Siege MentalitySiege: The Collected Writings of James Mason edited by Michael M. Jenkins. Storm Books, PO Box 18009, Denver, Colorado, 802018 USA 1992
JAMES MASON is described by his editor as a radical extremist who has actively dedicated the better part of his life to principles which the average member of society would find terrifying, violent and vicious, if not outright insane. At present Mason is apparently awaiting the day when society, even the entire civilisation of the planet, collapses into chaos and self-destruction. He describes himself as a ninth-grade drop- out and subsequent runaway, with a prison record, with no employment history and an avowed revolutionary. He also describes himself as a National Socialist, but apart from the iconolatry of Adolf Hitler and a general White supremacist stance, offers no coherent definitions as to what this might mean. We are therefore left with a vague self-labelling of more emotional than philosophical content.
Mason was born in 1952 and grew up in small-town Ohio. At fourteen, and whilst still at school, he joined the Youth Movement of George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi Party. At sixteen he was working at the ANP headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, although Rockwell himself had been assassinated the previous year. Mason remained there until 1970, shortly after being sworn in as an adult member of what was now called the National Socialist White Peoples' Party. The Party subsequently splintered and Joseph Tommasi, one of the more successful and certainly more radical of the leadership, formed his own group, the National Socialist Liberation Front. As a vehicle for the NSLF, he began publication of a periodical he called Siege, high on invective, not so high in intellectual content. Tommasi, a self-proclaimed political terrorist, was assassinated in 1975. The following year Mason left the NSWPP' out of disgust for that group's follies and lack of any tangible progress. In 1980 he revived the by then defunct NSLF together with Siege as a monthly newsletter to 'develop the philosophy' of revolution. Apparently it sought to do three things: to develop revolutionary philosophy and strategy, comment on current events and comment on the 'National Socialist' movement in general. In these areas it was often bitterly critical, in the hope that the American Far Right, most of which was caught in a 1920s time-warp, would 'begin to wake up to the consistent blunders of the past and the unrealistic policies of the present.' The same year Mason had initiated contact with the gaoled 'Manson girls', Sandra Good and Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme, although some three years earlier he had already used the image of Manson in a particularly audacious propaganda leaflet. This had featured a photograph of Charles Manson coupled with a quote from George Bernard Shaw: ' Whilst we...the conventional...were wasting our time on education, agitation and organisation, some independent genius has taken the matter in hand...' The context was of course the luridly sensationalised Tate/La Bianca terminations of August 1969 for which members of the 'Manson Family', including by association Manson himself, although he had not actually been present, had been convicted. Although the killings had been labelled as 'random and senseless' by the media the slain were in fact regarded as specific and legitimate targets by the Manson family as representing everything obnoxious and toxic in American society.
By the end of 1982 Mason 'had found he could no longer completely identify with the NSLF image' but maintained publication of Siege as an independent publication. In consultation with Manson the name 'Universal Order' was then chosen for his operation, together with the logo of a deosil-spinning swastika superimposed upon the Scales of Justice. By mid-1986 Mason ceased publishing Siege as by then he had 'said everything he wanted to' and considered that his ideas, and latterly the ideas of Charles Manson, had permeated the movement enough to allow them to 'have a life of their own'. The Siege under review is a compilation of articles written by James Mason for his newsletter and comprises eight sections: The NSLF and the Move toward Armed Struggle, National Socialism, Conservatism and the lost Movement, The System, Lone Wolves and Lives Wires, Strength and Spirit, Leaders and Universal Order. Each consists of a number of articles from issues of the newsletter, although the boundaries are imprecise. And imprecision, at least in any intellectual context, is the one dominant theme throughout. What is more interesting, however, is not so much the actual content of this compilation as the insight it gives into one man's evolution from a simple-minded political foot-soldier to, in American terms at least, a relatively sophisticated and isolated pragmatist. This voyage from Rockwell to Manson pursues the logic of James Mason's thinking from adolescence to maturity. And it is one which has not endeared him to many on the American Far Right.
Mason is equally forthright in his dissection of American Far Right:'The Movement here today talks sh*t and that is why it is where it is. I have yet to see a real program offered by anyone representing the Racialist Movement in this country. Never. I have seen things that purported to be programs which use a lot of 'musts'and super-duper idealistic phrases which don't even move me, a member of the Cause! The first time somebody gets real on paper and in the spoken word, that's when we'll have the start on something big. But he is also honest enough to ask: 'Why don't I do it myself? I've thought of it. I've wanted to. But I'm not qualified. I might be able to make a stab at it, in collaboration with others in the Movement, to see what can be hammered out.'
Having fully embraced the strategy of Armed Struggle the unfolding logic of his position propelled Mason towards some of those who had already taken direct action against representatives of the System. After corresponding with the 'Manson girls' for a period, Mason was urged to contact their notorious leader. Over the next few years the relationship developed and Mason realised that the 'Family' had been 'light years ahead of the Movement' in many respects. Finally in Manson he encountered 'someone to actually learn from 'with an all-encompassing Weltanschauung, one that was in no way at odds with his own ideals and intentions. In short the Family symbolically represented the logical conclusion of the ideas Siege was espousing: vigilance, militance, consciousness of the natural world ( and by extension, race) and a strong survival instinct. It should be remarked, however, that Siege never claimed to represent Mason's view, but rather attempted to explain and reflect on his philosophy and actions in terms of a revolutionary National Socialist mindset.
Mason came to see Manson as representing an exemplar of political evolution: 'Manson represents the great divide between those persons who imagine there still are choices to be made casually on the basis of Establishment mores and those who have a profound, individual sense of 'no going back'. I believe it is this - and not the abstract idea of realism - that is the great sustainer and inner-flame of all true revolutionaries...Where Rockwell stops, Manson begins.'
As might be imagined, by this time Mason was completely beyond the pale for many, but this did not prevent him from declaiming: 'There is a great leader/philosopher in our midst, alive and involved today... with a name and a reputation world renowned and a following of his own - loose as it may be, at least equal in number, if not greater than of the combined groups comprising the traditional Radical Right. His actions have been mightier, his ideas loftier, his eloquent greater, his philosophy superior and his impact ten thousand times that of anything the Movement can offer as its closest runner-up...' And, later: 'I still consider this man as the only one who can teach or tell me anything...He is aware of all this himself and is in total humility about it, just as was Hitler. Therefore, he is able in complete honesty and sincerity to make the kind of statement and bestow the kind of authority...He is Charles Manson.'
By this time apparently as a result of his contact with Manson, Mason had himself moved from crude and arbitrary labels such as 'left' and 'right' and had begun to talk again of alienation: 'So much is said about alienation that perhaps it might be wise to add a prefix - super-alienation - to the term to bring out its meaning...super-alienation marks the actual difference between a mere asocial and a genuine political radical.' This super-alienation led Mason to move away from the NSLF as his philosophy developed and to search for a more relevant format: 'The name Universal Order is not one more krinklejammer replacement for anything more properly termed 'Nazi', nor is it any head trip, grandiose organisation designed mainly to enhance someone's ego. In fact Universal Order is more a concept than the name of any group or organisation: universal order as opposed to some kind of localised, specialised, exclusive order. When order is truly universal - and only then- it will be right, proper and, most of all, everlasting. This will include National Socialism, of course, and by direct implication, it will provide no place anywhere in the universe for alien 'order.
With his move from Liberation Front to Universal Order, Mason no longer focused on Armed Struggle but on waiting out the collapse of the System: 'What we may hope for -realistically - is the total consumption of these peoples, together with their rotten system, Before our eyes AND THROUGH THEIR OWN EVIL: What we may work for - realistically - is our own physical salvation, the maintenance of the quality of our lives, in order that we or our posterity may be the last on the scene, to have, in essence, inherited the earth...The fight to survive will be a full-time job. Leave the rest to themselves. That is the worst penalty. Slime to slime. In the end, we will remain and our hands will be perfectly clean.
The chosen scenario continues: 'Everything connected with the Past will be erased. And we can begin again minus alien or renegade influence. Minus any parasites. We will have been provided with a clean plate with which to do this. Primitive is not the world to be applied but rather simplistic, or even organic, because a purely White society intrinsically far superior to any high-technology mongrelised cesspool such as exits today. What this will mean will be the beginning of a new Golden Age for our People. Well, yes. But of what precisely will this Golden Age consist?: 'When stability and peace have finally resumed in these latitudes we can hope that things won't resemble a map of Europe after World War One but, rather, will contain no artificial and divisive boundaries whatsoever - not only from ocean to ocean, but from Panama to the North Pole. 'The coming rule will be: 'the furtherance and betterment, the increased greatness of the people. Considerations such as governmental, financial or international matters will be but sidelines to be used or discarded according to whether or not their application in any case will favourably or adversely affect the White Race. Once again the problem of definitions is not addressed. But what sort of government can we expect?: 'In our view, the function of government is as the leader of its people, not merely caretaker or arbiter... This means taking the youth firmly in hand, training them up in the manner that our ideology commands so as to achieve the ever-perfect Race and State and in the shortest possible time. Only a centralised government can accomplish this. So-called 'rights and 'freedom all take distant back seats to this highest goal.
But this is all for the future. For the present Mason has reached a holding position: 'There are but two separate choices as regards strategies and courses of action for any who consider themselves members of the Movement: Total Attack or Total Drop-Out. These are the opposite ends of the revolutionary spectrum. While the former blazing and heroic, it is the latter, by far, that I favour and would urge and is the master of this philosophy. We're talking about survival versus suicide. Manson would tell us that suicide is the lot of the System. Let ours be survival.'
James Mason is obviously intelligent, perceptive and pragmatic. Just as obviously, and unashamedly so, he lacks any type of formal education in political philosophy. He speaks from the heart and his writing shows a very clear grasp of the problems confronting any anti-System individual or group. He does not recoil from pursuing the logic of his position to its ultimate conclusion. But although he appears to present himself as the ultimate pragmatist he appears to entertain only the vaguest ideas as to the possible scenario that could develop from the collapse of the System or indeed what steps the System could take to protect and enlarge itself. It is indeed truly ironic that some of the most dramatic terrorist acts in the United States in the years since Siege ceased publication, such as the Waco massacre and the Oklahoma City bombing, were carried out by agents of the System, largely against those whose greatest concern was to drop out.