Sunday, 13 December 2009


Yours truly posted a response over on the Traditionalists blog that expanded on some of the themes I talked about in "Loneliness as a Way of Life". My intention was, notwithstanding some typos in my transcription of Ferarra's text, to highlight traditionalism- and by extension neofolk and martial industrial subcultures- as examples of the neoconservative critique of postmodernism. It's one thing then to put the cart before the horse by arguing they are "fascist", but quite another to specify causation and the broader continuum on which its byproducts coexist. I prefer to speak in terms of things being inseparable from but irreducible to something else. It's for this reason that I'll be quoting a piece on "the new misanthropy" in relation to the thesis of "the new naturalism" (the latter was itself the subject of an earlier post).

Sure, it'd be very easy to visit the traditionalists blog and follow the links in the comments thread to Lord Bassington Hound's blog, pausing briefly to marvel at how he co-wrote the infamous study of the black metal scene, Lords of Chaos, with Michael "Blood Axis" Moynihan (an explanation of the programmatic biological conception behind Blood Axis can be found here), only to then worry at the extent to which he appears to trivialise the historical legacy of fascism by treating it as a fashion statement. Provocative as such artistic transgressions may be, they really pale into insignificance in light of the broader public assent associated with the "new naturalism" and "new misanthropy" alike (to be sure, Moynihan has logically gravitated toward Mr Linkola, but as yet there is little evidence of the latter's ideas gaining much purchase outside of his native Norway. Of course, this could change in the future with additional English translations, along with more general societal pessimism about human progress).

I already had an intuitive understanding of the biological ramifications of traditionalism after the reaction on another blog to my earlier post "Colin Wilson neofascist". The man described my post as "shite" for daring to denigrate his hero, and looking around that blog I found much evidence of the traditionalism in question: the misanthropic hatred of a "mass", psychological solutions for social problems predicated on principles of the innate superiority of gifted individuals, the search for a "perennial philosophy" based in Nature. I stopped to chuckle at the design of the blog, which prominently featured a naked, muscular man, with some sort of ornate staff in his right hand. His head resembled the sun (an image of Nature's perennial wisdom, forever burning brightly).

I've regretted ever since that I didn't bookmark that site as I'm sure it would have kept me entertained for years. Anyway, what of this "new misanthropy" then? Furedi offers a succinct appraisal:

"If anything, today's neo-Malthusian thinking is far more dismal and misanthropic than the original thing. For all his intellectual pessimism and lack of imagination, Thomas Malthus believed in humanity far more than his contemporary followers do. He argued, in his book On The Principle of Population, that although 'our future prospects respecting the mitigation of the evils arising from the principle of population may not be so bright as we could wish…they are far from being entirely disheartening, and by no means preclude that gradual and progressive improvement in human society, which before the late wild speculations on this subject, was the object of rational expectation' (10). Malthus' reservations about the human potential were influenced by a hostility to the optimistic humanism of his intellectual opponents, including Condorcet and Godwin. Nevertheless, despite his pessimistic account of population growth, he said 'it is hoped that the general result of the inquiry is not such as not to make us give up the improvement of human society in despair' (11).

Over the past two centuries, Malthus' followers often disparaged people who came from the 'wrong classes' or the 'wrong races' - but despite their prejudices they affirmed the special status of the human species. In some instances, such as the eugenic movement, rabid prejudice against so-called racial inferiors combined with a belief in human progress (12). Today's neo-Malthusians share the old prejudices, but in addition they harbour a powerful sense of loathing against the human species itself."

Furedi situates his discussion with reference to the "human impact" decried by certain segments of the contemporary environmental movement. Indeed, if you substitute "environment" for "religious calling" in my Ferrara quotation, then you can see that Furedi is pretty much saying the same thing about the- well, basically speaking- conservative character of the conservation movement. If the traditionalist music scene has any real collective sense of surviving in the hostile conditions of the interregnum, we can only guess what form their consecrating action might take in response. I'm just hoping that these perspectives never attain critical mass, or we will be living in truly dismal times.

Another part of the problem of course, which I touched on briefly in my "Heathen Harvests" post, is the sense of living in a post-socialist world. Among traditionalists, this seems to have coalesced into a world view which is presumptively asocial, at least outside of the sense of trust (or "social capital") to be gained from membership in their subcultural networks (sometimes in addition to the intimacy [sic] with strangers familiar from the more traditional bastions of the masculine, bohemian demimonde: i.e. the pub, the brothel, and the racetrack). I understand these networks then as compensating for the intensification of individual experience associated with being a freelance cultural worker (or "artist" if you prefer), who by definition subsists without the collegiality found in other workplaces, where membership of a union remains an option. As per "Heathen Harvests", consider Boyd Rice as an example. He didn't receive any remuneration for the design consultancy work he did on a Tiki Bar. Given the informal nature of the contract, Rice resolved not to pursue official legal arbitration. Instead, he and some associates simply showed up in the middle of the night and dismantled the bar. After that, Boyd could return to his support networks on the avant garde scene, which presuppose the recognition of individual charisma, and have at various times been a mixture of Satanic Nazism and Ragnar Redbeard's [sic] social Darwinism ("Might Is Right!").

I've seen this kind of thing happen firsthand, so I know Boyd Rice is not just an isolated case. I'll never forget the folks who had completed album artwork for small labels, who suffered the same fate. I remember another incident when some people I knew had just finished their set in a small electronic music festival, and the guy running the gig fronted them: "ok then, let's see what I owe you". He just rooted around in his wallet, and produced a small handful of crumpled notes, "thanks guys", leaving the band to distribute among themselves the appearance fee he had spontaneously calculated on the spot. So when you experience this kind of precarity on a regular basis, it's very easy to overcompensate by channelling ressentiment into a misanthropic "outsider" worldview, in tandem with more "esoteric" sources of personal or communitarian validation. This can mean "turning inward", and it follows that the guys I knew in the aforementioned group worshipped Colin Wilson, while another was the self-proclaimed anarchist who featured in my post "The Quiet Men".

Still not convinced? Just check out this guy for another local example. It seems like he's spent a lot of time beavering away for small publishers, and is obviously resentful of the advent of "mass" blogging. Never mind that, judging by what I see on his website, it is hard to fathom his personal sense of superiority that the majority of humanity is comprised of what he disparagingly refers to as "sheeple". Note too that his Misanthrope Magazine fittingly published a fatuous interview with none other than Boyd Rice in the inaugural issue.

I suspect the same holds true to some extent for the "scenius" [sic] of the so-called "England's Hidden Reverse", where "chaos magic" and other traditionalist conventions are much in evidence. Anyway, I haven't said so much here about the specifics of Furedi's argument, as I think it's already pretty obvious how it links to the thesis of "the new naturalism": i.e. the degradation of humanity, with few prospects for redemption. I've spent more time talking about the musical subcultures. However, I can extrapolate from Furedi's following statement some implicit linkages, "More recently, apocalyptic ideas once rooted in magic and theology have been recast as allegedly scientific statements about human destructiveness and irresponsibility". No doubt "apocalyptic [neo] folk" musicians such as Ian Read from Fire + Ice or David Tibet from Current 93 would claim some personal acquaintance with these ideas in their original context, even though the former is willing to make a minor concession, when asked if he is still against the modern world, "I am a traditionalist, but I am very happy with the fact there is a modern stomatology for instance".

I couldn't resist closing this out by posting a David E Williams song. Williams follows the conventions pretty closely. I understand that, in addition to his musical activities, he's the proprietor of an occult bookstore. His misanthropic proclivities have garnered some acclaim on the underground scene. Notice in the clip how they find expression through his disdain for "mass" tourism, which he crudely equates to femininity and the sociality of primates.

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