I come from the place where Alastair Crowley lured his victims with promises of esoteric wisdom; a place which is a suicide central. So, joining a fascist cult – what of it? I use the word ‘fascist’ not as an attack on anyone broadly right wing, as so many liberals do now, but rather to refer to the militaristic, hate-filled ideology of adventure, ambiguity, ultraviolence and death. And I won’t lie, at the time some of that appealed to me. Feel free to ‘cancel’ me, but first hear me out.
As somebody who was impressionable and directionless enough to have believed in the fascist creed, it is my sincere belief and my lived experience that there can be hope for the lapsing of fascists from fascism. How did I become a hate-filled bigot addicted to propaganda? I was multicultural, bilingual. Being the youngest in a toxic workplace, I felt that the Poles were the least to blame for any of my troubles. I learned much from these friends, including their language. I admired their work ethic, their clear sense of identity, the fraternity amongst diaspora, and the youthfulness of the east as opposed to the agedness of the west. Being pro-Polish, I calculated that I should be anti-racist, and this really had mattered to me; more from a sense of humanity than one of politics. Like a scene from the western film “Dance of the Wolves” where a soldier is killed as a traitor for ‘going Indian’, I remember colleagues in the worst type of agency work feeling betrayed at my acceptance of our Polish colleagues. I would angrily tell them to blame their troubles on David Cameron, not Paveł the ‘undercutting’ plumber.
But at some point, this anti-racism fell off. Perhaps it was when I, a Scotsman in Scotland, looked up from the book I was reading to the Polish television showing breaking news reporting on the killing of British soldier Lee Rigby. The blood-soaked assassin posed for the camera with a cleaver in his hand. I found it disorienting, and I put down the book. As you would expect in any demographic, I encountered a diverse range of political opinion amongst the Poles. I had only vague political awareness at the time, and when I started to see colleagues and friends express sympathies for and allegiances to various hardcore, ultra-nationalist, Slavic hooligan groups, I didn’t object because I didn’t really understand. If anything, I was naively impressed. I witnessed and participated in a form of close-knit skinhead tribalism. We looked out for one another in a rare community spirit. From there I transitioned towards English-speaking fascism. However, this is not to blame foreigners, for my own wrongdoings. I already knew evil, and I knew it from sexual abuse and abandonment. I just didn’t know its name. I couldn’t articulate it. I was sleepwalking through life, and a reactionary adventure seemed too exciting to resist. Before looking into the right-wing I had explored communism a little, but I didn’t find what I was looking for. This would have been because in my confused, immature and uneducated state I was not yet at an intellectual level or life experience capable of any genuine grasp of philosophy.
After consuming the propaganda of National Action, I came across other less goofy, more muscular carriers of the infectious fascist disease. I came across an American group, the Wolves of Vinland. I found their philosophy and theatrics utterly invigorating. I didn’t know the first thing about winter mountaineering, but I drove to Lochaber and trekked up Ben Nevis solo before the next sunrise. I didn’t see the philosophy as the foreplay to fascist thuggery which it was, I saw it as mind-overbody motivational magic. Whilst cycling the 80 miles round Loch Ness, I stopped around the halfway point to climb trees for an hour or so. Climbing trees, the Neo-Darwinist propaganda had said, would awaken deep ancestral spirits. Near the treetop, unable to reach the next branch and afraid to jump for it, I climbed down, but resolved to jump next time. When next time came, I suppressed the fear and jumped, unsuccessfully. Having landed on a nearby roof I had nothing to hold onto. I slid, then fell onto the pink granite below. I showed up to my first fascist training camp a few days later with two sprained elbows and stitches in my chin, but I got stuck into the ustawka boxing regardless. The cause of my parkour accident was not merely falling from height but was, I believe, mental sickness contracted through having been seduced by the taboo, nudity, heathenry and insanity of fascist doctrine. The camp, held in Wales, was organised by Sigurd, British wing of the fascist Internationale of the day. On the whole, politics and racism wasn’t overtly on the agenda. Yes, I heard crass comments about ethnic groups in their absence. Yes, I went on to repeat that kind of language. Yes, there had been Nazi imagery on the promotional material, which I stupidly shrugged off. Yet the conversations which I had with the Nazis that I met, were mostly about sport and culture. It was August 2014 and not a single person told me how to vote in the Scottish independence referendum. We were training to fight, and to be led – not to think.
Sigurd was a short-lived, but well-regimented cult of bravado and extreme sport; politics and racism only came secondary to that, and to some extent they were deliberately obscured. I’m confident that many of those involved were, like myself, attracted by something other than politics and hatred, but something evil nonetheless. As we swore oaths around the fire to develop ourselves and to build our group’s strength, it was done in complete sincerity. I had delegated my mind to others, essentially in return for a few personal training sessions. I don’t know when we might have mobilised, or what that might have looked like. The first rule of fight club is of course, don’t talk about fight club. Yet National Action were all over the press for cyber-bullying Luciana Berger MP and one of their members got locked up. This was the context for the mini-Hitler, who was a family man, dissolving the cult. From that point on I flitted between various groups, but nothing stuck. Fascist doctrine affected all aspects of my life right down to which toothpaste to use. Yet during this time I hadn’t totally shut my mind to communism. I saw the anti-communist aspect of British Neo-Nazism as a pathetic imitation of Slavic ultra-nationalism, where communism at least had some historical relevance. However, my unvoiced communist sympathies were reserved for the historical left. As I saw it, the leftists of the day were, to use the vocabulary of alt-right propaganda, ‘beta leftists’. In other words, liberals, people with soft hands, weirdos with no respect for tradition, Blairites or bookish Trotskyites, usually with no links to the working class and no ability to communicate beyond their spectacle of a sub-culture.
These people aren’t the real left though. At the time there was widespread outrage at the atrocities of Daesh throughout the world. My far-right sought to fight fire with fire; to mould itself into a mirror image of Daesh, albeit Western and non-Islamic. Our philosophy was one of apathy towards the troubles in the Middle East, and hostility towards absolutely everybody. “Troops Out” was on the agenda somewhere… somewhere right down at the bottom. Regrettably, in my ignorance at the time I was oblivious to the real fight against Daesh., being conducted largely by the real left. Whilst we fascists played toy soldiers in the countryside, socialists joined the international brigades in Kurdish Syria and waged war against ISIS. Before the mini Hitler of my fascist sect went underground, his parting words to the group had been for us to enter a career in the uniformed services. These instructions weren’t the only reason I got involved with the military; I also enjoyed mountain biking. The day after the Brexit referendum, I travelled by train from Sandhurst carrying a camouflage bergen and an army issue ops bag. As I walked through a London train station, I ignored the black man as he called me. But he caught up and returned my army boots, which had fallen. My prejudice deeply pained me. If it hadn’t been for his kindness, I would have turned out on officer training parade in trainers and gotten a lift right back to the train station. Though maybe that would have been a good thing; my dislike of the military, so glorified by fascists, was a formative experience. Try as I may, I could respect neither the idea of queen, country and capitalism, nor most of the posh boys next to me.
The best thing fascism offered me was a respect for the past. I still smile if I see alt-right ancestor worship propaganda; I encountered bombastic worship of blood-soaked Vikings. Yet in order to be respectful rather than absurd, I strived to understand my heritage. I learned of the Glendale Martyrs, I learned of the Tolpuddle Martyrs; and I learned that this wasn’t worth squandering just because the modern left seemed strange. I realised how fascism did not glorify my ancestors, but it spat on their graves. I opened my eyes to multiple generations of single mothers striving to care and provide, only for the son to turn fascist. I learned of the many who died giving birth, or at birth, or in childhood; only for me, the boy who tried to come out the womb feet first, to spout fascist hatred about survival of the fittest and the so-called natural order.
In contrast to the lie of a shared British racial heritage, I learned of my relatives, refugees from the Clearances who could not escape persecution until they eventually sacrificed their mother tongue for better chances in life. I learned of my colonialist grandfather who offered me his genetic makeup but nothing else. I learned of my other grandfather, who earned his first pennies as a boy painting banners for the unions. I learned that to honour my ancestors is to do the decent thing, to be an anti-fascist. I hope that my experience can be used to influence what I see as misguided and failing attitudes and strategies amongst the left. I believe that it is the ‘alternative’ qualities which attract people to the ‘alt-right’, rather than the political qualities. Perhaps then, the reason the left is struggling at the moment is due to the prevalence of its alliances with mainstream bourgeois liberalism. There is nothing wrong with masculinity – it just needs to be controlled and exercised properly, ideally through anti-fascist militancy. If the militancy comes before the politics, so be it; this is an open hand from activists to energetic friends. Although this creates the risk of being too sub-cultural and catering to ‘adventurists’, if it is not done, the right will happily oblige. Alienated young men are seeking to ‘revolt against the modern world’, its capitalism, its globalism. They seek a sense of belonging, identity, duty and tradition; all things which the left can, should and must offer in abundance. But in order to do so the left must loose the dead weight of the aforementioned trotskyites and liberals and get back on track, to the radical transformation of society.