The following is a transcript of a conversation which took place in November 2012. The transcription was made by Tyler Harding. The original audio is here.
Keith Preston: Good evening, and welcome to Attack the System. I’m your host, Keith Preston, here on Counter-Currents; with me tonight is Mr. Robert N. Taylor.
Mr. Taylor is someone that was suggested to me by one of my associates at AttacktheSystem.com – one fellow that collaborates with us on some projects was saying, “You really should interview this fellow Robert Taylor,” and I had previously seen an interview with Mr. Taylor on one of Troy Southgate’s old Websites some years ago, I think, on the SYNTHESIS Website, which is now defunct – and I don’t really know a whole lot about some of Mr. Taylor’s work; but what I do know about I find very interesting. So, Robert Taylor, welcome to the program!
Robert N. Taylor: Well, thank you, Keith. Pleasure to be here.
KP: Could you just tell us a little bit about who you are, your background – you know, some of your ideas, your influences? Who is Robert Taylor?
RT: Well, Robert Taylor grew up in Chicago, Illinois. I spent the better part of my life in that city. I was born into a working class family, 1945, the end of ’45, December; and at any rate, at about 14 years old, 15 years old, I became interested in philosophy, poetry, art, and politics. And at about 14 years old, I joined an organization known as the Minutemen; this was in the very seminal beginnings of that organization, very early ’60s, like 1960 or so, and I continued on with that organization for about the next twelve years. It was an educational process, to be sure; I learned quite a bit of hands-on kind of things; I learned how to use printing presses, how to compose articles, and things of that nature, in pursuit of what we were doing.
Ostensibly, the Minutemen were an anti-Communist organization; the anti-Communist movement had really burgeoned at that time. There were myriad organizations; there was no monolithic organization per se, and in some ways there were almost competing organizations, competing for the resources of people who saw eye-to-eye. The Minutemen, however, had the distinction of being an armed organization, something along the lines of the current militia movement that you see in America. However, that was the ostensible and outward face that the Minutemen had: essentially they were a revolutionary, a Right-wing revolutionary organization – and from early on, everyone within the inner circle spoke in terms of the revolution, because that’s what we were there to promote and pursue – and we did.
Of course one of the things in that same era was the rise of the COINTELPRO program by the US federal government. They did riddle our organization pretty badly with agents; I didn’t even realize the extent of it until ten, fifteen years ago, when so many of these people who were in fact infiltrators were either exposed or came out bragging about it; and so I would say, maybe one out of three people that I encountered within there were actually agents there to do some disservice: to spy on us, throw a wrench into the works, and so forth. It was kind of amazing to me they had the resources to do it on that scale which they did. And of course it didn’t just stop with that. They were busy trying to create conflicts between competing organizations, and things of that nature.
So essentially, I survived all of those years in there. In 1968, Robert DePugh went underground; he was the ostensible leader of the organization, “coordinator” he called himself, and he went underground, and I joined him not long after underground, and continued to conduct our affairs while we were underground. He was a fugitive from justice. He had a bunch of gun charges against him, also bank robbery charges – members of the organization had decided to expropriate funds from banks in order to come up with the money to support this revolutionary cause, and up in Washington state, a bunch of them were all arrested, and there was one member among them who was wired – he was the one who tipped off the authorities and such.
So anyway, I was underground in 1968, and nothing really good came out of that experience. It turned into a really bleak scenario, various factions within the underground began to oppose one another; it looked like there might be a lot of executions of people within the underground for one reason or another – you know, aspersion was cast on this person or that person. It turned into a very tense and paranoid sort of circumstance. I and Robert DePugh’s son, John, at one point, we decided we were getting out of there, and we took off. They came after us, tried to shoot me one night; just by a twist of fate, they missed their chance. I was on my toes and made all the right moves at the right time, and they were unable to get me – but they had intended to do it. I was ten feet away from someone with a silenced pistol, getting ready to climb the next set of stairs up to me, and I managed to get in the door very quickly and grab a gun and crawl back out, and they had dispersed by that time – and they went back and told the other members of the underground that they had executed me and his son, for having left. Later on we kind of patched things up. He did eventually get caught about eight or nine months later in New Mexico, near Truth or Consequences, and took up residence in Leavenworth Penitentiary at the time.
I did testify on his behalf at his trial – to naught, because he still got convicted. He served as his own attorney, didn’t trust any court-appointed attorneys, and then I became the national spokesman for the organization – and the organization had lain dormant for several years, which is almost a death knell to any organization. The events that had occurred scared a lot of people off. We had literally no funds coming in to work on. We were basically living on peanut butter and bread, and still trying to get out the organizational publication on target, and things of that sort. And then we were told by somebody in the know that the feds were going to try a Fred Hampton-type scenario on us: rush in on us on a Sunday at dawn or whatever, and shoot us in our beds, and then plant stuff, and claim we had resisted, or whatever; so we abdicated out of there as quickly as we could, before they could hit us, and that was more or less the closing down of the organization.
We had found at that point that the only people that were in any way supportive or still in contact with us were almost all federal agents, and many of these people later surfaced, and then it was admitted to the press and everything that they were. One fellow was outside of St. Louis, Oliver Peterson. He later went on to infiltrate into Operation Push, and with Jesse Jackson and so forth, for the government – and then he surfaced and admitted all of his wrongdoings and all that. He was a person who I recall one time actually set up three television show appearances on the three major networks in St. Louis for me, telling each of these networks that they had the sole and only interview with me – but he made sure of the timing so that the camera crews of one television station would encounter the other, and thereby it would look like I had somehow fooled them in that regard; and so these were all – I mean, we were subject to all sorts of underhanded tactics by the US government and so forth. It was an ongoing struggle with them, and you almost develop a sixth sense after a while; you can see ‘em coming down the road towards you, you know you almost can ferret out really quickly who’s for real, and who’s for naught.
So those were some of my experiences there. And it was high adventure, to be sure, for a young person, and I think a great deal of my reasons for being there was just that. I had always sought after adventure and danger and such, in lots of other ways, and that was just one of them. But I did truly believe in what the organization stood for; we felt that the US government was pro-Communist, that it was continuously moving further and further to the Left and towards a dictatorship, and our revolutionary prerogative was to reestablish a constitutional republic, individual freedom, and such – there’s that.
We came into conflict with lots of other groups, extreme groups on the Right, like the American Nazi Party of George Lincoln Rockwell; there were always a lot of antithetical feelings there between us and him, and Robert DePugh really disdained him absolutely, and so there was a lot of this. Our organization never had any big bank money people that gave us much of anything; I think the largest contribution that was ever gotten by the organization was about a thousand dollars in a lump sum by a carpenter who had saved all his pennies, and one day brought sacks of them to us. So we were always running on a deficit. Robert DePugh was a millionaire at the time. He had a biochemical laboratory, sold animal husbandry products, and he siphoned millions of dollars out of that business, that corporation – probably illegally – to help keep the Minutemen organization going. And there’s a lot, lot more to it. There was the Patriotic Party, which was going to be a Sinn Féin type of thing, like Sinn Féin is to the IRA: an aboveground party which could speak for the underground organization; the revolutionary arm, and so forth. That never quite panned out to the extent that it was hoped it would, but it was also another conduit for people, as well as some contributions and such.
Overall, the Minutemen ended ostensibly about 1971, and I had written out letters to all of the coordinators at local and state levels suggesting that they atomize their activities to their own areas; that they form militias; that they form posses and things of that nature; and that was the inception of the militia movement. Probably the Posse Comitatus and a lot of other groups grew out of it as a result (to the horror of the federal agents, because when we were there, they had one organization, one headquarters to watch and spy on and surveil, then suddenly they had thousands of them, all independent and without necessarily having any contact between these various groups at that time).
So that was, in a very small nutshell, a history of those times. Afterwards, when I came out of that, I was pretty despondent, pretty depressed. It had taken its toll on me psychologically, everything; and I basically turned to painting, oil painting and art, and within a year or so started composing music – this was the late ’60s, early ’70s – and formed a musical band called Changes. It wasn’t change, it was an acoustic folk band; and what differentiated us from all the others that were out there – all the Bob Dylans and the Joan Baezes and so forth – was the fact that we did not come at it from this Leftist perspective; our thing extolled heroism, the ethics of the West, and things of that nature; and so we did not find a real ready audience at that time and place for it. Generally, when we played venues, people looked kind of like they didn’t know how to take what we were puttin’ down there, you know? And it wasn’t until the early ’90s that we really began to find our audience; and a good friend of mine, Michael Moynihan, who is a writer, translator, and musician himself – he saw some of our stuff, and I sent him some demo tapes, and he decided to put out a CD of our early analogue taped music, which was of poor quality. We took it in, digitalized it, attempted to put up the gain somewhat, just about to the breaking point before you get aberrations – and that was our first CD, called Fire of Life; and it was very well-received. It’s more or less been in circulation for about the last thirteen years, and it hit a responsive note, particularly over in Europe.
So we had a growing base of people that liked our music over in Europe, and it took many years before it began to be received and listened to over here in the States; I don’t think of our – the people who listen – as fans, per se; I think of them as friends, because generally wherever we play we get together with the people in the audience, and they’re our peers. They’re not looking up to us or anything like that, you know. These are just good people, well-read, intelligent – the quality of the people is the same wherever we go, that we seem to attract, and we’ve been at it for about the last thirteen years; we’ve been performing off and on, here and there. We did our last performance last month in the Poconos, and it was to promote a volkisch Ásatrú group there. The Ásatrú Folk Assembly was holding their first East Coast gathering, and we threw in with them, hoping that maybe we’d bring a few more people down there by providing them some music.
Now in the early ’70s, I began to translate my beliefs and things into paganism, and I was there at the inception of what’s called the overall “pagan movement,” and I found discrepancies in it; I found things I didn’t like. There were those who were promoting feminism, using it as a vehicle for Leftist causes, and such; so eventually we decided to form a Germanic heathen group, which was called the Northern Way, and the Northern Way was locally based around the Chicago area. We had about seventy to seventy-five people in it overall that attended our gatherings, and it was a religious group, essentially. It wasn’t a dodge, it wasn’t a surrogate political party or something like that – even though we were charged with that over and again – and similarly, two other individuals in North America formed similar groups. One was Steve McNallen of the Ásatrú Free Assembly, which became the Ásatrú Folk Assembly; and Else Christensen, a Danish lady who formed the Odinist Fellowship. So there were these three groups that independently arose, and it was maybe two or three years later that we discovered one another and began to work together towards a larger movement; and that was the inception of that movement.
I and Steve are the only two founders of that movement who are still alive. Else died, she was about 89 ten years ago, and the movement has grown both here and in Europe and in Australia. I think there’s about ten thousand Ásatrúers in Australia today. In North America I’d be hard-pressed to tell you how many people there are; it spread rapidly through the entire prison system, which is good and bad, sort of like the Black Muslims did back in the ’60s. And on the outside there’s a few larger organizations, and then there are many independent kindreds and household Ásatrúers. So I would put the numbers at maybe about twenty to twenty-five thousand today as a guess, and that is a guess. And we began to take a more positive approach to our beliefs, as you know, the Right-wing in the ’60s, that was almost entirely negative; it was reactionary, it was negative, it was always fighting against something; but the völkisch movement is essentially fighting for something. Primary among those things is that we attempt to bring people back to themselves, so in a sense I think of myself as a shaman, but not in a one-to-one type of way so much as in a larger agglomerous way of spreading this faith, of showing the pathway back to your own soul, to your own ancestral roots, and such like that. Because we feel that Western civilization is not dying, but dead, and that what we are witnessing today is its decomposition, essentially; so while this decomposition is in progress, we are doing our best to lay the cultural roots for what comes afterwards. And that about sums it up in a very brief sort of way; I mean, it would take books to really express the entire progression of events that occurred within my life in the last fifty years.
KP: Well, that’s certainly been a very interesting and thorough self-introduction. You gave a very good overview of your time that you were involved with the Minutemen. Exactly how large was the Minutemen organization in its heyday?
RT: About ten thousand people. I remember J. Edgar Hoover always gave numbers at about five hundred, and I think he was trying to denigrate us there. Anyone who remembers the famous arrests of all the Minutemen in New York state who were allegedly going to attack some Leftist training camps in upstate New York – when things were brought out of the Attorney General there, they discovered there was a National Guard unit, reservists, there was all manner of types of people of different walks of life were members of the organization. There was something like thirty-five bands in the State of New York alone; and likewise, out in California was the other real hotbed of our organization, and there were thousands of people out there at that time. So the numbers that were generally given by the FBI were far smaller than the actuality of it, and many of the people would be a member themselves and then have six or ten other people connected with them who never filled out a membership application or anything, but simply participated at that grassroots level, so they wouldn’t have been counted even as members, when in fact they were. They were working for the organization and such. Like I said, in the early stages we got a lot of really strange people; every movement, be it religious, political, or social, in its embryonic stages, it draws some people to it the likes of which you couldn’t imagine existed; some really strange and eccentric people. And then usually a couple level-headed and talented people as well – but usually those are in the minority. In the second phase of a movement, that’s when you begin to get a higher quality of people.
Back in those days, we had people who were also like CIA agents, and it was hard to establish in a sense if they were doing this as agents of the CIA to have some power over us, or whatever, or if they just happened to be of that persuasion and joined us as individuals. People like Clay Shaw, David Ferry, Guy Bannister, all those Kennedy assassination people, I’ve met some of those types in the early days, and I’ve often wondered if these people just joined us because they thought we were natural allies to their way of thinking, or if they were there to utilize our organization or somehow bend it to their purposes. The thing with intelligence agents, of course – the primary within intelligence – is to use other people to do your bidding, that’s first and foremost; and to be able to recruit people and use them to effect things that you want. I mean, that’s almost like the basis of intelligence agents, and usually they’re very persuasive individuals, been trained in the techniques of such things. I think at the first meeting I ever attended of the Minutemen in Missouri at their headquarters in Norborne, both Clay Shaw and David Ferry were present at that gathering, and there was an inner core of people who came together; and I never saw them again, never heard word of them or mention of them after that initial time that I encountered them. And you know, I can’t remember having spoken with them, or discussed anything personally. We were all just people sitting there at a meeting. Ostensibly, what the Minutemen were doing at that first meeting was trying out some new tactics. Gus Hall and Benjamin Davis, who were heads of the Communist Party – one was the leader and the other the theoretical tactician – were being tried in court for sedition or something, not registering as agents of a foreign power or something; so a Hall and Davis defense committee had been thrown up by the Communist Party, CPUSA. So what we did was to set up a bogus committee to defend Hall and Davis, and we had petitions that we were mailing out to people who would write to us, and we were collecting all the names of who was pro-Hall and Davis, of course. And that only went for a while, and then they got wind of it that we were collecting all their names and everything, and we had to abandon that effort at some point. But this was the difference with the Minutemen: We weren’t using the old hack methods of the Right wing.
Among most Rightists all it was was, “Oh, you’ve got to educate people,” and generally they did so by handing books and leaflets back and forth to one another that never really affected anything much, and we were actually out there doing things. Our members were joining the peace demonstrations and being as obnoxious as they could be; dressing as shabbily as they could, to try to bring disgrace upon these people; so we did a lot of stuff like that. We infiltrated lots of organizations, went right to the heart of things, and helped to mismanage things, misdirect things within those organizations; many of them very extreme Left-wing organizations. We had a fellow, George Demmerle; he later surfaced and claimed that all the while he was an FBI agent – which I kind of doubt, because he had infiltrated into an organization in New York City, which was one of these Communist liberation front groups. They were the ones where Sam Melville was the leading protagonist, and he was the one bombing skyscrapers for a bit there and finally got caught for it. Well, Demmerle was in this group, and he jumped on an airplane and flew up to the Kansas City area to meet with me to ask me what I thought he should do, because he was getting pretty worried that these people were doing all these illicit acts, and he didn’t want to go to jail for them. I gave him my advice, which was to wait to the eleventh hour, when they had drawn him in or expected him to do anything actively like that – and just get to a telephone and call the feds in on them. Which he did, and he went to jail with them all; but he was out in about a week or two, and after that I think he stood on the podium of the Fourth of July Day parade as a hero, along with William Buckley’s brother, who was, I think, a Senator or something at the time, and he was given great praise and all that for having brought this organization down. And then later he claimed that he was all the while a FBI agent – but I kind of doubt it, because I couldn’t imagine why he would come to ask my opinion as to what to do, what should be his next move; and he had been infiltrating them for about six years, and he gave us piles of information, photographs, everything you could imagine, you know. The literature and everything else, communications, letters, and everything that he was able to abscond with from these groups, was sent to us. So he was providing this with undue intelligence information on the activities of these people. We were very much on top of it; in fact, we were probably more on top of what was going on with the Weathermen and the SDS than the federal government was.
We had enough people in and around the edges of those organizations feeding us back information on them. We knew where Bernardine Dohrn and her husband Bill Ayers were hiding and everything, but we had no reason to turn them in at the time; we figured it was good that the FBI was spending undue time and resources hunting them and using that on them instead of us, so we just had a hands-off policy on that. We didn’t want to help the Feds on that. We figured we’ll just let them waste their time on it. So there was a lot of stuff like that, you know. This was not your typical Right-wing organization. We cut all new paths, new approaches to everything; psychological warfare, propaganda – I mean, we did our homework on it. We studied all the Communist texts, and things on resistance and guerrilla warfare, and so forth, and absorbed all of that and began to think in those modes, so . . . Robert DePugh in a sense was almost a Right-wing Lenin; he was very much a purist, and I never doubted his sincerity in what he was doing, because he stuck his neck out considerably time and again. He was very bright, he was very precocious, he was very imaginative, and he was a real strategist; and that’s something that the militia movements, and these other later-day Right-wing paramilitary groups seem to me to be composed of primarily: first sergeants. There’s no general among them; there’s no one with a bigger picture, no one with a strategy of any kind as to what they’re doing; and most of what they do is just individual members flying off the handle and doing some crazy thing, and it comes to nothing. But to Robert DePugh as a strategist, he was somebody who thought very hard about what he was doing, looking for the Achilles’ heels of his enemy, looking for the places he could insinuate his actions and so forth; he thought like a guerrilla, like a real guerrilla, like a real revolutionary, and that was the difference between the Minutemen and the rest of the Right.
I’m hoping to write some of these things up for a book I’ve already begun on it, and I had a backup; I began writing the second volume of a proposed three volumes concerning it all, and I began on the second one, because that was the most exciting part of the story. And then I decided, “No, I’d better back up and write it in its proper sequence, because if I write a second book first, then I have to reiterate so much that could have been taken up in the first book,” so I’d be duplicating a lot of things, and it just seemed like a long way to go with it. Important to writing any kind of book, of course, is to have a good outline on it, so you don’t digress too far off the main track; and if possible, to write a synopsis for each chapter, which gives you a few more notes on what to put your primary attention to when you’re writing and such, especially when the story is kind of . . . has a lot of possible permutations and side-issues, and everything else. It’s a big story in a sense, and it’s never been written; the closest thing to an authoritative book written on the Minutemen was by the Kansas City journalist Harry Jones, and he wrote a very good book as it was, but he was still in all writing from the outside of it; not an insider’s perspective, you know. But he did well; I can’t say he didn’t, and he was a good writer as well.
KP: Is that book still in print, is it still available?
RT: I don’t think so. It’d be available on Amazon as a used book . . .
KP: What’s it called?
RT: The Minutemen; that’s a hardcover edition, and then a paperback with an appendix to the back which brought it more up-to-date in time and place; that was called A Private Army. That was the paperback.
KP: Well, you mentioned that the idea behind the Minutemen was to resist the Leftward drift of the American government. Could you tell us a little bit more about the broader philosophy of the Minutemen? I mean, what were some of its other ideas, other political ideas?
RT: Let me begin by saying what we weren’t. There was never a statement made on the issues of race, per se; certainly there were people within the organization that had racial views, but that was not a prerequisite. It was somewhat a populist movement in the sense that we had people from the racial Right; we had objectivists of the Ayn Rand or libertarian persuasion; there were others who were just basically constitutionalists and red-blooded Americans who wanted to go back to the roots of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and bolster those up and so forth. I would say that, in the main, most members would have ascribed to that.
My own predilections were towards libertarianism. I’ve never had any desire to run other people’s lives and tell them what to do; but conversely, I don’t like other people telling me how to run my life. So, you know, that was always my take on it. I looked at it from a libertarian perspective, and I did write and associate with the libertarians when that movement first began to emerge – I guess it was in the ’70s, primarily, early ’70s; and I wrote for Kerry Thornley’s Innovator, I wrote for Western World Review, and a few of those seminal libertarian journals of the time; and I saw libertarianism as probably the best approach to politics, myself. And I would say I would be a supporter of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson and people of that sort today. I’ve had charges, I’ve been called a fascist, and a Nazi, and all this other stuff – but there’s no real basis in fact for that. I’ve never made racial pronouncements. I’ve never checked anybody on their ethnicity or their religions, or anything of that sort. My primary thing was to bring this country back to where it was a healthy and vibrant and balanced system.
I trace my own roots back to the Mayflower, to the early settlers of Massachusetts. A half a dozen of my family were at Concord and Lexington; I had great-grandfathers who died at Bunker Hill in the hand-to-hand fighting there. So, I mean, I’m an American, and I always look for all of my inspiration right here in America. I didn’t go to foreign sources for my ideology or anything ostensibly – not that some other people outside this country didn’t have something salient to say, they did. Oswald Spengler was one of them, and I studied his Decline of the West; I’ve probably read that five or six times now. It’s the kind of book that’s very erudite, and it takes real study and thought about it, what you’re reading in there. Another European I’ve found a great deal of information in is, of course, Julius Evola, who took a lot of that to another level, actually. And I’ve enjoyed all of his books, both the ones concerning social and political and cultural things, as well as his books dealing with Eastern philosophies – The Doctrine of Awakening, The Yoga of Power, and all those things – because I’ve done a lot of studying of Eastern religion, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Zen wing of all of that, Taoism and so forth. I’m not concentrated on just the things in the West. Anywhere I can draw some inspiration or some thoughts, or pointers from, I’m not averse to it. But at the same time, my primary concern is the Western world, which I see just coming apart at the seams today.
It seems as though almost everything that we predicted and feared back in the ’60s and such has come to fruition, and then some – you know, in the present tense. Things didn’t get better at all; they got worse, and it began to snowball, and the bad things began to happen sooner and sooner, and just pile up quicker and quicker. Now you have so many fronts to fight on, it’s almost daunting, you know. So many areas of our life have been under siege. So many levels, and so many areas of the social system and everything have been under attack by various people tearing Western civilization apart, inflicting wounds upon it. So things haven’t gotten better. I’m not at all, I have no apologies, no regrets about the course I took back at the beginning of the ’60s and such, because I was right on the mark. I felt it coming, I intuited it all, and I have not been disappointed – in the sense that everything that I was fighting against has just gotten worse, and worse, and worse.
KP: That’s a theme I’d like to continue to discuss with you. You mentioned that everything that you saw going on in the 1960s that you felt was leading our own society in the wrong direction has since come into being. I’d like for you to elaborate on that a little bit. What were the problems you were seeing back then, and how have those problems continued to escalate over time?
RT: Well, basically, back in the ’60s, growing up in a working-class environment, in a big city like Chicago, racial tensions were very high, and the poorer white people always live right on the edge of the poor black people, so there’s always a great deal of conflict. It’s almost like living in a war zone. So having grown up as a teenager in the street gangs there and such – the street gangs ostensibly always felt that they were defending the turf of their neighborhood. It was a very limited sort of nationalism, in a sense. And so seeing those conflicts, I began to look into it deeper and see how much the Communist movement was involved in fomenting a lot of these things, and I was right there when all the first black riots occurred in Chicago. I mean, almost at them, practically.
The first riot that occurred in Chicago on the West Side, I was about a half a block away when it started; and the method in which it all occurred was a group called MOVE – or not MOVE, but I can’t remember the name of the group – it was a unit of RAM, the Revolutionary Action Movement, formed by Robert Williams, a black revolutionary. I had heard stories at the time before this even occurred, that blacks were making firebombs in their garages, and there were people going around door-to-door, trying to generate participants in riots, and so forth. This came to me months before the actual riot occurred; and then an incident occurred: a black woman outside of a firehouse was standing there when a call came in, and then the hook and ladder came out of there. She was going to fake an accident, bounce off the truck, and fall down screaming. Well, ironically, the truck actually hit a stop sign – a pole – and it cracked her in the head and it killed her! This was not a part of the plan; but then a protest was organized, and this black organization with picket signs and everything came out to the firehouse, and with a bullhorn, rousing everybody up that there were no black firemen at that station and such. And then out of nowhere, firebombs, Molotov cocktails started pelting, smashing on the firehouse.
Well, I was about half a block away when this started: just by accident, I happened to be waiting for a girlfriend to get off of work at a department store on the corner, about a half a block away, and I saw the firebombs and everything. Now we all know that the government said all these riots were spontaneous grievances over poverty, and on and on, like they weren’t organized, that they were spontaneous. Well, you don’t find firebombs laying around the sidewalk conveniently, you have to make them in advance and plan to use them. So these things were anything but spontaneous. They were well-organized, I think. And I recall seeing this riot take off – it was almost like a force of nature, like a flash flood, or something. Suddenly, all around me, plate glass windows were going out of the department stores in the shopping area, and looters were carting stuff out, people were being attacked on the streets, and I grabbed my girlfriend, and we just started to hoof it west of there to get out of the area. And we got about a quarter mile out of there, and members of the Spartacist League were handing out leaflets: “Off the Pigs,” “Shoot Their Helicopters Down Out of the Sky.” I mean, they had to print this stuff in advance, and they had to be prepared for it – because there they were, you know . . . spontaneously? I kind of doubt it. That’s what the Kerner Commission claimed. So we got out of there, and we didn’t get hurt or anything, but on that night, a good section of the West Side of Chicago was enflamed. You could stand up on a promontory and see a big section of the city was burning, you know? That was kind of amazing, because it had never happened there before; and in the ensuing days that followed, to be seeing military trucks, lorries coming through with National Guardsmen in uniform with bayonets fixed, and everything – it was kind of an unnerving feeling to see that in the place where you grew up, and where you lived; just to see the presence of military troops there is kind of ominous.
But later, they tried to claim all these riots and such were just spontaneous, a spontaneous outcry of poverty . . . and they were anything but that. They were well-planned, obviously, and I’m sure all of the other riots that occurred down through the ’70s were much the same, and we saw principally Communists underlying all of that. So we weren’t a racialist group, we weren’t anti-black or anti-anyone, except that we saw that all of the influences underlying all these riots and such were being perpetrated by Reds – and I’m certain they were. In retrospect, having read so much else afterwards concerning it all and the affiliations of people like Martin Luther King, and any number of these people, Rap Brown and others. The Black Panther Party was essentially a Marxist organization, and it probably still is, the current one. And so having grown up in that area, and seeing all these things, brought all the problems really close, right in your face. So it was a natural reaction to side with your own kind, your own people and so forth, who were under assault from all of this. In the neighborhood where I grew up, black crime on whites was going on all the time, you know. It was like a war, and if you went down into their area, you could – even in broad daylight – you could count on being attacked. I’ve been attacked by as many as twelve people at one time and had to battle my way out of it; and likewise, it was the same thing when blacks came over to the white areas. Immediately, white gangs would go for them. So that was the sort of atmosphere that I grew up in there. So being in a Right-wing organization and feeling that the problems were getting really serious and life-threatening and everything were just part and parcel of where I lived, what I experienced, and so forth. You know, it wasn’t something I dreamed up. It wasn’t an abstraction at all.
KP: Well, a lot of the radical Left of that time period was based in the Chicago area. The Weathermen had their national headquarters there . . .
RT: They had their headquarters at Madison and Ashland Avenue, in an office building on the corner, and the office building was owned by John Rawson. John Rawson was a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the Communists that served in the Spanish Civil War, and he was a member of the Communist Party USA. His primary [job] was working the Spanish-language groups there. He owned three Spanish-language theaters where he put in a lot of propaganda movies and such, and he was a big supporter of the Weathermen, and he provided them space there; I sat around their offices talking with them back then. They didn’t really know who I was. I had long hair and a beard, and looked like everyone else that came and went from there – so I met a lot of those people. I never met Ayer; I met Bernardine Dohrn and some of the others. Yeah, they had their headquarters right there, and then about two or three miles west of them on Madison Street was where the Black Panthers had their headquarters; that’s where Fred Hampton and the others were murdered by a force of FBI, States’ Attorney Police, Chicago Police; it was like a joint effort. They just went in there and opened fire and shot them in their beds. They never had a chance, never knew what hit ‘em . . . But yeah, there was a lot of activity in the Chicagoland area there. It was kind of funny that a number of people that I grew up with in street gangs and that later became policemen and ended up on the subversives squad – what they called the “Red Squad,” what today is the Gangs Intelligence Unit – and it was kind of amusing that these street-gang members ended up as cops. It’s sort of like Clockwork Orange, almost.
KP: [laughs] Well, it sounds like in those days, the federal government was directing a great deal of repression against both the radical Left and the radical Right. A lot of the things that you experienced at the hands of the federal government during your time in the Weathermen, a lot of the same tactics were used against the radical Left. Ultimately, where do you see the elite in this country, the American ruling class, if you will, taking their stand in an ideological sense . . .
RT: You know, I was privy to Bernardine Dohrn’s personal address book, and in that address book were names like Abby Rockefeller – her home telephone number – and a lot of these other people who were in the elite of the nation, you know, like bankers and people like that. Bill Ayers, who is Bernardine Dohrn’s husband and was one of the leaders of the Weathermen, his dad was the head of Commonwealth Edison in Chicago, so you can imagine, he came from a pretty well-heeled family. I actually met his father. I was working at the Field Museum of Natural History, and he was sort of the showcase head of the museum at the time. I guess he was a big contributor or something; and one day a lady took me into the office and said, “Oh, you’ve got to meet Mr. Ayers,” and we shook hands and spoke briefly. We never touched upon his son, who was still underground at the time. But I think they did a lot more against the Right than they did against the Left, and the reason I say that – I encountered somebody one time who had been a pre-law student, who worked his summers at the Justice Department; and he was of a conservative bent. I think he had been a member of the John Birch society or something, he said; and he said that when he worked there, that whenever any information came in about the Right, they were supposed to mark “full field investigation,” and all the stuff that came in on the Leftists was put in the circular file immediately. So I got that from somebody who actually worked in the Justice Department part time – told me their system on that – so it seemed like they were really scrutinizing our side, as opposed to the other. I don’t know if people in the administrations, in the bureaucracy, were protecting some of those people, or what it was. It seemed like it.
KP: Well, a lot of my own political analysis of where American politics has gone since that time revolves around the theory that I think that, to a large degree, what happened since the ’60s and ’70s is that because so many of the radical Leftists from that time period tended to come from this kind of affluent upper-class background – you know, sons and daughters of the ruling class, in many ways – it seems to me that what has happened is that a lot of those same people have gone on to nowadays become the establishment; and I think that what’s happened is that instead of doing the kind of stuff that they talked about back then – like some of the Yippie types used to talk about how they were going to turn the White House into a hippie crash pad, and have pot parties in the Oval Office – instead of doing that kind of stuff, I think what’s happened is that a lot of those people have gotten older, they’ve gotten more “respectable” jobs, they’ve entered into the bureaucracy, into the state, into the corporate apparatus, into the law firms, into the professions and so forth, and they brought that way of thinking with them. And I think . . .
RT: Bobby Rush is a good example for a Black Panther leader in Chicago. I think he’s a Congressman now, and has been for a while. Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were the somebody, supposedly, of Obama. They took him under their wing when he was back in Chicago. Yeah, we’ve seen quite a few of those people emerge into politics, and have some power within the establishment for which they once were calling for the downfall. Yeah, that’s a fact [laughs], you know. As far as politics have gone for the past thirty years or so, it’s been really desultory. Bill Clinton was a new low. He was basically Nero with a saxophone and polyester pants, and they’re still using him like he’s some respected scion of the political scene, even today. Basically, what occurred with the Lewinsky thing is that, as I would understand it, it was made into a moral issue. Which it was, in a sense, but at the same time, Monica Lewinsky was supposedly an operative of a Mossad cell, and all the chit-chat that Clinton had with her over the telephone was being recorded at her end, and so forth. So it looks like he got blackmailed, basically. He was kind of a bumpkin, in that sense. He fell right into it, he stepped in it, and his reputation overall is pretty horrible for somebody that would be sitting in the White House. He was a new low as far as I was concerned. And then he was followed by the Bush family. That was another horrible period of politics, and then we’re back to it today again. It seems like no matter which side gets in, Republican or Democrat, the same essential program continues on with slight variation. Generally, the Republicans direct their thoughts in some particular areas, and the Democrats, others; but the wars keep going on, imperialistic wars abroad.
Looking at Afghanistan, I don’t know how long we’ve been over in that. I don’t think we’re ever going to settle things over there – no one else ever has – but yet that’s just costing us immeasurable billions of dollars every year, and they just keep pouring it in. I don’t know what the ostensible reason for that is; if it’s there to protect Israel, or we’re there to fight all of Israel’s enemies, or potential enemies, or potential threats, like Iran and so forth . . . They’ve been trying to generate another war against Iran, just in the same way they did with Iraq. I’ve just watched this stuff, totally dismayed at what I’m seeing, generally, but the American people never seem to get it together or realize what’s going on around them. You know, the Christian Right, in particular, is just . . . too much to believe, you know, they’re so gullible, they’re set up all the time with Bible codes, and all kinds of other stuff they’re being manipulated by. I’ve spoken with some of them, and it’s like talking with people dead in the head. They’re on one track, and anything that you might be able to proffer them in the way of thinking is an affront to them.
But yeah, though there are a few hopeful signs out there – the Tea Party, and the people of the middle class beginning to feel pressed in and cornered, and such – where it ends up I don’t know; if these people are going to ever really come out fighting or organize themselves in an intelligent basis or not. But it’s just good to see that there’s some people still bold enough to protest and such. Myself, I’m just getting older; I’ll be 67 in about a month. So, I’m kind of tiring out, personally. I’ve been at it for many a year, in one way or another, and hope I’ve affected something, inspired a few people, for all I’ve put into it over the years. But like I say, the unfortunate thing is it doesn’t seem like there’s anybody with any great strategy for turning the tide on these things. Maybe there is no turning the tide, maybe everything is so botched up that it’s just gotta play its course out. Hopefully something will arise out of the wreckage of it all. It’s being said that we’ll be bankrupt on our borrowing money by the end of this year. I don’t know where that’s going to go to. The area I live in, I’d say about at least seventy percent of the population of my town in West Virginia are on food cards. This place has always been depressed, but now with the economic crunch it’s double the effect. I was just on Facebook talking with someone who was bemoaning deer hunting, and I pointed out to him that, in my area, where I live, deer hunting is not a sport, it’s a way to get meat on the table [laughs] – plain and simple. And what underlies it is not sport, but reality: just people wanting to eat every day, have some protein. And there’s an overabundance of deer in my area to the point where it’s almost dangerous to ride down a two-lane blacktop at night dodging them, and if you don’t hunt them and you don’t cull them, they have no natural predators any longer. So pretty soon they starve, and I don’t know if it’s worse to see them starving in competition with one another, or to cull out the weaker and slower ones, as hunting does. So I’m not into killing animals for fun, or anything like that, but if you’re short on provisions, that might be the only way you get by to the spring.
KP: Over time, you’ve moved away from a political perspective?
RT: Yes, I have, and I did so because what I saw was the problem in the ’60s, in the political realm, was the people. On the Right, there was not any hard ethic. People pressed in the corner by the powers-that-be would quickly capitulate and do their bidding, point the finger at someone else, and things of that sort. So I began to think that the only way that people could be more solidified would be to find an answer through a new spiritual code of conduct, one that we could begin to understand one another, and to rebuild human beings, because the inner person had been damaged so much through the affluence and all else. And I began to see that we didn’t have just a political problem. Certainly, there was a political problem, but a political problem was not at root. What was at root was the spiritual problem. A nihilism had come in and a materialism and a nihilism that was open-ended, and it could lead to nothing good; it couldn’t lead to better people, certainly. And I began to think that by way of spirituality that we could begin to rebuild human beings from within, because that was the real crux of the problem: the people had lost their sense of who they were, where they came from, what was their culture. Today, you see all of these white kids mimicking hip-hop and rap people and everything. I mean, it’s pretty disgusting. These are people who have lost their soul. They don’t even know who they are anymore. So I addressed myself to that: my answer to it was Ásatrú Odinism; to reestablish and reconnect with our roots, and who our ancestors were.
I have many stories coming down from the World War I generation, that most of the people in the West – there were certain things that everybody just agreed on. It was almost unspoken. One thing was defending your country; defending your kind and your people was another one. Nobody ever had to stop twice to think about these things, and I began – I was lucky insomuch as I knew a lot of the old World War I veterans, who were still alive when I was a boy, and I got to sit at their knee and talk to a lot of them, because they were in their 60s or so, and retired, and they had time to just sit around on the Cracker Barrel, so to speak, and talk to the kids and everything, and tell them about their lives and experiences. And that to me was the last really true American generation of people. None of them were specialists, generally, at anything. All of them had worked on road crews, been carpenters, seamen, and soldiers, and so many other things in their life. They had worn many hats, they had a broader outlook on life, they were take-charge people. They weren’t lazy. They were self-sufficient, overall. I found them to be the last vestiges of the American frontier. They were imbued within the World War I generation. And the Depression hit, and that did some terrible things to our people, insomuch as materialism began to arise out of that. Out of the paucity of the Depression, after that many of the people that grew up during the Depression could think of nothing but material things afterwards.
A lot of the hoarders that I recall from the ’50s and ’60s were people that came out of that generation, who would have 30 or 40 broken television sets stacked in their basement or garage, and just the largesse of all of these material things, even if they were no good. And they were always claiming one day they were gonna use parts from them, or something like that. They liked to have lots of things around them. This gave them a feeling of security, in a sense. And from about that generation on, everything just went to materialism; nothing else mattered but material things. One car wasn’t enough. Now you had to have two, and then three; you had to fill garages full of them. That’s sort of how it went, like Elvis Presley having fifty Harley Davidsons. I mean, how many Harley Davidsons can you ride? But of course when that’s all you know to do, and all of your dreams and aspirations are wrapped around cars, or motorcycles, or whatever it may be, of a material nature, all you can do is repeat the reflex over and over and over again, to the point of absurdity. And then, of course, as things are getting bad now, I can only imagine what sort of social forces are gonna be set loose. I mean, in our Great Depression of the ’30s, there was very little crime considering the circumstances that were there. There were a few bank robbery gangs like Dillinger and Bob Barker, and those were .00001 down the scale of the people. The rest of the people just dutifully got in soup lines and bread lines and hoped for the best, and wished for the best, and put up with it stoically suffering. But there was very little crime considering what the circumstances were.
Then we had a period of affluence, since twenty years ago, and the crime rates were soaring. So what can you make of this? There’s something wrong with the people inside. They no longer have any morality, any set of ethics, and I can only imagine how awful crime would rise in this time and place, now. Because you have a completely immoral, unethical generation of people, it’s just “I, me, mine,” you know, and I think, as this economy begins to head downwards more, you’re going to see all sorts of horrendous things going on. You’ve already begun to see people wiping out their families and committing suicide when their mortgage falls through and their job is lost, or whatever. There’s no strength, no inner ethic there. It’s like, if you can’t have it all, you might as well be dead, the kind of attitude many people have today.
So I don’t see a real bright future ahead for us . . . unless something out of left field, so to speak, enters into the picture. I see things just degenerating further and further down the scale, and life in America just getting uglier and uglier, from week to week, month to month, and year to year. I don’t see a lot of hope for it, unless enough people begin to generate some concern for it all, and figure out some ways in which to turn the tide on it. And I’d like to feel optimistic on all of that, that that will happen, but I certainly cannot guarantee that, looking at things as they stand today. I tried, you know, so far back in time, to rectify all these things, and put my life and limb and freedom on the line to do it – gave everything I had, so to speak, gave my life to it – and yet we made some progress in those areas, but nothing like I would have hoped for, that’s for sure . . .
KP: Well, on that pessimistic note, unfortunately, we are out of time. This has really been a great conversation, Mr. Taylor. I really appreciate you . . .
RT: I’m sorry if I dominated the entire . . . There’s so much I could say, I’m talking off the top of my head, of course. I had no pre-planned speech to be made here, or anything like that . . .
KP: I’m sure there’s a lot more we could talk about, and I really want to have you on the program again at some point.
RT: That’s fine, I’ll probably have a thousand other ideas of things I should have said and didn’t say while I had the chance. But it’s been a pleasure visiting with you, and being a part of Counter-Currents, and I do indeed like your site.
KP: Well, thank you very much, I appreciate that, and thank you once again for being on the program. This is Keith Preston, for Attack the System. Have a good evening.
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