|Francis Parker Yockey (September 18, 1917 – June
16, 1960) was an
American political thinker and
polemicist best known for his neo-Spenglerian
book Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics,
published under the
in 1948. This 600-page book argues for a race-based,
totalitarian path for the preservation of Western culture.
Although best remembered today as a writer, Yockey was
active with many
far right causes around the world throughout his adult
The biographical facts about Yockey are largely unknown with any degree of certainty. The majority comes from the accounts of those who knew him and from FBI efforts to gain intelligence in regard to his activities, as recorded by his biographer Kevin Coogan in his book Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International.
Yockey was born in Chicago, Illinois, but his family returned to their original homestead in Ludington, Michigan during the Great Depression. His parents were anglophiles who raised Yockey to appreciate Europe and high culture. Subsequently, Yockey's mother introduced him to classical music. Young Francis had a prodigious talent for the piano and developed his repertoire to include pieces by Liszt, Beethoven, Chopin, and Haydn. Yockey claimed that his ideas about race were initially the result of a car accident wherein he was assaulted by several African Americans. As a result of this attack he lost his front teeth and wore dentures for the rest of his short life.
Before becoming a devotee of elitist and anti-materialist Oswald Spengler, he briefly flirted with Marxism. Aside from Spengler, he was heavily influenced by the ideas of German legal scholar Carl Schmitt. Unlike Spengler, who regarded the Nazis as too bourgeois and disagreed with their anti-Semitism and strict biological view of race, Yockey believed in German National Socialism, and supported various Fascist and neo-Fascist causes for the remainder of his life, including anti-Semitism. Like Spengler, Yockey rejected a wholly biological view of race, instead preferring a spiritual conception of race married with Karl Haushofer's idea of geopolitics.
As a university student in the late 1930s, Yockey had his first political essay published in Social Justice, a periodical distributed by Fr. Charles Coughlin, known as the "radio priest," At the time Coughlin was widely known for his sympathetic view of the anti-Bolshevist policies associated with Adolf Hitler's Germany, Benito Mussolini's Italy, and Gen. Franco's Spain.
Yockey attended at least seven universities. He studied for two years (1934-36) as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, and then transferred to Georgetown's School of Foreign Service. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona, and graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1941.
Later life and works
Over time, Yockey contacted or worked with many of the far-Right figures and organizations of his day. These included the German-American Bund, the German-American National Alliance, William Dudley Pelley's Silver Shirts, Sir Oswald Mosley's Union Movement, George Sylvester Viereck, the American H. Keith Thompson, Gerald L.K. Smith, and James H. Madole's National Renaissance Party. Thompson and Madole, in particular, became advocates of Yockey's worldview. While Yockey's pro-Fascist activities began in the late 1930s, they did not end there. Unfazed by the defeat of the Axis in the Second World War, Yockey actually became even more active in neo-Fascist causes after 1945. From this point forward, he remained dedicated solely to his cause of reviving Fascism. He dispensed with any semblance of an ordinary life, and remained constantly on the move, travelling to wherever he felt he could pursue his goals most effectively, and cultivating countless contacts along the way.
Yockey's ideas were usually only embraced by those, however, who could countenance the necessity of an alliance between the far Left and the far Right, which was a fundamental pillar of Yockey's ideas. The American Nazi Party of George Lincoln Rockwell, for example, rejected Yockey on the basis of his anti-American attitude, as well as his willingness to work with anti-Zionist Communist governments and movements, as the ANP adhered solely to the ideals of absolute anti-Bolshevist National Socialism, as had been advocated by Hitler. (Yockey, however, seems to have remained unaware of Rockwell, as he told Willis Carto that he had never heard of the ANP when Carto visited him in prison in 1960.) Other proponents of Universal Nazism, such as Rockwell's ally Colin Jordan, disagreed with Yockey's views on race, and saw Yockeyism as advocating a kind of "New Strasserism" which would undermine true Nazism.
In early 1946, Yockey began working for the United States War Department as a post-trial review attorney for the Nuremberg Trials in Germany. He soon began agitating against Allied occupation of Germany, as well as what he perceived to be the biased procedures of the Nuremberg tribunal. Eventually, he was fired for "abandonment of position" in November 1946.
Without notes, Yockey wrote his first book, Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics, in Brittas Bay, Ireland over the winter and early spring of 1948. It is a Spenglerian critique of 19th century materialism and rationalism. It was endorsed by far-Right thinkers around the world including former German General Otto Remer; Professor of Classics at the University of Illinois, Revilo P. Oliver; and Italian esotericist Julius Evola. Yockey became embittered with Sir Oswald Mosley after the latter refused to publish or review Imperium upon its completion, after having promised to do so. Guy Chesham, one of the leaders of Mosley's movement, actually resigned from it, in part because of Mosley's treatment of Yockey. Imperium subscribes to Spengler's suggestion that Germany had been destined to fulfil the 'Roman' role in Western Civilization by uniting all its constituent states into one large empire .
Along with former Mosleyites Guy Chesham and John Gannon, Yockey formed the European Liberation Front (ELF) in 1948-49. The ELF issued a newsletter, Frontfighter, and published Yockey's virulent anti-American, anti-communist and anti-semitic text The Proclamation of London. In Yockey's view, "social decay" was permeated by the Jew, who as a "Culture-distorter" and a "bearer of Culture-disease", "instinctively allied himself with all forms, theories, doctrines and practices of decadence in every sphere of life". "America is [the Jew and the liberal-communist-democrat]'s programme in process of actualization, and its example shows Europe what the liberal-communist-democratic regime of Culture-distortion is preparing for it during the coming generations" . Yockey was also approached by the group around the anti-Communist Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1951. He was asked to ghost-write a speech for McCarthy which stressed the importance of greater friendship between Germany and the United States, although McCarthy never delivered it as the theme of the speech, when it was announced, aroused a great deal of controversy.
In late 1952, Yockey traveled to Prague and witnessed the Prague Trials. He believed they "foretold a Russian break with Jewry", a view he put forward in his article What is Behind the Hanging of the Eleven Jews in Prague?. Indeed, that prediction was vindicated by the fact that the last Jewish member of the Soviet Presidium, Lazar Kaganovich, was expelled in 1957 - having been sidelined as early as 1953. (In addition, after sympathizing with Israel in its 1948-49 war, Russia switched sides and supported the Arabs in subsequent conflicts.) Yockey believed that Stalinism had purged Soviet Communism of Jewish influence. He spent the remainder of his life attempting to forge an alliance between the worldwide forces of Communism and the international network of the extreme Right of which he was a part, with an aim toward weakening or overthrowing the government of the United States.
Yockey met Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom he called "a great and vigorous man", in Cairo in 1953. He worked briefly for the Egyptian Information Ministry, writing anti-Zionist propaganda. Yockey saw the rise of non-aligned states in the Third World, and in particular Arab nationalism, as significant geopolitical challenges to "the Jewish-American power". Some speculate that Yockey made clandestine trips during the 1950s into East Germany, and possibly even into the USSR itself, attempting to cultivate Communist ties. It is also known that Yockey visited Cuba shortly after the revolution of Fidel Castro, in the hopes of winning Cuban support for his anti-American alliance. He met with some lower-level officials, but nothing is known to have come of it.
Yockey was continuously pursued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for over a decade, which he avoided by adopting numerous aliases. He was finally arrested in 1960 after returning to the United States from abroad, as his suitcase was sent to the wrong airport. When the authorities opened it to determine whose suitcase it was, they discovered several of Yockey's falsified passports and birth certificates. When this was reported to the federal government, the FBI tracked him down in Oakland, California and arrested him. (Curiously, he was staying at the home of a friend who was thought to be Jewish, a Holocaust survivor and teacher of Hebrew at Temple Beth Abraham, a local synagogue.) While in prison, he was visited by the American Rightist Willis Carto, who later became the chief advocate and publisher of Yockey's ideas. Yockey was soon after found dead with an empty cyanide capsule nearby while in a jail cell in San Francisco under FBI supervision, leaving a note in which he claimed that he was committing suicide in order to protect the anonymity of his political contacts.
Maurice Bardèche, a French writer of fascist sympathies, wrote about his meeting with Yockey in his semi-autobiographical novel Suzanne et le taudis. Yockey, called "Ulrich Clarence" in the book, was described by Bardèche as a "lunatic." Most of Yockey's other acquaintances, however, always regarded him as a brilliant and dedicated fighter for the cause in which he believed.
The impact of Yockey's ideas
Yockey was rather unique among thinkers of the far right wing post-Second World War. Most European and American neo-Fascists and other rightists of the post-war period advocated an alliance with the United States as the best hope for the survival of Western culture under the threat of Communism. But Yockey felt that an alliance of the Right with the far Left was a far more desirable course. Yockey felt that American universalism, democracy and consumer culture, which was by then spreading into western Europe and much of the rest of the world, as well as its alliance with Zionism, was far more corrosive and deadly to the true spirit of the West than was the Soviet Union. Yockey believed that the USSR had become genuinely anti-Zionist under Stalin, that in its authoritarianism it preserved something of the traditional European concept of hierarchy, and he felt it could more easily be adapted to a Rightist orientation over time than was possible in the egalitarian United States. He thus believed that true Rightists should aid the spread of Communism and Third World anti-colonial movements wherever possible, and he remained staunchly opposed to the government and culture of the United States, which he did not even consider to be truly Western in nature. He was also rather unique at the time (along with Evola) in his advocacy of a spiritual, as opposed to biological, understanding of race.
The National Youth Alliance was founded in 1968 by Willis Carto with the intent to promote Yockey's political philosophy and his book Imperium. Yockey was a major influence on Carto and the Liberty Lobby, although many supporters of Yockey, such as H. Keith Thompson, claim that Carto failed to understand Yockey's ideas on their deepest level. Yockey did not have a very significant influence on the American extreme Right, however, which, throughout the Cold War, for the most part remained staunchly anti-Communist. He had a much greater impact in Europe, where intellectuals of the Right, especially the current of thought sometimes called the European New Right, including the Belgian Jean Thiriart, the Russian Aleksandr Dugin, and French writers Alain de Benoist and Guillaume Faye, adopted many of Yockey's views.