This is a continuation of our interview with John Morgan, Editor-in-Chief of Arktos. This innovative firm publishes books about alternatives to modernity, including traditionalist, new right and ecofuturist literature. John was kind enough to take the time answer a lengthy interview, of which part II of IV is presented here.
Arktos has branched out from strictly analytical books toward more of a literary regimen, as exemplified in Ernst von Salomon’s It Cannot Be Stormed. Any thoughts of going further in this direction, like reprinting Knut Hamsun books or Jack London titles?
Yes, we very much want to publish more literature in the future. In addition to It Cannot Be Stormed, which is actually a work of the Conservative Revolution, we also published the novel, The Saga of the Aryan Race, by the Parsi Zoroastrian author Porus Homi Havewala. It’s a history of Zoroastrianism’s Aryan origins told in the form of a mythological story. Over the summer we published another novel, The Owls of Afrasiab, by the Swedish author Lars Holger Holm, which is about the fall of Constantinople to the Muslims in 1453. Right now we are finishing up the novel Morning Crafts by Tito Perdue, which is about a young boy who is lured away to a secret school in the forest in which the teachers are desperately trying to preserve a remnant of Western civilization. I’m certain we will continue to do more literature, both new works and classics. We don’t have any specific plans for Hamsun or London at the moment. All of their major works are already in print, but it might be possible to print some of their more obscure works.
You seem to publish a lot of books in Scandinavian languages. Do you have more readers there, or is it a focus area for other reasons?
The reason why the Scandinavian market is important to us is because all of our staff, apart from myself, are of Scandinavian origin, especially Sweden, so producing works specifically for that area has always been a priority for us. However, it is definitely the case that there is a growing backlash happening against the extreme liberalism that has held sway there for decades, so there is a lot of interest in our ideas there.
Out of the last 20 books I’ve read, the Arktos titles have had the best editing – the most consistent use of punctuation and chapter division, the fewest errors, the most natural-sounding translations. What’s the secret of your editing team?
As Editor-in-Chief, thanks for the compliment! There’s no secret: it’s just hours and hours of hard work! I subject any book that I work on to a grueling editing process (I tend to be obsessive), and then most of our books are reviewed by a second editor/proofreader. Daniel Friberg, who does the layout of our interiors, always does an outstanding job, and we also have had several excellent graphic designers do our covers. My personal favorite among our covers to date is the one for Archeofuturism, which looks like the cover of a Kraftwerk album. We enforce very high standards. There’s nothing more embarrassing than a poorly-produced book. It’s always frustrating for me to buy a book and then find myself counting the errors on each page. It’s an all-too-common occurrence these days, even with the major publishers, which I blame on the proliferation of word processing and spell-check, not to mention the pressure of short deadlines and simple laziness. As for the true Right, we have the best ideas, and thus they deserve to be made available in high-quality books. When I edit a book, I try to bring it up to the level that I expect when I read a book. Anything less would drive me crazy.
When did you, personally, first become interested in the topics you publish? Did you start out along these lines, or arrive there gradually?
I suppose I was quite conventional until my undergraduate years, when I was blessed by the resources of the University of Michigan library, which is quite vast. Before long I realized that my own ideas about society and life in general were quite at variance with what my professors and fellow students were advocating, and I started reading to explore alternatives. I was attracted by what I read about the old Right-wing tradition in Europe, although I never believed that they completely represented my own views, nor could I see that they were practicable in today’s reality. A while later, I started to come across references to the German Conservative Revolution of the 1920s and the European New Right, and I could tell they came much closer, even though there was precious little available about them in English at that time. Although it was reading Evola and his mentor, René Guénon, which really put the fire into me and made me realize that there really is a different way of conceiving of society and our place in it, and that it, and not the modern world, is actually the norm. As Guénon wrote, modernity is really just an aberration. All told, it took about 15 years for my thinking to develop to its current point. And I’m sure it will never stop developing entirely, even though I feel that I have a firm grasp on the essentials now.
Do you think your message appeals to any generations more than others? In particular, I’ve noticed that Generation X-Y seem to be the ones most concerned about the future.
Yes, it definitely does seem that younger people, especially those under 30, are the most responsive to our message, although I’ve met sincere individuals who are interested in these ideas from all ages. Still, I think they have an even greater urgency for young people, since those born in recent decades in Western countries have been the first in a long time to have to confront the reality that their homelands are growing worse rather than better. I myself, at 38, qualify as a Gen-Xer. I vividly remember my youth in 1980s New York, when it seemed that crime was on the verge of spiraling out of control, and that there was a decent chance that I would be dead before the age of 30 in a nuclear war or from being fried to death when the ozone layer disappeared. Fortunately, none of those things came to pass, but it lent an apocalyptic tone to my thoughts on the future that has never gone away, and I think a lot of people my age or younger have it as well, to a certain extent. I think it was the same kind of phenomenon that led some German intellectuals, who had lived through the apocalypse of the First World War and the following economic collapse, to develop the Conservative Revolution, which was in turn the predecessor of the New Right.
If many of the books you publish are correct, modern society as we know it is based on some erroneous assumptions. Is that true? What is wrong with modern society? Do we see any symptoms of that?
Yes, we’ve published books from many different perspectives, but most of them would agree that civilization has been on the wrong track for a while now. Speaking for myself, I think it was the disenchantment of the world brought on by secularization and egalitarianism that has led us to our current predicament, bringing about an ever-increasing materialism that is still in the process of driving the world to insanity. No genuine culture is possible without the sacred. When you believe that individuals and the world itself are merely chemical concoctions operating at random, selfishness, short-sightedness, disregard for tradition and cultural boundaries, leveling (both cultural and social), physical and moral weakness, and violence are an inevitable result. We can see the effects of this in any country in the world today. All we have now is chaos. America today is like a leaky boat that is springing more and more holes, and its leaders, already knee-deep in water, are hurriedly rushing about, trying to plug the holes before the whole vessel sinks. The solution is to abandon ship and go build a new one according to a better design, but few people want to go to all that trouble since it will entail a lot of work and a fresh vision. Nobody is thinking further into the future than the next election. That’s no way to run a nation. The way to “save the world” isn’t merely through a different economic policy or by keeping illegal immigrants out, even though those things might be part of it. A complete transformation of society, starting with the individual and his worldview, must take place first. Before we can achieve anything that can last, we must get our souls back, and reconnect with the transcendent.