damage control concerning his involvements with the far right. His strategy seems to be to make flimsy disclaimers and otherwise deny everything (see his 'Message from Tony' on his website). The legend that he was only briefly involved with far right politics in ca. 1984 doesn’t hold up. His involvement with the NF went back at least two years during which he was a member of DIJ. Wakeford has had many personal involvements with important figures of the far right till at least 1999 when Richard Lawson was best man at his wedding, which also include figures like Patrick Harrington and National Socialist Movement leader Tony Williams. We already encountered Patrick Harrington as one of the organizers of the White Noise Club in the mid 80’s, and he was also a part of the Political Soldier faction of the NF. When this faction split at the end of the decade (leaving the small rump of the NF to the 'Flag' group), it produced the International Third Position (Griffin, Holland) and the 'Third Way' (Harrington), which is posing as a 'think tank' rather than a political group. Harrington remains a confidant of Griffin as the chairman of the fake trade union Solidarity, which is essentially a BNP front. Wakeford was good friends with Harrington and Tony Williams, the future leader of the National Socialist Movement and the person who would issue his NSM membership card to London nail-bomber David Copeland. Wakeford’s other close friend Richard Lawson had a career in the extreme right going back into the 70’s. He was editor of 'Britain First' together with Dave McCalden, who became known as a holocaust revisionist, followed the Strasserite split of the short lived National Party. In the 80’s he returned to the 'Strasserized' National Front, founded the IONA-Group (Islands of the North Atlantic) and wrote for Scorpion, the magazine of Michael Walker (who was one of the people who safe-housed Italian neo-fascist terrorist Roberto Fiore). In the mid-90’s, Lawson founded the fluxeuropa website and was involved along with Southgate in Alternative Green, the nationalistic spin-off from Green Anarchist. As we can see, Wakeford was surrounded by key figures of the extreme right until the end of the 90’s at least. So it’s not surprising that he spouts on about Europe in true new right fashion in an interview with Jean Louis Vaxelaire, which was published on Lawson’s fluxeuropa site. Wakeford said that Europe was “one of my obsessions”, and slightly distanced himself from 19th century concepts of nationalism by preferring to see “Europe as a collection of regions”, but he then in accordance with the new right decried the “unstoppable ... Americanization of European culture.”

Wakeford and Southgate are by no means the only ones involved in the far right. Ian Read, a founding member of Sol Invictus and occasional member of Current 93, who featured on Death In June’s Brown Book, founded his own project Fire & Ice in 1990. Known in occult circles for his editorship of Chaos International, his interests are focussed on runes, odinism, nordic mythology, and he thinks of himself as one of the most important occultists of the British Isles. But he too has a history as a far right militant as he acted as security for Michael Walker and Michèle Renouf at events around 1990.

Renouf is one of the leading figures of British holocaust denial and anti-Semites. Amongst other things, she participated in the Teheran holocaust conference, and is one of the most active supporters of David Irving. She also pops up in our context again in 2007 when she spoke at an event of Southgate’s New Right groupuscule, as reported by the anti-Fascist magazine Searchlight. This (and a looming leadership contest) led to disputes within the British National Party, since its culture commissioner, self-declared 'philosopher' and 'artist' (who made garish oil paintings with titles such as 'Adolf and Leni' or 'Freud was wrong') was simultaneously Southgate’s partner in the New Right grouplet. This was at a time when Nick Griffin (former Political Soldier, now BNP chairman and recently elected to the European Parliament) tried to create a more 'respectable' image for the party. Of course if leading functionaries rub shoulders with radical anti-Zionists and anti-Semites, who, as Renouf does, believe that “Hamas fights for us all”, then Griffin’s attempt to clear the BNP from charges of anti-Semitism have little credibility.

Back to Neo-Folk: In contrast to “Battlenoise!”, the book titled 'Looking For Europe' was received with praise in the scene. The 500 page convolute is stuffed with information on bands and records. It functions a bit like a film documentary cut with snippets of interviews in between the text, and amended with 'essays' on the 'philosophical' background of the artists. The book title of course is taken from a song by Sol Invictus. All sides of the scene are presented and indeed all kinds of references are mentioned and quoted, but the overall agenda seems to be to discredit the anti-Fascists who are active in monitoring and counter-acting the fascist tendencies in neo-folk. Thus, 'Rik' from the fluxeuropa web site comments on whether the Neofolk-scene in England has the reputation of being politically incorrect: “The witch hunters of Political Correctness have their very own and narrow minded political agenda – a kind of ‘social marxism’ – and are not satisfied with anything less than complete compliance with their own values and aims. To justify oneself towards these people would be to play their game, and is ultimately futile. This is why I think we shouldn’t even pose this question.” (p 24) This 'Rik' can be none other than Richard Lawson, who we already encountered as NF cadre and IONA founder, but the reader is kept in the dark about these facts. It would be interesting to know if the authors of the book knew this information. If the answer is yes, it would show that they are manipulating the reader on this question; if no, it means they didn’t do their research properly. Either way it illustrates well how the book operates – consciously or not – in its quest to create a whitewashed encyclopedia of Neofolk. Why left wing authors like Martin Büsser or Lars Brinkmann let themselves be instrumentalized remains unclear, but it makes it possible that pretend-equilibrium is created. Most importantly, the involvement of the far right in Neofolk is trivialized and reduced to footnote status.

One other method in this strategy is to present authors such as Ernst Jünger and Julius Evola as heroic mavericks and mystical sages. It is worth briefly looking into their relationships with fascism. Ernst Jünger was active as a publicist and author from the 1920’s onwards on the fringes of the furthest right of the Weimar Republic. He was never a Hitlerite National Socialist, but still he was one of those intellectuals who expected to be the helm of intellectual life after the 'German Revolution'. Benn and Heidegger are other examples of this. In 1964, Jünger wrote in his book Maxima-Minima: “Revolutions also have a mechanical side”, complaining that the result is that 'subaltern' types are coming to the fore. I’m sure he is thinking of the mediocre writers that became national authors of Nazi Germany. Of course Jünger is a stylistic 'genius' compared to a Herbert Böhme. It was beneath him to formulate cheap adulations of the 'Führer'. Much has been made of Jünger’s supposed refusal to join the Deutsche Akademie der Dichtung when it was purged and then filled with Nazis in the spring of 1933. Fact is that he wasn’t actually invited to join it in May ‘33. One month later, when the NSDAP was already consolidating its power, five more writers were nominated to the Academy. Besides Jakob Schaffner, this also included Jünger. However Jünger got the least number of votes. The poet was insulted and penned a letter of refusal even before the actual invitation arrived. He wrote: “The character of my work lies in its essentially soldierly character, which I do not wish to compromise with academic ties… I ask you therefor to see my refusal as a sacrifice which my participation in the german mobilisation is imposing on myself, in which service I have been active since 1914.” He was obviously offended by the preferential treatment lesser authors were receiving. In any case there is no anti-fascist attitude that can be projected into this statement, and is rather a position that is still consistent with his critique of the Hitlerites from the right.

In his post war writings there is clearly a different tone, and Jünger may well have learned something from the horrors, but it is also possible that a very similar message was encrypted in a different way for a different cultural climate (see the box on “Der Waldgang”). Whatever may be the case, there is definitely no self-critical analysis of his own role in the 'german mobilization'. Instead, he often revised his older writings including those versions in his collected works making the texts more compatible for the cultural climate of the post war era. In passing it should be mentioned that Armin Mohler, who was Jünger’s secretary for a while in the early 50’s, turned away from the author exactly for this reason.

Julius Evola was one of the main inspirations for the extreme end of Italian post war fascism. Marginally involved with avant-garde art after WWI, he soon became an ideologist of a radical and anti-Semitic “traditionalism”. That he was not just some random occultist will be clear from the following quote from the preface of the English edition of “Men Among the Ruins”:
“… for us as integral advocates of the 'Imperium', for us as aristocratically inclined, for us as unbending enemies of plebeian politics, of any ‘nationalistic’ ideology, of any and all party ranks and all forms of party ‘spirit’, as well as of any more or less disguised form of democracy, “Fascism is not enough”. We should have wanted a more radical, more fearless, a more absolute fascism that would exist in pure strength and unbending spirit against any compromise, inflamed by a real fire for imperial power. We can never be viewed as ‘anti-Fascists’ except to the extent that ‘super-Fascism’ can be equated with ‘antifascism’.”
Despite this, various protagonists of the neo-folk scene are allowing themselves to present Evola only as an eccentric mystic in order to trivialize what he is really about: “super-fascism”.

Not everybody sees it like that. For example, the Ukrainian academic and fascism scholar Anton Shekhovtsov wrote the article 'Apoliteic music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and ‘Metapolitical’ Fascism', which appeared in Patterns of Prejudice magazine in December 2009. His starting point is that in the post war years the radical right had to switch from openly political forms to what he calls 'apoliteic' form. Here, he is particularly referring to Evola, Mohler and Jünger. These conservative revolutionaries find themselves in an interregnum until the time would be ripe again for the 'glorious' national re-awakening. The metapolitcal fascism of the New Right manifests itself less in the form of parties than in networks of think tanks, conferences, journals, institutes and publishing houses. Shekhovtsov demonstrates how this strategy is at work in Neo-folk and Martial Industrial with bands such as Folkstorm, Death In June, H.E.R.R. and others. Of course, record labels and distributors, venues and festivals, fashion and fetishism also add to the cohesion of the scene and operate as transmitters of ideas.

We have seen how certain activists of the scene have roots in the political milieu of British neo-fascism, and that their later activities appear not to be 'sins of the youth' but rather a conscious change in strategy. This makes it easier to sell records and exert influence, and also makes is possible that the Antifa can be portrayed as 'intolerant' and 'totalitarian'. The examples shown in this article are by far not the only ones. From the US, examples such as Michael Moynihan, Boyd Rice or Robert Taylor could be examined and would show deep involvement with far right politics, just as the band Von Thronstahl from Germany would. There are numerous other examples. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that everybody involved in this scene is automatically to be seen as a far right activist. There are even members with years of involvement who seemed to be unaware of the political components. The right wing Gramscian strategy works best when the recipients of the ideas don’t identify them with the hard right, but with 'common sense'. This is a very small scene which tries to ennoble its consumers into being supposedly part of some 'elite'.

One of the more prevalent opinions on this topic is: as long as these are just the quirks of some pseudo-eccentrics, we shouldn’t care. However, the danger of lies in a camouflaged and sneaking popularisation of ideas as concepts of the New Right can not be underestimated. Caught in the cul-de-sac of 'straight' neo-nazi politics, the individuals involved in the far right and neo-folk switched to 'metapolitical', sub-cultural strategies. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to expose these actual connections, to prompt those in the 'grey zone' to distance themselves, and especially to expose the actual arbitrariness and banality of fascist thinking.

34 comments:

  1. metapolitics are a fallacy, the same strategy is used by liberalism when they show themselves as a "non political/ideological" party, just some kind of pragmatists that give responses to "basic needs". obviously they still have their liberal/right wing background, like the fascists of the new right, even when they change their masks and they dont want to be called fascists.

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  2. Isn't the strategy of metapolitics just a right wing parallel to cultural Marxism? While I still say this site is the best critique of post-industrial culture out there and have no issues with anyone involved as individual people, I would like for once if some one from the left was honest enough to say something to the effect of "we want to thwart people we view as potential rivals from gaining any ground politically or culturally".

    We're all marginal extremists here, none of us on any side speak for the masses.

    -Oneiric Imperium

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  3. Industrial music always sounded fascistic - and indeed,flirted with fascism. Take German electro pioneers DAF 'Der Mussolini'...but it is mostly the juvenile desire to shock and nothing more. Even Joy Division - and then New Order - took their names from Nazi origins. So what is my point here? My point is that there is an outsider art element to some strands of rock music and adopting taboo subcultural references is just another way for rock to shock. That's all!

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  4. Industrial music used a lot of fascist/Nazi iconography.Bands took their names from Nazi subcultural references...Joy Division for example. The point I would like to make it that it is the juvenile desire to shock and align oneself to taboo outsider elements that is really at play here, not a real polical desire to get a point or ideology across. But in the case of Screwdriver - screw them! Odious, horrible and cynical too. I bet they hoped to get rich from it and for all I know, probably did.

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  5. I am shocked to find that there is more to Neofolk than a simple flirtation with symbolism. The racist roots of Neofolk seem damned enough, especially when Sol Invictus and Death in June pretty much set the scene for all the rest of the bands. Most of these bands do seem to feature Nazi-style "runes" or veiled lyrics in some part. I wonder how rampant the idea of National Socialism is in the genre?

    I did notice a group called Genocide Organ, featured in a blog of clearly appalling racist, fascist and extremist bands, and a song that appears to be called Gas Chamber. This band appears as a Neofolk band. Is Neofolk really in support or in opposition of this crazy, weird Nazi idealogy? I always thought the music was about Nordic gods, mystical forests and paganism.

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  6. Hi Starlight, Genocide Organ are a power electronics type of band, nothing to do with neofolk. They don't make public comments about the content of their work or any kind of explicit political statement, unlike some other bands in that genre such as the 'white power' act Brethren, the violently anti-semitic far-right Control Resistance, the ultra-left Barrikad, the eco-anarchist Militia or the extreme Zionist Barzel (Muslimgauze's worst nightmare).

    Never thought much of Genocide Organ myself, a bit predictable-sounding, until I saw some great live footage last year on youtube. I might check out their new stuff which seems to be conceptually focussed on Erik Prince and Blackwater.

    "Clearly appalling...extremist bands" just sounds like fun to me, maybe I'm immature. In other news, some Asian kid got arrested this week for writing an "appalling racist extremist" opinion about Afghanistan on his facebook.

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    1. Hi Simon, extreme content would seem like a necessary concomitant of extreme music. I tend to think that there is a tendency to take music too seriously, i.e. that certan people seem to really believe that music shapes political opinion, ends wars, cures famines, etc, etc. Apart from one person I know, all the people I knew in the eighties who listened to Whitehouse or DIJ or anything slightly 'suspect' are pretty much left of centre politically.

      It is intriguing that film is not seen in the same way as music. I mean nobody is really going to call somebody a Nazi for liking Lars Von Trier, or call you a right-wing nutjob for liking "Dirty Harry"! I recall going round to a house to buy some weed from some hippy pacifists and they were all watching "The Wild Geese" - I must have elegantly arched my eyebrow or something as one of them said : "Well, everyone likes a good fascist film every now and again"!

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  7. Simon, if you are talking about Azhar Ahmed's comments on Facebook, note that there is nothing even remotely racist about them. Funny how you can make excuses for any muck coming from the right, but then wade in with false accusations of racism against an Asian youth.

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  8. Strel, the quote marks around "appalling racist extremist" were intended to be sarcastic as I think you already knew. It's a horribly depressing case illustrating why state interventions against free speech which may cause offence (supported by James Cavanagh of this blog) are a very bad idea, however much you may hate all these bands you obsess over.

    @Jar Several - well, I think I'd be a bit doubtful about someone who claimed to love Leni Riefenstahl for the great cinematography...

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    1. Hi Simon, when I did Film Studies at A Level, we had to study Riefenstahl along with Eisenstein. Pauline Kael who was from a Jewish family regarded Reifenstahl as one of the few geniuses who worked in the medium.

      Riefenstahl actually avoided trial after the war by claiming: "I was just an artist. I didn't know anything about politics." Which was a bit of a lame defence, but it worked!

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    2. I agree with regard to state interventions. The GMP seizure of the Red Issue fanzine was another ludicrous intervention, seemingly motivated by a sort of "it could offend somebody" attitude.

      It is a thorny issue, but even though the concept of Free Speech isn't perfect, it needs to be defended. That is not to say that I don't *personally* find certain people's views disgusting, but I just don't see that I can appoint myself as a censor or a No Platform advocate.

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    3. I was more picturing the sort of pretentious ICRN type that this blog justifiably takes potshots at having a collector's edition of 'Triumph of the Will' filed alongside Death In June boxsets and denying the real attraction in the material even to themselves.

      The Heretical Press case set a British legal precedent around the issue of free speech on the internet, in that the site they were convicted for wasn't hosted in the UK. It's actually quite local to me, as in was in my town that some tool printed off one of the most obnoxious holocaust denying pages on it and put it through a synagogue's door (which isn't free speech, it's clearly harrassment) and that started the whole trouble. The site has some really unpleasant material on it and a generally cranky and depressing tone (slackbastard anarchobase fella says he found some of it funny, I've never laughed at anything there). I don't think it's especially popular even with the far-right.

      An interesting read: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jun/03/local/me-brits-jailed3

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    4. Yip, point taken, Simon. But what are we going to do about Swindon Town playing at Wembley tomorrow in the Johnstones Paint trophy? Their manager is the self-defined FASCIST (i.e. makes no bones about it) Paolo Di Canio. Do we get in touch with Neasden Council or whoever to try and get the game called off or do we just support the opposition, Chesterfield (crooked spire & Tony Benn)?

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  9. No, I disn't know. Apologies.

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  10. Part One:

    I wouldn't be quite as hasty in giving Genocide Organ a clean bill of health as Simon. For a start, they are the house band of Tesco.Org, and label founder Klaus Hilger aka Wilhelm Herich remains their frontman. Since the Tesco roster has included Brighter Death Now, Fire + Ice, Solblot, Death In June, Blood Axis and Les Joyaux De La Princesse alongside harsher fare, I think that any distinction made between various styles of radical pigs(will) is a pretty flimsy one.

    Perhaps they don't make "any kind of explicit political statement" – but this is borne out of a necessary observance of Germany's laws relating to (cough) national rebirth. In interview, Hilger is very nearly as slippery as Douglas Pearce (who he enthusiastically defended in the courts over the disgraceful 'Rose Clouds Of Holocaust'), although he succeeds in giving a flavour of his political inclinations nonetheless; in the online Stigmata magazine, he echoes uncannily the rhetoric of the NPD's former leader Udo Voigt, as seen on a recent edition of the BBC's Newsnight.

    Here's Hilger: "Most of the ideas these (Tesco) bands share are much older than 60 years, they do not reduce history to 12 years and a lot of their ideology is based in the war against Napoleon or the 1848 revolution or further back. A liberal nationalism which was good in those days is bad today, even it is forbidden to speak about it. Re-education of our “friends” from overseas worked very well. They want no left no right, they just want a faceless mass without demands without remembrance....."

    "Today's demons are the dictators of freedom and peace. global organizations, defense org., parties, churches, unionists, one-world supporters, oppressors of culture, national identity and justice, market strategists, people who use currencies to bring down an idea, anti-occultists, all anti-antis, all -isms!

    In answer to a question regarding the 'soil', the 'roots' and the 'rain' necessary for the phenomena of "good bands with right wing ideologies springing up like mushrooms" in recent years, Hilger responds: The soil is the stupid policy in Germany concerning German history, the roots of these bands is the will to not accept a thing without questioning it. And the rain? Hopefully a new feeling of freedom - the real freedom from all oppression..... Freedom of culture, Fatherland, speech, art, press and so on."

    "Living in a country where you're not allowed to own any nationalism you've a lot to criticize"

    "Due to all the apathy in the past decades all these awakenings might seem a bit radical, but it's a natural thing that people one day get aware of who they are and where they are from."

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  11. Part Two:

    All the usual populist demagoguery, then, and he's not alone in looking askance at the peculiarity of blanket laws which have unwittingly allowed fascism to fester.... to the tune of 180 racially motivated murders in the last 20 years, torchlit marches by masked anti-democratic fringe groups like The Immortals, and the establishment of white-only 'national liberated zones'. He's doubtless also correct in claiming to have 'no interest', on a personal or artistic level in National Socialism, but then it's something of a discredited brand with which even the NPD would be reluctant to identify too closely.... at least initially.

    Like Pearce, Hilger is not an ideological Nazi, but he's undoubtedly a fascist. The extent to which his 'politics' bleed through to his artistic endeavours can be debated (and the presentation of barbarity without praise or condemnation (or, indeed, context) is the oldest trick in the well-thumbed Industrial handbook. Ultimately, it's a question of whether one is happy to line the pockets of fascists by buying their product, appearing on their labels or taking advantage of their distribution network, as I suspect the 'original poster' with his carefully phrased trolling, is all too aware.

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    1. erm...am I missing something here. I thought that Pearce had openly declared his support for the Strasserite ideas of the Nazi party during the eighties? Consequently it seems strange to say that he isn't (or wasn't) an ideological Nazi. In a sense that makes him more of an ideological National Socialist than Hitler, who is generally seen as a betrayer of National Socialist ideology. I always supposed that Pearce was a supporter of the second revolution aspect of Nazism, or has he since renounced his pro-Strasserite, pro-SA stance?

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    2. Certainly seems as if Klaus Hilger is a kind of 'apoliteic fascist' if that concept is a realistic one: sometimes it seems reminiscent of the paranoia of Sergei Nilus and 'freemasonry as a cover story' to me. Thank you for posting those interview excerpts.

      I'm pretty sure Brighter Death Now of the Tesco-associated bands you listed never used any kind of right-wing imagery, any reason for mentioning them? The one record I heard was extraordinarily dull and cliche-riddled.

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  12. "Any reason for mentioning them?"

    I thought it was worth listing a representative sample of Tesco acts as I've noticed attempts on here and elsewhere to make distinctions between the respective 'political' content of Neo-folk, Martial Industrial and various sub-genres, which tend to ignore the overlap that exists among labels and fan bases.

    As for Pearce..... well, aside from that early expression of interest in the Second Revolutionaries, and the uniform fetish which is consistently excused as an aesthetic choice, he's notoriously difficult to pin down to political specifics. He maintains the jaded world-weariness of bourgeois disaffection, whilst tossing around just enough bones of trite contention to keep the Iron Youth satisfied. I don't know that Strasserism has anything more than a vague theoretical application in today's world, and you'd struggle to ascribe any coherence or political intelligence to the thoughts of Private Pearce. For those reasons, I'm more comfortable with the term 'fascist' than Nazi.

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  13. The following drivel, from trendy fashion website mishkanyc.com, is standard-issue Pearce vacuity:

    (How do you feel about the world?) "Like I don't have enough hours, days, weeks, months or years left remaining in it to be bothered about talking about it – even though it probably is one of the most interesting/exciting times anyone could choose to be living in, and we're on the brink of World War III. The opening salvoes have already been fired as civilizations and cultures line up against each other.

    The next World War won't be one of nation states or political ideologies against each other. That time has worn itself out. The next war will revert to the World our ancestors lived in hundreds of years ago, with the same old enemies not only knocking on the gates of our Fortress from without, but also trying to knock down our defenses from within. And, that's for a whole variety of reasons. It's already happening. It's on the news every night.

    It's not only the most obvious suspects that we have to worry about, it's also our respective so-called 'free liberal social democratic' governments that gradually and nefariously encroach upon our everyday lives, making them more surveyed, more controlled and less secure in the meantime. But the majority of people are not simply too complacent to take this in, they're also to scared to accept it, as the future will eventually be a hard one, full of hard choices. This is too much for most people to fully comprehend at present. But there will be a defining time when none of us will have any choice as to what the situation truly is" etc. etc.

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    1. I would agree that the above Pearce statement is vacuous drivel but it's also pretty innocuous and hard to distinguish from the average statement spouted by Jo(e)Public on messageboards and forums all round the internet nowadays. As for the uniform fetish, I think you are confusing sexuality with aesthetics. Pearce has also talked in interviews about encounters with knicker-wearing lorrydrivers and perverted priests in full garb trying to pick him up at airports, it's obvious the guy is fixated on male dress codes.

      Genocide Organ appear on a compilation released by Hospital Productions recently 'White Eye of Winter Watching', which also features The Grey Wolves, Sutcliffe Jugend and Consumer Electronics, all mentioned previously on this website. The theme is Stalin. Down the sidebar here in the links section I am two clicks removed from 'Red Salute' eulogies of the late Godfrey Cremer (CPGB-ML), also a member of the Stalin Society who published repulsive Historical Revisionism denying Communist complicity for the Katyn Massacre. Cognitive dissonance. I compared the theory of apoliteic fascism to the mindset behind Protocols of the Elders of Zion above and I stand by that.

      To make it abundantly clear, I have had very little respect or sympathy for anti-fascism in its current form since this website's behaviour last summer (contact Islington Council/call Theresa May/ get a controversial gay writer who's been attacked by every other political faction around banned from the UK). I do however enjoy the debate here.

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    2. Also, I'd like to add that your choice of words, 'giving Genocide Organ a clean bill of health' is extraordinarily revealing about your real (reformist) motives.

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  14. The point of quoting Pearce's stilted inanity (and it's worth noting that he only ever conducts interviews by email, which accounts for the weird tone of self-redaction and punch-pulling) is that he's interesting NOT for his elitist whining, NOR (god forbid) for his music, but only in the context of a public figure who has devoted most of his career to rehabilitating the idea of a 'noble' pan-Europeanism, and opening up a cultural space where Euro-kids from good homes (rather than the usual right wing 'rabble') now question the received morality of the war years. He's probably done as much as Le Pen, to this end, but using the fuzzy romanticism and illogic of cultish pop music. The 'poetry' and symbolism, which nobody can ever gainsay because they fail to share Pearce's 'unique vision' etc., is a smokescreen for this agenda.

    Furthermore, isn't the uniform fetish more than just an expression of his sexuality? His use of army surplus is enough to convey an unspoken message..... the 'kameradschaft' depicted on the sleeves of his endless digipacks, and in the fawning fan videos on Youtube, complete the story. Surely it's the fact that he's succeeded in his aims, and that Death In June exists as an entity and an idea beyond Pearce's contrivance, that makes him worthy of discussion.

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    1. Not sure if I like the tone of your 'kids from good homes' theory. The founders of Nazism and Fascism and their followers were 'kids from good homes'. And the current bigwigs in those contemporary movements that are ideological descendents of nazis/fascists are all (petit)bourgeois. Sure, some lumpen elements get press-ganged into joining with them, but that certainly isn't the norm. You will certainly see more UAF stickers on the deprived estates of Manchester (where I live) than you will in Wilmslow.

      Just from personal experience, I can point out that I grew-up in a poor working-class area in an Irish immigrant family, and I didn't really encounter much racism until I went to grammar school, where even the teachers were racist!

      A lot of those who are identified as 'rabble' are actually from privileged backgrounds. Chubby Chris went to Charterhouse, and the likes of Ian Stuart and Darren Wells were 'nice' middle-class boys pretending that they were working-class - a bit like the Westminster schoolboy Joe Strummer!

      There are many middle-class anti-fascists who just can't handle the fact that it was their class who created these ideological monstrosities in the first place!

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    2. erm...."probably done as much as Le Pen!!! In Pearce's wildest dreams. Outside MUSICDIVLAND nobody has even heard of that pathetic knobhead. He is completely insignificant. Millions flocked to support Le Pen, dozens support Pearce. At this rate you're going to make him feel important, which he isn't. Meanwhile, I see "Deptford John" Armitage is doing live sound for Take That & Kylie! What will the knicker-twisters at LMHR make of that?

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  15. You're right... historical revisionism goes 'both ways', and doesn't even need the distance of decades to do its work. Whilst I welcome any new focus (and I'd also include GO's newer 'Blackwater' material here) in a genre which is overwhelmingly anti-democratic and reactionary, a compilation of emotive responses to Stalinism doesn't suggest much deviation of tone from what has gone before.... let alone progression, perspective, balance, acuity, reflection, nuance or any of the other qualities we might expect from politically engaged art.

    Whatever your feelings about the Slimelight campaign, it would be a mistake to equate anti-fascism with one 'talking shop' website, or even the UAF machine. I too had deep reservations about aspects of the campaign (although I wouldn't ennoble Sotos by calling him a 'gay writer'... he's first and foremost a paedophile) but I don't see how moral scruples can be set aside when dealing with these issues. The whole purpose of this site, I'd say, is to question some of the uses to which 'extreme' art is put, and personal morality is the only guide we can usefully employ.

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    1. I don't think I would agree that the power electronics genre can be compared to 'politically engaged art'. While a few projects I have noted above (Brethren, Control Resistance, Barrikad, Militia, Barzel) have explicit messages to ineptly convey in their 'work', most flounder around in a mishmash of cliched extremist imagery. I think the genre is fairly redundant and has great ironic similarities to the punk revival scene in that it largely appeals to conservatives. I did once sense some tension and unease in a Tesco-affiliated PE band (whom I won't name and shame) when we took them to a Leeds 6 curry house after a gig many years ago which was more to do with them being young, in a strange environment and from a conservative part of Germany than any leanings towards fascism or C18 type wish to firebomb the curry house. If you check out message boards like noisefanatics and specialinterests for this genre, the political tone (where it exists) is similar to the average clueless comment on the Daily Mail website rather than anything more sinister.

      I wouldn't try to 'ennoble' Peter Sotos myself even though the Pompidou Centre try to, and I don't see him featured in The Advocate any time soon, but the overwhelming autobiographical content of his books is in fact descriptions of adult homosexual acts and his most prominent public supporter has been Dennis Cooper.

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    2. Ray,

      your final sentence merely places you in the Mary Whitehouse camp, as instead of simply turning off or ignoring something that you object to, you are advocating personal intervention based on your own moral viewpoint. Which is precisely what Mary Whitehouse did. She obviously believed she was right to condemn Gays, blasphemy, etc. Her personal morality led to the desire to ban and censor. You can say that she was a ridiculous bigot and that your personal morality is in no way comparable, but that is a dubious road to go down.

      I don't have any interest in Sotos, and I tend to agree with Simon that a great deal of the consumer lust for so-called 'transgressive art' is frankly conservative, albeit masquerading as the opposite.

      Call Sotos what you wish, but you could try to retain some degree of balance and accuracy. Sotos is not a convicted paedophile. He reprinted an image from a magazine and was convicted of that. I recall that even The Shamen leapt to his defence in condemning the legal action for prosecuting "thought-crime".

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  16. "Also, I'd like to add that your choice of words, 'giving Genocide Organ a clean bill of health' is extraordinarily revealing about your real (reformist) motives."

    Just seen this, Simon, so apologies for the late response. No reformist motives here. As I tried to suggest, a 'special case' will always need to be made for German artists exploring their own recent history.... and I don't think that sweeping it under the carpet or stifling discussion has led to a healthy situation in the slightest. However, it wasn't difficult to find a record of Hilger's political stance which, along with his associations and the anecdotal evidence elsewhere on this site, suggest that he's a far from the neutral observer you painted him to be. You stated something, which I refuted. If I'm a reformist, then your reply to the original Troll was a whitewash..... but I wouldn't necessarily make a judgement about your motives or character as a result of it.

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    1. I was being pretty picky there but the notion of thought however confused and repugnant being policed from a health perspective reminded me of the social health campaigns I loathe, not to mention the quack branch of medicine known as psychiatry.

      At least the troll 'Starlight' got us talking.

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  17. Jar Several – the 'good homes' reference was ironic, and admittedly didn't translate too well. The intention was to differentiate between the right's traditional target audience, and the newer generation of privileged, middle class youth who for a variety of socio-economic reasons have less reason than ever to feel smug about their future. They're the ones to whom the New Right (and, by extension, elements of neofolk) appeal.

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    1. But the 'right' (if we wish to call it that) has never had the working class as its primary 'target audience'. Whether we accept the 'beyond left and right' rhetoric of Fascism and Nazism, their primary focus was on an insecure middle-class element in society that didn't have the sort of confidence that the working-classes had through Marxist theory and socialism in general, or that those who profited from 'big business' had. The middle-class insecurity ushered in these movements - there is no doubt about that if you study the psephological data. Without the initial support of the middle-classes these monstrous ideologies would have never grown to a position where they could challenge for power. And the egregious antisemitism was primarily a middle-class prejudice as is evident if you read Norman Cohn's "Warrant for Genocide".

      To seek to portray Nazis as knuckle-dragging morons is a serious error. Of course you get some of the lumpen elements acting against their own best interests, but they are in no way responsible for the emergence of these ideologies.

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  18. Looks very good http://www.robesdemariee2013.com/robe-de-mari%C3%A9e-princesse-c-632_798.html

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Please at least use a pseudonym so it's possible to follow your argument if you make multiple posts