Nazis, Fascists or Neither?
Nazis, Fascists or Neither?
Credentials of the British Far Right, 1987-1994
by Troy Southgate
Published by Wermod & Wermod Publishing Group, 2010, ISBN 978-0-9561835-2-1, soft back. Available for £14.99 + £1.00 postage (UK) or £2.51 (Europe) or £4.22 (Rest of the World) from Wermod & Wermod, PO Box 1107, Shamley Green, GU5 0WJ, UK.
or online at www.wermodandwermod.com
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!
For nationalists living in Britain during the 1980s and early 1990s the above quote of Wordsworth doubtless rings true. It was then that, as the electoral endeavors of nationalists nosedived and the numbers of their assorted party’s members shrank, the movement engaged in some very significant ideological clarifications and self analysis. This led, as often does when folks think seriously about their ideals, into very heavy internecine warfare, producing, in a relatively short time, several tiny groups, where once there had been one, the National Front.
The story of that tale of ferment and fragmentation has been ably told in the pages of this journal by Peter Rushton. Minus Rushton’s sympathy, the leftist historian Larry O’Hara has also, in various forums, dissected, with reasonable neutrality, those turbulent times. Now, Troy Southgate, a participant in many of those struggles, first, as a follower and, eventually as a creative writer and thinker, has chosen to scrutinize one aspect of the varied ideologies of that surge of original political theory. He seeks to understand, in as dispassionate a fashion as an actor in those dramas can muster, to what degree the groups of that time might be described as Fascist or Nazi.
The reader might well wonder to what end this task is being pursued? Surely, the left and their dutiful servants of the mass media have no interest in so profound and, above all, honest assessment of these questions. For them, anyone who is on, or has ever been on, the side of nationalism, in whatever form, is automatically labeled a Fascist or Nazi. The subtleties of ideas is of no interest to our would-be mind controllers. Labels are tossed about by them with the solitary goal of silencing debate.
On the other hand, though, nationalists who were involved in, or have studied the controversies and movements covered in Nazis, Fascists or Neither? will find much to ponder is Southgate’s research and analysis. And, to whatever extent, European men anywhere seek national or even communal renaissance, Southgate’s work will help them articulate what it is that they actually believe in.
For the reader unschooled in the rhetoric of those years, much of which still lingers in nationalist circles, often to the confusion of non-initiates, it is worth noting that Southgate takes a bit too much for granted in his presentation. The terms “radical” or “revolutionary” and “reactionary,” acquired in nationalist circles of the 80s a very specific meaning. This was very different than the meaning of these terms as used in the establishment media. Beyond ideological connotations, the terms also embodied a certain Gestalt in nationalist circles which is, perhaps, more impenetrable to outsiders than the ideas espoused. In fact, even within nationalist circles, if one were to turn the clock back to the early days of the NF these terms would also be incomprehensible.
Yet, for Southgate, nurtured by the “radical” ideologies of the 80s, it is assumed that everyone knows of two streams of nationalist thought, one pure, good and “radical” and the other stuffy,” reactionary” and backward looking. In the lexicon of that time a “reactionary” nationalist meant, broadly speaking, someone sympathetic to imperialism, some tolerance of capitalism, strong central authority and anti-black, plus anti-Jewish sentiments. Hence, the “radicals” looked askance at the nationalist movements of the twenties and thirties (with the exceptions of those which spoke about economic re-ordering of society, such as the Phalange, the Iron Guard or the short lived Salo Republic.) To them, most Fascists and Nazis (with the exception of the Strasser brothers or the actual original NSDAP platform) were “reactionaries,” despised, perhaps, even more than the left itself.
Beyond platforms, though, the radicals were young, both in years and in spirit. The old guard of the NF was, in their view, old, corrupt, lacking in creativity, drive and vibrancy. They looked to those young leaders of the past, and if they were martyred at an early age, all the better. Like Livorno supporters, who shun the imagery of older, Communist leaders, while donning Che Guevara shirts, the “revolutionary” nationalists thought they had a monopoly on real sacrifice and enthusiasm.
Troy Southgate, who came to the NF in the eighties from a Labour background, was struck early on by, in his own words, “how incredibly anti-capitalist and pro-socialist the Movement was.” He refers to the creativity and idealism of that time as “a very exciting and formulative period” which he now views with “a good degree of fondness and nostalgia.” Thus, there is no doubt that, in the world of nationalist rhetoric, Southgate is in the “radical” tradition.
Therefore, one should not expect much sympathy in the volume under review for those outside this tradition be they Mosleyites, LELers, BNPers, most of the old school of NF or the short lived NFSG. This is not meant as a critical judgment of the radical stream, just as a note that the author is not a detached commentator on the subjects under analysis.
Before turning to the book’s thesis, two more points about Southgate must be made. He is not only a very lucid thinker with the ability to grasp and explain complex matters in straightforward prose; he is a most sincere seeker. It is his search for truth both personal and political that has led him in and out of Catholicism, and stirred him to always explore the assumptions of his social beliefs with a honest willingness to jettison or alter those he has lost faith in.
This is what makes reading anything by Southgate an adventure. Honesty rules and one is never quite sure which or what of his former perspectives may be refined. But there is more to it than receptivity and openness. Southgate attempts to practice what he preaches, trying to shape his life and that of his family according to the ideals he embraces.
One other matter must be clarified. When one examines Southgate’s odyssey, the path from the NF, to ITP, to ENM, to NRF to his current notion of National Anarchism, the superficial observer may think he is lacking in stability, that all is subject to change. This view would be a terrible misunderstanding of the profundity of his thought. There are several constants in Southgate (besides his loyalty to the perpetually flawed inhabitants of Selhurst Park). He still desires an economic system of compassion and community just as he did when voting for Labour as an 18 year old. He still seeks to achieve a mutual respectful means to maintain racial/ tribal identity devoid of hate just as he did when attending RAR concerts in his pre NF days. Most of all, though, he believes that his individual identity is linked to that of his people’s past, their culture and spiritual roots. In his view the artistic, political, spiritual and economic worlds are all forever linked. It is from them and to them that he brings ever more reflective notions of being a European man who seeks justice, fairness and the Divine in its varied manifestations.
For the reader interested in pursuing the journey that Southgate is on, the place to start is probably the collection of his essays, Tradition and Revolution (Integral Tradition Publishing: 2007, 2010) as well the website Synthesis. This is a man with diverse interests and disciplines whose ideas always stimulate thought and lead one on the path of spiritual/political struggle.
Nazis, Fascists or Neither? begins with a concise but insightful overview of the basic ingredients of National Socialist and Fascist thought. Southgate posits that the former has six core beliefs, “the Leader principle, racial supremacy, and constitutionalism, tolerance of capitalism, outright imperialism and hatred of Jews.” The reader should note that Southgate views each of these basic beliefs as antithetical to his own “National Anarchism.” This latter perspective believes in decentralization of power to the point where the very concept of the state is rejected. (This leads to the question of whether the author of Tradition and Revolution can even be called a “nationalist’ anymore? He is part of and loyal to the folk but not to any supposed governmental incarnation of it.) Racial supremacy was sincerely rejected by the radical currents of the 80s and replaced by a sense of reciprocal morality that would accept and encourage self determination for all groups, albeit in their own homelands, ideally. “Constitutionalism” means that the Nazis sought power by legal means and left the state structure virtually intact. This a very different than the “radical ‘ view which seeks to utterly sweep away current governmental structures, either via struggle as Southgate once saw it or by largely ignoring it, which if, we read him correctly, is his current standpoint. Capitalism survived Hitler’s consolidation of power much to the dismay of the SA, the Strasserites and others. Southgate desires a dismantling of vast economic power conglomerates either by force (his earlier view) or simply bypassing them. Lastly, the “radical” view is to see empires as inherently wrong in their stifling of indigenous peoples and their cultures. On the matter of the Jews, the “radicals” maintained an opposition to Zionism which they saw as wrong in its denial of Palestinian self determination and in its attempt to wield power over the international community to stop it from attacking the policies of the Likud Party. However, they did not extend this antagonism (by and large) to Jews as people or as a faith community. (Whether this might allow for a two – state solution in Palestine/Israel was matter of dispute in “radical” circles.) Southgate sees Fascism as essentially similar to Nazism, minus the virulent anti – Jewish sentiments.
The book carefully examines, what it calls, the “British Far Right” of 1987-1994 for any manifestation of these six traits. The movements so examined are the National Front, the National Front Support Group, Third Way, International Third Position, English Nationalist Movement and the British National Party. It is worth pausing here to offer a minor dissent from the author’s choice of “far right” as a term to describe the above groups. This label plays into the hands of the left. To describe one’s viewpoint as “far” anything is to lose the attention of most people. Would it not be better to say that any healthy racialist viewpoint would have been seen as normal, totally middle of the road, in any generation save that of our own brainwashed times? Referring to oneself as extreme seems to indicate an agreement with the leftist view that organic racial loyalty is off the charts, the possession of those a bit daft.
Of great ideological significance is whether the Third Way, ENM or even Third Position (in its initial stage) is correctly referred to as right wing. This may be simply a question of semantics. The terms left and right remain elusive and subject to the vicissitudes of history and shifting definitions. However, if right means those ideas that Southgate identifies with “far right” movements such as authoritarianism, racism, imperialism and the like, there is no doubt that many of the so called “far right” groups in the book are not of the right at all. They have transcended the left/ right dichotomy and gone beyond it. Their creativity has yielded political movements that do not fit into the limited categories of popular media with its knee jerk categories and demonization. In fact, this is one of strengths of this book in general. It moves the reader beyond the confines of media saturated simplicity. Ideas now stand on their own and we are forced to view them on their own merits.
However, the most serious flaw with Southgate’s analysis, one born sadly of the heavily ideologized wars of the eighties and nineties, is his lack of tolerance for what he calls the “reactionary” viewpoint. Time and again the likes of the Tyndall BNP and the latter day Third Position are denounced as reactionary, bigoted and dictatorial. In retrospect there is little sympathy for Franco, Mosley and the traditional Catholic counter revolution. What is lacking here is a sense that the most important element of nationalism or racialism, or whatever term one uses, is the people itself and its way of life. The counter revolutionaries of the twenties and thirties as well as those nationalists in Britain unbitten by the “radical/populist/ anarchist” bugs of recent decades also loved their people and its ways deeply. The early NF manifested its ideology differently than Southgate but the good people who took to the streets at that time, often under threat of bodily harm, surely cherished the same things as he does. They too yearned for a peaceful, rural England, with its faiths and customs intact, with families and good work and charity at the core of life. Are we not getting lost in an overly ideologically rigid box when we demand first ideology and only after that folk identity?
In the eighties, a “radical’ nationalist declared that anyone who didn’t accept the Green Book of Colonel Gaddafi in its entirety wasn’t “real English radical nationalist!” This blindness to the core ideals and identities that unite all those who care about European peoples strikes me as needless, self defeating and devoid of the charity and love of one’s own that should be the ultimate basis of völkisch thinking.
In his concluding chapter, Southgate posits that only two groups, the BNP of Tyndall and ITP could be labeled Nazi (in the case of the former) and Fascist (in the case of the latter.) The other four groups are seen as essentially free (with exceptions here and there) of the traits the author sees as “reactionary.” The author’s research is meticulous, the story of those old conflicts and the general history of the movement at that time will prove fascinating to experts and novices alike.
In terms of Southgate’s political and personal tale this is an important document. The withdrawal from contemporary political clashes, which seems to typify his current writing, may well be traced to a certain fatigue with the endless internal nationalist warfare, going on constantly while the nation and its people rapidly deteriorate. The radicalism and revolutionary spirit of the author’s early ears now seems devoted to personal and local communal transformation. Regular readers of Synthesis and those who read and re-read Tradition and Revolution (such as this reviewer) will readily grant that, to whatever degree we may each feel that the external struggle is still of value, it is primarily inside each of us and with kith and kin that survival and transformation must first take place.
It is in this regard that Southgate remains a teacher par excellence by word and deed. And, if this reviewer would rather he draw the circle of the movement a bit broader, there is no doubt that the rigor of his wisdom and passion of loyalties will continue to nourish us all for many years to come.
Reviewed by Gil Caldwell, Trenton, New Jersey
Editor’s note: Gil Caldwell is an American based, long time, affectionate observer of the nationalist scene in Britain
This review originally appeared in Issue 44 of Heritage and Destiny.