The Long View: In the Presence of Mine Enemies

Here is a 2003 book review where John makes the point I highlighted yesterday; all the piss and vinegar has been taken out of the 20th century ideologies by now. In the early 21st century, we keep using the same slogans, but nobody means it.

I was also struck by John's off-hand comment that any serious history buff would have a mostly-unread copy of Mein Kampf sitting around. In the current craziness, books like Mein Kampf and Das Kapital are no longer doorstops for people with a book collecting problem, but have rather become props for people who LARP as political extremists. Last century, books like that actually changed the world. Now they are just part of the scenery.


In the Presence of Mine Enemies
By Harry Turtledove
New American Library, 2003
454 Pages, US$24.95
ISBN 0-451-52902-2

 

Strange as it may seem for someone who writes quite a lot about alternative history, this is the first book by Harry Turtledove I have ever read. That was partly because I did not want to take on yet another long series of novels. In the Presence of Mine Enemies is a stand-alone work, however, and the premise is obvious enough to warm the heart of any acquisitions editor. The Third Reich wins the Second and Third World Wars, but later undergoes the process of reform-reaction-collapse that ended the Soviet Union in the world we know. The characters through which we observe these events are secret Jews, living otherwise ordinary lives in and around Berlin. The title, incidentally, comes from Psalm 23:5. (A poetic rendering runs: "You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil: my cup overflows.")

In the Presence of Mine Enemies has many of the features common to Nazi-victory timelines. We learn once again how many St. Peter's basilicas (16) would fit into Albert Speer's Great Hall in Berlin. There are brief references to the nuclear standoff with the Japanese Empire. On the whole, however, the author is notably circumspect about filling in the details of world history to 2010, which is about when the story is set. We find out in passing that the US was neutral in the Second World War and on the losing end of the Third, which occurred around 1970. We also learn that the US capital has moved to Omaha. Similarly, though the Germanic Empire seems to be almost everywhere as an occupier, colonizer, or overbearing ally, we are spared lectures on geopolitics in a Nazi world. The author's chief conterfactual mischief concerns one Kurt Haldweim, the gerontocrat Führer whose death marks the start of the reform era, and whom we must in no way confuse with the factual Kurt Waldheim.

We do learn quite a lot about the life and ways of Heinrich Gimpel, a financial analyst at the Oberkommando Wehrmachts headquarters in Berlin and arguably the most prosaic protagonist in all possible worlds. By day he is a mild-mannered bureaucrat who fields diffident questions from Omaha about the annual financial assessment on the US; by night he is an equally mild-mannered father who instructs his eldest daughter in the rudiments of Judaism. (The children are let in on the secret when they are ten.)

Heinrich is not without passions, however. He and his hausfrau wife are fanatical bridge players. There are many pages of text like this:

"He pulled Willi's trumps, one by one; Willi couldn't make any of them good. And he made the contract-doubled.

"'A deep finesse,' Willi said mournfully, 'Who would have thought you would run a deep finesse? And who would have thought it would work?'

"'I had to,' Heinrich answered. 'It was the only way I even had a chance to make four. So I thought, why not?'"

Why not indeed? No doubt there are readers, more familiar with bridge than I, who will see ways in which these games comment on the story. Still, the ordinary amusements and vices of the characters do serve to normalize the Nazi world.

The Gimpels have a friend, another secret Jew named Susanna, who is rather more dramatic, or at least cranky. A professor of Middle English, she is a rarity as a female academic in the German higher education system. Early in the story, she goes to a conference in London of the Medieval English Association. However, she wanders across the street to the annual meeting of the British Union of Fascists, who, of course, are the ruling party of Great Britain. To her surprise, she becomes the belle of the ball.

The British fascists drink beer and favor heavy boots, but they appear here as populist good fellows, who enjoy the support of King Henry IX. They introduce her to a movement for democratic reform that seeks to use the resources of Nazi doctrine. The Eurocommunists of our own 1970s deployed Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts against Leninism. In this alternative world, reform Nazis cite a text from the first edition of Mein Kampf, which emphasizes the need for the Party leadership to be democratically responsible to the Party membership.

I suspect that every history buff on Earth has a largely unread copy of Mein Kampf on his bookshelves. My Sentry edition, the 11th printing of Ralph Manheim's translation, has the original passage at page 344. There is also a footnote containing the Second Edition version, which Hitler made after he suppressed his rivals and became keen on the Führerprinzip.

The concept of "reform Nazi" sounds no less odd to the principal characters in this story than it does to us. Even as Heinrich and Susanna root for well-meaning Heinz Buckliger, the unfortunately named new Führer, they realize that no one has said a word about rehabilitating the Jews. Indeed, though Jews in Germany are almost as rare as elves, the SS has not relaxed its hunt for them, and antisemitic propaganda continues to be an important feature of the school curriculum. It would be giving away too much of the story to relate just how these people come to the attention of the security services, but that aspect of the book does provide real suspense.

On the other hand, the parallel histories of the reform movements in the Germanic Empire and in our own Soviet Union are close enough to preclude much suspense. The similarities extend even to the publication of critical letters-to-the-editor, alleged to be from ordinary citizens opposed to reform, but actually planted by reactionary party bosses. There is nothing objectionable in an author's adhering to his story's premise: Tolkien says that hobbits like their books to be set out fair and square with no contradictions, and I am inclined to agree with them. However, the parallel to the Soviet Union does not give much guidance about the underlying causes for the crisis of the Germanic Empire. We are told that the budget is chronically in deficit, and that the Reich's software industry is falling behind its Japanese competitor's. (The Reich's standard operating-system is deplorably clunky, which suggests another real-world parallel we will not pursue.) The late Soviet Union, it has been argued, was in many ways just an oil-state that collapsed when commodity prices fell in the 1980s. Even if that assessment is too flippant (as it almost certainly is), some comparable mechanism would have made the premise of this book seem less arbitrary.

Stories based on greater success for the Nazi regime than occurred in the real world are not rare. Some of them are exercises in sado-masochism; some seek to show off a detailed knowledge of the Nazi era: I have run across only one that seemed intended as apologetics for the Nazis. In the Presence of Mine Enemies is proof that it is possible to write a novel with this premise that does not further strain credulity with a plot involving spies, Satanists, and interdimensional travel. Still, even the best of these stories ring hollow for me, in a way that goes beyond the inevitable implausibilities of alternative history.

The Nazis did not come to power with detailed plans to conquer the world. Hitler did suggest from time to time that the problem for his generation was Russia, and that the problem for the next would be America. This is the framework that Turtledove uses for his novel, and it's perfectly justifiable for fiction. The problem is that it ascribes to the Nazis a unique ability to shape the future according to their designs. History after the Second World War did not turn out quite how the victorious Soviet Union expected. The same was also true for the United States, even after the end of the Cold War. Technological progress had something to do with it, but the differences between one generation and the next were more important. More important still was the fact that styles of life and philosophy continued to change according to the rhythms of modernity, even in the isolated Soviet Union.

Oswald Spengler, to take my favorite macrohistorian, was often wrong, but about the Nazis he was mostly right. He understood that the movement was in many ways simply incompetent. He saw them as nothing more than an incident in the era of Western modernity, an era which he expected to last through the 21st century. The end of the story for the modern world might, he thought, be a new Roman Empire. If it materialized, the sun would set on the West in a kind of political and spiritual peace. The alternative, as he saw it, was mere collapse and barbarian chaos. In either case, he had a lively sense in the 1930s that the end of history was still many generations away, and that the Nazis were dangerously deluded about their own importance.

That, really, is the problem with most stories based on unbroken Nazi success. The premise takes the Nazis at their word about the importance of the movement, and credits them with the ability to make a peaceful desert of a world that should still have several generations of tumult remaining to it. This is anachronistic both forward and backward. It is unreasonable to expect to see Spengler's imperium mundi in any timeline much before the 22nd century. It is equally unreasonable to see the mesmerizing power that political ideology held in the 1920s and '30s transposed to the early 21st century. Even Philip Dick, in The Man in the High Castle, probably stretched a point when he put a world of fanatical Nazis in the 1960s. Certainly we know that, long before the Communist regime collapsed, there were few real Marxists in the Soviet Union.

Popular uprisings rarely overthrow ideologies; rather, even the secret police eventually lose interest.

Copyright © 2003 by John J. Reilly

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The Long View: Hitler's Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf

The Coalition of the Fringes welcomes Polydactylism 

The Coalition of the Fringes welcomes Polydactylism 

Many people fulminate about Nazis these days. I don't simply because I have paid attention to actual Nazis and find that current targets of the fascist label are not much like the real thing.


Hitler's Second Book:
The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf
By Adolf Hitler
Translated by Krista Smith
Edited by Gerhard L. Weinberg
Enigma Books, 2003
203 Pages, US$22.40
ISBN 1929631162

 

Every day, confused people all over the world ask themselves, “What would Hitler do?” This translation of the draft of an unpublished manuscript will be of great assistance to those in the English-speaking world who really want an answer.

Hitler's Second Book (the manuscript was actually untitled) has not just recently come to light. A typescript, confiscated from a German publisher, was found in the 1950s among material held by the US government. A critical German edition has been available since 1961. Pirated and sloppy English versions have been published over the years; this translation is an update of the critical edition. An introduction by the editor discusses the book's authenticity and historical context.

The manuscript is undated, but internal evidence shows that it was composed in late June and early July of 1928. Hitler “wrote” this book in the way he wrote Mein Kampf: he harangued a secretary for days on end, who transcribed what he said and produced a typed version. The rough text of Mein Kampf was edited by Hitler and his publisher before that book appeared in print. The text of this Second Book, however, was never marked up by an editor or revised by the author. It is close to being a transcript, which actually makes it easier to read. Unlike Mein Kampf, it does not read like an attempt at finished prose that failed.

By no means is this Second Book a “secret book.” It elaborates on the foreign-policy themes that appear in Mein Kampf, and it says pretty much what Hitler was saying in the late 1920s. The latter is the chief reason why Hitler never published the book. In 1928, with the political fortunes of the Nazi Party in eclipse, there was not much of a market for another book by him. Later on, much of what Hitler had to say in the Second Book was no longer of current interest. Other points covered by the book continued to be relevant, but would have been deeply embarrassing to the Nazis in power. In the Second Book, Hitler makes clear that preparing for a future struggle with the United States is one of the chief goals of National Socialism. He also states his intention to colonize Russia.

Hitler's ideas about foreign policy were essentially Social Darwinist. Nations were in competition with each other for the necessities of life, in Hitler's view. The odd thing about the Second Book, however, is that it was written in large part to dampen down a dispute between German nationalists and Italy. After the First World War, Austria lost the South Tyrol region to Italy through the Treaty of St. Germain, and Mussolini's government was taking increasingly irksome steps to Italianize the German-speaking minority. Pan-Germanists in Germany and Austria demanded the return of the South Tyrol, or at least that their governments do something to protect the Germans there. Hitler, however, was having none of it. The Second Book explains why the South Tyrol is not worth fighting for. It also explains what Hitler believed would be worth fighting for.

According to Hitler, there is no point in kicking against the territorial settlements of the Versailles Treaty and of the related agreements. They were designed to give as many states as possible an interest in maintaining the system. If Germany or Austria tried to rectify even one border, Hitler warns, the whole enemy coalition would spring back to life. Quite surprisingly, Hitler says that war, like emigration, is dysgenic: it is the best people who die in battle in time of war, or who emigrate in time of peace. A war can be justified only if the gains create the possibility of replenishing the loss of good racial stock. That can be the case only if victory means new Lebensraum, which means “living space” or territory for settlement.

Hitler's Social Darwinism includes quite a bit of Malthusianism. Ideally, every nation state should be able to feed itself, but the population of every nation tends to exceed the density at which this is possible. That leaves three options: population control, which is morbid; emigration, which, as we have seen, loses the best people; or expansion. Hitler votes for expansion. For a country placed where Germany is, that means expansion into lightly populated Russia.

One notes that this concept of national self-preservation diverges from patriotism as it is usually understood. Hitler does not lack historical memory, and no doubt there were places in the German lands that were dear to him. However, under his own theory, the Fatherland becomes simply a food-making machine. He asserts several times that peoples are not tied permanently to specific territories. At least in this book, there is no preference for the Rhine over the Volga as a seat of German civilization.

Hitler does not say that the life of nations is simply a war of all against all. Great nations develop characteristic foreign policies to promote their peculiar interests. Hitler says that not just peace, but permanent alliance, should be possible with Italy. Italy's Lebensraum is the lands around the Mediterranean, and so there is no fundamental cause for conflict with Germany. Similarly, Germany can successfully seek alliance with Great Britain, provided that Germany concedes to Britain the control of the seas. The greatest error of the Hohenzollern Reich, in Hitler's estimation, was the attempt to compete in international commerce. That was Britain's vital interest. Germany's growing pre-war navy, made necessary by the expansion of German commerce, made war certain. Germany cannot feed itself through trade without provoking Britain. That is why the drive to the East was the only option for Germany.

Hitler does have some notion of Europe as a whole, but he rejects the option of a “Pan-Europa” policy for Germany. If Europe is ever to be united, it will have to be by war and competition, as Latium was united by Rome, and Germany by Prussia. A united Europe created by peaceful assimilation would simply dilute the best racial elements of the various nations. He contrasts this with the assimilation of European ethnic groups in the United States. These, Hitler believed, were largely derived from the adventurous, Nordic strains of the European nations. Mixing them together reconstituted the best European racial potential.

This assessment of the United States is the highest Hitler was ever to make, at least to my knowledge. He seems to give equal weight to the advent of American armies in Europe with the famous “stab in the back” as a cause of Germany's defeat in the recent world war. For the future, he suggests that the natural competition between America and Great Britain would lead to conflict. For reasons he never quite specifies, he also suggests there is also a basic incompatibility of interests between the United States and Germany, and indeed between the United States and Europe as a whole:

“In the future, the only state that will be able to stand up to North America will be the state that has understood how – through the character of its internal life as well as through the substance of its external policy – to raise the racial value of its people and bring it into the most practical national form for this purpose. But by making such a solution seem possible, a great number of nations will be able to participate in it, which can and will lead to greater strengthening already as a result of the mutual cooperation.

“It is, again, the duty of the National Socialist movement to strengthen and prepare our own fatherland to the greatest degree possible for this task.”

Russia was the flipside of the United States. There, the state-building element had been Nordic in origin, but it had been almost entirely destroyed or driven out by the Bolshevik Revolution. Another alliance with Russia, as in Bismarck's day, was out of the question: there was no one left to ally with. There were, of course, the Jews, whom Hitler saw as guiding spirits of the early Bolshevik regime. Hitler had no interest in dealing with them, however, and he doubted their ability to form an effective ruling class. Russia, in Hitler's estimation, was not a threat, but a tempting desert.

Although only wars against Russia and, later, the United States would really be worthwhile in themselves, Hitler does not counsel pacifism in all other contexts. States that stand aside from the great conflicts of the age never develop the mettle to deal with the victor. He says the United States would not be counted as a power of the first rank if it had remained neutral during World War I. His objection is to petty wars that serve no greater strategy. Pacifism, he suggests, was an understandable reaction to wars fought in the service of frivolous statecraft, like that of the old Dual Monarchy. In the future, when wars are fought for Lebensraum, pacifism can be expected to disappear.

Although there are some tirades in this book against the Jews, they are of surprisingly little importance to Hitler's assessment of the state of the world. It goes without saying (though he says it) that the Jews were trying to subvert the nations of Europe, and Germany in particular. However, this sleepless malice is given no particular shape. There does not seem to be any specific Jewish plot that Hitler is trying to foil. His Social Darwinist model of history does not require any Jews at all. At least in this book, Hitler seems much more concerned with the malefactions of bourgeois nationalists, who were trying to pick a fight with the brilliant Signor Mussolini.

For the most part, readers will be struck by the continuities between the ideas in this book and Hitler's later policies. He eventually made his alliance with Italy, and tried repeatedly to make one with England. He fought preliminary wars for no other purpose than to facilitate the invasion of Russia. Hitler declared war on the United States after Pearl Harbor, though he was not bound by treaty to do so, and historians have been trying to figure out why ever since. Frankly, this book does not do much clarify his motivations, either. However, despite what American neo-isolationists have said in recent years, it seems unlikely that peace was an option.

Copyright © 2004 by John J. Reilly

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Who was John J. Reilly?

All of John's posts here

An archive of John's site

 

LinkFest 2016-11-06

This LinkFest has been delayed three weeks. I had better publish it before the election and everything gets falsified!


Divided by meaning

A great piece on how Americans are divided by their attachments to hearth and home, or the lack thereof. Fascinating to me, since by education and career, I ought to be a member of what the author calls "the front row kids" who run the country, but I have chosen to live and work in the same small town I grew up in, much like Steve Jobs.

Is there a dietary treatment for multiple sclerosis?

It wouldn't be that hard to design a double-blind RCT on this if you wanted to. You could put everyone on the vegan+fish diet and then supplement animal fats in pill form. If the IRB balked, you might then suspect they secretly believed it might work.

The Crony Economy

Everyone agrees they don't like it, but no one has produced a lasting reform.

How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind 

Cracked continues to impress me. Companion piece: Divided by meaning

Is there a dietary treatment for multiple sclerosis?

A really good look at the incentives that push medicine towards pharmaceuticals and away from other kinds of therapies. Related reading: Lions, Tigers, and Bears. Is the placebo powerless?

Revealed: Nearly Half The Adults In Britain And Europe Hold Extremist Views

There is no end to the humor in this, but I find the commitment to democracy kind of sweet and endearing in people who are otherwise horrified when they find out what average people really think. Can you imagine the headline if one were able to conduct the same survey world-wide?

Why Tokyo is the land of rising home construction but not rising prices

Because they almost always tear down old houses and build new ones instead of just moving into them. There are a variety of interesting cultural and practical reasons for this, but one that doesn't appear in the article is the way the Yakuza use construction as their legitimate front. A lot of blue collar work in NYC works much the same way.

How Democrats killed their populist soul

Part of my on-going series of how the Economic Right and the Cultural Left are currently dominant in the West. Until I read this, I hadn't appreciated how the economic theories of Right and Left alike had turned against trust-busting and monopoly prevention.

Estates of Mind

A bit more about anti-trust laws as applied to intellectual property.

Mergers raise prices not efficiency

Since I have worked in manufacturing for my entire career, I don't find this surprising at all. The idea that mergers allow for standardization looks a lot easier on paper than in reality. Supply chains and manufacturing lines can't change with a memo.

The Rise of the alt-Right

Definitely one of the best things I have read about the alt-right. What is going on in the US has a lot of ties to what is going on in Europe.

On the reality of race and the abhorrence of racism

Bo Winegard, Ben Winegard, and Brian Boutwell point out that studying race doesn't make you deplorable.

The ruthlessly effective rebranding of Europe's new far-Right

I said what I read above from Scott McConnell was the best thing about the alt-right, but you really need this one as background.

The election that forgot about the future

In John's review of The Fourth Turning, one of the things that Strauss and Howe said made the Civil War worse than it could have been was the failure of the aging Transcendentalists to step aside and let someone else solve new problems. According to Strauss and Howe's model, the Baby Boomers are currently filling the same role in the United States. And you might note, one of two aging Baby Boomers is about to win the Presidency in a bitterly contested election.

Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson makes another great war movie, about a guy who would not carry a gun.

Link fest 2015-12-11

This conservative wunderkind is taking France by storm

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is the granddaughter of the founder of the Front National, and the niece of its current leader. She is young, and pretty, and so immediately garners a lot of attention in the press, but she seems to be an adept politician, and could rival her aunt for influence in the party. The FN is usually described as fascist, or fascist-leaning, but in fact is really just populist and nationalist. Parties of this kind are gaining lots of influence in Europe as economies wane and immigrants move in.

The FN is becoming less right-wing, and more nationalist, as time goes on. Many of their votes are starting to come from working class French who used to vote socialist. If you pay attention to what Marine Le-Pen says, she sees herself as a defender of traditional French liberté and laicité. Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is far more like an American Republican, seriously Catholic, pro-life, and relatively business friendly.

Here is what happens when you ban affirmative action in college admissions 

Last week, I reposted a very pertinent [and popular] blog post by John on the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case, which made the argument that affirmative action policies should not be struck down as unconstitutional, unless they impose apartheid, on the grounds that the people can do any damn fool thing they please that doesn't directly contradict the Constitution or settled case law. John felt this kind of thing was a matter for the legislature and the executive, and the courts getting involved in it would probably lead in the long term to a restriction of judicial review.

Twelve years on, I think John was probably a better judge of the situation than some of the Justices. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in 2003 that she thought that racial preference programs in university admissions would no longer be needed in twenty-five years. This may not have been prudent, since that is much the same reasoning as the Court used to invalidate part of the Voting Rights Act based on the fact that it was out of date. Unfortunately, racial gaps in education are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, but rationales for racial preferences in education may suffer a different fate.

How martial a country should the United States be?

Tyler Cowen makes an extremely logical conclusion in this post on American gun ownership and the Pax Americana: the two things go together. The interest of Americans in guns and the interest of Americans in policing the world run together in a fairly natural way. The Americans who are hawks are often gun-owners, and disproportionately likely to provide their sons [and now daughters] as sacrifices on the altar of liberty. However, not all foreign policy hawks are gun-owners, or likely to have a relative in the military, hence Cowen can justly accuse them of failing to connect the dots.

The Americans at the pointy end of the spear tend to be white, Southern, and/or rural. If you don't believe me, look real close at the guys who make it through BUD/S, or even the less elite teams like the Army Rangers, and ask yourself, do they really look like America?

Where do pro-social institutions come from?

The economist Pseudoerasmus provides us with an overview of the relatively new field of cultural evolution. This is a valuable adjunct to this is the study of actual evolution, which then allows you ask interesting questions about gene-culture co-evolution.

Jump the gun and you will be shot down

This is the companion piece to the above. There is an immense amount of resistance to the idea that genes can shape behavior in a significant way. Not all of this is completely crazy, but some of it surely is. The linked article by Stuart Ritchie and its references go into the question in detail. Some of the objections raised by James and Bentall have occurred to me. For example, I have wondered whether estimates of heritability are inflated by artifacts of analysis.

The short answer is: yes, they are. Published heritability numbers are probably upper bounds. However, the kinds of studies done to date provide a lower bound that is more than zero, contrary to what James and Bentall claim in their objections. It is also true that trait heritability estimates usually apply to populations more strongly than individuals. This is true for the same reason and in the same way that stereotypes are true: on average and for the most part. Human beings are individuals, and the interaction between what is fixed and what is variable is what makes us interesting.

The Long View: The Dark Imperium

Here is an old essay of John's on Satanic eschatology. I'm sure there must be all of 50 people in the world who are interested in this subject, but for the rest of you, this essay is also a window back into time, when the Internet was young. Using the Internet for serious research was a new idea in 1998, and here John gives an idea what that felt like at the time.

The Dark Imperium
Satanic Eschatology on the Internet
by John J. Reilly
The Biblical tradition is short on information about the motivations of the forces of evil in history. Revelation 12:12 explains the violence of the Evil One in the latter days with these words: "Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you in great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time." In Christopher Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus," the tempter Mephistopheles explains that demons tempt men simply because they are themselves wretched and seek to make others wretched, too. Perhaps the most prosaic explanation for diabolical behavior, and the one best known to modern readers, is C.S. Lewis's hypothesis in "The Screwtape Letters" that demons are hungry and eat the human souls they catch.
Whatever the merits of these explanations, they shed no light on the motivations of the human agents of conscious evil. There is, of course, a long philosophical tradition, starting with Platonism and extending even through Utilitarianism, that there is no such thing as a conscious agent of evil. Since evil is simply the privation of something good, according to this view, it must be that those who seek to do evil are merely mistaken: they are in fact really trying to do good as it seems to them. Be this as it may, it cannot be denied that there is an ancient impulse, which has sometimes assumed concrete historical form, which seeks to overthrow the whole order of things, religious, ethical and social.
This impulse need not take the form of mysticism. Subversive art, like the plays and novels of the Marquis de Sade, can manifest this mood while denying the reality of the strictly supernatural. Still, a particularly dramatic manifestation of this spirit does seem to inform the division of the modern occult that styles itself "Satanic." Satanism is a large subject, and the term is often applied to types of occultists, notably wiccans, who for the most part deny any connection with it. For the purposes of this discussion, however, the general category of "Satanic" is limited by one major criterion: a systematic concern with universal eschatology, that is, with history's goal. It is hard to imagine a Satanist who accepted the Judeo-Christian model of history, since in that model Satan and all his followers are ultimately defeated and punished. What are the beliefs about the future, then, among that minority of Satanists who are interested in such questions?
This essay is actually an extension of the chapter entitled "The Coming Man," which appears in my forthcoming book, "The Perennial Apocalypse: How the End of the World Shapes History." In that chapter, I explore what turned out to be a surprisingly widespread modern myth. This myth says that the current age of the world is nearing its end, and that in the coming age mankind as it presently exists will be replaced by a new species. In some forms of this myth, the species already covertly exists, while other forms say that it will come into being in the future. A common motif in the forms of this myth is that many human beings will help the new species come into being. I argue in "The Coming Man" that this motif was part of the motivation of at least some Nazis during the Hitler regime.
Since the material in my book is largely historical, one evening in early 1998 I had an inspiration to update my research by asking the Infoseek search-engine the following question: "Is a new human species appearing?"
So it would seem. At any rate, the search results showed that there is a lot of chatter about the subject, mostly of a New Age variety. There is even a weekly science-fiction drama on American television (the ABC network) called "Prey" which is premised on the idea. However, in light of my earlier research into the connection between the Third Reich and the occult, what immediately caught my eye was the link:
Satanism--The Sinister Path
This essay is largely based on the links I found there, and at
The Internet Satanic Syndicate
There are also several related newsgroups, of which the one with the most predictable name is alt.satanism.
(The Internet Satanic Syndicate site, by the way, has a subpage entitled "Helvete." This deals with "Black Metal" rock music, a term I had not heretofore encountered. The subpage's name is the nickname of an apparently legendary distributor of this material in Norway, where I gather Satanism has a lively presence.)
Again, Satanism is a large subject, but all the Internet Satanists have a few things in common. None, as far as I could tell, think of Satan as a personal entity. Some think of him as an impersonal "force" of some kind, others as a psychological archetype. While all perform ritual magic, which may take the form of worship, they generally think of this as a psychological exercise. If they expect the magic to affect the real world, they say the power comes from their own wills. When they speak of Satan, they speak of him in the original Hebrew sense as the Adversary or the Accuser. They do not think that Satan accuses them. Rather, they themselves take on Satan's role. By calling themselves Satanists, they mean that they are the world's critics.
We may pass quickly over the well-known Church of Satan, founded by the late Anton Szandor LaVey (who died on October 29, 1997), as well as its offshoot, the Temple of Set (whose members are called "Setians"). These are the sort of groups that provide the stage properties for the popular "Gothic" subculture of would-be vampires and fans of heavy metal music. Taken at face value, they are more Gnostic than anything else. By their own account, they seek a form of subjective spiritual illumination. By reputation, the techniques they use to achieve this state include a fair amount of perversion, ritual suicide and unkindness to small animals. In reality, there are probably worse things in the world than the Gothic subculture, though some people may think that one Halloween per year is quite enough.
Indeed, what is most striking about the material by the popular Satanic groups on the Internet is their eagerness to appear respectable, or at least not criminally indictable. Thus, they deny that they sacrifice human beings, kill animals or promote pederasty. Despite the well-known associations between fascism and the occult, some are even at pains to distance themselves from Nazi politics. For instance, there is a group related to the Temple of Set called "The Order of the Trapezoid" that purports to be carrying on the ritual magical practices of the Nazis. The order was even initiated by a magical "working" at the SS site at Wewelsberg Castle. Still, they denounce what they call Nazi "excesses," and they deny that their beliefs require racism, antisemitism or militarism. One may wonder how seriously to take these protestations from people who think that Heinrich Himmler was a misguided genius, but there is unlikely to be much harm in such folk.
Harmlessness is not a self-evident quality of the literature of at least three Satanic groups with an Internet presence. All of them claim to be "traditional" Satanic groups, with doctrine and organizational ties extending into the misty past. Such claims might reasonably be taken with a grain of salt. One recalls Ambrose Bierce's remark in "The Devil's Dictionary": "[The emblems of the Freemasons] have been found in the Catacombs of Paris...on the Chinese Great Wall...and in the Egyptian Pyramids -- always by a Freemason." For that matter, since the sources in question here are Internet material, it is entirely possible that all of it was concocted by five guys with gross haircuts who work in mailrooms somewhere. Still, the groups in question here are related and they do have a coherent historical agenda. Whatever their actual antiquity or size, these groups therefore do afford us an example of a consciously diabolical model of history.
The oldest and most influential is The Order of the Nine Angles, or ONA. This group has its own website at http://thor.prohosting.com/~atazoth. Based in England, the ONA appears to act as a sort of "mother church" for Satanists who describe themselves as "traditional." (The more popular, "Gothic" types of Satanism are often disparaged as "American.")
The ONA's beliefs, and some of its documents, are mirrored in the Internet material relating to the Order of the Deorc Fyre, formerly known as the Order of the Left-Hand Path. This group is based in New Zealand, though contact information is provided on the Web for other places in the world. Its documents suggest that it is more interested in recruiting than are other groups of this type.
The White Order of Thule, formerly known as the Black Order, seems to be pan-European. The only contact information I found was a mailing address in the United States, where this kind of thing is constitutionally protected. It has by far the smallest amount of Internet material. It is also almost pedantically Nazi: its literature even reflects something of the style of German "völkisch" groups of the early 20th century. Such material as there is suggests an acquaintance with the academic literature on the subject, such as Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's "The Occult Roots of Nazism."
All these groups are unconcerned with making themselves appear respectable. They insist that real Satanic groups do and must make human sacrifices, though they emphasize that this is never done at random and is never done to children. (It's not that they are sensitive to the welfare of children; it's just that they prefer killing people for character flaws that become apparent only in adults.) They emphasize how much more serious and dangerous their kind of Satanism is than that of the popular Gothic variety. Most important for the purposes of this discussion, they also insist that their goals are not just personal but historical. They seek to set the stage for a wholly new age and a new human species to live in it.
Before proceeding to quotations from documents posted either by these groups or in their name, it would be helpful to explain a few important assumptions that all these groups seem to share. Throughout the material that follows, I have provided links to material on my website that may help to illuminate some of these assumptions:
(1) The Doctrine of the Two Worlds. These Satanists hold that are two kind of reality, the "causal" world known to physics and the "acausal" world which sometimes intersects with it. The "acausal" seems to be related to the notion, familiar in esoteric circles, of the "causal plane." This is the world of the "forms," the Platonic Ideas, that provide what order there is in the world. Any organism, according to the ONA, is an intersection of the causal and the acausal. The notion is not quite gibberish, since the idea that the structures of biological organisms are governed by a small class of mathematical patterns is gaining adherence among some biologists. See my essay "After Darwin." The stretch is the assertion that cultures and civilizations are also organisms. An even greater stretch is that intersections of the causal and acausal can be influenced by ritual magic or by more prosaic means.
(2) Popular Spenglerism. All these groups have a grasp of the cyclical historical models of Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee. Both these historians suggested that the West had exhausted its basic stock of ideas, and that politically it was headed toward the final stage of a civilization's evolution, what Toynbee called a "Universal State." What I find interesting about this is that my own book on these matters, "Spengler's Future," sketches a future that is not so different from that of the ONA, at least in the timescale. This is not really surprising, since Spengler's historical cycles are supposed to be fairly inflexible, but it is a bit disconcerting.
(3) Satanic Dispensationalism. The most popular form of Christian eschatology in the United States is known as "dispensationalism." This is the belief that salvation history is divided into ages, known as "dispensations," in which somewhat different divine ordinances apply. Much the same is true of Traditionalist Satanism, in which history is divided into Aeons, and the Aeons into civilizations. These Aeons, like the civilizations that occur within them, are organisms with their own lifecycles. By controlling the intersections of the causal and acausal planes, Satanists can influence the course of an existing Aeon and determine the nature of a future one. These manipulations are the stuff of what they call "Aeonic magick."
So, what exactly are these people up to?
The ultimate historical goals of Traditional Satanism are reasonably straightforward:
Satanism, Tradition and The Sinister Way
- Order of the Deorc Fyre 1995ev
"The Order Of The Deorc Fyre sees these goals as being two-fold: the first is the creation of a new type of Human Being - Homo-Galactica, or to put it in Nietzschean terms, 'Higher-Man'. The second is the creation of a new reality born from this noble individual."
The endeavor of Satanists today should be to create the social and cultural context in which these developments can occur:
A Path of Fire
- Order of the Deorc Fyre 1997ev
"For Satanists, the practical realization of an esoteric 'current' is through political means. For as much as Sinister tradition is a way of life, so to must it evolve progressively to its eventual and ideal manifestation of a 'Satanically' inspired state, or Imperium."
The "Decline of the West" (to use the English title of Spengler's book) does not mean the collapse of the West, but its final consolidation of the whole world into a Universal State. Before that can occur, however, the present Time of Troubles (to use another of Toynbee's expressions) must come to a climax. One of the Satanists' stated goals is: "To provoke or cause, through both practical and magickal means, the destruction, the Ragnorak, which is necessary now to build a New Order from the diseased society of the present, and regain the ethos, the Destiny, which is necessary to inspire the creation of such a New Order." Just such a revolution is described in the infamous "Turner Diaries," a detailed review of which is also provided on my website.
The point of this Dark Imperium is not power for its own sake. Even the empire of the world has an ulterior motive:
From "Darkness Is My Friend: The Meaning of the Sinister Way"
by Anton Long ONA 107 yf [yf = "Year of the Führer"? AD 1996?]
"The new Aeon [which is still to come] means a new, and higher, Galactic civilization - several centuries after the energies of the new Aeon first become manifest and are presenced, via new nexions [intersections between the causal and acausal worlds]. The decline and ending of the current Aeon means the establishment of a new and expanding physical Empire: a New Order which is the last and most glorious manifestation of the genuine spirit, or ethos, of the old [current] Aeon."
World-historical goals are not inconsistent with the hope of personal "salvation" in one's own lifetime. Eschatology is normally both universal and personal. Thus, Satanists can believe in this sort of thing in both a long-term and a short-term sense:
Culling - A Guide to Sacrifice II
ONA 1990eh (revised 1994eh)
"This essence [of true Satanism] is that it is a practical means, a practical way, to create a new, higher type of individual - and eventually a new human species."
As for the distant historical goals, the very act of working towards them necessarily creates a measure of personal liberation and power:
Aeonic Magick: A Basic Introduction
Anton Long ONA
"[F]or the majority of individuals, their Destiny is that of the civilization itself - they do not possess a unique Destiny of their own. Only those individuals who have achieved the stage of evolutionary development which individuation/Adeptship represents have a unique Destiny..."
The Satanic eschatology is, as we have noted, structurally similar to some Christian models of history. The Satanists look, in fact, to the coming end of the Christian era in a way analogous to that in which Christians look to the Second Coming:
The Black Order
"'Should the subduing talisman, the Cross, break, then will come the roaring forth of wild madness of the old champions... The talisman is brittle, and the day will come when it will pitifully break. The old stone gods will rise... and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes. And Thor, leaping forth with his giant hammer, will crush the Gothic Cathedrals!'..... So wrote the poet Heinrich Heine in 1834."
On the other hand, there is deep historical patience in some of these writings which echoes the long-term view of salvation history expressed by St. Augustine in "The City of God." In both cases, there is a sense that the coming kingdom has already arrived, but has not yet fully expressed itself:
From "Darkness Is My Friend: The Meaning of the Sinister Way"
by Anton Long ONA 107 yf [yf = "Year of the Führer"? AD 1996?]
"[T]his Being [Satan] is part of the present civilization, and its Aeon, which still exists, and which will exist for several more centuries, albeit toward its decline and end. . . .the acausal energies of the next Aeon, which will give rise to a new civilization centuries after, are already becoming manifest, partly through the work of esoteric groups. . ."
The actual timescales envisaged are not as astronomical as that those found in, say, Hindu mythology, but they are long enough:
Aeonic Magick: A Basic Introduction
Anton Long ONA
"An aeon lasts about 2,000 years of causal time - a civilization lasts around 1,500 years. That is, it takes several centuries for the energies of a particular aeon, already presencing or 'flowing' to Earth from the acausal, to produce practical, visible and significant changes: to re-order the causal in a specific geographical region."
The following table of Aeons, Archetypical Symbols and Civilizations actually gives us some rough dates:
 
[Three Aeons deleted]
Hellenic Eagle Hellenic 3,000-1,500BP [1000 BC - AD 500]
Thorian Swastika Western 1,000BP-500AP [AD 1000 - AD 2500]
Galactic -- Galactic >2,000eh [?]
 
References scattered about this material suggest the hope to establish the Dark Imperium within the next 50 to 100 years. Still, it should be emphasized that the Satanists do not claim to be causing the decline of the West, or even to be the fundamental cause of the Universal State that will mark its last phase. What they do claim to be able to do is channel these natural developments for their own ends:
A Path of Fire
- Order of the Deorc Fyre 1997ev
"Civilisations can rise and fall in the period of time known esoterically as an Aeon. The 'end time' of a civilisation is known esoterically as the Winter phase or as the Hindu have named it the 'Time of Troubles'. The 'Winter phase' marks the disintegration, and eventual demise, of a civilisation which is then followed by the emergence of another. This process occurs over many thousands of years, but because it is a naturally occurring cycle it can be perceived and influenced by knowledgeable Adepts."
If you believe this variety of Satanists, the Adepts have been at it for some time. Another table, this one of civilizations, their ethos and homelands, illustrates their view of the centrality of mystical Nazism to the historical process:
 
II Basic Principles of Aeonic Magick (ONA):
Hellenic Iliad Greece
Western National-Socialism Third Reich
Galactic Galactic Empire Solar System and --
 
Traditional Satanists quite clearly embrace the Nazis as part of their own tradition:
The Occult--Fascist Axis
The Black Order
"It is not surprising then that the ground for Fascism was largely prepared by esoteric societies which arose in Europe. Among these were the New Templars of Von Liebenfels, the Runic order of Von List, and the German Order. The latter gave rise to the Thule Society, which was to establish the NSDAP as its political front."
....
"These `sinister' esoteric societies proclaim the `Daemonic revolution', to usher in the New Order on the collapse of the Old; a New Order that will reawaken the Dark soul of man, that he might live as a totality with the Light and the Dark returned to balance. These esoteric societies recognize Fascism (whether called by that name o[r] not) as the political expression of primal truths. They include The Black Order of Pan-Europa, Fraternity of Balder, Order of Nine Angles, Abraxas Foundation, Blood Axis..."
Of course, the Nazis having lost the Second World War, some people might suppose that history was not on the Nazis' side. This thought does not greatly commend itself in Satanic circles:
To Comrade T
The Black Order "Firstly, TBO [The Black Order] is not a National Socialist organization per se. The role of National Socialist philosophy and the Third Reich on the Aeonic destiny of the European is however very much a part of its terms of reference."
. . . .
"NATIONAL SOCIALISM & AEONICS
National Socialism was the political form of an Esoteric Current in Europe which was then represented by The Thule Society. The Third Reich was a SEEDING of the future European Imperium. It created new archetypes and martyrs of the European folk with its BLOOD SACRIFICE and epic heroism in the service of that Destiny.
"Hitler was the central figure of that COSMIC DRAMA, but he did not seem to regard himself as the final embodiment of the Vindex/Kalki that was/is awaited by the European Esoteric Current. Rather he was something of a `John-the-Baptist' establishing the way (`seeding') for `the one that would come after', as he himself stated.
"Therefore the first experiment - The Third Reich - was not the final -aborted - form of the European Imperium, but the prelude to something greater to come: something nothing less than cosmic and starbound in scope."
These remarks about a "European Imperium" are particularly interesting in light of the supranational aspirations some forms of Neofascism are showing. As I note in my review of Roger Eatwell's "Fascism: A History," some fascists seem to be trying to fashion an ideology, not just for their own countries, but for the whole European Union.
In any case, it may be that Satanists are not much discouraged by historical setbacks because they do not regard history passively. They believe that it is an artifact, and that they are the artificers. The need is pressing:
From "Darkness Is My Friend: The Meaning of the Sinister Way"
by Anton Long ONA 107 yf [yf = "Year of the Führer"? AD 1996?]
"The Faustian/Promethean (or more correctly, the Satanic) Destiny of this current civilization must be returned, and the present cultural disease affecting this civilization cured, with the excision of the parasites sucking the life-blood of this civilization - for only this returning of Destiny will enable the Empire to be created, and only this Empire will breed in sufficient numbers the new type of individual required to create, build and expand the entirely new Galactic civilization and Galactic Empire which will arise from the eventual decline of the old Promethean/Faustian Empire."
There are various means to this end:
A Path of Fire
- Order of the Deorc Fyre 1997ev
"Those Forms [of culture] of a more degenerate nature: that subvert a civilisation from its organic and desirable outcome, need to be used, or destroyed, for the benefit of those Forms that aid the Sinister Dialectic. Forms become degenerate when they cease to be a healthy and vital part of civilisation. These Forms express their identity by subverting both Life and Nature e.g.: The Magian ethos expressed magickally as the Cabala, or Political-economy expressed via Plutocracy. They have a pernicious, and inhibiting, effect on the nature of civilisation; while subverting the natural development of an Aeon."
["Magian," by the way, was Spengler's term for the civilization of the Near East, which was defined by Churches rather than nations in the Western sense. Magian societies include Islam, Judaism, Byzantine Christianity and Zoroastrianism.]
"For if there is to be a sustained flowering of higher-Human endeavour it must be predicated now, in the Winter phase of this Western Aeon. Thus it can be seen, that in its Winter phase, Western civilisation is actively seeding, or in a more strict sense, 'creating' the emerging 6th Aeon."
Direct methods can be used to promote the emergence of the coming Aeon:
From "Darkness Is My Friend: The Meaning of the Sinister Way"
by Anton Long ONA 107 yf [yf = "Year of the Führer"? AD 1996?]
"The change that is necessary means that there must be a culling, or many cullings, which remove the worthless and those detrimental to further evolution."
Individuals of no social value may be culled. So may persons who oppose the Sinister Path, or traitors to it. Before a Satanic groups culls a person or group, proper form requires a secret, quasi-judicial hearing on the matter. There should even be a "defense counsel" to argue for the life of the victim. Individuals selected for culling are to be subjected to tests to redeem themselves, of which the subject is not to be aware. Should they fail, the killing will be made to seem an accident. On the other hand, the Internet material does suggest that cullings may be made of whole populations:
Culling - A Guide to Sacrifice II
ONA 1990eh (revised 1994eh)
"[T]he correct choice of opfer [German for "victim"] means that with their elimination the sinister dialectic will be aided and thus the intrusion of the acausal into the causal speeded up. ( In non-esoteric terms read: `aid the dark forces to spread over Earth.') "
. . .
"IV) An Adept desires to practically and effectively disrupt the status quo and encourage the breakdown of the present system, aiming also to bring about a revolutionary state of affairs in his country beneficial to those whose actions and policies (unknown to them) are aiding and will aid the dialectic and thus evolution. To do this, he aims to target a particular, distinct, group - considering them all as suitable potential opfers. That is, he considers this particular group - by its nature and by its collective presence and actions - has shown itself to be suitable: removal of as many of its members as possible will be conscious natural selection in action. In effect, he wished to create a particular type of 'tension' in society by eliminating members of this particular, distinct, group."
Evolution is more normally fostered by nonviolent means, such as political organization, ritual magic, even by art:
Basic Principles of Aeonic Magick (ONA)
[Acausal energy may be]:
"a) Directed into a specific already existing form (such as an individual) or some causal structure which is created for this purpose. This structure can be some political or religious or social organization, group or enterprise, or it can be some work or works of 'Art', music and so on.
"(b) Drawn forth and left to disperse naturally over Earth (from the site of its presencing).
"(c) Shaped into some new psychic or magickal form or forms - such as an archetype or mythos."
. . . .
"The nature of such things should be akin to the type of changes desired. Each such creation should itself be represented by a unique symbol or sign; by a unique descriptive word, phrase or slogan; by a unique piece of sound [or 'music']; by particular collocations of colour, and so on - or by one particular individual who embodies that idea, ideal, mythos or whatever."
The notion of art as an upwelling of the folksoul is quite absent from these considerations. In the context of Aeonics, symbols are weapons:
Aeonic Magick: A Basic Introduction
Anton Long ONA
"A rudimentary and mostly unconscious numinous symbol is an archetype; another is a myth/mythos....Further, a conscious numinous symbol can be used by an individual to bring about controlled aeonic changes because such symbols, being understood, can be precisely controlled and directed.....A numinous symbol thus makes Aeonic magick feasible for really the first time."
All of this bears some resemblance, though admittedly not much, to Georges Sorel's ideas about the use of myth as a revolutionary weapon. The matter is discussed in Eatwell's "Fascism: A History."
Finally, one may note that Traditional Satanism has taken to justifying its traditionalism precisely in terms of its eschatology:
From "Darkness Is My Friend: The Meaning of the Sinister Way"
by Anton Long ONA 107 yf [yf = "Year of the Führer"? AD 1996?]
"Thus to scorn and reject what now is, presenced as the Satanic, is to reject what is yet to be - and thus it is to reject that which alone ensures the creation of the next civilization, its Galactic Empire and the new higher race of human beings we through our lives, our magick and our deeds, desire to create."
As is often the case in small religious groups, the Traditional Satanists seem less annoyed by the non-Satanic majority than by innovators and apostates who claim to follow the Left-Hand Way:
Satanism, Tradition and The Sinister Way
- Order of the Deorc Fyre 1995ev
"Of course there are other occult Traditions: The Golden Dawn and its heir the OTO, or Ordo Templi Orientis; and the relatively new trend of Chaoism, as expounded by the IOT, or Illuminati of Thanatos. Not one of these Traditions reflect the Promethean vision of Western civilisation; instead their teachings are derived from the messianic Cabala. At its heart the Cabala is the magickal expression of Judeo-Christianity - or more precisely the cult of the Magi."
This is not to say that Traditional Satanists are blind to the need to concentrate on their real enemies:
To Comrade T
The Black Order
"Today, we of TBO think it more fitting that the adversity and accusation be directed against plutocracy, whether in its Puritan, Jewish, or Vatican forms, which seek to LEVEL all under the doctrines of Universalism and cosmopolitism, euphemistically called the `New World Order'."
"The New World Order." Most millenarian Christians think that the Satanists are the New World Order. I guess the New World Order just can't win. In any case, people interested in following that particular line of thought are invited to look at my World Government subpage. As for this discussion, however, I think that I have already given the Devil more than his due.
Copyright © 1998 by John J. Reilly

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The Long View: If the Loyalists Had Won the Spanish Civil War

Orwell with POUM

Orwell with POUM

Here the first of three essays by John on the Spanish Civil War, covering both the history, and the alternative history of an in-edifying episode in a terrible century. That war was was the trial run for World War II, and perhaps in a way even the Cold War. In the near term, the two sides aligned clearly with the Fascists and the Communists, but the coalitions on both sides offered enough of an appearance of political breadth that almost everyone felt like they identified with a side. Even now, there are no impartial accounts of the war. There were just too many awful things, done by both sides, and in the full view of the international press, providing endless opportunities for axe-grinding and score-settling.

The Republicans won an early and enduring victory in the propaganda war in the English speaking world. The Republicans cast the Nationalists as reactionary and backward, and the progressive press in the West amplified this theme. Writers and journalists clearly favored the Republican cause, and some of them, such as George Orwell, would lend more than their pens to the cause. For Orwell, firsthand experience with Stalinist purges tempered his enthusiasm for the cause, but others such as Earnest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn would become lifelong partisans of the Republicans, their struggle rendered inexpressibly romantic by defeat.

The impression the Republicans made on the Western intelligentsia probably contributed to the glamour the Soviets enjoyed both during and after WWII. At the time, the Soviet Union really did seem like the wave of the future, and many of the best and brightest in the West were open advocates for the Soviets. This kind of environment facilitated the formation of networks of Soviet spies, especially in the United States and England. Some of these spies, like Ted Hall or Kim Philby, were we placed to steal valuable secrets. Many others, like Hemingway, were just dilettantes.

The preference of the press for the Republican side probably helped give the Soviets an advantage in the Cold War, but what if the propaganda had been even more successful? Despite the support of the Italians and the Germans for Franco's Nationalists, Franco chose to stay neutral in World War II Here, John imagines what might have been if the Republicans had managed to garner a bit more international support, or avoided killing a brilliant general for being the wrong kind of socialist, thereby turning the tide in their favor. How might the Second World War have turned out differently if the Communists had secured an early victory in Spain?

If the Loyalists Had Won the Spanish Civil War.....
The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 was one of the great dramas of the 1930s. I use the word "drama" advisedly, since the debate and propaganda campaigns about the war became the substance of much of the political and intellectual life of the West during the years the war was fought. In the progressive literature of the period, the war was a morality tale of good defending itself against evil, of fascism against democracy, of the Enlightenment against Catholic obscurantism. The war became a counter in the political struggle between the international communist movement and the more loosely organized cause of fascism. In the publishing industry and the better magazines, the Loyalists won the propaganda argument, but on the ground the Nationalists won. In this note, I would like to suggest some ways that history, and particularly the course of the Second World War, might have been different if the Loyalists had won.
A full description of the origins and course of the war is unnecessary here. The questions involved are also still controversial. Suffice it to say that, after a decade of seesaw election results, a Popular Front government finally came to power in Spain, but with a very narrow majority. The Front sought to be inclusive of the Left, from Anarchists to Social Democrats. The Front, however, was more and more controlled by the Communists. In any event, having achieved a narrow victory, the government undertook a radical land redistribution. Elements of the Front, particularly the Anarchists, began some spontaneous redistribution of their own, and the government did not attempt to protect life and property. Clerics and Church property were particularly subject to assault. These events caused the Spanish African Army under General Francisco Franco to stage a revolt. The rebels became the Nationalists. The legitimate government refused to yield, however, and the conflict became an elaborate civil war. The Nationalists received aid from the Italian Fascists and the Nazis, including some troops and airmen. The Loyalists received material aid from Soviet Russia, but on ruinous financial terms. They were also assisted by volunteer legions from many countries. The resources of the two sides were not terribly unequal. However, the Nationalists had most of the experienced officers. Also, the Communists in the Popular Front carried on a small-scale version of the purges then occurring in the Soviet Union, directed against the other Leftist parties. This degraded the fighting capacities of the Loyalist armies, which were organized along political lines. The Loyalists were overwhelmed a few months before the Second World War started. Generalissimo Franco surprised everybody by remaining neutral in that conflict.
A Loyalist victory is not hard to imagine. Franco was a competent rather than a brilliant general. The accident of a military genius on the other side might have altered the outcome of the war. So might have more generous support from the Soviet Union. The Communists might have deferred their own political agenda until after the war was over. Neither side had any difficulty obtaining arms they could pay for; France, which had a Popular Front government too in the 1930s, might have offered arms on credit. Alternatively, an effective League of Nations embargo would have redounded to the Loyalists' benefit, since they controlled most of the country's manufacturing capacity. So, let us assume that by the end of spring, 1939, the Nationalists are forced to finally surrender, and Franco goes into exile in Argentina.
One thing that I think would have been inevitable is that the Soviet Union would, in effect, have a colony in the Western Mediterranean. The front-and-purge policy the Communists used against their rivals in the Loyalist camp was not very different from the one they used in Czechoslovakia just after the Second World War (except, perhaps, that it was much bloodier). Stalin was at all times of two minds about what he wanted to happen in Spain. While he wanted to humiliate the Italians and the Germans, he also had doubts about whether another Communist state so far from his borders was a good idea. He knew that such a state would be difficult for him to control, and that it would offer an alternative focus of loyalty for Communist parties around the world. The Soviet Union's subsequent problems with Yugoslavia and China show that these fears were well founded. However, it would have taken years for a rift to develop. The Spanish Communist Party was devotedly pro-Soviet. The new state would have needed Soviet material support. With the growing threat of a Fascist war, a near-term split with Moscow would not have been in the cards. Spain would become for the USSR something like what Cuba became in the 1960s and Nicaragua in the 1980s.
The French would not have been pleased by this turn of events. French governments have traditionally alined themselves with whatever regime ruled Russia in order to counterbalance the powers of Middle Europe. They would have found this harder to do, however, if the Russians acquired a base adjoining French territory. The advantage to a Russian alliance, after all, is that Russians are too far away to be a menace themselves. There was no way the French could have thrown their support to Germany. It would have been politically impossible, and it would have been strategic suicide. However, the proximity of Soviet Spain would have made France much more reluctant to engage in any major war, anywhere. It is not just that Spain could eventually become a military threat. The Communist Party in France would have been so emboldened by their southern colleagues' success that would have started looking for revolutionary opportunities. A lost war, or even a stalemated war, would do just nicely. Knowing this, the French government would have been much less likely to declare war on Germany in 1939 after the invasion of Poland. Indeed, it might not have been possible to do so, since the Hitler-Stalin Pact was in effect, and the French Left would have made quite a fuss about entering the war, even if they hoped to benefit from the outcome.
Thus, one result of a Loyalist victory could have been that Hitler would not, at the outset, have had to fight a war on two fronts. If the French did not declare war, the British could not have, either. Where would they have put their army? In his pre-war alliance negotiations with Mussolini, Hitler seemed to be contemplating a general war for 1942 or 1943. He would have been able to pick a fight in the West at his leisure, probably much better prepared than he was in 1939. In this war, the desperate French might have accepted an alliance with Soviet Spain, provided Stalin relented. Certainly Spain would have been a reasonable base for the French to retreat to, after losing Paris. Even if Soviet Spain had chosen Franco's policy and attempted neutrality, it is unlikely that Hitler would have accepted it. He could not have. His goal in World War II was the conquest of Russia, something he could not have accomplished with a Soviet ally in his rear. The conquest of Spain could have been part of his initial western campaign, or it might have waited a year or two, but it would have been inevitable.
A Nazi campaign would have had several things working against it. For one thing, the supply lines were long enough to create formidable logistical problems, never the strong suit of the Nazi military. Assuming the English were still in the war, Hitler, like Napoleon, would have found just how accessible Spain is from the sea. On the other hand, the Spanish Soviet government would have been unlikely to be very popular by this time, assuming it had continued with the process of Stalinization. If the Germans concluded their campaign by taking Gibraltar, whose British base was (and is) a long-standing affront to Spanish pride, the Germans could have been accepted as liberators. The loss of Gibraltar could have cost the British effective control of the Mediterranean. The resupplying, not just of Egypt, but of India and Australia, would have become immensely more difficult.
In sum, then, a Loyalist victory in the Spanish Civil War could have lost the Allies the Second World War. I, for one, find this conclusion paradoxical.
Any other ideas?
 
[If you liked this piece, you might also be interested in taking a look at a revew of The Last Crusade, a history of the Spanish Civil War from a Carlist perspective.]
Copyright © 1997 by John J. Reilly

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The Long View: The Black Sun

Raiders of the Lost ArkThe idea that the Nazis were into the occult has become a widely popular idea. When Indiana Jones battles Nazis for the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail, no one needs any backstory to make this plausible. We just all accept it and move on.

What is perhaps more interesting is how the ideas that animated the Nazis have evolved. In the last seventy years, fascism and the occult have merged to produce something that potentially will again have popular appeal.

In this review, John was surprised to discover a Satanic-Nazi strand in heavy metal and Industrial music. I'm not surprised, but then John was a lot older than me and probably never listened to that kind of music. Perhaps he had better taste than me.

Something that did come as a bit of a surprise to me is the relationship between fascism and the German counter-culture. Nazism flourished in the same circles that were fond of nudism and vegetariansim, people who entertained what we would today call New Age beliefs, but in their time included a signifcant nationalist element.

I usually assume that any American espousing New Age beliefs is on the Left, but this isn't necessarily so. You need to be an American in the early twenty-first century to assume that nationalism is a right-wing phenomenon.

This is particularly important because most Americans probably view fascists, occultists, and occult fascists as losers on the wrong side of history, and therefore not worth our attention. Fascists in popular culture are perceived as objects of parody.

When I think of Nazis, this scene from the Blues Brothers is what I see in my head:

All of this might have gone nowhere, except that neo-fascists have been willing to openly state the widely felt anxieties occasioned by demographic change. Ths has propelled them to a fame that vastly exceeds their numbers. However, it worth noting that this kind of neo-fascist does not represent the kind of right of center party that actually wins elections in Europe, even if some of their concerns are the same, their motivations are entirely different.

What makes the occult fascists interesting is that they are natural allies of the anti-globalization, anti-capitalism, and anti-Western movements. Right now, this is prevented by the Right/Left dichotomy. We can only hope that this prejudice prevails.

Black Sun:
Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity
By Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
New York University Press, 2002
371 Pages, US$24.97
ISBN 0-8147-3124-4

 

 

Nazi Germany has become Atlantis. The historical Nazi regime was peculiar enough, of course. In some ways, it was more like a cult in power than a state controlled by a totalitarian party. After it was over, however, the regime was increasingly portrayed as an empire of dark magic. The belief spread that its rise and fall were not just uncanny but historically inexplicable. Its end was sudden and complete, so complete that the shards of evidence on the surface seemed less significant than the excavation of the occult underground. In some circles, the mythology has progressed even further: Nazi Germany became not just a vanished civilization, but also an ideal civilization, destined to rise again.

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke is perhaps the foremost serious scholar of the relationship between the Third Reich and the occult. (The Occult Roots of Nazism, which he published in 1985, is not the only good book on the subject, but it is still a good place to start.) In Black Sun, he is chiefly concerned with the development of postwar esoteric fascism, which includes but is not limited to novel forms of magical Nazism. He is particularly concerned with its inflection into both terrorist politics and the mainstream New Age movement since the 1970s. He also argues that the social changes in Middle Europe that helped to plant the underground seeds of Nazi Germany 100 years ago now obtain to a greater or lesser degree throughout the West and Russia. The author draws dark inferences about what today's underground could produce by 2030.

Most of the information in Black Sun has appeared elsewhere, but even people familiar with the literature will get a few surprises. I had never heard of the pro-Nazi science fiction of Wilhelm Landig, for instance. For that matter, I had been only vaguely aware that there was a Satanic-Nazi strand in heavy metal and Industrial Music. Also, though the author had to take the principals at their word, the book has the first coherent account I have seen of the origins of the Order of the Nine Angles.

As for the rest, it is very useful to have something like the whole story between two covers. There are the key figures of the immediate postwar period, the American renegade Francis Parker Yockey, and Baron Julius Evola, who helped transform Nazi racism into a kind of aristocratic snobbery. There are the people who deified Hitler, or at least turned him into a Messianic figure, notably Savitri Devi and the former Chilean diplomat, Miguel Serrano. There are the early American neo-Nazis, such as James Madole, who combined Nazism and Theosophy to create a vision of America as the New Atlantis. There are the greater and lesser Satanists, whose ideas have tended to become more political and metahistorical with the passage of time. There is also a review of the Christian Identity movement, a largely independent phenomenon that nonetheless parallels esoteric fascism in its ontological rejection of the Jews and its expectation of a racial apocalypse in the future.

The role that the occult played in the foundation and policies of the Nazi regime is a matter of continuing research. Certainly the party grew out of völkish circles, people who entertained what we would today call New Age beliefs, but with a nationalist tilt. Important influences included the "Ariosophy" of the Viennese mystics Guido von List and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, whose notions about the need for a knightly "Order" to advance pan-Germanism clearly affected Heinrich Himmler's model for the SS. The Nazi Party used ideas and symbols long familiar in occult circles, notably the swastika itself. Alfred Rosenberg's Myth of the 20th Century, which was at least nominally the party's ideological guide, invoked the familiar esoteric idea that the Aryan race originated in Atlantis. This essentially Theosophical model of history saw the past as a progression of ages that each had own master race, and that each age was separated by a transitional disaster. Generically, that is also the way that some of the Nazi leadership looked at the 20th century. However, this does not mean that the occult is necessarily the key to the study of the Nazi phenomenon.

As Goodrick-Clarke points out, the evidence that any of the Nazi leaders ever performed black magic is quite thin. Himmler did subsidize research into occult subjects. This included at least one SS man, an Otto Rahn, who hunted across Europe for information about the Holy Grail. I might note that Rahn does seem to have been a Satanist, in the sense of sympathizing with Lucifer and agreeing with the Cathar rejection of the God of the Old Testament. Still, even he was probably engaged in folkloric research rather than looking for an actual artifact. In Mein Kampf, Hitler himself made fun of völkish groups, with their rune-magic and their attempts to revive Nordic paganism. Hitler in some ways was intensely superstitious. He was arguably a millenarian of sorts. However, there is no reason to think he was playing out a specific esoteric agenda.

Esoteric agendas did exist, especially in the SS. The problem was that there was more than one. Should the Nazi regime simply promote German power, or should it seek to unify all Aryans everywhere, including in Russia? What attitude should the Nazi government take to anti-colonial movements, particularly in India and the Middle East? Was the future to be secular or religious? Was Christianity compatible with fascism? The German leadership deferred deciding these issues right up to the point when the working language in Hitler's bunker changed from German to Russian. After 1945, however, fascist ideology was freed of the compromises necessary for government. Black Sun describes the trajectory it took thereafter.

Postwar esoteric fascism falls into two periods, joined by a phase of startling mutation in the 1970s. The first period was backward looking, essentially a salvage operation from the wreck of the Reich. The pan-European orientation of the Waffen-SS finally won out over that of the German-chauvinist Black SS, if for no other reason than that Germans were a distinct minority in the early postwar networks. Oswald Spengler's model of history was adopted in various hermetic forms, often involving the identification of the terminal crisis of modernity with the Kali Yuga. There was an increasing tendency to call in the Russians to counterbalance America, now wholly identified with the Jews. Hitler was literally deified in some circles, thus carrying to its logical conclusion a line of speculation started by C.G. Jung himself. The fascists whispered about Hitler's survival, in this world or another. They also traded stories about secret Nazi bases surviving in the Arctic and Antarctic, where wonder-weapons were still under development. They quickly seized on the advent of flying-saucer reports in the late 1940s as confirmation of their hopes.

Though political fascism in the1950s and '60s could still display a lethal edge, particularly in Italy, in most places it was a sad affair. American neo-Nazis marched in Nazi finery and invited attack from passersby, in the mistaken belief that this would excite public sympathy. Nothing was behind such "movements" but perverse historical nostalgia.

Two trends were underway by the 1970s that would make esoteric fascism relevant. The first was the New Age Movement and the concurrent general increase in mysticism. Books began to appear in great numbers that depicted the Second World War as essentially a war of wizards. Jean-Michel Angebert's Morning of the Magicians got the trend fairly underway in 1960. The genre peaked in the '70s; the best-known book of this type is probably Trevor Ravenscroft's Spear of Destiny (1973). Some of the information that continues to circulate in this literature is wholly spurious, some of it relies on sensationalist accounts from the 1930s, and some of it is strange but true. The effect of the new mythology was to give the evil of the Nazi regime a metaphysical dimension.

It was this spiritualization of Nazi wickedness that attracted the attention of Satanist groups, which were starting to expand at just that time. Modern Satanism usually means the rejection of Christianity and the idea of natural order, rather than the worship of a literal Satan. Still, the budding diabolists were intrigued by the notion that there had been a "Satanic" government in Europe in the first half of the 20th century, in the sense of a regime that was the adversary of everything that had traditionally been thought good. For followers of the Left Hand Path, people who choose to pursue liberation through nihilism, it made sense to adopt the real or imagined rituals of the Third Reich, and to make its memorials places of pilgrimage. Additionally, many of the postwar esoteric fascists were also noted writers on Tantra, Jungian depth psychology, or ritual magic. Essentially magical techniques thus became central to some new forms of Nazism.

There had been some fantasy literature during the Nazi years about the life of the Aryans in Hyperborea and Atlantis. (As a matter of fact, I might note that there was quite a lot of it in English, from writers like Robert Howard.) In the 1970s, a form of pro-Nazi science fiction began to appear. This chronicled the adventures of Germans who escaped the downfall of the Third Reich by fleeing to secret bases in the Arctic or Antarctic. (The names to remember for the Arctic are Point 103, the Blue Island, and Midnight Mountain; for Antarctica, the venue was usually Neuschwabenland, an actual territory explored by Germany before the war.) As part of a secret international society engaged in defending the world against Jewish domination, the refugees abandoned the swastika and conventional German insignia. The symbol of the society was the Black Sun.

The Black Sun design can consist of a black or deep-violet disk with a lightening bolt striking it, or a disk alone. This symbol perhaps came originally from the alchemical shorthand for the lowest point the Great Work. It had some currency in Germany in the 1930s; Himmler had may have had it worked into the floor of the SS castle at Wewelsberg, though it is not certain that is what the design there is supposed to mean. The Black Sun is also related to the Theosophical notion of the Invisible Sun around which the universe is supposed to revolve. This seems to have been what Himmler's wizard, Karl Maria Wiligut, had in mind when he described an extinguished star that had once shone on Hyperborea, and whose rays still energized the Aryan soul. In any case, this symbol of the low point of history has become the preferred symbol for esoteric Nazism.

All of this imaginative fiction and pseudo-history might have done little harm, had it not appeared at just the point when demographic changes were giving ideas like this some popular traction. Low birthrates and massive immigration began to manifest themselves throughout the West in the 1970s. The author asserts that the situation in German-speaking Europe in the late 19th century was similar, when an influx of Slavs and Jews from eastern Europe occasioned resentment and anxiety, particularly in Austria.

In previous books, Goodrick-Clarke has made a good case for the argument that this immigration sparked the mystical racism that resulted in the Nazi Party a generation later. One may, of course, question how strongly the analogy holds for 21st century Europe, much less for the United States. Demographic changes are not sufficient to explain the outbreak of violent extremism. In the US, for instance, there was a severe agricultural depression in the Midwest in the 1980s that spread alienation and populist radicalization.

Nonetheless, large-scale immigration is always disruptive, especially in societies that have no experience of dealing with it. Certainly the conviction has spread in many nations that the homeland is becoming unrecognizable, and that the elites are complicit in the process. Black Sun summarizes the violent reaction that appeared almost everywhere in the '80s and '90s, from the incipient guerilla war of the Order in the United States to the arson campaign against Norwegian churches by neo-pagans. In these events, there was usually some connection with the new fascism, whether by ideology or organization. There is in fact a Nazi international today.

Reading about these events in retrospect, one cannot help but be struck by the small numbers of activists actually involved. Were there ever more than a few thousand British skinheads? The Oklahoma City bombing seems to have been carried out by just two or three people. Organizations that seemed powerfully ominous online turn out to have had no more than a few dozen members. One might also note that this brand of neo-fascism is unrelated to the right-of-center parties in Europe that actually receive measurable numbers of votes in elections. It has nothing at all to do with American conservatism, which somehow manages to be simultaneously evangelical Christian, libertarian, and pro-Israel.

Still, Goodrick-Clarke is probably onto something when he notes that esoteric racism is essentially a multicultural phenomenon. In a world in which one's ethnic group can determine what benefits one is eligible for, people tend to find an ethnic identity and cling to it for dear life. Today, people in pursuit of ancient wisdom are more likely to hunt for it among their own ancestors than in the habits and beliefs of distant or alien peoples. The past is a different culture, particularly when it is imaginary. Some neo-pagan groups, notably those associated with the Nordic cult of Ásatrú, have replicated almost exactly the mixture of beliefs entertained by the proto-Nazi völkish groups that appeared before the First World War.

Beyond this, though, is the "perfect storm" that coalesced after September 11, 2001, against the liberal West. The continuing attacks on Israel and the United States must be counted as a success for postwar fascist underground, which began aiding radical Muslim interests even before the Second World War ended. The anti-globalization movement constitutes just the sort of international anti-capitalist and anti-Western alliance of which some leading Nazis dreamed. Environmentalists who think of themselves as good liberals have in fact adopted the biological mysticism that was a notable feature of the Nazi regime. Almost unnoticed, eugenics has progressed from an aspiration to a roaring success: few children with genetic abnormalities are allowed to come to term in advanced countries.

In the Chancellery bunker in 1945, Propaganda Minister Joseph Göbbels exhorted his colleagues to make a courageous end. He asked them to imagine a color motion picture, made in the year 2050, about what they said and did in the final days of the Reich. The question they each had to answer, he told them, was whether they wanted to appear as a hero or a villain in that film. Even today, I think we can be pretty sure that the identities of the good guys and the bad guys will not have changed much from the Allied point of view in 1945. Still, Black Sun is a useful reminder that some people have different ideas for the scenario.


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The Long View: Dreamer of the Day

Francis Parker YockeyI am astonished that men like Francis Parker Yockey actually exist. Yockey is a reminder that truth is always stranger than fiction. The closest literary analogue that I have read is Tim Power's Declare. Of course, that is a secret history, based on the very real life of Kim Philby. You can't make this stuff up.

For example, Yockey supported himself as a gigolo. I suppose in way he was the dark shadow of James Bond. Yockey really was an international man of mystery. He was certainly a spy, and traveled all over the world in the pursuit of secret goals. Unlike Bond, he was also a man of letters. He had a law degree from Notre Dame and wrote a book that is more cited than read. In the end, Yockey was unmade by a very prosaic method: the airline lost his luggage containing all his fake passports.

Yockey was primarily of interest to John because he was a posthumous prophet of the one twentieth century ideology that never ran a state: Tradition. Tradition is thankfully rather obscure. I had never heard of it until I started reading John's website. You should be glad you've never heard of it, because that means it has not been successful.

It would be easy to paint Yockey as a tool of fascists, but in truth he was a fellow traveler with the communists as well. The movement with which he was associated also influenced the Third World. There are interesting connections between Yockey and his ilk and the modern Islamists that plague the Middle East. He was after something quite different than most of the Nazis, which is why he is so interesting.

John finishes up this review with an aside about Spengler that is most illuminating. John felt that Yockey mis-interpreted Spengler's ideas, but that very mis-interpretation demonstrated a clear flaw in Spengler himself. Toynbee probably understood the nature of universal states better than Spengler, but you had to read a lot more to get there.

Dreamer of the Day:
Francis Parker Yockey and the
Postwar Fascist International
By Kevin Coogan
Autonomedia, 1999
644 Pages, $16.95
ISBN: 1-57027-039-2

 

Francis Parker Yockey was born in Chicago in 1917 and committed suicide in 1960, when the FBI finally caught him. He dedicated his life to reversing the outcome of the Second World War, a project he believed could be accomplished by 2050. From an early age, he identified anti-Americanism with antisemitism and supported both. He opposed early steps toward economic globalization and gave covert assistance to Muslim enemies of the West. He speculated hopefully that an enemy to whom it would be impossible to surrender would eventually attack Americas' cities. He worked to create a pan-European superstate, indeed a Eurasian superstate including Russia, that would displace America's global influence. He expected that the world would someday be ruled by elites for whom hermeticism had replaced Christianity. On the whole, he probably would have been pleased by the state of the world today.

One should not exaggerate the degree to which the recent prominence of Yockey's constellation of enthusiasms is due to his influence. His great ideological tome, "Imperium," has had some currency in fascist and occult circles on both sides of the Atlantic. Still, though extremists from American Satanists to Russian revanchists may sometimes invoke his name today, they generally do so without much knowledge of his ideas. A few references to Yockey himself turned up in the popular press in the 1950s, as a mystery man somehow linked to both Soviet espionage and the world's neofascist network, but Yockey never even rose to the level of infamy. He remained a denizen of the fringe of the fringe. This does not make Kevin Coogan's treatment of Yockey's life and times any less valuable. Yockey's life intersected with 20th century forces and ideas that were often obscure. That is not to say they were not also powerful, and may be more so in the 21st century.

"Dreamer of the Day" wanders amiably back and forth between high theory and very informed rumor mongering. We get useful pocket summaries of the ideas of some of the chief ideologues of the "Conservative Revolution" of the first half of the 20th century, a "movement" that ranged from Martin Heidegger to Ezra Pound. The book continues through the tangle of small organizations and petty conspiracies that maintained this tradition in the second half of the century, after it was eclipsed by the overthrow of openly fascist governments. You have to read the book to appreciate the full sweep of history between the Thule Society of Munich and the Ancient and Noble Order of the Blue Lamoo of Leonia, New Jersey. The book also treats of matters such as Yockey's posthumous effect on Satanism, as well as the sexual ideologies that percolated among Right and Left in the postwar era. Coogan usually manages to relate all this fascinating material to Yockey, but the connections are often tenuous. This is not the author's fault. Even after exhaustive research, we still know little more about Yockey's life than a disturbing outline.

Yockey's family was of the professional classes, though in somewhat straitened circumstances after the coming of the Depression. His people were German, Irish and French Canadian. Coogan does dangle the rumor of a Jewish grandfather, just for the sake of completeness. In any case, the family was Catholic. Yockey himself later drifted into the theosophical Nietzscheanism that characterized his underground milieu.

He was a small man, about five feet, seven inches. There is one picture of him, on the book's cover. Readers may be reminded of Rod Serling, the somewhat funeral creator and master-of-ceremonies of the original "Twilight Zone" television series. All sources agree that Yockey was highly intelligent. He was a concert-level pianist, though he could only rarely be persuaded to play. All sources also agree that he had a difficult personality. Nonetheless, he was able to support his political interests in part as a gigolo and occasional bigamist. He seems to have appealed to slightly older women who liked to talk about Hitler and to be whipped.

Francis Parker Yockey was involved with organizations of the radical right in the 1930s. This included such groups as William Dudley Perry's Silver Shirts and the various incarnations of the German American Bund. Such connections, however, did not exclude other links, with Stalinists and Trotskyites. His Chicago-area home was a time and place when the semi-fascist followers of Father Coughlin might make common cause with the most radical Progressives. This common front against capitalism was, for radicals like Yockey, also part of the struggle against the Jews.

Yockey for most purposes was a "National Bolshevik," a tendency that in the German Nazi Party was represented by the Strasser brothers, Otto and Gregor. As the term implies, National Bolsheviks supported radical socialism, but for the preservation of the "Volk," the ethnic and cultural unit of the People, rather than for the proletariat. They also supported a policy of alliance with Russia against the West. "Strasserism," as this tendency was also called, was disfavored: after the Nazis came to power, Gregor was assassinated and Otto escaped to Latin America. Still, it continued to appeal to some leading Nazis, notably Joseph Goebbels. He actually took the opportunity to implement some of the Strasserist program right at the end of the regime, in the WerwolfMovement

Rather like the young Goebbels, Yockey pursued an academic career at so many universities that it is hard to settle on a final count. We know that he finished a law degree at Notre Dame and that he qualified to practice. The most important part of his undergraduate career was probably his stint at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. That was, perhaps, the only place in America where he could have been introduced to the ideas of two leading lights of the Conservative Revolution, Karl Haushofer the proponent of geopolitics and Carl Schmitt the jurist.

Haushofer is best known for the propositions that the key to world dominion is the control of Central Asia and that, as the Strasserists said, the proper role for Germany was as the western wing of a great Eurasian power. Furthermore, he argued that Germany was essentially a "have-not" nation. Its proper allies were not in the liberal West, but among the anti-colonial resistance movements of what would later be called the Third World. In Europe, he hoped, Germany would eventually be the center of a hegemonic system that was not quite an empire, but no longer a system of truly sovereign states.

Schmitt is a famous "anticonstitutionalist," whose ideas are somewhat reminiscent of the pragmatic Legal Realists in America during the 1930s. In his view, the real law was what happened at the "Ernstfall," the point of decision where one party succeeds and another fails. He is best known, perhaps, for his definition of "the sovereign" as the entity that can designate who is an enemy.

Between them, Haushofer and Schmitt disposed of the notion of the rule of law both domestically and internationally. There were no principled norms, but simply the exercise of power, which could be more or less predictable. One may note that the Jesuits of Georgetown studied the theories of these two men chiefly in order to refute them; in those days, the Jesuits were less susceptible to intellectual fashions.

By far the greatest intellectual influence on Yockey, however, was Oswald Spengler. Yockey spent his adult life believing that he was implementing the ideas about the future implied by "The Decline of the West." Yockey was also heavily influenced by "The Hour of Decision," a tract Spengler published at the beginning of the Nazi regime. As we will see, Yockey's interpretation of Spengler was somewhat idiosyncratic.

During World War II, Yockey secured an Army commission. Soon afterward, he briefly deserted. Coogan notes that Yockey had many connections with the German sympathizers who probably aided the famous infiltration of German saboteurs into the United States, and that this happened at just the time that Yockey was missing. Coogan makes a plausible case that Yockey was part of a German-American espionage network that lead to the German Embassy in Mexico City. Plausibility is not proof, however. All we know is that Yockey returned to duty after some weeks. He persuaded the Army that he was suffering from a mental breakdown; he received a medical discharge with little trouble.

Through some appalling oversight in the vetting process for federal employees, Yockey landed a job after the war as an attorney with the war crimes tribunal in Germany charged with prosecuting lesser Nazis. He seems never to have actually function in that position; he was eventually discharged for abandoning his post. He would later do the same thing with a job with the American Red Cross, using it to finance another trip to Europe and then simply deserting. Yockey used these opportunities to make contacts with the growing pan-European fascist network.

In a way, the loss of the war liberated international fascism. As we have noted, it was only when the Nazi regime no longer had much of a country to govern that Goebbels was able to give effect to his revolutionary impulses. The same thing happened in Italy. After the Allied invasion in 1943, the Germans rescued Benito Mussolini. He briefly ruled the "Social Republic" of Salò, a rump state in the north of Italy that finally carried out the radical fascist ambition of nationalizing most of the economy. Fascism after 1945 was entirely free of the responsibility for government, and so could pursue the most radical agenda.

It is really as an ideologue that Yockey's chief significance lies. In 1948, working at Brittas Bay on the Irish coast, Yockey produced his masterpiece, Imperium. The book tried to update "The Decline of the West," but in many ways it stood Spengler on his bald head. Spengler, who died in 1936, had not wanted a war with Russia, but neither was he a Strasserist. He feared that Russia and the "Colored World" would make alliance against the West, in collusion with the radical Left of the Western nations. Spengler believed that the West was headed into a period like the Roman Empire, and that the elites of the West needed to cultivate Nietzschean virtues in order to make the transition. Yockey, in contrast, spoke of the need to create what in effect would be a new race to govern the coming Imperium. This notion, as Coogan points out, has more in common with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky's prophecy of the coming Sixth Root Race than with Spengler's concept of "race" as the lineages of cultivated families.

The biggest difference is that anti-Semitism as a major historical force is wholly absent from Spengler's philosophy. For Yockey, modern history was about little more than the cultural distortion caused by the Jews. So great was their effect on the United States in particular, Yockey counseled, that the temporary domination of Europe by the healthy barbarians of Russia was the best short-term goal.

The original two-volume edition of Imperium ran to just 200 copies. There would have been more, but Yockey aliened the British Fascist leader, Oswald Mosley, who had once expressed an interest in promoting the work. Still, it was not without early admirers. The military historian, Basil Liddell Hart, wrote a favorable review. The hermetic Italian ideologue, Julius Evola, also praised it, though he observed that Yockey had misread Spengler. Yockey's book was more a rumor than a source for the fascist revival in the 1950s. It was not until after Yockey's death, when the radical-right publisher Willis Carto brought out a paperback edition of Imperium that the book began to reach a sizeable readership. Still, Imperiumdoes provide some guide to what important fascists were thinking in those days.

Acting in large part under the inspiration of Evola, postwar fascists cultivated ideas that had existed for decades, but that had become muted during the time of fascism in power. Evola was the chief inspiration for a Swiss-based umbrella-organization called the New European Order, or NEO. The group cultivated his favorite themes. These included government by a Platonic, "solar" hierarchy, the notion of sacred kingship, and myths of Aryan origin in the hyperborean north and in Atlantis. On a more practical level, these people were no longer constrained by Hitler's foreign policy. They could deal with the Soviets to oppose Western interests; they could and did deal with the CIA to give radical-right organizations some breathing room, particularly in Italy. (Carl Gustav Jung, also widely considered a Conservative Revolutionary, was CIA chief Allen Dulles's family psychiatrist.)

They were also able to do business with the Third World. A number of exiled Nazis moved through the Muslim capitals, organizing anti-Zionist propaganda. Notable among them was the Strasserist exile, Johann von Leers, who was an important figure in Nasser's Egypt. The network did not neglect Latin America, where the Red and the Brown made common cause on the question of anti-Americanism. Indeed, Coogan makes a good argument that the original post-revolutionary model for Fidel Castro was the Social Republic of Salò.

Amidst all this devilry, Yockey was a jobbing imp. He may well have acted as a courier for Czech intelligence. He may have spent a substantial blank space during the 1950s behind the Iron Curtain. He did work with Leers in Egypt. He even tried to sell the Egyptian government some bogus Argentine nuclear technology. Back in the United States, he worked briefly as a speechwriter for Senator Joseph McCarthy. He lived in New York City for some time, consorting with a strange section of New York's political bohemia. At least one host among his acquaintances kept a frame with a picture of Hitler on one side and of Stalin on the other, the better to accommodate the tastes of his guests. He attended the salon of the right-wing poet, George Sylvester Viereck, who had worked with Aleister Crowley when Crowley was a propagandist for Germany during the First World War. In that set, Yockey may also have met the sexologist, Alfred Kinsey. We know Yockey spent time in New Orleans, writing propaganda for use in Latin America. Coogan takes care to squelch the rumors of a link between Yockey and Lee Harvey Oswald, whose history was not altogether dissimilar.

As Yockey moved across borders, he acquired a bewildering number of identities. The American authorities realized early in the 1950s that whatever this man was doing, it probably was not good. In 1952 they stopped renewing his passport and the FBI started looking for him. His accumulation of false passports was his downfall. Some of his luggage went astray when he flew into San Francisco; his embarrassment of documents came to light in a lost-and-found center in Texas.

The FBI confronted him in Oakland, California, originally planning to arrest him for failure to register under the Selective Service Act. Yockey had in fact registered and served in the military, but the false identity he was using had no such record. The FBI was spared the embarrassment of using this perfunctory device when Yockey tried to run away, injuring an agent in the process.

Yockey was detained while participating in a series of ever less satisfactory immigration hearings. More of his identities surfaced. The list lengthened of things the FBI wanted to talk to him about. In some way that has never been explained, he obtained potassium cyanide. Like the Nazi leadership he so admired, he died by self-administered poison on June 17, 1960.

For me, "The Dreamer of the Day" clarified the Conservative Revolution as a form of existentialism. It began by valuing the clarity afforded by those situations where existence is at stake; it ended with the determination to wager the world's existence. Schmitt's "Ernstfall," Hitler's death-or-glory foreign policy, Evola's faith in lethal violence as the means to individuation, all of this is part of the same cultural moment as Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre. For existentialists of all political persuasions, we can experience reality only at the limit, on the edge of the abyss.

This is a terribly distorting way to think. Now that I can recognize the pattern, I see that it is the chief flaw in Spengler's philososphy of history. I would still argue that his insight about a common morphology of cultural evolution is basically correct. The problem was that his existentialism caused him to read history, and particularly Classical history, through a Nietzschean lens. Spengler came to confuse realism with desperation, political skill with ruthlessness. He extolled the improvident genius of Caesar and belittled Augustus's respect for tradition, though in fact Augustus was arguably the most successful statesman who ever lived. Spengler's taste for politics on the edge made him dismiss constitutional forms and the principles of legitimacy as mere "literature."

This, perhaps, is why Spengler paid relatively little attention to the Roman Empire itself, or to any of the final societies that Toynbee later called "Universal States." Spengler's existentialism required him to view those late civilizations as essentially historyless. For Spengler, the Roman Empire was a paradise of will, where unfettered supermen did as they would. In reality, the history of the Universal States displays a morphology as clear as that of any period in a Culture's life. Except in their final decay, they are marked by piety and convention rather than by the antics of supermen. Artist politicians, the high-stakes gamblers, are creatures of modernity. It is a mistake to project them into the future.

The distortions of twentieth-century existentialism are not confined to political history. Those exhortations we have been hearing all these years to turn our attention to marginal people and liminal situations begin to look like a lethal misdirection. This is the nonsense that anarchism, fascism, and every avant-garde for 150 years have had in common. Let us beware of living on the edge. Francis Parker Yockey could still reach up to drag us over it.

 

 


 

Copyright © 2002 by John J. Reilly

 


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The Long View: Fascism: A History

Calling one's political opponent a fascist is still a popular political slur, but the actual occurrence of fascist ideas on the Right remains somewhat unclear. John was undubitably correct to note that the rise of popular parties on the right in Europe has mostly been tied to immigration, and also that anti-semitic ideas and Holocaust denial do have genuinely popular appeal nearly everywhere [not only on the Right].

John also notes that the world has in some ways only just returned to the conditions that prevailed before the Great War. International finance, and the relations between nations are beginning to relax again after the extended crisis that started in 1914, and only truly ended when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The interesting question for us is: how will it be different this time around?

Fascism: A History
By Roger Eatwell
Penguin Books, 1996
$14.95, 404 pages
ISBN: 0-14-025700-4

One More Time?

"Fascism is on the march again. Its style may at times be very different, but the ideological core remains the same -- the attempt to create a HOLISTIC NATIONAL THIRD WAY [Italics in original]...[A]n ideology that places so little emphasis on constitutions and rights, and so much on elite-inspired manipulation, must always be mistrusted. Beware of men -- and women -- wearing smart Italian suits...the aim is still power, and the fantasy of the creation of a radical new culture."

 

----"Fascism," page 361

 

This is the very alarming conclusion of this general history of fascist ideology by Roger Eatwell, a Reader in history at the University of Bath. It is all the more alarming because this is not a very alarmed book. Certainly it is free of "anti-fascism," which in this context often means the sort of Marxist analysis that assumes the whole political spectrum beyond the radical left is fascist in some imprecise but irredeemable way. What we do get is a brief description of the common intellectual heritage of fascism from the late nineteenth century, plus short histories of the fascist movements in Italy, Germany, France and Great Britain. The sections dealing with fascism in these countries after World War II, and especially the more recent New Right, are the most interesting in the book.

Since we are not dealing with a partisan tirade here, it is genuinely disturbing when Eatwell ends the book by suggesting that, though fascism died in a sense in 1945, it may well be about to experience a resurrection in time for a bright future in the 21st century. Whether this hypothesis proves correct or not, still this analysis does illustrate yet another way in which Western civilization at the end of the twentieth century has returned to many of the problems that faced it at the century's beginning.

The ideological component of fascism has often been neglected in favor of psychohistories of fascist leaders and morbid prose poems about national character. This is understandable, since one of the defining features of fascism is ideological syncretism. Usually, this has meant combining "socialism" with some form of nationalism, but even this minimum requires qualification. The study of fascist ideology is made even more difficult by the fact it was most systematically expressed where it had the least influence, in France and Britain. (Eatwell is not an admirer of British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, but he does give him credit for producing the best thought-out fascist party-platform. The best platform so far, that is.) In any case, at the local level, fascism often had little theoretical content, beyond the privilege of beating people up with impunity. Nevertheless, fascism does have an intellectual history, and the phenomenon as a whole is not so diffuse as to defy definition.

Fascism would not have been possible without Friedrich Nietzsche. There has been no lack of anti-theistic philosophers both before and after Nietzsche, but he is almost alone in honestly facing the consequences of living in a world in which everything is permitted. Most thinkers have sought to preserve some fragment of the intellectual structure that depended from the hypothesis of the Christian God, and so they appeal to reason or history or science. Nietzsche would have none of it. If the skies are really empty, then there are no imperatives. There is, however, life, which in the case of human beings expresses itself not just as biology but as the will. Now Nietzsche, unlike Schopenhauer and unlike many of his own followers, recognized the will is itself a composite entity. It is not a primary physical force, and it is not a god. It does, however, actually exist, and its exercise is all the meaning that life can ever have.

The proposition that the meaning of life is the exercise of the will leads to two kinds of conclusions. The most obvious, and the most popular, is the cult of cruelty. Naturally, the street-fighters who normally figure in the public activities of successful fascist parties are rarely well-read in the literature of philosophical nihilism. Nevertheless, even the nihilist violence of the German SA and the Italian "squadristi" chimes with high theory. Fascism promotes ruthlessness for the same reason that it promotes conspiracy theories: for a fascist, nothing is going to happen unless some will makes it happen. One suspects this consideration is also a factor in the usual fascist suspicion of free markets.

The other conclusion to which an ontology of the will leads is the transformation of politics into art. Whole societies become instruments for the expression of the will of elites, or often of a single great individual. In fascist theory, this is all that politics ever was, no matter what purportedly disinterested purposes the ruling elites of the past believed they served. The difference that Nietzsche made was that this reality could become conscious.

Fascism is not quite coincident with the great man theory of history. Since human beings are social animals, the will is to some extent a social phenomenon. Thus, reality is an intersubjective construct, a fable that people make up amongst themselves. The construct is not entirely arbitrary. Most fascists have also posited a strong racial or biological element conditioning the way that leaders and their peoples behave. Still, even in highly racialized forms of fascism, the leader stands to the people as the will stands to the individual. Politics, then, is not an arbitrary art, but an art whereby the leader makes the unconscious will of the people explicit.

In addition to Nietzsche, the other seminal influence on fascism whom Eatwell discusses at length is Georges Sorel. Now Sorel is remembered as the chief theorist of socialist syndicalism, and like Nietzsche his thought has influenced people who are not fascist by any definition. Nevertheless, he seems to have been a primary source of the nuts-and-bolts of practical fascism, which was chiefly concerned with integrating restive populations of industrial workers into fragile national communities. (The widespread use of the word "community" to refer to classes of people who could not possibly know each other is mostly Max Weber's fault, though to me it has long carried fascist undertones. Well, that is another story.)

Sorel's socialism was of the sort that combined plans for the betterment of the masses with considerable contempt for their intelligence, indeed contempt for almost everything about them as they actually existed. Sorel believed that the masses could be integrated into a social force only through slogans and myths. Sorel's favorite myth was that of the "general strike." Actual general strikes, in which the whole of a country's organized labor force walked off the job at the same time, have been tried a few times, with mixed success. The myth of the general strike, however, is like the vision of Judgment Day. It is the goal in whose name organizers organize, it is the reason to pay union dues. It is an ultimate threat, like the strategic doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, that creates a world by defining its limits. It is not entirely dishonest; the leaders may believe it in a heuristic sense. Such subtleties, however, are not for the people they lead.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the political systems of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy was precisely their use of myth and symbol. (As Salvador Dali once remarked, Nazism was essentially surrealism come to power.) The widely-bought if sparsely-read "Myth of the Twentieth Century," by the Nazi Party ideologist Alfred Rosenberg, seems to have used "myth" in a Sorelian sense, the myth in this case being the origin of the Aryan race in Atlantis and its leading role in later history. More generally, both the Nazi and the Italian Fascist regimes seemed to be exercises in government by grand opera. (Götterdämmerung and Don Giovanni, no doubt.)

The myths used to organize the elites were not necessarily those provided for the masses. The Nazi leadership in particular cultivated a sort of occultism (though if figures like Julius Evola are any indication, this enthusiasm was not absent from Italy, either). The people, however, were pushed with more conventional forms of nationalist xenophobia and pulled with quite prosaic promises of economic improvement and social welfare (promises on which both regimes could in large measure deliver). This difference of integrative principles was consistent with the fascist notion of society as an organic entity. Organism implies differentiation, so it was only proper that elites and masses be organized through different means.

Was antisemitism an integrating myth for the people? Certainly this was not the case in Italy, where fascism made much of cultural chauvinism but tended to mock biological racism. It was only in the late 1930s that Mussolini promulgated anti-Jewish legislation in order to please Hitler. The legislation was never as harsh as that in Germany, and was in any case ignored by the people and the government with some enthusiasm. (This changed after the Allied invasion of southern Italy in 1943, when Mussolini became a puppet ruling a rump-state under German control.) As for Germany, there is little evidence that antisemitism ever added to the Nazis' popularity. Certainly the Nazis downplayed the Jewish theme when electoral victory became a real possibility after 1929. While it is true that surveys taken after World War II showed high levels of antisemitic feeling in Germany, this is as likely to have been an effect of the Nazi regime as one of its causes. The truth of the matter seems to be that, if antisemitism was a Sorelian myth, it a myth embraced by the elites rather than the masses.

England and France both had proto-fascist and self-consciously fascist movements between the wars. Eatwell notes the many writers with fascist leanings in France during this period, some of whom, such as Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, commanded large popular followings in the 1930s. (Charles Maurras and his Action Française were too traditionally conservative to quite qualify as fascist.) As a serious political movement, French fascism needed the Popular Front politics of the Left to fight against, and so it pretty much collapsed along with the Popular Front government in the mid-'30s. English fascism started off just after the First World War on a disarmingly dotty note, with a tiny party that advocated, among other things, lowering taxes on gentlefolk so they could reduce unemployment by hiring servants. However, the movement was dominated in the 1930s and after the war by Sir Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists. Mosley, not unlike Churchill, was a black-sheep establishment figure, an institutional outsider but not quite a mere eccentric. He maintained a measure of credibility quite late into the decade; he was even briefly touted by the press-lord Rothermere. Still, in neither France nor England did any fascist party come within shouting distance of playing a major role in national government, much less of inaugurating a fascist revolution. Eatwell emphasizes two key reasons why they did not go the way of Germany and Italy.

The first major difference was that Britain and France had respectable national right-wing parties during the 1920s and '30s, while Germany and Italy did not. In Italy, a proper conservative establishment never got a chance to form. To a large extent, the Kingdom of Italy had always been something that northern Italians did to southern Italians (and this without the blessing of the Church, which was still annoyed at the way the Papal States had been annexed in 1870). Therefore, the local notables who might have formed the backbone of a conservative party were alienated from the national government. In Germany, of course, the old establishment had been discredited by the war. The lack of responsible right wings meant that irresponsible persons in these countries had a chance to fill the political space such parties normally occupy. The opportunity came when the narrowly-based political establishments appeared to be incapable of dealing with a national crisis.

For France and Britain the interwar years were for the most part dreary decades, but in neither country were they attended by a general sense of social crisis. France, despite the proliferation of socialist theorists of all descriptions and the growing strength of the Communist Party, seems to have been singularly immune to Red Scares. Unemployment was muted even during the Depression, partly because the country was still so rural that unemployed industrial workers simply went back to the land. For England, the '20s was in many ways the more troubled of the two decades, with intractably high unemployment even during good times and the General Strike of 1925. In the '30s, on the other hand, the effect of the worldwide depression was not nearly as severe as in other countries, and for much of the decade the economy was conspicuously innovative and dynamic.

Italy's crisis came early. In the years between the end of the war and Mussolini's March on Rome in 1922, revolution was in the air, particularly in the rural areas of the north. As in Spain during the prelude to that country's civil war in the '30s, local socialist governments were often uninterested in protecting private property from seizure by workers. Right-wing terror squads, usually led by strong-men without any particular ideology, also enjoyed official indulgence in some regions (as well as a measure of popular support). Mussolini, a sophisticated socialist with anti-clerical leanings, came to power by organizing the strong-men and convincing at least a section of the establishment that he could bring social peace. When he first met the king to demand the primiership, Mussolini wore a fascist uniform. For the second meeting, he wore proper morning clothes.

Hitler wore morning clothes, too, when he went to see President Hindenburg to be sworn in as chancellor 11 years later. Germany's crisis was far more a matter of economics than Italy's had been, though exasperated by the fact the legitimacy of the Weimar Republic was even more fragile than that of the Kingdom of Italy. Eatwell takes us through a quick review of the "Who Was To Blame" literature regarding Hitler's final ascension to the chancellorship. He finds little merit in the theory that Hitler (or Mussolini, for that matter) was essentially a tool of big business. What he does suggest is that the acquiescence of a weak establishment was a necessary precondition for such an improbable figure to be appointed head of a government.

Since the early 1930s, there has never been another coincidence of a weak establishment, a crisis, and a group of men with the proper ideological predispositions necessary for the formation of a fascist state. Franco's Spain was not fascist because Franco was not an artist, but a cop (or, as they used to say in my old high school, a "Prefect of Discipline"). The rulers of Vichy France, for all their authoritarian tendencies, were hardly in a position to view themselves as bold supermen. After the war, fascism was an enthusiasm only of cranks everywhere in Europe except in Italy, where the former regime never lacked for a small party of defenders. (Mussolini's widow got a regular ministerial survivor's pension.) Until the end of the Cold War, this looked like it would be the state of things for the foreseeable future. The problem with the end of the Cold War, of course, was that it made the future much less foreseeable.

In the 1990s we have seen a historically fascist party, led by Gianfranco Fini, achieve junior-partner status in an Italian government. (The party he leads changes names. Not long ago it was "The Italian Social Movement." Latterly it has been "The National Alliance." The Communist Party of Italy has undergone similar mutations in nomenclature, and also claims to have mellowed ideologically. Maybe they have.) Jean-Marie Le Pen's "Front National" in France seems to have a lock on from 15% to 20% of the vote. In Germany, in contrast, the party system has rebuffed the attempts to organize New Right sentiment. (This is not the case in Austria, where Jörg Haider's "Austrian Freedom Party" has polled up to 28% of the vote.) Throughout Europe, just as after the First World War, small groups of violent youths with proto-fascist leanings became conspicuous. Perhaps the most alarming thing we have discovered about the German Democratic Republic is that it did not so much extirpate Nazi ideas among the people as preserve them in ice, like dinosaurs in a science fiction movie that wreak havoc when defrosted.

One may, of course, quarrel about whether the European New Right as a whole should be consider proto-fascist, or crypto-fascist, or even fascist at all. Still, the deeper you look into any of these organizations and their leaders, the less comforted you are likely to be.

On a popular level, the issue which has the most resonance for the New Right is immigration. Everywhere in Western Europe (and in much of the United States), ordinary people are spooked by changing demographics. They are also alienated by the tendency of establishment opinion to dismiss this concern as mere reflexive racism. Persistent levels of high unemployment, often seen as a function of the presence of too many foreigners, similarly undermines the credibility of the governments of the major European states. Issues like this, however, are not the stuff of which revolutions are made, fascist or otherwise. Additionally, while right-wing leaders are at pains to keep themselves free of the least taint of racism in general or antisemitism in particular, the fact is that at ground level their organizations are, for the most part, virulently antisemitic. There is a significant public for Holocaust-denial theories. However, in no country are such things electorally useful.

The distinctive thing about fascism, however, is that it has always been a doctrine for masters rather than followers. Eatwell has some very alarming things to say about the growth of "up-scale" fascism, of ideological resources for people who either belong to existing elites or would very much like to start one. This has been made immensely easier, at least in my own view, by the spread of relativist philosophies in the Nietzschean tradition in the last quarter of the 20th century, particularly at the elite schools. No matter the intent of the instructors, it always seemed singularly ill-advised to me to tell young people, who by virtue of native intelligence and social position were going to wind up running a fair slice of the world anyway, that life was really just about power. There is always some danger they might believe it.

A sentiment that seems to find increasing currency is what might be called "Euro-fascism." While fascist parties between the wars built their followings on nationalistic platforms, still from the very beginning fascism has always had a universalizing streak. Nietzsche pronounced himself a "good European." In these days when political theorists speak in terms of the clash of civilizations, New Right theory seems to be moving in the direction, not of renewed hypernationalism, but of an integrating theory for the European Union. Eatwell notes that the EU as it stands is a disedifying entity, run by bland bureaucrats who are most concerned with setting standards for bottled jam. Current plans for future integration will go no further toward turning Europe into a true political community (that word again). Eatwell asks whether anyone is ever going to be willing to die for the Bundesbank. Maybe what Europe needs is a Sorelian myth to hold it together. Work is in progress.

So, are we really just back where we started at the beginning of the 20th century, waiting for some crisis that will delegitimize the existing establishments and start the ball rolling again? One way to look at the 20th century is as one long recoil from the process of globalization. It was only in the 1990s, for instance, that international capital flows again reached the levels relative to the economies of the major countries that they had reached before the First World War. Similarly, it is only recently that international trade in general became as important as it was around 1900. What happened thereafter was that the governments of the leading nations sought to gain unprecedented control of their countries' destinies. Partly this was accomplished by war, partly it was accomplished through the creation of command economies. Stalinism was simply Lloyd George's "War Socialism" made permanent, something that happened in greater or lesser degree throughout the West. In every case, the goal was to replace the power of capital with the power of the will, whether the will was that of an electorate or of a would-be Nietzschean superman. When, starting in the 1980s, the military and economic systems of command began to be relaxed, the world economic system began to look again something like the way it had looked before these measures were implemented. The process of globalization began again. So did the attempts to stop it.

It would be wrong to say that all attempts to stop globalization of economics and communications and culture are fascist. Most resistance to universalism comes from a positive desire to preserve local identities and traditions. Such things may or may not be worth preserving. The balance between the local and the universal is not something that can be dictated categorically. Fascist nationalism, in contrast, was perhaps just an improvisation, made necessary by the fact that nations states were the largest units that fascist elites could hope to control. At a deeper level of fascism is the ideal of the universal empire, of the whole world subject to a single will. The goal is repeatedly deferred only because it is obviously so much harder to achieve.

Fascist statecraft is by its nature manipulative, a game that elites play with deluded masses. The fascists in the '20s and '30s did not come to power by promising to create a society beyond good and evil. They did it by promising people things that really were good, such as safe streets and private property and a country with a culture they could recognize. The opponents to fascism too often fell into the trap of opposing these things simply because the fascists endorsed them. This is an important point for the world's liberals (or progressives, or whatever they call themselves locally) to keep in mind. As for the conservatives, they must beware of the company they keep.



This article originally appeared in the November 1997 issue of Culture Wars magazine. Please click on the following line for more information:

Copyright © 1997 by John J. Reilly


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The Long View: The Turner Diaries

Like Imperium, The Turner Diaries are a mainstay of the lunatic fringe. It is also a classic millennial text. I have never read this book, and I have no intention to. However, John read and reviewed it because the millennial impulse can and does break out in the real world, and we ought to know how bad it can get.

The Turner Diaries
by "Andrew MacDonald" (William L. Pierce)
The National Alliance, 1978
Approx. 80,000 words


WARNING TO THE READER: This is the most repulsive book I have ever reviewed. Persons offended by descriptions of virulent racism and of the advocacy of genocide may not wish to continue reading.


Bibliographical Note

According to Michael Barkun in Religion and the Racist Right (p. 225 et seq.), the author of "The Turner Diaries" is one William L. Pierce, writing under the pseudonym "Andrew MacDonald." Pierce received a doctorate in physics from the University of Colorado and worked in industry and as a university instructor before becoming involved with Nazi groups in the 1960s. "The Turner Diaries" appeared from 1975 to 1978 as a serial in "Attack!," a publication of the National Alliance, an American Nazi faction led by Pierce. ("Attack" [Der Angriff] was also the name of the paper Josef Goebbels founded in Berlin in the 1920s.) The book was first published as a paperback in 1978, and Barkun cites a second edition, also published by the National Alliance (Washington, DC 1980). The text for this review was found online, without copyright, at http://members.tripod.com/~EdgarS/TurnerD/turner.html in December 1997.



"The Turner Diaries" has been around for about 20 years at this writing. This work has long been of some interest to students of religious and political cults. What made it famous, however, was the destruction of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. (The date was apparently chosen to commemorate the destruction of the compound of the Branch Davidian sect at Waco, Texas, precisely two years earlier.) The crime was committed with a truck bomb using ammonium nitrate fertilizer as an explosive, a weapon system described in some detail in this book. While there is no reason to believe that the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing were working directly from the historical script set out in "The Turner Diaries," nevertheless the book is well-known in the circles with which they associated. Echoes of names and incidents in the story, such as the racist insurgent group known as the "Order" that appeared in the 1980s, continue to turn up from time to time.

The book purports to have been published in the year 100 of the New Era, which is apparently about AD 2100. In form, the book is a commemorative edition of the diaries of one Earl Turner, a 35 year-old electrical engineer who became a hero of the Great Revolution that preceded the New Era. The diaries cover Turner's activities as an insurgent from 1991 to his death in 1993. The revolution was orchestrated by a guerrilla army known simply as "the Organization." (Its opponents are normally referred to collectively as "the System.") The heart of the Organization was a quasi-religious group known as "the Order," into which Turner is inducted. We learn almost nothing about the governance or history of these bodies, though the Order seems to be inspired by the Templar-model of the SS sometimes favored by Heinrich Himmler, under the apparent influence of the apostate Austrian monk Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels. (See "The Occult Roots of Nazism" by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, New York University Press, 1992) For that matter, there is no systematic exposition of the beliefs of either the Organization or the Order. The diaries are supposed to provide a ground level view of a great event, interspersed with occasional reflections.

Before proceeding to an analysis, it would be helpful to look at a full chronology of the dates and events named in the text. The story is built around a system of commemorative dates. The major events of the Great Revolution are almost all timed to coincide with such anniversaries as Hitler's ascension to the Chancellorship of Germany (January 30), Hitler's birthday (April 20) and, especially, the Beer Hall Putsch and Kristallnacht (November 9). Some of these dates, as well as the sophisticated weapons the author describes, may unfortunately have relevance in the future.

...

The Long View: Imperium

John's interests in cycles of history and millennial movements sometimes led him down strange alleys. One of those was his study of modern international fascism. It is pretty common to slur someone as a fascist, far less common to actually meet one. They still exist, and probably loom larger in the press than their actual numbers, and have, if anything, gotten weirder as the twentieth century waned and turned into the twenty-first.

Imperium comes up here because Yockey's main source was Spengler. It is not at all clear that Yockey understood Spengler, but nonetheless he appropriated Spengler's vocabulary. John was my main source of knowledge about modern international fascism, and also the reason I see just about any political discourse about how "fascist" something or other is as just so much piffle. There are real fascists. They sound like something out of a convoluted conspiracy theory novel, except that they keep insisting on self-publishing books about what they are up to.

Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics
by Ulick Varange (Francis Parker Yockey)
The Noontide Press, 1962 (First Published 1948)
626 Pages, US$ 7.75
ISBN 0-911038-10-8

 

"Imperium" may be the closest thing that the real world offers to H.P. Lovecraft's fictional "Necronomicon." Though little more than a rumor in the world at large, it is a key text in the underground universe of international fascist ideology, and it seems to have had a significant effect on the development of Traditional Satanism. At the risk of making "Imperium" sound more interesting than it actually is, we may note that the book claims an almost magical essence for itself. By its own account, "Imperium" is "part of a life of action" and "only in form a book at all," so that reading it is more than a merely mental event.

"Imperium" was written in the service of an ambitious cause. The author, Francis Parker Yockey, holds that it is the destiny of the West to found a universal empire, the core of which will be a Nazi Europe. His book promotes European unity and the expulsion of the United States from the continent's affairs, as well as a fascist revolution in the United States itself. "Imperium" is a reprise of history and political theory, designed to show why the outcomes of the world wars of the first half of the 20th century were only temporary setbacks toward the ultimate goal.

If America were a church, Yockey would have been an apostate. Born in Chicago in 1917, he was involved with various right-wing political groups as a young man. He took both a BA and a law degree at Notre Dame University and was commissioned an officer during the Second World War, though he soon received a medical discharge. As a civilian attorney, he served on the staff that helped to prepare war-crimes trials in Germany, but was dismissed for siding with the defendants. (This may have included spying for them.) Yockey retired to Brittas Bay in Ireland to write "Imperium," finishing it in 1948. (January 30 of that year, to be precise: the 15th anniversary of Hitler's accession to the chancellorship of Germany.)

...