Richard Wolstencroft @ Melbourne Free University

Or; Fascism &/Or Libertarianism…

On Thursday March 1, local filmmaker and “transcendental fascist” Richard Wolstencroft will be speaking as part of the Melbourne Free University’s program ‘Controversies On Film’:

Week 3: 1.3.2012
Richard Wolstencroft, Australian Filmmaker and Festival Director
Plenty of Reasons to Stop Worrying and Love Pornography: Can Pornography Save Cinema?
Screening: Richard Wolstencroft’s The Last Days of Joe Blow (2012)

I’ve blogged about Wolstencroft on a few prior occasions, mostly on account of his fascist politics. The last time I did so at any length was in January of last year. That post — Richard Wolstencroft ~versus~ Richard Wolstencroft — concerned Wolstencroft’s decision to take legal action against blogger Shane Lyons, who had allegedly defamed Wolstencroft by (re-)publishing comments Wolstencroft had made on his Facebook account. I’m unsure precisely what happened with regards these legal proceedings. Suffice it to say that the blogs in question no longer exist. Previously, in late August/early September 2010, Crikey film critic Luke Buckmaster took note of Lyons’ criticisms, and Wolstencroft was provided with an opportunity to defend his record and to slam Lyons’.

Perhaps the most controversial of Wolstencroft’s views are historical. For example, Holocaust denial and Nazi apologetics:

In any event, I was hoping to put some questions to the organisers of the film program @ MFU but alas, what with charting Peter Watson‘s meteoric rise to political stardom and just as sudden crash, I’ve run out of time. It may be that nobody cares, but if you do, feel free to comment, and I’ll respond in more detail when I return from Tel Aviv.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2017 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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19 Responses to Richard Wolstencroft @ Melbourne Free University

  1. Aurelien says:

    Hi Andy,

    As you already know I am not the coordinator of the film course, but as a convenor and co-founder of the MFU, I felt I could still provide you with some info regarding the course and the polemics surrounding it.

    First and foremost, I think it might have been worth mentioning in your article that we are not RW’s supporters and that we are a totally autonomous and free organisation. We have had a rather huge variety of speakers as our website attests. However, being autonomous and free does not make us apolitical; our belief in radical equality, stated in our principles, and our attempt at creating a space for all to discuss equally, has drawn so far a majority of speakers from all shades of the left. To be fair and to not be discarded too easily on ideological grounds, we have also invited many right-wing speakers. While most have declined the invitation, a few have accepted to participate and this often led to very constructive discussions with our audience. Recently, we tried to get someone from the IPA, but all the members we contacted either refused or ignored us. Make what you want of this refusal to partake in an open discussion.

    Of course, the RW issue is on a different level. When the coordinator set up the course, he felt that RW was a prominent figure in the film industry in Melbourne. As the founder of the MUFF, RW has been at the centre of many controversies; his take on pornography was another view on an issue that has already been widely (and hotly) discussed at the MFU from very different perspectives. At that time, and this was a mistake as we should have done our research, the coordinator of the course and the convenors of the MFU were not aware of the extent of RW’s fascism. To me, and I should have known better, he was merely a provocateur who liked to go and tell his friends he was a fascist for mere shock value. This type of behaviour is sadly not uncommon in certain spheres, and, while making it uneasy to have him, did not justify banning him from speaking on the particular topic at hand.

    As time went by and the programme was finalised and advertised, we received some concerns regarding RW’s participation in the MFU. Over two weeks ago, we were made aware of some of RW’s fascist behaviour and notably his extremely disturbing support for the Southern Cross Soldiers. A long discussion ensued within the MFU. Should a speaker like RW have a place at the MFU? By having him speak on porn and cinema, are we helping him and his fascist ideas? On the other hand, would an open discussion, such as those commonly taking place at the MFU, punch holes in his argument? While RW’s fascism is indefensibly abhorrent and opposed to the values upheld by the MFU, we believed that his ideas on film and pornography might have a place in a debate we have facilitated for over a year. Of course, many, if not most, will find his ideas terrible. However, very heated discussions also followed the previous sessions we had on the subject of porn and it seems to us hardly enough to regret having those speakers express themselves. Disagreement and argument are after all central to radical equality and politics. Therefore, while we do not endorse RW’s views and our principles are opposed to his fascist ideology, we eventually came to the conclusion that, since the course had started, we would keep him in, but would make sure that the talk remained focused on film and pornography. To facilitate this, the session will be a conversation between RW and Tyson Namow. Even though it all sat uneasily and there is a possibility of it backfiring, we felt it was the best decision.

    As the days went by, more was unearthed from RW’s past and more discussion took place within the MFU. This has led us to decide that we will organise a special series/seminar on freedom of speech in the very near future. This series will not only be timely since many have been perverting this right recently, but it will also be central to the future decisions made by the MFU in this regard.

    Having fought fascism and racism for most of my life, having RW speaking has not been a very nice feeling. It clearly has unearthed tensions between my own personal beliefs and that of the MFU. Yet, for the sake of the MFU, I believe it is crucial to keep them separated as much as possible and the decision made was the best at that precise moment. Having RW speak might well be a mistake, yet it does not make the whole project invalid. It is my hope that we will learn from it and if a strong argument can be built to fit within our principles, things might take a different turn the next time such a problem appears.

    Of course, I would be very happy to answer any comments/questions that you or your readers have.

    Best,

    Aurelien.

  2. Shane Lyons says:

    For the record:

    Wolstencroft did not obtain an intervention order against me. I initially intended to defend against the application, but the matter was going to drag on for months and was draining me of emotional energy I needed for other, more productive, activities. I therefore offered undertakings which were accepted:
    – remove any websites,
    – “unfriend” and stop monitoring him on Facebook,
    – not make any public comments about him,
    – not encourage anyone else to do any of the above,
    – not go within 50 metres of him or his home.

    Giving undertakings does not indicate an admission of wrongdoing. In this case, the undertakings were given only because it was a waste of my time to continue with the matter.

    That’s all I can say.

  3. Anti-Fascist says:

    Going to have a session on free speech after you’ve invited a fascist to speak. You loathsome creeps. Hopefully some in Aus will manage to disrupt your Fascist from speaking. MFU – Melbourne Fucked Up.

  4. Derek's Half-Uncle, from Devon, Also Called Derek says:

    AAAAH! Well, Mister Lyons, you’ve been caught in a legal web cast from your very own crime spinnerettes and hung in the corner of a big, dark transgressive room of bastardry.

    “not make any public comments about him”…

    By saying “him” and using his name, you already have done you snivelling, evil aardvark of a man!

    And you would’ve gotten away with it too, if I weren’t drunk posting on @ndy’s blog.

  5. Hi Andy,

    May I respond to some of the nonsensical and incorrect accusations made above from Aurelien who ever that is?

    Or do you censor/silence anyone who dares disagree with you in your Anarchist Glass Tower? etc.

    The most obvious error is that I have any association with the ramshackle group calling themselves Southern Cross Soldiers. I do not have any such association. I interviewed a few members of that group for a documentary project I had a few years back. And that’s it.

    I am also a strong Libertarian and oppose any overtly oppressive and totalitarian form of fascism. That’s a lot for you to get your head around, I know…

    Friends have often described me more as a Liberal anarchist or an anarcho Libertarian than any kind of fascist as I am a free spirit, and enjoy the company of same. So, there you go.

    Yes, I have used the moniker ‘transcendental fascist’ as a provocation and gesture of contrariness. It also implies ‘transcending’ something which is a dead giveaway I would have thought.

    My politics are also just that. We all have arm chair philosophies. Until someone is really acting on them in the political arena they are somewhat of a mute point I would have thought.

    Also, double standards on the Right and Left: How many Marxists are held to account constantly for Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, etc? On and on.

    By the way, my speech tonight at MFU was banned by the venue and we are yet to ascertain the complicity of MFU in this. So I am sure you may be happy at this, Andy and friends.

    I moved the speech to a nearby venue and held it there in defiance of this ban.

    I feel Andy you have me painted as a villain that I am not. I am happy to sit down and answer any of your concerns in person as I feel your website’s portrayal of me is unfair, unjust and a total misunderstanding of me.

    Best Regards

    Richard Wolstencroft

    PS. Mr Lyons’ comments are straight forward and require no further comment from me.

  6. abstactblack says:

    “I am also a strong Libertarian and oppose any overtly oppressive and totalitarian form of fascism.”

    As opposed to the nice form of fascism?

  7. Lumpen says:

    I am also a strong Libertarian and oppose any overtly oppressive and totalitarian form of fascism. That’s a lot for you to get your head around, I know…

    Friends have often described me more as a Liberal anarchist or an anarcho Libertarian than any kind of fascist as I am a free spirit, and enjoy the company of same. So, there you go.

    Weasel words much? Tell us the one about Hitler trying to start the EU again.

  8. @ndy says:

    @Richard:

    May I respond to some of the nonsensical and incorrect accusations made above from Aurelien [whoever] that is?

    Yes, it would appear so.

    Or do you censor/silence anyone who dares disagree with you in your Anarchist Glass Tower?

    No, it would seem not.

    The most obvious error is that I have any association with the ramshackle group calling themselves Southern Cross Soldiers. I do not have any such association. I interviewed a few members of that group for a documentary project I had a few years back. And that’s it.

    Aurelien claimed that you ‘supported’ the SCS.

    December, 2008:

    Self-described ‘transcendental fascist’ and notoriously bad filmmaker Richard Wolstencroft writes: “Apparently Tyler was a member of the proto-fascist Nationalist group Southern Cross Soldiers… [SCS Myspace] pages lack ideological sophistication and use unfortunate language, but are still heart felt attempts at some form of political expression”.

    Quite.

    Much more interesting, however, is his claim to have discovered an SCS Melbourne leaflet. One in which, according to Richard, “the SCS accuse the Herald Sun of doing a beat up on their group. They claim Tyler’s death was uncalled for [and] that earlier that day Tyler Cassidy was attacked at a train station by a Lebanese gang, and that this is the cause for his crazed agitation, and subsequent death that evening at the hands of Police”. The leaflet itself reads: “Barely 15 minutes before Tyler’s death, he had been the victim of a racially motivated knife attack on a train by a Lebanese Muslim gang. This was not the first time. The attack left him traumatised and agitated.”

    Given these and your other comments on the subject, it seems reasonable — especially given your wider belief in Western decline and the perils of multiculturalism — to characterise your position as supportive. And while I obviously cannot (nor desire to) speak for Aurelien, perhaps this position may in addition be described as “extremely disturbing” because it involves concrete expressions of support for a reactionary political formation — rather than, say, a mere hankering after Heidegger.

    I am also a strong Libertarian and oppose any overtly oppressive and totalitarian form of fascism. That’s a lot for you to get your head around, I know…

    Perhaps. Or it may be read more simply as ideological confusion on your part, and a failure to appreciate the distinction between terms such as ‘libertarian’, ‘totalitarian’ and ‘fascist’.

    Friends have often described me more as a Liberal anarchist or an anarcho Libertarian than any kind of fascist as I am a free spirit, and enjoy the company of same. So, there you go.

    OK. But I do not know your friends. And as Mike Brady said: wherever you go, there you are.

    Yes, I have used the moniker ‘transcendental fascist’ as a provocation and gesture of contrariness. It also implies ‘transcending’ something which is a dead giveaway I would have thought.

    Yes, I have used the moniker ‘slackbastard’ as a provocative gesture but mostly I use it because when I was trying to think of a name for my blog a friend suggested it and it seemed appropriate (for various reasons). It implies cheapness, laziness and bastardy, although not an especially pernicious form.

    In any case, I first became aware of your attraction to fascism in 2003, when in publicity material for that year’s MUFF you supported something called ‘transcendental fascism’.

    I thought it was daft then and I believe it to be equally stoopid now.

    However, given your (deserved) reputation as a provocateur, when I first read your (2003) manifesto I was somewhat bemused (fascists are the only true anarchists) and thought it likely just a passing fancy; that is, not something to be taken too seriously. The subsequent commentary that Shane published, as well as your general outlook as expressed by way of your blog, went some way to convincing me that, however seemingly incoherent or just plain daft much of your written material is, you are a sincere fascist. Or to put it another way:

    Wolstencroft is no stranger to controversy, and actively cultivates it. In this sense, he’s a provocateur — one whose actions can readily be understood as having fairly crass, commercial, and therefore otherwise unremarkable motivations. Michelle Griffin writes (Bad reputation, The Age, June 26, 2004):

    Wolstencroft, 35, has been infuriating Melburnians for more than a decade, since he founded The Hellfire Club, the fashionable S&M club, back in 1992, under his rather bland pseudonym, Richard Masters.

    For years, he was the public face of the leather and lace-up crowd, generating headlines with calls to loosen pornography laws, and ill-advised plans for Nazi dress-up nights. (Ultimately cancelled after protests.)

    Wolstencroft’s adherence to some form of revitalised fascism, however, does not seem to have been adopted simply for its effect but, rather, is the product of considered, and serious, reflection.

    Finally, fascist doctrines have undergone numerous revisions and revivals and almost always in order to salvage fascism from its disrepute. This includes attempts to shed (or transcend) some of its more vulgar aspects for a new, kinder, gentler, slaughterhouse of values (cf. Benoist & Co.).

    My politics are also just that. We all have arm chair philosophies. Until someone is really acting on them in the political arena they are somewhat of a mute point I would have thought.

    Yes: your politics are your politics and your politics are fascist politics. That these are largely confined to an armchair becomes noteworthy when the chair in question is dragged on-stage. (Also: moot not mute.)

    Also, double standards on the Right and Left: How many Marxists are held to account constantly for Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, etc? On and on.

    In reality, there’s a vast literature on the subject of Marxism’s legacy, not only in reference to Stalin et al but to numerous other points on the political compass; its relevance to the topic of your addressing MFU remains pretty obscure but.

    By the way, my speech tonight at MFU was banned by the venue and we are yet to ascertain the complicity of MFU in this. So I am sure you may be happy at this, Andy and friends.

    I moved the speech to a nearby venue and held it there in defiance of this ban.

    OK. As I understand it, Jasmine Kim (convenor, MFU) wrote on Thursday night that “the event has been cancelled due to amenity issues at the venue, and the MFU is not associated with Richard’s rescheduling of it”. Elsewhere, you blame the Socialist Alliance for contacting the venue (Long Play) and threatening(?) to disrupt the event should it go ahead. I don’t know what happened with regards the cancellation or what, if any, role SA played, but I think it would have been preferable had you not been invited to address the MFU in the first place.

    I feel Andy you have me painted as a villain that I am not. I am happy to sit down and answer any of your concerns in person as I feel your website’s portrayal of me is unfair, unjust and a total misunderstanding of me.

    I don’t think you’re a villain so much as a boor. I don’t think I’m alone in that assessment but rightly or wrongly, there it is.

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  10. Derek's Half-Brother, who ghostwrote for PG Wodehouse. says:

    Small correction. IVORY is what the towers of those you disagree with are made out of; GLASS is what their houses are made of. Richard Wolstencroft, you are an idiot.

    Sue me.

  11. Derek's Mum, Derek, who's dead now. says:

    Also, put a comma in this sentence, “I feel Andy you have me painted as a villain that I am not.” or else I’m going to take it as read that you’re communicating a desire to molest @ndy.

  12. Hi Andy,

    I’ll respond soon. A bit more in length. Busy week.

    You make a few reasonable points. As shall I.

    I still think the gist of what you do re: me is an attempt to get me banned and black balled from places as you don’t like my ideas and/or my politics which is unfair and unjust. To start with it is censorious and makes you as bad as what you supposedly are out to criticize: the intolerance of those who hate intolerance! etc. Which is absurd.

    More later.

    PS. Glass Towers: I am deliberately using the mixed metaphors of Glass House and Ivory Tower and combing them to make Glass Tower. Making the point Slackbastard is in both, idiots. It’s original and bit too clever for you guys, so, I apologize for that.

    PPS. Grammar Nazis: Fuck Off! I expect a round of applause here for that one. Lol.

    Best

    Richard W

  13. “combining” instead of “combing” in the PS before the spelling Anarchist Nazi jumps down my throat. Yipes. I write quick and off the cuff. So, yes, mistakes are made. – RW

  14. Lumpen says:

    I can now see why Wolstencroft is such a highly sought speaker. So, Andy: who are THE REAL fascists? Is it the fascists? OR THE PEOPLE WHO ARGUE AGAINST FASCISTS IN A CONVINCING WAY WHICH IS JUST LIKE PUTTING PEOPLE IN MIND JAILS?

  15. What? says:

    Richard,

    How many Marxists are held to account constantly for Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, etc? On and on.

    For the last 150 years or so Anarchists have been pointing out the fascist tendencies of Marx, Marxists, Bolshevists, Maoists, Castroists (?) and even going to the depths of criticising the patron saint of socialism, Che. You can find some of those Marxist groups held to account for that on @ndy’s blog, actually. So if you’re claiming that anarchists or @ndy in particular don’t hold them to order you’ve misfired.

    It’s interesting, though, that you choose to make that point, as if you think there’s something in how you’ve been attacked and it’s an unjust attack because of the imbalance of criticism given to the right over the left. Which would indicate you feel sympathetic to the right being overly criticised.

    I am deliberately using the mixed metaphors of Glass House and Ivory Tower and combing them to make Glass Tower. Making the point Slackbastard is in both, idiots. It’s original and bit too clever for you guys, so, I apologize for that.

    That was breathtakingly juvenile.

    If we pretend you deliberately came up with that brilliant mixed metaphor, I can only ascertain it means that @ndy lives in an observational high point of transparency, where his motives and agenda are open for all to see and know. That would actually undermine the implications of unapproachable and distant elitism in ‘ivory tower’. @ndy, in this wonderful new metaphorical device, is able to observe the world around him unobstructed, with full and total transparency to those surrounding him (and possibly be able to drop stones from his crenellations, unlike those poor bastards forced to throw stones through the walls of their rather pedestrian glass houses). I think you just credited him with a form of accountable journalism, which is quite a compliment, or possibly the perfect form of responsible government, which is a bit backhanded to give to an anarchist.

    Seriously, though, I understand why you won’t just admit to being a racist who likes dressing up as a Nazi. Not being able to admit it publicly allows you to intensify the feeling of being an outcast, which further fuels your resentment and general self-hatred, right? Seems to be why everyone else does it.

  16. Grumpy Cat says:

    What? wrote
    “For the last 150 years or so Anarchists have been pointing out the fascist tendencies of Marx, Marxists, Bolshevists, Maoists, Castroists (?) and even going to the depths of criticising the patron saint of socialism, Che. You can find some of those Marxist groups held to account for that on @ndy’s blog, actually. So if you’re claiming that anarchists or @ndy in particular don’t hold them to order you’ve misfired.”
    The good anarchist critiques haven’t because describing any of the above as fascist (even if it is only tendencies) is silly.

  17. @ndy says:

    I’m sure Richard will be back.

  18. Derek's Son, Derektron, from the future. says:

    They always come back.

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