Rejoinder to Dr. Denys Trussell"/>
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Fairburn & the Right:
Rejoinder to Dr. Denys Trussell

2,120 words

A. R. D. “Rex” Fairburn, 1904–1957, is not usually identified with the “Right.” As a central figure in the development of a New Zealand national literature, much of the contemporary self-appointed literary establishment would no doubt wish to identify Fairburn with Marxism or liberalism, as were other leading literary friends of Fairburn’s such as the Communist R. A. K. Mason.[1]

These are the opening lines with which I introduce my analysis of Rex Fairburn from a Rightist perspective, to which Dr. Denys Trussell, Fairburn’s biographer, takes exception. As Dr. Trussell’s rejoinder indicates, my assessment of the New Zealand literary establishment is correct.

It is nice that my essay on Rex Fairburn should have drawn the attention of Dr. Trussell, who has been rightly acclaimed for his biography.[2] However, I see no validity in his attempt to portray my essay as selective and perhaps even downright dishonest, and I invite readers to compare what amounts to Dr. Trussell’s allegations with what I actually say in my essay rather than Dr. Trussell adding his own definitions and suppositions.

While Dr. Trussell asserts that precision of definition is needed for political terms, his own attempts at definition make little sense in regard to what is “Right” and “Fascist.” Why for example does Dr. Trussell assert that I am claiming D. H. Lawrence, Nietzsche, and Spengler were all “Fascists”? : “Mr Bolton’s view that D. H. Lawrence, Spengler and Nietzsche, all of whom were read by Fairburn, were fascists, is at best one-eyed, at worst untenable.”[3] Where do I make such a claim? Dr. Trussell wrongly — one might suggest, falsely — imputes statements to me that I have not made then proceeds to argue against them. It is a queer kind of reasoning, but one quite typical of New Zealand academia in the Humanities.

Indeed, Dr. Trussell seems to be obsessed with seeing me seeing Fascists everywhere. I say that these writers were “distinctly non-Left,”[4] but perhaps Dr. Trussell sees anyone who is “non-left” as “Fascist”? Perhaps this explains why he alludes in such a muddling manner to Margaret Thatcher, The Tea Party, Roger Douglas, Nazi “blood and soil” doctrine, as though these have some common ground in his dichotomy on the distinct origins of “Left” and “Right”, although the “Leftist” backgrounds of Mussolini,[5] Jacques Doriot,[6] and Hendrik de Man, [7] and the synthesis of proto-Fascism in the Proudhon Cercle,[8] for example, do not render matters so simplistically, including the connection between the “Right,” “Fascism,” anarchism, and syndicalism.

In focusing on my allusion to Fairburn having made a comment about a “fascist coup” to inaugurate Social Credit; not an anarchist society as Dr. Trussell claims, he is making a coat out of a thread. In fact, Fairburn specifically states that what he is after is “Nationalism” and “Social Credit.” He does not mention “anarchism,” nor does he describe his aims as in any way “anarchist.”

Objects: to cut out international trade as far as possible (hence, cut out war); to get out of the clutches of the League of Nations; to assert NZ’s Nationalism, and make her as far as possible a conscious and self-contained nation on her own account. I should try, for the time being, to give the thing a strong military flavor.[9]

Nonetheless, so far from trying to obscure Fairburn’s coming to certain Rightist positions from the Left, which is by no means unusual, my opening words on Fairburn were that he did described himself as an “anarchist.” I do not see why Dr. Trussell needs to impute selectivity on my part. It is Dr. Trussell who is selectively quoting, and reinterpreting, what I state. I merely state that Fairburn was an “anarchist” of a most unconventional type, and there are Rightists, as readers of Counter-Currents will know, who have historically, and presently, described themselves as “anarchists.”[10]

His “anarchism” was the type of individualism of the Right that called for a return to decentralized communities comprised of self-reliant craftsmen and farmers. His creed was distinctly nationalistic and based on the spiritual and the biological components of history and culture, both concepts being antithetical to any form of Leftism.[11]

Dr. Trussell next states that: “The fact that the interwar generation read these authors[12] widely does not prove that either their work or their readers were fascists.” Excuse my bewilderment, but where do I claim that any of them were “Fascists”? Indeed, I specifically state at some length that Fairburn not only rejected Fascism but also rejected the “Caesarism” of Spengler in favor of breaking the dictature of money via Social Credit. When writing of Fairburn’s discussion of politics with his Rightist friend Geoffrey Potocki, I state that Fairburn was attracted to a non-dogmatic, non-Marxian form of Socialism, and recommended Oscar Wilde on the subject:

Potocki would have no belief in socialism of any type other than “national socialism,” and Fairburn would find the answer to the economic question he was looking for in Social Credit. Nonetheless, the early socialist interests were part of Fairburn’s quest for a more humane system.[13]

So what precisely is Dr. Trussell’s problem? Why has he been so selective in his citations? I can only answer that, as predicted in the opening words of the essay on Fairburn, the notion that anyone creative could have Rightist tendencies is unacceptable to the Left.

Dr. Trussell claims that I allege Fairburn to be “anti-Semitic,” because Fairburn did point out the cosmopolitan character of Jews in the arts. Dr. Trussell again acts on faulty assumptions, mistaking the Right and Fascism as inherently “anti-Semitic.” He supports his non-sequitur by stating that Fairburn was an admirer of Jacob Epstein; therefore Fairburn could not be an “anti-Semitic Fascist,” although nowhere do I claim he was. I am merely pointing out that Fairburn had a perception of the role of Jews in the arts that was reflective of their nomadic character, translated more readily than others into cosmopolitanism. Fairburn was a critic of cosmopolitanism in the arts, as Dr. Trussell shows. Ezra Pound also admired Jacob Epstein, calling him a “great sculptor.” Pound also befriended Jews such as Ben Hecht, John Cournos, and Louis Zukofsky, who was later to write of Pound, “I never felt the least trace of anti-Semitism in his presence.” For his part, Pound in 1938, when he was a committed “anti-Semitic Fascist,” as many would have it, dedicated his book Guide to Culture to Zukofsky. In 1932 Pound had written of the need for “some place where men of good will can meet without worrying about creed and colour etc.”[14] But Fairburn “admired Jacob Epstein,” so there we have it . . . or what?

Dr. Trussell states that Fairburn could not have harbored “Rightist” views because of his pro-Maori sentiments. Again, the assumption is that the “Right” is necessarily white supremacist, or in the New Zealand context, must necessarily be anti-Maori. Dr. Trussell does mention that I have alluded to Fairburn’s sentiments on Maori. But I have given these view more than a passing reference, and cite them in relative detail. As Dr. Trussell will know, Fairburn’s friend Geoffrey Potocki, about whom I have also written for Counter-Currents,[15] was avidly pro-Maori and advocated policies well before they became fashionable among the Left. Indeed, such was Potocki’s admiration for Maori that he regarded them as an aristocratic race superior to Pakeha New Zealanders. Potocki advocated for Maori prior to the Left, which only started taking an interested ca. 1980s after Bruce Jesson started running a series on “Maori Sovereignty” in his newsletter, The Republican. Australian writer Percy Stephensen, on whom I have also written,[16] was an early advocate for the Aborigines. Roy Campbell opposed apartheid. So again, the allusion to Fairburn, Maori, and the “Right” makes little sense.

Since Dr. Trussell also refers to New Zealand’s free market Minister of Finance Roger Douglas, ca. 1980s; The Tea Party and Margaret Thatcher, as from the “Right,” and apparently from the same pedigree as “Fascism,” which he presumably in turn believes is synonymous with “Nazism,” then might we assume that Dr. Trussell also believes that Thatcher, Tea Party, Douglas et al., are from the same political spectrum as Hitler? Dr. Trussell, despite claiming the need for precision in defining political ideologies, just comes up with a hopeless muddle.

Why Dr. Trussell believes that I seek to portray Fairburn as “a one-dimensional misogynist of the conventional ‘right’” again makes little sense. It seems more akin to a Leftist quip than a considered argument, and appears to be based on an illusionary perception of the “Right.” Dr. Trussell seems to be jumping to huge generalizations, by implying that repudiation of feminism equates with misogyny. Fairburn’s views on feminism, like his expressions regarding Jews in the arts, are part of a complex holistic world-view, of which Dr. Trussell, despite his acumen in writing a chronology of facts on Fairburn’s life, seems oblivious.

Dr. Trussell claims that I am trying to make a case for Fairburn’s commitment to ecology being akin to Nazi “blood and soil” doctrine. It is difficult to understand Dr. Trussell’s conclusion, other than to wonder whether it is not just being stupid. Where is there any such implication? I mention that Fairburn made his speech on the subject to the Fabian Society, and that his ideal was a decentralized society in which the rural has resumed an important role. As to whether ecology is of the “Right” or “Left,” what is one to make of Ernst Haeckel, Konrad Lorenz, or Alexis Carrel? I suppose the Left now claim these as their own? The preoccupation with “Green” issues is something the Left has taken up rather late in the day, and much of it seems to be related to Trotskyite “entryism” into Green parties, but hardly consistent with Marx’s reference to the “idiocy of rural life.”

“Let’s have no more one-dimensional portrayals of Fairburn,” Dr. Trussell states, but what is his portrayal of Fairburn other than as a one-dimensional Leftist, even when the salient views of Fairburn are decidedly non-Left? Dr. Trussell’s main beef seems to be that I have rescued Fairburn from a Left-liberal quagmire that wants to claim as its own every creative individual that has ever walked planet Earth. While Dr. Trussell thankfully concedes that Fairburn was not of the “mainstream Left,” he ends with:

But the life as actually lived, and nearly all the words, spoken and written, are not those of an individual whom one could imagine supporting the neo-liberal sophistries of a Margaret Thatcher or a Roger Douglas. Nor would he have thought much of the right-wing caperings of the Republican ‘tea-party’ in today’s USA. He poured scorn on the equivalent of his day, the National government of Sidney Holland when it attempted to curb freedom of speech in New Zealand during the 1951 dock strike.[17]

Fairburn, as Dr. Trussell shows in his biography, remained until his death an opponent of cosmopolitanism, “one world,” super-power hegemonism whether from the USA or the USSR, and internationalism; and was an advocate of a nativist New Zealand culture, sovereignty and the breaking of the dictature of money whether over politics or the arts, and a decentralized, organic society. That, Dr. Trussell, is what we call “Right.”

I invite the reader to find a single assertion in Dr. Trussell’s response that is not a straw man argument. Dr. Trussell, while undertaking an admirable biography of Fairburn as a chronological record, has not been able to put Fairburn’s views into historical or ideological context. Dr. Trussell, in this regard, seems typical of the superficiality of New Zealand academia. Even more disappointing is that Dr. Trussell also seems to be quite dishonest in his methodology; again, not uncommon among New Zealand academics.

Notes

1. Kerry Bolton, “Rex Fairburn,” Counter-Currents, http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/02/rex-fairburn-2/

2. D. J. Trussell, Fairburn (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1984).

3. D. J. Trussell, “Kerry Bolton on A. R. D. Fairburn as an Artist of the Right,” http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/03/kerry-bolton-on-a-r-d-fairburn-as-an-artist-of-the-right/

4. Bolton, “Rex Fairburn.”

5. Erik Norling, Revolutionary Fascism (Portugal: Finis Mundi, 2011).

6. Zeev Sternhell, Neither Left Nor Right: Fascist Ideology in France (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996), inter alia.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Fairburn to Mason, June 16, 1932 , The Letters of A. R. D. Fairburn (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 77.

10. Welf Herfurth, A Life in the Political Wilderness (Finis Mundi, Portugal, 2011).

Wayne John Sturgeon, “Anarcho-National-Syndicalist,” Troy Southgate, ed., The Radical Tradition (Australia: Primordial Traditions, 2011), pp. 52–55.

Troy Southgate, “Transcending the Beyond: Third Position to National-Anarchism,” ibid., pp. 181–86.

11. Bolton, “Rex Fairburn.”

12. Referring to D. H. Lawrence, Spengler, Nietzsche, and C. H. Douglas.

13. Bolton, “Rex Fairburn.”

14. Eustace Mullins, This Difficult Individual: Ezra Pound (Hollywood: Angriff Press, 1961), pp. 275–78.

15. Kerry Bolton, “Geoffrey Potocki De Montalk: New Zealand Poet, “Polish King,” & “Good European,” http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/08/count-potocki-de-montalk-part-i/

16. Kerry Bolton, “P. R. Stephensen,” http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/11/p-r-stephensen-2/

17. Trussell,“Kerry Bolton on A. R. D. Fairburn as an Artist of the Right.”

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