Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderland, “Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground” (1998) – I like some metal but not generally black metal. Too screechy, too bombastic. I like metal (and rock music in general) where you can still hear its roots in the blues. It’s ironic that “black” metal is the major metal subcategory (I know there’s a million tiresome varietals of metal, and this is probably more true of one) that’s the farthest away from black music.
All of which is to say, I picked this book up out of interest in the far right rather than interest in black metal, or I guess the other point of interest, murder. The Norwegian black metal scene in the early nineties produced a small number of bodies and a larger number of burnt churches, a big deal in a country as staid and peaceful as Norway generally is. Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderland document the scene in minute detail, in that way of rock journalism. I thought they did a reasonably ok job, journalistically, though their subjects, especially the endlessly pedantic murderer Varg Vikernes, contest this. They mostly let the people on the scene speak for themselves, which is generally the right move.
Might as well cut to the chase of my interests- the Norwegian black metal scene embraced fascism along with other “evil” trappings and accoutrements. Vikernes, sort of the philosopher or anyway the dorm room philosophy major of the bunch, adopted fascism more intellectually than the rest, including a “volkisch” worldview that others on the scene ape more or less consciously. And there’s a lot of back and forth about whether the author Michael Moynihan is a Nazi, whether his Nazism influenced the book, so on and so on.
In certain respects, it misses the point, or anyway begins unraveling the thread at the wrong end. What both Moynihan and Vikernes are is a familiar species to anyone who’s had to deal with that just slightly too-old specimen in a cultural space: they’re Gen X edgelords. Bereft of any larger struggle, the best thing they can think of to devote their lives to is offending sensibilities. They turn this into a whole philosophy and way of life, and a means to out-do each other. They’re highbrow shock jocks. Moynihan just tried to push it farther than the others by publishing Italian occultist fascist Julius Evola, Charles Manson, and for some reason Quadaffi’s little forays into the written word. The only thing that unites these people is shock and a certain degree of elitism based on who can/will stick with the nonsense and the gore. In Vikernes’ case, he took his schtick (and I definitely enjoy applying Yiddish to this particular putz) into murder.
Moynihan took it into relatively serious journalism. I don’t think “Lords of Chaos” is a particularly good piece of evidence of Moynihan’s fascist predilections, perhaps largely down to Søderkind’s influence. I see the evidence pointing to Moynihan’s fascism as being his friendship and amanuensis relationship with James Mason, the proponent of aleatoric terrorism as a means of bringing about white revolution, and Moynihan’s flogging of Julius Evola’s work. His publisher, Adam Parfrey at Feral House, was a Jew, as Moynihan’s defenders like to point out- so he rooked a credulous Jew, nothing a fascist need be ashamed of. In “Lords of Chaos,” his fascism doesn’t surface much- the idea there’s this roiling mass of discontent with society being too boring and hypocritical (as opposed to oppressive) waiting for a spark to ignite is a right-wing notion in my opinion, but that’s about it.
But what kind of fascist repeatedly denies being a fascist, as Moynihan has? Well, the pusillanimous Gen X edgelord kind. The kind whose passion for catching out supposedly-simplistic moralistic critics — every enemy is Tipper Gore to these people — belies their inability to take a stand on anything more meaningful. Both Moynihan and Vikernes claim to be more “spiritual elitist” than anything else. Moynihan, being generally the less circumspect of the two, takes that to indulging in Satanism, the ultimate rube’s philosophy. All that spiritual crap means is they’re too cowardly to take what they believe into the streets. We all know which way the “spiritual elite” bent when fascism came around the first time.
So do I think Moynihan is “fascist” as in “a real threat?” Not really. Do I think he’s “fascist” as in “fuck him and the pretenses he rode in on?” You bet. **’