A Review of Welf Herfuth’s A Life in the Political Wilderness
By Keith Preston
A NEW title issued by the Portuguese publishing firm Finis Mundi Press (1), Welf Herfurth’s, A Life in the Political Wilderness, is unquestionably one of the most interesting politically oriented books I have encountered in quite some time. It is the work of a remarkable individual whom I am also pleased to call a friend. This book, which includes an introduction by Troy Southgate and a preface by Dr. Tomislav Sunic, is partly autobiographical, partly analytical and partly polemical. Welf is a thirty-year veteran of radical nationalist political activism, and has collected a treasure trove of insights from his many varied experiences over the decades.
Welf Herfurth was born in West Germany and grew up in a small rural community until his family relocated to Iran when he was a teenager. As a 17-year-old, Welf witnessed the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, and subsequently returned with his family to Germany. He became politically active with the NPD not long afterward because of his interest in the cause of German reunification. From the start of his political life onward, Welf experienced persecution by left-wing fanatics, even having eggs thrown at him during the very first political rally he ever attended. While traveling in South America during the early 1980s, Herfurth became aware of the pernicious effect of U.S. foreign policy in that region and throughout much of the globe and abandoned his previous pro-American sentiments. He was dismissed from three different jobs in West Germany because of his political activities. Eventually settling in Australia and becoming a successful businessman, Welf has been involved in dissident politics in that country for a quarter century, even achieving high level positions in party politics and working in parliament. Along the way, he has also continued to travel extensively, having visited nearly seventy different countries.
A Life in the Political Wilderness is a collection of thirteen essays discussing many of the major issues of our time from a decidedly politically incorrect perspective. These issues include the mass media, economics, international relations, political repression, culture, women, questions of political strategy, immigration and race. An aspect of Herfurth’s political odyssey that I predictably find to be the most fascinating is his embrace of the philosophy of National-Anarchism (2) after more than twenty years of participation in party politics, even to the point of spending six figure amounts of his own money on his partisan activities. Indeed, his hard-earned insights into the futility of participation in the “democratic process” reminds me a bit of similar insights gained by the classical anarchists Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Johann Most after having served in the French and German parliaments, respectively.
A refreshing aspect of Welf’s outlook is its positive and optimistic nature. Unlike many nationalists, he refrains from denigrating or attacking other races and cultures, and indeed expresses a profound respect for the many variations of human culture that he has experienced during the course of his travels. Welf writes disdainfully of the effect of American cultural imperialism on the world’s historic cultures and civilizations. One of the illustrations he is fond of using involves his experience of observing a McDonald’s in Saigon and Vietnamese kids imitating American “gangsta” rappers. One of the book’s essays, The Paris Hilton Syndrome, provides a powerful Evola-influenced critique of American popular culture symbolized as it is by the nation’s reigning bimbo-supremo. While sharply observant and critical of the effect of mass Third World immigration on Western nations, Herfurth avoids falling into the trap of the “kill ‘em all, send ‘em back” fantasies and deification of past “radical right” movements common to some within the white nationalist milieu. His proposed solutions to the immigration crisis are instead nuanced, practical, forward-looking, and heavily influenced by the “ethnic federalism” concept advanced by Alain De Benoist.
Indeed, Welf Herfurth’s suggestions to contemporary “alternative right” movements might be summarized to a large degree with the slogan, “Go left, young man!” He advises activists of the present day radical Right to adopt the symbolism, style and many of the issues of the radical Left. He asks the question of why, for instance, the Left should have a monopoly on environmentalism? On many economic questions, he follows the lead of many of the nationalist parties of Europe in taking essentially left-wing positions. Aside from their immigration restrictionist views, the BNP, National Front, and NPD are arguably the most left-wing parties in their respective nations on economic matters.
Herfurth likewise points to the struggle of the Tibetans and the Palestinians to preserve their traditional ethno-cultures and national sovereignties in the face of political and demographic aggression by the Chinese Communist Party or the Zionist state. He notices the similarities between their struggle and the situation of those of us in the West and asks why the Left should dominate the “Free Tibet” or Palestinian statehood movements in Western countries. Welf and his fellow New Right and National-Anarchist activists in Australia have participated in left-wing demonstrations and activities, much to the frustration of the more conventional Left. This approach has likewise been utilized by the “free nationalist” or “autonomous nationalist” groups in Germany.
A particularly insightful aspect of Welf’s writing involves his critique of modern systems of “liberal democracy.” His ideas on this question are heavily influenced by Carl Schmitt and he discusses how the meaning of “democracy” in political discourse has shifted over time. Previously, “democracy” was principally a synonym for party politics, elections, and parliamentary debate. Herfurth notes that Iran has all of these things but is not regarded as a “democracy.” Free speech was once considered a core component of democracy, yet Germany is considered to be a democratic regime despite having as many political prisoners as some Middle Eastern autocracies. Welf examines the heretical question of why this is so.
He concludes that the meaning of “democracy” in the West has shifted from its previous emphasis on parliamentary politics and the classical liberal ideal of achieving the good society through political competition and open debate and has instead become synonymous with mere personal hedonism. A nation is judged to be “democratic” not on the basis of its institutional procedures or protection of political rights but according to such criteria as the frequency of its Pride Marches, the amount of public nudity it permits, and its efforts to eradicate “hate.” By this standard, a state could exhibit the legal norms and level of toleration of political dissent of Enver Hoxha’s Albania (3) while still maintaining its status as a “democracy” so long as hate speech is prohibited, abortion on demand is permitted, and spectacles such as the Folsom Street Fair (4) are allowed to flourish.
While reading this book, I was amazed by the fact that Welf and I have come to nearly identical conclusions on so many questions but from opposite ends of the political spectrum. During the years of the 1980s and 1990s while Welf was involved with the NPD or One Nation, I was involved with CISPES (5), the IWW, the WSA-IWA (6), the Greens, the ACLU, the U.S. Libertarian Party, and other not exactly rightist organizations. Then as now, my primary areas of interest were the growth of plutocracy in the United States and the declining economic condition of the working to middle classes, aggressive war carried out by the American empire, the ongoing expansion of the police state in the name of fighting crime, drugs, or guns (and, subsequently, terrorism), and the all-pervasive statism endemic to modern societies which seemingly has no end. My experience of coming from the far Left to the New Right, National-Anarchism and other overlapping perspectives was triggered by my realization that the “far Left” in its present incarnation is actually the mirror image of the ruling class it claims to oppose.
The values of the present day hard left are a kind of caricature of the norms of the liberal establishment that approaches the level of parody. A particularly obvious example is the antifa phenomena. The antifa ideology differs in no particularly significant way from that of the establishment in the sense that both regard differentiation along the lines of race, gender and other taboo areas to be the ultimate moral transgression, and that fighting discrimination and “hate” is the principal social and political value. Further, I became aware that this radical egalitarian ideology was in fact being used to justify the ever-expanding statism and aggressive warfare (what the Marxists call a “superstructure”) of which I was so critical. Additionally, I came to realize that my own ideals were essentially an outgrowth of the wider cultural and intellectual heritage of the West and that the unrestrained importation of immigrants with no similar cultural heritage was not compatible with those ideals. Finally, I came to understand the role of mass immigration as a weapon being utilized for the sake of strengthening the state and the plutocracy at the cost of the dispossession of the working to middle classes and the lower proletariat and lumpenproletarian orders alike.
Like Professor Gottfried (see 7 and 8), I consider the state itself to be the source of many of our present day problems. As I have written elsewhere (9):
The state by itself does not comprise the full body of the elite or the ruling class as a whole. Rather, the state is the core institution through which layered networks of systems of institutional power interact. The political class is merely the highest body of the ruling class, its top layer. The state contains within itself multiple layers and contending factions. It is the state through which the other core institutions of ruling class power such as banking and finance, international commerce, industrial corporations, systems of mass propaganda (i.e. education and the media), the legal caste, other professional castes such as medicine (“the white coat priesthood”), and military and police power are coordinated.
As a consequence of this viewpoint, I consider the eradication of the states that are imposing the twisted ideology of “totalitarian humanism” (10) upon us to be the key to our civilization’s salvation. My pessimistic view of human nature leads me to the conclusion that systems of centralized authority are inherently dangerous and cannot be controlled simply by the ideological enlightenment of the political class. It must also be recognized that to at least some degree immigration is a done deal in the West and that cultural and ideological diversity is here to stay. Indeed, even among those of us who resist the reigning ideological paradigm there is a great deal of diversity (for instance, there seems to be about as many branches of the alternative right as there are adherents of the alternative right). Clearly, all of these things need to be considered when examining the question of what a “post-postmodern” political order in the West might look like. Hence, there is a need for smaller scale, less bureaucratic institutions that are capable of accommodating genuine irreconcilable differences among population groups.
Over the past decade, I have tried to promote and apply many of the same ideas that Welf Herfurth similarly advocates. Consequently, I have developed a kind of “alternative anarchism” that incorporates many of the core ideas of the present day radical right or alternative right into a wider anti-statist philosophical paradigm that also draws from the many different strands of anti-state thought and even aspects of the radical Left. To a great degree, the alternative right of today is in the same position as the classical socialists of the nineteenth century or the New Left during the 1950s in that the alternative right is now the true radicalism or true anti-establishmentarianism to be found in Western societies. Many amazing parallels exist along these lines.
My approach thus far seems to be working as I have achieved a fairly large audience for my own outlook not only among the many scattered elements of the “far right,” but also among conventional libertarians, some ordinary conservatives, some liberals, some antiwar leftists who take their anti-imperialism seriously, some left-wing anarchists who take their anti-statism seriously, some Green decentralist or bioregionalists, some nationalists or neo-tribalists among the racial and ethnic minority groups, and even some libertine-individualist types who oppose the puritanical moralism of PC and the therapeutic state. The end game of all of this is, of course, to build an opposition political movement (11) that is large enough and powerful to eventually topple the entire institutional and ideological apparatus of totalitarian humanism. (Hear my recent interviews with Robert Stark on this question 12 and 13.)
It may well be that the ideas advanced by National-Anarchism and related tendencies are the last hope for our civilization given the failures of conventional rightist politics. If so, Welf Herfurth’s A Life in the Political Wilderness is in many ways the handbook for approaching political activism in the twenty-first century.
A video of a talk Welf gave in San Francisco last year concerning his ideas and experiences is available online (14). Likewise, his book may be purchased through either the publisher (15) or from Amazon.Com (16).
I also have a limited number of copies for sale as well. I may be contacted by means of the Contact page on http://attackthesystem.com/
Reprinted with acknowledgements to the Alternative Right web-site http://www.alternativeright.com/