George Lincoln Rockwell
There is a cult film called The Blues Brothers (1980) that stars Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi in a madcap adventure set in and around Chicago. Although, for a brief period, I effectively dressed like a Blues Brother—“You look so sinister, like a Gestapo agent,” my aunt commented as I strode into the living room with my walking cane in hand—I am, as previously recorded, more a Ghostbusters (1984) man than a Blues Brothers fan. My preferences notwithstanding, among the various forces pitted against the Blues Brothers we find a group called “the Illinois Nazis”—men in brown shirts who are tumbled into a river for comedic effect. This stormtrooper contingent is based upon a real-life movement, a tiny movement, that made an impact in the 1960s thanks to its media-savvy supreme commander, George Lincoln Rockwell: they were called, in an unoriginal move, “the American Nazi Party”.
There are two ways to take Rockwell: on the one hand he is just what he appears to be in the photograph above—a nutcase; yet, on the other hand, there is some force behind the nuttiness that can only be appreciated if you look at Rockwell in a non-modern way.
I know I mention narcissism a great deal, yet because I deal mostly in politics—and because most modern politics is democratic—narcissism is almost always pertinent to a contemporary political figure. The type of person who wants to be adored by the crowd, to win them over, will almost certainly be a narcissist—and so it was with Rockwell. He really had every classical sign: histrionics, self-aggrandisement, a low boredom threshold and an inability to complete projects, fits of pity and melancholy, and, above all, masks that he wore to seduce and beguile people. This is no surprise, for showbiz was in Rockwell’s blood: he was born to a famous vaudeville star and his some-time star wife. George Lincoln Rockwell was a born performer—he lived to put on a show.
Ironically enough, Rockwell’s christening was attended by showbiz royalty—friends of his father—and that included men such as Groucho Marx, probably the most famous Jewish performer of the day. Now, you must understand that Rockwell’s adulthood anti-Jewish sentiment went far beyond any grumbling or tart remarks typically found in most Western societies—it was completely extravagant, vulgar, and always exterminatory.
Rockwell’s concession to “liberalism” was to only demand that 95% of the Jewish population should be killed—and, psychologically, to phrase it that way suggests more completeness than if you said 100%. So extreme, so genuinely vulgar, was Rockwell that you might form the impression he was dragged up in the gutter; yet, in reality, though his mother’s circumstances were difficult after his parents divorced, Rockwell came from a successful family—he went to university and became a naval aviator. He was not an idiot; however, as with his father and mother, he was a great fantasist and a great performer—although, in my view, he never quite found his niche.
So Rockwell was born to two narcissists and, unsurprisingly, turned out himself to be a raging narcissist. The conventional explanation for his decision to form the American Nazi Party is that it was a way to satisfy his narcissism under conditions of extreme stress (two failed marriages and many failed businesses): the American Nazi Party was a tiny organisation that never had more than 250 members but that enjoyed, thanks to Rockwell’s talent for showbiz “antics”, a huge media profile in the 1960s—a time when America was in racial uproar, even more so than usual. Only a consummate showman, such as Rockwell, could conceive the idea that a stormtrooper should hit Martin Luther King (whom Rockwell referred to in all speeches and correspondence, even begging letters sent to the respectable William F. Buckley, as “Martin Luther Coon”) on stage while he called for peaceful racial co-existence.
So the conventional explanation for Rockwell’s behaviour—behaviour so extreme that he was eventually shot to death by one of his own disaffected stormtroopers—relies on the idea that Rockwell’s turn to Hitlerism was mainly driven by his deficient personality. Rockwell did a little college, then became a naval aviator in WWII and the Korean War; after he left the permanent service, he tried multiple business ideas—notably a magazine for the wives of servicemen, US Lady—yet he could never stick to one thing long enough to reap the benefits, a typical narcissistic trait.
Rockwell eventually hit on Hitlerism as the ideal vehicle for his personality, and so became a national celebrity with relatively little effort; he endured considerable poverty in his years as America’s Führer, yet that was not really the point—he had the attention he craved. At one point, ever a showbiz man, he wanted to form an “Extremist Speakers Bureau”—the point being that he could retail himself, with other extremists, on the college lecture circuit (so that you could, prospectively, order Rockwell and Malcolm X to duke it out for the undergrads in the Weever Memorial Auditorium—for a reasonable fee, of course). Indeed, it seems Rockwell was finally about to generate a regular income as a college speaker before he was shot to death. Rockwell’s fate was typical for American political figures in the 1960s: JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X, Rockwell—it was the temper of the times, and all those assassinations occurred within the same short span of years.
So that is the conventional “clinical” analysis as to Rockwell’s personality and motivations: a man with an inherent tendency for narcissism and an already above-average tendency towards anti-Jewish sentiment is pushed to the edge by failed marriages and businesses; he snaps, experiences a quasi-religious conversion to Hitlerism, and resolves his egotistic crisis through extreme politics—a move that finally gives him the recognition he knew he always deserved, and on a national stage to boot.
However, this view is not complete: we have to consider the non-modern aspect to Rockwell. This was a man who came from vaudeville, a newly displaced popular entertainment form that was beaten out by cinema and radio and finally killed for good by television. John Osborne’s The Entertainer (1957) provides a grim half-drunk-gin-bottle-in-the-grimy-kitchen-sink insight into a vaudeville family about to disappear forever—the only people who come and cackle at the show today are a few yellow-toothed crones, whereas as once, circa 1912, everyone went to old-time music hall…
The vaudeville world is very much a family affair, as you will see in The Entertainer—this is a quasi-monarchical world where there are dynasties, and where everyone is up on the stage (everyone is in on the act). “Tits and teeth, dear. Tits and teeth,” says the father-impresario as, with aid from a long thin cane topped by a curled end, he firmly shepherds his tap-dancing daughters (billed as “The Evelyn Sisters”, on tour in the tri-state area) around the stage—if the proverbial tomatoes are thrown at the comic turn, the cane will become a crook round your neck to yank you off stage.
This world is incestuous, it is very much The Jackson 5 world (you know how well that turned out)—and it is also inherently seedy; if you want to understand vaudeville world take a look on YouTube at The League of Gentlemen (in particular, the blackface character “Papa Lazarou”). It captures vaudeville world perfectly; the seedy seaside B&B, the fatty sausages amid the greasepaint—the affectionate squeeze of a daughter’s ass by “Papa”. Trade secrets, we keep it in the family...nothing more important than family…
Vaudeville world is tied up with carnival world—itself also sleazy, with its hairy ladies and carnies who might make your enemies “disappear” into the savage mechanical gears in the hotdog machine for $55 and a bottle of hooch. “No, officer. I can’t say I’ve seen him,” says the carny as he wipes non-descript gunk from his hands with an old rag and peers at the proffered photo. Carnival world is also magical world—it is where the gypsy fortune-tellers are. It is where you go to run away and start again, to change identities—to learn how to play with masks, to learn about maya. After all, the gypsy fortune-teller is a Hindu in the end. “They’re brown, brown like an fakir, them gyppos.” Their symbol is the wheel, not just because the gypsies love to steal the wheels off a Ford Escort but because they come from Hindustan—India’s flag is also a wheel.
At the carnival, you might see a Punch and Judy show—and Punch and Judy, the Punch and Judy man at the end of the pier, right next to the semi-rigid tent that contains a vaudeville act, constitutes an initiatory rite. These old carnivals, these seasonal events, represent moments when initiations take place—and were once tied up with church calendars and the veneration of saints, every religion allows one carnival day per year where everything goes topsy-turvy. Go to the hall of mirrors…learn about the nature of reality…grotesque…beautiful…enlightenment is a mirrored room…
So there is a magical element to vaudeville; and vaudeville performers seem to be able to go anywhere and be anyone. Britain’s own Jimmy Savile, with his vaudevillian catchphrase “Now then, now then”, could appear in high-security prisons or Buckingham Palace—as a magician he could go anywhere, do anything (“Do anyone, love. Eh, Eh. What’s he like? What’s he like?”). This is a Zelig world—and Woody Allen, with his appreciation for old-time Hollywood, would also be at home in vaudeville. Indeed, there is a tension in vaudeville and carnival land—a racial tension.
Who is the big impresario? Who handles the takings at the door? Whose name is above the marquee? Why, should we go to Zimmerman’s Follies or Gluckmann’s Circus this year? The tension: the vaudeville talent is often run by a Jewish impresario—the man who runs the accounts, books the venues, and prints the bills to promote the show. Now, sometimes the talent and the management are both Jewish—yet often it is Gentile talent and Jewish management, and then you see reasons why vaudeville-carnival land might lean to the far-right. Close family businesses steeped in mysticism, footloose and classless—and yet with one opponent who never changes, whom they both need to facilitate their trade and yet whom they suspect might be cheating them in a business that is highly volatile and insecure…
In short, the vaudeville performer—as with Rockwell’s father—might be best friends with many Jews, with Groucho Marx even; and yet what does he say when the guests have left…after all, he has to make a living and yet he suspects that he has been cheated…I think this explains Rockwell’s extreme anti-Jewish attitude, an attitude that his father condemned—although you have to wonder, per Jung, if what is repressed in the father is lived out in the son. Also, just take a look at Rockwell Sr., if anything he looks more abnormal—initiated, perhaps—than his son…
The things we do in the dark, eh? Rockwell Sr. had peculiar eyes—as did his son, as did Hitler, as did Henry Williamson, as did Oswald Mosley. You have to wonder what they saw, exactly.
By Rockwell’s own account, his conversion to Hitlerism occurred when he was flying during the Korean War—on a transport mission in California. All that meditative time in the air drew him to the conclusion that Hitler should have won the war. Later, he was posted to Iceland; and it was here he made his full conversion. In a hilarious episode, he wrote to his mother to reassure her that unlike the other servicemen he was not drinking to endure the long Arctic nights. No, Rockwell was not at the bottle: he was reading and re-reading Mein Kampf—as many as twelve times. This experience cemented his conversion to Hitlerism and provided the launchpad for his later behaviour—his stormtrooper antics that led many people, especially in his family, to conclude that Rockwell needed psychiatric care.
My view is that, as with Charles Manson, Rockwell experienced a genuine religious awakening—except, as with Manson, it was somehow faulty; he opened himself up to “something” while in a vulnerable state and so became very unstable—and he was already naturally quite an unstable person. The fact he was stationed in Iceland when this happened is significant because Iceland plays a large role in esoteric Hitlerian ideas; for example, Savitri Devi, the Hindu priestess of Hitlerism, went to Iceland post-war for spiritual purposes—and my view is that Rockwell was possessed by some Indo-Aryan spirit that lurks up there, in the cold wastes. After all, it really is very much Viking-Nordic territory.
In line with his initiatory vaudeville background, Rockwell engaged in esoteric wordplay; for example, he became excited by the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ—Jesus of NAZareth, just one letter away from “Nazi” reported an excited Rockwell; and this is typical esoteric thought, although otherwise Rockwell seems to have been a conventional modern person and described himself as an agnostic—he developed his own brand of Christianity that was consciously twisted into a racial doctrine.
Rockwell’s legacy is in line with his background: he was a fairground oddity, a showman to the last; his power rested on his willingness to openly fly the swastika at a time when Hitler’s ideas were considered utterly discredited and defeated—and, from a psychological viewpoint, this was enough to grant him some satisfaction from his notoriety as “the devil”.
He set out to be as provocative as possible, to provoke Jews to fight with his stormtroopers—particularly war veterans and holocaust survivors. The response from American Jewish organisations was to recommend “quarantine”, to starve Rockwell of the publicity he desired—the strategy worked, and major newspapers adopted special protocols to handle “Rockwell news” in order to reduce his public profile; ironically, this itself demonstrated a certain truth to Rockwell’s assertion that the Jews exercised a disproportionate influence on the media—although nobody could know that.
Rockwell was produced by a particular world, a world that has now almost vanished, called vaudeville; he was a genuinely psychologically disturbed person, a man who did suffer from what can be described as pathological narcissism. However, at another level, he had some shamanic insight; he was less a political leader than a religious leader—an initiate of the seedy carny variety. To me, there is a class of men who would be something else in another cycle of the ages, but in the modern world they can only be regarded as stark-raving lunatics.