From The Liberty Wall – 4WR – Fourth World Review Interviews Wayne John Sturgeon Of Albion Awake!
TOWARDS the middle of March we featured an interview conducted by Fourth World Review – 4WR – with Peter Challen of the Independent Constitutionalists. The interview can be found here: http://nationalliberal.org/from-the-liberty-wall-%e2%80%93-4wr-%e2%80%93-a-charter-for-freedom-interview-with-peter-challen-of-the-independent-constitutionalists
This month we’re featuring another 4WR interview – this time with Wayne John Sturgeon. Wayne – along with Graham Williamson – has been the joint editor of 4WR since late 2011.
National Liberals will be relatively familiar with Graham Williamson. He’s a member of the NLPs ruling National Council and is also editor of the party’s ideological magazine New Horizon. We understand that Graham will be interviewed by 4WR in due course.
However, we thought that National Liberals would be very interested in this latest interview. We were particularly struck with Wayne’s view that both the ‘left’ and ‘right’ are not ‘opposites’ but ‘opposames.’ Liberal Future (the NLPs youth wing) in a previous article has noted that ‘political labels of ‘left’ and ‘right’ are way too restrictive’ and only ‘stifles political debate.’ Read the full article here: http://nationalliberal.org/liberal-future-%e2%80%93-beyond-left-right For the record, the National Liberal Party views itself as neither ‘left’ nor ‘right’ – indeed, we seek to promote an ideology that goes way beyond these tired old labels.
We were also interested in Wayne’s ‘political journey’ and many of the influences that he cites. We regard the likes of William Blake, John Hargrave, Richard Hunt and A.R. Orage – to mention just a few – as important ‘points of reference.’ By this we mean that they all said/or did some interesting things and provided many useful observations. We intend to produce more in-depth articles on all of there ‘points of references’ in due course.
As always debate is free with the NLP. Therefore, we’d appreciate your comments – good bad or indiffent – on any points raised in this interview. To share your views, simply look out for this article on the National Liberals facebook site https://www.facebook.com/groups/52739504313/ and have your say in the comments section. The reproduction of this interview does not however indicate that the NLP agrees with everything Wayne says or any groups or organisations that he mentions.
FOURTH WORLD REVIEW INTERVIEWS WAYNE JOHN STURGEON OF ALBION AWAKE!
JOHN PAPWORTH edited Fourth World Review – 4WR – from around 50 years. Since Winter 2011 it has been jointly edited by Wayne John Sturgeon and Graham Williamson. From issue 153, 4WR has featured a small Meet The Editors section which provides some brief information about Wayne and Graham.
However, we thought that it would be of great interest to provide a little more information about our joint editors. Of particular interest to us is the path of ideological development they have followed to reach their current political position which can be summed up in the famous 4WR slogan – Small is Beautiful!
We start with Sussex-based Wayne John Sturgeon.
Wayne is probably best known for the number of interviews that he’s conducted on behalf of 4WR. It’s also probably fair to say that Wayne’s alternative and non-conformist thinking puts him way beyond the traditional left/right spectrum, which to our mind simply confines and regiments thought.
With this in mind we were particularly keen to learn more about one of his current projects, Albion Awake! Of great interest to 4WR is Wayne’s statement that the vision of Albion Awake! ‘is completely consistent with the ‘small is beautiful’ ethos of Fourth World Review as inspired by John Papworth.’
Fourth World Review (4WR): You have musical roots in the 1980s’ anarcho-punk scene and counterculture movement. Please could you elaborate?
Wayne John Sturgeon (WJS): From my teens, I was active in the 1980s’ peace movement and anarchist scene, being involved in a number of non-violent counter-cultural trends including CND, animal rights, hunt saboteuring, anti-fascism, squatting and the ‘new age’ traveller free festival scene. During this time, I played drums in a number of anarcho-punk bands – most notably, Luton-based Karma Sutra, and recorded an album with them entitled Day Dreams of a Production Line Worker – the concept of the album being very lyrically influenced by Situationism and anarcho-syndicalism.
I became a born-again Christian in the late 1980s, and after spending some time in various evangelical, Protestant and charismatic churches, I joined an Anglican monastic community in West Sussex as a lay member. After a year there, I spent further time in various denominational and intentional Christian communities all around Britain – Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist – and briefly as a missionary in Somerset, before finally becoming a member of the Religious Society of Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers.
While volunteering at a Christian community in Oxford, I met Richard Hunt – the then editor of Alternative Green – and began contributing articles to the magazine. I also formed the Christian Anarchist and Libertarian Fellowship (CALF), which held a workshop at the Friends Meeting House, Euston, as part of the 1994 Anarchy in the UK Festival. I would later participate in the Diggers 300 protest camp at St. George’s Hill in Weybridge, and help organize and facilitate the Anarchist Heretics Fair, held in Brighton in 2000.
4WR: You started off as an anarcho-punk, but in the past have described yourself as a “Christian Anarchist with progressive nationalist and left libertarian/Agorist leanings”. How did you get involved in politics, and how have your views evolved?
WJS: The Quakers provided me with a prophetic paradigm where I could reconcile my earlier anarchism with my Christian faith, but sadly I had to leave the Society of Friends because of their rejection, as I saw it, of orthodox Christianity – and so I became involved in firstly Messianic Judaism, and then British Israelism and other fringe paradigms within Christianity. The Anarchist Heretics Fair introduced me to third positionist currents, which would later evolve into the contemporary national anarchist movement. Through my collaboration with Richard Hunt’s Alternative Green, I was also introduced to concepts such as distributism and Social Credit, while alongside my articles for Alternative Green I began contributing articles to various periodicals such as The Information, Steadfast, English Green, Liveable Nation and now John Papworth’s Fourth World Review, Papworth having been another associate of Richard Hunt. I had started out as a very left-wing Anarcho-Pacifist, vegan/vegetarian ‘hippy punk’ but was now investigating ‘radical right’ circles and ideas – elements of which I found very attractive, since I felt traditions like the alternative economic theories of distributism and Social Credit had very well-defined Christian presuppositions.
Later, in the first decade of the 21st Century, I would be involved in anti-EU activism, and the Lawful Rebellion and 911 Truth movements, but again all very much as a political activist expression of my Christian faith and my understanding that the so-called New World Order conspiracy was merely a secularisation of Biblical prophetic paradigms.
4WR: Could you share your thoughts on all of those influences? What elements do you take from each one?
WJS: The most important article in my recently published book is a piece entitled The Impossible Dream: An Introduction to Christian Anarchism. Actually, everything else I have ever written is just a development from and footnote to this central vision and paradigm. My anarchism is primarily drawn firstly from Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and then the American individualist tradition – principally Benjamin Tucker, then later the anarcho-capitalism/libertarianism of Murray Rothbard, although tempered by the more radical dynamic of Agorism, or the counter economics of Samuel Edward Konkin the 3rd, who resisted Rothbard’s party political reformism by instead advocating a more revolutionary ‘counter power’ perspective – in other words, creating pockets of anarchic non-statist enclaves, or temporary autonomous zones, principally economic to begin with.
But I have a major problem with anarcho-capitalism, and that is its inherent egotism and materialism, and so I temper this with a more ‘Georgist’ or Geoist libertarian dynamic. It was an American land reformer called Henry George who, influenced to some extent by the mutualism of Proudhon, developed what would later be called Land Value Taxation or LVT. He advocated a single tax on the value of land, rather than either capital or labour.
This ‘single tax’ could be simply returned to people, or shareholders, in the form of a national dividend or Social Credit – although I prefer the term ‘stewardship’ to ‘tax’ for obvious reasons. To my mind, this is the only true and authentic ‘socialism’. It is probably not ‘anarchism’ in the dogmatic sense, as it presupposes at least some form of minimal government, but this is a form of left libertarianism as it advocates a form of wealth redistribution, unlike most forms of anarcho-capitalism. I don’t like the word ‘nationalist’, preferring the term ‘patriot’, but do agree with the holistic and ecological vision of ‘progressive nationalism’ as developed especially by Tim Bragg and Graham Williamson, and which I have merely referenced here. (Please refer to A Declaration and Philosophy of Progressive Nationalism, published by Liveable Nation, 2005.)
4WR: Would you say that your religious and political views go hand-in-hand? Additionally, what do you say to those who insist that religion and politics should not mix?
WJS: My faith and political views do go hand-in-hand, and my search has been for the most consistent meta-political expression and application of orthodox Christian beliefs to current social and cultural economic realities, but I must admit that I have every sympathy, ironically, for the view that religion and politics do not mix. We only have to look at history to see the suffering, persecution and war carried out in the name of ‘religion’ up to the present day. I would suggest, though, that what we call ‘fundamentalism’ is actually just another feature of ‘modernity’. Of course, I would have to argue that ‘religion is the politics of spirituality’, and so true and genuine religion is both relational and therapeutic. To be spiritual is not necessarily the same thing as religious.
The term ‘fundamentalism’ was not really around until the early part of the 20th Century, and I feel its methodology of interpreting ‘religious’ texts can be quite one-dimensional and actually reductionist. This is actually a criticism usually reserved for liberal interpretations of various scriptures, the point being made that just with the left and right politically, liberal and fundamentalist theological traditions can be just two sides of the same coin, each a reflection of the other.
We have to go beyond and get to the essence, which is why I am always drawn to the mystical side of any world faith, and in transcending left and right political categories. My current project is really to develop what some Christian theologians call the Social Trinity, and apply this to the threefold dynamic of politics, economics and culture.
4WR: As a Christian, how do you view other religions?
WJS: I believe in Perennialism, that there is a core to all religions and faiths that is common, universal and inclusive of all. Where I then differ with the doctrine of Perennialism is that I believe the central axis or core, around which all different religious traditions rotate, is the historical Christ Jesus revealed in the universal church and the Canon of Scripture. As the Quakers would say, “He is the light that enlightens all who come into the world.” (John 1.9). All truth is God’s truth in Christ Jesus, but Christians do not have a monopoly on truth. They are simply witness to the one who is truth, the living word of God, Jesus, the word made flesh as John’s Gospel quoted above makes clear.
Sometimes, people from non-Christian faith traditions can live or incarnate the spirit of Christ’s teachings better than many Christians, or even people who identify with no faith tradition and are perhaps atheist or completely secularist. Even so, I believe Christ’s spirit is universal and he is the only way back to the Father, so there is a point where all other faith traditions or belief systems fall short and cannot in themselves reconcile you to God or save you. All people need ‘grace’, and religious works – however noble or inspired – cannot trump God’s righteousness as uniquely revealed in Christ Jesus. So I am not a Syncretist, I do not believe all religions lead to God or are equal in inspiration. I do not believe in ecumenicalism, or attempting to unite different faiths in an organised way.
4WR: One of your current projects is called Albion Awake! What is this all about?
WJS: My project – Albion Awake! – goes back to at least the mid-1990s, and has evolved through three manifestations. In fact, I feel it needs to morph into a fourth and final expression. Basically, it is about reconciling spirituality and the English radical tradition in a nutshell, and also reclaiming and renewing aspects of our heritage that have been forgotten or suppressed. For example, a lot of people know about the Diggers or Levellers of the English Civil War period – but how many have heard about the Kibbo Kift Kin, also known as the Greenshirt movement, of John Hargrave? A lot of people know about Marxism or classical anarchism, but what about Social Credit or the Distributist League? Obviously, my initial source of inspiration given the title of Albion Awake! was the political mysticism of William Blake, whom I personally regard as our national bard.
I have also wanted to develop my central vision of Christian anarchism and hopefully achieve a kind of prophetic synthesis. I would like to take this a step further and develop Albion Awake! in a much more emphatic, Christocentric and Eastern Orthodox sense, with particular influence from the orthodox theologian John Romanides and more esoteric paradigms like social three-folding, and how the Christian experience of the Holy Trinity can serve as a model for all political, economic and cultural relationships including the environment and all of creation. This will take a less obvious English/British-centric orientation, but will still reference significant influences integral to Britain’s historical, radical tradition like Dimitri Montrinovic and A.R. Orage’s New Age journal.
4WR: What other groups are you involved in, and why?
WJS: I am a western Orthodox Christian, having been recently received by chrismation into the worldwide Orthodox Church communion during the paschal of 2015. This is my principal ‘group’ or ‘identity’, for want of a better term. I have become involved in the very newly formed 2015 Constitutional Party (www.2015constitutionalists.uk), which supports and promotes the concepts of monetary reform, Georgism and democratic confederalism. I think this group provides the best synthesis of themes and paradigms that I have been researching and trying to promote for some time.
One exciting Christian initiative that I am also keen to explore and develop is ‘kenarchy’, a concept first articulated by Roger Haydon Mitchell (www.rogerhaydonmitchell.wordpress.com), a contemporary theologian and social philosopher inspired by the Christian doctrine known as ‘kenosis’ – how in the incarnation, God emptied himself of sovereign power in the person of Jesus and how this can also serve as a model for a way of ordering or relating in the social, economic and political sphere in Love.
Also, the term ‘kenarchy’ has the benefit of being more bibliocentric than Christian ‘anarchy’ or ‘anarchism’, so in future I may start using the terms kenarchic or kenarchist instead of the more usually problematic ‘anarchist’ label.
But if I had to point anyone in any other direction, then I would have to suggest taking a look at the work of economist Fred Harrison (www.sharetherents.org). I think his book, The Traumatised Society, is one of the most important books ever written, and highly recommend his contemporary geoist perspective.
4WR: Last year, Black Front Press published your book Albion Awake: The National Quest for an Alternative Britain. We understand it promotes a vision ‘beyond left and right’. Could you provide some information about Black Front Press and the book itself?
WJS: My book would never have happened without the hard work and dedication of Troy Southgate. Black Front Press is run by Troy Southgate, to whom I am very much indebted. I also respect him both as a personal friend and source of inspiration. It is the main publisher of titles pertaining to the new paradigm of ‘national anarchism’, but also publishes other titles to do with esotericism and traditionalism. I must make clear that, while being a fellow traveller of national anarchism, I have never described myself as a national anarchist.
I actually prefer Keith Preston’s term of ‘Pan-anarchism’ or ‘Pan Succesionist’ to describe a paradigm that can embrace all the different strands of anarchism, whether left, right, green, feminist, anarcho-capitalist or anarcho-communist. Keith Preston has a website at www.attackthesystem.com
The book was edited by Troy Southgate, and is a compilation of articles from Alternative Green and other sources. By way of errata, I must say that there were a few mistakes in the book. My article on Christian anarchism misses the notes, and one article entitled Anarcho-Feudalism was mistakenly called Anarcho-Futurism. I also feel one piece dealing with so-called conspiracy theory should not have been included, and regret this.
4WR: The promotional information about your book notes that, ‘the history of anarchism is one of betrayal and ignorance, of misappropriation and infiltration by the left and demonisation by the right’. Why do you think that both left and right act in this way?
WJS: The left and right are not ‘opposites’ but ‘opposames’. I am a multi-racialist, I just question and reject certain ideological features of imposed multiculturalism, political correctness and mass immigration, but I am not opposed to immigration per se. If I do question these paradigms, it is not on the grounds of ethnicity or race, but on the grounds of environmental sustainability, cultural sensibilities, and libertarian concerns regarding free speech and civil liberties. Both the politically correct left and the reactionary right simply do not understand this.
I am an English patriot, but only in the sense that George Orwell was. I am not a loyalist Unionist, I believe in a confederate Britain, in devolution, historical regionalism, internationalist patriotism and other such concepts. I simply say, “Space not race,” and in answer to “Blood race and extreme nationalism,” I say, “Soil, soul and love of one’s land.” Thus, true patriotism is true ecology and therefore always anti-establishment.
Interestingly, the derogatory term ‘Little Englander’ originally meant that you opposed the British Empire and colonialism. I am emphatically opposed to the fascistic and corporatist European Union, but am not anti-Europe. In fact, I am anti-EU to be pro-Europe. I believe in the commonweal of all nations, just not in a centralized, statist ‘United States’ of Europe or one-world government. All this is way beyond left and right-wing dogmatism. Anarchism also needs to develop beyond its own dogmatism, and that is why I have tried to promote new libertarian paradigms like ‘Panarchism’, which seeks to reconcile anarchist theory to minarchist notions of the state.
4WR: Do you ever worry about what others think of you and your ideas?
WJS: Yes, I do have to admit, but I have become very thick-skinned with age. I am emphatically not a racist, fascist, anti-Semite or hater of Muslims. I am not even a nationalist, popularist or (radical) traditionalist. I believe that all forms of racism, fascism and anti-Semitism, whether political or clerical, are forms of reactionary tribal collectivism. Enough said!
When writing articles for Richard Hunt’s Alternative Green in the late 1990s, I received hate mail and physical threats because Alternative Green was merely seeking a dialogue with both the decentralist left and right. This was a real eye-opener for me as I had always naïvely assumed that the ‘left’ were the good guys. I made the presumption that all ‘anarchists’ were open-minded free thinkers, but how wrong I was.
This was a very painful learning process, as I am a libertarian rather than an authoritarian so I always felt genuine anarchism was neither left-wing nor right-wing. In fact, that was what attracted me in the first place when I was at school in the late 1970s to early 1980s. Politically, it was either the Socialist Workers’ Party or National Front, and I hated both, so the anarcho-pacifist punk band Crass was a revelation.
People will always seek to confirm in my writings what is actually their own bigotry, blindness and prejudice, not mine. I do not actually mind being condemned for what I do believe in, but do take offence at being condemned for what I do not believe in, have never believed in and never will believe in. I think Crass had it right when they wrote the song White Punks on Hope, the lyrics of which can be read on the Internet.
4WR: Do you have other interests outside of religion and politics?
WJS: Yes, I do. For over thirty years I have worked in the field of care, alongside people with learning disabilities. I have children, a family. I do suffer from a chronic fatigue type disorder and am very dyslexic, so writing is actually very hard work and exhausting, so this does limit my ability and output. I have tried to ‘seed’ ideas and concepts into the great ‘ether’, hoping that someone out there may pick up and run with the ball better than I can.
I love football, and have supported Chelsea since late 1975. I love comics and graphic novels, and actually learnt to read very late in my schooling. This was motivated by a frustrating inability to read Marvel comics, rather than the efforts of my teachers. I really admire Alan Moore, Stan Lee and this whole genre of art and written text. Later on, I have always loved science fiction, horror, paranormal and fantasy films. I tend to be drawn to those themes in comics or cinema that reflect my preoccupation with spirituality, politics and contemporary culture. Films like V for Vendetta, They Live, The Matrix, Land and Freedom, The Life of Brian and The Last Temptation of Christ would tend to feature in my personal list of favourite movies. I would love to meet someone who could turn Albion Awake! into a graphic novel – anyone out there reading this?
I have also been a very keen drummer when I have had a chance, and would love to get back into playing music in a band and do some recording again. I am very interested in alternative music history and, apart from anarcho-punk, I really like early post-punk, kraut rock, industrial folk, no wave and hauntology, and would like to create some jazz punk fusion of these various styles.
4WR: Any last thoughts?
WJS: I would like to promote the vision of anarcho-monarchism and mutualism as articulated by the Catholic libertarian-personalist thinker Erik Von Kuehnelt Leddhin in his Portland Declaration, which can be viewed at: www.anarcho-monarchism.com/2012/12/26/portland-declaration/
Here, in a nutshell, is my theological belief and ‘ideological’ orientation. In my opinion, Leddhin really gets to the heart of the matter in critiquing totalitarianism and how it has manifested in fascism, Marxism and ‘democracy’ in the last couple of centuries. I would also like to say that I think Albion Awake! in essence has always been a genuine anti-fascist current in the truest sense of the word. This impulse has always been integral to everything I do as an ‘activist’, or philosophical anarchist with Christian beliefs. I also believe that this vision is completely consistent with the ‘small is beautiful’ ethos of Fourth World Review as inspired by John Papworth, and am very grateful to have had this opportunity to be interviewed. Thank you and God bless.
Date: July 24, 2016
Categories: Liberty Wall