Rage Against the Modern World

This is the second part of Wolves In the Interregnum, a series on Jack Donovan, Paul Waggener, and the Wolves of Vinland.

Author’s note: In my previous essay, I focused extensively on the aesthetic on Jack Donovan and the Wolves of Vinland, while heavily critiquing the moralistic reactions against that aesthetic. For some, this may no doubt seem unfair, if not outright antagonistic to the very tendencies which attempt to resist fascist movements. Why criticize American social justice and bourgeois/liberal feminism in an essay about a rising fascist threat?

The reason for such an apparent inversion will be made quite clear as we look at how the Wolves and others have rather brilliantly occupied the anti-modern and anti-globalisation politics abandoned by ‘The Left.’

Another World Was Possible…

In the last part of the 1990’s and the first few years of the 21st century, massive manifestations filled the streets of major cities of the world. These protests were part of what was called the anti-globalisation or alter-mondialiste movement, and had the astounding ability to unite people across wide spectrums of political orientation into a common struggle. Environmentalists, immigrants, labor unions, indigenous-rights groups, and even many people traditionally seen as right-wing arrived in major cities throughout the world to fight against governments, multi-national corporations, and global finance organisations.

While it is impossible to distill the myriad of political goals of the protesters, we can more easily summarize the changes in international governance, political distribution, and the regulations of global capital against which they protested.

Brokered by nations and corporate leaders, international trade agreements such as NAFTA and the GATT reduced the power of local governments, communities, and unions over the economic, environmental, and cultural activities of the people which composed or were supported by them. Meanwhile, large international monetary orgaisations like the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank used economic crises to force austerity and privatization policies upon nations in the global south, effectively nullifying the popular will of the people through the use of weaponized debt.

All of this was happening at once, all over the world, and the consequences have been myriad. Environmental degradation in South America and Africa, mass suicides of farmers in India, famines, explosive immigration from poorer countries to richer ones, collapses of entire nations, the reduction of diversity in agriculture and the extinction of species, the weakening of trade and labor unions throughout the world, and the destruction of countless communities as local industries were destroyed and factories shut down….all of this is just a part of what the anti-globalisation movement fought against.

Partially due to the all-too conveniently-timed ‘war on terror’ and systematic counter-revolutionary actions, the mass mobilizations of the anti-globalisation movement are long-gone, and few of the critiques remain in the political platforms of any leftist or liberal movement in the United States or the United Kingdom.

However, the damage done did not simply disappear when there was no movement to fight it, and much of the current political turmoil in which we find ourselves now is a consequence both of globalisation and the left’s abandonment of that fight. The rise of fascist, Islamist and nationalist movements, acceleration of climate change, increasing poverty, mass displacement, and countless other crises can be linked to the spread of global capital. The closure of factories, the shift of investment from manufacturing to finance and internet technology, and the obliteration of local economies happened just as the protesters feared, but as with much else, rage against this destruction resurfaced as part of the platform of the fascist right, as well as featuring heavily in the political campaign of Donald Trump and the exit of the UK from the European Union (Brexit).

Just as with other elements of leftist abandonment, the political platforms of the anti-globalisation movement didn’t go away: they are now being wielded towards new goals by fascist, nationalist, and authoritarian movements against which antifascists now find themselves in a losing battle.

One of those groups? The Wolves of Vinland.

Crumbling Empires

As with their aesthetic, The Wolves present an anti-modern ideology, one that rejects Empire (or in Donovan’s words, “The Empire of Nothing”) in favor of societies formed around tribal affinities and self-selection. Crucial to such a transition is the rejection of the hegemonic rule of Liberal Democracy not just over individual and group actions, but also over self-perception and our own modes of thought. As the manifesto of Operation Werewolf puts it:

“It is not a political statement, but a bloody fist shaken in the face of all institutions of control- a furious bite to the hands that seek to leash or enslave. It is not right or left, but free of these shackles of modern dualistic thinking- it operates under the assumption that the Kings of this world have become so through the forked tongue of finance and fear, and it rejects their offerings. The warriors who make up Operation Werewolf know that the true heroes are those who are self made, physically and mentally strong, free thinkers and free doers who are both untamed and unrepentant.”

While Waggener gives very little time to political analysis, Jack Donovan does much more (it was he, after all, who was invited to a European New Right think tank). Operation Werewolf functions primarily as the self-improvement wing of The Wolves, while Donovan’s writing focuses much more on political theory. Consider Donovan’s response during a Reddit ‘ask me anything’ to a question regarding why tribalism has “a bad rap”:

“The anti-tribalist/anti-racist hysteria promoted by the progressive media is too convenient for wealthy elites.  They are, for the most part, protected from the negative consequences of the “melting pot.” The wealthy can afford security, and they can afford to live wherever they like, and they can afford to send their children to whatever schools they prefer. The representatives from other groups that they and their families interact with most are often going to be very well socialized or very successful. It’s the lower and lower middle class proles who are forced, whether they like it or not, to interact with groups of people who have radically different values or cultures.

Tribalism is inconvenient for wealthy globalists. To begin with, it creates instability that can threaten their investments. They can also make more money when they are free to outsource labor, move a factory, or import goods made in places with a lower standard of living.

If people are convinced that they are “world citizens” and shouldn’t expect any kind of local or national loyalty, globalist elites won’t have to be confronted with any sort of crisis of conscience when they sell out their neighbors and countrymen.”

Any reader who was politically-active during the WTO protests or any of the other manifestations comprising the anti-globalisation movement will recognize much of this rhetoric. For The Wolves, Empire is almost identical to what (anarchists) Hardt and Negri outlined in their books, as well as what most autonomous Marxists, post-colonialists, many Green Anarchists, and anti-civ theorists criticize: Liberal (Capitalist) Democratic hegemony. But also, something is obviously off, racialized, about their rhetoric.

Immigrants As Victims, Immigrants As Weapons

First, let us acknowledge the core problem which Donovan cites in his response: the mobility of global capitalism has made it impossible for local politicians and small communities to fight capitalist policies. No matter how strong the local resistance to the closing of a factory in the rust belt of the United States is, as long as the owner of that factory can re-invest their capital in another market, local protest—even violent protest–is useless. As long as cheaper labor can be found elsewhere, and provided no punitive tariffs on re-imporation are levied by governments, it will always be a good business decision for a corporation to move its production to a cheaper labor market. Because of the success of capitalist globalisation, no local political movement can effectively exert control over global capital.

Simultaneously, so-called ‘Free Trade’ agreements destroy the local economies outside the United States even more than within. The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed into law in 1994, ravaged the economy of Mexico, leading to massive spikes in immigration (‘legal’ and otherwise) to the United States. For instance, in 1990, the amount of Mexican nationals living in the United states was 4.3 million; in 2000 on account of Liberal capitalist policies, that number more than doubled to 9.17 million.

It is impossible to understate the effect that adding so many more workers into the United States had both on wages and on unions, as well as the ‘cultural’ disruption 5 million more people (in a country of 280 million) would represent. Similar changes occurred in Europe as well.

Here, though, we must make a distinction between the far-right analysis of such events, the liberal one, and the (currently abandoned) leftist understanding. While the right often sees the immigrants themselves as the problem, a liberal sees only the anti-immigrant racism of the people (white, Black, or otherwise) in the communities into which they migrate as the problem. Both focus entirely on the matter of the immigrants themselves, rather than the forces which cause people to become immigrants in the first place.

PEGIDA, one of the many far-right nationalist groups who have risen to prominence in Europe.

From a Marxist view, immigrants are doubly-exploited people who function both as victim of oppression and political tool for the capitalist. Liberal economic policies (and foreign military actions) destroy the economies of other nations. Those people make the obviously difficult yet economically-inevitable decision to leave their countries to find work elsewhere. Yet when they arrive, they then function as a ‘reserve labor force’ to drive down wages in the country to which they moved, breaking the power of organized labor.

Racial tensions greatly help this process. When Black or white workers in the United States begin losing jobs or finding their wages stagnating, they accurately note a relationship between their deteriorating economic conditions and the sudden influx of immigrants. However, they miss the larger processes which entrap both the immigrants and themselves, and they can be somewhat forgiven for this failure: relentless media hype about illegal immigration, conservative politicians happy to employ racial fears for votes, and liberal politicians eager to dismiss white workers’ complaints as anti-progressive or downright stupid, all helped to insure neither the immigrants nor the workers united against the primary cause of their common suffering.

To understand how this process works, consider the plight of Russian Jewish immigrants fleeing violence to Israel, where they are then given land in occupied territories and used by the Israeli government as a buffer against Palestinian rage. Or, further back, Europeans fleeing Capitalist enclosure of land to America, then given “free” land in return for helping to kill Native Americans. In both cases, the initial displacement which victimized the people who became immigrants was later wielded to turn the immigrants themselves into weapons of Capital.

None of the current political movements accurately address quite what is happening. Unfortunately, the social justice framework is particularly shallow here: it sides with immigrants not on economic grounds, but on the field of identity and oppression (precisely as the far right does, but in inverse). While immigrants absolutely face racist oppression, the social justice political strategy ignores that this oppression is a continuation of their economic exploitation, rather than a mere moral issue. The economic exploitation of immigrants is bound-up in the same capitalist machinations which deteriorate the economic conditions of the working-class whites which Social Justice activists see as the alpha-oppressor. So while the Left stopped addressing the economic suffering of whites as the ‘working class’ (in favor of focusing on social oppression), their economic suffering continues regardless, making them a ripe field for harvesting by far-right ideologues like Donovan.

Here we can see that, as in so much else of his writing, Donovan is not really wrong in his analysis. The ‘wealthy elites’ to whom he refers do not encounter the refugees and immigrants displaced by their policies or for their profit. None of the politicians who voted for NAFTA, none of the executives of multi-national corporations, and none of the finance brokers of large investment banks experience the direct effects of their decisions, cultural or otherwise. Neither, though, will the investors who reap dividends from those moves, nor will many of the urban liberal bourgeoisie (be they tech workers or hipster business owners) even encounter the immigrants or the disgruntled working-class who directly experience these shocks except as the house-cleaners, construction workers, janitors, or the countless other manual servants who support their lifestyles.

Donovan is not really wrong, but he is also not really right, either. The ‘wealthy elites’ against which he warns benefit both from anti-racism and racism alike. “Elite” (Bourgeois) liberals and conservatives both manipulate the poor beneath them; the Capitalist class wields racist rhetoric to manipulate poor whites against Blacks and immigrants at the very same time that it wields identity politics against those whites. With both hands, the capitalists ensure those upon whom the entire system is built never unite against them.

Conservative-inspired white violence against immigrants ensures that those immigrants remain passive and compliant victims of global capital; Liberal social justice identity politics makes sure that the circumstances and primary cause of that violence is seen not as a result of capitalist policies, but as a result of the white (cis/able-bodied/hetero/male) it identifies as alpha-oppressor. It is a game in which capitalists have bet on both teams, and while the Left stands in the stadium slack-jawed, Donovan has been picking their pockets.

The Violence of the Gilded Age

It is here where we can begin to see that the threat the Wolves poses to antifascists is not what any of his critics think. It is not his virulent brand of misogyny, nor his intoxicating aesthetic, nor even his increasing influence and popularity. Rather, it’s that he’s beating the Left at their own politics, occupying ideological and intellectual territory they forgot they even once possessed, and building a racialized movement with the tools we left behind.

Nowhere is this best seen than in the speech he gave at Schollenrode to a New Right think-tank in February. The 20 minute presentation, called “Violence is Golden,” outlines his primary critique of Liberal Democracy and the modern world.

“We all live by the sword. Every law is a shaking sword, a glock at close range, a hungry pair of handcuffs. Every hate speech law, every anti-discrimination law, every tax that extorts the money you earned and gives it to someone you would never willingly help, who may even hate you, is backed by the threat of violence. IThe people who say they want safe spaces and peace and love will send men with guns to threaten to kill you if you do not do what you want.”

“The prevailing narrative of the Empire of Nothing—the phrase I use to describe the network of governments …is that ‘violence is evil, violence is something others do, violence something that outsiders do, something that criminals and outlaws and sick people do, violence is a disease some kind of affliction that can be cured…they believe it is a symptom of ‘toxic masculinity.’

…old rulers were proud of what they won.and defended using violence…those that give names in modern democratic states obscure that violence…

State violence is euphemized and obscured by terms like law enforcement when a criminal shoots someone its violence, when the police shoot someone its law enforcement.

Democratic violence must be presented as a reluctant, nurturing correction When acts of violence are morally sterilized in this way, good, modern civilized people can absolve themselves of the reality that the laws and regulations they depend on are obeyed only because wielding tasers tears gas batons and firearms. When you accept and internalize this narrative that violence is evil done only by outlwasd what the state does is something else, you wash the blood from your hands. It is easy to convince yourself that you live nonviolently, that you have evolved beyond violence.”

If many of these statements sound in any way familiar, they should. They are the same arguments once used by the Black Panthers, by indigenous resistance movements, by insurrectionist anarchists, by autonomous Marxists, and by every other leftist critic of Liberal Democratic hegemony in the 20th century. They are the core analysis of state violence inherent in anti-civilationist critics and the essential thrust of Ward Churchill’s deconstruction of liberal ‘nonviolence.’ You can find variations of the same statements in the work of European critical theorists like Zizek and Badiou, as well as in my own writing. In fact, last year I wrote critiques both of the way social justice relies on state violence to enforce hate crime legislation as well as how we help Liberal Democracy obscure the violence it commits on our behalf.

Whether or not Jack Donovan reached this analysis through exposure and study of leftist revolutionary theorists or came upon it through his own path, the fact remains that he wields it better than what passes for the Left in the United States. Mass movements such as Black Lives Matter, Occupy, and the mobilizations against Trump and white supremacy expend extraordinary effort to avoid direct criticism of Liberal Democracy, contorting themselves into almost absurd positions. A coalition of activists involved in Black Lives Matter, for instance, produced a platform that skirted completely the connection between the police and liberal democratic violence, offering police reform as their most radical position. Even the manifestations against white nationalists and alt-right groups by antifascist coalitions refuse to make the connection between the police who protect the fascists and the urban ‘progressive’ social order which prosecutes hate crimes on their behalf.

While anti-fascists heavily rely on ‘no-platforming, this complete leftist abandonment of revolutionary attacks against Liberal Democracy actually gives the far-right their platform. It is as if Leftists built a stage, set up a mic and speakers, and brought in a massive audience, but while they became distracted by Liberal Democratic crises (the war on terror, the 2016 presidential elections) and glittering distractions (gay marriage, identity politics), men like Donovan stumbled upon the script and the live mic and began improvising before an eager crowd.

Because while Jack Donovan and the other theorists of the New/Fascist Right are deeply intelligent, their ideas are completely derivative. They are experts at salvage and refurbishment, but aren’t actually able to create anything new. In this way, they are hardly much different from the Nazis who borrowed endlessly from whatever mythic past they could find, repurposing Leftist critiques and even Liberal Democracy itself, into a deadly configuration.

The Gods Are What Has Failed To Become of Us

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The Harugaz at Waldgang. Heathens typically refer to their altars as hörgrs, hǫrgrs, or even harrows. At Waldgang we decided to refer to it as a Harugaz, reaching back to Proto-Germanic — an unattested theoretical language that itself is derived from Indo-European roots. The Harugaz at Waldgang contains stones from Asgard Pass in Washington, from #ulfheim in Virginia, and our previous altars in Cascadia, as well as dirt from the Gosek Sonnenrad in Germany and several other religious artifacts from our evolving heathen religious tradition and practice in Cascadia. We've recorded its history, and it has been constructed slowly, with intent, over a period of almost three months. After this photo was taken, it was inaugurated last night and made sacred during a ritual performed by the #wolvesofvinland. . #heathen #pagan #altar #religion #tradition #spirituality #spiritual #cairns #horgr #hörgr #harrow #germanicpagan #waldgang #forestpassage #asatru #brosatru #odinism #odinist #odin #wov #wolves #wolfcult #harugaz

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Most important of the Wolves’ work—and least understood by their critics, is their reclamation of a mythic, anti-modern spirituality in the form of Heathenism. Antifascists, liberals, and conservatives alike tend dismiss these aspects as mere oddity or primitivist nonsense, missing that it is from there they derive their true power.

It is useful here to remember first that before Jack Donovan was a hyper-masculinist Heathen, he was Jack Malabranche, a Satanist who spent much of his time in endless troll-sessions with trans women on internet sites. Those who remember him from that time recount a completely different man, one so insecure with his masculinity and beliefs that he could become enraged at the slightest friendly jab about his figure or perceived intelligence.

In his Heathen incarnation, Donovan finally found a milieu in which he could operate, a mythic system more easily-accessed, and something that Left-Hand path work couldn’t offer: a framework of community. Unlike most Pagan, Witch, and Magician paths, Heathenry in the United States emphasizes familial and friendship bonds, a complete moral code of tribe-based solidarity, and a pre-existing masculinist aesthetic into which even the most awkward, socially-inept man can find a sense that he is something more than just a capitalist failure.

Like the rest of his ideas, Donovan’s Heathenry is largely derivative. The tattoos on his chest are standard: the Black Sun, Icelandic staves: nothing every Black Metal-loving suburban kid doesn’t get by the time he’s 19. His occasional quotations of the Eddas or recounting of Odinic tales to illustrate a point are almost awkward to read: they have a greeting-card quality to them, rather than of someone actually initiated into Odinic mysteries.

Paul Waggener and Operation Werewolf are the more dominant influence. Waggener’s esoteric work, however, is more aesthetics than serious magic—for instance, Vakandibok—a Taufr of Awakening, is frankly not much different in scope than the useless drivel that comes out of major pulp-occult publishers like Llewellyn. However, aesthetically it is significantly different: darker, more primitive, and with significantly less New Age ‘bullshit.’ It also offers a cultural aesthetic far less worshipful of hyper-capitalist modernity than most of what non-racialized Paganism offers.

Ultimately, however, the “ancient” spirituality of the Wolves is a political aesthetic. Here we must remember: it’s too easy to dismiss the aesthetic of romanticist primitivism used by groups like the Wolves of Vinland as “mere” aesthetic, as if aethestic had no power. Vikings, European tribalism, return to simpler and more embodied ways of relating to the world, unsubstantiated and patently false notions of racially-pure pasts cannot be dismissed merely because they are aesthetics divorced from historical fact. So, too, the pretensions of modern life, the religious assurances that technological progress, endless growth, and hyper-consumerism have brought peace and equality are likewise mere aesthetic with no reference to truth. Its falsehood is irrelevant to the truth it creates.

What the Wolves are creating through their spiritual aesthetic is of course not a return to ancient ways of being, but an aesthetic of ancient return against a wholly-alienating capitalist, modern present. Whether they believe themselves to be returning or not is not the point; only that, given enough power, the return will happen in their (false yet now-true) ancient way.

Baudrillard’s point that it is impossible to rob a bank in an ‘inauthentic’ way is important here. You cannot simulate a hold-up: regardless of whether you really mean the gun in your hand, you were honest in your written note to the teller, deeply and truly meant to kill hostages if the money were not delivered, or truthfully meant to return the money afterward, the bank is robbed regardless. Authenticity and faithfulness to the original do not matter: everything is always reproduction of an unapproachable and missing original.

Against The Modern World

Thus, whether or not the Wolves are faithfully copying ancient Germanic religion and culture is a question only a liberal (themselves forgetting that Democracy is likewise inauthentic) might find relevant. For the rest of us, the primitive return to Odinic rites and sacred warrior brotherhoods that the Wolves propose must be seen as a wholly political aesthetic akin to the Marxist creation of the proletariat or the Nazi fabrication of the volk, as well as the social justice creation of the oppression identity. Nation, Race, Gender, and Religion are all likewise political aesthetics whose power is undeniable.

The question thus isn’t whether or not the primitive, Heathen aesthetic of the Wolves is true, but why it has power. Here is where we see yet again another deep failure of the Left, a great abandonment of territory occurring at precisely the same time as the Left largely abandoned anti-globalisation. The globalist (neo-liberal, or actually just Liberal) political transformations that have occurred in the last two decades have done for societies now what Marx noted was accomplished by the bourgeoisie in the 19th century:

“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.”

Alienation of the body, destruction of local cultures and communities, destruction of religious systems and moral frameworks around which people cohered: these are all the effects of capital’s globalized spread in the name of civilization:

“It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”

Whilst Marx and Engels argued that such transformations were inevitable and would lead to worldwide class revolt, the Messianic promise never manifested. The industrialisation of work under the religious banner of modernity nevertheless succeeded in disrupting every social relation, destroying every cultural form which stood in its way (indigenous, ancient, or otherwise).

The recent rise of new-old religious and cultural forms (such as the Wolves’ anti-modern Heathenry), then, is a political reaction to global capital, regardless of whether or not they identify it as such. There is nothing actually fascist about such reactions; the Left mistakes anti-modernism as fascist only because it has drank the bloody offerings at Capitalism’s altars of progress. Walter Benjamin noted this in his criticisms of the bourgeois-left political formulations in Europe against which the Surrealists fought, especially their dogmatic belief in the conquest of nature and the march of history:

“Marx said that revolutions are the locomotive of world history. But perhaps things are very different. It may be that revolutions are the act by which the human race travelling in the train applies the emergency brake.”

The world of global capital means more environmental, social, and cultural destruction in the name of progress, modernity, and civilization; thus an anti-modern political aesthetic such as what the Wolves utilize is essentially a reaction to capitalism. But it is not quite an anti-capitalist politics, or isn’t any longer now that these critiques are abandoned by the overly-credulous and hyper-modern Left.

These critiques originate in anarchist, socialist, post-colonialist, and anti-imperialist thought, and were once a primary feature of mass movements against global capital. Anti-imperialism, particularly in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America has always made as one of their foundational critiques the overthrow of French, American, and Anglo attempts to ‘civilize’ the conquered natives. Marxist and Anarchist theories, stripped of their European exceptionalism, transformed alchemically into autonomous movements embracing traditional and indigenous ways of being, and where they became strong enough to influence or transform government (as in Bolivia), their aesthetics were ultimately anti-modern (as for instance Evo Morale’s enshrinement of Pachu Mama as an entity with legal rights).

As with the questions of gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy mentioned in the previous essay, the Wolves and other fascist groups have merely squatted aesthetic political territory ceded by the Left.

Here, much more than elsewhere, American Leftists deserve the fiercest of criticisms. A peculiar sort of American urban exceptionalism has arisen which belittles those who do not partake in bourgeois hipsterism. Those who are not part of urban realities, who do not know (or care) about the latest social media frenzy, who experience the modern as relentless alienation and are slow to be educated into the latest pronoun-shifts or poly-bi-non-pan sexualities are ultimately written-off as reactionaries, just as the political cries of those whose material existence has been shattered by global capitalism’s destruction of factories and communities are dismissed as backward or inherently racist.

Stealing Back What’s Stolen

With no leftist alternative to the relentless death-march of globalisation, what the Wolves of Vinland propose is actually an attractive option. A new-old ancient aesthetic built around familial ties, moral codes, re-approach to the land, tribal community, and ethics of self-fulfillment and the reclamation of the body is precisely what Capitalism cannot promise but what resistance to Capital requires. With the exception of Green anarchist, primitivist, anti-colonial, and indigenous movements, the left dismisses such political aesthetic as fascist or least reactionary. But it is neither, except that it is a ceded territory now occupied by fascists.

The primary weapon of anti-fascist organising in the United States has been the use of protests and disruption to silence the voices of fascists and white supremacists. Such tactics, however, can only suffice if those doing the silencing have something equally compelling to say. Unfortunately, few if any of the political aesthetics antifascists offer speak any longer to the crises caused by these new expansions of global capitalism.

It is not enough to say that immigrants must not be discriminated against. Without a conceptual framework which acknowledges how the economic destruction which causes mass immigration in the first place is tied to global capitalism and the policies of the Democratic party in the United States, the left, by focusing their energies only on the racist aspects of anti-immigrant sentiment, is only treating a tertiary symptom of a systemic disorder. Both the horrible economic plight of the immigrant as well as their structural exploitation as weapons against community coherence must be addressed simultaneously, directing our politics back against the capitalists who initiate and maintain the cycle.

So, too, the left can no longer hope that condescension and belittling of anti-modern politics will suffice to stop those politics arising in the first place. Social alienation, the reduction of the human to worker and consumer, the flattening of urban and non-urban life into a great worldwide market in which the same products and same cultural forms annihilate local difference: all these cultural and societal destructions caused by global capitalism will not go away just because urban leftists have made peace with their Instagram accounts and daily lattes, their iPhones and hip clothing made possible by capitalism’s conquest of the entire world.

Particularly the refusal of American leftists to make connections between the police and military violence which gives them access to the resources of the world must be acknowledged and then fought. The hyper-modern urban existence, cluttered with the technological spoils produced by the very same Capitalist exploitation which destroys both indigenous cultures in the global south as well as those of the poor white worker in the United States, must be abandoned. No longer can we pretend inter-connected existence through Facebook and Twitter are adequate replacements for the resilience of local communities and distinct cultural experiences which they displace.

From there, a solidarity can arise with the colonized peoples who have been fighting to preserve their land, culture, and distinction against Empire’s commodification of the world. From such a solidarity, racist and nationalist rhetoric will be easier to fight; when a Mexican immigrant or a Syrian refugee is seen as an ally of the out-of-work American worker against global capitalism, we will no longer need to silence fascists: the poor white worker will no longer have a reason to listen to them.

Unfortunately, we have few examples of what a re-invigorated, anti-modernist, anti-globalist political aesthetic might look like in America except the Wolves of Vinland, and they are not a model we should emulate, but rather a warning of what is replacing us because we fail.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is the managing editor and a co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He is a poet, a writer, a theorist, and a pretty decent chef. He can be supported on Patreon, and his other work can be found at Paganarch.

He lives in Bretagne.


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Barbarians in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

This is the first part in Wolves in the Interregnum, a two-part series.


“The old world is dying, the new world struggles to be born. Here in the interregnum arises morbid systems.”
–Antonio Gramsci

“Increasingly, people are restless. The engineers group themselves into competing teams, but neither side seems to know what to do, and neither seems much different from the other. Around the world, discontent can be heard. The extremists are grinding their knives and moving in as the machine’s coughing and stuttering exposes the inadequacies of the political oligarchies who claimed to have everything in hand. Old gods are rearing their heads, and old answers: revolution, war, ethnic strife. Politics as we have known it totters, like the machine it was built to sustain. In its place could easily arise something more elemental, with a dark heart.”
–The Dark Mountain Manifesto

The Wolf Trap

In what is now Germany, particularly in the area called Lower Saxony, a certain symbol appeared etched on stones and trees, demarcating forests left wild for hunting. In such old forests, the wolf, that heavily-culled European apex predator, still ran free, threatened only by ritualized royal chases in which an iron hook was used to trap them. The shape of the trap inspired those border symbols, which also bore its name: Wolfsangel (Wolf-Hook).

Wolfsangel_1.svgCenturies later, peasants angry at the increasingly authoritarian rule of princes and their refusal to honor ancient land-use customs revolted, wielding the symbol as their banner. In the early part of the 20th century, its most well-known use began, this time not as as symbol of revolt but of authority and Empire itself. Inspired by the 1910 German novel Der Wehrwolf, the Nazi Party and many military regiments adopted its use, which is how most of us know of it now.

The wolfsangel (also the Elder Futhork rune Eihwaz) perhaps best explains the struggle for mythic and ideological territory that has defined many of the conflicts between political forces since the birth of Liberal Democracy. Symbols, myths, and ideas seem to change hands, disappear from one place and reappear in another. Old gods and politics are re-tooled for new, darker uses, then again stolen back. The swastika appears on the feet of the Buddha, also the flag of the Nazis; Gramsci’s formulation of metapolitical change becomes abandoned by European leftists and picked up by the European New Right.

In a recent essay at Gods&Radicals, Peter Gaffney examines this process through Foucault’s reading of Nietzche:

“This is how Foucault understands Nietzsche’s concept of Entstehung, which he translates as l’émergence – or alternately as les points de surgissement (the moments, stages or positions of arising)–, by which a discourse always appears anew in the hands of historically contingent forces:

“Rules are empty in themselves, violent and unfinalized; they are impersonal and can be bent to any purpose. The successes of history belong to those who are capable of seizing the rules, to replace those who had used them, to disguise themselves so as to pervert them, invert their meaning, and redirect them against those who had initially imposed them; controlling this complex mechanism, they will make it function so as to overcome the rulers through their own rules.”

There is a simpler and more raw way to envision this process, that of wars over land or sacred territory. Pope Boniface advised his priests to build their churches upon ancient pagan sites; old sacred wells where people prayed to Pagan goddesses in Europe are now all dedicated to Catholic saints and the Virgin. The sites remain, the power means something beyond the colonization and struggle. The poor and faithful still visit the sites of Druid mountains and Pagan temples, still utter prayers, but the words are different, serving different sacred orders.

It matters who holds that territory, and the wars of occupation and reclamation are fiercest at times when Empire loses its grip. Each of the three Fascist uprisings in Europe occurred at times when Liberal Democracy began to crumble, the ‘interregnum’ in which Gramsci warned ‘monsters’ (or morbid systems) awoke.

We are in a similar period.

In each previous instance, Communists and Anarchists relentlessly ceded mythic territory to the nationalist forces. Fascists have always better understood the relationship of power and aesthetic, because they have no qualms about using them. Leftists still fail to heed Gramsci’s analysis, and rather than employ their own mythic imaginings to awaken a new world against the dying of the old, they choose now (as they did last century) to side with the Empire, that “Liberal center,” which in all three instances proved not only to be poor allies, but eager assassins when the fascist threat finally manifested.

Liberal Democracy is failing again. Capitalism has entered another crisis stage, desperately seeking new resources to extract from ever-dwindling wells. The altars of Progress and Modernity demand offerings, and the priests who tend them are sharpening blades, ready to begin new sacrifices.

Eilhwaz, the wolfsangel, is a powerful symbol. It symbolizes Yew, the graveyard tree, the acceptance of death’s inevitability that leads to heroic acts of reckless courage. As a boundary marker it warned those outside the wild that past its etched symbol roamed death, while granting permission to all those on the other side of it to use violence against what passed from its boundary into the settled lands.

From experience, I also know it to be a most powerful warding rune. It trips up those who stalk your secret meetings, protects from surprise, guards territory, and acts exactly as its name suggests:  hooking wolves into a struggle to the death. No counter-magic have others found against my uses of it, though those thus trapped can, with a strong enough will, try to use it to tug back (an ensuing struggle much like we might imagine a wolf hooked by a chain held in the hands of a man might have been).

The Wolfsangel was first shown to me in a vision, the last in a series of four glyphs I learned to use during ancestral work. I have used it since, even after I learned a year later that it was symbol co-opted by the Nazis. While the antifascist ‘left’ has shown themselves quite willing to cede territory in order to keep their liberal allies, I have no intention to, anymore than I will give up the use of the wolfsangel.

That stubborness, that refusal to give up what is mine, what is ours by right of ideological and revolutionary ancestors (of blood or otherwise), is the guiding strategy of this essay. It is also the only way to neuter a threat which exists only by our permission.

Empires Crumbling

On the 18th of February this year, several hundred people gathered to hear a man speak, one who’s dedicated years to studying unpopular European philosophers, seeking knowledge from gods of death and war, and cobbling together an analysis of Modernity’s failings and what might be built from its ruins.

Actually, two men spoke on that subject that day, to two different crowds on two different parts of the planet. Both speakers were ‘gay’ men, though reject that identity in favor of self-determination. Both shape their politics of the world around an aesthetic of wild forest, unrestrained humanity, and a refusal to accept Liberal Democracy’s pretensions of peace and progress.

The first man (whose name I will withhold for a short time) presented an hour-long speech on the west coast of the United States. The other presented a 20-minute talk called “Violence is Golden” in a castle beer hall to a group of European Identitarians at the Institut für Staatspolitik. His name was Jack Donovan.

Jack_Donovan
Jack Donovan. Image use info here.

By now you have probably heard his name. You will read (and I will write) it much more than I or you prefer. So be it, though—to look away is to hide from something we ourselves have birthed and empowered, and something only we can stop.

I will not repeat the clumsy, panicked mistakes in the various recent exposés running through your news feed. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s piece in March was deeply flawed, Slate’s piece just last week was even more a failure. These two articles, as well as many other criticisms, have failed completely to explain his appeal while simultaneously missing the core threat of his ideas. These and many other failures betray a deep and intentional blindness particularly within American anti-fascist and ‘leftist’ thought, the product both of a marriage to Liberal Democratic hegemony and an almost ecstatic abdication of revolutionary territory.

Thus, one cannot accurately criticize Jack Donovan without also criticizing the anti-fascist left who has taken upon themselves the task of (ineptly) opposing him. Likewise, one cannot speak about the dangers the Wolves of Vinland (and Paul Waggener’s “Operation Werewolf”) without also telling long-stifled truths about modern society and the various Pagan, Environmental, and Anarchist movements which the Wolves of Vinland are currently poised to supplant.

This is not a comfortable task, and it is ironic that there is more risk to me in this essay than to its intended targets. That risk is not from the Wolves of Vinland’s brutalist-sculpted ‘warriors’ or their aesthetic of violence. I do not fear the muscles and fight-training of Waggener or Donovan (come at me, bro). Rather, it is from the established orthodoxy of American antifascism and its slavish worship of Liberal Democratic conceits that the vast majority of criticism for this work will likely come.

Already my admission that I am intimately acquainted with the Wolfangel has put me at risk of being considered a crypto-fascist, because many antifascist theorists police their borders not with an eye towards reclaiming lost territory, but with a terror of what lurks beyond the well-lit street lights in the dark forests into which the light of cities can never reach.

Despite the risk, I need to write this essay. Not just because I foresee further territory being abandoned as the American left cuts out its insurrectionary heart and offers it on the altars of progress, praying that the Empire can be saved. Nor do I write this only because the future Jack Donovan and the Wolves of Vinland crave is one I do not want to see in this world. More than anything, I write this essay because, on the same day that Jack Donovan helped provide the intellectual justification for violence to a strengthening European Identitarian movement, I did the same thing for a growing Pagan anti-capitalist movement. I was the other speaker that day, 6000 miles away.

Since noting the dark poetry of such simultaneity, I’ve given extensive time to reading Donovan’s work and regretting that our similarities did not end there. It’s precisely these similarities, however, which both demand that I write this essay while also making such an essay dangerous. We occupy similar territory, outside the urbs of Liberal Democratic empire where barbarians and wolves dwell, past the boundary markers where the reach of the civitas and the polis is declawed.

I know this land, these gods, and these ideas. And I will not give them up.

Barbarians in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.

–Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”

“In the absence of an equally compelling counter-narrative, a significant portion of the masses will also embrace fascism, and history will be left to repeat itself.”
–Alley Valkyrie, Propaganda in the Age of Fascism

No discussion of Jack Donovan, the Wolves of Vinland, or Operation Werewolf can truly begin without focusing on their aesthetic. Many have tried, reducing their images to caricature, missing their sublime and intoxicating coherence, dismissing it all as if image had no power. We shall not make the same mistake.

Take a few minutes and scroll through Jack Donovan’s Instagram feed. Linger on the photos. Feel what they convey, let them wash over you. Try to enter the world they narrate. While doing so, note the repeated use of certain filters, the austerity of the backgrounds. Greys, sepias, overuse of ‘Structure’ edits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Donovan wants you to see is that the Modern world is too new, too garish, that there is no place within it for people like him nor for people like you. One imagines he hates the imposed efficiency of florescent lights, prefers the slant of sunlight at the end of day, would use lanterns if his eyesight were better, and is allergic to gaudy colors. His is not the aesthetic of a consumer. The exact polar opposite of his proposed milieu is a Walmart, bright lights glaring off the cellophane-wrapped chemically-colored products which define most American lives. Instead, behind him are unfinished concrete walls in gyms or forests, the decayed urban or the feral wild, an old-world feel clipping out the $6 latte area of Portland, Oregon where he until recently lived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aesthetic is narrative. Aesthetic tells a story, and Jack Donovan’s story is of anti-modernism. It is not just because he is anti-modern, but he also senses what his increasing fan-base knows and most anti-fascists refuse to admit: the modern is fucking awful. The modern is alienating, full of empty images and promises after which we all chase. Progress brings us a new iPhone each year and more flavors of Doritos, jobs in front of screens and new identities to try on and less and less land in which to play tribe with your friends.

The paradox, of course, is that it is precisely because of the modern that we experience his anti-modern vision, the same convoluted trap in which any critic of Liberal Democratic empire finds themselves. As Walter Benjamin noted, we are never in relationship to the subject of an image, but rather in relationship with a lens and a screen. We only ever interface with the production of images, the machinery of mass-aesthetic.

Donovan’s aesthetic attempts to escape this, but it cannot. What Donovan portrays is crafted just as any other selfie is, posed, selected, filtered and cropped, uploaded into The Feed for us all to see. It is an anti-modern aesthetic made possible only by the modern, a resistance to Empire generated by Empire like Orwell’s Emmanuel Goldstein waiting with Big Brother’s pre-scripted revolt. In this way, though, he is no different from any of us. The Antifa selfie, the anti-capitalist meme: we do the same.

This paradox in which we are all trapped is not limited to the mere reproduction of the anti-modern by modern means. It is an oppositional aesthetic, crafted constantly in response to the modern. What is anti-modern is determined by the modern itself, just as what is anti-oppressive within social justice is determined by the oppressive, what is ‘left’ is determined by what is ‘right.’

Audre Lourde’s statement that “the master’s tools can never dismantle the master’s house,” while originally an attack on the bourgeois goals of white feminists, just as easily describes the perpetual paradox of all resistance to the Modern.

A Body Politic

Key to understanding Donovan’s aesthetic, then, is that he is merely retooling the master’s narrative, determined not by some mastery of the will but an almost adolescent act of opposition. Inverting Lourde’s point, Donovan attempts to look like the master himself, becoming what his chosen enemies fear him to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Towards this end, his physique is his primary weapon, one that can command erotic respect from fully hetero-men as well as gays. He wants–needs–you to think he is hot, and even his feminist critics often write slobberingly about his body even as they then attack it.

This is his success: the masculinity he wears is bold, brazen, unapologetic: it draws the sort of followers he desires while offending those socialized to find such displays of virility indicative of ‘toxic masculinity.’

 

 

This aesthetic politics of the body is part of the core ideology not just of Jack Donovan but also of Operation Werewolf, a site run and founded by Paul Waggener. To understand its appeal, the imagery of its manifesto must be approached the same way the visual aesthetic must be: fully felt, with an eye on the backgrounds and filters:

“Operatives can be found in countries across the world, dripping sweat on the floor of their spartan-style garage weight room, leaving blood on the dirt in the backyard boxing ring, or bringing their feral competitive style to powerlifting meets, MMA events, bars, back alleys and the savage streets of crumbling cities. They are not products of their environment- instead they change the landscape and environment around them, forgers of destiny, architects of their own becoming. They make the flesh strong, knowing that it is the only fit conveyance for a strong mind and an iron will- theirs is a mindset that accepts no weakness.

Some are solitary practitioners, performing the rituals of life and death amongst the ruins of modern civilization, lone wolves howling songs of destruction and new growth in the woods that encroach on the edges of the rotting Empire, waiting for the fall. Others have made it their mission to seek each other out, forming militaristic divisions, chapters led by their strongest member, creating a war-band that seeks to carve its own myth, to create its own saga of power and might- men and women challenging each other to strive ever higher.”

Like this manifesto (powerful, until you realize it’s a sloppy pastiche of Dark Mountain’s manifesto and Peter Grey’s Rewilding Witchcraft), the articles on Operation Werewolf exort the reader towards a vision of self-fulfillment on the “edges of the rotting Empire, waiting for the fall.” Again, sweaty gym-forged bodies with wild forest and concrete as backdrop, perfectly selected sepia filters assuring you they aren’t currently huddled over screens masturbating to porn.

Readers for whom the notion of sweat, brawls, and ‘accepting no weakness’ is off-putting should be reminded that it is supposed to repulse you. It is not to you whom they are writing, any more than it is to the civilized urban feminist that Jack Donovan bares his torso.

Resist, however, the inclination to dismiss this as negative: while Operation Werewolf is not the body-positivity of urban social justice, it is nevertheless the positivity of a body stretched, strained, and repeatedly broken to test its limits and ‘forge the will.’

Here, many critics fall back upon accusations of ‘ableism’ or ‘fat-shaming.’ Without doubt there is no place inscribed into their aesthetic for the overweight person, nor for the chronically-ill, yet such critiques (however true within the framework of liberal social justice politics) fall utterly flat. They are not attempting to build an inclusive ideology, but rather one of difference and exclusion. Dismissing them on these grounds, however morally-satisfying, is utterly useless.

Antifascist responses to such rhetoric through the social justice framework not only fail, but expose an ignored and suppressed difference in their own ranks, best seen within the difference between Liberal and Leftist feminism. The former, which is the predominate form within Social Justice, argues that patriarchal violence is the primary cause of bodily oppression. On the other hand, Leftist iterations (Marxist, post-colonialist) locate the cause of such oppression (anti-disabled, anti-fat, etc.) in the Capitalist’s need to turn humans into workers and the State’s need to turn humans into subjects.

From a Liberal feminist (‘bourgeois’ or ‘white’ feminism) view, any politics or ideology which does not treat all bodies as equal is patriarchal, and each oppression (ableism, transphobia, etc.) is an additional variant of patriarchal rule (consider Liberal feminist statements such as “homophobia is rooted in hatred of women”). To undermine the patriarchy and achieve equality within that framework, all bodies must be accorded the same worth and access, since every exclusion is a reproduction of patriarchal oppression.

Marxist and post-colonial feminist frameworks dismiss such utopianism in favor of the abolition of the conditions which equates the worth of bodies to what can be derived from them: that is, Capitalism. A disabled or chronically-ill person is ‘worth less’ (paid less) under capitalism because they can produce less for their bosses (who are usually men, but often also women). They are valued less because their labor cannot be exploited as easily.

To a Liberal feminist, patriarchy is the problem and the problems of capitalism derive from the patriarchy, not from capitalism itself. Within the feminism of Marxists and post-colonialists, Patriarchy is merely the functional aesthetic of the oppression of bodies, while capitalist control of the body is the core problem.

What Operation Werewolf advocates does not directly conflict this latter, insurrectionist feminism. If anything, people of any gender hoping to be physically strong enough to fight the inevitable police and military backlash against revolutionary actions could benefit from such exortations. If you want to learn to fight Nazis, you’ll need first to learn how to fight.

Too often, though, discussions regarding expanding the capacity of the body are dismissed, labeled ‘ableist’ or ‘fat-shaming,’ and even potentially fascist.

A particularly poignant example of this is the reaction to an essay from Peter Grey last year, a writer and publisher who has repeatedly held the line against fascist incursions into esotericism, including pulling his work from use in publications wherein fascist writers appear. Within Pagan, witch, radical, and esoteric communities, his essay Forging the Body of the Witch was held up by some as proof that the (very not-fascist) writer was potentially fascist, or at the very least engaging in ableism and fat-shaming.

Another case in point: Silvia Federici’s essay, In Praise of the Dancing Body, was similarly attacked as ableist because she advocates dancing as a form of bodily resistance and suggests that capitalism has alienated us from our bodies through extensive medicalization.

Anti-civilizationist, autonomous Marxist, anarchist, and other radical writers have similarly come under such friendly-fire attacks so that, as of now, the only people actually putting forward a framework in which the potential capabilities of the body are fully-embraced are men like Jack Donovan and Paul Waggener.

This is the first example of how Leftists have ceded territory in which fascists can thrive. Leftists abandoned a political framework which embraces the body–both in its weaknesses as well as its strengths–in favor of one which disfavors (and even attacks) any celebration of human capacity as inherently oppressive.

In such a world, the muscular bodies of a factory, farm, or construction worker—the very people whom Leftists once saw as a revolutionary force—are to be hidden, minimized, or even derided, lest those who do not have such bodies or cannot get them feel excluded from insurrectionist discourse.

This is why antifascist criticisms of Donovan (etc.) fall flat. There is nothing inherently fascist about the body work he and Operation Werewolf advocate: indeed, it is also something embraced by many suppressed forms of feminism as well. It is only territory they occupy, colonized by a fascist aesthetic. Such territory once belonged to the Left who have become all too long happy to abandon it.

Doing so means that fascists are then allowed to run free through it and claim it as their own.

Ad Hominem

Many essays attacking Jack Donovan particularly center their critique on his aesthetic masculinity, effectively reducing his threat to his maleness. While the Slate piece devotes extensive time to his aesthetic of virility, even to the point of slobbering affection (“A beautifully muscular man of 42 who has perfected a masculine scowl…he functions as beefcake for the neofascist cause,”) the SPLC’s essay reduces his entire appeal to that of his overt maleness, inscribing him into Alex Di Branco’s thesis that it is misogyny itself which is animating new fascist movements.

Both make precisely the same mistake and only strengthen the allure of his raw, uncivilized male aesthetic.

For a constructed masculine aesthetic to be a political aesthetic, it must have a nemesis. Fortunately for him, his critics easily supply that role, reducing him to his masculinity in precisely the same way they accuse men of doing to women. For most of his critics, Donovan is a meat-head, a thug, a dumb man who probably doesn’t use deodorant. Such reductions reproduce the same ‘patriarchal’ modes of dismissal: a woman is just her tits, Donovan is just his muscles.

Like an Antifa protester lobbing a tear gas canister back at the police, Donovan is able swiftly to redeploy these reductions to expand his audience. To understand how, consider the sort of people to whom he appeals: men like him, displaced, uncomfortable in the world, first unsure of and then later angry about the absurd rules of civilization, unable to find meaning except by escape into romantic notions of heroism and courage now that the jobs are all gone overseas.

To such men, seeking something mythic, something to make them feel like they have a place in the world, ridicule of their masculinity only further entrenches their sense of alienation. When a critic ridicules his, Donovan need only hold up their insult before his audience, and suddenly his male tribalism doesn’t even need a sales pitch.

Further, Jack Donovan’s deep intelligence is easily missed by critics who are tricked by his aesthetic. On Instagram he stands shirtless, inked, holding a chainsaw; elsewhere he is wearing hunting gear, or grunting in a gym, drilling wood, wearing a baseball cap. He looks rural, the sort of working-class man urban liberals dismiss immediately as smelly, uneducated, and crass.

Here Donovan is able to leverage an inherent prejudice within what passes for the Left in America: its anti-rural, anti-working class sentiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donovan presents as the sort of man who drives large trucks, thinks forests should be clear-cut, drinks Budweiser in front of football games, and would bash the head in of a man at a rest stop who stared at his crotch. As such, he becomes too easily dismissed, his arguments reduced to mere grunts in, as the SPLC article put it, the “chorus of moaning that emanates from the “Manosphere.”

Donovan is no doubt aware of this, and wields these prejudices deftly against his critics. It is a trick I know well myself: I am a 6 foot 1, gruff-voiced, ‘masculine-presenting’ man who talks more like a ‘bro’ than a theorist. The disconnect between my appearance and my intelligence often puts critics and fans alike off-guard. Thus when my critics attempt to reduce my arguments to my male appearance, they will often appear shallow or uninformed in public forums. This same mechanism works in Jack Donovan’s favor.

More so, by targeting his masculine presentation, critics also re-inforce liberal urban elitism and undermine any other critique they offer. To reduce Donovan to his maleness is to reduce him to his perceived identity, alienating those who see misandry as unhelpful (or even dangerous) as well as lower-class men for whom muscles, power-tools, and backyard construction projects are inherent parts of daily life and work, rather than cultivated threats against women.

This is another territory ceded by the Left. The bodies (and the accompanying concerns of the body) of poor and working-class men–unless their maleness can also be shown to intersect with at least one other oppression identity– are all but completely dismissed in American leftist discourse. It should not surprise us, then, that the aesthetic of overt, unapologetic masculinity which Donovan, Waggener, and the Wolves of Vinland celebrate would appeal to those ignored men.

For such men, the aesthetic of brute maleness accompanied by deep thought and independent will shall always be more appealing than what Liberalism has to offer. Marxists and Anarchists once offered them something too, but if they still do, it cannot be found in current American antifascist discourse.

Squatter’s Rights

To see how well Donovan reclaims Leftist territory for his own, consider Donovan’s book on male desire, Androphilia. Written in 2006, it advances a vision of homosexuality not as a genetically-deterministic identity class, but of a variation or subset of male desire. The consequences of such a view are that male-male desire is a manifestation of human choice, rather than the current Liberal dogma that gays are ‘born this way.’

Within the vast majority of gay-rights organizing, the insistence that homosexuality is determined by biology rather than being a choice has become divine law. This ironically leaves only anti-homosexual Christian Evangelicals asserting that gay men actually have any agency in their sexual desire (by insisting it can and should be changed.)

The historical reason why it became Liberal consensus that homosexuality is an innate, essential, and biologically-determined identity has nothing to do with science. As in most cases, scientific theory follows political will, and this position was politically strategic.

In order to counter the moral arguments against homosexual sex, gay-rights activists presented homosexual desire as an immutable, scientifically-determined way of being. In such a framework, since gays had no choice but to engage in homosexual behavior, moral arguments that demanded they change their behavior made no sense.

This strategy certainly helped gays gain legal status within most Liberal Democracies, but it also stole from gays belief in their agency. Thus, I as a man who desires men actually have no say in the matter, because my genes make me desire men. The “Leftist” position now, at least the Social Justice position, depoliticizes will and individual choice, adopting the very same Nazi logic which located social-identity (Homosexual, Jew) in the body and then destroyed the body to destroy the identity.

Donovan’s arguments in Androphilia cunningly leverage this transposition. Arguing that male homosexual desire is just another configuration of male desire is really the more liberatory position. Even more (unfortunately) to his credit, rather than arguing to heterosexual men that they should accept male-male desire on account of Liberal Democratic rights, he argues that heterosexual men should embrace their already-existent desire for males.

 

 

 

 

The territory here that Donovan is able to claim—and the primary reason his ideas have so much resonance—is precisely what was ceded by Leftists who hitched their liberatory politics to the dreams of Liberal Democratic progress. While no doubt forged from a sense of pragmatic urgency (homosexuals were—and are—killed at rather high rates), the political subjectivity and loss of agency such a politics created cannot be easily undone.

Attempts to offer another narrative are often virulently attacked. I have never felt I was ‘born this way,’ yet to write openly about this is to elicit some rather intense rage from social justice activists who see such a position as a sign of my ‘heteronormative privilege,’ that I am not ‘queer enough’ to speak on such matters, or that I must have ‘internalized homophobia.’

In a situation where the leftist position insists sexual selection is innate and pre-determined, it should not surprise anyone that, as according to the Slate article, gays are being attracted to fascism. But contrary to the conclusion of the author, Donovan’s position offers homosexuals back the agency that Liberal Democracy stripped from them in return for protections.

This is not due to anything revolutionary or even original in Donovan’s thinking, but the same abdication of territory (in this case, an abdication of will) that leftists have elsewhere enacted.

Masculinity as Simulacrum

Returning to the matter of Donovan’s particular aesthetic: Donovan presents a vision of a man who is fully in touch with his will, comfortable with his desire for other men, unapologetic about his body, and unconcerned with what anyone thinks of him. In his books we see this aesthetic turn into an entire ethic, a religious redemption of the masculinity which bourgeois feminism sees as the primary cause of oppression.

Here we can re-introduce crucial discussion regarding Donovan’s misogyny, and also see how all these abandoned leftists positions re-animate into something quite morbid. Donovan loathes women. Androphilia blames almost every horrible thing on women; gay men shop because of women, gay men kill themselves because they are trying to be like women, trans women are men who have internalized everything that feminists told them about themselves.

His later books, The Way of Men and Becoming a Barbarian, both repeat this same ressentiment. Men are soft because of women, men stay at home instead of adventure because of them. Men don’t have enough men-only spaces because women expect to be everywhere, etc.. It all starts to sound so absurd that it’s easy to miss that he is parodying the excesses of bourgeois feminism in reverse.

In fact, his entire construct of hypermasculine existence could have been constructed by bourgeois feminism itself. If there is anything truly tragic about Jack Donovan’s vision of maleness—the one which fills the pages of his books and his Instagram feed–it is that it was created by the very same feminism which he so deeply loathes.

Such a reality, however, does not reduce its power.

Jean Baudrillard expanded Walter Benjamin’s work on aesthetics by noting how, now that we only have reproduction of art, we now also only have reproduction of politics. The ‘real’ we imagine is always a copy, a simulation of the real. Those copies and simulations become how we determine what is real, affecting our behaviour and the construction of our identities.

Whereas once the aesthetic was the visual representation of a way of being, the aesthetic is now our only blueprint. We do not know what it is like to be masculine except by the representation of the masculine, anymore than we know what it is to be anti-modern without representations of the anti-modern.

More dangerous, however, is that the negatives of images reproduce themselves as well. The aesthetic of hyper-masculinity from which Donovan and Waggener build their politics is produced from the negative space of liberal feminist critiques which reduce men to enemy, alpha-oppressor, toxic, and dangerous.

But negative space is never truly empty, just as territory no longer claimed is never truly vacant. We should be hardly surprised, then, that Wolves have moved into the places we have abandoned, inhabiting ideological homes which were once ours.

It is not clear, however, that many have the strength or will to kick them out.


Part Two, on ideological abandonment, here


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is the managing editor and a co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He is a poet, a writer, a theorist, and a pretty decent chef. He can be supported on Patreon, and his other work can be found at Paganarch.

He lives in Rennes, Bretagne.


Like Fascism? Love Capitalism? Then whatever you do, don’t pre-order Dr. Bones’ new book, Curse Your Boss, Hex The State, Steal Back The World…

Not Climate Agreement, But Climate Revolt

“The withdrawal by the United States, the nation with the second highest carbon output in the world (behind China, whose per-capita emissions are less than half those of the US), seems deeply catastrophic.

It is catastrophic, yes. But not for the reasons we might think.”

Environmental and political analysis, from Rhyd Wildermuth

“Philosophers of freedom were mainly, and understandably, concerned with how humans would escape the injustice, oppression, inequality, or even uniformity foisted on them by other humans or human-made systems. Geological time and the chronology of human histories remained unrelated. This distance between the two calendars, as we have seen, is what climate scientists now claim has collapsed….

The mansion of modern freedoms stands on an ever-expanding base of fossil-fuel use.”

Dipesh Chakrabarty, The Climate of History


The world awoke to the news on Thursday that President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the COP 21/Paris Climate Accords.

Environmentalists and the environmentally-conscious everywhere are reacting with horror and panic, as are politicians and leaders of many of the largest industrialized nations. The governors of several states within the US announced they will still voluntarily partake in the accord, the mayors of Montreal, Paris, Mexico City and many other massive metropolitan areas ordered official buildings to be lit green in defiance:

Climate change is a catastrophic problem. Already thousands of species go extinct each year, islands flood, entire ecosystems die off, and disruptions of long-term weather patterns are causing famine, resource wars, and death. Many saw the agreements reached during the Paris COP 21 summit as the last best hope humanity had of slowing and finally stopping the damage. So the withdrawal by the United States, the nation with the second highest carbon output in the world (behind China, whose per-capita emissions are less than half those of the US), seems deeply catastrophic.

It is catastrophic, yes.

But not for the reasons we might think.

 Waste Management

Climate change occurs through human activity. “Greenhouse gas emissions” (primarily CO2 and methane) are the product of burning fossil fuels like oil and coal through automobiles (and other transport), industrial production (everything from toilet paper to ‘smartphones,’), and all the activities which go into sustaining modern civilization (including the data servers hosting this essay).

To put this as plainly as possible, all our economic activity produces carbon in the same way that everything we eat produces shit. The more we eat, the more we defecate, and all that left-over needs to go somewhere. Those emissions go into the air.

Emissions are the primary problem, but other activity speeds up the process. Deforestation, for instance, decreases the ability of nature to ‘sink’ carbon: each tree, each plant, and each of us is composed of carbon, and our very existence locks carbon out of the atmosphere until we decompose and release it again. Plants, trees, and plankton are much better at this than animal life: when we replace plant-life with asphalt and forests with agricultural land, we speed the carbon output cycle while reducing the ability of the earth to ‘fix’ carbon out of the air.

Likewise, pollution, soil erosion, development, and the damming of rivers decreases the ability of the earth both to absorb carbon output as well as magnifying the effects of climate change. In Florida and Louisiana, for instance, much swampland has been drained to make way for new housing developments and industry. Swamps hold intense rainfall better than any other bio-region, so with the increasing hurricanes caused by climate change, flood-damage, pollution run-off, and erosion are amplified, weakening other linked ecosystems such as the Gulf of Mexico as well.

To pick up the fecal metaphor again, it’s like all septic tanks are full and overflowing, the sewage treatment plants over-capacity, and the overflow is leaking everywhere, polluting everything else.

This process of cascading damage is repeated in  every bio-region in the industrialised world. Not just industrialised regions, either: some of the countries with the least damaging economic activity, who have contributed only a tiny fraction to the carbon output of the world, suffer the most damage.  Nauru, and other tiny Pacific island nations, are sinking under the rising ocean levels caused by the melting ice-caps. Caribbean islands such as Haiti (per-capita yearly income $800 US, rank 123/141 in per capita carbon emissions) see relentless death from stronger and stronger hurricanes.

Industrialised nations tend to be more resilient against these changes, precisely because they are richer. But there’s a paradox here: the wealth they have that helps them recover from and accommodate to climate change was gained from the very activity which caused climate change in the first place.

With all this in mind, the goals of the COP 21/Paris agreement seem both sound and charitable:

“The deal requires any country that ratifies it to act to stem its greenhouse gas emissions in the coming century, with the goal of peaking greenhouse gas emissions “as soon as possible” and continuing the reductions as the century progresses. Countries will aim to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100 with an ideal target of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C (2.7°F).

The deal will also encourage trillions of dollars of capital to be spent adapting to the effects of climate change—including infrastructure like sea walls and programs to deal with poor soil— and developing renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. The text of the agreement includes a provision requiring developed countries to send $100 billion annually to their developing counterparts beginning in 2020. That figure will be a “floor” that is expected to increase with time.

The agreement gives countries considerable leeway in determining how to cut their emissions but mandates that they report transparently on those efforts. Every five years nations will be required to assess their progress towards meeting their climate commitments and submit new plans to strengthen them.” [Source]

Investing $100 billion dollars annually to undeveloped nations (such as Haiti and Nauru) to help them accommodate to climate change seemed to be a significant start, especially since it would represent the beginnings of a transfer of wealth from the countries most responsible for the damage to those least responsible. Without such aid, many people may die.

We can also read that provision as: “sorry we are making money by dumping our shit in your water supply. Have some of the money to help clean it up.”

This humanitarian element of the agreement is the part which seemed most ‘radical,’  a proof that the wealthy nations of the world were serious about being sorry for what they’d done.  Thus the United States’ decision to no longer participate seems particularly malevolent.

“As Soon As Possible”

Read the above summary of the agreement again. Did you happen to catch the words in quotes? (If not, they’re in this subheading.)

One of the two greatest problems with the Paris accords is that no specific timeline is outlined for the reduction of carbon output, or even the ‘peaking’ of greenhouse gas emissions. That is, there’s no regulatory or binding aspect to the agreement and no promises made as to when the industrialized countries in the world will stop increasing their output, let alone reducing it.

Instead, signatories agreed to stop increasing carbon pollution ‘as soon as possible,’ which is about as meaningful as an abuser telling you he’ll stop hitting you “when I’m done.”

The other targets (keeping global warming below 2°C/3.6°F and ideally below 1.5°C/2.7°F) are just as nebulous, and set to a future date so far away that it is guaranteed not a single person who negotiated the agreement will be alive to answer to their failure: the year 2100.

Climate agreements often suffer from an overdose of Realpolitik, the idea that while certain ideals are worth striving for, we must be pragmatic. Make the agreements too ambitious and (the reasoning goes) no countries will sign to them. Make them binding, with economic penalties for those who cheat, and no leader who agreed would ever get re-elected.

That pragmatism, however, conceals something more insidious, what is rarely spoken of by liberals (who often spearhead such agreements) or even leftists: climate change is not merely some global problem to be managed by the governments of the world, but the very result of the global economic systems by which those governments exist in the first place.

The High Cost of Living

Capitalist expansion, Liberal Democracy, and the increasing availability of technology to help humanity live longer, communicate over vast distances, and have access to the products of far-flung lands at any time of the year have come with the mass extinction of species, deforestation, melting ice-caps, polluted water supplies, and all the other cascading cycles of damage we call “Climate Change.”

We have smartphones and the internet, personal automobiles and life-saving pharmaceuticals, plastics and global travel, social media and strawberries in winter. We also have flooding islands, eroded top soils, resource wars and super-storms. These are not separate aspects of modern existence; they come by means of the very same thing, and the former produces the latter.

Again with the toilet metaphor: the ‘progress’ which we embrace is the food we eat; the climate destruction the Paris Accords promised to address is the shit that comes after.

That is, the agreement which Trump endangered by withdrawing the United States from its provisions was a sham in the first place, a dazzling illusion meant to assure the billions of humans upon the planet that we could continue on our present course of “progress” and not die from rising temperatures and oceans.

Thus we should not see the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Accords as a blow to the planet. Rather, it is a crippling wound to Liberal Democratic global capitalism. COP 21 represented the last hope for those who wanted to eat their cake and not see the shit too, but it was no hope at all. The United States pulling out is the final blow to the Liberal Democratic promise that both Capitalism and humanity can continue together.

And anyway: voluntary reductions ‘as soon as possible’ with nebulous targets negotiated by people who will be long dead by the time anyone could judge their failure or success? That was not a plan, it was a hoax.

We know what causes climate change. We know the connection between our economic system and the CO2 it shits out into the atmosphere. We know that our entire ‘way of life,’ our religious faith in progress, and endless capitalist expansion is killing us, and it will kill the poorest people of the world first. And more than anything, we know that the only way to stop it is to pull the emergency brake on the capitalist train hurtling us into destruction.

It’s time to pull that brake. We cannot rely on governments and corporations to do the right thing, nor can we afford to delude ourselves that there is another way to stop the destruction of the natural world.

It’s time we stop putting our hope in climate agreements, and become the climate revolt.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is the managing editor and a co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He is a poet, a writer, a theorist, and a pretty decent chef. He can be supported on Patreon, and his other work can be found at Paganarch, and shirtless selfies occasionally seen on his FB. and also his Instagram


Like this essay? You’ll probably really like Dr. Bones’ new book. Curse Your Boss, Hex The State, Take Back The World is now available for pre sale.

Violence is “Not Good”

“A small percentage of the world is benefiting from Capitalism, while the rest of the world lives in abject poverty. At some point, those people may decide they’ve had enough, and the backlash will be ‘not good.’”

From Rhyd Wildermuth, an editorial on Welsh myth and the inevitability of ‘violent revolution.’


 

Recently I found myself in an argument regarding capitalism with another Pagan writer. I’m an anti-capitalist, he runs a prosperity-magic course to help people get better at capitalism, so you can imagine the conversation was not really going very far.  At some point, however, he changed the subject slightly and asked me this:

“I keep hearing G&R calls for violence. Knowing that people take things out of context all the time, are you talking about violent response when confronted with violence from the state/private security or are you talking about proactive violence against the wealthy?”

The question arises occasionally, and the answer is hardly a simple one. Does Gods&Radicals call for violence? And what sort of violence do we call for?

The question first of all showed a misunderstanding of what Gods&Radicals is. We are not a political party. We are an anti-capitalist non-profit publisher. We are also hardly monolithic. Some writers are dedicated deeply to non-violent resistance, some are pacifists, some see violent defense as justifiable when attacked by police or white supremacists, and some writers are insurrectionists.

None of us speaks for anyone else, and that goes doubly for myself.  While I am a co-founder and the managing editor of this site, I am neither its king nor high-priest.

I cannot and won’t speak for anyone else who writes with us unless they ask me to. That’s called anarchism, by the way.

My eventual answer to this person was that we take no collective stance for or against violence, which is true. His response was intriguing:

“The fact that people within the organization are calling for it…and the organization has no stand against it makes it culpable.”

That is, by not taking a direct stance against violence (that is, without siding with the current capitalist order), we therefore are arguing for violence. Again, the ‘we’ in this formulation is not quite correct; I manage the organisation, but I do not speak for any of the writers. I technically have the power to tell a writer they cannot take a certain stand on violence. I don’t. They probably wouldn’t write with us any more if I did, and anyway: I’m an anarchist.

I should also admit: I am probably more comfortable with the idea of violence against the rich then, say, a pro-capitalist prosperity sorcerer might be. The reason why should probably be obvious: I am probably not the sort of target the poor are likely to go after. Likewise, in any revolutionary scenario, the police and military are not going to be protecting me or anything that I hold dear. I do not own a business or a home, I do not own a car or stocks, and everything I do ‘own’ (including the computer I write on, which cost $150 two years ago) can fit in my backpack.

Thus, the angry poor are likely not going to be coming for me, but if they ever do revolt, they’d be more likely to go after people like him.

The Broken Cauldron

If speaking of such things makes you very uncomfortable, I apologize. It makes me rather uncomfortable too, especially since there are many people I know and love who would likely get caught up as targets in a mass uprising because of their perceived (and often real) wealth, status, and support for the capitalist system. Likewise, I know some very poor people who dress quite fashionably–they could be easily mistaken for being rich. Further, I have met some very rich and exploitative people who are incredibly good at hiding their wealth.

The problem is that violent revolts do not operate on the same principles of polite society. In fact, they are suspensions of polite society and revolts against it.

Those who benefit from a society may not necessarily see the violence inherent in that system. If they do, they may dismiss that violence as acceptable or sanctioned. So when outbreaks of violence against the system occur, those outbreaks seem both incomprehensible and unprovoked.

A Welsh myth, Branwen fearch Llyr, illustrates this point quite well. For those unfamiliar with the story, I’ll summarize it:

There was once a giant named Brân, king of Wales. One day, the king of Ireland arrived with several fully-armed warships, and Brân hosted them in his lands. The king of Ireland then asked to marry Brân’s sister, Branwen, and Brân agreed, seeing it a good way to keep peace between their kingdoms.

Brân and Branwen had a half-brother, Efnysien fab Euroswydd. His name meant ‘not good,’ and he was away when it was decided that Branwen would marry.  Efynsien became angry about not being consulted, and so cut off the lips and eyelids of the Irish king’s horses, vandalizing his ‘property,’

The Irish king was furious and was now ready for war. Brân learned what had happened, and rather then fighting them (especially now that his sister was married into Ireland), he gave the king of Ireland an ancient cauldron capable of raising dead soldiers.

The king recognised this cauldron, and asked Brân how he came to have it in Wales. Brân explained that two giants had come bearing it across the sea, fleeing persecution. He gave them shelter, and they gave him the cauldron in return. The king of Ireland replied with his own story. It was he from whom the giants originally fled. They lived in Ireland for awhile, but the children they birthed scared the nobles of Ireland with their strength. So the king tried to burn the giants and their children alive inside an iron house. The giants survived though,and took the cauldron with them across the sea where Brân welcomed them.

Fast forward a few years. A bird arrived bearing news to Brân that his sister was being beaten and forced into slavery by her husband. Brân traveled across the sea with an army (including his half-brother, Efnysien) to rescue her. When he arrived, however, the king of Ireland welcomed him, offering him a house large enough in which the giant could sleep. Also, the house was filled with 100 sacks of grain and other riches, proof that the king did not want war with Wales.

Efnysien went through the house late that night, stabbing each sack of grain. Instead of wheat or oats, however, blood poured out from where he plunged the knife: each sack contained a soldier ready to assassinate Brân as he slept. The next day, Brân was invited to dinner with the king of Ireland and Branwen, who now had a child, Gwern. Such a child officially meant peace between the two peoples. However, Efnysien, the child’s uncle, grabbed him and threw him into a fire, killing him and starting a war. That war desolated Ireland, led to Branwen’s death by heartache and Brân’s death by a poisoned spear.

It also meant the end of Efnysien. The Irish king had used the Cauldron to raise each soldier who died in battle against the Welsh to fight again, and to stop it, Efnysien pretended to be dead so he would be thrown inside. The moment his living body landed in the cauldron, he and the cauldron shattered.

All readings of this myth lay upon Efnysien the guilt for all the violence which eventually ends both the Irish and Welsh kingdoms. On the surface, this seems definitely true: Efnysien maimed the Irish king’s horses for no apparent reason, and it was his murder of Gwern (his nephew) that triggered the war between the kingdoms. And anyway, Efnysien was ‘not good.’

The thing is, this reading misses all the other violence in the story. The king of Ireland previously tried to burn innocent giants alive, giants who had done nothing wrong except scare and threaten the rich. Then, the king married a giantess and treated her like a slave (after, according to the tale, she gave so many gifts to people that the nobles became threatened by her generosity). Then, he hid 100 assassins in the house he ‘gifted’ to Brân in order to kill him in his sleep.

While the story itself gives no indication whether or not Efysien acted specifically out of spite or from a full view of the truly violent nature of the Irish king, it is easy to see Efnisien’s maiming of the horses and murder of his nephew (both acts against innocents) as more treacherous and more evil than the Irish king’s violence against Branwen, the giants who forged the cauldron, and his attempted murder of Brân himself.

But the question of violence is never that easy.

Making the Invisible Visible

Efnysien, ‘not good,’ perfectly describes revolutionary violence. Innocents are caught up. Windows are smashed, property is destroyed, people (including innocent children) are killed. From the perspective of anyone doing relatively ‘okay’ in Western capitalist societies, such violence is not only horrific, but utterly without justification.

From such a perspective, any revolutionary acts which harm innocents are immediately not just illegitimate, but worse than the very political and economic order that they attempt to replace. Even those of us who do not do well under capitalism tend to feel disgust at the idea of such violence.

The problem with such a perspective is that it ignores that the current capitalist order already kills innocent children. Police murder unarmed Black kids in the streets very often in the United States, Democracies casually drop bombs on school kids in the Middle East, children in inner-cities are poisoned with chemicals in their water and schools, and we do not even have a full picture of how many children will eventually die from radiation poisoning or global warming in the next few decades.

The sheer scale of violence against innocents within Capitalism doesn’t stop at children. Capitalism’s extinction of entire species and the mechanized slaughter of farm animals through industrial agriculture makes Efnysien’s maiming of several royal horses seems quite amateur.

The problem is that this violence is often invisible, just like the systematic violence carried out upon Black communities in the United States which leads to ‘violent’ manifestations. These very visible manifestations are often painted as childish outbursts or events of blind rage, and become quickly dismissed by the middle-class, because what led up to it was invisible.

If you’ve ever been an adult responding to a fight between children, you maybe already understand how this dynamic works. My youngest nephew, for instance, became a master of trapping his older brother into a liberal democratic politic. He’d repeatedly hit him when no one was watching, knowing that he won’t cry. When the older finally tired of the repeated slaps or pinches and retaliated, the younger nephew would then cry loudly, provoking a ‘police’ response from his parents.

It is often the same in oppressed and poor communities throughout the capitalist world. Repeated killings of unarmed people, repeated poisonings or land-theft (gentrification) or other systematic violence remains invisible except to the people to whom it occurs.

When they are no longer willing to endure the violence, they respond. When they respond, those of us who did not witness the long build-up of violence against them see only their violent response and thus blame the victim again, just like my nephew manipulated his parents into punishing his brother.

In perhaps her most famous interview, former Black Panther Angela Davis says exactly this same thing. Asked by a reported while she was in prison if she approved of violent revolution, she responded:

“oh, is that the question you were asking? yeah see, that’s another thing. When you talk about a revolution, most people think violence, without realizing that the real content of any revolutionary thrust lies in the principles and the goals that you’re striving for, not in the way you reach them. On the other hand, because of the way this society’s organized, because of the violence that exists on the surface everywhere, you have to expect that there are going to be such explosions.You have to expect things like that as reactions…

…That’s why, when someone asks me about violence, I just, I just find it incredible. Because what it means is that the person who’s asking that question has absolutely no idea what black people have gone through, what black people have experienced in this country since the time the first black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.”

Davis’s point extends to every other oppressed community within Capitalist societies, as well as those in other countries who suffer daily from the actions of the United States, the United Kingdom, and other western nations. This same dynamic also describes the ‘outbursts of violence’ from domestic abuse victims who kill their abusers, or workers who steal from their bosses, or displaced people who vandalize new businesses in gentrified neighborhoods.

Those who did not experience or witness the previous violence will be more likely to see these moments of visible violence as disconnected, unrelated, or even fully-separated from the reasons for the violence. But this does not by itself explain the entire process, because the invisible violence is no less senseless than the visible outbursts from which we recoil, and some of us benefit much more from that violence.

“Please Revolt Peacefully”

As I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, the critic who accused Gods&Radicals of being ‘violent’ is more likely to be a target of violent revolutionary uprisings than I am, and not necessarily through any direct fault of his own. Certainly, having more than those who have little makes one more likely a target, especially when that wealth is in the form of property like automobiles or homes. However, the degree to which he or others who live similar lifestyles are actually ‘the problem’ is only a matter of subjective perception. He is not part of the ‘super rich’ or even the ‘very rich.’ He is likely not a Trump supporter, nor does he actively kick homeless people in the street or wish for poor people to be shot by police.

Marxists and anarchists called the position he and many others occupy within society as ‘the bourgeoisie.’  The word literally means ‘city-dweller’ in French and applied specifically to the shop-owners, factory-owners, and others who became powerful after the French revolution beheaded the aristocracy.

The term is still in use even among non-Marxists in France and Germany, but in the United States and the United Kingdom (which never saw successful revolts against the rich), the term ‘middle-class’ is used instead. However, the middle-class is a moving target: most people in America consider themselves middle-class, whether they make $20,000 a year or $250,000. What really only seems to unite them as a ‘class’ is probably best said to be their own certainty that they are neither poor nor rich.

The conception of the bourgeoisie, however, was never merely their economic status, but also their general attitude towards capitalism. To be bourgeois is to believe capitalism is an effective way to organize society and to prioritize values that keep capitalism healthy. These core values unite both conservatives and liberals, though they often disagree on how to implement them. Looking at those values, one gets a better sense of what the bourgeoisie actually are about.

  • Private property,
  • laws against sleeping in parks or streets,
  • laws against public drunkenness,
  • a well-funded police force,
  • public order,
  • clean streets,
  • strong national defense,
  • courts which severely punish property crimes (auto-theft, burglary, bank-robbery).

It goes without saying that the poor have less interest in such things. In fact, the primary target of many of these laws are the poor, particularly poor people of color. The poor are more likely to rob a bank or scream drunkenly on the street than the middle-classes. More so, one does not hear of many business-owners or internet-technology professionals stealing cars or breaking-and-entering.

Thus, the values of the bourgeoisie do not only run counter to the existence of the poor, they specifically criminalize things that the poor do to survive. We can thus see why the poor might not care if a person who stands for such things voted for Trump or Hillary, whether they support socialized health care or oppose abortion. What the middle-classes have that the poor do not is money, property, and access to more of the same, as well as a state which defends their interests and a class-wide support of the capitalist system which ensures the poor never have more than what it takes to survive (if even that).

When you expand this outward from the societies of Liberal (Capitalist) Democracies to the rest of the world, you see the divide is even more severe. Even the poorest Americans have more access to wealth than the average Haitian, and a significant reason why this is the case is American foreign military and economic policy supported by the American bourgeoisie. The same extends to France (where I currently live), the rest of Europe, the United Kingdom, and Canada and every other Liberal Democracy.

A small percentage of the world is benefiting from Capitalism, while the rest of the world lives in abject poverty, experiencing the invisible violence caused by Capitalism.

At some point, those people may decide they’ve had enough, and the backlash will be ‘not good.’

Violence is Not-Good, But It Will Happen Anyway

So, the question of whether or not Gods&Radicals or I take a stand for or against violence against the rich is really an irrelevant one.

The violence seems inevitable regardless of how I feel about the matter. Corporations, governments, and police-forces certainly agree on this: for the last decade, they’ve invested heavily in new arms, new surveillance, and new prisons to deal with the inevitable backlash. The militarization of the police forces in the United States and France that has led to increasing murders of unarmed poor people and minorities is not some unfortunate accident.

They know what’s coming.

Personally? I hate violence and wish we can have a non-violent revolution. But let’s not delude ourselves: what I personally believe about the usefulness or goodness of violence will have absolutely no effect on uprisings in European and North American cities in the next decade. This truth extends to what the bourgeoisie believe, too.

‘Non-violence’ is a religious mantra of the bourgeoisie themselves. When a protest turns violent, it is the (mostly-white) middle-classes who are the first to denounce the actions. “I don’t support violence,” they often say, forgetting that it is them for whom the police and military exist.

This class-solidarity is often stronger than racial solidarity. In Ferguson and Baltimore, many Black middle-class people opposed the expressions of rage and anger of the poor who were tired of their children being shot on the streets. In the protests at Standing Rock, many well-off elders actively attempted to eject poorer and angrier First Nations protestors from the camps. And among whites, bourgeois class solidarity is the most pronounced: middle-class liberals in protests often do the work of the police for them, unmasking Black Bloc protesters and helping to detain poor people within marches who break windows or throw stuff at cops.

While some in the “middle-class” perhaps truly believe in non-violence, I suspect there is a darker, unconscious reason.

The violence which sustains capitalism isn’t entirely invisible. Perhaps they are not as ignorant about the state of the world as they pretend to be. Perhaps they’ve made the connections between real estate sales and homelessness, business profits and poverty, Liberal Democratic ‘freedoms’ and the subjugation of entire continents, the connection between ‘our way of life’ and the destruction of nature.

Maybe they’ve seen the violence, and then looked away. Maybe they tried to forget, hoping no one noticed the sacks aren’t full of grain but assassins, that they tried to burn giants alive, that there’s an immigrant slave-woman in the kitchen being beaten and abused.

Perhaps it’s all feigned ignorance. Perhaps that’s why they insist that violence is always ‘not good,’ because they know they are the violent ones.

I suspect that nothing can stop what is coming, not my own feelings on the matter, nor a bourgeois commitment to non-violence, nor even all the billions of dollars spent by governments and police and corporations to prevent the sort of revolutionary violence that will leave us all uttering Efnysien’s name: Not good.

And if it comes to that, I suspect it will be better to be on the side of the poor than the people who oppress them, regardless the outcome. For it not to come to that, the ‘middle class’ who truly believe violence is ‘not good’ must start following that belief to its logical conclusion.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is the managing editor and a co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He is a poet, a writer, a theorist, and a pretty decent chef. He can be supported on Patreon, and his other work can be found at Paganarch, and shirtless selfies occasionally seen on his FB. and also his Instagram


If you liked this essay, you’ll love Dr. Bones’ new book: Curse Your Boss, Hex The State, Take Back The World. It’s on pre-sale now!

Faerie Queens, Worker Revolts, and the FBI

What do men dressed as women giving eviction notices in the name of a faerie queen and the FBI have in common?

Historical and Revolutionary Analysis, from Rhyd Wildermuth


In the late 1700’s, strange eviction notices began appearing on the doors of wealthy landlords in County Limerick, Ireland. The letters demanded, on pain of torment and death, that the landlords vacate their land and turn it all over to the landless farmers who worked their land.  Under whose authority were these eviction notices signed?

An ancient Irish Goddess of the Fianna, Sadhbh Amhaltach.

Calling themselves the faerie children of Sadhbh (or “Ghostly Sally”), the men and women who posted these notices were later called Whiteboys (from their white smocks) or Levelers (from their demands to ‘level’ the land back to the poor), and it was not long until the British Parliament passed a series of “Whiteboy Acts” meant to destroy their movement.

These laws failed miserably. Rather than crush the rebellion of the landless, the movement transformed and spread across the Irish Sea. Soon, Welsh levelers were tearing down tariff-gates and fences in the name of a ghostly crone, and English men and women crept into factories to smash mechanical looms in the name of a ghostly king (who lived under a mound in Sherwood Forest, of all places!) named “King Ludd.”

The most famous of all these movements for Americans, however, is probably the Molly Maguires, Irish and Irish-American immigrants who sabotaged industry and organized miners against the rich on both shores. Invoking the name of an Irish folk hero who fought landlords in centuries past, they posted notices to the rich and managerial classes, just as had the faerie-children of Sadhbh Amhaltach a century before:

The Unclosed Eye

A little more than 100 years after the first eviction notices were posted by the children of Sadhbh Amhaltach, the tradition of mythic revolt seemed to come to an end on account of a private police force. The force, the “Pinkerton Detective Agency,” was formed after Allan Pinkerton (a Scottish immigrant-turned-police officer) met with the heads of several railroad companies and a Chicago attorney (and fellow Mason), creating a quasi-military force whose purpose was to protect business and industry from unions, anarchists, and criminals.

Pinkerton soon had some special friends in the US Government on account of his work both stopping railway robberies and helping railroads terrorize workers into submission. One particular friend? Abraham Lincoln, the lawyer for the Illinois Central Railroad, whom Pinkerton (and his agency) later personally protected during the Civil War.

Pinkerton (left) with Lincoln.

It was the Pinkerton Detective Agency which directly took on the Molly Maguires in the United States. In the 1870’s, the agency was hired by coal mining companies to break the power of striking workers. Those workers went on strike to stop pay cuts, child labor (children as young as 7 worked in the mines), and particularly the refusal of mine-owners to pay for second-exits from mines.

Pinkerton and his employees organized assassinations of union leaders, targeting specifically the Molly Maguires, until  show-trials were organized to convict dozens of them. Even the judge of one of these trials was appalled at the way the rich managed to use Pinkerton to turn the law into their own handmaiden:

“The Molly Maguire trials were a surrender of state sovereignty. A private corporation initiated the investigation through a private detective agency. A private police force arrested the alleged defenders, and private attorneys for the coal companies prosecuted them. The state provided only the courtroom and the gallows.”

Though the Molly Maguires were no longer an official threat, the Pinkerton Detective Agency had new targets. In Chicago, a massive Anarchist movement had begun, formed by Irish, Italian, and Eastern European immigrants–along with freed slaves and their descendents–operating in tandem with unionized rail and factory workers. (Irish-immigrant workers were again Pinkerton’s favorite target, repeatedly attacking them on behalf of factory owners.)

In 1886, a general strike began in the United States to demand an 8-hour workday. Chicago had became the epicenter of the anti-capitalist actions, and also the epicenter of the resistance (with Pinkerton agents, now numbering in the thousands, acting as private police for the factories). A day after the general strike, striking workers were shot by police, and a mass rally (on 4 May, 1886) held to resist further police assault became what we now know as the Haymarket Massacre and celebrate as May Day.

Some anarchists and workers believed Pinkerton had a hand in those events, especially because of their infiltration of the Molly Maguires. But the result of the Haymarket Massacre was not to end the anarchist and labor movements, but to embolden (and even internationalize) them, increasing the panic of the rich and the government.

By the 1890’s, Pinkerton had grown so large that the federal government began to be afraid of them. At its height, it had 32,000 agents (2000 of which were full-time, the other reserves), making them larger than the active military in the US. But the last major event of the Pinkerton’s was the Homestead Massacre (1892), where 300 agents were hired by the rich to stop a worker strike. Despite murdering several workers, the Pinkerton agents eventually surrendered after workers and the families of the workers rose up to stop them. Pinkerton did not end the strike, state militia did, eventually ruling the town under martial law until the steel mills could operate again.

Pinkerton’s size and failure led to the United States Congress passing a law forbidding government agencies from hiring them any longer, the “Anti-Pinkerton Act:”

That hereafter no employee of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar agency, shall be employed in any Government service or by any officer of the District of Columbia.

A New Agency Arises

A “service” Pinkerton long provided for the US government and business leaders was their registry of ‘criminals’ (including anarchists and labor organizers). Once they could no longer be hired, the US created their own registry (much of it with Pinkerton’s help).

It may seem odd, but another thing the US government could not do on their own was investigate anarchist, anti-capitalists, and criminals. Not until the formation in 1908 of a new agency (with no need for approval from congress) did the government get that ability.

That agency, of course, was the FBI.

The FBI soon overtook the Pinkerton Detective Agency in power and ability (as well as gaining many of their former employees), but continued much of the same work that Pinkerton had done. Investigating (usually infiltrating) unions and anarchist meetings quickly commenced, and when J. Edgar Hoover became the head of the agency, the FBI became what we know of it now–a secret police force targeting political dissidents, minorities, and anyone else who threatens the same class of people Pinkerton was formed to protect.

Since its formation, the FBI has given particular attention to leftist, anti-capitalist, anarchist, and civil rights movements. After the passing of the Espionage and Sedition acts during the first World War, the FBI investigated and imprisoned anarchists (especially Wobblies–IWW members) and any others who spoke openly against American military involvement in Europe. Before the start of the second World War, the FBI compiled lists of people to be detained (in concentration camps), especially Japanese immigrants whom they immediately started rounding up after the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Perhaps the FBI’s most infamous assault on anti-capitalism and political dissent was COINTELPRO. Started in 1956, its original target was the Communist Party, but it quickly expanded to target civil rights leaders (including Martin Luther King Jr), the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, leftist academics, hispanic liberation movements like The Young Lords, and anti-Vietnam war protest groups.

Letter Sent by the FBI to Martin Luther King Jr, suggesting he kill himself.

The FBI’s strategy with COINTELPRO involved many of the same tactics that Pinkerton used to fight the Molly Maguires and other worker-organizations and anarchist groups. Infiltration was primary, as was careful use of disinformation (creating false documents purporting to be from leftist groups) and in the case of Black Panther Party members (as well as possibly others), assassination.

All this we know from information gathered by the US Senate in 1975 (the “Church Committee,”) but we could be forgiven for suspecting even more targets and tactics existed. Since the revelations, it has become even harder to gain information about the activities of the FBI, but we do know they have been very active in infiltrating anti-capitalist groups during the anti-globalistion protests, doing door-knocks on the homes of activists before protests to intimidate them (including many of my friends). With the advent of the ‘war on terror,’ the FBI has been able to redefine environmentalist and anti-capitalist groups as ‘domestic terrorists,’ giving them even more power to act with impunity against those whom the government and the rich fear.

Fortunately, groups like Anonymous and Wikileaks have made it so we do not need to wait for another Senate Committee to get information of the FBI’s activities, but if over one hundred years of FBI harassment and killing of political dissidents (plus another 50 years of their predecessor, the Pinkerton Detective Agency) is any indication, it’s not good.

F(or) B(eautiful) I(nsurrection)

This brings us to the present. Many liberals and even some conservatives have been shocked to learn that Trump recently fired the head of the FBI, James Comey. For many, this seems like an appalling turn of events, one bringing us closer to fascism.

In a way, they are right, though it has been interesting to see liberals who previously were certain the FBI was partially responsible for Hillary Clinton’s defeat suddenly rush to paint him as a heroic victim of Trump’s voracious hunger for power. (Comey, we must remember, triggered a crisis during the presidential election campaigns by an oddly-timed announcement regarding emails on a private server Clinton had possessed).

We have absolutely reason to fear this turn of events, but not because the FBI has ever been a ‘good’ organisation. From the very beginning, it has served only the interests of the very rich and the government they purchase with their money. It is not ‘neutral’ at heart: its very roots still drink the blood of murdered leftists and immigrants. That Trump will soon replace the former director with one of his own choosing is terrifying, certainly, but no more terrifying than the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the immense power it wields.

What might we do to resist such power?

I suspect the solution may be at the beginning of this essay, in the very movements which Pinkerton and later the FBI arose to fight.

The Whiteboys and Molly Maguires, the Rebeccas and the Luddites, each arose as movements to attack the rich. Each was subversive and each claimed a mythic (or deific) leader whom gave them power. For the Whiteboys it was an ancient Irish goddess, the Molly Maguires a mythic heroine. The Rebeccas claimed an old crone gave them the women’s clothes they wore to confuse the hired soldiers of the rich, and a night watchman fleeing from an attack by Luddites claimed later to have seen their ghostly king striding tall amongst them, wielding a pike. The later movements which arose also rallied around mythic figures, many of them comrades recently murdered by Pinkerton agents or later the FBI.

That mythic center not only gave each group coherence, it also allowed them to continue when specific leaders were targeted and killed. Further, agents of the state cannot kill a goddess or a dead heroine, anymore than they can ever fully crush a resistance.

Perhaps more important, though, is to keep in the forefront of our minds why Pinkerton and later the FBI arose, and who they worked for: the rich. It has always been the wealthy who need protection from the poor. They need us to work in their factories and shops, to obey laws about stealing from them, to fear poverty more than we fear our enslavement to their demands.

“Investigative” agencies like Pinkerton and the FBI exist because the rich do not know how to stop us. They need to pay people to learn about our actions, infiltrate our meetings, sabotage our plans, and assassinate us when we get to powerful. As terrifying as the tactics and power of such forces are, the rich have more reason to be terrified than we ever do.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is the managing editor and a co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He is a poet, a writer, a theorist, and a pretty decent chef. He can be supported on Patreon, and his other work can be found at Paganarch, and shirtless selfies occasionally seen on his FB. and also his Instagram


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Of Mead And Molotov

It is the first of May.

For Pagans, witches, and druids, this is Beltane, a celebration of the beginning of summer observed almost continuously in much of the European world for centuries.

For Marxists, Anarchists, and revolutionaries of all sorts, it is international workers’ day, a commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago which birthed a modern uprising against Capitalism and the police state.

Pagans and witches dance, light bonfires and drink mead today, or those of them who don’t have to go to work.

Anarchists and rebels march, throw bricks and molotovs today in hopes of making a world where no one must ever go to work.

For decades, the leaders and philosophers of both groups have eyed the other with suspicion, derision, and even hatred. Wiccan and Dianic elders cautioned their followers never to pursue much more than an esoteric path towards making the world they wished to see. Likewise, Communist and Anarchist theorists have belittled those in their groups who read Tarot or refused to believe that the natural world was little more than raw material substance exploited by the market.

Sure, there were always the heretics in each camp, the self-taught witches who burned incense at shrines the night before joining an anti-war march; the Latino Black Bloc members who’d give offerings to Santa Meuerta before masking up to stand against police oppression. Little could be spoken of these acts without facing ridicule or worse, but witches and anarchists aren’t know for caring much what others think.

Certainly, both sides had their reasons for suspicion. Many of the theorists who first iterated the political framework for anarchism and communism hailed from European countries, where the struggle against capitalism and authority was often slowed and even stopped by established Protestant and Catholic leaders deeply in the pockets of rulers, merchants, and landlords. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, spent much of his time writing primers and giving sermons to indoctrinate the poor into submission to their bosses in the name of submission to God. Martin Luther and John Calvin both ordered the massacre of rebellious peasants, and in the Americas, slavery and colonial subjugation derived its moral justification from opportunistic priests and ministers eager to partake in the spoils of Empire.

Such virulent opposition to religious thought obviously ran counter to the spiritual projects of modern Pagan thinkers. While some (including many of the founders of modern Druidry) where themselves leftists and sought to fight industrial capitalism through a return to nature veneration, they were not taken seriously by their non-Pagan leftist comrades. To make things more complicated, however, many of the founders of modern Pagan traditions (Gerald Gardner, for instance) were themselves deeply invested in the systems of exploitation which anarchists sought to end.

Another reason for Pagans to fear political engagement through their spirituality came from within. Germanic reconstructionist movements such as Heathenry and Asatru began as overtly political–and deeply racist–movements: as they became more and more popular within the military and with young white males, many elders likely saw that taking a leftist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist position in public could cost them the apparent unity they needed to convince governments and non-Pagans to take them seriously.

While each side had their reasons for opposing the other, they each also ignored their own contradictions. Pagans of any sort who claim to venerate nature have no easy way to square these proclaimed beliefs with acceptance of capitalist and industrialist destruction of the planet. Druids who claim to worship forests yet do not fight the systems of profit which are destroying forests all over the world become hypocrites at best. Likewise, the anarchist or communist who claims to be anti-imperialist whilst insisting belief in spirits or gods is ‘primitive’ is merely replicating the same colonial subjugation of indigenous beliefs which European empires perfected.

Despite these obvious contradictions, few efforts were ever made to embody both realities, let alone plant seeds of conversation at the crossroads where Paganism and Anti-Capitalism intersect for a future forest in which both could thrive.

That is, until now.

Of Land and People, Tree and Fist

 

On the first of May, 2015, Gods&Radicals began, bearing a banner of tree and fist. We are not the first to hold aloft the standard of the land and the people against the soldiers of Profit and Oppression, only another front in the struggle enjoined everywhere on the earth. Holding in our hands the threads of anarchist, Marxist, anti-colonialist, druidic, feminist, occult, environmentalist, and esoteric thought, we began a dance around a center constantly plaiting, constantly weaving in fierce celebration of all that makes the world beautiful and all that we refuse to let be taken from us.

The forests are dying, but we join those who refuse to let them be killed. Water and air are being poisoned, but we hold in our own hands poison which can stop those who have done so. The poor and dispossessed of the world are ground in the works of Empire’s machines, but like the saboteurs of old we know how simple it can be to stop those gears from turning forever.

We know the power of mead and molotov, the beauty of ancient forest and shattered window, the sacred celebration of spiral dance and protest march. We speak in the quiet whispers of conspiracy and graveyard, swim in the currents of tumultuous ocean and political dissent, read the future in the bones of animals and the pale faces of politicians.

We know our human and non-human comrades die daily on the bloody altars of finance and war, and we also know we are no comrades to them at all if we do not rise up with sharpened blades and whetted minds against the priest and police who preside over such foul sacrifice.

It is the first of May. Beltane to some, a day a resistance to others, and both to us.

May the scent of hawthorne blossom and tear gas be the incense we offer to the earth, the laughter of children around maypoles and the chants against police be the melodies which wake the summer, may the light from burning bonfires and barricades greet the strengthening sun, and may this be the Beltane upon which we look back and smile, remembering what new world we woke with our endless dance.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is the managing editor and a co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He is a poet, a writer, a theorist, and a pretty decent chef. He can be supported on Patreon, and his other work can be found at Paganarch, and shirtless selfies occasionally seen on his FB. and also his Instagram

War is Coming, War is Here

“You hear that?”

It was a warm evening, our leather-shod feet treading slowly over ancient cobble. Strasbourg, last summer, a few days visiting a friend before my companion headed to Germany and then returned to the US.

“Yes.” She said. The worry on her face probably reflected mine. “It’s like They’re shouting, war.

I nodded. That was exactly what I heard, too.

A few days later, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, abandoning Liberal Democracy’s greatest experiment, one touted as a way not just to bring economic prosperity to an entire continent and nearby islands, but also to make a group of nations so inter-connected that their leaders would never again call for war against each other.

While much of the liberal-left who’d opposed that vote (as well as even those on the right who’d supported it) expressed wild shock that Brexit had been successful, neither my companion nor I were surprised.

It was no different with the election of Donald Trump as the next leader of the American Empire. While every major newspaper and ‘scientific’ prediction site assured us that Hillary Clinton would win handily, the voices I’d heard made clear that’s not how the future would be.

That same companion heard them too.

We called each other after the election results were announced. She was eerily calm. So was I.  “I almost convinced myself otherwise,” she said.

“I know. I tried, too.”

We both sighed, perpetually reluctant Cassandras in a tragedy that is only just beginning.

The Drums of War

I HAVE NO special powers of prediction. I also do not need them to see what is happening, nor do you. To follow the threads of actions now to consequences and likely re-actions later, one need only disengage a bit from the narratives with which our governments, political parties, and the capitalists who fund them assure us that their actions are just. One need also disengage from the stories we tell ourselves, the pretty lies by which we live in willful ignorance of the damage we do to the world.

Stand outside those, for just a little while, and the inevitability of war becomes frightfully apparent. From outside those narratives, we start to see things we conveniently ignore, counter-narratives, ‘natural’ forces and societal limits which threaten our ‘peace’ and ‘security’ much more than any foreign power or terrorist act could dare dream to do.

Climate Change (the Anthropocene)

Since the start of the industrial (counter-)revolution and the birth of capitalism, the inherent resilience of forests, oceans, the atmosphere, and all other bio-regions has been damaged beyond the point of healing. So much carbon has been shit into the air that ancient ice is melting, weather patterns are changing, and ocean currents which make densely-populated lands livable are shifting, threatening the wealth those nations accumulated through militant and economic conquest.

The damage done to bio-systems particularly affects those in what is often called the Global South. South America, Africa, and many small Pacific Island nations face massive flooding and die-offs of ecosystems on which the people who live there rely for subsistence.

Resource Depletion

Industrial Capitalism (and its Chinese cognate, Industrial Authoritarian Communism) relies on relentless extraction of resources in order to fuel the engines of economic control of its citizenry. Petroleum feeds everything, from the automobiles and lorries which move products and people between businesses and homes, to the products being constructed, sold, consumed, and discarded at the altars of ‘economic growth,’ to all the infrastructure in between: even the roads connecting cities and people are made of petroleum (asphalt).

Petroleum, Coal, and the other primary resources which feed the furnaces of capitalism are finite resources, swiftly depleting. Even the ‘renewable’ resources are dwindling, unable to replace themselves swiftly enough to meet our rapacious demand. The oceans are over-fished, forests cannot grow back as fast as they are cut down, and the natural systems which sustain them have been so severely damaged that they are close to (if not already at) collapse. Many systems are on life-support: soil stripped long ago of its nutrients only ‘produces’ food now on account of industrial fertilizers and pesticides, often themselves a product of petroleum.

Social Unrest

Depleted resources and climate destruction are not mere esoteric problems to be debated with sad faces in coffeeshops and classrooms. They directly affect the ability of billions of humans to survive, and humans do not generally let themselves die without a fight. The Middle-East, where the largest remaining reserves of oil exist, is increasingly swept by mass uprisings and civil strife violently subdued by totalitarian governments propped up by one or more foreign powers. Syria, Iraq, Afganistan, Egypt, Turkey, and others have all becomes sites of international political struggles resulting in slaughter, while quasi-religious ideologies such as Wahabism embolden the disaffected to claim new power through terrifyingly violent frameworks.

That same unrest has awakened in the nation-states which gain most from the strife elsewhere. Europe, particularly, is witnessing a virulently fascist backlash against the refugees and immigrants fleeing foreign conflict and resource depletion, while simultaneously seeing a new resurgence of anti-capitalist organizing that threatens the political structures even more than the fascist threat. Politicians and capitalists there, as in the United States (which boasts the largest, most-funded military in the world), have chosen to ally with the racists and nationalists against that leftist threat, promising a ‘return’ to economic prosperity and stability.

“Liberal” Nationalism

While the nationalist, racist, and fascist currents in Liberal Democracies (as well as the totalitarian religious ideologies seen primarily in the Middle-East) offer a coherent and pristine (but terrifying) political narrative to lead people through the current crises, ideologies generally associated with ‘the left’ are in utter disarray. This is particularly true in the United States, where the centrist/capitalist party (Democrats) have long co-opted organized opposition, the name ‘Marx’ or the word ‘insurrection’ evoke embarrassed gasps from even those who dedicate their lives towards activism.

Instead of organized opposition to state structures, ‘leftists’ have been happy to justify the recent U.S. military actions in Syria as justified, while embracing a constructed conspiracy narrative that Donald Trump is a puppet of a foreign power, rather than an inevitable symptom of America’s inherent imperialism.

There currently exists no significant internal opposition to the United States’ drumbeat of war. Decades of attempting to appear sympathetic to the employees of the military and defend against right-wing charges of ‘anti-Americanism’ has created a Liberal Nationalism which only argues over how wars are conducted, not whether they should be conducted at all. This was seen most clearly in the campaign of Hillary Clinton, who threatened even harsher foreign action than Donald Trump has currently enacted, while cynically using “Feminism” to distract women and minorities from her nationalist platform.

War is Already Here, And Is Coming

THIS IS WHERE we find ourselves now, and also how we got here. All this has led us to this point where war is inevitable, where the entire world sits upon a powder keg while a few reckless leaders drunkenly play with matches. However, the coming war is not the only war we must worry over.

Those of us in Liberal Democracies often forget that the economic and military dominance of the nations to which we are subject comes through war. War is never just soldier against soldier, gun against gun, nation against nation. War is what has been waged against the forests and the oceans since the birth of capitalism. It is what was declared against the peasantry during the Enclosure Acts, what was fought against witches and heretics and rebels who dared fight back.

War is what was waged against the indigenous peoples of the Americas in order to found the United States, an undeclared war against the land and its human and non-human inhabitants still being fought to this day. War is what kills the unarmed Blacks in the streets of cities, what drags them to misery in prison complexes. It is what has been declared upon the poor of all races, not ‘collateral damage’ but direct casualties. The homeless are refugees in their own lands, the jails filled with those dragged there by uniformed occupiers, hospitals filled with victims of systematic destruction.

War is coming, but it has already been here.

Sadly, we surrendered, laid down our own arms, chose obedience and misery rather than insurrection. Worse, many of us not only do not fight, but tacitly and often willfully support the enemy. Opportunists content to profit within regimes of exploitation, obedient servants to Empire and Capital, corporations, politicians, and individuals occasionally muttering words about ‘social justice’ yet eagerly collaborating with conquest and slaughter as long as the profits still roll in, as long as capitalism keeps them better fed than the rest of the world.

War is already here, and it is also coming.

Unspeakable weapons now used casually, military maneuvers, call-ups of reserve soldiers and media campaigns tell us what we do not need gods to hear. As the numbers of the poor and disaffected in Liberal Democracy crush upon the system, the leaders have decided they need gainful employment. Young men told they are inherently dangerous and violent by Liberals and encouraged to be so by Conservatives will soon be trained and armed to do what society demands of them. They will now be joined by women, a victory of Liberal Democratic equality that will no doubt prove to their bleeding, dismembered victims that America is truly a land of the free.

European nations struggling under the weight of their own contradictions and threatened by their peoples’ demands for more freedom may join these wars, though if real resistance arises against this new militarism, is it much more likely on the continent than in the United States. In France, a Communist candidate has almost as much of a chance to win the next election as the Fascist candidate; Germany seems safe for now, and anti-statist movements are flourishing in countries ruined by Liberal capitalist policies (like Greece, Italy, and Spain). The people on the continent from which I write may be resilient enough to stand against the calls to slaughter. They may also not be.

To War!

WAR IS ALREADY HERE, and war is coming, but it can be stopped. Even the gods cannot predict the future when the weavers of fate and destiny intervene.

Those weavers are us.

How might we stop the coming slaughter? By taking up our own arms, enjoining the war that is already here. Not against other nations, not against the poor or the hired soldiers of other lands, but rising up against our occupiers, our imperialist masters and their collaborators.

Those squeamish about violence and insurrection are right to be so, but they cannot ignore that war has already been enjoined. In some cases, this may mean taking up literal weapons. In some cases, it may not. In all cases it will involve intentional resistance, actively engaging in struggle against those who would lead us to the destruction of the earth and world-wide imperialist war.

I am amongst those who do not intend to take up weapons, so I offer here a strategy of war based on attrition and sabotage rather than armed conflict. Others more ready, skilled, and trained to offer force to fight Empire no doubt can outline their insurrectionist strategies better. I will not oppose them, and suspect these strategies will complement theirs.

The Path of Desertion

States rely heavily on obedience, submission, and passive participation in the political and economic systems which sustain them. Capitalists need workers to show up, to produce, to spend their incomes on products and services. Politicians need their subjects to give away their own power and invest it in government and political parties instead.

The Path of Desertion is an act of war against this.

We must stop ‘showing up’ to work, stop relying on the capitalists for the means of our survival and existence, and stop giving away our power to those who demand it from us. But desertion is not just a cessation; neither the soldier who leaves his post nor the worker who quits her job are engaging merely in passive resistance: they are affirming and embracing their own power, their own will, and their own desire.

We must do this, too.

Deserting is not just walking away, but it is also walking away. It means abandoning our posts and quitting our jobs while also posting and employing ourselves elsewhere: our families, our networks, our friendships, our chosen (not ‘enforced’) communities. It means producing our own goods, growing and cooking and consuming our own food. It means making our own art, telling our own stories, creating our own narratives completely outside the narratives of power-over.

Deserting means no longer doing our ‘duty’ to report crimes to the government and their hired thugs. It means no longer paying our taxes, no longer paying our rents and mortgages. It means no longer serving in their wars, literally deserting their armies.

It means admitting that the nationalist nightmare of The United States–or any other construct–is over, and then acting as on that acknowledgment. Liberal politicians in the US are hoping those who oppose Trump will still cling to the American political system long enough for them to have a chance to take the reigns again. In effect, they are demanding we keep ‘showing up’ to the American project, even as it slaughters. We must desert them, too.

The Path of Sabotage

If the Nation is an imperial occupation upon the land and the people, those who would follow the path of sabotage seek to weaken the occupation. Guerrilla warfare is not just fought with guns; its strongest weapons are disruption, infiltration, and sabotage.

Centuries ago, textile workers who wished to retaliate against their bosses threw their wooden shoes into the machines, irrevocably destroying them.  These shoes were called sabots, and those who used this tactic were saboteurs.

Like the path of desertion, the path of sabotage is an active choice to take up arms, to enjoin war against those who make war against us. Unlike the path of desertion, it involves direct antagonism, direct action, in support of both the deserters and the insurrectionists.

There are relentless ways to throw our shoes into the machines, damaging the ability of the rich, the police, and the military to enact their war against the earth and all that live within it. Port blockades, strikes, work slow-downs. Theft from businesses, squatting of private and government-owned land. Destruction of oil pipelines, transport networks, mass take-overs of government buildings and capitalist businesses.

Sabotage can be loud, and it can also be subtle. Those who unmask the motives of politicians (liberal and conservative alike), unearth the exploitative histories of business figures, or create counter-narratives to the dominant propaganda machine are as engaged as those who do more visible acts.

Sabotage is often done best when it is done by those without names and faces, so that our enemy cannot know which of we ‘obedient’ house-servants left the front door unlocked for the field-servants to kill the master. When it is public, it is done best to inspire others to do the same.

Notes on The Path of Armed Struggle

It is up to others to define the Path of Armed Struggle. The beginnings of it have already awakened in the streets of large American cities; many trans, disabled, queer, and Black folks have begun training in weapons-use. Many soldiers in the US army–as with other nations–may desert. Some have already joined anti-capitalist and anti-imperial struggle elsewhere, and perhaps they will offer their training to those wishing to follow their path. Armed resistance has long been the path of those in the Global South fighting off capitalist (particularly US) imperialism. They have much to teach as well.

For many, this will be the path of least fame and least support. I am sorry for this. Even now, no doubt some readers are appalled it would even be considered. To them I can say only, ‘if it is not your path, find your own,’ as I am doing.


Some of us will take up direct arms against Empire. Some will desert. Some will sabotage. Many will engage in all three. It is time. But it has always been time. War is coming, but war has already been here.

We have a world to win.

Fight well.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is the managing editor and a co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He is a poet, a writer, a theorist, and a pretty decent chef. He can be supported on Patreon, and his other work can be found at Paganarch, and shirtless selfies occasionally seen on his FB. and also his Instagram


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The World Without Forms

I said to a friend, we see the darkness, and some go in.
It is the Abyss.
We have to find out what is there, to find out if there is meaning. And we see only the abyss. And some go mad. And some never return. And some—
And some, I said, come back wielding light against that darkness. Seeing nothing, we bring back fire, we light lamps, candles, torches. We hold light that isn’t ours, as how else would any else see?

Terror often greets the far-off glances on the faces of those who return from the Abyss. The lone wanderers who walked boldly into the darkness past the boundary of fire- or street-light, the mad poet, the uncouth heretic, the unshowered witch: their reckless journeys are not celebrated when they return.

Like the ones who ‘walk away from Omelas,’ they did not know to where they were going, only somewhere not-here, not the streets full of opulent wealth and the joyous cries of liberation made possible by a founding horror. But unlike in Le Guin’s story, the city is the world, and there is nowhere else to go except back to those same streets, their eyes no longer glinting with the shallow laughter of civilization but nevertheless lit with fire.

It is their own fire, and it is a fire others are right to fear. It is a fire that can reforge the world.


I am what some might call an Egoist. I can also be described as a Nihilist, a mystic, an esotericist, a witch, a Pagan, an Anarchist, and also a Marxist. None of these labels actually mean anything–they are only useful when attempting to speak as the locals speak, to use the prescribed language of Capitol/Capital, treating ‘words that stay’’ with the same fetishism which Marx ascribes to commodity-cum-currency.

It is generally easier to list what I reject (for those of you checking-off boxes on mental clipboards) than it is to begin the litany of what I embrace. Few have the time: there are stories that must be told for each thing before they can be understood, and such narration seems mere obfuscation to those for whom reductionism and essentialism (as endemic to the American ‘left’ as it is to the ‘right’) are unconscious requirements to get at the ‘truth.’

I will tell you what I do not like. I do not like racism or racialism; I do not like gender or genderism. I do not like property or propriety, nor do I Iike borders and what they define. Also, Capitalism and Liberal Democracy and Empire are my least favorite things in the world, along with their shadow, Fascism.

Here, though, I should remind you: “Fascism” means nothing at all. It is a word invoked by people overcome with a strong urge to shore up the ruins of Empire by recourse to even more tenuous concepts with even less material basis: Tradition, Race, Gender, Morals, the Nation. Though the words are mere sounds we make with our throats or symbols printed with ink or displayed on screens, they each serve to outline vaguely (and by their vagueness gain more power) ideas which nevertheless have great power in the realm of the human social.

Max Stirner called these ideas ‘spooks.’ Others would call these ‘constructs.’ I prefer to name them spectres or Egregores. They are also the mythic, and it’s the realm of the mythic I understand best, which is also the realm the Fascists are trying to take from us.

Spooks That Kill

Carl Jung gave a speech in 1936 in which he suggested a “Wotanic spirit” had begun to inhabit the National Socialists, as if the people had become possessed by a god:

Perhaps we may sum up this general phenomenon as Ergriffenheit — a state of being seized or possessed. The term postulates not only an Ergriffener (one who is seized) but, also, an Ergreifer (one who seizes). Wotan is an Ergreifer of men, and, unless one wishes to deify Hitler– which has indeed actually happened — he is really the only explanation.

Jung invokes his theory of gods as pre- and un-conscious archetypal drives to defend his thesis, but like much of the rest of Jung’s work, it’s always unclear whether he believed there was not really a god there. But Jung does not quite mean what we generally think of as a god. Wotan is a “buried drive” within the Germanic people, one which essentially haunts the ‘race’ until it becomes manifest.

“Because the behaviour of a race takes on its specific character from its underlying images, we can speak of an archetype “Wotan.” As an autonomous psychic factor, Wotan produces effects in the collective life of a people and thereby reveals his own nature….It is only from time to time that individuals fall under the irresistible influence of this unconscious factor.”

Jung’s racial essentialism here is tragic and prefigures the biological and genetic essentialism which now dominates Western thought. However, the concept of a mass possession by an unconscious form fits incredibly well with what we know of Nationalism.

Consider the World Trade Center attacks in 2001 in the United States. After the attacks, people experienced (and were diagnosed with) trauma from watching the explosions on television, so much so that some (including otherwise sane and clear-thinking friends of mine) for a little while believed they had either actually been present at the event or had a close friend or family member within the destroyed towers. Worse, many otherwise virulently anti-war people suddenly regained national ‘pride,’ literally waving flags with such civic devotion that one would have thought their life depended upon it.

Devotion to the Nation after such traumatic events often takes on both a religious quality (similar to that of evangelical Christians) while displaying symptoms of mass hysteria. The Nation appears to haunt the actions of the individuals, manifesting and reifying itself as if by possession or seizing.

What Jung noticed regarding the possession of the German people by “Wotan” is this same process. And while one need not believe it was Wotan who possessed his people (I do not—I’ve asked him myself), Jung’s assertion that a mythic force can operate on the psyche is hardly a unique idea. The same function was described by Max Stirner as ‘spooks,’ ideological and philosophical forms which exert influence when they are unconsciously accepted as really-existing.

Spook, Spectre, Egregore

Jung’s theory of archetypes—as well as Stirner’s theory on Spooks, may have been influenced by an occult theory regarding near-deific spirits known as egregores. An egregore (greek for ‘watcher’) is a spirit composed of the memories, knowledge, personality, and intentions of a group, which either arises organically from the activities and interactions of the group or is constructed willfully by the group.

Egregores could be called ‘group minds,’ though they exist autonomously (like Jung’s archetypal Wotan) and maintain the cohesion, survival, and collective identity of a group beyond the individual goals of each member. Unlike an archetype, an egregore does not spring from the unconscious/pre-conscious mind, but rather the myriad actions and interactions of those within in. Unlike a god, an egregore is not something one worships or necessarily invokes. They can be constructed, but after their construction the apparent life they take on is much more complex than what they were constructed to be.

A more accurate explanation may be to say that they are real-ised; brought from the realm of infinite possibility, the world without forms, into the more finite realm of social existence. Yet another theory is that they become inhabited after-the-fact by pre-existing spirits, similar to the way many animistic cultures build shrines as houses that benevolent spirits (or fairies, etc.) will want to move into.

Like Jung’s ‘Wotan’ and Stirner’s Spook (and to some degree Derrida’s ‘Spectre’), the Egregore describes the apparent realness of a thing despite its disconnection from the material world. There is no ‘there’ there, and yet it functions always as if there was, manifesting itself in the actions of those who live within its realm of influence or meaning. And it thus acts also as if it were a god, making demands upon its followers who constantly (and often unconsciously) manifest its existence.

This same process has been described by other means by post-colonialist theorists. Dipesh Chakrabarty, particularly, proposes in his introduction to Provincializing Europe that it is precisely European exceptionalism that prevents us from seeing how those of us in Liberal Democratic societies still “inhabit these forms even as we classify ourselves as modern or secular.” Similarly, Frantz Fanon and James Baldwin speak to the way that belief in whiteness and its psychological manifestations seem to inhabit those who, in Baldwin’s words, “believe they are white.”

One need not necessarily accept a supernatural explanation for the way the mythic manifests as-if it is real in order to comprehend this idea. Benedict Anderson’s formulation of the Nation as an ‘imagined community’ also points to the same mythic and Egregoric functioning. For him, the Nation is a modern constructed form creating an indefensible (yet fully-manifest) sense of (false) horizontal kinship with complete strangers, as Anderson says, making “it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people not so much to kill as willing die for such limited imaginings.”

America exists; yet we cannot point merely to the constitution of the United States, nor to its government and institutions, soldiers and politicians and police, and say: this is America. America exists within the psyche of Americans, constantly reproduced through self-description and unconscious acceptance of its goals, desires, and inevitability. America is an egregore, a god-form, inhabiting the psyche of its individual constituents, like Jung’s Wotan: “…an autonomous psychic factor, …produc[ing] effects in the collective life of a people…”

The Fascists Know What We Prefer To Forget

Race, Gender, and all other ‘identity’ categories function this same way. Gays imagine themselves part of a ‘gay community,’ yet there is no such thing, only an imagined kinship with people who just happen to like sex with people who have the same genitals as themselves. A horrific attack on people who call themselves gay (such as the Pulse massacre in Orlando) thus manifests in individual gays elsewhere (as was the case for myself and many of my gay friends) as an attack on us as well.

We see this egregoric manifestation even stronger in whiteness. Whiteness has no material basis, yet it does not need one to manifest through the social interactions of humans. Whiteness ‘possesses’ the white person, and appears to inhabit their interactions with people possessed by other egregoric racial categories (Black, etc.) regardless of their oppositional nature. In fact, the conflict and tension between egregores only further refines and entrenches their influence and power.

Neither the conservative Right nor most of the liberal or radical Left challenge these egregores. Instead, they strengthen and re-invest these egregores with power by insisting they are real and meaningful fields of social struggle (regardless of their final goals). We see this most tragically on the Left, which generally accepts the constructed nature of identities, yet also insists identity is a valid (if not foundational) field of political struggle.

Consider the problem of Gender. Most Leftists accept Judith Butler’s proposition that gender is performative, not essential or biological (likewise the Egoist position). Yet, particularly on the “Social Justice” Left, essentialism and a fear of straying too far from Liberal Democratic forms creates a contradictory position, seen particularly in the arguments around trans women. On the one hand, Leftists insist woman is a constructed category, yet then assert that trans women are women. That is, woman is constructed, but in order to liberate another constructed category, trans women (as category) are absolutely (essentially) part of a woman (as category), making both again essentialist, Similarly, maleness is a category that the Left generally seeks to make irrelevant, but then the Left reduces men to an essential category in which every man essentially causes exploitation, violence, and oppression (“#YESALLMEN”).

Even if it were only the Left attempting to define the boundaries of these egregoric categories, we would find ourselves in an interminable deadlock. Unfortunately, there is a much stronger and less self-conscious current which already understands the great power these egregores have over the actions of humans.

A brief glance at the Nazi project is probably sufficient for us to grasp how Fascism not only is more comfortable with the egregoric nature of these concepts, but also understands how best to manipulate them. Nazi theorists (social, occult, legal, scientific, etc.) cobbled together a new mythic reality for Germany quite quickly. Tibetan and Hindu spirituality, Nordic and Germanic folklore, and general occult studies as well as previously oppositional and antagonist political, social, and scientific forms all became part of the egregore of Nazism, seizing the mythic imagination of a (likewise mythic) Nation.

Consider: before the Nazis, the Aryan race was a mere fringe scientific theory. During the Nazi ascension, the Aryan race was a thing, alive, ‘self-evident.’ So, too, Germany itself: suddenly a nation created only three decades before arose fully-formed with an ancient history as if it had always been there.

Did the Nazi theorists actually believe their own mythic creation? Or were they consciously creating something new? It’s impossible to know. The same question could be asked of Lenin and Stalin: did they really believe in the existence of the Worker?

Or more controversially regarding the identity politics of the Left: gays did not exist as a category in the 1800’s, nor did trans people. When the political category/egregoric identity of ‘gay’ and ‘trans’ arose, suddenly they were self-evident, alive, meaningful, and strangest of all: ‘true.’ Did those who constructed gayness and trans identity know they were making something up? How many who embrace these identities (unless they’ve really read Foucault) even realize that they do not stretch back into prehistory, let alone before the 20th century?

The point here is not to unravel the nightmare of Left identity politics, only to show how Leftists unconsciously do the same thing that Fascists consciously do. Leftists construct identities and egregores without any reference to the material world, yet then quickly accept them as if they have always existed, just as a Nationalist embraces the Nation and a White Supremacist embraces the White Race.

Leftism (and anti-fascism) as it currently exists is thus insufficient for combating the mythic power of Fascism until we acknowledge how much of this mythic, egregoric power we’ve not only ceded to Fascists, but then clumsily mimic.

The World Without Forms

An essay by Alexander Reid Ross recently warned against the danger of “Post-Left,’ Egoist, mythic, and anti-civilizational thought. What these “potential intersections” with Fascism all have in common, however, is a rejection of the egregoric spooks over which the Left and Fascists are currently warring. Also, they all have at least an apparent understanding of the mechanisms by which the egregoric functions, and they each assert the freedom of the individual over these forms as a primary goal.

Ross’s essay suggests that these positions seem close to the border past which all is fascist. That apparent proximity, though, is not what he suspects it to be. Rather, the extreme distance of most Leftism from the mythic–and its long complicity with Liberal Democratic secular exceptionalism–makes these non- and anti-fascist positions seem ‘close’ to Fascism.

Leftism—especially American anti-fascism—has been so lost in the world of identities and forms that it has forgotten that they are only merely that: forms. Thus, any who reject the world of forms, or create new ones, will be seen as immediately suspect.

Were the current forms (Liberal Democracy, Capitalism, the Nation, Gender, Race, etc.) worth keeping around, then this error would not be so catastrophic. Some are certainly anti-fascist only because it threatens Liberal Democracy, and perhaps it is no longer true to say that Leftism (at least in its American iterations) is anti-imperialist or anti-capitalist any longer, regardless of how much it claims otherwise.

If, however, we are anti-fascists because we are also pro-something else, something besides the current egregoric forms which lead only to exploitation, oppression, and the destruction of the earth, then we must stop looking away from the mythic power we have ceded to the Fascists.

We can see how we’ve done this by looking at one of the symptoms that anti-fascists use to diagnose whether someone is a Fascist: the Black Sun. Though proximity doesn’t prove causation, this is generally a good rule of thumb. However, little to no attention is ever given to why Fascists invoke the Black Sun.

The secret of the Black Sun is actually quite simple, and it’s one that Fascists do not own. Stare at the sun in the sky and something odd happens. It appears first to turn deep red, and then goes black and starts to spin as your retina burns. It also sears itself as an after-image, lingers there for hours (if not days), and creates the perception that there is actually nothing behind the sun. It appears to go flat as it moves, revealing a deep Abyss as if all light, and all reality is merely a black hole.

I do not suggest every white boy and girl who puts an image of the Black Sun as their iPhone background has experienced the same mystical transformation that medieval alchemists name nigredo; nor do I assert that it is an Abyssal truth limited to mystical traditions or European-derived thought (the Sufis and many animist traditions describe a similar experience). Still, it should intrigue us that in at least one Fascist strain, a rite exists which inducts the initiate into the nihilist/spiritual world without forms.

From that world, through such an initiation, it is easy to transcend societal restraints and enter into the pre-formal realm of perception. Outside the constraints of socially-constructed identity and morality, any new thought is possible and any new form is acceptable specifically because ‘possible’ and ‘acceptable’ no longer apply. More so, the experience strengthens the will of the initiate: the vision was survived, the mind intact.

Those who’ve studied and felt the inebriating mix of mythic power and indomitable will evinced by fascists like Jack Donovan and the Wolves of Vinland will understand my meaning here. Donovan has been able to create an intoxicating, egregoric, mythic conception of the world, cobbling together fragments of the past with terrifyingly violent new ideologies which are pristine in their coherence. There is raw, seductive, violent power here that functions on the ‘primal’ (pre-conscious, libidinal) level against which anti-fascists have no other defense except no-platforming.

Reclaiming What We’ve Thrown Away

If I here seem full of praise for something so horrifying, it is not because I am, but because you may have become so separated from your own mythic power that you’ve forgotten you can do this too, towards a more affirming and fair world rather one of hierarchy and hatred.

I suspect we shun this power for two reasons. First, anyone returning from the Abyss with such mythic visions, transcending the egregores by which the rest of us are ruled, will always be initially marked as a heretic or an outcast. Only when we find others who have seen the same things or who find meaning in these new dreams can such mystics find acceptance. The other reason? We’ve so long ago ceded to others our power to make the world that we are more happy to leave such delvings to the Fascists than realize we are complicit in our own enchainment.

The ‘world without forms,’ where we can again reclaim our power, is what Stirner and the Egoists embrace. It is also what Bataille sought, as did his close friend, the Jewish mystic Walter Benjamin. From that world we see both the infinite possibility of human liberation and the infinite delusions under which we have for too long struggled. It is also where we can learn how to be Walter Benjamin’s “real state of emergency” which will eventually make Fascism untenable.

The Nation is a false thing that only has power because we give it power. Gender, race, class, religion, morals—even the self itself—are all constructs. Civilization is a spook, one to which we are always subject because we believe there is such a thing as civilization, because other people believe there is such a thing as civilization, and because all of us fail to remember that civilization is just an idea in our heads that causes us to cohere around it and give it more power. Thus, the Fascist who warns that civilization is under threat from Islam, or trans people, or Cultural Marxism—as well as the Liberal-Leftist who warns that civilization is under threat from Fascism—are both still merely fighting for control over the egregore of Civilization.

Any anti-fascism which seeks to break not only the power of the Fascists but also the power of the forms the Fascists wish to control must refuse to accept the forms themselves.

Race, Gender, the Nation, Civilization–these are not our forms, they are forms which enchain us, they do not exist in the world we wish to build, and we must stop pretending otherwise. Instead, we must make new forms while always conscious that they are only just forms, forms we can change at will because it is our will which births them.

We must also refuse to cede the mythic—and the embrace of the self—to the Fascists. The ‘post-leftists’ and the Egoists and those who’ve read Bataille, and also those who’ve read Baldwin or Fanon or Chakrabarty, and especially all those who would dare walk past the forest’s edge in darkness and find there new truths, regardless the consequences—it is to them where we must look for the rituals which will free us all. It is them, and nothing else, who can finally exorcise Fascism’s spectre from our world.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth is the co-founder and managing editor of Gods&Radicals. He co-edited, along with Lia Hunter, the most recent issue of A Beautiful Resistance, “Left Sacred.

He can be supported on Patreon, and is currently in Rennes, France, where he is very happy.


Get the latest copy of A Beautiful Resistance here.

Editorial: What Is To Be Done?

A month ago, I ended a six-month hermitage with my family in Florida and began traveling, giving presentations, leading reading events for the most recent issue of A Beautiful Resistance. Since I left, I’ve been in eight different American cities, several large ones, quite a few of them small. My intention was to visit friends before I leave for France, to catch up on the lives of people I love and visit places I might not see again for awhile.

I got to do that, yes. But more so, I found myself in relentless conversation with people, many of whom I’d only just met, about the imminent threat of fascism and the crisis of Empire.

That probably doesn’t surprise you. But what might surprise you, or at least surprised me, were all the other things I heard:

  • Several women, all mothers, spoke of the hard decisions they’re looking at regarding risk, how much they might be able to take on even though they are mothers of children. Also, many of them mentioned that they are pursuing gun training.
  • Several gay guys discussed how they’re trying to expand their networks of friendship to create mutual defense and communication groups.
  • Three lawyers told me how they are trying to use their training to fight on behalf of people being targeted by the government and emboldened corporations.
  • Two people told me how they are stockpiling medications, hormones, and birth-control for those who will soon not be able to get them.
  • A therapist explained how discussing disaster preparedness and mitigating activist-burnout is now a common theme in their practice and told of other therapists now directly offering counseling for this.
  • Office workers described how they’re co-opting their employer’s copiers to disseminate protest posters and pamphlets
  • Two artists spoke about strategizing the use of spectacle and carnival in order to build bridges between established movements and new protesters.
  • No less than seven people told me about contingency plans they’ve made to protect, hide, or smuggle immigrants.

Something is happening. Something has changed. Something has awoken in people, a new urgency, a new certainty, and a new drive to create the sort of world we want.

Good Priest/Bad Priest: Still a Priest

In a way, we have Trump to thank for this. The last eight years in the United States were an illusion, a carnival at the end of Empire, a second-summer or the proverbial deck-chair re-arranging on the Titantic.

Obama convinced many that Capitalism might not be so bad, that progress could be made, that things could get better without directly altering the system by which people are made to suffer. Like the best of actors or the most charismatic of salesmen, the previous leader of the American Empire made many of us feel quite good about the stories we were being told. It was easy to forget we were watching false images projected on a screen veiling our own desires, or that what we were promised wasn’t really possible in the product we were being sold.

Portland, Oregon, the city of the progressive future.

It was never actually possible to square the social justice ‘progress’ we were told was happening with the increasing murders of Black people by police, the relentless unemployment, the cuts to benefits and all the drone-attacks on wedding parties where our oil is.

With enough snake-oil, we learned to accept the contradictions and hypocrisies of liberal democracy. Though gentrification in urban centres created shocking jumps in rates of homelessness, we convinced ourselves that the rise of a new bourgeois culture meant we were all becoming more free. Though rates of queer and trans deaths by suicide or murder continued to increase, we consoled ourselves that gay marriage and hate-crime legislation meant we were liberated. Though explosions of oil-transports and pipe-line leaks became monthly news, we bought into the promise that our present was more ‘green’ and ‘eco’ than we’ve ever been. Thousands of species went extinct last year and atmospheric CO2 leavels reached a crucial tipping-point, but we clung tighter to our faith in international climate agreements.

Now Trump’s here, and there’s no one to keep promising things they couldn’t deliver any longer. Instead, he promises death, suffering, deportations, hyper-nationalism, racist executive policy and an end to environmental protections. Suddenly, the re-assuring voice is gone, the icon of comfortable self-coddling shattered, and all that’s left is a blood-stained altar officiated-over by a priest promising to sacrifice all we hold dear.

The Party’s Over

In 1901, Vladimir Lenin–then part of the Russian social-democratic party–wrote a pamphlet called, Что делать? (What Is To Be Done?). He wrote it to unravel a crisis within the primary opposition party to Tsarist Russia: many party leaders argued that popular anger should be channeled into the pre-existing political structures. Essentially, the social-democrats argued the same then as the liberals and Democratic Party argue now: the best way to liberate people is through political parties. Against this idea, Lenin argued for a new party, a ‘vanguard’ which would organize that anger into militant Marxist revolution.

At least partially because of Lenin’s work, the Tsar was eventually overthrown. Unfortunately, again partially because of Lenin’s work, the revolution of the independent soviets against a tyrannical regime than turned into a new tyranny, another nation-state to replace the former, a new dictator (Stalin) to replace the emperor.

Why bring up Lenin, though? Because we are in a similar time. Mass anger and political actions against tyranny are rising in the United States, their numbers giving strength to resistance movements like Black Lives Matter, indigenous,  and other local resistance movements all across the United States. None of these are connected to the Democratic Party in any way, except that of the people within those movements tend to also vote Democrat.

That party is currently in shambles, proving themselves completely inept at standing against Trump, too eager to placate their corporate funders and move as close to the imaginary center as possible rather than follow the political desires of the people they claim to represent. While turnout in numbers may have been the highest ever in the US, a smaller percentage of eligible voters actually showed up to vote in the last presidential election than the previous two. The Republican party, on the other hand, suddenly has new blood, a fascist element called the alt-right eager to use the government to enact their terrifying will.

(Social) Democrats in the United States have always only argued for mere reform of the system–granting a modicum of social justice ‘progress’ in return for our silence on the exploitation of the poor and the environment. Now, they face a new revolutionary mobilization (against Trump) which they are not leading and to which they have nothing to offer.

Our moment is not much different from what arose to fight the Tsar. Spontaneous movements are arising, individual actions shifting into networks of opposition. The people I have met this last month were all acting as individuals without prompting from party officials or elected leaders, just as the alliances of the soviets (mutual-defense committees) arose without official sanction in Russia.

The great strength of the spontaneous movements which have arisen in the last few years is their non-hierarchical and non-partisan structure. You do not need to be a Democrat to join a Black Lives Matter protest, nor did you need to have a political affilliation to join the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. Movements that are arising post-Trump are thus far following the lead that Blacks and indigenous groups started, but it’s not certain they will stay that way.

Black Lives Matter Protest, Seattle

In fact, many Democratic officials and politicians have begun trying to channel our resistance back into the system, claiming to be the only means by which Trump can be defeated and America can return to the non-existent ‘progress’ promised by Obama and Clinton, putting us again in the same situation Lenin saw at the turn of the last century.

“Start Your Own Damn Resistance”

We can learn a lot from Lenin, particularly what not to do in such circumstances.

His idea for a vanguard of militant organising which transcended all the ‘spontaneous’ resistance movements was predicated on the inability of the average person to see beyond their immediate struggle. To some degree, we see this repeating, particularly in the increasing sectarianism of liberal identity politics in which the primary cause of oppression is not the rich, but all other identities. Worse, new white-led groups have begun decrying pre-existing groups like Black Lives Matters and the resistance to Standing Rock for not adequately representing ‘intersecting’ struggles, for not being ‘accessible’ enough or being too “cis-centric.”

All this points to the likelihood that Lenin was correct, that individuals cannot see beyond their own struggle. But in my experience, most people do. Everyone I’ve talked to in person this last month understood that their resistance was connected to the resistance of others. If anything, it was the actions of others who inspired them to do their own, to do what was possible for them in their direct circumstances.

The desire to channel all those independent actions into one great movement, with chosen leaders and a party line certainly exists, and it is a great danger. While there is no significant Marxist party organizing in the United States, many catch-all liberal social justice movements follow Lenin’s call. If anything, they are attempting to be Lenin’s vanguard, presenting a party line of Anglo-American social-justice morality to which every participant must adhere. But where Lenin argued for increased militancy, their arguments merely seek to defame any action that did not get pre-approval from an activist with the right social-justice cred or a popular-enough blog.

More dangerous, however, are the actual parties who understand and employ power. The Democratic Party has alternately governed the United States for most of the last century not because they were popular, but because they were powerful. Just as many corporations are aligned with them as with the Republicans, and all that money they receive doesn’t go to ending homelessness. They have the apparatus and the finances to channel all our movements back into the system…if we let them.

If anything, the Democratic Party now stands in the place that the Communist Party stood during the revolution: under Lenin’s leadership, the revolutionary movements of the people became subsumed within one totalitarian party.

While the moral Leninists attempt to police the ideology of every individual movement into inaction, and the political Leninists attempt to co-opt all our various struggles into their party, we must reject Lenin’s primary premise. The individual is not too ignorant to see beyond their own situation; local groups are not too stupid to see how their resistance relates to those of others.

We don’t need a vanguard. We don’t need an elite group of self-appointed activists to judge if our actions follow the correct academic prescriptions and avoid all potential offense; nor do we need hierarchical party structures and professional leaders who will treat us like soldiers in their war for power.

We already know how to resist. We already know how our individual acts of resistance will help others resist. We already know how to build the world we want to see.

How do I know this? Because we’re already doing this. I’ve met people doing this in the last four weeks. I’ve been to Black Lives Matters protests and seen that they’re already doing this. I’ve talked to people who were at Standing Rock and heard how they’re already doing this.

Not only can we resist without a vanguard or a party, we must.

Lenin’s strong-armed take over of the Russian revolution led to Stalin. In resisting tyranny, we cannot accept those who would channel our revolution towards new tyranny.

If this means we never ‘unify,’ so be it. If anything, fascism and state-communism want us all the same anyway, all under one great banner, removing all difference from our midst.

We’ve seen repeatedly where the path of one final truth goes, and it is far from beautiful.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth’s an anarchist, theorist, poet, and writer. He’s also a nomad, is the co-founder and managing editor of Gods&Radicals, and really likes tea.

You can find more of his writing here, or support his work here.


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