There are reasons to say that this is a book I should better not read/review and to say that I should. “The pagan revival and white separatism” is the subtitle and I would not want to raise the suggestion that these two have anything incommon. On the other hand it might be helpfull to know what certain people think and (ab)use so I know what to stay away from. But of course there always is the morbid curiosity. A book about extreme political right heathens. In his “few words on terminology” Gardell writes:
Some of the heathens categorized as “racist” in this study would probably object to the label due to the negative connotations associated with the concept in contemporary mainstraim discourse. […] In this book, then, the term racist is detached from any moral assumptions and simply signifies a person who believes that mankind may be classified into any given number of “races” that “by nature” differ from each other not only in physical but also in mental and moral qualities […]
There we have it again, a scholar uses a term which has a certain meaning in the minds of the common man, applies it in his own way, but from the more common perspective the link with certain politics is already made. This will not be very helpfull for the ‘heathen community’. But Gardell shows himself realistic and clear in his classifications. An example:
While not a supremacist, Moynihan does see a connection between genetics and spirituality along the lines of the ethnic Asatrúers. To the extent that metagenetics is a racial philosophy, Moynihan may qualify as a racist, but, again, ethnocentric spirituality should not be confused with Aryan revolutionary activities. There is a world of difference between the Wotansvolk and Blood Axis projects, a lack of correspondence both parties readily acknowledge.
Of course this is in a way a bad example, but I just took an often referred to person in the context, a person well known to people who frequently read my music reviews section. Moynihan is a bad example, because Gardell mostly describes a ‘path the other way around’.
The story we are presented here starts with a history of racism in the USA. It is only recently that racists are “considered public villains. Racism was long considered a divinely mandated order of nature and an important pillar of American society, protected by constitutional law.” (p. 29) Thus Gardell describes “the transforming landscapes of American racism”, continues with “the smorgasbord of the revolutionary white-racist counterculture” and only at page 137 he comes to “the pagan revival”. In these first 100 pages Gardell shows the width of ideas in racist communities passing the kind of groups that we (probably) first think of, but also speaks about the invention of populism and for example the current of separatism, supporters of which are best friends with similar groups of (for example) negroid persons in order to come to complete separate habitats. It is also in this line that you can see white racists having contacts with Arab groups, African groups, some even with Muslim groups since the goals are mutual.
What Gardell’s story works towards, though, is religious racism; racists who do not only have interest in biology and politics, but also want a religion to support their cause. Initially many of such groups were Christian, but as time passed, also Christianity came to be seen as a Jewish product which has to be rejected and in the 1970’ies slowly but surely appreciation for the old religion of Northern Europe rose. That is what I meant when I said “the other way around”, via politics to religion. Not enormously many, but quite a few groups and persons are written about at smaller or greater length. All people and groups that Gardell, as a good antropologist, visited, interviewed extensively and participated in their daily lifes.
Gardell describes three kinds of heathen groups: racist, anti-racist and ethnic. The first group are the ‘white separatists’ (to use a very global term), the second (of course) their counterparts, the latter are not political, but still of the opinion that religion has something to do with descent. The first group is treated most extensively, the last in as far as they initially seem to fit within the first cat