Friday, January 18, 2008

The Euro-Pagan Scene (Stéphane François)

An interesting article has just been published in the new Journal for the Study of Radicalism: "The Euro-Pagan Scene: Between Paganism and Radical Right," by Dr Stéphane François (vol 1, no. 2, 2007, pp.35-54). It deals in part with what I have called "Music Scene Traditionalism."

François sets out to analyze and explain what he calls the "Euro-pagan" music scene–a term he proposes to cover both the dark folk and pagan sections of industrial music. The Euro-pagan music scene includes America as well as Western Europe and the former Eastern Bloc: "European" is used in an ethnic rather than a geographical sense. My Music Scene Traditionalism is part of his Euro-pagan music scene.

François argues for understanding the Euro-pagan scene as "an identitarian construction" that is "nourished by the fears of a population with European roots faced with a rising influx of immigrants and an expanding globalization that puts cultures and their diversity at risk."

He puts the Euro-pagan scene in the context of Western neo-paganism since the 1970s. He emphasizes that many or perhaps most neo-pagans are on the extreme left, and that "radical ecologist ideas" are more prevalent and more important than Euro-pagan ones. However, "despite the diversity of political beliefs," he finds "a profound doctrinal unity" among all neo-pagans. This consists of

  • "the praise of radical differentialism"
  • "using communitarianism as a solution to multiculturalism"
  • "criticism of western thought, [as] individualist and standardizing"

François notes a number of "fascinations" among the Euro-pagan section of neo-paganism, notably fascinations with

  • "bravery and virility"
  • "the warrior"
  • "the North"
  • "the dark pages of European history"

Interest in Evola, along with definite but less important interest in Ernst Jünger and Corneliu Codreanu, is placed within the context of these fascinations. For many, the point of entry to Evola is not his Traditionalism, but his "idealization of the Indo-European."

This raises the question of which comes first–what François calls "black romanticism" or ideas (including Traditionalism). François does not directly address this question, but does observe that the esoteric content in the scene is sometimes "diluted," "merely make use of esoteric themes and symbols, without adhering to this metaphysical way of thinking." The same might well apply to the political content, but–as he observes–interest in radical politics often preceded involvement in the scene, as in the cases of Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus, who was once a member of the British National Front, and Michael Moynihan of Blood Axis and Tyr, who was a radical communist at the age of 14.

How much all this matters is a question the article does not ask (though it does observe that the scene "opens up new perspectives" for existing rightist groups). It does, however, provide one approach to an answer, by convincingly identifying the scene with two wider phenomena that clearly do matter–ecology, and concern with immigration and globalization.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post, it covers many of the basics regarding revialist paganism within neoclassical music.

There are also very strong ties to German philosopher F. Nietzsche and his belief in will to power, as described in-depth here:

Anonymous said...

The number of people within the neo-folk/martial industrial etc scene who understand what Traditionalism means in a Guenon sense can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Anyone who nods enthusiastically when you ask them about Traditionalism does so because it is preferable to be mistaken for a Traditionalist than to be mistaken for a Fascist (which is the accusation generally levelled at people from the scene).

Be careful you don't introduce Traditionalism as a flag of convenience for some very nasty, very right wing people. Because there are a lot more of them in the scene than there are authentic admirers of Guenon or Evola's esoteric thought.

Anonymous said...

Well I guess the problem about some of the "very nasty people" is rather that they are nasty than that they are "right-wing".

That aside, true understanding of traditionalism within the scene in question is rare. But neither it is a cover-up for "fascism". The frequent name-dropping of Evola, Jünger or Spengler is more of a signal for those who share similiar feelings, experiences, mind-sets and record/CD- collections not unlike those people that wear Che Guevara T-Shirts and have no idea about for what this guy actually fought and died for.

Admiration of these writers is more of an emotional/aesthetic thing than a thorough study of their ideas or a even a general acceptance of them. Such is especially the case for figures like Codreanu, who is to some of the Neofolk-Aficionados what Dracula is to the Goth-scene. Now who is taking Dracula actually serious?

All in all, superficiality is dominating, so, depending on your perspective, political hopes or fears are in vain. However as a symptom amongst young people in Europe, as adressed by the "how much it matters question", there is certainly some significance.

Anonymous said...

I've been in that scene for many years. All I can say is that the people genuinly 'pagan' are but a few and the people genuinly 'Traditionalistic' are even fewer. Moreover, the people displaying political ideas are even rare. It's all a mishmash of esthetics unlike "the Left/liberal consensus view of what is acceptable, and is therefore troubling for outsiders". Sure, people will be supportive or open to some of the 'ideas', but serious in them? Rarely!