Having already written The Occult Roots of Nazism, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke decided to do a follow-up study investigating the extent to which occult Nazi themes survived the collapse of the Third Reich. What he found was not merely their survival but a whole new Volkisch movement mushrooming in a multitude of guises on both sides of the Atlantic. The anti-Semitism that has persisted throughout history, and that was so significantly boosted by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, has been reinforced by modern nationalisms that warn of racial contamination through the global integration of Africans, Asians and other migrant ("mud") races. Neo-Nazism has been intermingled with the Hindu-Aryan ideas and nature worship popularised by Savitri Devi. Hitler has been enshrined as the messiah of Aryan salvation - he had to die as part of a cataclysmic precursor of the New Order to come.
Some of the beliefs woven into this tapestry of hate are those of the Christian Identity movement, which tells us how Jesus's teachings indicate that the Jewish race originated from a sexual liaison between Eve and Satan, and that "niggers" are pre-Adamic, non-human beasts. Curiously, some of the movement's best friends are the equally racist but virulently anti-Christian members of the World Church of the Creator ("Christianity was invented by the jews (sic) as a tool with which to destroy the White Race," the WCOTC proclaimed on its "Skinheads of the Racial Holy War!" website).
We learn here of the alarming effects of White Power and Black Metal music, produced for a market of disaffected youth. The British scene includes a bewildering array of rightwing hate groups and an assortment of prominent characters such as Colin Jordan, John Tyndall and David Lane. There is, it appears, a continuous process whereby alliances are forged, schisms occur and splinter groups emerge. Some of the groups may espouse unpleasant beliefs but are relatively harmless; others engage in terrorist activities. Indeed, incitement to violence is seldom far below the surface. Through a vast network of tiny cells, ideas that I assume most readers of The THES would find bizarre and abhorrent are exchanged and elaborated, fostering a holier-than-thou hatred that can lead to an Oklahoma bombing and, in a none-too-distant fashion, to another 9/11.
The Black Sun of the title, a black wheel with golden swastika-like spokes, recurs throughout the book as a persistent but changing motif: as an alchemical symbol, a Babylonian myth, an extinct star, the home of Aryans, an icon of postwar Nazism and the SS, and as the Wewelsburg sun wheel.
The book is well written (16 pages of photographs add to the interest). I would, however, have appreciated a "cast list", as the plethora of names and acronyms can become confusing.
The recent triumphs of the British National Party and of Jean-Marie Le Pen, and the murder and posthumous successes of Pim Fortuyn were not predicted by Goodrick-Clarke - not quite. But reading this book against the background of these events certainly makes the story of Black Sun more pertinent than it might have been in 200l. I suspect another book has yet to be written; it may not be a pleasant read, but we are lucky that someone with Goodrick-Clarke's prodigious knowledge can inform us about the esoteric and conspiratorial myths that feed the worries and uncertainties lurking not only in strange cults but also, it seems, in the hearts of "normal, decent folk" - with a vote.
Eileen Barker is professor of sociology with special reference to the study of religion, London School of Economics.
Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity
Author - Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
ISBN - 0 8147 3124 4
Publisher - New York University Press
Price - £19.95
Pages - 371