SAMOVARS AND SPOOKS The DAC and LEL were also linked to the same White Russian network that del Valle first encountered when he was an ITT executive in Buenos Aires.70 Task Force’s special London correspondent George Knupffer embodied these connections. Born in Saint Petersburg, Knupffer was a leading figure in the White Russian monarchist community in London. He published his own newsletter, The Plain Speaker, while also contributing occasional articles to Candour. Knupffer first met Colonel Pomeroy in London in November 1954 as a representative of “His Imperial Highness” the Grand Duke Vladimir, the son of the late Grand Duke Cyril. Knupffer also helped lead Mladorossy (Union of Young Russia), a far-right and extremely anti-Semitic political organization that maintained a quasi-military wing known as the Russian Revolutionary Forces (RRF). A former intelligence officer himself,71 Pomeroy used his visit to London to seek out contacts with East European exiles such as General Wladyslaw Anders, a Polish military leader who wanted the West to back a Polish exile army.72 Captain Henry Kerby, the man who arranged Pomeroy’s meeting with Anders, was a former MI6 officer and Russian expert turned Tory parliamentarian. Kerby, in turn, maintained longstanding close ties to Knupffer.73
In his first article for Task Force in December 1955, Knupffer claimed that New York banking houses like Kuhn Loeb were behind the Bolshevik Revolution. He then argued that Russia was no longer completely under the control of the “conspiracy” that had its roots in a two-thousand year old clash of “two Messianisms”; namely, the Christian world view that looked to the “world beyond the grave, of life everlasting” and the messianism that focused on “this world of material power and possessions.” The Russian Communist regime, Knupffer said, was now being forced “slowly but surely” to adjust itself “to the wishes and needs of the Russian people.” Since Moscow “is no longer an effective tool for the achievement of world domination by the materialistic messianists,”
if we continue to see only the enemy in Moscow, we will be stabbed in the back by the enemy in New York, who wants to lead us. But that enemy, like the one in Russia, is only using America as a base.
Knupffer concluded that both Russia and America were “victims of a subtle and powerful subversive force which they have not recognized in time.”74 In 1956 the DAC touched off a heated controversy after Task Force reprinted a lengthy attack on a Russian exile group known as the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists (NTS) by Peter J. Huxley-Blythe, then a protégé of Knupffer.75 The article, “Insecure Security,” accused the CIA of financing the NTS that Huxley-Blythe claimed was really under KGB control. Knupffer and other White Russian monarchists especially despised the NTS because it had collaborated with CIA plans to balkanize the former Russian Empire by supporting an independent Ukraine.76 Huxley-Blythe’s piece so enraged the Solidarists that Task Force was forced to print a rebuttal by NTS’s Washington representative to avoid a lawsuit.
Knupffer and del Valle also tried to develop a far right network around the globe that included a proposed “World Committee for Truth and Liberty.” In a 6/26/1967 letter to del Valle, Knupffer reported that he had visited Rhodesia, South Africa, Portugal, and Spain to seek backing for the committee.77 In his 7/3/1967 letter replying to Knupffer, del Valle noted:
There already exists a measure of cooperation between our nationalists and those of other countries, especially yours. Coordination would increase our effectiveness. Chesterton and I have helped one another in a small way . . . I too was in Spain in May and I believe I have good sympathetic contacts there. You may be certain I understand that the sources of help must not be mentioned. I’m sure [Wickliffe] Vennard, Oliver [R.P. Oliver, a leading American far rightist] and [Frank] Serpico [OMNI’s publisher] understand the need for discretion.
Finally, both Del Valle and Knupffer became entangled in the weird “Knights of Malta” group headed by Charles Pichel and Del Valle’s continued ties to Pichel, whom Knupffer despised, would eventually end their collaboration.78 Part Five: Conspiracy Theory, Globalization, and the Contemporary Right THE PERSISTANCE OF CONSPIRACY THEORY Even as British National Front flourished in the1970s, the American right populist third party movement led by Alabama Governor George Wallace collapsed in the wake of the Nixon Administration’s “Southern Strategy” and the attempted assassination of Wallace. America’s defeat in Vietnam – combined with the Watergate crisis – led to a further weakening of the right. The 1970s also saw a dramatic decline of the DAC, although Task Force continued to publish and del Valle grew closer to the far-right Liberty Lobby.79 After del Valle’s death on April 28, 1978 at age 85, however, the DAC ceased to exist.
The DAC’s addiction to conspiracy theory never waned from its founding to its demise. A conspiratorial mentality, in fact, seems endemic to the American far right. In the late 1950s, for example, the John Birch Society (JBS) arose as the preeminent group on the far right. Although the JBS rejected anti-Semitism, it proved incapable of abandoning a conspiratorial mindset. JBS founder Robert Welsh even famously accused then President Dwight D. Eisenhower of being a conscious agent of the Kremlin.80 In the 1960s a more popular version of the idea that the “Eastern elite” was engaged in weakening America for the benefit of Communism was promulgated in a series of rightwing best sellers; most famously John Stormer’s None Dare Call It Treason and two Phyllis Schlafly books, A Choice Not an Echo and The Gravediggers. Activists from Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign spread these and similar writings across the country.81
During the early 1980s, the militia movement rediscovered arguments first advanced by groups like the DAC. Contemporary militia polemics about “UN invaders” on American soil, for example, recycle myths first developed in the1950s. These fantasies were updated to include – among other things – plots involving UFOs, weather control, Satanic cults, the Trilateral Commission and Y2K. We have also seen charges that Bill Clinton murdered one of his close White House advisors and dumped his body in a federal park; Hillary Clinton is a lesbian witch; George Bush Sr. used the phrase “new world order” to speak in code to his Masonic-Illuminati cronies; and that Yale’s Skull and Bones fraternity secretly runs America on behalf of the Illuminati. Although the militia movement covers a wide variety of individuals and organizations, the seemingly endless proliferation of wild conspiracy theories remain central to it.
THE RADICAL RIGHT As events have shown, the “hidden hand” model – far from being obsolete – possesses a remarkable ability to mutate with circumstances. The hidden hand model resembles a basic plot narrative or fable that exists in a perpetual state of endless mutation of characters and sub-plots while never losing it major themes.82 Understanding the way rigidly prefabricated worldviews function as internally consistent interpretative systems may usefully supplement more conventional “cause and effect” social science attempts to understand the radical right. Because revolutionary utopian groups frequently derive their identity from a hyper-ideological outlook that does not neatly map onto conventional political logic, we must take this reality into consideration.83
One fundamental question – for me anyway – when looking at anti-globalization movements from both the left and the right is the degree to which they are committed to what is essentially a skeptical (as opposed to Jacobin) Enlightenment view of humanity that posits parliamentary politics as part of a continual debate over the nature of the good. Groups that reject such an approach are frequently predisposed to conspiratorial interpretations of history – no matter how divorced such theories may be from material reality. They can also have a potential “revolutionary” dimension whether or not they function on the far right, far left or in the garb of religious movements/New Age sects. Extremist groups frequently view pluralistic discourse, parliamentary government, and civil society itself – in the form of democratic capitalist, democratic socialist, or even moderate theocratic or monarchic forms – as intrinsically evil. In such a view, the persistence of civil society obfuscates
the machinations of a monolithic ruling class for the far left;
the domination of evil international Jewish bankers and their Illuminati cohorts for the far right; and
the relentless spread of godless atheism for fundamentalist Christians, fanatical Jews, Muslim zealots or New Age millenarian sects.84
In all these cases the fundamental target of critique is, for lack of a better word, the “system” itself. As we have seen in the case of both the DAC and LEL, what such oppositional groups may perceive as an adverse result of globalization – which for the far left could be the increase in the power of multinational corporations, for the far right the rise of foreign immigration, and for the domestic religious right the introduction of competing religious ideologies (all of which are not in themselves intrinsically irrational observations) – are simply used to prove the existence of the larger hidden hand conspiracy.
THE JANUS FACE OF THE ETHNOCRATIC RIGHT
For purposes of this analysis, I would distinguish between two kinds of groups on the right as “ideal types”; namely, the traditional conservative, either in the Edmund Burke Anglo-American vein or the Christian Democratic Continental tradition on the one hand, and the revolutionary groupuscular right on the other.85 Populist right movements such as Jean Marie Le Pen’s Front National, Gianfranco Fini’s AlleanzaNationale, Jörg Haider’s Freiheitliche ParteiÖsterreichs and similar formations fluctuate between both poles. They may even embrace an ostensible commitment to a “long march through the institutions” while holding on to a conspiratorial way of seeing the world.86 Roger Griffin describes new right populist political parties that accept Enlightenment discourse to some degree (as opposed to merely mimicking pre-war fascist ideology) as being based on “ethnocratic liberalism” which he defines as
a type of party politics which is not technically a form of fascism, or even a disguised form, for it lacks the core palingenetic vision . . . Rather it enthusiastically embraces the liberal system, but considers only one ethnic group full members of civil society . . . This contaminated, restrictive form of liberalism poses considerable taxonomic problems because, while it aims to retain liberal institutions and procedures and remain economically and diplomatically part of the international liberal democratic community, its axiomatic denial of the universality of human rights predisposes it to behave against ethnic out groups as violently as a fascist regime.87 To my way of thinking when examining such hybrid formations, one size simply does not fit all. Nor are all these parties frozen in time and incapable of mutation. Griffin’s definition may be more apt in regard to France’s FrontNational, Germany’sParteidieRepublikaner, and Belgium’s VlaamsBlok but such parties, it should be noted, also have a long history of fascist (or Vichy) nostalgia. But does this same model also apply to Norway’s Fremskrittspartei, Holland’s LijstPimFortuyn, Italy’s LegaNord or Denmark’s DanskFolkepartiei? Do these parties “axiomatically” deny the universality of human rights just because they object to illegal immigration, high taxes, or full integration into the EU? And where does one place more ambiguous parties like the AN that modeled its own turn away from fascist nostalgia and towards the center-right on the example set by Italy’s Communist Party?
While traditional leftist “watchdog” groups often operate on the basis of a 1930s paradigm in which the rise of the populist center-right is invariably prelude to a seizure of power by the far right, this way of thinking may prove as misguided as that of those 1930s American rightists who were convinced that the growth of Roosevelt’s New Deal was paving the way for the Bolshevik takeover of the United States. We may even see the growth of European right parties that mimic more American themes involving low taxes, law and order, small government, and even certain libertarian tendencies rather than more orthodox fascist positions. After all, the right populist parties in Denmark and Norway first arose as popular movements against high taxation, a model that also played an important role in the 1970s America right electorial revival.88 Even the widespread popularity of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani inside an increasingly crime-infested urban France may be indicative of this broader trend.
As elements of the European right pass from “groupuscularity” to mass politics at least some groups (or some fractions inside them) may feel increasingly inclined to abandon a commitment to conspiratorial thinking when dealing with issue of globalization. Against this, I would posit the continuing influence of a more marginal and frequently violent fringe right that still inhabit a crepuscular world somewhere between Adolf Hitler and Madame Blavatsky.89 This world – where conspiracy theory easily blends with racial determinism and rampant anti-Semitism – continues to hold high the banner of fascist revolution.
One could view the history of the 1970s British NF – which suffered a series of bruising factional struggles between more conventional orthodox Tory-leaning elements and the core fascist nostalgia clique of John Tyndall, Martin Webster and their skinhead supporters for control over the party – in this light. It was in fact the NF’s inability to purge fascists and anti-Semites like Tyndall and Webster from top leadership positions that dramatically contributed to its political marginality in spite of its popular views against immigration. In that sense the NF may have been the result of two outside bodies of political gravity, the hard groupuscular right and the right Tory establishment, covertly fighting each other for the future direction of the party. The same may be true in regard to the fights between Le Pen and Bruno Mégret in the FN and between Fini and Pino Rauti inside the old MSI.
A rough model that incorporates the groupuscular right, the right populists, and the establishment right might look something like this:
→ ↔ ←
There may well exist fuzzy (and at times not so fuzzy) crossovers between elements of the Janus-face “ethnocratic” right and the more “groupuscular” radical right, including a shared interest in conspiracy theory. However, political formations from the right may also continue further down the parliamentary path just as the Italian Communist Party did from the left.90 One possible way to determine where the actual center of political gravity lies inside such parties would be to seriously examine both the extent to which a particular party’s literature and rhetoric either actively promotes or panders to variations on the hidden hand conspiracy theory in explaining issues related to globalization as well as how influential and widespread these views are among the group’s members.
Conclusion Looking back on the DAC and LEL, it is clear that they were among the first radical right groups to operate in an “interdependent world” and with the multinational institutions – the United Nations, the World Bank, NATO, SEATO, and the European Common Market – that helped shape it. Far from being “isolationists” in the case of the DAC – or “anti-American” as the LEL is sometimes described – both groups saw themselves as part of a worldwide “counter-conspiracy” against their imagined enemies. Using conservative rhetoric and patriotic images, they actually expressed deeply radical views directed against the established political, cultural and economic elites of their time. The ferocity of their fervor against the “one world order” strongly suggests that they didn’t simply react to the creation of groups like the UN or the World Bank in a cause and effect way. If anything, I would argue that it was their pre-existing conspiratorial ideology that allowed them to see such institutions as demonic in the first place. Because this was so, their views were largely immune to logical refutation, as the case of Colonel Pomeroy’s famous map so vividly demonstrates.
Yet an unswerving commitment to a rigid conspiratorial worldview can easily doom a group to political marginality. In the case of the DAC, it is clear that it first emerged not from the streets but from former high-ranking U.S. military officers who mirrored beliefs held in broader layers of society.91 At its inception, the DAC maintained ties to important sections of the Republican Party just as the LEL included sympathizers from the Tories. Yet as anti-Semitism continued to be further and further discredited in the 1950s – while the threat of Soviet Communism increased – the DAC and LEL remained incapable of ideologically adapting to the new reality. As a result, they quickly went from being influence peddlers on the fringe of well-established parties and institutions and entered into a shadow world of political and social marginality from which they never returned. Their very marginality, paradoxically, led them to play an ideologically – and at times organizationally – significant role in the rise of new radical populist tendencies from the right.
Finally, a more careful examination of the complex role that conspiracy theory plays both within the far right and the larger community as a whole may, I suggest, give us further insight into predicting how such groups will respond to broader issues related to globalization. The power that conspiratorial thinking of the most virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Western form now holds in large sections of Muslim societies further reminds us that the issues addressed in this paper are far from being limited to either the United States or Europe.92 An investigative journalist, Kevin Coogan is the author of Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International (New York: Autonomedia, 1999).
1 My work on the DAC is based on an examination of Pedro del Valle’s archives held at the Knight Library at the University of Oregon at Eugene.
2 11/10/1953 del Valle letter to Col. Samuel Griffith, USMC.
3 Del Valle’s first book, Roman Eagles over Ethiopia (Harrisburg, PA: Military Service Publishing Company, 1940) detailed the Italian military campaign.
4 Although he knew the Perons, del Valle labeled them “communists” because Peron’s economic policies included the nationalization of ITT assets without compensation.
5 Del Valle’s archives only date back to 1949 so his previous political affiliations can’t be known for sure.
6 5/26/1950 letter from del Valle to Raymond Armsby.
7 8/26/1950 letter from del Valle to H.F. Storck.
8 In a 1/5/51 letter to Brigadier General G. C. Thomas at Marine headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, del Valle elaborated on his plan:
I am convinced that we should immediately create a general headquarters in the United States for the purpose of initiating immediate action by anti-Communist operating forces, not only in China and the Far East generally, but also in the Middle East, in Russia, in West Europe, Australasia, India and North and South America . . . There is a vast reservoir of refugees from all these places where the Politburo has its iron heel, who are constantly coming to our embassies all over the world trying to enlist in the anti-Communist cause. . . . Certainly if I were so fortunate as to be allowed to go back on active duty to organize such a movement and was able to pick a decent staff, we could begin making it hot for the rulers of Russia within three months and within a year I venture to predict they would be too busy at home to provoke any more wars of the kind we have been having since 1945.
9 Pedro del Valle, Semper Fidelis (Hawthorne, CA: Christian Book Club, 1976), 119. In July 1953 del Valle went public with his story in an interview with the rightwing Washington Times Herald. Also see Andrew Tully, The CIA: The Inside Story (New York: Morrow, 1962), 30.
10 A retired U.S. Naval Officer named Homer Brett told del Valle years later that he had met Bedell Smith while working under Hillenkoetter and at the State Department’s Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). Brett described Bedell Smith’s “defeatist” announcement that the USSR was “here to stay” as a “stab in the back” to OPC. 9/30/1972 letter from Comdr. Homer Brett to del Valle.
11 Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001), 160.
12 In a 10/3/51 letter to del Valle, Aldrich Blake, writing on behalf of America Plus, commented: “My own feeling is that so far as the semi-military training is concerned, the youth organization should be as secret as it can be kept.”
13 In July 1954, however, Coffman died. See Coffman’s obituary,