Thursday, February 22, 2007

Achieving Nationalism through Discipline

by Tom Stanwell

I. Are we fascist or Nazis?

The enemies of nationalism are accustomed to calling us 'fascist' or 'Nazi' (or 'Neo-fascist' or 'Neo-Nazi'). In the modern sense of the word, 'fascist' has a number of meanings: it is used as a perjorative term by communists to describe anything which is anti-communist and at the same time vaguely authoritarian and militaristic; while, in the everyday sense, it is used to describe something authoritarian, repressive, totalitarian. Similarly, 'Nazi' is used to refer to skinheads, Nutzis, or any creed which is anti-Jewish, anti-communist and racialist; and, in the everday sense, it means someone who is excessively pedantic, harsh, intolerant, authoritarian.

But what really does 'fascism' - if we are to use it as a term to describe certain political movements in Europe which ceased to exist in 1945 - mean? It refers to a definite ideology, a definite political philosophy. A few serious academics - such as Roger Griffin, Stanley Payne and others - have attempted to define it, with varying degrees of success. Certainly, the fascist ideology is a well thought-out political philosophy - as can be seen from the work of Julius Evola, Francis Parker Yockey, Jean-Francois Thiriart and other theorists of post-war fascism. In theory, fascism means the works of these men; in practice, it means certain regimes which existed before the end of the war - National Socialism in Germany; Italian Fascism in Italy; and so on. (It could be argued that the post-war fascist intellectuals had a better theoretical understanding of fascism than the wartime and pre-war practioners).

But whether or not the nationalism in the West today, in the year 2007, could be described as fascist - that is debatable. The word 'nationalism' is shorthand for a good many ideologies: Christian Identity; skinheadism; Neo-Nutzism; the thinking of the Nouvelle Droit intellectuals; National Anarchism; and so on. It can also be used to describe political parties - populist parties such as the FN in France and the BNP in the UK, and the NPD and the DVU in Germany. Most of these ideologies and groupings have a number of things in common: opposition to non-white immigration; revisionist view of WWII and the Holocaust; concern for freedom of speech (particularly in regard to the repression of Holocaust Revisionism, or criticism of immigration and multiculturalism); anti-Zionism... But none of this, alone, is, strictly speaking, fascist.

And this is, I think, to the detriment of fascism today: for there is much that is valuable in fascist theory and practice, which can be appropriated by today's nationalist movements (without going the whole hog and labelling ourselves 'Neo-fascist'). One can enumerate all the virtues of Italian Fascism and German National Socilaism (and all the drawbacks of their approaches), and come up with a long list. But, to put it in the pithiest terms, fascism possesses an edge, a freshness and a vigour which is lacking in the nationalist movements which have most come to terms with liberal democracy (I am thinking here of the populist Far Right parties). What I will do here is attempt to describe what fascism is, and what can be used - appropriated - by today's nationalist movements.

II. Corporatism

The most prominent part of fascism is its preoccupation with corporatist economic theory. Corporatism is version of guild socialism, a form of economic organisation which (according to its proponents) was predominant in the Middle Ages. (It could be said that most fascist intellectuals, and practioners, looked back nostalgically to the Europe of the Middle Ages). The idea is that business concerns were to be organised into monopolistic corporations, which would trade their goods and services with another, not with a view to selfish profit, but with a good to the welfare of the communal organism as a whole. Class warfare would be cancelled out, with both capital and labour being forbidden to wage conflicts with one another, through strike action, lock-outs, arbitrary dismissals, excessive wage claims and the rest. The structure of the monopolies would be hierarchical and authoritarian, with labour subordinating itself to management, which in turn would be subordinated to the State and its needs. Workers, managers and other employees were not to view themselves as individuals seeking gain, but as members of a cohesive organisation working with a smooth efficiency - like a military unit. (Here fascism's bias towards all things militaristic makes itself felt: why, the fascist proponents of corporatism asked, can't the national economy be run like the army?). Evola gives a good outline of corporatist ideas in "Men among the Ruins", particularly chapter 12, "Economy and Politics - Corporations - Unity of Work".

Political ideologies other than fascism looked with favour towards corporatist solutions to economic problems. For instance, Japan, in the post-war period, organised its economy along corporatist lines; and, in Europe and elsewhere, both social democratic and Christian Democrat conservative parties made corporatism part of their party platforms. (In the liberal democratic countries, of course, any militaristic and authoritarian elements in corporatist theory have been downplayed; but the fundamentals of the doctrine remain).

Is corporatism, however, relevant, and useful, for today's nationalism? Yes and no. We, of course, do not want class conflict; we also want the economy to serve the good of the nation as a whole (which is why we oppose, for instance, the importation of non-white labour). Corporatism - at least, the 'soft', liberal democratic version - has been applied for the most part in Europe, particularly on the Continent (and Scandanavia) with varying degrees of success. Certainly, corporatism has not helped Germany and France out of their economic difficulties. This is because, in my view, the root causes of Europe's economic problems are deeper - they lie in Europe's leadership. A strong State, or rather, a State governed by an authoritarian élite who feel a strong sense of duty to their nation and its survival and prosperity, tends to lead to economic success. Countries like Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and even Pinochet's Chile, stand as examples. In contrast, States led by corrupt, incompetent and venal rulers, who are only interested in siphoning State funds in order to enrich themselves, do badly: think of the Phillipines (under Marcos), Indonesia (under Suharto) and South Vietnam (under a succession of French and then American-backed dictatorships). Likewise, liberal democratic countries cursed with the lacklustre and disinterested leadership which exists in Europe and the West today do badly in the economic stakes - even though countries like France and Germany are among the richest in the world with the highest standard of living.

That aside, corporatism is a program, and for that reason, nationalists should be wary of adopting it. There is something absurd about nationalists proposing economic programs - on fiscal, tariff, monetary policy, etc. - when they are nowhere near to attaining the political power needed to implement them. (For instance, nationalists in Australia, to implement any sort of economic change, would need to win a federal election - federal office being the level where monetary policy, and most fiscal policy, is determined. At present, it is hard enough for nationalist-minded groups to break into the local council level of politics, much less the federal. The same, by and large, is true elsewhere in the West).

Suppose that the British National Party stood on the threshold of winning the next national election - then the City of London (the UK's chief financial district, the British equivalent of Wall Street) would be waiting, with bated breath, to hear what that party's economic policies were. Then, and only then, would that party be in a position to make proposals which would be relevant and meaningful. My advice, in such a circumstance, would be for the party to reassure voters that they will leave economic policies more or less leave things as they are - which is what all opposition parties, on the point of toppling an incumbent, do anyway.

III. The ethics of the warrior caste

So, what are the relevant parts of the fascist ideology? Or rather, what differentiates fascism (and neo-fascism) from other nationalist ideologies (such as Far Right populism), what makes it special?

The answer to both questions is: its preoccupation with militaristic regimentation. Or, to be more exact, its attempt to order civilian politics along paramilitary lines and its inculcation of military virtues into civilian political life. This is the 'product differentiation' of fascism: its obsession with military style ritual and procedures, its hierarchical and authoritarian organisational structures, soldierly qualities such as cleanliness, neatness, discipline, courage, aggressiveness, loyalty to one's comrades... All of this manifests itself in an aesthetic which is unique. Indeed, in many respects the form in which fascism appears (in marches, parades, uniforms, salutes) is more important than any ideological content. A photograph of one of German National Socialism's awe-inspiring Nuremberg rallies says more about fascism than any theoretical treatise.

Fascism, with its stress on self-discipline, asks for something from its followers. In this it differs from most other modern ideologies, which do not require their followers to give anything of themselves. Take, for instance, free-market liberalism. In terms of lifestyle, the free-market liberal can attend a few conferences (hosted by right-wing free-market think-tanks) denouncing socialism and the trade unions; he can be active on the Internet; he can vote for John Howard; he can read books and pamphlets written by Hayek, Von Mises, Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand; but other than, he does not have to do much to be a free-market liberal. Likewise, the life of the nationalist activist consists of more or less the same activity: attending conferences, listening to speakers, and then going off to a few boozy barbeques afterwards. He is only required to give up two things - time and money. Nationalism, as a belief and practice, will not alter someone's life much and improve it on a day to day level.

In contrast, a religion like Islam makes heavy demands on its followers: it prescribes a complete code of life. For one thing, fundamentalist Muslims have to give up drinking, they have to dress with a certain neatness, they have to pray five times a day, and, in general, they have to lead a disciplined and healthy lifestyle.

The Islamic way of life may sound dull and oppressive to the Westerner who is accustomed to living an individualistic lifestyle and doing whatever he wants. But such a life is not for everyone, and indeed, it can lead to destructive consequences for some. Take, for instance, the African-American community. Spike Lee's 1992 film, Malcolm X, gives a moving portrait of a Black man who took up Muslim discipline and left his past life - of petty crime, pimping, drug and alcohol abuse, and general shiftlessness - behind. Black Islam gave him a sense of identity and purpose, and a moral code to live by. It also made him see that he is part of a wider group - the Black race - and not an individual with individual problems. Islam, in his case and the case of many other Black Muslims, had a positive, life-changing effect - regardless of whether Islam was true or not.

I am not here endorsing Islam - which is, in my view, inappropriate for the white Western peoples. What I am endorsing is fascism - or at least, the elements of the fascist doctrine which encourage its followers to change their lives and take up a measure of discipline, submission to authority and the martial virtues. Like Islam, fascism is what Evola would call a Tradition-based morality - a code, a system of values. That, in itself, makes it more profound than other political ideologies (such as free-market liberalism, or Marxism, or Far Right populism) which do not interfere much in the individual sphere of life.

So what am I advocating specifically? For one thing, I am not suggesting that nationalists wear uniforms, or salute each other with Roman-style salutes (which is banned in Europe anyway). To put it bluntly, the nationalists who do these things - and I am thinking here of the Nutzis - look silly. I remember reading of a Nutzi demonstration in America a few years ago, in which a group of skinheads appeared, and who, at one point, marched in front a group of counter-demonstrators and gave the Hitler salute (followed by a 'Sieg Heil!' and Prussian boot-clicking). The writer who described it said that the timing and precision of their marching and saluting was impressive - perfect, in fact. I myself approve of it: it shows to me that the group concerned had done something with their time and understood, at least on a gut level, what fascism is all about - displays of military precision and discipline. Only the problem was that they had channelled that energy into forms which were outmoded, and, in that setting and time (America in the 2000s) incongruous. But the intentions, and the dedication, were good.

All that is needed are a few procedures and formalities. Members at nationalist meetings (and these are just suggestions to illustrate my point) can stand to attention when addressing the speaker, and address senior members with a 'Sir!' or 'Mister' or some other honoric. They can be instructed to sit up straight, like West Point graduates. At the beginning of the meeting, a flag, with the symbol of the organisation, can be unfurled and laid out, in ceremonial fashion, while those in attendance can stand to attention. The group can sing a patriotic song together, while standing, before the chairperson gets down to business.

In other words, a nationalist meeting ought to be a formal, regimented and martial affair. One of the purposes of this is to show people in attendane that, while individual habits and even modes of thought are okay in the outside world, one here has to discipline oneself, and subordinate one's will, to the purpose of serving the nationalist cause. An army depends on regimentation, and cohesive group action, in order to survive; likewise, a nationalist movement has to do the same.

(An old custom of the Falangist movement in Spain - in the 1930s, I think - was to take roll call at the start of every meeting. If one of the comrades had been killed by communists, the members of the group would cry 'Present!' when his name was called. This is the sort of thing that is needed, although, of course, I do not expect any nationalist comrades, in Australia at least, to be killed by communists some time soon).

So what is needed in nationalism are more and more leaders who are like drill instructors, and more and more followers who are to be disciplined recruits (or recruits willing to undergo discipline) in an army of political soldiers. The idea is to train, not the body (I am not suggesting that nationalists undergo military-style physical fitness training) but the will. That is, nationalists need to obey orders. This is the only way they can, themselves, learn to command ('Learn to command by obeying'). This, in itself, makes an impression on non-nationalists who are potential recruits or followers of the cause. Suppose that someone new to nationalism attends a a nationalist conference for the first time. He or she will sit down and hear a great many speeches against the Jews, immigrants from Sudan, denials of the Holocaust, and so on, and will not be getting an experience which is different from that on the Internet, in nationalist online forums (like Stormfront). Whatever impression he or she gains, it will not be that today's nationalist activists are the future leaders of the nation, the élite which represents the 'most racially valuable component of the population', which is what Hitler declared the members of the NSDAP to be. But a contrary impression will be made if the nationalists deport themselves with a sense of formalism and procedure. Even the appearance of regimentation on a simple physical level - like the saluting skinheads mentioned earlier - can change the new recruit's perception.

The theorists of fascism, like Evola and Yockey, give a detailed philosophical justification of the fascist ethos of discipline and ceremony. In particular, Evola extols the virtues of the warrior caste, the last bastion of Tradition against the modern world, and so approves of fascist-like regimentation in politics for that reason - something like fascism equals Tradition. I do not intend to go as deeply into the arguments for it here; I am merely giving a few directions, a few indicators, of where nationalists should take this theme.

On a simple, pragmatic level, the nationalist activist will enjoy himself (or herself) if an organisation conducts its business in this spirit. One sees flashes of fascist regimentation at skinhead concerts - for instance, when a band performs Skrewdriver's classic, 'Hail the New Dawn' (itself using lyrics from an old British Union of Fascists marching song). On the 'Hail!', the audience will invariably stretch their right arms out in the old Roman salute - which is a satisfactory experience if one participates in it, and, in my view, a validation of becoming a nationalist in the first place.

IV. Community and identity

In the end, one needs, in politics, a group to belong to. Politics is not an individual affair, and human beings are naturally social and gregarious creatures anyway. The impulse to belong to a group is strong, and manifests itself in other areas of society besides the political. Take, for instance, the EMO fad of today's teenagers. Large numbers of young male and female adolescents in Australian cities (and in other Western countries) are taking up the EMO uniform, and listening to EMO bands. In part this is because teenagers are in a stage of transition, of finding a new identity, and need subcultures like EMOism to latch onto. But otherwise, it represents the normal human longing for community and something to identify oneself with. Other subcultures, such as gothism, or skinheadism, are a case in point.

In politics, this need often takes the expression of party membership: a political party becomes a second family, a second State, even a second homeland. Its struggles become the members' struggles.

So should nationalists form a political party? My answer, for the time being, is no: at first they should form an organisation (as opposed to a party). Perhaps, once that organisation has built up sufficient strength and numbers, it may then engage in electoral politics; but not before then. Many parties started life as mass movements - for instance, the Labor Party, which started life as a trade union organisation, and Hizbullah, which, besides being a religious group, a guerilla army (and an effective one at that) and an Islamic charity, is now a political party. The difference between us and those organisations is, of course, that we are not promoting trade unionism, or Islamic fundamentalism, but nationalism.

An organisation needs a name, and a symbol. It is easy enough to come up with a 'political' sounding name: that is, throw a few words like 'social', 'democratic', 'national' into it. (I read of one large Colombian political party which calls itself the Social National Unity Party - a name which sounds impressive, but, on closer investigation, does not seem to mean much). I will not give any suggestions here for a name, only recommend that nationalists avoid a few things. For instance: they should stay away from words like 'White', 'National', 'Aryan', 'Australian', 'Workers' (in particular, 'White Workers'), 'Patriotic' and the like, simply because they have been done to death, and call attention to themselves too much. (Once an organisation calls itself 'White' or 'Aryan', for instance, it marks itself in the public eye as being "Neo-Nazi", whether it is ideologically Nutzi or not). Perhaps a good name for an organisation would be a single word name - like 'Nexus' (a word which, in the case of nationalist politics, symbolise the intersection between the individual and the community). Its symbol could be just that: two lines intersecting.

On the topic of symbols, here are some other things which I think should be avoided: anything with a swastika, a rune, lightning bolts, symbols set in white circles against a red backdrop (like the NSDAP flag); in other words, anything which looks like the symbols on the Anti-Defamation League's 'Symbols of Hate' web page. (See: ).

The European organisations, like the NDP and the FN, share advantages over the Australian: a large membership which enjoys a common sense of solidarity and belonging. Their ideas have a European flavour which are more in keeping with the followers of New Right Australia/New Zealand than other nationalist organisations, past and present. We can achieve the same results as the European nationalists, however, providing that we concentrate on forming a group, small at first, with discipline, unity and purpose and which has no pretensions to taking over Australia (and then the world) through victories at the ballot box.