The Wolves of Vinland: a Fascist Countercultural “Tribe” in the Pacific NorthwestMon, Nov 7, 2016
Over recent years, a host of new organizations and projects have surfaced in the US, attempting to rebrand fascism for new audiences. For several decades fascist organizing has been associated with the hijacking of “skinhead” fashion and culture, but increasingly the fascist Right moves in other scenes as well. Fascist organizers intend to build countercultural visibility and appeal to disaffected working class whites, who may already be active in a subculture of some form. Fascist counterculture attempts to build in settings such as the neo-folk and black metal music scenes; religion in the form of “folkish” heathenry or Asatru; and independent publishing projects mixing political and “nonpolitical” content. One manifestation of this Alt-Right countercultural/“spiritual” organizing in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) is called the Wolves of Vinland Cascadia.
Drawing upon a mix of motivational speaking, weightlifting, hand to hand and tactical arms training, hyper-masculinity and pre-Christian Germanic religion, the Wolves of Vinland (WoV) have situated themselves as the group du jour on the countercultural Right. The group expresses an elitist and patriarchal worldview, much of which is copied from the philosophy of Julius Evola. (Evola considered himself to be to the Right even of fascism; however Evola was attracted to the Nazi SS as a model of the sort of “elite” he wished to cultivate, and moved to Nazi Germany after the fall of Fascism in Italy.)The Wolves of Vinland pictured at Elite Performance Center in Clackmas, OR
LtoR Mattais Waggener, Paul Waggner, unidentified prospect, Jack Donovan
Dressing in motorcycle club style vests, painting their faces, and building a "tribe," the WoV have successfully and quietly organized two other chapters across the United States. Despite the claims to be inspired by historical pre-Christian Germanic people, the WoV tend to organize similarly to outlaw “1%er” biker gangs. They have a proper group (the official WoV) and feeder clubs, from which they draw in new members. These feeder groups are part of "Operation Werewolf". In the last year or so, a third WoV chapter has begun organizing in the Portland area under the leadership of self-proclaimed “anarcho-fascist” and gay anti-queer militant Jack Donovan. WoV has recently been listed by the SPLC as an active hate group, which suggests just how far they have gone.
The WoV have received attention from both militant antifascists and watchdog organizations, but for many people this group has largely flown under the radar. “Crypto-fascism”--that is, fascist messaging when dog-whistled or veiled with esoteric references--is harder to spot and confront than some buffoon marching around with a swastika flag. This, arguably, also makes such a current more dangerous; we believe “crypto-fascism” must be both uncovered and directly combatted. In this article, we expose the history of the Wolves of Vinland, their use of Operation Werewolf as a recruiting tool, the nature of Evola-influenced worldview, and the activity of the Cascadian Pack of WoV, their leader Jack Donovan, and his allies.The Wolves of Vinland: Origins and Belief
The WoV organization was started roughly 10 years ago by self-styled fitness coach, motivational guru and white supremacist Paul Waggener along with his brother Mattias. Drawing from Nazi era Norse imagery, total misreadings of Germanic and Scandinavian paganism, Men’s Rights Activist ideology, and drawing on the power lifting and black metal subcultures, they have cobbled together a "tribalist” Evolian cadre organization. These guys have gotten a lot of press due to their competent use of social media as an outreach tool and their ability to craft a very specific übermensch countercultural cool. Mattais and Paul Waggner
The theories of Julius Evola (1898 - 1974) are a primary influence on WoV. Scholar Franco Ferraresi correctly stated that "Evola’s thought can be considered one of the most radically and consistently anti egalitarian, anti liberal, anti democratic, and anti popular systems in the twentieth century." ("The Radical Right in Postwar Italy," Politics & Society, 1988 16:71-119, Pg. 84) The esotericist Evola believed that the world, specifically the West, has been and is going through a decline rooted in materialism, a lack of spiritual awareness, and opposition to “masculine” principles. This final phase of decay and collapse is called the "Kali Yuga" (Evola borrows the concept from the Hindu cycle of Yugas.) This phase would be ended by willing individuals (called “aristocrats of the soul”) bringing about a rebirth by implementing a “Traditional society” -- basically a return to some imagined Golden Age. Evola wrote about Roman society with regard to this theory, but Evola’s claims been applied to other western cultures as well.
The myth of rebirth from the ashes is key within fascist ideology. What set Evola apart from standard fascist ideology was his aversion to large political party organizing and populism. Evola also scorned nationalism as not being elitist enough. Such opposition to nationalism may place Evola outside of “fascism” narrowly defined--if one believes that fascism is necessarily nationalistic, then Evola clearly falls outside that “fascism” (and to its right). However functionally Evola and Evolian thought have generally aligned with fascist political movements - as demonstrated by Evola’s efforts to gain favor with select Italian Fascists and then German Nazis during his own lifetime. Evola’s ideas have also been useful to more recent neofascist movements. These ideas are best known in Europe but dovetail neatly with American notions of the tough, heroic individual as well as anti-state sentiment among disaffected whites who feel their power in society slipping. Nothing is more astutely “American” than calls for cleansing violence without a party mechanism and a “dictator” in charge.
The Wolves of Vinland leader Paul Waggener - like many Evolians - is trying many things to see what will get traction for his political goals. Those goals are the creation of a cadre organization capable of surviving the immanent western decline and emerging as leaders of the next “traditional society” in the next cycle of Yungas. Waggener is responsible for a series of cultural projects which he uses to express themes of western decline and emasculation. These projects range from “outlaw” country (Paul Waggener & the Howling Grimness) and black metal bands (Cladonia Rangiferina), to an awful "Film Studio" (Anarchist Films) and his many esoteric and fitness e-books online. Waggener's interest in a plethora of subcultures is part of a strategy of ‘fishing’ -- casting out lines into different areas of social life until something (or someone) gets hooked. In this case, the religious influences and hyper-masculinity of the Wolves of Vinland have come to dominate the values of the organization.Paul and his comrades in the black metal band “Cladonia Rangiferina”