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Journal for the Studies of Radicalism

Journal for the Studies of Radicalism, Vol. 1 n°2, Michigan State University Publishing, pp. 35-54.

The Euro-Pagan Scene: Between Paganism and Radical Right

Stéphane François*

Music is a vector for identity. Indeed, music is something entirely social, maintaining complex relationships with the social world. It holds a position that has become central amongst the elements that form our perception of the world, the sense of hearing rivaling more than ever what we see and what we read. The social element is at the heart of the processes of the production and reception of the musical. It determines its developments, functions, and meanings to a great extent. In a continuous mirroring, music reflects and expresses the social space which, in its turn, invests in it, infusing it with new meaning. The musical object, a truly cultural generator of cultural practices, is not something given but something constructed, the product of a “here and now” in which codes, norms, values, and strategies of innovation and copying are tangled together in perpetual construction.1 Music can also be a method of engagement, at the same time individual (he who listens) and/or collective (those who play)—a medium for resistance to cultural or political domination.

During the late 1970s and 1980s, there simultaneously appeared “alternative rock,” with a left wing message, and “rock identitaire” (identity rock), with an extreme right wing message, these two genres succeeding the socially active, left wing rock and the rediscovery of local, folk, and ethnic music that occurred during the 1970s.2 Thus music can be a medium for raising awareness. In fact, it is above all a social indicator, and a generator of political symbols, but also of religious symbols (gospel music) and community symbols (rap, Yiddish music).

The music analyzed here, which we here call “Euro-pagan” music, along with its scene (groups, labels, press, etc.), is a musical and cultural movement little known to the general public. It is an undercurrent of a larger but equally confidential scene: industrial music. The people involved in the diffusion of this scene are relatively few but highly active. This is also a style of music that has become popular and undergone a large expansion. Its themes relate to European paganism and to the history of Europe.3 The message of this scene evolved at the margins of the extreme revolutionary conservative right. This scene is therefore specific to the themes that power it. The term “Euro-pagan” is not innocent, and was not chosen arbitrarily: it represents what the performers of this music wish to produce: a music that is “typically” European.

^ The origins of the Euro-pagan scene

The relatively small “Euro-pagan” scene implies a widespread diffusion of the “industrial music” that is capable of reaching into the cultural and ideological environments of multiple generations and dispositions. “Industrial music” is a generic term, bringing together a multitude of musical groups, sometimes with vastly different styles. The expression “industrial music” was coined at the end of the 1970s, and was made more widely known by Genesis P. Orridge, leader of the group Throbbing Gristle, in order to define their music.

This musical scene has its origins in various geneses, notably the psychedelic music of the preceding decades. The influence of the 1970s is particularly visible in the domain of this music through the use of atmospheric instrumental soundscapes, improvisation, and experimentation. The innovation lies in the systematic use of noise or dissonance, the absence of melodies, and, in contrast with their predecessors, a confrontational message. These groups were influenced by punk, by the Dadaists of Fluxus and by the Italian Futurists (Marinetti). They appeared, historically, in the wake of or along with the repetitive music of American minimalists such as La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, and Steve Reich, and we can also mention here the atonality of the works of Stockhausen, Schaeffer, Schönberg, and Pierre Henry.

Industrial music developed at an earlier time in an urban environment and/or in highly industrialized regions stricken by crisis: London, Sheffield, West Berlin, and the major American cities. We can distinguish four successive waves: the first from the origins (around 1974-5) to 1981-2, the second going up to the mid 1980s, the third from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s, and the fourth from the mid 1990s to the present day. These waves correspond to the emergence of new undercurrents, new technologies, and new groups. The first wave inaugurated, and the second wave made more widespread the wearing of military uniforms. Since then, a great number of industrial groups have been inspired by the totalitarian aesthetic, especially the fascist aesthetic, even while in global terms “industrial music” is categorized as part of the counterculture, with its libertarian attitude.

The provocations and extremism of these first groups gave rise to the forming of other bands, in emulation or mimicry. The first half of the 1980s saw the emergence of the first Euro-pagan groups, such as the British group Death in June and the highly equivocal and provocative Slovenian group Laibach. This group, which admittedly was not so interested in paganism, blithely mixed the classics of rock (the Rolling Stones, Queen, the Beatles) with militaristic tracks vindicating European civilization. They also made extensive equivocal and provocative use of the totalitarian aesthetic and the propagandist art of the fascist and Stalinist regimes. Some albums released in the late 1980s (Sympathy for the Devil and MacBeth) make subtle references to the personalities of the extreme right: on the former we can hear clips of speeches by Belgian Rexist and Waffen SS member Léon Degrelle, while on the sleeve of the latter there is a nearly invisible photograph of Rudolf Hess on his deathbed. This photograph circulated in the circles of the extreme right. Today, as a result of increasing popularity, the message may have softened, but the ambiguity has not disappeared.

^ What is Euro-pagan music?

What we term Euro-pagan scene is often called “dark folk,” the two expressions being frequently considered erroneously as synonyms. However, not all “dark folk” groups have a neo-pagan message, and vice versa: not all pagan groups play folk or “neo-folk” music. We therefore prefer to call our subject of study “Euro-pagan music” in order to avoid all ambiguity, because the term “Euro-pagan” very accurately describes what this music intends to convey: the praise of an ethnic European paganism, often marked by conservative revolutionary ideas. Not all Euro-pagan groups are folk or neo-folk groups. This scene is characterized more by a mindset, an overall message, than by a musical genre. The references in Euro-pagan music are fairly conventional: classical music, particularly Richard Wagner and Carl Orff, and above all ballads from folklore, from northern and eastern Europe, and from medieval times.

The Euro-pagan scene is distributed around three major poles. The first, the oldest, dating back to 1974-5, is located in the United States, centering on Non and Changes. It has undergone constant growth up to the present. An ancestor of this genre is an American, Robert N. Taylor, one of the members of the group Changes, formed in 1969. Changes was associated with the Satanist sect The Process4 during the 1960s, then beginning in 1975, with the American neopagan group Asatru Alliance. Taylor, in the early 1960s, was a member of the Minutemen, an extreme right wing radical paramilitary group, one of the more virulent groups of this era.5 He also participated in various other movements in American counterculture. The second pole, the most significant in terms of the number of groups, emerged in western Europe between 1980 and 1985. In London, Crisis, a Trotskyite and antifascist group, moved toward the revolutionary right and later split up, some of its former members forming the band Death in June. Next there appeared Sol Invictus, which incorporated some ideas of the extreme right wing Italian philosopher Julius Evola (cf. the name of the project that preceded Sol Invictus, “Above the Ruins,” and the title of the first Sol Invictus album, Against the Modern World—both are explicit references to the titles of works by Evola). The third pole is located in the former Eastern Bloc. This is the most recent, its origin dating to the fall of the communist regimes.6 The Euro-pagan scene grew and spread significantly to the east. Hungary was the precursor (besides the special case of Yugoslavia, which had an industrial scene beginning in the early 1980s), with the emergence of ACTUS (Archaic Cultural Traditions United in a Society) around 1987-8. These eastern European Euro-pagan groups intended to recreate a music and a traditional culture that had been destroyed by communism. The German Democratic Republic played a significant role in the development of the particularly radical German Euro-pagan scene, marked by national Bolshevism. The music of this first wave is marked by futurism, and pays homage to workers and industry—a vestige of a secularizing communist past. These groups hailed the transition from the communist regimes to nationalism. The nationalist and anti-American message is often very strong; for example, there are recurrent references to the bombing of Dresden.

^ Music with ideologically oriented themes

Historical themes play an important role in the message of this scene. However, the history is viewed through the triple prism of subcultures, occultism, and the worldview of radical right wing conservative revolutionary Europeanism. This view is expressed in many ways: by the titles (of albums or tracks); by the names of groups, e.g. Sol Invictus, which refers to Mithras, or Death in June, a reference to the Night of the Long Knives; by the illustrations in the CD booklets (paintings, photographs, sculptures, text, etc.); and by the compilations that gather groups around a common theme: homage to the philosophy of Julius Evola, or Corneliu Codreanu, the leader of the Romanian Iron Guard, also part of the extreme right wing. In studying the favored historical themes, we can identify three periods revered by this scene: Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the 1930s.

The main interest in Roman Antiquity relates essentially to the emperors who persecuted Christians, such as Diocletian, and Julian, the emperor who wished to reestablish paganism; and also to the eastern religions of the Roman Empire, in particular the cults of Sol Invictus and Mithras. These last two were sun-worshipping and masculine cults, and were particularly bloody. These cults are perfect examples of the fascination held by these groups for bravery and virility. The key players in this scene even visited and studied the ruins of temples in Europe dedicated to these divinities. Reference to Mithras are also found in a certain number of groups, including Blood Axis (the band of the American Michael Moynihan) and Sol Invictus, whose name is an explicit reference to the cult of the same name.

One may also notice an equally strong infatuation with the Middle Ages, especially the persistence of paganism in European cultures. The persecution of heretics, and the forced conversion of the last pagans in Europe, are some of the main sources of inspiration. This forced evangelization is identified, by these groups, with the decline of indigenous European cultures. Medieval sorcery is viewed as the persistence of a form of paganism, indeed greatly altered, despite the “normalization” of European society by Christianity. Catharism and its alleged connections with the quest for the Grail—supposedly hidden at Montségur—also attracts some of these musicians, who ascribe an Aryan and pagan origin to the Grail.

Finally, the history of Europe from the second half of the 19th century to the end of the Second World War holds a strong attraction for this musical genre. The interest lies mainly in what the German historian Armin Mohler called the “Conservative Revolution,”7 together with its origins and manifestations. In fact, an increasing number of albums pay homage to the leaders of the Conservative Revolution, the most famous being the author Ernst Jünger. An example is the album Recitals to Renewal by the English group Lady Morphia. In 2004, a compilation was released dedicated to the neo-pagan and national revolutionary activist Friedrich Hielscher, Wir rufen deine Wölfe. Such connections are discussed by the British academic Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, author of The Occult Roots of Nazism.8 The fascination with the dark pages of European history, in particular the esoteric aspect of the SS ideology, plays a large part in this interest, which we can qualify as “black romanticism.” This fascination has been entertained since the 1970s by an abundant literature of very poor quality, finding alleged links between the SS and esotericism.

The appeal of the SS “occultism” gave rise to a new form of tourism: these musicians traveled to the mysterious sites of the SS, such as the castle of Wewelsburg and the tomb of Karl Maria Wiligut, as well as to major prehistoric sites like the Externsteine (the German Stonehenge). The poems of SS officer Karl Maria Wiligut were set to music in 1994 by the Austrian group Allerseelen on the album Gotos=Kalanda. Manfred Lenz, a member of the East German group Turbund Sturmwerk, participated in the monograph dedicated to Wiligut, The Secret King: Karl Maria Wiligut, Himmler’s Lord of the Runes, published in 2001 by Michael Moynihan’s publishing company, Dominion.

Many productions are also dedicated to the Second World War, such as the album ^ Die Weisse Rose, referring to the eponymous German resistance movement, by the French group Les Joyaux de la Princesse, or Turbund Sturmwerk’s second album, Weltbrand. Others make more subtle references, such as the group Strength Through Joy, referring to the leisure organization of the Third Reich’s only union, the German Labor Front. Other groups have names referring explicitly to this period, such as Radio Werewolf, which refers to the division of fighters sent to carry out a scorched earth campaign during the capture of Berlin. This fascination with Nazism remains the main center of interest of the group Death in June, which has repeated the “Horst Wessel Lied,”9 the famous Nazi chant. The name of this group is also an explicit reference to the Night of the Long Knives (June 30, 1934), when the SA and certain opponents of Nazism were massacred by the SS. There are also definite tributes, such as the compilations dedicated to the cinematographer Leni Riefenstahl and the sculptor Arno Breker, two notorious Nazis.

^ A scene of the extreme right?

Increasing numbers of groups identify clearly with various European forms of fascism. For example, the Italian group Ain Soph released an album in the early 1990s, Aurora, featuring songs that reflected a spectrum of political views, including fascism. Michael Moynihan has never hidden his past sympathy for fascism, and Boyd Rice considers Mussolini to be a “man of iron.” Moynihan, in the late 1980s, edited an anthology of the American James Mason’s violently anti-Semitic journal, Siege. Mason began his militarism in 1966 when he joined with the highly media-oriented American Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell. Mason was also fascinated by Charles Manson. Moynihan says that on Nietzschean grounds he categorically refuses either to endorse or to reject controversial ideas like Mason’s.10

Speaking more broadly, the fascination for this period relates to all forms of fascism, or revolutionary traditionalism, as is shown by the compilations dedicated to Julius Evola entitled ^ Cavalcare la tigre!—the original title of one of Evola’s works, published in 1961—and to Corneliu Codreanu, Eine Erinnerung an den Kampf. In fact, this scene has shown an increasing interest in Codreanu over the last ten years or so, even if these groups only know his personality very superficially. The marches and the music of this movement have also been republished: Boyd Rice of Non produced a compact disc entitled Hymns and Marches from Transylvania, while Kadmon of Allerseelen produced a two 7-inch EPs of Legionary music in collaboration with Storm, Michael Moynihan’s label. Evola, however, remains the principal reference. The popular attraction to these historical periods arguably began after the publication of The Morning of the Magicians by Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels, published in 1960.11 During the 1960s, in part through popular books like this, “occult” themes were diffused outside the limited circles to which they had previously been confined.

Before plunging into the study of the connections between these groups and the radical right, it is necessary to define the expressions “extreme right” and “radical right.” In current terminology, these expressions are used in a quasi-synonymous fashion, and always pejoratively. However, our society gathers many traditions, groups, and political sensibilities within this terminology, some of them very different from one another, with little communication occurring between them. Thus, as Pierre-André Taguieff notes, all these “extremisms” of the right wing “identified by historians and political scientists cannot be defined by the total rejection of liberal democracy and the project of substituting it with a ‘new order.’ They do not all illustrate the logic of radical opposition to the liberal/pluralist system.”12 In the case that interests us, the “right wing radicalism” is expressed by a total rejection of the western liberal model. However, the circles that we are studying did not reject a certain subculture originating from the “pop culture” of the 1960s and 1970s (which was rejected by the “classic” extreme right). Its perspective was “revolutionary conservative” or “avant-garde conservative,” meaning that its position was simultaneously very far to the right regarding a certain number of topics (which we shall study in due course) and on the avant-garde regarding the acceptance of countercultures, after May 1968.

Many of these musicians have direct connections to radical political groups. A photo from 1989 shows Boyd Rice in uniform with the American extreme right splinter group American Front, in the company of their chief, Bob Heick.13 As noted before, Michael Moynihan has been interested in radical politics since adolescence.14 Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus was also one of the leaders of the “Political Soldier” fraction of the National Front. In France, the French futurist musician Vivenza was a member of the nationalist-revolutionary splinter group Troisième Voie. The Euro-pagan scene thus evolved as a loosely knit subgenre of avant-garde artistic and musical culture, which existed on the margins of the Europeanist extreme right. The European publications of the extreme right, such as the French journal Réfléchir & agir, exhibit a marked interest in this style of music. The Euro-pagan scene is also interesting to neo-Nazi circles, as is shown by their laudatory reviews of the CDs of groups such as Sol Invictus, Non, and Death in June on the Internet site of the American Racial Nationalist Library.15

Revolutionary conservative, nationalist revolutionary, identitarian, and neo-right wing European movements take an interest in this scene, which opens up new perspectives for them. The connections began to solidify in earnest around the end of the 1980s when this scene exploded. The French National Bolshevist Christian Bouchet confirmed this in an interview he granted me. Starting in the first half of the 1990s, upon the almost complete replacement of the managers of GRECE (Groupe de Recherche et d’Etude pour la Civilisation Européenne), a Europeanist think tank in favor of a return to paganism, some of the younger members of the group made use of this music at their conferences.16 Such is the case for the music of Blood Axis, whose leader, Michael Moynihan, recalled that during this time he knew little about the French New Right and its ideas.

Since then, Moynihan has increased his knowledge. In the early 2000s, in his journal ^ Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition, he published articles by Alain de Benoist, the French New Right’s principal theoretician: in no. 1, 2002, an interview between Benoist and Georges Dumézil, first published in 1978, “Priests, Warriors, and Cultivators: An Interview with Georges Dumézil,”17 and in no. 2, “Thoughts on God”18 and “On Being Pagan: Ten Years Later. An Interview with Alain de Benoist.”19 In 2001, Michael Moynihan also collaborated in an issue of a conservative revolutionary French journal, Dualpha. This issue, directed by the French perennialist musician Thierry Jolif, was dedicated to Julius Evola.20 A number of Euro-pagan musicians took part in the issue, including Kadmon (Allerseelen), Robert N. Taylor (Changes), Alexander Rady (Scivias), Michael Moynihan (Blood Axis), J.-M. Vivenza (Ain Soph), and Thierry Jolif (Lonsai Maikov).

^ What is neo-paganism?

The convergence between the Europeanist radical right and these musical groups was facilitated by the common appeal to paganism. This latter became the main theme of the Euro-pagan message during the second half of the 1980s. But what is paganism? The word “paganism” comes from the Latin paganus, peasant. It means above all, in contrast with Christians, polytheistic peoples, or anything relating to these peoples or their gods. Paganism was the name given by the early Christians to the Greco-Roman polytheism to which the inhabitants of rural areas long remained faithful. The term was then applied by the same Christians to populations that had not been converted. In the Anglophone world, the term “heathenism” is also used since it lacks the pejorative sense of “paganism.” Contemporary paganism, or neo-paganism, emerged around the 18th century, but parts of it date back to the Renaissance.21 It is based on a rejection of the religious values and dogmas originating in the Bible. By nature, it is opposed to the universalism and proselytism of Christianity and Islam. Neo-paganism is pantheistic and/or polytheistic. It is manifested in the West by the reappearance of cults dedicated to the pre-Christian divinities. There are various forms of neo-paganism: one is focused mainly on the reconstruction of a pre-Christian religion, making reference to the divinities or to a specific cultural tradition and having, in general, an ethnic basis; a second carries an environmentalist-pantheist message, often of a universalist nature, and is a paganism created from nothing; and a third, under the general term paganism, constitutes a political and/or philosophical choice. The return to paganism allows the development of a new worldview radically different from our own, a legacy of Judeo-Christianity and the Enlightenment. This “repaganization” of the spirit is possible because in our western society, there exists an unconscious return to a pagan sensibility: “regredience.”22

Neo-paganism exploded in the West in the 1970s, attracting a young population, mostly with alternative and/or radical ecologist ideals, repelled from the various forms of Christianity but still searching for an appropriate spiritual model for their beliefs. Despite this explosion, the pagan movement remained marginal in Europe until GRECE or the New Right (the two expressions are almost synonymous in France) used it to justify inegalitarianism (Christianity becoming a “Bolshevism of Antiquity”), elitism, and differentialism, thus making it known to the general public during the course of the 1980s. Subsequently, this neo-pagan outlook escaped outside the New Right and was diffused widely in other trends of the extreme right, via the political explorations of the dissidents of GRECE. It was then that it became one of the constitutive elements of certain splinter groups of the extreme right.

As we have suggested above, the origins of this neo-paganism are diverse equally in terms of politics, history, and metaphysics. However, religious paganism is definitely a legacy of romanticism, especially in its rejection of Enlightenment, of the liberalism the developed from it, and of technological modernity23—and in its reconstruction of the nationalism of the past. This last point explains the pronounced nationalistic ethnicism of certain forms of neo-paganism. One of the great figures among the neo-pagans of the end of the 19th century is, paradoxically, the German protestant minister Johann Gottfried Herder. His communitarian and ethno-nationalist message profoundly influences neo-pagan ideas even today. The pagan message can therefore be interpreted in various ways, just as Herder’s ideas can be humanist or ethno-nationalist. Neo-paganism is also a manifestation of western esotericism, especially in terms of its religious and/or metaphysical content. At the end of the 19th century, this first movement merged very rapidly with nationalism and racist doctrines. Around the beginning of the 20th century, in Germany and Italy, some anti-clerical and patriotic, nationalist, and/or revolutionary neo-pagans were connected with movements of the extreme right. This völkisch24 filiation can be found in the messages of certain movement of GRECE.25

In observing these facts, and in bitter campaigns launched against the New Right in 1979 and in the early 1990s, many observers, especially in France, concluded that neo-paganism was marked by an extreme right wing ideological position. In fact, a great proportion of neo-pagans are on the extreme left, particularly in altermondialist circles. Our studies of neo-paganism, despite the diversity of political beliefs, have always revealed a profound doctrinal unity. This unity is characterized by the following traits: the praise of radical differentialism, using communitarianism as a solution to multiculturalism and rejecting genocide; the criticism of western thought, individualist and standardizing, seen as a synonym simultaneously for modernity, the Americanization of customs, and the manifestation of the ideology of progress; and a pagan-pantheistic concept of ecology.

Western (i.e. European and North American) neo-paganism defends the diversity of cultures and encourages their preservation. However, this differentialism is motivated by varying reasons, depending on the ideological points of view adopted: the pagan attitude vis-à-vis foreigners ranges from racism to absolute tolerance. The racist trend advocates a differentialist, völkisch ethno-communitarianism: since each “race” is adapted to its environment, different ways of life must be respected. This belief, despite the violently anti-modern aspect of the völkisch movement, paradoxically implies a return to nationalism, an “ideology arising in modernity, nationalism understood as ethno-nationalism.”26 Thus, the paganism of these neo-pagans is built around the idea of an ethnos demos, an idea of the people in the ethnic sense of the term. This kind of neo-paganism is often confused with an ethno-cultural Europeanism supporting the ethnicist idea of a direct descent from the Indo-Europeans, the origin of the “white race.”

Contrary to these racist ideas, some people, such as Alain de Benoist, have developed a non-racist message which can still be defined as differentialism. This message, inspired entirely by paganism (the “traditional societies”), rejects the acculturation brought by globalization. Its position is thus one of respect for the diversity of cultures. According to Alain de Benoist, the solution to the questions arising from the presence of immigrant populations in Europe (what place to give them, whether to assimilate them or respect their differences, etc.) lies in the recognition of a communitarian model with a pagan basis, accepting the difference of the Other. This model affirms that the community is one of the possible tools for transcending a modernity that is nearing its end. This movement insists on tolerance on the part of the pagan religions vis-à-vis the Other and different cultures. Consequently, this system requires the absence of proselytism in order to function. Besides rejecting proselytism, this belief, present among both left wing and right wing neo-pagans, violently condemns the forced standardization brought about by a commercial society and the universalist values of the liberal western world, seen as a synonym for modernity and for cosmopolitan, standardizing mondialism. In fact, modernity is now criticized increasingly from all angles. At both the extreme right and the extreme left, there is a contesting of modernity, seen as the reign of individualism, the triumph of everything economic, the hegemony of neo-liberal financialization.

Among the neo-pagans, on both left and right, there is thus a will to return to a tribal and/or clan paganism of the traditional societies, self-managing and self-sufficient, gathering freely in the larger units. In fact, the democratic idea of the neo-pagans is based in a system inspired by an idealized vision of the social systems of antiquity, above all the Celtic and Germanic. The form of government desired by the neo-pagans varies between localism, autonomism of anarchist inspiration, and radical regionalism. Consequently, with the exception of some nationalist forms, neo-paganism rejects the nation-state, the product of modernity.

However, the most important characteristic defining “political paganism” is without doubt the ecological aspect. Neo-paganism, with its cosmic viewpoint, in the way it respects temporal cycles, is fundamentally ecological. It develops a mystic, pantheistic conception of nature, inspired by various pagan religions, past and present. For this reason, the pagans worship the “Mother-Earth.” The ecology advocated by the neo-pagans is a “deep ecology,” according to the terminology of the Norwegian philosopher Arne Näess—pantheistic, holistic, and non-anthropocentric, opposing “shallow ecology,” limited to the simple management of the environment. The adversary, according to the neo-pagans, is therefore the anthropocentrism stemming from the Bible, which considers man as qualitatively superior to the other forms of nature. The neo-pagans have established that most traditional (i.e. pagan) religions have a “cosmic” character, in the manner described by Mircea Eliade.27 Here, the universe is perceived as a great harmonious unity, to which man is associated through his very being. From this non-anthropocentric perspective, Earth is seen more as a partner than as a place for habitation.

^ The Euro-pagan scene and neo-paganism

The paganism of the Euro-pagan scene is manifested in two ways: through the message and through the music. The groups often simply say that they are pagans, or adepts of some pagan form of thought—especially right wing paganism. These groups, influenced by Nietzsche and Evola, along with the French New Right insist on the Christian origins of the egalitarian mentality that exercises hegemony in the modern world, in opposition to the assumed aristocratism of paganism. The interest in the paganism of Antiquity and the Middle Ages thus masks the praise of an organic and hierarchical society in which everyone has a precise and non-interchangeable function. Egalitarianism is also rejected because of its eastern origin: it is considered an avatar “of the religions of the desert,” i.e. the monotheistic religions. This non-European aspect is, according to them, dangerous to the survival of European culture. Christianity is also condemned as an obstacle to realizing one’s true self. This rejection of Christianity has as its corollary a virulent Nietzschean anti-Christianity, as this extract from “Blood Victory,” by the English group Death in June, shows: “On your pale history / Jesus bids us bleed / Blood Victory ... Crushed in the corner / Piercing and transfixed .../ Mary’s pallid sow / Jesus bids me shine? / Blood Victory / Blood Victory / Loki bids me gleam / Hurrah!28

The bands have also been influenced by the idealization of the Indo-Europeans by authors such as Evola and the heirs to his ideas. This is a quasi-mystic and traditionalist conception (rejecting the idea of evolution) of an ethnic character, in opposition to Dumézil’s vision in which the Indo-Europeans are the testimony of a chapter of human history. This ethnocentrism is also related to Spenglerian ideas regarding the non-universality of cultures. These groups wish to protect European culture from multiculturalism, or even to recreate a European culture divested of its non-European acquisitions. This ethnocentrism is found in the desire of these groups to create a music that is purely European. Consequently, these groups oppose war in Europe—“between brothers,” to repeat an expression used by the group Sol Invictus—which hinders the birth of a European conscience.

This ethnocentrism is also manifested in a fascination with the North. Nordic symbols and references are ubiquitous in this scene: the use of runes, lyrics inspired by the Eddas, names of labels or the groups themselves (LOKI Foundation, Skald, etc.). Runic magic is viewed as a European path to awakening, the indigenous spiritual tradition of Europe. It is therefore not surprising to see that some of these groups are linked to Asatru, Edred Thorsson’s Rune-Gild, or John Yeowell’s Odinic Rite. Ian Read, the leader of the British group Fire and Ice, is also the director of the English version of the journal Rûna, the official publication of the Rune-Gild. Connections with Odinists are also formed by the participation of certain “priests” and “priestesses” in the recording of albums. The Dutch Freya Aswynn was involved in the recording of the albums of the groups Current 93, Sixth Comm, and above all Fire and Ice.

These groups believe that European civilization originates from the North. With this belief, they take up some of the racist German ideas of the beginning of the twentieth century, affirming the Nordic origin of European civilization. They are also interested in ideas of the ethnic unity of the Europeans. This liking for Indo-European studies leads them to sink their culture more deeply into this domain, which is often lacunary or nonexistent.

^ Analysis of the message of the Euro-pagan scene

The analysis of our sources shows a consistency in the message. It is therefore possible to derive a certain number of ideological points, but it should be noted that not all the groups or performers necessarily exhibit all of the themes analyzed below. For example, the Austrian musician Gerhard Petak—who for a time used the pseudonym “Kadmon”—has never had an ideologically oriented message, even if Goodrick-Clarke states the contrary.29 A few traits follow.

One of the major characteristics of this scene is an ethnocentrism, which develops from paganism. This consists of a critique of all forms of standardization, homogenization, miscegenation, and mixing the cultures (all of which must have an Indo-European and non-Christian origin). Miscegenation could cause the destruction of cultures, particularly European culture, the object of all the attention. This is believed more and more in cultural and historical terms, and less and less in biological terms, as we see in the development of the New Right.30

This ethnocentrism is coupled with a European nationalism, which often remains hidden, though not in the explicit title of the compilation ^ The Orb Weaver – Notre domicile est l’Europe, a disc which includes Euro-pagan and non-Euro-pagan bands playing the same kind of music, released in 2001 on the Thaglasz label and distributed by the Death in June fan club. This ethnocentrism is an important point of interest, if not indeed the main subject of this scene. Albin Julius, from the Austrian group Der Blutharsch, does not hesitate in affirming that he has always been interested in European culture and tradition, and never in other cultures. He considers Europe as the center. He acknowledged in 1999 that this ethnocentrism is highly present in the music of his project. These groups therefore condemn multicultural society, seen as the manifestation of the decline of European values and the victory of corrupting western universalism. The United States, a nation of rootless people with no culture of their own, and their multicultural hegemonic anti-model, is said to both represent and spread this decline. This notion of identity on the defensive is highly important. In fact, it is at the basis of the ideas of this movement, and is also defended by American groups such as Blood Axis and to some extent Non. They see a common cultural identity for Europe as a shield against multiculturalism. However, these groups, in keeping with the Europeanist extreme right, insist on the necessity of preserving the diversity of the identities of the European peoples.

These groups, with a few exceptions, avoid racist positions in the biological sense of the term. But the rejection of multicultural society is coupled with the praise of a radical cultural differentialism that rejects cultural and physical interbreeding. A great majority of them are devoid of anti-Semitism, even though a radical fringe of the public has been seduced by anti-Semitism. For example, the French fanzine C’est un rêve pays homage to the anti-Semitic authors Louis Ferdinand Céline and Abel Bonnard, and celebrates the appearance of the French anti-Semites Emmanuel Ratier and Henry Coston in the Encyclopédie des pseudonymes.31 In the United States, Boyd Rice of Non participated in the broadcasts organized by the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), an American neo-fascist splinter group that advocates ethnic separatism.

This message goes hand in hand with another, elitist message. The master of the self, the Superman, is an important theme for some of the performers in this scene, who believe themselves to be part of a self-proclaimed elite, the rest of the population being the masses. In fact, although some of these people may have a poor mastery of the Nietzschean concept of the Superman, this elitist message has been present in most of these circles since their origin. The message is more convincing among the groups of the first generation. The recent bands very often give an impression of superficial knowledge when they perform, but it is only an impression. The praise of the figure of the “warrior” is also often present in this elitist message. In this category of “warrior” groups, we often find groups sharing members, such as Death in June, Der Blutharsch, Non, and Tehom. However, among them only one musician, from Tehom, has fought in a war: the war of independence of his native Croatia, against their Bosnian and Serb neighbors.

To this elitist message is added another form of inegalitarianism, with a naturalistic content dominated by social Darwinism and misanthropy. The “deification” of the laws of nature by certain groups allows this to be labeled as social/racial Darwinism. This doctrine emerges from the observation that nature is hard on the weak animals, which serve as food for the predators. It is therefore right, in the opinion of these groups, to imitate nature and respect its laws by getting rid of weak individuals. Boyd Rice has professed such beliefs, citing the French raciologist Arthur de Gobineau and the Nazi theoretician Alfred Rosenberg in the booklet for his album Blood and Flame, released in 1986. This biological message is held above all by the American groups affiliated with Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan (in particular Non, but also to a lesser extent Radio Werewolf and Neither/Neither World).32

The Euro-pagan groups have developed a line of thought that is both revolutionary and conservative, in which individualism, materialism, and economism are considered as the manifestations of the despised modernity. They are perceived as the factors of decadence of the “modern spirit.” These groups advocate a return to the spiritual and traditional values unique to Europe. But this revolutionary-conservative ideology only concerns a minority of the Euro-pagan scene. These are groups or musicians influenced by Italian futurism, particularly by the writings of the theoretician Marinetti.

The groups close to the Church of Satan developed a different vision. Here, we are in the presence of an arrogant “cult of man,” glorifying himself in his pride. These groups, following LaVey’s “teachings,” saw personal accomplishment in terms of a radical egoistic individualism. As a result, anything that could hinder personal development was rejected. The combined influences of Stirnerian egoism and the libertarianism of Ayn Rand—both major influences for Anton LaVey—are blatant. They encourage personal accomplishment, thanks to egoism, and the immediate satisfaction of desires.

Since the beginning of the 2000s, part of this scene evolved along the lines of the European New Right, around a form of radical alternative to both the right and the left. The neo-pagan message even sometimes gave way to the promotion of a form of perennialism, meaning a complete reversal of its original perspectives. Others performed self-criticism, such as the leader of Sol Invictus, Tony Wakeford, who acknowledged having been close to the British revolutionary nationalists after having denied it for a decade. Today he considers this period of his life as a mistake.

Among the development that took place in this last decade, an exceptional case is that of Michael Moynihan: on the one hand, he refers more and more to the work of Alain de Benoist, and on the other hand, he has become an adept in völkisch thought. His ideas, expressed in the journal Tyr, are in keeping with a neo-völkisch or “folkish” worldview. The worldview he endorses in Tyr

means to reject the modern, materialist reign of ‘quantity over quality,’ the absence of any meaningful spiritual values, environmental devastation, the mechanization and over-specialization of urban life, and the imperialism of corporate monoculture, with its vulgar ‘values’ of progress and efficiency. It means to yearn for the small, homogeneous tribal societies that flourished before Christianity—societies in which every aspect of life was integrated into a holistic system. What we represent: Resacralization of the world versus materialism; folk/traditional culture versus mass culture; natural social order versus an artificial hierarchy based on wealth; the tribal community versus the nation-state; stewardship of the earth versus the ‘maximization of resources’; an harmonious relationship between men and women versus the ‘war between the sexes’; handicrafts and artisanship versus industrial mass-production.33

Michael Moynihan and the editing team also define themselves, in issue 2 of Tyr, as radical traditionalists adopting a fairly loose Evolian heritage,34 and refuse the label of Nazi or fascist. Logically enough, they consider these movements as manifestations of the despised modernity. This rejection of modernity is found in other domains. In keeping with the left wing tendencies of industrial music, the Euro-pagan scene has developed a definite ecological message. For example, Tony Wakeford acknowledges that “man has severed the link uniting him to nature. We must stop considering one another in terms of races and classes.”35

In this article, we have studied the emergence of an underground musical movement with an esoteric and right wing culture which has been strengthened by feelings of loss of identity among a sector of young European adults. This is a music 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. “Euro-pagan” music can be considered as an identitarian construction of music, a music that is typically European. Claude Lévi-Strauss remarks that “identity amounts less to postulation or affirmation than to remaking, reconstructing.” Further on, he states that identity is in fact nothing but a “sort of virtual center.”36 In this sense, Euro-pagan music is an identitarian music, a music of the identity, merging with the European world, or even with the Indo-European world. This music can be defined as the support for a cultural rooting, European civilization and its traditions, folklores, paganism being viewed in religious terms as an ethnic religion, meaning that it is both rooted in a geographic area—Europe—and specific to an ethnicity, the Europeans being considered as the direct descendents of the Indo-Europeans.

We are also in the presence of a “diluted esotericism.” That is, we have noticed that some of these groups merely make use of esoteric themes and symbols, without adhering to this metaphysical way of thinking. This is simply because these groups, in contrast with some other groups mentioned above, absolutely do not have a mastery of esoteric subjects. However, the ideas of this scene are relatively consistent: “consistent” because they belong to the beliefs of the pagan radical right, and “relatively” because there are ideological differences between them. However, the discursive syncretism peculiar to these circles makes it possible to transcend these contradictions. We cannot speak of fascism regarding this scene, because even if it uses the ideas of authors such as the Ernst Jünger of the 1920s, it also refers to authors of the extreme right who are opposed to these same regimes. Furthermore, the groups refuse to be identified with Skinheads.

Finally, these groups are monitored by the police and by anti-fascist groups. Some of them have complained in interviews of being the object of investigation by police forces that take such activity very seriously, especially in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This is the case, for example, with groups such as Blood Axis in the United States and Der Blutharsch in Austria. Albums have even been banned, such as Death in June’s album Brown Book in Germany; this band’s concerts were also cancelled in the early 2000s in Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. These cancellations were made under pressure from anti-fascist movements, but also under the pressure of certain local authorities, in Switzerland for example. Although interest in this musical genre may wax or wane, both this kind of music and the publications associated with it do continue to exist, and therefore to meet identitarian needs.

* Doctor of political science. Diploma from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lille. Author of ^ La musique europaïenne: ethnographie politique d’une subculture de droite (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2006), Preface by Jean-Yves Camus; Pan n’est pas mort : La Nouvelle Droite et le paganisme (pending publication), preface by Pierre-André Taguieff. In collaboration with E. Kreis: “Le conspirationnisme ufologique,” Politica Hermetica, no. 19 (2005); “The gods looked down: la musique ‘industrielle’ et le paganisme,” Sociétés, no. 88-2 (2005); “Introduction à la Révolution conservatrice allemande (1918-1932),” Zénon, no. 2 (2005); “Musique, ésotérisme et politique: naissance d’une contre-culture de droite,” Politica Hermetica, no. 17 (2003).

1 Alain Darré, “Prélude. Pratiques musicales et enjeux de pouvoir,” in A. Darré (ed.), ^ Musique et politique: Les répertoires de l’identité (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 1996), 13.

2 The term rock identitaire is associated with the Skinhead phenomenon, though by no means exclusively.

3 Some of these groups are more heterodox in their interests, also incorporating themes and imagery having to do with Yukio Mishima, Tibetan Buddhism, and other non-European themes.

4 Massimo Introvigne, ^ Enquête sur le satanisme (Paris : Dervy, 1997), 281-291.

5 “Entretien avec Robert Taylor, ancien cadre des Minutemen et fondateur d’une communauté odiniste,” in XXX, Ainsi parle l’extrême droite américaine (Nantes : Ars Magna, 2005), 7-12.

6 Some of these trends are found, in varying forms, in Russia too. According to Stephen Shenfield, for example, in 2005 “a hard rock festival was held in Moscow under the auspices of Putin’s United Russia. To attract skinheads, the program featured Sergei “Spider” Troitsky, head of the band Corrosion of Metal, who has long been known for his links with extreme nationalists.” Shenfield reports this as a new trend, which represents Russian President Putin’s attempt to “domesticate” skinheads and nationalists in Russia. See Stephen Shenfield, Johnson’s Russia List: JRL Research and Analytical Supplement 34 (March 2006), at

7 The “Conservative Revolution” is a highly cultural current of thought which developed in Germany after 1918 in opposition to the Weimar Republic, and which is characterized by a refusal of democracy and parliamentarianism. Although it dominated the cultural climate of Germany between 1918 and 1933, it was sharply divided into a multitude of factions. Armin Mohler counted more than 430 groups, in a list that was by no means exhaustive. This current of thought brought together such diverse personalities as the writers Thomas Mann (in his earlier days), Stefan George, Gottfried Benn, Ernst von Salomon, and Ernst Jünger; the philosophers Oswald Spengler and Martin Heidegger; Karl Haushofer, the father of geopolitics; the economist Werner Sombart; the lawyers Carl Schmitt and Friedrich Hielscher; the teacher Alfred Bäumler; and the political activists Edgar Julius Jung, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and Ernst Niekisch. Mohler distinguishes five “leading groups” present at the core of this nebula: the Völkischen; the “young conservatives”; the “national revolutionaries”; the Bundischen (“league members”); and the “peasant movement” (a term which refers to the peasant uprising in the province of Schleswig-Holstein, the region bordering Denmark, in 1928). Armin Mohler, La Révolution Conservatrice en Allemagne de 1918 à 1932 (Puiseaux : Pardès 1993).

8 Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, ^ The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology (New York University Press, 1993).

9 On the album Brown Book, NER, 1987, the “Horst Wessel Lied” was renamed “Brown Book.”

10 Thierry Jolif, “Rencontre avec Michael Moynihan du groupe Blood Axis,” ^ Lutte du peuple, no. 32 (Summer 1996), 15.

11 See Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels, Les Matins des Magiciens, (Paris: Gallimard, 1960), published in English as The Dawn of Magic and as The Morning of the Magicians in a variety of editions.

12 Pierre-André Taguieff, La foire aux illuminés : Esotérisme, théorie du complot, extrémisme (Paris: Mille et une nuits, 2005), 262.

13 James Ridgeway, Blood in the Face (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1990), 168.

14 “I have been interested in extreme politics since my early adolescence. I subscribed to a communist revolutionary journal at age 14, and shortly afterwards I wrote to the NSDAP/AO for information.” Jolif, “Rencontre avec...”, 15.

15 See American Racial Nationalist Library,

16 Pierre-André Taguieff, ^ Sur la Nouvelle droite (Paris: Descarte et Cie., 1994), IX. GRECE is a think tank that was situated for a long time at the extreme revolutionary and Europeanist right wing, before distancing itself from such ideas when it departed from its most radical elements in the mid 1980s. One of its constant doctrines is a virulent anti-Americanism. GRECE still promotes a Europeanist nationalism capable of fighting against American hegemonism. It also rejects the Western model of political liberalism. Its anti-conformism makes it difficult to classify within the field of political science and/or the history of ideas.

17 Alain de Benoist, “Priests, Warriors, and Cultivators: An Interview with Georges Dumézil,” ^ Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition, 1 (Atlanta: Ultra, 2002), 41-50. First published in 1978 in Figaro Dimanche.

18 Alain de Benoist, “Thoughts on God,” Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition, 2 (2004), 65-77, and French translation by Alain de Benoist, “Un mot en quatre lettres,” Eléments, 95 (June 1999), 18-22.

19 Charles Champetier, “On Being Pagan: Ten Years Later. An Interview with Alain de Benoist,” ^ Tyr, 2 (2004), 77-110. First published in Eléments, 89 (July 1997), 9-21, with the title “Comment peut-on être païen? Entretien avec Alain de Benoist.”

20 Thierry Jolif (ed.), “Evola envers et contre tous!”, Dualpha: Revue politique, historique et littéraire, special issue no. 4 (February 2001).

21 Joscelyn Godwin, ^ The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance (London: Thames & Hudson, 2002).

22 This concept was developed by the French sociologist Michel Maffesoli.

23 Prudence Jones & Nigel Pennick, A History of Pagan Europe (London: Routledge, 1995), 212.

24 The völkisch movement is a form of Germanic neo-paganism that emerged in Germany and Austria during the second half of the 19th century. “Volk” refers to a homogeneous people as a whole, with a particular sympathy for those who live in the countryside. It can be understood as a folkloric and racial nostalgia for a mythicized German prehistory.

25 This filiation is studied in Stéphane François, “L’extrême droite ‘folkiste’ et l’antisémitisme.” Pending publication.

26 Paul Zawadzki, “Le nationalisme comme religion séculière,” in Gil Delannoi and P.A. Taguieff (ed.), ^ Nationalisme en perspective (Paris: Berg International, 2001), 288.

27 Mircea Eliade, Le sacré et le profane (Paris: Gallimard, 1985).

28 Death In June, “Blood Victory,” The World That Summer, NER, 1986.

29 Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun : Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity (New York/London: New York University Press, 2002), 208-209.

30 Taguieff, Sur la Nouvelle droite, 257-258.

31 C’est un rêve, I(Spring 1994)3, 2.

32 Boyd Rice, the musician of Non, was a “priest” in the Church of Satan. Nikolas Schreck of Radio Werewolf was LaVey’s son-in-law. Admittedly, LaVey’s daughter Zeena had “disowned” her father by this time.

33 Text appearing in the preface of each issue.

34 XXX, “Editorial,” Tyr, 2 (2004), 7.

35 XXX, “Entretien avec Sol invictus,” D-Side, no. 2 (January-February 2001), 63.

36 Claude Lévi-Strauss, L’identité (Paris: Grasset, 1977), 331-332.

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