Co-opting the Counter Culture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction
Graham D. Macklin
Patterns of Prejudice
Vol.39, No.3, September 2005
Formed in 1996 by former National Front activist Troy Southgate, the National Revolutionary Faction (NRF) is a ‘national-anarchist’ groupuscule. In contrast to the International Third Position, the reactionary Catholic fascist sect from which it emerged, the NRF promotes a radical anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist ‘anarchist’ agenda of autonomous rural communities within a decentralized, pan-European framework. While the NRF retains an ideological core that is readily identifiable as fascist, that ideology is far from a mimetic atavism. As a result of its increasing radicalization the NRF has attempted to move ‘beyond left and right’, transcending the traditional limits of national-Bolshevism, to forge a seemingly incongruous synthesis of fascism and anarchism. Through its print and online publications, the NRF seeks to utilize its unique ideological position to exploit a burgeoning counter culture of industrial heavy metal music, paganism, esotericism, occultism and Satanism that, it believes, holds the key to the spiritual reinvigoration of western society ready for an essentially Evolian revolt against the culturally and racially enervating forces of American global capitalism. A detailed examination of its history, activism, structure and continued ideological morphology reveals the NRF as an ideological crucible for a growing international network of dissident ‘national-revolutionaries’ who are currently recalibrating their ideals in order to overcome their acute marginalization.
In his monumental A History of Fascism, 1914–1945 Stanley Payne devotes only two pages to British fascism–‘a political oxymoron’–the volume of literature devoted to which is ‘inversely proportionate to its significance’. Such disdain has all but smothered the study of post-war British fascism, which is characterized merely as an ‘epilogue’ to the ‘epochal significance’ of inter-war British fascism, which in itself is only of interest as a benign footnote to the history of fascism and Nazism. Walter Lacquer is similarly scornful in his refusal to study post-war British fascism, ‘because it has not been very significant or in anyway original’. Although there is an element of truth in this proposition its reductive methodological focus on the traditional canons of ideological core and electoral performance overlooks the extent to which British fascism operates outside neatly quantifiable electoral, national and legal boundaries. This inevitably underestimates the wider impact of fascist politics.
In this respect Roger Griffin’s recent elaboration of the concept of the fascist ‘groupuscule’ provides a much-needed corrective to an analytically stunted approach that obscures as much as it reveals. This case study of the National Revolutionary Faction (NRF) provides a salutary example of fascism’s cogent syncretic core and its ability to produce novel and pragmatic syntheses. While the synthesis of left and right in ‘third position’ groupuscules makes their classification suitably problematic, this article demonstrates that despite a protean capacity for change ‘national-revolutionary’ groupuscules retain, at least to the initiated, the recognizable mark of Cain. These origins are equally evident in the synthesis of ‘anarchism’ with Evolian fascism, which is espoused by NRF founder Troy Southgate whose rapidly evolving political odyssey from (comparatively) orthodox British fascism to the radical, anti-capitalist, ‘post-third-position’ ideology of ‘national-anarchism’ represents a highly personalized and idiosyncratic revolt against the modern world.
The origins of the NRF can be traced to the collapse of the National Front (NF) in 1979. From its formation in 1967 the NF grew rapidly in strength until by 1973 it had approximately 17,500 members, though approximately 64,000 people passed through its ranks during the course of the decade. Following its comparative success in the May 1977 Greater London County Council elections — which masked an overall decline in its political fortunes — many commentators feared the NF was on the verge of a major political breakthrough. Buoyed with hubris the NF fielded 303 candidates in the 1979 general election, more than any insurgent political party since the Labour Party in 1919. However, a resurgent Conservative Party led by Margaret Thatcher, which usurped its anti-immigration platform while taking an equally draconian line on law and order, trounced the NF, which polled a derisory 191,706 votes (1.4 per cent).
It was Götterdämmerung. The resulting trauma accelerated the decline and fragmentation of the NF and led to the departure of its titular chairman, John Tyndall, who was blamed for its humiliation. Riven by internal dissent and struggling to cope with its failure, the NF entered a period of frenetic ideological radicalization. The catalyst for this development was the arrival in England of approximately forty fugitive Italian fascists belonging to Terza Positione and the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, several of whom had been involved in the horrific bombing of the Bologna railway station in 1980 that killed eighty people. As well as supplying the NF with funds they also introduced its membership to the ideas of Julius Evola, the aristocratic Italian racial theorist who had assumed centre-stage after 1945 as the inspiration for generations of youthful Italian fascists. The radicalization of these younger, educated, ambitious activists created a further rift within the NF, which culminated in the departure in 1983 of Martin Webster, the National Activities Organiser.
Webster’s departure paved the way for the ascendancy of the ‘leftwing’ and ‘anti-capitalist’ tendency within the NF inspired by the French Nouvelle Droite and the ‘anti-Nazi’ writings of Otto Strasser. The absorption of these ideological imports led to the development of a more intellectually sophisticated, internationalist, ‘third position’ ideology showcased in the NF’s theoretical journal Rising. Modelling itself on the esoteric elitist pretensions of Evola and Corneliu Codreanu, the NF sought to transform itself into a ‘revolutionary’ cadre-based organization and to rid itself of ‘armchair nationalists, tin-pot dictators or refugees from old political parties’. By January 1985 membership had declined to 1,000. The NF’s ideological inspiration was Derek Holland’s The Political Soldier (1984), which envisaged an elite form of racial nationalism led by ‘a new type of man who will live the Nationalist life every day’ while preparing for a ‘holy war’ against the iniquitous British state. Abandoning electoral politics, the NF extolled grassroots, community-based activism and aspired eventually to replace parliamentary politics with direct democracy or ‘popular rule’ adapted from Colonel Qaddafi’s Green Book, which was eulogized alongside Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran and Louis Farrakhan’s black separatist Nation of Islam. Not everyone accepted his ideological evolution, however. In 1989 the NF split into two separate groups: the Third Way led by Patrick Harrington, and the International Third Position (ITP) led by Derek Holland, Roberto Fiore and Nick Griffin, currently the British National Party (BNP) chairman.
Born in Crystal Palace, South London in 1965, Troy Southgate’s political odyssey began in 1984 when he joined the NF as it was completing its rapid transformation into a ‘revolutionary organization’. Southgate claims he was attracted by its platform of ‘popular rule’ and Catholic distributism, rather than its ‘racial separatism’, which he accepted only later. Of immediate influence was Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton and I Believed, the autobiography of Douglas Hyde, former editor of the Stalinist Daily Worker who became a minor cause célèbre in the 1950s when he renounced Communism and converted to Catholicism. Southgate followed suit in 1987, joining the ultra-conservative Lefebvrist sect, the Society of St Pius X. It was during this period that Southgate was sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment for serious assault during a streetfight. Following his release in 1989 he took over NF operations in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. As the NF disintegrated into rival factions that year Southgate joined the ITP, believing it to be ‘the legitimate heir to the National Revolutionary Movement in Britain’, acting as its Kent organizer and editor of the Kent Crusader, Surrey Action, Eastern Legion and Catholic Action.
Despite its radical origins the ITP quickly degenerated into an insignificant though fanatically ‘pro-life’ and homophobic Catholic sect, eulogizing the self-same ‘reactionary’ figures like General Franco and Mussolini it had previously denounced. Southgate became increasingly dissatisfied with the ITP leadership, particularly Holland and Fiore, whom he believed were far more interested in the possibilities of developing a rural fascist enclave in Northern France (and later in Spain), into which they had invested the group’s finances, than in sustaining the ITP as a cadre-based organization. Accusing them of gross financial impropriety, hypocrisy, racial miscegenation and of practising a ‘bourgeois’ form of reactionary ultra-Catholic fascism incompatible with the ‘revolutionary’ nationalism that, he claimed, they had betrayed, Southgate acrimoniously departed from the ITP in late 1992.
Southgate immediately formed the English Nationalist Movement (ENM), which was intermittently active in Dover, Kent with small cadres in London and Bradford. It had ‘a small fluctuating hardcore’ of between 25 and 35 committed activists, though anti-fascist estimates put the figure as low as 4. Signalling that the ENM represented the genuine embodiment of ‘national-revolutionary’ essentials Southgate established the knowingly titled Rising Press and reprinted influential articles from NF magazines like Rising, New Nation and Nationalism Today. Vehemently opposed to the spiritual enslavement emanating from the twin materialistic poles of ‘Capitalist greed and Marxist servitude’ the ENM sought to define a usable ideological inheritance, untainted by its association with ‘classic’ fascism. Thus Hitler and Mussolini were denounced as ‘reactionary charlatans’ and enemies of ‘genuine’ revolutionary nationalism. Corporate economics was also dismissed as the perpetuation of capitalism ‘behind a nationalist facade’. The BNP was rejected as a mere ‘pressure valve’ for closet Tories and ‘small time drug dealers’.
In contrast to the increasingly ‘reactionary’ ITP Southgate paid fulsome tribute to the pantheon of ‘forgotten’ dissident fascists that had motivated the original third position, including Strasser, Codreanu, José Antonio Primo de Rivera and Léon Degrelle, not to mention the Welsh nationalism of Plaid Cymru. The resulting ‘patriotic socialism’ was assimilated with the writings of Victorian socialists like William Morris, Robert Blatchford, Robert Owen and William Cobbett to create a native Anglo-Saxon völkisch tradition that desired the reclamation of an English pastoral idyll supposedly swept away by the Industrial Revolution.
This was coupled with Southgate’s desire for a ‘mono-racial England’, which he claimed was not ‘racist’. Borrowing his terminology from the Nouvelle Droite, Southgate claimed to seek only ‘ethno-pluralism’ (i.e. racial apartheid) to defend indigenous white culture from the ‘death’ of multiracial society. Defending ‘human diversity’ Southgate advocated ‘humane’ repatriation and the reordering of the globe according to racially segregated colour blocs. Within this framework Southgate advocated a radical policy of economic and political decentralization: England, Alba (Scotland), Cymru (Wales), Ulster, Mannin (Isle of Man) and Kernow (Cornwall). These regions were to be governed according to the economic principles of Catholic distributism and a wealth redistribution scheme modelled on the mediaeval guild system. The ensuing growth of private enterprise and common ownership of the means of production would end ‘class war’ and, ergo, the raison d’être for Marxism, and would also encourage an organic nationalist economy insulated from ‘foreign’ intervention. Politically the regions would be governed by the concept of ‘popular rule’ extolled by Qaddafi. The resulting restoration of economic and political freedom would re-establish the link between ‘blood and soil’ enabling the people to overcome the ‘tidal wave of evil and liberal filth now sweeping over our entire continent’. ‘Natural law’ would be upheld and abortion, race mixing and homosexuality forbidden.
This desire to create a decentralized völkisch identity has its roots in the ideological ferment gripping National Front News and Nationalism Today in the 1980s. Southgate’s continued ideological morphology was stimulated through contact with Perspectives, the journal of the Transeuropa Collective formed in 1989 to discuss ‘European identities, autonomies and initiatives’ and which emerged from the NF’s cultural appendage IONA (Islands of the North Atlantic). IONA organized joint symposia with Michael Walker’s Scorpion magazine at which ‘former British Nationalists’ met to discuss finding a ‘rooted radicalism’ to challenge the nationalism of the NF that was ‘out-dated, discredited and overtaken by events’. Despite such ideological innovation Southgate betrayed signs of remaining wedded to older biological fulminations espoused by Nazi racial scientist Hans “Rassen” Günther and American racist Lothrop Stoddard. Even his assimilation of Noam Chomsky’s scathing analysis of social control and hypocrisy at the amoral heart of American-led liberal democracy was refracted through the conspiratorial ideological lens provided by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Anarch(y) in Britain: the National Revolutionary Faction
In 1998 Southgate disbanded the ENM and founded the National Revolutionary Faction, a new cadre-based groupuscule that embraced a far broader range of dissident fascist positions than the ENM, reflecting Southgate’s increasingly occult and esoteric trajectory following his break with Catholicism in 1997, which he blamed for the ‘complete stupefaction’ of the ITP. Ironically, many of Southgate’s esoteric ideas were reconstructed from his own reading of the key texts of liberal ‘fascist studies’ rather than originating with any organic tradition. Through the NRF Southgate pushed ‘third position’ thought on decentralism and regionalism to its ‘logical’ conclusion, rejecting the very cornerstone of fascist ideology itself: nationalism. While retaining the ‘palingenetic’ component of its ideology, the NRF nevertheless rejected the ‘artificial’ nation-state and the ‘reactionary’ nationalism emanating from it as the focus for rebirth. Drawing on Evola’s ‘spiritual racism’ Southgate rejected abstract geography, advocating instead a ‘tribal and organic’ Indo-European ‘ethnic heritage’, extending from Europe to Iran, Afghanistan, India and Tibet, which offered an impregnable racial defence against the ‘quagmire’ of globalization and the faltering security provided by national borders. Added to this ‘spiritual racism’ was C. G. Jung’s concept of the ‘collective subconscious’, which provided the NRF with further evidence of the existence of a ‘primeval Aryan psyche’. In this respect Southgate admired Heinrich Himmler’s activity at Wewelsburg Castle as ‘one of the most significant developments in modern history’, which had contributed to a ‘deeper’ occult understanding of race, even though in the same breath Himmler could be derided as a ‘fascistic pig’ funded by ‘secret wall street financiers’ who had murdered many of his own ideological heroes.
The most intriguing ideological innovation, however, was Southgate’s conversion to ‘anarchism’ and his subsequent formulation of a doctrine of ‘national-anarchism’. At first glance the ‘total insanity’ of this incongruous ideological syncretism might be dismissed as little more than a quixotic attempt to hammer a square peg into a round hole or a mischievous act of fascist Dadaism. When put into its wider context, however, ‘national-anarchism’ appears as one of many groupuscular responses to globalization, popular antipathy towards which Southgate sought to harness by aligning the NRF with the resurgence of anarchism whose heroes and slogans it arrogated, and whose sophisticated critiques of global capitalist institutions and state power it absorbed and, in the case of anarchist artist Clifford Harper, whose evocative imagery it misappropriated.
Central to ‘national-anarchism’, however, is a far older paradigm drawn from conservative revolutionary thought, namely, the Anarch, a sovereign individual whose independence allows him to ‘turn in any direction’, a notion that reinforces Southgate’s belief that ‘the concept of humanity coming and going in the same direction is a 1960s dead-end’. Redolent of Gabriele D’Annunzio’s Futurist poetry, Nietzsche’s rejection of dogmatism and even Max Stirner’s extreme egoism, the concept of the Anarch finds its fullest expression in Ernst Jünger’s novel Eumeswil. For Jünger the Anarch differed radically from the anarchist, whose acts of insurrection (‘beacons of the impotent’) only brought further state repression. For the Anarch all external poles of power, whatever their relative merits, are both arbitrary and transitory. Having undergone a fortifying process of inner migration the Anarch ‘adjusts accordingly’ to external authority as a ‘question of form’ rather than faith. Stoically abjuring from this ‘ultimate devotion’ the Anarch preserves his autonomy and ‘metaphysical integrity’. This was also paramount in Evolian thought, which also divined a ‘spiritual’ basis for genuine authority beyond naked self-glorification.
By recognizing this inviolability, by gaining the mastery of himself, the Anarch personifies a spiritual, aristocratic elite. The recognition of multilayered realities sees the Anarch ‘endlessly moving nomadically with mercurial freedom through thought . . . free to explore and synthesize’. In this way the Anarch appropriates authority rather than succumbs to it, thus securing his own salvation and, ergo, that of the nation. In essence, Jünger’s work provides an esoteric reworking of Southgate’s original understanding of the ‘political soldier’ as a ‘Godlike figure’ who ‘can only truly be master of his situation when he is truly master of himself’. Only this ‘new man’ can save society from the ‘corruption and decadence’ that has engulfed it. The concept of the Anarch therefore provides sanction for the amorphous ideological shape-shifting and rampant eclecticism of ‘national-anarchism’, allowing Southgate to claim that he is not ‘fascist’ but that he has transcended the dichotomy of conventional politics to embrace higher political forms that are ‘beyond left and right’.
In order to ‘change society completely’ the NRF purloined anarchist thinkers like Proudhon, Kropotkin and Bakunin, using their revolutionary rhetoric to justify the overthrow of liberal social democracy, which coincidentally led Southgate to jettison the ‘socialist trappings’ of Strasserism and ‘reformist’ distributism as incompatible with his Evolian racial vision. Indeed, Southgate is vehemently opposed to immigration and miscegenation, which he believes have severely disrupted the ‘organic balance of nature’. The depth of his contempt for those who contravene this ‘natural order’ can be surmised from his attack on glamour model ‘Jordan’, whose child was fathered by a black footballer. ‘She has been rewarded for her racial treason’, jeered Southgate, ‘her picaninny has been born blind. just [sic] like his father, it would appear. still [sic], he can always become a Stevie Wonder impersonator when he grows up.’
As such sentiments reveal, NRF ideology is totally devoid of anarchism’s humanistic social philosophy, which is rejected as ‘infected’ with feminism, homosexuality and Marxism. In its place Southgate has propagated a ‘third position’ anarchism based not on ‘moral’ rights but on Darwinian struggle, which would illuminate the ‘natural order’ from which every group with ‘insurrectionist potential’ could unite to destroy ‘One World’ tyranny with a ‘primal bloodlust’. NRF propaganda revels in this discordant Conradian stereotype of anarchism, glorifying both Bakunin’s ‘propaganda of the deed’ and Sergei Nechayev’s ‘science of destruction’.
Having styled itself as an urban guerrilla group, NRF propaganda pays particular attention to the avoidance of state repression and surveillance by extolling a cellular, cadre-based organization comprising ‘political soldiers’ with four degrees of membership: the cadre or ‘active unit’, the trainee or probationary cadre, the supporter, and the outer circle who do little more than receive NRF publications. These four degrees of membership are subordinate to the Revolutionary Command Council, betraying a linguistic nod towards the continued ideological attraction of Qaddafi’s Libya, Jamal ‘Abd al-Nasir’s Egypt and the Iraqi Ba’athist Party.
Such political organization reveals the NRF to be closer in inspiration to the Leninist ‘revolutionary vanguard’ than anarchism, even though it eulogizes the Angry Brigade and recommends Towards a Citizens Militia, published by Stuart Christie, one of [the] anarchists who was indicted though subsequently acquitted during the ‘Stoke Newington 8’ trial. Indeed the NRF appropriates its symbolism from Marxist terror cells like the Red Army Faction, and its publications regularly feature instructions on the manufacture of homemade explosives, rockets, grenades, short-range mortars and napalm. In preparation for the total systemic collapse of capitalist society NRF cells are urged to immerse themselves in survivalist literature, military field manuals and encouraged to join the Territorial Army so that, as the Irish Republican Army discovered in the 1950s, ‘you can actually be paid and trained by the State in order to deal with its consequences’. The NRF found even greater inspiration in the native terrorist tradition of the American far right and its concept of ‘leaderless resistance’, which is portrayed as an ‘anarchist’ alternative to the traditional mass-based organization that is rejected as ‘self-delusion’. Having abandoned the constitutional’ approach of the British National Party the NRF is free to wage its ‘war of liberation’ against the British state and ‘international Zionism’ and in doing so evokes the inspiration of liberation leaders like Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, who are listed as ‘exemplars for the struggle’. This synthesis leads the NRF to promote a form of ‘black’ anarchism. These ideas owe a far greater debt, however, to fascism’s own tradition of terrorism and the ‘active nihilism’ of Julius Evola who in his later life preached that the outright destruction of the state was imperative. Southgate’s concept of ‘Real Anarchy’ is therefore little more than a repackaging of the esoteric principles of conservative revolutionary and Evolian thought.
Richard Hunt and Alternative Green
Southgate’s espousal of Evolian Traditionalism underwent further ideological morphology through his contact with the anarcho-primitivist ideas of Richard Hunt, the founding editor of Green Anarchist who had been forced to resign over his support for the Gulf War. Southgate was exposed to Hunt’s ideas through the pages of Perspectives, the journal of the Transeuropa Collective that eventually merged with his new publication Alternative Green. Hunt’s ideas found their fullest expression in his book To End Poverty (1997), which argues that poverty in the ‘periphery’ is caused by western trade demands on a developing world that is starved to feed the core’. This ‘progress’ represents an extension of the taxation and wage slavery that encourages the growth of an increasingly urbanized and ‘biologically unhealthy’ population, creating poverty and crime as society hurtles towards ‘total social breakdown’. Hunt’s panacea is to return to ‘the original affluent society’ of the self-sufficient hunter-gatherer living in rural communes, protected by armed militias (evoking the murderous post-apocalyptic tribalism of the Mad Max trilogy) and regimented by a ‘peck order’ of ‘respect and influence’, bound by ‘kinship’, that would reestablish family values and foster a primitive communalism immune to capitalism.
Impressed by Hunt’s ‘grubby sort of utopia’ Southgate recognized that it could only be implemented following the ‘complete collapse’ of capitalism. Southgate believed that this eventuality was nearer to hand than was generally imagined, counselling that ‘national-revolutionaries’ needed to create ‘alternative revolutionary structures’ and ‘independent enclaves’ away from Britain’s ‘Asian infested cities’ in order to hasten capitalism’s demise. Thus the NRF advocated a localized ‘counter-economy’ based on smallholdings and allotments whose produce and required skills could be bartered through local exchange trading systems (LETS) suffused with a racist imperative to break the ‘dominating stranglehold’ of Asian shop owners. This racist anti-capitalism had as its end the desire to foment civil and racial strife through ‘no-go’ areas for ethnic minorities and state power as an essential prelude to racial civil war and the collapse of the capitalist system.
Key to this is the maintenance of a network of like-minded and ideologically committed individuals, families and groups who have ‘turned their backs upon the corrosive influence of urbanism and decay’ and might feasibly form racially segregated rural communities and build something ‘tangible’. Emulating the example of the Wandervogel, the British Woodcraft folk and the ‘legionary spirit’ of Corneliu Codreanu’s Iron Guard, Southgate formed the Greenshirts and a uniformed Iron Youth to re-establish the ‘eternal’ principles of blood and soil through cross-country hikes and camping. Here can be found Southgate’s attempt to create the archetypal Fascist Man who, in Codreanu’s words, ‘does not bend, who is inflexible’. These activities represent an integral part of the NRF’s long-term strategy to construct a broad range of viable political, social, cultural and economic alternatives to those of ‘the Establishment’ through which the children of its activists can emerge as ‘the true vanguard of our people’s future’. To insulate them from the degenerate Americanized values of their peer group and a national curriculum based on ‘reading, writing and buggery’, Southgate schools his children from home.
This racist communitarianism is given an ‘anarchist’ gloss through Southgate’s reinterpretation (and limitation) of the ideas of free and instinctive association implicit in Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid as an expression of ‘folkish’ identity. Proclaiming that it is ‘anarchist’ to insist on ‘our own space’, Southgate excludes from these communities the ‘unnatural’ presence of ethnic minorities, homosexuals and feminists, not to mention those who support abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, vivisection and genetically modified foods. They would be free to form their own communities. Influenced by Hunt’s anarcho-primitivism Southgate’s view of ‘Traditional Anarchy’ is suffused with Evola’s advocacy of ‘self-rule by an elite’ and the creation of a racial hierarchy conditioned by ‘genetics’ that, despite its alleged ‘anarchism’, looks favourably on the heptarchy of Anglo-Saxon England as a model of racial ‘kingship’. Southgate’s vision also absorbs the ideas of anarchist thinkers like John Zerzan, not to mention the Luddite terrorism of Ted Kaczynski, in order to theorize a ‘more natural lifestyle’, superficially free of the taint of ‘fascism’, adding a novel green/anarchist spin to Evola’s Traditionalism in the process.
This exposure to anarcho-primitivism has helped Southgate conceive of ‘folk autonomy’ rather than nationalism as the only true bulwark against the further encroachment of globalization. He was quick to appreciate that the anti-globalization movement was ‘sectarian’ in its political leanings. Alternative Green and its ‘overriding aversion to the Capitalist system’ was therefore an ‘ideal platform for formulating practical strategy’ to oppose capitalism. Alternative Green was soon being used by Southgate as a bridgehead to the ecological and anarchist movement in an effort to forge a ‘sincere’ alliance of ‘anti-system’ protesters from both ends of the political spectrum. To do so Southgate and others participated in the Anarchist Heretics Fair in Brighton in May 2000, which drew together several minute splinter groups from the political and cultural fringe, though admittedly ‘there wasn’t much input from the far left’. To push this agenda the Beyond Left and Right website was founded, although efforts to convene further events during 2001 proved unsuccessful when Anti-Fascist Action and members of Green Anarchist (and their arch-detractor Stewart Home) mobilized to ‘smash convergence’. Southgate’s aborted attempt to transcend the left/right dichotomy and open a dialogue with the (now-reviled) ‘anarcho-dogmatists’ failed utterly.
Members of the anarchist trade union, the International Workers of the World, founded an anti-nationalist-anarchist e-group to refute the assertions being made by ‘national-anarchists’. Black Flag, the backbone of British anarchism, provided its Internet audience with a vast archive of online texts refuting Southgate’s assertion that racism and nationalism were ‘anarchist’. Individual members of Anti-Fascist Action have also been particularly active in challenging NRF activity in online newsgroups. The furore led to Hunt’s further marginalization within green anarchist circles and, despite Southgate’s frequent contributions to Alternative Green, his views have not permeated further within the far right. Denounced as a ‘fascist’ Hunt found his speaking engagements cancelled, and several independent bookshops refused to stock Alternative Green. Having become ill Hunt finally relinquished the editorial control of Alternative Green to Southgate; it was, however, suspended after only one issue and replaced with a new publication, untainted by the furore, entitled Terra Firma.
The brief existence of the ‘Beyond Left and Right’ project hinted at its nebulous potential. Two veteran socialists, Gary Holden and Terry Liddle, both prominent in the Greenwich branch of the London Green Party, its Green Socialist Network and the South London Republican Forum, attended the 2000 Anarchist Heretics Fair. As news of their attendance emerged members of the UK_Left_Network e-group (unsuccessfully) lobbied the London Socialist Alliance and the Republican Communist Network (RCN), with which they were involved, to institute an enquiry. Liddle offered a somewhat unconvincing defence of his actions in both Republican Communist and Weekly Worker, organ of the minuscule Communist Party of Great Britain, which was closely aligned with the RCN, that stated that he had ‘no case to answer’. Calls for an enquiry were dismissed as a ‘witch hunt’ motivated by the ‘paranoid’ fantasy of Green Anarchist, thus sidestepping the actual content of the accusations. A parallel Green Party enquiry ended with Liddle’s resignation, however.
As these events unfolded it became apparent that the NRF was practising a form of virtual entryism through the eco-anarchy e-group, an arm of the Canadian-based anarcho-green forum, in order to enquire into, among other things, the viability of forging a green/black bloc. Its moderator Joseph Catron had previously posted a number of messages to ‘national-revolutionary’ e-groups announcing his opposition to the ‘multicultural and imperialist nightmare’, and it has been suggested that the eco-anarchy e-group was a ‘honey trap’ designed to lure genuine and unsuspecting greens and anarchists into its orbit. This thesis was given some credence by the fact that Dave Parks, the Anti-Fascist Action activist who exposed these machinations, was barred from the list rather than those he exposed.
Mindful of the contemporary success of the red/brown coalition in Russia, NRF cadres sought to create ‘a working synthesis’ between anti-capitalists of both the left and right. Indeed, with the collapse of ‘really existing’ Communism in 1989, the NRF abandoned ‘third position’ fascism as ‘irrelevant’. Having immersed himself in the writings of both Hunt and anarchist theorist Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson), Southgate reconceptualized the coming struggle in terms of a Manichaean division between ‘those for Capitalism and those against Capitalism, Centralists versus Decentralists’. In this respect ‘national-anarchism’ was ‘transcending the very notion of beyond’ by taking synthesis to its ‘logical’ extreme and uniting all anti-systemic opposition against a single enemy: global liberal capitalism deemed to operate as a front for the ‘shadowy financiers’ of the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group, and therefore ‘International Zionism’.
There was little evidence that this ‘synthesis’ represented anything more than a strategy for infiltration as NRF cadres gradually shifted from low level antisemitic demonstrations against traditional fascist targets to the permeation of ecological and anarchist concerns, like direct action protests against a proposed multiplex cinema in Crystal Palace, the ‘Stop the City’ protests in 1999 and the May Day protests in 2000. Southgate claims to have been active in the increasingly violent protests surrounding the Huntingdon Life Sciences vivisection laboratory in Cambridgeshire during August 2000. He also claims NRF cadres are active in the Hunt Saboteurs Association and the Animal Liberation Front.
Discord in the Middle East has offered the NRF further scope to enhance its anti-imperialist credentials. Unlike the BNP, which has transformed its virulent Islamophobia into a virtue since 11 September, the NRF supports Islam because ‘many of its adherents are vigorously opposed to International Zionism’. NRF members often participate in pro-Palestinian demonstrations and, in one symbolic act of support, burned American and Israeli flags outside Downing Street as an ‘anti-Zionist’ protest against continued attacks on Iraq. Although the NRF opposes organized Islamic groups in Britain like Hizb ut-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun, which seek to establish a ‘global Caliphate’, NRF publications regularly eulogize groups such as Hamas for the ‘purity of thought and action’ with which they attack ‘the obnoxious disease that is World Jewry’. Keen to build bridges with British Muslims the NRF claims a ‘handful’ of Arab members and has published a faux Islamist publication, Semitic Voice, which purports to be the work of ‘a group of young Muslim students’. In an attempt to foster greater enmity against Israel the NRF repackages traditional far-right concerns in an Islamic context, blaming the ‘holohoax’ for Palestinian dispossession and inciting Islamist militants to violence against the Jews by advocating the formation of ‘cells of God’ (leaderless resistance).
This strategy had a limited virtual success through an online bulletin board called Jumeirah Beach: The Society of International Thinkers for Peace, run by Qasim Khan from Karachi in Pakistan, which purports to have a wide audience in the Middle East. Khan, who is linked to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the third largest political party in Pakistan whose activists were recently involved in the wave of sectarian violence in Karachi, describes the NRF as an ‘international think tank’ and acts as the ‘national-anarchist’ contact in Pakistan. Through this site Southgate has sought to acquaint Middle Eastern readers with Julius Evola and ‘lone wolf’ resistance and, in doing so, to transform national-anarchism into a ‘global idea’, thus hastening the ‘destruction of international Capitalism’. Another contributor to the site is former BNP organizer for Hull and Lincolnshire, David Michael, who left the BNP because of its ‘disgraceful’ anti-Islamism after 11 September. Michael views the American-led invasion of Iraq as potentially cathartic and argues:
All the people of the world who want peace and who fear America must unite now more than ever before, Muslims, anarchists, communists, nationalists, all of us . . . we must join together, put aside philosophical and religious differences, and start to work together against the American murderers and the British pig, Blair. Divided, we will accomplish nothing. Together, we might slowly begin to rid the world of this evil.
In an effort to further such an alliance Michael founded Voice of the Resistance, which purports to act as a forum for resistance against the ‘new American Capitalist Empire’. Using rhetoric traditionally associated with left-wing protest Voice of the Resistance bills itself as ‘George W. Bush’s worst nightmare’. Southgate and Michael soon encountered ‘insurmountable differences’ and ceased their co-operation.
One of the paradoxes of post-war fascism has been the repeated effort to transcend the ‘narrow’ nationalism of ‘classic’ fascism by becoming truly international through a series of grand designs for European unity. To compensate for their debilitating numerical deficiency, ‘national-revolutionary’ groups like the NRF have internationalized both their ideology and their organizational frameworks in order to reach out to similarly isolated groups abroad, globalize their struggle and consolidate their strength. In its attempts to realize this Eurasian ideology Southgate founded the Liaison Committee for Revolutionary Nationalism (LCRN) in early 1993 to unite the American Front, Canada’s National Liberation Front and Kerry Bolton’s National Destiny in New Zealand. These groups did little more than exchange publications and information, however. In September 1998 the LCRN merged with Christian Bouchet’s Front Européen de Liberation (FEL) under the shadow of the Front National’s annual Red-White-Blue festival. The FEL was inspired by the ‘one vision’ of European ‘liberation’ espoused by Otto Strasser, Jean Thiriart and Francis Parker Yockey, after whose original organization the FEL was named. Southgate sought to anchor the NRF within this ‘living tradition’ by reprinting Yockey’s The Proclamation of London (1949), ‘a fully-fledged ‘‘Declaration of War’’’ against the ‘Zionist, Capitalist New World Order’. By February 1999 despite repeated efforts to organize these disparate ‘national-revolutionary’ sects the FEL had atrophied, although Southgate continued to ‘work closely’ with Bouchet.
Geopolitically Southgate has shifted away from the older paradigms of Europe as a ‘third way’, gravitating towards the spiritual and esoteric national-Bolshevik solution advocated by Jean Parvulesco and Aleksandr Dugin, ideologue of the Arctogaia think tank, who seek a new Eurasian (and in Dugin’s case Russian-led) geopolitical axis: ‘Paris-Berlin-Moscow’. Former Jeune Nation leader Jean Thiriart provides further inspiration through his more materially orientated idea of an economically insulated European empire stretching ‘from Galway to Vladivostok’ and acting as a third force between Occident and Orient. Despite having retired from politics in 1969 Thiriart was so enamoured with the FEL that he re-emerged shortly before his death in 1993 to lead a FEL delegation to Moscow for talks with national-Bolshevik ideologues Yegor Ligachev and Aleksandr Dugin.
Southgate’s vision of western culture is saturated with a profound pessimism tempered by the optimistic belief that only by ‘complete and utter defeat’ can tepid materialism be expunged and replaced by the ‘golden age’ of Evolian Tradition: a return of the Ghibbelines of the Middle Ages or the ‘medieval imperium’ of the Holy Roman Empire before it collapsed into the ‘internecine struggle’ and ‘imperialistic shenanigans’ of the nation-state. This panacea has been injected into the contemporary Russian national-Bolshevik milieu through Southgate’s analysis of Evola’s Men among the Ruins that appeared on the Pravda.ru website. The Eurasian geopolitical solution is not conceived by Southgate as a cynical extension of Russian imperial chauvinism, but a ‘golden opportunity’ to create a ‘decentralised imperium’. Adopting the slogan of Breton nationalist Yann Fouéré, Southgate advocates a ‘Europe of One Hundred Flags’ wherein ‘each historic nation can assert its own political, social and economic freedom within the ancestral boundaries of its racial and cultural heritage’. This Eurasian ethnic ‘federalism’ is to serve as an impermeable barrier to the culturally enervating forces of MTV ‘musak’ and ‘Coca-McDeath’. To liberate Europe from the all-encompassing ‘blanket cosmopolitanism’ of American-led consumerism, not to mention the ‘occupying force’ of its military presence in Europe, Southgate advocates relinquishing ‘the very idea of the West’. Enmeshed in a vortex of materialist society and therefore ‘deep within enemy lines’, Europeans are encouraged to reach out to the ‘common struggles’ waged by the heirs of Che Guevara, Muammar al-Qaddafi, Jamal ‘Abd al-Nasir and Patrice Lumumba, whose revolutions on the ‘periphery’ should be supported as part of a dual strategy of ‘encouraging dissent and resistance from within’.
Southgate, who has a degree in theology and religious studies from Canterbury University, rejected Catholicism and moved towards neo-pagan and heathen groups that are ‘very loyal to the Gods of the Northern Tradition’, including the Odinic Rite, the Tribe of the Wulfings and the Asatru Alliance, a pagan movement concerned with practising rituals and magic and led by Valguard (Mike) Murray, a former member of the American Nazi Party. Further evidence of this transition from Catholicism to paganism emerged in an interview with Wotan, the organ of the Charlemagne Hammer Skins. Southgate believed that Wotan’s celebration of the heroes of the Norse pantheon represented ‘the most genuine expression of European spirituality, culture and identity’. Another key expression of this ‘identity’ is exhibited by Southgate’s interest in the militaristic cult of Mithras and the ‘pagan spirituality’ of the apostate Roman emperor Julian II.
This rejection of Christianity has an avowedly antisemitic dimension. Through the figure of Christ, Christianity has Judaic roots and is therefore irredeemably tainted; only the ‘weak’ continue to worship a ‘dead Jew’. The emphasis on the Judaic roots of Christianity, however, is regarded as of secondary importance to its usurpation of the rituals, sacraments and hierarchy of the ancient pagan solar religion Mithras, which was introduced into Iran and India by marauding Aryan tribes from the Russian steppes between BCE 2000 and 1500 before spreading to the Roman empire. Although it failed to defeat early Christianity in the battle for religious supremacy during the fourth century, Mithras continues to be viewed by esoteric thinkers (including Evola and Jung) as an alternative path the West could have followed. It retains its appeal as an initiatory cult or aristocratic order akin to the Knights Templar or, latterly, Himmler’s SS which, the NRF claims, had its origins in various ‘Anarchist droite’ circles like the Black Sun and the Thule Society. While Christianity tried to neuter this vital expression of the ‘Aryan psyche’, the awareness of Europe’s ‘Faustian’ destiny is currently enjoying a renaissance within the occult milieu. These ideas were also absorbed by thinkers like Evola and René Guénon who discerned in them the fragments of a ‘hidden albeit distinct and fundamental truth’. For Southgate, as for Evola, Tradition is an ‘an underlying current which both permeates and transcends all’.
Southgate’s discovery of Evolian ‘Primordial Tradition’ and his consequent rejection of Catholicism as ‘the sole cosmological truth’ ran in tandem with his immersion in the industrial music scene. This ‘cultural vanguard’ is spearheaded by a number of Gothic-Industrial, Dark Ambient, Black and ‘Viking’ Metal bands, including Allerseelen, Blood Axis, Burzum, Current 93, Dark Holler, Death in June, Endura, Mayhem, Ostara, Puissance and Sol Invictus, though it also encompasses more commercial bands like Cradle of Filth. Although it would be an exaggeration to say that these groups conform to a defined political agenda, their music serves to diffuse the ideals of Mithraic paganism and Nordic folk myths within this youthful underground subculture far more effectively than any number of meetings and marches could, thus providing the ‘perfect antidote’ to the spiritually enervating, multiracial values of a globalizing ‘system’. Southgate has also noted the potential of the Straight Edge punk movement and its hard core of puritanically intolerant followers, an interesting development given (exaggerated) reports of an emerging ‘anti-anti-establishment’ pro-Bush right-wing punk movement. Although Southgate realizes that the groupuscular right cannot control music-orientated youth cultures, he believes a minority can be induced ‘to take a direction basically conducive to our aims’. Southgate seeks to do this through his online magazine Synthesis, which features a music section replete with interviews and gig reviews.
This is not simply cynical manipulation. Southgate appears genuinely interested in the counter culture he seeks to target. His fanzine, Tribal Resonance, ‘the voice of the racial avant-garde’, reveals Southgate’s strategy of linking his ideas to ‘the common language and the big ideas of our culture’. Through the medium of musical subcultures and the creation of alternatives ‘from without’, Southgate hopes to permeate existing political subcultures transversally, as the Nazis did, through a process of ‘cultural osmosis’ that aims to recode the ‘social symbology’ of the host culture so that its ideas can metastasize throughout the body politic, recalibrating its genetic inheritance. By creating ‘cultural hegemony’ the groupuscular right believes it can forge the ‘political space’ necessary for political and racial hegemony.
The struggle for cultural hegemony is greatly enhanced by the Internet, with the NRF establishing its own website in July 2001. As its name suggests, Synthesis, the online Journal du Cercle de la Rose Noire, seeks a fusion of ‘Anarchy’, ‘Occulture’ and ‘Metapolitics’ with the contemporary concerns of the ecological and global justice movements. It provides a huge, counter-cultural resource (‘a junction box for esoteric, third positionism on the web’) including a vast archive of articles, essays, interviews, music and book reviews not to mention providing opportunities for its readership to showcase their art, photography, poetry and fiction. This is accompanied by a profusion of interlocking e-groups acting as a forum for ideological exchange for the more esoterically and intellectually inclined.
Synthesis was originally envisaged as a forum for the NRF, Evolians and members of the defunct White Order of Thule (Michael Lujan, former WOT secretary, is the Synthesis webmaster). However, borrowing the ‘template’ of Action Française’s ‘study groups’ Synthesis projects itself far beyond the confines of rigid definitional taxonomy to attract, so it claims, ‘Crowleyites, communists, anarchists, greens, libertarians, fascists and separatists’ who can use its facilities and e-groups to engage in debate and ideological refinement. This online convergence has the benefit of being insulated from the failure of the ‘Beyond Left and Right’ project. With a global reach, it ‘is far more useful than putting a few stickers on lamp posts’.
This extensive Internet presence masks the weakness of the groupuscular right. Obsessed by the importance of its long-term, counter-cultural projects the NRF disengaged from ‘political’ activities and retreated into the realm of ideas. Such was Southgate’s alienation from the groupuscule as an organizational form that on 29 January 2003 the NRF was disbanded altogether as Southgate concentrated on reorganizing as a ‘political think tank’ to promote and develop ‘national-anarchism’ as a philosophical concept that he hoped would come to exert a ‘formidable influence’ on the ‘anti-Capitalist struggle’.
The significance of the NRF
In itself the NRF is completely irrelevant as a political force. Its importance lies in the case study it supplies of fascism as an amorphous and continually metamorphosing phenomenon. It is symptomatic of the transient nature of far-right groupuscules that by the time this article was completed the NRF had been disbanded. Southgate’s latest activities have shifted almost entirely to the Internet, which is seen as offering the best opportunity of turning ‘national-anarchism’ into a ‘global idea’. Although these developments are taking place on the farther shores of the cultural and political fringe, this miniature struggle for cultural hegemony should not be ignored. The Anti- Defamation League (ADL) recently argued that, with the increased use of traditional anarchist symbolism by white supremacists in the United States, the circle-A should be listed as a hate symbol. The ridiculous nature of this assertion ignores the fact that it has been precisely those left-wing and anarchist subcultures maligned by the ADL who have actively fought back against the genesis of ‘national-anarchism’, disrupting and exposing it both on the street and in cyberspace. Indeed, anarchists and the radical left in Britain appear alive to the validity of Charles Peguy’s observation made over a century ago: ‘Qui dit “ni droite ni gauche” dit de droite’. It was this hostility to Southgate’s calls for ‘convergence’ that forced him to relocate his activities to the Internet where a wider audience can be reached, ‘particularly abroad where the left/right spectrum is far more blurred and open to interpretation’. As the antipathy for Green Anarchist reveals, this resistance has not always been generated by a sophisticated analysis of Southgate’s own activities but rather because it fell within the framework of pre-existing antipathy.
Although Southgate’s impact on left-wing counter-cultural concerns has been completely negligible, this case study of the NRF’s wanton intellectual cannibalism shows that groupuscular fascism poses a clear danger, particularly for ecological subcultures whose values are profoundly different from the ecological agenda mooted by the far right. The increasing ability of groupuscules like the NRF to absorb and mirror left-wing and environmental causes, effortlessly refracting their concerns about globalization and liberal democracy through their own antisemitic and racist framework, creates a dangerous conflation between ecology and anti-immigration as a way of restoring the ‘organic balance’ of nature. If this article is anything to go by, then anarchist, ecological and global justice movements need to remain on their guard in order to ensure that the revolution will not be national-Bolshevized.