British fascists online
A few weeks ago, YouTube’s algorithms carried me towards some video essays made by the alternative media commentator known as Morgoth. I’d been vaguely aware of Morgoth and similar reactionaries, such as Richard Spencer, Millennial Woes and Keith Woods, for some time, but hadn’t paid too much attention to them. After all, I knew that they called themselves ‘traditionalists’, ‘racial nationalists’ or ‘third positionists’ – in a word, fascists – and I only have so much time to devote to the ramblings of people who would happily deport or kill my non-white friends and family. On the other hand, it’s good to know your enemies, so I resolved to trawl through some of the videos and livestreams made by Morgoth and his cronies in order to get a sense of what the far right are saying and doing online these days.
Morgoth’s worldview is a macabre one. In between garbled references to right-wing philosophers, Morgoth rails against the ‘liberal elites’ and ‘globalist’ technocrats whom he sees as running the world – all controlled and funded, of course, by rootless cosmopolitans like George Soros. According to Morgoth, these elites are set on crushing the ‘Western Spirit’, subjecting the population to their nihilistic ideology of hyper-individualism, hedonistic consumerism and, worst of all, racial diversity. By promoting mass immigration and miscegenation throughout the Western world, the elites, according to Morgoth, want to undermine and ultimately eradicate the white native stock. To stop this from happening, Morgoth proposes that whites should unite to reactivate the Faustian spirit of the West by creating a racially pure ethno-state. As he puts it at the end one of his videos: ‘We’re going to be the masters in our own land again!’ (YouTube, ‘Roger Scruton & Words of Power’).
For obvious reasons, Morgoth never appears on camera. Judging by details contained in his various monologues, he seems to be a Generation X factory worker from North-East England. He has a blog, Morgoth’s Review, and a large number of video essays on YouTube and other digital platforms favoured by the far right, such as BitChute and Odysee. He also occasionally pops up as a guest on other so-called ‘dissident right’ social media channels and has now started to consolidate his oeuvre on his Substack page. His video essays, which are often illustrated by footage or photographs from his countryside walks, address a wide range of topics and Morgoth often sweetens the red pill of ethno-nationalism with discussions of contemporary popular culture. In recent years, far-right organisers have been using online gaming as a recruitment tool, pipelining young men towards racial supremacism during in-game chats and associated livestreams, and Morgoth himself often combines his political rants with analyses of videogames, fantasy novels, television dramas and films.
Many of Morgoth’s videos rhapsodise about the wonders of Nature, although even these are shot through with expressions of hatred towards minority groups. In one video (YouTube, ‘A Tale of Two Country Walks’), for example, Morgoth laments that, on a visit to the Norwegian fjords, he was obliged to share his authentic appreciation of the awe-inspiring landscape with ‘cripples’ and ‘fat slobs’ who were able effortlessly to enjoy the same scenery from the comfort of an adjacent car park. Morgoth’s main business, however, is racial hatred and his regular attacks on racial minorities often contain elements of so-called scientific racism or ‘race realism’. In a 2017 blog post (‘Equality is a Cruel Mistress’), for instance, he cites a table of national IQ rankings to argue that the black Labour politician Diane Abbott, as the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, is too unintelligent to be the Shadow Secretary of State.
Morgoth, and the British far right in general, are obsessed with the so-called ‘Asian grooming gangs’ that have come to light in English towns such as Rochdale and Telford in recent years. Research produced by the Home Office suggests that the sexual grooming of young girls in Britain is not a disproportionately ‘Muslim problem’, but Morgoth, like other far-right figures in Britain such as Tommy Robinson, talks exclusively about Pakistani men preying on white English girls and defiling the racial purity of the nation. There’s an all-too-familiar racist fantasy at work here. In his memoir Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote luridly about the ‘satanic joy’ of ‘the black-haired Jewish youth’, who ‘lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus stealing her from her people’. The image of a racialised Other who enjoys what is rightfully ‘ours’ and stands in the way of our own satisfaction is deeply imprinted on the fascist imagination.
Indeed, Morgoth, like the rest of the political far-right, is very paranoid. To justify his sense of victimhood, he conflates completely different traditions of political and philosophical thought into a single straw-man enemy. Liberalism, leftism, postmodernism, neo-liberalism and socialism are lumped together and presented as the more or less interchangeable snares of the Machiavellian globalists. Unsurprisingly, this leads Morgoth into incoherence and self-contradiction; in one video he even makes the bizarre claim that socialists have been responsible for ushering in ’a globalist, capitalist society’ (YouTube, ‘The Good, the Bragg and the Stormzy’).
The question therefore arises: why should we pay any attention to confused bigots like Morgoth? One reason is that there is clearly a receptive audience for their ideas. Research findings published by the organisation Cybersecurity for Democracy last year showed that far-right news stories produce far more user engagement, in the form of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, than other types of online content. Some of the key figures on the far right, meanwhile, have significant numbers of followers. At the time of writing, Morgoth himself has nearly 50,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel. He has also been given mainstream credibility – if that is the right word for it – by featuring as a guest on the podcast of the British conservative hack James Delingpole. In 2019 the singer Morrissey even shared a Morgoth video on his website. All in all, it’s a level of exposure that socialists could only dream of. It’s therefore worth considering the reasons for the popularity of this type of content.
It has to be said that some of Morgoth’s material is quite entertaining. Morgoth can turn a good phrase and knows how to appeal to his listeners’ interest in popular culture. In one video, for example, he indulges in a fairly amusing rant against the 90s television chef Jamie Oliver, suggesting that the ‘middle-class’ neo-liberal multiculturalism that arose in the New Labour years was ‘forged in the basket of Jamie Oliver’s moped, alongside the quail eggs and Japanese lager’ (YouTube, ‘Do Millennials Dream of Jamie Oliver’s Moped’). This combination of comedic sarcasm and pop-culture awareness gives Morgoth’s content a certain piquancy.
Another dangerous aspect of Morgoth’s work is its phoney radicalism. Morgoth’s philosophical touchstones are the fascist favourites Friedrich Nietzsche, Julius Evola, Oswald Spengler and Martin Heidegger. But he is canny enough to acknowledge some leftist thinkers, too. In one video (YouTube, ‘My Trip Down South’) he alludes to Jacques (sic) Deleuze and he often refers to the leftist philosopher Mark Fisher. For example, to support his own critique of cultural decline under neo-liberalism, he draws on Fisher’s concept of the ‘the slow cancellation of the future’ – the interesting claim that cultural innovation has stagnated since the 1990s and that popular culture today is merely recycling the themes and styles of earlier periods.
In fact, like so many fascist writings, Morgoth’s musings often appear to be consistent with socialist understandings. For example, he attacks the commodification of human life that capitalism produces (although he contradicts himself by warning white women to be mindful of their declining ‘sexual market value’, which sounds pretty commodifying to us). He is also critical of contemporary liberal catchwords such as ‘white privilege’ – as are socialists, since such notions tend to undermine working-class solidarity. Morgoth’s critique of Extinction Rebellion (YouTube, ‘Extinction Rebellion: Worst Controlled Opposition EVER!’), meanwhile, also has a superficial affinity with socialist arguments. Morgoth makes the point that XR are not a truly radical group and that their demands essentially amount to a call for working-class austerity; again, socialists would be inclined to agree. But Morgoth predictably blames the environmental crisis on overpopulation and ignores the fundamental role of capitalist production and over-production in generating global heating and other environmental threats. In fact, it’s not clear whether he even accepts the reality of human-made global heating, as he seems to reject the notion of scientific consensus; when it comes to understanding the coronavirus pandemic, for instance, he places his faith in the mumbo jumbo of the discredited scientific crank Dolores Cahill (YouTube, ‘A Letter From The NHS’). As always, the fascist mind rejects the scientific, materialist analyses of social phenomena in favour of scapegoating and irrational conspiracy-mongering.
As already noted, Morgoth is far from the only racial nationalist at work on the internet today and regular debates among nationalists of various stripes sometimes attract thousands of viewers. And while these men sometimes trade in outright lies and misrepresentations – for example, Morgoth suggests in one video that Marx and Engels might have been funded by the Rothschild banking family (YouTube, ‘The People vs The Gammon’) – their ideas are often couched in radical-sounding language, providing critiques of capitalism, ‘neo-liberalism’, consumerism and commodification. This is, of course, the socialism of fools. But what gives far-right ideas their traction and plausibility – at least among some white working-class people – is that they identify and seem to provide an explanation for real problems affecting our class, such as declining living standards and the lack of stable, full-time jobs and affordable housing.
How much of a political threat the far right pose today is another question. On the one hand, as we know, fascism is always over-diagnosed by left-wing commentators. While recent years have seen the establishment of neo-Nazi political organisations in Britain such as Patriotic Alternative, such groups often have a relatively short shelf-life – for example, the English Defence League, which sprang to life in 2009, has been relatively inactive for the last ten years – and some more recent groups, like National Action, have been banned by the state and forced underground. On the other hand, right-wing, authoritarian and often explicitly racist governments have come to power in recent years in several countries around the world. Then there is the question of far-right violence. Across the world, far-right terrorist attacks have become more common in recent years and are notoriously hard to predict, because their perpetrators have often been ‘radicalised’ online and are not part of any monitored group.
In recent years, the far right have largely been purged from mainstream tech platforms such as YouTube and Twitter. But it’s not clear how effective the censorship of far-right ideologues has really been: it has arguably only pushed them towards the more loosely-regulated ‘alt-tech’ platforms and handed them a propaganda advantage by allowing them to pose as victims. What we can say for sure is that, from the socialist point of view, far-right arguments need to be combated with better ones. Like all reactionaries, Morgoth is disdainful towards the academic subject of Media Studies (YouTube, ‘Clapping for Stalin and The Burnley Banner’); but the popularity of his ideas suggests a need for robust media literacy and political clarity.
Racial nationalism needs to be exposed for the nonsense it is and anybody attracted to it should know that whatever they may claim, Morgoth and his fellow Aryans don’t represent the interests of workers in Britain or anywhere else. They claim to be ‘traditionalists’, but their right-wing brand of identity politics is completely at odds with the working-class traditions of mutual aid and solidarity and with the history of working-class struggle against wage slavery. They also describe themselves as politically incorrect ‘dissidents’ or the ‘dissident right’, but in fact they are defenders of the status quo. They reproduce the dominant ideology, dividing humanity along national and racial lines and obscuring what almost all of us have in common: our membership of the exploited class.