by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
FOR MORE THAN thirty years, James H. Madole (1927–1979) regularly harangued passers-by on the crowded streets of New York City with his urgent call for a fascist revolution in the United States. His appearances owed much to the customs of an open-air revival meeting and evangelical preaching. Flanked by his own stormtroopers clad in uniform black caps, gray shirts with lightning-bolt armbands and black trousers, Madole always wore a close-fitting suit jacket with all three buttons fastened and a ludicrous motorcycle crash helmet above his thick horn-rimmed glasses. The plump, middle-aged Madole stood upon a pulpitlike rostrum decorated with the lightning bolt symbol of his National Renaissance Party and emphasized his speeches with staring eyes, wild grimaces, and striking melodramatic poses. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the National Renaissance Party frequently hit the headlines by provoking violent protests and riots in districts of New York heavily populated by Jews and blacks, where Madole carried his missionary message of white supremacy and Aryan renaissance. Madole was obviously a fanatic and could easily be dismissed as a wild eccentric pursuing a quixotic political campaign on the margins of postwar American society. However, his campaign strategies, his organization and, above all, his philosophy and doctrines of Aryan renewal identify him as an early and important figure in the development of esoteric fascism. His ideas were saturated with the fabulous mythology of science fiction and occult notions derived from Theosophy. He attacked Christianity and upheld the hierarchical caste society of Vedic India as the model for his “New Atlantis,” the future fascist state of America. Ultimate authority would rest with philosopher-kings selected and schooled for rulership from childhood. His street- fighting stormtroopers, known as the Security Echelon, were supposed to be the living example of a new military caste of Aryan warriors.
James Hartung Madole was born on 7 July 1927 in New York City. Two years after his birth, his parents separated and young James was brought up in Beacon, New York, by his mother, who held strongly anti-Semitic views. While in high school, the lonely youngster developed a passionate interest in science. He built his own laboratory at home and carried out experiments in chemistry and astronomy. As a youth, Madole envisioned the scientist in Faustian terms, a semi-divine sage seeking mastery of the earth and the whole universe. He considered that science was the only valid basis of culture and that society should be governed by scientist rulers. This naive belief in the omnipotence and certainty of science was heightened by Madole’s enthusiasm for science fiction, a literary genre that had gained a remarkable hold over the popular American mind through mass-circulation magazines and pulp fiction in the 1930s and 1940s. Science fiction frequently emphasized the elitist pretensions of the heaven-storming scientist, while its fantasy genre often described magical lands and authoritarian utopias on alien planets.
In 1949 the elderly Kurt Mertig had founded the neo-Nazi National Renaissance Party with its headquarters in Yorkville. The party took its name from Hitler’s Political Testament, where the Führer proclaimed that, from the sacrifice of his death, there would spring up “the seed of a radiant renaissance of the National Socialist Movement.” Mertig was on the lookout for a successor and was impressed with Madole, who, though barely twenty-two years old, had already demonstrated dynamic powers of oratory in the Animist Party and the Nationalist Action League. Shortly after joining Mertig, Madole assumed leadership of the National Renaissance Party (NRP) and retained this position until his death thirty years later. This party thus had its roots in the prewar German-American Nazi fronts of Yorkville, with its predominantly German population. Between 1937 and 1941, these streets had regularly witnessed the parades of Fritz Kuhn’s “Bund Boys” under their ominous swastika standards. The NRP was to become Madole’s lifelong career and the vehicle for his radical ideas of Aryan renaissance and occult fascism. Madole began as a Nazi enthusiast, initially using the swastika as the party flag, although this was later superseded by the fascist symbol of a lightning bolt within a circle. He announced in his party bulletin that “what Hitler did in Europe, the National Renaissance Party intends to do in America.” The NRP proposed to abolish Congress in favor of elite rule; it would protect the Aryan race against racial contamination by deporting the colored races, and it would destroy communism by eliminating the Jews.
But it was in the field of doctrine that the NRP went beyond any ideology encountered on the postwar far-right scene. Madole’s fascist philosophy was an extraordinary mixture of notions involving a considerable debt to the Aryan teachings of Hinduism and Theosophy. Madole probably first encountered the teachings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891), the founder of modern Theosophy, through the world of science fiction and fantasy literature. Originally founded at New York in 1875, the Theosophical Society had survived charismatic Madame Blavatsky’s death and established vigorous national societies in India, the United States, Britain and continental Europe during the late nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth. The success of the movement was largely due to the appeal of rediscovered ancient wisdom based on Egyptian and Hindu traditions, attractive to those individuals in the Anglo-American world who felt disturbed by the growth of agnosticism and the challenges of modern science. The key text of Blavatsky’s mature formulation of Theosophical doctrine was written after the removal of the Theosophical Society to India in 1879 and her encounter with Hinduism and Buddhism. The Secret Doctrine (1888) was presented as a commentary on a secret text called the “Stanzas of Dzyan,” which she claimed to have seen in a subterranean Himalayan monastery. Her weighty tome described the activities of God from the beginning of one period of universal creation until its end, a cyclical process that continues indefinitely over and over again. The first volume (Cosmogenesis) outlined the scheme according to which the primal unity of an unmanifest divine being differentiates itself into a multiformity of consciously evolving beings that gradually fill the universe. All subsequent creation passed through seven “rounds,” or evolutionary cycles. In the first round, the universe was characterized by the predominance of fire, in the second by air, in the third by water, in the fourth by earth, and in the others by ether. This sequence reflected the cyclical fall of the universe from divine grace over the first four rounds and its following redemption over the next three, before everything contracted once again to the point of divine unity for the start of a major new cycle. The second volume (Anthropogenesis) attempted to relate mankind to this grandiose vision of the cosmos. Not only was humanity assigned an age of far greater antiquity than that given by science, but it was also integrated into a scheme of cosmic, physical and spiritual evolution. These theories were partly derived from late-nineteenth-century scholarship concerning paleontology, inasmuch as Blavatsky adopted a racial theory of human evolution. She extended her cyclical doctrine of cosmic evolution with the assertion that each round witnessed the rise and fall of seven consecutive root-races, which descended on the scale of spiritual development from the first to the fourth race, becoming increasingly enmeshed in the material world. Here the Gnostic notion of a Fall from Light into Darkness was quite explicit. Evolution then ascended through progressively superior root-races from the fifth to the seventh. According to Blavatsky, the modern white race constituted the fifth rootrace upon a planet that was passing through the fourth cosmic round, so that an upward process of spiritual advance lay before mankind. She called this fifth root-race the Aryan race and claimed that it had been preceded by the fourth root-race of Atlanteans, which had largely perished in a flood that submerged their mid-Atlantic continent. The three earlier races of the present planetary round were proto-human, consisting of the first Astral root-race, which arose in an invisible, imperishable and sacred land, and the second Hyperborean root-race, which had dwelled on a vanished polar continent. The third Lemurian root-race had flourished on the continent of Lemuria that once lay in the Indian Ocean. It was probably due to this race’s position at or near the nadir of the evolutionary racial cycle that Blavatsky charged the Lemurians with racial mixing entailing a kind of Fall and the breeding of monsters and inferior races. It was Blavatsky’s mystical racism that appealed to Madole’s taste for the fabulous landscapes of science fiction. Above all, Theosophical doctrine offered him a ready-made account of Aryan superiority against the debris of lower, unnatural half-breeds originating in racial defilement. Madole was also drawn to Blavatsky’s account of her revelation. Throughout her account of prehistory she frequently invoked the sacred authority of elite priesthoods among the root-races of the past. She claimed she received her own initiation into the secret doctrine from two exalted mahatmas, or masters, in Tibet who had decided to impart their wisdom to Aryan mankind. After the Lemurians had fallen into racial sin and iniquity, only a hierarchy of the elect remained pure in spirit. This remnant became the Lemuro-Atlantean dynasty of priestkings who dwelled on the fabulous island of Shamballah in the Gobi Desert.
These leaders were linked with Blavatsky’s own masters, who were the instructors of the fifth Aryan root-race. This elitism and sacred authority strongly attracted Madole, whose fascism was ultimately driven by religious fanaticism. Madole elaborated an NRP program combining the metaphysics and philosophy of the Eastern Aryan tradition (Hinduism and Theosophy) with the science and technology of the Western Aryan tradition (the white European races) in order to create favorable circumstances for the emergence of the “God Man” (see below). From 1974 onward, Madole published his major occult-political treatise, “The New Atlantis: A blueprint for an Aryan Garden of Eden in North America,” as a series of articles in the National Renaissance Bulletin. Drawing his inspiration from Theosophy, Madole claimed that the Aryan race was of great antiquity and had everywhere been worshipped by lower races as “White Gods.” The proposed system of NRP government was based on the Hindu Laws of Manu, which sanctioned a caste system based on racial divisions and a pyramidal social structure ruled over by the priestly caste of brahmins. Below these stood the kshatriyas, a governing elite; then came the vaisyas, the merchant class; and finally the sudras, or workers. Madole regarded Vedic India as the archetypal model for Aryan statecraft. He believed that it had derived from Atlantis and continued in Brahmanic India, Pharaonic Egypt, Druidic Celtic Europe and Imperial Rome.
Madole regarded all valuable esoteric teachings as Aryan in origin. Plato was credited with bringing the “Aryan Secret Doctrine” from Pharaonic Egypt back to Greece. His anti-democratic teachings underpinned the imperial achievements of Alexander the Great and ancient Rome. Madole quoted Blavatsky to the effect that the Jewish Cabala derived from Aryan sources in Central Asia. He further offered lengthy quotes from P. D. Ouspensky, Gurdjieff’s successor in the teaching of the Fourth Way, and Eliphas Levi, the nineteenth-century French occultist, to support the aristocratic principle and the incompatibility of a society grounded in metaphysical wisdom with modern notions of equality and democracy in the age of the masses. He also quoted a diatribe of Aleister Crowley, the notorious English magician and occultist, along Social Darwinist lines: “We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit. . . . Nature’s way is to weed out the weak. . . . At present all the strong are being damaged, and their progress hindered by the dead weight of the weak. . . . The cant of democracy condemned. It is useless to pretend that men are equal.” Madole’s slogan for the NRP state was even taken from the English Rosicrucian novelist, Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton: “No happiness without order, no order without authority, no authority without unity.” Madole maintained that only a combination of fascist institutions and esoteric initiation could foster the development of the “God Man,” an advanced Aryan man representing “a forward step in the evolution of the incarnated egos now embodied within the human race.” This “New Adam” could come only from the Aryan race, subject to a program of “selective breeding, cosmic thinking, specialized training and Occult Initiation.” The ancient Vedic system of philosopher-kings would govern the New Atlantis, and the inferior racial elements of the masses would be eliminated by means of euthanasia and eugenics. Madole stressed the anti-Semitic aspect of his beliefs by asserting that “cosmic thinking” would replace “man-made Judaeo-Christian concepts of Reality.” Cosmic Law, a combination of Hindu and Theosophical tenets, was favorably contrasted with Semitic religious beliefs that “have stressed the absurd argument that man’s role is to overcome and enslave Nature.” With a withering glance at the shortcomings of modern liberal society, Madole claimed that “chaotic democracy and anarchy reflect the JudaeoChristian rebellion against Nature.” Madole’s hostility to the Judeo-Christian tradition involved a rejection of Christianity itself.
Whereas most right-wing American groups, from conservatives to Nazis, identified with Christianity, Madole saw Christianity as a Jewish cultural product. He denounced “the national heritage of religious twaddle handed down from the Pilgrims and the Puritans” and claimed that “the Semitic heresies of Judaism and Christianity [existed] as alien and disruptive factors within the body of Aryan Europe.” He condemned Christian humanism together with liberal democracy, egalitarianism and “the nonsensical belief in anthropomorphic deities” as products of the Jewish mind “foisted upon Aryan humanity at the point of Roman swords under the accursed Christian Emperor Constantine.” Madole fulminated against “the ignorant fanatics of the Christian clergy” who had destroyed the ancient Aryan esoteric and scientific knowledge and thus ushered in the medieval Dark Ages. The text was illustrated with Christians being thrown to the lions in the Roman circus, over the caption: “The grim justice of Imperial Rome—death to the Judaeo-Christian subverters of Aryan values, the foul criminals whose later victory plunged Aryan Europe into the Dark Ages.” Such open hostility toward Christianity led Madole and some of his NRP followers to plumb the occult paths of paganism and satanism. Alongside books on Theosophy, the NRP literature list included Gerald Gardner’s The Meaning of Witchcraft, Lewis Spence’s The History and Origins of Druidism, Paul Carus’s History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil and a number of books on runes. In his quest for the pre-Christian, pagan sources of Aryan religion, Madole made contact with satanist groups, and there was even some overlap in membership between these and the NRP. James Wagner, a former Security Echelon (SE) commander, recalls that relations between the NRP and the Church of Satan, founded in 1966 by Anton Szandor LaVey, were cordial. Madole and LaVey frequently met at the NRP office and in the Warlock Bookshop in New York. Madole is said to have erected a large satanic altar in his apartment, and Wagner has confirmed that an image of Baphomet, the sabbatic goat, hung there, and that Madole played LaVey’s recording of the Satanic Mass at several NRP meetings. One NRP bulletin shows a picture of Madole and an SE trooper with the high priest of the Temple of Baal and some female acolytes at their temple. Seth Klippoth, the NRP Michigan State organizer, formed the satanic Order of the Black Ram with some other NRP members “to celebrate the ancient religious rites of the Aryan race.” These contacts between Madole’s occult fascism and satanism anticipated the pagan alliances of neo-Nazis and satanists in the 1990s.
But Madole did not simply indulge sectarian religious ideas as a fantasy of a golden age in the distant past. Madole was an occult fascist. He wanted to translate mankind and the world into the authoritarian utopia of a revived Vedic hierarchy, employing violent and draconian means if necessary. The sectarian religion of Theosophy, borrowings from Hinduism, paganism and satanism, and mystical biological and eugenic ideas all served to explain and justify his militant attack on the democratic and liberal institutions of the modern world. Inspired by the Hindu stratification of society into castes, Madole modeled his stormtroopers on the kshatriyas, the warriors forming the second of the four main Hindu castes, subordinate only to the brahmin priests. He regarded his activists as “cosmic warriors” who were to uphold the order of the cosmos and ensure that the laws of race and eugenic selection became the basis of the New Atlantis. These men were imbued with a fighting spirit and were indoctrinated with classes, lectures and reading lists on fascism, Theosophy and Vedic India. Wagner relates that stormtrooper instruction included “unique mind training” and the discussion of Theosophical and Indo-Aryan metaphysics. These stormtroopers were initially known as the “Elite Guard,” acting as street orderlies from 1954 onward to protect Madole’s regular street meetings. In 1963 Madole renamed his warrior elite the Security Echelon and organized a number of battalions. Given the high Jewish proportion of the population in New York, Madole’s NRP rallies represented a unique provocation with their strident Aryan zealotry and vicious anti-Semitism. As one of the first postwar fascist parties, the NRP was targeted for counterdemonstrations by communist and Jewish organizations in the city. There was a strange courage in Madole’s tireless witness to his doctrines, with racial diatribes against the Jews and blacks in the heart of a multiracial and Jewish metropolis. Running street battles inevitably ensued between the SE units and the large masses of protesters. This emnity and tension served to heighten the self-regard of Madole’s tough squad as an elite of cosmic warriors fighting the inferiors of a degraded world. One of the first and most notorious of the SE/NRP actions occurred on 25 May 1963, when the party held a rally in Yorkville, New York, a town that had seen vigorous prewar fascist activity on the part of the German-American Bund, the Christian Front and Kurt Mertig’s Citizens Protective League. The rally drew a crowd of four thousand, including a counterdemonstration of a thousand Jews organized by the Jewish War Veterans. A massive riot began in the afternoon and continued into the evening after police lines failed to contain the Jewish protest and the SE men went into action. Madole used to counter-demonstrate with force whenever the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) organized pickets at racially exclusive restaurants and other institutions during the civil rights campaign of the early 1960s. Another favored location for SE picket action was Astoria, New York, where the NRP formations frequently engaged the Maoists of the Progressive Labor Party in the years between 1973 and 1975. In 1974, the NRP ran a picket of the Israeli El Al Airlines office on Rockefeller Plaza in downtown Manhattan, which brought the expected news coverage. Madole won continuous publicity for the NRP as a result of the many court cases brought against the party for affray, illegal solicitation of donations and the contested use of public halls. This strategy of militant confrontation was extended by Madole’s adroit manipulation of the media. Madole and his top officers successfully sought radio and TV slots, such as the Pennsylvania cable broadcast “Interview with a Fascist,” where Madole appeared on the screen flanked by uniformed SE troopers. In 1975 the NRP applied to hold a meeting at the Bicentennial Auditorium in Virginia. The prospect of a fascist party dignifying its program and views by association with a prestigious venue at a time of national celebrations swiftly mobilized a reaction among black, Jewish and liberal interest groups. The local Anti-Defamation League and the Black Urban League threatened violence. Black members of the Bicentennial Commission and Virginia State Senator Leroy solemnly promised to resign if permission were granted to the NRP. The ensuing furor only served to create further publicity for the party which was, after all, allowed to hold its meeting in the auditorium. Madole seldom appeared without a show of strength from the Security Echelon. The stormtroopers wore black caps, gray shirts with lightning-bolt armbands and black trousers; black jackets with epaulettes, collar insignia, medals and badges of rank were worn by senior officers. These strong, wellbuilt uniformed men with short haircuts and of neat appearance created an uncanny impression and a threatening martial presence. As Madole ran through his racial invective against the Jews, blacks and other supposed inferiors, the Security Echelon exuded a sinister, brooding aura, a glimpse of the fearful fascist regime that awaited onlookers if ever the New Atlantis, with its neo-Vedic hierarchy of racial castes, were to be established on the ruins of a multiracial America. Madole died of cancer at the age of fifty-one on 6 May 1979, and the NRP barely survived its leader. His mother, Grace, attempted to keep the movement alive by encouraging other leaders. Andrej Lisanik, a tough SE commander who had earlier served as an officer in the wartime Czech Army, assumed the leadership, but he was killed by a mugger. As he was carrying the bulk of the NRP records with him in his car at the time, these were scattered and lost. By 1980 the NRP was defunct.