Neo-Nazi National Alliance Struggles to Survive Under New Chairman Erich Gliebe
After the unexpected death of its leader, the neo-Nazi National Alliance struggles to survive under a new chairman
Pierce's group was organized to be a self-perpetuating growth machine — "an ingenious combination of outreach and fundraising," in the words of one-time Alliance attorney Victor Gerhard, who Pierce fired in early 2001 but still lives near the West Virginia compound.
Pierce recruited in order to bring in monthly dues that could then be used to hire national staff members; then he used the staffers to propagandize in various ways in order to bring in more members.
"We communicate in order to recruit," is the way Pierce put it at this spring's leadership conference, held on the anniversary of Hitler's birthday. "We recruit in order to have the resources for enhancing our ability to communicate."
The danger of such a set-up is that it depends on the loyalty of men and women who belong to the Alliance's far-flung chapters — a loyalty that has long been directed personally to Pierce, a man who may not have been charismatic but who did provide a comprehensive vision of the world to his followers.
If Gliebe fails to win the same kind of personal loyalty — if he cannot make sense of the world for his members — he could soon start to lose members and dues payments. That in turn could spark layoffs of staff members and, eventually, the group's collapse.
But there is a keen interest in keeping the Alliance intact. For one thing, it has become the world's largest distributor of white power music through Resistance Records, which is a major profit center.
In addition, according to the Center for New Community, it controls five other white power labels — Cymophane, Johnny Rebel, Condor Legion Ordnance, WhitePowerRecords.com, and Unholy Records — and is the distributor for Vinland Records, the U.S. division of Nordland Records.
Under Pierce, the Alliance built up a remarkable multimedia operation that also has recently produced a new recruiting video, a racist but highly successful computer game called "Ethnic Cleansing," and a series of shortwave, AM, FM and Internet broadcasts.
In April, Pierce focused on the group's accomplishments, but also warned that such work depends on quality staffers.
"Too often in the past," he told the conference, "we have tried to build on sand and we've failed. Too often, we've tried to start projects with weak people. ... and then we've had to back off."
The professionalization of the Alliance's staff is not all that has changed in recent years. For decades, the organization struggled along, sometimes more and sometimes less successfully — but generally under the radar screen of the general public.
In the last two years, the Alliance has led public rallies at the Israeli and German embassies, openly distributed propaganda around the country in places as far-flung as Maine and Alaska, and generated a great deal of publicity. It now claims members in all 50 states. All of this has contributed to the growth of the group and its music and book sales.
"For all this build-up of market size and audience size," Pierce said, "we always try to do a better and better job of advertising and marketing. We try to use better methods, better psychology, and to do things on a larger and larger scale."
The result has been unprecedented expansion. The National Alliance is now one of the leading institutions of the radical right in the Western hemisphere.
'Marching Toward Their Graves'
Today, there are 17 members of the Alliance's national staff — up from about half that number two years ago — and they include experts in computers, Web site design, video game technology, shortwave broadcasting and film production, even a man who claims he taught space chemistry at Harvard (school records do not support the claim).
Sales of white power music have risen by a factor of four since spring 2001, and hits on the Resistance Records Web site are up almost three-fold. A major new building with seating capacity for 400 people, offices for 12 staffers and even a video production suite, is nearing completion.
The group's publishing operation, National Vanguard Books, is about to start up again in earnest. It has acquired expensive office and printing machinery, its own diesel power plant, a flatbed dump truck, a log-splitting machine and more.
Just months ago, these changes were the cause of much optimism.
It is possible that we are entering a new era," Pierce said at the April conference. "It may be that we are beginning to have at least a little influence on the world around us, even if we aren't getting credit for it. ... The rise of anti-Jewish feeling is a fact. The role of the National Alliance is something on which I can only speculate."
It remains to be seen whether or not the Alliance can hold together, both as a profitable business operation and as a political entity. Its purpose, however, is still clear.
"The aim of the Alliance, our ultimate goal, is to ensure the survival and the progress of our race and to guide that progress," Pierce told his audience this spring.
"We want eventually to be the policymakers for all of our people. We want to set race-wide policies and then do whatever is necessary to ensure that those policies are carried out. And we want to do that permanently."
Pierce sketched out his political program a little more bluntly in 1994.
"All of the homosexuals, racemixers, and hard-case collaborators in the country who are too far gone to be re-educated can be rounded up, packed into 10,000 or so railroad cattle cars, and eventually double-timed into an abandoned coal mine in a few days time," he wrote in an internal newsletter.
"All of these people simply don't count, except as a mass of voters. ... Those who speak against us now should be looked at as dead men — as men marching in lockstep toward their own graves."
As it happened, William Luther Pierce went to his own grave first.