18 September 2014
Remembering Francis Parker Yockey (18 September 1917 - 16 June 1960)
Francis Parker Yockey was born 97 years ago today. Yockey was an American political philosopher and author of Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics, a neo-Spenglerian work that sets forth a vision for Occidental resurgence. He has remained influential among critics of Western liberalism.
Yockey was born in Chicago, son of a Louis Francis Yockey, an accountant, and Rose Ellen 'Nellie' Foley, daughter of the logging baron, James Foley. The youngest of four siblings, he had two sisters, Alice and Vinette, and an older brother, James. By ancestry he was largely Irish, except for his paternal grandfather, Valentine Yocky, who was originally from Bavaria.
At the onset of the Great Depression, the Yockeys moved back to their base in Ludington, Michigan. Francis was enrolled in Ludington High School and proved a bright student, making the honour role. He was musically inclined, taking lessons first from O. W. Colvin and later from Ernst Lund Johnson, and in time giving piano recitals. He also participated in history debates organised by the school.
Upon graduation in 1934, he enrolled at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. That same year he read Spengler's The Decline of the West, which had a pround impact on the young man and would remain a lasting influence in his thought. Indeed, later in life he was able to quote passages verbatim from memory. He also abandoned his youthful pro-Communist views in favour of National Socialism.
In 1935 he was involved in a car accident, which led to his being assaulted by several Afro-Americans and losing his front teeth. According to a local newspaper, he was hospitalised, but released the following day. The incident shaped his racial views thereafter. The following year he had transferred to Georgetown University, and begun reading Carl Schmitt, whose works proved another lasting influence. Then, in 1938, he transferred again to the University of Arizona, in Tucson, where he obtained his bachelor's degree. By this time some of his articles were already making it into print. 'Tragedy of Youth' appeared in Charles Coughlin's mass circulation periodical Social Justice.
Also in 1938, Yockey enrolled in Northwestern University's Law School. There, he assisted the Right-wing laywer Newton Jenkins, who was active with America First organisations. He also spoke at a meeting organised by William Pelley Dudley's group, the Silver Shirt Legions of America.
Unhappy with Northwestern, he left in 1940, and transferred to De Paul Law School for the Autumn term. However, he soon changed his mind and transferred again, this time to Notre Dame's Law School. His essay 'Life as an Art' was published that year. By 1941 he had obtained his degree in law, cum laude; passed his Michigan Law Board examination; and moved to Chicago, where he lived with his brother-in-law and studied for the Illinois bar.
His first job was as an attorney, employed by Thompson and Lannin, a law firm based in Vernon, Illinois. He became eligible to practice law on 9th May 1942, but on the 20th he enlisted in the US Army, where he was assinged to a G-2 intelligence unit. Undoubtedly, his aim was to do what he could for the cause of Europe from within, and this would mark the beginning of an increasingly perilous career. He was reported AWOL between September and November, and it is thought he was in Texas and Mexico, conducting an intelligence mission for Germany. Upon his return, he feigned mental illness, was diagnosed with dementia praecox and paranoid state psychopathic personality, and, after a period of hospitalisation, had himself honourably discharged from the army in 1943. In the intervening time, he had married Alice MacFarlane in San Antonio, Texas, with whom he moved to Detroit after regaining his status as a civilian. For a period in he worked for Dykoma, Jones, and Wheat, another law firm.
In 1944, he accepted membership of the Detroit Bar Association, and, from September until he resigns at the end of the year, he works for Wayne County as an assistant prosecutor. He also fathered two daughters, Isolde and Brünnhilde, nicknaned 'Lollie' and 'Bruni'. These would later disappear from view, one vanishing in Germany and the other changing her name.
During the final month of World War II, Yockey took a job at the Office of Price Administration in Detroit. Eight months later, he applied for a passport, and in January 1946 he was sent to Germany, where he was assigned to the 7708 War Crimes Group in Wiesbaden (Frankfurt) as a civilian employee for the War Dempartment. Having secured the position of review attorney at the War Crimes Board, he moved his family to Germany. According to H. Keith Thompson, his intention was to help some of the Nazis being prosecuted. Eventually, however, disgusted by what he perceived to be a show trial and by the Allied Occupation regime in Germany, Yockey left his position in November, following a confrontation.
In 1947, the US Army Counterintelligence raids his home in Germany, but too late: he had already left for Brittas Bay in Ireland. At a remote inn, and already separated from his wife, he spent six months writing his magnum opus, Imperium. Upon completion of the manuscript, he moved to London. Oswald Mosley had by this time returned to politics, heading the Union Movement. Yockey sought him out, became a paid member of his organisation, and attempted to convince Mosley to publish the manuscript claiming authorship for himself. But Mosley was dismissive and Yockey decided to self-publish the manuscript, albeit pseudonymously, with assistance from Alice von Pfugl. The first edition appeared in two volumes, the first in a run of 1000 copies and the second in a run of 200.
By 1949 Yockey had fallen out with Mosley and formed his own organisation, the European Liberation Front, taking 150 of Mosley's supporters with him. While in Belgium, he spends three days distilling Imperium into a fierce manifesto, The Proclamation of London, which was published in pamphlet form. He also visited Bavaria and Italy, where he met the leaders of the Movimiento Sociale Italiano.
From here on, details of Yockey's life became increasingly murky. Either in late 1949 or early 1950 he returned to the United States. He worked with Gerald K. L. Smith's Christian Nationalist Party, but his opinion of Smith and Americans in general was very low. Then, in 1951, he joined the American Red Cross, in Fort Custer, Michigan, in Fort Hood, Texas, and in the Second Armed Division Replacement Center, Rhine Military Post and HQ 7th Army, in Germany. By late August he had resigned, and, realising he was under investigation, he travelled to Italy and then Canada, becoming involved with Adrien Arcand in an effort to revive the Canadian fascist movement. The FBI was already on his trail, and the US Consulate General in Montreal recommended he be investigated for subversive activities and have his passport cancelled. In November 1951, Yockey returned to the United States with his last legitimate passport.
In late January 1952 Yockey went to Washington, where, having been approached by a member of the McCarthy movement, he met the anti-Communist senator. He ended up writing a speech for him, titled, ‘America’s Two Ways of Waging War’.
He also met H. Keith Thompson, a veteran activist who had been involved with the German-American Bund and the America First Movement prior to the war, and who had also worked with German intelligence. Yockey and Thompson were introduced to German nationalist Frederick Weiss, a veteran of World War I, and Thompson in turn introduced Yockey to George Sylvester Viereck, the famous German-American poet and author who had once been described as Germany’s foremost propagandist in the USA. Among Viereck’s influential circle Yockey met such notables as revisionist historians Charles Callan Transill and Harry Elmer Barnes at dinners hosted by Thompson. Under the pseudonym Frank Healy, Yockey also joined Thompson in the latter’s efforts to free Otto Remer of the Socialist Reich Party, whom he had met in Germany and who thought highly of Imperium, and was registered by the US Justice Department under the name Frank Healy as a ‘foreign agent’ for the Socialist Reich Party, along with Thompson. During this period, Yockey wrote, together with Thompson, a letter to US Secretary of State Dean Acheson on behalf of their Committee for International Justice, urging US intervention for the release of the so-called 'war criminals' and the cessation of Gen Remer’s harassment. Yockey also wrote for the bulletins issued by James Madole of the National Renaissance Party, written under Weiss name. At this time, the FBI noted a reversal in Weiss of his formerly anti-Soviet stance, though they were aware that it was Yockey who authored Weiss’ writings.
Upon returning to Germany, Yockey was fascinated by the trial of former Czech Communist leaders, noting that eleven of them were Jews charged with Zionism. Their hanging marked, for Yockey, a shift in Soviet policy, now apparently against Jewish influence. Yockey wrote ‘What is Behind the Hanging of the Eleven Jews in Prague’. This year also saw the European Liberation Front organising public meetings in the market squares in the North and the Midlands in England.
In 1953 Yockey travelled between Germany and Egypt, where he had contact with Nasser. He wrote Der Feind Europas for the Socialist Reich Party, which was suppressed by the Occupation authorities in Germany. The text, originally in English, was translated into German and it is in this form that it survived: the only English version now extant is a retranslation from the German.
In 1954 he returned to the United States on or around 11 February. While there he married Janet Arnold, although only briefly, and obtained a new fake passport as ‘Edward Max Price’. In December he flew back to Germany, following which he completely disappeared. It is thought that he travelled through East Germany and the USSR until 1958, when he was once again back in the United States, moving through the West coast and visiting both Mexico and Cuba. He maintained high level connections with the Castro regime.
Yockey re-entered the United States one final time in June 1960. He stayed with a Jewish friend, Alex Scharf, a teacher at a local synagogue and also a former Auschwitz inmate, based in Oakland, California. Having lost a suitcase at the airport, Yockey telephoned the airport authorities seeking its whereabouts. Meanwhile, in an effort to identify its owner, the airport authorities in Fort Worth, Texas, had opened the suitcase and found three fraudulent passports, all with the same photograph. They informed the authorities and on 8 June the FBI raided Scharf’s house. Yockey was captured and taken into custody, while Scharf vanished, later fleeing to Israel.
At the time of his arrest, Yockey was carrying $2,300 in cash, $850 in traveller’s cheques, and press credentials for a German magazine. At the ensuring hearing, which was attended by Stanley Jacobs of the Anti-Defamation League, Yockey protested vociferously, claiming the charges were all lies. US Commissioner Joseph Karesh, a rabbi, set Yockey the unusually high bail of $50,000 (normal bail for passport violations was $5,000 at the time), having apparently received instructions from Washington. Sensational press reports first described Yockey as a 'mystery man', then as a ‘significant Fascist with international connections’.
On 10 June he received a visit at the San Francisco jail from Willis Carto, who was eager to help. Carto was told to wait and act according to his conscience. Government machinations sought to have Yockey declared mentally unsound and interned in a mental asylum, as had been done previously to Ezra Pound. Facing incarceration without a jury trial, fearing he would be lobotomised, and concerned for the safety of those loyal to him, on 17 June Yockey swallowed the potassium cyanide capsule that ended his life. Possibly as a gesture, he died with his boots on.
Like other radical political thinkers in history, Yockey's activities fell on the wrong side of the law. And, certainly, his political affiliations have, in the post-war dispensation, caused the liberal consensus to push him into the margins, where he remains influential only within a dissident anti-liberal minority. Even there he is controversial, due to his late support for the USSR, and the fact that some of his forecasts proved completely wrong: the Soviet empire imploded, China rose as a new power, Europe is in a stalemate, while the United States remains unchallenged as the planet's sole superpower.
Yet, though obscure, he remains remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, as an American political philosopher he is unique in his criticique of Americanism, which separates biocultural America from America as conceptualised by liberal political theory. Indeed, Imperium offers a trenchant historical analysis of Americanism, which is useful, if not free from vices. Drawing primarily from Continental European philosophy (also unusual among Anglophone thinkers), he treats America as an European civilisational outpost, and he conceives of a post-Atlanticist future that sees the rise of a pan-European imperium. The latter is a radically different alternative, conceptually and politically, from the European Union. On this level, his influence can be seen in some of the ideas of the European New Right, particularly in Guillaume Faye's Archeofuturism.
Secondly, his concept of Cultural Vitalism remains valuable as a methodology, according to which a culture is treated as an organism, which may not only go through states of birth, growth, maturity, senility and death (à la Spengler), but also be healthy or afflicted by deformation and disease (what Yockey calls 'culture-distortion' and 'cultural pathology'). Cultural Vitalism can help us evaluate what Yockey calls 'the Spirit of the Age', and provides a vocabulary for conceptualising the cultural impasse afflicting the West in the post-modern age, at a time when liberalism—as a political philosophy—has ceased to be political, defaulting into praxis. Perhaps, Alexander Dugin's call for a fourth political theory that may provide a way out of the liberal impasse is an evolved form of, or an answer to, what Yockey could only have imperfectly glimpsed well over half a century ago.
I would like to draw attention to the annotated editions of both Imperium and The Proclamation of London published by Wermod and Wermod in recent years:
Last year, Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics, was published in a 926-page annotated hardback edition with a major foreword by Dr Kerry Bolton; a genealogical appendix tracing Yockey's ancestry in the United States; a comprehensive index; and and afterword by Julius Evola. Dr Bolton, an expert on Yockey, is currently working on a definitive biography of Francis Parker Yockey.
In 2012, The Proclamation of London was published in an annotated hardback edition with a major foreword by Dr Michael O'Meara, author of the important English-language study of the European New Right, New Culture New Right.
The original cover artwork for both the above is also available for interested buyers. If you are interested, please contact me: info at alexkurtagic dot info.