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The Metapolitics of Arktos – Morgan

The Metapolitics of Arktos

By John Morgan

 

The following is the text of a speech delivered by Arktos Editor-in-Chief John Morgan at Identitarian Ideas VII in Stockholm, Sweden on 7 November 2015.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for having me back. It’s great to be back in Sweden. The fact that Sweden, a country which has come to be identified with the most extreme forms of liberalism, has managed to develop one of the most thriving nationalist movements in Western Europe is a fact that is inspirational to activists all over Europe and North America. So it’s an honor to be addressing some of those who made that happen here today.

I want to say a few words about the project that Daniel Friberg and I have dedicated most of our time, energy, and dedication towards over the past few years – specifically, what it is that we are trying to do with Arktos. As many of you are no doubt aware, Daniel Friberg and I, and also Mick Brooks who is here with us today, founded Arktos Media six years ago, at the end of 2009. Since then we’ve published over 100 unique titles in eight languages. For the first four years of our operations, we were based in India as a way of reducing our overhead costs, but since the beginning of 2014 we’ve been based in Budapest, Hungary in order to make it easier to connect with our core readership.

I imagine a question that exists in many people’s minds is, why are we doing all of this, and what are we trying to accomplish? This is something that really needs to be clarified, since many people have been more than happy to answer this, uninvited, on our behalf. To name but a few theories I’ve come across online, I’ve learned that Arktos is a Christian publishing company, a neo-pagan publishing company, a Eurasianist publishing company, an American conservative publishing company, a liberal publishing company, and a fascist publishing company. Likewise I’ve read that Arktos is “controlled” by American paleoconservatives like Paul Gottfried, by the Kremlin, by the CIA, by the Ukrainian nationalists, by the Indian government, by the international Zionist conspiracy, by Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents, and my personal favorite, by the Soviet KGB. It’s unfortunate that I need to do this, but for the purposes of clarity, I state for the record that none of these is in fact true.

While several of those ideas are obviously crazy, and some of them clearly designed as a pathetic attempt to try to discredit us, I think part of the confusion stems from the fact that Arktos is involved in so many different types of projects. Indeed, while we are often thought of as a political publishing house, only perhaps half of our books could be described as overtly political in nature, and we have always envisioned Arktos as being much more than merely a political venture. Many are works of pure philosophy or literature, or relate to various forms of traditional spirituality. In terms of political thought, we have published many works from the European “New Right” school, but we have also published works from both Christian and non-Christian perspectives (including works related to Hindu nationalism), by the identitarians, by Alexander Dugin of Russia’s Eurasia Movement, and by American and English conservatives.

The truth is that there is no single ideological, philosophical, religious, or any other system of belief that we are trying to propagate through Arktos. As I once expressed it, what Arktos is trying to do could perhaps be summarized as trying to find alternatives to modernity – which basically means alternatives to the current liberal order based on individualism and materialism and the dominance of the state over every aspect of the lives of its people, and which runs contrary to anything traditional or communitarian, that has spread everywhere across the world. This can take many forms. Some of our authors would like to see us return to the ways of life of some previous age. Some of them, such as Mr. Faye, advocate for nationalists embracing the most radical forms of new technology and radical social thought and producing a new synthesis with the traditional values that first made our civilization great that will represent something entirely new in Europe. Many of them fall somewhere in between.

Arktos’ idea is that we should take a broad approach to the desire to seek an alternative to liberalism. While we think that each and every one of our authors has something valuable to contribute to this quest, we do not seek to win converts to any particular cause or way of thinking, especially since it remains unclear at this stage as to which ideas will take root in order to bring about the revival of the West. Rather our books should be seen as points of inspiration to hopefully inspire a challenge to new ways of thinking, even if it may sometimes take the form of opposition in some regards, among our readers. Adopting a specific belief system would limit what we can do and also limit the number of people to whom we can appeal.

We do not even see ourselves as being exclusively a “Right-wing” publisher. Indeed, the dichotomy of Left and Right seems today as something outdated and meaningless, particularly as many mainstream Rightists today are essentially liberals and thus not on our side, and some Leftists share many of our concerns about the modern world and liberalism. I would suggest that the dichotomy of liberal and anti-liberal is a more useful classification today. This is something we embrace in Arktos. We seek to create an alternative to liberalism, but not necessarily a new ideology, and we are open to anyone who has something useful to contribute.

Of what importance is this intellectual work in a struggle which is primarily taking place in the real world, one may ask? I would answer that the political struggle is only the outward form of a battle that is really more cultural, and culture rests on what lies within the soul of each individual who participates in it. In order to build individuals willing to sacrifice the comforts of modern life for the sake of an ideal, a solid sense of identity and purpose must first be present. This is the essence of metapolitics: it is the attempt to redefine culture, or one might more accurately say in the case of nationalists and traditionalists an attempt to restore culture, by making a particular set of suppositions seem entirely natural to the people in a society. One can find out more about this in the books New Culture, New Right by Michael O’Meara andAgainst Democracy and Equality by Tomislav Sunic. This is what the Left has been doing so well over the past half century. In fact, the entire West today is in the grip of a radical political ideology which has set the average individual against the traditions of his forefathers, against the needs of his community, and even against the interests of himself and his people. It is quite amazing, in fact. Two centuries ago it would have seemed like something strange, if not insane. And yet by establishing control over the cultural institutions of our nations, the radical liberals have managed to convince the vast majority of people that the mode of life we are in today is something completely normal, and in fact superior to anything that came before it, when in fact we are in a time in which Western man is more alienated from his society and his fellow man than ever before.

Therefore, what we need to do is to imitate their example in our own way. This means waging war on the cultural as well as the political level. It may be difficult to discern on the surface how books of political philosophy, or on spirituality or literature, help in this endeavor. And yet I would argue that it is very difficult to motivate people simply using straightforward political arguments, and certainly not merely by criticizing society as it is (something the Right is all too good at). Something positive is needed as well. People need a vision of the future that can inspire them and give them something not only to fight for, but to give them motivation in their daily lives. I believe that books remain the best way of instilling this sort of vision in people. And given the enthusiastic response we’ve received from many of our readers over the years, I think this strategy is working.

As should be clear by now, there is no single label that one could apply to Arktos with any accuracy, given the vast range of ideas that we engage with. If I had to pick one, however, I would borrow the term “true Right,” which was first coined by the Italian traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola, who defined it as “those principles which were accepted and seen as normal by every well-born person everywhere in the world prior to 1789.” I can think of no better definition than that. It is obviously very different from the false Right that participates in the meaningless spectacle that passes for politics throughout much of the West today. Of course, one could point out that Arktos benefits from many of the features of the world of globalist liberalism: given the sort of technology that our operations rely on, such as the Internet and easy international travel, it would have been unimaginable even just 15 years ago. But I believe it is possible to use the tools of modernity against it, in an effort to reform it.

The other question that I frequently get is why Arktos is based in such exotic locales as India and Hungary. In the case of India, where we were based for the first five years of our corporate existence, the short answer is simply that we needed to be in a place where we could afford to operate with the meager funds we had at our disposal in our early days. Although at the same time it was good to be in a place where daily life is still for the most part an expression of the traditional spirit rather than a liberal one. But after doing this for a while, we began to grew tired of the many challenges that everyday life in India presents (imagine what it’s like to try to get somebody to come out and fix your Internet in a country where you don’t know the language and where cows and other livestock are wandering in the street outside your apartment), and we also had a growing desire to strengthen our connection to where most of our readers are.

Given the fact that our profits had been steadily increasing from the beginning, by 2014 we finally had enough funds to make this a reality. So, why Hungary, you may ask? Part of it is certainly the fact that it is possible to operate inexpensively there as well, and also simply because those of us on the Arktos staff have been charmed by the country’s beautiful aesthetics and culture, and its excellent cuisine, among other aspects. But we were also drawn to it due to the fact that Hungary has established itself as the greatest opponent to liberalism in the European Union today. Indeed, Hungary’s current Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, who has recently garnered a great deal of praise due to his handling of the migrant crisis, gave a speech last year in which he called for Hungary to become what he termed an ‘illiberal democracy’, citing China, Turkey, and Russia as examples. Indeed, we have made fruitful contacts with people in Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party; the more radical nationalist party, Jobbik; and even with the Magyar Munkáspárt, or Hungarian Workers’ Party, which is the Communist party. It is important to stress that the latter party, while Communist in name, could more accurately be described as a National Bolshevik party, meaning that it combines elements of nationalism with Communism; while it retains Communist economic ideas, it remains a staunch opponent of immigration and globalism. Such syntheses are not unusual in Hungarian politics; indeed, Marton Gyöngyösi, the International Secretary of Jobbik, said to me recently that many of the parties in Hungary today, and even in other countries, escape easy classification along the Right/Left spectrum, and similar to what I said earlier, he suggested that liberal and non-liberal is a more constructive way of understanding European politics today.

People associated with all of these parties have expressed enthusiasm for the work that Arktos is doing, and we in turn have been inspired by their commitment and originality in pursuit of a better Hungary. They are actually enacting the sort of metapolitics that Arktos is also working with in its own way, and with great success, as indicated by the fact that two-thirds of Hungary’s voters selected either Fidesz or Jobbik in the last election. Hungarian politicians are also frequently visionary in how they understand how Hungary’s struggle against liberalism must fit into the struggle of similar parties across the globe. To cite an example close to home, in 2013, while we were still in India, we facilitated a meeting between representatives from Jobbik and the BJP, the Hindu nationalist party which was swept to power on a tide of enthusiasm from voters the following year. And I think it is correct that if we are to defeat our liberal globalist enemy, we ourselves must adopt an alternative form of globalism, seeking alliances and common ground with individuals and groups who share our desires everywhere, even outside of Europe. While we stand for the traditions and interests of our own people, we must put aside our differences and open ourselves to those taking a similar approach from among other peoples. The narrow, ethnocentric viewpoint is a relic of the past. Only together, by working with nationalists and traditionalists everywhere, can we succeed. Toward this end, Arktos seeks to represent as many of these facets of the struggle as possible, which is one reason why we have published several books pertaining to the traditions of India, for example.

Some of you may wonder what our most popular titles are. Generally, our bestselling titles tend to be those by Guillaume Faye, whom you met here today; Alain de Benoist, the founder and leader of the French New Right movement, and the inventor of the concept of Right-wing metapolitics; Alexander Dugin, the Russian philosopher and geopolitician, and former advisor to Vladimir Putin; the Italian traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola, who sought to re-establish the mindset and wisdom of the ancient world amidst the ruins of the modern world; Markus Willinger, the Austrian identitarian author; Brian Patrick, a professor at the University of Toledo who specializes in the science of propaganda and the American gun rights movement; and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is India’s most popular yoga guru today. Recent titles that have done well also include Dominique Venner’s The Shock of History. Venner was a renowned historian and veteran paratrooper of the Algerian War and the OAS who infamously committed suicide in Notre Dame Cathedral in May 2013 as a protest against mass immigration and the increasing liberalization of France, and he actually wrote The Shock of History specifically for Arktos as a means of introducing his worldview to the audience outside of France, so we were quite honored to be the ones to present that in English. And I would be amiss if I didn’t mention The Real Right Returns by my friend and colleague Daniel Friberg, which became an instant bestseller; in fact it sold more copies in the first three days of this month than any other book of our has sold in any three-day period to date. And soon we will be publishing a Swedish translation of How to be a Conservative by the English author Roger Scruton, who is the most important philosopher of conservatism today. (I understand that the Chairman of the Sweden Democrats is a fan of Scruton.)

What I think Arktos’ success indicates is that we are presenting a message that resonates with people. People in Europe and America are getting tired of the same old slogans presented by liberals that go against what everyone sees with their own eyes. They haven’t been able to come up with anything new since the 1960s; they just keep harping on the same old tired clichés that are falling into ruin around them. The attempt of liberals to convert the world into a gigantic shopping mall where everyone is the same is ending in failure. Intellectual and cultural vigor is passing, if it hasn’t already passed, to the Right. We can see this in the rising popularity and electoral success of Rightist parties across Europe. This is a trend we can ride. The future belongs to us. In Arktos and Motpol, and similar organizations, we are forging a new vision for the West. Many difficult challenges yet lie ahead of us, but we shouldn’t despair; rather, we should welcome the fact that we are presented with an opportunity for adventure. Please join us as we forge a new world.

 

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Morgan, John. “The Metapolitics of Arktos.” Speech delivered at the “Identitarian Ideas VII” Conference, held in Stockholm, Sweden, 7 November 2015. Text of transcript retrieved from <https://www.righton.net/2015/11/22/the-metapolitics-of-arktos/ >.

 

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New Biography of Wagner – Svensson

Book News: Richard Wagner – A Portrait by Lennart Svensson (2015)

 

Manticore Books has published yet another book by me. Last year it was my book about Ernst Jünger. Now it’s a biography on Richard Wagner (1813-1883), the German composer.

Richard Wagner – A Portrait is a book about a genius composer. A book like this, about Richard Wagner, is sorely needed. Today Wagner is performed everywhere, all around the world. Reportedly, the mere purpose of building opera houses is to stage Wagner’s Ring, the greatest opera ever composed, this 15 hours long, captivating and complex opus.

So you can say: Richard Wagner has triumphed. In the 2010’s West-world, indeed over the whole world, Wagner operas are played and admired by all and sundry. Today Wagner is mainstream, you could say. And yet, he will always be considered controversial.

More than any other composer before and after, Wagner wrote pamphlets and engaged himself in politics. For instance, he took part in the 1848-49 populist rebellion in Germany. Then, at long last, he became a conservative. This is mirrored in the current book – Richard Wagner – A Portrait – along with other aspects of the man and his works. The main Wagner operas are surveyed in some detail, a bio of Wagner’s life is given and different aspects of his oeuvre are discussed, such as Wagner and popular culture, Wagner and literature, the scenography of the operas and, of course, the specificity of Wagner’s music.

The book is on 198 pages. You can see the design and layout in the pictures of this post. It’s a softcover with perfect binding. According to the publishing house the book gives a fully-rounded picture of Wagner, the man and his music.

 

Sample Chapter: Wagner and Popular Culture

 

Author’s Note: I have written a biography on Richard Wagner. He was a classical composer living in the 19th century. He composed operas about heroes and villains, traditional music dramas showcasing the wonders of the western cultural heritage. Today, Wagner’s music is loved by both opera fans and movie-goers. Below are some lines from my Wagner bio, an excerpt of chapter 17: “Wagner and Popular Culture”. It’s about the Wagner Leitmotif technique used in film scores, and the Wagner music employed in “Excalibur”. And about a certain CD having helicopters on the cover.

Helicopters on the Cover

Sometimes record companies compilate ”best of”-collections with Wagner ouvertures and orchestral pieces. For example, today on the internet you can buy a compilation of Wagner orchestral pieces and ouvertures on CD, called Twilight of the Gods: The Essential Wagner Collection. The subtitle is: ”Music of Terrifying Power and Transcending Beauty”. It was originally issued in 1998 by Deutsche Grammophon, a venerable label for classic music. Here we get standards such as ”The Ride of the Valkyries”, ”Siegfried’s Funeral March”, ”Siegfried’s Rhine Journey”, overtures to The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser and The Master-Singers, ”Good Friday Music from Parsifal” and many more.

This all is very fine and proper. But the cover image might seem strange, sporting as it does American Bell UH-1 ”Hueys” coming at you, the combat transport helicopter employed by US Army in Vietnam. However, the connection is apt; Francis Coppola’s movie about the Vietnam War, Apocalypse Now (1979), in a scene uses ”The Ride of the Valkyries” as a soundtrack. Technically this is not incidental, atmosphere-creating music but so called source, music actually played in the cinematic action itself, since the major in charge of the cavalry battalion in question has equipped his helicopters with loudspeakers that play the actual melody during assaults. This in order to scare the enemy.

When seeing the actual film I didn’t quite like that scene, it gets a little over the top, something of an overstatement: ”Look at the militarist Wagner’s music being used in the most awful of all wars, how fitting…!” That said, now the connection is done – Vietnam War and ”The Ride of the Valkyries” – so I have to admit that the CD in question having that film image of the helis, silhouetted against the sun, is very efficient. It’s got edge, being a smart way of selling classical music to youngsters of today: ”Wagner, terryfying power, awesome man…” I might cater to ulterior needs in saying this. But Wagner’s music is rich and deep and it can withstand a lot, from stagings with modern props to CD covers with the war machines of the NWO.

Excalibur

Richard Wagner’s opus lived on, even in the 20th century, even beyond the opera stage. As for Wagner music used in soundtracks my best example is John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981). True, this film also employs music from another classical composer, Carl Orff and his ”O Fortunata” from Carmina Burana, since then a staple in circumstances like these. But the mainstay of the soundtrack is from Wagner. In scenes with Lancelot and Guinevere we hear the Tristan ouverture, and in sir Perceval’s search for the Grail we hear, what else, the prelude to Parsifal.

Then there is the main theme, with parts of ”Siegfried’s Funeral March” from Twilight of the Gods. This music is heard at the beginning, with a text plate saying ”The Dark Ages… The Land was divided and without a king”, followed by rhapsodic scenes of fighting, of Merlin etc. The soundtrack to all this is Wagner and it’s congenial. The same Wagner piece – the funeral march – is there at the end of the film, during the battle in which Arthur is killed by Mordred. Just before he dies Arthur tells Perceval to take Excalibur and throw it into the lake – the lake from which it once was given by the hand of the Lady of the Lake.

Eventually Perceval finds the lake and gets ready to throw the sword. At the same time, in anticipation, the hand of the Lady rises from the surface – and then we hear Wagner’s ”sword” leitmotif, flashing forth simultaneously as a light is reflected in the shiny blade during the throwing. It’s almost better than a Wagner opera. Anyhow, Boorman succeeded in taking old music and having it fit like a glove to this scene, the sword leitmotif sounding out exacly when the hand of the Lady catches the hilt of the sword and then sinks with it, never to be seen again.

All this is very much in the spirit of Wagner. The music isn’t ironically employed as in Apocalypse Now. This is the Wagnerian spirit, translated onto the screen, in a story that coheres. Then there is the employment of the leimotif itself, Excalibur being a sword showcased with Wagner’s sword theme: there is a chance of it getting too clever-clever, too contrived, but no, this just nails it, if I may say so. The use of classical music in Excalibur is on par with what Kubrick did in 2001.

Boorman’s Excalibur, by being produced in the pallid era of the early 1980’s, with cold war, recession and unemployment, could have been a dour, anti-heroic, anti-romantic tale. But true artistry was about in writing the script, in producing and filming it so if you want to ”get that Wagner feeling” on screen, in a non-operatic, modern, cinematographic way, go see Excalibur.

Film Music

Leitmotif, in case you didn’t know already, is a musical phrase that symbolizes a person, a thing, a place or a feeling. Wagner didn’t use the term itself but ever since the premiere of The Ring it’s been widely used to characterize this Wagnerian effect. Musical phrases such as leitmotifs led an embryonic existence before Wagner but he made it into a modus operandi, slightly overemploying it, like in The Ring.

However, after Wagner the leitmotif technique found its way into other musical areas than opera, preferably film music. To have a musical phrase repeating itself in the theme song (the, if you will, ”overture”) as well as here and there in the film score proper, became common practice after sound film came of age. For example the composer Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975), with film scores such as Psycho (1960) and Vertigo (1958), knew the Wagner way of making music. For instance, in the latter film there’s echoes of ”The Love-Death of Isolde” from Tristan and Isolde.

Wikipedia [entry: Leitmotif] says that leitmotifs, in one sense or the other, have occured since the advent of sound film:

Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s 1938 score for The Adventures of Robin Hood, for example, can be heard to attach particular themes and harmonies to individual characters: Robin, Will, Much, and Gisbourne are all accompanied by distinctive musical material. A more modern example is the Star Wars series, in which composer John Williams uses a large number of themes specifically associated with people and concepts (for example, a particular motif attaches to the presence of Darth Vader and another to the idea of the Force). In the film trilogy Lord of the Rings the dramatic orchestral score has hundreds of Leitmotifs recurring throughout.

 

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Svensson, Lennart. “Book News: Richard Wagner — A Portrait (Lennart Svensson 2015).” Svenssongalaxen, 24 June 2015. <http://lennart-svensson.blogspot.se/2015/06/book-news-richard-wagner-portrait.html >.

Svensson, Lennart. “A Chapter From my Wagner Bio: Wagner and Popular Culture.” Svenssongalaxen, 24 June 2015. <http://lennart-svensson.blogspot.se/2015/06/a-chapter-from-my-wagner-bio-wagner-and.html >.

 

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Soseki’s “Kokoro” and Japan’s Modernization – Nguyen

Kokoro (1914) by Natsume Soseki: The Question of Japanese Modernity

By Hoang Nguyen

 

Introductory Remarks: The following article is primarily a review of the novel Kokoro, considered the most important work written by the famous Japanese author Natsume Soseki (1867-1916). Soseki is highly regarded in his native Japan; his works are considered one of the nation’s cultural treasures, his books are required reading in Japanese schools, and his portrait even appears on Japan’s currency. His book Kokoro, in particular, is seen as one of the best representations of the traditional Japanese soul, and as Nguyen’s review reveals, was important in warning the Japanese people against excessive Westernisation. We should note to our readers that another, similar but more in-depth academic analysis of Kokoro was made by Koji Nakamura in his article “Soseki’s Kokoro as a Cross-Cultural Study for Exchange Students from North America and Europe” (alt.), and it will be useful to read that as well to gain a fuller understanding. However, as is evident from most studies on Soseki’s critiques of and warnings against Westernisation, Soseki’s view was limited by his time period (the Meiji era) and preceded the process of true “modernisation without Westernisation,” which manifested itself most clearly over a decade after his death (although it is clear that Westernisation had many limitations even during the Meiji period).

By the 1930’s, Japan began to reassert its ethno-cultural and religious identity and combined it with economic and scientific modernisation, and although this process was disrupted by their defeat in World War II and the ensuing troubling time period (the late 1940s up to the early 1970s), by the later 20th Century (the late 1970s and beyond) they began reasserting their cultural identity once again in a new way. Essentially, despite still facing some cultural problems today which need to be overcome, modernisation without Westernisation is mostly successful in Japan, as Nguyen notes in the beginning of her review, and as Alexander Dugin had also observed in his article “In the Country of the Rising ‘Do’.” However, even if some of Natsume Soseki’s approaches or statements are outdated, this doesn’t mean that Soseki’s literature is irrelevant today. Quite the contrary, by being so ingrained into the culture, Soseki’s works help constantly remind the Japanese to defend their ethno-cultural identity against disintegration by globalisation. Europeans would do well to learn from this. – Daniel Macek (Editor of the “New European Conservative”)

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“Perhaps you will not understand clearly why I am about to die, no more than I can fully understand why General Nogi killed himself. You and I belong to different eras, and so we think differently. There is nothing we can do to bridge the gap between us.” (Sensei from Kokoro)

Japanese Modernity has often been equated with Westernization. The significance of this equation is that it constructs an assumption that modernity is solely based on the Western values. As Japan became a modern nation, assertions were made that the process of modernization was actually the process of Westernization. However, Natsume Soseki, in his most accomplished novel Kokoro, criticized this equation by exposing the modern Japan in conflict with Western values. However, it failed to give a satisfactory alternative solution to the concept of Japanese modernity.

Modernization is by definition a technological process. Although modernity is the result of modernization, modernity necessarily includes not only technological but also social and economic factors. The definition of modernization can be derived from the results of industrial evolution and technological advances which were prevailing in Europe one time in history. However, the definition of modernity should in no way be connected to Western influence since not all countries should follow the same path of economic and social development as the West did.  Therefore, it is obvious that Japan has modernized based on the technological achievements of the West but it is still open to debate whether the modernity of Japan should be the modernity represented by Western countries. Japanese modernity is equal to Western modernity in terms of technological developments, but not necessarily so in social and economic realms.

In KokoroNatsume Soseki told a story happening at the time Japan was modernizing and mentioned a variety of Western influences which were alienating to the Japanese society, at least the society of the Meiji Era. In doing this, Soseki showed us the short-comings of the Western modernity equation, which tries to predetermine a model for the modernity of Japan without any concerns for Japanese long history of traditionsJapanese modernity is a complicated concept and reducing it to a simple Western modernity equation is an eliminating process that sets aside important social and cultural factors.

There are various factors of Western modernity that were criticized in the text. Modern education and capitalism were the two major factors that surfaced in the story. Viewed from a Western modernity viewpoint, these are the necessary factors of modernity. However, throughout the text, Soseki made it clear that trying to attach these factors to Japanese society and the Japanese spectrum of modernity will only create social alienation and miscommunication. Incorporating all these factors into the contrasts between the past and the present, the old and the new, the traditional and the non-traditional, and finally, the dead and the alive, Soseki  drew a spectacular picture of the Japanese society struggling in vain to adapt to Western modernity.

In “Kokoro,” modern education was not helpful in dealing with the reality of life. At this point in history, the Japanese school system had been westernized; therefore, studying activities, especially in higher education, followed strictly the Western model of education. Both the character “I” and Sensei were involved in intellectual activities. However, they do not find any significance value in their studies.

I opened the window of my room, which was on the second floor and, pretending that my diploma was a telescope, I surveyed as much of the world as I could see… Then I threw the diploma down on the desk… In that position, I thought back over my past and tried to imagine what my future would be. I thought about my diploma lying on the desk and, though it seemed to have some significance as a kind of symbol of the beginning of a new life, I could not help feeling that it was a meaningless scrap of paper too.

The diploma, a thing that represents the honor of intellectual activities, has been a symbol of education and reason. The act of “pretending my diploma was a telescope” can be interpreted as the author’s attempt at viewing the world through the knowledge he acquired from school, from the lectures and from his professors. However, that was a failed attempt since he himself admitted that “I could not help feeling that it was a meaningless scrap of paper…” He found no use in the kind of knowledge he acquired. That is why he “threw the diploma down on the desk…” Besides the author who was doubtful about the usefulness of his study, other characters in the story also expressed disbelief in the significance of modern education. Both Sensei and his wife did not know where Sensei’s diploma was even though a diploma is supposed to be important for an intellectual person like Sensei.  For Sensei, at a point of great depression in his life, he felt that “the professors who stood on the platforms seemed very far away, and their voices faint.” That was his disappointment in modern education which is far away from the reality of life. When Sensei sought to be guided in life by the knowledge he acquired from school, he found nothing but faint voices from far-away professors. Modern education based its teachings on Western thoughts; therefore, it does not speak truth to the Japanese society.

As a result, those who received modern education were lost in the gap between the Japanese world and the Western world. Sensei’s wife commented, “I see that higher education has made you adept at empty rationalization.” Ojosan spoke this sentence when she was explaining to the author about her relationship with Sensei. The author kept using his modern reasoning to analyze the relationship between Ojosan and Sensei while Ojosan seemed to insist that “empty rationalization” does not help when it comes to explaining people’s motives.

But sometimes I was inclined to regard his reserve unfavorably. I liked then to think that his reluctance to discuss such a matter was due to timidity born of the conventions of a generation ago. I thought myself more free, in this respect, and more open-minded, than either Sensei or his wife.

The author assumed that his education has made him “more free” and “more open-minded” than Sensei who had the “timidity born of the conventions of a generation ago.” This goes to show that “empty rationalization,” the kind of modern reasoning that the author studied at school, was actually at odds with the Japanese traditional way of thinking, which values human passion more than cold unbiased reason. Reason, in the Japanese way of thinking, is inferior to passion, as Sensei asserted, “I believe that words uttered in passion contain a greater living truth than do those words which express thoughts rationally conceived.” Throughout the whole story, the author kept on analyzing people’s behavior by his modern reasoning. However, as Sensei pointed out, there is something else that the author does not know. “”You have never thought seriously of the reality of death, have you?” I became silent.” Only people of the previous generation could understand “the reality of death.” Both Sensei and the author’s father reacted in a melancholic manner to the death of Meiji Emperor. The author himself could only understand the news as the death of an influential figure. For Sensei and the author’s father, death has a special meaning. Equipped with university knowledge, the author may be good at his field of study but he could never understand the people. However much he studied, he could not understand the spirit of the previous generations (Sensei, Ojosan, his father…). The author’s brother, who also had a university degree, also did not understand Sensei. He said, “That’s the trouble with egoists … They are brazen enough to think they have the right to live idly. It’s a crime not to make the best use of whatever ability one has.”

Obviously, his reasoning was fair. Nevertheless, it is not persuasive because he could not understand that people like Sensei could have a reasonable motive behind their behaviors. It is not what education can teach him. Education could not bridge the gap between different generations. That is also the gap between a traditional Japan and a Westernized Japan that modern education could never fill. Even though Japan has begun to Westernize, to begin “a new life,” the author kept wondering what identity he would absorb in that new life: “… I thought back over my past and tried to imagine what my future would be.” The author thought that with his diploma, he could be sure about his future. However, modern education did not give him the answer to his identity. What will the modern Japanese society? And what is the significance of modern education in shaping such a society and the individuals in that society? These questions remained unanswered to the author as he threw his diploma on the desk and wondered about the future of the society he was living in.

Alienation is the effect of forcing Western modernity on Japanese society. Individualism, originally not associated with modernity, has become so popular in European societies that it entered the spectrum of Western modernity. However, as Japan modernizes, it is not suitable to assume that Japan will absorb individualism the way the West did. When Sensei commented that “… loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egoistical selves,” the author “could not think of anything to say.” Members of the modern society enjoy the benefits of individualism. However, the traditional Japanese society itself upholds strong values of communal relationships and several aspects of individualism like independence and self-reliance clash with these values. Therefore, the loneliness that both Sensei and the narrator experienced is the alienation that resulted from the rapid development from the Japanese communal space to a modern individualistic society. K, who acquired many aspects of Western modernity like education and intellectual thoughts, had the same fate. K was alienated from his own society. He did not have any close friends since no one could understand his modern thoughts, which he diligently studied from Western texts. By following his study without concerning his family’s opinions, he became the representative of Western individualism. It was his individualistic tendency that drove him away from his own family and society.

Alienation was described more clearly through the miscommunications of the characters in the story. Western societies value the voice of the individual and encourage conversations in constructing a relationship. However, there are things that cannot be conveyed by words and those belong to the traditional sphere that Western ideals seemed to interfere with. Conversations seemed to only disturb the understanding between people. “It was wrong of me. I had intended to make you aware of certain truths. Instead, I have only succeeded in irritating you.”

When the Sensei tried to explain to the narrator his idea about love, he did not manage to express himself clearly. The narrator only got more confused after listening to Sensei’s explanation.“I was trying to explain my earlier remarks because I thought they had irritated you. But in trying to explain, I find that I have upset you once more.”

The constant misunderstanding and miscommunications between the author and Sensei throughout the first two chapters of the story revealed how far people of different generations were from each other. The author belonged to the modern world while Sensei is forever associated with the past. Sensei always lived haunted by his past. Therefore, not understanding the past, the author could not figure out the meaning of Sensei’s behaviors. Western modernity, the kind of “borrowed” modernity, was not valued by Sensei:“True, my ethics may be different from those of the young men of today. But they are at least my own. I did not borrow them for the sake of convenience as a man might a dress suit.”

Western modernity was not meant forJapan. It was like a suit that Japanese people put on in order to modernize but it will never fit. Sensei valued his own ethics even though it is “different from those of young men of today.” It is that difference that forever separated the traditional, the past and the modern, the present. The title of the story is “Kokoro,” which can be translated as “feeling,” the kind of feeling that words cannot easily convey. The story, then, can be interpreted as the author’s journey to understand “kokoro,” to grasp the deepest feelings of Sensei who, to him, was a “half-hidden figure.” At the same time, it is a journey to understand the past and to figure out what is the meaning of the past to the future of his society. In the Japanese spirit, “kokoro” is a sacred realm and a key element of a communal space. Western modernity, whatever benefits it may bring, did not suffice to become the future of Japan simply because it neglects “kokoro.” Miscommunication between Sensei and the narrator was just one example of the many miscommunications between Japanese traditional spirit and Western modernity spirit.

The unsuitability of Western modernity for Japanese society was emphasized by the difference between different generations and between the past and the present.

But you must not think that K’s inability to discard his old ways and begin his life anew was due to his lack of modern concepts. You must understand that to K, his own past seemed too sacred a thing to be thrown away like an old suit of clothes. One might say that his past was his life, and to deny it would have meant that his life thus far had been without purpose… he was forced to look back and remind himself of what his past had meant. And in doing so he could not but continue along the path that he had so far followed.

The influence of the past on K was so great and so “sacred” that even though K has been immersed in modern concepts in his intellectual activities, he could not help but continue his “old ways.” This is the dilemma of Japan. Wanting to move on and to modernize,Japan has adopted Western ideas. However, the shadow of the past and the traditions are still there and Western modernity provided no means to overcome that shadow.

Perhaps you will not understand clearly why I am about to die, no more than I can fully understand why General Nogi killed himself. You and I belong to different eras, and so we think differently. There is nothing we can do to bridge the gap between us.

Both Sensei and the author were helpless in their attempts to understand each other. It is not only the gap between generations. Even though they are living in the same society, Sensei and the author each belonged to a world of his own. Sensei’s world is the Japan of Meiji emperor and General Nogi. The author’s world is the modern, individualistic and capitalistic Japan. Western modernity assumed that those two worlds can coexist peacefully at the same time within Japanese society.  However, that was a misconception. Japan can modernize technologically but it does not necessarily absorb all the social aspects of a Western modern society. Western modernity forced onto Japanese communal space only created clashes and conflicts which cannot be solved.

One example of those conflicts is the negative effect of capitalism on Japanese society.

If there is any property in your family, then I do think you should see to it that your inheritance is properly settled now… But don’t you think that, while your father is alive, you should make sure that you will receive your proper share? When a man dies suddenly, his estate causes more trouble than anything else.

Sensei saw “estate” as troublesome. And he was honest. Inheritance is a highly valued concept in Japanese society. It is through inheritance that traditions can be passed down from generation to generation, and the glory of the past, as a result, would be preserved. However, capitalism attached monetary value to inheritance, thus turning it into a troublesome thing. In a capitalistic world, money and capital are favored over relationships and humans themselves.  It was money that ruined the relationship between Sensei and his uncle. It was also money that exacerbates K’s relationship with both his foster family and his real family. K’s only connection with his foster family is the money he received for his study. When they stopped offering to sponsor his study, K’s relationship with them also ended. All the relationships that were abandoned in the story were due to material conflicts. Money and capital has grown to become so important in that modern society that people could not but give in to its power and neglect their relationships.  K had no time to worry about his family problems because he had to worry about money matters first:

Whether he should return to his original family because of the unhappy incident, or whether he should consider some way of compromise and remain with his adopted family, was a problem for the future, but what required his immediate attention was the question of how he was to pay for his education.

Moreover, money has been described by Sensei as something “evil.” Sensei expressed his contempt for money, “Give a gentleman money, and he will soon turn into a rogue.” Those people who got controlled by money became, in Sensei’s mind, “the personification of all those things in this world which make it unworthy of trust.” The goal of modernity is not, and should not be, a society where people cannot trust each other. The Japanese spirit that has always valued honor and trust will not be able to wholly accept the concept of capitalism and materialism.

Soseki tried to give an alternative to the problem by using the concept of a hybrid. In other words, he wanted the modern Japanese people to inherit the traditions and the social spirit of the past while still moving on with the technological developments introduced by the West. In this solution, He focused on the tradition of inheritance as the key to defining Japanese modernity. Inheritance was used as a means to transporting the social spirit from generation to generation. A series of inheritance were broken in the story all due to the intervention of Western modernity. Sensei lost part of his inheritance because of his capitalistic uncle. K lost his “inheritance” from the foster family because he decided to follow his individualistic dream. However, those were cases of inheritance defined by money value. The kind of inheritance that is more important in the story is the sacred inheritance of the social spirit, which helps to create the hybrid of traditional values and modern tendencies. K is the perfect example of such a social hybrid. He was born in a temple and seemed to embody the important part of Japanese social spirit, the “concentration of mind.” However, at the same time, he was interested in studying the Bible and the Koran. He also likes to talk about subjects like religion and philosophy, which were obviously full of Western thoughts. K kept on living with his “concentration of mind” while constantly updating himself with Western intellectual knowledge through modern education. He succeeded in keeping the Japanese traditional attitude and the Western modern tendencies in dealing with life. His death has a big influence on Sensei. After K’s death, Sensei became another “K.” In this case, death is a kind of sacred inheritance, as the story unfolded.

The kind of social hybrid that K represented was passed down to Sensei when K died, and at the end of the story, it was passed down to the narrator when Sensei committed suicide. Such was Soseki’s approach to the problem of Japanese modernity. However, it was not a perfect solution. K’s reason for studying the Bible is because “one should read a book so highly valued by others.” This explanation somehow hinted that Japan is adopting Western modernity just because this model has been accepted as universal in the Western world. By making this statement, K lost his own identity. Moreover, when he was struck by the Western platonic love for Ojosan, K could not keep his traditional “concentration of mind” anymore and eventually committed suicide. This clash between Western modernity and Japanese traditions has remained unsolved and there was no answer to it other than death.

The novel Kokoro criticized Western modernity by depicting modern education and capitalism in a negative tone. It also showed us the social alienation resulted from the act of forcing a Western model of modernity onto Japanese society. The story itself was filled with darkness and helplessness, which appropriately reflects the atmosphere of a society gradually losing its own identity. The answer given was death, and only hopeless death could end the tension brought about by the clash between Western and Japanese values.

 

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Nguyen, Hoang. “Kokoro (1914) by Natsume Soseki: The Question of Japanese Modernity.” East Asian Pop Culture, 27 March 2012. <http://easdiary.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/kokoro-by-natsume-soseki-the-question-of-japanese-modernity/ >.

 

Notes on Further Reading: A great deal of Natsume Soseki’s works – mostly novels – have been translated into English (and numerous other languages). His most significant works are I Am A Cat, Botchan, Kusamakura/The Three-Cornered World, Sanshiro, Sorekara/And Then, The Gate, and Kokoro.

For those interested in reading and studying other Japanese literature (which is also useful for the study of Japan’s culture, history, and religious attitudes), we recommend the following two anthologies which were edited by Donald Keene: Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1955), and Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day (New York: Grove Press, 1956).

Concerning important modern classic Japanese authors (other than Natsume Soseki) whose works have been translated, we can note the following for readers who are interested: Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Kyoka Izumi, Osamu Dazai, Junichiro Tanizaki, Eiji Yoshikawa, Edogawa Rampo, Yukio Mishima, Yasunari Kawabata, Fumiko Enchi, Yasushi Inoue, Shuhei Fujisawa, and Hisashi Inoue.

 

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Jünger’s Gurus and Contemporaries – Svensson

Ernst Jünger: His German Gurus, Contemporaries etc.

By Lennart Svensson

 

Author’s Note: Ernst Jünger lived between the years 1895 and 1998. As you all know he was a German writer. Personally I’d say that he was the greatest German novelist, essayist and diarist of the 20th century. In trying to portrait him you could look at some of his mentors and contemporaries. 

 

Ernst Jünger was a German. And it’s no secret that he in some way or another was influenced by other German writers and thinkers. Below I elaborate on this. The survey is by no means complete. I’d say it’s just ”some informal remarks”.

1. Goethe

Ernst Jünger had some similarities with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Some would say that Goethe was Jüngers chief guru and inspiration. However, that’s a bit hard to prove since Jünger seldom or never even mentions Goethe by name in his works. The only passage I’ve detected is when Jünger quotes, in ”Eumeswil”, the Weimar Apollo’s ”nur was sich nie und nirgends hat begeben, das allein ist war” (”only that which hasn’t happened anywhere, is true”).

Now then, ”Eumeswil”. In this novel Jünger speaks a lot about the Urbild and other Plotinic dealings, about plants receiving their shape from a transcendent idea (= Urbild), and that’s kind of Goethean. Like Goethe Jünger was enchanted by nature, by plants and animals, and both had the esoteric terminology to express that.

2. Hugo Fischer

Hugo Fischer (1897-1975) was Jünger’s friend, at least before the Second World War. They shared an interest in idealistic philosophy, in nature observation and in seeing the traces of God in the creation. In Leipzig in the 20s they both studied philosophy, and in the 30s Fischer accompanied Jünger on a Norwegian trip (q.v. ”Myrdun”, 1943).

In that book Fischer’s alter ego is Der Doktor. In another Jünger book, ”Das abenteuerliche Herz”, Fischer is said to figure as Nigromantanus, an eccentric scholar with a house full of iridizing materials, Vexierbilder and metamorphosing decorations. I’d say that this Nigromontanus may be 30% Fischer; the rest of his persona is Jünger with a tinge of Goethe, the name ”Nigromontanus” being for example purloined from a Goethe text.

3. Spengler

Jünger was a free-form writer and novelist, Spengler on the other hand was a systemizer. Jünger dreamed about techno landscapes devoid of farmland, Spengler for his part was a devout farmer idolizer.

Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) once received a free copy of Jünger’s ”Der Arbeiter”. Spengler wrote and said that he wasn’t overly impressed. Why? Because Jünger had forgotten to lift the role of the farmer in his book. — On the farmer depends a nation’s welfare. That was Spengler’s view and Jünger’s vision wasn’t in sync with that.

That said, to me as a youngster, having read a Golo Mann’s essay about Germany in the 20s, the names of Spengler and Jünger almost seemed to merge. Writers writing about war, the decline of the west and all that, how alluring. Further on Jünger’s creed  to me seemed more varied and balanced, however, the Spengler attitude has in some way affected me too. In ”The Decline of the West” and in his late ”Man and Technology” Spengler has a lot of interesting material, looking at things from a fresh perspective.

4. Walter Benjamin

If Jünger differs from Spengler in not being a common systemizer, then in Walter Benjamin Jünger has a kindred spirit. Looking at odd subjects, studying the modern world from abstruse angles (like in the ontology of shops, the metaphysics of stamps). Certain pages in ”Das abenteuerliche Herz” and Benjamin’s ”Einbahnstrasse” (1928) are very similar in spirit. Walter Benjamin’s (1892-1940) most famous work is”Die Passagenarbeit”, a study of 19th century Paris.

5. Nietzsche

Jünger didn’t quite like Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). However, in his youth Jünger seems to have been affected by him. Maybe Jünger mellowed through the years and got fed up with the nihilism of Der Pulverkopf. Then again, Nietzsche, whether liked or disliked, is always there in Jünger’s works. He is referred to more or less directly in ”Heliopolis” and ”Eumeswil” for example.

6. C. G. Jung

Finally, a look at Carl Gustaf Jung (1875-1961). Jung contributed to Jünger’s and Eliade’s magazine Antaios. That said, I can’t trace the name ”Jung”, or references to his works, in Jünger’s books proper. However, Jung and Jünger were kindred spirits in that both were proficient in dreaming. They also preferred ancient authors to 20th century contemporaries. These Germans were both ”old in the land of dreams, myths and legends”…

 

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Svensson, Lennart. “Ernst Jünger: His German Gurus, Contemporaries etc.” Tankesmedjan Motpol, 10 July 2014. <http://www.motpol.nu/princip/2014/07/10/ernst-junger-his-german-gurus-contemporaries-etc/ >.

 

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On Verner von Heidenstam – Svensson

Verner von Heidenstam: An Overview

By Lennart Svensson

 

Author’s Note: Verner von Heidenstam is well known in Sweden. And some of his books are available in English too. When he won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1916 some titles were translated. — Hereby an overview of Heidenstam’s life and works.

 

1.

There are many ways of treating the Swedish author and Nobel Prize winner Verner von Heidenstam (1859-1940). One of them is to look at the nationalist strain in his writings. It’s not so far-fetched, not even in a 21st century setting. The newly published biography by Per I. Gedin (Verner von Heidenstam – ett liv, Bonniers 2006) also notes this and makes a fair evaluation of it, particularly of what nationalism meant in the mid 19th century, before it became en vogue. It’s true that Heidenstam didn’t make his debut in 1888 as a model nationalist, this feature becoming more prominent in him around 1900. However, the positive, affirmative trait in which nationalism thrives was definitely part of Heidenstam’s condition when he put his unforgettable mark on Swedish literature at the dawn of the 1890’s.

The mid 19th century Nordic variety of nationalism, Gedin says, was a populist movement, driven by liberals, and only eventually the movement came to include both workers and the elite, the latter in the form of high society, aristocracy and the royal family. This was indeed the case: in the early 1800’s no royal family, including the Swedish, was what we would call nationalists. For example, the elite sentiment that prevailed in Sweden around 1830 was the Russian-friendly; Tsar Nicholas I was seen as the guarantor of order. Nationalism for the then elite was equal to lawless rebellion, as had been seen in France and Poland.

The same was the case in Germany. The year 1848, for example, saw efforts of German unification: the small, separate kingdoms should merge and form a unified Vaterland, the liberal insurgents meant. But all these aspirations were crushed by the forces of reaction. Only in 1871, when Prussia had become Germany’s leading power, was German nationalism also embraced by the elite in question, by the current right-wing.

We saw the same here in Sweden: not until the 1870’s was nationalism adopted by the pillars of society. Still, nationalism wasn’t even by then a Leitkultur in Sweden. It took some time to be more firmly anchored, to be adopted even by the artistic elite, and Heidenstam was instrumental in this. Gedin for his part describes Heidenstam’s debut, Pilgrimage and Journeyman Years from 1888, as something of a boost to the Swedish soul. At the time the Swedish cultural scene was steeped in nihilism and ”grey weather prose”, 1880’s literature being occupied with naturalistic depictions of urban misery. Typical book titles at this time were Greycold and Poverty (= GråkalltFattigdom). This was thought to attract the audience. Realism prevailed and the poetry was harmless versifications. Now all this, with Heidenstams’s example, was replaced by imagination, colour and dance. Heidenstam paved the way for writers like Selma Lagerlöf, Fröding, Karlfeldt and Ellen Key, and for a renewal in painting, indeed, for nationalism in general. As for literature proper Heidenstam gave the Swedish language a new poetic feeling with influences from Byron, Heine and Turgenev. By this a more freeform verse was established in Swedish.

Heidenstam quickly became No. 1, becoming the colour-bearer for the new literature, Gedin says. With his debut in 1888 Heidenstam had won a clear-cut victory: he triumphed over a worn out, dilapidated literary scene. Heidenstam himself said in a letter to Ellen Key, in 1897: ”The constant painting of grey on grey I killed in this country in two years.”

Bold words, but true…! Heidenstam at the time of his debut was something of a force of nature, yet playful and human.

 

2.

In the subject of Heidenstam I’ve also read Kring Verner von Heidenstam (= About Verner vonHeidenstam) by Gudmund Fröberg (editor; Carlsson bokförlag, 1993). The book counteracts the devaluation the Swedish left made of Heidenstam in the period 1910-1990. Essays by Staffan Björk, Olle Holmberg, Magnus von Platen and Pär Lagerkvist sketches a broad, sympathetic portrait of the author. As for the person Heidenstam we find quoted on page 270 the words of John Landquist:

He had blue, kindly inquiring eyes but they also had a mysterious depth. He had a dark voice with a soft sound (…) He was genteel but without mannerisms. He sported a quiet kindness. He listened to what you said. His own speech was effortlessly improvised but then, out of the blue, there came a fitting poetic image, this being the natural movement of his though. You felt at ease with him.

Heidenstam, then, had his sympathetic traits. At the same time he could, in official contexts, be rather pompous. He liked playing the role of poet laurate. This backfired on him in the Strindberg feud in 1910, when Strindberg attacked Heidenstam for a few things. And the assaults found their target, even though Heidenstam kept a brave face and declined to answer the slights. You can say: Heidenstam in this process became a victim of the role he created for himself.

 

3.

Gedin depicts this Strindberg feud in his bio. Plus everything else like Heidenstam’s upbringing, his women and his career, in all its variations. Gedin as intimated does a good job and his book can be recommended for those who like cradle-to-grave, life-and-letters-biographies. If you can handle the book’s physical weight, that is…! This 672 pages book can hardly be read lying down, as I prefer. It should be read at a table.

Inspired by Gedin’s book, and of Fröbergs anthology, I now feel like going through Heidenstam’s important works. I begin with novels and prose and end with poems, in the form of New Poems from 1915. Then I round it off by talking about a few additional things.

 

Hans Alienus (1892)

This is a novel with some essential passages in verse. The overall setting is bold and compelling, mixing realism with fantasy. The hero, Hans Alienus, lives in Rome as an official to the pope. Then Alienus ventures out on a journey through the East and then under the earth, all the time experiencing a few things. It’s like a Swedish version of Dante’s Inferno and Goethe’s Faust; Heidenstam broke some new ground with this book, ”Going boldly where no man has gone before” as we had it in Star Trek. For example Swedish literary scholars have always loved this book; there’s much to deliberate on here. I myself am a little skeptical of the conceptual content. It’s lacking something. Heidenstam was a great poet but not so profound when it came to ontology and spiritual essence. He was like, go and meet the devil, talk to angels, then go home; there’s only a semblance of depth in this book, to be sure. Its style and atmosphere is great but it doesn’t really convince you on a formal level. Then again, even Dante wasn’t always so profound.

A figure that Alienus encounters in his cosmic journey is a haggard lady, Her Archaic Holiness (= Den Gamla Heliga; Den Gamla Människan). This is, as Gedin suggests, a Jungian ”shadow”, this horrifying witch who is sorrow and misery whereas Alienus’ dandy lifestyle is all about beauty and joy.

This could lead somewhere. But Heidenstam is incapable, as Jung advocates, to integrate this shadow with his own essence. The shadows haunt him all the way, until the final scene in Sweden. But Alienus have no defense against this voice from the deep. The novel culminates in sentimental lines of reconciliation with the father. Heidenstam as I said was never profound as thinker; he never reached the esoteric levels that Viktor Rydberg, Per Atterbom or Stagnelius reached. But Heidenstam at least had a feeling of what life had to offer, he understood that it is a mystery. And he could show it in his novels and poems. ”Mystery, fairytale, light of day, your depth no one can fathom” as he wrote in the late poem If I Were A Child.

 

A King and His Campaigners (1897, in English 1902)

This is a living classic, a still readable exposé of characters during the Great Northern War 1700-1718. Many of the texts are like short stories with protagonists only appearing once, but we also have Charles XII appearing in fateful circumstances throughout the book.

This is not a naturalistic novel. Many of the texts has a touch of theater. It’s not always stories we get, sometimes we’re only given static scenes. And the lines sound a little unnatural; all speak in the same fashion, from coachmen to generals. That said, the book has power and color, motion and verve. The book’s merit is the width; you become fascinated even by minor characters such as Mazeppa’s ambassador, Lina Andersdotter, Måns Fransyske and others. And that is the sign of a masterpiece, how even the supporting roles are well cast.

 

The Tree of the Folkungs (1905, in English 1925)

This is a romance set in the 11th century, sporting scenes from both the archaic farmer’s life, the life of early medieval Swedish kings and of Swedes serving in the imperial guard in Constantinople. I here refer to the first part, Folke Filbyter; the second part, about the 13th century, is a tinge bit more ordinary, more Walter Scottish.

There is archaic feeling here; we meet the last remnants of Asatru and we meet nature religion and shamanism. Heidenstam had a keen eye for life in the woods, for the yearning of the Swede to venture out in the forest and feel the presence of brownies, fairies and nixes. As a poet Heidenstam filled this novel with many a poetic prose passage. But it’s still eminently readable as a novel, the first part that is, beginning as it does with Folke returning from a Viking raid, approaching Swedish land on the east coast and, having landed, marching off into the Ostrogotian woods in order to stake out a farm for himself. This was Heidenstam’s image of the founding father of the Folkung dynasty, who ruled Sweden 1250-1319.

 

The Swedes and Their Chieftains (1908, in English 1925)

Here we are given many alluring stories out of Swedish history and myth, such as Ura Kaippa, The Shield MaidenThe Watchdog of the Greekking and others from the early middle ages. They are unsought tales about norsemen- and women, clear-cut images of a vital era, the era of Asatru, archaic climes and heroism. But also from the high and late Middle ages we get good narratives, like Karl Knutsson and the Piper. This is almost Shakespearean: the rise and fall of a king, mirrored in the role of a beggar-cum-piper who watches it all from his corner of the world.

In all this is an absolutely incomparable book about Swedish history, on the border between fact and fiction. Intended as a school book it can be read by everyone. Gedin in his bio denigrates it but he’s wrong.

 

Nya dikter (= New Poems, 1915)

Heidenstam as intimated began his career as a poet. In his debut in 1888 (Pilgrimage and Journeyman Years), he painted with variegated colors, he told tales, he discussed, he drew pictures, all in the form of poems, short and long. So that one is still worth reading. But his NewPoems from 1915 in my opinion is the epitome of his writings; here we get the eternal existensial questions treated in a tighter, more succinct fashion.

The prospect of death is treated with open eyes, as in Begun Journey. It depicts a dead man, a departed soul that looks back on the ground he has left: ”I already wander on the bridge, leading / from the Earth to the unknown / and what used to be near becomes distant”… He’s free, he throws away his shoes and his staff, and when he sees himself buried down on the distant earth, then he can barely recognize the name they mumble around the coffin. – This is visionary powers: to see oneself as dead, the soul wandering off into the unknown.

When New Poems was published Heidenstam was 55. He would live for another 25 years. Yet he speaks of himself as ”an old man, sitting by the fire brooding”. It’s in If I Were A Child, about what you would do if you were a child again; the poet sits and remembers, noting that most of his friends are dead. It ends:

Mystery, fairytale, light of day,

your depth no one can fathom.

Yet the same child am I still

and bliss is here to stay.

This demonstrates a heartwarming, everyday piety which is always viable. This poem sports my overall aesthetic ideal: simple but not simplistic. A similar everyday esoterism we meet in We Human Beings. It says that we’ll all die one day, it is what ”we human beings” have in common. Some kind of kitchen-sink wisdom, really; I’m lacking a more spiritual outlook. Still, I like the opening lines of this poem, having etched themselves into my being,

We, who meet for a few brief moments,

children of the same soil and the same wonder,

on the storm-ridden ness of life!

Another poignant poem is The Burial of Gustaf Fröding. It’s written in memory of the Swedish poet colleague who lived from 1860 to 1911. The poem portrays how Fröding, while he lived, was sitting at his Bible while his hair turned white. From this the poem becomes universal in scope, ”wondrously large is a human fate,” but man is like a reed in the wind: ”Die, die, this he constantly hears / when creating, asking, searching for truth.” Then the key changes in the following lines: ”All is vain, / all things earthly die, die, / but he himself becomes the work that he fashions.”

Speaking about dying Heidenstam for his own grave created this epitaph, being congenial and saying everything about la condition humaine: ”Here lies the dust of an old man. Gratefully, he praised the incomprehensible fact, that it was granted him to live a life on earth as a man.” Truly majestic, simple but not simplistic.

4.

Heidenstam practically stopped writing after New Poems. Authors who thus ”retire” are said to be uncommon. But Heidenstam admitted to acquaintances that his creative powers simply had run out. With all due respect you could say that he became senile. He built himself an estate at Lake Vättern, Övralid, not far from Motala. It looks like a cross between a 17th century Swedish mansion and Goethe’s house in Weimar. The immediate model was the estate Odinshöj in Denmark, where he lived for a while with his partner Kate Bang. Övralid is very stylish, bordering on the sterile. No park or garden would surround it; the lawn would imperceptibly blend into wilderness and the view of the water would be free and unhindered. Only a so-called ornamental tree would provide shade.

The critic Klara Johanson said that Heidenstam’s role in life was the same as the reindeers at Skansen: to offer an easily recognizable profile against the sky. And certainly Heidenstam was a little vain, indeed he liked to pose. He liked, as indicated, to play the role of poet laurate. However, he was also well-liked. Maybe Selma Lagerlöf (The Wonderful Adventures of Nils,1907) was more beloved by the people but Heidenstam could also tell tales and spin yarns. His historical reader for the elementary school, The Swedes and Their Chieftains, as I’ve said, has many witty stories. Astrid Lindgren, for example, testified how she was arrested by the introductory short story about Ura Kaipa and the Stone Age. Heidenstam could paint evocative scenes, as in the story of Ura Kaipa, in the poem ”Tiveden” and the excursions in the archaic forests of The Tree of the Folkungs.

Lagerlöf and Heidenstam died the same year, in 1940. This was commemorated by an anthology called Mårbacka and Övralid, the writers’ respective mansions symbolizing them in the title. Here is given a suggestive anecdote from Heidenstam’s actual writing of A King and His Campaigners. To say that he met the ghost of Charles XII when he composed the chapter on the death of the king may sound unbelievable, but this is what this memory book says. In case it’s worth telling it was like this: in 1897 Heidenstam lived as a guest of the mansion Nor in Uppland, south of Uppsala. He was in the final stages of the Charles XII book. One particular night he stayed up late, working with quill in the lamplight. Just as he had portrayed how Charles XII had fallen by Fredrikshald he heard a sound – the rattle of a bunch of keys. Then he heard the clink of spurs. Then steps coming up the stairs.

The steps approached the den. Finally he stood there, Charles XII, and eyed the author. The king sat down on a chair with his sword resting on his knee. And then he said, ”Remember, I prayed to God the last night I was alive!”

Heidenstam noted all this. Becoming dazed he bowed his head, with his hand to his eyes. When he looked up the figure was gone. No sounds were heard of steps withdrawing. There was a sepulchral silence. Heidenstam remained seated at the table, confused. In the morning he was taken care of by servants. He was bedridden for several days. Then he got up and decided to change his script of the Charles XII book he was writing, A King and His Campaigners. A little research brought him to a certain ”Charles’s prayer before the battle at Narva”. This he edited slightly and inserted in the portrayal of the king’s last days. A few more additions were made in the book so that the religious element in Charles’s life better would come into its own.

Coda

I’m a nationalist of sorts. I savour books about the traditional ways of Sweden, my native country. Then the books may also be artistically high standing as well. And this is readily achieved with Heidenstam’s writings. We live today in a time when the ”elite” of my land often is hostile against all things traditionally Swedish, when it bashes the customary image of Sweden. In this fight, you can’t always, as a defense, offer up ”high-class, immortal works of art” – but with Heidenstam on board you get this. So if you see a book by Heidenstam, buy it. I have an inkling that his books in English are rare and hard to find but they definitely exist. He got the Nobel Prize in 1916 and after that there were some translations made, some of them mentioned above.

 

—————

Svensson, Lennart. “Verner von Heidenstam — An Overview.” Tankesmedjan Motpol, 9 January 2015. <http://www.motpol.nu/princip/2015/01/09/verner-von-heidenstam-an-overview/ >.

 

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Filed under New European Conservative

You Say You Want a Revolution? – Solère

You Say You Want a Revolution?

Transcript of the Radix Podcast Interview with Fenek Solère by Richard Spencer

 

Introduction: Fenek Solere joins Richard Spencer to discuss his novel, The Partisan, the tradition of violent partisanship in Europe, the social conditions that incite and suppress revolution, and the evolution of the American and European Alternative Right.

RS: Well, Fenek Solere, welcome to the podcast, it’s a pleasure to have you on.

FS: It’s a delight, Richard, thank you for having me.

RS: Well let’s talk about your new novel, indeed, your debut novel, The Partisan and I think first, what we should do, is give a summary of it, a taste of what the novel’s about and what sparked you to write it?

FS: Yes, certainly. I started writing the novel four or five years ago. It was by observing what was going on in France at that time and particularly Paris. I was very strongly of the opinion that France, for a whole range of reasons, both historical and intellectual would be a touchstone, a litmus paper for what was going to be, if I can use the expression, the Clash of Civilizations, especially in Europe because of mass immigration and things of this nature. Essentially the novel is a forward view, it’s a vision of a future five to seven years hence, very unlike the one Michel Houellebecq predicts, which is one of submission. This is one of No Submission. The situation is that France is being submerged into a wider Eurabic state, including most of Southern Italy and there are very strong Islamic political, cultural and military influences reaching across the Mediterranean into Europe. Just like the very big migrations we already see but now with wider implications. So, as well as the current demographic dynamic, it is predicting what is occurring as defining Europe’s future and I set this against the theatre which is Paris and France in general.

RS: Talk a little bit more about why you chose France as the setting because as I was reading the novel that was a very distinct aspect of it. The bohemian life in France, certainly with regard to the main character, La Pertoleuse, is a very dominant feature. So why France? You are, we can tell by your accent, from Britain, right?

FS: Well France for me seemed a natural choice. It is a focal point for the New Right, the very start of the intellectual movement that blossomed into Identitarianism. I was very much aware of the work, writings and opinions of de Benoist and Guillaume Faye, and please remember I was writing at a time before Generation Identitaire broke onto the scene at Poitiers, so my text was in some ways pre-empting those brave and very symbolic actions. So the whole Metapolitics around the Gramscian notion of the war of position and how the New Right had been re-positioning itself informed The Partisan. I see it as a pivotal novel, so the stage-set of Paris and culture-rich France is quite good in that regard. I wanted that juxtaposition of the self-styled 68’ers intellectual Bohemian France coming face to face with the realities of the other, they have for so long eulogized. A very different culture, that of Islam and in the novel we see them beat against each other quite violently and viciously. So I think it’s about the War of Position, understanding the whole notion of France as representing Europe, a very identifiable Europe, with a large and extended back history and an identity worth preserving and celebrating.

RS: And it’s also a place of revolution and obviously there’s the French Revolution but that in a way is only the beginning. It’s perceived as a place of left wing revolution and right wing partisanship of a type we don’t see in the US, at least not in the form it’s taken at the time of Charles De Gaulle for example, or indeed other leaders of France. So I agree, France is the perfect setting for a novel of partisanship. Why don’t we, before we start talking about the philosophical issues you raise with your novel, talk about the three main characters, Sabine, who is of course La Petroleuse, Luc and the man Costello who is chasing them.

FS: Yes, indeed, I wanted to inject some film noir elements into the story. So Sabine is a very determined, very individual female, and deliberately so. I’m trying to challenge any sort of residual misogyny amongst the Alternative Right. She is a complex character, indeed, a rebellious character, a licentious character but ironically with both loose and strict morals. I think there’s a nice tension there. And she’s also a woman who knows her mind and a woman who has suffered and indeed suffers during the course of the novel. But she overcomes these obstacles, ultimately becoming a significant icon among the traditional forces of France, the alternative resistance. In fact, she emerges as a central figure for them, becoming their poster-girl, and that is emphasized at the opening of the story with her taking very direct action against those collaborating with the transition to the Eurabic state. So she’s an evolving character. She acquires knowledge during the course of the novel, arriving in Paris as a blank sheet of paper in on sense, and that’s where Luc comes in, the male love interest, because he is already steeped in these traditions. He’s precociously well read, familiar with Herman Hesse at the age of twelve or thirteen, before moving onto much more political material, which in the novel he makes available to Sabine and she becomes intellectually empowered. It is the growth of both these characters as the storyline unfolds which is quite important. It’s a part of the love interest, it is part of the human story and also an ideological gateway for the reader too, because they are taken through various stages of radical development, to the point where they are in total sympathy with the main protagonists.

RS: What was it like for you to come to these views? Was your experience like Sabine’s or very much different?

FS: My arrival at these ideas, or this way of thinking, was instinctive. I come from a small provincial town. There was a homogenous demographic, so my rebellion was against the socialist milieu that dominated the town. Those that used the platitudes of egalitarianism to hide their own nepotism, corruption and self-advancement. So I came to my opinions through a philosophical antagonism to the lie of what I witnessed with my own eyes, in what we describe in Britain as a Labour ‘rotten borough’. So that is how I came to be a nationalist and patriot, rather than through the more edgy racial dimension. The problems of multiculturalism were not something I was exposed to as a child.

RS: I think there’s a certain personality type that seek these ideas out even before we have them ourselves. When I was a college undergraduate I was not racially conscious in the sense of thinking about these things, as part of a world-view, I mean. I was racially unconscious like millions of other white people. I was seeking out the edgy ideas, the one’s that seemed to strike at the heart of the system and many of those were Marxism and Critical Theory for example, and also Nietzsche and German idealists thinkers, but I was actively trying to seek them out. I was asking myself, what is the problem deep at the heart of reality that bothers me and I think that was my journey. So I was racially unconscious and then obviously became racially conscious. But I don’t in a way think race is the most important thing. It is obviously an indispensable factor, an extremely important one, but I think there has to be a spirit behind that, that you want something more, you want a deeper, more intense experience, you seek danger, you seek a heightened world, something that is different to bourgeois reality. I think that is how I would kind of describe a person who may become a partisan. I’m not a partisan of course, I just type blogs and do podcasts.

FS: Yes, you are a cultural partisan. But I recognize what you are saying. For me it was the excitement, that edginess of being a teenager, acting out, saying and doing outrageous things to get noticed, but before long I was getting exposed to some really good reading material like Michael Walker’s The Scorpion, which in turn introduced me to Nietzsche and before long I was reading de Benoist, well not in the original French of course, but the English translations of parts of his work. Then it was Conservative Revolutionaries like Carl Schmitt, Ernst Junger, Martin Heidegger, Edgar Julius Jung, Ludwig Klages, Arthur Moeller Van den Bruck, Ernst Niekisch and Ernst von Salomon. That group even included Thomas Mann, author of The Magic Mountain, until he distanced himself from them in the 1920’s.

Over time I got the sense of the transnationalism of de Benoist’s thinking. So I was becoming familiar with people like Marco Tarchi, an Italian professor of political science at the University of Florence and creator of Nuova Destra along with former members of the Nouvelle Ecole like Robert Stuekers from Belgium, Marcel Ruter from Holland and the Croatian Dr. Tomislav Sunic and some of the great pieces he’s written, particularly Against Democracy & Equality (2008) and Homo Americanus (2007). At the moment I’m enjoying Alexander Dugin’s Eurasian Mission: An Introduction to Neo-Eurasianism (2015) and I know you are very familiar with his work and are very supportive of him, having published his Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning (2014). So this has been a long journey, starting with that hormonal teenager I spoke of but then I think it grew in me and became far more consolidated, grounded not only in theory and philosophy but also in lived-experience.

But to go back to Costello, he is a modern day Inspector Javert from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (1862) and the whole idea of having a character like that was to have him ask himself questions. He’s on the edge all the time. He has a task to hunt La Petroleuse down. He’s a specialist, part M16 and part Special Air Services, but all the time he’s conflicted, reflecting on his own experiences in recent international conflicts but also from his family history. But I don’t want to give away too much of the plot…’

RS: Yes, you can tell because you put thoughts in his head and you can tell he’s not sure what he’s doing. He’s a sort of instrument of the state. I think, when he’s first introduced someone says, ‘Oh, we have this person from England, like who is it, James Bond. Oh, no, it’s even better! But he is a type of James Bond. He’s an instrument of the state and he isn’t sure what he’s doing and he becomes a kind of reluctant hunter and he’s obviously physically attracted to Sabine as well so it gets quite interesting.

FS: That was a plot-device. I wanted to challenge the reader and make it very clear this was not a simple case of the goodies versus baddies, black and white, the white hat and the black hat from the westerns, but there was an in-between. This novel is attempting to get to those people who are ‘in-between’ . Trying to excite and entice them into Sabine’s world and that sub-plot is part of that mechanism. I also think, if you look at the early phases of the novel, I deliberately refer back to the Algerian crisis, introducing the notion of the Organisation de l’armee secrete (OAS) and the experience of the French Pieds- Noirs and that was significant because I wanted the back-drop to be very clear. Once France had been in Algeria, Algerie-Francais, and now Algeria has come to France. And I think that is quite an important theme of the novel. What we are witnessing today is the transference of the battle ground from Oran to metropolitan France. And if you know anything about that particular period in history, you’ll be aware that something like 3,500 French Settlers were killed in July 1962 alone by rogue elements of the Algerian liberation Front (FLN) and local auxiliaries there. So the backdrop is one of extreme and very recent historical disaster and tragedy.

RS: Oh yes, it is like the late 60’s when France moved from being an Imperial power and then there was the crisis involving De Gaulle. Many people united to revive the old empire, keep it going, and it seems like when that turning was crossed, it’s like the empire comes home, the chickens come home to roost. I don’t think all racial clashes are driven from Imperialism but it is definitely an important aspect to it all.

FS: It is. And of course it humanizes the main Arabic character in The Partisan, because it gives him a justification for his very strong and very bitter feelings towards France and that drive for revenge. But not just for revenge’s sake. He has ideals himself. He has good intensions for his vested interest group and I think that emerges as the story unfolds. A bit-like the Resistance, and I deliberately used that specific word Resistance because I love that ‘spin’. I think in one sense it’s superficial and facile but it is also very important point to make at this moment in time because France is indeed being occupied. And we are the opposition to the mainstream which is going along with this process, the Great Replacement, that Renaud Camus speaks about.

RS: Oh, yes, we’re the New Left

FS: Exactly, I couldn’t agree more.

RS: No, I think that is absolutely true. One question that came up earlier when we were talking was how would you understand the psychology of this new type of European leader. And what I mean by that is, this new type of non-European leader, and he or she may be a Muslim or maybe not? But at the moment we still live under white hegemony effectively. Barak Obama may be a wild card but basically the heads of state are white men and women. And you can call them multiculturalists or white guilt mongers or whatever but they are basically mostly well-educated and upper crust. White people are trying to ride the tiger of multiculturalism, either way using it for their advantage. In some cases they are being elected by their constituencies, like this Miliband figure, the leader of the Labour Party in Britain. Maybe he’s the ultimate expression of theirs, but you can see this, even in as someone a boring as Angela Merkel. But there’s going to be a change and I don’t think Obama’s a representative of this, because I think Obama is a lot less radical than people think and a lot more mainstream, but at some point there is going to be a new kind of leader. It is not going to be the ‘squidgy’ liberal white person, it’s going to be an actual Asian, an actual Muslim and he’s going to be a PM or President of France and Britain. How do you describe that psychology ? Do you think this will be a tension between adopting the system, becoming part of the system, a tension between conquering the old imperial power and revenge. A tension between some kind of racial hand-outs to his people. How would you estimate the psychology of this new European leader who I think we will inevitably see in the next decade?

FS: I think you’re right, that is coming. I think it is going to be by means of a creeping gradualism and as you have indicated it is going to be very interesting how it is played out. There will be continued attempts at assimilation. The rise of the people you are predicting will be from within the system. They are going to beneficiaries of the system. They are going to milk the system for all it is worth, patronage, prestige and pay-cheques. They do not want to change the system outright, just yet. These will be highly educated individuals who will have their own immediate vested interests and those of their intimate family and group close to their hearts. So I think there will be a long transition phase only speeding up and becoming more perceptible when their control on the leavers of power are so far advanced that they can risk allowing any wild outbreaks of disorder or any really extreme behaviours to occur. So their plan is for us to have quite a slow poisonous death. Ed Miliband is certainly a very good example. A treacherous individual. I have met his brother David and I was even less impressed with him. And that was the man Ed beat to be the leader of the Labour Party. Hollande in France is the best example though. There we have the personification of utter banality. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like there was a vacuum walking ahead of all those heads of state after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He really is vapid, there is no substance at all. The interesting thing there though is because of his lack of charisma the door is left open for the resurgent Sarkozy challenge. And Sarkozy is a really dubious character, mired of course in corruption. And I think he’s the doorman for the new leader that you are describing because in my opinion, Sarkozy is not French. So Sarkozy really is like Thatcher was in the UK, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I suggest you take a second look at so-called white hegemony and the white leadership of these countries. I think you need to look a little below the surface. You need to look at the backgrounds of some of these people, who underwrites their campaigns, who funds theses parties. Look at the technocrats and ministers who surround them. In my interview on the Wermod & Wermod website with Alex Kurtagic I very quickly listed a whole range of people who were not remotely British and who do not represent the best interests of the indigenous community but who dominate the important decision-making positions throughout the country. And not just recently but for the last 5 to 8 years and the last 2 or 3 regimes. France is exactly the same. So the door is already open, they are setting the stage for this transition and it is going to be gradual. It will be like Alex Kurtagic said in one of his speeches about The Collapse, It’s already started and it will go on for some time and in my opinion we won’t know of its completion until Robert Mugabe is installed in Buckingham Palace.

RS: What do you think are some of the forces that might improve partisanship and what are some of the ways the forces that might retard or suppress it? And what I mean by that partisanship, is as Carl Schmitt defined it. A violent action, someone taking on the authority of the state or against the state’s interest. So what do you think are some of the forces that might inspire actions like that and what might prevent it?

FS: I think some of those actions are already occurring in many ways and have occurred over a period of time. Let’s look at the Radical Left, easy examples are the Red Army Faction with characters like Gudrun Ensslin and Ulrike Meinhoff. There are movies made about them, they are glamorized in features like The Baader Meinhoff Complex, where you have chic actresses like Martina Gedek and Joana Wokalek representing really quite plain and quite moribund characters in some ways. Now, flick the switch, look at the right, you’ve got very attractive dynamic characters like Francesca Mambro , of the Italian Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (NAR) and you’ve got Yevgenia Khasis in Russia going through a controversial re-trial for her involvement in a political assassination. See for yourself the very different approaches to both these situations and bringing it back to my novel The Partisan and the lead female figure I contend is all about inspiration, it’s all about people coming across a personal circumstance or feeling inspired by characters taking action and following them and conducting activities that will challenge the state. I cited the examples I did because I think they have been put through the movie mill of the left and been overlooked on the right, except that is for Mambro. She was represented in quite a negative way in a recent movie when it concentrated on one of the victims, a bystander who got tragically shot, and I do not want to diminish that, but it was an interesting comparison on how the left and right are represented. So certainly what we need is leadership, glamour, excitement. We also need the spark that creates those activities and we have seen it in the riots across Europe.

What is holding us back, the flip-side of your question, it is obvious to me, Aldous Huxley’s soma. We do have an awful lot of apathy and just in time pleasure that keeps us off the streets . And in many ways that is a good thing but what I would like to say Richard, is that clearly I’ m not advocating violence, that is not what this is about, this is a warning against violence but what I am saying is that violence is going to be inevitable unless we can stop this demographic juggernaut before it reaches the tipping-point. After that, the game is up, we will be living on the movie set of Apocalypse Now. So, for me, it goes back to leadership. Today, in the Western World we have the most stupid at best or the most treacherous self-serving leaders, there is no positive dynamic. The 68’ers and their philosophers have dissipated. The right has filled the gap but the right are being stifled as well. UKIP in Britain, Sarkozy in France, look at your own country, I cannot tell the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats anymore and if our friend Ms. Clinton gets elected to the highest office, that will be the greatest example of the most stifling influence in American politics. So there is a whole strain of soma running through society and we need something to light a fire.

RS: I agree, that soma is not just among political rightists, its among everyone. I was shocked by the fact that there weren’t serious riots occurring after the Trayvon Martin case and there weren’t violent riots after the Ferguson situation. There is still things going on there but they’ve died down. I was kind of thinking why isn’t this happening. It could be simple things like instead of rioting you can watch free streaming pornography on your government sponsored smartphone. Then there’s obesity, a product of our post-modern, post-industrial world and the availability of junk food. And you know it seems post-modern civilization might really go with a whimper and not a bang. It may be able to dull partisanship, but a riot, which is a different thing? But it might be able to dull those things too and absorb them into itself.

FS: Yes, it’s like T.S. Elliot said in The Hollow Men ‘Not with a bang but whimper’. I think that’s a deliberate policy of the system. You talk about obesity, but there’s mental obesity, mental retardation, we’re not exposed to the same texts or they are difficult to get to. The Left has dissipated. In many ways the Left is so mutated, it is not recognizable from when I was a boy. I think de Benoist said: ‘What’s left of the new Left, possibly the New Right?’ and I quite like the way he played that. I think it’s a cheeky way of doing it, it’s a challenging way and if you think of the synthesis the New Right developed, certainly in the 80’s, what you’ve got there is a very interesting challenge to the Left and de Benoist filled that space and I rather admire his tactic.

RS: I agree. I think the Left is a victim of its own success. I mean the Left is the establishment. You can’t claim to be challenging the system when you have an academic post, or you’re in charge of this literary theory of feminism Department at Harvard. And that is one way the system has absorbed political partisanship. I would say most partnership has come from the Left, or is it has historically and the system has been able to absorb that and I think that is an interesting thing and it may not exactly be by design but is certainly a way the system can maintain stability.

FS: I think that’s not necessarily expressed in the text of this novel but what the story does do is work towards the de-legitimization of those basic tenets of Judeo-Christian tradition that prevents us from defending ourselves and it takes on the de-humanizing quality of global capitalism where we become mere units of production, spending and buying. Of course it deals with questions of ethnic homogeneity, but it’s not the only dimension, despite the Arabic and Muslim versus the secular or Christian world, and there’s this feeling as well of being liberated. Liberated from the excesses of modernity. Which is what you were just talking about. For me, mitigating as many of the more negative features of modernity is central. I am by nature an optimist and I consider myself to be progressive and successful in terms of my career and profession. So it is not that modernity is holding me back or I’m threatened by it. I’ve mastered it but I feel the fulfillment that I want modernity to offer me is a mirage. So the sort of vanguard you are describing will start with a small cadre of the committed, people like yourself in the States, Generation Identitaire in France, The Immortals in Germany, National Action and Sigurd Legion in the United Kingdom. I’m being up-beat but I can see these elements developing into something bigger. Well, I would hope they develop and I think they can with the right leadership.

RS: Do you think this will develop on the vanguard right, of our type of right? You mentioned the lack of legitimate antagonism to the system offered by the Christian Tradition. It’s almost as if the Christian traditionalists does not want to undermine but indeed underpins the system and supports it. Do you see it that way? Is it going to be a vanguard revolt? It’s not going to be a mainstream middle-class who will rise up, it’s going to be people on the margins who are hated, who are a-social. There’s a great quote that you have, where Luc says something to Sabine, like, It’s the bohemian, it’s the vanguardist, it’s the a-social person who is truly sane. I think that’s where partisanship or some kind of riot or social revolution, of whatever form will come. Maybe it is violent or maybe non-violent but nevertheless, a revolution, which truly does change the world, changes society, in a way that Ghandi, Martin Luther King and more violent figures changed society. That will come from the vanguard on the fringe.

FS: Yes, and that is why this novel is written in the way it is. It is very much aimed at that vanguard. It does not believe as the author does not believe that the moribund right, the Christian American Right will generate something which is fresh and unique, and that is what is required at this moment. But there is an irony in what I have just said because if you use France as an example, and if you look back over the great thinkers and writers who have supported the Right, many came from strong catholic backgrounds. So it is quite interesting that de Maistre, De Bonald, and people like Drieux la Rochelle, Henry de Motherlant were very strong in their faith. However in the post-modern world we cannot rely on a Charles Martel emerging from the Christian Right. They have been co-opted. The catalyst for what we are seeking will indeed be ‘other’ and I think we’ve already seen some of that vanguard act in a non- violent but very demonstrative way. The take over the mosque in Poitiers by Generation Identitaire and the siege of the Socialist headquarters were fantastic visceral images conveying strong messages and those sort of ‘happenings’ , the 68 generation attitude, I can see beginning to mount. And if you look at the youth of Europe, increasingly they are moving in our direction. So the novel is all about attracting them. It’s deliberately written in an explosive exciting way, that’s to bring the audience to the theory, the philosophy, bring them to the books that will influence them. It’s the ‘attractor’, the same as the love story element. We are not going to get to these young people by handing out thousands of copies of Francis Parker Yockey’s Imperium. A great piece of thinking, a brilliantly articulated neo-Spenglerian piece, but we’re simply not going to get a vanguard out on the street with that. We need to turn people on as Kai Murros says, we need to switch people on. Look this is a debut novel, I’m learning the craft, Richard, this is a very early piece. An attempt to draw that audience to us through literature and there’s some very good pieces of literature out there already. So this is just one contribution.

RS: I quite like Alex Kurtagic’s Mister. It’s quite a long novel. You’ve got to really get into the world of his work. But it is funny and it’s a non-revolutionary in a way. Very different from yours. Though they are published by the same publishing company, their nice counter-parts but in a way the image of the bourgeois man who is very intelligent and recognizing what is going on but in Mister someone who doesn’t revolt. Someone who finds another way of coasting along, going with the flow, not challenging the zeitgeist. I think there may be another genre of literature arising out of this. The revolt and collapse at the end of history.

FS: And there’s some really good writers out there as well. You publish them through your National Policy Institute outlet and Arktos have got some great theoretical texts. I regularly read their books and I’ve been in e-mail exchange with John Morgan since right back to the time when he was running Integral Traditions about six or seven years ago. So I very much agree with you. Alex is a great guy. He makes some great speeches. I know you have shared a platform with him. He was a very deserving winner of the inaugural Jonathon Bowden Oratory Prize and we haven’t touched on Bowden in our conversation but I know you are a great admirer of his intellect and his oratory, as was I, and like you I was turned on by that. It really stimulated and fascinated me. He is/was a great weapon in our armory. Works like The Partisan are aimed at a younger, but not just a young, but a youthful audience. A different audience. It’s a gateway to theory as I previously said in my interview at Wermod & Wermod. It is very much a piece to bring people to our milieu, to excite them. It is the first of many I have to say. I’m being very creative at the moment and I’m very excited about what’s going on and what you are doing at Radix. I’ll try very hard to come to your next conference. I couldn’t come along to Budapest because of other commitments but I’d like to come along to the next. I know you’ve got some great speakers and a mystery speaker as well, so I’ll look forward to the opportunity of being exposed to such talented intellects.

RS: That would be great. I don’t want to give it away but let’s just say the mystery speaker just happens to be from Texas and he’s running for President. Oh, I’m just kidding, Ted Cruz…

FS: I don’t think he’ll be turning up…

RS: May be we should invite him? He might come. Maybe we can get an invitation through some dumb staffer who would book him. That would be hilarious…

FS: But the speakers you have got are phenomenal and the one person I haven’t paid tribute to but is a giant is of course Jared Taylor. I know you’ve come over to Europe and you’ve done The Traditional Britain Group meetings and I think that is really good because except for The Scorpion which is now inert and unfortunately Bowden’s passing we don’t have the same intellectual tradition that the French have, another reason why I set The Partisan in France.

RS: Well, I think that is changing. And I’m not saying that to seem arrogant, oh, no we’re not out to challenge de Benoist and Guillaume Faye. But I think that is changing because for so long the American Right was intellectually so dominated by the Buckleyite conservative movement and so you had people like Russell Kirk, who I am not a great admirer of to be honest, but he’s an interesting guy, but these guys just ignored Europe in general, despite Kirk’s protestations otherwise. But they also had no contact and no awareness of developments like the French New Right and so we were just, well impoverished. I can remember when I was first just starting to enter this world in 2002/2003 I would find some translations of de Benoist on an Australian website in HTML format…

FS: That sounds familiar…

RS: And that was the only way. And I would try to buy copies of Telos which is actually a very interesting Left Wing/Right Wing journal, just so, because you know these were a lot like Radix is now. But they would come out when they were ready but you would buy these just to get a little taste of what was going on in Europe. We were really struggling back then but I think if you are looking at what’s happening, whether it’s the stuff I’m involved with or John Morgan’s doing we’re finally moving in the right direction and we’re finally shaking things up, getting rid of that conservative paradigm and moving things on. And I think we’re at an interesting point where we’re not in competition with all these groups, we’re synthesizing things and I think it’s very exciting.

FS: I agree, I feel that excitement as well. I referred earlier to that transmission of the New Right, it’s now travelled, It’s in fact transcontinental, not just because of the global village but because there are great and admirable thinkers of the Right perspective at the moment, people like the Australian Kerry Bolton. Sam Francis, who you often refer to in your podcasts and in your writing provided some great thoughts and expositions. Then there was your own Alt-Right site too. So we are becoming less and less dependent upon what was big in 1979/80. These were really big stepping stones and now with the superb articles on Greg Johnson’s Counter Currents and his own book New Right/Old Right things are motoring. Greg’s text by the way is sitting on my shelf right next to your own Dugin book on Heidegger that I referred to earlier .

RS: Those two books are at war with each other, perhaps?

FS: But nice to have on the shelf and hopefully some of this will find its way into some literature I produce in the future and give it some gravitas. So, yes, you’re right, I feel that excitement and like I said in an e-mail I sent you some four years ago, where I said when you were really active on the Alternative Right website, ‘you’ve definitely hit your stride here’, we’ve certainly got something going. You’ve got a lovely piece on the website at the moment about those Russians visiting the States and I think that’s a really clever piece. I’ve spent a lot of time in Russia. I speak some Russian and I am familiar with our milieu there.

RS: Excellent, well Fenek, let’s just put a book mark in this conversation. This was a lot of fun and I hope you can come back. And I was definitely stimulated by reading The Partisan. I enjoyed it and I think if anyone is listening they should at the very least give your book a shot. I think they will definitely find a lot of food for thought there, so I definitely recommend it. And this was a lot of fun, so thanks for coming on and let’s do it again.

FS: That would be great Richard. Thank you, goodbye.

 

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Solère, Fenek. “You Say You Want a Revolution?” Interview with Fenek Solère by Richard Spencer. Radix, 20 May 2015. < http://www.radixjournal.com/vanguard-radio/2015/5/20/you-say-you-want-a-revolution&gt;. Transcript provided for the New European Conservative by Fenek Solère personally.

 

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Interview with Fenek Solère – Kurtagic

Interview with Fenek Solère by Alex Kurtagic

 

Introductory Note: The following interview was personally recommend to us by Fenek Solère for republication on the “New European Conservative.” We have found its contents to be largely agreeable or at least interesting, but there are two particular matters we would like to comment on to clarify our own position or approach where it possibly differs from Solère’s. Firstly, regarding the problem of the Jews, we admit that there are a number of Jewish groups and leaders who have contributed to the current negative state of Western societies. However, we agree with Paul Gottfried that Jews as a whole people cannot be equated with these particular groups, and there are a variety of positions and factions among the Jews, some of which have nothing to do with the creation of multicultural, decadent societies. While criticism of the Jews can be legitimate, it is always important to keep open the possibility to Jews of creating groups which hold similar values to our own, and could also become allied to our own in the future.

Secondly, regarding Solère’s responses to some of Kurtagic’s questions about racial differences, immigration, and racial mixing, we would have approached these questions somewhat differently. Solère’s responses will, probably unintentionally, seem to imply to some readers that whites outdo all other races in any field and thus have higher capacities on the whole, which would also imply that they can generally create more superiour societies than non-whites. However, we should make it clear that in our view there are many non-white groups (the best examples being the Chinese, Japanese, and other East Asians) who clearly have equal capacities to whites and create societies which are just as high quality as white societies. Concerning the problems brought up in Kurtagic’s questions, the first fact that must be kept in mind is that capacities such as IQ level, athletic ability, etc. often differ across time periods, cultures, and social units, and they also vary among population groups within a single race as well. While it may be true that among some racial or ethnic populations a low or high IQ seems genetically ingrained, the previous facts are also true in many cases. Furthermore, a race always has the possibility of improving its population’s capacities without any mixture whatsoever from other groups, which is why the idea that interbreeding is necessary  to increase these factors in a given population is scientifically invalid. However, one must also keep in mind that what is important about racial and ethnic identity is the value of the identity itself, not any kind of superiour biological traits that may be possessed; even if it were possible to create a “more superiour breed” through mixture, it would be undesirable due to the loss of original identities. This is the perspective representative of Identitarianism. – Daniel Macek (Editor of the “New European Conservative”)

***

Alex Kurtagic: Almost every time I receive a communication from you, it has originated in an exotic location, and it seems you are more often in some far-flung place on the planet than Britain. Are you an adventurer, or do you have a very interesting job?

Fenek Solère: I am both an adventurer and an entrepreneur. Like an ever-increasing number of people attracted to our movement I have thrived in the modern world, in direct contradiction to the media portrayal of dissidents like ourselves as lonely bitter bachelors, sitting in their basements with no friends and no sexual outlet.

Over the course of my adult life I have lived and worked in London, France, St Petersburg, Kiev, San Francisco, Central Asia, and the Middle-East. I am not someone who can be castigated and mocked for being unsophisticated or parochial. My home is filled with art, books, and the numerous artifacts I have collected from all over the world.

Both in private and professional terms I have lived cheek by jowl with many other cultures and ethnicities and observed them up close and personal. Life experience informs my writing. My fiction is grounded in an in-depth study of history, culture and political theory.

The Partisan could be read as the act of a natural contrarian. Were you a willful and troublesome child who did Z when told to do A?

I was born into an aspirant working class family in a small provincial town. My father was an electrician and my mother was a cook. A typical boy, I recall playing in the woods, running in the shadow of the craggy castles that littered the landscape, living more like one of those characters from an Arthur Ransom story than a game-boy addict. Pretending to be a cowboy, never an Indian, building tree houses in the style of Robinson Crusoe, crafting bows and arrows like Robin Hood to defend our fortified encampments.

My bookshelves were crammed with Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the Norse mythologies. There was no family pressure to ‘achieve’. Rather, an atmosphere of calm reassurance. The warm glow of security reflected in the open fire as I sat marching Napoleonic armies across the hearth-rug. I was relatively good at sport, representing my school and region at football, rugby, basketball, and cross- country. By the time I met my first girlfriend I was already well-past reading Ayn Rand’s Anthem. I remember catching sight of her at a school disco. She was a spike haired punk in clinging pink trousers, cutting a resplendent profile in the backwash of strobe lighting, as she threw a right arm salute. Her small fist punching the air when the opening chords of the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen, broke out across the hall.

Within weeks I became an activist. I recall my initiation started one balmy summer evening when a group of us torched a Trotskyite Militant newspaper stand in the centre of town. Not long after I was involved in an amateur style re-enactment of the climactic scene from The Dead Poets Society. A clear-skinned, fair-haired boy was made to stand up in front of the history class to defend his essay justifying Apartheid. He was asserting the South African Government had been right to imprison Mandela for terrorism and maintain ‘separation’ of the races. The teacher, a bespectacled 68’er, was going ballistic, screaming from behind an accusatory finger, threatening to have my friend removed from her class. ‘You can’t say that!’ she insisted, ‘What sort of person are you?’

Then, when he had finished, he looked in my direction and I knew it was my turn to stand and repeat the process. When I came to a close I had the honour to defer to the next boy, who had also been called to answer for transgressing the politically correct curricula. This open act of defiance was rapidly followed by a nationalist poster campaign on school noticeboards, which coming so quickly on the heels of the pro- Afrikaaner debacle and my own and my girlfriend’s names appearing in bold graffiti under a very large symbol closely associated with a controversial German political party of the middle nineteenth century, resulted in my expulsion.

The Partisan is set in France. Why France?

I chose France for its symbolism. When I began writing The Partisan in 2009 I saw a magnificent country threatened by the machinations of a malignant cosmopolitan interloper who had hijacked the race riots breaking out in 2005 in almost every French conurbation for personal political advantage. Then, that same devious individual, insisting on the benefits of miscegenation between the French and the alien hordes swamping the very boulevards where they had set fire to cars and attacked the native people. It seemed to encapsulate the whole political and demographic catastrophe I wanted to warn against in my debut novel. It was a country on the front-line. But also one with a very rich history of patriotic movements like the Front National and Right-wing intellectuals like Maurice Bardèche and the Nouvelle Droite’s Alain de Benoist and Guillaume Faye. In more recent times the emergence of fledgling organizations like Generation Identitaire , who my fictional protagonists predicted two or three years prior to their brilliant ‘Declaration of War’ video and the Poitiers Mosque protest, gives me a real sense that the battle lines are being drawn and that the next twelve months will prove me right; that yes indeed, the land of Rousseau and Rabelais will be the first battle ground of the European resurgence.

How does The Partisan differ from the various American novels treating the same topic?

The characters in The Partisan are much more three dimensional than those I have met and admired in other so-called Rightist fiction. It is not purely ‘vengeful’ entertainment. The text is more literary and is replete with reference points to other writers and political thinkers. This is quite deliberate. I want my fiction to excite, inspire, and motivate its audience to investigate the very deep intellectual roots of what is referred to as the New Right. I want The Partisan to be an access point for our youth into that culture and to become familiar with the ideas of its main proponents.

Almost everyone would agree that there is little to admire in many earlier incarnations of Rightist literature: it is too often badly written and its message is utterly superficial, in that it wallows in an angry revenge fantasy. Would you not agree that the biological worldview, such as the one that informs many of these novels, is necessarily an amoral worldview (which often becomes immoral), since nature is concerned only with what works in a practical sense, and doesn’t assign value to abstract principles the way humans do? Since Westerners assign such importance to such principles—indeed, Western political philosophy has always been underpinned by some system of ethics—how can anyone expect readers to feel comfortable defending the heroes in such fiction, even if they find the revolutionary fantasy privately satisfying?

It is true that such literature can sometimes lapse into simplistic comic book fantasy. Such deficiencies are to some extent why I wrote The Partisan. One of my key objectives was to fuse the action-orientated type novel with a more poetic but pessimistic futurology like that envisaged by Jean Raspail in The Camp of the Saints. The point being that certain types of material appeal to certain dispensations at different given points. Some of our movement’s earlier fiction may rightfully be described as amoral, but much that passes today for great classic literature was considered so in the past. Look at the homosexuality of Gide and the modernist works of Joyce. That is not to place all those writers sympathetic to our cause in this category of artists, clearly, only a very few like Ernst Jünger, Knut Hamsun, and Ezra Pound would qualify, but to indicate that the amoral/immoral argument shifts according to the fashion of the day. The biological imperative underpinning some of these texts does remain relevant, though we have many other facets to our ever-maturing world-view. Without Western people there will be no Western sense of principles or ethics, so in that regard I have a degree of sympathy for those ground-breaking writers, in that their heroes and heroines had at least a modicum of understanding that unless those values were defended they would cease to exist and all our fine ideals would disappear—mea culpa.

Where does your interest in the European New Right originate?

I read Michael O’Meara’s New Culture, New Right and discovered the French Nouvelle École (New School). From that point it was a natural progression to study Oswald Spengler, Julius Evola, Pino Rauti, founder of the Ordine Nuovo, Guido Giannettini and the ideology of the Armed Revolutionary Nuclei in Italy; the writings of Carl Schmitt and the Conservative Revolutionaries of the Weimar period; Imperium by the American renegade Francis Parker Yockey; works by the Belgian Jean Thiriart; alongside contemporary thinkers and commentators like Robert Steukers, Gilbert Sincyr, Tomislav Sunic, Franco Freda of Disintegration of the System fame, Alexander Dugin, Kevin McDonald, Greg Johnson, Jonathan Bowden, Troy Southgate, and Michael Walker, editor of The Scorpion.

What is wrong with letting people from anywhere settle in Europe, if they are hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying and contribute to the economy?

Nothing, if that is indeed the case. I have met many Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Central Europeans who fulfill such criteria. Of course a small percentage do not but most integrate perfectly well and live successfully among us. Compare that to the facts and figures behind migration from Roma communities, African or predominantly Muslim countries. Welfare dependency, anti-social behavior, criminality, isolationism and the colonization of whole communities seems to characterize the experience. Religious insularity, high prison rates, mosques filled with semi-literate imams and would-be boy-Jihadis educated free in our schools, sexism, genital mutilation, witch-craft, TB, Typhus, Ebola, drug and people trafficking, child-sex grooming, and riots complete the picture. Ask the people of Malmö, the women of Oslo, those poor souls living in close proximity to the urban sensitive zones around Paris or certain parts of the north of England like Bradford and Rotherham what part of the ‘enrichment’ process they have enjoyed. Talk to the thousands of violated white girls who have benefited from the fast food, cheap narcotics, and Rap music industry these people generate in their slums and taxi about our green and pleasant land.

What I witness every day are economic migrants, in transit under the false flag of asylum, seeking a better life at our expense. It is like a plague of locusts landing on a field. Leeching all the goodness from our soil. Infesting our villages, cities and towns. This is not some kind of small minded ‘fear of the other’ it is an objective analysis based on rational judgment. People like myself do not fear ‘the other’ we invest time and find out about the ‘other’ with a natural and friendly curiosity. I have lived for three years in Muslim countries and found good and bad much the same as I would in Europe or America. But what I find amongst the ‘invasion force’ pressing in upon Europe appalls me. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the nationalist activists who have stood tall despite state sponsored persecution and shouted until they were hoarse that the ‘emperor’ of multiculturalism has no clothes.

So is it just a question of the practical effects of multiculturalism? Is there no principle behind it except a root-and-branch or technocratic approach to problem-solving? Does this not make the liberal approach superior, then, since it is driven by an ethical system, however imperfectly executed? Not superior in a technical sense, but certainly in a moral sense.

There is indeed a very deep sense of principle embedded within my earlier response. People and communities who have over generations worked and sacrificed for their own well-being in later life and indeed their kith & kin in the present should expect that having made those long-term commitments under moral and indeed contractual commitments to and with their governments that those obligations are honoured. People originating from societies who have failed or are unable to take that long-term view have no prior right upon such investments. And I challenge any authority or political party arguing otherwise to stand openly upon a platform declaring such an intent to pillage that hard earned inheritance and let the people who have genuinely and fulsomely entered into such an arrangement decide the matter.

Surely, diversity increases creativity, since you have more perspectives and approaches to any problem, and immigration from everywhere boosts economic growth. Are you against creativity and for a stagnant economy?

Despite the diversity you see in Hollywood films and on television, the world’s laboratories, board rooms and libraries are not filled with West Indians designing new software systems for intergalactic flight, Somalians building robots to work in arid conditions or ecologically aware Uzbeks setting up green companies to reduce carbon emissions. This is a myth, perpetuated by the few whose individual and cosmopolitan group interests it suits, flooding productive economies with low IQ ‘hands’ to drive down wages and increase short-term share-holder profits at the expense of the long term interests of their host community. The media is used to manipulate and shape our moral and social expectations. Identity is eroded by the notion of ‘global citizenship’. Water-cooler philosophy is dispensed by Kid-President you-tube videos. Economic and moral stagnation leading to inter-ethnic tension distracts us from the enemy’s goals, so openly declared by Barbara Lerner-Spectre Founding Director of the Paideia Institute in Sweden: I think there is a resurgence of anti-Semitism because at this point in time Europe has not yet learned how to be multicultural and I think we are going to be part of the throes of that transformation which must take place. Europe is not going to be a monolithic society that they once were in the last century. Jews are going to be to be at the centre of that. It’s a huge transformation to make. They are now going into a multicultural mode and Jews will be resented for our leading role but without that leading role and without that transformation Europe will not survive’.

This sounds like a conspiracy theory. Is not your answer a bit of an overstatement? Certainly, Jews in the diaspora on the whole have favoured social, political, and intellectual movements tending to make the societies in which they live safer for them. No surprise here, given their history. Yet, to the degree that they have supported or even led such movements, these have merely demanded a more thorough and complete application of principles already enshrined and, indeed, central to liberal political philosophy. And liberal political philosophy is wholly North-Western European and ‘Aryan’ in origin: John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, David Hume, Immanuel Kant—all these are gentiles, mostly from Britain to boot.

Your point is well made and I take it in the spirit it is intended, however, please indulge me for one moment. The term ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ is often used to belittle and decry non-standard theoreticians. I accept there are a lot of cranks out there and people who have the potential to cause arm to others. Clearly, that is not my intent. Indeed, the very opposite is true. I am a historian and a political theorist. My opinions are not based on phantasms, a need to gain attention or dye my hair green and stand in a turquoise track suit next to David Icke. I have quoted above (and indeed elsewhere in relation to Nicholas Sarkozy, former President of France) one of hundreds of examples where some people of that particular diaspora have acted, in my opinion, against the interests of the European majority among whom they live. At this very moment I am simultaneously reading Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000BC – 1492 AD [Sic. It loos as if HarperCollins doesn’t know that AD goes in front of the year. —Ed.]The former, a chilling account of the systematic way the founders of the early Jewish state went about their ethnic cleansing and murder of thousands upon thousands of Arabs in the late 1940’s, (activities some may argue analogous with recent events); the latter a shameless and sycophantic account of Jewish history that exonerates the Chosen from any sense of personal or group responsibility for the numerous expulsions they have suffered throughout the centuries. The media-savvy Schama, reveals himself to be less historian and more a propagandist as he explains why it is that everyone else is always to blame and his own tribe are always right, or indeed innocent, and the victims of mindless persecution. I would recommend everybody to read both texts. I found it advantageous to have also read the Talmud, Torah, and indeed the Koran, so I have a socio-economic, historical, and religious context for my opinions. I came to the work of Kevin McDonald late but recognize the behavior patterns he ascribes to his study group and I personally would prefer that the more over-zealous Zionists desisted from their activities so that your average Mr and Mrs Finkelstein could live in peace within the wider community. Unfortunately, that wider community now includes people with anti-semitic attitudes. This is regrettable but is a direct consequence of the strategy so eloquently explained by Spectre-Lerner above.

The fact that you can list the names of such great Anglo-Saxon, French, and German thinkers is a testimony to the progressive and open-hearted culture from which they originate. That the good intentions of such well-meaning people could be so perverted is in fact a measure of what Yockey describes as the culture distortion so prevalent today both in Europe and America. I have studied the American Constitution, The Framers who devised it, their backgrounds, ethnicity and intentions. Likewise, the real motivations of President Lincoln before, during, and after the American Civil War and I can assure you the abbreviated versions of history our schools and universities teach us and the voters are fed through the distorting lens of Orwellian ‘Truth Speak’ is a subject fit for serious review. I myself studied the whole historiography surrounding ‘Reconstruction’ after the American Civil War and it is most instructive on how aspects of history can and are used during different epochs to influence public opinion. From the books we read to the films we watch. Trust me, there is a pattern and it is no coincidence. From Spencer Tracy’s The Northwest Passage encouraging American entryism into the Second World War, to John Wayne’s Green Berets, trying to sustain moral during the Vietnam War, and 300, instilling anti-Islamic sentiment during the Iraq and Afghan wars. A whole book could be written on the movies bolstering anti-German sentiments and the falsehoods therein contained, but I will leave it there, my counter-point, I believe, equally well made.

Immigration is needed because white folk no longer want to do certain jobs, whereas the newcomers are keen to contribute and willing to work hard. If we were to send them all back—which is impossible, of course—the economy and the NHS would collapse.

These shibboleths need to be exposed for the nonsense they are. In the course of my career I have collaborated with thousands of sole-traders, SME’s, and multinational corporations. In my opinion there would be no collapse, rather, a rejuvenation of the economy, greatly boosted I suspect by the end of massive social security payments, that could be re-directed from these imported voting blocs and unproductive elements to invest in new start-ups and training programmes for people who need to update their skill-set in line with current economic trends. I would recommend the re-nationalization of utility companies in the UK, likewise the rail and postal service, at the price set by the ‘fixers’ when they were sold off. I would also withdraw all benefits from those who had entered the country illegally and their families and dependents. Similarly, non-ethnic British who had committed serious crimes prior to their immediate deportation back to their country of origin, accompanied of course by their dependents, but not the assets that had been accumulated by fraudulent means or due to the generosity of the British taxpayer. It may sound draconian to some but it makes good business sense. I would also argue to levy taxes on the money migrant workers send back to their families, thereby reducing the outflow of capital from its source of origin and open negotiations with countries in receipt of Foreign Aid or benefits to assist us in the task of humane repatriation of their nationals or peoples of compatible ethnic origin or similar religious persuasion. New targets need to be set for emigration, based on a wide range of criteria, but certainly with a view to returning the ethnic balance of countries like Britain to pre-1997 levels. And that would be the start not the end-point of the discussion.

With regard to the NHS, I have managed contracts with a wide range of people connected to this vast and worthy enterprise. Indeed, I have been involved with medical training for nurses, GPs, and surgeons. An immediate family member is a practicing junior doctor. The simple fact is that we are diverting resources to train people of non-British origin to these highly paid jobs, reinforcing cultural stereo-types among some of the high achieving Asians who think the profession is ‘theirs’ (the names Khan and Patel are currently the most common names for a medical doctor in the UK) whilst failing to act when they underperform or commit acts of negligence or perversion because we fear being branded ‘racist’. Additionally, we are providing health tourists with a first class service and denuding developing countries of their most highly skilled health professionals, which seems morally indefensible to me, especially if we are to be judged by the liberal and ethical standards we are supposed to be upholding. So, in short, I think we can materially benefit from a mass outflow of the post-’97 immigrants, up-skill the workforce with a view to advancing our technological infrastructure and preserve and improve fundamental services like the British NHS with a planned programme of awareness raising and aspiration building so that increasing numbers of whites want to move into these fields, as was the case in previous generations.

Polls recording the attitudes of indigenous Europeans towards non-European immigrants consistently show that this view is popular. But how do you justify it morally? That’s the first thing. The second is, What about the many families of non-European origin that, nevertheless, have been here for several generations and are all citizens, born and bred in Europe? Are we to start rounding them up and shipping them out? And, if so, what would determine an ‘ethnically compatible’ country? Many are of mixed origin too, which would further complicate the issue, not just practically, but morally as well.

Yes, indeed, it is a popular view and one that should have had a major impact on the results of several electoral cycles. In the UK alone, there have been orators like Enoch Powell predicting the current circumstance for decades. Many other far sighted people have followed him, in their own ways, in their own countries across the ‘developed world’. Why it has failed to mature into a vote winning electoral vehicle in the majority of those countries is a question worth asking? Where was the plebiscite agreeing to immigration in the first place? Why isn’t one held now across the EU or in its constituent states? These very facts undermine the claim we live in representative democracies. The current wave of concern in this area may bring Marine Le Pen to power in France but I have no doubt every judicial or technical reason will be found to make that difficult. We have an unresponsive state apparatus that is ‘owned’ and with every year the new imported peoples who they pander to in order to maintain their short-term positions grow in number. These newcomers have originated from somewhere outside Europe and that is where they should return. Where is a choice for them to make but they should not remain. On the subject of people of mixed race, we have a conundrum. I believe everyone should be free to choose their life-partner without the interference of law and statute. Love is a valuable commodity and should be appreciated in all the various forms it assumes. But look carefully at the spousal abuse rates, the single parent families, the divorce rates between people of different ethnicities. The evidence is overwhelming, if uncomfortable reading for the self-loathers like FEMEN who daub their bare breasts with statements like: ‘Immigrants fuck better’. Perhaps a picture of O.J. Simpson would be more appropriate?

What do you think drives FEMEN to engage in this type of activism?

My initial response to FEMEN was positive. I thought they were protesting against the sexual exploitation of Eastern European women. My sympathies were obvious. The long and well documented white-slaving indulged in by predominantly Turkish, Albanian, and Jewish gangsters, gathers pace year on year. It is simply incredible that such appalling human trafficking exists and that no direct intervention like sanctions on the countries that operate brothel gulag systems are enforced. I note a real double standard here when you think of the recent high profile campaign by Michelle Obama to ‘Bring back our girls’. However, I soon became disconcerted when FEMEN Founders like Sasha Shevchenko began pontificating on their Sextremist ideology. I found it to be a poisonous cocktail of anti-white male bigotry, a clichéd Leftist love of ‘the other’, and a vulgar circus for self-indulgent, self-loathing women invading churches, urinating in the street, and protesting against so-called fascists who would deport the perpetrators of organized crimes victimizing their gender, limit the freedom of communities practicing female genital mutilation, and stamp out the grooming and abuse of young girls. I might be wrong, but I don’t recall seeing FEMEN actively challenging Muslim paedophiles in the UK or across Europe. Have they made a statement about Rotherham?

The antics of Pussy Riot demean the very important work of genuine female activists such as those of the first wave of feminism like Hannah More, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Frances Willard. Women whose genuine motivations were highjacked by radical feminists like the Red Stockings Brigade of the 1960’s, themselves a mere projection of the Black Civil Rights Movement stirring up trouble across the gender divide. Look at the work of Germaine Greer, Shulamith Firestone, Carol Hanisch, Ellen Levine, and Anne Koedt. The very titles of their books—The Female Eunuch, Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Criticism of Gender, and The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm—betray their narcissistic belligerence, over-bearing sense of entitlement, political lesbianism, and economic and syncretic Marxist agenda. And it did not end there. Bell Hooks in her book Killing Rage went so far as to justify her feelings about longing to murder an anonymous white male, no doubt because he represented the ‘oppressive patriarchy’ all these types despise. Dworkin, Wolf, Paglia, and Steinhem all follow in the same path as de Beauvoir whose Second Sex features on all ‘politically correct’ liberal arts college reading lists. I would highly recommend an antidote to such corrosive prejudice. Try the work and thoughts of Erin Pizzey, an early campaigner against domestic violence, who incidentally has subsequently been forced to spend long periods in hiding after bomb threats from radical feminist extremists; Karen Straughan of Girl Writes What and Dr Tara Palmatier who are working hard to re-balance the debate. There is also an extensive literature refuting the theories of the celebrated women’s champions listed above: Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism ? and The War against Boys; Suzanne Venker’s The Flipside of Feminism: what Conservative Women think—and men can’t say; and Ronnee Schreiber’s Righting Feminism: Conservative women and American Politics.

According to certain controversial literature on human biodiversity, South East Asians are the most intelligent population on Earth and blacks the most athletic. If we accept this as true, then, surely, it makes sense to accept immigration from anywhere, since we’ll benefit from Asian brains and West African muscle. We’d then be unbeatable both in the astrophysics laboratory and the Olympic stadium.

Let us for a minute accept such stereotyping. Should we not also insist that those self-same people accept their proven statistical predilection for corruption, rape, and violence? Would South East Asians not be able to construct free and stable societies, dominate academia, and the patent lists of inventions? Why are our West African brothers not able to master the rudiments of more complex sports like gymnastics that require the synchronization of mind and body? I have studied alongside South East Asians and their tendency is to regurgitate what they learn uncritically. I have myself beaten black athlete’s on the school running track. Take a look at the Olympic medal tables and you will see white people outperform all other races proportionally, when you consider that we represent less than 16% of the world’s population.

Surely, with better immigration criteria and controls we can keep out the criminals and attract the best talent from all over the world. And, surely, there is a role even for rote memorisation and brute force in our societies. These things are needed, and it’s down to employers to find the right individuals for the right jobs. Let’s assume for a moment that this is just a technical issue that can be cracked with excessive costs and within a reasonable timeframe. Would you still oppose immigration? And, if so, why?

I would oppose immigration instinctively not just on the scale currently being undertaken, but because I think Europe, America, and the Slavic countries neither require it or substantially benefit from it. The criminal aspect is merely a ‘touchstone’ issue. Out of control diversity is a millstone not an asset. Especially when the benefits of diversity are all pretty much one-way. We in the West are uniquely blessed, unlike other peoples with most of the requisite capabilities to meet the majority of our societal needs. There is no obligation to feed the world until our own needy and poor are brought up to a proper level of subsistence. There is an old adage that charity begins at home. Let us start there. I do not however believe in isolationism, which is counter-productive and prevents a genuine and worthwhile exchange between cultures on an equal and beneficial footing. That is not what we have now.

The Western world can point to a history of brute force and rote memorisation. I do not hold such skills in high regard unless the former is absolutely necessary and the latter is applicable and beneficial to those who have no other course of betterment. I have liaised with large numbers of Chambers of Commerce in the UK and France and employers have plenty of opportunities to create viable and profitable businesses. What is becoming increasingly apparent is the drive towards excessive profit and greed. Such materialism above and beyond physical and spiritual satiation is I believe a serious sign of moral decay. The numbers of culturally bereft nouveau-riche people swilling second-rate champagne in kidney-shaped jacuzzis sickens me. And believe me, I have met many of that sort from Dublin to Tomsk.

Isn’t nationalism just hate and fear? Most decent people think it is very narrow-minded and backward world-view. We are no longer in the 19th century, after all; this is the 21st century and we live in a globalized world. You, in fact benefit from this every day.

I see the New Right as an alternative modernist movement, building on the homogenous organic roots of traditionalism, rejecting the liberal and socialist platitudes of a utopian future populated by a coffee-coloured people. I participate, contribute and benefit from the technical effects of modernity. Indeed, it is people like myself that drive those technical knowledge based economies. But I utterly reject the racial and cultural side-effects as an unnecessary impediment. I long for a political framework which abolishes multiculturalism and privileging the ‘ethnic’ over the ‘indigenous’ not because the European needs ‘protection’ and cannot compete but because current governmental statutes deliberately discriminates in favour of ‘ethnics’ over the whites and the fact that these global parasites are a drain on our core business, the advancement of our nations and the European continent. A national community functions best when, as Italian, Sergio Salvi, in his book Patria e Matria (Fatherland and Motherland) wrote : ‘It can be tentatively defined as a human group living in a definitive territory, which differs from other groups in a number of characteristics. These can be linguistic, cultural, historical and socio-economic. It is such shared characteristics that makes the members of a group aware of their particular identity. Even when the differences are not so tangible, they still give rise to the group’s desire to organize autonomously in the fields of administration (i.e., the State), politics and culture’. For me positive not ‘petty’ nationalism is the instinctive outcome of love for family, community and place. It is a healthy and over-riding human emotion. It is limitless and according to the Nietzschean theory of eternal return, its time will inevitably come again.

But nationalism is an idea associated with the nation-state, a fairly recent creation, which is becoming increasingly irrelevant, is it not? And its adoption necessitated the suppression of regional identities to begin with. At the time of the French Revolution, for example, only 1 in 8 people living in France spoke fairly good French; only half spoke any; and even in Oïl language zones, it was usually only used in cities. The ‘national identity’, the ‘national religion’, the ‘national curriculum’—all of these are concepts associated with the nation-state. The tendency in world history has been to
go from lower levels of organisation to higher. Surely, you do not envision a return to the polis, or to the city-state (à la Geneva, as in Rousseau’s time), do you? What about the argument that hugely expensive undertakings, such as a space programme, would be far more difficult with a 1000 small regions with small economies, with 1000 currencies and 1000 languages, as opposed to with a large block like the EU, using one currency and adopting a lingua franca?

It is true that the nationalism of the last two hundred years is generally associated with the nation-state and if you are force-fed Ernest Gellner and Eric Hobsbawn like I was at university you are getting that diaspora interpretation once again. Even a more conservative view like that of Elie Kedourie comes from the same gene pool. Historians of this type are pre-determined to view such communitarian societies as essentially reactionary in character. Thinkers from the Anglo-conservative sphere like Edmund Burke, Thomas Carlyle, Maurice Cowling, Michael Oakeshott, T.S. Eliot, Roger Scruton, and Phillip Blond are given scant attention. Likewise, John Calhoun, the Southern Agrarian School, Russell Kirk, Paul Gottried, and even Gregory Wolfe in America. De Benoist and Faye, whom I referenced earlier were largely ignored and remained only partially translated into English until Arktos Media redressed this unforgivable oversight in recent years. Consideration of the German Conservative Revolutionaries is basically forbidden unless it is to criticize them. People like Fichte, Herder, Schopenhauer, Stefan George, Ludwig Klages, Gottfried Benn, Ernst Niekisch, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Othmar Spann, Edgar Julius Jung, and the great Martin Heidegger, despite the latitude of their thought must be viewed through the politically correct lens. Even Carl Jung suffers in this regard, but then again, he did split from Freud and so according to their narrative can never be forgiven.

The significance and relevance of regionalism is in fact an issue I hint at in the text of The Partisan, where I try to balance the importance I attach to Breton, Provencal and other regional cultures to the unified fight-back against a common-enemy. I do envisage a Europe of a thousand flags under a federal entity. But you will appreciate my vision of such a European confederation would be unrecognizable from today’s EU. It would not be without dissension and dispute but it would be a debate between similar peoples of a generally shared milieu, informed and framed by some of the disprivileged thinkers I listed above. A discussion of this type is far more likely to advance in a positive direction than disputes between peoples of completely different cultures, races or susceptibilities.

In The Partisan, you seem to see the problems afflicting our societies cannot be solved through the mainstream political process. Yet, people—not only in France and in Britain, but in all the Western democracies—are given a chance to vote every four or five years , so the political establishment and the policies pursued by democratic governments simply reflect the will of the people. From this it seems obvious that your view is that of a disgruntled minority.

My first Masters degree is in Government & Politics. I fully understand the various forms of local, regional, national, and international governance structures that bind our hands. I have studied all aspects of representation, party funding and the ideologies and platforms of the supposedly competing mainstream parties. The charade of the democratic process and the pantomime of elections do not fool me or I think increasing numbers of other people. Our governments are bought and paid for by people running multi-national corporations and ‘banksters’ who do not have our best interests at heart. We may still be a disgruntled minority but a committed vanguard can lead a revolution. Did you see the street scenes on Maidan? I was there. All over Europe the Right is on the rise: in France, Austria, the Baltic States, Italy, Poland, and Hungary. Look at Casa Pound fighting the Reds on the streets of Rome, Blocco Studentesco and of course Golden Dawn in Greece. I was touched by the dignified way The Immortals conducted themselves during a torch lit parade through a small German town. Our creed is a vital and living force, not a passive celebration of former glories, or for that matter a family that lives in a lifeless, sterile museum. I have a certain respect for the sentiments expressed in the dedication to the preface of Derek Holland’s The Political Soldier II, Thoughts on Sacrifice & Struggle: ‘To the prayers of the Saints and the Blood of the Martyrs who redeemed the European Motherland in the Past. May we, the last loyal Sons of Tradition and Order, be worthy of their Example as the Final Conflict approaches.

This narrative, about a race-based revolution, would strike many as wishful thinking by a fringe minority. Most would find it impossible to justify morally, because it is ultimately selfish. The Randian view of selfishness as a virtue has had the most fertile soil grow on in a context of Classical liberalism favouring individual liberty and therefore laissez-faire capitalism, and yet, it remains a marginal view; it cannot stand the moral attacks from the egalitarians, who can present themselves as virtuous because egalitarianism is selfless, at least as they understand it, which is what counts in this realm. Moreover, the events in Ukraine are of an entirely different order, since fits the liberal narrative, which can temporarily justify Ukrainian nationalism as a struggle for freedom—freedom from another, larger, richer, more powerful nation; a well-defined opponent. There is no well-defined opponent in Europe, even within the narrative you reproduce—no one likes the bankers and politicians, but responsibility for even the worst trends is diffuse. Even Tony Blair, a proven liar and war criminal, is making a killing economically. GQ even named him philanthropist of the year, eliciting only the most supine and feeblest of complaints!

This is the exact opposite of wishful thinking. Who would want to deal with a civil war on their own soil ? Yugoslavia was a test-case. I am not advocating violence but warning against it. The Partisan is not wish fulfillment, rather a shrill cry of concern about what will occur unless positive steps are taken now. Merkel and Cameron bemoaning the failure of multiculturalism will not stave off internecine violence. Randian idealism remains a cult because it does not link the supposed virtue of selfishness with the natural philanthropism that people have felt and acted upon historically because they are inclined to support people of like character and type. It is true the banksters are an easy target but you are looking through a post 2007 perspective. Distributists like Chesterton and Belloc were saying this over 70 years ago. And they were right!

In relation to Ukraine. I first starting wearing Stepan Bandera t-shirts and drinking vodka with Ukrainian nationalist veterans in the cellars of Lviv 7 years ago. I am fully aware of how that genuine uprising was manipulated. I was holding a birthday party 200 meters from the spot where the secret police were shooting protestors in Kiev last March. I have two further manuscripts dealing directly with Russia and Ukraine completed and ready for publication.

I personally refused to meet Tony Blair despite being part of a British trade delegation set to greet the former Prime Minister to a certain Muslim country two years ago. GQ embarrasses itself and insults our intelligence with their phony polls and propaganda. Everyone knows what Blair and his type represent and advocate. Will he produce GQ’s analysis as part of his defense when he is finally brought before a court? I don’t know about you, but I would anticipate a cacophony of contemptuous laughter.

You seem to reject egalitarianism. But isn’t equality a good thing? And if you don’t, are you not saying that certain people are inferior and should be deprived of rights that everyone—and certainly the United Nations—regard as universal? How can you possibly defend that? Is it your view that women are inferior to men, that blacks are inferior to whites, and that you’d rather institutionalise privilege for some, and oppression for others, based on the qualities they are born with and therefore cannot do anything about?

Egalitarianism is a façade used by the liberals and socialists to push their proposition nation agenda. In pursuit of the Holy Grail of Equality they are more than willing to sacrifice any sense of human differentation, erasing the realities of race, gender intelligence and cultural competencies. It is not a matter of supremacy and inferiority, it is a matter of reality. I do not believe in a universal ‘lowest common denominator’. People and cultures are different and we should celebrate that very real diversity not hold it to a single standard. Cultures are at different points of development and are on different trajectories. I agree with Spengler when he said, ‘Each culture has its own new possibilities of self-expression which arise, ripen decay and never return. There is not one sculpture, one painting, one mathematics, one physics, but many, each in its deepest essence different from the others . . . ’ Does that sound like someone who wishes to impose his will on others or a person hell-bent on depriving other cultures of their right to sovereignty or self- determination? I think not. Look around the world, the caste system you allude to in your question and the slave/worker relationships it implies are far more prevalent and embedded in non-white cultures. I am reminded of an axiom quoted in the short lived Rising journal: ‘A Nationalism that seeks to subdue or extirpate another culture is, in fact, not a Nationalism but an Imperialism, which threatens not only its intended victim but also its own well-being, for its distorted view of itself, and of its relations with others, can only invite disaster’.

I would not have selected a woman to be the central character in my novel if I was even remotely sexist or believed the female gender was in any way inferior. Sabine, the heroine of the book, is the very personification of a modern, intelligent, powerful woman who makes her own decisions and lives with the consequences. It is my view that we need to be far more strategic in appealing to women in order to grow our movement. They offer us the chance of a real multi-skilling asset which would greatly enhance our operations and further refine our perspective, ideals and objectives.

The issue is also not about colour but character and capability. History informs us that large numbers of diverse people find it difficult to live in close proximity without conflict. In general, the under-achievement of many non-whites living in a white community leads to demoralization, dependency and frustration. These result in violent outpourings like: in the USA—Watts 65, Newark 67, Rodney King/LA 92, Cincinnati 2001, Ferguson 2014; in the UK—Bristol 1980, Toxteth 1981, Brixton 1981, Bradford, Burnley and Oldham 2001, London 2011; in France—Clichy-Sous-Bois, Seine-Saint-Denis, Dijon, Belfort 2005; in Italy—Rosarno in Calabria 2010; in Spain – Roquetas in Almeria 2008; in Sweden—Stockholm 2013.

I see no benefit in perpetuating such catastrophes when it is clear that peaceful co-existence and co-location is simply not possible. A race realist like myself would recommend a natural separation based on mutually agreed terms.

This argument has been made for decades, with a great deal of hard science to support it. And yet, that hasn’t made any difference. It is still rejected wholesale. We go back to the ethics of this idea: egalitarians may argue that even if equality does not exist, it is nevertheless a noble ideal, and that alone makes it worth pursuing, even if the ideal could never be achieved entirely. In short, the facts don’t really matter, because this is an ethical question, not an empirical one.

If the Convergence of Catastrophes Faye anticipates in his book is correct, and the money, food and power begins to run out, I predict it will not be noble ideals and ethics that characterize our behavior. When the tipping point is reached the fracturing of society will move rapidly on ethnic, religious and tribal lines. Like you yourself argued in one of your celebrated speaking engagements, The Collapse may not be instant, it may have already began and its ramifications may go unnoticed at first. I think it was Ezra Pound who claimed it is the artist’s antenna that first picks up the vibrations of such events. The Partisan is in some ways a literal confirmation of what my more sensitive predecessors already knew awaited us. It is the realization of the dark nightmare to come.

In that speech you refer to I also said that a collapse could well take so long that by the time it is recognised as such the consequences would have long ceased to be relevant, because those affected or warning about them would have already disappeared or were no longer powerful. I also mentioned that there is no guarantee that any collapse would have the desired outcome. The scenario you describe assumes that in a social breakdown scenario, everybody falls into line along ethnic or tribal lines. That seems likely with the non-European demographic in our part of the world, but simple everyday observation suggests Europeans, and particularly North-Western Europeans, will remain as divided as they are now, fractured along moral or morally justified ideological lines. Even the Far Right is notoriously fractuous, not only due to conflicting personalities, but also due to disagreements over ideology. The same has always been the case with the Far Left. Kevin MacDonald has pointed out that Western Europeans are low in ethnocentricity and tend to form moral communities. If that is true, then ancestry is an insufficient condition. So the question must be asked—if egalitarianism is the irritant and the stumbling block, should identitarians not be focusing on a moral critique of egalitarianism?

I would contend the collapse started around 1913 and is now well advanced. The collapse takes many forms and proceeds at a different pace along many separate fault lines. It can be identified and estimated by different social, economic, demograhic, and political indices. We recognize it at the point it affects us as individuals, or as citizens of a particular nation. Those who govern the western world are managing the decline rather than arresting it. Some I suspect are complicit in it, or are directly benefiting from the decline in some way, transferring assets and investments at favourable rates to BRIC countries, much like maggots feeding off dying flesh. There is simply no way of guaranteeing that the moral poison of egalitarianism will not have so retarded the European population that they are inhibited from protecting their own or acting in a way to promote their group’s interest. I suspect however, that when non-Europeans band together, set up exclusive organizational structures, possibly based on religious lines, commit outrageous crimes and begin ethnic-cleansing, the mantra of ‘One World, One People’ will ring very hollow. There is nothing like watching your mother, sister and daughter being raped, or your father, brother and son being eviscerated by machete wielding savages to focus the mind. A moral critique of egalitarianism is long overdue. But we should pull the mask off this expression egalitarianism and call it what it is today, the Frankfurt School strategy to undermine all aspects of the Western Superstructure.

So what if people with non-European ancestry eventually become majorities in Europe? Aren’t they just people, no better or worse than anyone else? Are we to judge them by the colour of their skin, rather than the contents of their character?

The character and nature of the future population of Europe most certainly does matter. Demographics is destiny and the central question of our age, is whether or not the civilized and educated nations of the world will continue to allow themselves to be overwhelmed by those incapable of self-improvement, other than by squatting in close proximity to the techno-industrial or welfare systems of more developed cultures with their begging bowls in hand, or will they close their borders. The behavior, values, and capabilities of a large percentage of the people of non-European ancestry who are coming to Europe at this time, like many of the Latinos fording the Rio Grande, do not stack up meritoriously under any serious degree of scrutiny. They stand condemned by any scientific or moral measurement by which you would chose to evaluate them. They threaten a new dark age, taking us back centuries. Forget customs and folkways for one moment, just look at the graphs on intelligence. IQ averages in the countries benefiting from immigration are plummeting. In what way can this be described as evolution? It represents the dilution of excellence and the low level ground war already underway throughout North America and Europe is a sure sign that things will get worse rather than better. Is Leicester or Birmingham to be the next Detroit?

Like Spengler I believe that the human species is divided into a variety of widely differing and contradictory cultures. My interpretation of nationalism carries with it the insistence of reciprocal respect. It is in essence Identitarian. What we strive for is national self- determination; sufficient living space for the preservation and development of our race, heritage and culture; a socio-economic and legal system that reflects the values of its creators; the nurturing of our art; and the continuance of our life-force into future millennia. I will not stoop to plea for this on the grounds of the Charter of Human Rights or because it can be argued that what is being done to the white indigenous populations of European nations is a form of genocide by stealth. Though you can make plausible arguments for both those scenarios. I do not ask permission to live or to survive in my own homeland. A territory that people of my lineage have inhabited for 10,000 years. I demand it and will join others in reaching for the rope to hang the traitors who opened the floodgates to the sewers of the third world and lock and load the guns when words prove insufficient to defend our homes.

What was your aim with The Partisan?

Continuing my earlier point about fiction providing a gateway to theory, I want to contribute to a vibrant cadre of New Right novelists. My desire is to re-enchant the present generation with the ideals that made Europe great in the past. We are all descendants of a great cultural and intellectual inheritance and we have to make that case time and time again. Standing on the shoulders of giants like Ernst Jünger, Ezra Pound, and Louis Ferdinand Céline, I believe there now exists the potential to develop a genre that both entertains and informs. Several recent works like your own Mister, Tito’s Perdue’s oeuvre, and Derek Turner’s Sea Changes provides the basis for a new school of storytellers, poets and singer-song-writers.

They say that those who forget the past are bound to repeat it. You have an advanced degree in history from an American university—in fact, with a major component in Black Studies. Could it be not be argued, therefore, that you of all people, should know better than to write novels like The Partisan?

On the contrary. My original Masters in Politics included a dissertation which was a critique of the Soviet system. The Black Studies component of my MA in History featured such luminaries as: Nat Turner, Frederick Douglas, W.E. Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Kathleen Cleaver, Bobby Seale, George Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and Black Panthers like Stokely Carmichael and Huey P. Newton and their ilk.
I probably know more about Communism and so-called Black Civil Rights activists than those on the left. It is an advantage to know your opponents better than they know themselves. My studies helped me identify the linkages like that between the Zionist Kivie Kaplan, who was Martin Luther King’s ‘handler’ and the communist Party of America. It was a formula that was repeated in the former Weather Underground leaders Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers involvement with the Obama Presidential candidacy. Similarly, the association between Joe Slovo and his slow-witted tool Mandela in the dismemberment of South Africa.
These simple key quotes define the reasons why I wrote The Partisan:

‘During the last Open Convention the debate was, was it or was it not the duty of any good revolutionary to kill all new born white babies. At the time it seemed like a relevant framing of an issue. The logic being that through no fault of their own these white kids are going to grow up to be a part of an oppressive racial establishment internationally, so really your duty is to kill new born white babies. And I remember one guy tentatively and apologetically suggesting that this was in contradiction to the humanitarian aims of the movement and he was booed down’ – Doug McAdam (Weather Underground)

Kill all white men, white women and their babies’ – New Black Panther Party activist Malik Zulu Shabbaz, infamous for accusations of attempting to intimidate voters at a Philadelphia polling booth in 2008.

Do you plan on getting another degree?

To quote Solzhehnitsyn : ‘without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashions of the day . . .’

One single anecdote illustrates this perfectly. Having graduated on a bright summer day under a warm Californian sun, I returned to a slate grey London, intending to commence a PhD on the historiography of the so-called European New Right. I was interviewed by an American Professor with a Jewish surname. He was wearing a tweed jacket and smiling suspiciously over an oversize bowtie. As I tried to explain my hypothesis, the would-be don twirled his pen, looking distractedly out the window.

‘Why are you interested in these people?’ he asked contemptuously, ‘they have no intellectual capital. Have you thought of an evaluation of the impact of his theological upbringing on Martin Luther King’s later Civil Rights activities?’ The door closed. So I pushed on another. Sitting down in front of my laptop, sometimes overlooking a village green in Kent, where my every key stroke echoed to the rhythm of leather on wood; and at other times walking around the Zenkov Cathedral in Almaty, staring up through the cloud formations gathering around the rim of the Zailiysky Alatau mountains, I began typing the opening lines of The Partisan. That is my PhD thesis and it is written from the heart, free of the shackles of political correctness.

I notice that, though The Partisan draws from the anti-liberal ideas of the European New Right, it also has references to the French Revolution, which represented a triumph of liberal political theory. You even have the revolutionaries sing certain verses from La Marseillaise. Is this not a somewhat idiosyncratic interpretation of history?

It is the paradox we live with. French identity and pride is inextricably linked with a familiar anthem like La Marseillaise. If fiction is to be grounded and credible it must reflect reality. I would argue that we should accept that the vast numbers required to make a movement will fix on certain icons, flags and songs as they come together. It is to be expected and it is expedient. It is the passion and emotive qualities of unifying symbolism that is important. The deconstruction of deeper ideological underpinnings can be dealt with once we have won back the streets.

The Partisan makes a clear case against the Islamisation of France, and, presumably by extension, of Europe. What is wrong is Islam having a presence in Europe? There are Muslims in Bosnia who are fully European and don’t behave at all like Abu Hamza and fellow Jihadists from Asia and North Africa or the Pakistani paedophile rings in the United Kingdom. Indeed, even the SS had a division of Bosnian Muslims.

A presence is one thing. An overwhelming presence is quite another. Whilst minarets overshadow rooftops from Barcelona to Geneva and Frankfurt to Bolton, Christian churches are being firebombed across the Muslim world and the followers of Jesus are given an option, convert or die. How long before the phony war of protest by Muslims in Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels turns into a full scale insurgency by ISIS trained zealots? There is much to admire in all faiths, cultures and identities. But we must acknowledge, they flourish best when they are rooted in their home soil and watered by the winds from their own mountain tops. Over the last half century the seeds of destruction have been scattered across our fields. It is time to take the scythe to the weeds strangling our crop.

What about David Cameron’s proposal of ‘muscular Britishness’?

There is so much one could say on this matter but I will try to keep my reply concise and free from vitriol. My recollection is that this expression was first used in a Daily Mail article on the Trojan Horse scandal, where Tory party policies relating to the freeing up of school governing bodies and head-teachers from so-called local authority bureaucracy and allowing more school independence had resulted in a myriad of predominantly Muslim schools imposing a sharia curricula, removing white governors and treating indigenous students, already a numerical minority as second class pupils. Well, I cannot say I am surprised, it reinforces what I alluded to earlier in relation to the mindset of certain burgeoning non-British communities. I contend such autonomy will be abused by these people time and time again. They simply cannot be constrained by the normal European or British notions of fair play, decency and appropriate behavior. These apologists for paedophilia and honour killings are animated by the dream of a jihadist take-over not assimilation. The fact that Cameron, along with his collaborators in the Liberal-democrats have actually overseen a growth in immigration, despite all their public statements and manifesto pledges to the contrary, calls into question both the British Prime Minister’s integrity and capability.

His fetid description of Britishness as being all about democracy, equality, and tolerance reveals a complete disengagement with the martial qualities that built an Empire from Scotland to the Falklands and Novia Scotia to Singapore. Listening to a rendition of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, would suffice in correcting such confusion. These modernist ideals also fly in the face of historic reality like the Chartist March on Monmouth, where men were shot and killed for demanding political representation; the fact that for centuries only male property owners had the right to vote and a suffragette had to throw herself under the King’s horse to raise awareness that women wanted the same opportunity; and that the everyday experience of anyone expressing concern over the behavior of non-whites is immediately shouted down with the cat-call of that much over-used word ‘racist!’ The latter apparently being a case of blatant ‘intolerance’ regardless of the merit of their argument. Double standards abound. No tolerance for the intolerant. No platform for fascists ! Government ministers signing up as members of Unite Against Fascism. So it seems, equality and tolerance are in reality in short supply in David’s Little Britain.

As for democracy, equality and tolerance are as British as the Union Flag, football and fish and chips ? Well let us deconstruct David’s assertions in true Marxist dialectical terms, shall we? It strikes me that the very existence of the Union flag is called into question by the Scottish referendum. Something Mr Cameron agreed to but did not feel he could extend to the discussion on immigration? With regards to football, it was clear from the lethargic display by the English team at the last World Cup, that the game ‘the British’ invented has now developed well beyond their current competency levels. Football is most certainly not coming home to paraphrase the line from the Three Lions Song. And the clichéd reference to fish and chips, so typical of Oxbridge champagne swilling Tories trying to appear ‘down with the boys’, can be dismissed by the simple observation that the most popular meal in the UK is now curry.

Like John Major before him speaking of the English matron pedaling through the morning mist or Mrs Thatcher hinting about the people’s concern about being ‘swamped’ by immigrants in the 79 election, Cameron has no intention of enacting muscular Britishness, whatever that means? Look who funds the party he leads. Peel back the names to reveal his own family origins and those of his advisors. Indeed, those of his predecessors. Leon Brittan, Nigel Lawson, Keith Joseph, Malcolm Rifkind, Alex Carlisle, Michael Howard, Edwina Currie, John Bercow and Keith Joseph. Check the following list of Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Labour MP’s, Ministers and Peers of the realm (the following is only indicative, not comprehensive) : Sam Gyimah, Kwasi Kwarteng, Reham Chisti, Baroness Warsi, Priti Patel, Alok Sharma, Nadhim Zahami, Kishwer Falkner, Sandip Verma, Mohamed Sheikh, Nat Wei, Maurice Saatchi, Satyendra Prasanno Sinha, Lord Taylor of Warwick, Patricia Scotland, Navnit Dhozlakia, Herman Ouseley, Floella Benjamin, Meral Hussein-Ece, Zahida Manzour, Rumji Vergee, Doreen Lawrence, Paul Boateng, Lord Darzi, Bill Morris, Baron Bhattacharrya, Baron Chan, Amir Bhatia, Baron Adebowale, Baron Parekh, Baron Patel, Baroness Pashar, Nazir Ahmed, Baroness Uddin, Baron Ali, Keith Vaz, Valerie Vaz, Chuka Umunna, Yasmin Qureshi, Ed Milliband, and George Galloway. Now ask yourself are such people likely to enact muscular Britishness?

And before we settle back and think this is an isolated situation, please take a look at the political ‘movers and shakers’ in the United States and closer to home, in Europe itself. It is not hard to find the same egregious behaviour perpetrated in the same quarters by the same self-interested parties.

Why did you choose a female protagonist?

I wanted to create a positive role model for those young women sympathetic to our shared traditions and thinking about becoming active in the movement. The Left have to some extent mythologized in book and film form the likes of Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin. To my mind these were two emotionally bereft, politically shallow and nihilistic women. Sabine was created in direct opposition to these latter day martyrs of the German Autumn. I can foresee a time when some of our best exponents will be women. I long to stand beside them in the shadow of fluttering Spartan pennants on the field of Poitiers.

Is there hope for Europe beyond liberalism?

There most certainly is. First, we must acknowledge the significance of integral traditionalism to the life and continuity of the homogenous community. Then we need the energy and vital radicalism of revolutionary conservatism to simultaneously conserve and transform those parts of our culture that are (a) worthy of preservation and (b) in vital need of evolution or eradication.

Isn’t liberalism simply for individual liberty, freedom of expression, freedom of opportunity, and equality before the law? Are we do away with all those, and go back five hundred years—or, worse still, end up with an authoritarian police state?

The police state is already here and the prison walls are the laws imposed upon us by the equality gurus to uphold the liberal establishment. There is no real individual liberty. It is being systematically replaced by stifling conformism in both the private and public arenas. Freedom of opportunity and equality before the law increasingly only applies to non-whites. A two-tier justice system is enforced by the adoption of politically correct moral codes. Social ostracization and exclusion from the work force is practiced against dissenters. Orwell’s vision of a ruthless regime insisting on political orthodoxy is with us. We are all locked in room 101 with Winston Smith and the rats are coming.

 

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Solère, Fenek. “Interview with Fenek Solère.” Interview by Alex Kurtagic. Wermod & Wermod Publishing Group, 31 October 2014. <http://www.wermodandwermod.com/newsitems/news311020140001.html >.

 

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Interview with John Morgan – Leonard

A Blaze through the Gloom; an Interview with Arktos Media’s John Morgan by Nathan Leonard

 

Introductory Note: One of the byproducts of living in this highly technological age is that we are so constantly flooded with information from such a variety of media around us that we often become confused. Although our ability to communicate ideas has developed a phenomenal reach, when we stop to examine much of the information that takes up our time, we find that it is composed of fleeting ideas which are designed for short-term consumption of passing fads in which we get caught up for a short time and then remember later with nostalgia and a dash of ironic disdain. Much of what is promoted to us is a commercial transaction in some form or another. This is why it doesn’t last. Yet, part of our identity becomes intrinsically tangled in every shallow trend that sweeps us away.

John Morgan is Editor-in-Chief of Arktos Media, which publishes books that ask deeper questions about our identity and that challenge us to think differently about our role in history. Arktos has utilized innovations of globalism to provide information much different than what usually bombards us on a daily basis; ideas that cannot be blown away by winds of change for they are established in the very nature of life itself. We were fortunate to conduct the following interview with Mr. Morgan by way of email correspondence. – Nathan Leonard (from Heathen Harvest), 7 July 2014.

***

Heathen Harvest: Thank you for accepting this interview, John. To start, what does the name “Arktos” mean, and how does it relate to the types of books Arktos publishes?

John Morgan: Arktos is a centaur in Greek mythology. It is also the Greek word for bear, and was additionally the Greek name for the constellation of Ursa Major (Ursa is Latin for bear), which contains the Big Dipper, and which can guide one toward the North Star. Arktos was also the root of the word “arctic”. We wanted a name that was evocative of the ancient European tradition and also of “northernness”, to borrow a term coined by C. S. Lewis to describe Wagnerian art. While in Arktos we are interested in all traditional cultures, we do see ourselves as being primarily rooted in our own European heritage, and we could think of nothing more poetic than Arktos to convey that. Also, it is much less of a mouthful than Integral Tradition Publishing, which was the name of the company some of my colleagues and I had previously! As one can see from perusing the sorts of books we have published to date, many of them deal with aspects of myth and tradition, both European and otherwise.

HH: Arktos will be co-sponsoring the 2014 Identitarian Congress in Budapest this October. What is this event going to be about?

JM: We’re still working on the overall theme, as we haven’t confirmed all the speakers and participants yet. Essentially, we want to discuss the issues that unite all traditionalists, nationalists and identitarians across North America and Europe. There are so many groups, movements and thinkers across the world that are pursuing similar goals, but they rarely have the opportunity to gather in one place to compare notes and ideas, and simply to network. So, our event will be an attempt to fill that need. We also want to explore the idea of Europe as something beyond the petty nationalisms of the past, which led to the tragedy of 1914 (among others), the consequences of which are still being seen today, and also beyond the type of liberalism that has been imported here from the United States. All of our speakers will be addressing these issues, albeit in very different and unique ways.

HH: Why is Budapest the location for the conference? Is it related to your living there? Is there a movement toward traditional thinking there?

JM: The fact that Arktos is now based here was certainly a factor, yes, since it means that my colleagues and I can take care of some of the advance logistical work involved. However, on a broader level, Budapest, and Hungary more generally, is an ideal location for a gathering of traditionalists and nationalists, since Hungary is probably the country with the most vitality in relation to those fields at the present time, and certainly in Europe. Ideas that are often dismissed out of turn in other Western countries are still being openly discussed and taken seriously here. Not to mention the fact that Budapest is one of the most beautiful capital cities in Europe. So, in every way, this was really the ideal location for an event of this nature.

HH: How did you first get into publishing?

JM: For a long time, I had realized that there was a great need for someone to provide an outlet for ideas such as those of the European New Right, the Conservative Revolution, and traditionalism, among others, in English. Prior to Arktos, such resources were few and far between, and often hard to find. In 2006, some friends who felt the same need managed to raise some capital, which allowed us to start our first venture, the aforementioned Integral Tradition Publishing, at the end of that year. We merged Integral Tradition Publishing into Arktos at the end of 2009, as part of a continuation of our goals. It wasn’t really something I had imagined happening, much less being a part of, prior to that time, so the fact that we were able to get this project off the ground and make it work, and that I’ve been able to dedicate most of my time to it over the past five years, is something I’m quite proud of.

HH: Are there any specific writers that inspired you in the establishment of Integral Tradition Publishing or Arktos, perhaps because you wanted them to have a wider exposure or to be introduced to English language audiences?

JM: Certainly. Going into it, we very much wanted to see more of Julius Evola’s works in English, as well as books by Alain de Benoist (only one of his books had been translated prior to Arktos), Guillaume Faye, and Alexander Dugin (the latter two of which were completely untranslated before we started). All of those authors are now in our catalog. There was already quite a bit of Evola in English before Arktos, but there was still a great deal of material left to do, particularly his political writings, which were largely unavailable before we went to work. As for Benoist, Faye and the other thinkers of the European New Right, I find it unbelievable that no one had attempted to translate them before. Benoist in particular – he’s been writing for half a century, and it’s amazing that no one got to him before us. I strongly suspect it’s due to him being called a “Rightist” (a label he rejects). If he had been a French Marxist, I’m sure everything down to his grocery lists would have been translated long ago.

HH: Are you personally a writer? If so, do you plan to publish any books in the future?

JM: I sometimes enjoy writing, although I haven’t published much apart from a short story that I wrote many years ago. I’ve occasionally written essays for Counter-Currents and a few other websites. I would like to write something more substantial in the future, yes, although my Arktos work takes up a lot of my time and energy as it is. But one of these days, yes, I would like to do something of my own.

HH: The recent election results of Members of European Parliament were described as “a political earthquake” because some members of nationalist or “Euroskeptic” parties gained seats. Do you think this represents a major shift in European thinking? What will the impact of the elections be?

JM: It’s a positive sign, to be sure, but no, I don’t think this indicates a “major shift”. If you look at most of the parties that did well – the National Front in France, Wilder’s Freedom Party, UKIP – these are liberal parties that merely have a degree of “acceptable” nationalism and anti-immigrationism as part of their platform. They don’t represent the values of the “true Right”, as Evola phrased it. Plus, as others have observed, Euroskeptic parties have a tendency to do better in the European elections than they do in the national ones, since everyone knows that the European Parliament has little in the way of real power, so they feel more comfortable doing “protest voting” in it. It’s doubtful you will see these parties do as well in their respective national elections. A French friend of mine told me that he is sure that most of the people who voted for the National Front did so as a protest vote rather than out of a real passion for their platform. So, yes, it’s good that Europeans decided to send a message of discontent to Brussels, but I’m wary of getting too excited about this just yet.

The party I find the most relatable to my own perspective in Europe today is Jobbik. They did manage to get 15% of the vote here in Hungary, but that’s actually down from the 20% they got in the national elections just last month, no doubt because part of their platform is to get Hungary out of the EU and thus many of their supporters don’t bother voting. But still, they will be sending three MEPs to parliament again, which is good.

HH: Along these same lines, are you aware of any emerging artistic movements in Europe (literary, musical, visual, or otherwise) characterized by traditionalist, nationalist, or identitarian sentiments?

JM: Unfortunately, no, not many, although that doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t any, but just that I don’t know of any. If there’s something in a language other than English, I may just not know about it. There certainly isn’t much in English, as I’ve looked. The Mjolnir magazine from the UK, which just released its inaugural issue, which contains fiction, poetry and art consistent with our principles, is a step in that direction. Apart from that, no, I can’t think of anything. There are some individual artists and bands working here and there, of course, like Michael Moynihan and Annabel Lee in the U.S., but I wouldn’t call that a movement, and I think that’s a problem. People on the Right are very good at complaining, and of coming up with brilliant critiques of the world as it is, but they aren’t very good at proposing alternatives or of describing exactly what it is they want. A thriving alternative culture could provide that. I always find it discomforting when I go to a Rightist Website and find photos of the “great White men” of the past, which usually includes people such as Goethe and Beethoven, but it always consists entirely of people who are dead. Where are the great artists of our movement today? They are few and far between, and those that there are are shrouded in obscurity. (The American novelist Tito Perdue, who has been published by Arktos, is one of them, in my opinion.) We shouldn’t seek to turn our culture into a museum piece, where we just talk about how great our forefathers were. We need to get creative and produce new and original visions, and that’s something I hope to continue to provide an outlet for through Arktos.

HH: Liberalism controls the arts. I have met some artists who downplay their non-liberal political or philosophical leanings for fear of potential negative consequences. To what extent do you think a traditionalist art movement is stifled by the dominant ideologies of today? Do you think there are historical examples comparable to the present situation that may be instructive in undermining these systems of control?

JM: It depends on what you mean by “traditionalist”. If you’re using it in the sense of the school of Guénon and Evola, then no, I see nothing obstructing artists from utilizing those forms, ideas and symbols. The recently-deceased Sir John Tavener, who produced several works of music openly based on the writings of Frithjof Schuon and René Guénon, as well as works derived from the Orthodox Christian tradition, and who is one of the most highly regarded modern composers in the world, indicates that there is no inherent bias in the “establishment” against that sort of traditionalism. However, if you’re using the word “traditionalist” in the broader sense which also includes things related to conservatism (in the best sense of that term) and the political Right, then yes, I don’t think it’s news to anyone that there is a strong bias against them in the mainstream artistic establishment.

The recent debacle involving the artist Charles Krafft is a reminder of that, as if we needed one. But my response to that is, so what? We’re living in an age in which putting up a website or self-publishing a book are only a few mouse-clicks away. It’s obvious that, because of innovations in technology, everything is becoming much more decentralized and that the “authorities” in the various fields have become much less important in deciding what gets disseminated or what becomes popular. There’s no reason why anyone who has a particular idea or vision can’t get it out there somehow. That’s one of the few advantages, for people of our mentality, in living in a time like this. You can put just about anything out there and find an audience. Even the aforementioned Charles Krafft has said that his business has actually gone up since the “scandal” erupted, since his new-found notoriety has gotten him a customer base he never would have had otherwise. So, no, you may not see million-dollar grants from foundations going to artists who embrace unpopular forms and ideas anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many, many other avenues and opportunities for expression open to people, if they only want to make use of them. I think the only problem is a lack of creative people in “the movement”, such as it is, or at least of creative people willing to engage with it in a substantive manner. There are some exceptions, of course. If you want to “undermine the systems of control”, there’s nothing stopping you. Technology has already given us that ability.

HH: Can you explain more fully the distinction between traditionalism as a school of Guénon and Evola versus traditionalism in the broader sense of conservatism and the political Right? For instance, you mentioned earlier that Alain de Benoist rejects his characterization as a Rightest, so how is he to be classified? On the other hand, in what sense should we understand Evola’s “Fascism Viewed from the Right”?

JM: This is something that should be readily apparent to anyone who has read either Guénon or Evola, but I’ll attempt to summarize. There can be no connection between modern-day party politics and Tradition in the sense in which Guénon and Evola understood it. For a traditionalist, only one form of government can be traditional: a monarchy in tandem with a traditional priesthood (traditional meaning from a legitimately revealed source). This, of course, was how all civilizations everywhere in the world were governed prior to 1789, but there can be nothing traditional about any other form of politics, even if elements of it can be utilized. So, conservatism, as it’s understood in the United States today, has no connection to traditionalism, even if here and there we might find some overlap, such as in a concern over certain values. As for the Right, it depends on which Right we’re talking about. When it comes to the “Right” of Republicans and libertarians, of course not, since they are the opposite of everything traditional. Even the European New Right is in no way a “traditionalist” movement, even though its thinkers have derived some inspiration from the traditionalists.

Evola himself sometimes used the term “true Right” to describe his own views, which he once defined as being those principles which were considered correct and normal everywhere in the world before 1789. Guénon, for his part, was completely uninterested in the politics of his day, and there’s no indication that he ever engaged with politics in any way, since he regarded everything of modern extraction to be unworthy of anything apart from rejection to the furthest extent possible. Evola, as is well-known, was a critic of Italian Fascism during its reign, although he himself was never a Fascist, and both during and after the Fascist period he always said that he had only ever supported Fascism insofar as it represented traditional principles – which he felt it largely failed to do. In Evola’s later life, of course, he held that apoliteia was the only sensible course – complete disengagement from the political world, except insofar as how it might be beneficial to an individual’s self-development, by engaging in a manner that was disinterested in any result that might follow from such activity. So, in Evola titling his book Fascism Viewed from the Right, he was making it clear that he was analyzing Fascism from the perspective of the “true Right”, not from that of the Right of our time – a point he makes quite clear in the book itself.

I myself am not advocating this position, as I don’t consider myself to be a traditionalist in the same sense as I described above. However, I always make this distinction because I think there is a lot of confusion about the term, and people often use it in a muddled or confused way these days. There are other perfectly valid uses of the word “traditionalism”, of course, but if one is attempting to use it in the sense that Guénon or Evola did, one must keep what I have just reiterated in mind in doing so.

As for Benoist rejecting the Rightist label, it is factual that the name “New Right” has never been applied by Benoist’s Groupement de Recherche et d’Études pour la Civilisation Européenne to itself, but was foisted upon them by hostile French journalists during the 1970s. Benoist himself has written that he regards himself as being, not neither Left nor Right, but rather both Left and Right. Which makes sense, because he has derived a great deal of inspiration from Marxist and other Leftist intellectuals, as well as from the Rightist tradition. I think it’s important for those who oppose civilization as it is currently constituted to bear in mind that there is just as much opposition to liberalism on the radical Left – among some Marxists, anarchists, ecologists, and postmodernists – as on the radical Right. One shouldn’t limit oneself by imposing artificial barriers to thought and ideas based solely on labels.

HH: Earlier you mentioned Charles Krafft as an artist affiliated with the Right, yet Krafft’s style could be called Pop Art or Post-modern, which seems contradictory to the ideals of traditionalism. Another example might be the paintings of the late Jonathan Bowden. Similarly, I’ve thought it paradoxical that industrial music and noise seem to open a door to martial imagery and “old” values like courage and honor. Do you have an opinion about how this almost hypermodern art relates to the “New Right” and anti-modernism? How would you define great art?

JM: I would agree about Charlie’s style, although to my knowledge he’s never called himself a traditionalist. I don’t even know if he would call himself a “Rightist”, for that matter. I cited him as an example since what happened to him shows what can happen if you use themes or motifs in your art that are not officially sanctioned by the establishment’s critics (unless “ironically”, of course), and most especially if you have disapproved friends or affiliations, as Charlie does. But no, it would be ridiculous to call Charlie’s art “traditionalist”, although he does sometimes incorporate traditional elements into his work, from Buddhism and Hinduism in particular. The same goes for Bowden’s art (and I like some of it). At the same time, personally I am not someone who thinks that we have to see Tradition as a static thing that has to be constantly reiterated in the same way and in the same style as it has before. Artistic forms, like reality itself, are constantly evolving and changing, and we shouldn’t always fear the new (although neither should we accept it unreservedly). For example, two of the greatest traditionalist (in a non-doctrinal sense) artists of recent decades for me would be the filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg. They were operating in a medium which is entirely a product of modernity in every way, and which, let’s face it, 99% of the time is used for degenerative purposes. And both of them, Syberberg in particular, are not only filmmakers, but avant-garde filmmakers who used highly unorthodox methods of a style that were often similar to that of the heights of “liberal” cinema (Surrealism, the French New Wave, and so forth). And yet for me, Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Nostalgia, and The Sacrifice, as well as Syberberg’s Parsifal, rank as some of the most spiritual works of art I have ever experienced. I think they communicate the essence of what Tradition is, even though they are entirely modern in conception and assume a form that is non-traditional. If something can convey such an experience of meaning, or open up new vistas of meaning and new ways of viewing reality, then it’s good in my judgment, even if it may be unorthodox. The modern itself can be used to undo, or perhaps alter is more accurate, itself.

HH: What types of books has Arktos been publishing recently? Are there any that you believe to be particularly noteworthy?

JM: Arktos has been a bit slow the past few months, although that’s about to pick up dramatically. Of recent titles, The Dharma Manifesto is quite interesting. This is an attempt to apply Vedic principles to the political situation in America today by a noted Hindu teacher, Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya, and is unique of its kind. We also reprinted the complete run of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Conservative, a political and cultural journal he edited and contributed to that’s not very well-known and has been unavailable for a long time. We’ve been issuing editions of Markus Willinger’s Generation Identity in other languages, as that was one of our most popular books in English and German last year. We also have published a number of books by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar through an agreement with his Art of Living Foundation. Sri Sri is one of the most popular gurus in India at present, and we are pleased to be able to make his books more accessible in the West. Also, my friend Brian’s book Zombology: Zombies and the Decline of the West (and Guns) will be out soon. That’s a study of the sociopolitical implications of the zombie phenomenon, what it says about our contemporary culture and how it has manifested, particularly in relation to American gun culture. We also have new books by Alexander Dugin (Putin vs. Putin, his critique of Putin as a leader), Alain de Benoist (On the Brink of the Abyss, his book on the 2008 financial crisis), Guillaume Faye (Sex and Perversion, his study of modern sexuality), and some titles by the well-known writer on Paganism, Richard Rudgley, among many others, coming out soon.

HH: We look forward to reading some of those. Thank you for the interview.

JM: Thanks for having me. We’re doing this work for people like you!

 

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Morgan, John B. “A Blaze through the Gloom; an Interview with Arktos Media’s John Morgan.” Interview by Nathan Leonard. Heathen Harvest Periodical, 7 July 2014. <http://heathenharvest.org/2014/07/07/a-blaze-through-the-gloom-an-interview-with-arktos-medias-john-morgan/ >.

 

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Wagner as Metapolitical Revolutionary – Bolton

Richard Wagner as Metapolitical Revolutionary

By Kerry Bolton

 

Karl Marx reserved a special place of contempt for those he termed “reactionists.” These comprised the alliance that was forming around his time among all classes of people, high-born and low, who aimed to return to a pre-capitalist society. These were the remnants of artisans, aristocrats, landowners, and pastors, who had seen the ravages of industrialism and money-ethics then unfolding. Where there had once been craft, community, village, the marketplace, and the church, there was now mass production, class war, the city, and the stock exchange.

Rather than deploring capitalism, as one might suppose, Marx regarded this as an indispensable phase in the “wheel of history,” of the historical dialectic, which would through a conflict of thesis and antitheses result in a socialist and eventually a communist society. This was the inevitable unfolding of history according to Marx, based on as struggle for primacy by economic interests: class struggle, where primitive communism, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism represented a linear progression. Hence, anything that interfered with this process was “reactionism.”[1]

Capitalism itself would go through a stage of increasing internationalisation and concentration, whereby increasing numbers of bourgeois would be dispossessed and join the ranks of the proletariat that would make a revolution to overthrow capitalism.[2] Hence, Marx sought to overthrow the traditions and ethos of pre-capitalist society, and, given that dialectics means that the new “synthesis” incorporates elements of what it has overthrown, Marxian-socialism, as “reactionist” historians such as Oswald Spengler[3] and Julius Evola[4] have pointed out, was itself an aspect of capitalism.[5]

Marx came into a revolutionary milieu comprised of varying elements but which generally took inspiration from the French Revolution of 1789, with an emphasis on the “rights of man” that provided a reformist façade for the rise of the bourgeoisie. Hence these revolutionaries of the mid-19th century regarded themselves as “democrats” fighting for equality. However, they also saw the nation-state and the sovereignty of peoples as the liberating factor from princes, kings, dynasties, and empires that were seen as placing themselves above “the people.” Hence, nationalism became the revolutionary force of the century, albeit at times intended, like Jacobinism, as a prelude to a “universal republic.”

Volk and Nation as Revolutionary Forces

The German Revolution moved in a völkisch direction, where the Volk was seen as the basis of the state, and the notion of a Volk-soul that guided the formation and development of nations became a predominant theme that came into conflict with the French bourgeois liberal-democratic ideals. J. G. Fichte had laid the foundations of a German nationalism in 1807–1808 with his Addresses to the German Nation. Although like possibly all revolutionaries or radicals of the time, beginning under the impress of the French Revolution, by the time he had delivered his addresses to the German nation, he had already rejected Jacobinism, and his views became increasingly authoritarian and influenced by the Realpolitik of Machiavelli.

Johann Gottfried Herder had previously sought to establish the concept of the Volk-soul, and of each nation being guided by a spirit. This was a metaphysical conception of race, or more accurately Volk, that preceded the biological arguments of Wagner’s friend Count Arthur de Gobineau in his seminal racial treatise, The Inequality of the Human Races, which was to impress Wagner decades later. Herder’s doctrine is evident in Wagner’s, insofar as Herder stated that the Volk is the only class, and includes both King and peasant, and that “the people” are not the same as the rabble, heralded by Jacobinism and later Marxism. Herder upheld the individuality and separation of nations, that had fortuitously been separated by both natural and cultural barriers, and that these nations manifested innate differences one from the other, including in their religious outlooks.

Wagner’s rejection of the French ideals in favour of the Germanic, as one might expect, can be traced to aesthetic sensibilities, and his stay in Paris gave him a distaste for the “exaggerations” of French music.[6] In France Wagner was acquainted with Jews whom he came to distrust and said of this period that it had promoted his consciousness as a German:

On the other hand, I felt strongly drawn to gain a closer acquaintance of German history than I had secured at school. I had Raumer’s History of the Hohenstaufen within easy reach to start upon. All the great figures in this book lived vividly before my eyes. I was particularly captivated by the personality of that gifted Emperor Frederick II, whose fortunes aroused my sympathy so keenly that I vainly sought for a fitting artistic setting for them. The fate of his son Manfred, on the other hand, provoked in me an equally well-grounded, but more easily combated, feeling of opposition. . . .

Even at this time it delighted me to find in the German mind the capacity of appreciating beyond the narrow bounds of nationality all purely human qualities, in however strange a garb they might be presented. For in this I recognised how nearly akin it is to the mind of Greece. In Frederick II, I saw this quality in full flower. A fair-haired German of ancient Swabian stock, heir to the Norman realm of Sicily and Naples, who gave the Italian language its first development, and laid a basis for the evolution of knowledge and art where hitherto ecclesiastical fanaticism and feudal brutality had alone contended for power, a monarch who gathered at his court the poets and sages of eastern lands, and surrounded himself with the living products of Arabian and Persian grace and spirit–this man I beheld betrayed by the Roman clergy to the infidel foe, yet ending his crusade, to their bitter disappointment, by a pact of peace with the Sultan, from whom he obtained a grant of privileges to Christians in Palestine such as the bloodiest victory could scarcely have secured.[7]

This seemingly universalistic ideal of “humanity” is however at the root of his suspicion of the Jews as possessing traits inimical to “humanity.” Herder, Fichte, and other founders of German Idealism, including Kant, had taken the same view, their German nationalism including a certain universalism that saw the Germans as having a messianic world mission, just as the British, Jews, and Russians[8] have all held themselves to be bearers of a world mission vis-à-vis the whole of humanity. It was in Frederick however, that Wagner “beheld the German ideal in its highest embodiment.” “If all that I regarded as essentially German had hitherto drawn me with ever-increasing force, and compelled me to its eager pursuit, I here found it suddenly presented to me in the simple outlines of a legend, based upon the old and well-known ballad of ‘Tannhauser.’”[9]

Dresden Revolt and Bakunin

Having returned to Dresden from Paris in 1842, Wagner secured a position as a conductor at the Royal Theatre, a profession that failed to enthuse him over the course of seven years. However, it was here that the arch-revolutionist of anarchism, the Russian noble, Mikhail Bakunin, despite being a fugitive, sat in the audience at the public rehearsal of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony conducted by Wagner, who wrote:

At its close he walked unhesitatingly up to me in the orchestra, and said in a loud voice, that if all the music that had ever been written were lost in the expected world-wide conflagration, we must pledge ourselves to rescue this symphony, even at the peril of our lives. Not many weeks after this performance it really seemed as though this world-wide conflagration would actually be kindled in the streets of Dresden, and that Bakunin, with whom I had meanwhile become more closely associated through strange and unusual circumstances, would undertake the office of chief stoker.[10]

Wagner had met Bakunin in 1848, while the Russian was a fugitive from the Austrian authorities, in the house of a friend, the republican leader August Röckel. Wagner described the visage of Bakunin when they first met: “Everything about him was colossal, and he was full of a primitive exuberance and strength. I never gathered that he set much store by my acquaintance. Indeed, he did not seem to care for merely intellectual men; what he demanded was men of reckless energy.”[11]

Bakunin looked to his fellow Slavs as what we might call the new barbarians, who could regenerate humanity, “because the Slavs had been less enervated by civilization.”[12] He could cite Hegelian dialectics at length and was committed to the destruction of the old order, and saw in the Russian peasant the best hope of starting a world conflagration. The destructive urge of the Russian giant bothered Wagner. Bakunin cared nothing for the French, although having started his ideological journey by reading Rousseau, like many radicals of the time, nor for the ideals of republicanism or democracy. Wagner however, feared that such forces of destruction, once unleashed, would annihilate all culture, and that nothing could arise again:

Was any one of us so mad as to fancy that he would survive the desired destruction? We ought to imagine the whole of Europe with St. Petersburg, Paris, and London transformed into a vast rubbish-heap. How could we expect the kindlers of such a fire to retain any consciousness after so vast a devastation? He used to puzzle any who professed their readiness for self-sacrifice by telling them it was not the so-called tyrants who were so obnoxious, but the smug Philistines. As a type of these he pointed to a Protestant parson, and declared that he would not believe he had really reached the full stature of a man until he saw him commit his own parsonage, with his wife and child, to the flames.[13]

Bakunin was untempered fury, Wagner a contemplative aesthete who was to dwell for decades on the course of revolution as a means to a higher state of humanity, and who was ultimately to influence the course of history more so than his Russian friend.

Bakunin deplored Wagner’s intention to write a tragedy entitled “Jesus of Nazareth,” and implored Wagner to make it a work of contempt towards a figure whom Bakunin regarded as a weakling, while Wagner saw in Jesus the figure of a Hero. Indeed, Wagner, who sought the redemption of man through the return to nature and the overthrow of the superficiality of a decaying civilization, a pantheist and a heathen who looked to ancient Greece, nonetheless placed a focus on Jesus as a revolutionary hero whose meaning was that of redemption from mammon. He was to state to the Dresden Patriotic Club in the revolutionary year of 1848 that God would guide the revolution against “this daemonic idea of Money . . . with all its loathsome retinue of open and secret usury, paper-juggling, percentage and banker’s speculations. That will be the full emancipation of the human race, that will be the fulfilment of Christ’s pure teaching.”[14]

Yet paradoxically, again Bakunin betrayed his own repressed aestheticism when he intently listened to Wagner play and sing The Flying Dutchman and applauded enthusiastically. Wagner saw in Bakunin a man conflicted with the “purest ideal of humanity” and “a savagery entirely inimical to all civilization.” Wagner’s ideal was “the artistic remodelling of human society.” However, Wagner’s fears subsided when he found that Bakunin’s plans for destruction were as utopian as Wagner’s reshaping of humanity by aesthetics, and for all the zeal, Bakunin had no real means or following.[15]

Bakunin was back with Wagner in 1849, after a brief sojourn to see if the Slavs could be incited, and it was in Dresden that both were involved in the city’s revolt against the King of Saxony. Wagner on his own account felt no great attraction to democratic politics, but assumed the role of revolutionary it seems through a dissatisfaction with life: “My feelings of partisanship were not sufficiently passionate to make me desire to take any active share in these conflicts. I was merely conscious of an impulse to give myself up recklessly to the stream of events, no matter whither it might lead.”[16]

Nonetheless, the German democratic revolution was seen by many, including Wagner, as the means of dismantling principalities for the purpose of creating a united German nation. It was where a dichotomy between the democratic and the völkisch revolutions arose, the first derived from French inspiration and Jewish intellectualism such as that of Heine, the second from the roots of Germany, and expressed by Fichte, Hegel, and Herder.

Wager had already issued a clarion call for “Revolution” in an essay by that name just prior to the May 1849 revolt in Dresden. Like Bakunin, his revolution was a call to instinct and to vitalism, antithetical to the intellectualism of Jewish socialists and democrats. It was a romanticism of revolt that sought the overthrow of states because they suppressed the instinct, the vitality of life that welled up from within the Volk soul. He saw revolution as a “supernatural force” and referred to it as “a lofty goddess.” Wagner wrote: “I [the revolution] am the ever rejuvenating, ever fashioning Life.” “Everything must be in a state of becoming.” “Life is law unto itself.”[17] Wagner’s ode to vital forces had no kinship with the theoretical dissertations of Marx.

Yet, Wagner’s appeal was also to the kings and princes. He saw the ideal of the King as being the first among the Volk, and not as a debased hereditary ruler representing a single class. Wagner’s idea of Kingship harkened to the primeval Germans who selected their kings from among the populace on the basis of their heroism. Like Herder, Wagner saw the populous as one class, the Volk, and what Wagner was really fighting against was a system that intervened between Volk and King. Wagner wrote a völkisch appeal for princes and people to unite against the East, albeit unpublished, possibly because it did not express the sentiments of certain Jewish liberal publishers: “The old fight against the East returns again today. The people’s sword must not rust / Who freedom wish for aye.”[18] He wrote in an article published in the Dresdener Anzeiger of the intrinsic value of Kingship, and posed the question as to whether all the issues debated by the democrats cannot nonetheless be met under the personage of the King?

I must own, however, that I felt bound to urge this king to assume a much more familiar attitude towards his people than the court atmosphere and the almost exclusive society of his nobles would seem to render possible. Finally, I pointed to the King of Saxony as being specially chosen by Fate to lead the way in the direction I had indicated, and to give the example to all the other German princes.[19]

What did inspire Wagner was the revolt in Vienna that had seen workers and students unite. Yet Wagner was repelled by the rhetoric and the demagoguery of the revolutionary movement, which he regarded as “shallow.” It was the abhorrence of an aesthete who is instinctively repelled by the mob and its leaders.[20] Referring to the Dresden revolutionary committee of which he was a member, Wagner wrote that the part he played “as in everything else, was dictated by artistic motives.”[21]

Wagner had made enemies of the Court petty officials who surrounded the King. The pressure mounted to deprive Wagner of his position as Conductor of the Royal Theatre in Dresden, although the King resisted those pressures, and Wagner assured himself that the King had understood him. However, he went for a short period to Vienna. Wagner returned to Dresden, more concerned with “theatrical reform” than with social reform.

At this time however, Wagner’s friend Röckel, released on bail from jail for his role in the revolutionary movement, began to publish a journal extolling the aims of the French anarchist theorist Proudhon, to which Wagner states he was completely converted. He regarded his aesthetic revolution as first requiring a cleansing revolt by the “socialists” and “communists.” In this he as always sought to eliminate mammon from life, and to place humanity on an aesthetic foundation.

Proudhon, as Röckel explained to him,[22] advocated the elimination of the role of the middleman, which again meant the elimination of the role of the Jew, whom Proudhon described as a typical mercantile race, “exploiting,” “anti-human,” and “parasitic.”[23] Indeed, many in the socialist movement, including even Jews such as Marx, saw the Jew as the eternal middleman and socialism as the means by which humanity, including the Jews themselves, could be emancipated from a money-god that had shaped the entirety of modern civilization. Marx expressed the attitude of many in the Young Germany movement in stating of the Jews in an article specifically on the matter:

What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time. An organization of society which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make the Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would be dissipated like a thin haze in the real, vital air of society. On the other hand, if the Jew recognizes that this practical nature of his is futile and works to abolish it, he extricates himself from his previous development and works for human emancipation as such and turns against the supreme practical expression of human self-estrangement. We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time, an element which through historical development—to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed—has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily begin to disintegrate. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism. This is no isolated fact. The Jew has emancipated himself in a Jewish manner, not only because he has acquired financial power, but also because, through him and also apart from him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian nations. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews.[24]

Aside from Marx himself being a huckster motivated by self-interest and the “God of money,”[25] these sentiments were the common outlook of German radicals in the milieu in which Wagner worked and were to be expressed in similar terms a decade later by Wagner in his essay Judaism in Music, for which he has become irredeemable to many Jewish, Leftist, and liberal critics.

Wagner’s friend Bakunin saw Marx and Rothschild as part of “a single profiteering sect, a people of bloodsuckers, a single gluttonous parasite . . .”[26] Bakunin, started his career as a revolutionary with the Young Hegelians in Germany, with an article published in one of their journals in 1842, entitled “Reaction in Germany.” What Bakunin advocated for his fellow Slavs was a federated Slavic republic stretching across Europe, on the ruins of the Hapsburg melting-pot. Non-Slavic minorities would live under Slavic rule.

His grandiose aim did not find favor at the Congress of Slavic Nationalities that he attended in Prague in 1848. He appealed for collaboration among German, Hungarian, and Slavic radicals. He hoped for simultaneous revolts in Bohemia, Hungary, and the German states. Paradoxically, what the chief proponent of anarchism sought was a totalitarian authority and the suppression of “all manifestations of gabbing anarchy” across the federated Slav bloc. Such were the ideals of a current of the European revolution which fermented side-by-side and fought along with Jewish intellectuals, neo-Jacobins, and bourgeois democrats, most of whom regarded for one reason or another the nation-state and/or the Volk as the means of securing freedom against dynasties and empires.

Bakunin’s internationalism was but a phase that begun with the founding of the Internationale in 1864 and ended with his disillusionment with the “masses” in 1874; his internationalist-anarchism had comprised merely ten years of his life.[27] At the time of his friendship with Wagner, as they walked about Dresden in tumult, with Prussian troops advancing, Bakunin was a Pan-Slavic anti-Semite.

On May 1, 1849 the Chamber of Deputies of Saxony was dissolved, and Röckel, having been a Deputy, now lost his legal immunity. Wagner supported Röckel in the continuation of his journal, Volksblatt, which also provided a meagre income for Röckel’s family. While Röckel escaped to Bohemia, revolution broke out in Dresden, as Wagner busily worked on Volksblatt. It was in his position as a journalist that Wagner observed the revolutionary proceedings and the loss of control of the bourgeois liberal theorists to the mob. On May 3 bells rang out from St. Anne’s church tower as a call to take up arms. On Wagner’s account, he seems to have been driven by the enthusiasm of the moment. He recounts that he looked on as though watching a drama unfold until, caught up with the zeal of the crowd, he transformed from spectator to actor:

I recollect quite clearly that from that moment I was attracted by surprise and interest in the drama, without feeling any desire to join the ranks of the combatants. However, the agitation caused by my sympathy as a mere spectator increased with every step I felt impelled to take.[28]

While the King of Saxony and his Government and officials fled, the King of Prussia ordered his troops to march on Dresden. At this time news reached Dresden that an uprising had taken place at Württemberg, with the support of the local soldiery. Wagner saw the prospect of an invasion from Prussia as an opportunity to appeal to the patriotic sentiments of the Dresden soldiers, and Volksblatt presses came out with an appeal in bold type: “Seid Ihr mit uns gegen fremde Truppen?” (Are you on our side against the foreign troops?). The appeal was ineffectual. The initial attitude of Bakunin, who emerged from his hiding place to causally wander about the barricades, smoking a cigar and deriding amateurism of the revolutionary efforts, was that the revolt was chaotic, and he saw no point in remaining to support the doomed insurrection. However a provisional government was formed, while news was coming from throughout Germany that other cities were in revolt.[29]

On May 6 the Prussian troops fired on the market square. The heroic actions of a single individual to remain, unarmed, atop the barricades while everyone fled, rallied the defenders and they thwarted the Prussian advance. This heroism was now enough for Bakunin to throw in his lot with the revolt. The revolt lasted a few weeks, before which Wagner had already left Dresden, and started making arrangements for the performance of Tannhäuser at Weimar.

Wagner’s participation in the revolt seems to have been primarily as a propagandist and he, like Bakunin, did not see much substance in it. While Bakunin was inspired by an individual act of heroism, for Wagner he had been enthused by the sight of a well formed people’s militia on the march: the forerunner of a regenerated Volk.

Wagner was regarded as one of the primary leaders of the revolt and fled to Switzerland and from there to Paris. Here again he become acquainted with the Jews as middlemen in the music world, whom he had come to distrust previously in that city. He then went back to Zurich, where he wrote the pamphlets Kunst und Revolution (Art and Revolution) and Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (The Artwork of the Future). Back in Paris, Wagner started writing for a German radical journal, for which he prepared a lengthy essay, Kunst und Klima (“Art and Climate”) and then went back to Zurich.[30]

With the support of many German aristocrats and other well-placed individuals, Wagner returned to Germany via Weimar. In 1863, after petitioning Saxony, he was amnestied and permitted to resettle in Dresden.[31]

Those who see Wagner “selling-out” his socialist principles for the sake of royal patronage fail to understand that his “socialism” was not some type of class struggle for the rule of the proletariat, but was for a unified Volk from out of which would emerge a Hero-King-Redeemer. He maintained his closeness to many princes and princesses, counts and countesses, until finally securing the patronage of King Ludwig of Bavaria.[32]

“Communism”: Gemeinsamkeit

If Wagner was in 1849 still making allusions to a universalistic creed that was existing uneasily within the German völkisch freedom movement, having in 1841 written of “love for Universal Man,”[33] the same year (1849) he was articulating a conception of art that was thoroughly völkisch. In The Art-Work of the Future Wagner explains the völkisch basis of art, and in so doing the intrinsically “socialist” character of art not as an expression of the artist’s ego, but the artist as expressing the Volk-soul.

Ultimately his ideas were pantheistic and heathen, seeing Nature as the basis of human action, and the artificial civilization that had subjugated Nature as the object for revolt: “The real Man will therefore never be forthcoming, until true Human Nature, and not the arbitrary statutes of the State, shall model and ordain his Life; while real Art will never live, until its embodiments need be subject only to the laws of Nature, and not to the despotic whims of Mode.”[34]

Part III of his essay is devoted to “The Folk and Art,” which in his essay on Revolution and Art just shortly before, is relegated to being subsidiary to the “universal man.” The Volk now assumes the central role as the “vital force.” The Volk were all those, regardless of class, who rejected ego and considered themselves part of a “commonality.”[35] The subversion of this is the desire for “luxury,” and the subordination of the state and the Volk to capital, industry and the machine.

This alienation of man from Nature, observed Wagner, leads to “fashion,” where the “modern artist” creates a “freshly fangled fashion,” or “a thing incomprehensible,” by resorting to “the customs and the garb of savage races in new-discovered lands, the primal fashions of Japan and China, from time to time usurp as ‘Mannerisms,’ in greater or in less degree, each several departments of our modern art.”[36]

It is with socialism or “communism” that Wagner repudiated the great enemy of the art of the future: the individual aliened from the Volk. What is translated into English as “communism” was rendered in German as Gemeinsamkeit,[37] meaning “commonality,” hence we can discern something quite different between Wagner’s “communism” and what is today understood as “communism.”

It was not until several decades later that Wagner seems to have concluded that race differences preclude the desirability of states in constant flux according to external circumstances and that the folk should be a stable unit rather than a phase along the evolution to “Universal Man.” Hence, with his friend Count Arthur de Gobineau, author of the seminal Inequality of the Human Races, which made race a physical rather than a metaphysical question, being a major new influence on his thinking, Wagner explained in an essay “Hero-dom and Christendom,” in his magazine Bayreuther Blätter, that racial mixing among “noble” and “ignoble” races results in the irredeemable fall of the noble. For Wagner the noblest of all races was the “white.” Now Wagner wrote that the “uniform equality” of humanity, which he had once dreamt of as evolving into “Universal Man” under the leadership of the free German, “is unimaginable in any but a horrifying picture.”[38]

In 1850 Wagner published Judaism in Music, an important treatise in understanding his revolutionary ideas. Since the distinct characteristics of an object can be most clearly understood by comparing it with another object, the character of the German Volk was most evident by comparing it with the perceived traits of the Jews in their midst. Wagner alludes to this in a later essay, when stating that one can most readily state what is “German” by comparison with what is Jewish.[39] Judaism in Music was also the treatise that marked Wagner as a seminal leader of modern German “anti-Semitism” as a forerunner of National Socialism.

As noted, Wagner’s views on Jews were fairly typical of the ideologues of German Idealism, and of anti-capitalist radicals such as Proudhon, Bakunin, and Marx, the common belief being that Jews had detached themselves from “humanity,” and that the liberation of humanity from Jewishness would also emancipate the Jews.

As Wagner explained in Judaism in Music, he is only concerned with the Jews in culture rather than in politics or religion. As far as politics goes, with reference to Herr Rothschild as being “Jew of the Kings” rather than being content as “King of the Jews,” Wagner referred to the previous “Liberalism” of himself and his fellow radicals as “a not very lucid mental sport,” that failed to understand the true character of the Volk; and likewise, for all the radicals’ declaration on emancipating the Jews in theory, their remained an instinctive revulsion in practice.

So far from needing emancipation, the Jew “rules, and will rule, so long as Money remains the power before which all our doings and our dealings lose their force.”[40] Hence, being the middleman and the moneychanger, Jewish influence in the arts turns culture into an “art-bazaar.” While Wagner could still talk of the “Universal Man,” he nonetheless also refers in 1850 to something “disagreeably foreign” about the Jew no matter to which European nationality he belongs. While speaking the language of the nation in which he dwells, he nonetheless “speaks it always as an alien.”

Wagner had just a year previously written of Volk communities as subjected to change as per external circumstances, as a natural and desirable historical development, but here writes of a community as an enduring historical bond, and not as “the work of scattered units.” This is a development from his prior anarchistic definitions of communities as pragmatic rather than enduring: “only he who has unconsciously grown up within the bond of this community, takes also any share in its creations.”[41]

The Jew however has developed as a people, “outside the pale of any such community,’ as “splintered, soilless stock” whose communal attachment is to their God Jehova. Hence, the Jewish contribution to music, vocally, has been “a creaking, squeaking, buzzing snuffle,” “an intolerably jumbled babbler.” It is modern society based on money that has emancipated the Jew and therefore brought the Jew into the arts.

By 1850 then, Wagner had largely disposed of any former universalistic ideals, in favor of a völkisch doctrine. Over the next few decades, having recognized the folly of previous types of radicalism, he had fully embraced a völkisch ideology that remained rooted wholly in his first calling as an artist. Wagner’s ideal remained the elevating of humanity, led by the Germans, to higher levels of Being, of that which defines what is human, towards man-as-artist manifesting his creativity and appreciation for creativity within the context of the Volk community. Hence, the following year he wrote of his transcendence of the current isms: “I am neither a republican, nor a democrat, nor a socialist, nor a communist, but–an artistic being; and as such, everywhere that my gaze, my desire and my will extend, an out and out revolutionary, a destroyer of the old by the creation of the new.”[42]

His aesthetic ideals did not temper his zeal for revolution, but enhanced them, writing to a friend, “the bloodiest hatred for our whole civilization, contempt for all things deriving from it, and longing for nature . . . only the most terrific and destructive revolution could make our civilized beasts ‘human’ again.”[43]

His “anarchism” was the type of the free Germanic Volk who did not tolerate tyrants and whose concept of “freedom” was that of communal, Volk freedom, and not the egotism of the individual, a type of “anarchism” nonetheless that was postulated by Bakunin and later by Kropotkin, that states that communities are organically formed by free association from instinct, and not imposed by laws. “The same Wagnerian spirit favouring in music the revolt of emotional inspiration against classical rules favours in politics the revolt of instinctive Volk against law,” writes Peter Viereck.[44] By 1865 he had repudiated the widespread revolutionary spirit of 1848, as “a Jewish importation of French rationalism,” Viereck states.[45] Wagner explained his rejection of the prior era of revolt, writing in 1876 that,

I have no hesitation about styling the subsequent revolutions in Germany entirely un-German. “Democracy” in Germany is purely a translated thing. It exists merely in the “Press;” and what this German Press is, one must find out for oneself. But untowardly enough, this translated Franco-Judaico-German Democracy could really borrow a handle, a pretext and deceptive cloak, from the misprised and maltreated spirit of the German Folk. To secure a following among the people, “Democracy” aped a German mien; and “Deutschthum,” “German spirit,” “German honesty,” “German freedom,” “German morals,” became catchwords disgusting no one more than him who had true German culture, who had to stand in sorrow and watch the singular comedy of agitators from a non-German people pleading for him without letting their client so much as get a word in edgewise. The astounding unsuccessfulness of the so loud-mouthed movement of 1848 is easily explained by the curious circumstance that the genuine German found himself; and found his name, so suddenly represented by a race of men quite alien to him.[46]

While critics claim that Wagner reneged on his former revolutionary ideas to curry favor with the aristocracy, his greatest patron being King Ludwig of Bavaria, his great English admirer, the Germanophilic English-born philosopher, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who married Wagner’s daughter Eva, said of the maestro that he remained a revolutionist from 1840 to the day of his death, on the basis that you cannot separate corrupt society from corrupt art.[47]

Wagner’s revolutionary “freedom” was the innate German instinct for freedom; not the French, nor the English nor the Jewish conceptions of humanism and liberalism, of freedom for commerce and for parliaments. That völkisch freedom could as well be served in the ancient institution of a King if that King embodied the völkisch spirit. The Wagnerian leader is a nexus with the divine and the highest embodiment of the Volk. Wagner referred to this leader who would liberate the Germans as a Volk, rather than as a class of money interests, as a “hero,” as the “folk-king” and as the legendary “Barbarossa,” the German’s King Arthur who awakens from a slumber when his people are most endangered. Wagnerians looked for the Germanic Messiah, the reborn Barbarossa as the saviour of Germany.

Even in 1848 Wagner sought a King who would embody the Volk; a King who would be “the first of the Volk” and not merely representative of a class, and he sought to elevate the King of Saxony to that position, rather than to overthrow him.[48] He was a “republican” in a very definite sense, not of wishing to overthrow the King, but of the king leading the res publica, the public–the people–the Volk–as a unitary whole. Such a “folk-king” must transcend class and selfish interests. Here we see that Wagner could have no time for the banalities of parliament or of class war. Such matters as parliaments, constitutions and parties were divisive to the völkisch organism, undermined the authority of the folk-king, and reduced the Volk to separate constituents rather than maintaining a unitary organic state.[49] However Wagner drew a distinction between King and Monarchy, because a monarchy is a hereditary class that does not arise from the Volk, and indeed we see how monarchies might disintegrate over centuries, where they are based on birth rather than achievement, and that birth-lineage often becomes degenerate and effete, perhaps with no recourse other than through revolution, which more generally throws up a rulership that is worse. Wagner looked to the primeval Germanic Kinship drawn from selection among free men, which was the rule of Herodom, the divine Hero[50] often the plot of his operas.

In his essay Art and Revolution Wagner introduced his remarks by an admission of his own muddled thinking at the time of the Dresden revolt. He sought to amalgamate the ideas of Hegel, Proudhon, and Feuerbach into a revolutionary philosophy. “From this arose a kind of impassioned tangle of ideas, which manifested itself as precipitance and indistinctness in my attempts at philosophical system.”[51]

Wagner explains what he means by his frequent references to “communism,” not wishing to be misconstrued as being a supporter of the Paris Commune, as was then frequently supposed, but as a term meaning the repudiation of “egos.” Wagner explains that by “communism” he means the collectivity of the “Volk,” “that should represent the incomparable productivity of antique brotherhood, while I looked forward to the perfect evolution of this principle as the very essence of the associate Manhood of the Future.” This Germanic conception was antithetical to the Jacobin, liberal-democratic mind of the French.[52] He regarded Germany as having a mission among the nations, by virtue of a “German spirit,” to herald a new dawn of creativity that renounced egotism and the economics that was being driven by it.[53] Quoting Thomas Carlyle[54] on the epochal impact of the French Revolution and the “spontaneous combustion” of humanity, Wagner saw this mission of the “German race” as one of creation rather than destruction and the “breaking out of universal mankind into Anarchy.”[55] In Art and Revolution Wagner addressed the question of the impact of the late 1840s European revolt on the arts, and where the artist had been in the era preceding the tumult. It was the “Hellenic race,” once overcoming its “Asiatic birthplace,” which birthed a “strong manhood of freedom,” most fully expressed in their god Apollo, who had slain the forces of Chaos, to bring forth “the fundamental laws of the Grecian race and nation.” It was in Greece, including Sparta, where art and state and war-craft were an organic entity.[56] The Athenian “spirit of community” fell to “egoism” and split itself along a thousand lines of egoistic cleavage.”[57] The degradation of the Roman world succumbed to “the healthy blood of the fresh Germanic nations,” whose blood poured into the “ebbing veins of the Roman world.” But art had sold itself to “commerce.” Mercury, the God of commerce, had become the ruler of “modern art.”

This is Art, as it now fills the entire civilised world! Its true essence is Industry; its ethical aim, the gaining of gold; its aesthetic purpose, the entertainment of those whose time hangs heavily on their hands. From the heart of our modern society, from the golden calf of wholesale Speculation, stalled at the meeting of its cross-roads, our art sucks forth its life-juice, borrows a hollow grace from the lifeless relics of the chivalric conventions of mediaeval times, and—blushing not to fleece the poor, for all its professions of Christianity—descends to the depths of the proletariat, enervating, demoralising, and dehumanising everything on which it sheds its venom.[58]

In ancient Greece, by contrast, art belonged to the entire populace; not to a single class. The contrast between Greek and modern education shows the differences between a Volk and a state of classes educated for commerce:

The Greeks sought the instruments of their art in the products of the highest associate culture: we seek ours in the deepest social barbarism. The education of the Greek, from his earliest youth, made himself the subject of his own artistic treatment and artistic enjoyment, in body as in spirit: our foolish education, fashioned for the most part to fit us merely for future industrial gain, gives us a ridiculous, and withal arrogant satisfaction with our own unfitness for art, and forces us to seek the subjects of any kind of artistic. . . .[59]

The task was not to restore the Greek or anything else from the past, but to create new art, freed from commerce:

From the dishonouring slave-yoke of universal journeymanhood, with its sickly Money-soul, we wish to soar to the free manhood of Art, with the star-rays of its World-soul; from the weary, overburdened day-labourers of Commerce, we desire to grow to fair strong men, to whom the world belongs as an eternal, inexhaustible source of the highest delights of Art.[60]

Only the “mightiest force of revolution”[61] can overthrow the money despotism and inaugurate the free “republic” where the whole populace partakes of the art that expresses its spirit. This however, was not a revolution of “the windy theories of our socialistic doctrinaires,” who sought to level and proletarianize until there is no possibility of art. The aim was not universal proletarianization, as per Karl Marx, but what Wagner called “artistic manhood, to the free dignity of Man,”[62] emancipated from the economic treadmill.

Bayreuth as the Center of the German Revolution

Wagner’s redemption of humanity, having found a patron in Ludwig of Bavaria, became centred on Bayreuth, where Wagner’s pageants could be performed and a journal published, the Bayreuther Blätter, that would articulate the political and aesthetic ideals implicit in those operas. Wagner proceeded with a metapolitical strategy decades before the Italian Communist theorist Gramsci formulated his strategy of the “long march through the institutions” and subtlety redirecting a society by first changing its culture.[63]

These ideas, together with the racial doctrines of de Gobineau, were intended to permeate German society, emanating from a cultural and meptapolitical center, Bayreuth, intended as the microcosm of a völkisch classless society. The festival house at Bayreuth was what Wagner’s son-in-law Chamberlain called in 1900 “a standard for armed warriors to rally around” in their revolt against corruption.[64]

Under the Second Reich of Bismarck, Bayreuth became a center of pilgrimage for those seeking “what Wagner’s Meistersinger chorus calls ‘the holy German art.’” The Second Reich relied on Bayreuth to give it an historical and mythic cult connecting the Golden Age of Frederick Barbarossa with that of Bismarck. Without Bayreuth the Bismarckian Reich would have been nothing more than a Prussian state edifice. Wagner Societies throughout Germany propagated the ideas emanating from Bayreuth.

Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Wagner’s son-in-law, whose racial history[65] championed the Holy Grail of Germandom, expounded mystically in Wagner’s operas, was the direct link between Wagner and the Third Reich. It seems likely that Wagner would have viewed with enthusiasm the mass parades of armed Volk, the purging of the arts, the breaking of usury, and the mantle of virtual kingship assumed by a war veteran from out of the people.

As we have seen, whether Wagner’s views are explicitly the doctrinal antecedent for National Socialism per se is questionable. His views on race and Jews were quite typical of revolutionaries of the time, including those of non-Germans such as Proudhon and Bakunin. History has been kinder to these than to Wagner because, despite their revolutionary political commitment, and Wagner’s primary commitment to the arts, it was Wagner who has been the greater influence on history, attesting to the greater influence of the metapolitical over the political.

Notes

[1] Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), pp. 46-47.

[2] Marx, The Communist Manifesto, pp. 41, 44.

[3] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971), Vol. II, pp. 402, 506.

[4] Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 2002), pp. 167-68.

[5] Cf. K. R. Bolton, “Marx Contra Marx: A Traditionalist Conservative Critique of the Communist Manifesto,” http://www.anamnesisjournal.com/issues/2-web-essays/43-kr-bolton K. R. Bolton, The Banking Swindle: Money Creation and the State (London: Black House Publishing 2013), “The Real Right’s Answer to Socialism and Capitalism,” pp. 152-74.

[6] Richard Wagner, My Life, Part I, http://www.wagneropera.net/MyLife/RW-My-Life-Part-1-1813-1842.htm

[7] Ibid.

[8] British = a civilizing mission, Jews = a domineering material mission, Russians = a metaphysical mission.

[9] Richard Wagner, My Life, Part I, op. cit.

[10] Ibid., Part II, http://www.wagneropera.net/MyLife/RW-My-Life-Part-2-1842-50.htm

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Cited by Paul Lawrence Rose, Wager: Race and Revolution (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), p. 52.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Wagner, “Revolution,” cited by Peter Viereck, Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2004), p. 109.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Richard Wagner, Part II, op. cit.

[20] K. R. Bolton, Artists of the Right (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012), inter alia.

[21] Richard Wagner, Part II, op. cit.

[22] Paul Lawrence Rose, p. 29.

[23] Ibid., p. 64.

[24] Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question,” February, 1844 in Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher; http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/jewish-question/

[25] K. R. Bolton, The Psychotic Left (London: Black House Publishing, 2013), pp. 70-100.

[26] Michael Bakunin, 1871, Gesammelte Werke, vol. 3 (Berlin, 1924), pp. 204-16.

[27] Max Nomad, Apostles of Revolution (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1939), “The Heretic: Michael Bakunin: Apostle of ‘Pan-Destruction’.”

[28] Richard Wagner, My Life, Part II, op. cit.

[29] Wagner, Part II, ibid.

[30] Wagner, Part II, ibid.

[31] Wagner, Part IV, http://www.wagneropera.net/MyLife/RW-My-Life-Part-4-1861-1864.htm

[32] Wagner, Part IV, ibid.

[33] Richard Wagner, “Art and Climate,” 1841, p. 264, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/wagclim.htm

[34] Richard Wagner, The Art-Work of the Future, 1849, p. 72, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/wagartfut.htm

[35] Richard Wagner, Art-Work, ibid., Chapter I, Part III.

[36] Richard Wagner, ibid., Part V, p. 88.

[37] Richard Wagner, ibid., Part V, p. 147.

[38] Richard Wagner, “Hero-dom and Christendom,” 1881, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/waghero.htm

[39] Richard Wagner, “What is German,” 1876, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/wagwiger.htm

[40] Richard Wagner, Judaism in Music, 1850, p. 82, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/wagjuda.htm

[41] Richard Wagner, Judaism in Music, p. 85.

[42] Richard Wager, 1851, cited by Paul Lawrence Rose, op. cit., p. 177.

[43] Wagner, 1851, cited by Rose, ibid.

[44] Peter Viereck, op. cit., p. 108.

[45] Ibid., p. 109.

[46] Richard Wagner, What is German, op. cit., p. 167.

[47] Cited by Peter Viereck, ibid., p. 109.

[48] Peter Viereck, op. cit., pp. 111-112.

[49] Ibid., p. 112. Viereck calls all of this “monstrous sophistries.”

[50] Richard Wagner, Bayreuther Blatter, September 1881.

[51] Richard Wagner (1849) “Art and Revolution,” in The Art-Work of the Future, op. cit., Vol. 1, 1895, p. 26.

[52] Richard Wagner (1849) Art and Revolution, ibid, p. 29.

[53] Richard Wagner, ibid, p. 30.

[54] Thomas Carlyle, History of Frederick II of Prussia, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25808/25808-h/25808-h.htm

[55] Richard Wagner, Art and Revolution, op. cit., p. 30.

[56] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 33.

[57] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 36.

[58] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 43.

[59] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 48.

[60] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 55.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid., p. 57.

[63] Steven Yates, “Understanding the Culture War,” http://www.lewrockwell.com/yates/yates24.html

[64] Peter Viereck, op. cit., p. 115.

[65] Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (London: John Lane Company, 1911).

 

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Bolton, Kerry. “Wagner as Metapolitical Revolutionary.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 20 May 2013. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/05/wagner-bicentennial-symposiumwagner-as-metapolitical-revolutionary/ >.

 

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Mishima: Paleocon as Samurai – Raimondo

Yukio Mishima: Paleocon as Samurai

By Justin Raimondo

 

In Runaway Horses, Yukio Mishima’s portrait of a young right-winger and would-be assassin, the main character, Isao, is inspired by a pamphlet, The League of the Divine Wind, by Tsunanori Yamao—a work of pure imagination, albeit based on historical reality, which takes up all or most of Chapter 9. This is the story of the Shinpuren Incident of 1876, in which a band of rebellious samurai rose up against the “reforms” of the Meiji Restoration. These were radical traditionalists of a uniquely consistent sort: they disdained such Western inventions as guns and cannon, and wielded spears and swords to attack the local garrison.

It was a highly stylized gesture of defiance against the onset of modernity, just the sort of thing that would interest Mishima, whose aesthetics as well as his politics made him sympathetic to the motivations of the rebels, who chafed at the failure of the authorities to resist “foreign influence” and “expel the barbarians.” Mishima lists the outrages that inflame them, starting off with “In Meiji 3, permission was granted to an imperial prince to study in Germany.”

The traditions of the samurai class were being systematically dismantled: not only were their subsidies and subventions, which came out of the Imperial Treasury, dramatically reduced and eventually cut off, to add insult to injury they were told to cut off their top-knots and turn in their swords. It became a crime to carry a sword in public. For the followers of Oen Hayashi—who held white fans over their heads as they walked under electric wires for fear of contamination by Western emanations–that was the last straw.

Oen was a Shinto priest and scholarly defender of the old gods, whose zeal on their behalf inspires a group of young samurai. His views, propagated after his death by the League of the Divine Wind, are clearly Mishima’s, who sums up Oen’s politics thusly:

Cherishing as he did the ideal of glorifying the Imperial Tradition within the land and upholding the national honor in the face of foreign incursion, he was appalled by the vacillation of the Shogunate officials at the time of Perry’s arrival and also by the tactics of those who turned away from the policy of ‘Expel the Barbrians’ but tried to use it to overthrow the Shogunate. He became a recluse and gave himself over to the contemplation of occult wisdom.

Against the arrival of Commodore Perry and modernity, the leaders of the League approach the elder gods with a petition to act. The opening line of Tsunanori’s story sets the stage: “One day in the summer of 1873–the Sixth Year of the Meiji era–four stalwart men of high ideals gathered at the Imperial Shrine in Shingai Village.” They are there to consult the will of the gods in the ritual known as Ukei: in Mishima’s version, a fresh-cut peach branch festooned with paper pendants inscribed with questions for the gods is waved over the Sacred Mirror, and the answers drop from the branch like rain, or tears:

The first of these was in accordance with the wishes of Harukata Kaya and read as follows: ‘To bring an end to misgovernment by admonishing authority even to the forfeiture of life.’

Kaya was bent upon the use of argument, of subduing their enemy without shedding any blood but his own. He wished to insure that his admonition achieved its goal by emulating Ysautake Yokoyama, the samurai of the Satsuma Clan who, in Meiji 3, set the seal upon his heroic remonstrance by slaying himself with his sword as soon as he had delivered his petition. Kaya’s comrades, however, had misgivings about the efficacy of such a course.

The second appeal laid out before the judgement of the gods was “to cut down the unworthy ministers by striking in darkness with the sword,” i.e. a terrorist campaign targeted at the sell-outs and traitors who were delivering Old Nippon over to the foreigners. A poem written on the headband of the 16-year-old Tadao Saruwatari, sums up the feelings of the rebels:

Our land divided, sold to barbarians,
The Sacred Throne in peril.
May the gods of heaven and earth
Behold our loyal devotion.

The leaders of the League twice implored the gods, and twice the answer was the same: the time for action was not propitious. On the third try, however, the gods were apparently in a good mood–or, perhaps, a bad one–because they not only gave the go ahead, but deemed the League a divine army that was to spark a general rising. Their destiny sealed, the League set about making preparations. Nothing was done, of course, without consulting the Divine Will: the battle plan, the division of the forces and their various tasks, the timing–all were calculated according to the sanctions of tradition and the will of the war god Hachiman.

Numbering less than two hundred, they would take on the garrison of the castle of Kumamoto, defended by two thousand government troops. Perhaps some hi-tech firepower might have given them some advantage – say, a cannon or two – but, as Mishima notes, they hotly disdained using the weapons of the foreigners, and rode into battle with swords, spears, and halberds – although they also made several hundreds primitive Molotov cocktails using two bowls packed with gunpowder and gravel.

With the advantage of surprise – and surprise certainly describes the reaction of the garrison, as these oddly-garbed figures, bearing swords and spears, swarmed through the barracks – the League achieved a victory as sweet as it was short: all two thousand defenders fled “like frightened women.” Yet they soon regrouped, and, heartened by reinforcements, went on the counterattack.

The League fought valiantly, but, in the end, they were overwhelmed by superior numbers, not to mention the modern weaponry of their opponents. The defeated army of the gods, gathered together in the sanctuary of a nearby Shinto shrine, determined to fight on, and yet it soon became all too clear that resistance was futile. Government troops swarmed over the countryside like ants in search of sugar. Driven to the ground, the survivors took the only honorable course: they committed seppuku, ritual suicide, one-by-one and in groups. Young and old, priests and samurai, commoners and nobility–yes, and even one woman!–they all went into the next life without hesitation or regret, slitting their throats, falling on their swords, and disemboweling themselves in the gruesome ritual known in the West as hari-kiri.

This, for them–and for the author—was the supreme duty, the proof of their purity, and any other course would have been unthinkable, under the circumstances, and they did it as simply, as easily, as naturally as a Westerner would close his eyes and go to sleep. Their fate prefigured that of the author, and, as he wrote Runaway Horses, Mishima was no doubt already planning his dramatic denouement, an act that would shock the world–but not yet.

Mishima was a writer of extraordinary talent, and so prolific that I cannot even get a handle on how many novels he actually wrote: the number we usually encounter is 40, but that’s not counting the serialized “popular” novels, some of which were never published between book covers, and not thought of as serious by the author. In addition, he produced such a quantity of short stories, essays, plays, screenplays, poems, and polemics that it seemed as if, behind his byline, lurked a literary team rather than a single author.

In his personal life, too, the same energy was evident: at the height of his fame, Mishima was everywhere, socializing with the high and the low, appearing on television, religiously going to the gym where he devoted himself to body-building and kendo, at one point starring in a gangster movie, and traveling the world from Bangkok to Manhattan, reveling in life even as he dreamt endless dreams of death.

Born Kimitake Hiroaka, a small, spindly Mama’s boy, he grew up in wartime Japan a bookish odd-man-out, burdened with a morbid imagination and a predilection for perversions that included but were not limited to homosexuality. Much of his best known earlier work is largely an attempt to work through and come to terms with his childhood demons. Taken from his mother after a mere week or so of life, and forced to attend to his witch of a grandmother in her sickbed, he was not allowed to play with other children, especially boys, and was forced to stay inside playing with origami and reading. He soon devoured all the books in his well-read grandmother’s library: the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, as well as Oscar Wilde, and the poems of Rilke and the Decadents.

His first novel, Hanazakari no Mori (“The Forest in Full Bloom”), was steeped in the spirit and history of Ancient Japan: it consists of profiles of aristocratic figures from widely disparate historical eras. The Japan Mishima evoked was a memory of a time when the grasping egotism and “modern” crudity of contemporary Japanese militarists was unthinkable: When it was a “forest in full bloom,” Japan was a courtly society, where ancient forms were followed to the letter as a matter of course. Mishima’s language, studded with rare words like polished jewels, was elegant, archaic, and yet precise. As one of his translators put it: “He knew the exact word for everything.”

Mishima’s literary debut was overshadowed, however, by the start of the war–an event that transformed everything for the seventeen year old author. As Japan’s fortunes took a turn for the worse, Mishima and his school-fellows lived with the prospect of conscription—and certain death—hanging over them like a tsunami about to crash onto their once-peaceful beach. For the first time since a fortunate wind blew the approaching Mongol fleet off course–that, by the way, is where the League of the Divine Wind got its name–Japan faced the prospect of foreign invasion. The idea that they would die young, and gloriously, was part of the air they breathed.

Mishima became associated with a group of nationalist writers, the Bungei Bunka, for whom the war was a holy task. Known as the Roman-ha (Japanese Romanticists), their goal, in literary-emotional terms, was “purity of sentiment,” as Henry Scott-Stokes puts it in The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima, while their politics consisted of an eclectic mix of Emperor-worship and Marxism: like Mishima, they pined for the Old Japan, which they idealized. They hated the zaibatsu (huge industrial combines that dominated wartime Japan) and Westernized politicians, valorized the samurai, and reveled in the “irony” that defeat, too, could be sweet if it was experienced as the denouement of a heroic gesture.

Mishima’s father, Azusa, was a demanding, unsympathetic character who had squandered the family’s money in an unsuccessful bid to become an entrepreneur: he regularly invaded the boy’s room and tore up his manuscripts, rationalizing his brutality with the view that writing was unproductive and could only divert his young son away from the straight and narrow. In spite of the boy’s literary prowess–he was already being praised by the Bungei Bunka as a genius–Azusa finally prevailed upon him to study law at Tokyo University. That in itself was a feat of some magnitude, since Mishima had always ignored his father’s hectoring as much as possible.

The reason for this unusual concession was no doubt because Mishima found the law intellectually challenging: but there was not much studying done that year. The war was moving rapidly toward its end, and air raids were constant. Students were yanked out of the classroom and mobilized to support the war effort: Mishima and his fellow future lawyers of Japan were put to work in a factory making kamikaze planes:

This great factory worked on a mysterious system of production costs: taking no account of the dictum that capital investment should produce a return, it was dedicated to a monstrous nothingness. No wonder then that each morning the workers had to recite a mystic oath. I have never seen such a strange factory. In it all the techniques of modern science and management, together with the exact and rational thinking of many superior brains, were dedicated to a single end: Death. Producing the Zero-model combat plane used by the suicide squadrons, this great factory resembled a secret cult that operated thunderously–groaning, shrieking, roaring.

This description of the factory appeared in Confessions of a Mask–the book that catapulted him to fame. Fame, however, was in the future: for now, he was just a lonely aesthete amid the unfolding disaster of wartime Japan. As he ran to the air raid shelter, he clutched the pages of what he thought of as his “last” novel, The Middle Ages, an historical tale based on the life and death of Prince Yoshihisa, the son of a Shogun who lived in the 15th century. Yoshihisa attempted a coup, but was killed in battle: what followed was a long period of chaos and fighting, known as the era of the Onin wars, that nearly destroyed Japanese society. Kyoto, the capital, was burned to the ground–a condition that was about to be replicated in contemporary Japan. The feeling of impending disaster was everywhere, and it was just like Mishima to translate this foreboding into a tale out of the fifteenth century.

Japan was slowly but surely being defeated, and as the Americans inched closer to the Japanese homeland, Mishima received the call to report for duty: he was being drafted. As it turned out, however, he was so sickly and thin that they rejected him, much to his relief: the military doctor mistakenly diagnosed him with incipient tuberculosis. Later, in Confessions, he would remark that he had been “forsaken even by Death.” He had escaped, and yet Death still haunted him: or, rather, the desire to embrace it haunted him. He had been denied a glorious death by the army doctor, but he believed he would meet his end in a final cataclysm, as enemy bombers dropped fire from the skies and Tokyo was aflame. “It was in death,” he wrote, “that I had discovered my real ‘life’s aim.’”

As the Japanese government prepared for surrender, Mishima was immersed in his books, writing his first published stories, and making contacts with older authors who would prove instrumental to his career. Hiroshima was devastated, and then Nagasaki: the Americans dropped leaflets over Tokyo laying out the terms of surrender. The Japanese government capitulated.

Mishima was in shock: the Emperor went on the radio to declare that he wasn’t a god, after all. Of this time, he wrote:

The war ended. All I was thinking about, as I listened to the Imperial Rescript announcing the surrender, was the Golden Temple. The bond between the temple and myself had been severed. I thought, now I shall return … to a state in which I exist on one side and beauty on the other. A state which will never improve so long as the world endures.

The death of his sister, Mitsuko, underscored the end of the world he had known: she succumbed to typhoid in October, 1945. The old Japan was crashing down all around him, but to this larger catastrophe Mishima was numbed and oblivious: he simply withdrew into his own private world. He was determined to become a writer, and not only that, but a literary star: one senior literary figure, to whom he brought his work, criticized him for his extravagant Romanticism, and asked him if he wanted to be an original or a popular author: Mishima unhesitatingly chose the latter.

The “reforms” of the MacArthur Regency, the economic and social tumult that surrounded him, did not, at the time, concern him: his family home had escaped any damage, and he hid himself away in what he called his “castle.” Amidst the physical destruction of Tokyo, and the disintegration of all the old values, including the aristocratic “courtly” literary traditions he and his fellows of the Roman-ha upheld, he wasn’t merely indifferent to it all, including the momentous political developments–he was determinedly oblivious. His focus was exclusively on the development of his unique literary imagination, and his efforts to break into the Bundan, the exclusive and inbred club of the Japanese literary establishment.

If Mishima was indifferent to such worldly concerns as politics, then politics weren’t indifferent to him. Postwar Japan was dominated by the Left, and the political trials and purges carried out under the occupation, with the full and enthusiastic cooperation of the Japanese Communist Party, extended into the literary realm. In the winter of 1945, as Mishima was gathering a book of stories for publication, a committee of leftist writers and critics issued an indictment of “literary war criminals,” among whom Mishima’s former mentors and sponsors figured prominently. This was followed by an official purge executed by the American occupation authorities.

Mishima’s effort to storm the castle of the Bundan met with intractable resistance: his association with the Roman-ha as well as his extravagant subjectivism, his stylistic archaicism, and his decidedly un-“progressive” subject matter all kept him out of print, albeit only temporarily.

Mishima was inwardly beset by all sorts of demons, which he mercilessly dissected in his famous Confessions, the book that made him as a writer. Yet he had a will of steel, and this was reflected not only in his ambition, but in his highly disciplined sensibility, which approached every task with a relentless concentration. Still a law student, he studied diligently and prepared for his entrance examination to the civil service with the same fierce concentration that produced reams of stories and a first novel, The Thieves, the story of a young couple that enter into a suicide pact, albeit not out of love for each other.

His career as a civil servant—he was accepted as a minor functionary into the Ministry of Finance—didn’t last very long, and Azusa bitterly opposed his decision to leave his job and become a full-time writer. But when it became apparent that Mishima would persist, his father turned to him and said: “Well then, go ahead, but make sure you are the best writer in the land.” Father and son, so unlike each other in every other way, shared a belief in this possibility. Mishima, for his part, was certain of his destiny: indeed, this certitude seemed almost fully formed from early youth.

Not long before his spectacular death, Mishima was asked by the Tobu department store, one of the biggest such establishments in Japan, to help put together a photographic exhibition of his life and work: it was displayed from November 12 – 19, in 1970. During that time, one-hundred thousand visited the display with it’s black-draped photographs arranged around an antique samurai sword that was to be the instrument of Mishima’s death a few days later. The catalogue, bound in black, contained an introduction by Mishima, in which he said of the exhibition:

I made only one suggestion: that was to divide my forty-five years of life–a life so full of contradictions–into Four Rivers, ‘Writing,,’ ‘Theater,’ ‘Body,” and ‘Action,’ all finally flowing into The Sea of Fertility.

This last was the title of his tetralogy, consisting of Spring Snow, Runaway Horses, The Temple of Dawn, and The Decay of the Angel, which covers the period from 1912 to 1975, and can be considered his literary and philosophical testament.

The rivers of writing and action flowed together in the evolution of his political views, from the non-committal anti-political stance of his early works, which are steeped in the personal and the subjective, to his fulsome embrace of Japanese nationalism, albeit of a unique sort.

John Nathan, in his introduction to the new edition of his 1974 biography of Mishima, regrets that his analysis of the writer’s political ideology was overshadowed by Mishima’s personal pathology–the obsession with death revealed in Confessions, and in much of his fiction, rooted in sado-masochistic eroticism. In re-reading the work he hadn’t opened in many years, Nathan confides he was “troubled by the skepticism my argument required me to sustain. In declining to accept Mishima’s words or actions at face value, I failed to recognize the courage and unflinching honesty that are there to be observed.”

In a piece published on New Year’s Day, 1967, Mishima explained that his Westernized lifestyle–he lived in a Western-style house, wore Western clothes, etc.–did not really contradict his nationalist sentiments because “My true life as a writer is in the pure Japan of the Japanese language I use every night in my study. Compared to this, “he averred, “nothing else is of any importance.” Nathan writes:

In the biography, my commitment to reveal Mishima’s nationalism as specious, and as a device for achieving death, prompted me to dismiss this claim as ‘a lame and silly argument’…. Today, I am persuaded, indeed moved, by the same logic I once ridiculed.

Mishima’s fate, Nathan continues, “now appears as one of two historical moments” that seem to have underscored the predicament of modern Japan. Not that Nathan gives up entirely his tiresomely predictable way of looking at Mishima through the lens of amateur psychology: after all, Mishima’s work is the very exemplar of “psychological” fiction, in that the real action is taking place inside the characters’ skulls. So that all the physical action – and there is a lot of that, too–proceeds logically from a clear albeit unique motivation. Yet there was a growing political consciousness, a current that flowed from the merging rivers of writing and action, that represented Mishima’s mature thought.

As he outgrew his exoticism, and shed the skin of a sensitive youth, Mishima underwent a remarkable transformation. One of his critics once remarked that what scared him about Mishima is that he seemed to have sprouted up so fast as a writer that he was all flower and no leaves. And there was something distinctly unhealthy about his extreme aestheticism, with its overtones of Wilde and Raymond Radiguet.

All that began to change, however, as he approached the pinnacle of his success: his novels were being made into films, and there was talk that he was up for a Nobel. For much of his youth, he had swum exclusively in the rivers of writing and theater: as for the body, the thin and sickly Kimitake Hiroaka, with his thin shoulders and pallid complexion, was banished, finally, like a ghost that has lingered too long on this earth, replaced by the chiseled physique of a dedicated bodybuilder. This led directly to the rising of the river of theater, especially when he posed semi-naked in a notorious series of photographs, one of which has him in the classic pose of St. Sebastian, tied to a post and stuck full of arrows. It was a most un-Japanese way of calling attention to himself, and this was made worse when he ventured onto the stage as an actor, appearing in a couple of cheap gangster movies. It was an embarrassment, but Mishima was clearly enjoying himself, and, for all his avowed traditionalism, his innate exhibitionism overrode the Japanese sense of propriety.

The last of the four rivers to swell from a stream into a rushing torrent was that of action, and it propelled him toward his fate. This was really, however, the river of ideology, which for Mishima was his own unique brand of Japanese nationalism: it might be called Japan’s version of paleoconservatism. He didn’t think of himself standing athwart history yelling “Stop!” Instead, he demanded that history must reverse course, and go back to that juncture where a wrong turn was taken.

For Japan, as far as Mishima was concerned, that juncture was located precisely. On February 26, 1936, when he was 11 years old, the young army officers of the Imperial Way faction, at the head of 1,400 troops, seized the Tokyo center and assassinated a number of government officials. They were rising against the power of the “Control” faction, led by Hideki Tojo and a group of old-line bureaucrats who would later come to be charged as war criminals and executed.

At the time, there was great division in military circles and the emperor’s court as to which direction Japanese expansionism ought to take: should they go eastward, and occupy China, or go north and take on the Soviet Union? The Imperial Way faction, being staunchly anti-Communist, wanted to make war on the Kremlin and build a Nipponese empire in the north. The Control group wanted to conquer the Chinese coastline and make its way inward to the Han heartland: this meant also taking on the colonial powers of the West–including the United States—whose interests in China and Southeast Asia were at stake.

The Imperial Way group believed that the Emperor had lost control to a cabal of bureaucratic technocrats, exemplified by Tojo, who had betrayed the traditions of old Japan in their rush to modernize. The Imperial Way solution was to appeal to the Emperor Hirohito to take direct control of the government, and dispense with his scheming ministers and other Westernizers: thus their name Koda-ha, or Imperial Way. They particularly resented to power of the zaibatsu, the great industrial combines that monopolized industry and extended their talons into the government and the Imperial Court. The Emperor, they believed, had been misled: their rebellion was a direct appeal to Hirohito – who firmly rejected their entreaties. Indeed, the Emperor directed the army to put down the rebellion, even as some councilors urged him to compromise: the uprising was crushed, its leaders committed seppuku, and the February Incident went down in the history of Japan was yet another eruption of Nipponese irrationality and “extremism,” like the Shimpuren Incident.

Mishima, however, was sympathetic to the rebels, and it is easy to see why. If the Imperial Way had won, and Tojo and his group cast aside, Japan would never have gone to war with the West, and the devastation of Japan, the occupation, and the radical process of Westernization would all have been avoided. Japan would not have been relegated to the role of an international castrati, forbidden to have a real army, and locked into a mandatory pacifism in which the specter of death had been banished, and, along with it, any sense of meaning, or so Mishima came to believe. “Surely some great God died when the Ni Ni Roku Incident failed,” he wrote. It figured prominently in his later works: the short story “Patriotism,” the prose poem “Voices of the Heroic Dead,” a play, Toka no Kiku, and also in Runaway Horses, where the hero, Isao, invokes it as the inspiration for his own plans for an uprising.

In “Patriotism,” the hero, Lieutenant Takeyama, is the commander of a unit that receives the order to move against the February rebels. As a friend and sympathizer of the rebel leaders, this puts him in a predicament: he will not take up arms against his comrades, yet is unwilling to disobey the direct order of the Emperor. He is shamed that he has been left out of the rebellion: The only way out is to commit seppuku. What follows is the longest, most detailed description of ritual suicide in Japanese literature, bloody and gory and yet strangely idealized. As Lieutenant Takeyama’s intestines are spilling out onto the floor, Mishima remarks: “It would be difficult to imagine a more heroic sight than that of the lieutenant at this moment, as he mustered his strength and flung back his head.”

“Voices of the Heroic Dead” was controversial with both the Left and the Right: the former because it valorized the kamikazee fighters as well as the rebel officers of Ni Ni Roku, and the latter because it criticized Emperor Hirohito for repudiating his own godhood and failing to support the Imperial Way. Here we are taken into a séance, in which the voices of the perished kamikazee pilots and the coup leaders of the Imperial Way group reproach the Emperor Hirohito: “Why did the emperor have to become a human being?” The ghosts of these departed patriots echo this refrain throughout the text. Mishima disdains the second half of the Showa era – Hirohito’s reign – as a time of national listlessness and a “smiling full-bellied peace,” that led to boredom and nihilism. Lassitude had set in:

Strength is decried, the body disdained
Pleasure has lost its substance
Joy and grief alike vanish in an instant
Purity is marketed, dissipation enfeebled
Feeling is dulled, sharpness blunted
Virulent and manly spirits have fled the earth….

This anomie is what he had succumbed to in his youth, and now was learning to conquer. The sickly Kimitake Hiroaka, who cowered in his room and watched the destruction of Tokyo from a distance, as if it were a play, longed for action, for commitment, for belief–and this desire was manifested in his emerging nationalist politics.

The emergence of Mishima as an ideologue of the Emperor system is widely misunderstood: he was not an authoritarian, but rather a critic of Westernized Japanese democracy, which was merely the old bureaucratic zaibatsu-dominated system wearing a “democratic” mask. He saw the Emperor and the Shinto system of Emperor-worship as the essence of the Japanese spirit. The postwar order emasculated Japanese culture, which had previously been represented by both the Chrysanthemum and the Sword: after the Defeat, however, only the Chrysanthemum remained. The Sword was permanently sheathed, the American-imposed “constitution” forbade any form of military activity, and Japanese culture was represented by such pacifistic activities as ikebana (flower arranging), while the darker side was entirely missing.

This dark side, however, was about to reassert itself, Mishima was sure of it, and he did his own part to help it along with the creation of his Tatenokai group, or Shield Society, a group of young patriots he gathered around him in reaction to the tumult of the 1960s, when the Left made giant inroads in Japan (and around the world). This tumult reached a crescendo in Japan with the riots, in the spring of 1960, that greeted the ratification of the US-Japan Security Treaty, which was opposed by both the radical Left and the nationalist Right, albeit for antipathetic reasons.

The student leftists, who took to the streets and battled the police, fascinated Mishima, who admired them for their style if not the substance of their pro-Communist politics. He went out into the streets and reported on the riots for the Mainichi Shimbun. “Patriotism” was written about this time, and his political sensibility began to be more fully developed. The Tatenokai – which he called “the world’s smallest and most spiritual army”—was the culmination of this trend in his thinking: together with these hundred or so patriotic young recruits, in their spiffy designer uniforms, he jumped head-first into the river of action.

Through his connections with influential Liberal Democratic Party mandarins, Mishima managed to get permission for the Tatenokai to participate in training sessions with the Japanese Defense Force. They spend weeks in the JDF training camps, and Mishima is in his element: the world of action. Yet that is just the beginning of his journey down this particular river ….

Mishima’s death is the most well-known aspect of his life, which seems somehow appropriate, given his life-long morbid focus on the subject. It is, however, unfortunate, because the irony is that he was such a creative force: his collected works fill some thirty-plus thick volumes. In his day to day life, too, he was a veritable tornado of activity: he did everything with high energy and intensive focus, whether it was his writing, his body-building, his extensive socializing with a wide network of friends and fellow writers. In the final months and weeks of his life, the pace of his normally hectic activity picked up: he rushed to finish the final volume of “The Sea of Fertility” tetralogy, which was published as The Decay of the Angel.

He had been planning his final gesture of defiance for years, and finally the day approached: he put all his affairs in order, and proceeded with his usual thoroughness and alacrity. Mishima’s initial plan was to somehow enlist the aid of the Japanese Defense Force, which, together with the Tatenokai, would occupy Parliament and demand the revision of the constitution. This fell through, however, when Mishima’s inquiries met with a total lack of interest on the part of JDF officers. The plan was revised: they would take a senior JDF commander hostage, force the authorities to gather the soldiers in a place where Mishima would address them, and then, together, the Tatenokai and the rebel soldiers would carry out a coup, place the Emperor in command of the nation, and reassert Japan’s signal cultural, political, and military identity.

It was a ridiculous scheme, sure to fail, and Mishima–who was no fool–must have known that. Yet he went ahead with it. We can only assume that he knew how it would have to end, and that he wanted it to end precisely as it did.

On November 25, 1970, Mishima was awake and up early with the songbirds. Yoko, his wife, was out of the house, having taken the children to school. He dressed carefully, donning a fundoshi and his Tatenokai uniform. He assembled the items he was taking with him: a brown attache case, which contained a number of daggers, some papers, and a long samurai sword. He placed the final manuscript of The Decay of the Angel on a table in the hallway, in an envelope addressed to the publisher: they were scheduled to come pick it up later in the day. He then made a few phone calls to friendly reporters, hinting that something big was in the works—without saying precisely what was going to happen—and told them to show up at the Ichigaya base of the Japanese defense force in the center of Tokyo. As the morning wore on, a young man in the uniform of the Tatenokai walked through the garden to the front door: Mishima greeted him, and handed him three envelopes, with instructions that these should be taken out to the waiting car and read by the four members of the Tatenokai who had been chosen to accompany him on his final dip in the rive of action. Then he gathered up his briefcase, and left the house.

General Mashita, commander of the Eastern Army, was waiting for his visitors when they arrived at the base, and they were led into his office. After a few preliminary pleasantries, Mishima took off his sword, hanging in its scabbard on his belt, and placed it against the chair as he sat down.

“Tell me,” said General Mashita, “what is this sword you have with you? Did anyone ask you about it on the way in? I am not very clear about the rules on swords, as we don’t carry them anymore ourselves.”

Mishima assured him it was okay, and began to talk about the sword: an antique, made in the seventeenth century by the famous classical smith Seki no Magoroku. “Would you like to see it?”

Mashita indicated that he would, and as he held it, one of the Tatenokai inched forward, according to the plan. Mishima said to the young man: “A handkerchief?” This was the cue, and Mishima’s young follower moved toward the General, who, oblivious to the hidden meaning of the scene playing out before him, returned to his desk to get a tissue with which to wipe the sword. There was more small talk as Mashita examined the blade after wiping it, remarking that he had never seen such a superb weapon in private hands. Mishima looked at his flustered acolyte, who took the hint and moved toward the General, stepped behind him and reached for the General’s neck ….

Mishima and his followers moved quickly: after binding and gagging Mashita, they barricaded the door with heavy furniture. What they didn’t realize, however, was that they were being observed through a peephole in the office door, which allowed anyone outside in the anteroom to look in and see what was happening. The gig was soon up.

Twice unarmed officers tried to break into the room and free the General, and twice they were repulsed by Mishima, who slashed at them with his sword, wounding several. At this point, the Japanese officers–who were confirming by the minute Mishima’s contemptuous dismissal of contemporary Japanese men as all chrysanthemum and no sword–asked what Mishima’s demands were. He readily complied with a written statement slipped under the door: the soldiers of the garrison must assemble in front of the headquarters no later than the hour of noon. Mishima would then be allowed to address them from the balcony outside Mashita’s office window. A ninety-minute truce would be declared, during which time Mishima and his men would not face attack from the JDF. If the officers would not agree, Mishima said he would kill the General and commit suicide. After some urging from Mashita, the officers radioed their commanders, who told them to handle the situation as they saw fit. They agreed to Mishima’s demands.

The soldiers gathered in response to an announcement over the loudspeaker system–and a siren wailed, as if in terror at what was to follow. The news media–already alerted by Mishima–was there in droves, and Mishima crowed: “What a lot of people for the party!”

The four Tatenokai appeared on the balcony, bearing banners that spelled out the conditions under which Mashita’s safety was assured. Mishima’s manifesto, printed as a leaflet, was dropped, and carried by the wind to its intended recipients, who glanced at it with curiosity but hardly any understanding: in it, Mishima appealed to the armed forces to stop being a “toy,” as mandated by the pacifistic Constitution, demanded the restoration of the Emperor to his rightful place as ruler, and complained “we have waited in vain for the Jieitai [JDF] to rebel. If no action is taken, the Western powers will control Japan for the next century!”

The manifesto ended with these stirring words (yes, stirring even to a foreigner):

Let us restore Nippon to its true state and let us die. Will you value only life and let the spirit die? … We will show you a value which is greater than respect for life. Not liberty, not democracy. It is Nippon! Nippon, the land of history and tradition. The Japan we love.

The toy soldiers of the Jieitai read this with incomprehension. Their bafflement only grew as Mishima himself appeared on the balcony. By this time the noise level, already high with the helicopters whirling overhead and the soldiers shouting to each other, reached a crescendo of abuse rising up from the ranks of the men Mishima had hoped to inspire. His plan was to speak for 30 minutes: seven minutes into his speech, however, he gave up. The Jieitai were rebelling, alright–against him. There was nothing to be done but carry out the final act of the drama that had been so long in rehearsals.

Mishima had jumped atop the parapet to be seen by the troops, and now he dropped down back onto the balcony. Inside Mashita’s office, the General’s gag had been loosened, and, as it became apparent what Mishima was about to do, Mashita yelled: “Stop!”

But there was no stopping him. Mishima stripped down to his loincloth, and knelt on the floor, expelling the air from his stomach and shouting a last salute to the Emperor. Then he forced a dagger into his stomach, and cut crosswise, in the prescribed manner. Seppuku is not butchery: it requires precision. As his entrails spilled out, he bent his neck to receive the death blow from Morita, his chief acolyte, who brought down the sword with much force–but missed his mark. Twice more Morita tried, and failed, to decapitate Mishima, instead wounding him grievously. One of the others came forward, who had experience in fencing and kendo, took the sword, and divided Mishima’s head from his body with a single clean stroke.

Today Mishima is looked upon as a fanatic, a crazy person, at best a talented yet flawed writer whose personal demons devoured him in the end: his politics are considered a diversion away from what he was really about, a mere façade for the darkness in his soul. Yet his view of Japan has been vindicated by the gradual rearmament of the Japanese military, and the rise of a new nationalism in Japan, which–while it has hardly inspired a new Shimpuren Incident, or a replay of the February rising of 1936–is reasserting itself. He wanted to live in a nation that had regained a sense of its self, its true self–not the consumerist imitative ikebana-Hello Kitty caricature, but the real, historical Japan, whose origins are lost in the mist of Mount Fuji, the dwelling place of the gods.

 

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Raimondo, Justin. “Mishima—Paleocon as Samurai.” Taki’s Magazine, 12 May 2008. <http://takimag.com/article/mishimapaleocon_as_samurai/print#axzz3PfJypKJo >.

 

Notes: For further reading about Mishima and his works, see Riki Rei’s Review of Naoki Inose’s Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima, and also the Yukio Mishima Webpage. For an introduction to Natsume Soseki, a famous Japanese novelist who was an influence on Mishima, see Hoang Nguyen’s discussion of Soseki’s Kokoro and Japan’s modernisation.

For further reading and a list of useful resources about modern Japan and its culture, see the page of Alexander Dugin’s “In the Country of the Rising ‘Do’.”

For those interested in researching Japanese literature in general (which is also useful for the study of Japan’s culture, history, and religious attitudes), we recommend the following two anthologies which were edited by Donald Keene: Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1955), and Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day (New York: Grove Press, 1956). Concerning important modern classic Japanese authors (other than Yukio Mishima) whose works have been translated, we can note the following for readers who are interested: Natsume Soseki, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Kyoka Izumi, Osamu Dazai, Junichiro Tanizaki, Eiji Yoshikawa, Edogawa Rampo, Yasunari Kawabata, Fumiko Enchi, Yasushi Inoue, Shuhei Fujisawa, and Hisashi Inoue.

 

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