2 Feb 2009
Ratzinger's new bishop's far right friends
A splinter from the NF in the 1980s, the International Third Position (ITP) once included one Nick Griffin amongst its members. Following a series of intellectual somersaults, the ITP settled down to a long term strategy of intellectual development and cultural politics, under the leadership of Italian millionaire Roberto Fiore. Its strong association with Catholicism has a boon to its sister group in Italy, but has gone down like a pint of cold sick with many British fascists. The ITP are very worthy, and very, very boring.
Do say "I though Father O’Flockerty’s mass on Sunday was most stimulating"
Don’t say "In my experience Father Ted was a pretty accurate portrayal of the Catholic priesthood"
I read about the Pope un excommunicating Richard Williamson, a holocaust denying Bishop. A little light went on and I thought Lefebvre, ITP, Derek Holland and all that.
Its a complex story but worth telling. I am not an expert on the Catholic Church but I do know a little about the British far right to which I am going to argue Williamson has associations....so here goes.
In the 1980s the National Front, Britain's premier racist party after enjoying some success at the polls in the 1970s, was in bits. They failed to make a break through, in a period where proportional representation was unknown in UK politics, despite picking up significant percentages in places like West Bromwich and Deptford. Mrs Thatcher's own right wing populist rhetoric took many of their voters back into the Tory fold in the 1979 General Election and there was some effective anti-fascist action that diminished their power. The association of the National Front with the legacy of the Nazis was a particular problem. Key National Front figures like John Tyndall and Martin Webster had once pranced around in SS style uniforms, photos of such tend to put off even the more right wing of the Tory voters they sought to appeal to. The NF split several ways. To cut a long story slightly shorter, younger ideological experimenters put together a new far right politics that distanced them supposedly from National Socialism, drawing upon anti-capitalist, ecological and even anarchistic themes.
The Political Soldiers of the National Front drew together a range of esoteric thinkers from the right to put together a 'national revolutionary' politics, self consciously distant from the Tory right and the man from Austria with the tash. Strasserism, Evola, Colonel Gaddafi's Little Green Book went into the melting pot. You could write several books on this experiment. It was both complex and ideologically unstable. On the one hand you vicious anti-semitism and blood and soil rhetoric which fitted very well with the worst excess of the Third Reich, equally you had the more apologetic and intellectual work of magazines like The Scorpion. There is a strong New Right school in France with academic revolutionary nationalism packaged for graduates and disillusioned leftists.
The National Front political soldiers became a smaller and smaller group. The British National Party, the Flag National Front and other far right groups competed with them for members. The NF split into two third positionist groups. One the Third Way claimed to have rejected anti-semitism and now operate as the National Liberal Party under Patrick Harrington, Harrington is now closely involved with the British National Party Trade Union front Solidarity (a fact that suggests moderation may be more claimed than real). The second third positionist group the International Third Position was more overtly anti-semitic and this is where Williamson comes in.
The ITP became increasingly linked in schismatic right wing Catholicism of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
One participant noted in a recent interview:
The National Front (NF) was already evolving into a revolutionary organisation when I joined it in 1984-5, but due to personality issues it became fragmented in the Autumn of 1989 and myself and a few others - among them Derek Holland, Nick Griffin, Roberto Fiore and Colin Todd - left to form the International Third Position (ITP). The NF, meanwhile, changed its name to Third Way in March 1990 and sadly exchanged its earlier revolutionary nationalist impetus and support for Khomeini’s Iran and Qathafi’s Libya for a self-proclaimed ‘radicalism of the centre’. The ITP also changed, however, and by September 1992 I left to form the English Nationalist Movement (ENM) because several ITP figures such as Roberto Fiore and Derek Holland were trying to promote a form of clerico-fascism. I was also a Traditional Catholic at that time, but was not prepared to sacrifice my own revolutionary ideology for a backward-looking dependence on the likes of Mussolini, Petain and Franco.
Nick Griffin dropped much of the esoteric ideology, left the ITP and took over the BNP. Another key figure was Joe Pearce, originally a leader of the Young National Front, closely allied to skin head politics, wrote a pamphlet which he (?) thoughtful sent me, in response to my writings challenging the ecofacism of the National Front. Their green rhetoric is discussed elsewhere, they set up a NF environmental campaign called Greenwave in the 1980s. Pearce eventually became a Catholic academic in the USA, writing biographies of figures such as Tolkien (it would be difficult to make this stuff up and little of it sounds plausible), quite a step from a former convicted prisoner and editor of The Bulldog.
Another key figure was Derek Holland who in 1984 wrote the Political Soldier booklet, which is overtly Catholic in tone, as you can tell from this statement.
Some have said that The Political Soldier appears to be demanding the creation of Warrior Saints. And so it is. What is the problem with that? No one doubts for a moment that tremendous effort and dedication are required to fulfill this demand, but it is a wholly desirable objective, for a Saint seeks Ends that are Good and True, and uses Means that are Pure and Admirable. What kind of political militant is it that does not seek the Good and the True, the Pure and the Admirable? Some remark that "Politics is too dirty" for this to be possible. Granted that political life has become vile to a horrible degree in the modem world, it remains true, nonetheless, that if we do not aim for the Good and the True, the Pure and the Admirable, we will almost inevitably end up sinking into the cesspit of political filth that is suffocating our European inheritance. Who can listen to, or follow in faith, politicals who lie, cheat or swindle; politicals who cheat on their wives, girlfriends and comrades; politicals whose Ends vary according to their ambition, opportunism and greed? The New Man must, therefore, shine out like a blazing beacon in the infinite dark; by what he says; by what he does; by how he acts.
Heady stuff indeed. Other Third Positionists drew on paganism but Holland and the ITP became increasingly right Catholic in tone. I am not accusing all Catholics of being right wing, its a broad church as they say, the last time I was in a Catholic church the priest name checked worker priests. Much Catholic social theory can be seen as egalitarian and anti-capitalist, liberation theology has been more important to practical Marxist politics than Lenin and Mao (Bolivar, Castro, Chavez...all Catholics?). However there are right wing and particularly anti-semitic elements to some forms of Catholicism. Many Catholics challenged fascism and rescued or tried to save Jews and others from certain death in the concentration camps. But the Catholic Church often shamefully cooperated with National Socialism and Fascism during the 1930s and 40s.
There is a strain of right wing Catholicism, represented by groups like Opus Dei and I would suggest the present Pontiff Ratzinger, who was a member of Hitler's Youth! The Distributism of Chesterton and Belloc (which the ITP also draws upon), contains leftist elements mixed in with anti-semitic challenges to usury.
With reforms to the liturgy, a group of Traditionalists who insisted in the use of Latin services under Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, broke away from the Catholic Church to found the Society of St. Pius X . Not all traditionists are anti-semites but some are and the traditionalists tend to be on the right, Lefebvre praised the French National Front, members of the Society often looked back to the fascist friendly Vichy regime of the 1940s.
The current Pope is keen to bring the traditionalist back into to the fold,
In a letter to the faithful last Saturday, Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, welcomed Pope Benedict’s action.
“Thanks to this gesture, Catholics attached to Tradition throughout the world will no longer be unjustly stigmatized and condemned for having kept the Faith of their fathers,” he wrote.
Some 500 worshipers drive up to an hour each Sunday to Christ the King Church at St. Ignatius on the corner of Tackora Trail and North Salem Road. There they hear the Tridentine Mass celebrated in Latin, as it was before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council began modernizing the Roman Catholic Church in 1962
Father Zendejas added, “Because we keep the tradition in church, people think that we are right-wing politically, and that is a confusion.”
Richard Williamson was ordained by Lefebvre and has a record of extreme right wing statements. He has praised holocaust denier Zundel and spoken up for discredited Dr Death Fred Leuchter. He has garden partied with David Irving in Windsor. And yes he has published a book with former ITP theorist Derek Holland's press IHS.
A compelling and persuasive outline for the Catholic church's support of rural living is presented in this collection of contemporary writings on why city-dwelling Catholics should settle and work in the country. Discussions of the practice of retreat accompany arguments of the principles of faith, including Biblical teachings on the theological dimensions of Jesus Christ's upbringing in Nazareth; economic arguments that city life and jobs are often tied to capitalist principles; and ecological and conservationist positions that a Christian should maintain a balanced relationship with the earth.
Mgr. Richard Williamson is a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church
Did Holland and Williamson hang out together in France?
Lets give the last words to the dodgy bishop himself, he endorses third position analysis here.
He denies the holocaust here:
RICHARD WILLIAMSON: The historical evidence is hugely against six-million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.
EMMA ALBERICI: Richard Williamson is a rector of a seminary in Argentina. This interview was recorded in Germany last November but was only broadcast last week. The bishop even conceded that his words could land him in jail.
RICHARD WILLIAMSON: The revisionists as they're called, I think the most serious conclude that between two and 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber.
Germany has paid out billions and billions of deutschmarks and now Euros because the Germans have a guilt complex about their having gassed six-million Jews. But I don't think six-million Jews were gassed. Be careful, I beg of you. This is against the law in Germany. You could have me thrown into prison before I leave Germany. I hope that's not your intention.
Here he argues that democracy leads to genocide and praises a far right French organisation here.
Bizarrely he argues for concentration camps to educate the young with Michael Jackson in charge.
Where do we find a master for the camp? As a colleague said, he must be a combination of Socrates, General Patton and Michael Jackson! Socrates for the ancient wisdom, General Patton for the camp discipline and leadership, Michael Jackson for the ability to get through to young men of today, who can be something of a breed apart. Does anybody know of such a man? In my imagination he is a Catholic widower, ex-military, presently side-lined, withering from frustration at being unable to do any real teaching, who would love to have access to a mini-dozen red-blooded Americans to teach them for the love of Christ a dose of reality, regardless of what he or they would do the year after.
And if you think this is all irrelevant far right train spotting, take a look at Roberto Fiore, an ITP founder and now a man with a parliamentary position, a right ward moving Catholic Church is all part of the mix when it comes to dying neo-liberalism being replaced by authoritarian politics.
There is a good outline of his politics from a Catholic critic here http://fringewatcher.blogspot.com/2006/01/politics-of-bishop-richard-williamson.html
And while we are at it a good critique of the Leuchter report here