“Poetically, man dwells…”
This essay looks at the neo-Nazi and fascist organization Atomwaffen Division, analyzing the images and content of their video communiques with the intention of better understanding their worldview. It is impossible however to understand this worldview without situating it in a wider ecological milieu. By crafting a biosemiotically informed ecopoetic criticism and applying it to the visual communiques within a particular interpretive frame, we can understand the degree to which the symbolic distortion of fascism produces and reifies an alienating worldview and reconsider how best to approach and transform the wider ecosystem in which it emerges.
Learning the Lifeworld: A Statement of Intention
Recently a growing concern regarding nationalism and fascism has prompted interest in groups self-identifying as “white nationalists,” along with those who actively and explicitly self-identify as fascists, Nazis, and white racists. Atomwaffen Division (“Nuclear Weapon Division, hereafter “AWD”) represents one such group, labeled a terrorist organization, several of their members imprisoned for five killings. The name itself highlights the strategy it seeks to implement, advocating the use of nuclear weapons against American infrastructure to initiate an inevitable race war. To advocate for this racial approach to politics, the group has produced a series of video communiques meant to promote its worldview and strategy, seeking new recruits to expand the philosophy and inspire praxis as far as possible.
In this regard, the focus of this paper will be to utilize these videos and the symbols and signs within them to better determine the “inner life” of the Nazi, engaging what Jacob Uexkull might term the “umwelt” of the group, and by extension, perhaps contribute an understanding of other fascist organizations in turn. Drawing from C.S. Peirce’s semiotic theory, a typology of signs can help us to flesh out the complex relations of this particular mode of symbolic consciousness, understanding the meaningful relations out of which any epiphany or insight emerges so as to recognize the internal integrity (or inconsistencies) of the worldview itself.
I therefore hope to look at the lifeworld of the contemporary Nazi not as a mere “monstrosity,” or moral abomination, but rather to understand the particular aesthetic and logic around which any symbolic expression constellates to better engage this species of social critique in more effective ways.In this regard, I offer a novel method, one fusing militant co-research with an engaged and ecologically informed materialist critique (what I will call an eco-poeticcritique) so as to better identify whether such a species represents an existential threat to the wider ecological landscape and its constituent communities
As every improvement in knowledge requires a methodological approach to premises through a new method, the eco-poetic critique is pragmatic in that it remains sensitive to the operational consequences of any symbol’s purposive effects, and thus the sense impressions, material effects, actions, events, and experiences it emerges from. It therefore offers a strategy to adapt to and fit well within any particular paradigm and the various environmental complexities it needs to adapt itself towards. That is to say, eco-poetics are a way of understanding the pragmatic urge to transform existence into sometime better, and therefore the concepts and abstractions that are concretized into symbols provide the unit of analysis from which any analysis, critique, and improvements will emerge to offer more faithful interpretations of reality and suggest more evolutionarily beneficial behaviors. This will be elaborated upon in depth in the next section.
Crafting an Eco-poetic Methodology
The following section draws from a number of approaches that together make up an eco-poetic method to understand any essential relationship that would inform the reader/viewer about the nature of the subject’s worldview and the symbols by which that worldview is communicated, as well as the conditions by which that worldview is produced, and the meaningful themes that emerge in the materials to inform any behavior and program of action.
Drawing from Robert Bellah’s Religion in Human Evolution, we can consider the role of a playful instinct that drives any physical, emotional, mental, and theoretical activity (e.g. political religions), including the production of symbols and literary devices for the sake of successful adaptation. Thus, “at the origin of our use of metaphor lies nature.” (Knickerbocker, 4) In this regard, any worldview can be recognized as a kind a playful place-making, rooted in the land, as the driving force that produces any poetic as a resonant system, where language is understood as nature, and similarly, nature as language. A “sensuous poesis” producing meaningful impacts and emotionally charged activities therefore will, as Sapir demonstrates, reflect the world around it, the symbol itself the point of integration between the environment and culture, a structuring force upon which any perception, interpretation, and reaction will ultimately rest. Here then, worlds and worldviews emerge from words as constituted by experience, a process by which meaning is transmitted via poetic functions to generate a shared understanding.
The set toward the message as such, focus on the message for its own sake, is the POETIC function of language…Any attempt to reduce the sphere of the poetic function to poetry or to confine poetry to the poetic function would be a delusive oversimplification. The poetic function is not the sole function of verbal art but only its dominant, determining function, whereas in all other verbal activities it acts as a subsidiary, accessory constituent. (Jakobson, pg. 70)
We should consider then the duty to hear and know any other’s constitution as crucial for the simple reason that any language that arises in a shared space functions as both habitat and adaptive mechanism by which that habitat is itself constructed and arranged. This is to say, as Uexküll might suggest, within a biosemiotics we find an evolutionary pressure by which any interior desire can be described; moreover, poetry itself may provide a kind of science, a linguistic and semiotic method to understand the interiority of any organism, the biogeochemical and phenomenological desire prompting life’s struggle forward.
I will consider this biosemiotic method to highlight the logic of an eco-poetic critique: an organism experiences a phenomenon, learns from it, and makes meaning that is integrated in a schema or hierarchy of value – in the case of homo sapiens, through symbolic consciousness. Since every entity is situated in relationship to any other, the reaction of an organism to any phenomena can therefore lead to more accurate predictions, articulations, and hypotheses with regards to particular meanings that are projected into or that may tend to dominate any given space. This “intention” found in the biological organisms that constitute “nature” imbues the landscape with competing meaning and can be read through any given sign to convey the lifeworld of experience so as to signal how better to perceive any phenomena and act accordingly; and of course, these meanings will shift according to the subjectivities of any biological organism or community in a given geographic and historic place.
The signal, sign, or symbol then functions as a fundamental unit of meaning, key to niche-building and place-making: if language is the technology needed to monitor and modify our perception, activity, and relationship to the structures that facilitate our dwelling, a more ecologically informed poetic expression would mean a more skillful approach to communicating this meaning. Further, this unit of meaning emerges as a concretized artifact of the interpretive process, one that itself is embedded in the very event in which meaning is made as the organism experiences the phenomenon at hand. In this regard, the sign or symbol mediates between consciousness and object of consciousness, so that the environment itself becomes an active partner in the process, producing the capacity for any breakthrough event to recode an individual’s agency to recognize patterns that induce a change of consciousness as a deeper order is made known in individual consciousness as meaning transforms. The subsequent ontological disturbance, or, as Owen Barfield describes, the “felt change of consciousness,” can be located at the actual moment where a sign or symbol is interpreted, found meaningful, and articulated faithfully.
In these moments the ecosystem itself seems to experience a moment of self-awareness. Signs and symbols then communicate the logic of experience deriving from the relationship of the organism to its habitat, producing narratives that can be interpreted through a biohermeneutic focused on “life’s own role in creating the world in the evolutionary process and the possibility of using narrative strategies in understanding it.” (Utsler, 13) The iterative and relational dynamics of these symbols, emerging in the metaxis of consciousness between the subject-object relational event, form the linguistic set and literary devices that become meaningful ways to generate and control an environmental order, “the real means by which both natural and cultural semiosis drives natural and cultural evolution and development.” (Wheeler, 70)
Thus symbols become might even be considered a kind of living organism in and of themselves, inducing particular patterns to reconstruct the linguistic habitat they reside in, by which systems of meanings in turn construct narratives that mediate meaning and catalyze epiphanies, so that what is “essential about the experience…[can] amplify our concern, increase our understanding, or drive personal transformation.” (Treanor, 78) The subsequent “place-making” process then is evolutionary in the sense that the narrative cultivates a particular character, “inducing people to change their lives” through new relational patterns they establish through the signs and symbols that constitute a given narrative. (Treanor 115) This is more than mere cognition, but implies a sensual reconfiguration, offering in symbolic models evolutionary pathways as contingent assemblages organized “to structure perceptual experience…and purpose-build the very ‘events’ of a life.” (Bruner 2014) The narrative then maintains, nurtures, and supports the epiphany of a deeper order that is interpreted, habituating new routines to produce or reconfigure a narrative identity by introducing signs and symbols into new contexts; or rather, signs and symbols may introduce narrative identities and new routines into a context to produce entirely new cultures and environments.
As this narrative coalesces, one is capable of recognizing the interpretive structure that informs it, and cultivating a sensitivity to those dynamic inputs (memories, values, desires, events, traumas, conditions, phenomena) in the “hermeneutic circulatory between self and world” as it takes place (Trigg 170). This is to say, understanding a personal experience demands an essential sensitivity to the ecology it arrives within and is interrelated to, reflected in any given mood and emplotment, which in turn is projected into, and constitutes the world. That is, identity, action, experience, and interpretations become the recursive feedback cycle, constituting the signs and symbols that indicate particular arrangements and relationships, providing both an epistemology and hermeneutic with which to reflect upon and approach these various inputs, address them skillfully, even transform them in ways that are more faithful to the wider reality or ecosystems in which they emerge, to better uncover the message an ecosystem expresses by focusing on the eco-poetics of the communicating medium.
Any communique, itself an inter-relational structure emerging from the wider symbolic set, can then be understood less as a declaration of separation, but rather as an impulse to connect, decentering the focus from any one actor to the ecosystem itself, and perhaps even the desire of this ecosystem as a whole. By changing the conditions in which complex systems emerge, new regimes of perception emerge as well, where arrangements of symbolic relationships are able to create the methods by which world-making occurs. To put it succinctly, an interpretation of the ecosystem co-arises out of the assumptions that inform the epistemology to structure any given perception of relationships, leading to ethical considerations and behaviors that constitute all future reality – an ecosystem’s destiny so to speak. This necessitates a greater understanding of causes and strategies for transforming the causes and conditions that promote suffering, so as to potentially dissolve those mental and physical structures that manifest as physical configurations in ecosystems (e.g. civilization) so as to more skillfully attack the root causes of, say, white supremacy or neo-Nazism, in order to more skillfully address the entanglement of those material phenomena that form “knots in a vast network of agencies, which can be ‘read’ and interpreted as forming narratives, stories” (Iovino and Opperman, 2014). Rather than focus on protagonists or antagonists within an ecosystem, we should consider whether the ecosystems themselves (as constituted by the political-economic-social-cultural-symbol systems they constitute and are constituted by) are protagonistic or antagonistic.
This material-semiotic approach I have outlined above, moving between the poetic function of language, the event of experiencing the structure of reality, the symbolisms that emerge, the narratives they constitute, and the hermeneutics that they necessitate, all then constitute the phenomenon of nature more effectively knowing nature (“itself”), the self-reflective and self-recursive process by which an eco-system, indeed the cosmosemiotic process able to more clearly discern its own desires, and the activities it engages in to achieve them.
In this sections I have sought to build an eco-poetic method rooted in biosemiotic approaches. This is essentially no less that the evolutionary process by which an organism adapts to its environment – by interpreting any given signal that might arise – yet recognizing language as itself a habitat rooted in the landscape, experience, and interpretive structures themselves. This method will in the next sections be applied to the visual communiques in order to better describe, interpret, understand, and deconstruct the worldview of Atomwaffen Division, with the intention of recognizing their core desires and motivations as to why they construct their imagery in this way, as situated in the wider ecosystem they are immersed within (and what this wider system itself may desire), through an eco-poetic approach to content analysis.
A Brief Note on Process and Relevance
While watching 19 AWD communiques, I qualitatively and quantitatively coded for each frame in order to come up with a list of relevant signs, indices, and symbols. From there, I “clumped” them into ten or so major categories with the intention of re-watching the videos to determine the quantity and frequency each sign, indices, and symbol appeared, along with what themes, or structural codes could be accounted for. As the coding scheme is mostly visual, I then transcribed all auditory statements and entered them into a word cloud, based on the visualized words by AWD, those spoken by others, and a combination of the two. Finally, I analyzed the coded findings and engaged in what I will call a “theming of the data,” which will be demonstrated in the following sections, relating findings, general insights, etc., with the expectation of comparing and contrasting all findings will several others project members in upcoming conversations.
That said, I will restrict my analysis in the following sections to several themes relevant to a field of eco-poetics in particular, namely the relationship to land, race, bias, locations, certain symbols, as well as the wider ecological context whose logic (what Timothy Morton will term “agrilogistics”) may well systematically produce such decisions with regards to the imagery and themes, as will be explained in further depth.
Agrilogistics, Civilization, and Solidarity: An Interpretive Frame
In his book Humankind(2017), Tim Morton describes “agrilogistics” as the psychic effect of humanity having severed itself from the “symbiotic real,” an internal logic of the thought-mode attributed to the production of agrarian psychic, social, and philosophical space, walled off from the wild or “non-human” threats to protect the domesticated self. Indeed, as he states, it is an essentialist and metaphysical position requiring violence against those classified as “non-humans” to maintain itself, an ideological separation whose ontological effects arise where a biopolitical fear of the dissolution of boundaries (and thus the collapse of the imperial agrarian space) forms the basic logic underpinning violence, fascism, speciesm, racism, and the rejection of the possibility for a planetary solidarity in general.
The concept of race then, like the battle over land, is a battle for boundaries, demarcating a particular bounded identity (the human species, whiteness…), one that necessitates violence to maintain. That is, the nonhuman is exterminated due to the implicit logic of agrilogistics is enshrined into ethics and law, manifesting as the hierarchical violence that severs human and nonhuman relationships, to emerge as an ecological disaster, both as species extinction and genocide. The necessary exclusion, or severance required by agrilogistics becomes a feedback tendency leading to more fascism, as the exploitation of labor and soil depletes an ecosystem, generating poverty and extinction. Thus Morton defines fascism as hyper agrilogistics, a death culture in charge of the concept of life, the boundaries of which would be insane to move beyond, and in turn provides us with the ecological context by which any fascist symbol will necessarily hinge. For this reason, a fascist poetic offers the particular fossilization of the particular mode of thought necessary to understand, say, concentration camps, the tendency toward genocide, and the neo-Nazi ethic at large, along with any fascist communique.
Before moving to any analysis of fascist symbols, I will bring to mind one other thinker who has perhaps done more to popularize the anti-agrilogistics paradigm than any other, namely Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, whose manifestos, “Industrial Civilization and its Discontents,” “Technological Slavery,” and “Anti-Tech Revolution: How and Why” along with various letters from prison make explicit the logic behind his violent bombing campaign meant to attack the industrial and technological system, an analysis that gives insight into both agrilogistics and Nazism in general. Such an “anti-agrilogistics” or “anti-civilization” perspective is certainly not unique to him alone, yet he likely represents one of the few individuals who has been most extreme in implementing the logic, and can help make explicit some elements that would perhaps remain unconscious.
Kaczynski writes that “the Nazi revolution was partly a revolution against civilization,” in that “[Hitler] and his henchman appropriated the potentially revolutionary forces that existed in German society (which included the anti-civilization current, among others) and exploited them to gain power for themselves,” referring to the Volkisch movement in German that was inspired by romantic and nihilist sentiments against civilization arising in reaction to modernity.And yet, while “Hitler and his allies merely tried to repeat on a larger scale the kinds of atrocities that have occurred again and again throughout the history of civilization […] what modern technology threatens is absolutely without precedent.”
For Kaczynski, fascism is a reaction against the crisis of technology and the agrilogistics that necessarily drive it, for which there is no possible reform: “systems that compromise their own power and efficiency for the sake of “human values” are at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis systems that put power and efficiency first,” hence the reason people take recourse through various forms of escapism as opposed to direct confrontation, so that “people avoid the need to address the real sources of their discontent,” in turn offering a revolutionary approach:
The only way out is to attack the underlying source of all these problems, which is the technoindustrial system itself…this applies not only to the physical components of the system, but to the whole mind-set, the whole system of values and priorities that characterizes the technological society.
This is to say, while Kaczynski points to the many problems prompted by the agrilogistic paradigm and exacerbated by modern industrial civilization and technology (e.g. war, nuclear weapons, nuclear waste, pollution, global warming, ozone depletion, natural resource exhaustion, overpopulation, crowding, genetic deterioration, species extinction, biotechnological disaster, replacement of humans by intelligent machines, biological engineering of humans, dominance of large organizations and individual powerlessness, surveillance technology, propaganda and psyops, psychoactive medications, mental problems, addiction, domestic abuse, generalized incompetence…), to focus on any one of these symptoms as a “cause” would be to miss the root of each—the very attitude of domestication that has spawned attacks on the underlying source of a symbiotic whole in order to extract and distribute wealth from it for a particular class of species (humans).
Race and nation then, as modernist constructs, are similarly understood as rooted in anthropocentric discourse and agrilogistics that excludes the joy of nonhumans from economic value – reducing them instead to objects to exploit and kill. This degradation reifies those correlates and concepts that are based upon dualism and egoistic projections of boundaries, distracting through anthropocentric discourse and therefore cannot address the central issue, inhibiting psychological, social, and philosophical access to the symbiotic real and the inclusion of the nonhuman into the space.
Thus Morton can say that the struggle against racism is a project of de-anthropocentrism, a reaction against the severance of indigeneity from the symbiotic real, with solidarity as a mode of this symbiotic real, the passion to share a world with nonhumans. One might see then in the public outcry of a hunter sport-hunting Cecil the Lion for instance, a parallel to the public outcry against white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and other forms of white supremacy. Here we might better understand the reaction against anti-Semitism as a kind of solidarity with “charismatic megafauna,” in the sense that solidarity with those deemed “nonhumans” manifests to enact such a mode of consciousness that perceives and enacts this symbiotic real in a political form.
I will also suggest that we are perhaps also tasked with cultivating a desire for kindness towards, like the nonhuman, the dehumanizing mode of consciousness enduring the severance in the first place. Rather than calling them animals, monsters, and evil-doers, perhaps in Nazism and the white supremacist terrorist we can see what Voegelin might call pneumapathology or what Derrida might call an autoimmunitary disease, where the individual attacks the wider social system (and indeed the structure of reality itself) considered a threat unto itself. In this regard, maintaining a sensitivity to even the desires of the racist terrorist will be important to address the anxiety produced by the very system that is perhaps termed “the Jew conspiracy,” in order to widen the mode of consciousness that takes for granted the symbiotic real through a competing poetic that can induce a more effective dwelling.
To quote Heidegger,
The poetic is the basic capacity for human dwelling. But man is capable of poetry at any time only to the degree to which his being is appropriate to that which itself has a liking for man and therefore needs his presence. Poetry is authentic or inauthentic according to the degree of this appropriation. (Heidegger, 1971)
Thus the Nazi, in failing to ensure a liking for man, not even to mention those persons determined to be “less-than-man” or nonhuman, is guilty of crafting an inauthentic poetry severed from the ecological and symbiotic real. In doing so, he produces a symbol that not only does not adequately address the core phenomenon that generates the experience of alienation for which he attempts to use race as a unifying device; but rather distracts and intensifies the severance that itself becomes the very home for the Nazi, or rather, a permanent state of homelessness, excommunicated from the symbiotic real.
This section has suggested that an agrilogistics that is foundational to civilization both severs the individual from the symbiotic real, and prompts the anxiety and conditions within which the individual is prompted to rebel, or find avenues of escapism. The Nazi however capitalizes on these criticisms, yet does not adequately address these root conditions, choosing instead to intensify the program (what Morton call’s “explosive holism”) through a mode of consciousness (fascism) that only furthers these conditions. Further, this mode of consciousness refuses a necessary humility and believes itself to have a monopoly on truth, virtue, and wisdom, mistaking its own interpretation of reality for reality itself, projecting its distorted worldview via symbols into the world as it produces and enforces categories that only serve to further distance itself from the symbiotic real.
This then helps to better understand any symbol or theme that arises within and from this mode of consciousness as it intensifies the agrilogistics that constitutes it.
Findings: Frequencies and Thematic insights
The Nazi umwelt is the product of symbolic distortion, detached from the symbiotic real through the intensification of agrilogistics needed to maintain and make permanent the state of alienation that is mistaken for a place of refuge. In reality, the Nazi is in a permanent state of crisis and anxiety, living according to a fictional narrative informed by an aesthetic, ethic, and indeed a political theology of a make-believe nature. This is to say, the race war apocalypticism, naturalized hierarchy, and spectrum of violence employed are all meaning-making symbols that systematize any image and statement within the mode of consciousness, imbuing it with an extremism meant to shock and frighten – an emotional provocation AWD both recognizes and capitalizes on to generate new media.
Under the banner of free speech, a dehumanizing process is thus organized around racial purity to destroy the system, promoting underground insurrection through social media designed to initiate a civil war, while drawing from an apocalyptic and Satanic esotericism as a spiritual resource. Moreover, in the nihilistic and romantic escape from modernity, there is a longing for wilderness as the means to re-root one’s ethnic heritage, drawing upon Charles Manson’s alternative family dynamic (cells), while moving from urban adventuring to wilderness hate camps where weapons become the means to move from theory to action, escalating the potency of their ideology so as to generate publicity, new content, and in turn develop their own analysis, critiquing the failures of the far right while promoting covert strikes, ultimately even attacking power plants to cause nuclear meltdown so as to destabilize governments and create the conditions for white revolution.
What is perhaps noteworthy is the degree to which stickering and flyering on liberal arts college campuses occurs in response to the free speech rights of fascist groups being protested. The media generated, along with other traditional protest activities like banner drops, which in turn forms content for new videos, to further the development of the analysis.
Even as promotional activities are occurring, there is awareness that it is insufficient, with fascist “celebrities” JL Rockwell, George Mason, and Metzger all referenced to detail analysis that transcends right/left dualism, focusing on race, and suggesting the way to gain support is by fighting, not talking. Eventually, this is elaborated upon by Metzger, who critiques right wing groups, suggesting avoiding aboveground actions altogether, and move toward covert strikes against opposition meetings and promoting insurrection and civil (race) war (“white revolution”) as righteous warfare.
The recurring language about “the system”, where police, president, etc. are instruments of the system, and are thus enemies seems to break from traditional fascist organizations that promote state power. In contrast, AWD opposes bureaucrats, police, the U.S. Constitution, American flags, etc. That said, it is similarly in keeping with other fascist tendencies like ethnocentrism, macho heteropatriarchy, contempt for democracy, cultish personality, promoting hate crimes, promoting a sense of oppressed victimhood (“everywhere national socialism is hated”), fear, and outsider status.
The focus on urban decay (graffiti, broken down and abandoned buildings), a movement to wilderness areas and, and a kind of defense of these spaces permeates many of the videos, implying an affinity (longing?) for these places to find “roots” back into the land, while making explicit the desire to attack power systems to foster race war.
Approaching the Tradition to Locate Pathways out of it
Much of these themes are articulated in Kathleen Belew’s Bring the War Home(2018), where she traces the post-Vietnam white power movement in its attempt to undermine the so-called Zionist Occupational Government, later changed to New World Order, by bombing infrastructure, assassinating political leaders, undermining currency, and conducting “leaderless resistance,” where autonomous cells choose their targets based on common narratives framed by movement texts as blueprints (e.g. the Turner Diaries), connected by message boards and various networks to engage in an apocalyptic confrontation with state violence.
As Vietnam seemingly normalized war crimes against communists, and veterans return home, obtaining military weapons to form underground paramilitary networks and camps for the sake of transnational anti-democratic insurrection and race war, the same general themes are found in AWD’s communiques, from the Vietnam era uniforms to the hate camps and focus on militia-driven underground leaderless resistance, to the various celebrities connected to the wider tradition of the white power movement.
In his article, “Alt-Right and Jihad” (2018), Scott Atran looks at the ecology of violent extremism, noting the parallels between white supremacist and Islamist terrorism, suggesting “when communities lack enough time to adapt to all the innovation and change, its members may fall short of their aspirations; anxiety and alienation bubble up, and violence can erupt along prevailing political and religious fault lines.”Further, as Crank and Jacoby point out in their book Crime, Violence, and Global Warming(2015), links between environmental degradation, scarcity, and crime correlate, suggesting ecological disorganization exacerbates criminogenic mechanisms, leading to more crime, extremist violence, and terrorism. This degradation, manifesting as a severance from the symbiotic real, produces the psychic, social, and philosophical space that must be violently maintained by agrilogistics, with race war as a particular cause distracting from the root issue it derives and seeks to escape from.
AWD fits squarely in this Alt-right movement, and include a number of alt-right memes within their videos. As described in Nagle’s book, Kill All Normies(2017), the movement seemingly feeds off of a love of transgression, motivated by a deep cynicism and reactive nihilism shrouded in irony, a leaderless digital counter revolution against political correctness and virtue signaling. This repudiation of morality and love of transgression is similarly an attack on civility itself, and by extension civilization, rationalizing dehumanization yet doing so satirically and in a detached manner. The intentional triggering can therefore be understood as an anti-establishment attack, targeting the hegemony of the liberal elite sensibilities so as to accelerate the collapse of a multicultural feminist, cultural Marxism, yet doing so through anti-conformity, anti-authoritarian approach seeking only to liberate the unconscious source of psychic energy derived from instinctual needs and drives, Freud’s “Id.”
This is to say, if politics stems from culture, the alt-right has become a cultural factory, producing the psychic, social, and philosophical space to shift that culture through a form of mimetic warfare, using technology as the means for an open-source insurgency that comes off as a type of radical evil.
Charles Taylor suggests this tendency to resist the ethic of universalism stems
from an excitement aroused in us by the rejection of the good itself. The motive here would be a kind of joy in destruction, a sense of heroic greatness in tearing down what the ethic of universal benevolence has tried to build…whether or not this kind of evil exists depends on a hermeneutical reading of motives…the ability to transform and transcend the instinctual heritage of nascent humanity which this move to a higher good requires would also make possible the step to what I’m calling radical evil: a drive to destroy the good which is also (largely) unanchored in this heritage.
Taylor suggests poetry as potentially offering a “ritual of reconnection” to “the whole” since “we are biologically tied to a certain relation to the cosmos (a relation we have set about destroying in a feckless fashion).” (ibid, 344) Thus the importance of eco-poetic critiques of the hyper agrilogistic symbolism of fascism that instead can locate “the real language, the living creative one, which reconnects, as against the dead language which simply designates things that everyone can see, and allows us to manipulate them, totally ignoring their sign-character.” (ibid)
This is perhaps similar to Voegelin’s recommendation for the need to restore language in order to clarify theory and recognize, in the different language symbols, the very order of existence. By reconstituting the broken whole of the symbiotic real, such language can heal and repair any severance to restore the intention for an original mammalian playfulness and the building of healthy and safe playscapes through language.
AWD thus utilizes Romanticism in the imagery it produces in conformity with its desire to escape the meaningless of the neoliberal order it identifies as the “New World Order,” or “Zionist Occupational Government,” seeking instead to make its own alienated narrative dominant. The desire for a new relationship to the land is further expressed, much like Hitler’s desire for autarkia and living space, similarly informs the narrative strategy of AWD, referring to neo-Nazi treatises like the Turner Diaries and Siege as approaches to attack the cities that express the logic of agrilogistics.
By clowning around in their videos, and engaging in a kind of “free speech extremism,” the group thus invites a disinhibition of fascist tendencies, naturalized as morally justifiable, as they seek to unite a eugenic theory with a romantic ecology in a “soil and blood” narrative that promotes an race-based approach to the land and politics, seeking to make their video communiques a kind of blueprint to follow, yet one that violently rejects the politics of multicultural solidarity and Marxist critique and therefore attacks the academy, seen as a symbol of the destruction of traditional identity. In this regard one might see a willingness to collapse the complexity of socioeconomic conditions into a symbol of apocalyptic war between the white race and harmful globalists, promoting an anti-state movement along with underground conspiracist subcultures.
This is to say, fascism becomes an omnipresent possibility, the potential to derail into a perspective constituted by the eternal struggle with the difficulties of temporality, shifting power dynamics, energy circuits, and material flows that make up the web of life, the symbiotic real. As a mode of thought, it rejects reality, severing itself from inter-relationality, instead producing meaning in maintaining the severance as a necessary duty. Yet this duty and severance are both a mode-of-thought constituted by a dualism-producing boundary, the extension of which manifests in both AWD’s communiques as well as the Nazi death camps. It is a strategy of self-referential closure, a race-based strategy against the alienation of agrilogistics; and here we find perhaps a pathway out of this severance and logic.
Nazism and fascism are both alternatives sought for their opposition to the neoliberal hegemonic agrilogistics that violently sever indigeneity from the symbiotic whole in the first place. The longing for family, home, resolution, and tradition are thus a primary motivating desire. AWD rejects the eco-feminist and Marxist approach to this kind of homesteading, as where they find a piece of graffiti, “Join your local coven,” and cover it to write, “Join your local Nazis,” an unconscious promotion of patriarchy and hierarchy perhaps, yet one exemplifying the opposition to an enchanted, gender egalitarian ideal rooted in a symbiotic whole.
We might then see Nazism not so much as producing marginalization, but rather as an expression of it, the Nazi mindset as a place of division and the struggle for union, where strained relationships, violent tensions, and the death systems move from the unconscious into violent expression. Consider the strategy for instance of using nuclear weapons to attack the infrastructure of western civilization – a strategy that seems suicidal at best. Yet one can perhaps see the desire for violent insurgency as the rage boiling by those that feel altogether unfree, where death is considered preferable to an enslaved life. Here, identity is produced in opposition to a death culture, seeking to destroy the structures that capture the individual by recourse to a death cult that simply concentrates the hyper-severance in a more extreme form.
The texture of AWD’s video communiques must then be seen as a site of struggle in an ideological space severed by agrilogistics, where fear and hatred of a disabling social system is systemically caused and therefore requires an ecological approach to re-immerse the desire to feel indigenous back into the symbiotic real, requiring alternative structures themselves capable of rupturing the typical agrilogistic mode of thought. I have sought in this paper to intimate a move from agrilogistics toward an ecopoetic critique that may go some way towards this goal.
This essay has suggested that a new approach to white supremacy and neo-Nazism is required to dismantle it, one that can reorient the front line against Nazis themselves to the imaginal spaces in people’s minds, both fascists and anti-fascists so as to make explicit a common oppression perpetrated by the violence needed to maintain agrilogistics (“corporate profit”) at the expense of the well-being of the organisms trapped within the psychic, social, and philosophic space that manifest from and reproduce its logic.
AWD for instance communicates a particular narrative tradition that is important to understand as part of the larger ecosystem it operates within, and in fact is operating as part of a leaderless resistance cell strategy, hiding a broader movement of sedition driven by movement literature. It is important to know this history to realize the internal struggle, empirical experience, and the genealogy of symbols, and how these elements converge in the individual expressions of the white power movement.
Eco-poetics in turn offers an important alternative interpretation of the Nazi phenomenon, one that identifies the wider ecosystem that informs and produces desire in any of its constituent members, yet able to engage with the relations and values by reorienting the relationships of a semiotic-material reality to heal the trauma of severance, and restore the memory of indigeneity and the love of land through crafting an alternative language able to provide an alternative habitat to live and operate within.
Like any home, love and kindness must be a necessary social arrangement, able to dissolve any harmful psychological or social structures, depriving them of the energy flow needed to concretize and sustain themselves; instead, a more effective language can catalyze system transformation and reorganize the relationships necessary to ensure a more skillful, poetic dwelling, one that is contingent on the valuing and liking for both human and non-human, and therefore needs the presence of both.
A good overview of “Monster Culture” can be found in Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” in which he points out the idea of monsters assume the embodiment of a certain cultural moment, its propensity to shift accordingly within the matrix of relations that generate them, their transgression of categorical boundaries, their deviance and refusal to be assimilated within any normalizing cultural codes, their identities contingent upon transgressing subordination and control, their tendency to freely symbolize, normalize, and enforce forbidden desires, and a catalyzing of reevaluating cultural assumptions and why we have created them. In this regard, they provide “not just a fuller knowledge of our place in history and the history of knowing our place, but they bear self-knowledge, humanknowledge—and a discourse all the more sacred as it arises from the Outside.”