By Andy Brooks
White Power Music: Scenes of Extreme-Right Cultural Resistance: Edited by Anton Shekhovtsov and Paul Jackson, Searchlight & RNM Publications, 129pp, pbk London 2012, £8.50.
NOT ALL skinheads are racists. In the beginning they were just a working-class youth backlash against the sundry trends of “swinging London” when they first appeared on the football terraces in the late 1960s. The braces, boots and shaven heads were the antithesis of the middle strata fads that were promoted in the bourgeois media at the time and in those days skins extolled Jamaican reggae, “aggro” and football hooliganism with equal relish.
A distinct skinhead sound didn’t really emerge until punk came along a few years later. Most of the lyrics were the sort of pseudo-anarchist rubbish we still hear today. But some were not.
Neo-nazi bands soon realised that they could peddle their racism and hatred of Jews through “white noise” to build cult followings amongst skinhead fans largely unaware that they would be amongst the first to go if the Third Reich came back again. Hate music has, in turn, been cynically exploited by veteran neo-nazis to skim off the profits to finance their racist movements.
Extremist attempts to build a mass youth movement on the back of White Noise ultimately always fail because the lyrics can only appeal to the racist minority it’s aimed at in the first place. But for over 20 years that minority has managed to sustain a neo-nazi music scene that seeks to legitimise street violence and racist attacks throughout Europe.
How and why they do it is covered in the well-researched papers contained in this remarkable book. Together they provided important data and analysis for all anti-racist campaigners. Eleven academics focus on national case studies across Europe as well as discussing particular topics such as censorship, the role of women in White Power music and the legacy of the late Ian Stuart Donaldson, who set up the Blood and Honour network and was major figure in the extreme-right music scene until his death in a car crash in 1993.
This is the second volume in the Mapping the Far Right series produced by Searchlight, the veteran anti-fascist magazine, and the Radicalism and New Media Research Group at Northampton University. Though written for the academic community this is no dry academic tome. The collection of papers provides up-to-date information for anyone interested in the neo-nazi music scene and everyone involved in the anti-fascist struggle.
It can be ordered from most booksellers or £8.50 post-free from: Searchlight, PO Box 1576, Ilford, IG5 OHE.