fascism, Gods & Radicals, Heathen, huar, marxism, Pagan, Rhyd Wildermuth, ryan smith
You know, I find it impressive when an article trying to defend something comes out the same day I post something I reviewed. Now, I’m pretty sure this is not at all because I’ve drawn attention to something (attention was getting drawn to this before I responded), but it does indicate a level of pre-preparation for what you no doubt suspect is going to be something you have to defend.
Namely, the article that inspired my post the on the 27th, about a bunch of anti-fascists and HUAR going to go “protest” a meet up for the Soldiers of Odin happening on the 30th.
So on a whim, when I hit up patheos to see what is going on and I see HUARian leader Ryan Smith posting an article entitled “Understanding the New Right and Our Movement,” well…we all know what’s going to happen. Now, I’m not going to go over the full thing this time because, really, I don’t have to. But I am going to comment on some key points in his post.
Over the past few months, following the publication of a piece by Gods & Radicals on the New Right and the modern Pagan and polytheistic movements, there has been a great deal of debate and uproar on the subject. Though there have been quite a few eschewing debate for personal attacks, ranging from a recent red-baiting post by John Michael Greer to others unworthy of mention, thankfully in spite of this there have been a number of thoughtful critiques and discussions of the subject. Authors such as River Devora, John Beckett, G.B. Marian, Cold Albion, and many others have offered solid questions and points in this conversation…
You know, I’ve read Greer’s post. It starts of pretty simple, giving objective facts about what G&R has been doing and what those things are. In fact, he doesn’t mention Rhyd until really deep into the article and it hits you out of left field. Because Greer does not in fact make any “personal attacks” against Rhyd. Not in the traditional sense. What Greer does is point out what a demagogue is, what he does, how he does it, and then shows how Rhyd is and does all those things. Indeed, instead of being personal attacks or ad homs, Greer does a very good job of saying “These things are This, Rhyd does these things, ergo Rhyd is This thing.”
It’s a really interesting piece and I do recommend people go and form their own opinions on it. That being said, Greet didn’t do anything to Rhyd in that piece that Rhyd and co haven’t already done to a much larger number of people, including the head of the AFA, McNallen. So really Smith complaining about “personal attacks” when his own side has leveled many a volley is, well, it’s hilarious.
I notice I’m not mentioned in this part. I can never tell if that’s because I’m unknown and thus no one who writes these things has ever heard of me, or if after the memetic destruction I landed upon Halstead during his Atheism Bent for months has earned me the position of “persona no fuck with.”
…In my opinion if there is any major flaw in the work done by Gods & Radicals on this topic it is that further explanation of the particulars of how the New Right operates, not just the what used by them, is necessary. However, it is worth pointing out going into detail on these matters would have produced a small novel’s worth of material to read through and probably wouldn’t have been suitable for the intended platform.
Did…Smith just say that “the work would be too hard to publish on a blog,” cause it sounds like just said that. Despite the fact that a blog tends to have near infinite amount of storage space for written posts (I’ve clocked in over thousand, personally), and is used as a medium from news sites to serial stories to webcomics, all of which can have years and years worth of materials all at the same time, kinda disproves his “not suitable for this platform.” Business.
It’s a clever dodge, I’ll give. No blog could handle it, people wouldn’t read it anyways, (and I’m sure there some line somewhere about how such a dangerous book could never be published). But I mean, really, if there is this much material why don’t you anti-fascists publish all your research as an ebook that can be gotten on Amazon or something?
Am I the only one left with the sinking suspicion that more detailed works will not appear because their information will be easily refuted, their claims examined and found wanting, and their overall design no different than what they claim the New Right is all about?
It is my hope, in the spirit of the other bloggers who have taken up this topic, to move this aspect of the discussion forward. I believe this element, critical to our understanding of the problem of the New Right, is one that needs further attention and care. There are two key aspects to this broader discussion that must be effectively addressed if we are to move ahead in understanding the problem of the New Right and modern Paganism. These are cultural factors and structural factors.
Cultural factors and Structural factors.
Please daddy Smith, tell me again how my culture and its structures are open to rampant abuse and systematic inequalities which necessitate their examination and potential removal due to inherently flawed natures.
The first, which was covered in detail by Gods & Radicals, is the question of specific cultural factors that are used by New Right activists to twist spiritual groups into fronts for advancing their ideology. I want to make very clear the presence of particular cultural factors in specific groups or traditions does not inherently make them more or less likely to fall prey to New Right entryism. Before going into why these specific cultural elements must be discussed it is first necessary to understand what, exactly, entryism is.
“Covered in Detail.”
You mean covered in so much detail that I had to make three entire posts just to explain shit that they didn’t even cover, but which was basic to the discussion? ME! The Meme guy. The lazy ass mother fucker who doesn’t even spell check half the time, had to go and make three entire posts just so people could actually understand half of what Rhyd was talking about in his post “explaining” what the New Right was! My Gods man, if that was covered in detail I’d hate to see what you considered devoid of facts.
But Okay, let’s talk about Entryism, (which I’m sure is going to be familiar to everyone.
Entryism, for those unfamiliar, is a specific strategy employed by political groups to advance their agendas. Entryism occurs when a member of such a group joins an organization or movement with the intent of covertly changing their goals, methods, and beliefs into those of the entryist group. Such tactics have become a favorite of the New Right over the past two decades for a very simple reason. The vast majority of human beings don’t like the idea of living under the heel of a jackboot. The fact that more conventional forms of fascist and neo-Nazi organizing ended in blood and death for their leaders is an equally crucial factor in causing this shift towards employing entryist tactics as advocated by New Right leaders such as so-called National Anarchist Troy Southgate, “race realist” David Duke, and mystical racialists like Michael Moynihan, David Lane and his partner Ron McVan, Jack Donovan, and Stephen McNallen.
Holy shit, this is going to turn into a flashback episode isn’t it.
Like, I’m not even going to have to say much, I can just post links to stuff in previous posts. Like this one (about the inalienable right to persecute people and deny them their rights) Which gives us both a wonderful example of what “entryism” is and shows that the Marxists/anti-Fascists are guilty of all the exact same things that they “New Right is guilty of.
I mean, even this paragraph by Smith, all I would literally have to do is switch the words Nazi with Marxist and it would give you a completely accurate picture of historical Marxism and anti-fascism.
I’m going to skip the next paragraph because it quite literally is nothing more then explaining out a group enters into another group and changes the culture to make it more receptive to their alterations. I’m skipping it because anyone who has lived with the Progressive left for the last 40 years already knows exactly how it works.
To further lend legitimacy to their arguments New Right activists employ pseudoscientific language and discredited research in an attempt to portray their views as natural, justified, and representative of the human condition…
You know, things like “microagressions,” “x-phobia,” “oppression,” and the use of badly put together statistics to prove ideas about racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, etc that the Progressive left, Marxists, and anti-fascists have put forth and inserted into the larger culture?
It really is nice of them to give us examples of how entryism works.
This is why these cultural factors belong in any analysis of fascist entryism in the Pagan and polytheist communities. This is not to say, as I mentioned earlier, the presence of specific ideas, positions, or approaches automatically guarantee fascist corruption and takeover. Rather what is important to understand is that New Right activists will use the same language, same concepts, and same aesthetics as Pagans and polytheists in an attempt to blend in, win over the unwary, and ultimately turn otherwise decent groups into platforms for organized bigotry. These ideas are the terrain fascists seek to move through, blend into, and ultimately use for ambushing the unprepared.
You mean like the concepts of gender equality, relative morality, freedom of belief, egalitarianism, individual freedom have been used by the Marxists to shift discussion and position in Pagan and the rest of modern culture to the point where it is now acceptable to once again discriminate against certain groups based on their status as “oppressors” and use that as justification to tear down whole of the cultural and systemic frameworks of any non-marxist culture they decide they want to take out?
Well, I certainly hope you read my post yesterday about how judgements work in Helheim Smith, because honestly you ain’t getting into Valhalla and with level of self excused hypocrisy and moralistic double standards I am afraid good times in Heheims are not in store for you.
This is not to say ideas such as appealing to the ideas of pre-Christian European peoples are inherently fascist or reactionary in and of themselves. Effective antidotes for entryist co-optation already exist that do not require surrendering any key components of polytheistic or Pagan practice…
Much to the enragement of Marxists like Rhyd and Gods & Radicals.
Though, I suppose we do have Rhyd and co to thank for the fact that we’re not digging these out, dusting them off, and examining our entire belief structures down to their respective cores so that we can refute entryist tactics trying to coming in and convert us to their political designs.
…The examples of Reclaiming and Feri, both of whom have robust cultures of inclusion, dialog, and reframing core concepts in ways that are most applicable to people living in the here and now, demonstrate one can be Pagan and antifascist without any real conflict between the two or surrender of core values…
You know, this is the second or third time I’ve heard someone championing Reclaiming. I figured I’d go take a look into it. I’m not going to get into it this post, but the basic principle seems to be about “Reclaiming” or “Taking back” ancient Pagan practices. Which sounds all well and good until you hold it up to a movement like Reconstructionism, which is about “re building” ancient Paganism. The latter group is about trying to recreate something. Reclaiming seems to be about “taking it back” from…whoever has it now because they don’t deserve to have it.
Also, if you notice a familiar name (M. Macha NightMare) on the tops of some of those pages, you get the cookie. I’ve mentioned her before on this blog as well, namely having to do with a bit of a kerfuffle where she signed a petition to removed Transgender people from the GLBT community label. (A position she supported but since has retracted under much public outrage).
So much for a robust culture of inclusion. (Also, told you this was gonna be a flash back episode).
Also, since I’m not familiar with Feri, I decided to look that up too. I remember there being some major issues between the Feri and other Pagan paths, but I can’t recall them and I don’t seem to have commented on them. Still, a brief look at the wikipedia page about Feri practices kinda shows it leans into what most Progressively minded people would call “Cultural appropriation.” Which…is kind of what Reclaiming witchcraft sounds like too, when you get down to it.
I don’t wanna tell Smith how to do his job, but when his two best examples both have engaged in “Wrongthink” and “oppressive actions,” I might lean towards just packing it in and going home.
…By better understanding what it is we believe, why, and most importantly how we should move in the present based on such ideas we can build practices, communities, and approaches which are thoroughly inoculated against fascist deception.
Ryan Smith ladies and gentlmen. Nerves of steel. Body of Iron. Brain of stone.
Well, I suppose those paths might be fully inoculated against fascist deceptions. If only because it seems that they, like Smith, are so fill with self deceptions there’s really no more room for further deceptions to come into their communities or their brains.
Which, okay, maybe I’m being a bit unfair to the Reclaiming and the Feri here (though the Reclaiming did get their start in San Fransisco Bay…), but still. Smith put them up as the poster children of “wonderful Paganism” and…they can’t even meet his own standards of Progressive behavior.
As Pagans and polytheists we must be constantly asking ourselves whether what we are doing is beneficial for people, life, and all practitioners in the present while honoring the spirit of what it is we seek to do….
No we don’t.
Well, okay, to be fair that should be “No I don’t,” and not just because I try not to speak for anyone except myself most of the time. It has more to do with being Helatru. I worship Hela, Goddess of Death. And While I cannot speak to anyone else’s pagan religion, in the path I walk doing anything beneficial for people, life, and so forth is in no way part of my path. Doing thing beneficial for Hela, Helheim, and the dead, yes. But beneficial to Life? My goddess is the end of life. The Hel (no pun intended) am I doing if I’m doing something beneficial for life as that runs counter to my Goddess’s domain and power?
…When one thoroughly examines Pagan and polytheist ideas there is no contradiction between building inclusive tribalism, honoring ancestral practice, or engaging in nature centered worship and doing so in a fashion that is aware, resistant, and antifascist…
Inclusive tribalism. I’m gonna leave that one up to Upsal. I am not even going to touch it.
OF course, what if your ancestral practice was “fuck everyone who isn’t us!” Because honestly that seems to be a fair bit of some ancestral practices. I’m just saying. Smith is making a lot of assumptions here that all paths work the same, but as I pointed out in my own path, the end goals of someone can be very different than Smiths due to their religion’s nature.
…This discussion has been ongoing in Heathenry for a number of years now with increasing success for those building inclusive practice that is ancestral, polytheistic, nature based, and surrenders nothing of our identity, community, or core beliefs to the New Right…
Right, that’s why the folkish AFA is building a temple, the universalist Troth has trouble getting to cons, and HUAR is down to…what, three guys and a facebook page?
Look I’m not that folkish, I’m not even sure how much of a Heathen I am, but even I can admit that when it comes to the market place of ideas, everyone’s buying from the folkish guy and you can’t even give memberships away by paying people!
You guys had to go running on to join Rhyd’s bandwagon and probably had something to do with why he’s got such a hard on for McNallen.
…Though Gods & Radicals did not broach the subject in the most tactful fashion possible nowhere did they say we must cease to be who we are. The experiences of grassroots Heathenry, Reclaiming, and Feri show we can build cultures where the New Right has no soil for sowing their noxious seeds without compromising our identity or authenticity.
Okay folks…I think I’ll see you in Part 2
Jon did in fact post about this, I commented, and he refused to publish it. If we are talking tribalism/folkism I think the culture, the norms, are more important than the color of one’s skin. Ryan Smith is white and I’m pretty sure I would never be willing to stand in a group with him. I certainly would not want to raise a horn in celebration with him. I definitely don’t think he has spent much time actually reading the lore or companion books like The Culture of the Teutons. Or even any of Hilda Ellis Davison. Lots of time reading Saul Alinsky etc. I would guess however.
But Some Black Dude ™ who has the same values, the same cultural upbringing, likely some of the same gene pool (since most AA’s in this country have more than a little European ancestry) I am perfectly OK with. If the Gods have called this guy to worship them, who am I to say no? I, like you, believe the Gods have agency and agendas, and I’m not going to be asking them why they called this dude. Their business not mine.
I don’t think you have to be white to worship N. European Gods. I *DO* think you have to deeply understand the culture and the traditions and be willing to abide by them and the values that are held dear as a result. I also said something of the same thing in my essay when I asked to join the AFA. And this part is what makes it probably hard to gain entry in the end. You have to have that understanding to really ‘get’ the religion/culture, to be accepted and be part of a tribe.
And this is also why I would not want to be around Ryan Smith. The hypocrisy and complete lack of understanding that he shows regarding the culture and the norms, and his flaunting of his desire to oppress others who differ from him, make him ineligible in my eyes to be a part of any tribe I could belong to. The most amusing part is the fact that while Mr. Smith rants on and on about how tribalism is not egalitarian because they’re exclusive, the plain fact of the matter is that tribes are self selecting for the most part based on your ability to fit in; they’re much more egalitarian in that way than Mr. Smith ever dreamed.
Jön Upsal's Gardener said:
You commented anonymously. Show some balls and comment with a name, and it’ll get published. Easy-peasy.
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
Folks, while I am all for glorious combat, this sounds like a conversation for a different blog.
There is enough material from Smith here and tomorrow for us to take our fangs and claws to him instead.
Jön Upsal's Gardener said:
Sorry – hit the “reply” button on the second reply to TFHS before this came through.
I had no idea I was commenting anonymously – I was signed in from my WordPress account, if it came up differently it was an accident. I take responsibility for my words, even when very very stupid.
Jön Upsal's Gardener said:
But as long as I’m here, when you say “I don’t think you have to be white to worship N. European Gods” I actually agree with you. See my latest (non-admin) post on the subject.
What you don’t get to say is “I don’t think you have to be white to worship N. European Gods with you.” Just because your standards are not the same as ours, does not make ours inherently flawed, nor does it give you license to dictate to us what those standards should be.
I know it must be frustrating to want to be able to worship with the Asatruar who actually *get* what Asatru is and was, but we have certain standards, and it is those very standards that make us so desirable as tribemates and coreligionists. It must be so, or people like you wouldn’t be trying to get into the AFA.
I mean, it couldn’t be just to make a political statement or anything, right? If you want to get into the AFA, you must really be sincere and agree with the Statement of Principles and the Mission Statement and all the rest, right? Otherwise that would be pretty disingenuous.
But we don’t say you “can’t” worship. We just say you can’t worship *with us*. Go over there; they’ll be happy to let you in. Nobody’s stopping you, let alone the folkish Heathens. In fact, we actively encourage you to go over there. *Way* over there. No, keep going; you’ll get there eventually.
Actually I *am* a member of the AFA. And they had no problem with my statements. Honestly. So maybe you should go complain to the Folk Builders. Or to Steven. Am I a universalist — no. I don’t think one religion is right for everyone, and most especially this one. But I also don’t judge people’s sincerity or their ability to be good upstanding honorable members of a community by the color of their skin. I do judge them by their actions. Especially in a country like ours where many many people have mixed ancestry.
My husband is Polish and Belgian on his dad’s side (and recent, his grandparents came over between the wars), and on his mother’s side he is Athabaskan and Canadian Scots. He is *not* heathen. Or Asatru, if you like. But if he were to want to be one, would you judge him on the fact that his skin is darker and his hair is black and he looks more like an Iraqi than he does a Pole or a Belgian or a Scot? If so, why?
Can’t wait to meet you at an AFA event, sir.
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