Free Speech, or Vomiting into the Liberal Abyss

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.

Free Speech,
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.

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 (LINKantisemitic 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.

John Tyndall

Martin Webster

National Front

Greater Britain Movement

More on Riley’s Fascist past and present


Belief is Beggared

When I posted a couple of days ago about David A. Riley the vile Neo-Nazi horror writer from England I expected the majority of people to be horrified by him and repulsed by his views and that those that weren’t would be somewhat quiet about it and shy away from the discussion. I do tend to think the best of people.

Of course, as is too often the case, I was disappointed. There’s a discussion going on on the Facebook page of a notable British author, I’m not going to say who as we’ll see how the conversation plays out, and there are a number of people coming out with the most batshit things in defence of Riley and, by extension, fascism. I’ll leave a couple of the choicer comments here. For posterity. 😀

I commented:

Hi [redacted], I’m the person that posted the blog about David A. Riley, based on the findings of others, and I have to say that it isn’t simply a matter of choice and preference. The activities of Neo-Nazis like Riley put people’s actual lives at risk.

All the affability in the world cannot lessen the contempt all civilised and rational people ought to feel for fascism. It is not a ‘political opinion’ to believe that the mechanised slaughter of 6 million Jews is in any way ok. As the National Front–who Riley supports do. ‘How can we reasonably expect that holocaust justification does not have serious implications for the safety of Jews, gypsies, the disabled, people of colour, gay people, *in the here and now*? If even ‘nice guy’ Nazis (which is, of course, an oxymoron) are tolerated that gives confidence to the active elements of that movement to act upon their beliefs. That leads to families being burnt out of their homes, to kids being stabbed to death, to bombs blowing up pubs where people the Nazis hate socialise. Support for people like Riley has direct material consequences in the real world as does publicly denouncing fascists like Riley.

It isn’t simply about boycotting the scumbag that is David A. Riley but about making it loud and clear that fascism is not welcome in civilised society. It is about making our society a safe place for all who live in it.

And then came the responses.

Geoff W replied:

We all have our own ideal and opinions. We all have thoughts and views and that is our choice. I’m not one for forcing my opinion on people, but would challenge what i disagree with, but this doesn’t change the fact that a person with different opinions is a bad person. I’ve read posts mentioning Hitler here, but just because he made some very poor choices, does that stop him from being a nice person? Eva Braun enjoyed his company. He was also a fine artist, creative and passionate. Let me also mention Gandhi, who is recognised all over the world as a peaceful man, yet he brought violence to the world causing chaos in India, supported racial segregation in South Africa. Things are not always that clear cut.

And then Uwe S:

While we call ourselves “civilised”, a sad sign of the times is the rush back to the Middle Ages. We’re back to witch-hunting, with people accused and burned at the stake at suspicion, with fire and brimstone the only instruments to clean you of your sinful steps since that moment of birth. Nowadays, we call it “political correctness”. So, Ladies and Gentlemen: never talk to somebody, never work with somebody until you have read the Inquisition’s notes – and even then you’re not out of danger, for in the end you’re sinful for being born from man and woman.

I do hope that it is simply ignorance on the part of these particular people. Still, crazy.


David A. Riley

HP Lovecraft was a bigoted piece of shit. He wrote wonderful stories and created a whole genre of cosmic horror/weirdness that has had an invaluable impact upon the genre/horror literature of the 20th-21st Centuries but he was still a bigoted piece of shit. It may well be true that his views were advancing somewhat as he got older but as his life was unfortunately cut short we will never know quite how much his views were changing.

For the vast majority of fans of HPL his personal views are problematic as they simply do not sit well with people living in the 21st Century. HPL is however dead as a doornail. He is, to paraphrase Monty Python, an ex-bigot. Were he alive today I don’t think I would read his work as I wouldn’t feel especially comfortable supporting someone who held such vile opinions of me and my friends -it is for this reason that I have never read Orson Scott Card.

I have, over the last couple of years, made a number of friends -albeit mediated by social media, in the weird fiction community and it seems that the vast majority are of a definite progressive bent. They are leagues ahead of old HPL in their view of the world and the people that inhabit it. Which I found to be really heartening, that people were able to appreciate HPL’s work and to build the weird fiction literary community into an inclusive place of diverse creativity. As China Mieville said: The best thing about the New Weird is we have less fascists. This is most certainly true and it is something to be celebrated.

However there is always going to be someone trying to ruin it for everyone and this time it is the English author and publisher David A. Riley. David A. Riley is an author of horror/weird fiction who is rather well known in the UK genre scene. He is also an unrepentant Neo-Nazi who was at one point the North-West organiser for the National Front -a gang of street fighting boneheads who wish to nail the swastika to the Union flag. They are the lowest of the low. Riley has also stood for election for the National Front on a number of occasions and continues to spout his vile opinions on people of colour on various British National Party (a more successful offshoot of the National Front) web forums. He is also responsible for penning a vile article (link) praising HPL’s racism.

david a riley

I found Riley’s page on Facebook earlier today and checked to see how many mutual friends I had with him. I only had 13 but that’s 13 too many so far as I’m concerned. All of my mutual friends were American publishers, writers, and editors -with one British exception. I find it highly likely that not one of these people on my friends list had any inclination as to Riley’s fascist affiliations. After all why would non-political people or people from the other side of the Atlantic be aware of someone’s affiliation with a Nazi group in another country? So I made a polite post tagging my mutual friends and within about 10 minutes 13 mutual friends had dropped to 7. That made me happy. A couple of people who saw the post didn’t remove Riley however -that could just be down to not being at a computer and doing shit on Facebook can be really fiddly from a mobile phone. So hopefully it will drop again soon. I’m also assuming that the others simply haven’t seen the post so hopefully they will pick up on this through other friends and will drop him like the swastika draped piece of shit that he is.

There is absolutely no place for the vile hatred of groups like the National Front and individuals like David A.Riley in any civilised society. Especially not when that society is seeing the worst attacks on public services and quality of life since the Second World War. There are people killing themselves because of the poverty they are being forced into by the government and groups like the National Front seek to weaken us farther by setting us against ourselves by peddling their racist hatred into the world.

Fuck fascism and fuck David A. Riley.

Free Speech? What’s That?

There is no such thing as free speech.

After the horrible slaughter in Paris yesterday there are many people crying out that this is an attack on free speech and that we must support Charlie Hebdo in the aftermath of this assault. There has even been the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, I am Charlie, trending on Twitter. There has also been #KillAllMuslims but fuck those people, seriously, fuck those racist jerks right in the ear.

People have been commenting all day today about the importance of freedom of speech and how it is one of the highest values of western civilisation. I have some major issues with this –and not just that the notion of there being a ‘western civilisation’ is ridiculous.* No, it is the notion that despite the fact that all actions have a cost the act of speech is somehow free of cost. So, there. There is no such thing as free speech.

I know that this is a highly unpopular notion given the reverence with which liberals, and some on the left, treat free speech but I just don’t see how it is anything other than a pipe dream, and a dangerous and defacto pro-fascist one at that.

I suppose I should explain myself somewhat as I can hear the gasp of horror as both my readers clutch their hands to their chests and faint with shock.


This may meander slightly.

In the UK we have a number of far right fascist groups that have got varying degrees of visibility, activity, and popularity. Chief amongst these are the British National Party, the National Front and Combat 18/Blood and Honour. All of these groups were formed to use violence as a way of imposing their political ideology and starting a race war in the United Kingdom. A large part of their tactics was to dominate the streets through marches and beating those of opposing political ideologies who attempted to put their argument across on the high street -through selling papers and handing out leaflets, you know the kind of thing, and through spreading terror amongst non-white populations.

They were prevented from doing this in the UK as militant trade unionists, communists, and anarchists met them with force on the streets and basically beat them back under the rock from which they crawled. There’s a really good documentary on this that you can watch here(LINK).As a result of this the BNP decided to change their tactics and attempted to become a regular political party.

Now that probably sounds ideal to your average liberal type, you know the sort -wears cardigans, eats cheese, listens to Radio 4, as now the frightful beasts would have their awful ideology exposed to the light of open debate and it would be shown to be nothing but vile fear and hatred. Rational debate would soon put an end to such dreadful things as racism and people being all loud and uncouth on match days.

Yeah, well, we don’t live in this liberal la la land and unfortunately our society if riven with racism and bigotry. Admittedly most of this isn’t the hateful racism of groups like the BNP or new kids on the block Britain First; it’s more your casual common or garden racism that thinks “[Racial Group X] are just different, got nuffink personal against ’em like. Know what I’m saying?” No, and these people, your Combat 18 and National Front sociopaths, didn’t go away and nor did their ideas. They may not have been able to organise openly until recently but they are still there and amongst these people there is a sliding scale of fuckwittery.

Now, about five years ago the British National Party were trying to canvas in Glasgow for the upcoming European Elections and at every turn people in Glasgow would jeer at them and hound them off the streets. Sometimes slightly more physically than others. Either way it was made clear that they weren’t wanted. When I was talking about this on Facebook some of my more liberal friends were claiming that people doing this were curtailing their freedom of speech and so were in the wrong, or, as some fine people put it, “You’re just as bad as the fascists for doing this.” Which, to me, is just plain offensive. Just, I’m sure, as it would have been offensive to people like the 43 Group who were Jewish veterans of the British Army who took the fight to the British Union of Fascists on their return from WWII.

You see, what the 43 Group understood, as did those who beat the National Front, BNP and co. off the streets of the UK throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s, is that if you allow fascists to openly spread their hatred and bigotry people die. It doesn’t go directly from a group like the BNP having a stall unopposed on the local high street to their being Jews rounded up into ghettos –human society is far more complex than a simple action film narrative allows for.

What allowing fascist groups to practice their ‘free speech’ does is it gives confidence to others on the far right, it allows them to feel that their views are acceptable and widely held. This gives them the confidence to act upon their convictions. This then leads to people getting beaten, to homes being burned out, to people being murdered. Speech is not free, sometimes the price of it can be people’s lives.

From this it may be presumed that I would therefore support calls for the government to legislate against certain groups –to curtail their freedom of speech in order to protect lives. This is something I am opposed to completely. The interests of the state and the people who live beneath it are rarely aligned, something that should be patently obvious if we look at the raft of austerity measures presently plunging huge swathes of the population into desperate poverty and driving others to suicide. No, I do not feel that real politics happens at the level of government or the state. Real politics happens in our communities and our workplaces. That is the arena where fascists must be denied their ‘free speech’ and where work to prevent their fear and hatred must take place. Unfortunately the community and the workplace as a place of politics has been arena seemingly abandoned by most for a long time now with lefty groups preferring to organise on university campuses (student loans filling party coffers through subs and freshers fairs) or to arrange rally after rally about things happening halfway around the globe(whilst rattling collection buckets all the way).

So I won’t be changing my Twitter profile pic to a picture of Mohammed in the name of free speech. Not because I have any problem with annoying Muslims or poking fun at Islam –it’s a religion and all religions are equally bloody absurd, but because it would be a pointless gesture aimed squarely at annoying people who had fuck all to do with this violence and who are, in all likelihood, utterly repulsed by it. Why on Earth would I want to do that? I’m a, reasonably, nice person! Nor will I be claiming to stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. It’s a shit rag that punts racism, sexism, and homophobia as edgy humour. Nor will I bleat about attacks on free speech as there is no such thing as free speech, something the fuckwits with the machine guns patently understand.

Anyway, I feel sorry for those people who have suffered and who have lost loved ones because of these bastards. I feel anger at the bastards who are using this as an excuse to attack mosques and to further the fascist agenda. And I feel exasperation at those bleating over free speech as they are maintaining the delusion that there is such a thing and that we live in a liberal fairy tale rather than a complex, dirty and confusing cluster fuck of a world.

Also. Why the fuck is my first post of 2015 about something like this? Sod this, I’m off for a fag.

*I’m of the opinion that civilisation is a process of developing social and cultural complexity.

Europe is Under Threat!

Saw this shared on the Facebook last night and rather liked it. 🙂

It’s a rather nice response to a video posted by the Sverigedemokratisk Ungdom – Swedish Democratic Youth(SDU), the youth wing of the Swedish Democrats who, despite their name, are a far right fascist party similar to British groups like the British National Party or the UK Independence Party. Like the BNP and UKIP they are racists and homophobes who are trying to shift the blame for the current economic meltdown on to immigrants/non-whites. Yep, they’re proper classy like that.

Anyway. Here’s the original.

The lad at 0:10, rather amusingly – and fittingly, reminds me of this lad.

And, for the record, Europe is under threat but it isn’t under threat from immigrants or a plurality of cultures. It is under threat from ever increasing social and economic stratification, from climate change, and from far right groups seeking to use these things to bolster their support through promoting and creating tensions between people who should be united in their common interest.

Anyways, because I’ll take any opportunity to share good music. Have some anti-fascist and anti-racist tunes to start your day. 🙂

And yeah, yeah. I know. It’s all from the 90s. That’s because a) the 1990s were objectively the greatest years for music that the world has ever seen 😉 and b) there was a plethora a really good political bands in the 1990s and anti-racism/anti-fascism were the default positions for many people who listened to alternative music. This doesn’t seem to be quite so true today sadly. 😦 Bloody kids. 😉

Never Again

Weird fiction against racism and fascism.

~Allyson Bird and Joel Lane(eds.)

I spotted this on Goodreads recently and just couldn’t resist.

From the back cover:

Can we ever say ‘Never again’ – and know that the atrocities of the past won’t be repeated in the future? Here are 23 weird and speculative fiction stories against fascism and racism.

In today’s unstable political and economic climate, the far right has gained a stronger political foothold in Europe than at any time since the 1930s. Its combination of racist rhetoric and street violence is a serious threat to our democratic culture and civil rights.

Never Again is an attempt to voice the collective revulsion of writers in the weird fiction genre against political attitudes that stifle compassion and deny our collective human inheritance. The imagination is crucial to an understanding both of human diversity and of common ground.

The anthology brings together stories by leading writers of weird fiction alongside new and radical voices: Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Tuttle, Joe R. Lansdale, Kaaron Warren, Rob Shearman, Tony Richards, Andrew Hook, Nina Allan, Gary McMahon, Stephen Volk, Simon Bestwick, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Rhys Hughes, David A. Sutton, Carole Johnstone, R.B. Russell, John Howard, Steve Duffy, Alison Littlewood, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Thana Niveau, Mat Joiner and rj krijnen-kemp.

These stories use imagination to look below the surface of intolerance, scapegoating and persecution – not to sicken the reader, but to reveal the power of human resistance and the need to build a society in which victimisation is a thing of the past.

Never Again is a non-profit initiative aimed at promoting awareness of these issues and raising funds to support human rights organisations.

I’m going to dive into this tomorrow. With all the nationalistic tub thumping and triumphalism that we, in the UK at least, are going to have to put up with over the next few years a dose of socially conscious weirdness should act as a nice counter balance.

Never Again is available from Gray Friars Press for £10(+PnP) or US$18(+PnP) with any and all profits being donated to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, Amnesty International and P.E.N.