What follows is the transcript by Donna Hancock of the second part of Greg Johnson’s interview with Benjamin Raymond of National Action. To listen in a player, click here. To download the mp3, right-click here and choose “save link as” or “save target as.” To subscribe to our podcasts, click here. Video here.
Greg Johnson: I think there’s an important distinction between ideology and personality. You can have ideological purity wedded to a kind of antisocial and autistic personality; and when you have people like that it’s very hard to build working organizations because they’re always looking for excuses to have purges and sectarianism and “purer-than-thou” contests and things like that; and then there are people who are just more socially adept. One of the things that strikes me as important for our people is just to recognize that we have all these people who are worried about respectability and they think ideas confer respectability, and that means mainstream ideas confer respectability. And so they want to hide their ideology under a bushel when they want to creep towards the mainstream, and they want to encode what they say in euphemisms that sound more mainstream, and they think they’re going to gain respectability from that. Of course, in my eyes, they just become contemptible.
But they’re not worried how they look to people on their Right. They’re worried about how they look to people on the center. And when I saw your interview I thought, you know, you’re doing the right thing, because you were not concerned about the respectability of your idea. When that woman said, “Are you a racist?” she was hoping you’d be like a typical Cuckservative and say, “Oh no, I’m not a racist!” or “Oh no, I’m not a National Socialist!” Instead, you just accepted those labels, because it turns out that they’re true of you, and you made them respectable because you behaved in a respectable way. You behaved in a courageous way, but you weren’t truculent or aggressive about it. You didn’t communicate in any way a sense of insecurity about these things or insecurity about your status as a human being, and I thought, “This is the key.”
We have to recognize that we can make aberrant, extreme ideas respectable. And we have to expend some of ourselves to do that. We have to spend some of our credibility, spend some of our persuasiveness, use whatever powers that we have to try and make these ideas more respectable, so that the mainstream moves in our direction. And I thought that that was an extremely valuable lesson, and I think people should just watch that video. I think it was quite exemplary. So I guess this is coming round to these questions: how ideologically purist are you, and are you more interested in finding people who work well together as a team as opposed to just finding people who are willing to sign on to a sort of ideological platform?
Benjamin Raymond: Okay, well your question was quite long and comprised of about three different elements. Yes, just in regard to the interview you mentioned it’s about picking your battles. I mean, that was an ideal situation for what most Rightists would like to be in that situation because that was a very rare media situation that we had kind of picked that allowed us to present ourselves in that way, that involved turning down seventy different interviews from people like Louis Theroux. People who have the camera on you for, let’s say, three or four weeks. They edit out anything of significance you have to say and they even did what they could with that particular interview.
But at the end of the day they have only a limited amount of media to work with and the people who you’re dealing with — who I was dealing with that day — were not really that ideological. They didn’t understand the political nuance. Like you said, I was defying expectations. The lady, she had like a big pad of notes. First thing she asked me was, do I want a white Christian Britain or a Christian Britain and I was like, “This didn’t have a very good start.” And those notes just went by the wayside like five minutes into the interview, and the entire thing was ad-libbed back and forth. Yeah, you have radical ideas, but a part of normalizing those ideas is to defy expectations, to be presentable, but in certain battles.
Now, most of the time, we’ve had to fight quite a long way to get to that point. The majority of the time, you are engaged in a struggle in which your enemy is trying to shut you up through force. And so what you actually need to a degree is a kind of intimidating organization, right; an organization where, if that person is found to be a member, they’ll think twice about actually taking action against them, about running them off a campus because they’re regarded as dangerous or, you know, they have something the enemy doesn’t; they’re stronger than the average man mentally and physically.
So in regards to one of the issues you raised is, basically, there are people who we should have who are normal, functional people but they’re cowards. But the movement also attracts people who are fundamentally dysfunctional. Now the way we deal with this is to have an organization that doesn’t treat itself too seriously. I think that’s almost in the question you were asking earlier about where is this political organization going because it’s down in the gutter, right? But the importance of formality is an attack on the ego. One thing that was raised in the interview was the case of Zack Davies. Now he was a loner and, as the court found, he was like basically psychopathic. He had a long history of violence, problems with the police, and he’d been kicked out of school for chasing a pupil with a knife and lots of domestic incidents. He’d claimed to be a member of our organization, but he never got in contact with us or never went to our events because, well, we were able to profile him. We looked at what the guy was like so I can say this with some certainty. That kind of person would not have thrived in some highly social environment where you have to be genuine. People who are dysfunctional, have you noticed they’re all LARPers? If you want to get rid of them that is why we have an informal organisation and that really annoys some of our members because everyone has an ego, everyone does want to be taken seriously.
GJ: Right, I get this sort of thing in discussion forums in the United States, like at therightstuff.biz they have a forum and there’s this persistent demand from what appears to me to be highly autistic individuals for position papers and official statements, like they want this to be a political party or an ideology. They want it to have a Bolshevik model where everything is determined down to, “Are you a vegetarian or not?” or “what’s your status on this and that?” And they’re frustrated when people don’t present that to them.
And I kind of think that that’s good in a way, to frustrate that demand, because it kind of freezes everything, makes it overly neat and tidy, and it’s premature. It’s totally premature. It’s like drawing up constitutions or deciding what you’re going to name the streets in a new white Britain some day; and the people who want that are autistes and LARPers and they’re the kind of people you kind of want to drive away, I think. You want to repulse those people. At least I do!
BR: I mean, that’s the way she asked me, “What are your policies?” It’s like, “We don’t have any policies.” Other than our mission statement — the free white Britain, or by extension a free white Europe, because we are the sole inheritors of this land that belongs to us. Actually it reminds me of this quite funny interview that someone gave to Gregor Strasser when he was a deputy within the Nazi Party. A journalist was haranguing him, like debating with him, going, “Okay, okay, you’ve told me everything you’re against, but you haven’t told me what it is that you believe in. What do you actually stand for?” And Gregor says, “National Socialist Party stands for the opposite of everything that currently exists.” You know, none of us are nuclear physicists. Obviously we’ll eventually. Political parties will attract people who have, you know, who are going to be like the Benjamin Franklins of their age, right, who are going to take us to the moon or whatever, but it’s not necessary to have…you should have a policy for your political party but it is not the most important thing and no-one really cares what that is. Like if you’re just looking at purely pragmatic terms and you look at someone like Trump, you ask the average guy who’s going to vote for him, “What are his policies?” they’re going to say, “Beaner wall and no Muslim immigration.” Even if those weren’t his policies, that’s what he’s portrayed to the masses and there’s nothing else. There’s not like this five thousand-word document that explains everything that they’re going to do in the future.
But dysfunctional personalities are not just like the LARPy types. You’ve also got those who are inclined to, you know, let’s say like who would like to use organizations as a pretext for terrorism and violence, because they don’t want to live; they want to die and they want their death to have some kind of meaning. By being a quasi-satirical organization we deprive them of that. But at the same time we’re entirely serious. We’re totally committed to the ideology and to the image we put out.
There’s never been anything we’ve put out that I’m ashamed of in regards to our image. Like there’s one thing we do have like a radical image. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the way National Action activists present themselves at marches and rallies. They dress in all black with sunglasses or half masks, skull masks, combat boots — something that is physically intimidating. On its own it would be LARPy, but it took us two years to get to that because it evolved organically. It started off we were just wearing plain clothes and it grew to that because that’s, kind of like, we became who we were. It’s not just someone sat down one day and we said, “This is gonna be the uniform of the organization.” It just came about by consensus and by fashion.
You can’t mandate fashion. You know, God knows, political parties, far Right ones all the time, try to change fashion, right? They have all these proclamations about how for the last twenty years you’ve had a white nationalist movement that says, “We’re gonna make white nationalism family-friendly.” And it’s all big fat guys with bald heads and tattoos. You can’t dictate fashion. You’ve got to set an example and make something happen.
GJ: Yeah, again, setting the example rather than offering the purely verbal critique is the way to go. I remember in 2001 I went to the Fete des Bleu-blanc-rouge in Paris – the big National Front rally and I hung out at the young National Front pavilion, and it’s basically where skinheads were going. But it was very, very cool, because the French skinheads were much more fashionably attired than the British or American types.
GJ: You know, they didn’t have shaved heads. A lot of them had the sort of Marine style “high and tight” haircuts. They looked like they were getting their clothes from the Gap, and yet they were physically fit and could clearly be a threatening group of people if threatened. I just thought this is a much better look, you know, it looks better. They were dressed like people who expected to be running France someday, rather than people who thought they were always gonna be on the margins. That’s just what it communicated to me.
BR: Aspiration. It’s aspiration that projects aspiration. The thing about the French scene is that was allowed to grow because there’s quite a large…even though they have Front National they have quite a large number of organizations in the country whereas in Anglo countries it’s been a lot more centralised. We’ve had a lot less political success than mainland Europe. And there was a time round the 2000 when our leaders said, “Okay, we’re not gonna have any more of this,” but without providing an alternative for that culture. So they just tried to shove it under the table but the only thing that can succeed is culture, so that’s what persisted except it was fossilized like…and all we’re left with is really the next generation. So there’s the old in regards to something like Blood & Honour which is still alive and kicking with a couple of Zimmer frames flying around. You know, they’re good people, but they have their kids there as well, and they’re embracing the modern look as well, but mainland Europeans just haven’t had this problem. They’ve gone forward into the 21st century. We’ve tried to repress that and we’ve stagnated as a result.
But just to tackle another one of the points you brought up earlier and that is, okay, we’ve dealt with people who are asocial, psychopathic, how do we stop those and the autistes. How do we stop them coming in the group? Then you have the other group that you mentioned, which is people who agree with our ideals but feel they have to be socially fashionable. The way I see it is that people are attracted to strength. It suits us fine that those people should not be in the group because they can never be — if the main motivation is material, like their own personal security — which is perfectly understandable for many of them — then they will never be appeased. There’s nothing you can do to make yourself more presentable to give them what they want which is permission to be nationalists. They need to have permission from the enemy to say, “Yes, it’s okay for you to express your beliefs in this way.”
But what the little guy needs then is an example. They need someone who is going to fight for them, to fight on their behalf, to give them something strong that they back. It is even more demoralizing for them, or counter-productive for them, to have examples who appear and who are not fighting for their ideals, for making concessions to the enemy constantly, like the mainstreamers you were talking about. I think what we need are militant organizations that can give people hope.
GJ: That’s really well said. One thing you said earlier that was very important is a remark on the importance of culture, and this is where I think my interest in meta-politics overlaps with groups like National Action, with Generation Identity, CasaPound, and so forth because meta-politics, as I define it, really deals with the necessary conditions for political change. So it’s not politics but what comes before politics and makes politics possible. It divides up into two things: one is our message – ideas and propagating ideas. So it’s ideas and the different media by which they’re propagated. And the other is community organizing.
And it strikes me that the weakness of the British scene, as I’ve seen it recently, and the weakness in America especially is that all the energies get too easily channeled into political party activities. In the United States what happens is we don’t have any nationalist parties, so what happens is we get all of our political energies sucked into people in the Republican Party basically. People get really, really excited by some Republican – Ron Paul, you know.
BR: I remember that a few years ago.
GJ: Yeah, yeah. They put a huge amount of effort and money in. I have known people, honest-to-God National Socialists who have donated more money to Ron Paul, a Libertarian, than they have ever done to the White Nationalist movement, to any organisation within the white nationalist movement. And then of course they’re disappointed and betrayed by these people again and again and again, but they never learn. And when the disappointment comes, when the betrayal comes, a lot of these people just lapse into inactivity because there’s nothing to sustain them outside this election-cycle politics. I had the feeling that was somewhat true in Britain too, that all these energies were being drawn into the British National Party. It was pretty impressive, the number of people who would sign their names and be public BNP supporters and stand for office and things like that. I think in one election there were more than a thousand people who stood for office. I don’t think you could get three Americans to stand for office on a nationalist platform in a country of 300 million people! So I was really, really impressed with what the BNP was doing.
But what sustains people between election cycles and what sustains people through the inevitable disappointments of being a small party standing against big parties is having a community and a culture they can fall back on. That’s what was so impressive to me about the Front National. When I went to this big rally it was not just a political thing. They had all these pavilions and tents, booths, where there were people selling food and wine and books and handicrafts and things like that; and it became very clear to me that this was not just a political party, it was a cultural movement. It was a cultural movement full of people with wives and kids. It was multi-generational. There were three or four generations of people in the same family attending these events. It was very, very impressive to me. That kind of thick, rich, social context, that community is what sustains the Right on the continent, and I see that as being very thin in the Anglosphere.
So I think that by working to create groups like National Action you’re trying to give a thicker white community organization that is sort of the matrix out of which political parties can eventually emerge, because eventually, like I said, we’re going to have to have State power; and one of those vehicles for that is political parties. It would be nice, frankly though, if we could just influence everybody so eventually all the political parties would be basically advancing our cause, just as today all the political parties are advancing the cause of the enemy.
BR: In response to that I would say that if you’re only coming into politics with the idea of having a political party then you only have half of an overall strategy, because a political party’s power rests on a credible threat. So the idea is that if that party does not have power then its enemies with their control over the legal and political and financial institutions can systematically dismantle and destroy that organization in hundreds of different ways. What you need is a situation where that political party has a monopoly of violence behind it, for lack of a better word. You put it in a nice way in regards to having influence and community, but in terms of ultimate game theory there needs to be a situation where, if that political party faces oppression, then it will result in a breakdown of . . . in a civil war essentially. So the cost of taking down the party legally is greater than the cost of having to oppose the backlash that comes from doing that, if that makes sense.
GJ: Yeah, that makes sense. I think that all nationalist parties need to have the same attitude that communist parties did, which is that they will never give up the struggle, and if they can contest for power in the political system they’ll do that, but if they’re locked out of the political system them it’s time for them to break the political system. I remember when Vlaams Blok was banned in Belgium and the leader of Vlaams Blok — which started itself up again as Vlaams Belang — has said that Belgium has killed Vlaams Blok, and Vlaams Belang will kill Belgium. Well, that’s a bit of bravado, and I don’t think they’ve carried through on it.
BR: Certainly, certainly.
GJ: But yeah, you have to have that attitude. It’s like, “Look, we’re not going anywhere, and we’re not going to stop trying, and we will win eventually. How we win — the hard road or the easy road — is entirely up to the political mainstream.” If you don’t take yourself that seriously, and if you don’t project that you take yourself that seriously, people will walk all over you. So, yeah, you do have to have that attitude. You do have to project the attitude that you’re a serious group of people, and if people kick you, it has to be like kicking a hornets’ nest. If they don’t fear that it’s like kicking a hornets’ nest they’re going to kick you. They’re going to do whatever they can to get you down. So, yeah, there has to be a credible threat. You have to project credible power. You have to project seriousness and a willingness to not stop, basically, just because these people are going to say, “I’m sorry, it’s illegal.” “Fine, we’re going to change the law then.”
BR: Well, I mean that applies at every single level. Like when you’re starting out as an organization how can you threaten that as your ultimate goal when you’re unable to stand up for yourself, when you face your very first challenge? There have been many organizations that have been oppressed by the state. I remember a few years ago the Immortals in Germany that were like this flash mob, people who used to wear these white masks and held these torch-lit rallies. They were persecuted by the state. Now these guys are German nationalists. They’re pretty tough. But we have situations in England where these small groups like National Culturalists used to get run off campus, and this was so infuriating to us, so I swore this would never, ever happen to us.
So when our guy got run off, when he was made to leave the university, we created this huge kind of media storm that resulted in the university spending the equivalent of $100,000 in litigations against National Action as an unincorporated entity banning us from the campus. Spending that much money just to stop us from appearing. But we actually fought them. We didn’t just run away with our hands up, we fought them.
You had the whole Luciana Berger incident. So one of our members, Garron Helm, he was imprisoned for making a tweet that included an offensive image of Luciana Berger who’s a Jewish MP in Liverpool. As a result of that, because he was someone who did everything to stand up for himself, people could get behind that. What resulted is what is entirely unheard of in British politics was an absolute, massive trolling operation that was run by The Daily Stormer called “Operation Filthy Jew Bitch,” and she was getting literally tens of thousands of tweets every day. The SAS had to go and take her and put her under 24-hour surveillance. It was absolutely absurd, and all these other different politicians were being attacked.
They had no means, no recourse, and nothing they could do about it, and this is what happens when you persecute one of our people. Yeah, it’s just words online, but if they’re to be believed, words hurt. Words were bad enough to send a young man to prison on the flimsiest of pretexts. He was held under something called “The Misuse of Communication Act of 1986” under the article of it had been somehow racially aggravated. All he said was hashtag: you can always trust a jew to show their true colours, because she was saying the Labour Party — which ran Britain from 1997 to 2008 — did not fail on immigration, when they brought in two million Third World wasters into the country, more than any other previous government.
In fact right after the Garron Helm incident we attempted to hold a demonstration right outside Luciana Berger’s office. This was entirely legal; it was on the pavement outside. They were getting out some banners and stuff, and a bunch of police vans turn up, haul them all off, raid the houses in the dead of night and, under a very bizarre pretext really, like none of our people have ever been charged with a crime relating to activism or anything that they’ve done; never even been charged, let alone convicted, yet they kept trying to pull this on us, and it only increased their conviction that they’re fighting for the correct cause, because when you’re persecuted in that way it intimidates people who are not ready for it, but with our organization we don’t want it for our people, but it has to be expected that there are some things we are willing to face prison and persecution for. There are some things that are worth fighting for, so somebody has to take that leap. Somebody has to go out there and actually do something and stand up and fight and not back down.
GJ: That’s really well-said. Is there anything you’d like to say, especially that you’d like to address the people in North America which is where most of our listeners are? If somebody wants to do this in the United States or Canada, what would you recommend?
BR: Okay, it is going to involve quite a lot of hard work. You need to work on a local level. The people who you need to be contacting and working with need to be within just a few hours’ drive and no more than that. You need a small group of people and get them together and you need to take advantage of what is the greatest gift an American possesses — something I am so, so jealous of — and that is the First Amendment. You need to take that to its full. You need to be putting out the most shocking, offensive material that will get you into the media, which the system can do absolutely nothing about. So all your /pol/ humor — something to that effect, it needs to be out there. That will propel your group.
To give you an example there’s a very small action down in Florida University. Some guy or group activists fly-posted Florida University, and they got covered by four different news networks, like daytime television, over some stickers that they had put up. This is the kind of activism you can use to start up an organization. You need to kind of recreate the identity that Americans had as a movement, because the problem with Americans — and this isn’t a harsh criticism, but it is a serious problem — is that there’s no unified idea of what the American far Right kind of is exactly.
As far as most Americans would be concerned the leading face of that would be someone like Robert Spencer, you know, like the counter-jihad guy, right? That’s what we understand as your far Right, when you do have a far Right that goes from the 1930s all the way to the present day but it needs to be rekindled as a modern identity. You need to be in the 21st century, and you need to connect yourself to Europe and its struggle as well.
GJ: That, again, is really well-said.
BR: What I have to say, Greg, I really admire the fact . . . I really admire your diplomacy, the way that you’re willing to approach lots of different groups.
The movement does deserve a little bit of mockery. Like it sometimes deserves people like that. There’s quite a divisive person here called Joshua Bonehill. I’m sure, have you ever heard of him?
GJ: I’ve heard the name but I don’t know anything about him.
BR: Basically he’s a really famous internet troll. He’s just been sent down for three years for posting some propaganda he made for his group, but he kind of attacked lots of people on the Right as well. He’s just this really anarchic, self-parodying figure. At one point the BNP tried to recruit him, and he turned up there, and he had this kind of butler-servant guy who came with him, and he said, “Leader Bonehill has entered the room!” and then just sat down. He’s sitting in the front row, and his servant goes up and goes, “Leader Bonehill requests to speak!”
Look at any story. He’s been on trial an entire year. He beat about fourteen of the charges, and he got caught for a propaganda image that had a jew.jpeg – you know, the Wyatt Mann cartoon? Yeah, they gave him three years and four months for that. I mean, that’s one thing that we’ve never, ever had a situation where any of our people have been in trouble for online material because you can be very clever with the way you put yourself out there and not get yourself into legal trouble.
GJ: Wow, that’s amazing. For the Happy Merchant meme?
BR: He basically trolled a bunch of neo-Nazis into creating this protest in Golders Green. So he sent all these, like these skinheads all hate him, but he petitioned all these neo-Nazis to go out there and he made this propaganda image which is something like “We need to clean up Golders Green” with an overgrown Auschwitz and someone applying weed-killer to all the grass and stuff.
BR: And the propaganda involved like people with chainsaws, but he’s now in trouble for the letters he’s sending out of prison, because they include all these drawings on them. So he’s got 9/11, Jews. He’s got a stamp that says “The Harold Shipman seal of approval” who’s this mass murderer, and it’s got Hitler on there. When he came into the courtroom, he announced that he had actually embraced diversity and that he was wearing Islamic and Catholic prayer beads. He’s got this sense of humor that you get in like public schools — what you call private schools in America. He had one year before he got expelled. Ninety-nine percent of people don’t get him, but the movement does need people like this who kind of parody and ridicule them. Just Google this guy! He has more stories than National Action about him, just this one guy. He’s just been a constant show. He used to run this internet newspaper called the Daily Bale, but all of the stories in them were fake. Tesco took him to court because he said they were like bringing in spiders from Third World countries. He got a pub closed because he said that they weren’t serving servicemen.
In fact he was taken to court by Nick Lowles, the head of Hope Not Hate who is quite a prolific anti-Fascist, I guess the equivalent of Mark Potok in the US, and the stories he was putting out about him. In the court he was sitting there on his phone putting out stories like “Nick Lowles has sex with dog in public, here are the witnesses.” The way he’d phrase it would be like “Sick Left-wing pervert.” Everything had vitriol. And he has guts. He doesn’t care. He has been raided by the police literally hundreds of times, and nothing stops him. He’s been in court like a dozen times already. Even now he’s been sent down for three and a quarter years within a month he does this, and there’s just nothing that will crush his spirit, I guess.
GJ: I think we should probably wrap this up at this point. I’ve got a bunch of editing to do!
BR: Sorry about that, man.
GJ: No, no, you’ve been great. You’ve been excellent. Ben, thank you so much. This has been a great conversation and I hope this is the first of many.
BR: Okay, thanks Greg.