Guest post by a concerned group of antifascists who are lovers of black metal and Nature
This coming September 20th-22nd, the music festival Stella Natura will be taking place in Tahoe National Forest in Northern California. This festival is a project of Adam Torruella of the Pesanta Urfolk label and distro, and it is the third year it will take place. A three day long music festival in the woods which serves as a meeting ground for people seeking to reconnect to the land and form community seems innocent enough. However when certain individuals seek to build this event on a foundation of white nationalist propaganda and promote an extremely racist agenda, it is a call to action for all who consider themselves opposed to white supremacy. The information following was compiled with the intent of exposing these individuals for who and what they are, no longer allowing them to exploit music scenes and spirituality as they seek to hide their true colors.
Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) is the first listed sponsor for the festival. Asatru is a pagan spirituality focused on the revival of Norse gods and mythology, and it has unfortunately been filled with deep associations with various fascist organizations. The Southern Poverty Law Center have written a concise and highly recommended article on dubious figures within Asatru, in which they explain: “Odinism, which is closely related to Asatrú, was much favored in Nazi Germany. Its Nordic/Teutonic mythology was a bedrock belief for key Third Reich leaders, and it was an integral part of the initiation rites and cosmology of the elite Schutzstaffel (SS), which supervised Adolf Hitler's network of death camps. Decades later, Odinism also influenced George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi Party” (1). SPLC go on to describe how this spirituality has gained a great deal of popularity with violent white supremacists over the last few decades. The AFA was founded in the mid-1990s by Stephen McNallen out of concern that other Asatru organizations had lost focus on promoting the Asatru faith as inherently tied to the white race. At least one of AFA's leaders has ties to white supremacist organizations, claiming former standing as a state-level organizer for the SS Action Group and links to a violent neo-Nazi skinhead gang. “'I'm a white racist and proud of it," he told a reporter while posing in a Nazi uniform in 1992. ' (1)”. AFA was a sponsor of Stella Natura last year with McNallen appeared on stage to perform a ritual as a guest of the band Changes, and they remain a sponsor this year. (2)(3).
Some of McNallen's white supremacist ideologies can be seen in his theorizing on migration and border politics. In an article entitled 'Wotan vs. Tezcatlipoca: The Spiritual War for California and the Southwest', McNallen refers to the increasing Latin population of the border states of America as a “tide of cultural and demographic conquest” that white Americans must resist rather than “accept our marginalization quietly” (4). He voices that he feels the needs to “fight for my people and my culture against all odds”, and calls for white people to “stand by your kin and your culture” in states he describes as “overwhelmed with illegal immigrants”. He perceives this as a realm of spiritual war, in which Norse gods must conquer Mayan gods. He closes the article by arguing that “We must sink down roots in the soil, and insist on our right to be here... European-descended peoples, true to their ancestral ways, are here to stay. Our forebears fought and died to carve out this place in the world, and we will not give it up.”
In a 2010 piece by McNallen, entitled 'A down and dirty breakdown of the 'browning of America'', he decries the decreasing percentage of America's white population as a sign that “our political and cultural clout will evaporate to a thin wisp of what it is today”, and follows with the absurd claim that “European Americans face minority status, then marginalization, and eventually extinction” (5). He states that “Illegal immigration on the present scale is a form of conquest” an “invasion” that can be “stopped and even reversed almost at once” as it is “ being carried out by identifiable people and parties”. He lists clear political aims for his racist agenda:
“First, the border must be secured. Contrary to liberal opinion, this can be done. I will not analyze the mechanics of this task, but a brainstormed list of options would include diplomatic punishment of Mexico for its role in encouraging migration, sanctions against employers of illegal aliens to include mandatory prison time, a physical wall (built by illegal aliens from our prison system), high-tech surveillance devices, and imprisonment with hard labor for individuals violating our territorial sovereignty. Until we are willing to take these measures, we are not serious about closing the border. Second, it must be clear that no amnesty of illegal aliens, wholesale or piecemeal, in general or in particular, is acceptable. Third, all illegal aliens must be deported and denied legal entry at any time in the future. Because of the logistical complexities involved, deportation could take the form of a “phased withdrawal,” just as troops are pulled out of a war zone when a peace treaty is concluded. This mass deportation should be carried out as humanely as possible, but it absolutely must be done. Fourth, legal immigration must be reformed. We need a temporary moratorium on all immigration, followed by the dismantling of the Immigration Act of 1965 and a return to the previous system, which favored immigration from Europe.”
Brian Powell, a journalist with Media Matters, did an expose on a white nationalist conference organized by the National Policy Institute (6). The full article can be found in our sources and it is recommended to read through as it provides a good indication of the shapes this form of white nationalist fascism is currently taking. Major themes at this conference were the building of a white ethno-state through the forced migration of people of color, along with claims of white people's supposed inherent biological superiority. Upon meeting several members of the AFA during this conference, the reporter states: "...they expressed frustration with a culture and government that they feel ignores and looks down upon the interests of the white race.... They were relieved that they had finally found a place where they didn't have to 'feel out' the conversation before navigating it into the straits of white supremacy.“ In his response to the Media Matters article, Stephen McNallen merely states: "The AFA will not dictate to its members which meetings they are permitted to attend as private individuals. There are suggestions that we discipline them for the crime of being present in a room where extreme statements seem to have been made. We will not do this. There will be no exposure, no witch-hunt, no apologies, and no reprimands... men and women of European descent have exactly the same right to meet and to promote their collective interests as do any other group. To demonize them for doing this, when every other group is encouraged to do so, is to indulge in a vicious double standard. (7)".
To state that an overtly white supremacist conference which involved proposing plans for white-only ethnostates, modeled on South African apartheid, is a discussion of the "collective interests" of white people provides us with a clear perspective on what the founder of the AFA means when he discusses his vision of promoting the goals of the white race. There are no excuses offered and none should be made on his behalf. On the AFA's webpage, the second goal of the organization is stated to be "The preservation of the Peoples of the North (typified by the Scandinavian/Germanic and Celtic peoples), and the furtherance of their continued evolution... the survival and welfare of the Northern European peoples as a cultural and biological group is a religious imperative for the AFA." (8). This statement by McNallen provides a clear idea of what AFA's purpose and points of unity are intended to denote in the form of practical application sought by its founders. Anti-racists have been intervening in Stephen McNallen's spread of white nationalist propaganda since at least the 1990's, as evidenced by a rather amusing article from a Canadian Holocaust denier organization that hosted him for a lecture and were highly upset by the ARA response they received (9).
|Blood Axis / Michael Moynihan|
|Extract from James Masons's Siege!|
One of Moynihan's present areas of focus is the editing and publishing of the journal Tyr, which collects pieces on the topics of Germanic paganism and the history of northern European peoples (13). While it does not describe itself as a fascist publication, it reproduces white nationalist and far-right discourse and publishes authors with ties to various fascist and white supremacist currents. One of the original editors and ongoing contributors of Tyr is Colin Cleary, whose political perspective is rather concisely summed up in an article in which he states: "I regard Ásatrú and White Nationalism as so inseparably bound to one another that to espouse Ásatrú while rejecting White Nationalism is to involve oneself in a fatal contradiction (fatal, really, in more than just the logical sense)... Disraeli really was right: 'Race is everything. There is no other truth.' (14)". Joshua Buckley, another editor of Tyr, is a former member of the SS of America (15). He makes a living as one-half of a notoriously shady real estate gentrification project with a long-term business partner, who he is set to inherit the business from, named Sam Dickson. Dickson is an attorney who provided legal services to the Georgia KKK for decades and who sat on the board of The Barnes Review, an academic journal focused on promoting Holocaust denial. Dickson's largest public presence in the last decade has been as a guest speaker at multiple conferences that advocate for militant white nationalism, such as the conference covered by Media Matters.
Robert Taylor is one half of the band Changes, who will be playing for their third time at Stella Natura. The Changes duo returned to the music scene in 1996 after decades of silence thanks to the encouragement and efforts of Taylor's friend Michael Moynihan, who went on to produce and release their next album (16). Robert Taylor describes himself as a “herald... one of the three founders of the [Asatru] movement” within North America, along with Steven McNallen. He describes Asatru as “a religion that is suited for Indo-Europeans because it contains and constitutes all the main features and spirit of how most of us feel inside” (17). Taylor was a founder of the Asatru Alliance along with former American Nazi party member Michael (Valgard) Murray and has a long history of allying with Stephen McNallen in pagan organizing (16). Taylor has a long history of involvement within the radical right and white separatist circles. In an interview with infamous 'national anarchist' and white supremacist political organizer Troy Southgate (39),Taylor outlines his youth involvement in “the most feared white street gang in Chicago at that time” and states that he joined as a “vehicle for fighting” because he “loved the exhilaration of combat”, and that he “never joined gangs so much for the camaraderie or as a group security thing” (16). He states that this environment “certainly brought grassroots social problems into sharp focus” and that “racial tensions flared up frequently”. He describes his participation in a white riot in which thousands of white people mobbed up against a black family that had just moved into the neighborhood he lived in. This mob chanted curses, bombarded the black family's home with bricks, tried to break down the door and then proceeded to fight with the police upon their arrival. He described the experience of being in this mob as “like a minuet movement. A dance of rage”. Taylor recounts that these riots went on for four nights, during which “dummies stuffed with rags and painted with black faces were hung from lamp posts and set ablaze in effigy” and city buses with black drivers were attacked with large chunks of concrete dropped from bridges. He claims that he's sure of the fact that the media did not report on the riots because it would have attracted “people from far and wide to join the mob and riot”. He also outlines a group he organized with other white youth that committed such disgusting acts as responding to black students being brought into a school in his neighborhood by holding a confrontational demonstration at the school which these students were being transferred from, in a black community.
Taylor speaks at length of his involvement with a 1960s right wing paramilitary organization named 'the Minutemen', in which he quickly moved through the ranks from being the principal organizer in the Chicago area to holding the position of national Director of Intelligence, and then becoming national spokesperson while also being the sole editor of their magazine. He describes the activities of the Minutemen as mainly consisting of: infiltrating leftist and communist groups in order to bring police violence against them or sabotaging their activities in other ways, identifying their members, and forming fake anti-war groups to give leftists a bad name in the press. He was a member of a special subgroup that was set up within the organization called the Defence Survival Force, which consisted of about 50-60 people trained in survival skills, killing, expropriation, explosives knowledge and special operational skills. They operated underground and rendezvoused in an organized way to meet in safe-houses and make claymore mines and pipe grenades. He outlines how this group slowly fell apart due to legal matters and how once their resources had dwindled enough and some members were facing incarceration, he used his position as national spokesperson to advise Minutemen groups across the US to organize as local militias rather than as a federation. In Taylor's own words, “The legacy of the Minutemen continues on now in various factions of the revolutionary right. We laid the groundwork, provided the basic concepts and more or less pioneered that movement. It brought a new sophistication of tactics and strategy to the Right” (18).
In 2006, Taylor defends his participation in the race riots by saying that for white working class people, “their job... their home, car and family was about all they had in the world” and that once black families began to move into neighborhoods dominated by white people, these were all threatened (17). He went on to claim that “[i]t was no secret that once blacks predominated in an area, the crime rate would soar and the streets would become dangerous to walk. (17)” Taylor espouses strong feelings about disseminating this viewpoint based on the perception that “white working class ethnics seldom have a spokesman or anyone who writes or speaks on their behalf. They are simply the dispossessed majority”. It is also very interesting to note that in this later interview, Taylor attempts to justify his participation in this riot, yet offers up no toned-down explanation of his prolonged and active organizing within the Minutemen. Taylor has gone on record stating that he sees the infamous and long-running white supremacist organization Aryan Nations and similar groups as representing “love and loyalty to one's race as opposed to geographical boundaries” (17).
Fire And Ice, one of the headliners of Stella Natura, is a band founded and fronted by Ian Read. Read is well known for his work with bands Current 93, Sol Invictis, and Death in June, whom he provided vocals for in their rendition of 'Horst Wessel Lied', the anthem of the German National Socialists on the Brown Book album (banned in Germany for supporting fascism) (19). He also played with the openly neo-nazi group Above the Ruins, whose name is derived from the writings of Evola and who contributed to the National Front's benefit album No Surrender Vol 1, alongside bands such as Screwdriver(20)(21). Read has also led militant security teams for both Holocaust denier and anti-Semite Michele Renouf and editor of far-right magazine Michael Walker (22). Michael Walker was one of the individuals who safe-housed a notorious Italian fascist, on the run from the police after having a large quantity of explosives and weapons found in his organization's office (23) (24). He was also exposed as an organizer of the Iona organization's Nazi street fighters in the 1997 article 'Rocking for Satan' by the antifascist Magazine Searchlight (22). One of Read's closest collaborators has been Tony Wakeford (Death in June, Sol Invictis, Above the Ruins), a member of the National Front who has also been a key figure within occult-fascist music (20). Wakeford's work within Above the Ruins and overt Nazism was too much for Death in June's Douglas Pierce, eventually causing Wakeford to split from the group and form Sol Invictis with Read (22). He was also heavily involved with Read in the IONA fascist group (22). Ian Read was also a member of the band While Angels Watch, which worked with British fascist advocate and organizer Troy Southgate (20).
|Die Weisse Rose|
|Tony Wakeford and Thomas Bøjden|
Yet another dubious act on Stella Natura's lineup for 2013 is Of the Wand and the Moon, the one-man project of Kim Larsen, which has issued a split album with Ian Read and Tony Wakeford's Sol Invictus (31). OTWATM also appeared on a compilation entitled 'Looking for Europe', which bears an iron cross on the cover and features essentially every high profile fascist or fascist sympathizer band in the neofolk scene, such as Blood Axis, Boyd Rice/ NON, Allerseelen, Changes and Death in June (32). Kim Larsen has been criticized by German antifa groups for posing for photos (33) wearing the Lebensrune, a Norse symbol that was used during the Nazi regime in place of the 'date of birth' label on paperwork. It was also the symbol of the SS Lebensborn and modern neo-Nazi organizations such as the German Heathens' Front (34). The German Heathens' Front is a racialist Asatru organization formed by a well-known neo-Nazi and is infamous for their virulent anti-Semitism and allegiance to the ideas of David Lane (35). This is not to claim that the use and revival of runes is inherently problematic, but merely that to wear a rune that has been so deeply associated with various fascist organizations without any critique or anti-fascist analysis is a heavily loaded action. In an interview with an online fanzine, Larsen names his biggest musical influences as “Death in June, but also bands as NON, Der Blutharsch, Current 93, Fire and Ice, Blood Axis etc.”, all bands that have racist tendencies and associations (36). In another interview in which he was asked the same question, he lists the same bands but adds Sol Invictus to the list (37). Larsen has also appeared as a guest in Die Weisse Rose's performances (25).
It is necessary to acknowledge that while many Asatru practitioners or fans of neofolk/industrial/black metal are well-intentioned music fans, many others involved in these scenes are actively promoting fascist ideas in order to normalize these tendencies. As outlined in Anton Shekhovstov's brilliant essay on the topic, which is highly recommended when approaching this subject,(38) this course is charted out within the post-WWII writings of Alain de Benoist and Julius Evola. These authors argued for fascists to retreat from active politics into the realm of culture until the time was right to begin recruiting for future fascist political movements. This form of 'metapolitical' fascism manifests in subcultural scenes focused on music or spirituality with their accompanying record labels, distros and spiritual organizations, as well as through networks of journals, publishing houses, conferences and think tanks. Neofolk as a musical subculture has always held an intellectual and elitist attitude that is eager to feign disassociation with more overt white supremacists, but this must be seen as what it is: part of a coherent and deliberate strategy to disseminate their unpopular ideas without risking immediate anti-fascist responses.The presence of fascists and white nationalists at Stella Natura is not an accident, but a planned infiltration; a co-opting of spirituality, heritage and music to suit their personal agenda. Opposition to this must come from within the scenes they seek to convert, and from the potential recruits they hope to gain.
- Coogan, Kevin, “How Black is Black Metal? Michael Moynihan, Lords of Chaos and the ‘Countercultural Fascist’ Underground,” Hit List Vol. 1 No. 1 (February / March 1999), 32‐49, 45., found on http://www.whomakesthenazis.com/2010/12/rose-city-anti-fascists-austrian.html