Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 93
Jonathan Bowden on Revisionism
Jonathan Bowden on Revisionism
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The following is a transcript by Davied E. Clarke of Jonathan Bowden’s speech at the 12th meeting of the New Right in London on November 3, 2007. If you have any corrections, please contact me at [email protected] or simply post them as comments below.
Now this talk which I’m going to give on Revisionism, Left and Right, hard and soft, could be construed in the future as a dangerous talk, because the Chancellor of contemporary Federal Germany would like to extend, as a particular remit of the constitution/treaty which is being negotiated at the present time, the idea that revisionist laws—or more accurately, anti-revisionist laws—that exist in certain Continental societies which have allegedly “known Fascism” at a particular period, be extended to this society and to all other EU access states, including a great wave of Eastern European countries who of course have acceded to the Union in recent years.
Now, one of the ways round this of course is to speak methodologically and in such a way as you talk about an area, and you interpret what people have said, and you put forward what very mainstream and counter-propositional and non-revisionist historians and others have said. And if you keep it within that box and within that framework, to be frank, you will be “alright.” Don’t forget, my father’s generation was told they’d fought in the Second World War for freedom of speech. And now we have to attenuate what we say before we even get down to saying it, so that we will not fall liable to particular laws that haven’t even been introduced yet.
Now the concept of Revisionism: there are several different meanings.
One comes from Marxist-Leninist theory. Whenever you have within communism, say Georgi Plekhanov teaching Lenin quite a bit of the Marxism that he actually knew and some of its materialist theory. When you then had later on a reinterpretation of theory, either for reasons of brutal state power or statecraft or genuine ideological split, it was called a revision. You were revising the prior theory, and it is true that certain Right-wing writers, academics, fringe academics, people who will have been expelled from the academies, and so on have used the term “revisionism” as a counter-propositional term, as an “enemy” term. They’ve shot an arrow back at former political and ideological opponents by using this term.
There’s also, as the President of Iran said quite recently in a German magazine, a genuine element within historiography—which is the writing of history, history as texts over time ramifying with each other—whereby different interpretations are revised over time and statements which were considered normative and absolute and beyond comparison later get changed and attenuated and repositioned and looked at in a different light.
Before I get on to the most controversial areas of Revisionism let’s just have a few, more minor and less emotionally charged examples.
Sir Winston Churchill: In the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, biographies which were not hagiographies, in other words biographies which weren’t enormous tributes to the man’s internal and external excellence, would not have been permitted. He was in some ways a secular sort of sacral figure. When these revisionist biographers—Ben Pimlott a little bit on the Left, John Charmley on the Center-Right to Right as a dissentient Cambridge don, and David Irving’s two volumes known as Churchill’s War—when these books occurred, they occurred in an era when Churchill was already dipping down. Charmley’s biography has Graham Sutherland’s portrait of Churchill on the front, which of course the Churchill family destroyed because they didn’t like that particular image of him.
So to revise something is to change the cultural shift, is to change the way in which something has been perceived that otherwise was uncritically received.
There are many examples. One key one in recent Anglo-Irish historiography is Cromwell and the massacres in Wexford and Drogheda. He was believed to have massacred, with the English New Model Army, two whole Irish towns, and Irish people have been taught this for centuries. Indeed in popular Irish culture the word “Cromwell” is worse than the “c” word in traditional usage because he killed everybody in those towns and all the women and all the children and all the animals!
Now there was a book published by Tom Reilly, a Trinity College Dublin university professor (similar to an Oxbridge level professor over here), called Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy and building on the partially revisionist essay by Thomas Carlyle about Cromwell in the 19th century which forced, particularly within Protestant discourse, a re-evaluation of our only military dictator in English/British history. The idea began to creep forward. There’s a little echo of it even in Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples, where there’s a little bit of congratulations to Cromwell for being at least a man of will, of honor, of courage, and of decision, even though he was in turn a hateful regicide. So Cromwell has been revisited and has been turned around and has been revived.
It now appears that in Wexford and Drogheda, the Catholic parishional and diocesan records state that nearly everybody in that area who lived before his army passed through lived after his army passed through. That the number of people killed may have been a thousand combatants who were slaughtered at the high point of a battle when they themselves had surrendered and probably put up the white flag to draw people in before they used arms, which in most forms of war does result in such an event.
That event occurred in the context of Protestants being massacred in 1641. It’s taken four centuries. And this is just historical events between different peoples in these islands, for a slightly more judicious, a slightly more rounded, a less emotive, and more temperate view of massacres and events which are believed to have occurred, to be rewritten and entered into mainstream historical record.
Now when you’re dealing with events like the First World War and the Second World War, which are climaxes, which were the sort of the industrialization of the principle of death in relation to the First World War; many who went through that experience saw a sort of factory-type killing established in battlefields in Europe, whereby the surface of the Earth became lunar and looked like the surface of the moon. Millions of men slaughtered each other in mud and filth and barbed wire. These were extraordinarily savage events, almost sort of revolutions in consciousness for the generation that went through them. Therefore, even to have revised views about the circumstances that led to that war has been very controversial.
One of the earliest American revisionists was Harry Elmer Barnes, and he really concentrated on the First World War and the currents that led to it, both at a micro level, looking at the Lusitania sinking, and at a macro level, looking at the power politics that came out of that war and that many believe led to the Second World War, because many do see the second war as a postscript to the first. Many see it actually almost beginning in a stage one before war is actually announced in ’39 to ’40, because it was partly unfinished business and we were partly into a cycle. Much of the hedonism of the ’20s in Europe, and much of the despair of the Depression in the ’30s in Europe, was that generation sensing an enormous revisitation of the bloodbath was coming.
Most of the writers and intellectuals during that period realized they were living between two explosions and between two wars. We in 2007 are living in the after effects of the Second European Civil War, which is really what the Second World War in Europe amounted to. And the First World War was the First European Civil War.
There is a dissentient notion within political history that the American Civil War, which of course is different and distinct, has echoes of some of the conflicts that will follow. The use of mass artillery and early machine guns of a sort against massed forms of cavalry and infantry, leading to massacre on one side and a very defensive warfare on the other. And the fact that you have two regimes: a white racialist, aristocratic, slave-owning regime against an industrial, liberal, bourgeois regime which preaches radical democracy, which tries to lead us on the other side to a degree, which puts a client government into the defeated South after it’s all over. There are echoes. But this is inevitable because in cycles of war and history you will have echoes before, and you will have echoes afterwards.
Even the Boer War and its origins in 1899 through 1902 between ourselves (the British) and the Afrikaners has been revised and looked at again, even by liberals. But that is a war about which the controversial heat and the gas flare of intensity is much lower down.
When you’re dealing with much more incisive and explosive matters these things are much nearer the edge. And it’s not “talk”! You’ll lose your career; you’ll lose your reputation; you’ll lose your respect; you’ll be put in prison for having certain counter-propositional views about historical events.
In several major European societies at least 10,000 people, in one category or another, have been arraigned for these “crimes” of thought, including many major historians. Many historians, if you read them today, know that this is a minefield they will not go near.
If you take a very contemporaneous book like Richard Overy’s history of Hitler’s and Stalin’s regimes (as he calls them), the Soviet death total and the Soviet camps he’s infinitely cautious with. He’s prepared to draw an enormous amount of criminological and empirical evidence to prove that the Stalinist genocide maybe claimed a quarter of the lives that somebody like Robert Conquest writing in the ’50s and ’60s with The Great Terror and The Harvest of Sorrow said. And he’s extremely careful and very judicious; very, very mainstream; very, very obliging to fact or presumed fact. Don’t forget many of the KGB archives have been opened up since 1990.
But when he comes to the Germans in the Second World War, there is a gap, and there is a statement whereby he said, “Some of what I’m going to say in this section may be refuted by future research.” And then he goes on to give a new version of the official version of the issue that most generations of schoolchildren have been indoctrinated with now for 40 to 50 to 60 years.
In the town that I live in, a selection of sixth formers from all schools were recently taken on an Auschwitz tour paid for by the local authority and its taxpayers to prove the evil of racism, to prove that voting for certain tendencies is regarded as a priori illegitimate and immoral, and also to look at a crime against humanity leading to the need for universal constructions of law and of morality.
And leading to trials whereby political leaders in conflicts that have little to do with what happened in Europe and beyond between ’39 and ’45 of the last century, can themselves be arraigned! The trial and death of Saddam Hussein involving procedures very close to the Nuremberg ones, very close to a similar ideology that was applied to post-war Yugoslavia, very close to an ideology that was applied to some of the fallen militarist leaders from Imperial Japan, very close to trials that people have wanted to enact but have held back.
Now, what’s happened in modernity is that the ability to kill large numbers of people has become an ideological weapon on all sides. During the Cold War, one part of the human race learnt a view of history. Few people know that there was a massacre of communists in Indonesia in the middle 1960s. I’ve met an Australian who saw a pyramid of bodies on one side of an airport in that society. Whereas other crimes would be on the media almost every other night. And the reason for this is that one of the legitimizations of human rights and civil rights rhetoric is the belief that certain tendencies are evil and unregenerate and that other tendencies “make mistakes” and “have excesses” and “commit blunders” or are “not opportune.”
Even in relation to the Iraq War 2 there is a mass debate within our contemporary establishment. The Lancet, which is the journal of our doctors, has said (methodologically) that 670,000 Iraqis, and more, have perished since the invasion, and Blair and Bush say, “It’s a lie! We refute their figures, we refute the methodology upon which those figures are based. The actual figure is 150 to 170,000.”
Why would they bother about that?
They bother about it because in the war of position and the crucible of political struggle the numbers matter and are of crucial importance, because they enable you to demonize one side and extol another. They enable you to excuse one thing as deviation or error (subject to revisionism of one sort or another). Or you actually say that one tendency, by virtue of these actions, is beyond even what it is to be political, is a species of Satanism, is that which you have nothing to do with.
One of the reasons we have a Left-wing society, a liberal society, is partly because conservatism, that which is supposed to “conserve,” is brain-dead in the West, and is terrified, and is afraid. But one of the reasons it’s afraid is because of this area of secular demonology. Because when you have to think in an illiberal way you will “go over there.” You will have to go “over there.” You will have to touch certain thinkers who actually are in that proximity, and that is demonic, and you have to remain in the Center. And if you remain in the Center, you can’t oppose the liberal Left. You can’t oppose the world as it now is inside Western societies. We’re now in the position that we’re invading other societies to impose what exists here (or variants of same) on them!
Of course there are a lot of people inside the West who do not agree with the dispensation that exists here.
Now, Germany was divided at the end of the Second World War into two occupation regimes. In contemporary history and journalistic writing the Eastern regime of Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker was in some ways described as it was, a country that built a wall to keep its citizenry in and shot them if they got over the barbed wire in an attempt to get over that wall
The Western Zone though, was never said to be “occupied.” It had been “freed.” It had been “liberated” by Western power and liberal jurisprudence, French, British, and American. We had set up a zone there that later became the Federal Republic of Western Germany. Since then, the German political elite and beyond it—Central European political elites—have been terrified of any reversal in the demonic fortunes of the parties that fought the wars that brought them to power. Any change, any shift, any relativism even, any minor factual amendment (which always will happen in history) becomes decisive.
In the First World War, Lloyd George and others invented a large strand of German atrocity story which was revealed in 1928 in the House of Lords. This is the idea that the Germans committed bestial atrocities in Belgium; the Germans ran around with babies on spikes; they committed atrocities against prisoners that were outside of the European consciousness and form of civility. It was later realized that it was complete propaganda, although in a society with a mass media that was far less refined and pervasive than it is now. You go out there and look at that screen out there, it’s enormous! It covers the whole room ideologically and sort of in terms of its system of signs.
Now media understanding was much less cynical in 1914–1918. There’s a degree to which a large number of white people were stimulated by propagandistic elites to loathe and detest each other and to kill not just hundreds of thousands but millions of each other right across Europe. In accordance with actually predated forms of alliance politics which in an era of mechanized and mass politics meant less and less.
Now the First World War’s dipped down, there’s hardly anyone left. But the Second World War is still alive and still real in human consciousness today.
Mussolini and Franco have largely been historicized. Their dictatorial regimes, their traditionalist, European, socially authoritarian governments have largely entered into a process that acclimatizes them to the memory of Caesar, never mind Cromwell and Napoleon. They are seen as regrettable but normal European dictatorships.
The National Socialist one is not and remains in a sort of shadow, outside. And while we have the present dispensation that we have in Europe, that will have to be so. So you have to understand that what appears to be historical research is historical and is research. It isn’t about historical research as power perceives it.
If somebody says that Zionist terrorists blew up a hotel in Jerusalem in 1948, and Menachem Begin said, “There was a warning, but no-one else heard it.” That’s one view of history. Zionist militants say to this day that MI6 had its headquarters in that hotel, and therefore it was a “legitimate act of struggle.” Struggle! And those are two perspectives. But that is for historians and for minor debate and for articles in The Times and The Jewish Chronicle.
What happened in the middle of Europe in the 20th century is cardinal to certainly a definition of white or Caucasian identity today.
One of the many reasons why our people find it so difficult to assert themselves—even to think about the prospect that they might!—is because of these events and how they’ve been interpreted. Because, as soon as they say “This is the English flag behind; this is the British flag, the Swedish flag; this is the German flag”: “No! No! He’s got the English flag! He’s gone over there!”
You are entering into proximity to moral danger, to what some philosophers call “moral hazard.” You’re tiptoeing towards what the first thing a liberal journalist will ask you. I was once representative of an organization called “Western Goals” (it was a Cold War organization). The second question the journalist asked me on mainstream media was, “What’s your view of the Holocaust?”
That’s the second issue, because they actually had—and he had it on his paper there—two lines. One is, “Treat them like a negative barrister. They’re hostile to your case, and you rag them and you try and take them down.” That’s the first mental proposition for the interviewer.
The second is: “National Socialism—Shoah.” Get them squirming on that, and what they’ve got to say about what Enoch Powell said, or what they’ve got to say about the European Union, or what they’ve got to say about contemporary crime is of no significance at all, because you have them there! In the pit, squirming! And that pit is pre-programmed. It’s pre-programmed! And quite deliberately so. It’s irony piled upon irony, because, of course, many of the people who use these weapons partly don’t care about the truth itself, indeed deeply, often cynically have no interest in it at all! It is a weapon that’s used, a grenade; it’s a spear that is used.
Now a series of historians, often privately funded, often researching themselves, often people beyond even fringe academic life, have published a series of books since Maurice Bardèche in the late 1940s, questioning the veracity of some of these events, including people who’ve used other names which are not their own. Whether or not Alain de Benoist ever published a particular revisionist article using another name, he has never admitted to it. He has never said he didn’t do it. No-one knows, because you have to understand that this was extreme and deep thought criminality.
An intellectual rather similar to Bardèche was executed by the French Resistance and its occupation/liberation authorities in France just after the war: Robert Brasillach. So there is a degree to which certain people have paid with their lives for having certain ideas or living through them.
The French film director Truffaut knew Lucien Rebatet very well, because certain fascist theorists in France were obsessed with cinema; because that is mass ideology and mass visualization; if you have an authoritarian view of society you will want to communicate not with just the small elite but with the masses; you communicate with the elite before you communicate with the mass. And Truffaut once said, vis-à-vis his friendship with this old French National Socialist—which is what Rebatet was, he was beyond the Vichyite!—nevertheless he said, “You can respect men who are put to death for daring to adumbrate an idea.”
This is in the land of Voltaire, don’t forget, where ideas are supposed to be free and set us free in pursuit of the truth.
Now, a range of writers, normally they’re in the United States. Why in the United States? Because they at least have (strangely) the covering of First Amendment rights and can publish freely, which is why an enormous amount of this material of course has come back; it’s come back into Europe; it’s come back even beyond Europe into the Arab and Muslim world in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s come back from often German Americans or expatriate Germans in America doing this sort of thing.
Tony Hancock said to me years ago, “What should happen to this material?”—by which he meant revisionist material—and I said, “Well, the internet will solve all that for you, but one way to do it, just one of many, is to give it to the Muslim world. Because it will then come back into the West in a way which does not seem congruent with the radical Right within the West. That’s one of the ways in order to do this.”
Now many of these revisionist historians of course are historians, who do not agree with each other and have different lines. Paul Rassinier is a social democrat of a sort who was actually imprisoned in a camp himself. Others may well be dissentient Jews like Friedrich Berg and Alexander Baron and others. Others are radical neo-fascists and ultra-conservatives. Others are Germans who believe that the use of the Shoah is a form of racism against them, that it is used to demonize German people and people of German ancestry all over the world.
The interesting thing about these “crimes” and the memory and the historical narrative through which they are institutionalized, is that they began affecting a particular nation-state and its warrior elite at a particular time. Then it extended to some of the allied nationalities. Then it extended out to (reflexively) the nationalities of people who destroyed that country! Now if somebody who’s English asserts themselves in an ethnic manner, with a little bit too much militancy, they will be accused of spiritually being aligned to those forces, when they are descended from men who flew planes that obliterated the cities of that government.
What has happened is that it has become a generic form of thought criminality which extends out to almost all Caucasians, and then beyond, including in the victor and successor states! So it’s become a generalized negative propaganda against all of us stretching from Iceland to Australia. No-one is immune from the taint of this retrospective “criminality.”
So it’s been used as an extraordinarily effective thought weapon and ideological buttress. And in societies where you can’t read Arthur Butz or Robert Faurisson or Michael Hoffman or Paul Rassinier or Wilhelm Stäglich or [unintelligible] or Walter Sanning or Jügen Graf or Germar Rudolf or Carlo Mattogno or any of these people. The irony is that people actually know what they say. The Daily Telegraph had a poll about four years ago in which they said—to the average Briton, this is the average Radio Four Briton:
“Do you believe the Shoah occurred?”
“Do you believe that the numbers that are used in contemporary historical record are right?”
That is interesting. That is Joe Public, who’ve had nothing but one view, are prepared to accept that the figures are exaggerated, which of course if you put it in a certain way will get you imprisoned in certain contemporary Western societies. The irony is that because we have a conflict between state law and power and the desire to crush dissent and historical research, all sorts of little people, nerdy academics—people who don’t look both ways before they cross—get smashed down in the middle, because it’s a doctrine and an ideology of power against power in terms of memory.
If you’re a German citizen and you say what the Israeli state says occurred, you can be imprisoned!
This is a fact, because Yad Vashem says that the number of victims for the Shoah is a half of the number that you’re supposed to use. Therefore we have a situation that European countries will imprison their nationals for saying what the Israeli President can say openly!
But that’s because it’s about power. It’s not about truth! The view is that the significant proportion of the European population believe that the post-war settlement was unjust, that it was victor’s justice, that the government in 1948—although Adenauer may have genuine sides to him and was broadly speaking conservative in difficult circumstances—nevertheless his regime was a partly illegitimate one. That there is unfinished business there, that America’s domination of half of the Continent was a different version of Soviet domination of the other half of the Continent. That the endless laws of memory, and trace of memory, are an endless vilification of German people and people of Germanic ancestry.
During the 1970s and ’80s there was an enormous split in Germany between the generations, and there was an enormous amount of intergenerational hatred, and far-Left terrorism grew out of that: a rebellion against everything German, a rebellion against everything that had gone before, a destruction and a hostility towards everything that was prior. You had very great oddities, though because some of these revolutionary Left groups ended up fighting against Israel with the Palestinians: fanatically anti-Zionist but would kill anyone for a scintilla of what they deemed anti-Semitism. So you get these strange combinations as you always do within a crucible of history.
But nevertheless, the extraordinary damage psychologically and sort of intestinally, that was done to modern Germany by the self-hatred and loathing that has been institutionalized there as a result of the discourse of the Shoah, is incalculable.
The Jewish-American novelist Norman Mailer said that the real victims of the Second World War were the Germans. A revolutionary statement, and in many ways a truthful one. What he means by that is that the people have been partly spiritually destroyed, morally destroyed.
Because before you take a structure down, you take it down spiritually and morally and in terms of its ethical sense of itself. You take down that which is above the top consciousness of the rational mind. You take down that which leads to a morally efficacious sense of self. If you grew up believing that you’re descended from murderers and your nationality is worthless, and the most extreme form that your nationality took has no value—and even the communist states have an element of that—you will end up with a self-loathing population as Benoist has described it, which characterizes a large number of Western individuals at the present time.
It’s a sort of moral and psychological form of cancer, and almost everybody who doesn’t like the changes in Western societies has had this moment. Almost everybody who’s thought “I might in the 1970s vote National Front . . .”
“No you don’t!”
“What do you mean?”
“No you don’t!”
Because you’re going to be linked to a trajectory that links you to this, and a lot of Caucasian people feel, “Oh my God, you know, to sort of assert myself in a minor and nationalist way, I will be re-routing my sensibility through what is presented as ‘the dungeon’; the sort of Fred and Rosemary West writ large.”
Your average Western person says, “No! No I’m not going there. I’m not going there. A bit of conservatism’s alright. But I’m not going there!” And this means that we are, or have been left partly mentally defenseless in relation to many of the changes which have occurred. It’s a sort of secular version of a fall, in a way, and there is within contemporary liberalism the belief that there’s a denied God that needs a Devil, an extraordinary parallelism in the use of this idea.
People who hold these sorts of ideas, these sorts of historians including Serge Thion, who’s a Leftist, including Noam Chomsky who wrote an introduction to Faurisson’s book saying he should be given at least freedom of speech, for which he was vilified by neo-conservative lobbies in the United States. Everybody who’s gone into this area faces demonization. Not just white people either. Anyone who touches this area faces it, and it’s created a sort of paralysis and a double reflex in our entire population.
It means that the most Right-wing view that’s allowed in our society is virtually President Bush and those around him. That’s where you can go and remain within the spectrum of the non-demonic within secular modernity. You go outside that, you are morally other.
And it is not nonsense that I’m speaking. Almost every self-conscious generation that’s come up since the war has this moment, irrespective of education, of class, and of everything else. There’s this moment when people will say, “You’re one of them, and it leads to that, and I don’t want to know!”
And the problem is that we as a European civility will gradually disappear, because the generations that fought in that particular war and came after will disappear, but the memory and the ideological reinterpretation of these events will not.
Blair was asked in 1999 why the Second World War was fought, and he said it was to protect the Jewish race from extermination. Which is an extraordinary remark and an extraordinarily illiterate remark! This is what you get. Because many Western politicians never inform their population about normative historical truth, an enormous number of people are totally miseducated now.
The fact that the Second World War resulted from a confluence of parallel institutions of power, and the idea that great powers in Europe balanced stable alliances with each other, so that Germany could have one area but not another, and Britain would give guarantee to another state in order to invade, which in the minds of some of the people who made these decisions was the cause of war.
It’s all out of the window with Blair. Blair views the whole of that war—and the present intellectual clerisy and academic and intellectual life; turn on the media that isn’t sport over there and they all agree with this view—this war was fought from the retrospective outcome of ovens at its end. It had nothing to do with rivalry between states, nothing to do with ideological conflict! It had to do with some of the victims of that particular conflict and its aftermath.
So why has this event become so crucial?
It’s become so crucial because it justifies the post-war age.
It justifies Western multiculturalism. It justifies Western multi-racialism. It justifies mass immigration by virtue of reverse. It justifies forms of liberal and attenuated European integration, because separate nationalism is a bad thing. Therefore you integrate to overcome the memory and legacy of events which have occurred. This isn’t theory. No-one’s interested in the European Union, let alone most Europeans, but there is a degree to which whenever they get a chance to vote on these things, a certain mania of consciousness intrudes.
We had a referendum recently in two Continental countries that were before then thought to be very pro-EU. One politician from one of those countries went to stand in the demarcated fields of Auschwitz and said on mass European and world television if people vote “No” in this very minor, methodological referendum/poll they are “voting for the Shoah; they are voting for this!” He later revised—a bit of revisionism on the spot—he later “revised” that sort of remark. Jack Straw said that the rejection of those treaties “would be a moral disaster for Europe.” He later said that he’d said no such thing or meant something completely different. Because a vote before it happens is crucial, and then afterwards you think, “Well, who cares about that?”
So there’s a degree to which the post-war world is based upon this. And one of the most crucial reasons for this is the domination of the whole of the Western self-conception by the United States, and the domination of Mid-East politics by Israel and Israel’s conception of itself in relation to the United States, and America’s conception of its own self-interest as almost being aligned with Israel to the degree that maybe there is a little bit of separation, maybe there is a distinct chink of light between the contemporary American nationalist/neo-imperialists and Zionism. But it is so fine a difference and you have radical Protestantism as the cultural discourse in the background that forces—even if there was any difference—a virtual merger between the two.
And this means that European countries, whether they like it or not, in the First and the Second Gulf Wars, were dragged along to fight essentially an Israeli war pursued by American power, whether they wanted to or not. And all the muteness and the partial semi-surrender, and the very weak and rather corrupt French president daring to stand up to the United States and its colossal power, with Germany hiding, literally hiding—contemporary Germany—behind the French, was an attempt at a minor neutralism and which is an attempt not to go along with that.
Britain? We’re in with America, and we go where they go. And any war or adventure they want, we go in as well. We’ve spent six-and-a-half billion of our cash in Iraq. We’ve lost 200 men. We’ve achieved absolutely nothing! Absolutely nothing. And we have done so because in 1956 we attempted a very minor independent move with the Israelis and with the French and earned American disapproval. And that was a very cold burst. And the British establishment doesn’t like cold bursts. And American power faced internally within the West is awesome, even though they have very little idea what to do with it.
And yet, in a strange way, they do know exactly what they’re doing, and what they’re doing is imposing the logic of an attenuated French Revolution, of the American Revolution, on the whole planet. Equality, indeterminacy, aspiritualism, materialism, the right to shop, the right to vote (parts of it are the same), human rights, civil rights, Israel always safe. This is the agenda that’s being pushed all over the world in Africa, in Asia, in the Middle East, in Central and Latin America, which they virtually regard as a dominion and an extension of their own state power, from the Monroe Doctrine onwards.
Now, this means that when you tack against certain historical verities, even in relation to numbers, you are pushing against the nature of the modern world as it’s become, as it’s been constructed. So in a way you are chipping away at the foundations of an enormous edifice.
An element of the emotion around these issues is semi-religious! There are many people who regard blasphemy in relation to this orthodoxy in the way that atheism would have been treated in this country before 1800. It is: you are outside if you posit this. And this is a crucial thing that Right-wing and Europeanist discourse has to confront and has to, in a sense, overcome. The past won’t do it. To just say, “Time will pass, a century will pass. In 40 years from now it’s a century from me to them! People will forget.”
No! Because these things will be put before them always and present and forever and a day. They’ll even be used against assertion by the new Russia, a country which can only be fitted into the schema in a sort of strange way, but a power that fought might and main against fascism and has achieved an element of national sense of itself under communism in that war. It has to go along with the feelings of guilt and moral reparation as well, certainly if it’s ever to join the rest of the West in a wholehearted way. And if you are perceived as a country that links at all with the ideas of the regimes that fell in flames and have been demonized by trial, even if you fought against them in the past, you are part of that trajectory of guilt and that solidarity of lost innocence.
Now, the figures that were adumbrated immediately after the war of seven-and-a-half million have come down to six, have come down to four-and-a-half according to Norman Stone. Raul Hilberg, for instance, would push that much further down. So we have a sort of collapse in some of the paraphernalia of this particular historical narrative. But what’s really happened is that the political use of this has partly separated off from revisionism and counter-revisionism, because it’s become an ideological arrow, bludgeon, weapon, independent of the facts.
So there is a degree to which, even if there is a sort of conceptual shift—like your computer goes down, “clunk” and then you reboot it, and it comes up again—and Western ideology in the next 50 years, from the top down, recomposes itself to say, “Well there was an error about these figures, and there was Communist post-war exaggeration particularly from Poland, and we’re now revising it all for you, maybe for a lesser figure.”
But the impact of the moral statement will in a sense be the same or different. Indeed, to say that because the figure may well be less, that less of a moral crime is imputed, will be made to be worse than the prior discourse, because it’s not really about those who suffered and those who died and those who didn’t in a particular way. It’s about who rules the West, and who rules Britain, and who rules the United States, and what the future of the world will be.
At the moment we have an enormous “clash of civilizations” as it’s called, and much of the Western world is now convulsed by the idea that we are pitched headlong into an antithetical struggle with the Islamic world. You only have to turn on the news broadcast to see that. And many ordinary Westerners internalize this and cannot at all understand, in many ways, what is going on. Has communism been replaced by a new bloc in secular Western terms that we need to oppose?
But in actual fact, of course, although cultures and civilizations will clash and will often clash violently with each other, the reason for these wars and the reason for this contestation began in 1945, began in 1939, began in 1914 and is a continuation of these processes that may even predate that. We are always in a situation whereby if we were to chart an independent course we would have to overthrow American foreign policy in the last 50 years.
I was once asked on a platform for a party that I used to be a member of—that changed its opinions about some of these matters several years ago—what my view of Israel was, and I said—and everyone else on the platform had refuted what I’d said before I’d said it, which is an interesting conceit—and I said, “Israel is a terrorist state, and is not a morally legitimate one.”
Horror! But he’s posh, and he’s got a bow tie on, so we’ll let him say it. But there was moral horror. And this is a group that is regarded as fascistic, don’t forget. This is a group that is regarded as a far-Right group by the media. The Guardian would say they’ve just changed their lines to accommodate themselves to new realities. It’s just cynicism.
In actual fact it’s not quite that actually. It’s cynicism and other things as well, all combined. But, there’s a degree to which we will be dragged into war after war in relation to the Third World, in relation to American power politics over the Gulf and their need for oil, but also we will be systemically dragged in to the radical and increasingly radical consequences of the post-war dispensation. The fact that in a way the governments and opportunities of white people in Europe that were occupied twice over after 1945 by communism and American capitalism and by a particular world view which is not a European one, and that the occupation of the West was subtler and deeper and more invasive and more destructive than the occupation of the East.
Communism killed and chopped off the arms and behaved like you’re on a Procrustean bed. “You want more sympathy? We’ll cut another finger off!”
But American domination was subtler, more deconstructive. It’s broken down people in the West far more than people, though physically savage, were broken in the East, because it’s destroyed elements of their self-respect. Peter Hain was asked recently, “What has Western civilization achieved?” He said, “Nothing! . . . Nothing at all!”
He said “Nothing at all”!
“These are the people,” he said with his finger in the air, “these are the people,” he was then negotiating the peace deal in Northern Ireland, “these are the people who gave us Stalin,” interesting as he’s a Leftist, “Stalin and Hitler, these are the people who gave us that!”
It’s interesting isn’t it? This is his own civilization as he allegedly perceives it, and all we’ve done is that!
We’ve created no millennial civilization. There have been no libraries. There’s been no classical or neo-classical sculpture. There’s been no Beethoven. There’s just death and pillage and authoritarianism. This is allegedly what we are responsible for. And this is a man in our government! As though we’re beasts without mind and without wit and without intelligence.
There’s an irony here. When somebody’s uncultured, when somebody’s boorish or doesn’t know anything about art and those kind of things, they’re called a philistine. There are certain archaeologists who have actually dug down and looked at the Philistine culture. And the Philistine culture, such as it was, was not quite as barren, not quite as stupid, not quite as archaic as one might suppose, or their enemies supposed. And there’s an important lesson there, and that is that civilization and barbarism—often in a Western, Faustian context—are interwoven with each other.
We believe in the ferocious remaking of reality, moment by moment and layer by layer. Our previous speaker partly touched on some of the dynamics in our very complicated, fluid, but also hard civilization. When you ask a contemporary liberal what do they believe, they don’t really know, and they fear that if they authenticate themselves they will be revisiting the after-effects of the Shoah. That’s the truth. That is the mental construction that people face. It’s almost tendentious, if somebody says a bit too militantly, “I like the music of Richard Wagner!” That implication is only just under the surface. And it’s only just under the surface of being under the surface if you say Beethoven and Mozart instead of Wagner. It’s there! Any white self-assertion is regarded as an act of semi-criminality now, and it is because we cannot face certain facts, certain misreading of facts.
Let’s have a few facts. Hundreds of thousands of Germans who were pushed out of Slavic countries they’d been in for centuries, decimation of German cities by British terror bombing (let’s face it), total destruction of those cities. A friend of mine called Bill Hopkins once told me that if you went to Hamburg—and I believe he was in the RAF there in ’48—the stench in summer of all the bodies under the buildings was unbearable, unbearable in the height of summer.
Let’s have a few other facts: massacres of large numbers of white Russian prisoners who fought on the Axis side because they had become “enemies of the people.” When we decamped them back to Yugoslavia, and they went before people’s courts to receive the summary justice of the masses.
The large number of death squads who roamed French towns and villages after the Liberation with white sort of things on their sleeves and they said, “We’re with the Free Forces of the French Interior.” And you had a book by Charles Maurras on your shelf, and they drag you out, and shoot you in the back of the head, and put your body in a ditch. “Purification” it was called, the purging of those who had collaborated in a corps, against the interests of the French masses and humanity, and so on and so on.
You see there are facts and facts. And there are those that are used one way and those that are used another. When America bombed Serbian positions in the 1990s, they said they were doing it to “stop ethnic cleansing.” But Israel is based on ethnic cleansing. So one standard for one and one standard for another.
But that’s life, and that’s power, and that’s the reality and the vortex of power. What we have to do is to understand that things have been used against us for ideological reasons, irrespective of the facts, and only when we have the courage to do that will we revive.
So it’s really only when a leader of revivalist opinion is asked, “Well what’s your view of the Shoah then?”
And they say, “We’ve stepped over that.”
“What do you mean you’ve ‘stepped over’ that? Are you minimizing its importance to humanity?”
You say, “We are minimizing its importance to our form of humanity!”
At the present the United States Congress is trying to push through a sort of moral “statement,” if you like, and they’re always very keen on this, saying the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians at the end of the Great War. This is causing great contravention, because they need Turkish support given the situation in northern Iraq. As we speak, the Turks have massed a large part of their army on the north Kurdish border to invade, to attack a Marxist group that’s attacking Turkish territory.
The Turkish state has put out what would be regarded as revisionist ideology for most of the 20th century actually. You can get it from quite a lot of Turkish embassies and so on. And yet they also would contextualize much of the violence: as many Turks died as Armenians, different groups were involved in the slaughter, marches by one were met by hostility and massacres by another.
When Saddam Hussein was arraigned and tried, he was tried for gassing a Kurdish village. But don’t forget they were fighting a war which was called by some a First World War-type war often with gas, which was used by both sides in the Great War in the West of course. The Kurds fought on both sides simultaneously. The Iranians and the Iraqis both used gas. In the vortex of a war and the context of such struggle, to abstract one line of events and one series of interpretations and to arraign those who are responsible as criminals before humanity—a bit like Mafia leaders who are to be strung up on butcher’s hooks—this is part of the discourse of power, not of history. But history is about power, and that’s the situation that we find ourselves in!
So I do advise people, before these books are banned and before various people fish around under their beds looking for this book: “Sanning? What on Earth’s that? And why has it got such a cheap cover?” “What’s inside it?” And this sort of thing. Well this book called The Hoax of the Twentieth Century or another book called Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence. Or some of the ones that Germar Rudolf’s presently incarcerated for are up-to-date versions of some of these things.
One of the interesting counter-methodologies is that as the death totals in the most notorious camp of all have gone down and down and down, the burden of guilt/proof has been shifted to other camps (many of which don’t even exist now). Because you have to keep the primary figure, because propagandistically the great fear and the great threat is that it will be destroyed.
I’ll end with one quote.
There is a minor political historian who was at the University of Bath in the West Country of England. And he wrote a book about Fascism in the last ten years. And he was asked about Revisionism, and he was asked particularly about Holocaust Day and the Shoah and its use in schools, and its use in primary schools, as a weapon of . . . as a “means of moral instruction.”
And he said: “I’m worried about it.”
And the researcher said, “You’re worried? Why are you worried?”
And he said, “There’re two problems with it. One, there’s too many Muslims in British schools, and some of them will stand up and say ‘I don’t believe in it,’ and then the propagandistic effect dips with white children.” And the second thing, he said, is, “There are too many lies that have been told about it after the war, too many lies, and it’s becoming dangerous propagandistically!”
And this chap said, “Well if that’s the case, what do we do?”
He said, “Ah, ah, ah! I’ve got an answer. What we do is we conflate that in with all other crimes, so we have a ‘Genocide Day’ to deny the self-affirmation of all groups!”
Because ultimately, you see, the logic that applies to us will apply to everyone. Because identity, if it leads to the consequence through history of massacre, will affect all groups. So all groups partially de-scale or de-escalate all of their rival and competing identities. So we have One World for us all. That is in some ways what is proposed.
That is why, although radical Right people are thought by others to be full of hate against other groups and so on, it’s actually a philosophical position of extreme conservatism: about structures from the past and how they relate to where we are now, and also how we can live on this planet together without losing identity which gives life meaning. Because without it, there is no context for art or beauty or philosophy or science or knowledge or progress of any sort. Because if somebody says to you “Who are you and what are you?” and you have no answer, all civilization will have come to an end.
Right-wing views are about difference, they’re about inequality, they’re about distinction, and they’re about meaning. So I advise you to have a look at a few of these texts on the internet before Mrs. Merkel drags you away!
Thank you very much.
1. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
2. Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004).
3. Referring, apparently, to a big-screen television in an adjacent room
4. Rebatet was not put to death. Bowden seems to be referring to Brasillach here.
5. The British National Party
6. Roger Eatwell, Fascism: A History (London: Chatto & Windus, 1995).
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