A Review of Myngath – The Autobiography of David Myatt
Myngath – subtitled Some Recollections of the Wyrdful Life of David Myatt – is David Myatt’s recently published autobiography. To those unfamiliar with Myatt, he has been called, at various times, in the last forty years, an evil genius, the most evil nazi in Britain, a ferocious Jihadi, a deeply subversive intellectual, and described as the mentor who drove David Copeland to kill.
In these forty or more years, Myatt has been twice jailed for racist attacks; acted as Colin Jordan’s bodyguard; led the political wing of the violent neo-nazi group Combat 18; been imprisoned for running a gang of thieves; translated ancient Greek literature; written several volumes of pagan poetry; been a Catholic monk, and last – but not least – supported Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.
According to the British newspaper, The Observer, Myatt was the “ideological heavyweight” behind the violent neo-nazi group Combat 18. Political scientist Professor George Michael wrote that Myatt has “arguably done more than any other theorist to develop a synthesis of the extreme right and Islam,”; while he was described, at a NATO conference on terrorism, in 2006, as having called on “all enemies of the Zionists to embrace the Jihad against Jews and the United States…”
In 1998, after over thirty years of involvement with neo-nazi politics, Myatt confounded his supporters and critics by converting to Islam. He has since and in the past three years – once again confounding his supporters and critics – developed his own mystical philosophy which he calls both The Numinous Way, and The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos – based, in his words, on the virtues of empathy, compassion and honor – thus ending his association with Islam. Now over sixty years of age, Myatt devotes himself to philosophy, mysticism, and writing poetry.
Given this varied and somewhat strange and extreme life, one might expect his autobiography to provide interesting, if not fascinating, personal accounts of street brawls; meetings with Muslim extremists; life as a neo-nazi fanatic, as a convert to Islam, and then as a Muslim apostate.
What one gets, however, is something of an apologia – often rather cursory accounts of some events in his life, followed by an explanation of his feelings and motives. Occasionally, Myatt adds one of his own poems in order to express these feelings. One of the most detailed – and informative as well as amusing – sections concerns Myatt’s time as a Christian monk.
The section on Islam – on his life as a Muslim – is, however, particularly sparse, and while it seems somewhat glossed over, it is certainly interesting, with Myatt writing, for instance, that,
“Namaz strengthened me, placed me into a humble relationship with my brothers and sisters; just as being part of the Ummah dissolved every last vestige of my former political beliefs. Ethnicity, one’s territorial place of birth, the type of work one did, were all irrelevant. That is, I came to reject all forms of nationalism, including National-Socialism, and racialism itself […] In a literal way, Islam taught me humility, something I aspired to during my time as a monk but which my then prideful nature rebelled against.”
In fact, Myngath neatly falls into two categories, almost exactly mirrored by Myatt’s division of Myngath into two parts. The first category centers around his early life and his often violent and always extreme political involvements; the second, around his personal life, and in particular his liaisons with women. It is these liaisons that are, for me – and I suspect for many other readers – the most interesting, as well as being, in my opinion, the most informative about Myatt’s personal character.
These liaisons include two tragic events, and Myatt is remarkably honest about his feelings and his failings; and one is left with the impression of reading an almost religious story of redemption, only without God; the story of someone very slowly, and quite painfully, learning from their mistakes.
The story, that is, of a violent, driven, often fanatical and selfish man, obsessed with making his own inner and extremist political vision real, who gradually rediscovers his humanity after suffering two personal tragedies, and who ends up writing, in probably the most poignant passage of the book, that the tragedies had, “at last – after so much arrogance and stupidity and weakness on my part – revealed to me the most important truth concerning human life. Which is that a shared, a loyal, love between two people is the most beautiful, the most numinous, the most valuable thing of all.”
Of his departure from Islam, Myatt writes that it resulted “from one singular, important, event…” To wit, his love for a woman, and the subsequent tragic death of that woman.
Overall, this apologia – I do not feel it deserves to be called an autobiography – might therefore be more correctly described as a modern allegory, a tale of redemption, a story of someone rediscovering their humanity, and it is this which, in my opinion, makes it a worthwhile and ultimately a valuable book to read. For its interest lies not in the person or character of Myatt himself – not in his various peregrinations, nor even in his own motivations for his deeds and involvements – but rather in the allegory: a modern Faust without the cloying appearance of God at the end.
Myngath is published under the Creative Commons License and the May 2013 edition is available in pdf format here, in several other places on the Internet, and as a printed book, ISBN 978-1484110744, via Amazon dot com.