Saturday, March 26, 2016

The boy who cried "fascist"

Over at Gods and Radicals, Rhyd Wildermuth has a piece up fretting about the New Right and its influence in modern neopaganism and Heathenry. For those who are unfamiliar with it, Gods and Radicals is an explicitly political blog that embraces anti-capitalism, and is comprised of "socialists, or anarchists, or Marxists, or radical feminists, or communists. Some of us have no political affiliation."

So you get an idea where they're coming from.

He starts with a definition of the term New Right, which would be wonderful, except that the definition they give is so removed from the reality of what the New Right actually is, and is so laden with deliberate falsehoods, that it is useless. This is what he has:
The New Right is a Anglo-European intellectual, political, social, and cultural movement gaining influence within Paganism, Polytheism, Heathenism, and the Occult communities. Generally called either ‘proto-fascists’ or ‘crypto-fascists,’ their ideology mirrors many aspects of what we might call ‘traditional’ Fascists, though only a few on the New Right claim that identity.
Wow. Let's break that down, because he manages not only to get the most basic facts about the New Right wrong, but he manages to insult just about the whole of the neopagan and Heathen communities into the bargain. His definition doesn't even start with what the members of the New Right supposedly believe, he places the emphasis on the fact that Pagans, Polytheists, Heathens, and Occultists are being influenced by it. Just the fact that it has "Right" in the name is apparently sufficient for that to be a bad thing, in and of itself. And the poor deluded fools in the neopagan and occult communities either don't realize they're tools of the New Right, or they are actively working to undermine their fellows with New Right ideology.

Because Rhyd has to be correct, objectively. There are no differences of opinion with him and his ilk, no disagreements between people of goodwill. He is right, and anyone who disagrees is not only wrong, but either willfully evil or duped by people who are willfully evil. Never forget that is the mindset you're dealing with in this piece.

Because they know how to find the
"hidden fascists". Telepathy, maybe?
But the second part of his so-called definition is what really is just laughably scare-mongering. The New right is "generally either called 'proto-fascists' or 'crypto-fascists'"? By whom? Rhyd and his friends? Because the New Right certainly doesn't generally call itself that. So right off the bat, he's offering a definition that is deliberately calculated to evoke a negative emotional response, and that was created by those who already don't agree with the New Right for precisely that purpose.

In fact, he even explicitly states that "only a few on the New Right claim that [fascist] identity." Well, of course, because they're not in any way, shape, matter, or form fascists. Their ideology doesn't "mirror many aspects of what we might call 'traditional' Fascists", either. Want the definition of fascism?
A political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
It's also worth mentioning that fascism was originally (and properly) viewed as a phenomenon of the political Left, and the lefties of the 20's were gushing in their praise of Mussolini and, to a certain extent, Hitler.

Feelin' the Bern, 89 years early. Ouch, that's awkward...
Now, I am certainly not here to present a detailed defense of the New Right against the accusations of this clown. But that definition above is entirely at odds with the things that Rhyd claims that the New Right stands for just in the next section of his article:
  • "Society needs to return to a more noble, healthy, and ‘natural’ order"
  • "European peoples as part of a coherent racial, ethnic, and/or cultural group whose fates are tied together and are separate from other peoples"
  • "A return to ‘older relationships’ between humans and the Sacred"
  • "Nationalist identity through relationship to land (European lands, primarily) and the desire to protect it from foreigners"
  • "Immigrants and particularly Muslims are the primary ‘enemy at the gates’ in European New Right movements, as in North America"
Gotta say, I don't find much in there that is particularly offensive (once you strip out Rhyd's hysterical additions), unless one is coming at things from an explicitly left-wing point of view, where race is a social construct, nationalism is a bad thing, and multiculturalism is a success (and, presumably, the sky is green). But the point is that none of that comes even remotely close to the actual definition of fascism.*

One of the (many) bits of irony in Rhyd's screed is when he claims that the New Right "...creates group identity and coherence through focusing on external human threats," because that is exactly, precisely, what he himself is doing in this post. The New Right is his external human threat. But apparently that's okay when you're "otherizing" people who hold the wrong ideological position (because that's something that the coming re-education camps can fix, I suppose).

Rhyd's world-view, apparently.
While others have made general responses to Rhyd's piece, broadly pointing out that he's using the term fascist without the slightest idea of what it really means, making false equivalenciesusing the tactics of fascism to accuse others of being fascist themselvesexposing his shameful guilt-by-association tactics, and mentioning that he's simply trying to shame others into changing their evil ways because they are not sufficiently ideologically pure for Rhyd's taste, I'm going to turn my sights on the specific accusations he levels at Heathenry. Because, after all, I'm a Heathen.

First, he makes the following claim about the New Right:
Though many are overtly racist, some (including Stephen McNallen of AFA) claim they are working for the liberation of all separate people groups. The key word here is separate.
Well, yes. Because groups, by definition, are separate things. To group things is to separate them from the things that are not in the group. But of course Rhyd thinks it's perfectly fine for some groups to have "liberation" and self-determination, just not groups he doesn't like. Like people of European descent. There's a word for thinking that some races are entitled to superior treatment than other races, but it eludes me at the moment. Hmm...

He then goes on to describe Stephen McNallen as the "founder of AFA and published author with Counter-Currents. Has repeatedly made anti-Muslim statements and advocated for Traditionalism, Tribalism, and racial separatism."

Well, he got the first three words right (WTG Rhyd!). Stephen McNallen is the founder of the AFA (and, as Stephen Grundy (aka Kveldulf Gundersson and Warder of the Lore for the Troth) has observed, the founder of Asatru in America**).

But a "published author with Counter-Currents"? (Counter-Currents is a notable New Right website.) That's simply factually incorrect. He's not listed as an author there, none of the books that they publish were written by him, and a search of the site shows simply that he's been mentioned in some posts, but nothing that he's written. So, I'm going to call that an outright lie by Rhyd.

Has McNallen made anti-Muslim statements? Abso-fucking-lutely, and unapologetically, too. But everyone who recognizes that Islamic terrorism is a threat, and the failure of Muslim immigrants to assimilate is a problem, and that Muslim "refugees" have engaged in a wave of rape and sexual abuse of European women (not to mention myriad other crimes) since they've started coming to Europe in numbers does not make one a bad person. It makes them a person not blinded by Political Correctness.

And he's "advocated for Traditionalism". Heavens! What a crime! Apparently it is, if you're an anti-capitalist anarchist "queer hooligan, and dream-soaked leftist bard" whatever-the-fuck-he-is. There's nothing wrong with tradition. If we didn't care about tradition, we wouldn't be interested in the traditional gods and religion of our folk. Only someone immersed in a Marxist view of history fears and loathes the past in that way.

Having a thousand tribes doing their own thing doesn't count?
Tribalism? Again, Rhyd throws that out there like being a tribalist is in and of itself an evil thing. For someone who thinks that everyone should be a member of some formless and faceless proletarian mass, where people aren't individuals, or members of groups, but interchangeable economic units (hmmm... much like big business tends to see people; we are the thing we fear most, it seems), perhaps. But there are millions of people in this world who advocate, practice, and have absolutely no problem with tribalism. Theodism and a ton of Asatru groups organize themselves into tribes and kindreds; I'm very sure at least some Celtic groups do, too. Or perhaps Rhyd simply has a problem with people of the wrong skin color belonging to tribes.

What is that word that describes what Rhyd is doing there? I'm sure it'll come to me.

Rhyd also makes the unsubstantiated claim that McNallen advocates racial separatism. Now, I know that McNallen advocates racial self-determination, and in that includes people of all races and ethnicities, but if he has made arguments in favor of racial separatism, I am unaware of them. But of course as usual Rhyd just throws out accusations without any documentation or sources, so it's impossible to tell just what the hell he's talking about. Immigration? Intermarriage? Ghettos? School busing? Who the hell knows. But it's enough for Rhyd's purpose to tar his opponents with the brush that implies "racist", which is of course the absolute worst insult that can be made.

His ham-fisted and juvenile swipes at the founder of Asatru in the United States aside**, Rhyd just keeps piling on the unsubstantiated and often completely factually wrong statements. He most certainly doesn't like sacral kingship:
Many New Right theorists believe in ideas such as ‘sacred kingship’ (that is, ‘Divine Right of Kings’), and even that unequal relations between race, caste, and class are the way Nature intended.
I'm sure the Theodish folks out there will be surprised to find that Rhyd lumps them in with the "fascist" New Right. And I'm sure that Raven Kaldera, who styles himself "king of a small Pagan kingdom" (and outspoken queer and BDSM advocate) will be doubly surprised to find out that he's now a fascist!

But it gets better. Rhyd takes broad swipes at entire categories of neopagan and Heathen faiths. For instance:
Reconstructionism: One of the more significant places where the New Right intersects with Pagan beliefs. Emphasis on returning to ‘reconstructed’ traditions, older (and poorly understood) social forms and hierarchical structures, as well as an emphasis on recovering European heritage are often problematic. Further, nationalistic and racial exclusionist tendencies are often justified as being part of ‘the lore.’
Devotional Polytheism: Similar to the problems in Reconstructionism, but with an extra dimension. Because Devotional Polytheism places final authority in ‘the gods’ and emphasises hierarchical relationships (between human and god, priest and devotee), ethical questions cannot be challenged by concerned people because ‘the gods will it.’
And here we see the root of the problem, not only with this specific essay but with the whole movement embodied by the G&R website in general (and, I might argue, the whole SJW phenomenon). To them, the most important thing is politics, ideology, and The Cause. Anything that might detract or distract from that mission - like the needs of religion, or the Gods, or tradition, or one's tribe - is evil and must be fought.

Now, you might not agree with me about being folkish. People of goodwill can and will disagree and still be civil. But damn, I would hope that you would agree that there are some things more important than some left-wing political agenda.

Like, you know, the Gods, the faith, and the folk.

The New Right, by his own definition, isn't fascist. Rhyd even states explicitly that they don't self-identify as fascist, but then goes on to say that he knows better what lies in their heart (ditto racists). He paints broad swaths of the neopagan community that doesn't happen to be the tiny segment he's a part of as under the insidious influence of the New Right (whose stances are only evil to a true left-wing zealot; it's possible to disagree and not say they're evil), and gets even his basic facts dead wrong. But worst of all, he places his own petty political axes above the Gods, above the needs of our Heathen and neopagan faiths, and above the folk. Because he thinks he knows better than everyone else, and if you don't agree, then you're part of the problem. And if you object, you're just being emotional and over-reacting.

If anyone around here fills the actual definition of fascist (minus the nationalism), it's him. He fancies himself an autocratic leader that can intimidate everyone else into believing what he believes, he wants radical economic redistribution, and he wants to suppress any dissent. Nothing, even the Gods, can get between him and his political goals.

And saying that people who aren't of European heritage should be allowed to do things that people of European heritage aren't worthy of being allowed to do?


* Funny, though, how every time someone accuses Obama of being a Socialist, the SJW's immediately point to the dictionary definition therof, and say he doesn't want the state to own the means of production. But they can toss around the "fascist" label all day long and not come close to the dictionary definition of fascism. Hypocrites.

** "Steve McNallen, the founder of Asatru in the United States and leader of the Asatru Folk Assembly..." (God in Flames, God in Fetters, introduction page x, by Stephan Grundy, Troth Publications, 2015). I will never get tired of citing this quote.

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