Friday, May 17, 2019

Bull Durham?

This week brought indications that a new front in the deep state civil war has opened up. Last month US Attorney General William Barr noted that he believed "spying did occur" against the 2016 Trump campaign. While the Justice Department's Inspector General has been reviewing how surveillance warrants were obtained against former Trump aide Carter Page for months now, Barr apparently did not feel this investigation was broad enough. To wit, he launched a new investigations into the origins of the Russiagate conspiracy theories last month.

It was not until Monday, May 13th, that Barr's new investigation was announced, however. It was first revealed, along with the prosecutor heading it, by the New York Times, long a stronghold of the anti-Trump "resistance." Already there are indications that several of the most vigorous anti-Trumpers are getting nervous.

Reportedly, a rift has begun to emerge between former FBI director James Comey and former CIA director John Brennan over who opted to use the infamous Steele dossier in the intelligence community's assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential elections. Of late Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper have been trying to pin it on Comey, but compelling evidence points towards the formers. As I noted before here, Brennan and Clapper appear to have been at the forefront of the US intelligence community's anti-Trump efforts.

Durham and Whitey

The most noteworthy thing about the recent investigation is the man heading it: longtime special prosecutor John Durham. Reportedly, Durham is one of the most powerful, if little acknowledged, figures in the Beltway. He is most well known for his anti-mafia efforts in New England. In 1999, Clinton-era Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Durham to investigate whether Irish gangster James"Whitey" Bulger and his associate, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, had corrupted FBI agents whom they served as informants too. Durham's investigation led to the conviction of former FBI agent John Connolly Jr. for the role he played in helping both men avoid two separate prosecutions.

Whitey Bulger
Of course, anytime someone has connections to Whitey Bulger eyebrows should raise. Bulger himself alleged to have been used as a test subject for MK-Ultra during the late 1950s. Specifically, Bulger claimed to have been experimented upon by Emory University's Dr. Carl Pfeiffer during a stay in the Atlanta Penitentiary. These particular experiments had a reputation for being especially brutal.
"One of the most guarded and least documented of the early MKULTRA projects was Subproject 9, first undertaken at Emory University in Atlanta and the University of Illinois. Among TSS officials, Subproject 9, which evolved over a five-year period into Subprojects 26, 28, and 47, was commonly referred to as 'the Atlanta project' or 'the bullpen project.' Overseen by Dr. Carl C. Pfeiffer, the project on paper involved 'the use of various sternutatory [chemical substance that produces sneezing and other effects] agents on normal and schizophrenic human subjects.' In fact, it was far more complex, indeed frightening; it involved intentionally producing psychotic states with LSD..."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli Jr., pg. 301)
The great Hank Albarelli goes on to note that several noteworthy gangsters were subjected to these experiments in Atlanta.
"During the time Pfeiffer was conducting experiments in Atlanta some of the more infamous inmates were Francois Spirito, considered the 'father of modern heroin trafficking'.... and also Joe Valachi, infamous Mafia stool-pigeon. Another inmate and Pfeiffer experimental subject was Antoine D'Agostino, also a heroin dealer, who was declared insane while in prison after he suddenly claimed he was having religious visions and was being visited regularly in his cell by the Virgin Mary."
(ibid, pg. 303)
Dr. Carl Pfeiffer
Not long after being "treated" by the good Dr. Pfeiffer would Joe Valachi decide to become a federal witness against the mob. And as for Francois Spirito, as I noted before here, he is one of two individual Albarelli credited with the murder of Frank Olson. As such, Whitey Bulger was certainly in some interesting company at the Atlanta Penitentiary.

Bulger has of course been in the news of late. On October 30, 2018 (the day before Halloween no less), Bulger was murdered at the US Penitentiary, Hazelton near Brucetown Mills, West Virginia. Bulger was reportedly beaten to death at the facility only hours after being transferred there.

Needless to say, the circumstances of Bulger's death are quite bizarre. Bulger, 89 at the time of his death, was wheelchair bound and facing health issues even before arriving in West Virginia. Why he was transferred in the first place is a mystery, as is why he was placed in general population despite his age and health issues. The facility in question had witnessed several murders in the 40 days leading up to Bulger's arrival and the US Attorney Generals' office had just been warned that it was dangerously understaffed a week before Bulger arrived. The man credited with Bulger's death, a former Mafia hitman, has no known motive other than the fact that he takes offense to informants.

The conspiratorial right has been alleging since Bulger's death that the hit was organized to silence Bulger before he could divulge what he knew about Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's time in New England investigating organized crime there during the 1980s. The thinking is the Mueller was one Justice Department official working to cover-up Bulger's status as an informant. While these allegations are not especially compelling, it is curious that a man so closely associated with exposing the FBI's corrupt relationship with Bulger is now spearheading the investigation into Federal spying on the Trump campaign.

Durham, Jose, and Gina (and Erik)

Far more compelling was Durham's role in scuttling an investigation into CIA torture during the Obama years. Durham was appointed by then-Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate 101 potentially criminal cases involving the CIA's use of "enhanced" interrogation techniques. Durham quickly threw out 99 of these cases, and instead opted to focus on two that had resulted in deaths. However, the deaths were not the reason Durham had chosen to focus on these two cases. Rather, he was concerned with these decision of CIA officer Jose Rodriguez to order the destruction of videotapes of these interrogations. Rodriguez in turn had opted to order the destruction of these tapes because he felt that public reaction to the tapes would be "devastating." Naturally, Durham would clear Rodriguez of any wrong doing.

Jose Rodriguez is himself quite an interesting figure. A 31 year CIA veteran, Rodriguez spent the bulk of his career in the Directorate of Operations (DO), the CIA's clandestine arm that oversees its covert operations and the like. In the aftermath of 9/11, he was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the Counterterrorism Center (CTC). Initially, he was brought on to work under Cofer Black, but ended up replacing him as head of the CTC. While there, Rodriguez once again found himself working with his former colleague from the DO's Latin American section, Enrique "Ric" Prado. According to Annie Jacobsen in Surprise, Kill, Vanish, it was the combination of Rodriguez and Prado who personally lobbied Vice-President Dick Cheney to enhance the paramilitary capabilities of the CIA so that its paramilitary arm could better "find, fix, finish" (read:assassinate) terror suspects.

Jose Rodriguez
These ambitious plans were greenlighted and the Directorate of Operations (now the National Clandestine Services/NCS) took the lead in carrying out these operations. In November of 2004, Rodriquez came full circle and was appointed head of the DO/NCS. During his tenure, the NCS became infamous for his use of "enhanced" interrogation methods.

Another colleague of Rodriguez's during his time at the CTC was present CIA director "Bloody" Gina Haspel. While at the CTC, Haspel had assisted Rodriguez in setting up the CIA's "extraordinary"rendition program. Later, she became Rodriguez's chief of staff while he served he headed the NCS. Naturally, Haspel played a key role in the tape destruction scandal that Durham later cleared Rodriquez of. And now, Haspel will be assisting Durham in his investigation of the origins of the Russian collusion allegations.

"Bloody" Gina
Even more curious is the specter of Blackwater that hangs over many of these individuals. After leaving the CIA, Black would join Blackwater as a vice chairman. And then there's Ric Prado. Prado, a figure reputed to have been involved in organized crime for decades as well, was allegedly tapped to run a CIA assassination program that was later transferred to Blackwater.
"...In 2005 he became a senior officer in Blackwater, the private contracting firm now known as Xe. In 2009, after CIA director Leon Panetta informed Congress that the agency had created a possibly illegal 'targeted assassination unit' – or 'death squad' program as the media dubbed it – aimed at killing terrorists around the world, Prado was identified as the head of it. He was also outed as the man responsible for moving the 'death squad' program to Blackwater and a no-bed contract..."
(American Desperado, Jon Roberts & Evan Wright, pg. 285n)
"Ric" Prado
While Rodriguez never personally joined Blackwater, he presently sits on the international advisory board of Constellis, the company that currently owns Blackwater. Rodriguez is joined on the international advisory board by Jason DeYonker, a friend and former financial adviser of Erik Prince. Prince is of course the founder and former owner of Blackwater. When he sold the company in 2010, it was DeYonker who handled the transaction. The links Prince has to the Trump regime have been noted before here.


These connections are quite incestuous, to put it mildly. But just how serious Durham's investigation is remains to be seen. Many on the Right are optimistic that Durham will be a raging bull in pursuing the anti-Trump deep state faction. But Durham has worked for Republican and Democratic administrations alike, and while he exposed the FBI corruption behind Whitey Bulger, he also played a key role in covering up the CIA's torture program. As such, Durham's findings may be as disappointing to pro-Trumpers as the Mueller report was to the anti-Trump faction.

Still, if Comey and Brennan are any indication, there appears to be real concern among the anti-Trump plotters. While nothing truly earth shattering will likely come out over the next few years, Durham's investigation will surely play a key role behind the scenes as a kind of cudgel to beat back the anti-Trump faction. As it will almost surely continue through the 2020 election, the prospect of an October surprise can not be discounted either, especially with Joe Biden looking like the likely Democratic nominee at this point.

Of course, Biden being the forerunner in the first place begs the question as to just how serious the Democrats really are, and if the upcoming election is farce (at least more so than usual), but that's a topic for another time. But certainly after making meager electoral gains in the 2018 Congressional elections, the Democrats appear to have reverted to full blown suicide mode by backing Biden.

And with that I shall sign off for now dear readers. Keep the popcorn ready and as always, stay tuned. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Secret Armies and the Origins of the Cercle Complex Part IV

Welcome to the long overdue forth installment in my examination of the origins of what is variously known as Le Cercle, Pinay Cercle, the Pesenti Group, and a host of other names. This mysterious network has its origins in the 1952-52 period, beginning as an auxiliary of the infamous Bilderberg group. Officially, it was created to seek Franco-German rapprochement as necessary first step towards a United Europe. However, the founding members were all linked two especially reactionary Catholic orders, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM, more commonly known as the Knights of Malta) and Opus Dei. What's more, Le Cercle has long enjoyed close relations with the old European aristocracy, a relationship that appears to continue to this day.

As such, Le Cercle would gradually drift from the more capitalistic, technocratic, and American-centric Bilderberg group, especially over the issue of detente, in the 1970s. By the 1980s, it had effectively become the international right's counterbalance to Bilderberg. Much more information can be found on Le Cercle in my series on the complex.

As was noted there, Le Cercle appears to have long enjoyed a close relationship with the various "stay-behind" networks spread across Europe and Turkey. These networks were established by the intelligence services of the US and UK in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. In the event of a Soviet invasion, these networks would be used to wage a guerrilla war against conventional Soviet forces with the aid of US and UK special operations forces.

It is the purpose of this series to illustrate how the Cercle complex may have grown out of these stay-behind networks as a kind of coordinating body. Part one of this series considered the origins of these stay-behind networks in the World War II-era organizations known as the UK's Special Operations Executive (SOE). the US's Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Nazi Germany's Amt VI-S of the Reich Main Security Office  (RHSA). The second installment considered how the Amt VI-S assets were transferred to a conglomerate known as SOFINDUS as the war was winding down while the third and most recent installment considered the mysterious World Commerce Corporation (WCC).

The WCC had been set up by OSS founder and director William "Wild Bill" Donovan in the wake of the OSS's dissolution and appears to have been used to stash away assets of that intelligence service. In the UK, famed spy William Stephenson established the British American Canadian Corporation (BACC) to do the same for SOE assets after that agency was was also shuttered. The WCC would ultimately acquire both the BACC and SOFINDUS by the end of the 1940s, giving the corporation assess to various special operators from the finest covert operations services the West produced during the Second World War.

While the SOE, or more precisely Operation Jedburgh, served as the model for the various Cold War era stay-behind networks, inspiration was also drawn from the OSS (which was the SOE's partner in Jedburgh) and especially Amt VI- S, which was overseen by the legendary Otto "Scarface" Skorzeny. As such, the WCC was likely at the forefront of establishing the stay-behind networks during the early Cold War. It did, after all, have ample expertise for such things to draw upon from.

Stay-behind Networks --Official and Unofficial

However, the waters of these stay-behind networks are quite murky. Much compelling evidence has emerged in recent decades indicating that not only were these networks designed to resist a potential Communist invasion, but also to suppress strong Communist parties and other left wing/anti-Atlanticist movements domestically. Both the stay-behind networks in Italy and Belgium in particular have been linked to extensive amounts of domestic terrorism during the "Years of Lead" and the "Bloody Eighties," respectively. More information on the Italian outrages can be found here, while Belgian atrocities were addressed here.

the aftermath of the Bologna railway station bombing
Furthering clouding the issue is compelling evidence indicating that there may have been multiple stay-behind networks in many of the nations ravaged by terrorism. In Italy, for instance, there was the "official" stay-behind network, which is often referred to as Gladio. It consisted of three main levels. The highest level, sometimes referred to as "parallel SID" or "Super SISMI," was a shadow intelligence service drawn from the ranks of "patriotic" elements of the Italian secret services. It was centered around Ufficio R of the various Italian military intelligence agencies, beginning with SIFAR and continuing through its successors, SID, and SISMI. It was controlled by NATO and the US intelligence community and nominally under the authority of reliable Italian statesmen. In fact, only select pro-Atlantic politicians and officials were even aware that it existed.

Below this level was another composed of regular units of the military and Carabinieri that would form either "stay-behind" or rapid response units in the event of invasion or an internal civil disturbance. Finally, the third level consisted of civilian stay-behind paramilitary groups. It was this level that was actually designated "Gladio." These civilian "Gladiators" were trained by special operations personnel and funded by the higher levels of this parallel apparatus. While many were law abiding anti-Communist, some were hard line fascists.

In addition to these three levels, there were also "mixed" civilian-military groups such as the Nuclei di Difesa dello Stato and the "presidentialist" Rosa dei Venti groups. While external of the "official" stay-behind network, these groups certainly collaborated at various times with each of the three levels. What's more, all these organizations were involved in infiltrating extremist elements of both the right and left while also recruiting from various criminal organizations to carry out illegal actions or "dirty tricks."

And yet there appears to have been another stay-behind network, more secretive than any of these, that actually carried out many of the outrages attributed to Gladio. This network predated US/UK efforts in Italy, and was variously known as "Anello" ("Ring" or "Link") or Il Noto Servizio ("the Known Service").
"... This civilian organization, composed of ex-military personnel, ex-RSI operatives, entrepreneurs, journalist, and right-wing activists, had originally been created – with a different name – by General Mario Roatta... in 1944. Later, apparently in exchange for assistance and taking refuge inside the Vatican and thence fleeing Franco's Spain in March 1945 so as to escape prosecution for war crimes, Roatta transferred control of the secret organization to the new postwar Italian state (or perhaps, according to some observers, to its American backers), and was thence headed for time by a Polish officer in General Wladyslaw Ander's Army named Solomon Hotimsky. The organization, which was headquartered in a palace in central Milan very near to the Carabinieri barracks on Via Moscova, thereafter intersected with many of the other secret structures... and it continued to operate until the mid-1980s. According to a member of the group... the name "Anello" was chosen for the organization by Andreotti himself after the SIFAR scandal erupted in the late 1960s.
"Throughout much of its history, 'Anello' was informally dependent upon the prime minister, most often Andreotti during the 1970s, but its 'dirty' operations to impede the left (perhaps including kidnappings and/or murders of 'troublemakers' made to look like 'accidents') were also reportedly 'aided' by personnel from the Defense and Interior Ministries, especially by Carabinieri seconded to SID and SISMI.... the 'Anello' entity was involved in a number of important covert activities, including both 'Plan Solo' and the Borghese Coup. In connection with the latter operation, 'Anello' operatives reportedly arranged for Borghese's flight to escape judicial punishment... The same organization was also implicated in facilitating the August 1977 flight and exfiltration from Italy of wanted Nazi war criminal Herbert Kappler; identifying (perhaps with the help of Brigate Rosse informants) the location of Aldo Moro's secret BR prison, which certain higher government officials intentionally did not act upon; and negotiating (with the help of mafiosi) the release of DC politician Ciro Cirillo (who had been kidnapped by the BR on 27 April 1981). Some have speculated that the apparent Mafia-sponsored assassinations of well-informed OP journalist Mino Pecorelli and General Carlo Dalla Chiesa may have been linked, at least in part, to the worrisome discovery of the existence of 'Anello.' "
(The Darkest Sides of Politics, I, Jeffrey Bale, pgs. 290-292) 
Mario Roatta, the alleged founder of "Anello"
It appears that Belgium also featured "official" and "unofficial" stay-behind networks as well. According to the great Daniele Ganser in the classic NATO's Secret Armies, Belgium in fact had two separate "official" stay-behind networks. One was dubbed STC/Mob, and was housed in the Surete (somewhat akin to the Belgian FBI, or a civilian MI5). It was considered a civilian network and fell under the purview of the Justice Ministry. The other, SDRA8, was housed in the SGR, a military intelligence service. As such, SDRA8 was under the control of the Defense Ministry and largely comprised of military personnel.

In addition to these "official" stay-behind networks, there appears to have been an unofficial network that had been organized by Paul Vanden Boeynants (VdB) and Baron Benoit de Bonvoisin. VdB was a political institution in Belgium, having served as prime minister twice ('66-'68 and '78-'79) in addition to having been the defense minister for much of the 1970s. De Bonvoisin was an extremely well-connected aristocrat whose father had helped set up the Bilderberg group.

de Bonvoisin
The origins of this shadow stay-behind network appear to trace back to the Belgian NEM Clubs of the 1970s. In 1971, VdB and Bonvoisin had helped establish the far right Nouvel Europe Magazine (NEM). Fascist militants soon established clubs amongst the magazine's readership so as to meet one another. By 1973, an especially militant organization had grown out of these clubs known as the Front de la Jeunesse.

Formal coordination was applied to this fascist underground in 1974 with the establishment of the Public Information Office (PIO). The PIO was headed by Major Jean Marie Bougerol, a member of SDRA8. The PIO was not a full blown government agency, however, but a public-private partnership sponsored by VdB and Baron de Bonvoisin. As such, the PIO was used from early on to carry out controversial actions against the left.
"... PIO had two official missions, the first of which was to expose Soviet disinformation in the media, largely through the publication of a press review called Inforep. PIO's second task was to act as a clearing-house for information on subversion, distributing information to the Army, the Gendarmerie, the Sûreté de l'Etat - Belgium's internal security agency, and the Foreign Ministry Security Division. Unofficially, Bougerol used PIO to mount the same kind of aggressive counterintelligence programmes that the FBI had been conducting in America under COINTELPRO against the Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement from 1969 until at least 1976 (254)."
(Rogue Agents, David Teacher, pg. 124)
The PIO appears to have become the meta group behind militant right wing organizations such as the above-mentioned Front de la Jeunesse and the NEW Clubs, both of which had been created with the assistance of VdB and de Bonvoisin. By the mid-1970s, the PIO appears to have laid the foundation for an even more militant group.
"To return to PIO, from the outset, Bougerol used his earlier contacts with the extreme Right for PIO operations. As part of his counter-subversion work, Bougerol gave lectures to reserve officers, many of whom were recruited as PIO agents. One of the reserve officers' clubs at which Bougerol lectured was the Brabant Reserve Officers' Club (BROC), which in 1975 was given the task of bolstering the patriotism of other reserve officers' clubs. BROC's members included not only AESP member Baron Bernard de Marcken de Merken and Colonel Paul Detrembleur, who helped set up the DSD and would later head the SDRA from 1981 to 1984 at the height of the strategy of tension in Belgium, but also Paul Latinus, the Belgian Delle Chiaie, protégé of de Bonvoisin. A former leader of the Front de la Jeunesse financed by de Bonvoisin, Latinus would later emerge as commander of the fascist parallel intelligence service Westland New Post (WNP), a key component in Belgian parapolitics in the 1980s covered in detail in a later chapter. According to Sûreté sources, Latinus was recruited into PIO by Bougerol in 1977; in his limited testimony to the Belgian Parliament's Gladio Inquiry, Bougerol at least admitted having met Latinus (266). "
(Rogue Agents, David Teacher, pg. 127)
As was noted before here, the Westland New Post (WNP) would be a the forefront of right wing terrorism in Belgium during the so-called "Bloody Eighties." The founder and director of the WNP, the above-mentioned Paul Latinus, had been recruited into the American DIA while still seventeen. As such, it is highly probable the actions of the WNP were being sanctioned and even directed from a very senior level in the Belgian state.

The PIO network then appears to have served the same function as "Anello" in Italy, namely to perform "duties" that were too controversial for the official stay-behind networks. Frequently, these duties involved blatantly criminal actions. As such, these networks frequently leaned on right wing extremists and organized crime elements to accomplish its tasks.

At this point, it is also interesting to note the close links these "unofficial" stay-behind networks have to Le Cercle. While this researcher is unclear as to when famed Italian statesman Giulio Andreotti became involved with "Anello," it appears to have been under his control by at least the 1970s, if not sooner. This is most interesting, for Andreotti was a founding Cercle member in the 1952-1953 period.

As for the PIO network, its patrons were VdB and de Bonvoisin. The career trajectory of VdB was quite similar to that of Andreotti. Both men were long serving politicians who were major powers within the the Christian Democratic parties they belonged too (Christian Democrats were the political parties the US intelligence community frequently sought to collaborate with in Europe). Both men had served as prime ministers, and both had spent an extended period of time heading their respective defense ministries. As such, this would have left either man well placed to monitor the activities of these stay-behind armies, both official and unofficial, for many years. It is thus unlikely that they would have been allowed to hold such posts for so long without approval from the US and NATO.

Naturally, both VdB and de Bonvoisin were members of the Cercle complex. VdB appears to have signed up by at least the early 1970s, and de Bonvoisin was not far behind. As such, the Cercle complex appears to have been firmly in control of the unofficial stay-behind networks in Italy and Belgium by at least the 1970s, just as these networks were being put towards especially militant uses.

But this series is about the origins of the Cercle complex, which dates back to the 1950s. What's more, the French partners appear to have been at the forefront of establishing and sustaining the Cercle during the early years. As such, it behooves us to briefly consider the stay-behind networks that existed in France at the onset of the Cold War.

French Secret Armies

France was one of the earliest recipients of a stay-behind network, with only Italy's predating it. This is hardly surprising, given the strength of the French Communist Party (PCF) during this time. As with their counterparts in Italy, the French Communists were very popular among the public at large in the aftermath of WWII due to their efforts in the Resistance and general opposition to Fascism. Indeed, the PCF was easily the strongest Communist party outside of Italy, boasting nearly a million members by 1946.

As such, the PCF was able to achieve major victories at the polls during municipal elections during the spring of 1945 and at the national level during elections in October of that year. The latter contributed to the dramatic resignation of Charles de Gaulle in January of 1946. This paved the way for the Socialist party to assume power, but the PCF again dominated elections in November of 1946. 

All the while, the US and UK had become increasingly concerned as there was a real possibility a Communist regime would come to power in France, and likely through democratic means. This led to the first official stay-behind network in France to counter these developments. 
"On the initiative of the US and the British Special Forces SAS a secret army was set up in France under the codename 'Plan Bleu' (Blue Plan) whose task was to secretly prevent the powerful PCF from coming to power. The Blue Plan, in other words, aimed to prevent France from turning red. Victor Vergnes, one of the French secret soldiers who were recruited for the Plan Bleu army, recalled that in the immediate post-war years the stimulus had come from the British. 'At the time I lived in Sete in the house of commander Benet, a DGER officer formally active in missions in India. Numerous meetings took place during that time in his house.' The SAS, specialised in secret warfare, contacted the newly created French secret service Direction Generale des Etudes et Recherches (DGER) and agreed with them to set up a secret army in northern France across the Channel in the Bretagne. 'One day,' Vergnes recalled, 'after he had been visited by lieutenant Earl Jellicoe of the SAS, he said to me: "We are setting up a secret Army, especially in the Bretagne area".'
"The cells of the secret army soon spread across all of France. Involved were numerous agents and officers of the DGER. It was noteworthy that the DGER under Director Andre Devawrin included also members of the Communist resistance. Conservative agents and above all the United States considered the presence of Communists in the DGER to represent a security risk. This applied above all to top-secret operations targeting the French Communist such as Plan Bleu. Therefore the DGER was closed down in 1946 and replaced by a staunch anti-Communists new military secret service SDECE under Henri Alexis Ribiere. With the replacement of the DGER by the SDECE, the Communist lost an important battle in the secret war in France as the SDECE became its most dangerous opponent. Trained anti-Communists from the civil war in Greece were recruited as the SDECE shifted to the right..."
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 87)
the above-mentioned Earl Jellicoe, a British aristocrat and military officer who traveled in many of the same circles as the future British Cercle members
These developments put the French Socialists in a precarious position. On the one hand, they knew collaboration with the PCF was out of the question. France desperately needed access to US funding in order to rebuild, and there was no way the United States would make these funds available for a Communist government. On the other hand, Plan Bleu and the presence of so many right wing extremists among the secret soldiers greatly unnerved the Socialist government

As such, the Socialists tried to counter both factions. In May of 1947, Socialist Prime Minister Paul Ramadier ousted the Communist ministers from his cabinet, denying the PCF access to any crucial post in the national government. While this move no doubt pleased the Americans, a month later Edouard Depreux, the Socialist Minister of the Interior, outed Plan Bleu and alleged that it was being used for the purpose of a coup that would take place later that year.

Paul Ramadier (top) and Edouard Depreux (bottom), both of whom played a key role in preventing a stealth take over of France by either the Soviet Union or the Anglo-Americans
Ganser goes on to dispute just how series the alleged coup really was. Certainly the Socialist didn't seem to have been especially concerned, as they took numerous steps to counter the Communist in the aftermath of the exposure of Plan Bleu. This included creating a paramilitary anti-Communist police unit operating under the Interior Minister, a psychological warfare campaign, and creating a new stay-behind network. The former two will be addressed in a future installment, but for now a few words shall be said concerning Stay-Behind Network Mach II.

This one was dubbed Rose des Vents (Rose of the Winds, i.e. Compass Rose). Curiously, Italy also had a Compass Rose, the above-mentioned Rosa dei Venti.
"While Rome magistrates were investigating the Borghese coup a parallel investigation in northern Italy was uncovering the activities of the Rosa dei Venti (Compass Rose) conspiracy. According to some accounts, the organization took its name from the compass rose, the star-like shape which marks the four points of the compass and which has been adopted as the symbol of NATO. Others suggested that it was a loosely knit association linking twenty, and later more, right-wing subversive organizations. What is certain is that the Rosa dei Venti was involved in coup-plotting in the early Seventies and was financed by a number of wealthy northern industrialists. It also appears to have enjoyed the usual support of the NATO security establishment..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 99)
NATO's banner
Or maybe not so curious. As was noted above, the Rosa dei Venti also appears to have been linked to the Italian stay-behind network. In France, it was the principal stay-behind network until the early 1960s. And its mission was ambitious, if nothing else.
"... According to the overall CIA and NATO planning for anti-Communist secret warfare in Western Europe the Rose des Vents army within the SDECE had the task to locate and fight subversive communist elements within the French Fourth Republic. Furthermore it had to undertake evacuation preparations and provide for a suitable exile based abroad. The Rose des Vents secret army was trained to undertake sabotage, guerrilla and intelligence-gathering operations under enemy occupation. France was divided into numerous geographical stay-behind zones, to which secret cells were allocated, with each zone being supervised by an SDECE officer. An exile base for the French government was installed in Morocco in northern Africa, and the SDECE sent some of its microfilm archives to Dakar in Senegal."
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 90) 
As with Plan Bleu, Rose des Vents nominally fell under the purview of the SDECE (though it has been alleged that a secretive Gaullist group working through the SDECE is whom actually set up Rose des Vents). However, it appears that much of the training and support was provided by the infamous 11th bataillon parachutiste de choc (11th Shock Parachute Battalion), more commonly known as the 11th Choc (11th Shock). This was the paramilitary arm of the SDECE, often compared to the British Special Air Services (SAS), though it drew as much inspiration from the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Indeed, two 11th Shock commanders, Paul Aussaresses and Jean Sassi, were veterans of the SOE's Operation Jedburgh.

The 11th Shock was at the forefront of French efforts to maintain their colonial holdings in the aftermath of the Second World War. The unit saw heavy fighting in the French-Indochina War and Africa, most notably during the Suez Crisis and the Algerian War. After the disastrous defeats in Indochina and Suez, elements of the 11th Shock became increasingly radicalized. In 1958, as public support for the Algerian War began to waver, elements of the unit began to plan a coup to restore de Gaulle to power while other members remained loyal to the government. When word of the coup got out, the SDECE headquarters in Paris was surrounded by elements of the 11th Shock loyal to the Fourth Republic.

the insignia of the 11th Shock
A full blown civil war between the 11th Shock would wait until 1961, when another coup was planned. This one was in response to de Gaulle's decision to grant Algerian independence. After years of bloodshed and humiliation in the colonies, this was unacceptable to elements of the French military. Members of the Army's 5th (Psychological Action) Bureau, the French Foreign Legion, and especially the elite paratroopers, staged the infamous "general's putsch" of April 1961. After the putsch was defeated, remnants of the coup plotters used the Organisation de l'Armee Secrete (OAS: Secret Army Organization) to carry on the fight. Terrorism was a favorite tactic of the OAS.

Several noteworthy members of the 11th Shock would join the OAS, including Yves Godard (a former commander of the unit), and Yves-Felix Marie Guillou, more commonly know as Yves Guerin-Serac. Guillou would go on to found Aginter Press, which was linked to right wing terrorism in three separate continents. More information Aginter can be found here. Guillou would alter forge ties with Le Cercle's Belgian partners as well (noted here).

Aginter Press has long been linked to the stay-behind networks of Italy and Portugal as well. As such, there has been much speculation as to the role the stay-behind network played the general's putsch.
"The OAS coup came on April 22, 1961 when four French Generals under the leadership of General Challe seized power in Algeria in an attempt to maintain the country's union with France. Allegedly, secret soldiers of the CIA-supported NATO stay-behind army who had joined the OAS were directly involved. The secret soldiers 'supported a group of generals who were resisting, sometimes violently, de Gaulle's attempts to negotiate Algerian independence and end the war'..."
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Gander, pg. 95)
But the OAS wasn't the only faction in the 11th Shock or the stay-behind network. In the aftermath of the Second World War, a curious organization was founded known as the Service d'Order du RPF. This outfit was essentially meant to be the dirty trick and paramilitary arm of de Gaulle's Rassemblement du Peuple Francais (RPF) party, but would soon turn into the general's personal Praetorian guard and an unofficial French intelligence service. Unsurprisingly, it had ample supporters in both the SDECE and the 11th Shock. Jacques Foccart, the director and "spiritual father" of the successor organization to Service d'Order, Service d'Action Civique (SAC), was a reserve officer in the 11th Shock. He was not alone.
"... After the war Foccart entered de Gaulle's inner circle and set up the SAC. The secret warfare school that he established at Cercottes near Orleans 'became a place of pilgrimage for SAC members in the 1950s.' SAC in the post-war years had a membership of nearly 8,000 'reservists', including active members of the SDECE covert action department Service Action, and the SDECE elite combat unit the 11th du Choc. Together they all trained in Cercottes, and in the wake of the 1990 Gladio discoveries the secret warfare centre was revealed as one of the places where the French Gladiators had received their training."
 (NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 100)
According to Major Ralph P. Ganis in The Skorzeny Papers, it was actually the Service d'Order, working through the SDECE and 11th Shock, that had set up the Rose des Vents as Communist penetration of the SDECE was still a concern. The Service d'Order was briefly disbanded in 1954, but was again reactivated in 1958 as the SAC for the coup that brought de Gaulle back to power. As such, it would have worked directly with future OAS members in restoring de Gaulle to power. It probably goes without saying, but Rose des Vents network likely played a role in this coup as well.

After the defeat of the 1961 putsch, it was the SAC that took the lead role in combating the OAS.
"... SAC... executed ruthless counterterror operations against the OAS. Recruited into the ranks of the SAC where the barbouzes, or 'bearded ones,' including criminal elements and Vietnamese experts in torture. This description appears to match the French news reporting on the 'Yatagan Commando,' composed of French veterans and Vietnamese targeting the OAS..."
(The Skorzeny Papers, Ralph P. Ganis, pg. 243)
Ganser alleges that after the 1961 general's putsch, de Gaulle crippled the Rose des Vents network and then effectively transformed the SAC into France's stay-behind network. Of course, the SAC may well have been the organization directing the Rose des Vents network in the early years, so this transfer probably consisted of locating the Gaullist loyalists while drumming out the pro-NATO faction. The SAC would become a powerful body within the French deep state --future President Jacques Chirac had directed the SAC during the mid-1970s while serving as prime minister, for instance.

As for the OAS, it had been fairly soundly defeated by the SAC and other Gaullist allies by 1962, but the organization was not formally dissolved until 1965. Remnants would continue to soldier on in Aginter Press and like organizations until 1968. The May of '68 student revolt forced de Gaulle into declaring an amnesty for the OAS. For here on out, elements of SAC and what was left of the OAS would begin collaborating again. As such, it is possible the Rose des Vents network was revived in some form at this point, though the details of French stay-behind networks are hazy beyond the 1960s.

The Service d'Order appears then to have played a role in similar to the "Anello" network in Italy during the early years of the French stay-behind network. However unlike "Anello", which was controlled by a reliably Atlanticist politician, de Gaulle had always been weary of his US and UK partners. As such, when the Service d'Order was reactivated as the SAC, it appears to have been used to form an anti-NATO stay-behind network. It is of course quite possible that the Rose des Vents network served the foundation for the new SAC, but by the early 1960s there appear to have been two parallel stay-behind networks, one loyal to de Gaulle and the other to NATO (the OAS). As such, the waters were quite murky indeed in France by this time.

At this point I will sign off for now. With the next installment we'll consider one particular anti-Communist organization the Socialists set up in the early days of the Cold War and its overlap with the Cercle complex. Until then, stay tuned dear readers.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

From Catholic to Pagan

Black metal and churches burnings are headlines once again, making for one of the more unsettling aspects of 2019 thus far. February of this year witnessed the release of Lords of Chaos, a fictionalized account of the rise of the pioneering black metal band Mayhem. By April, a budding black metal musician by the name of Holden Matthews was arrested for setting fire to three historic black churches in the state of Louisiana. Of course, Louisiana has its own dark history of black churches being burned. But churches burnings have very much became one of the founding myths of the black metal community.

This too traces back to Mayhem. The group had been founded in 1984. Throughout its initial run (until 1993), the driving force had been Øystein Aarseth, who went by the name of Euronymous. By the early 1990s, the band had generated much hype around itself despite having only issued a handful of demos, bootlegs, and one EP. Their proper debut album wouldn't even be issued until 1994, after the first incarnation of the band was defunct.

Despite this, band members were largely able to focus on the group full time without being burdened with holding down a job. Euronymous was even able to procure his own record store in 1991, Helvete (which means "hell" in Norwegian), which generated little to no income, but which served as a rallying point for the emerging Norwegian black metal scene. How exactly Mayhem was able to establish a reputation within the metal community and financially support themselves with so little output from the band (which rarely played live either) is one of the more curious aspects of their saga that has been little explored.

Helvete, which since become something of a shrine for black metallers
According to Dayal Patterson's Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult, at least some of the funding for Helvete came from Euronymous' parents, of whom few details are available on. Presumably, they also helped financially support Euronymous during his time with Mayhem in addition to the record label he launched around the time of opening Helvete. Another future Mayhem member, Varg Vikernes (of which much more will be said below), also appears to have come from a well-to-do family. Lena Bore, Vikernes' mother, reportedly gave $20,000 to a neo-Nazi clique in 1997 to break Varg out of prison after he was convicted of murdering Euronymous.

But what of the other band members and hanger-ons? In Patterson's work, it is hinted that some supported themselves through various illicit acts, most notably selling drugs and firearms. But this may not have been the case in the early days. Many of the participants in the early scene are described as coming from solid middle class background, but even the middle class of the 1990s would have struggled to come up with $20, 000. On the whole, one is left with the impression that there was some real money backing up the early scene, though naturally few researchers have explored this angle.

The band's reputation is a bit harder to pin down. Certainly, the shock factor was a big part of it. In 1991, Per "Dead" Ohlin, one of the band's early singers, committed suicide in 1991 at Euronymous' house. Euronymous did not immediately report the suicide to the police, but rather took pictures of Dead's corpse and collected pieces of his skull, which were later used to fashion necklaces with. One of these pictures was later used on the cover of the infamous bootleg live album Dawn of the Black Hearts.

Dead (left) and Euronymous (right)
Needless to say, this was the type of thing that draws attention. Still, Black Hearts was not released until 1995, well after the band had become legends in the metal community. Sure, rumors of these types of activities were making the rounds in said community years before, but would this have been enough to establish Mayhem as a pivotal act with so little actual output?

The Inner Circle

Regardless, things took a truly radical turn in the aftermath of Dead's death. When Mayhem had first been founded in the 1980s, Euronymous and his cohorts approached their pioneering brand of black metal with tongue firmly in cheek. There was a sense of humor to the whole thing, in other words. But by the early 1990s, Euronymous appears to have firmly bought into what he was preaching. His philosophy has been described as "nihilistic hatred, colored by the brooding, depressive morbidity often associated with the negative side of the Scandinavian psyche" (Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, pg. 204). Satanism had long played a role in this scene as well, but solely for the shock value during the 1980s. But by 1992, Euronymous became very serious about creating a Satanic underground. Fortunately, several of the more extreme denzies of Helvete found a certain appeal in this vision.
"Well he was perhaps exaggerating his own importance for dramatic effect, there's no doubt that Euronymous played a major role in setting the scene for the culture of destruction taking place across Norway. The 'militant people' he spoke of – along with some aware but uninvolved in their activities – would become known as the Inner Circle, Black Circle, or Black Metal Mafia, though more recent statements from those involved highlight that this was not as formal or organized a group as such phrases might suggest. Nonetheless, black metal's anti-Christian/Satanic ethos had, for the first time, been turned into significant direct action, and activities such as grave desecrations and church arson became relatively common.
"Pinning down exactly what inspired the situation isn't easy, and it's important to note that the majority of those involved came from untroubled middle-class backgrounds and weren't involved in other illegal activity. With a few exceptions, drugs were only notable in the scene by their absence, and though drinking with some, it was not widespread at that time. Some members of the circle, such as Mortiis and Vikernes, didn't drink or use drugs, and the use of intoxicants was criticized by several bands in interviews. Though certainly not true today, the Norwegian scene of that period could actually be quite militant and even puritanical, especially compared to most other youth music cultures, not least within metal itself."
(Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult, Dayal Patterson. pg. 161)

Patterson goes on to note that quite a cultish atmosphere grew out of this scene:
"Undoubtedly, there was more at work behind the arsons than simply an ideological opposition to the church. There was, for a start, a somewhat cultish atmosphere, wherein young participants (mostly those carrying out these activities were in their late teens) wished to be accepted within the scene by older members, such as Euronymous. And a culture had been created by charismatic individual such as Dead, Euronymous, and Vikernes, that celebrated evil, hate, misanthropy, and Satanism.
"Interviews of the time saw bands attempting to break every taboo still standing, glorify murder, torture, suicide, arson, and more, often tying this to an overtly spiritual, even supernatural, theme, with frequent references to the devil, spirits, hell, and the like. At the same time, music and art were being created that far surpassed what had come before – recordings whose timelessness has been proved by their enduring popularity. For those swept up in all this, the lines between everyday reality, art, ideology, and the glorious melodrama of black metal were blurred in what must have been an intoxicating mix."
(ibid, pg. 164)
Perhaps "psychodrama" would be a more apt description of what the Norwegian scene had unleashed. Curiously, this militant approach to black metal began to spread throughout Norway, creating local scenes that had no initial links to the Oslo-based scene of Mayhem. One especially notorious scene was the one that developed around the city of Kristiansand. This scene spawned musicians such as Terje Vik Schei (who performed under the pseudonym Tchort, a Slavic word for devil), who would go onto to work with such acts as Emperor, Satyricon, and Carpathian Forest.
"As Terje confirms, the Kristiansand scene was notably extreme even by the standards of the time, with members attacking Christians in the street with knives in the middle of the day. Going some way beyond mere anti-Christian ideology or even straightforward antisocial behavior, these activities were entrenched in the destructive Satanic culture similar to the one that had grown up in Oslo. Like Mortiis (whom he would replace in Emperor), Terje admits a certain 'saturation' of extreme ideas. Even for Terje himself – no longer a Satanist and now married with children – this period is quite surreal to look back upon.
" 'I have to force myself in order to recall these events,' he admits. 'The actions were extreme, but so were we all at that time. Living off human blood, decorating your flat with tombstones, animal carcasses, digging up graves and shit, does something to you, and what is considered extreme didn't seem so extreme back then. Again, it was more about the atmosphere, the emotions and feelings and pushing our limits that led to stuff like animal sacrifice, drinking blood, etc. We didn't see this as part of the music scene we now "belonged" to, but as part of the life situation we were experimenting with. We had some books and ideas on how rituals were performed, but we followed our own instincts – or lack of them – more than anything else. I remember that I passed out on the street on one occasion as I had been living off animal blood solely for quite some time.' "
(Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult, Dayal Patterson, pg. 166)
Charming. Later, these Kristiansand lads would make the pilgrimage to Oslo where they encountered Euronymous in all his glory.  Reportedly, he tried to recruit them as the "muscle" for some of the projects then being discussed among the Inner Circle.

Enter Varg

Easily the most notorious member of the Inner Circle, and a pivot figure in launching the church burning spree that made the scene infamous, was Varg Vikernes. After playing in several death metal outfits, Varg founded Burzum in 1991, a black metal band in which he was the only member. Euronymous signed Burzum to his fledgling record label, Deathlike Silence Productions. Vikernes later joined Mayhem as their bassist in 1992. Vikernes' arrival at the Oslo scene is generally credited with unleashing the wave criminality that followed.
"... Having introduced a devil-worshiping called in the Norwegian black metal, Euronymous and Vikernes began to proclaim their readiness to commit outrages. On 6 June 1992 the beautiful old wooden stave church of Fantoft, one of Norway's architectural treasures dating from the twelfth century, was burned to the ground by arson. By January 1993, fire attacks occurred on at least seven other major Norwegian stave churches. Vikernes was subsequently convicted of the murder of Euronymous in August 1993 and of three of the church arson; he was sentenced to twenty-one years in jail. Sensational publicity during the trial period guaranteed Vikernes the media role of an arch-satanist."
(Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clark, pg. 204)
Euronymous more accurately deserves the credit for the Satanic cult, as he had been working towards such a thing well before Vikernes enjoyed the scene. What Vikernes really deserves credit for, in addition to turning Euronymous' fantasies into action, was the introduction of far right politics into the scene. Reportedly a former skinhead, Vikernes would become deeply infatuated with Nazism and other extreme right ideologies during his incarceration.
"While in jail, Vikernes began to formulate his nationalist heathen ideology using materials from Norse mythology combined with racism and occult National Socialism. These essays were published in various underground publications and in Filosofem, a neo-Nazi magazine published by Vidar von Herske, another member of Burzum, who migrated to France. Vikernes' articles typically revolved around esoteric interpretations of myths in the Edda, with discussions of Odin, his magical ring, ravens and wolves. Vikernes identified himself with Wotan or Odin: 'I am his flesh and blood, his soul and spirit; for I am his posterity and the archetypes in our race are his.' Other articles focused on Norse cosmology and magical practices. With his increasing racial nationalism, Vikernes sees himself as a successor to Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian political leader who headed the collaborationist government during the Nazi occupation of the Second World War. In particular, Vikernes is interested in Quisling's mystical doctrine of 'Universalism,' which combines pantheism with a Nietzschean will to power. He has also written a book Vargsmal, underlining his role as chieftain of his Norwegian Heathen Front."
(ibid, pgs. 204-205)
Curiously, one of the leading figures in creating the mythos surrounding the Norwegian black metal scene also has extensive links to far right politics. This would be none other than Michael Moynihan, the co-author of Lords of Chaos. As Lords was for years the chief source of information Americans had on black metal (its biggest market being the US), Moynihan has played an enormous role in how the genre is perceived here. As such, Moynihan has been accused of exaggerating the fascist tendencies within the movement. And generally speaking, it does not appear that extreme right politics had a significant influence on black metal in the early days. Euronymous had in fact long identified with Communism, for instance.

Still, there's no question that a far right variety has became firmly entrenched within the genre --consider, for instance, the rise of National Socialist black metal (NSBM). In recent years, scholars have attributed these developments to Moynihan himself and how he framed black metal in Lords.

The Curious Associates of Mr. Moynihan

This would hardly be the first time Moynihan has attempted to launch a far right movement. In 1989, he joined a curious entity known as the Abraxas Foundation. Founded in 1984 by industrial musician (and fascist sympathizer) Boyd Rice, Abraxas has been described as a "social Darwinist think tank." Other figures linked to Abraxas have included Adam Parfrey, the legendary founder of Feral House, and Zeena LaVey, the daughter of Church of Satan (CoS) founder Anton. It probably goes without saying, but Abraxas maintained links with the CoS.

It also forged ties with cult leader Charles Manson at some point during the 1980s as well. It was through Manson that Moynihan was introduced to James Mason, the head of the Universal Order (which Manson had provided the name for). Mason was a longtime far right activist who had joined George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi Party in 1966 while still a minor. A decade later, Mason joined the more militant National Socialist Liberation Front  (NSLF) and began editing a publication known as Siege. There, he advocated urban warfare and cultish murders as to destabilize the system. Eventually, Moynihan collected these writings into a book he published, which was also titled Siege. Moynihan's publication of Siege would become a cult classic among neo-Nazis and ultimately spawn more militant groups such as the Atomwaffen Division, which has recently be linked to several murders across three states.

James Mason
Mason is not Moynihan's only link to the old American Nazi Party either. Another organization Moynihan has been affiliated with is the Asatru Alliance (AA), an "Old Norse and Germanic religion" movement that grew out of 1960s Norse revival. The Norse revival, in turn, has long been linked to the far right in these United States.
"... Odinism began its modern career with the establishment of the Odinist Fellowship in 1969 by Else Christensen. Born at Esbjerg on the Danish West Coast in 1913, Else Oscher was involved in revolutionary unionism and politics in Copenhagen during the 1930s. She was eventually attracted to the left-wing Strasserite wing of the emerging Danish National Socialist Worker's Party, and in 1937 married Alex Christensen, who had served as a senior aide to the party leader later ousted in 1933. Following the Nazi occupation of Denmark in 1940, Alex was briefly imprisoned as a dissident. In 1951 the Christensens emigrated to Canada, where they settled in Toronto. Else Christensen's interest in racial radicalism brought her into contact with Willis Carto, a leading figure of the American far right, and James K. Warner, New York organizer of Rockwell's American Nazi Party. Carto introduced her to the writings of Francis Parker Yockey, Oswald Spengler's American eulogist and author of Imperium. Abandoning the idea of using Odinism as the religious counterpart of National Socialism in America, Warner gave Christensen his Norse material, which included the writings of Alexander Rud Mills."
(Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, pg. 259)
Else Christensen
According to the great William Turner in Power on the Right, the above-mentioned Rockwell lieutenant James K. Warner had relocated to Los Angeles in 1966 to establish what was described as the "Odinist Religion and Nordic Faith Movement," of which he was the high priest of. Warner would continue promoting Odinism in LA until the late 1960s, at which point he turned his material over to Christensen and embraced Christian Identity theology.

Nor is Warner the only connection the American Odinist movement has to the American Nazi Party. During the 1970s, two Arizona-based ANP members, "Valgard" (Michael) Murray and Elton Hall, would join Christensen's Odinist Fellowship. Murray would eventually become the vice-president of the group and go on to found the AA in 1987. Hence, the ANP has longstanding ties to the American Odinist movement.

Another crucial figure in the AA was Robert Nicholas Taylor. Prior to hooking up with the AA, Taylor had been deeply involved with the Minutemen, one of the earliest post-WWII far right militias. The Minutemen had many interesting connections, including the US intelligence community, noted before here. Taylor was allegedly the "director of national intelligence" for the Minutemen and boasted of setting up "the first guerrilla training schools ever to exist in the United States."

Minutemen "promotion" material
On the whole, Moynihan appears to have had extensive links with especially militant sections of the far right. As such, his fixation on Varg Vikernes and the fascist aspects of black metal are most unsettling. While working on Lords, did Moynihan see Varg and black metal as being capable of establishing the type of revolutionary movement that he appears to have been working towards for decades?

Bouchet and the Sith Lord

Moynihan was not the only far right activist to become smitten with Varg either. In France, he found a staunch supporter in the highly controversial figure of Christian Bouchet. In recent years, Bouchet has gained something resembling respectability in French politics. In 2008, he became a member of the Front National (FN), the party of Marine Le Pen. Since then, he has stood for election as an FN candidate in several contests, most recently in Nantes, France's sixth largest city. 

This is quite curious in light of Bouchet's longstanding interests in far right ideology and the occult. As to the former, Bouchet had been the head of the Radical Unity party. In 2002 one of its members, Maxime Brunerie, attempted to assassinate then-president Jacques Chirac. The group was disbanded by the French government soon thereafter. Apparently this type of militancy did not dissuade the FN from embracing Bouchet. 

Bouchet's occult interests are equally extreme. He is credited with being at the forefront of the rediscovery of Francis Parker Yockey, an American far right philosopher recently embraced by the alt-right. Yockey was hardly Bouchet's only point of reference, however.
"The link between the current Yockey revival and the occult is equally clear in the case of the French 'third-positionist' Christian Bouchet, who helped found a new European Liberation Front in homage to Yockey. Bouchet has been associated with the French branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), and his occult journal is named Thelema in homage to Aleister Crowley. He is a leading figure in Nouvelle Resistance, whose journal Lutte du Peuple he also edits.
"... Bouchet... tried to turn the 'Satanic' or 'black metal' music scene in a fascist direction... Bouchet's group, Nouvelle Resistance, meanwhile, is behind the music fanzine called Napalm Rock. Napalm Rock has embraced a leading Norwegian black metal musician named Varg Vikernes..."
(Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan, pg. 620) 
Bouchet has continued to defend Vikernes, who relocated to France after his incarceration, as recently as 2013. Between Varg, Crowley, and Yockey, Bouchet certainly has some curious occult influences. But for our purposes here, it is the origins of Bouchet's occult beliefs that are of greatest concern.
"... The national-revolutionary Bouchet was previously influenced by both Evola and Thiriart, and despite being very far from Marine Le Pen's alleged 'normalizing' line, he was still a FN candidates in the 2012 general elections and maintains a significant party role at the local level. A former member of Organisation Lutte du Peuple and Troisieme Voie (Third Way), and founder in 1991 of the (now disappeared) pan-European and national-revolutionary Nouvelle Resistance (New Resistance), this French activist has been constantly spreading the works of Evola, Mutti, Adinolfi, and many others..."
(Transnational Neofascism in France and Italy, Andrea Mammone, pgs. 223-224)
That would be Julius Evola, the infamous Italian philosopher and occultist. In the twenty-first century, Evola is more influential than he has ever been. Most recently aspects of his ideology have been embraced by the American alt-right, the Greek Golden Dawn, Russia's Alexander Dugin, and so many more. Indeed, it would seem that Evola has even managed to influence the architects of neo-fascist black metal. While Varg Vikernes apparently finds Evola's work at times to be too "oriental oriented," he has none the less recommended Evola's books to his fans. And then there's Moynihan, who has been at the forefront of the Evola revival. Moynihan founded the journal Tyr to promote a brand of Traditionalism inspired by Evola and has even edited and published one of Evola's most influential works.

Notre Dame

Of course, it would be impossible to write about church burnings in 2019 without addressing the fire that engulfed the Notre Dame de Paris. While many individuals looking for occult significance in the fire have focused on its connection to the Knights Templar, there is a much more recent connection.

On May 21, 2013, the 78-year old Dominique Venner strolled into the ancient cathedral. After laying a sealed envelope on the altar, he pulled a Belgian-made pistol from his pocket, placed the firearm in his mouth and pulled the trigger. When the contents of the note were read, in addition to a blog post the journalist and historian had written shortly before his death, it was revealed that his suicide was  in protest of the recent legalization of gay marriage.

To many Americans, this may have seemed quite a curious event. After all, France has quite the reputation for sexual liberation. And to further muddy the waters, Venner was an openly acknowledged pagan and had been for some time.

How then did this state of affairs come about?

To be sure, Venner's journey to Notre Dame was a curious one. He had served as a paratrooper during the Algerian conflict, which likely introduced him o far right politics. As Andrea Mammone notes in Transnational Neofascism in France and Italy, something of a cult surrounded the elite paratroopers in France during the 1950s and these elite units would be at the forefront of the attempted coup against de Gaule in 1961. Later, they would serve as the backbone of the Organisation Armee Secrete (OAS), a paramilitary organization links to numerous terrorist, including multiple on de Gaulle's life.

Venner would sign up with the OAS shortly after the organization was founded and would end up serving 18 months in prison after he was captured. Upon his release in 1962, he would take a more intellectual approach to far right activism. He wrote a book, Pour une critique positive (Towards a positive change), which some have described as the Right's What Is to be Done?. Then, in 1963, he founded a movement known as European Action (EA), which also featured a journal of the same name. EA would feature many of the guiding lights of what became known as Nouvelle Droite (ND ---New Right) in France. Among them was journalist and writer Alain de Benoist, who would become one of the leading intellectuals of the French right in the post-war years. De Benoist founded the highly influential think tank known as Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européenne (GRECE), of which Venner was also a member. EA and GRECE would do much to provide academic respectability to far right activism from the 1970s on wards.

Alain de Benoist
Both the EA and GRECE, in addition to the broader ND, were heavily influenced by the Traditionalism of Evola.
"Like the Italian theorist Gramsci, Evola was especially read among the followers of the ND. Setting aside some differences in the meaning of concepts such as traditionalism, Alain de Benoist, remarkably, pointed out the importance of the Evolian thinking for the Nouvelle Droite:
We think that some of Evola's criticisms in particular seem likely to inspire a reflection which pays attention to the evolution of modern world.... The Evolian critique of the nation state, for example, maintains a strong relevance in an era where the political entity, which is emblematic of modernity, appears every day a little more struck by impotence and obsolescence... Evola also had the great merit... to denounce any general conception of life or society based solely on economic terms strongly.... But ultimately, and as always with Evola, it is probably in the area of ethics which one can find his most inspiring considerations for our everyday thinking... In these pages, both men and women can take some lessons.
Some important and cross-national connective links may be observed between Evola's and de Benoist's intellectual and doctrinal productions along with the parallel apolitia and the criticism of the modern world, contemporary ideologies, and the Americanization of European societies. Similarities can, in fact, be found in a number of different domains. An example of this is the common Europeanism and the embracing of a post-national stance. Bar-On to find this as the 'dream of a pan-European empire': a kind of transnational place where the objective was to preserve a homogeneous European identity. As we know from the previous chapters, this 'Nation Europe' had fascinated part of the extreme right since 1945. However, this was also a spiritually defined and hierarchical Europe, and it represented another commonality between these ideologues. The state (and the community) itself had, in sum, to be possibly organized on sovereignty and a caste system (probably not on theories of mass democracies)...
"Also strong was the common attack on the West and the Judeo-Christian paradigm, which was also made through the promotion of pagan thinking. It is well-known that Evola was one of the precursors of this paganism, and that the ND borrowed a considerable amount from this doctrine, even if there were differences in tone and understanding of it. Unsurprisingly, the new rightist Editions Pardes had many contributions on the subject and on traditionalism, as well as some of Evola's manuscripts (such as Imperialisme paien). For Evola and de Benoist, paganism went along with a concept of humankind based on pre-Christian hierarchy, although also with an importance given to 'magic,' symbols, and the 'myth' perceived as moving forces."
(Transnational Fascism in France and Italy, Andrea Mammone, pgs. 169-170)
As such, it is all but certain the paganism of Venner was influenced to some degree by Evola. This would, in turn, explain Venner's objection to gay marriage. Needless to say, Evola was not especially impressed with homosexuality.
"Thus overall, when homosexuality is not 'natural' or else cannot be explained in terms of incomplete inborn forms of sexual development, it must have the character of a deviation, a vice, or a perversion. And if some instances of extreme erotic intensity in relations between homosexuals should be adduced, the explanation is to be sought in the possibility of the displacement of eros. Indeed, it is enough to go through any treatise on sexual psychopathology to see in how many unthinkable situations the erotic potential of a human being can be aroused, sometimes to the level of orgiastic frenzy (from fetishism even to animal sodomy and necrophilia). The same anomalous background could include the case of homosexuality, although the latter is much more frequent: a displaced eros for which a being of the same sex can service a simple, occasional cause or support, as in so many cases of psychopathy, although it must wholly lack every profound dimension and every meeting higher than experience because of the absence of the necessary ontological and metaphysical premises. As we shall see in certain aspects of sadism and masochism, it is possible to find elements that can be included in the deep structures of heterosexual erotics and that become perversions only when freed from limitations. No similar recognition can be given in respect to homosexuality."
(Eros and the Mysteries of Love, Julius Evola, pgs. 65-66)
Earlier in the same work, Evola linked the increase in homosexuality and what would now be considered transgenderism to the egalitarian nature of the West.
"... It may be that the governing power on which the sexual nature of a given individual depends (a nature that is truly male or truly female) may grow weak through neutralization, atrophy, or reduction of the latent state of the characteristics of the other sex, and this may lead to the activation and emergence of these recessive characteristics. And here the surroundings and the general atmosphere of society can play a not unimportant part. In a civilization where equality is the standard, were differences are not linked, where promiscuity is in favor, where the ancient idea of 'being true to oneself' means nothing anymore – in such a splintered and materialistic society, it is clear that the phenomenon of regression and homosexuality should be particularly welcome, and therefore it is in no way a surprise to see the alarming increase in homosexuality and the 'third sex' in the latest 'democratic' period, or an increase in sex changes to an extent unparalleled in other eras."
(ibid, pg. 64)
In this context, the increase in homosexuality and transgenderism could only be seen as further evidence of the West's decline as it moved further and further from "traditional" society. Specifically, as the distinction between the genders has declined, it is theoretically inevitable homosexuality and gender fluidity would become the norm. Surely, this is the context that fueled Venner's suicide.


There is no question that Venner's suicide was a highly symbolic act, committed at an equally symbolic location. And in this context, I can not help but be reminded of the occult concept of egregores. Egregores are defined as psychic entities composed of and influencing the thoughts of groups. They are collective entities, sometimes referred to as "thought forms," that can formed around nations, states, religions and sects, and draw power from the beliefs of the individuals who occupy these things. As such, egregores can be likened in a sense to the collective unconscious as they are the product a collective group mind. Egregores are sustained by belief, ritual, and sacrifice and are dependent upon the devotion of the group that gave it life.

As with humans, egregores can also die and be destroyed. An especially potent means of destruction can be achieved by fire.
"To remove oneself from the influence of an egregore, particularly a religious, esoteric, or even political one (especially when a ritualistic formula is actively present, such as in National Socialism, Communism, and any form of idolization of the leader or the particular creed or code), the objects connected with the organization or movement must be destroyed. Fire is the principal means of separating the energetic link and destroying it. This separation and destruction is on a personal level but can also be extended to the larger group as well. 
"This is why occupying armies often destroyed the symbols of their defeated enemy. For example the revolutionaries in France in 1789, the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany in 1945, the Chinese Communists in Tibet in 1959, the period of the Cultural Revolution 1966 to 1976, and the destruction of monuments, texts, and places of worship by various Islamic fundamentalist paramilitary forces are among the most obvious examples in modern history. While the spiritual or intelligence aspects of the egregore will continue to live for a very long time period of time without a physical anchor, devotees, or rituals to feed it, its emotional or astral counterpart will not be able to sustain a presence in the physical world as a result of such acts of destruction."
(Egregores: The Occult Entities That Watch Over Humanity, Mark Stavish, pgs. 103-104)
In this context, the return of black metal-inspired church burnings to pop culture, the fire at Notre Dame and the numerous arsons committed at Christian sites that have characterized 2019 thus far can be seen as a full blown assault on Christianity by attacking this particular egregore where it is most vulnerable: its places of worship.

This may be driving the push by the neo-liberal elite to rebuild Notre Dame as "secular shrine" that more accurately reflects modern France. While the idea of making Notre Dame more inclusive may be quite appealing to academics and capitalists, the fresh wave of Yellow Vest protests that broke out days after the fire does not indicate that the public is getting a warm, fuzzy feeling about it.

This researcher would suggest that, regardless of whether there was a plot or not behind the sudden fire (chalked up to a "computer glitch"), powerful forces had already been set in motion years before the cathedral went up in flames. Egregores are born out of emotion energy. This energy can in turn be focused upon highly symbolic acts --such as a suicide in a symbolically loaded location.

Such a potent act would no doubt be seen as a sign of things to come. And it just so happens, a magical circle Evola would become affiliated with during the 1920s bore witness to such signs during the prior decade.
"Hence, some egregores may be reinvigorated even after centuries or millennia of disuse, which is a closely kept secret of operational magic. According to an article published in 1929 in an esoteric journal edited by Julius Evola... it was efforts to revive the egregore of the Roman Empire that led to the political ascendancy of Benito Mussolini. The initial signs were seen in 1913 and were fully realized in 1919...."
(Egregores: The Occult Entities That Watch Over Humanity, Mark Stavish, pg. 104)
Six years separated the early signs from the realization of the objective. Six years also separate Venner's suicide and the fire at Notre Dame. Naturally, the fire broke out of April 16, which also happens to Venner's birthday.

Powerful signs and portents, indeed. And further evidence that the neo-liberal elite are losing the plot.