Friday, November 16, 2012

No True Pagan: The David Duke Litmus Test (Two Case Studies)

While some people concern themselves with the fanciful vagaries of "crypto-fascism", we here at EGREGORES prefer to focus on the real thing. It turns out that if you really want to find people who claim to be Pagans (or Heathens, or Hellenes, or Traditionalists) but who are, in fact, Fascists and/or Nazi sympathizers just looking for a new way to peddle their old poison, it's really not too hard to spot them. Just check to see whether or not they are standing next to David Duke.

Anyone who would be caught dead with David Duke is No True Pagan in my book.

But how, you ask, does one apply the much vaunted David Duke Litmus Test in practice? To answer that question, lets take a look at two case studies: Galina Lozko (leader of the pseudo-Pagan "Native Faith" movement in the Ukraine), and Greg Johnson (editor of the proudly white supremacist Counter-Currents website, and who claims to be critical of Christianity and sympathetic to Paganism).

What might happen if, for example, one were to do the simplest possible google search, and just put in two names, one of them being "david duke" (no quotes in the actual search - nothing fancy) the other being the name of the person to whom the David Duke Litmus Test is being applied? The results for "galina lozko" and "greg johnson" are given below:

The search: lozko david duke

Very first hit:

The search: johnson david duke

Very first hit:

Further evidence of the linkage between Galina Lozko and Daid Duke:

Further evidence of the linkage between Greg Johnson and David Duke:


Unknown said...

>No True Pagan
So what's true pagan, Apuleus?

ai said...

Apuleius - Halyna Lozko considers herself a radical conservative, and that is an apt description of her political views. Her racialist, pro-White leanings have brought her into the company of neo-fascists. Whether she is one herself depends on one's definition of fascism.

I don't see how that disqualifies her from being a "true Pagan." She is and has long been a Pagan, and is one of the best known public Pagans (/Heathens/Traditionalists/Native Believers) in Ukraine. Pagans come in all political stripes, and a "litmus test" that would narrow the "true" Pagans down to one's own political preferences has merely rhetorical value, not analytical value.

That said, it's useful to know which side of the political fence some people fall.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Lozko's racist ideas are not only thoroughly modern, but they are also firmly rooted in modern Christianity. Paganism is an ancient religious tradition that has nothing whatsoever to do with racism. Of course people are free to declare themselves as Pagan regardless of whether or not their beliefs and practices have anything to do with historical Paganism. Just as people are free to declare themselves as Martians, without ever having stepped foot on Mars.

denis said...

Apuleus, anti-Semitism was not uncommon in Ancient Mediterranean. By this standard you are less of a Pagan than David Duke :)

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Ancient attitudes towards the Jews varied a great deal, but there was nothing like "antisemitism". In fact the Jews were widely admired for their ancient traditions and for their strict adherence to a demanding set of rules laid down by their God. Judaism was quite widespread in the Roman world and significant Jewish communities found in pretty much all major urban centers - as a result of successful (and unhindered) proselytizing by the Jews.

denis said...

Apuleus, you obviously didn’t read the link I provided. If you really believe that killing thousands of Jews in only a single pogrom in 38 CE in Alexandria is nothing like "antisemitism", then I don’t know what to call it. Are you serious? How many Jews should be killed for it to qualify as anti-Semitism?

>Jews were widely admired …
I encourage you and whoever is interested to read the Jewish Encyclopedia, which specifically states: The Jews, having met with nations who disputed their claim of superiority, were, in the Hellenized Orient and later on in the Roman world, the targets of hatred combined with contempt. The charges preferred against them were that they hated all other men; that they were clannish (ἀμιζία) and irreligious (ἀθεότης); that they had not participated in the work of civilization; that they had become a menace to the Roman empire; that their bodies emitted a peculiar odor; that they sacrificed annually a Greek; and that they were descendants of lepers, who had been expelled from Egypt. In fact, it says that the term anti-Semitism cannot be applied to the pre-19 century phenomenon simply because it’s a later term. Please, read the article. Also I encourage you to read about Apion.

My observation is that Eastern European Pagans are more right-leaning, while American Pagans seem to be predominantly leftists. But as you say, Pagans come in all political stripes.

ai said...

@ denis:

I think you're right in this observation; it accords with the scholarly literature in comparative Pagan studies (including my own work on East European Paganism).

And I agree with you that ethnic prejudice, including its racist forms, have long and deep histories. (Racism, after all, is really just the variant of ethnic prejudice that assumes that ethnic differences are biologically, hereditarily, or "naturally" based.)

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Religious tolerance was a fact of life in the ancient world, because religious toleration is just as much taken for granted by polytheists as it is completely foreign to monotheists. The scholarly literature supporting this view is well established, dating back to the great Enlightenment thinkers Hume, Voltaire, and Gibbon, and including contemporary scholars including J.B. Bury, Ramsay MacMullen, Perez Zagorin, Charles Freeman, James B. Rives, and many others.

And nothing remotely resembling the modern phenomenon of racism existed in the ancient world, either. A major reason for this is that all ancient civilizations were extremely cosmopolitan, and "Greece" and "Rome" not European cultures at all, but rather Mediterranean cultures that were based as much in Africa and Asia as they were in Europe.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

And while we're at it, lets take at look at Jonas Lendering's little essay on "Ancient Antisemitism". In the first place, he relies quite heavily on Bible stories. What's up with that?

And when Jonas tries to show us a genuine ancient example of what he calls "an irrational hatred of Jews", he cites Philostratus, who wrote of the Jews that they were "a race that has made its own a life apart and irreconcilable, that cannot share with the rest of mankind in the pleasures of the table nor join in their libations or prayers or sacrifices, are separated from ourselves by a greater gulf than divides us from Susa or Bactra or the more distant Indies."

But does it amount to "irrational hatred" to simply state that those who refuse to eat with others, or to participate in the same religious holidays that everyone else participated in, are acting in an anti-social manner?

Lendering makes it worse by declaring that Philostratus' judgement of the Jews as anti-social "is probably the strongest expression of Judaeophobia in Antiquity"!!! Which is truly remarkably if we compare Philostratus to, say, Kaiser Wilhelm, who wrote:

"Kein Deutscher darf das je vergessen noch ruhen, bis diese Parasiten von deutschem Boden vertilgt und ausgerottet sind! Dieser Giftpilz an der deutschen Eiche." ("No German can ever forget or rest until these parasites have been destroyed and exterminated from German soil.")

But Wilhelm did not even stop there. He could not resist proposing how to exterminate the Jews: "ich glaube, das beste wäre Gas." ("I think gas would be best.")

Katy Anders said...

I ran into something similar when I began listening to black metal. I don't now how much you know about it, but in northern Europe, black metal started out with satanic leanings and turned into something else - sometimes veering towards the Norse gods, sometimes veering towards something we would recognize as paganism.

That combined with it natural tendency towards opposing Christianity and imperialism.

This in turn swung many of the black metal folks straight into nativism.

It happens with paganism, and it seems to happen in the same way it happened with black metal. When you have these elements floating around - especially where they might be grabbed up in a superficial or unscrupulous way - nativism, racism, and fascism are always lurking around right there in the background.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Hi Katy! I am a big fan of Black/Extreme Metal precisely because of its Pagan (and anti-Christian) content. None of the bands that I am into have any antisemitic (much less fascist or Nazi) sympathies. Examples range from Tyr to Behemoth to Dimmu Borgir to Rotting Christ

I know that there are Metal bands that are racist and antisemitic and even bands that openly pro-Nazi. But I honestly don't think there is anything in Metal that intrinsically lends itself toward racism, etc.

As far as musical genres go, there is far more evidence that classical music or folk music has racist/Nazi leanings than Metal music does. But Metal music has the quality of scaring the shit out of a lot of people, and therefore it is automatically associated, in some people minds, with other things that scare the shit out of them, like Nazis.

denis said...

Dear Apuleus, I understand that it is your blog and your rules, and you are free to answer your readers’ questions or ignore them. Here you are the host and the powers that be and all. But even at the risk of being banned from this wonderful resource on polytheology I still humbly remind you that I asked a specific question and you are trying hard to dodge it.

What I got instead is a vague hint that Jonas Lendering's sources are Jewish (untrustworthy?), and Philostratus is right in his sentiment (so the Jews were killed rightfully?).

So I reiterate the question:
Do you really believe that killing thousands of Jews in only a single pogrom in 38 CE in Alexandria is nothing like "antisemitism" and if so, how many should one kill to be considered anti-Semite?

To this I can add one more: is xenophobia, racism being just a small subset of it, such an advanced idea that the humanity had to wait until 19th century to discover it?

Please, clarify your position.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Dear Denis, First of all I assure you that I have never "banned" anyone from making comments on my blog, and I have no inclination whatsoever to make an exception in your case. You are very welcome here, and I am quite interested in what you have to say.

As far as Lendering goes, below are a couple more responses.

I do not think of the Bible as fundamentally untrustworthy because it is "Jewish", but rather because it is full of lies, and because it is full of irrational hatred and because it explicitly encourages terrible violence in the name of that hatred. On top of that it is well known that the Bible is worthless in terms of actual history.

In the case of Philostratus, he is in fact merely reporting a speech supposedly given by a Stoic philosopher named Euphrates who was apparently himself a Semite (an Egyptian born in Tyre). More importantly, however, in his speech Euphrates only mentions the Jews in order to criticize the Emperor for having led a military expedition against them! And in the third place, to repeat what I said in my earlier comment, no matter how hard one might try to "spin" Euphrates characterization of the Jews, it is a joke (and a bad one at that) to compare this with the murderousness associated with modern antisemitism.

As to the violent riots in Alexandria in 38 AD: one of the main reasons for enmity against the Jews at the time was that the Roman government granted the Alexandrine Jewish community higher status and greater privileges than the native Egyptian population! And a recent (2009) book-length scholarly study of the riots explicitly rejects the use of the terms "pogrom" and "antisemitism", because there is no clear-cut case for any parallel between these modern terms and the events in Alexandria two millennia ago (see Sandra Gambetti's The Alexandrian Riots of 38 C.E.).

denis said...

Apuleus, thank you for your kind words, but I’m still struggling trying to comprehend your position. Firstly, the Bible has nothing to do with the Alexandrian pogrom of 38 CE. I linked the article on simply because it’s a popular resource on history, but there’s a lot of other information on the topic on the web. I could have linked to the Jewish encyclopedia or plenty of other sources.

Our source on the Alexandrian pogrom of 38 CE is In Flaccum by Philo, which is an eye-witness account. The cause of the massacre is described pretty clearly: the Jews didn’t want statues of Caligula in their synagogues. Eventually, Flaccus called the Jews 'foreigners and aliens' and allowed 'any one who was inclined to proceed to exterminate the Jews as prisoners of war'.

The case couldn’t be clearer. Was any other source found in 2009 that reports a different picture?

Oh, and I found this by same (presumably) Sandra Gambetti. According to her summary there, the scientific consensus follows Philo’s account. Those who disagree, simply shift the main guilt from Greeks to Egyptians, which is irrelevant to the discussion. She specifically says: The notion that the Jews had a part in provoking riots by demanding full Alexandrian rights is no longer widely believed. So the very author you linked to says exactly the opposite to what you ascribe to her.

Please, Apuleus, let us concur that people of all religious persuasions can be anti-Semites. I don’t think we should defend people like Flaccus or Caligula simply because they were our co-religionists.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Denis, there is in fact very little that we know for sure about the Alexandria riots of 38 A.D. The only eyewitness accounts are those of Philo of Alexandria, who was, it is perhaps not irrelevant to point out. a thoroughly Hellenized Jew, as his Greek name indicates.

Philo gives two different accounts of the riots. A significant problem is that both of these accounts occur in works that have survived only in fragments. The other major problems is that what survives of these two different accounts gives two very different versions of the events. In particular, in one account Philo blames Flaccus for the violence, while in the other account he blames Gaius. Gambetti discusses these issues in sourcing in her book.

The insistence on seeing "pogroms" and "antisemitism" in ancient history is simply an anachronism, and one that is invoked for obvious reasons. Modern Christians use this trope to try to evade their responsibility as the originators of the mental disease of anti-semitism. At the same time, certain modern Heathens and Pagans also adopt this anachronism because they wrongly think of ancient polytheistic religious traditions in "racial" terms, and, therefore, wrongly assume that modern forms of racial bigotry were alive and well among ancient peoples, and that these forms of bigotry are simply "natural" expressions of human nature. I reject the notion that such forms of irrational hatred are a natural and necessary part of human nature and human societies.

denis said...

Apuleus, it is irrelevant who was guilty of permitting the massacre of Jews, Gaius or Flaccus. According to Gambetti, the scientific consensus follows Philo’s account. If you kill Jews out of hatred, it is anti-Semitism. If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it is probably a duck. Otherwise we run into a situation when one is an anti-Semite only when officially appointed, regardless of the actual behavior.

Refusing to use the term anti-Semitism because it’s a later term is like insisting that people didn’t breathe before 1772.

Concerning irrational hatred in the definition of anti-Semitism, all feeling are irrational, with hatred being an especially illustrative example. As Platonicus you should agree.

> certain modern Heathens and Pagans […]
I don’t think Galina Lozko got her anti-Semitism from Christian descriptions of Slavic pagans as anti-Semites. I have not seen any such descriptions online or in paper publications. If such evidence really existed it would already have been used by the Putinist/'liberal' mass media, which is hostile to everything pertaining to Russian ethnicity, and by the Moscow 'patriarch', who compared pre-Christian Slavs to animals in one of his speeches.

Or if it is a polite way to speak of me, I should probably explain my position on the issue. My choice of polytheism is conscious and is not based on political or other marginal considerations beyond its Weltbild (cosmology). Polytheism does not necessary lead to tolerance or environmentalism, it is not necessarily a religion for strong men (as opposed to Christianity being for weaklings). It is simply a worldview that describes the world most convincingly to me. Choosing polytheism for tolerance is as rational as becoming a Seventh Day Adventist for healthy food.

But if such myths are important for the choice of religion, it is, I concede, useless to argue against them. After all myths are not necessarily something that really happened in the past, they are supposed to be eternal and guide people. And good myths make good people. Keeping this in mind, arguing my position might be rationally justified but morally wrong :)

And I absolutely reject being somehow 'unconsciously influenced' by whatever image of historical polytheism forged by Christians, if only because I strongly prefer primary sources. The secondary sources are just that – secondary.

Todd Jackson said...

It seems there is neither a way to ban these rascals from Paganism on account of their racial politics, nor a way for them to claim Paganism on account of same. They simply become "Pagans we disagree with," and even the sources of our disagreement will be various.

What's left, perhaps, is to consider the white nationalists have raised RACE to the status of GOD. That might be a profitable discussion.

Apuleius Platonicus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Apuleius Platonicus said...

Hi Todd, I think you are on to something, if I understand you. My personal belief is that the theology of the white supremacist pseudo-Heathens is fundamentally un-Heathen and even anti-Heathen. One of the reasons that I believe this is that the whole notion of "white identity" is inextricably bound up with the development of Western Christianity, which dates back to the Carolilngian period (the era of Charlemagne). This period, in turn, is characterized by the resurgence of Christianity in Europe as a military and political power, after the long dark tea-time of the Dark Ages. And one of the signs of that resurgence was the Jihadist campaign of forcible conversions that begins with Charles Martel's military campaigns against the Heathen Saxons and Frisians back in early 8th century up to the final crushing of the last pockets of open Pagan resistance in Lithuania almost seven centuries later. No True Pagan, in my opinion, can base his or her "identity" on the very same historical process by which our spiritual ancestors were subjugated to the Cross.

Anonymous said...

It's an affront to me, especially with my "Neo" Platonist theological leanings, to see racial identity elevated to Godhood.

Doesn't the same divine sun shine upon us all? Or is there some international parliament of racially exclusive Sun Gods and Goddesses, which controls its output? This is obviously a question with theological consequences, whether one chooses to ignore them or not.

The sight of David Duke would make the turkey come back up, were it already so digested.

By the way, I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.


P.S. Todd, nice to read your words.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say NOT so digested. My bad.


Greg Johnson said...

Paganism, as I understand it, refers in its primary sense to the indigenous folk religions of pre-Christian Europe. In a broader sense, it is used to refer to all indigenous folk religions, usually polytheistic, in contrast to universalistic religions, usually monotheistic.

Of course, paganism today can mean simply opposition to Christianity, an opposition to Christianity which is usually structured by Christianity, i.e., paganism as defined by Christianity. Sometimes it is just defined by what pisses off mom, or Father Flanagan.

If, however, one actually immerses oneself in the positive content of a given pagan religion, one finds oneself compelled to think of the identity of one's folk, their past, and their future. And if one actually contemplates the future of any European people today, one should be alarmed.

European birth rates are below replacement in virtually every European land. This would not be a problem in an overpopulated world, were it not for the fact that every European country is open to non-white immigration, including Muslim immigration -- a fresh and feisty form of militant, intolerant Biblical monothesism. These non-whites are outbreeding whites, and now there are European cities with non-white majorities which 50 years ago had no non-whites at all.

It is pure ethnocentrism to presume that these people will be as indulgent of a white minority as the current white minority is indulgent of them, particularly since the media and educational system teach non-whites to blame whites for all their suffering and inadequacies.

A European pagan, without the blinders of Christian universalism (and liberal universalism is just an offspring of the Christian kind), will naturally be led to be concerned with the future of his particular folk.

The political expression of that concern is nationalism. And since all whites are in the same boat, from Norway to New Zealand, Belfast to Vladivostok, some heathens adopt a specifically racial nationalism.

None of this is necessarily connected with hate or meanness. Racial and ethnic hatred exist only where racial groups compete within the same system. Which means that multiculturalism and non-white immigration are the true sources of racial hatred, and it will only get worse if present trends are allowed to continue.

The fact that racial science is modern is really irrelevant. People have always been aware of racial and ethnic differences. Science just seeks systematically to classify and explain these differences. But from a practical and political point of view, the prescientific lifeworld is all that matters, and racial and ethnic differences are apparent there.

Beyond that, modern pagans use computers, so why not modern science?

Collin Cleary's "Asatru and the Political" should be the starting point for all future discussions of these issues:

Todd Jackson said...

Aetius, it's good seeing you again. Hard to believe it has been so long. A couple recent articles for your consideration - with a little indulgence from Apuleius for the "sidebar":

I suggest that your nausea at the sort of white self-assertion David Duke represents is a highly *trained* response, which you would not feel if it were expressed by a black man such as myself.

We - black people - cannot afford that nausea any more. It is the displacement of our own potential power with fear of the perceived power of another race. It does us no good. It weakens us in precisely the same way that affirmative action and other fawning gestures weakens us. Greg is quite correct about the demographic catastrophe that whites are experiencing, both outward and inward, and I wish them well in their resistance. If that resistance at times expresses itself in the form of hatred toward other races, I call that good practice for us, because black power must begin with an indifference toward whether another race likes us or not. Such indifference hasn't even occurred to most of us.

As far as Paganism is concerned, however, I for one would have to amend Greg's contention that "If, however, one actually immerses oneself in the positive content of a given pagan religion, one finds oneself compelled to think of the identity of one's folk, their past, and their future."

One may, and many do. Or one may not. The core of any religion, Pagan or otherwise, is the Gods - and when I say "the Gods," I permit myself to be "Pagan-centric," using that expression to denote the divine, whatever form it takes for a given person. Paganism embraces folk and culture, but it does so secondarily, and primarily as an act of conformity to the Gods; one studies the people who worshiped the Gods in antiquity in order to discern how the Gods received worship, to avoid the disrespect of novelty. To embrace folk and culture *primarily* out of a desire to imagine oneself one of the folk borders on Society for Creative Anachronism stuff. This is particularly the case where there is no real racial or ethic connection to that folk.

A few amendments follow. It depends upon the tradition. Not all traditions hold ethnic membership the same way. The Hellenes defined, and define themselves by language and education. There was no racial or ethnic boundary upon who could become Hellenized. It's clear that there were blacks among both Hellenes and, particularly, Romans. In modern Hellenismos, the predominant position of most Greek nationals is 1) that people who worship the Gods really ought to be Hellenes, and 2) that the door to becoming a Hellene is open to anyone who wishes to become one, with the understanding that becoming one is a serious process.

Second, where ethic identity does matter, I find the displacement of the actual ethnicity of the ancient folk with modern *racial* terms a dubious move at best. The Senufo are not going to accept me as Senufo because I am, simply, black. The Norsemen would not accept Greg as a Norsemen simply because he is white. A non-Scandinavian or Germanic white who embraces Asatru is doing many possible things. He is *not* embracing his heritage. This is so whether his ancestors came from Ireland or sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the moves white racist discourse frequently seems to make is to erase the difference between race and ethnicity. They are not the same. Hutu and Tutsi may happily despise each other, just like the English and the French may happily despise each other. A white Paganism, as such, can hardly be that which it aches to be: a Traditionalism.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

I just want to chime in to support Todd's very wise, in my opinion, advice to carefully distinguish between ancient and modern notions when it comes to ethnicity, nationality, "race", etc, especially with respect to how such "identities" may (or may not) interact with our religious identity as Heathen, Pagan, Hellene, etc.

Modern racial ideas, and especially those ideas associated with the white racism that developed among Europeans during the 18th century, are closely intertwined with the Christian identity of those same Europeans.

In my opinion, the true ancestors of those of us who worship the old Gods are all those who fought against the Christians, regardless of their "race" or "color". And our modern day spiritual brothers and sisters are all those who continue this resistance today - the vast majority of whom are not "white".