ABCs of Arktos: People, Ideas, and Movements

Part II of Louie Dean Valencia-García’s series The Rise of the European Far-Right in the Internet Age.

 

Over the last decade, ITP/Arktos has created a trans-European and global Nationalist-Traditionalist network, translating and editing texts that have appealed to supporters of both nationalist and neo-traditionalist ideologies. As a point of comparison, in the late summer of 2017, Arktos had 43,130 followers on Facebook, while Verso Books, a well-respected, leftist-leaning academic publishing house founded in 1970, had 77,738 followers.[1] [2] While seemingly a small publisher, with fewer than 200 total publications to its name, Arktos certainly is attempting to position itself as a bridge to popularize far-right ideologies. The company website has described itself as such:

ARKTOS MEDIA is the result of a novel idea that was arrived at simultaneously by several individuals scattered across many parts of the globe, causing us to combine forces to bring this idea to fruition. The basis of this idea is our common observation that there are a growing number of individuals who believe that something has gone terribly wrong with the modern world.[3]

To better understand the mostly male-dominated ITP/Arktos, it is useful to understand where many of the main actors come from, as well as their ideological agendas, particularly, co-founder Jacob Senholt, former editor John Morgan, C.E.O. Daniel Friberg, and former editor Jason Reza Jorjani.

As of August 2017, on his Academia.edu page, a social media platform for academics, ITP/Arktos co-founder Jacob Senholt has described his expertise as ranging from “Western esoterism to Vedic theology and includ[ing] religio-political movements, such as the New Right.”[4] Senholt’s research interests included: Indo-European Studies; Traditionalism; Julius Evola; the New Right; Counter-Enlightenment; Antimodernism; Aryanism; and Fascism.[5] Obviously, the study of these topics is not inherently problematic; however, there is certainly a difference between the study of far-right/fascistic ideologies and beliefs and the active promotion of them. Through their publications, ITP/Arktos has promoted many of these ideologies listed by Senholt. However, to Senholt’s credit, as early as 2014, on his own personal website, he claimed to be a strong supporter of democracy and rejected totalitarianism.[6] [7] [8]

Beginning in 2007, the ITP website listed John Morgan (b. 1973) as a member of the team. Some years later, in public events, Morgan was presented as one of the co-founders of ITP, despite not being listed on the original ITP website or in the initial filing documents for either ITP or Arktos.[9] Morgan’s ITP biography described him as interested in a traditionalist perspectives, the European New Right, and mysticism. He has translated the work fascist/traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola. Ardently devoted to his mission, Morgan lived amongst Hare Krishnas for five years in India during ITP/Arktos’ early years—later moving Artkos’ operations to Budapest from Mumbai.[10] He later became both Editor-and-Chief and a director of Arktos.

By the spring of 2010, the ITP website posted the company was “no more” and had been “supplanted” by Arktos. The announcement proclaimed:

Arktos is the result of a collaboration between the former staff of Integral Tradition Publishing and some new colleagues in Scandinavia. While we retain many of the same aims that ITP had, with Arktos we believe that we have crafted something that is genuinely unique. With our catalogue…we want to provide the resources for individuals of many different inclinations to find alternatives to the onslaught of modernity.[11]

The transition from ITP to Arktos began a shift from a focus on occultism to one that more explicitly supported white nationalism.

Arktos was registered in the United Kingdom in 2009, listing Boch as its founding director (who at the time was residing in Powai, Mumbai). Initially, ITP was a fifty percent shareholder of Arktos, while a company called NFSE Media AB, based in Gothenburg, Sweden, owned the other half—represented by Swede Daniel Friberg (b. 1978). NFSE Media AB (with its legal name being listed as Motpol AB) was established in 2005 as a magazine and sound recording publisher, for which Friberg was listed as its director.[12]

Senholt was appointed as a second director of Arktos on 1 January 2010, with Friberg listed as third director as of 28 January 2010.[13] From Arktos’ founding until 2016, Friberg also served many directorial positions at Wiking Mineral (now called Svenska Bergsbruk)—a Swedish mining company founded in 2005. For a publishing company founded on a rejection of modernity and globalism, Arktos’ team heavily relied upon technology and globalism to both communicate amongst each other and to connect to potential customers. Moreover, by living in India, Arktos’ staff reduced production and living costs. Senholt and Boch officially left their director positions at Arktos in 2011 and 2012. [14]

Friberg was also co-founder of the so-called “metapolitical think-tank” Motpol (NFSE Media AB).[15] According to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Friberg and Motpol are also listed as the administrative contact for Metapedia.org, a Wiki website billed as “the alternative encyclopedia,” catering to far-right ideologies and interpretations of history.[16] In the spring of 2017, Friberg, now C.E.O. of Arktos, said, “After more than a century of retreat, marginalization and constant concessions to an ever more aggressive and demanding left, the true European right is returning with a vengeance.”[17] This assertion of a “true European right” implies that other contemporary right-affiliated parties are somehow inauthentic—suggesting that the true right, a more fascistic and traditionalist right, was the “true” right.

More recently, Arktos has built a coalition with American white nationalist Richard Spencer (b. 1978), a prominent figurehead for the American Alt-Right movements. Spencer has called for a “peaceful ethnic cleansing” in the United States and Europe,[18] and currently serves as president and director of the innocuous sounding “National Policy Institute,” which is in fact a white nationalist think tank based in the United States. Spencer is also known for organizing white nationalist rallies at public universities and spaces nationwide, which have increasingly contained contingents of self-proclaimed Nazis, neo-fascists, and the Ku Klux Klan.[19] Spencer, while studying his Ph.D. in modern European intellectual history,[20] claims to have mentored American President Donald Trump’s senior policy advisor, Stephen Miller (b. 1985), when the two participated in Duke University’s Conservative Union.[21] [22] [23] Spencer dropped out of his doctoral program; Miller went on to serve as the founding national coordinator for the Terrorism Awareness Project, an alarmist organization that stokes fear of Muslims, and then to the White House.[24]

In January 2017, Spencer and Friberg launched the incendiary AltRight.com—a far-right website run by Arktos collaborators under the co-editorship of the two men. RightOn.net, a far-right propaganda website previously operated by Friberg, soon redirected to AltRight.com, incorporating much of its previous content.[25] The website’s aesthetic was both minimalist and relatively well-designed; at its launch, the website claimed, “The challenge for us is to be as accessible as possible—to reach new hearts and minds—while being as as [sic] groundbreaking and challenging as possible.”[26] The website’s masthead listed Richard Spencer as its American editor, and Daniel Friberg as its European Editor, Irani-American and Lecturer at the New Jersey Institute of Technology,[27] Jason Reza Jorjani (b. 1981), as its Culture Editor, and a Hungary-based Swede, Tor Westman (b. 1988), as its technical director. All sat on the AltRight.com’s board of directors.[28] As of the summer of 2017, Friberg served as Arktos’ C.E.O., Jorjani as Editor-in-Chief, Westman as Chief Marketing Officer. All three were registered as directors of Arktos.[29]

Jorjani, who quickly took a prominent role in the Alt-Right globally, received his B.A. and M.A. from New York University, and his Ph.D. in philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Beginning in October 2016, Jorjani served as Editor-and-Chief of Arktos. Jorjani has described himself as “…an Iranian-American and native New Yorker of Persian and northern European descent.” [30] During this time, Jorjani’s work particularly was interested in the so-called “Iranian Renaissance,” promoting a vision of Iran as white and Aryan, calling the Persian Empire the “world’s greatest ‘Aryan Imperium’”—seen in Jorjani’s writing about the thirteenth-century Persian poet, Rumi.[31]

Jorjani’s connection with the Arktos and the Alt-Right even came to the attention of his doctoral alma mater, SUNY at Stony Brook. The department discussed the alumnus in a meeting held in the autumn of 2016. In the department’s meeting minutes, one unidentified faculty member stated, “One of our Ph.D. alumni is involved in the Aryan white supremacist movement. Is easily accessible on the internet. I have watched a couple of his videos and they are appropriately described as Aryan white supremacist, couched in Western philosophical tradition.”[32] Denying that he was a white supremacist, in a fit of outrage, just shortly before the launch of AltRight.com, an indignant Jorjani posted an open letter titled “Forever Deplorably Yours”[33] to RightOn.com, Friberg’s propaganda website:

I am the Editor-in-Chief of the leading press of the New Right or Alt-Right…These movements are connected by an Indo-European philosophical tradition that extends back through Heidegger and the Kyoto School to Nietzsche, Schelling, Hegel, Bruno, Suhrawardi, Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus, Gautama Buddha, and Zarathustra. This Aryan heritage has roots in the Earth that are thousands of years old and the branches of its tree will grow through distant star systems…To imagine that you can label my thought “NeoNazi” or “White Supremacist” and then file me away in your prison of prefab and facile categorizations is delusional and it only demonstrates your own spiritual poverty.[34]

Jorjani’s attempt to tie Persia today to an Aryan heritage—claiming this heritage as being rooted in the earth, or soil—is significant. It mirrors a fascist belief in “bodenständigkeit,” a sort of “rootedness in the soil.”[35] Bodenständigkeit was a belief propagated by the aforementioned philosopher, Martin Heidegger, as well as Nazi eugenicist Hans Günther,[36] who believed that what distinguished Germans from Jews was the German connectedness to the soil, as opposed to the supposed “uprootedness” of the Jews.[37] For Jorjani to be accepted by white nationalists like Richard Spencer—the two even sharing living and work quarters for a time in the Arlington/Washington D.C. area—,[38] it made sense that Jorjani emphasize his own whiteness—most likely why he adamantly claimed both Northern European heritage in conjunction with an Aryan-Persian identity. By connecting Aryan identity to Persian soil, Jorjani could lay claim to whiteness and European identity. To be sure, Jorjani’s insistence to claim Persian Aryan blood is part of the very real question of where Europe (and the West) ends, and what does it mean to be white.

In fact, a version of this bodenständigkeit discourse even made its way into popular rhetoric used at white supremacist rallies—particularly in the Richard Spencer-organized protest against the removal of statues in Charlottesville, Virginia that celebrated the racist American Confederacy, where violent protestors marched chanting “Blood and Soil!”[39] In Charlottesville, one white supremacist reporter for The Daily Stormer, a far-right propaganda publication, commented to a reporter for Vice that the racist movement wants to show they are not “atomized individuals”—that they are more than an internet community. The reporter emphasized the goal of removing “degenerate” populations from “white countries” (read: ethnic cleansing).[40]

When this violence broke out, Jorjani was in San Francisco, California meeting with computer scientist, Jacques Vallée, whose work with ARPANET contributed to the creation of the modern internet.[41] At about the same time, Jorjani also claimed to have been in “a private meeting concerning research and development of exotic technology that may someday serve the Iranian Air Force.” [42] Jorjani was making steps toward leaving Arktos to start a new organization, the so-called “Iranian United Front,” to bring together what he called “the most well established and prominent nationalist political parties of Iran together into a single coalition, one that transcends the division between monarchists and republicans.” [43] On his personal blog, Jorjani indicated his intention to sell his shares of the Alt-Right Corporation to Friberg and Spencer so that they might stay with leadership. He warned:

…from now on, former associates within the Alt-Right movement of Europe and North America ought to consider any interactions with me as diplomatic relations with a representative of the coming post-Islamic political order of Iran and the wider Persianate world. This point cannot be overemphasized. Over the next few years, we will be watching with a hawk’s eye to identify the true friends and enemies of our archeo-futurist Iran.[44]

In an email sent out in late August 30, Arktos announced the appointment of Charles Lyons, a regular contributor for Alt-Right.com, as Chief Administrative Officer and Head of Arktos US, taking over Jorjani’s duties. As of this writing, Jorjani plans to continue his advocacy for the Iranian United Front, but was suspended in September 2017 from his position as a lecturer at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a public university in Newark, after a video of him circulated online promising the return of concentration camps in Europe, as well as Adolf Hitler’s image to European monies.[45] [46] To be sure, Jorjani, a formative figure in the current vision of Arktos, has moved from lightly espousing fascistic ideals to advocating for what can only be described as Nazism.

 

Louie Dean Valencia-García, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Digital History at Texas State University. He has taught in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and serves on the Research Editorial Committee for EuropeNow. His forthcoming book, Antiauthoritarian Youth Culture in Francoist Spain: Clashing with Fascism, will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in May 2018. He has held fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the United States Library of Congress, the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, and Santander Universities, amongst others. This essay is part of a collection in-progress, Alt-Histories: Far-Right Revisionism and the End of History.

Photo: By aeneastudio [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 References:

[1] “Arktos,” Facebook.com, accessed August 11, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/Arktos/.

[2] “Verso Books,” Facebook.com, accessed August 11, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/VersoBks/.

[3] “ARKTOS,” About ARKTOS, archived June 18, 2010, http://web.archive.org/web/20100618042727/http://www.arktos.com/about/about-arktos.html.

[4] Vedism, a type of ancient Hinduism, was written in Sanskrit, and was an Indo-Arayan religion finding its origins in what is today northern India.

[5] “Jacob Christiansen Senholt,” Jacob Christiansen Senholt | Aarhus University – Academia.edu, archived August 12, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170812145452/https://au.academia.edu/JacobSenholt.

[6] Jacob Christiansen Senholt, “About Me,” Jacob Christiansen Senholt, archived August 12, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20141215155405/http://jacobsenholt.dk/about-jacob-christiansen-senholt/.

[7] Senholt has claimed affiliation with both Konservative Studenter and Liberal Alliance. Liberal Alliance demonstrates libertarian tendencies; in 2014, their website proclaimed a desire for smaller governmental involvement and lower taxes—a maximum of 40% tax rate “Liberal Alliance,” LiberalAlliance.dk, archived December 16, 2014, https://web.archive.org/web/20141216185613/https://www.liberalalliance.dk/.

[8] Boch has described his interests as being in “traditional jurisprudence and statecraft, particularly the traditional doctrine of state legitimacy.” See: “About Us,” Integral Tradition Publishing, archived March 15, 2007, https://web.archive.org/web/20070315013345/http://www.integraltradition.com:80/catalog/about.php.

[9] Morgan has allowed himself to be presented as one of the founders. While the assertion may certainly be accurate, the original website published in 2006 does not corroborate that claim. See: Metapolitics of Arktos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qV2QTJr_Hk.

[10] See, Metapolitics of Arktos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qV2QTJr_Hk

[11] “Dear Customer,” Integral Tradition Publishing, archived October 13, 2011, http://web.archive.org/web/20111013082221/http://www.integraltradition.com/.

[12] NFSE Media/Motpol AB was registered as company number 556692-5904. See: “Motpol AB,” Motpol AB – – Se Nyckeltal, Befattningar Med Mera, accessed August 10, 2017, https://www.proff.se/foretag/motpol-ab/-/f%C3%B6rlagsbyr%C3%A5er/10278853-1/.

[13] Arktos Media, LTD was incorporated by the Registrar of Companies for England and Wales on 11 November 2009 as company number 07073448. Boch, who was named a director of Arktos on 11 November 2009, at the time of its founding, resigned on 19 November 2010, only to be reappointed on 29 November 2010, until 29 February 2012. Senholt was appointed a director of the company on 1 January 2010 until 1 December 2011, and was listed as an academic at the time. See: “People for ARKTOS MEDIA LTD (07073448),” Companieshouse.gov.uk, accessed August 05, 2017, https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07073448/officers. See records: N07073448K, XWDHAJZF, and XL99EK1Z.

[14] Senholt left Arktos on 1 December 2011, Boch on 29 February 2012. See: “People for ARKTOS MEDIA LTD (07073448),” Companieshouse.gov.uk, accessed August 05, 2017, https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07073448/officers. See records: X11UP5ZS and X190U64O.

[15] “Daniel Friberg.” Arktos. April 18, 2017. Archived April 18, 2017. https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20170418171348/https://arktos.com/people/daniel-friberg/.

[16] “Showing Results For: METAPEDIA.ORG,” ICANN WHOIS, accessed July 18, 2017, https://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=Metapedia.org.

[17] Porter, Tom. “Meet Daniel Friberg, the Swedish Mining Tycoon Bankrolling the Alt-right’s Global Media Empire.” International Business Times, March 6, 2017, archived March 3, 2017. https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20170303132916/http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/meet-swedish-mining-tycoon-bankrolling-alt-rights-global-media-empire-1608221.

[18] Oliver Willis, “White Nationalist Group Headed By “Peaceful Ethnic Cleansing” Leader Holding Pro-Trump Conference in D.C.,” Media Matters (blog), March 3, 2016, archived April 29, 2017. http://web.archive.org/web/20170429012612/https://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/03/03/white-nationalist-group-headed-by-peaceful-ethn/208996.

[19] Jason Wilson, “‘Increasingly Nazified’ White Nationalist Rally Descends on Virginia amid Expected Protests,” The Guardian, August 12, 2017, archived August 12, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170812192411/https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/12/nazi-white-nationalist-rallies-virginia-protests.

[20] “Richard Bertrand Spencer,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 19, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170817212353/https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/richard-bertrand-spencer-0.

[21] William D. Cohan, “How Stephen Miller Rode White Rage from Duke’s Campus to Trump’s West Wing,” The Hive, May 26, 2017, archived May 30, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170530093504/https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/05/stephen-miller-duke-donald-trump.

[22] While Miller has distanced himself from Spencer, an email correspondence given to me indicates that the two worked together to organize a debate on immigration through the Duke Conservative Union in 2007.  The debate brought Peter Laufer, the James N. Wallace Chair of Journalism at the University of Oregon, and Peter Brimelow, an anti-immigrant activist, to campus.

[23] “Richard Bertrand Spencer,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 19, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170817212353/https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/richard-bertrand-spencer-0.

[24] William D. Cohan, “How Stephen Miller Rode White Rage from Duke’s Campus to Trump’s West Wing,” The Hive, May 26, 2017, archived May 30, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170530093504/https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/05/stephen-miller-duke-donald-trump.

[25] Right On Staff, “Right On Staff: Introducing AltRight.com | RightOn.net,” Right On, January 17, 2017, archived January 18, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170118085255/https://www.righton.net/2017/01/17/introducing-altright-com/.

[26] The Editors, “Welcome to the Alt Right,” AltRight.com, January 16, 2017, archived January 17, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170117010310/http://www.altright.com/2017/01/16/welcome-to-the-alt-right/.

[27] “Faculty Humanities » People » Faculty,” New Jersey Institute of Technology, archived January 27, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170127123050/http://humanities.njit.edu:80/faculty/.

[28] “About AltRight.com,” AltRight.com, January 19, 2017, archived January 20, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170120125657/http://www.altright.com:80/about-altright-com/.

[29] See: “People for ARKTOS MEDIA LTD (07073448),” Companieshouse.gov.uk, accessed August 05, 2017, https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07073448/officers. See records: X5K12UQW and X658YIUW.

[30] “Jason Reza Jorjani,” AltRight.com, archived January 20, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170120100442/https://altright.com/author/jasonrezajorjani/.

[31] Jason Reza Jorjani, “Rumi Was White,” AltRight.com, January 21, 2017, archived January 24, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170124073152/https://altright.com/2017/01/21/rumi-was-white.

[32] Jason Reza Jorjani, “Forever Deplorably Yours,” Right On, December 12, 2016, archived January 05, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170105073000/https://www.righton.net/2016/12/12/forever-deplorably-yours/.

[33] The use of “deplorable” was significant in preparation of the Alt-Right’s “Deploraball” event celebrating the election of U.S. President Donald Trump—named after an epithet used by presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton to describe racist supporters of Donald Trump.

[34] Jason Reza Jorjani, “Forever Deplorably Yours,” Right On, December 12, 2016, archived January 05, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170105073000/https://www.righton.net/2016/12/12/forever-deplorably-yours/.

[35] Tiago Saraiva, Fascist Pigs Technoscientific Organisms and the History of Fascism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016)., 15.

[36] Found in the editor’s notes of: Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1939).

[37] Ibid., 13.

[38] Rosie Gray, “An Alt-Right Leader Sets Up Shop in Northern Virginia,” The Atlantic, January 12, 2017, archived January 13, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170113001947/http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/a-one-stop-shop-for-the-alt-right/512921/.

[39] Charlottesville: Race and Terror (New York: Vice Magazine/HBO, 2017), accessed August 16, 2017, https://news.vice.com/story/vice-news-tonight-full-episode-charlottesville-race-and-terror.

[40] Charlottesville: Race and Terror (New York: Vice Magazine/HBO, 2017), accessed August 16, 2017, https://news.vice.com/story/vice-news-tonight-full-episode-charlottesville-race-and-terror.

[41] “Jason Reza Jorjani,” Facebook, August 23, 2017, accessed August 27, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/jason.jorjani.5.

[42] Jason Reza Jorjani, “Blog,” Jason Reza Jorjani, accessed August 27, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170825001718/https://jasonrezajorjani.com/blog/.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] “Jason Reza Jorjani,” Facebook, August 15, 2017, accessed August 27, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/jason.jorjani.5.

[46] Jessica Mazzola, “NJIT Prof Suspended over Video of Him Discussing Hitler’s Legacy,” New Jersey Advance Media, September 26, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20171021011726/http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2017/09/college_suspends_professor_plagued_by_alt-right_co.html.

 

Published on February 8, 2018.

Share:

Print Print