Lots of books about English skinheads and the band Skrewdriver have been published in English. Personally, I consider the best book on this topic to be Nazi Rock Star by Paul London, aka Paul Burnley, ex-singer of the band No Remorse. This book offers the most comprehensive look at Skrewdriver and goes into Ian Stuart’s childhood, explaining his ideology and motivations. The great thing about this book is that it was written by a man straight out of the skinhead movement and a musician himself, plus he was an educated and creative individual. This is similar to the first book on black metal, Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, which was co-written by writer and musician Michael Moynihan of the band Blood Axis.
If the reader is more interested in the entire skinhead movement in England, and the other bands, I recommend buying the very comprehensive and detailed book The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement: UK & USA, 1979-1993 by Robert Forbes and Eddie Stampton. This book really has it all: concerts, bands, demonstrations, posters, experiences, fashion, street politics, major battles — and it’s all in chronological order. You can therefore immediately see the direction the subculture was taking, how police and state repression affected it, and how various activists resisted. It was written by a man who really lived the cult of the skinheads, and who devoted his life to it and to collecting information about it. Between 1979 and 1993, Robert Forbes was present at everything important that concerned skinheads in England.
So why buy Mirko Savage’s book Mother Europe’s Son? After all, there are better books on this subject. I’ll be honest: This book is more for connoisseurs and collectors who are more interested in exploring this phenomenon in depth, who may want to look up various small details and are interested in this particular period of British history. I don’t think it is a good introduction to the subject of skinheads in England in general.
It should be said at the outset that this is a book of interviews and memories. Mirko is therefore more of an editor and curator than an author. Apart from 28 interviews, which form the book’s core, we can also find here a full list of band members, reports from European gigs (especially Skrewdriver’s tours in Germany, Sweden, and Italy), little-known facts, and rare photographs — plus lots more. Much attention is paid to Skrewdriver’s international tours, probably because Savage is from Bulgaria — specifically its capital, Sofia — which also gives the book an international dimension. Savage is more interested in Skrewdriver’s involvement abroad than, for example, numerous English authors. It may be interesting to note that although Ian Stuart was English and played a large number of concerts in Britain, he never performed in Scotland or Wales.
Of the interviews, I found the most interesting one to be with Nick Griffin, formerly of the British National Paty. Nick describes his beginnings in politics and the various experimental approaches to it that he took (a lot of contemporary nationalist politicians could learn from this interview). Nick also discusses his relationship with skinheads, concerts, and other forms of nationalist culture. Nick has been a very creative and tenacious person, and for that, he has my respect. I consider the second-best interview to be with guitarist Stigger from Skrewdriver, who later went on to a solo career and who recorded several albums of nationalist ballads. I recommend a listen! But there are other valuable interviews with veterans, people around the band, the label, and so on as well. From these interviews, one gets a picture of what was really going on.
What bothers me about the interviews, however, is that you can’t find a specific one because only their poetic titles appear in the Table of Contents rather than specific names. Further, it is unfortunate that Savage asked the same questions of each person in the interviews. It would be better to have personalized them, where possible. But I know myself from experience how difficult it is to interview a stranger and ask questions about topics that the subject is either not interested in or does not want to answer. I already mentioned that this book is not a good introduction to the subject, because a person who is not already involved in this subculture, or who has not read other books on the subject, will not understand what Mr. Savage is asking about. He won‘t know anything about the Battle of Waterloo, the Cottbus incident, Rock-O-Rama, Open Air Festivals in Suffolk, or acronyms like NF, BNP, B&H, RAC, and Oi!. It would therefore have been a good idea to include a small glossary at the end to define these terms precisely.
The promotion of nationalist ideas through music has proven to be very effective throughout history. Think of the neo-fascist movement CasaPoundItalia and their most famous bands, Zetazeroalfa and Bronson; or think of Hungarian Nemzeti rock and its most famous bands: Kárpátia, Romantikus Erőszak, and Ismerős Arcok, which were instrumental in turning Hungary towards nationalism. Ondrej Ďurica, a very popular nationalist singer, is active in Slovakia, as is Daniel Landa in the Czech Republic and Thompson in Croatia. All of them have been influenced to some extent by Skrewdriver and Ian Stuart’s approach to music and politics. Stuart showed them the possibilities and the way. It is up to the individual performers where they take their music and movement. I am an advocate of developing nationalist music in an intellectual direction, towards local and national history, and keeping it away from terrorism, illegality, and anti-social behavior.
Through nationalist music, ordinary white people feel that someone is thinking about them and their problems, and that the artist is not afraid to sing about them. An essay on Counter-Currents is read once, or perhaps twice if the reader is very interested in the subject, but he might listen to a song that he likes a hundred times, and even learn to sing it, if it has a nice melody and lyrics. You can sing it with friends or with a musician, and that gives people a sense of togetherness and of being friends and comrades in the political struggle. Internet activism can never replace that.
At Counter-Currents we have presented the hard facts of human racial diversity, IQ diversity, the ability to delay gratification, the low social trust that exiss in a multicultural society, and the high social trust in a racially homogeneous society. We nationalists even know that multicultural democracy and LGBT+ promotion lead to the death of white civilization and the Great Replacement, and that while multiculturalism promotes the right to diversity, it leads to the demise of all diversity in the melting pot and pop monoculture. We have the knowledge and the hard facts, but we can’t appeal to human emotions and enforce what is morally right. As long as the majority of whites think that multiculturalism and the demise of white civilization are morally right, we will lose.
Music and the Internet have proven to be powerful tools for influencing people’s emotions and what is morally right and wrong. Ian Stuart, one ordinary man, has drawn tens of thousands of young people to White Nationalism through emotion and music, using no other resources. He defined a whole subculture at one time, and changed its direction. Something similar has been done in Black Metal today.
Unfortunately, Stuart bet on the frustrated working class rather than intellectuals and those in future leadership positions. As a result of this, the skinheads attracted a lot of darkness: alcoholism, violence, primitivism, criminality, dysfunctional individuals, desperate and lonely people, and so on. You will never build a reliable and functional movement out of people like that. In this respect, the skinheads have done a disservice to White Nationalism, and are rightly referred to as WN 1.0. For their part, the mainstream media has always reported on skinheads in a highly distorted way, attributing to them things that they weren’t responsible for. They have not given the skinheads any medial space in which to present their views and describe the very negative processes that are affecting the entire white world.
The mainstream media played an interesting role in the late 1980s and ‚90s, however, when it was possible to see skinhead bands on MTV. A lot of skinheads at the time thought it would be good if they could one day be widely recognized as pro-white rock musicians. Rock-O-Rama’s records were sold in mainstream stores. In the Czech Republic, Monitor Records, the largest label for such music, released and distributed openly racist records by skinhead bands like Branik and Orlik. The goal of the mainstream media was to show the skinhead counterculture as being viable and as the subculture for white people that was the most visible and edgy. Once this counterculture attracted large numbers of young white people, however, the hunt for skinheads started: persecution, the stigmatization of the movement’s former leaders, and the media’s attempt to destroy the movement.
I have met some skinheads and have had the opportunity to address various issues with them. For example, I discussed with Nigel Brown, formerly of No Remorse, why skinheads were interested in alcohol, fighting, and the lowest elements of white society instead of offering white people the best of their society: philosophy, architecture, art, classical music, and the cult of the healthy and fighting body. As he told me:
It was rebellion and anger that stemmed from family problems. They were looking for revenge for wrongs done to them growing up, or sometimes they used the subculture as a form of escapism, like a religion.
I can’t comment on the whole subculture, but only about my experience with people I knew from the scene. Most had either come from a broken home or had problems with their fathers (though in some cases their mothers), and they were seeking a real family and saw it as a means of voicing their rebellions against society and the wrongs that had been done to them in their youth.
A dysfunctional family unit (alcoholism and violence from one of the parents), the threat of immigration undermining their own culture, physical conflicts with these ethnic minority groups, and coming from an area of lower economic demographics are all core factors when you attempt to dissect and analyze the skinhead movement’s core psyche.
I further asked him why skinheads made music and didn’t also make movies, or brew, or go into business, investment, aerospace, or mathematics:
Because they were mostly poor, white working-class guys. They lacked education and faced the consequences of non-white criminality directly on the streets. Getting an instrument and starting to play was also a way to attract women and enjoy various parties. Although in the subculture of the skinheads itself, women were few.
The skinhead phenomenon had its bright and dark sides. The lesson of this book might be that violence must not be condoned. As Winston Churchill said, if you accept your shame and avoid fighting, you will have double the shame. On the other hand, all projects based solely on a permanent state of violence quickly exhaust themselves as the participants age. What one enjoys at 20 will almost certainly not satisfy one at 40, when most people are dealing with other issues and ae less concerned with how they dress, subcultures, and so on. Even the biggest radicals tend to lose their edges over time. One of the reasons for the skinheads’ decline was their failure to create any overarching platform or intellectual elite. Thus, in England they have fallen behind their “enemies” in the ranks of the alternatives, squatters, vegans, or Left-wing punx. The best people eventually dropped out of the movement, and only the truly passionate or desperate remained. As a result, the movement became radicalized and marginalized.
I think this book is worth reading if only because of what it tells us about how a significant part of the youth lived and thought in England in the late 1980s and early ʼ90s.
Savage is Bulgarian, and so his English is easy to read for non-native English speakers. If you want to read a simple book in English written from a far-Right perspective, this book is an obvious choice. It can be purchased directly from the author via e-mail: [email protected]. Please note that this book is being published in a very limited edition, and I think that one day it will be hard to find and command a high price.
If you would are interested in reading an interview with Savage, let me know in the comments and I will make publish this interview on this website.
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