The following text is a transcript by V. S. of part of Jonathan Bowden’s interview at the Union Jack Club in London on Saturday, November 21, 2009, after his famous lecture/performance on Punch and Judy. The title is editorial.
Question: I have some questions, some of them about the British National Party. Are you happy to answer them? [. . .]
Jonathan Bowden: No, it’s all right. One should stand and deliver.
Q: Many people in the Conservative Party and UKIP sympathize with many of the BNP’s policies, but have a hard time understanding the BNP’s economic policies. You may, no doubt, be aware that earlier this year Norman Tebbit referred to the BNP as “Labour with racism.”
JB: Yes, yes.
Q: So, which economic policies, if any, mark the BNP out from parties such as Labour and the SWP?
JB: Yes, well, I think the SWP really doesn’t exist now as a force that’s coherent from the sort of mobocracy of so-called anti-fascism. But in the 1970s the National Front was demonized by the Tory media for middle class people as a socialist party with the union flag. When I read The Telegraph when I was a teenager it said, “Forget Rhodesia, forget hanging and flogging, forget immigration policies,” which they knew instinctively a lot of their readers would sympathize with the National Front about, “concentrate on economics. They’re socialist. They will tax you. They believe in socialized medicine, socialized education and so on. They are little different from the center-Left of the Labour Party. Do not go there.” And that’s slightly convincing to many bourgeois people. Of course, they are only a proportion of the society.
I think the way to approach it is to take a different view, and that is: people are class divided, but it’s also divide and rule. Many middle class people are deeply patriotic, often in a rather confused in a populist way, but they are. There are few middle class people who rub their hands with glee at the working class torment during Thatcher’s recession in the early 1980s, contrary to propaganda, because most people have an instinctual patriotism.
The way in which you get around all these difficulties, you say to the bourgeois class, “It may be difficult for you in part, but there are large swathes of the population that the Conservative Party never thinks about, never represents, doesn’t even think about representing and never existed for. They are part of the nation, and you have to have socio-economic vehicles which covers all of that. However, the difference from the socialism of the Left in terms of the sociality of the Right is that the moral premise is different. The Left believes the enforcement of equality through social engineering–as a result of deficit financing and other measures–is good, whereas the Right believes it’s either incidental, occasionally necessary, but bad if it leads to undue equality. Inequality is always the goal. Therefore, the Right-wing form of social interventionism is paternal, so the ethic that lies behind it is different.”
So, when Tories say you’re just a group of socialists waving a flag they’re wrong, because the Right doesn’t believe in equality in the way that the Left does, and, therefore, all of its socio-economic propositions–that you have a managed capitalism within a nationality, that people who are straight-forwardly successful and entrepreneurial come up to the top, but at the same time they can’t suddenly close down a factory and move it to Hungary and then move it to Indonesia and cut all the workers’ wages, because it’s in their interest to do so, because they have a responsibility to the society, to the people that they come from, to the area in which they are born. There’s a national development to economic life which superintends my profit, my firm, my life, a sort of purely libertarian attitude.
Deep down, although many businessmen will explode at the hearing of that, many of them secretly agree with those sorts of ideas actually, but never thought you could say so. Because if you do say so you’re a “fascist,” aren’t you? You’re one of them. The people we fought in the war, the people who shouldn’t be listened to and all that.
Q: Projections indicate that Islam will probably be the largest active religious denomination in the UK by the middle of this century. Do you have a message for British people who are looking for an alternative to the Church of England within which to express their own spiritual feeling?
JB: Yes. I think firstly you’ve got to think about these matters. Religions are largely about death and about facing it. In other words, it’s about the meaning of life, which ends in death. So, white people have got to free themselves from the telly and The X-Factor and premier league football and other inanities. And many of them do, because they all have lives; they all have tragedies; they all have dilemmas. We certainly are in a philosophically vapid phase because we’ve privatized our belief systems, and we’ve said that people can believe in it in your own home, in your own skull, but there’s no social and cultural ramification.
Rowan Williams is in Rome at the moment and does not speak for England. And I’m not talking here about some silly point about the fact that he’s partly Welsh. He doesn’t speak for anyone other than his own attenuated bureaucracy. That’s also partly the fault of the English and British. These high important problems with which these systems deal are important.
I believe that people can be as Christian as they want culturally, but they should be ethically pagan. They should look at the Greco-Roman and Nordic world. They should learn more about their history, culture, and civilization. They should be less dualist. They should adopt stronger and more articulate formulations that will mentally toughen them up a little bit. All of these things are available. The philosophers who advocate many of these things, Schopenhauer (a little bit), Kierkegaard (yes and no), Nietzsche (very much), they’re all in Waterstones. They’re not secret. They’re not banned. They’re not hidden away. If you want it you can go and find it, but it’s got to exist in you first.
Q: Given the way in which neo-conservative and Israeli policies have exacerbated social polarization of the West to the point where the inherent structural weaknesses of a multi-racial society have been arguably exposed sooner than they would have otherwise, would it not, in a perverse way, be correct in saying such policies are helpful to the rise of the radical Right in Europe?
JB: Yes, I think that’s true. But liberalism’s based upon a false view. It’s partly based upon the Pelagian heresy within Christianity that man is naturally good, when man is not. Go to any liberal history book in a modern library and get it out for a half an hour, and you will realize that human beings have more than an unpleasant side. So, the belief that enormous numbers of people can come from all over the world and can mix together happily because we are all really the same–and there are human criteria, we all are human–but there are important perspectival and situational and experiential and even physical differences which lead people to perceive the world differently and want different things. Many people do just want a quiet life, but their vanguards that give them the identity in the first place, will inevitably tend into conflict because they want to maximize the strength of their own partial way of seeing things.
The idea that you can be on everyone’s side and yet be yourself simultaneously isn’t true. You can understand many other positions. That is true. And the irony is that many liberal humanists don’t really like the people that they protest to adore, because they all want them to become Westerners. They want them to lose their identity, and they want the West to merge in with them, and there are subtle forms of “racism” and “racialism” in the liberal agenda that every African can become British. What about his own identity? What about his own tribal identity, which is for them the national identity, the primary biological sense of belonging? What does it mean to be a Vambo or to be Kraa if you’re just stuffed into some state in South London? The idea that they adore these people and they want only the best for them isn’t really true.
There’s also the patriotism of the immigrants themselves. If I was born in another group I would want to be in my own country and do something for that and build that up and see that that achieves something more. So, the finger can be pointed at all these people who see rich pickings in the West and just want to come in.
But yes, liberalism is speeding up the process, because its view of human nature is wrong. Human nature has a loving and sympathetic side, but it also has an avaricious and competitive and aggressive side, and they have not computed that properly.
Q: To what extent do you agree with this statement: “If you change a people, you change the culture, which in time will change their laws and the ethics that govern that culture.”
JB: Yes, I think that’s a factual statement, and this means that–contrary to what many conservatives believe, that it’s all a bit of an accident what’s going on now–there is a deliberative and intentional element to it. Many liberals do not see it in those terms and do not view the world in those terms. I’m slightly paradoxical, of course, because most Right-wing people are very prone to seeing the world in those terms, because I am a Nietzschean, and I slightly view the world in a more dynamic sort of way, a more energy-based way.
But there is a logic to the processes ongoing even in their semi-chaos, and liberalism is a chaotic system. But there’s only so much dissonance that any ideology can meaningfully contain. I think we’re reaching the point of maximum stretch now. The assimilation into Western modernity of groups which are totally non-Western and completely pre-modern is causing enormous tension to the degree that the whole project faces a degree of even moral collapse.
Q: Slightly similar question: In an interview, Nick Griffin stated that the Labour government’s own projections a white ethnic minority Britain by the year 2100. Do you agree with this statement and, if so, why?
B: I think it is largely true, because people will move in and out. Things always take longer. The Tories will come in. Tories manage the decline better. Major allowed 100,000 migrants in. Labour 300,000 per year, plus illegals. Labour always radicalizes the process of dissolution, and partly wishes to, and partly is in a confused state and can’t really govern properly, and partly is pushed by the modus operandi of their own ideas. So yes, I think that’s actually a totally factual statement. Contrary to the idea that’s spread by Jack Straw and others that people like Griffin are always scaremongering and shouting the odds, that sounds a completely rational and even cautious statement to my mind.
Q: In what sense do you understand men and women to be different, and in what ways should societal and other institutional discrimination reflect those differences?
JB: I think life determines the difference. I think it is biological. Males and females have different brains, therefore wish to socialize and interact, even with each other, in completely different ways. Deep down, almost everyone understands that.
There’s always a problem with the proportion of women who are completely capable of doing quite advanced male careers. Do you rip up what society always was in order to facilitate this active, energetic, gifted, and militant minority to get their own way? The West has decided to do that. It’s made an enormous number of other people rather unhappy, both male and female: 70% of women just want a home-based option, a man and children, despite all the ideology that goes around, but there’s still 30% that would want something different.
The Western tradition is slightly different to the Asiatic, the Negroid, the Arab, the Eurasian, and others. Women have always had more of a stake publicly in Western societies. In Germanic societies, the women often fought behind the men, but the men went first.
I am opposed to feminism. But at the same time there are very gifted women who can do certain public roles. But as long as you ideologize on behalf of what deep down most men and women want, the truth is that natural biology will take care of these things. You have to apply immense pressure on the society to get it to act in a counter-propositional and non-biological way. So, you have to engage in intense propagandistic efforts through media to try to reverse gender roles and enforce sort of inverted stereotypes on people.
If you take all of that off and allow the natural “political incorrectness” of gender roles to proliferate you’ll find that you’ll have the odd MI5 chief who’s a woman; you’ll have the odd judge who’s a woman. But broadly speaking you’ll have a sort of traditional society where the roles are quite clearly male and female. And deep down no woman respects a man who doesn’t think that, although they don’t like him saying it.
Q: In what ways do you think that the differences between resistance to cultural and political Marxism in the United States and Canada and resistance to cultural and political Marxism in Europe will manifest themselves over the course of the remainder of this century?
JB: That’s an interesting one. I think in a strange way they’ll take the same form whether the societies are in quite different stages of development. America’s different. America’s in a more radical state. It’s further into decline, but there’s bigger space. There’s more chance of a sort of moral Rightist resurgence there. There’s a lot of energy there. Europe’s quite tired, I think, and needs to wake up quite quickly, but can.
Yes, that’s an interesting one. I think the great difficulty in America is a third political force. If things emerge in America it will be ideological. Many of the various Right-wing books of the 20th century in English have been written by Americans. People like Revilo P. Oliver, Francis Parker Yockey, Lawrence R. Brown. They’ve contributed quite a lot, and yet their movements have almost been completely marginal. But then just by adopting a coherent form of thinking you can actually change reality quite a bit. But White people essentially come from Europe and their destiny deep down is in Europe, and therefore Europe is ultimately more important.
I think the intellectual tradition here is richer and stronger and the political tradition against liberalism in some ways is even more robust. So, I think some of the ideas that a successful break out in Europe may use will come from America, but I think America’s destiny is in Americans’ hands. I think the greatest thing America can do is to foster neo-isolationism in the middle and end of the 21st century. If America turns back on itself the rest of the world will be liberated from its thrall and there is a prospect for a European rebirth.
Q: I once heard you say that if Adolf Hitler’s Germany had not had the second Allied front to contend with the Third Reich and its Axis allies would have surely rolled up and obliterated the Soviet Union. Yet it is difficult for some people to accept this, since the Allies did not land in Sicily and Normandy until the middle of 1944 and by the time they did the German army had already suffered catastrophic defeats at Stalingrad, at Kharkov, at Smolensk, at Kursk, et al. and were on the general defense in Russia. Is there any additional information that you could possibly bring to light in order to persuade such persons otherwise?
JB: Not really of a technical sort. I think it’s just that the Germans came this close to winning the Second World War as everyone knows. That’s why this period is still not integrated into normal history. It’s not a normal event because they came so close to winning. The subtext to the ferocity of retrospective opposition even when in a sense it’s slightly unreal, Hollywoodized, and doesn’t really matter, is because they came so close. The margin of winning in a battle is often very thin.
I personally think if there was no Western front and no Western threat and America had stayed out of the conflict with any European connection whatsoever and Britain was neutral and maybe Churchill wasn’t Premier (and all of these things are enormous ifs) you would have had an enormous fight between the Germans and the Soviets. And if they had been less distracted, if they had pursued more radically the desire of getting to Moscow and forcing regime change, and maybe forcing nationalistic Russian generals to oust the communists, as could have occurred in a certain set of circumstances, if they had knocked out one of the major Russian cities. Those are big ifs.
If they’d not gone down into the Ukraine, if Italy hadn’t sort of engaged in cul-de-sac type activity down in the Balkans and drawn German troops in . . . there’s just a chance. They had one chance to knock Russia out. Once that chance went they would lose the war. Germany’s not strong enough. It’s enormously powerful, but it’s not strong enough to dominate the whole of Eurasia unless it goes for a knock-out blow and it’s instantaneously successful in a sort of Alexander the Great way. Once that chance was missed they would lose, although they could have perhaps had an attritional war that would have gone on for decades, you know, as the Soviets moved further West and they frustrated them all they could.
But they had to knock out Russia quick and early and they didn’t. Russia is immensely powerful and a very difficult country to defeat.
Q: Can we take a break? Are you tired?
JB: I’m all right. Nietzscheans believe in struggle and going on to the end.
Q: How crucial is the failure in the economy to the rise of viable mainstream alternatives to Western liberal democratic capitalism?
JB: That’s a complicated one. I mean, economy is all that matters to people because they’ve been told that it is. The Muslims are right on the Western obsession with the right to shop at least from that point of view. People are materialistic, they’ve been raised to it, religion has receded into the background, artistic matters are regarded as a form of entertainment or, at best, peripheral. Therefore, if people are hurt in their pocket they start screaming and they want vengeance against the system and they will vote for radical people. It’s not a brilliant scenario, but it’s the fact.
It is probably true that the amount of debt that we are all swimming on, everyone in this room is £55,000 in debt whether they like it or not, that is the basis of all the debts that have been run up. If that comes crashing down upon people, people will react, and people are sort of aware that there is one party out there that people, particularly indigenous people and others as well in this confused welter of sort of semiotic and reverse semiotic, could well react.
So, yes, for most people these economic things are crucial. Once they are hit and sustain damage, the most moderate person can become red in tooth and claw. I would prefer if people change their ideas, but people won’t, and therefore they need the pressure of material circumstances to do that, and that takes an economic form.
Q: What, if anything, should people realize when they turn on their TV screens only to see a female and/or ethnic minority newsreader more than 50% of the time?
JB: That it’s deliberate. That it’s a human form of product placement. It’s basically saying that the liberal changes which have occurred demographically and sexologically in terms of the cultural revolution from the 1960s are irreversible. You can moan all you like. There is nothing to be done. These changes are irreversible. So, every time they turn the TV on it’s ideology.
If they turn the internet on, and I believe digital TV will soon have these things where you have a small web in the corner and you can go click it into it so you can use the TV to access the internet in other words, and I would imagine that almost every digital set after the switch over from analog will have that.
So, my hope is (1) that they realize it’s all propaganda, (2) they realize that the internet enables them to choose the propaganda they want, and (3) they use the internet to look at alternative viewpoints about the same matters.
Ultimately, it’s not who reads the news it’s what lies behind what’s on the screen and not how it’s written and presented by any spokesman or whatever, but the ideas that lie behind it. Ideas rule the world, in my view. But the reason why those newscasters are as you describe is because of an alternative set of ideas that has triumphed.
Q: You have often described yourself as a pagan. As you will no doubt be aware, there are many people today who also describe themselves as pagans. Indeed, I myself once joined the official pagan society at my university only to discover that it was in fact dominated by people who bore an astonishing resemblance to the Flower Power Hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s. [. . .] Could you just briefly explain what sort of paganism it is that you represent and how, if at all, it is distinguished from other so-called pagan movements such as Wicca?
JB: Yes, that’s a very good question, and it’s essentially truthful, because most people know in their hearts that those who describe themselves as pagans are prone to be like that. That university experience is likely to be a little “extreme,” but broadly speaking it’s morally true as an essay in discovery.
My view is quite simple. Paganism and Christianity are the wrong way around. Christianity has influenced our culture for 2,000 years. Christianity has provided the ethical and aesthetic superstructures through which most Western people think. Reality is pagan. Man is pagan. Nature is pagan. Pagans have reacted against Christianity–which is deep down a “Left-wing” religion of humanism, love, and tolerance–in an aggressive, Leftist, and alternative way. Contemporary pagans believe that Christians are conservative, that they’re stuffy, that they stand for Daily Mail and family-concentric values. They will rebel against that in every respect. And Christians think of pagans as woolly, alternative Leftists who want to tear things down.
In actual fact, paganism is pre-Christian, is barbaric, is natural law oriented, is morally fascistic. However, pagans would scream and scream and scream at the idea of that and would run from the room. Christianity is a religion of tolerance, love, and peace. So, they’re the wrong way around. They’re completely the wrong way around.
In their false symmetry or asymmetry, they indicate everything that’s happened. It’s part of the generalized tragedy, you know. A lot of Christian people are those that remain a bit residually patriotic, quite Right-wing, and a lot of pagans are beyond The Guardian. The two are the wrong way around.
I’m not anti-Christian in the sense of culturally disavowing it, because you cut off 70% of the way in which the West achieves what it is. It can’t be done and shouldn’t be attempted, in my view. The change is ethical. Everyone’s a pagan really. Somebody pushes you, you push them back.
The Catholic school I went to had a lovely little chap who taught piano and he said to me, “Why is there so much bullying in this school?” He said, “This is a Catholic school. This is a Christian school. Every day I go in, and the boys are bullying each other. I saw a boy with his blazer over his head and another boy was booting him. Booting him in the playground!” He was quite morally shocked. He was genuinely morally a Christian man, which very few people are, and I respected him for that, because it is a conceptual and an ethical and a spiritual viewpoint. Hardly any Christians are really like that. It’s a cultural label that they’ve adopted, that I was born into, that everyone in the West was born into at one time or another.
I said to him, “Because human nature’s like the way that they are. It’s an all-male school. They’re fighting violently amongst each other for hierarchy and supremacy, and it’s a test.” He said, “But that’s terrible! That’s horrible! That means that we’re not that much beyond a gorilla colony.” And I said, “That’s life. You have an ideal about how it should be, but it’s not how it is.”
And so these pagans are worse than a travesty really, you know. It is ridiculous. Although some of their truth that good and evil go together, that reality is non-dualist, that nature dominates life, that nature has a sacred dimension, those are actually true. But essentially you’ve got the leavings and the cultural spastics and that sort of thing all gathered together in one area, whereas paganism is really about strength and morality and growing towards the sun. And you don’t have to believe in gods and goddesses. They’re just a personification of those forces.
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Jonathan Bowden’s Reactionary Modernism
Remembering Jonathan Bowden (April 12, 1962–March 29, 2012)
The Oslo Incident
Mihai Eminescu: Romania’s Morning Star
Agrarian Populism & Cargo Cult Fascism
The de la Poer Madness: Before and After Lovecraft’s “Rats in the Walls”
Culture, History, & Metapolitics in Poland: An Interview with Jaroslaw Ostrogniew, Part 2