There is an amusing tendency amongst religious and racist frauds of all stripes to boast about their academic prowess as a way of adding legitimacy to their philosophies, while simultaneously exercising shockingly poor academic ethics. A typical example of this are people who claim their particular religious tradition is thousands of years old but are unwilling and unable to produce one shred of evidence as proof. This generally manifests itself in situations commonly reserved for TV preachers and other hucksters who want your money. This also comes into play with racists who spout ridiculous, quasi-scientific theories with their citations consisting of routinely discredited studies or papers that mysteriously can’t be found.
In Steven McNallen, we have the perfect synthesis of all of the above elements. We’ve been smelling the racist stench from McNallen for years, but every time we’ve probed our local heathen communities for comments or insights, we’ve met with nothing but brick walls. Circle Ansuz, an anti-fascist heathen collective who’s been the perennial foe of the idiotic “bay area national anarchists,” has written a fantastic piece that truly demolishes the mythology around McNallen. As you’ll find out, McNallen isn’t a quaint “racialist” who thinks that different races can live peacefully separate from each other, he quite literally believes that the souls of different races are as incompatible as an Allen wrench to a flat-head screw. Oh, and he tagged along with and wrote fawning articles about a mercenary outfit composed of former members of apartheid South Africa’s official government death squad.
Stephen McNallen is, without a doubt, one of the most famous names in American Heathenry. A long-time participant, organizer, and writer in American Asatru McNallen has been active since the early 70s when he helped found the Asatru Free Assembly. Following the organization’s collapse over the issue of racism he traveled the world, writing for Soldier of Fortune magazine, before founding the Asatru Folk Assembly in 1994. Since then he has led the AFA to becoming a large, well-known, and established element in the American Heathen community. So great is his influence and fame that many say he is the most important man in American Heathenry. His proponents claim, quite loudly, that without McNallen Heathenry would not exist in the United States.
The story is very powerful, compelling, and is a carefully crafted myth. Stephen McNallen, far from being the messianic figure he is held up as, has for some time been an active participant in the American neo-fascist radical traditionalist movement. It is not certain how long he has been involved in the neo-fascist movement but what is certain is since at least 1985 he has been an unapologetic advocate for white nationalism. Far worse, he has actively worked to advance his brand of Heathenry by concealing it behind an appealing mask of twisted heritage and falsified traditions. The damage he has done to American Heathenry is incalculable.
It is not clear when McNallen first subscribed to racialist practice but the first proof we have of him articulating such a position is from 1985 and the time of the Asatru Free Assembly. During the 70s and 80s the old AFA, as it is known, was kicked off by a dispute over what to do about a kindred in Arizona who included open neo-Nazis. The debate steadily split the AFA into two camps: those who supported excluding those from the community who were not of proven Germanic descent and those who welcomed all interested seekers. The tensions of the debate would lead to the AFA dissolving sometime between 1986 and 1987. As the schism in the Asatru Free Assembly Stephen was gaining momentum McNallen would write and publish the document that would be the foundation of his form of Heathen practice: Metagenetics.
In “Metagenetics” McNallen lays out his case for racialized, ethnocentric spirituality. He begins by saying:One of the most controversial tenets of Asatru is our insistence that ancestry matters- that there are spiritual and metaphysical implications to heredity, and that we are thus a religion not for all of humanity, but rather one that calls only its own. This belief of ours has led to much misunderstanding, and as aresult some have attempted to label us as “racist”, or have accused us of fronting for totalitarian political forms.He proceeds to lay out his case proving the link between genetics and spirituality. McNallen claims these ideas are based on, “intuitive insights as old as our people” but then proceeds to cite no sagas, sources, or examples to back this claim up. The closest he gets is when he claims reincarnation by bloodline was a universal belief among the ancient Germanics saying, “A person did not come back as a bug or a rabbit, or as a person of another race or tribe, but as a member of their own clan.” (emphasis ours) After citing Carl Jung as justification for his theories McNallen asserts, “A more precise statement of the mind/body/spirit link, and of the religious implications of biological kinship, would be hard to find,” before concluding:No doubt, on an earlier and deeper level of psychic development, where it is still impossible to distinguish between an Aryan, Semitic,Hamitic, or Mongolian mentality, all human races have a common collective psyche. But with the beginning of racial differentiation, essential differences are developed in the collective psyche as well. For this reason, we cannot transplant the spirit of a foreign religion ‘in globo’ into our own mentality without sensible injury to the latter.”The only support he has to validate his arguments is an uncited study on Tlingit spirituality. The lack of properly cited sources, surprising given McNallen’s college education and his years of service as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army in Germany, only serves to bolster and legitimize an overtly racist argument. He puts it most clearly and obviously when he says in his closing paragraph, “only byunderstanding who we are, only by coming from our racial “center”, can we interact justly and with wisdom with other peoples on this planet”. Regardless of one’s opinions regarding his logic, methodology, sourcing, or position it is clear since at least 1985, when he published Metagenetics, McNallen stood unquestionably for racialist Heathenry.
In the years following the dissolution of the old AFA and the founding of the Ring of the Troth Stephen McNallen traveled the world, particularly in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana, as a writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine.
The byline for the article McNallen introduces them with, “If you are willing to occasionally fire up a few friends from a long-time, pro-Western, anti-communist guerrilla group, Executive Outcomes is looking for a few good mercs.” The true story behind Executive Outcomes is much less glamorous than this implies. Founded in 1989 by former Lt. Colonel Eeben Barlow of the South Africa Defense Force’s infamous Civil Cooperation Bureau, an apartheid-era government hit squad, Barlow took advantage of the downsizing of the SADF to recruit now unemployed veterans & special forces operators to form the backbone of his new business venture. EO would do the dirty work for corporate interests all over Africa until their dissolution in 1999.
McNallen’s time in South Africa would have a profound impact on his form of racialized Heathenry. When he returned to the United States in 1994 from his travels abroad and founded the Asatru Folk Assembly, he began promoting many concepts central to Afrikaner nationalism as if they are inseparable from Asatru itself.
Continued in Part Two on Monday, August 26th