National Socialist Black Metal Becoming Soundtrack for Racist Right
Every movement has its music. for liberals and socialists of decades ago, it was the socially aware folk music of Pete Seeger and others like him. For the antiwar counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, it was the rebellious lyrics of the Rolling Stones and a score of other groups.
Today, for the revolutionary right in the United States and Europe, the soundtrack of choice is white power music — and more specifically, the bands of "national socialist black metal," or NSBM.
Perhaps more than any others, the NSBM bands — most of which are Scandinavian or German, but which include a handful of American groups — have taken racist music to new extremes.
Many are not content to merely sing songs of violence and hatred. Like the protagonist in Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, they have engaged in murders and other crimes as a way of defying society.
All that is attractive to William Pierce, the leader of America's leading neo-Nazi group, the National Alliance, and a man who last year acquired Resistance Records, the nation's largest white power music label. Despite his obvious distaste for rock music, Pierce clearly sees the opportunities offered by NSBM.
Making Hate Pay
As Pierce knows, intelligent, rebellious youths who have crossed some very serious societal lines make good revolutionaries. The music they create, which is often technically quite expert, has proven to be a highly effective recruiting tool for other disaffected youths.
And what's more, the music sold by all white power bands is remarkably lucrative — so much so, that the entire milieu has increasingly been overtaken by violence. What was once a subculture of angry young racists is more and more the province of organized criminals.
Consider the case of Hendrik Möbus, which is detailed in this Intelligence Report's cover story.
Arrested outside Pierce's West Virginia headquarters last summer, Möbus is a German neo-Nazi, a convicted murderer of a 14-year-old boy and a key player on the international NSBM scene. He faces deportation back to Germany on charges that he violated his parole in the murder.
But his importance to Pierce is something more mundane: Möbus apparently brought Pierce contracts or other arrangements that will help him market some of the most popular NSBM bands — Möbus' Absurd is one of them — found in the world today.
Thanks largely to the fact that neo-Nazi propaganda is illegal in much of Europe, the music of bands like Absurd is extremely lucrative.
By banning it and therefore relegating its distribution to criminals, the European authorities have virtually guaranteed that the profit margins for underground sales are enormous — much as those for illegal liquor sales during Prohibition were. In fact, these profits are now probably financing much of the European neo-Nazi movement.
At the same time, there is high interest in NSBM bands among American racists.
Music Without Borders
The Pierce-Möbus connection demonstrates another important aspect of the radical right as well — its rapidly increasing internationalization. More and more, extremists speak of a "pan-Aryan" revolution that will stretch across continents.
What were once sporadic contacts between American and European racists have become sustained links between the neofascists of the Western hemisphere.
For many years, Pierce has visited with leaders of the radical right in Europe. In late 1998, for instance, he was the keynote speaker at a secret meeting in Greece of 150 neofascists from 10 countries. But Pierce is not alone.
A Pierce friend, the Briton Mark Cotterill, took the lead in recent years in creating the American Friends of the British National Party — an outfit designed to provide financial support to the British neofascist organization.
Racist Skinheads, especially the notoriously violent Hammerskins, travel more and more frequently to meet their compatriots abroad.
And former Klansman David Duke returned in October from three months visiting with neofascist leaders in Russia and Eastern Europe. In a typical speech in a downtown Moscow museum, he decried "world Zionism" and called for dark-skinned people to be ejected from the city.
These cases all illustrate a key point. The radical right, like the corporate multinationals it despises, has gone global. Extremist fugitives often find refuge in countries other than their own.
Americans, protected by the First Amendment, are providing propaganda over the Internet and in other ways to Europeans who would go to jail for doing the same in their own countries.
And the lucrative business of producing racist music has become a transnational enterprise.