Francis Parker Yockey, an American fascist who died in jail in 1960, is being resuscitated as 'a prophet for our movement.'
Late one night in June 1998, a disabled black man was chained to the back of a pickup truck in Jasper, Texas, and dragged by his ankles on a rough rural road for several miles until his head ripped off his body. White supremacist John William King, 25, and two of his friends were subsequently tried and convicted for the gruesome murder of James Byrd Jr.
The first of the accused to go to court, King showed little remorse when the death sentence was handed down. He issued a terse statement through his lawyer that ended with a quote from deceased American fascist Francis Parker Yockey: "The promise of success is with the man who is determined to die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly."
That Yockey's name should have surfaced in connection with the gruesome hate crime in Jasper attests to his enduring reputation within neofascist and white supremacist circles. Yockey's turgid, 600-page book Imperium — which King quoted in court — has widely influenced right-wing extremist leaders in the United States and Europe.
Born and raised in Chicago, Yockey was one of the most elusive and enigmatic characters associated with the American far right in the 20th century. After World War II, he traveled extensively abroad, weaving a web of neo-Nazi contacts.
When the FBI finally caught up with this wandering anti-Semite in 1960, Yockey was carrying seven birth certificates and three passports, all bearing his photo but each with a different name. Shortly thereafter, Yockey committed suicide in a San Francisco jail.
Since his death, Yockey has emerged as the patron saint of the Holocaust-denial circuit and a cult figure among white supremacists worldwide.
"He is a prophet for our movement," says longtime Ku Klux Klan leader Roy Frankhauser, who keeps a photo of Yockey prominently displayed on his bedroom wall in Reading, Penn. But Frankhauser admits, "It's a challenge to read Yockey's writings. His ideas are really complex. I can't say I comprehend him completely."
Boogie-Woogie, Jews and the Soviets
Written as a kind of extended philosophical pep talk for brainier right-wing radicals, Imperium pitched an upbeat message to beleaguered fascists, urging them to engage in a "world-historical struggle" at a time when things looked rather bleak for their cause. Yockey insisted that the fall of the Third Reich was merely a temporary setback that paved the way for a future triumph.
While Yockey never mentioned Hitler or the Nazis by name in Imperium, he defended their legacy by claiming that the Final Solution was a myth. He was one of the first American writers — if not the first — to deny the Holocaust in print: "'Gas-chambers' that did not exist were photographed, and a 'gasmobile' was invented to titillate the mechanically-minded."
Yet in private conversations, according to FBI reports, Yockey praised how the Germans exterminated the Jews during World War II.
Yockey was a severe critic of democratic elections, which he described as "a mere cover for unhampered looting by the financier." Yockey also harbored a fierce antipathy toward American popular culture.
As he saw it, postwar Western Europe had become a colony of the United States, which was debased by alien minorities and their decadent manifestations — Hollywood, jazz, boogie-woogie dancing and the like.
Yockey's anti-American views were so extreme that he denounced U.S. cultural domination as a greater threat to Europe than the more heavy-handed military repression imposed by the Soviet Union.
He saw the Soviet-orchestrated anti-Semitic show trials in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1952 as proof that Russia had become an enemy of world Jewry and was therefore a potential partner in the anti-American resistance struggle.
Yockey's sympathy for Stalinist Russia put him at odds with most white supremacists in the United States who were fixated on the notion that Soviet Communism was part of a Jewish plot to take over the world.
George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party in 1959, was vehemently opposed to Yockey's pro-Soviet line. Rockwell chided Yockey's supporters for falling "into one of the most deadly traps ever set by the scheming, villainous Hebrew: the monstrous fraud of Soviet 'anti-Semitism.'"
Impatient with U.S. right-wing extremists who obsessed over little else than Russia and the Red Menace, Yockey searched for allies in other countries. He criss-crossed Europe and the Middle East in an effort to enlist others in his war against America and Jewry. He even spent a few weeks in Cuba, shortly after Fidel Castro seized power, trying to drum up support for his cause.
Cyanide for the 'Creative Genius'
Whatever strange game Yockey was playing came to an abrupt halt a few months later when the FBI arrested him in Oakland, California, on charges of passport fraud. "This is not a small fish. This is a man that we are very, very interested in," a U.S. government source told the San Francisco Examiner.
On June 17, 1960, after 11 days in prison, Yockey took his own life by swallowing a cyanide capsule.
Yockey's story might have ended there, if Willis Carto, the founder and godfather of the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby, had not appeared on the scene. Carto was the last person to visit Yockey in jail before he committed suicide.
In his monthly newsletter Right, Carto eulogized Yockey, describing him as "a great creative genius" and "a martyr" who had been "hounded and persecuted like a wild beast."
More than anyone else, Carto was instrumental in promoting Yockey's writings and his posthumous reputation among fascists as a so-called American visionary. Carto's Noontide Press published a paperback version of Imperium.
"Now, for the first time, those soldiers who enlist in the service of the West have a profound theory to inspire and guide them," Carto stated in a lengthy introduction to the Noontide Press edition, which has sold more than 20,000 copies. Alluding to the Third Reich, Carto predicted that Yockey's tome would "live a thousand years."
Samples of Yockey's inflammatory prose — including an essay addressed to America's youth — were later featured in The Spotlight, the weekly tabloid of the Liberty Lobby.
And the Institute for Historical Review, yet another tentacle of the Carto complex, was founded to elaborate upon Yockey's claim that the Nazi Holocaust never happened.
After supporting Alabama Gov. George Wallace's third-party presidential bid in 1968, Carto took control of Youth for Wallace and renamed it the National Youth Alliance. The ousted directors of the Wallace youth group grew concerned when they discovered that the movers and shakers behind Carto's political apparatus were part of a subterranean neo-Nazi cult known as the Francis Parker Yockey Society.
"They belong to secret cells," columnist Drew Pearson reported in 1969, "where they are known only by code names. ... They sing the old Nazi songs, hoard Nazi war relics and display the swastika at their meetings. ... They seek the overthrow of democracy in the United States."
Imperium was introduced as the founding theoretical text of the short-lived National Youth Alliance, which disbanded amidst internecine strife. (It would be reconstituted as the National Alliance by William Pierce, a former Rockwell ally and today a key neo-Nazi figure.) For several years, one-time Klansman David Duke sold Imperium through his mail-order book catalog.
In 1981, Liberty Bell Publications, run by George Dietz in Reedy, W. Va., brought out another book by Yockey called The Enemy of Europe. This obscure tract was dedicated to "the founder of the Francis Parker Yockey Society, Louis T. Byers, an Aryan of Aryans... ." Excerpts of The Enemy of Europe had previously appeared in TRUD! From the White Underground ("Trud" is Russian for "truth"), a small-circulation journal edited by American rightist Douglas Kaye, who also published a collection of Yockey's essays.
Yockey and the Modern Right
Yockey's books and articles continue to be distributed by neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups in the U.S. and abroad. German and Spanish translations of Imperium are now available in European bookstores.
In addition, Yockey is admired by leading British neo-Nazis, including former British National Party chief John Tyndall, who described Imperium as a work "of outstanding philosophical importance." And a group of French Yockey fans were involved in launching a new European Liberation Front, which has close ties to "red-brown" extremists in post-Soviet Russia.
Yockey's influence also persists today among the growing number of practitioners of Odinism — in particular, the Ásatrú Alliance, headquartered in Arizona — who seek to revive the pagan rituals of pre-Christian Nordic culture.
These circles intersect with the occult underground, the Church of Satan, and racist elements of the "black metal" music scene. For several years, Kerry Bolton, a New Zealand-based publisher of Yockey's writings, has been advocating a bizarre fusion of occultism and fascist politics.
Kevin Coogan, author of a recently published authoritiative biography of Yockey (Dreamer of the Day, Autonomedia, 1999), notes that elements of what he calls "the current Yockey revival" also can be seen reflected in personalities like Michael Moynihan, a musician and writer who inhabits the netherworld of black metal/occult/fascism and is a leading member of the Ásatrú Alliance.
Moynihan's Portland, Ore.-based Storm Records even sells a CD which includes a song that, according to Coogan, is "directly inspired" by Yockey. Coogan also points out the interest in Yockey within the Abraxas Foundation, "a Church of Satan-influenced group."
While Yockey remains a cult hero only among right-wing extremists, his story has broader significance. It underscores the fact that resurgent fascist movements can assume widely diverging forms, some of which may be difficult to recognize.
This is important to remember at a time when progressive and far-right critiques of economic globalization and the World Trade Organization appear, at least on the surface, to overlap in certain respects. If fascism should return as a serious political force, it is much more likely to appear in an unexpected guise than in a hooded sheet or a brown shirt with a swastika.
Martin A. Lee is the author of The Beast Reawakens (Routledge, 1999), a book about resurgent fascism and right-wing extremism in the U.S. and Europe.