This paper has focused on George Lincoln Rockwell as the progenitor of an American neo-fascist ideology in the context of the America of the 1960's. This ideology was neither applied as a technique of revolutionary mobilisation in the expanding racist milieu, nor even understood by Rockwell's successors to the leadership of the U.S. Nazi movement. It was continually demonstrated that, despite the opinions of uniformed journalists, and even the study of an historian like Leland Bell, the Rockwell party was actually the politically more mature vehicle for U.S. neo-fascism when compared to later Nazi (and other neo-fascist) formations.
Firstly, Rockwell appeared as not only the originator of U.S. Nazism but its most able writer, speaker and organiser He demonstrated his grip of tactical opportunities and continually related and modified his ideology to concrete political-social circumstances. Like classical fascism's leaders, Rockwell did not countenance ideological rigidity. The wildly sensationalist Hitler-loving nordicist party with its links to international fascist sects (1959-62) yielded to the racist, anti New Left organisation (1963-65) and finally culminated in the White Power party (1966-67). Certainly this pragmatic ideological development contrasted sharply with the various Nazi organisations (1967-78) which became increasingly less innovative and rigid in their approach to mass racist mobilisations (Boston, 1974) and other politically manipulable movements (Hard Hats, the Wallace movement) . These Nazis returned to a variety of sombre Hitler cultism devoid of even the raison d'etre of the old Nazi party in its earliest period of shock sensationalism.
Secondly, Rockwell's ideology was an integrated one blending together traditional American conspiracy theory, and a form of demagogic populism with a virulent racial-patriotism underlying everything. This was contrasted with other later U.S. Nazi formations with their fixations on the historical revisionist movement which denied the existence of certain aspeats of Hitler's unsavoury foreign policy and even the destruction of the Jews, merged together with a bland form of copyist social reformism (borrowed from the NSDAP) and a decided lack of a true "demagogue" to lead the movement.
Rockwell's style and pronouncements placed him within the native American fascist tradition. The first viable American fascist movement rallied around the America First agitation and was aborted by Pearl Harbour. It combined American nationalism, the Monroe Doctrine, isolationism, nativism, neo-populism and a style which harked back to the authoritarian temperament of the early presidents. I defined such a movement as fascist within the American - as distinct from European - context. The historians and other writers who have analysed American fascism - Ferkiss, Schonbach, Swing, Diamond and Sindell - argued the pecularities of American fascist and extreme right thinking and set American fascist ideology within agreed parameters. I located Rockwell therein.
I found that the struggle which preceded the formation of the American Nazi Party was one in which Rockwell addressed himself to the American Extreme Right. He participated in it, was moulded by it. And he sought to overcome its crisis (Chapter One) by anunusual experiment. While it is true that this experiment dressed itself in foreign forms and was first mixed in with neo-nazi factions in the European Extreme Right, Rockwell still directed his message to the U.S. neo-fascist and Extreme Right movements, to modernise them and push them into violent confrontation with the black and New Left organisations. And unlike even the first American fascists, he provoked considerable violence and disorder in many Northern cities.
In other words, Rockwell repeated the chemical formula for American fascism even if on a smaller organisational scale than the movement of 1940.
His neo-fascism was distinct. It permitted his movement to appear in the guise of traditional Americanism which had been espoused by earlier nativist organisations. Rockwell sought to overcome those problems previously unsolved by the U.S. nativists and the Extreme Right generally. He desired fundamental solutions to the Negro question'and the crisis of American identity and national power. Rockwell however stressed the modernisation of prejudice; he fought against religious bigotry (admitting Protestants, Catholics and atheists to his ranks) while sharpening racial bigotry into a call for "White Revolution."
The process of this racist mobilisation was of great importance to this new fascism. To sustain it, Rockwell suggested the movement take on a "socialist" aspect. This certainly restricted Rockwell in that the pool of anti communist and sometimes racist opinion which moved in bodies like the John Birch Society, was virulently anti collectivist. That Rockwell insisted in his views, showed the fascist nature of his thinking. It set him apart from the right. But he still echoed its style: in these matters of "socialism" Rockwell recalled the ideas of Coughlin and the money reformers more so than the rigid collectivism of the German National Socialists. The conservatives who longed for the decentralisation of power were rebutted; but even then Rockwell adopted the hallowed myths of "Constitution" and "Republic" to cover his heretical modernisation. It can be concluded that Rockwell desired to mobilise the fractious U.S. Right into an instrument for power. And he would use a language with which the conservative was at least familiar: the style of 1930's neo populism. These 1930's demagogic "populists" - Coughlin, Long, Lemke, managed a proletarian following; Rockwell certainly made it clear he sought the allegience of the common man.
In the pursuit of his goals Rockwell achieved some success Firstly Rockwell won enormous publicity and considerable notoriety. Secondly he built a small but frenetically active organisation. Thirdly he achieved a strong position in the U.S. Extreme Right which was being capitalised upon to formulate the plan for a merger of considerable forces Fourthly, Rockwell provoked disorder in riot torn cities winning some public acceptance, particularly in Chicago in 1966. Fifthly, he created an American neo-fascist ideology; Rockwell, therefore had a system of reference unlike the conservative right and even the Extreme Right. On these bases I have concluded that the Rockwell movement was a significant phenomenon even if limited to the sphere of U.S. race relations in a decade of change.
All of this, Rockwell backed up by charisma. The synthesis of ideas which made up his American neo-fascism existed through his activity rather than that of any subordinate. His subordinatestook his directions (usually: the ANP had a few severe "mutinies". In all probability they would have followed him out of a "Nazi" party and into a more publicly acceptable form of movement. But they were lesser minds as became obvious in the post-Rockwell period of U.S. Nazism. I would suggest that the lack of an intellectual cadre had damaged Rockwell's potential; after his death his cadre, played at intellectualism and damaged the fascist synthesis which Rockwell had established.
This thesis concentrated on Rockwell and I showed the sharp differences between his fascism and the "National Socialism" of his successors. In chapter three the assorted religious pecularities of U.S. Nazism in the post Rockwell period were examined. Clearly the movement was a caricature of Rockwell's fascism - and National Socialism generally -and perhaps not even a truly political movement at all.
Under Matt Koehl the Nazi moveinent enjoyed an Indian Summer of expansion (1968-73) and then a series of splits which saw new "fuhrers' arise to challenge Koehi's sombre leadership. In this period the Nazis, despite occasional and worsening violence (1973-78), were eclipsed by other racist organisations. In these years U.S. Nazism, as epitomised by Frank Collin, was a media bubble and, as Aryeh Neier observed, a good fund raising bogey man for American Zionists. The divisions in Nazi ranks became permanent.
I have little doubt that the American Nazi movement will continue to exist despite the irrelevancy and sectarianism into which it progressively degenerated. Matt Koehl, writing after the period of this study summed up the cultist tendencies to which I had already referred. He wrote in his Hitlerism: Faith of the Future:
Already the rudiments of this faith, the Hitler faith - Hitlerism - exist in wordless inchoate form in the hearts of a small but growing number. Slowly... a great holy retinue is gathering... A new dispensation looms on the horizon. . .(1)
In other words Koehl ended up - absolutely - in the position of cultism to which I had ascribed to the Nazi movement generally by 1975-6. The other Nazi organisations are little better; they are either cultist groupings or violent mindless sects of the sort I described as the Anabaptists of U.S. Nazism.
There are virtually no comparative philosophies or organisations to which these Nazis can be compared (so we can have a political context for them) - save perhaps the Trotskyists. Nazis are perhaps the Trotskyists of the Right. The Trotskyists (1960ff ) have always seen themselves as
1. Matt Koehl, "Hitlerism: Faith Of The Future," The National Socialist, No. 4, Spring 1982, p.
the vanguard of revolution, better informed than the mass organisations of the Left. They are divided hopelessly in a so-called International which has at least half a dozen different "leaderships." Their disputes centre around the mantle of Trotsky's name. Some believe that history itself stopped at the time of their "fuhrer's" death (1940) til the "crisis of working-class leadership" is decided. The Trotskyists consider that an arbitrary reaffirmation of the chemical formula of Lenin's Bolshevism (down even to the slogans of 1917) will bring about a socialist revolution in the West. Whether this concept is political could be debated; it is certainly not pathological, yet from these movements havegrown elements of Euro-terrorism and violent left formationsin the U.S. itself. Perhaps the U.S. Nazis of the post-Rockwell period were of a similar psychological type. Perhaps they were also living examples of the pedant in politics, people who mistake form for content.
Rockwell's party had some effect on the U.S. of the 1960's; the ANP was not amatter of police investigation or confrontation with equally rabid Left sects - as the U.S. Nazis became. One Marxist group, the Spartacist League, recently wrote of Rockwell:
The civil rights movement was killed in the lily-white Chicago suburb of Cicero in 1966. It was here the white backlash won its first major victory. When King announced a march for integrated housing in Cicero, American Nazis led by George Lincoln Rockwell organized "white power" hoodlums to meet the civil rights marchers with a bloody attack. Two days before the scheduled march King signed the Palmer House agreement, backing off the march in exchange for an empty promise on housing. However, 200 young militants led by SNCC's Stokely Carmichael, who had just raised the slogan of "black power," decided to march anyway. They were surrounded by hundreds of Chicago police and thousands of National Guardsmen. They were courageous, but they had lost as the racists outmobilized them in the streets. (2)
I conclude that Rockwell was a politically dangerous personality armed with charisma and ability. Whether he could have become even more than a white man's Stokely Carmichael is conjectural but the neo-fascist synthesis he formulated died with him. It awaits "rediscovery."