Tuesday, 6 May 2014

AN INTRODUCTION TO NATIONAL ANARCHISM

Tradition and Revolution 
by Troy Southgate
Arktos, 350 pages
Available for purchase from Amazon here

Reviewed by Siryako Akda

I first heard of Troy Southgate while browsing Jonathan Bowden's work in the British New Right back in 2009. Back then I only knew that he was some kind of musician and cultural figure. I never really had the chance to examine much of his work online, except for brief excerpts here and there, usually in relation with Bowden's work. It was only later on that I learned that Southgate was a National Anarchist, a topic which intrigued me for quite some time.

I have to admit that Anarchism is barely known in the Philippines. Classical Anarchism was briefly introduced to this country by Isabelo De Los Reyes, but never really became a major force in Philippine politics. There were Anarchist movements in other Asian countries, namely in Korea, Japan and China but these remained marginal movements which briefly existed at the turn of the 20th Century and faded away after the second world war.

However, after having studied the ideas of more contemporary thinkers, such as Welf Herfurth, Mark Dyal, those associated with Casa Pound and other unconventional rightwing types, I soon grew interested, not necessarily in National Anarchism, but in the New Right tendency which seems to be moving closer towards Anarchism. It is for this reason why I think the ideas of Troy Southgate, along with other National Anarchists, are valuable since they offer a different context for right wing ideas.

Despite the implicit egalitarianism of classical Anarchism, the fluidity of Anarchism has lead to the so-called Anarchism of the Right, which derives from such men as Ernst Junger, the Strasser brothers and to some extent, even Nietzsche. This dynamic evolution is among the reasons why I am intrigued by National Anarchism, and its contemporary influence on what could be called the Far Right.

In Tradition and Revolution, one gets an excellent introduction to Anarcho-Nationalism/Tribalism. Troy Southgate’s essays, interviews, poems and short stories give readers a general impression of what it means to be a National Anarchist, what they stand for and their criticisms of traditional right wing movements, particularly those which are closely aligned with statist ideologies.

On the other hand, it's hard to talk about Southgate’s ideas based just on this book as it is an anthology, and also because it has no central thesis other than a hostility to the state and the affirmation of tribe and identity. However, even when read in no particular order, Southgate’s book gives a general impression of what kind of man he is, where he came from, where he wants to go and most importantly, his own convictions.

Southgate’s writings and interviews are closer to the work of Alinsky than to a De Benoit or a Dugin. Not only does he discuss entryism, but also homeschooling, the inevitability of depopulation as well as the flaws and triumphs of previous right-wing movements, both in Britain as well as in the Continent.

Many of Southgate’s essays also tackle which strategies work and which ones don’t, which of them are workable and which are flights of fancy. This, I think, is important because despite the wealth of metapolitical and literary work coming from the so-called Dark Enlightenment as well as the New Right and the Alternative Right, the harsh, painful transition into real world politics is yet to be achieved in the Western World. Southgate’s book is, I think, an attempt to rectify this issue even in a relatively small way by providing the reader with the comments and opinions of a man who is both a man of action as well as a man of thought.

Moreover, Southgate's willingness to talk about the late Muammar Gaddafi's Green Book as well as the Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran shows that he has no qualms about looking to other sources for revolutionary inspiration. In “The Way of The Fanatic,” for example, he describes the importance of having a transcendental vision in order to overcome a decaying and corrupt society, which although derived from foreign sources, is recontextualized to fit in with the revolutionary needs of people in the UK.

In this sense, Southgate’s philosophy can best be described as the periphery against the center. It is about creating a counter-elite and an organic society at the jagged edges of modernity's complex networks in order to create a social order that runs parallel to the existing zeitgeist. It is about creating an alternative view of society, and about creating cohesion amidst atomization. Although not particularly original, it remains a practical strategy for practical politics.

On the other hand, National Anarchism can easily be lampooned as just another right wing myth of going "innawoods." However, Southgate's views and ideas are based on a lucid reading of history, particularly in relation to Fascism, National Socialism and Nationalist political parties, including their mistakes and triumphs. This lucidity is balanced by a strange affinity with esoteric spirituality (Ley Lines and Runic Magic) as well as an eccentric openness to marginalized opinions and ideas, even among those who may not belong to what is considered as the far right.

Consider Southgate's own populist bent, his working class background as well as his criticisms of rightwing statism, I suppose one could say that it was inevitable for him to become a National Anarchist. This trajectory is important because both Southgate's activities and ideas embody a "New Rightness" in the sense that it wishes to adapt to the emerging realities of the post-modern world as opposed to imposing traditional right-wing ideas and critiques onto a world where they are no longer likely to work.

It's also worth mentioning that there's a streak of Nietzscheanism in Southgate’s National Anarchism which echoes many of the ideas espoused by the likes of Mark Dyal and Jack Donovan. What's important is that these impulses recode right wing thought to become less about defense and conservation of what exists, and more about affirmation of what is to come. This, I think, is why I am drawn to the ideas of National Anarchists like Troy Southgate, since they are not so much about preservation, but more about resurrection.


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