Interview: Zero Dot Speaks to Troy Southgate
This interview was conducted by Kostas Makedonas in 2013
Translated from Zero Dot magazine, Greece
Q. Greetings, Troy. This interview will be a great opportunity for the readers of our magazine to become more familiar with National-Anarchism. I believe that you are the most suitable person for that. Could you please introduce National-Anarchism through its motto, “smash all political dogmas”?
TS: I think that particular slogan, one of several, was first coined by Welf Herfurth, our National-Anarchist contact in Australia, but it very accurately reflects our opposition to both Left and Right. The party system, which, here in England, takes the form of parliamentary democracy, is heavily reliant upon ideological pigeon-holing. Indeed, by categorising people in this way it is extremely easy to keep them divided and, thus, completely ineffectual. The late Muammar al-Qathafi (1942-2011) once said that ‘the rule of a party is the rule of a part over the whole,’ so it is therefore possible for the Establishment to cater to the interests of just one section of society and we all know which segment of the population that happens to be. Furthermore, given that we always end up with one of three parties getting elected, each of which resemble one another very closely, it logically follows that none of them present a serious challenge to the underlying status quo. So-called ‘extremist’ organisations, i.e. those who claim to oppose capitalism in some way, are marginalised and find themselves on the political side-lines. The slogan ‘smash all political dogmas’ is our way of shaking people out of their old habit of feeling obliged to support the aspirations of one party or organisation, simply because they happen to agree with more of its policies than those of the others on offer at the time. In addition, National-Anarchism is trying to get people to think outside the box and realise that ecological issues, anti-capitalism and animal welfare, for example, are not issues that pertain only to those on the Left. Similarly, things like racial and cultural identity are not the preserve of the Right. Once you actually strip away this contrived dogma, it is possible to be eclectic and take the best aspects from all political currents and create something that is more in tune with what most people really want. We try to encourage people to be more receptive and open to new ideas.
Q. And what is the main vision according to your opinion?
TS: National-Anarchists believe in the establishment of decentralised village-communities in which people can have their own space in which to live according to their own principles. We want to see the revival of rural crafts, personal initiative and economic autonomy. We do not believe in imposing our views on others, however, so in that respect we are entirely non-coercive and like to think of ourselves as very free-spirited and open-minded.
Q. Is National-Anarchism only a theory or is it a practice, too? How is National-Anarchism synchronised with the current political, social and economical situation?
TS: It is not essential for people to live in National-Anarchist communities in order to practice these objectives, because there are things that can be done right now to change our own lives and become more independent. Some people are growing their own food in gardens and allotments or setting up co-operatives, others are bartering and working with alternative currencies through local exchange trading systems (LETS). We have several people who have set up smallholdings or who have offered us the use of private land, so the first National-Anarchist communities will certainly begin to appear in the near future. Regarding the synchronisation process, National-Anarchism is really about breaking away from the existing political system. However, we have taken advantage of the worsening economic climate by attending anti-capitalist demonstrations and speaking to people about our ideas. This is proving very successful indeed and many newcomers are starting to take an interest in National-Anarchism for the first time. There are also a lot of National-Anarchist resources on the internet, such as the National-Anarchist Movement (N-AM) and National-Anarchist Permaculture Information Network (N-APIN) groups on Facebook, as well as the official N-AM website (http://www.national-anarchist.net). There is also the excellent Attack the System (http://attackthesystem.com) website in America, which includes articles and radio interviews with National-Anarchists all over the world.
Q. Studying the theory of National Anarchism theory led me to the conclusion that it refers more closely to Anarchism than Nationalism. Is that true?
TS: That’s correct. Whilst some of us do come from a nationalist background, National-Anarchism itself is not a nationalist current because, and I speak from a European perspective here, we reject the present borders and boundaries of Europe. This might alarm some people, but we have good reason for adopting this position because the ‘nations’ of this continent no longer reflect the ethnic make-up of the Indo-European tribes that founded them in the first place. This is a result of mass immigration, of course, itself caused by short-term economic policies. But countries such as England, France or Germany, for example, can hardly be regarded as ‘English,’ French’ or ‘German’ when such a significant proportion of their respective populations come from Africa and Asia. The idea of the nation, for us, relates to ethnicity and not to the shallow citizenship of the modern nation-state. We will have to form new nations, and these could be as large as a town or as small as a tiny village. Greece already has a great historical tradition of city-states, of course. You are right to say that Anarchism is our chief concern, because things like racial identity are secondary and form part of a wider and all-encompassing Weltanschauung. In other words, we are Anarchists first and foremost, not Nationalists masquerading as Anarchists simply for political gain.
Q. In many of your texts you make an effort to separate National-Anarchism from National-Socialism, Fascism and typical Nationalism. Could you please highlight the main differences between them?
TS: Apart from the fact that each of these terms has the word ‘national’ in the title or, in the case of Fascism, revolves around the idea of the nation itself, we have very little in common with any of these statist ideologies. I think you only have to look at the history of Anarchism and the struggle that ordinary people have gone through in order to maintain their own independence and freedom in the face of such tyrannical regimes. Fascism and National-Socialism are totalitarian and centralist tendencies and force people to comply in the same way that the British or American governments force people to accept liberal-democracy. These systems are based on exploitative taxation and profit from war and economic catastrophe, not to mention the fact that both National-Socialism and Fascism were funded by rich bankers and industrialists. To be perfectly honest, these systems are the total opposite of what we are hoping to achieve with National-Anarchism.
Q. Is National Anarchism an externalised/socialised ideology? Something that concerns the mass or just a specific elite?
TS: It is certainly elitist, there is no doubt about it. But rather than being founded on snobbery or a tendency to take ourselves too seriously, we have to accept that the vast majority of people are simply incapable of taking the necessary steps towards autonomy at this moment in time. It is possible in theory, of course, but most people are still far too comfortable and we need things to get a lot worse before we begin to see any progress. I think the Greeks already know all about that and your current situation has politicised an entire generation. Once that happens, the possibilities are endless.
Q. The opponents of National Anarchism (mostly from the Right) believe that immigration is something that could be solved with direct solutions that National Anarchists often reject, by adopting a more passive stance on such matters. What do you think about that?
TS: In order to stop immigration it is necessary to seize control of the State and that isn’t going to happen in the near future. The internationalist system is in the process of collapsing, so those nation-states who are committed to the various stock exchanges of the financial system are ultimately doomed. Unfortunately, we will see even greater repression in the years ahead and if those on the Right truly want Fascism to triumph then they had better support liberal-democracy, because that is where the next fascistic monolith will come from. To be frank, power and wealth have been in the hands of a diminishing number of people for many decades and the last thing we need is more centralisation, more prisons and more State-sanctioned murders. Another point worth taking into consideration, of course, is the fact that immigration has already gone too far. How on earth would the Right divide the populations of Europe without mass bloodshed when racial miscegenation has been in existence for four, five or even six generations? We have to face that face that political reform – immigration being just one such measure – is completely fruitless and even if a Right-wing group of this nature came to power then it would have to exterminate or deport millions of people and then spend the rest of the time attempting to contain the inevitable resistance that would follow. Is that what people really want or, as I suspect, is it just a ridiculous fantasy dreamed up by people who wish to return to the 1920s and 1930s? The only solution is peaceful separation, as long as communities have the ability to defend themselves effectively. That can and should be happening right now, because the large cities and towns of Europe are likely to become a battleground and certainly no place to raise children or get them to understand and appreciate their identity.
Q. In most of the countries of the modern Western Civilisation we face today the oppression of the State. Despite the fact that peoples rights reach to their limits, they tend to demand more State protection. Why this happens?
TS: Fear. It is a basic human instinct to wish to side with the big boys in order to avoid danger. Goldfish, for example, tend to cluster around a larger fish that has more chance of being spotted by a predator first and, therefore, perhaps avoiding such a fate themselves. Humans are social animals, we tend to live in groups. The extended family may have declined considerably in the West, but people still feel the urge to band together in times of difficulty and hardship. The State has exploited this weakness and has replaced the community as the sole representative of the individual. This is a myth, obviously, because people in towns and cities are far less safe than they were in the past, but the fact that the social fabric has been removed – particularly through the steady erosion of the family unit – makes it even more important for National-Anarchists to re-build the support network by getting together with other families and pooling their resources. The less we depend on the State, meanwhile, the weaker it will become. Consequently, as this happens the people themselves become stronger and more self-reliant than ever.
Q. Your structure model is based on horizontal hierarchies. Many people feel that they have to follow someone and we can see that in everyday life: the whole “life organogram” contains strict vertical hierarchies with leaders that push more and more people to proceed to things, despite their will. Is horizontal hierarchy an utopia?
TS: I think natural hierarchy is perfectly natural, there is nothing utopian about it. If we look at hunter-gatherer societies, for example, which more accurately reflect how we are really supposed to live and interact with one another, it is soon possible to ascertain that there are both leaders and follows. The problems begin when hierarchical systems become tied up with politics, resulting in the kind of exploitation that arises from things such as capitalism or communism. Richard Hunt (1933-2012), the founder of Green Anarchist magazine, once said that a good description of the manner in which ‘primitive’ humans used to live is encapsulated by the expression ‘one word from the King and everyone does as they like.’ I think this is precisely how things really work in a more natural society. Leaders have a responsibility to their fellow human beings and must not view them as commodities ripe for exploitation.
Q. Do you count yourself as a decentralist?
TS: Indisputably. I have always believed that decentralisation should, if possible, be taken right down to the lowest possible unit. It is impossible for an individual to realise his or her full potential if they are constrained by the rules and regulations of others. That is not to say that one cannot have one’s own rules and regulations, of course, but big systems tend to overlook the aspirations of the individual and cater for those running the show. One of the more interesting proponents of decentralisation was E.F. Schumacher (1911–1977), author of the seminal ‘Small is Beautiful’. His book is highly recommended.
Q. Racialist or Tribalist? And why?
TS: Both. In fact I do not make a distinction between racialism and tribalism at all. I suppose tribalism is more ideal, given that one’s loyalty should always be to one’s own family and friends. I certainly don’t believe in all that ‘White race’ nonsense, because it sounds far too centralist and tends to overlook our cultural differences completely. Tribes are far more manageable.
Q. Anarchy: Order or Chaos?
TS: I think we are already living in chaos at the moment and it is not very pleasant for any of us. I believe in establishing order from chaos, so I would have to opt for the former. Anarchy has a rather bad reputation in that regard, unfortunately, but whilst images of defiant revolutionaries in balaclavas is all well and good, there is far more need for us to promote settled, peaceful communities in which order has replaced the utter chaos that we see around us today.
Q. Revolt or Revolution?
TS: The term ‘revolt’ seems to relate to an isolated incident of some kind, whilst ‘revolution’ conjures up images of longevity and ultimate success. I see revolution as an on-going process. It begins in the garden, for example, and ends up at the gates of a new community. The revolution will not stop once we have developed our own regions, that will be the time to educate and infuse the next generation.
Q. Technology: Necessity, threat or something else?
TS: Despite the fact that I use technology every day in order to develop and spread National-Anarchist propaganda, I am a great critic of technology itself. I agree with John Zerzan that modern civilisation is a pestilence that has dragged mankind out of its environment and resulted, not in more leisure time or a comparatively more palatable existence, but in longer working hours and increasing dependence. We now find ourselves on the treadmill and the pace of life is becoming faster and faster every day. In order to get some idea of how different things were for hunter-gatherer societies in the past, one only has to look at people living in tribal societies today. Sociologists have found that hunter-gatherers ‘work’ for around four hours a day and then spend the rest of their time at leisure. People may live a more ‘basic’ or ‘primitive’ existence, but technology comes at a heavy price. Not to mention the fact that technological advancement has benefited from the exploitation and, ultimately, destruction of the environment.
Q. And last but not least, I would like your overall opinion about what Greece faces nowadays. You probably follow the news, so could you please give us your point of view?
TS: Without going into too much detail, particularly as your readers will no doubt be sick to death of hearing about the demeanours of their political ‘representatives,’ I think that what is happening in Greece is a universal problem that must be overcome with a universal solution. I am not referring to an internationalist remedy that will somehow create an utopian world where nothing bad ever happens, but that the answer lies in the careful and measured application of National-Anarchist ideas. The greed and corruption of the Greek State is an incontrovertible fact, but it is now more important than ever for people to ensure that they never fall victim to a predatory nation-state in the future. I recently came across some very positive news from Greece, after discovering that alternative currencies and self-sufficient communities are beginning to rise out of the ruins of organised banksterism.
Q. Well, I would like to thank you for this interview and all the useful information received. Last words are yours, Troy…
TS: I would like to thank you for the opportunity to talk openly to a Greek audience. I’m certain that your fellow countrymen will be extremely receptive to fresh ideas at the moment, given the circumstances. I wish you all the very best and urge you to look after your family and your friends throughout this difficult period and to do as much as you can to get together with like-minded people and try to become politically, socially and economically autonomous. Those of us based in the rest of Europe have a very keen interest in the catastrophic developments currently taking place in Greece and hopefully we can learn a great deal from one another. Good luck from an English comrade.