Siege Mentality – Mason, Manson, Moynihan: On the Fringes of the American Nazi Movement
“Nihilists and buffoons are allergic to the slightest hint of significance”
Terry Eagleton, ‘On Evil’
Michael Moynihan (of Non, Blood Axis, Coup de Grace and Sleep Chamber, and a regular collaborator with other pro-Fascist musicians in the neo-folk, martial industrial and noise milieus) has miraculously acquired a reputation as something of a Fascist intellectual, as he is also a writer, editor and publisher of a range of books, magazines and journals. Moynihan was a member of the Abraxas Foundation, which co-founder Boyd Rice hoped would attract “a new demographic of people who are into the occult, Fascism, and Social Darwinism”. Along with Didrik Søderlind he authored the commercially successful Lords of Chaos – The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, which glamorised the Norwegian Black Metal scene while analysing it within the framework of his own occult Fascist concerns. He is also an associate of Adam Parfrey, whose Feral House publishing company has established itself as a major source of Fascist esoterica. Moynihan’s journal, Tyr, promotes a range of Fascist thinkers as well as corresponding pagan and occult notions, publishing pseudo-scientific articles and clunky political, cultural and music reviews aimed largely at promoting the works of his co-thinkers in the Fascist and pagan underground. Having read a fair amount of his work I think it’s safe to say that Moynihan’s reputation as an intellectual is more an index of the intellectual poverty of the radical right rather than proof of any substantial talent on his part.
Nevertheless it is perhaps not so surprising that Moynihan should possess at least the rudiments of literary and intellectual skills since he is the product of a wealthy Boston family that could afford to send him to the elite private school then prop him up long enough for him to get a (similarly elite) Fulbright scholarship to fund his further ‘research’. Perhaps he even belongs to one of those Boston Moynihan clans that have provided so many members of the American ruling class, including the current CEO of the Bank of America (and who are known about town as ‘the Brahmins’). In any case Moynihan seems to be one of that species of budding aristo-Führers who offer themselves up as mentors to the mass of lumpen Nazis, offering them a veneer of ‘posh’ and gravitas while seeking to harness them to their own peculiar occult, racist and anti-democratic fantasies of power and violence (‘Baron’ Julius Evola was a similar type).
Confusion about what constitutes contemporary fascist ideology means that Moynihan and his friends have been able to fool some into thinking he is something other than a dyed-in-the-wool Fascist just because his ideas are eccentric and differ somewhat from historical National Socialism and Fascism: he has been variously described as an extreme Rightist, an extreme Leftist, a Nazi and an Anarchist. Moynihan has tried to sow such confusion himself, hoping it will obscure his real agenda. Despite this, at times he has also been disarmingly clear about his orientation; for instance, arguing against what he considers merely ‘aesthetic fascism’ (in an argument probably aimed at Boyd Rice, with whom he’d had a falling out around this time): “I’m sick of people saying they’re ‘not political’ as I think this is a cop-out… If you’re going to espouse fascist ideas, then I believe you have to accept some of the responsibility for their application in the real world; otherwise what is the point of espousing them in the first place?”1
I’ll write about some of Moynihan’s other publishing and literary efforts in the future. Here I want to focus on one book he has played a central role in bringing to the public’s attention – Siege, by James Mason. While I think it’s easy to show that Moynihan is indeed a fascist, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t take time off from teasing away at the usual dreary existential question (“what does he really think?”) and look instead at what he publishes, on the grounds that it’s perfectly appropriate to judge someone by what they do as much as by what they say about it. Moynihan can argue what he likes about his own politics but what he chooses to publish speaks for itself: and in the case of James Mason it is difficult to understand why anyone would want to publish his work unless they sought to promote a particular type of racial and ‘political’ violence.
Siege: The Collected Writings of James Mason collects together articles from the Nazi journal of the same name, written by Mason between 1980 and 1986. The collection was edited and first published in 1992 by Moynihan, who also wrote an introduction under the pseudonym Michael M. Jenkins, on his own ‘Storm’ imprint. It was reprinted and republished by Black Sun Press in 2003 without Moynihan’s introduction but with a new preface by Mason and additional historical material in the appendices. Since I’ve only been able to find a copy of the later Black Sun edition online I don’t know what Moynihan had to say in the original introduction, but the rest of the material, at least as far as Mason’s essays are concerned, is identical. It seems reasonable to ask; who is James Mason, and why would Moynihan be prepared to spend his own time and money editing and publishing a deluxe edition of his collected ravings?
James Mason is maybe as close as anyone could get to being a genuine lifelong Nazi. Having started out as a teenage supporter of Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater and George Wallace, in 1966 his life changed forever when he was loaned a book about extremist politics (Extremism USA) and liked what he read there about the Nazis. At the age of only 14 he joined the miniscule American Nazi Party (ANP). Sometime after that, still aged only 16, he ran away from his home in Ohio to join the ANP headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. There he lived for a number of years, working alongside the Ku Klux Klan to organise attacks on leftists and civil rights and anti-war protesters as well as helping with the general running of America’s main (albeit tiny) Fascist party. He was admitted into full membership of the party on his eighteenth birthday. Here it was too that he was introduced to the ideas of one of his great heroes, George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder and leader of the ANP who had defiantly spurned bourgeois opinion by openly embracing Nazism and the Swastika (thus, in Rockwell’s words crossing “the threshold of anger”2). Shortly after renaming the party the National Socialist White People’s Party (NSWPP) and adopting the slogan ‘White Power’, Rockwell was killed by a fellow Nazi in 1967 and the ANP was taken over by Matt Koehl, after which it splintered into a number of groups amidst of the usual welter of denunciations, accusations and counter-accusations familiar to any student of the extreme right.
Thus far Mason’s career had been unremarkable for a hard-core Nazi of the time. Overflowing with racist hatred for Jews and Blacks, he worshiped Adolf Hitler as his ideal and saw in Rockwell a ‘strong man’ and potential Führer who could lead the American people into their racial utopia. Mason was from the beginning a super-militant Nazi. Regarding the Jews he seems almost disappointed at one point to find himself toeing the Nazi line on holocaust denial, being keener himself on an open policy of annihilation: “it was indeed a damnable shame that Hitler did not, in fact, kill at least six million Jews during the war. We… know what the Jews were and are all about and we can shed no tears for any of them“3. Mason’s line from the mid-70s on was that such violence should be extended not only to Jews, Blacks and Socialists, but also to most of the rest of the American people, believing that “the masses… live only to produce and consume; to masticate and defecate. Wasted exercises in protoplasm. Here only to breathe the air and take up space. No really valid reason for living”4. And Mason doesn’t leave much to the imagination when it comes to his preferred solution to this mess: “for the United States there will be no need for concentration camps of any kind, for not a single transgressor will survive long enough to make it to that kind of haven”5.
The acrimonious collapse of the NSWPP and the descent of the US Nazi movement into a nest of squabbling sects was a blow for Mason, but he soon found another strong man to look up to and admire in the form of Joseph Tommasi (“the first of a new breed. A hero and martyr to the cause”6). Like Mason, Tommasi was an ultra-radical NSWPP hothead. Both were close to senior NSWPP member William Pierce, who had personally encouraged and helped organise Mason’s original flight from school to ANP headquarters. Pierce went on to write The Turner Diaries, a novel which imagines a successful Nazi revolution precipitated by a ‘lone wolf’ killer, and which has inspired a number of Nazi psychopaths over the years, including ‘London Nail Bomber’ David Copeland, who targeted the city’s Black, Asian and Gay communities in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho respectively, killing 3 people and injuring 129.
Tommasi’s contribution to the cause was to create a new, underground Nazi group, the National Socialist Liberation Front (NSLF). The NSLF was originally formed, with encouragement from Pierce, as the youth wing of the NSWPP, and set out to work on college campuses (one early recruit was a young student in Louisiana, David Duke, later to become Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan). From the start the NSLF represented a significant break with traditional US Nazism, which remained rooted in the social mores and attitudes (and even much of the Cold War, McCarthyite politics) of the 40s and 50s. Tommasi himself looked more like a drop-out than the kind of starched, collar-and-tie conservative favoured by the party leadership. He was concerned to bring National Socialism up to date by borrowing widely from the symbols, attitudes and language of the New Left so as to connect with a new generation. Thus the name of the group itself was borrowed from the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the name of the NSLF journal, Siege, later taken over by Mason, was also borrowed, this time from The Weathermen. The NSLF favoured the pop visual imagery, iconoclasm and sometimes even the actual ideas of the far left, adopting such typically Maoist slogans as ‘Political Power Grows Out of the Barrel of a Gun’ and ‘The Future Belongs to the Few of Us Willing to Get Our Hands Dirty. Political Terror: It’s the Only Thing They Understand’. It is this modernising aspect of Tommasi’s legacy, along with the fetishising of revolutionary violence, that explains his appeal to counter-cultural Fascists today.
The NSLF was not established as a separate organisation until Tommasi, despite years of personal loyalty, was expelled from the NSWPP in one of Koehl’s episodic purges simply for smoking marijuana, drinking and ‘entertaining women’ in the party’s offices. The inaugral meeting of the newly independent group took place on March 2nd 1974 in El Monte, California and attracted 43 supporters.
This formal break with the NSWPP radicalised Tommasi even further, or allowed his radicalism full expression, and the meeting adopted a set of theses which broke definitively with the ‘mass strategy’ of the Nazi mainstream in favour of armed revolution and ‘leaderless resistance’;
“No longer could we think in terms of obtaining political power through the electorate but, instead, of hurting the enemy through force and violence. We would build the armed struggle.
We have abandoned petit-bourgeois, bureaucratic hang-ups and have developed the idea that the ends justifies the means. What works is good.
We recognise the fact that the masses of Whites will never rally around radical parties… The Whites… don’t have the guts to shed their bourgeois hang-ups.
We view armed struggle as the only effective means of forcing political change.”7
Mason himself didn’t join the NSLF, remaining a member of the NSWPP for some time before finally tiring of it, and as a practical organisation the new grouping fell flat on its face almost immediately: Tommasi was murdered only a year later by another Nazi in a brawl outside the NSWPP’s LA offices, and his two key lieutenants were arrested shortly after for firearms violations. The NSLF underground effectively died with Tommasi except as a beacon to other ultra-radicals such as Mason. What is significant about Tommasi is not anything concrete he might have achieved (from a Fascist point of view) but simply the idea, which he is identified with, of finally breaking with overground political activity aimed at persuasion or acceptance of any kind (other than making propaganda in support of NSLF terrorism) in favour of amoral, unconstrained violence directed against ‘racial enemies’ (Jews and anyone not certifiably white, and especially mixed couples), leftists, anti-racists and civil rights campaigners of any description, the ‘Zionist Occupation Government’ (ZOG) and its servants (anyone with any kind of role or job with the state, from elected representatives and the police down to the lowliest of state employees; “from President to dogcatcher”, as Mason put it8), drug users, homosexuals, perverts, feminists, deviants and so on (ie. anyone ‘impure’). Tommasi has become a pinup boy for every Fascist who ever fantasised about unleashing their violence directly on their neighbours.
The NSLF represented to Mason the apotheosis of Fascist narcissism, its point of orgasm, allowing him psychically to unshackle his rage from any remaining grounding in political calculation or moral propriety, or any compunction or limitation at all, allowing it instead (in his mind, at least) to be applied without mediation: the only practical consideration from now on was trying to make sure you didn’t get caught. In Mason’s typically fascist-occult mind reality itself is a wasteland, fatally riddled with impurity, corruption and decay; the cities are “death zones” in which “the lowest common denominator genetic miasma has you badly outnumbered”. He concludes; “Let the cities go to HELL, right where they came from! If the Russians don’t get ‘em and if crime, famine and disease don’t get ‘em, then WE’LL have to later on”9. He is even able to blithely consider the nuclear annihilation of the population; “If atomic warfare destroyed all human life on earth but two Aryan specimens… we could begin again. I’ve often stated that the conditions… of [US cities] make a positively ATTRACTIVE case for atomic warfare”10.
Being of an essentially petit-bourgeois frame of mind himself, Mason fetishises bourgeois morality by focussing obsessively on the need to overcome it. This idea runs like a mantra through his writing (basically, “anything is allowed”11). This ties Mason’s ideology neatly to that of the contemporary esoteric-Fascism as practiced by Moynihan. The symmetry is expressed in a shared admiration for Anton LaVey and The Church of Satan. Mason’s book reproduces the title page of his copy of LaVey’s Satanic Bible, signed by the author, which he says he acquired in 1969 and “has cherished ever since”12. Mason strongly approves of LaVey’s rejection of ‘moralism’ in favour of unbridled self-interest (a pseudo-philosophy LaVey defends in turn with a lot of pseudo-science based on Social Darwinism and ‘the survival of the fittest’). While Mason has never been a Satanist (he considers himself an atheist; but then LaVey’s Hollywood Satanism was itself essentially a-theistic) he shares with LaVey a tedious petit-bourgeois contempt for ‘the masses’ and a philosophy which says it is acceptable to treat them as you like as long as you can get away with it. Michael Moynihan, of course, was for a while a leading member of the Church of Satan before aligning himself instead with racist Paganism. Despite minor theological differences, Moynihan and Mason share a common approach which prioritises (their) racist instincts above any truth or reality. Their victims are simply worthless, disposable matter. While Moynihan argues in his book on Black Metal that the racist killer is a Beserker channeling the Pagan Divinity woven into the genes of all Aryans, Mason emphasises genetic, animal irrationality directly: “No one has got his feet on the ground if he is not tuned into himself, if he cannot or will not… allow his brain to accept and articulate his animal instincts”13. In the end, though, this comes down to the same conflation of divinity and animality as in Moynihan; “In talking with people I use terms like ‘Spiritual’ but, more precisely, I mean gut INSTINCT as dictated by millions of years of genetic development… being in abidance with one’s true Gods would also come under this heading. Noble thoughts and ideals. Irrational as Hell”14. It may be worth noting in passing that it is remarkable how the Fascist mentality, which loves to boast of its ‘spiritual ideals’, actually bases this spirituality on the most banal kind of biological materialism (genetic determinism).
Unable even to begin to grasp the social and political complexity of the unfolding capitalist system, the occult mind sees everything instead in terms of a rigid dualism in which it pits itself (as unsullied ‘spirit’ / genetic racial purity) against the filthy occult forces of materialism, cosmopolitanism and sedition – aka the Jews who work eternally to pollute and overwhelm the forces of order. In Mason’s formulation practically everyone beyond a tiny circle of armed Nazi activists is actively or passively helping to sustain a hellish, corrupt ‘Jew System’, and he therefore sees practically everyone as a legitimate target. Mason increasingly regarded violence against ‘the System’ and everyone involved in it as his summum bonum – so much so that he began to adopt some unusual positions for a Nazi. Not only was he ceasing to care much about who the violence was directed against, he became increasingly catholic about who could legitimately inflict it. For example, while traditional Nazis bemoaned ‘Black Crime’ and ‘Communist Sedition’ in their headlines, Mason eventually welcomed both, arguing that “If a bunch of Black Nationalists rob a Brinks truck, if they kill some System Pigs, WHO CARES??!!.. Any Pig killed by a Black or Communist Revolutionary is one Pig you may be sure will not come after YOU one night with a nice, neat Federal warrant. It’s a dirty, rotten shame that it has to be left up to the likes of Blacks and bow-legged Jewish agitators to hit the Pig System but, damn it, SOMEBODY’S GOT TO DO IT! So wish ‘em lots o’ luck… twenty years of bitter experience has shown that all the piety and all the law and order bullshit of the past has gotten us nowhere”15. This tactical acceptance of any and all violence against a common enemy (‘the System’) is all that lies behind Mason’s talk of having transcended the traditional political division between ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ (“classic notions of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’… certainly are by now obsolete and meaningless”16). This does not make either Mason or Moynihan, who makes similar noises, any less of a Fascist. On the contrary, it merely makes manifest the essence of Fascism as an ideology that attempts to unleash a bad infinity of destruction.
This, however, is all a little too abstract, dealing as it does with only the general form and structure of Mason’s attitude to violence. In theory, Mason may be an equal opportunity sociopath, but when it comes to the praxis of actual killings and mayhem, his clear preference is for the racist murderers who are treated as heroes throughout his book. The clear winner in this regard is Joseph Franklin, another of William Pierce’s neophytes back when he was a member of the NSWPP, who robbed a series of banks and went on a private killing spree in which he murdered as many as 20 people, most of them Jews or Blacks killed at random, though his preferred targets were mixed race couples. Other racists celebrated in the book include Frank Spisak, the ‘Cleveland University Killer’, a cross-dressing Nazi who in 1982 made attempts on the lives of five ‘racial enemies’, killing three of them (and who later in court blamed his own transvestism on Jews who had ‘taken over his mind’); Michael Pearch, who shot seven Black men at random in Wheaton, Maryland in 1975, killing two of them; and Joseph Christopher, who killed three Blacks at random and wounded at least another four. All of these, and more in the same vein, are held up as people to be admired and, more alarming still, models to be imitated.
After Tommasi’s death, the NSLF continued low key operations for a while and even built local cells in a number of areas (being well aware that the Nazi movement is riddled with informers and police agents, the NSLF adopted a cell structure in which no one knows any members of the group other than the two or three individuals in their own unit). But after a few years of this, during which time he edited Siege as an NSLF publication, Mason began to develop a new infatuation and new ideas that would eventually gift him his brand identity as a Nazi so extreme that even most Fascists began to consider him untouchable. Typically for Mason his new direction turned around the discovery of another ‘strong’ man he could look up to and adore. This is how he introduces his ultimate hero;
“There is a great leader / philosopher in our midst, alive and involved today… with a name and a reputation world renowned and a following of his own”17
“He is a product of the American heartland… Personally gifted, selfless, fearless – both morally and physically – and absolutely dedicated to Life, to Earth and to Truth”18
Even if you have followed the argument about Mason this far you may still be a little surprised to discover that he is talking here about Charles Manson, the leader of the cult responsible for the Tate-La Bianca killings in LA in 1969. Manson, of course, is already something of a counter- cultural success story, being seen by some as the epitome of the romantic outsider; a shaman and magician, beyond Good and Evil – a more condensed and extreme version of a Brian Jones or Jim Morrison, perhaps. Mason is able to shoehorn Manson into his scheme of things because the latter shared something of the Nazi world-view, also believing that America was headed for an apocalyptic race war. Manson may have been unorthodox in thinking that the Blacks would win this war (though he anticipated that they would soon invite him and his accomplices to take over when they realised they were incapable of running society themselves, the Family having spent the meantime hiding out in a cave in Death Valley waiting for the storm to blow over), but predictably Mason was prepared to cut Charlie some slack and overlook his small-time heterodoxy as long as the core belief in the use of fear and unconstrained violence was kept intact – which, in Manson’s case, it certainly was.
Having found his new avatar, in around 1982 Mason split amicably from the remnants of the NSLF in a deal that saw him keep control of Siege as the mouthpiece for his new, pro-Manson organisation, The Universal Order, while Karl Hand retained control of the rest of the NSLF’s assets. For Mason, the justification for choosing Charles Manson as the true leader of American Nazism had several components. First, as already mentioned, Manson shared something of the Nazi outlook on race. Second, his actual killings could all be justified even though they didn’t primarily target Blacks: the Manson victims were ‘drug dealers’ and ‘perverts’, etc. (though Mason conspicuously overlooks the fact that so too were the Manson Family). Even the murder of Sharon Tate’s unborn baby was perfectly acceptable as far as Mason is concerned, “it was, after all, a Jew”19. And finally, Manson’s interest in environmentalism (expressed through his organisation ‘Air, Trees, Water and Animals’ – ATWA), fitted in neatly with the Nazi’s own obsession with cleanliness and ‘the natural life’ (an extension of their mania for ‘purity’). But the key reasons for Mason’s conversion were twofold. First, he believed that Manson embodied a new and higher level of social alienation, which invited a corresponding extremism; “Manson represents the great divide between those persons who imagine there still are choices to be made casually on the basis of Establishment mores and those who have a profound, individual sense of ‘no going back’”20. In other words, his significance is symbolic: just as Rockwell was a hero for crossing the “threshold of anger” when he adopted the Swastika, Manson in turn represents “the threshold of alienation”21, and identifying with him means crossing the line that takes you beyond any moral compunction.
The final reason for Mason’s attachment to Manson is particularly interesting. Essentially, he thinks that Manson is hip and appeals to the young, and so can rally people to Fascism in a way that would be impossible for previous Nazi leaders, with their crew cuts and corny shoes (Tomassi aside). And Manson doesn’t have the disadvantage of being associated in the first instance with Nazism. In Mason’s mind (and, I’m prepared to bet, Moynihan’s too) Manson works as a kind of ‘gateway Fascist’ that might draw new layers of (primarily) young people to the cause;
“From direct personal experience I tell you that the name of Manson can be used for the same purposes the name of Hitler can be used… MINUS 90% of the usual hassles which immediately follow due to the huge job of conditioning that the Jews have done on people over the last forty or fifty years. Most of you in the Movement have not considered the way Manson is at first taken by average people. Young, wild, American, anti-establishment, and finally, yes, a criminal type but certainly not of the order of what they have whipped up regarding Hitler. Manson scares people but he does so in the way that they LIKE to be scared… After a time, once people have been brought sufficiently around, you may introduce them to Hitler without much risk of losing them”22.
Manson symbolises for Mason an ideal combination of distilled amorality and perfected alienation, plus brand recognition among young people looking for nihilistic thrills. His hope is that such people might eventually find in Fascism and racism an ideology that responds to their own sense of social alienation, confirms their narcissistic sense of innate superiority and provides them with obvious targets and easy solutions. In that case, James Mason will have made another recruit.
But what’s in it for Michael Moynihan? Why would he work so hard to put this sort of material in front of the public? The simplest explanation is that he simply agrees with and approves of it: certainly it concords with most of what we know about his own approach and his stated positions. Just like Mason, Moynihan is drawn to sensational immorality, and just like him, he has the lowest possible opinion of most of humanity. Crucially though, also like Mason, Moynihan is a racist and a Fascist, and he believes that creating a culture accepting of Manson’s nihilism is half way to making it also amenable to Fascism. The publication of this book seems clearly intended as a contribution to the creation of such a culture.
Jeffrey Kaplan (ed), 2000, Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook of the Radical, Racist Right, Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
Jeffrey Kaplan and Heléne Lööw (eds), 2002, The Cultic Milieu: Oppositional Subcultures in the Age of Globalisation, Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
James Mason, 2010, Siege: The Collected Writings of James Mason, edited by Michael M. Jenkins (Michael Moynihan), introduction by Ryan Schuster, Black Sun Publications, Bozeman, MT.
01. Michael Moynihan, Interview, Momentum Magazine
02. George Rockwell, quoted in Mason, 2010, p310
03. ibid, p326
04. ibid, p258
05. ibid, p57
06. ibid, p20
07. Joseph Tommasi, Strategy for Revolution, 1974, in Mason,ibid, p379
08. ibid, p115
09. ibid, p76
10. ibid, p140
11. ibid, p276
12. ibid, p362
13. ibid, p363
14. ibid, p234
15. ibid, p164
16. ibid, p333
17. ibid, p312
18. ibid, p310
19. ibid, p328
20. ibid, p234
21. ibid, p233
22. ibid, p344
Originally published by
whomakesthenazis.com in 2010
under the title Michael Moynihan’s Siege Mentality
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