> AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL MOYNIHAN; Between Birds of Prey
Michael Moynihan is not an easy fellow to peg down or pigeon-hole. On the one hand, various cultural critics have credited him with inspiring far-right fanaticism via his book, Lords of Chaos; on the other hand, I’ve never read an instance where he tries to promote the virtues of the “white race” over any other. Exactly where Moynihan stands on a variety of issues is never completely clear. He staunchly maintains his personal borders, never offering his personal life for popular consumption. This is demonstrated by how carefully he chooses his words. His is a precise and controlled strategy.
I’ve never met Michael Moynihan, chances are I never will. On again, off again, correspondence over the past decade has, however, left me with one distinct impression: Michael Moynihan is an autonomous elitist. In spite of whatever political, social, and cultural ripples may occur around him, that remains constant. In the end, Moynihan follows his will regardless, and in spite of, whatever his nation’s culture may think.
Annabel Lee and Michael Moynihan in Vermont | Photo by Carl Abrahamsson © 2003
(Conducted by: mrgreg23. Originally Published: Tuesday, May 24 2005 @ 07:00 AM PDT)
Heathen Harvest: What’s your take on Marxist critiques of contemporary culture?
Michael Moynihan: Ever since I was about twelve years old and began thinking about such things, I have found myself agreeing with much of the Marxist or the hard-Left’s description of current problems, alienation, and so forth. In other words, they are often good at identifying and describing symptoms of the malaise. There is a large gap between mere symptoms and actual causes, however, and their solutions are no better than those coming from the people they vocally oppose. Not to mention the fact that people who loudly claim to be fighting for human freedom, but in practice behave like totalitarian thought police, naturally make me nauseous.
HH: I’ve found that it is far easier to identify, locate, and discuss problems than it is to come up with viable solutions. Many folks seem to think that if you can’t provide a solution you shouldn’t criticize a situation, relationship, or event; that’s always struck me as a head-in-the-sand approach to life. If you don’t have a solution, I think it’s safe to say, don’t try and offer one. The critique, however, is still important.
MM: Sure, and I have no problem with that. The problem comes when you realize that their critique is always informed — subtly or unsubtly — by the assumption that they hold the keys to the answer. In this regard, their track record is deplorable. So one just has to always keep that in mind.
A more fundamental problem with the Marxist critique is that it is entirely materialistic. This is really a dreary way to look at the world. Certainly economic relationships should be considered, but this is not a particularly useful universal explanation for how the world works. Marxism, like just about every other “ism,” functions like a surrogate monotheistic religion — they just happen to have replaced God with History and Salvation with Revolution. Reality, however, does not jibe with these sorts of “only-one-right-way” doctrines. There are many other, much more beautiful ways to interact with the world.
As an example of the sort of viewpoint that one is rarely exposed to these days, we’ve just published a great book of essays by English author and neoplatonic philosopher John Michell. He is the elder statesman of contemporary Earth Mysteries and geomancy research, not to mention an expert on sacred numbers and geometry, and a host of other arcane things. The book is called Confessions of a Radical Traditionalist, and consists of 108 of his short essays which originally appeared in an English magazine for the senior set called The Oldie. Although this really shouldn’t be surprising, the magazine contains some of the best writing published in Britain — I’ve had that confirmed from people in their thirties who dared to be so unhip as to take out a subscription to it.
Needless to say, Michell writes many scathing things about Marxists and other ideological buffoons in course of these witty commentaries on all sorts of intriguing topics.
HH: Is it fair to say you think Michell offers viable solutions to contemporary cultural or economic problems? Or is he directing his attention to other issues?
MM: He does offer solutions to these, and they are the kind of solutions that you would never hear anywhere else: solutions from an enlightened neoplatonist who claims no particular “belief” but is content to revel in the mystery of life. Part of his goal in writing his commentaries is to direct other people’s attention to a different perspective on the world — one that transcends typical either/or solutions.
HH: You appear to have healthy working relationships with older scholars like Michell and Joscelyn Godwin. Do you consider them to be mentors? How important do you think mentors / elders are in establishing a healthy traditionalist culture?
MM: I would not consider them to be mentors per se, although they both are exemplary people on every level so they positively influence everyone they interact with. That in itself is a good thing to emulate. Respect and veneration toward those with wisdom and knowledge is a central element of a traditional society — such people have a stronger link with the deep past, the mythic past, and the history of that particular social group.
HH: How does your spiritual/religious view of life, as opposed to a strictly materialist approach, impact your experience and decisions on a daily basis? Can you give an example or two?
MM: A primary one would simply be the fact that I don’t care about the sort of material objects that most people seem to find important. This means that I don’t waste my time trying to accumulate enough money in order to enjoy a standard of living that would allow me to eat in fancy restaurants, drive an expensive car, go on vacations, or whatever else normal people seem to have been programmed to yearn for. I have very few material vices, and no interest in costly new things. I can get by on very little money and would rather own my time than owe it to someone else in return for a paycheck.
This attitude also applies to the artistic or musical projects which I work on. They are not done because they will fulfill a certain profit margin or bring in desperately needed cash. They are created because we feel they are important and we strive to produce them in impeccable quality. Because we answer only to ourselves, we have far more freedom in this regard.
HH: You edited two of Julius Evola‘s books for Inner Traditions. Do you use any of the magickal / spiritual techniques / methods that he discusses? If so, which do you find most useful?
MM: The best technique that I know is to constantly challenge oneself, to apply diligence and willpower to increasingly difficult and more rigorous situations. Evola was a mountain climber, and would likely have concurred with this approach.
HH: As a new father what has changed most in your priorities? Have you found your cultural activities (Blood Axis, Dominion Press, Storm Records, etc.) taking less precedence than before? Or are they more important than ever? Do you ever feel embroiled in a broader cultural war?
MM: Greater responsibility is something that should come with age. Rearing a child is a major step in this dynamic type of development. Not only does one help to build the character of a new, living being, but your own character is also put to the test. In such circumstances one’s cultural relationships and endeavors — speaking in the broadest possible sense — do become more important than ever.
As for cultural wars, there are an unlimited number going on at any given time. This is inevitable in a culture that is largely loosed from any moorings. So we are all embroiled in a web of cultural war. Rather than getting bogged down in shooting matches, however, the best approach is to simply go forward and do things in the world — the fact that these things may be utterly out of sync with the predominant cultural tendencies does not make them any less important or worthwhile. To the contrary.
HH: What character traits and values do you and Annabel hope to instill in your son?
MM: Love of life. Independence of thought, perseverance, self-reliance, good cheer in the face of adversity and even death, impeccable politeness and manners.
HH: What do you believe are the most important traits for a man to develop and practice in this era of chaos and confusion?
MM: Love of life; independence of thought; perseverance; self-reliance; good cheer in the face of adversity and even death; impeccable politeness and manners.
HH: How do you see yourself, your family, as “Radical Traditionalists”?
MM: Insofar as we reject the superfluous and empty aspects of modern culture, and question the reasons why they exist. “Tradition” literally means something that is handed down or handed over from one person to another, and the word “radical” really relates to idea of roots or origins (it comes from the Latin word for root, radix). So a radical traditionalist’s frame of mind is oriented toward the most noble things — in a cultural, artistic, philosophical and spiritual sense — that have been inherited from the past. Such things have eternal, ancestral value.
HH: Where do you see yourself in terms of the radical traditionalist / neo-traditionalist movement in ten years? Twenty years?
MM: The time for movements is largely over. Things are too atomized now, and the requisite human material does not exist for a movement of quality to even get going. Besides, I have never been one who felt at home in movements, or even groups. Given the present socio-cultural situation, our work is often done in isolation. In modern times, this has probably always been true for contrary perspectives.
HH: Do you see yourself, your family, as practicing and protecting any specific spiritual lineage? Is so, what is it?
MM: We receive the various spiritual and ethical strands that have come down to us, directly or indirectly, and strive to uphold those we feel to be noble. In the West, Christianity intervened into almost all such lineages — although often only in a superficial way — but it loses more ground with every passing moment. The Christian interregnum will someday be seen for what it was: another minor exotic cult which briefly took hold of a few people’s attention before giving way to other forces.
Cover photo taken by: Ronny Bidmon