CitizenGO describes itself as a “community of active citizens who work together, using online petitions and action alerts as a resource, to defend and promote life, family, and liberty.” The right-wing Christian organization, which claims to have almost 9 million members, operates primarily through an online petition platform to push an anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion agenda. Though the organization recently made headlines in the United States for its transphobic “Free Speech Bus” and the protests that met it on its tour of American cities, CitizenGO has a variety of longstanding ties to right-wing organizations and right-wing efforts around the globe.
CitizenGO is headquartered in Madrid, Spain, sharing an address, a founder (Ignacio Arsuaga), and a number of board members with the right-wing Spanish organization Hazte Oir (“Make Yourself Heard”), which Arsuaga founded in 2001. Hazte Oir lists itself as a member of CitizenGO, and its website links to CitizenGO petitions.
CitizenGO is not shy about its positions on a variety of key right-wing issues, characterizing trans and gender non-conforming identities as “the wrong-headed notion that sex is fluid and a matter of choice,” and declares, “Marriage, properly understood, is the union of one man and one woman, in a lifetime relationship which is open to the natural procreation of and raising of children.”
The CitizenGO petition platform was launched in 2013, but perhaps its most notable physical manifestation is the anti-trans, so-called “Free Speech Bus,” which toured the U.S. in 2017 emblazoned with the slogan “Boys are boys … and always will be. Girls are girls … and always will be.” The bus was met with protests led by queer and trans rights activist groups in cities such as Boston, Cambridge, New York, New Haven, and Philadelphia.
A similar bus, with Hazte Oir’s name on it, was banned by a judge in Madrid earlier that year on the grounds that its presence could prompt hate crimes in the capital city.
CitizenGO claims to be funded by “small online donations” but a leak of internal documents in May of 2017 suggested that in 2012, its affiliate Hazte Oir received €2,050 from a multinational technology company. The leakers also suggested that Hazte Oir has connections to the ultra-right Mexican Catholic group El Yunque.
A connection to El Yunque would certainly not be the only link CitizenGo and its affiliates have to the international Religious Right. CitizenGO and Hazte Oir have many longstanding connections to anti-choice and “pro-family” right-wing Christian organizations, primarily through their board members. Continuing the right-wing Catholic connection, board members Alejandro Bermudez and John-Henry Westen both run conservative Catholic newssites; Westen has been vocal in his criticism of the Pope’s stances on abortion and same-sex marriage.
Board member Alexey Komov is the “Regional Representative for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States” for the World Congress of Families, a U.S.-based Religious Right anti-choice and anti-queer organization. Komov and CitizenGO board member Brian Brown are also part of a widespread network of American and Russian individuals and Evangelical organizations committed to spreading anti-abortion and anti-LGBT sentiment and policy abroad.
Brown is the president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an anti-LGBT organization that was particularly active during the Prop 8 campaign in California in 2008.
WCF also awarded CitizenGO board member Luca Volonte a “Familia et Veritas” award in 2015. In 2014 Volonte was the chair of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, a Christian anti-choice think tank based in Italy, when it hosted Steve Bannon for a speech in the Vatican, and in April of 2017, the former Italian lawmaker was accused of a money laundering scheme that fed large sums of money from a lawmaker in Azerbaijan to a number of right-wing groups, money which was allegedly paid to him in exchange for his support for a variety of Azerbaijan’s political positions.
The international reach of these connections is also on display in the numerous petitions on CitizenGO’s website. There are petitions hoping to target government officials in Malta, British Columbia, New Zealand, Ireland, Malaysia, and the U.K., to name just a few. Organizations and individuals are able to create petitions on the CitizenGO platform; while most of the petitions are authored by CitizenGO, other right-wing organizations whose petitions CitizenGO promotes include African Organization for Families, Right to Life, and Movieguide.
Despite vocal resistance to CitizenGO in Spain and the U.S., the “Free Speech Bus” has been seen in cities all over the world. In July 2017, it was making the rounds in Chile, in September 2017 it was in Germany, in October 2017 it was in France, and a bus has been seen in Italy as recently as February 2018. They also had a small “Free Speech” airplane circling the Spanish Mediterranean in August 2017.
In April 2018, CitizenGO Africa announced that Nairobi, Kenya would be the first city on the continent to host the so-called #FreeSpeechBus.
The recent Ebola cases in the U.S. have sparked popular news outlets and Religious Right leaders into an undeniable state of panic. The mention of Ebola is accompanied by an urging to close “the border,” as the U.S. Right re-employs its all-too-familiar tactic of using popular discourse as a platform for Islamophobic, racist, anti-immigrant, and homophobic rhetorical shots.
A protester stands outside the White House. image via JACQUELYN MARTIN / AP
The physical impact of the Ebola virus is well documented. According to the Center for Disease Control, there have been 1,018 deaths due to Ebola in Guinea, 2,413 deaths in Liberia, and 1,510 in Sierra Leone. In the United States, there have been only four confirmed cases, one resulting in death. As several recent articles point out, the medical effects of Ebola in the U.S. are miniscule compared to those of other common and well-known viruses, such as the flu—which results in between 3,349 – 48,614 deaths annually in the U.S.
The near ubiquitous discussion on Ebola is rarely solely comprised of statistics or its biological effects. Ebola—not the virus, but the newsworthy discussion topic—has become a cultural phenomenon acquiring meaning and consequence beyond its medical character. In approaching Ebola from a cultural lens, we expose how it has become a tool for the Right, inserted amid public discourses on race, religion, immigration, sexuality, and terrorism.
Conservative journalist Paul Sperry wrote an article in Investor’s Business Daily titled, “Islamic Burial Rituals Blamed for Spread of Ebola,” in which he states, “Islam isn’t just at the heart of the terror threat posed by the Islamic State. The religion is also contributing to the other major crisis plaguing the globe: the spread of Ebola” (emphasis added). Sperry names the religion of Islam itself as the culprit for the spread of Ebola and for the terror threat created by the self-described Islamic State, a militant Sunni Islamic group that has seized large territories in eastern Syria and northern Iraq, and whose casualties are mainly made up of fellow Sunni Muslims as well as Shiite Muslims. In naming Islam itself as blameworthy for these threats, Sperry adopts several of the pillars of Islamophobic rhetoric as identified by the Runnymede Trust Report including the following beliefs: Islam is monolithic and static, Islam is completely separate from other cultures and religions, Islam is inferior to the West, Islam is a political ideology used for military advantage, and Islam is violent and in support of terrorism.
Alan Keys, a conservative political activist, former diplomat, and radio talk show host, shares a similar sentiment when he warns that Obama’s “plan to import Ebola-infected persons into the United States” will have the majority of Americans “look(ing) upon a country no longer their own.” This begs the question, whose country is it? On October 14, 2014, conservative public interest lawyer, Larry Klayman, sued the Obama administration for using the Ebola virus to further Muslim bioterrorism on “Christian and Jewish Caucasian Americans.” Klayman alleges that President Obama’s actions exposing Americans to Ebola is a “direct result of discrimination against Plaintiff [Klayman] on the basis of his Caucasian race and Jewish-Christian religion and in favor of people of the African-Black race and the Islamic religion.”
Klayman has not written a single article about the devastating number of deaths the Ebola virus has caused in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. As journalist Hannah Giorgis aptly writes in the Guardian, the “death [of Black people] is remarkable only to the extent that its perpetrator could also affect citizens more deserving of sympathy, of news coverage and of life.” Judging by the upsurge in media coverage since the documented U.S. case, Ebola was not considered a threat to most in the United States until the lives of White Americans came into question. Klayman’s answer to the presence of Ebola in the U.S. is to blame “suicide terrorists from ISIS, [and] perhaps American Muslim traitors” and to sue Obama for refusing to issue a travel ban on persons flying to the U.S. from West Africa and from “all Muslim nations where terrorists have a beachhead.” In the face of public health experts’ nearly unanimous position that a ban could increase the threat of the virus spreading, President Obama continues to undergo pressure from Capitol Hill and others to prohibit travel into the U.S. from West Africa.
Moreover, despite lacking any backing from scientists or public health officials, several conservative politicians have expanded upon these nativist fears, insisting on the urgent threat of Ebola emanating from the “porous” U.S.-Mexico border. Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul have all recently stated their beliefs that the U.S.-Mexico border is not secure enough to keep Ebola out of the United States. Representative Phil Gingrey (R – Georgia) agrees. In a letter to the director of the CDC, Gingrey writes, “Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus, and tuberculosis are particularly concerning.” To date, not a single case of Ebola has been reported in Mexico or in any Central or South American country.
While some blame the spread of Ebola on a “porous” national border, several evangelical religious leaders have recently jumped into the Ebola debate by linking the virus to LGBTQ people and to same-sex marriage, including New York Pastor James David Manning of the ATLAH Worldwide Missionary, who cautioned the public that Starbucks coffee shops are “ground zero for Ebola,” because they attract “a large number of sodomites” interested in “clandestine sexual activities” and who “exchange a lot of body fluids.” North Carolina Pastor Ron Baity, recipient of The Family Research council’s top “pro-family” award, warns the End Times—in the form of Ebola—are now upon us in the wake of recent court actions overturning North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage. Conservative Christian radio host of Trunews, Rick Wiles, is more optimistic about the effects of Ebola on the U.S., “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography, and abortion.” Speaking on the causes of Ebola, Archbishop Lewis Zeigler of the Catholic Church of Liberia asserts “one of the major transgressions against God for which He may be punishing Liberia is the act of homosexuality.”
This rhetoric mirrors religious conservative statements about the LGBTQ community during the height of the AIDS crisis. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University and co-founder of the Moral Majority, famously referred to the AIDS epidemic as “the wrath of a just God against homosexuals.” While Liberian and U.S. religious and political leaders publicly ponder the “threat” of the LGBTQ community on the wider public’s health, the material effects of anti-gay policies and violence against the LGBTQ community in West Africa have escalated.
Disguised as concern over public health and safety, the Right’s discourse surrounding Ebola has become a shielded arena for the propagation of xenophobic attitudes and fears. Christian Right leaders use this rhetoric to suggest that White Americans, especially Christians, are being threatened by Black West Africans, Muslim terrorists, undocumented Mexican immigrants, and the LGBTQ community. Meanwhile, thousands of Black West Africans, many of Islamic faith, including LGBTQ people, have actually died from the physical effects of the Ebola virus.
In the U.S., the word “Ebola” has become shorthand for a migrant, racialized threat to the body, whose very mobile nature challenges imperialistic notions of distinct, self-contained, isomorphic spaces. Ebola is personified as a terrorist body that needs to be quarantined, surveilled, and banned. Its origins are constructed as “over there” (outside of the West), and its threat is felt “here.” Because it isn’t capable of self-selecting a group to be aligned with, nor a group to invade, the virus is easily linguistically detached and reattached to different populations whose bodies are associated with threatening White, Western, heterosexual citizenry.
It may be tempting to dismiss the Right’s alarmist rants over the Ebola virus as bizarre and atypical. However, the ways contagions have historically been connected to public discourses on race, religion, sexuality, and the nation suggests that the current debates on Ebola are deeply rooted and easily mobilized. Several journalists have documented (see here, here, and here) the relationship between the over-hyped Ebola threat to Americans, and the rhetoric of hate employed by the Right which poses a real material threat to bodies constructed as “other.”
In linking the abstract threat of “otherness” with a material entity that can invade the bloodstream and alter the biological cells of the body, right-wing Ebola discourse insists upon being felt. Infected by the force of tangible fear, how will affected persons be incited into action and whose lives will they threaten?
It is legalized homophobia, not same-sex relations, that is alien to Africa
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signs an anti-homosexual bill into law – James Akena/Reuters
Guest post by Sylvia Tamale, professor of law at Makerere University in Uganda:
During a prime time interview with BBC’s “Hard Talk” show in March 2012, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni noted, “Homosexuals in small numbers have always existed in our part of black Africa …They were never prosecuted. They were never discriminated.”
Earlier this year, confronted by internal and external pressure, Museveni reversed himself and signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the full glare of the media — declaring that homosexuality was Western-imposed. Before signing the law, Museveni asked a team of top-notch Ugandan scientists to help him make an educated decision. The panel’sreport did not mince words: “In every society, there is a small number of people with homosexual tendencies.”
Museveni’s bizarre actions can only be interpreted as a political ploy ahead of presidential elections scheduled for early 2016. Having been at the helm since 1986, Museveni faces serious competition both within and outside his party, not to mention a restless population afflicted by a high cost of living, unemployment and a general disgust with rampant corruption. By the stroke of a pen, Museveni succumbed to populist pressures and condemned an otherwise law-abiding sexual minority to maximum sentences of life imprisonment.
Uganda is not alone in its anti-gay crusade. Nigeria recently passed a law criminalizing homosexuality. Several other African countries — including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon and Sierra Leone — have all expressed the desire to emulate Uganda and Nigeria. At least 38 African countries already proscribe consensual same-sex behavior.
The sad, tired but widely accepted myth that homosexuality is un-African has been valorized and erected on the altar of falsehood time after time. It is a myth that has been played out in numerous contexts, most recently over the debate on Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill. However, historical facts demand that this fable be debunked once and for all.
The ‘homosexuality is un-African’ myth is anchored on an old practice of selectively invoking African culture by those in power. African women are familiar with the mantra. “It is un-African” whenever they assert their rights, particularly those rights that involve reproductive autonomy and sexual sovereignty.
The mistaken claim that anything is un-African is based on the essentialist assumption that Africa is a homogeneous entity. In reality, however, Africa is made up of thousands of ethnic groups with rich and diverse cultures and sexualities. As appealing as the notion of African culture may be to some people, no such thing exists. Moreover, even if we wanted to imagine an authentic African culture, like all others, it would not be static.
African history is replete with examples of both erotic and nonerotic same-sex relationships. For example, the ancient cave paintings of the San people near Guruve in Zimbabwe depict two men engaged in some form of ritual sex. During precolonial times, the “mudoko dako,” or effeminate males among the Langi of northern Uganda were treated as women and could marry men. In Buganda, one of the largest traditional kingdoms in Uganda, it was an open secret that Kabaka (king) Mwanga II, who ruled in the latter half of the 19th century, was gay.
The vocabulary used to describe same-sex relations in traditional languages, predating colonialism, is further proof of the existence of such relations in precolonial Africa. To name but a few, the Shangaan of southern Africa referred to same-sex relations as “inkotshane” (male-wife); Basotho women in present-day Lesotho engage in socially sanctioned erotic relationships called “motsoalle” (special friend) and in the Wolof language, spoken in Senegal, homosexual men are known as “gor-digen” (men-women). But to be sure, the context and experiences of such relationships did not necessarily mirror homosexual relations as understood in the West, nor were they necessarily consistent with what we now describe as a gay or queer identity.
Same-sex relationships in Africa were far more complex than what the champions of the “un-African” myth would have us believe. Apart from erotic same-sex desire, in precolonial Africa, several other activities were involved in same-sex (or what the colonialists branded “unnatural”) sexuality. For example, the Ndebele and Shona in Zimbabwe, the Azande in Sudan and Congo, the Nupe in Nigeria and the Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi all engaged in same-sex acts for spiritual rearmament — i.e., as a source of fresh power for their territories. It was also used for ritual purposes. Among various communities in South Africa, sex education among adolescent peers allowed them to experiment through acts such as “thigh sex” (“hlobonga” among the Zulu, “ukumetsha” among the Xhosa and “gangisa” among the Shangaan).
It is ironic that an African dictator wearing a three-piece suit, caressing an iPhone, speaking in English and liberally quoting the Bible can dare indict anything for being un-African.
In many African societies, same-sex sexuality was also believed to be a source of magical powers to guarantee bountiful crop yields and abundant hunting, good health and to ward off evil spirits. In Angola and Namibia, for instance, a caste of male diviners — known as “zvibanda,” “chibados,” “quimbanda,” gangas” and “kibambaa” — were believed to carry powerful female spirits that they would pass on to fellow men through anal sex.
Even today, marriages between women for reproductive, economic and diplomatic reasons still exist among the Nandi and Kisii of Kenya, the Igbo of Nigeria, the Nuer of Sudan and the Kuria of Tanzania. Like elsewhere around the world, anal intercourse between married opposite-sex partners to avoid pregnancy was historically practiced by many Africans before the invention of modern contraceptive methods.
Clearly, it is not homosexuality that is un-African but the laws that criminalized such relations. In other words, what is alien to the continent is legalized homophobia, exported to Africa by the imperialists where there had been indifference to and even tolerance of same-sex relations. In Uganda such laws were introduced by the British and have been part of our penal law since the late 19th century. The current wave of anti-homosexuality laws sweeping across the continent is therefore part of a thinly veiled and wider political attempt to entrench repressive and undemocratic regimes.
Alien to Africa
Equally alien to the continent are the Abrahamic religions (particularly Christianity and Islam) that often accompany and augment the “un-African” arguments against homosexuality. African traditional religions were (and still are) integrated into the people’s holistic and everyday existence. It was intricately tied to their culture, including sexuality.
With the new religions, many sexual practices that were acceptable in precolonial, pre-Islamic and pre-Christian Africa were encoded with tags of “deviant,” “illegitimate” and “criminal” through the process of proselytization and acculturation. It is ironic that an African dictator wearing a three-piece suit, caressing an iPhone, speaking in English and liberally quoting the Bible can dare indict anything for being un-African.
The struggle to win full citizenship for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex groups is global. Even in countries where homosexuality has been decriminalized, the consciousness of the majority has yet to catch up with reformed laws. In order to completely dispel homophobia from Africa, we may have to employ radically new methods of advocacy that resonate with African philosophies such as Ubuntu. This concept encompasses many values — humaneness, solidarity, interdependence, compassion, respect and dignity. It rejects selfish, paternalistic and restrictive regulations issued by rulers riding high moral horses in complete disregard of the interests of their neighbors, their community and their fellow human beings.
The late Nelson Mandela described this philosophy as “the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others, that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others.”
The homosexuality-is-un-African mantra negates everything that African history and tradition has transmitted to posterity. A tenet of African philosophy holds that “I am because you are.” In short, it matters little about the differences that each one of us displays but much about the essence of humanity that binds us together. What really matters is the respect for human dignity and diversity.
**Originally published on Al Jazeera America. Republished with the author’s permission. Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the views of PRA**
PRA’s senior religion and sexuality researcher Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma published an Op-Ed in the LA Times this morning, detailing U.S. conservative evangelical involvement in the spread of anti-gay legislation across the world.
Uganda has deservedly received widespread attention, but it’s not the only country with a culture war that carries the fingerprints of U.S. campaigners. Nigeria has passed a bill almost identical to Uganda’s, and Cameroon and Zambia are enthusiastically imprisoning LGBTQ people.
And let’s not forget Russia. In 2007, Lively traveled throughout Russia to, as he put it, bring a warning about the “homosexual political movement.” He urged Russians, among other things, “to criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality.” Last year, President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that criminalizes distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors, including any material that “equates the social value of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations.”
Later this year, the World Congress of Families — an Illinois-based conservative umbrella organization — will convene in Russia. As the group’s leader, Larry Jenkins, put it: “We’re convinced that Russia does and should play a very significant role in defense of the family and moral values worldwide. Russia has become a leader of promoting these values in the international arena.”
U.S. culture warriors have strategically focused on countries already suspicious of America, often ones with authoritarian leaders eager to turn public attention away from issues of corruption or economic inequality.
By recasting LGBTQ people in their countries as creations of the West, these leaders both feed on and fuel existing prejudices. Strongly worded statements from President Obama, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon merely reinforce the argument that the West is imposing an international “gay agenda” on unwilling nations. The irony, of course, is that these “anti-Western” policies were created and marketed by Americans.
PRA’s religion and sexuality researcher, Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma (left) and LGBTQ rights researcher, Cole Parke (right)
In the latest issue of the National Journal, Political Research Associates’ researchers Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma and Cole Parke discuss how U.S.-based conservatives are working directly with the governments of nations like Russia and Uganda to bring about anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Things have only gotten worse for LGBT Russians since then: Moscow’s city council passed a 100-year ban against gay-pride parades in 2012; TV personality Anton Krasovsky was fired in 2013 after coming out as gay; and the parliament approved a national version of the propaganda law, which had been overwhelmingly rejected as recently as 2009. When gay Russians have tried to demonstrate in recent years, they’ve been subject to violence from antigay mobs and even the police, who often arrest LGBT activists and leave violent counterprotesters alone. Putin’s government has encouraged the crackdown, finding that strident social conservatism is useful in uniting his base and building power internationally. “He’s saying essentially that to be pro Russia is to be anti-LGBTQ, and to be pro-LGBTQ is to be pro-Western and anti-Russia,” says Cole Parke, who studies LGBTQ rights in Russia for Political Research Associates.
American social conservatives realize that associating with these countries looks bad, but they insist they “hate the sin and love the sinner,” as the saying goes. “We really are not monsters,” Ruse says. “We really do not want to harm anyone.” Indeed, they all distanced themselves from Uganda’s antigay bill when it included the death penalty. Lively, perhaps the most extreme of the bunch, calls even the life-in-prison version overly draconian and says it’s his “biggest failure.”
But for LGBT-rights advocates, that’s not enough. Even if the U.S. conservatives don’t support laws that harm gays, they say, LGBT people are being harmed in places where the Americans work. “The blood of African gays in places like Uganda and other parts of the world is on the hands of the U.S. extreme Right,” [Political Research Associates’ religion and sexuality researcher Kapya] Kaoma says. “When you lie to people, when you tell Ugandans that ‘there is a well-financed group that is coming after your children—defend yourself against this movement,’ they will take the law into their own hands and you don’t know what they’ll do.”
In 2007, Allan Carlson, president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society and founder of the World Congress of Families (WCF), published The Natural Family: A Manifesto alongside Paul Mero, head of the conservative, Mormon-backed Sutherland Institute. That same year Carlson was named one of the “Most Influential Christian Leaders of 2007” by InVictory Media, a Russian-speaking Christian media group affiliated with the WCF.
Jeremy Adam Smith contributed an article to the Winter 2007 edition of The Public Eye on Carlson and Mero’s work and the Christian Right family. In it, he observes, “People who make it their business to track and fight the Right tend, with good reason, to focus on public, political activity, but the Christian Right sees the private home as a major arena of political struggle and a showcase for the world they want to live in.”
Through the strategic monopolization of Christian discourse, Smith writes, “[C]onservative evangelicals have been largely responsible for developing and promoting the anti-gay, anti-feminist ‘family values’ agenda that has powerfully shaped the culture and platform of the Republican Party.”
Smith remained optimistic, however, that the gap between Carlson and Mero’s white-picket fence idealism contrasted with the reality of the average working-class evangelical household would ultimately push their constituency toward a more moderate approach to political and family life.
Six years later, it seems that Carlson might indeed be losing the fight here in the United States. Earlier this year, a Gallup poll revealed that 52% of Americans would vote to make same-sex marriages legal in the United States if given the opportunity, as compared to 1982 when only 32% of Americans were in support of “homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle.” Important questions and debates on the marriage equality movement and queer justice aside, these trends suggest significant challenges at least to the narrowest definitions of family life and values.
Meanwhile, the battle for what Carlson calls the “natural family” rages on elsewhere. Representing the WCF at a panel discussion earlier this month in Kiev entitled “European Integration and the Legislation of Homosexuality in Ukraine,” Don Feder remarked, “America is standing on the edge of an abyss – please don’t join us there.”
Seeing the U.S. as a doomed cesspool of sinful ungodliness, it seems that our most famous family “experts” are taking their rhetoric elsewhere. Scott Lively of Watchmen on the Walls and Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage have both made recent visits to Russia, and Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute is scheduled to make a visit there next week at the invitation of the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith.
Despite being cast out of both the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association, Cameron’s pseudo-scientific studies continue to function as artillery for anti-gay crusaders who gladly grant him all the undeserved credibility he desires. (For example, Allan Carlson and Paul Mero cite Cameron in their 2008 publication, The Natural Family: Bulwark of Liberty.)
When he visited Moscow in 2008, Cameron spoke at a round table sponsored by the Russian Orthodox Church, spreading his homophobic lies and urging Russians to support Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s Gay Pride ban. This time around his visit will coincide with the Russian Public Movement’s “Future without Homosexuality” conference, and he is expected to meet with members of the scientific community as well as with government representatives.
As we continue to track the role of the Christian Right in the political sphere, let’s not forget that the battleground extends far beyond the halls of government, and far beyond the borders of this country. Our families, our friends, and our neighbors (both here in the U.S. and all around the world) are under attack.
Roger Ross Williams is a television and film writer, director, and producer whose most recent project, the documentary God Loves Uganda, focuses on the work of American evangelical Christian missionaries in Africa. Williams decided to focus on Uganda after a bill that would make homosexuality punishable by death was debated in the country’s Parliament in 2009. His research for the project began with Globalizing the Culture Wars (2009), a report published by Political Research Associates (PRA) and written by PRA’s religion and sexuality researcher, Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma. Read More →
Tomorrow in Park City, Utah, will be the world debut of GodLoves Uganda, a documentary on the U.S. Christian Right spreading homophobia abroad that builds on Political Research Associates’ research.
PRA religion and sexuality researcher Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma is a prominent expert voice in the film. He is the author of two PRA investigative reports on Africa, our 2012 Colonizing African Values and 2009 Globalizing the Culture Wars, which exposed Scott Lively and Rick Warren’s role in the creation of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill.
Rev. Kaoma will be attending the week of Sundance screenings along with Director Roger Ross Williams and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo.
From the festival website:
A battle rages in East Africa, where crosses replace guns and shouts of prayer roar louder than missiles. American evangelical Christians have chosen Uganda, with Africa’s youngest and most vulnerable population, as their ground zero in a battle for the soul of a continent. American missionaries and religious leaders are working with African pastors in a radical campaign to eradicate sin through the most extreme measures. The stakes are nothing less than life and death.
Rev. Kaoma will also share his experiences as a social justice researcher and Episcopal priest on Sunday’s “Taking a Stand” panel with changemakers from two other documentaries.
Visit the documentary’s website for more information, and look out for continuing PRA research on the exportation of antigay ideology to Africa and Latin America. Faith leaders are particularly encouraged to request to host a film screening.
If you agree this is important work, consider a donation to PRA to help us continue investigating the U.S. right-wing exporting homophobia abroad.
Update 1/19/13: Watch the newly released trailer–including Rev. Kaoma’s narrative commentary.
“The New Fascists” An interview with author Spencer Sunshine by Public Eye editor Abby Scher.
On September 8, 2007 in Sydney, Australia, the antiglobalization movement mobilized once again against neoliberal economic policies, this time to oppose the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit. Just as during the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, Washington, in 1999, the streets were filled with an array of groups, such as environmentalists, socialists, and human rights advocates. And also just like in Seattle, there was a “Black Bloc”—a group of militant activists, usually left-wing anarchists, who wore masks and dressed all in black.
In Sydney, the Black Bloc assembled and hoisted banners proclaiming “Globalization is Genocide.” But when fellow demonstrators looked closely, they realized these Black Bloc marchers were “National-Anarchists”—local fascists dressed as anarchists who were infiltrating the demonstration. The police had to protect the interlopers from being expelled by irate activists.
Since then, the National-Anarchists have joined other marches in Australia and in the United States; in April 2008, they protested on behalf of Tibet against the Chinese government during the Olympic torch relay in both Canberra, Australia, and San Francisco. In September, U.S. National-Anarchists protested the Folsom Street Fair, an annual gay “leather” event held in San Francisco.
While these may seem like isolated incidents of quirky subterfuge, these quasi-anarchists are an international export of a new version of fascism that represent a significant shift in the trends and ideology of the movement. National-Anarchists have adherents in Australia, Great Britain, the United States, and throughout continental Europe, and in turn are part of a larger trend of fascists who appropriate elements of the radical Left. Like “Autonomous Nationalists” in Germany and the genteel intellectual fascism of the European New Right, the National-Anarchists appropriate leftist ideas and symbols, and use them to obscure their core fascist values. The National-Anarchists, for example, denounce the centralized state, capitalism, and globalization — but in its place they seek to establish a system of ethnically pure villages.
In 1990, Chip Berlet showed in Right Woos Left how the extreme Right in the United States has made numerous overtures to the Left. “The fascist Right has wooed the progressive Left primarily around opposition to such issues as the use of U.S. troops in foreign military interventions, support for Israel, the problems of CIA misconduct and covert action, domestic government repression, privacy rights, and civil liberties.”1 More recently, the fascist Right has also tried to build alliances based on concern for the environment, hardline antizionism, and opposition to globalization.
Fascism has become increasingly international in the post World War II period, particularly with the rise of the internet. One of the most obvious results of this internationalization is the continual flow of European ideas to the United States; for example, the Nazi skinhead movement originated in Britain and quickly spread to the United States. In trade, Americans have exported the Ku Klux Klan to Europe and smuggled Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi literature into Germany.2
The National-Anarchist idea has spread around the world over the internet. The United States hosts only a few web sites, but the trend so far has been towards a steady increase. But it represents what many see as the potential new face of fascism. By adopting selected symbols, slogans and stances of the left-wing anarchist movement in particular, this new form of postwar fascism (like the European New Right) hopes to avoid the stigma of the older tradition, while injecting its core fascist values into the newer movement of antiglobalization activists and related decentralized political groups. Simultaneously, National-Anarchists hope to draw members (such as reactionary counter-culturalists and British National Party members) away from traditional White Nationalist groups to their own blend of what they claim is “neither left nor right.”3
Despite this claim, National-Anarchist ideology is centered directly on what scholar Roger Griffin defines as the core of fascism: “palingenetic populist ultranationalism.” “Palingenetic,” he says, is a “generic term for the vision of a radically new beginning which follows a period of destruction or perceived dissolution.” Palingenetic ultranationalism therefore is “one whose mobilizing vision is that of the national community rising phoenix like after a period of encroaching decadence which all but destroyed it.”4
For the National-Anarchists, this “ultranationalism” is also their main ideological innovation: a desire to create a stateless (and hence “anarchist”) system of ethnically pure villages. Troy Southgate, their leading ideologue, says “we just want to stress that National-Anarchism is an essential racialist phenomenon. That’s what makes it different.” 5
Why should we pay attention to such new forms of fascism? There is no immediate threat of fascism taking power in the established western liberal democracies; the rise to power of Mussolini and Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s occurred in a different era and under different social conditions than those that exist today. Nonetheless, much is at stake.
These new permutations have the potential of playing havoc on social movements, drawing activists out from the Left into the Right. For example, when the Soviet Union collapsed, a number of non-Communist left-wing groups suddenly emerged in Russia offering the promise of a more egalitarian society sans dictatorship. However, the group that became dominant was the National Bolsheviks, who are probably the most successful contemporary Third Position fascist group (see glossary). Catching the imagination of disaffected youth by taking up many left-wing stances and engaging in direct action, they successfully obliterated their rivals by absorbing their demographic base en masse. The left-wing groups disappeared and the National Bolsheviks remain a powerful political movement today with a huge grassroots and youth base. As they grow older, they will remain influential in Russian politics for decades.
Even when small, Jeffrey Bale suggests it is important to pay attention to these fascist sects because they can serve as transmission belts for unconventional political ideas, influence more mainstream groups, and link up into transnational networks.6
Over the years, the antiglobalization movement has also created an opening for these Left-Right alliances. The Dutch antiracist group De Fabel van de illegaal pulled out of the antiglobalization movement in 1998 because of its links with far right forces. Pat Buchanan, the paleoconservative politician who holds racist and antisemitic views, spoke on a Teamsters Union platform during the demonstrations against the IMF/ World Bank in Washington D.C. in April 2000.7 Meanwhile, racists like Louis Beam (who has worked with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations) and Matt Hale (of the World Church of the Creator) praised the Seattle demonstrations against the World Trade Organization in 1999.8
At the same time, parts of the anti-imperialist Left (including some anarchists) have built alliances with reactionary Islamist movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah, called for open acceptance of antisemitism, and embraced nationalist struggles.9 This history prompts many cosmopolitan anarchists to worry that the overtures of newstyle fascists to radical Leftists could meet with some success.
SECT HISTORY AND STRATEGY
The National-Anarchists have their origin in the National Front, a far right British party with an impressive 1977 dark horse electoral success based on their xenophobic anti-immigrant platform. After the election, the group fractured into many internal factions before splintering into different sects. Troy Southgate, the main English-language National-Anarchist ideologue, is a veteran of this internecine maze. He joined the National Front in 1984, and subsequently joined a splinter group that eventually split again before becoming the National Revolutionary Faction (NRF), a small cadre organization openly calling for armed guerilla warfare.10
In the late 1990s however, the NRF started to morph into the National-Anarchist movement; the two were referred to interchangeably for a number of years, until the NRF disbanded in 2003.11 Southgate’s ideology does not seem to have changed substantially with the shift, and he continues to circulate his NRF-era essays.
The NRF’s only known public action as “National-Anarchists” was to hold an Anarchist Heretics Fair in October 2000, in which a number of fringe-of the-fringe groups participated. However, when they attempted a second fair, a variety of anarchists and anti-fascists blocked it from being held. After the same thing happened in 2001, Southgate and the NRF abandoned this strategy and retreated to purely internet-based propaganda.12
The fair reflected Southgate’s adaptation of the Trotskyist practice of entrism — the strategy of entering other political groups in order to either take them over or break off with a part of their membership.13 Southgate argues, “The NRF uses cadre activists to infiltrate political groups, institutions and services… It is part of our strategy to do this work and, if we are to have any success in the future, it is work that must be done on an increasing basis.”14 He claims that the NRF infiltrated the 1999 Stop the City demonstration and the 2000 May Day protest, as well as activities of the Hunt Saboteurs Association and the Animal Liberation Front.15
Beyond its tactical uses, entrism is a philosophy for the National-Anarchists as they recruit members from the Left and in particular anarchist groups. Instead of simply calling themselves “racist communitarians,” they purposely adopt the label “anarchist” and specifically appropriate anarchist imagery. Examples include the use of a purple star (anarchists typically use either a black star, or a half black star, with the other half designating their specific tendency, i.e., red for unionists, green for environmentalists, etc.), or a red and black star superimposed with a Celtic cross (the latter being a typical symbol of White Nationalists). The allied New Right factions in Australia and the UK also use the “chaos symbol” —an eight pointed star —which they adapt from left-wing counter-cultural anarchists.
The fascist use of the “black bloc” political formation at demonstrations is also an appropriation of anarchist and far left forms. In recent years, German fascists calling themselves Autonomous Nationalists have marched in large black blocs, waving black flags (a symbol of traditional anarchism), and even appropriated the symbolism of the German antifascist groupings.16
As far back as 1984, Pierre André Taguieff, an expert on the European New Right, condemned the “tactic of ideological scrambling systematically deployed by GRECE,” a rightwing think tank that embraced some leftist critiques of advanced capitalism while promoting core fascist ideas.17 Here we see that ideological scrambling deployed on a grassroots level.
It needs to be stressed that, despite the name, National-Anarchists have not emerged from inside the anarchist movement, and, intellectually, their origins are not based in its ideas. Anarchists typically see themselves as part of a cosmopolitan and explicitly antinationalist left-wing movement which seeks to dismantle both capitalism and the centralized state. They seek instead to replace them with decentralized, non-hierarchical, and self-regulating communities. Although similar to Marxists, anarchists are just as adamant in their opposition to racism, sexism, and homophobia as they are to capitalism. In the United States, anarchists were key players in the formation of labor unions, were the only political faction to support gay rights before World War I, were leaders in the free speech movement, and were active in helping to legalize birth control. The White Nationalists’ embrace of the anarchist label and symbolism is more than little ironic, since anarchists have a long history of physically disrupting White Nationalist events, for instance by groups like Anti-Racist Action. Anarchist military units were even formed to fight Franco in Spain and Mussolini in Italy.
THE QUESTION OF “FASCISM”
The National-Anarchists claim they are not “fascist.” Still, Troy Southgate looks to lesser known fascists such as Romanian Iron Guard leader Corneliu Codreanu, and lesser light Nazis like Otto Strasser and Walter Darré. Part of Southgate’s sleight of hand is to claim to be ‘against fascism’ by saying he is socialist (as did Nazis such as Strasser) and by supporting political decentralization (as do contemporary European fascists such as Alain de Benoist). Sometimes he proclaims fascism to be equivalent to the capitalism he opposes, or promoting a centralized state, which he also opposes.
Southgate is undoubtedly sincere in his aversion to the classical fascism of Hitler and Mussolini, and has cited this as a reason for his break from one of the National Front splinter groups. He sees the old fascism as discredited, and an abandonment of the true values of revolutionary nationalism. But his ultimate goal, shared with the European New Right, is to create a new form of fascism, with the same core values of a revitalized community that withstands the decadence of cosmopolitan liberal capitalism. This cannot be done as long as his views are linked in the popular mind to the older tradition.
One of the two main influences on National-Anarchists is a minor current of fascism called Third Position. The origins of Third Position are in National Bolshevism, which originally referred to Communists who sought a national (rather than international) revolution. It soon came to refer to Nazis who sought an alliance with the Soviet Union. The most important of these was “left-wing Nazi ” Otto Strasser, a former Socialist who advocated land redistribution and nationalization of industry. After criticizing Hitler for allying with banking interests, he was expelled from the party. His brother, Gregor Strasser, held similar views but remained a Nazi until 1934, when other Nazis killed him in the Night of the Long Knives.
A number of postwar fascists continued this train of thought, including Francis Parker Yockey and Jean-François Thiriart.18 They saw the United States and liberal capitalism as the primary enemy, sought an alliance with the Soviet Union, and promoted solidarity with Third World revolutionary movements, including Communist revolutions in Asia and Latin American, and Arab anti-Zionists (particularly those with whom they shared antisemitic views). Thiriart’s followers in Italy formed a sect of “Nazi-Maoists” based on these principles, and after a gruesome August 1980 bombing in Bologna which killed 85 people, 40 Italian fascists fled to England, including Robert Fiore.
Fiore was sheltered by National Front member Michael Walker, editor of the Scorpion.19 This paper subsequently spread Third Position and New Right ideas into Britain’s National Front, and Troy Southgate openly credits it as a major influence.20 Third Position ideas also spread through the National Front via the magazine Rising.21 After a 1986 split, this new influence resulted in a reconfiguration of the party’s politics. Prominent members visited Qadafi’s Libya, praised Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini and forged links with the Nation of Islam in the United States.
Southgate claims to have abandoned Third Position fascism.22 This is a duplicitous claim. He has rejected a centralized state, and therefore its ability to nationalize industry or create an “ethnostate.” Nonetheless, National-Anarchists retain the two main philosophical threads of Third Position. The first is the notion of a racist socialism, as a third option between both capitalism and left-wing socialism like Marxism or traditional anarchism.23 The second is the stress on a strategic and conceptual alliance of nationalists (especially in the Third World) against the United States. Just as the National Front praised the Nation of Islam and Qadafi, the National-Anarchists praise Black and Asian racial separatist groups, and support movements for national self-determination, such as the Tibetan independence movement. Unlike many White Nationalists (such as the British National Party), National-Anarchists are pro-Islamist —but only “if they are prepared to confine their struggle to traditionally Islamic areas of the world.”24
As Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons note, Third Position fascism influenced U.S. groups such as the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), the American Front and the National Alliance; Christian Identity pastor Bob Miles also held similar views.25 Often overlooked by commentators is the American Front’s affiliation with Southgate’s NRF, which he boasted of for years.26 Like the National Front, U.S. fascists Tom Metzger and Lyndon LaRouche also forged ties with the Nation of Islam.27 More recently, the National Alliance has incorporated Third Position politics. They attempted to cross-recruit left-wing activists by launching a fake antiglobalization website, and, in August 2002, held a Palestine Solidarity rally in Washington D.C.28
An early attempt to directly transplant National-Anarchist ideology to the United States was made by political provocateur Bill White. Starting his political odyssey as a left-wing anarchist, White briefly adopted a National-Anarchist stance at the height of the antiglobalization movement. He penned an infamous article for Pravda online in November 2001, which falsely claimed that National-Anarchists were part of anarchist black blocs.29 Later White linked up with the National Alliance before embracing the undiluted Nazism of the National Socialist Movement.
Currently there are two U.S. websites directly affiliated with the National-Anarchists.30 One is the work of a prolific Christian ex-Nazi skinhead, while the Bay Area site has established a regional “network.” It is this small group that claims to have taken part in demonstrations for Tibetan independence and protests against the Folsom Street Fair.
Additionally, as an identity within the White Nationalist scene, National-Anarchists continue to attract a number of followers in the United States. For example, one of the early collaborators of the Oregon-based magazine Green Anarchy affiliated with their perspective.31 U.S. National-Anarchists also frequently enter into discussions on Stormfront, the main internet gathering place for White Nationalists. There they defend their racial-separatist and antisemitic credentials to traditional fascists, many of whom look upon Third Position politics with skepticism, if not outright hostility. Apparently hearing White Nationalists promoting Islamist, Communist, and anarchist thinkers is as difficult for some of the Right to digest as it is for the Left.
BENOIST AND THE EUROPEAN NEW RIGHT
Besides Third Position fascism, the other major ideological influence on the National-Anarchists is the European New Right, especially the thinker Alain de Benoist. National-Anarchists have adopted his ideas about race, political decentralization, and the “right to difference.”
Benoist founded the think-tank GRECE, and has spent his life creating an intellectually respectable edifice for a core of fascist ideas. Like Southgate, Benoist loudly proclaims that he is not a fascist, but scholars such as Roger Griffin disagree. Griffin says that the New Right “could by the end of the 1980s be credited with the not inconsiderable achievement of having carried out a ‘makeover’ of classic fascist discourse so successfully that, at least on the surface it was changed beyond recognition.”32
Benoist extended the notion of an alliance of European nations with the Third World against their main enemies: the United States, liberalism, and capitalism. But against the fascists who desired a united Europe under a super-state, Benoist instead calls for radical federalism and the political decentralization of Europe. Roger Griffin describes this vision as:
The pluralistic, multicultural society of liberal democracy was to give way, not to a culturally, coordinated, charismatic, and, in the case of Nazism, racially pure, national community coterminous with the nation-state, but to an alliance of homogeneous ethnic-cultural communities ethnies within the framework of a federalist European “empire.”33
Benoist also incorporates many sophisticated left-wing critiques, sometimes sounding like a Frankfurt School Marxist. Today he denounces capitalism, imperialism, liberalism, the consumer society, Christianity, universalism, and egalitarianism; he defends paganism, “organic democracy,” and the Third World. He questions the role of unbridled technology and supports environmentalism and a kind of feminism.34 He also rejects biological determinism and embraces a notion of race that is cultural.35 Southgate follows practically all of these positions, which are not necessarily present in Third Position.
Because of these views, the European New Right is very different from the U.S. New Right, whose Christianity and free market views are anathema to the Europeans. The Europeans are closer to the paleoconservative tradition in the United States, and connect with The Rockford Institute, publisher of Chronicles.
Benoist’s main intellectual formulation is the “right to difference,” which upholds the cultural homogeneity and separateness of distinct ethnic-cultural groups. In this sense, he extends the anti-imperialist Left’s idea of “national self-determination” to micro-national European groupings (sometimes called “the Europe of a Hundred Flags”). The “right to difference” has influenced the anti-immigrant policies of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France, and a number of GRECE members joined this party, even though Benoist himself rejects Le Pen.36
Benoist has also influenced U.S. White separatism. Usually based around the demand for a separate White nation in parts of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, this became a popular idea in White Nationalist circles starting in the early 1980s.37 This decentralized regional perspective was matched by decentralized organizational schemas which emerged at the same time. Louis Beam advocated “leaderless resistance,” and the “lone wolf” strategy for far-right terrorism38, while Christian Identity Pastor Bob Miles started referring himself as a “klanarchist.”
Inverting language, Benoist claims that he is an antiracist. Racism, he argues, is a function of universalistic ideologies like liberalism and Marxism, which purportedly wipe out regional and ethnic identities. He says “Racism is nothing but the denial of difference.”39 But Taguieff, a keen observer of the European Right, identifies a “phobia of mixing” at the core of this form of racism. It is part of the “softer, new, and euphemistic forms of racism praising difference (heterophilia) and substituting ‘culture’ for ‘race.’”40
The influence of these New Right ideas on the National-Anarchists is explicit. In Australia, the National-Anarchist group is for all practical reasons coextensive with “New Right Australia/New Zealand” and at one point they claimed that “New Right is the theory, National-Anarchism the practice.”41 In Britain, Troy Southgate has been involved in New Right meetings since 2005.42 But while Benoist claims that he does not hate immigrants, repudiates antisemitism, and endorses feminism, the National-Anarchists show what New Right ideas look like in practice: crude racial separatism, open antisemitism, homophobia, and antifeminism. The “right to difference” becomes separate ethnic villages.
The New Right also has had a limited influence on elements of the Left intelligentsia. In the United States, the influential journal Telos (known for disseminating Western Marxist texts into English) moved rightward in the 1990s as its editor showed sympathy for Europe’s New Right and published Benoist’s works.43 It continues to publish Benoist, and explores the thought of Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt. Many Leftists now consider the once venerable journal anathema.44
Although Benoist advocates decentralized federalist political structures, the Australian National-Anarchists make clear that he does not go so far as to advocate anarchism itself.45 Instead the claim to “anarchism” apparently stems from Richard Hunt’s notion of “villages.” Originally an editor at the British magazineGreen Anarchist, which advocated an intensely anti-industrial environmental ethic, Hunt was expelled from the editorial collective for his right-wing views before founding Green Alternative, which is seen as an “ecofascist” publication.
Hunt adopted an apocalyptic, Mad Max-esque vision of a post-industrial society. Southgate comments that “to say that we have been hugely influenced by Richard Hunt’s ideas is an understatement,” and Southgate took over the editorial helm of Hunt’s magazine when he fell ill.46
Hunt’s critique also reverberated with the environmental strain of classical fascism, such as the views of Hitler’s agriculture minister Walter Darré. Southgate openly gushes over Darré’s “Blood and Soil” ideology in one article47 while white-washing him in another, referring to him merely as a “nationalist ecologist.”48 Many other contemporary fascist groups, especially WAR in the United States, also embrace environmentalism.
HOMOPHOBIA, ANTISEMITISM, ANTIFEMINISM
The National-Anarchists are quite open about their antifeminism and desire to exile queer people into separate spaces, but tend to hide their deeply antisemitic worldview. Troy Southgate says of feminism, “Feminism is dangerous and unnatural… because it ignores the complimentary relationship between the sexes and encourages women to rebel against their inherent feminine instincts.”49
The stance on homophobia is more interesting. Southgate said:
Homosexuality is contrary to the Natural Order because sodomy is quite undeniably an unnatural act. Groups such as Outrage are not campaigning for love between males — which has always existed in a brotherly or fatherly form — but have created a vast cult which has led to a rise in cottaging, male-rape and child sex attacks… But we are not trying to stop homosexuals engaging in this kind of activity like the Christian moralists or bigoted denizens of censorship are doing, on the contrary, as long as this behaviour does not affect the forthcoming National-Anarchist communities then we have no interest in what people get up to elsewhere.50
What this means in his schema is that queer people will be given their own separate “villages.” The recent National-Anarchist demonstrations in San Francisco were against two majority-queer events, the Folsom Street Fair and the related fair Up Your Alley. Their orchestrator, “Andy,” declares that he is a “racist” who hates queer people.
Andy also denies the charge of antisemitism against National-Anarchists, claiming that they merely engage in a “continuous criticism of Israel and its supporters,”51 as do the majority of Leftists and anarchists. Once again, this is a typical disingenuous attempt by National-Anarchists to duck criticism. Antisemitism is an important element of the political world views of Southgate and Herfurth.
Southgate actively promotes the work of Holocaust deniers, including the Institute for Historical Review, and holds party line antisemitic beliefs about the role of the international Jewish conspiracy. As a dodge, he sometimes uses the euphemism “Zionist”; for instance, he says “Zionists are well known for their cosmopolitan perspective upon life, not least because those who rally to this nefarious cause have no organic roots of their own.”52 In another interview he says that, “there is no question that the world is being ruthlessly directed (but perhaps not completely controlled) by International Zionism. This has been achieved through the rise of the usurious banking system.”53 And he describes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a forgery which is the world’s most popular antisemitic text) as a book which “although still unproven, accords with the main events in modern world history.”54
Meanwhile, his Australian counterpart Welf Herfurth is even more explicit in his neo-Nazi antisemitic views. In one speech, he describes the Holocaust as an “extrapolation” that “has been an enormously profitable one for the Jews, and one which has brought post-war Germany and Europe to its knees,” before referring to Israel as “the most powerful state in the Western world.” Herfurth concludes that “by liberating Germany from the bondage to Israel and restructuring a new Germany on the basis of a new ‘volksgemeinschaft,’ the German nationalists will liberate Europe, and the West as well.”55
Recently new groups of National-Anarchists, recruited through Southgate’s internet activism, have made the leap from contemplating their idiosyncratic ideas on the internet into making them the basis of really-existing politics, by joining demonstrations in Australia and San Francisco. Web pages and blogs continue to pop up in different countries and languages.
The danger National-Anarchists represent is not in their marginal political strength, but in their potential to show an innovative way that fascist groups can rebrand themselves and reset their project on a new footing. They have abandoned many traditional fascist practices—including the use of overt neo-Nazi references, and recruiting from the violent skinhead culture. In its place they offer a more toned down, sophisticated approach. Their cultural references are the neo-folk and gothic music scene, which puts on an air of sophistication, as opposed to the crude skinhead subculture. National-Anarchists abandon any obvious references to Hitler or Mussolini’s fascist regimes, often claiming not to be “fascist” at all.
Like the European New Right, the National-Anarchists adapt a sophisticated left-wing critique of problems with contemporary society, and draw their symbols and cultural orientation from the Left; then they offer racial separatism as the answer to these problems. They are attempting to use this new form to avoid the stigma of the old discredited fascism, and if they are successful like the National Bolsheviks have been in Russia, they will breathe new life into their movement. Even if the results are modest, this can disrupt left-wing social movements and their focus on social justice and egalitarianism; and instead spread elitist ideas based on racism, homophobia, antisemitism and antifeminism amongst grassroots activists.
Fascism: Fascism is an especially virulent form of far-right populism. Fascism glorifies national, racial, or cultural unity and collective rebirth while seeking to purge imagined enemies, and attacks both left-wing movements and liberal pluralism. Fascism first crystallized in Europe in response to the Bolshevik Revolution and the devastation of World War I, and then spread to other parts of the world. Postwar fascists have reinterpreted fascist ideology and strategy in various ways to fit new circumstances.
Third Position: Third Position politics are a minor branch of fascist thought. It rejects both liberal capitalism and Marxism for a kind of racially based socialism. Its main precursors are the National Bolsheviks, who were a fusion of nationalism and communism, and the Strasser brothers, key figures in the “left-wing” of the Nazi party. Third Positionists tend to support national liberation movements in the Third World, seek alliances with other ethnic separatists, and have recently supported environmentalism.
Jeffrey Bales, “ ‘National revolutionary’ groupuscules and the resurgence of ‘left-wing’ fascism: the case of France’s Nouvelle Résistance,” Patterns of Prejudice, v36 #3 (2002), pp. 25–26.
Anti-Fascist Forum, ed., My Enemy’s Enemy (Montreal: Kersplebedeb, 2003), p. 31.
Don Hammerquist, J. Sakai, et al., Confronting Fascism (Montreal: Kersplebedeb, et al, 2002), pp. 35–38.
On the alliance between certain sectors of the antiglobalization movement and Islamist factions, see Andrew Higgins, “Anti-Americans on the March,” Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2006, p. A1. For an example of contemporary left-wing calls to openly tolerate antisemitism, see Rami El-Amine, “Islam and the Left,” Upping the Anti #5, October 2007.
Cited in Roger-Pol Droit, “The Confusion of Ideas,” Telos 98-99, (Winter 1993-Spring 1994), p. 138. GRECE stands for the “Groupement de recherche et d’études pour la civilisation européenne” – the “Research and Study Group for European Civilization.”
Martin A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens(Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1997), pp. 168-83; Kevin Coogan, Dreamer of the Day (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1999), pp. 191–92. For Yockey’s influence on Southgate, see Macklin, p. 320.
Lee, p. 450 n40. See also Southgate, “Transcending the Beyond.”
Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America (New York & London: Guilford Press, 2000), pp. 269–70; see also Betty Dobratz and Stephanie Shanks-Meile, “White Power, White Pride!” The White Separatist Movement in the United States (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997), pp. 262–67. On Miles, see Lee, pp. 340-41.
Southgate says, “We also have an excellent relationship with National-Bolsheviks like the American Front (AF), who, despite the fact that they do not share our anarchistic tendencies, are basically working for very similar objectives.” “Synthesis Editor Troy Southgate, Interviewed by Dan Ghetu.”
folkandfaith.com is based in Idaho Falls, Idaho. bayareanationalanarchists.com/blog is based in California’s Bay Area. As unlikely as this location may seem, the NRF-affiliated fascist skinhead gang the American Front originated there as well. attackthesystem.com is another site sympathetic to National-Anarchists.
See Griffin; The U.S.-based Green Anarchy is not to be confused with the UK-based Green Anarchist, despite shared ideology. Green Anarchy has explicitly denounced National-Anarchism.
Many fascist intellectuals have held this view, including early Nazi leader Otto Strasser, Italian occult philosopher Julius Evola, U.S. Third Position theorist Francis Parker Yockey, and German Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt. For a discussion of “spiritual” versus “biological” race, see Coogan, 313 n38, p. 481. See also Lee, pp. 96.
“Three Interviews with Alain de Benoist,” Telos, nos. 98- 99, (Winter 1993-Spring 1994), pp. 173–207.
Dobratz and Shanks-Meile, p. 99.
See Jeffrey Kaplan, “Leaderless Resistance,” Terrorism and Political Violence 9 no. 3, (Autumn 1997), pp. 80–95; see also Dobratz and Shanks-Meile, pp. 171-74, pp. 267–68. For the influence on Troy Southgate, see Macklin, p. 312. Beam’s essay is also reproduced on the Australian National-Anarchist site.
“Three Interviews with Alain de Benoist,” p. 180.
Pierre-André Taguieff, “The New Right’s Vision of European Identity,” Telos, nos. 98-99, Winter 1993- Spring 1994; p. 123.
Troy Southgate, “The Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic.” On the link between German Nazis and ecology, see Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons From the German Experience (San Francisco: AK Press, 1995).