Friday, March 9, 2012
In Praise of Neo-Stalinist Doctrinairism: Censorship, Entryism, Infiltration and How to Prevent Them
I have been following the recent Pat Buchanan saga, as recounted in the excellent Hadding Scott series, 'A Closer Look at What Happened to Pat Buchanan', with minimal interest. Buchanan was fired from the American TV news station MSNBC in January this year. According to Scott, the producers and directors of the station stacked the deck with "minority" (that is, Hispanic, lesbian and left-wing) TV personalities, and got rid of the old centre-right populist war horse Buchanan for, well, political and racial reasons. I like Buchanan - who in the movement doesn't - but find his brand of paleoconservativism tepid. There isn't enough hate in Buchanan to impress me, and I was somewhat appalled to read a recent article of his, praising Obama for his "skill" in negotiating an inheritance tax increase with the Republicans - which offended my anti-Obama, and anti-anti-supply-side tendencies, in one foul swoop.
But the Buchanan incident is a recent, timely reminder how of how media and political commentary can be shaped, by publishers, editors, producers, directors, to suit the needs of a political agenda. David Irving remarked recently, for instance, that Murdoch (the owner of that British institution, The Times newspaper) has stacked the deck with columnists with Jewish names (and with, presumably, just the right pro-Israel and neoconservative credentials). This is normal in politics, of course, and there's nothing wrong with it. A political website, or the political commentaries in a newspaper, or a political journal, should reflect a basic 'party line' and publish material which is faithful to it - nothing more and nothing less. You wouldn't expect, for instance, the Australian Maoist (!) newspaper Vanguard to carry articles with my by-line, for instance, or even the by-line of a moderate liberal conservative like Andrew Bolt. No political organisation can be expected to undermine itself; indeed, as Carl Schmitt remarked, political parties are every day engaged in struggles for their survival, and dominance, just as warring states are. They face the existential question: to be or not to be, just like contending states (and all states, in Schmittian theory, contend).
Which brings us to the topic of my article. All the lessons in practical politics - i.e., founding and managing a political organisation - I've learned at first hand: no-one taught me, and certainly, there were no books, no manuals, to teach me (in the way that there are books teaching you D.I.Y. home repairs, or calculus, or Windows, or French). I've had to learn things which were known to political activists eons ago. One thing I have learned is: when it came to political organisation, Stalin was right.
In the classic (1939), which was most likely authored by Stalin, we embark on a mad roller-coaster ride through the ideological permutations, the ideological twistings and turnings, of the Russian Communist Party. Right from the beginning, Stalin tells us, Lenin was beset by foes within the Russian socialist movement, who wanted to corrupt Russian socialism and turn the worker's movement away from Lenin's unclouded, pure vision of the eternal truths of Marxism-Leninism. Stalin is with us at every ideological juncture - from Leninism and into deviation - and Stalin, sometimes alone out of all the Bolsheviks, remains faithful to Lenin's original vision and always leads the Bolsheviks back on track. Stalin's dogmatism, unwillingness to compromise, and faithfulness to the original letter of the founding party documents and the principles of Marx's scientific socialism, saves the day, again and again. Deviationists are remonstrated with or "smashed". The world outside of the Soviet Union is beaten off, again and again. But the difficult circumstances for Bolshevism (only offset by the "dizzying success" of Stalin's collectivisation programme, which, as we know, led to the death by starvation of millions) only increase, and, by the time of the writing, the USSR is the victim of the plots and machinations of a Trotskyist-Japanese-Gestapo clique, who have infiltrated the Bolsheviks, and Soviet society, at the highest levels. (As we know, Stalin, and his brand of purist Marxist-Leninism, came out on top: hundreds of thousands of these rascals were done to death during the purges of the late 1930s, in an orgy of "unmaskings" and "smashings").
It's an illuminating book, and a foundational text for 20th century communism. Phillip Short, in his biography of Pol Pot, reports how Pol, and the Khmer Rouge intellectuals, devoured the book and applied its lessons. By the end of the Khmer Rouge regimé, tens of thousands (?), hundreds of thousands (?), of Cambodian communists were "unmasked" and "smashed", i.e., tortured and put to death, for being in cahoots with the CIA and the rival communist state of Vietnam. (Likewise, Short chronicles how Mao embarked on a series of purges of the Chinese communist party in the 1930s, using torture to reveal the "guilt" of his opponents). It's a sign of the pathology of communism that many of the party faithful in these three countries went to their deaths still believing in the goodness and rightness of communism and the communist leadership. Like a cult, communism brainwashed its members, and, like a cult, communism succeeded in inculcating feelings of deep guilt in the members it shunned and expelled.
Communists are a conspiratorial bunch, of course, and I myself love conspiracy theories about communists: the idea that Obama, for instance, was a secret communist (influenced from his childhood by his communist parents) and radical Black Power activist, on a mission to infiltrate the presidency - like an Afro-American 'Manchurian Candidate' - I found quite thrilling. Disappointingly, though, Obama turned into a centrist Democrat mostly controlled by the liberal Jewish wing of the party; he didn't do anything really radical. One can point to his socialised medicine health insurance scheme, for instance, or his call for higher taxes on the rich, as evidence of a secret Marxist-Leninist agenda, but: liberal democratic politicians, of the non-communist, social democrat variety, endorse the same policies in Europe. But I like the story, because it implies that a person in politics can be of tremendous self-discipline and dedication; furthermore, it implies that that person can succeed in gaining the highest office in the land. Think of the inhumanity of it - concealing one's true beliefs, from the world, infiltrating a leading political party, and then becoming head of state. One would have to be a superman to do that. (As a comparison, suppose that Udo Voigt, of the NPD, had infiltrated, from a young age, the German Social Democratic Party and ended up chancellor).
It's wildly implausible, to be sure. But, in politics, the world is a scary place, and there are people out there to destroy you, and, as Stalin chronicles in his book, the entryists and "wreckers" will try and destroy you by infiltrating your organisation, Trotsky-style (or they will set up a front organisation serving a political purpose which is kept secret from the majority of the members).
Years ago, I formed a nationalist group with a prominent individual on the nationalist scene here in Australia, and developed a close personal and political relationship with him (I in fact authored dozens of articles published under his name, which are now collected in book form). At the time, I thought all of the membership were in sync, ideologically speaking; but, after a while, I noticed some divergences in the line we were pushing. My friend and close collaborator kept on promulgating Troy Southgate's "National Anarchism": symbols and slogans for "National Anarchism" kept on appearing on our site, and my friend would refer to our group as "National Anarchist" at functions held with other nationalists (who were as bemused as we were). Eventually, we had a few demonstrations with "National Anarchist" symbols and slogans on our banners. I was pretty naive back in those days - as naive as Bambi - and didn't realise what was going on, despite all the evidence in front of me. But, after much inner struggle, I realised that the other members and I were being used for the purposes of "National Anarchism" - an ideology we didn't have any sympathy for, and didn't sign up for when we founded the group - and so I left. (I came across an essay by Southgate, on "National Anarchist" entryism, which is a detailed exposition of how "National Anarchist" activists should infiltrate large, well-established groups, Trotsky-entryist style, and bend them to "National Anarchist" purposes, very subtly and over time, with a combination of stacking the deck, manipulation and repeated indoctrination. Whether or not the co-founder of my group was following Southgate's script, I can't say. I still don't know to this day. The insidious thing is that a good entryist must deny, till he is blue in the face, when confronted with the evidence, and one can never really ascertain the truth. But, in all fairness, sometimes we do things in politics which we are perfectly unconscious of).
I decided that, with any future political endeavours - i.e., any new political groups - I would begin with a founding party document, that all members had to subscribe to (like a contract to read and sign before joining). That way, we would all be on the same page ideologically, so to speak, and unfortunate developments like "National Anarchist" entryism would be prevented. One of the problems with my previous group was that it lacked a constitution, a worked-out structure for the day to day management of the group, and a platform which would serve as a founding document. In other words, one needs, in a group, rules for the day-to-day functioning, and one needs a statement of common purpose. Terribly obvious, of course, but not to me at the time.
Previously I had thought, when co-founding the group co-opted by "National Anarchism", it would be good to be part of a collective with an amorphous structure in which things 'just happened'. In hindsight, that approach can work, perhaps, for Situationist and anarchist collectives (but then, even the original Situationist International degenerated, by some accounts, into a hierarchical and dogmatic organisation ruled by Debord). But, in a situation where there is no law, and there is, in fact, a state of pure anarchy, the man with the most resources ends up being the king: he ends up calling the shots. My "National Anarchist" comrade owned the website, and had the most money (and all the connections necessary to get things done, i.e., get shirts, banners, made), and so he ended up being the kingpin. Which is one of the reasons why, in my view, anarchism of any sort doesn't work.
Unfortunately, lightning strikes twice. My second political group - which didn't have a constitution, but at least did have a party platform, authored by myself - has been infiltrated and co-opted by a rival tendency. This time around, it isn't "National Anarchism", but white nationalist, white power, Neo-Nazi skinheadism.
I like to think of my own politics as being 'neofascist' or 'post-Nazi'. I admire Evola and Yockey because they worked with a clean slate: their writings are a brilliant reconstruction of the founding principles of the wartime and pre-war fascist movement; they reworked, revised fascism, and, in some instances, did away with part of it altogether. Evola achieved this with the aid of the occult doctrine of Tradition; Yockey, with the pre-war, 'Conservative Revolutionary' German thinkers Spengler and Schmitt. The result was that Hitler and Mussolini were adapted to the bleak realities of Cold War Europe.
White nationalism really is a weird doctrine - a universalist (i.e., applying equally to everybody) thesis, much like all American political theses - and, as for skinheadism, it is an equally strange combination of Jamaican 'Rude Boy' gang culture, mixed in with Neo-Nazism of the George Lincoln Rockwell, Colin Jordan, Savitri Devi type. It's where reggae and white nationalism intersect. On a personal level, I don't have anything against skinheadism, white nationalism, or Ku Klux Klanism - some of these types are very nice people. But they don't represent me politically, and they do tend to attract some lumpenproletariat types. Liberal popular culture makes great use of this fact, and uses it as a weapon against us.
Some sectors of the movement are lumpen-magnets: but this is no bad thing. The advantage of a lumpen-magnet group is that the group will attract bad people, who may attain a position of leadership, power, status and pride in such a (often miniscule) organisation, and keep them away from the established nationalist groups with good, decent ordinary white people. I'm a relativist, and I believe in tolerance and diversity: the skins, white power and Klansmen types can have their groups, and I'll have mine, and never shall the twain meet - except at the odd non-denominational nationalist event.
So how did my group get infiltrated by the white power tendency? Or, moreover, how can one tell if one's group has been infiltrated and co-opted? There is one simple method, which I call the 'attack test'. (It's a method which suits my personality - being a negative, nay-saying individual who likes to attack things).
The reader will recall that I wrote most of the articles for my old, "National Anarchist"-infected group. I was given a lot of freedom to write for that group: had I approached the "National Anarchist" co-founder with a proposal to write an anti-communist article, I would have seen it accepted, and published, at once; likewise, had I proposed an anti-feminist article, or an anti-neoliberal article, or an article denouncing Keynes, Mahatma Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr. But - and here's the crucial test - suppose I had proposed an article with the title, 'Against National Anarchism'. I would have been told that my article could not be published, 'in its present form', and certainly 'not with its present title'. All that nice talk about being a 'collective', which accepts article submissions written from 'many viewpoints', would have gone out the window. (As it is, I wish I had had the sense of mischief, at the time, to propose an article with that title, just to see the look on the co-founder's face).
The 'attack test' could be applied elsewhere on the political spectrum. Suppose I approached a journal for a Trotskyite front group - 'The Australian Federate League for Students and Workers', to use a made-up example - and offered an article attacking Stalin (from a left-perspective), or the Australian Liberal Party, or US foreign policy, or China, or Putin - it would be cheerfully accepted (providing that it was couched in the appropriate Marxist terminology). But had I proposed an article with the title, 'Against Trotsky', or 'Against Leninism' - it would be rejected. The 'attack test' really exposes the founding principles on which a group is based.
What counts, for the 'attack test', is the perspective. Many nationalist sites have articles by the likes of Alex Kurtagic or Colin Liddell attacking the BNP, for instance. These articles are attacks on the Nick Griffin faction of the BNP, or what side of British Far Right nationalism the BNP represents: they aren't criticisms of the BNP from a left-liberal or communist point of view, of course. But, were those same sites to denounce Holocaust Revisionism, or praise Israel and the Jews for their many splendid qualities, or suggest that South Africa's or Britain's whites be exterminated by black people - well, that would be odd. It would be a case of a political organisation contradicting itself. Nationalists don't set up sites to attack nationalism as such; they will only publish articles attacking nationalism if they are making that attack from the viewpoint of another faction. Which is something quite common, as factions of the Far Right, like the factions of the Far Left, are forever attacking one another.
So, as one may gather, an article proposal with the title, 'Against White Nationalism', and criticisms of the ideology of David Duke and Don Black, wouldn't go down well in an organisation with white nationalism as its foundation. (I quite like Duke and Black, but really am critical of white nationalism - considering that white nationalism has been around for forty years and hasn't made any significant political inroads (well, the present neofascist-leaning mayor of Rome does wear a Celtic Cross tie pin, which is something). Being an intellectual, and something of a Cartesian, I trace the failures of white nationalism back to the first principles, the axioms, of the creed: something must have gone intellectually with white nationalism at the start for it to fail in the long run). Likewise, an article attacking skinheads - 'From Rude Boy to White Power' - wouldn't go down well either in a skinhead magazine; nor would 'Against George Lincoln Rockwell' in a white power / self-proclaimed "National Socialist" journal.
Now, a Pierre Krebs-Nouvelle Droite group would accept such submissions, because white power, skinheadism and Neo-Nazism wouldn't form the foundation of such a group (and even the radical white nationalist William Pierce didn't like skinheads, or skinhead music, very much, despite founding the Resistance Records label). Likewise, a "National Anarchist" journal, edited by Southgate, would accept such submissions. But my group - which I started - won't. And, in the group's 'founding document' (which I wrote), Rockwell, "National Socialism", white-power white nationalism, skinheadism, Skrewdriver and Ian Stuart - are mentioned nowhere. But, according to the 'attack test', these are, in fact - without my knowing it - the principles on which my group is based. That is, the principles on which the group is based at present - they weren't there when I started.
With my new group, I began with Stalinist and Leninist intentions: that is, with the intention of maintaining a high degree of organisation, cohesion and agreement ideologically and politically. The founding principles, and 'party line', were expressed in the founding documents (and, really, should have been periodically affirmed, or revised, in formal group gatherings - i.e., communist party-type party congresses). This approach has a number of advantages: one is that members know what they are in for when they join the organisation; members know where their beliefs stand in relation to those of the party; members can amend, revise, any parts of the program in a formal, democratic way; members know that other members are on the same page as them, ideologically; members can determine, by referring to the founding documents, how far (or close) their present efforts and activities are in relation to the goals of the party. And so forth. Obvious stuff, but essential for any organisation, political or non-political.
I was somewhat remiss in holding party congresses and the like, and never did get around to writing a constitution (but then, constitutions of groups, like the constitutions of states, don't always need to be written on paper - Britain has no written constitution). At the time, though, I thought I had done a good job, and didn't see how I could have gone any further. Perhaps I should have had members of the organisation swear a solemn oath to uphold the principles of the organisation; and had them sign declarations in blood. (Evola writes on the importance of oaths, and promises, and notes how oaths are still regarded as being sacred, i.e., having a religious or spiritual dimension, even in today's secular and profane world).
Now, though, I see that I should have gone much further down the path of Stalinist-style ideological purity. One must make a holy grail of it. The most successful communist organisations began life as small bands of intellectuals and activists dedicated, unswervingly, to the dogma that is Marxist-Leninism. (And Hitler, from the other side of the fence, also upholds dogmatism, doctrinal purity and the small but fanatical membership in his Mein Kampf. But then, Hitler had the example of the German communist groups before him - some of the most disciplined organisations the world had ever seen).
As to how, I don't know exactly. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, referred back to the work of Marx and Engels; today's Scientologists, the work of L. Ron Hubbard; today's Mormons, Joseph P. Smith and all the Mormon leaders who came after; Muslims, the Koran and its interpreters. In order to be dogmatic, one must have a fairly large body of written work to be dogmatic about. The question is, can one theorise, and lead, at the same time? The answer is, of course, yes, and the above leaders (Hubbard, the Prophet Muhammad, Smith, Stalin, et al.) were prolific writers. All the same, it helps to have a division of labour, when it comes to theory and practice. It's more convenient to be a leader, and follow an existing body of theoretical (or theological) work, or to write a lot of books, and let someone else lead.