Last week there was a brouhaha in the horror fiction community when known fascist David A. Riley (the A is important as there is another genre writer called David Riley who is, by all accounts, a good egg) was appointed to sit on the jury of the upcoming Stoker awards held by the Horror Writers Association(HWA). I wasn’t initially going to write anything about this latest incident as once members of the HWA were made aware of this enough of them raised objections that the matter was resolved. It wasn’t resolved neatly but that’s by-the-by and I’ll talk about that another time maybe.
What has inspired me to put fingertips to keys is a couple of things. Firstly the bleatings of liberals and those who consider themselves ‘libertarians’ (in the American sense of the word) in support of both Riley’s right to hold whatever beliefs he chooses and his right to be an active part of the horror community with those beliefs. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about ‘free speech’ and ‘social justice warriors’* who were oppressing the community and who were ‘the real fascists’.
Secondly it was an interview with David A. Riley on the blog of on David Dubrow, a writer from the USA. I get the feeling that the interview was supposed to show that Riley isn’t a fascist and that us lefties are just getting our knickers in a twist and are all crazy. It did neither of these things.
In this post I want to discuss, hopefully, briefly (and amusingly, to me anyway.) some of these positions before then looking at the Curious Case of David A. Riley itself. So, I would like to present to you: ‘Free Speech, or Vomiting into the Liberal Abyss’.
*incidentally, did you know that the term was originally used by us lefties to mock the twitterati and tumblrites who obsess over the virtual world yet do nothing in the real world? I really hate that right wing cocks have stolen it from us so now I’m simply reduced to swearing at people like that.
or Vomiting into the Liberal Abyss
Gazing into the Abyss
The liberal looks down upon those engaged in revolutionary and radical political activity from its vantage point high above upon the moral high ground. From its lofty position it see that it can attain the perfect balance between opposing viewpoints, it can find the middle ground, as, to the liberal, all points of view are equally valid. They merely need to be weighed and balanced in order to evaluate what they contain that is of value. To the liberal, the pinnacle of pseudo postmodern expression, there is no right and no wrong. There is only ever the middle.
What the liberal does not see from its intellectually elevated position is that the high ground from which it issues its decrees, the summit upon which it wrings its hands, is naught but a pile of rotting corpses.
The liberal pontificates and presents itself as the voice of reason whilst irrationally defending the irrational and sowing the seeds of its own demise.
The liberal is inherently reactionary.
The Grand Theatre of Ideas
In the imaginings of the liberal ideas exist in a vacuum, a void, an abyss, that is completely disconnected from real life. In this black liberal expanse ideas are shouted into the echoing nothing never to reverberate against anything, nor affect anything that exists outside this peculiar social exceptionality. As ideas float around this liberal space-time they are all of equal value and deserve equal space to be heard. Ideas are equal in their inconsequentiality to the liberal.
The Sad, Sorry, Sight of Real Life
Unfortunately for the liberal their Grand Theatre of Ideas is as much a myth as any afterlife or Platonic ideal. Ideas are formed by people and as people act upon ideas so ideas act upon people. Some ideas add to the general happiness of the world. Ideas like: “It’s good to help one another”, or “we should cover ice cream in chocolate and tequila”. Ideas like these improve the world and make the world a nicer place in which to live. They serve to mitigate the harsh realities of getting by in a capitalist society.
Other ideas serve only to increase the amount of suffering in the world.
Speech as Action, Words That Burn Books
When certain ideas are seen to be socially acceptable, or even mainstream, then those who hold to those ideas gain the courage to act upon them. When newspapers carry stories supporting those ideas then those words, those ideas, will be acted upon. Without the ideas then there are no actions. Without the words spreading those ideas then actions do not spread. The ideas lead to words which lead to bombed out pubs, beaten people, and murdered kids.
Maintaining the Balance, at No Cost
The liberal believes that it is working tirelessly to maintain the balance of society. So that, when the day comes to pass, the feather weighs the same as the swastika. The liberal will stand bravely in defence of those who seek to do ill to the world, who wish to spread ideas of hatred and death. The liberal will stand bravely against those who ask that they not suffer hatred and death.
Tolerance is a Weapon Wielded Against the Workers
We must tolerate the intolerable proclaims the liberal. We must tolerate even the most odious of ideas and individuals. The workers must never act to defend themselves against ideas of suffering and pain. They must suffer all the tribulations of tolerance with stoicism and a stiff upper lip so that the liberal may look down upon its domain in contentment. Safe from the woes below, high upon its mountain, green with fleshy putrescence.
Self Defence is Oppressive
The liberal, ever fearful of anything outside the middle, sees all that is not of itself as equal and indistinguishable. For the liberal, left is as good as right as it careers blinkered down the central reservation of life. An act of self defence is as heinous as the instigating act of violence. Luke Skywalker is as bad as Darth Vader the moment he picks up the lightsabre on Tatooine. The anti-fascist fighter of the Warsaw Ghetto no different to the Nazi troops bombarding them with shells. All is equal, all is equivalent. The liberal strips all context from that which it observes and claims this as philosophical insight. The liberal would counter the terrorising of families and communities with strongly worded letters penned behind curtains drawn tight to the world.
David A. Riley
Now, to Mr David A. Riley.
David A. Riley is a fascist. He was a member of the extreme right wing group, The National Front (NF), which he left in the early 80s. He has, since then, done and said nothing to imply that he has cast aside his old ideology and has, as point of fact, said things that imply that he still holds these beliefs.
Before I go further I want to admit that yes David A. Riley is, in the grand scheme of things, of little concern to the wider world. He’s a small time horror writer in the world of the genre small presses. However the small time horror genre press is a growing scene, and one that, if it wishes to continue to grow, needs to be open and inclusive. This can’t be the case if odious people like David A. Riley are tolerated and even defended by people within the community. The tolerance of fascists like Riley by the community is effectively saying that community does not want people of colour, Roma/Travellers, queers, trans-people, Jews, nor trade unionists involved as these are all people that are absolutely despised by fascists. Why would I want to sit in a room with someone who would see me and mine dead? Why would anyone?
Now I’ll go through some of the points from the interview with David A. Riley over on David Dubrow’s blog. Here’s the link should you want to go and see quite how insipid the questions and answers were before continuing. http://davedauthor.com/2016/04/20/interview-with-david-a-riley/
On the subject of the National Front Riley says:
I joined in 1973. At that time it was widely viewed as a patriotic nationalist party with serious concerns about the high numbers of immigrants who were coming into the UK at the time. Amongst its members were a number of retired senior servicemen from the Armed Forces, clergymen, teachers and other professionals.
At that time John O’Brien, a supporter of Enoch Powell, had just left as leader as the party had effectively come under the control of former members of the Greater Britain Movement John Tyndall and Martin Webster. Webster is on record as saying, in 1972, that they were setting up a “well oiled Nazi machine.” Webster who was at this meeting (LINK) with Riley in 1981.
When asked about current membership of the NF he says:
I resigned in 1983 and have not been involved since.
Well, this (LINK) antisemitic bile was published in August 1983. So, given the long history of the NF with Nazism, Riley’s association with one of the main Nazis within the leadership of the NF and quotes like this
Lovecraft’s anti-semitism, it should be noted, was not based upon a well-researched knowledge of the part played by certain wealthy Jewish financiers, but on plain physical repugnance. The limitation, therefore, of his appreciation of what motivates Zionism, which he never mentions, is considerable.
I find Riley’s claims to have been unaware that he was a member, regional organiser, and parliamentary candidate for a Nazi party to be risible.
When asked if he is a fascist he replies:
No. It’s an easy label to flash around, usually by those who are fascists themselves, particularly from the left. Fascists don’t believe in free speech and try to suppress it for their opponents. I have never in my life tried to do that. They are also prepared to use physical violence against their political opponents. I was never involved in anything like that. I would add that during the time I was involved in the party any member who associated with a neo-nazi group, either in Britain or overseas, faced expulsion. This, I can confirm, was enforced.
This is clearly tripe as the leadership of the National Front was composed of Nazis like Tyndall and Webster. The NF has also never been afraid of using violence against their opponents nor against instigating it when they did things like march through the largely black area of London, Lewisham, in 1977. When Riley was a fully fledged member and organiser for the party.
When Riley is so clearly lying about his past, when he is seen still supporting extreme right wing groups like Ataka, when he is still posting on nationalist websites, why the hell would we believe that he is no longer a fascist? He patently still holds to his beliefs and therefore should be shunned by any who want the weird/horror fiction world to grow and flourish.
Bollocks to David A. Riley. Bollocks to Fascism.
Some links for reference.