Joseph Pearce

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Joseph Pearce
Pearce in 2007
Pearce in 2007
Born1961 (age 57–58)
East London, England
OccupationBiographer
Website
jpearce.co

Joseph Pearce (born February 12, 1961, Barking, London[1]) is an English-born writer, and as of 2014 Director of the Center for Faith and Culture[2] at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. Previously he had comparable positions, from 2012–2014 at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, from 2001–2004 at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan and from 2004–2012 at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida.

Formerly aligned with the National Front, a British neo-Nazi political party, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1989, repudiated his earlier views, and now writes from a Catholic perspective. He is a co-editor of the St. Austin Review and editor-in-chief of Sapientia Press. He also teaches Shakespearian literature for Homeschool Connections, an online Catholic curriculum provider.

Joseph Pearce has authored biographies of literary figures, including The Quest for Shakespeare, Tolkien: Man and Myth, The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis and The Catholic Church, Literary Converts, Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile and Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc. His books have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Croatian, and Polish.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Pearce was born in Barking, London, and brought up in Haverhill, Suffolk.[3]

In August 1973, when Joseph was twelve years old, his family moved back to Barking.[4]

National Front[edit]

At 15, Joseph joined the youth wing of the National Front (NF), a far right political party opposed to a multiracial and multiethnic United Kingdom. At the time large numbers of immigrants from India and Pakistan were moving into Barking. Violence between white and Asian youths was commonplace and the NF, which Pearce has described as, "an emerging force then in British politics that demanded the compulsory repatriation of all nonwhite immigrants," was very popular among the white residents of Barking.[5]

He was closely involved in NF organisational activities and first came to prominence in 1977 when, at the age of sixteen, he set up Bulldog, the paper of the organisation. Bulldog became associated with some of the most virulent NF propaganda. In 1980, Pearce became editor of Nationalism Today, in which he argued vehemently in favour of racial preservation, producing a pamphlet entitled Fight for Freedom! on this theme in 1982.

In his 2013 memoirs, Pearce writes that, while the NF denied being a neo-Nazi organization, the claim became harder to sustain the farther you went up the leadership rungs. NF members were urged to read Holocaust denial literature and the writings of David Irving. Furthermore, dissident members of the NF were routinely called "Strasserites", after the three brothers who challenged Adolf Hitler for leadership of the Nazi Party.

Due to the white supremacist nature of his articles, Pearce was twice prosecuted under the Race Relations Act of 1976,[6] and served prison time in 1982 and 1985–1986.[7]

He was a close associate of Nick Griffin, and both were attacked by Martin Webster for devoting too much time to writing for the Third Position magazine Rising and not enough to their NF duties.[8] As a result, he joined Griffin in resigning from the NF in November 1983 before circulating a statement in which they complained about Webster's role in the party. The statement claimed that Pearce and Griffin were leaving to avoid a Webster-led witch hunt and it had the effect of ensuring the removal of Webster from his post as National Activities Organiser.[9]

Returning to the NF, Pearce became editor of Nationalism Today which supported the Political Soldier line within the NF. In this position he argued vehemently in favour of racial preservation, producing a pamphlet entitled Fight for Freedom! on this theme in 1984.[10] Initially an enthusiastic supporter of the Political Soldier tendency, Pearce adopted their support for ethnopluralism and on this basis contacted the Iranian Embassy in London in 1984 to try to secure funding for the NF, although it came to nothing.[11] However, as time went on Pearce, who came from a working-class background and so was much more popular with NF skinheads than the rest of the university-educated Political Soldiers, became disillusioned with the lack of electoral activity and moved towards Andrew Brons. Before long Pearce became a full member of the Flag Group and was expelled along with the rest of that group by the Official National Front in 1986.

Pearce became a leading member of the new group and sought to extend their activities. A regular writer and editor for Flag Group publications, he contributed to the group's ideology, notably arguing in favour of distributism in a 1987 edition of party magazine Vanguard.[12] Earlier in his career, Pearce had even contacted John Tyndall to suggest the possibility of an alliance with the British National Party. The idea was considered by Tyndall but was ultimately rejected on the advice of Ray Hill and Charles Parker.[13] Between 1980 and 1985, Pearce befriended Italian neofascist leader Roberto Fiore, who was on the run from charges relating to the 1980 Bologna train station bombing. In his 2013 memoirs, Pearce expresses a belief that Fiore and his organisation were noit involved in any way with the bombing and that the Italian government was using the attack to settle a score with far-right organizations.[14]

Northern Ireland[edit]

Pearce was also a member of the Orange Order and, between 1978–1985, a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland. During his visits, he established close and friendly relationships with the Ulster Defence Association leader Andy Tyrie, Ulster Freedom Fighters leader John McMichael[15] and Ulster Volunteer Force member George Seawright.[16][17] Despite his sympathy for the Loyalists, Pearce rebuffed all attempts to recruit him into the violent aspect of the Troubles. He has written, "For all my extremism, I had no desire to kill anybody, or to have someone kill anybody for me."[18] Pearce has also written, "In spite of my own unwillingness to become too directly involved in the terrorist operations in Northern Ireland, I was very aware, as were the leaders of the UVF and UDA, that National Front members serving with the Army in Northern Ireland were smuggling intelligence information on suspected IRA members to the Loyalist paramilitaries. This information included photographs of suspected IRA members, the type of car they drove and its registration number, and other useful facts. I have little doubt that this information was used by the UVF and UDA to target and assassinate their enemies."[19]

In 1979, Pearce was invited to a debate about immigration on BBC Radio 1 alongside a member of the Anti-Nazi League and Stiff Little Fingers frontman Jake Burns. Pearce has written that he remembers little of the debate, "beyond the obvious vituperative exchanges between me and the equally acrimonious young person who represented the Anti-Nazi League."[20] After the broadcast, Pearce was astonished when Burns invited him to share a pint at a local pub. During their drink, Burns, who was known for, "seeking peace in Northern Ireland while I was preaching total war," attempted to gently persuade Pearce to reconsider his opinions. Pearce has called this encounter with Burns as one of many, "lights of clarity that led the way out of the darkness."[20]

Conversion[edit]

As the Flag Group ran out of momentum, Pearce largely faded from the scene, having decided to convert to Catholicism during his second prison term. Despite efforts by Ian Stuart to draw him back into the NF, Pearce took no role in the organization that was led after 1990 by Ian Anderson.

According to Pearce, "'A sound atheist cannot be too careful of the books that he reads.' So said C. S. Lewis in his autobiographical apologia, Surprised by Joy. These words continue to resonate across the years that separate me from the bitterness of my past. What is true of the atheist is as true of the racist, which is what I was. A hell of hatred consumed my youth. Eventually I stumbled out into the brilliance of Christian day, but, looking back along that path, I can see in my mind’s eye the literary candles that lit the way. There are dozens of candles bearing the name of G. K. Chesterton, of which Orthodoxy, The Everlasting Man, The Well and the Shallows, and The Outline of Sanity shine forth with particular brightness. Almost as many candles bear the name of Chesterton’s great friend, Hilaire Belloc, and several bear the name of John Henry Newman. And, of course, there is the flickering presence of Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. These and countless others light the path by which I’ve traveled."[21]


Pearce's conversion to Catholicism was influenced by the writer G. K. Chesterton

Biographer[edit]

As a Catholic author, Pearce has focused mainly on the work of English Catholic writers, such as J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. His book Literary Converts, published in 1999, captures this interest and consists of essays showcasing the process of conversion of many writers who became convinced Catholics.[22] Pearce has also promoted the social doctrine of the Church, in particular Distributism as a Catholic economic system. His main contribution in this area has been his book Small is Still Beautiful, which takes up the theme proposed earlier by E. F. Schumacher in his book Small is Beautiful.[23]

In 1998, Joseph Pearce wrote to Alexander Solzhenitsyn and expressed interest in writing a biography of him. Pearce mentioned in his letter that he had already published a biography of G.K. Chesterton and that he hoped to correct the faults of other Solzhenitsyn biographies by placing the writer's Christian Faith at center stage. Pearce did not expect to hear back, but Solzhenitsyn replied almost immediately and invited Pearce to travel to Russia to begin work on the biography. When Pearce arrived at the Solzhenitsyn family's residence, Alya Solzhenitsyn made a point of showing that her husband was collecting the complete works of Chesterton. During their meetings, Solzhenitsyn told Pearce that he sees Russia and the West as two parts of a threatened Christian civilization.[24] In his 2013 memoirs, Pearce has described his meetings with Solzhenitsyn as "one of the greatest moments of my life. I am also gratified to know that the great Russian writer approved of my biography of him."[25]

Pearce has also written a biography of Anglo-South African poet and Catholic convert Roy Campbell, whose nationalist sympathies during the Spanish Civil War have caused him to be labeled a Fascist and left out of modern poetry anthologies. Pearce's biography reveals that Campbell lost his job as editor of the magazine Voorslag and was subjected to social ostracism after publishing articles urging racial equality in 1920s South Africa. Pearce also describes how Campbell rebuffed efforts by Sir Oswald Mosley to recruit him into the British Union of Fascists. Pearce further cites evidence from Campbell's letters and poetry to show that the latter supported the British war effort against Nazi Germany. Pearce has also edited an anthology of Campbell's poetry and verse translations, which remains in print.

For his biography of Oscar Wilde, Pearce chose to focus on the Anglo-Irish playwright's deeply rooted shame over his sex addiction and his homosexuality, his lifelong attraction to Roman Catholicism, and his ultimate deathbed conversion to the Catholic Faith. Pearce's biography has caused some Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender activists to cease using Wilde as an iconic figure.[citation needed]

Television[edit]

Joseph Pearce is the host of the EWTN television series The Quest for Shakespeare based on his book The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome. The show concentrates on the evidence that Shakespeare was a Catholic and consists of thirteen episodes.[26]

Also on EWTN, Pearce was the host for a special hour-long program which was broadcast Dec. 14, 2014, titled Tolkien: Elves, Hobbits, and Men. Pearce emphasized some elements of The Lord of the Rings which in his opinion are based on Tolkien's Catholic Faith. For example, Pearce draws a parallel between Boromir's death scene and the Sacrament of Penance. The program broadcast again Dec. 16, 2014.

Personal life[edit]

Joseph Pearce married Susannah Brown, an American woman with family roots in Northern Ireland, in a Roman Catholic ceremony in Steubenville, Ohio in April, 2000.[27]

They have two children; Leo Pearce (born 2002),[28] and Evangeline Marie Pearce (born 2008).[29]

He is a supporter of Chelsea F.C.

Works[edit]

Publications[edit]

  • Skrewdriver: The First Ten Years: The Way It's Got to Be!. London: Skrewdriver Services. 1987.
  • Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G. K. Chesterton. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1996. ISBN 0-340-67132-7.
  • The Three Ys Men. London: Saint Austin Press. 1998. ISBN 1-901157-02-4.
  • Tolkien: Man and Myth. London: HarperCollins. 1998. ISBN 0-00-274018-4.
  • Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief. London: HarperCollins. 1999. ISBN 0-00-628111-7.
  • Pearce, Joseph, ed. (1999). Tolkien: A Celebration. Collected Writings on a Literary Legacy. London: Fount. ISBN 0-00-628120-6.
  • Pearce, Joseph, ed. (1999). Flowers of Heaven: 1000 years of Christian Verse. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-72220-7.
  • Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile. London: HarperCollins. 1999. ISBN 0-00-274040-0.
  • The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde. London: HarperCollins. 2000. ISBN 0-00-274042-7.
  • Bloomsbury and Beyond: The Friends and Enemies of Roy Campbell. London: HarperCollins. 2001. ISBN 0-00-274092-3. Published in the United States as Unafraid of Virginia Woolf: The Friends and Enemies of Roy Campbell. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books. 2004. ISBN 978-1-932236-36-1.
  • Small Is Still Beautiful. London: HarperCollins. 2001. ISBN 0-00-274090-7. Published in the United States as Small Is Still Beautiful: Economics as if Families Mattered. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books. 2006. ISBN 978-1-933859-05-7. (Book Review and Summary)
  • Campbell, Roy (2001). Pearce, Joseph (ed.). Selected Poems. London: Saint Austin. ISBN 1-901157-59-8.
  • Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc. London: HarperCollins. 2002. ISBN 0-00-274096-6.
  • C. S. Lewis and the Catholic Church. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2003. ISBN 0-89870-979-2.
  • Literary Giants, Literary Catholics. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2005. ISBN 978-1-58617-077-6.
  • The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2008. ISBN 1-58617-224-7.
  • Divining Divinity: A Book of Poems. Kaufmann Publishing. 2008. ISBN 978-0-9768580-1-0.
  • Through Shakespeare's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2010. ISBN 978-1-58617-413-2.
  • Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in The Hobbit. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2012. ISBN 978-1-61890-058-6.
  • Shakespeare on Love. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2013. ISBN 978-1-58617-684-6.
  • Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung and the Missionaries of the Poor. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2013. ISBN 978-1-61890-398-3.
  • Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2013. ISBN 978-1-61890-065-4.
  • Beauteous Truth: Faith, Reason, Literature and Culture. South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine's Press. 2014. ISBN 978-1-58731-067-6.
  • Merrie England: A Journey Through the Shire. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2016. ISBN 978-1-50510-719-7.
  • Monaghan: A Life. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2016. ISBN 978-1-50510-890-3.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, page 10.
  2. ^ http://www.aquinascollege.edu/joseph-pearce-director-faith-culture-writer-residence/
  3. ^ Pearce (2013), pages 35-37.
  4. ^ Pearce (2013), pages 37-48.
  5. ^ Race with the Devil by Joseph Pearce
  6. ^ Joseph Pearce, "Race with the Devil" Archived 7 December 2004 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Searchlight, December 1984.
  8. ^ N. Copsey, Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, p. 34
  9. ^ Searchlight magazine, January 1984
  10. ^ M. Durham, 'Women and the National Front', L. Cheles, R. Ferguson & M. Vaughan (eds.), Neo-Fascism in Europe, London: Longman, 1991, pp. 265-6
  11. ^ Ray Hill with Andrew Bell, The Other Face of Terror, London: Grafton, 1988, p. 254
  12. ^ G. Gable, 'The Far Right in the United Kingdom', L. Cheles, R. Ferguson & M. Vaughan (eds.), Neo-Fascism in Europe, London: Longman, 1991, p. 262
  13. ^ R. Hill with A. Bell, The Other Face of Terror, London: Grafton, 1988, pp. 173-4
  14. ^ Pearce (2013), pages 113–116.
  15. ^ Pearce (2013), pages 108–109.
  16. ^ Pearce (2013), pages 112–113.
  17. ^ Searchlight magazine, February 1986.
  18. ^ Pearce (2013), page 112.
  19. ^ Pearce (2013), page 111.
  20. ^ a b Pearce (2013), pages 140–141.
  21. ^ Race with the Devil by Joseph Pearce
  22. ^ Kate Duffern, Review of Literary Converts. Catholic Insight, 1 May 2001.
  23. ^ Small is Still Beautiful
  24. ^ Solzhenitsyn on Russia and the West by Joseph Pearce.
  25. ^ Pearce (2013), page 226.
  26. ^ The Quest for Shakespeare. EWTN website, Accessed 5 May 2009.
  27. ^ Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pages 226-228.
  28. ^ Pearce (2013), page 231.
  29. ^ Pearce (2013), page 234.

External links[edit]