MODERN ORIGINS OF THE TERM PARAPOLITICS
We are not the first to use the term parapolitics, nor to apply it to the 'deep structures' of political power (that accolade belongs to Peter Dale Scott). Nor even the first to use the term in relation to UK politics--that honour belongs to Robin Ramsay and Steven Dorrill who set up Lobster magazine. However, we contend, we are the first magazine to analyse the whole political spectrum, including the extra-parliamentary fringe, in a para-political way.
Raghavan Iyer coined the term, referring to an integrated system whereby initiatives intersect dialectically to create a fruitful whole. This conception, akin to the sociological theory of functionalism whereby a social/political system regulates itself, is not what we have in mind. For us, parapolitics refers to the social reality of conflicting forces and their oft-hidden agendas. It is by analysing these conflicts, and tracking their trajectory/outcomes, that parapolitical research advances.
Peter Dale Scott (the US researcher into narco-politics) was the first researcher to use the term parapolitics to describe covert operations by the powers that be, in particular shadowy state agencies such as the security services and their 'plausibly deniable' allies such as paramilitary groups.
PARAPOLITICS BEFORE THE TERM WAS COINED
Nonetheless, while this use of the term may be modern, the reality of what is now called parapolitical activity is not. Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I's spymaster (who knew a thing or two about covert operations) reportedly said "the best way to conceal a secret is to place it in plain view". Those in the UK know (or should) the complex and tangled history of British secret state involvement with, and attempted manipulation of, both Loyalist paramilitaries (e.g. via UDA intelligence officer Brian Nelson) and Republican opponents (e.g. via Frank Scappatticci of the 'nutting squad' and Dennis Donaldson). Also, Italian politics over the centuries (take a bow Machiavelli) has often contained 'hidden elements' conducting nefarious activities, such as the infamous P2 Masonic Lodge, sometimes resulting in major crimes such as the kidnap of former PM Aldo Moro and the 1980 Bologna bombing.
PARAPOLITICS versus CONSPIRACY THEORY
Mention of freemasons (the P2 Lodge) means it is important to emphasise a crucial distinction between a properly parapolitical approach and mere conspiracy theory. The former is rigorously evidence-based, and does not mistake opening hypotheses for proven conclusions. Conspiracy theory on the other hand, does precisely that, including congenial 'evidence' while discarding facts that do not fit. As a magazine collective committed to rigour, NFB discomfits those in power with something to hide, and equally annoys those who substitute fantasising for empirical research--such as 9/11 & 7/7 cult believers, who well know we are their enemy. In short, there is a world of difference between accepting the reality that the secret state is capable of the most nefarious actions and assuming in advance/without evidence that they always act this way. Lobster magazine has historically been important for high-lighting the secret state is not a monolith, but composed of different, and often competing, fractions.
When time permits, this section of the site will examine Peter Dale Scott's understanding of parapolitics, and in greater depth the historic contributions of Lobster and Covert Action Quarterly magazines, as well as less ambitious contenders such as Statewatch and Eye Spy magazine. To be fair, neither of the last two has the intention, or research capability, to produce genuine parapolitical research, but are largely organs of record/information/disinformation, while never clearly flagging up which is which. Detailed consideration of 'conspiracy theory' and how it differs from parapolitical research will follow here, in the fullness of time. Be patient! In the interim, exploring the 'Cult watching' section of this web-site (especially our debate with the 7-7 cult) provides a strong indication of how NFB's approach is different.
NOTES FROM THE BORDERLAND: AIMS
All very well you might say, but what is NFB actually about? Good question, to which we answer
1) We want to broaden out, indeed in many cases start, a proper debate about the role of the security state and it's influence in society. You might think debate takes place currently but sadly it doesn't: whole industries of verbiage (and resulting state actions) are built around highly dubious concepts such as 'extremism' for instance, a codeword used to close down debate.
2) Help make various secret state assets, especially agents provocateur, accountable. That, we are not alone in, though rather less inclined to look the other way when such are found in far right groups than most of the Last Century Left, who sadly often act as cheerleaders when moves by the secret state against the far right are announced, little realising the Left/Greens are just as much targets.
3) Critically question where relevant predominant media and political narratives: eg the current ludicrous and invariably unchallenged hyping of the 'threat' by sad neo-Nazis like National Action.
4) In an explicitly Gramscian sense, most of us are on the Left and see the magazine as one element in an overall ideological 'war of position' prior to a 'war of maneouvre' as Gramsci himself had it.
NOTES FROM THE BORDERLAND: METHODS
Given we are not conspiracy theorists, the accuracy relevance and enduring appeal of our research depends (as that voice in the Prisoner TV series says) on information. This we get from various sources/classify in different ways:
1) Participant observation (of a non-provocative type) among certain groups we are interested on: eg a long-term insertion of an asset (or is it assets?) inside the Searchlight/Hope Not Hate milieu. Same goes for diverse political organisations.
2) 'Human intelligence' sources come our way from time to time: just as well as unlike spooks we can neither offer money nor do we go in for blackmail.
3) Not disregarding what we call 'pre-internet' sources of information. Just as many dullards think Football only began with Sky/The Premier League, so do too many people think anything pre-internet isn't important. Big mistake.
4) Certainly, there is a lot of useful information on the internet, but equally due to the internet's mercurial nature, things can disappear as fast as they appear. Thus sites like the Wayback Machine (however partial) are our friend.
5) Many things of use are not on the internet and were never intended to be such as internal documents of groups and so on. This non-internet material can be invaluable. We include here newspaper clippings and printed publications/propaganda of various groups, as well as that shockingly unfashionable thing books, where ideas can be developed at length and hence understood better by outsiders.
As to how successful we are in our endeavours, we let you be the judge of that: read the articles on this site and buy the magazine/associated publications to find out.