Black Sun, Dark Days

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press, 2002.
In this third volume of his study of the connections between Nazism and the occult traditions, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke analyses the esoteric connections of a wide range of neo Nazi movements. Two themes emerge. One is the growth of radical Nazi pagan movements, attracted to be a variety of sources including esoteric Hinduism and Nordic Neo-Paganism; along with the growth of Identity Churches based on antisemitic outgrowths of British Israelism. The other is the literature which in effect supernaturalises the Nazi Party.

One major version of this latter is what Goodrick-Clarke describes as 'The Nazi Mysteries', in which Hitler is seen as literally demonically possessed. He argues argues that this idea first arose in 1930's France, though similar ideas were being expressed in England. For example Harry Price compared Nazism to a poltergeist outbreak, and noted that Hitler shared his birth place with the Schneider brothers, two noted inter-war mediums. The idea was popularised by Pauwels and Bergier's Dawn of Magic, also published as Morning of the Magicians, one of the most influential books in the early New Age field, and a pioneer of the ancient astronaut school of writing. Literature such as this portrayed Nazism and the Holocaust as an eruption of the 'wholly other' into the rational waters of European culture, offering both a horrified fascination and an alibi. Whole areas of potentially genocidal strands of Social Darwinism were airbrushed out of European and American history in the post-war period.

Another form of this supernaturalising of the Nazis has been to suggest that they possessed super-technologies of one form or another, and Goodrick-Clarke traces this development in his study of the Nazi UFO myth, though this chapter would have benefited from a prior study of Kevin McClure's study on our website.

The last chapter discusses the rise of conspiracy theories and the role of William Cooper and David Icke in transmitting antisemitic conspiracy theories into the New Age, and their attempts to rehabilitate the notorious Protocols of/he Elders of Zion. (One result of this was the appearance of The Protocols in the New Age Section of Waterstones in Manchester a few years ago). The conspiracy-riddled UFO and Fortean fields are open to mueh of this, Magonia readers will remember the infamous 'Conspiracy Conference' addressed by among others American Nazi Eustace Mullins, and the Bulgarian Nazi-UFO conspiracy theorist Vladimir Terziski.

Much of the esoteric Hinduism of the likes of Miguel Serrano and Savitri Devi also have resonances with the New Age. The connections however may go much deeper than Goodrick-Clarke seems to realise. One major lacuna in this book is the lack of a treatment of the esoteric Nazism of WilIiam Dudley Pelley and his connections with Guy Ballard, who in turn was the intellectual godfather of much of the America 'New Age' tradition. Ballard (and in some cases directly Pelley) was a major influence on the flying saucer contactee movement, and one can see how the Aryan mythology emerges in the idea of the 'Nordics'. We can also see echoes of 'Volkish' ideology in parts of the earth mysteries movement.

There are more mainstream connections, for example the mythologist Joseph Campbell, who shared Serrano and Devi's admiration for Hinduism, Hitler and antisemitism; or the historian of religions Mircea Eliade who had been a member of the ultrafascist Romanian Iron Guard. In the post-war years these two were much more circumspect in public print than, say, Serrano (though some sources claim that Campbell served on the editorial board of the racist magazine Mankind Quarterly) but their influence was much greater. Perhaps one can argue that occult movements with their notions of spiritual elites and secret traditions are invariably anti-democratic and in the broadest sense 'fascist'.

Do such organisations pose a great threat? Goodrick-Clarke (perhaps because of his own right-wing sympathies) argues that reaction against multiculturalism might give them political space. Equally however it might create insuperable dilemmas. For example the natural ideological bedfellows for the European and American radical right are militant Islamic movements which share their hatred for feminists, gays, liberalism, secularism and above all the Jews. There have been a number of links between the two, but this ideological common ground clashes with the anti-Islamic prejudices of their grass roots members. [The same applies in reverse to leftist groups who have allied with Islamists as part of an anti-American, anti-Israel, 'anti-imperialist' platform, despite polar opposite views on social issues - Ed.]

The neo-Paganism of many of these groups sets them against the Christian right and so on. The main gainers from anti-immigrant feeling in Europe seem to be more mainstream right populism and 'post liberal' parties. (US readers might be confused here, but Continental 'liberal' parties are actually on the right of the political spectrum, for example the Danish Liberal or Left Party is quite a bit to the right of the Danish Conservative or Right Party, and there are separate sets of "Liberal Democratic" or 'Radical' parties in the centre ground) - Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 80, January 2003.

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