Friday, May 16, 2008

I.C.R.N. Editorial: The Right to Research

In January we published an extract from Peter Webb’s new book in which he deals with the problematic stances and associations of Death In June, Tony Wakeford and other artists associated with the so-called neofolk scene and charts a history of their work. Subsequently, Webb published an interview with Wakeford in which the latter freely discusses and disowns his openly admitted right-wing past. In response to this Stewart Home published a typically hysterical article on his website in which he accuses Webb of being an apologist for the far-right music scene. This stance is dangerous in at least two respects. If taken seriously (never an entirely advisable option in Home’s case) it suggests that Home and/or his associates should have or aspire to have a right of veto over what can or cannot be researched. This represents a clear attack on academic freedom and an attempt to prevent free debate on a controversial topic (as we will see, Home has a strong vested interest in keeping this debate as limited as possible). Home has also labelled Webb as a ‘fanboy’. It is hard to know what to make of this. Does it mean that anyone researching a group is disqualified from expressing appreciation for its music? Moreover, it is hard to think of any example of a ‘fanboy academic’ whose praise could ever equal the cringingly embarrassing praise which Home once showered on Wakeford. A truly spectacular example of this appears in the following text which we recently received. As recent events have suggested that Home has influence over some violent individuals, the author will be known only as ‘a friend in Newcastle.’ Judging from the evidence presented in this piece it is hard not to draw the conclusion that Home is a) seeking to obscure his own past connections with Wakeford and others b) that this is part of a wider attempt to initiate a scare campaign intended to shut down industrial and neofolk events. Last year, Home posted an anonymous article on the Metamute website. This appears to have triggered a violent assault on a member of the audience at the Boyd Rice show but, more positively, provoked a spirited defence of the scene and of the right for individuals to make their own cultural choices, even if they are controversial or distasteful to others. Two things emerged clearly from the debate which ensued. Firstly, Home’s inability to engage in any kind of ordered debate without lapsing into self-parodic abuse. Secondly, that attending shows of this type does not represent any sort of automatic endorsement of the groups’ politics and that much of the audience are (currently) apolitical or even from a leftist background. Moreover, there was no agitation or political propaganda present at this or similar events. Luckily, most British anti-fascists don’t seem to have been persuaded that that harassing a minority music scene is more important (if less dangerous) than confronting actual far-right activists. Some of these groups engage in tasteless flirtation and have views which can be condemned. However, we suspect that Home and his masters remain intent not just on criticising and exposing problematic views but ultimately on criminalising an entire swathe of neofolk and industrial activity. Given the colossal hypocrisy of Home’s stance and the likely radicalising effects on non- or anti-political followers of these scenes, it should be clear that there is a danger that such activity will alienate or disgust people whose worldview is as critical of fascism as of other ideologies but who refuse to have their cultural interests censored and controlled by self-appointed cultural cleansers…

The Stewart Home Syndrome; Sol Invictus, "Intellectual decompostion" and other mindless projective tantrums.

So we should ask the question, who is Stewart Home and why is he getting so worked up?

Stewart Home, or Herr Heimat as perhaps we should call him, has been busy protecting the hapless, the stupid, the easily led, the politically unaware and the grammatically challenged from fascist art, worthless music and criminally superannuated academics. Stewart is an author, hoaxer, politico, public speaker and psycho-geographer. He considers himself to be one of the finest living authors since Alexander Trocchi, William Burroughs, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Irvine Welsh (to name a few) and has written books with evocative titles such as 'Cunt', 'Blow Job' and 'Slow Death'. He has a literary style that avoids complex narrative and plot for a type of writing that has been better expressed in hardcore porn. Here is an example of one of his finer pieces of text:

"Then she dropped her jeans and got me to lick out her funky twat. It tasted a hell of a lot better than the pre-packaged in-flight meal I’d just eaten. The girl sat down on the toilet bowl and I licked her clit while she took a shit. She stood up again and said I could fuck her up the arse. We didn’t need a lubricant, her lunch hadn’t agreed with her and she’d just had a very loose crap. The computer scientist’s sphincter was well stretched and I didn’t have any problems getting my cock up there. (Cunt, p.97)"

Stewie litters this tome with the sexual conquests and adventures of a character called David Kelso, possibly because Home’s obsessive character fantasises about being the libertine he has created; a character of misogynistic bent who uses women as disposable sex objects. Maybe Stewie, as a good left leftist, has always held a deep seated disgust and mistrust of women and this is his way playing out what would otherwise be an unacceptable position for a man of his high morals, principles and politics.

Herr Heimat also seems to be disturbed by people lying to him. Musician Tony Wakeford apparently lied to him about his involvement in the band Above The Ruins which seems to have led to Stewie disbelieving everything else Wakeford says and does. Wakeford was in a band called Above The Ruins, he was in the National Front (in the mid 1980s), was a member of IONA (Rightist cultural group who were taken over by the NF) and was a racist, he now claims that he deeply regrets his involvement in these organisations and has rejected the racism of that period of his life. He says he’s not interested in those politics, or in the brand of cultural, Gramscian, war of positioning that some rightist musicians such as Troy Southgate obviously are. If he is involved in any kind of fascist positioning in the neo-folk music scene he is keeping it well hidden from everyone around him and especially the musicians he works with. Caroline Jago and Lesley Malone (Sol musicians) would actually describe themselves as leftists.

Still, Stewart is not averse to a bit of lying himself: in an interview with Charlotte Cooper about his mother, Stewart discusses his public, obsessive vendetta with Michael Prigent and Larry O’ Hara:

“…my fun and outgoing side comes from my mom. She wasn’t judgmental but if it wasn’t for her there are individuals who I dislike who I’d have probably never had any negative feelings about. I’m thinking of people like the pro-situ Michel Prigent who she knew, and to the best of my knowledge his public vendetta against me stems from the fact he has some weird feelings about my mom who he seems to have met through people like beat writer/situationist Alex Trocchi.”[i]

In truth, 1) Michel Prigent never knew Home’s mother, and therefore, 2) cannot harbour any feelings about her, “weird” or otherwise, and 3) it is Home who is pursuing the “public vendetta.” Why the vendetta? Because in the mid-nineties Prigent, along with Larry O’Hara and myself [David Black – author of the piece] called Home to account for his strange associations with the fascist rock scene, in particular, one Tony Wakeford.[ii] The article goes on to examine Home’s love of Sol Invictus and Tony Wakeford even mentioning that Home did a piece in a Wakeford book of song lyrics. Here are some surprising highlights from his three page introduction to "Above Us the Sun" (a Tony Wakeford lyric book):

"Kierkegaard long sought but never found an example of a knight of the faith…..Tony Wakeford is the knight of the faith, he has gazed into the black abyss at the heart of our century and his penetrating eyes have exposed the emptiness of this world…..Wakeford is a genius….just look once again at his lyrics and you will see that this is true." (Home, 1996, pp1 – 3)

The principiadialectica article also has a discussion of Wakeford as being a fascist in the mid eighties period i.e. roughly 1982 – 1987. So it turns out that Herr Heimat was in fact a Death In June, Sol Invictus, Current 93 loving fan who was chastened by people in his political and social milieu enough to make him rethink his position and deny his true musical love. All of this maybe explains the lengths to which a busy, media celebrated author like Home, has gone to pursue the obsession with Wakeford et al even further. An interview with Wakeford[iii] suggests that he is over his fascism in all its different guises and we would go further to say that he has realised the error of past associations with the NF, IONA and Evola and that area of political or philosophical thought. If we’re wrong then it is a cover up that Wakeford is doing so well that there is no trace of any fascist activity since IONA. So, while Wakeford clearly admits to and expresses regret for past errors, Home desperately attempts to deflect attention from his own past by tarring everyone and anyone with the same fascist brush in order to present himself as a doughty anti-fascist fighter. As for the Gramscian war of position that Home suggests is being taken up by many in the neo-folk scene; we would agree with him that some have taken that route very seriously. They; bands such as Herr and Von Thronsthal, have got a position in this scene but are not that influential as yet. The debate of ideas and challenging responses to them can be opened up by the promotion of work that disrupts and provokes these projects with alternative agendas and stimulating artworks. New agendas require new active cultural production.

Throughout these exchanges Home has shown complete disregard for the lack of any evidence of Wakeford’s current fascist involvements and also a high level of ego in wanting all around him to agree with what he says or risk being accused of being a Nazi sympathiser or of being used by the shadowy occult-fascist axis that stalks this twilight world of neo-folk. It is interesting to note that Home, in his article on Wakeford and fascism, names Gary Smith as a member of No Remorse (skinhead far right band) and bass player on some Above the Ruins material, and uses this individual as 'guilt by association' evidence for Wakeford’s fascist involvement. Yet it seems that in the mid to late 1980s when Home mixed with the Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill scene in London, Gary Smiths girlfriend used to regularly pop round to Home’s house to use the photocopier to copy material for Smith. Should we see this as another example of his own guilt by association that he now `projects’ onto others who disagree with him?

Finally, would-be Gauleiter Home wants us all to take his work oh so seriously and even suggests that people quote him as the ‘seal of approval’ for `their’ own work. His Anarchist Integralism being one work that he wants everyone to quote from as the authoritative source. The continuing theme here is that he suggests that anarchism and fascism are twin bed fellows because of Proudhon’s anti Semitism and Bakunin’s ‘proto-nazi conspiracy theories’ [iv]. Within this piece he resorts to a pseudo scientific explanation suggesting that Proudhon, Kropotkin and Bakunin betray a 'congenital weakness within the anarchist creed' by linking them to 'forms and practices' that bolstered the nation state. This again fails to take account of over 100 years of developments in anarchism, the rise of anarcho-syndicalism and its part in the Spanish Civil War plus the trajectories of anarchism in Britain through a variety of groups ranging from Class War and Direct Action Movement through to the Anarchist Workers Group amongst many others. Home’s attention to minutiae distorts his ability to see difference and change within political movements that are operating in very different circumstances to the anarchists of the 1800s and the position of anarchists in revolutionary Russia. Home seems obsessed with a continuing identification of the stable subjectivities of those he criticises that are patently unsustainable even for him. To use his own pejorative term he has himself been an 'obsessive fanboy' of the works of Douglas P, Tony Wakeford and others in this scene. He idolised their work when Wakeford was a member of a fascist organisation (mid eighties when he still liked DIJ) and he has now become their most obsessive critic and stalker at a time when Wakeford has publicly disowned his fascist past. In fact, the more he harks on about this issue the more he holds up a distorted mirror to his own contradictions and hypocrisies.

It’s interesting to speculate why he should feel the need to exhume this issue (which has its roots in an obscure personal vendetta) at this time. Could it perhaps be that he wants to reassure his new fans in the mainstream media that he really is more ‘accessible’ and less tainted by now embarrassing sub-cultural connections? Curators and literary types seem quite susceptible to his shtick but it’s probably safer to distract them from some of the more interesting aspects of his past: they don’t like it too transgressive!