Thursday, 22 December 2011

Maciej Zurowski: Of Runes and Men

In the first of a series of articles on the troubled relationship between the left and culture, Maciej Zurowski investigates reactionary musical counterculture and looks at the anti-fascist response. This article was originally published by Red Mist

FWIW, I disagree with the ultra-left quietism of the conclusions - of course LMHR don't imagine that tackling these groups is the be-all and end-all of anti-fascism - but the article raises the key questions about the significance of pro-fascist / crypto-fascist cultural groups, and how they can be identified and opposed, and I see it as a contribution from people who are clearly seriously opposed to fascism - STRELNIKOV.


Warning! Attention, everybody! It looks like for the first time since the 80s, London’s ethnic communities must fear for their safety when certain rock bands come to town. As the Love Music, Hate Racism website warns us in bold letters, the Slimelight club in Islington, North London has booked a “set of acts with fascist ties” for October 2011. These include Peter Sotos, who “has written tributes to Joseph Mengele (also known as the Angel of Death in Auschwitz) and whose self-produced fanzine contains references to ‘Nazi triumphs’, with frequent and lurid references to the abuse of children and women.”1 Scary stuff.

But that is not all. Despite protests by Love Music, Hate Racism and other anti-fascist groups, the Slimelight club has already hosted a fascist concert on June 25. According to LMHR, the artists on the bill all had “a long association with fascism and racism” and “seek to attack our celebrated multicultural society”. Did neo-Nazis go on a violent rampage through Islington’s Upper Street? Did they abuse women and children? After all, “the well-known Nazi organisation Stormfront stated on their website that their members will be attending the event”, and a report in the Islington Gazettequoted Unite Against Fascism joint secretary Weyman Bennett as finding the prospect of such a concert “worrying”. Even Labour MP Emily Thornberry got in on the act, saying that “these peddlers of poison” had no place in Islington.

Truth be told, LMHR could have been a bit more thorough with its research. Stormfront, for instance, is not actually a “well-known Nazi organisation”, but a far-right internet discussion forum with headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida. As such, it provides an illusion of community to ‘racially aware’ misfits the world over, but it would be wrong to say that it has “members” who might collectively goosestep to the concert. “I was a bit tempted to go to the gig just to see what would happen,” a London-based Stormfront user nicknamed ‘Saxon Assassin’ admitted, “but after actually looking up the bands involved I think I’ll skip it”. Then the damning verdict fell: apparently, the musical programme on offer was “no more racially conscious than Springtime for Hitler.

The original post that ‘The Falcon’ published on Stormfront on May 28 looked as if it had been inspired by an April 13 article from the anti-fascist website Who makes the Nazis, to which it linked. “I wouldn’t have heard about the gig were it not for the economic migrant lobby [ie, the left],” a surprised forum user crudely commented. Somewhat better informed, a different contributor suggested that it “must be a slow news week over at Love Music, Hate Racism … Slimelight have been putting on gigs for years that could all in some tenuous way be ‘linked’ to fascism”. If the ‘well-known Nazi organisation’, Stormfront, is anything to go by, then London’s far right would have barely registered the concert had it not been for the anti-fascist coverage.

In the end, absolutely nothing happened – and perhaps, nothing was going to. Leaving aside that Islington’s yuppie mile, Upper Street, is hardly a prime target for white racist assault, it is difficult to imagine the goths that pranced towards Slimelight that night chasing anybody down the road – the opposite scenario seems a more plausible proposition. The bands playing at Slimelight were no violent Nazi skinhead combos, but acts from the neofolk milieu. An outgrowth of industrial music and post-punk, neofolk blends traditional European folk influences with experimental arrangements and electronic textures to varying degrees. Because of its fondness for the apocalyptic and the irrational, it is mainly consumed by darkwave and goth audiences.

Totalitarian


Slimelight regulars vented their anger at LMHR’s “totalitarian” campaign at None so deaf as those who will not listen, a Facebook discussion group set up by Slimelight owner Mayuan Mak when LMHR continued to delete his comments from its website.2 Most posters displayed a convincing political inarticulacy and a conventionally liberal rather than fascist mindset. The extreme left is just as bad as the far right – that was the predictable tenor. The ensuing furore gave Mak the opportunity to present himself as a patron saint of London’s alternative community, and in a readers’ letter to the Islington Gazette he posed as a law-abiding model citizen. Challenging anti-fascists to document any actual incitement to racial hatred promoted by the targeted bands, he demanded that the hate laws which “many people have suffered and died for” be used against those deserving punishment – such as Islamist nut-job Abu Hamza, for example, whose prison sentence Mak was quick to cite as “the way forward”.

In fairness, Love Music, Hate Racism misquoted him as saying that “fascism is an art form as well”. In truth, he said that “art can be fascist too”3 – not at all the same statement. But let us turn our attention to the artists on the bill. The openers were named Joy of Life, though you would not come up with that name if all you had to go on was their dreary 1980s indie rock. What tied them to the other acts – Sol Invictus, Freya Aswynn and 6 Comm – was their linkage to the pioneering neofolk band Death In June, on whose record label they had debuted.

Tony Wakeford, a founding member of Death In June and front man of Sol Invictus, may have been taken aback with nostalgia when well-meaning socialists picketed his concert outside Slimelight. Once upon a time, he was one of them: Wakeford’s status as a card-carrying member of the Socialist Workers Party secured his punk group Crisis numerous performances for Rock Against Racism, the 1970s predecessor of Love Music, Hate Racism. Crisis vocalist Doug Pierce, meanwhile, was a member of Tariq Ali’s Trotskyist outfit, the International Marxist Group – a connection that allowed Crisis to play at IMG events such as Workers Against Racism.


In contrast to the visceral socialism of The Clash, Crisis songs featured immortally literal lines, such as “urban terrorism is no substitute for building the revolutionary working class party”. In theory, the band members’ respective central committees could not have been more thrilled. But, as Pierce remarked in hindsight, “there is no pleasing some people”.4 By 1980, Crisis routinely complained how the leftwing organisations still distrusted the band and their unruly punk fans: “We feel more alienated playing at their events than at normal gigs,” Pierce lamented. Cheques they had been promised never arrived, and funds raised by Crisis through gigs were not donated in the band’s name. According to Wakeford, the group felt thoroughly “used and patronised” – a familiar feeling to anyone who has ever been an obedient foot soldier to an arrogating party leadership.

Some may wonder what revolutionary would attach such importance to being name-checked when making a donation. But even so a range of interviews give the impression that Crisis were as sincerely committed to the party line as their teenage hearts allowed them to be. And just as many apparatchiks, in their heart of hearts, imagine themselves as a future Trotsky or Lenin, Crisis envisioned themselves as official soundtrack composers for the great revolutionary crisis, which is, of course, always just around the corner. To the extent that they are not politically controlled, the self-seeking modes of social interaction that characterise capitalist societies are bound to be carried over into relationships between revolutionaries; Pierce and Wakeford, it appears, used the left to gain exposure no less than the left used Crisis to advance its respective sect interests. The bureaucrats, however, were made of baser wood than the young punks: Crisis became disillusioned and left the building.

The Guilty Have No Shame


That’s when Wakeford and Pierce began to take an ever-increasing interest in the ‘other side’. It would be an understatement to call that interest unhealthy by the time they recorded their 1984 debut album as Death In June. The guilty have no pride, promised the album title, and lines such as “the once proud brownshirt soon betrayed by engineers of blood, faith and race” were put to a rudimentary sub-Joy Division/Bauhaus soundtrack of droning bass lines and martial drums. Those familiar with fascist sub-currents such as Strasserism were not left guessing as to what game was being played here: the ‘left’ factions of the NSDAP – from Röhm’s SA to Strasser’s breakaway Black Front – were whitewashed from racism and idealised as national socialist movements betrayed by Hitler’s supposed counterrevolution. Accordingly, Death In June’s Brown book album (1987) contained the SA anthem ‘Horst-Wessel-Lied’, sung like a funeral dirge.

Death In June’s persistent usage of fascist themes in lyrics and artwork is often seen as mere flirtation with taboo subjects: a desire to shock, a morbid fascination with the dark side of history, or, as some fans suggest, no more than gay men sublimating their fetishistic sexual fantasies into art. But despite his continued evasions and deliberate confusion stirring elsewhere, Pierce was quite unmistakable in a 1995 interview: “In search of a political view for the future we [the early Death In June] came across National Bolshevism, which is closely connected with the SA hierarchy. People like Gregor Strasser and Ernst Röhm, who were later known as ‘second revolutionaries’, caught our attention” (my emphasis). And, broadly speaking, Pierce’s artistic preoccupations have remained in the strange and depressing universe of völkisch mysticism, Germanic runes and the occult.


While his band-mates abstained from organised politics, Tony Wakeford became a fully paid-up member of the Nick Griffin-led, Strasserite ‘political soldier’ faction of the National Front. He was quickly dropped from Death In June when this fact emerged, possibly with a view to the growing goth scene’s first stabs at mainstream chart success (Temple of Love anybody?). Founding band member Patrick Leagas persevered for another two years; after a 1985 concert in Bologna, during which the band performed in Nazi-like uniforms, a woman from the audience walked up to Leagas shouting, “I hope your mother hates you”.5 This was devastating enough for the sensitive Leagas to quit DIJ – but not devastating enough to keep him from forming the electro combo 6 Comm, which delighted the Slimelight audience on June 25 2011 with songs from their retrospective Like Stukas angels fall.

Wakeford’s next project, Above the Ruins, gave us darkwave ‘protest songs’ against race mixing and contributed a track to the National Front benefit album No surrender. This outfit, in turn, was the nucleus of the equally dreadful, but influential Sol Invictus. Like DIJ, Sol Invictus have since subsisted in an obscure rightwing bohemia of neo-pagans, occultists, and ‘radical traditionalists’ of one sort or another. Wakeford became involved with the esoteric fascist ‘think’-tank IONA and, like numerous neofolk artists after him, became deeply infatuated with Julius Evola, the ‘radical traditionalist’ philosopher from Mussolini’s Italy. Evola, author of Revolt Against the Modern World (1934) and The Aryan Teachings of Struggle and Victory (1941), was so contemptuous of the masses even the ‘Reichsführer SS’ Heinrich Himmler considered him a “reactionary”: when working for the SS think-tank Ahnenerbe in the 1940s, Evola was put under observation.

Decline of the West


In contrast to white-power rock of the Skrewdriver variety, which is not known for beating around the bush, the music of bands like Death In June and Sol Invictus thrives on ambiguity and has little agitational value. The acoustic strumming and Burzum-styled ‘mystical’ keyboard lines, interspersed with cinematic samples and assorted atmospherics, are hardly the stuff that sharpens you up for a bit of the old ultra-violence.

Death In June’s introvert, often haunting songs are informed by the gloom and sense of loneliness commonly expressed in darkwave. Fans usually interpret the melancholy as despair at the human condition, the poetic references to war and struggle merely reinforcing this basic premise. A song such as ‘Rose clouds of holocaust’ (“the angels of ignorance fall down from your eyes, rose clouds of holocaust, rose clouds of lies”) in no way flirts with holocaust denial, they say, since Pierce explained in an interview that the word ‘holocaust’ also means ‘burnt offering’ – quite a relief!

Arguably, the melancholy and despair represent neofolk’s aesthetic appropriation of the cultural pessimism that informed the ‘conservative revolutionaries’ of the Weimar republic. One of Death In June’s best known songs is ‘Death of the West’ (1985). Like much later neofolk, it expresses an aversion to materialism and ‘bourgeois decadence’ akin to that which informed authors such as the Freikorps favourite, Ernst Jünger, and the more highbrow Oswald Spengler, whose influential philosophical treatise was not so coincidentally named The Decline of the West (1918; revised 1922). The ‘German socialism’ that Spengler envisioned as an antidote to corrupt capitalist democracy was one where orders would be given and obeyed, where everybody would have their strictly allocated place in society, and where classes would collaborate for the common good – not unlike the ideas that fascists such as Doug Pierce’s beloved Ernst Röhm championed, as they opened the gates to unprecedented barbarism.6

What is more, some individuals in the neofolk scene are rather well acquainted with the theories of the nouvelle droite (‘new right’) and particularly those of Alain de Benoist. De Benoist, a French intellectual who fancies himself as the Antonio Gramsci of the right, would in fact be better described as fascism’s answer to the neo-‘Gramscians’ of 1970s left academia: he advocated a ‘war of position’, as outlined in Gramsci’s Prison notebooks, though without the complementary ‘war of manoeuvre’. After World War II and that unfortunate gaffe known as the holocaust, cultural work would be the only way forward. Activists would covertly infiltrate the superstructure and gradually influence certain groups into adopting key concepts of fascist ideology; won over by largely aesthetical means, these would then form a hidden army prepared to strike on the Great Day. Until then, open political work would be futile.

Declassed Bohemia

It is easy to see why some underground musicians might find such a concept appealing. To a certain type of artist, the glamour of producing culturally subversive work – let alone in the name of a movement so dangerous it dares not speak its name – is everything they could wish for. It allows someone like Doug Pierce to shroud himself in mystery and keep people guessing: is he ‘really’ a fascist, as the lefties say he is – or merely the misunderstood artist that most of his fans make him out to be?

The perpetual controversy keeps the cash flow going and, although real mainstream success is not on the cards, Pierce has certainly found a niche that pays the rent. A nod and a wink here, a cop-out there – unlike Wakeford, who is known to get nervous when denying his dubious political associations past and present, Pierce positively enjoys sending out contradictory messages and fabricating ambiguous sound bites in interviews. To aggravate anti-fascists is dead easy, after all. And, as far as his fans are concerned, not even Pierce’s solidarity visits to the neo-fascist HOS militia in the midst of the Balkans conflict represent a clear political statement. For Pierce is an artist, and apparently artists are above politics.7

For all those curious to learn about the Death In June ‘family’ and their associates in detail, there are websites such as Who makes the Nazis, which aims to expose “fascist presence in ‘transgressive’ musical subcultures”. Musicians’ political histories and personal links are documented with almost Stasi-like precision – any suspicious information is meticulously collected and catalogued. Who shared a bill with what fascist band in the past? Who appeared alongside whom on what compilation album? What band’s ex-guitarist shared flats with a rightwing skinhead back in the 80s? In contrast to the characteristically crude Love Music, Hate Racism write-up, the good people running Who Makes the Nazis know their subject well. However, the ‘guilt by association’ method they employ has its limitations.8 The same goes for the notion that, once an individual has internalised and puked up enough hackneyed reactionary ideas, the sum of it all equals fascism and is bound to spread like a virus. Likewise, the uncritical acceptance of the new right’s belief that fascism can take over simply by means of cultural infiltration leaves a lot to be desired.


Take, for instance, David Tibet of experimental folk outfit Current 93, a close associate of Death In June and guest contributor to many of their albums. In a 1988 interview9 Tibet expresses his disenchantment with “spiritually and morally corrupt” western culture and society, which he perceives as “tedious” and merely striving for “shallow pleasure”. “When you see people in the street,” he laments, “their shoulders are bowed in defeat. They realise they are living completely meaningless lives and there’s nothing to look forward to.” Tibet’s alienation with the hollowness of late capitalist culture is surely one that he shares with many on the left, but he simply lacks the tools to identify any relationship between culture and its socio-economic base. Culture, to him, is some free-floating, autonomous force that continues to exist in its present form only because those docile sheep in the street don’t possess enough willpower to overcome it.

If you will, it is here that Tibet’s outlook, coupled with millennial angst and an intense interest in mysticist mumbo-jumbo, has points of intersection with fascist thought, and it is not difficult to see why Tibet and Pierce, when introduced, got on like a house on fire. Yearning to create art that stood in contradiction to capitalist mediocrity, they were both looking for authenticity in traditional and pre-modern thought, counterposing the eternal, the mystical and the metaphysical to the mundane, misunderstanding capitalism’s commodity fetishism as ‘materialism’ – much like the traditional elites and disenchanted sections of the middle classes had done, as they turned to völkisch romanticism at the turn of the 19th century.

Faceless Crowds


However, as dandy mindsets go, Tibet’s is not unusual. Snobbish elitism and a complete detachment from the masses had been a hallmark of countercultural pop rebellion ever since the 1960s. “Those people never had any power and they never will have” is how Sir Mick Jagger explained his motivation behind the Rolling Stones tune, ‘Salt of the Earth’ (1968). As France saw the biggest mass strike in modern history, Jagger sneered at the “common foot soldier” and his “back-breaking work” – but one entry in his almost consistently reactionary lyrical oeuvre. Likewise in the 80s, British workers were engaged in an all-out class war against the Thatcher government rather than leading “meaningless lives” and “hanging their shoulders in defeat”, but from David Tibet’s candlelit bohemian hideout, they all just looked like the “faceless crowd” depicted in Jagger’s song.

Neofolk’s spiritual path was paved by artists such as Jim Morrison, the Nietzsche-fixated ‘shaman’ of narcissistic gloom pop. In the 70s, David Bowie, Joy Division and others introduced murky, fascist flirtations into that particular arena, and you might argue that the sum of their cultural pessimisms and aesthetical derailments does not place them a million miles away from Death In June and Current 93. Likewise JJ Burnell of The Stranglers – like Doug Pierce an admirer of the fascist Japanese author, Yukio Mishima, and guilty of Euroman Cometh, a solo album crammed with ‘Eurocentrism’, unreconstructed 19th century nationalism and plenty of unintentional humour. You may even want to file indie-pop luminary Björk in the ‘brown book’. Did she not, after all, join forces with David Tibet for the 1991 song ‘Falling’ – and is Björk’s mythologisation of her ‘mystical’ Icelandic home not somewhat akin to neofolk’s Nordic fantasies? To make matters worse, Steve Ignorant of Crass, the anarcho-punk band par excellence, not only supplied guest vocals to Current 93’s Dog Moon Rising album, but featured on a Current 93 recording alongside Boyd Rice, who is known as a sinister “social Darwinist” to industrial music fans and as an “unemployed, alcoholic fascist” to his ex-wife, Lisa Crystal Carver.10 And in any case, were not Crass hostile to the organised left, whilst adhering to an outright Proudhonist type of anarchism – as racist ‘national anarchists’ do these days?

So where do you draw the line? What if most musicians simply do not screen their collaborators and drug buddies for political beliefs? What if ‘meta-fascism’ blends so easily with the common outlook of declassed bohemia that it simply dissolves in a swamp of amorphous self-indulgence? At Who makes the Nazis, writers are at pains to make out who is “definitely” a fascist and who is just a fellow traveller, eccentric or imposter. But, despite the often intriguing cultural analysis and obsessive evidence-collecting, their attempts to identify a point where quantity becomes quality clearly gives them a bit of a headache. Maybe that is because fascism never really had a coherent ideology – rather, it took any resentments, prejudices and fragments of reactionary thought that happened to cross its path and tossed them into its grubby, populist rag-bag. As Leon Trotsky remarked in reference to German national socialism, its ideological “beggar’s bowl” preserved “whatever had met with approbation” during Hitler’s early speeches. Hitler’s “political thoughts were the fruits of his oratorial acoustics … That is how the programme was consolidated”.11

Aesthetical Mobilisation


This is not to claim that fascism has no distinct character that renders it qualitatively different to other types of reactionary politics – it is just that this difference is less clearly defined by what it thinks as by what it does.

National chauvinism and extreme racism were the hallmarks of fascist thought in the 20th century, but were not unique to them. What distinguished the fascist movements was their mass base and the street-fighting divisions they sent out to smash working class organisations. To gain mass appeal, fascism had to radicalise sentiments already held by broad sections of society: the selective anti-capitalism of the middle classes, directed solely at big business and international finance capital; their simultaneous fear of the working class and of Bolshevism; the indignation of the unemployed university graduate; the demobbed German officer’s bitterness over the lost war and the 1918 revolution, mythologised as a ‘stab in the army’s back’; the latent anti-Semitism that permeated all of the above. It is true that the writings of Spengler and Evola had a place in fascist libraries and kept the odd Nazi intellectual busy. But how many exasperated Germans who turned to the NSDAP will have read Decline of the west, when most of them had not even read their copies of Mein Kampf?

Had the Nazis attempted to disseminate haute fascism through cultural brainwashing techniques, they would have waited a long time. But instead of recognising the sub-Gramscian strategy for the dark horse that it is, anti-fascists simply seem to accept the post-fascist ‘aesthetics are everything’ premise, according to which cultural warfare can be an effective substitute for political organisation and mass mobilisation. What is dearly missing from books such as the German-language Ästhetische Mobilmachung,12 which deals with the politics of neofolk in exhilarating detail, is the most critical question of all: does the strategy work? In reality, the moment ‘cultural fascism’ leaves its ivory towers and attempts to influence the mainstream, it becomes indistinguishable from conventional rightwing thought: in his column in Le Figaro, Alain de Benoist polemicised against further immigration, but in support of multiculturalism on the grounds that it preserves the ‘identities’ of immigrants – a view that even the Labour Party right could agree with.

Even in the marginal subcultures in which ‘cultural fascism’ has attempted to gain a foothold, its successes have been humble for the past 20-odd years. Despite the concerted effort of far-right newspapers, such as Germany’s Junge Freiheit and neofolk magazines such as Sleipnir, the European darkwave scene has proved overwhelmingly immune to politicisation. Some newer ‘martial industrial’ bands, such as the insufferable Von Thronstahl, are more explicitly fascist than the likes of Death In June. But, for all their underground popularity, they are consumed in much the same way as any other darkwave band, the listeners’ interest rarely extending beyond the momentary thrill of the forbidden.13 “There are some far-right people who think that neofolk is the thing,” wrote a fan on Mak’s None so deaf … Facebook group, “but they are very few and generally not well received in the neofolk scene”; and furthermore: “I remember seeing a few years back far-right neofolk fans on Stormfront bemoan the fact that neither neofolk fans nor artists are receptive for their ideas.”


What is more, the support of an insular and fundamentally self-absorbed subculture that does its best to segregate itself from the rest of the world would hardly be the beginning of a triumphant march through the institutions – and more likely an act of self-sabotage. To catch on, a fascist movement must resonate with broad sections of society when these are at the point of desolation. In that respect, a formation such as the English Defence League – anti-Muslim, populist and hostile to the left – may just be spot on. The EDL elevates the creeping decline of imperialism and Israeli Zionism into a millennial ‘clash of cultures’, aggressively asserting the ‘liberal values’ of the west against the ‘barbarism’ of Islam. And, perhaps most importantly, the EDL does not shy away from violence. In other words, it is everything that the meta-political ‘new right’ is not: the seed of a fascist movement fit for the 21st century.

Much though esoteric rightists delude themselves that their ideas are ‘eternal’, transhistorical and ‘natural’, they are in reality ideological expressions of a social class in specific historical conditions. The biggest problem of the nouvelle droite has always been fascism’s lack of political substance. Divorced from social realities, devoid of street-fighting squads and lacking a mass base, it really is reduced to little more than obscure, metaphysical drivel. Tales of a Jewish ‘world conspiracy’, neo-paganism, ‘aristocracy of the soul’, and other such candyfloss-brained baloney are unlikely to strike a chord with western societies in the 21st century. The defence of ‘our way of life’ against Islamic extremism, red trade unionists and political correctness, however, might just do the trick.

An acquaintance who was involved in the protests against the Slimelight concert asked me whether such an event would not risk pulling some people rightwards. My reply was: if at all, then immeasurably less so than permanent exposure to the Daily Mail and the Murdoch media, whose insidious messages are disguised as common sense and read by millions every day. Three weeks after our conversation, Norwegian fascist Anders Behring Breivik massacred several dozen leftish teenagers with the calm determination of an SS Einsatzgruppen officer. In his manifesto, he cited the Mail scribe and Londonistan author, Melanie Phillips, the radical Islamophobic Gates of Vienna blog and other such contemporary rightwing texts rather than Evola, Jünger or Spengler. His paranoia of “cultural Marxism”, meanwhile, is common currency with Andrew Breibart, Glenn Beck and other Fox News luminaries.

School of Libertinage

Just a few words about Peter Sotos, whose forthcoming Slimelight appearance LMHR also chose to oppose. Pioneer of a sub-current of industrial music christened ‘power electronics’, Sotos’s declared mission was to record the most extreme music of all time – and he complemented his band Whitehouse’s ultra-invasive noise fest with the most extreme, misanthropic lyrics he could think of. Industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle, whose leader Genesis P Orridge obsessed over Charles Manson, Hitler, Aleister Crowley and everything else that his teachers might consider shocking, had laid the groundwork. Driven by an extreme version of libertarianism, Sotos went further and celebrated sadistic Nazi death camp wardens and child pornography.
Like Throbbing Gristle, he was tilting at windmills, unaware that the humanist values he so despised were the mere facade of a social system built on exploitation, oppression, violence and war. Barack Obama, the hope-and-change man of liberal America, has inflicted more death and misery upon the world than the likes of Peter Sotos could ever dream of. Boyd Rice, industrial music’s resident misanthrope, looks like a boy scout next to David Cameron and the class that he represents. In their minds, Sotos and Rice might feel quite at home in the 120 Days of Sodom – except that in the real world evil is not the triumph of the libertine’s will, but the inevitable, wholly unglamorous, and barren by-product of class society.

LMHR was possibly a little late in its denunciations. Peter Sotos’s main body of work, including the misanthropy fanzine cited on its website, dates back to the 1980s, making it hard to realise what kind of danger this concert is supposed to pose. “If left unchallenged, the actions of these individuals give confidence to fascist and racists, providing an illusion of mainstream acceptance of their vile views,” is LMHR’s generalisation. Does anyone at the organisation actually believe that Peter Sotos’s graphic explorations of rape, serial murder and paedophilia will endear him to the far right – or give the far right “an illusion of mainstream acceptance”? You would have thought that the precise point of his act, consumed as a curiosity by fans of the bizarre and confrontational, is to evade mainstream acceptability as much as possible.


For the popular frontist LMHR, the language of liberalism is, sadly, too often used in its ‘anti-fascist’ campaigns, holding “our celebrated multicultural society” against the cheerless delusions of Tony Wakeford et al. ‘Proletarian internationalism’, after all, might scare off fellow travellers such as the liberal Emily Thornberry. But all the inaccuracies and half-truths, the deliberate suppression of information and the ensuing atmosphere of hysteria do more harm than good. “These people totally discredit themselves by refusing any discussion,” observed a Slimelight regular correctly – and just like the punk group Crass grew increasingly hostile to the left when Red Action randomly took out skinhead youths at their gigs, the philistine anti-fascism employed by LMHR is bound to alienate the alternative scene from the left rather than cleanse it of reactionary influence.

Anti-fascists could do worse than refocus their energies not just on the growing Defence League movement, but primarily on the system that breeds fascist degenerates. Fascism, after all, is a punishment for our failure to make revolution – and our struggle against capitalism necessitates a struggle against the liberal hogwash with which popular fronts tend to contrast the ‘legitimate democratic forces’ of the bourgeoisie with ‘extremists’ and ‘hate’. Those who are offended by neofolk/post-industrial music and wish to keep it in relative obscurity, meanwhile, would be well-advised to simply ignore it as much as possible. In the end, the dodgy gigs at Slimelight are just the dying breath of a cultural revolution that never was.

2. The Facebook blurb stated among other things: “We are not best informed at the Slime office to verify truth, authors’ bias or ulterior motives in order for us to assess the information that they have passed to us. In response we have requested publicly online for any negative and positive information, verifiable against a published, reliable source, not just rumour or hearsay, to assist us, the local authorities and lovemusichateracism.com to come to an informed decision on whether this concert should be held. We have now been told by lovemusichateracism.com they have no interest in reading any information that we gather from Slimelight members/regulars [or any other source, it would appear].”
3. Online campaign attacks controversial Islington gig.
5. Five years earlier, a fascist terrorist bombing killed 85 people at Bologna’s main central station and injured many more. At this time, the local government was dominated by the Italian CP.
6. In Spengler’s words, what was needed was “a mighty politico-economic order that transcends all class interests, a system of lofty thoughtfulness and duty sense”. In other words, Spengler wanted a class society without class antagonisms – a political paradox that calls for an external enemy on which to project suppressed contradictions.
To Spengler and fellow ‘conservative revolutionaries’, democracy was synonymous with the rule of money: theirs was an anti-capitalist critique from the right – or, rather, from the past. Like some of their Marxist contemporaries, they identified parliamentary democracy as the bourgeoisie’s preferred form of rule. Unlike them, they advocated the rule of a ‘naturally superior’ neo-feudal elite over all other classes to contain the excesses of capitalism. Because they conflated capitalist democracy with egalitarianism, their premise was not only erratic, but diametrically opposed to Marxist thought: to be sure, they feared the rule of the working class more than anything. Whenever they cared to criticise the really existing fascist regimes, in which they found their closest political match, they lambasted their ‘mob character’, effectively deeming them not rightwing enough.
7. In an interview about his early punk days in Crisis, Pierce explained the origins of his cynical approach as follows: “We wrote with that marching rhythm in mind the song ‘White youth’, which we thought was about ‘unity and brotherhood’ [the song ends with the repeated verse, “We are black, we are white - together we are dynamite”], but much to my surprise some smartarse in the New Musical Express was soon saying that it was a white supremacist anthem … That was key in realising that, no matter what you wrote, if it was any good it could be interpreted any way, anyhow, anywhere. A Death In June prime directive!”
8. The comrades at Who makes the Nazis would also be well advised to be more critical of information from Searchlight, whose relationship with the truth (and the MI5) is not uncontroversial. The organisation has furthermore been known to call for state bans against ‘extremists’.
9. The interview can be seen here.
10. A Who makes the Nazis article on Boyd Rice can be found here.
11. L Trotsky What is national socialism? (1933).
12. Ästhetische Mobilmachung is a fairly interesting account (if you speak German), but to be taken with a pinch of salt, given that the authors hail from the ‘anti-German’ end of the ‘undogmatic’ left. Centred around papers such as Jungle World, the pro-US/pro-Israel ‘anti-Germans’ make it their business to detect ‘fascism’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ everywhere. See Andreas Speit (ed), Ästhetische Mobilmachung.
13. On a side note, some may be surprised to hear that the neofolk website Heathen harvest considers the communist-themed martial industrial act, Vae Victus, to be “very enjoyable”. Candidly noting that band leader Peter Iolin considers himself to be a “revolutionary socialist”, the website gave his debut EP a positive review.

38 comments:

  1. I think that's a great article and I was left wishing I'd had the energy and insight to write something like that myself. The only real criticism I could make is that it's thin and misleading about the work of Peter Sotos, especially as his withdrawal from an event was essentially the only concrete 'achievement' of the campaign. Judging Sotos by Pure fanzine or his involvement in Whitehouse is a little like trying to assess the journalistic career of Andrew Marr by focussing on his 'Hitler's Kids' cartoons for Chainsaw zine in the punk era.

    His work is difficult to discuss rationally in countless ways and I have every sympathy and understanding for the people I've known who've simply thrown away his books in disgust after trying to read them. On the question of his being 'fascist' I'd rather trust the judgement of a publisher like Semiotext(e)who are not exactly known for promoting right-wing ideologies rather than internet nonentities like all us lot. As that angle of the campaign was patently mired in the double-binded cultural dissonance of moral panic rather than 'anti-fascism', activists wishing to pursue this point might wish to look at some of Catherine Breillat's previous collaborators because they also often "raise complex issues about what is and isn't acceptable".

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, and I'm still waiting for a reply to this:

    Hi Strel,

    Sorry for the rather confrontational nature of my emails but obviously it's a topic on which feelings are going to run high, I quite surprised myself with how worked up about it I got last summer.

    The 'about' section on the site which forces you to think about the idea of 'the sanctity of art' is something I did find usefully thought-provoking. To address the only writer believed to have far-right sympathies whom I admire: a hardline anti-fascist wouldn't have allowed Celine to go on and write North, Rigadoon and Castle to Castle and I think that would have been a loss to humanity. I've read Bagatelles (published online in bootleg translation by far-right creeps) and it contains some stunning writing, although the content is relentlessly disgusting and I think his estate are right to suppress it - whether it was intended as a parody of anti-semitism or not, the timing was horribly stupid.

    My respect for anyone who was ever involved in organised far-right politics is automatically severely diminished, be it Tony Wakeford or the bloke from Blaggers ITA. I think that if I was a fundamentally apolitical fan of these crap bands such as Sol Invictus though, my respect for anti-fascism would have diminished severely as a direct result of the anti-Slimelight campaign initiated by your site. People don't generally enjoy being lectured by soft cops about why the things they enjoy are wrong, it feels comparable to public health campaigns.

    As well as damaging anti-fascism's credibility to a bunch of clueless music fans, the other great achievement of the campaign was stopping the pervy American writer Sotos from coming and showing his badly-collaged gay porn videos (you can see an example at the French videodrom site) which brings me to the moral crusade, tabloid-friendly angle of things. I can understand hating fascism to the point where smear campaigns and the use of folk devils feels justifiable, but it's the same impulse that leads to real escalation of mutual antagonism, to the violence which only the state wins.

    Anti-fascists in somewhere like St Petersburg, Russia where they have a real job to do (and more real nazis to go after) are fucking heroic in my eyes. Those in the UK who cloak the moralising impulses usually associated with the religious right in the guise of 'anti-fascism' deserve satirising without mercy.

    Best -

    Simon

    Plus a PS for 'James Cavanagh':
    "We have nothing to do with Fascist scum...Any bugger that tries that Nazi shit with me, I'll hand him his balls on a platter" - Freya Aswynn, quoted in Nik Cohn 'Yes We Have No: Adventures in Other England', Secker & Warburg 1999, p.340.

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  3. Simon, you don't address any of the actual issues (ie. as to whether some groups and individuals are promoting fascism, and what should be done about that). If you think that anti-fascists outside of Russia do not 'have a real job to do', you are wrong. One reason fascism in Britain is relatively subdued is because of campaigns in the past such as the Rock Against Racism, which took the issue of racism and fascism in music seriously.

    Your only other argument against, eg., the Slimelight campaign is that many fans of the music won't like it. Of course they won't - the point is to convince them that the effort is worth it.

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  4. The best defence against fascism is sarcasm. Spike Jones' 'Der Fuhrer's Face' was more beautifully powerful than any number of po-faced RAR campaigns.

    In a way I'm in a frontline of anti-fascism as neo-nazi fuckwads like 'Wigan Mike' have tried to close great open-minded venues like the Common Place/Wharf Chambers (Leeds) where my bands have played many times.

    In a way I fucking hate and detest anti-fascists after seeing all the utterly misinformed slander against the late Ron Hartley of pre-nazi Skrewdriver, 77/78 - http://neobeatglory.tumblr.com/post/14896151333/ron-hartley-of-skrewdriver-is-dead-happy-new-year. I knew him, he was a nice apolitical bloke and thoroughly embarrassed by what ISD made after his departure. What the dickhead far-right have written about him since his death is equally inaccurate.

    My big argument against the Slimelight campaign is that its only success was stopping a homosexual pervert writer from showing his badly-made videos.

    Nobody's reading this site anymore Strel, I'm sure we'd get on over a drink introduced by mutual friends one night. That James Cavanagh guy however needs a hard punch in the face.

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  5. Let me get this straight - the best way to have defeated fascism in the 30s and 40s would not, eg., been to have joined the International Brigades but to have distributed Spike Jones records. If Marshall Zukov had been told about this, Stalingrad could have been avoided.

    And you hate all anti-fascists because some of them were mean to a former member of Skrewdriver.

    As for the Slimelight campaign, you forget that many arguments were had as a result of it. You also forget that Andrew King was unceremoniously dumped from Sol as a result of the campaign.

    And, if nobody's reading this site any more, why are you writing for it?

    I thought of not publishing your comment because of your call to use violence against one of its contributors, but, on balance, I think it better that you condemn yourself out of your own mouth.

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  6. Strelnikov, ridicule is/was often an effective weapon against fascist pricks. When Mosley and his followers skulked away at Belle Vue, the singing of "Bye Bye Blackshirt" to the tune of "Bye Bye Blackbird" seriously put a hefty nail in the coffin of fascist political ambition in this country.

    And there are many who would argue (probably quite correctly) that Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" did more to damage Hitler/Nazism than the International Brigades or Cable Street or any of the over-romanticised events that many nostalgics cling to.

    That was my reading of what Simon was saying, and I know Simon as a friend. We are fellow "nutters" if you want to put it that way!

    As for the likes of Whitehouse my interpretaion was that they were pure Derek & Clive. Maybe I am wrong, but i'll invoke Eco here: "variability of interpretation is he one constant law of mass communications". I remember seeing them live and Glen Wallis was doing Michael Palin impersonations!

    As for Simon threatening violence, you are just being ridiculous. He is a really sweet guy.

    I was involved with AFA - and still go down the pub with old AFA mates, am involved with FC United and know members of the Noonan family. Dessie put a gun in the mouth of a BNP candidate! Sometimes violence is necessary - not the childish "Sid Vicious should have been beaten-up for wearing a swastika" sort of stuff either.

    ReplyDelete
  7. (posted on behalf of James Cavanagh)

    @ Simon

    "We have nothing to do with Fascist scum...Any bugger that tries that Nazi shit with me, I'll hand him his balls on a platter"
    . Never read the book so I cannot comment on this statement as I don't know its context. However if you are saying that Aswynn did not collaborate with the likes of Ian Read and Ingrid Fischer, didn't make dubious racists comments in interviews and wasn't involved in the racist bullying of Willard White then I stand corrected.

    By the way I gave Ceramic Hobs a listen once - the words piss and poor come together in perfect harmony.

    @ Jar Several:

    "As for Simon threatening violence, you are just being ridiculous. He is a really sweet guy."

    "That James Cavanagh guy however needs a hard punch in the face."

    Just read the fucking blog will you.

    James Cavanagh

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  8. James,

    you must a right divvy if you took Simon's comment about the punch seriously, so don't tell me to just "read the fucking blog". You are clearly pure Lollipop Brigade mate. Stick to your pontificating at middle-class dinner parties, you prat. I doubt you would have been much use when we were up against it in the AFA days of yore.

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  9. (posted on behalf of James Cavanagh)

    @ Jar Several:

    Actually I didn't take the punch comment very seriously, but he did make it. It's hard to avoid the temptation to wind people up when they say something like that, but in retrospect I should have ignored it. And I had a go at you because you were defending his comment. Let's forget all about it eh?

    I was more interested in knowing why he would want to defend Freya Aswynn? And how he would go about doing it meaningfully.

    The thing is people keep coming onto this blog with arguments about it being pointless to bother about "neo-fascists burrowing their way into a subculture near you", when that's the tag line for the blog, its raison d'etre. One could answer the oft-repeated line "why don't you go and fight some proper fascists?" with exactly the same question. And why attack anti-fascists working in a specific under-examined area of fascist activity because they aren't attacking the EDL, BNP or "street fascists"? It doesn't make sense. I'm sure many of the people involved in the blog have been on counter-demonstrations against the EDL, BNP etc. We are basically all on the same side surely?

    And as for my being "much use when we were up against it in the AFA days of yore", you're probably right there. I took a couple of beatings in the late seventies and early eighties off right-wing skins. Didn't like it much.

    Best regards

    James Cavanagh

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    Replies
    1. Hi James,

      apologies for my reaction. I just got a bit touchy because Simon is a mate and those of us who have been abused by the mental health system tend to stick together and defend each other.

      But what I said was out of order. Accept my apologies.

      Aeswynn is a well-known racist. Karl Blake told me back in the 90s that Aeswynn and somebody called Ingrid (Read's girlfriend) were horrified that he could find a black person sexually attractive.

      The original piece where Aeswynn denounced Nazis was in The Guardian, and must have been reprinted in the book.

      The only thing I can possibly say in Aeswynn's defence is that she is supposed to be hopelessly schizophrenic. I have said strange things in psychotic states. I absolutely regret once saying that "all vivisectionists are scum" - a stupid point of view I expressed when totally mentally unbalanced. My sense of reason ws restored by a neuroscientist who was a vegetarian and legitimately dissected small rodents!

      Delete
  10. (posted on behalf of John Barrot)

    I HAVE read the Nik Cohn book, and to take Aswynn's disavowal of fascism at face value would be absurd. Aswynn practices the strand of 'ethnic' Asatru which is exclusively North European, so her racism is pretty unequivocal. How did you expect her to respond to a mainstream writer looking to discredit her life's work by pointing out that ethnic Asatru seems to attract a high proportion of fascists?

    Whether it's hanging out with Patrick Harrington and nazi thug-turned hypnotherapist Ian Read, co-habiting with ex-BM/NF/KKK and current 'English Democrat' Alan Winder, screaming abuse at black people at airports or organising racist pickets with members of the Springbok Club and the Odinic Rite, Aswynn has a long history of fascist involvement.

    Cohn's book was written in the mid to late '90s, between Aswynn's Tufnell Park 'enclave' and her dodgy commune in rural Scotland. Her profile in New Age circles was in the ascendency at the time, and it suited her to denounce the fascist tendency in what was a growing alternative religion. She's hardly the lone example of bare-faced deceit, in neo-folk terms.

    ReplyDelete
  11. (posted on behalf of James Cavanagh)

    @ Jar,

    Thanks mate. Peace reigns! And who doesn't defend their friends.

    And I agree with all your points on Aswynn.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My comment on Freya Aeswynn was entirely based on that statement in the Nik Cohn book, I don't know her and have little knowledge of her work. I bow to jahsev's inside info.

    James, my annoyance at your post last summer was more based on bald statements like "tracks by fascist bands like Von Thronstahl, Grey Wolves, and Der Blutharsch" - really? Von Thronstahl does seem some kind of Nazi fuckbulb, Der Blutharsch apparently was but it was just for a laugh hur hur, but how can you justify calling the blokes in the Grey Wolves Nazis? A pair of shit-stirring nihilists maybe, but it's pretty hurtful to be called a Nazi if you're not, not to mention damaging to anti-fascism's credibility. Similar and more virulent slander against the 'mysterious' (wtf - you should get a job writing for the Mail mate) Gaya Donadio omitting her considerable left-wing involvements over the years including street AFA against Skrewdriver back in her youth and subsequent anarcho-libertarian style promotions of 'extremist' bands of every confused political stripe under the sun.

    The only concrete achievement of that campaign, which I will keep raising until one of you chooses to address it, was the withdrawal of a perverted American writer from showing his crummy cut-up gay porn films at Slimelight in November. No fucking pasaran indeed. Why are anti-fascists fighting Richard Littlejohn's corner?

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  13. Simon, I would agree with you that Grey Wolves are not Nazis in any real sense of the word. It was just that post-TG slew of bands who referenced death camps, torture and general extremity at the time. All just a bit silly, really. No context to what they did, and seemingly little understanding, but that's music divs for you!

    I got a train back to Manchester after a Merzbow gig in Leeds a few years ago and Dave was getting the same train. Didn't strike me as a Nazi and was going on about seeing Lee Scratch Perry the night before (apologies if I have just destroyed his credibility in Nazi Noise Music circles!). He was also a bit disturbed about me taking the piss out of a Leeds United beer monster on the station, but as a Manchester United fan I can't help it (hooligan memories from the 70s and all that - where would AFA have been been without us...hello Steve Tilzey).

    ReplyDelete
  14. (posted on behalf of James Cavanagh)

    Hi Simon,

    I am not the only one to question Grey Wovles' politics. As you can see from their Wikipedia entry:

    "The Grey Wolves are controversial because of their use of fascist imagery and have been criticized for this aspect of their presentation. However, while acknowledging the criticism, the group does not apologize for this, instead insisting it is an integral part of their critique of society."

    Now Wiki is I know not an entirely reliable source I grant you. However the band have called themselves after a fascist terrorist group, have loads of fascist friends on Myspace (Boyd Rice, Tesco USA and Germany, Deutsch Nepal, Ain Soph, Gregorio Bardini, Luftwaffe, Oneric Imperium, the list goes on and on). It should be said that they have Philedelphia Antifa on there as well. Somewhat confusing I grant you.

    They have regularly collaborated with Con-Dom, themselves accused of being fascist. This on the Con-Dom Myspace site:

    "Con-Dom stands for Control-Domination, and is the one-man industrial noise band of Mike Dando. Con-Dom explores any kind of social tensions and control: political, religious, racial, with an acid, violent and uncompromising attitude."

    You may well be right that Grey Wolves are not "fascist" (not Nazi) as I referred to them in the article , but they do a very good job of appearing so, and I don't see anything that suggests critical distance, irony or even subversive controversial critique, as they claim. They may be as Jar says "not Nazis in any real sense of the word. It was just that post-TG slew of bands who referenced death camps, torture and general extremity at the time. All just a bit silly, really. No context to what they did, and seemingly little understanding..." but they would help their case a lot (if they actually want to) if they didn't make friends with a load of groups on Myspace who most definitely are fascist. In that context I think your statement "it's pretty hurtful to be called a Nazi if you're not" a bit beside the point. If it was hurtful to them they would stay well away from such controversy.

    As for Gaya Donadio I made some pretty simple accusations, those being that through Hagshadow she distributes various fascist groups, she has collaborated with fascist groups on musical projects, and of course the fact that she was involved in organising the gig at The Slimelight. She may well have had involvement with AFA in the past, but that doesn't necessarily change anything. After all Douglas Pierce and Tony Wakeford were both originally on the left and involved in the Rock Against Racism movement. Donadio may well not be fascist but she does a good job of promoting bands with fascist politics and is therefore a legitimate target for criticism in my book.

    I get the impression that by saying these things you and others think I am attacking freedom of speech. I am doing nothing of the sort, I am simply using my right to freedom of speech to make a point. They obviously have the right to reply in any terms they want.

    Best regards
    James

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  15. Hi James,

    have a look at this Joy Division interview and see what Barney says about Pursey:

    http://music.yahoo.com/blogs/rocks-backpages/the-rocks-backpages-flashback-joy-division-in-rehearsal-room-6.html


    And my point is? Artists/musicians are very often the worst sort of opportunists. Even if they only sell a few hundred copies of an album, in general, they will not do anything that damages sales or prevents them getting gigs! For instance, I could reveal the names of people who said to me things like "I only put occult references in my work to sell more copies", but I won't bother....I presume it is often the same with the Nazi-flirtation crap. These people know they need an 'angle' to promote their product, and that is why they won't do what you ask of them.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I own a few Grey Wolves records, more than I have by The Clash but less than I have by Sun Ra or George Clinton. Their absurdly self-limiting kind of 'low concept' art doesn't allow for personal political opinions, it simply presents all manner of unpleasantness without comment. On their Division album you get Russell Crowe's lines from 'Romper Stomper', samples from the equally fictional and constructed 'left-wing' band Atari Teenage Riot, and Jerusalem from the Last Night of the Proms juxtaposed with jihadist nasheeds.

    My judgement of their not being 'fascist' is largely based on knowing one of them on-and-off for over fifteen years and never hearing a single bigoted comment from the bloke. In contrast I know a much better-known and more mainstream punk musician who has done LMHR shows and has an immaculately politically correct public image yet lets slip idiotic fascist apologetics comments in private. No desire to name and shame this guy - fuck it, you hear worse down the pub if you live in the real world - and if I did I would not use this site filled with misinformation to do so.

    As for Con-Dom (Mike Dando) he is a major collector of black free jazz and in his role as Leeds Termite booker promoted well-known fascists such as Arthur Doyle & Sunny Murray and this blog's own Ben Watson. His album 'Colour Of A Man's Skin' juxtaposing hate speech from both white power crazies and black separatist extremists isn't an easy listen but it's a pretty powerful album.

    "I get the impression that by saying these things you and others think I am attacking freedom of speech. I am doing nothing of the sort, I am simply using my right to freedom of speech to make a point" - you tried to get a gig stopped, you got people trying to contact Islington Council and Home Secretary Theresa May about this ffs,you didn't do your research very well and you did prevent a homosexual American writer from showing cut-up gay porn films in November. If you like freedom of speech James, then plz rethink your tactics.

    As one of the first people to find out about Wakeford's proven NF connections in the 80s many years before it was generally known and who leaked that info to anti-fascists: beginning to wish I'd shut my mouth. I feel like I'm on Stormfront here.

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  17. ftr, Ben Watson has nothing to do with this site, other than the fact that I stole one of his essays (Music, Violence, Truth) and posted it here.

    ReplyDelete
  18. [Posted on behalf of James Cavanagh]

    @ Jar,

    I read the interview. Bernard's answer is flippant and stupid I concede. And certainly I would say that Joy Division was the biggest influence on the early neofolk groups, particularly DIJ, who took one specific aspect of Joy Division and used it to their own ends (the glorification of fascism).

    However I think the most pertinent part of the article is the quote from "They Walked The Line":

    'All dressed up in uniforms so fine, they drank and killed to pass the time. Wearing the shame of all their crime, With measured steps they walked in line.'

    The part of the quote that is most important is "Wearing the shame of all their crime..."

    Fairly unequivocal I think.

    But I do take your point about "Artists/musicians are very often the worst sort of opportunists." I don't believe that Joy Division were Nazis, but they never (in any interviews I have read anyway) actually came out and stated opposition to fascism/Nazism. And neither do neofolk bands who have indulged in this shit either. There are plenty who couldn't possibly do that as they are straight up fascists intent on spreading the word. Some, like Wakeford, may have backed off it a bit, but only because they were getting so much shit and it was affecting their chances of playing live without protest. Wakeford was still selling "Songs of the Wolf" on Tursa in the same month he made his feeble disclaimer in 2007, a clear example of the man's dishonesty and wish to have it both ways.

    Finally on your point "These people know they need an 'angle' to promote their product, and that is why they won't do what you ask of them." I agree in some cases, but that is still a very good reason to take the fuckers to task.

    @ Simon.
    I would say the same about Grey Wolves. You take a lot of time to defend them without addressing the points I made. If you have fascists as friends (as I said - lots) on your Myspace site and you call yourself after a fascist organisation and use fascist imagery, people like me are going to ask why, full stop. To rehash an overused analogy; If it walks like a duck, hangs around with ducks, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. I say the onus is on them to refute the accusation.



    As for trying to stop the Slimelight gig I wish it had worked. As it was the post drew a lot of attention to it, created a very respectable protest (supported by LMHR, Islington Council, The Unitarian Church, unions and lots of anti-fascist activists) and it forced Wakeford to kick out the racist fascist Andrew King from Sol Invictus. Not a bad result.

    I cannot be bothered to address your comment about Stormfront. Just too pathetic.

    ATB
    James

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    Replies
    1. James,

      I posted rather hastily when I was a bit exhausted. I actually meant that Pursey was the opportunist, as he did attract a number of fascist skins due to his early rhetoric which was seemingly quickly abandoned as it become obvious that RAR looked like good career move. Or maybe I am being a mite cynical?

      With Joy Division I think Barney is clear about the fact that is was a bit of 'shock value' thing when they were young. Not that this stopped a lot of misinterpretation of JD from later groups, especially people like Douglas Pearce (the Northern toungue-in cheek attitude seemingly was invisble to him!).

      "They Walked in Line" is pretty uneqivocal in its lyrics, but that doesn't stop Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (who obviously doesn't know it was a JD song) from citing Moynihan's version (which he obviously thinks is an original, rather than a cover) as damning evidence of his Nazi views! Oh, well...

      Delete
  19. Hi James,
    My crack about Stormfront wasn't lightly made. As someone who always had an unthinking and kneejerk view of anti-fascism as being automatically preferable to fascism, probably due to my dislike of bigotry and racism, your 'Shower of Shit' post last summer finally got me to think a little more critically about the drives which motivate fascism and anti-fascism and the similarities rather than the differences between the two ideologies.

    I've known two people over the years who've tried to impress the idea on me. One, who I won't name, was an AFA early 90s activist whose involvement ran so deep he ended up having the cops come to warn him that his name and address had been found on some kind of C18 hitlist. His disenchantment came about through recognising a strongly puritan and heteronormative streak in anti-fascism, and through seeing how many guys in the scene used the self-righteous macho element more to bed impressionable young crusty girls than anything else. This guy now teaches at an art college and gets wound up by his students' fondness for Banksy incidentally. The other person who tried to tell me this, more problematically, was Jean-Louis Costes, who was prosecuted during the 1990s in a case which dragged on for many years by the Union of Jewish Students in France: a very early case regarding 'hate speech' on the internet. Anyone who has seen and heard the material for which he was prosecuted whatever their political views will agree that it was a strange choice of target for anti-fascists: he made what can only be described as poor-taste and offensive jokes, and the prosecution made no attempt to claim he held any genuinely right-wing or anti-semitic views. When I spoke to him about this some years ago he was in a somewhat conspiratorial Larry O'Hara style mindset claiming that the fascists, anti-fascists and French legal system were meeting together to use him as a test case. Much like the Grey Wolves (if they drown while in the ducking stool they prove they aren't fascists? sorry, couldn't resist) responsibility for what Costes released and the consequences lies with him, of course.

    When trying to comprehend the dreary mindset of fascism a writer whose views I admire above all other is Klaus Theweleit who explores hidden psychosexual elements in fascist consciousness. Applying his work to anti-fascism this is my cue to mention Peter Sotos and the demonisation of the 'Other' or Jungian shadow again, but I will also say that the story JarSev tells above about Freya A's sexual revulsion towards black people and your own use of the word 'mysterious' for the accessible public figure Gaya Donadio are equally telling. As far as I can see her booking policy simply serves as a platform for all manner of unpalatable free speech, although maybe one of us should ask her instead of making broad assumptions.

    To defend 'free speech' is a much more difficult job than simply saying you support it. Under UK law, Simon Shepherd's deeply depressing and cranky Heretical website is not free speech - the legal story behind his case is a whole lot more interesting than the site itself though. Under another UK law, not only is Al-Qaeda's 'Inspire' magazine not free speech but it's illegal to even possess a copy. During the 1980s in Minneapolis Andrea Dworkin mounted a successful campaign from a radically left-wing feminist and anti-capitalist perspective for pornography not to be classed as free speech.

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  20. (continued)
    My own interest in this area is rooted in a no doubt naive instinctive distaste for government-backed censorship in particular. Picketing and physically preventing the Sol Invictus gig would have struck me as a whole lot less invidious than getting Islington Council involved. Does that make sense to you?

    The folly of privileged people pontificating online about moral high ground in political arguments is of course obvious. There's coltan in these computers and mobile phones. 4-5 million dead and hugely underreported over the last decade Congolese brought you these words, followed by a second tier of Chinese slavery to build us the machines.

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  21. @ Simon.

    I have to disagree with your tenet that fascism and anti-fascism are motivated by similar attitudes (and I think by this you mean intellectually and politically repressive motives).

    For a start fascism is a political belief, anti-fascism is simply in opposition to that belief and can be participated in by anyone whatever their politics. I know anti-fascists who are in every other way non political. (Karl Blake is a good example). They are anti hate for want of a better description, and fascism is a movement born out of hate. Racial hate, hate of the modern world and a belief in cultural and racial superiority. Your friend's description of anti-fascism as a "scene used (by) the self-righteous macho element more to bed impressionable young crusty girls than anything else" is retrograde and cheap and it doesn't fit anti-fascists any more than it fits any group of people doing anything at all. It is an anti-intellectual argument and totally worthless.

    Having said that I think it is healthy to question my motives as long as it is done with the brain engaged and not simply emotionally. For the record my motives are quite simple; they are rooted in left-wing opposition, extreme distaste for racism and bigotry, and fear of where fascism inevitably takes society. And that really is it. I might choose to be a little provocative in the way I go about it, but that is simply in response to the cowardice, dishonesty and stupidity of the people I see as being fascist or promoting fascism for financial gain. I want them to at least explain why they believe and do the things they do so I call them out on it. Anti-fascism of course is not a homogenous grouping and many anti-fascists will have differing views.

    I cannot comment on your friend who has become disenchanted with anti-fascism beyond personally rejecting accusations of puritanism or heteronormative beliefs. This to me sounds like a good description of a large constituency of fascism (although not fascism in its entirety obviously). As for self-righteousness, well that is for other people to judge.

    continues...

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    Replies
    1. Churchill was an avowed anti-fascist. He was also a believer in White Anglo-Saxon racial superiority (according to Harold Macmillan's diaries, Churchill advocated the Tories should use the slogan "Keep Britain White" in the 1955 election!).

      Paolo Di Canio, on the other hand, is an avowed fascist and ardent admirer of Mussolini, yet he has consistently proclaimed his anti-racism. He is the manager of Swindon Town FC.

      Confused????

      Delete
  22. [sorry, that last comment, and the following, were posted on behalf of James Cavanagh]

    CONTINUES...


    Where Costes is concerned it strikes me he does his best to be as offensive as he can, for whatever motives, and therefore has to take responsibility for his actions. I find it impossible to feel any sympathy for him and quite funny that many fascists wanted to disown him. Artists are as responsible for their statements and actions as everyone else.

    On your points about free speech I entirely agree that it is a very tricky business but I don't think your examples of Al Qaeda and Dworkin are analogous. One is promoting violent racial and religious hate, repression and extremist religious
    /fascist dictat, whereas the other is making a case for restricting the violent, sexual, capitalist exploitation of women. Personally I don't have a problem with legislation against advocating hatred and violence towards religious or racial groups or anyone else. I don't doubt others who have contributed to this blog would disagree with me. Pornography is a different kettle of fish entirely. Some is deeply misogynist and exploitative, and some is consensual and essentially eroticism. I would like to know for example where Dworkin stands on pornography made by women.

    Finally your point about the production of computers and other technology is good one, but I simply take an anti-capitalist view of it. It does not really have anything to do with my views on fascism.

    James

    p.s. Again for the record I don't consider myself remotely privileged within the society that I live. But geographically I am of course privileged, as are you.
    p.p.s. Again for the record I think that Jar Several has misremembered the anecdote about Freya Aswynn feeling repulsion towards black people. I believe it was Ian Read's girlfriend at the time who expressed this revulsion, not Aswynn, but Karl Blake may well correct me on this.
    And my description of Gay Donadio as "mysterious" was lazy use of language. What I wanted to convey was the schizophrenic nature of her supposed past involvement with antifa and her promotion of fascist musicians. I wouldn't read any more into it than that.
    J

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    1. Nice answer - it's quite good this 'dialogue' thing rather than denouncing each other isn't it?

      All I'll add is that Dworkin didn't believe pornography made by women was free speech, although sections of her own writing in Ice & Fire and Mercy are in fact reminiscent of Peter Sotos's books. Semantics, abstractions, the loudest voices getting heard the most: reminds me of another situation. The popularity of 'misogynist and exploitative' porn such as Rocco Sifredi and James Deen amongst women would have Dworkin spinning in her grave. While I don't agree with her conclusions she's a writer and thinker I admire enormously. Here is a decent critique of the collaboration with the right-wing and the legal system she and MacKinnon made if you're interested: http://www.american-buddha.com/anti-porno.htm

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  23. Hi James,

    I haven't misremembered anything. That is precisely what Karl told me. I am cursed with a good memory, and the supposedly deleterious effects of certain antimnemonic substances I seem to avoid.

    Karl was certainly not "non-political" as he openly admits to defending certain people's views on Libertarian grounds, a position he no longer subscribes to.

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  24. @ Simon

    I had a look at the american-buddha site. Very interesting and pertinent.

    @ Jar

    I guess I meant Karl is not political in the leftwing/rightwing party political sense, but again he may well correct me there. I haven't seen him for a long time and his views may well have changed.

    James

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  25. Jar Several writes that “'They Walked in Line' is pretty uneqivocal in its lyrics, but that doesn't stop Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (who obviously doesn't know it was a JD song) from citing Moynihan's version (which he obviously thinks is an original, rather than a cover) as damning evidence of his Nazi views! Oh, well...“.

    The point is that Moynihan changes the lyrics in the first stanza from the third person plural (“They...“) to the first person plural (“Dressed in our uniform so fine/We drank and killed the time“) thus turning the observation in the original into something quite different. Moynihan's defenders might claim that this subjective point of view may make the song even more ambivalent and critical and even adding Nazi samples at the beginning may contribute to that but the ambivalence is lost on me (even without knowing that on the compilation on which this song was released the second Blood Axis song featured speech extracts from antisemite Codreanu and Moyniham must have released J. Mason's “Siege“ around that time).

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    1. Strelnikov,

      I really hope you don't think I was defending a vile piece of shit like Moynihan! I was merely addressing James' point without knowing that Moynihan had changed the lyric. All I was really saying is that James can be very literal in terms of his interpretations ("If it walks like a duck" etc).

      From what I have gleaned from interviews, etc from Moynihan, it would seem that like quite a few people in that scene he is a kind of super-elitist and hypermisanthropic. I can see why he likes Evola!! He comes across as somebody who seems to think he is above everybody. Does he have a liking for Loeb & Leopold?

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  26. Seige is reviewed here - Michael Moynihan's Siege Mentality - for those who don't know it.

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  27. Hi Strelnikov,

    I read the article cited above. I am a bit curious as to why there is no mention of "Seconds" magazine anywhere on this site. Moynihan clearly had pretty close involvement with them, including conducting an interview with Charles Manson. I haven't read the magazine, but looking at their website it includes a pretty bizarre mixture of stuff. Goodrick-Clarke refers to it as a "popular Metal magazine" yet this doesn't seem to be the case at all.

    Just curious as to your viewpoint on "Seconds" and their "45 Dangerous Minds" anthology.

    Anyway, feeling a bit sluggish due to increased dosage of Mario Lanza-pine..so i'll leave it there.

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    1. gregorio bardini is a christian libertarian not a fascist!!!!

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    2. gregorio bardini is a libertarian not a fascist

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    3. Gregorio Bardini, - is christian libertarian the same as David Tibets belief-system - I looked on Wiki, and it seems similar - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_libertarianism - there is also this - http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/libchristian.htm - which has the following -
      "Sometime in the 1970s James Buckley, the brother of Wm. F. Buckley, spoke at the Borah Symposium. When he called himself a “Christian libertarian,” my immediate response was that this phrase is an oxymoron. To put the contradiction as concisely as possible: libertarians affirm the absolute sovereignty of the self, while orthodox Christians believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. This is why consistent libertarians such Ayn Rand and her followers are atheists".

      I am somewhat confused, therefore - you worked with Tony Wakeford in the late 1990s - on the Sol Invictus album 'In the Rain" there is a song called "The World Shrugged" - the title being obviously a rather clumsy re-write of the name of one of Ayn Rands most famous books, "Atlas Shrugged" - the lyric spoke of a rotting cross - and the lyric here -
      "Across this earth
      A poison seeps
      From house to house
      That plague does creep"
      could be aligned maybe with a song such as 'kneel to the cross' from an earlier album. Wakeford seems therefore to be an atheist, like Ayn Rand. My question is this - you worked with Wakeford in the mid to late '90s - and appeared on the "...with friends like these" compilation that he and Klarita Pandolfi released in 2009 - did either you or he have any problems with your seemingly opposing views? He recently seems to have been opposed to the group Spreu and Weisen for reason of their apparent christianity and some of the beliefs therein.

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    4. This is a surprise - it shows what I consider to be an over-compensatory amount of humility from the general [I stress 'general' - not 'all'] tone of the posts on this blog - but I mean humility from [what I deem to be] the standpoint of the blog itself - I quote -
      "Musicians’ political histories and personal links are documented with almost Stasi-like precision – any suspicious information is meticulously collected and catalogued.... this seeming admiration cuts to the backhand of the complement rather quickly "....However, the ‘guilt by association’ method they employ has its limitations."
      This I feel is an overtly reductionist and shallow reading of the conclusions made by most of the related posts on this blog - and, on closer inspection this is the 'sniffy' tone employed by Zurowski throughout - not a clever thing to do by a person who gets Doug Pearces name wrong throughout his own piece - 'Pierce' it is not. I am not judging his fallibilty on that slip alone - but his general 'put-down' attitude does not endear one to his own approach.
      It is a shame that the give-away line on this piece of criticism - that starts well but that would take anti-fascism to a different conclusion/goal if the writer had his way - is quite pivoted on this - the 'stasi' reference - I, in good 'stasi' fashion - googled the man who wrote the pieces name - and found him to be a member of The Communist Party of Great Britain.
      I would argue that a fine, if very dry wine could almost be made of this article - would it not be for the trace of bitterness I detect - it is a shame that the left seemingly cannot get its ass in gear without fighting and backbiting amongst its own kind - it could be formula one if it didn't whizz round and round in tight concentric circles.
      According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unite_Against_Fascism and Red Pepper magazine UNITE AGAINST FASCISM [part of the 'unite' ] was set up by the SWP -
      a shame then that the backcloth to this is just a point-scoring exercise by someone who feels holier-than-them. It seems
      "Snobbish elitism and a complete detachment from individual thought has been a hallmark of political parties since time immemorial'
      - In my humble opinion they are just a bunch of contrary sheep. They show their weakness in their 'wanting to belong' - which they artificially reinforce by a kind of chauvinism - the true believers against 'the others' who don't quite 'cut the mustard'. Such a desperation does not, in my view - breed honesty of vision.

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  28. So, go to love music to the darn desert. There is no home overcrowded by lovely immigrants, you pole clot

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