Greg Johnson is the editor-in-chief of the white nationalist publishing house Counter-Currents, an epicenter of “academic” white nationalism.
About Greg Johnson
Through books, articles and podcasts, Counter-Currents is the flag-bearer of what Johnson calls the “North American New Right,” a concept whose main objective is to legitimize the idea of a white ethnostate. Despite professing that it is aimed only toward those whose IQ is superior to 120, Counter-Currents has carved out a popular following on the far-right. Johnson carefully keeps his identity, physical appearance and personal life private. Despite this, his criticism of various people or doctrines in the far-right movement has led him to very public feuds with other far-right personalities. Among them the face of the racist “alt-right,” Richard Spencer, co-founder and director of the white nationalist "alt-right" publishing house Arktos, Daniel Friberg, Occidental Dissent’s Brad Griffin, The Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin, as well as Matthew Heimbach and Matthew Parrott of the Traditionalist Workers Party.
In his own words:
“If I were just to design a society from scratch it would work this way: I would, first of all, I’d get rid of any voluntary birth control. Voluntary birth control means that people who are far-sighted and responsible restrict their fertility and people who are impulsive and stupid don’t. That’s dysgenic, in and of itself, on the face of it. So you can’t leave birth control to the individual … If somebody gets arrested for a violent crime, you should offer them a reduced sentence if they get sterilized. I mean, that is totally reasonable behavior.”
—Interview with Patrick Hermansson from Hope Not Hate for “Undercover With the Alt-Right,” The New York Times, September 19, 2017.
“I do think that whites are superior to some groups in some ways. I am very proud of our people, and we have a great deal to be proud of … It is easy to find ways in which we are superior to other groups. But you can also find ways in which we are inferior to other groups. I just don’t think this issue matters.”
— “White Nationalists Are Not White Supremacists,” Counter-Currents, March 6, 2017.
“Blacks don’t find white civilization comfortable. It is like demanding they wear shoes that are two sizes too small when we impose our standards of punctuality and time preferences, demand that they follow our age-of-consent laws, or foist the bourgeois nuclear family upon them. These things don’t come naturally to Africans. White standards like walking on the sidewalk, not down the middle of the street, are oppressive to blacks. Such standards are imposed by the hated ‘white supremacy’ system. But if we don’t impose white standards upon them, we have chaos. We have great cities like Detroit transformed into wastelands.”
— “White Nationalists Are Not White Supremacists,” Counter-Currents, March 06, 2017.
“I’m an out-and-out transphobic. I just think transsexualism is a ghastly, insane phenomenon in America today, or in the white world today.”
— “Straight But Not Narrow Nationalism: Gays, Women & The Manosphere,” Red Ice TV, March 31, 2016.
“The organized Jewish community is the principal enemy — not the sole enemy, but the principal enemy — of every attempt to halt and reverse white extinction. One cannot defeat an enemy one will not name. Therefore, White nationalism is inescapably anti-Semitic.”
— “Vanguardism, Vantardism, & Mainstreaming,” Counter-Currents, October 9, 2014.
“The idea of ethnonationalism is true and good, regardless of the real and imagined crimes, mistakes, and misfortunes of the Old Right. Thus we feel no need to ‘deny,’ minimize, or revise the holocaust...’”
— “Dealing with the Holocaust,” Occidental Observer, July 20, 2012.
“If in the next national election, everybody who voted Republican dropped dead in the voting booth, the country would be finished. You can’t have a functioning society consisting of bureaucrats, academics, welfare parasites, Jews, coloreds, feminists, fruit juice drinkers, and assorted busybodies.”
— “Why Conservatives STILL Can’t Win,” Counter-Currents, December 28, 2010.
“The tragedy of inter-racial dating is that the non-defective few will always be lumped in with the defective many. If you want to avoid that tragedy, don’t date a non-white.”
— As Trevor Lynch, “More on the Dynamics of Race-Mixing,” The Occidental Quarterly, June 7, 2009.
“We White Nationalists claim that the mixing of races inevitably causes hatred and conflict. So it is silly for us to pretend that we are immune to the effects of racial mixture. If White Nationalists who claim not to hate other races are honest, then they are living refutations of their own claim that multiracial societies breed hatred. ‘I am living proof that multiracial societies cause racial hatred.’”
— Confessions of a Reluctant Hater, Conspiratology, first published on March, 29, 2006, under the name Mike Meehan.
“America would be improved by fewer Blacks, Asians, and Mestizos, not more of them. America would be improved by fewer Muslims, not more of them. And of course this country would be vastly improved by fewer Jews. (I think America would be improved by fewer Christians too, but that's another essay.)…. White America is a mixture of people from all over Europe, slowly being submerged in a rising tide of mud.”
— As T.C. Lynch, “A ‘Nation of Immigrants?’”, Vanguard News Network, February 4, 2003.
“As for the Jews … At the very least, all their property should be confiscated. At the very least. There are two reasons for this. First, we should consider it reparations. Second, if they were allowed to keep their wealth, they would immediately use it to stir up trouble against us. Just look at what happened when Adolf Hitler, with the typical excess of kindness that was his greatest flaw, allowed the Jews of Germany to emigrate with their fortunes.”
— As T.C. Lynch, “To Cleanse America: Some Practical Proposals,” Vanguard News Network, 2003.
“Yes, there would be thousands of White race traitors marching and holding candlelight vigils. That's why we have rubber bullets and fire hoses. Yes, Blacks and Mexicans would riot and burn down their neighborhoods and Korean convenience stores. But that's why we have police and the National Guard. What? Do White men no longer know how to crack heads and fire guns? In the end, non-White lawlessness would simply allow us to accelerate their expulsion. “
— As T.C. Lynch, “To Cleanse America: Some Practical Proposals,” Vanguard News Network, 2003.
Greg Johnson reveals little about his personal life on the internet other than the fact that he holds a PhD in philosophy. Though he makes public appearances at invitation-only white nationalist conferences, he requests that his face be blurred in all video footage and refuses to be photographed. Despite this, a photo from his youth was circulated on the internet in early 2017. On September 19, 2017, the British anti-racist watchdog group Hope Not Hate posted footage of Johnson filmed by one of their undercover activists: it revealed a professorial, clean-cut, middle-aged white man.
Despite his lack of a physical presence in public, Johnson emerged as one of the leading voices of the far-right. In the past year, his white nationalist website and publishing house Counter-Currents has steadfastly attracted over 130,000 unique visitors a month, leading Johnson to emerge as an international figure for white nationalism. He is regularly invited to Europe to speak at various white nationalist conferences.
Counter Currents’ brand of elitism and white nationalist erudition doesn’t preclude it from entering into conversations with most of the corners of the far-right — occasionally resulting in furious debate or drama. Counter Currents’ radio hour hosted various white nationalist personalities, including Identity Evropa’s founder Nathan Damigo, neo-Nazi hacker Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, Occidental Dissent’s Brad “Hunter Wallace” Griffin and racist Scottish Youtuber Colin “Millenial Woes” Robertson.
Uncommonly articulate and equally at ease at both academic style conferences and alt-right staple shows, Johnson has also made appearances on The Right Stuff’s “Daily Shoah” and Red Ice’s Radio “3 Fourteen.” Despite his long history in the movement, he also began appropriating the style of the alt-right by occasionally embracing alt-right language, irony, and even meme-making.
Since its creation in 2010 by Johnson and racist geneticist and neo-Nazi aficionado Michael Polignano, Counter-Currents has become one of the most ardent advocates for a white ethnostate. Counter-Currents has published around 40 books, almost a fifth of which were written by Johnson himself under his actual name or his known pseudonym Trevor Lynch. The publishing house reaches into various global white nationalist communities by translating books and articles from various European white nationalists into English, and translates many English articles to European languages.
Counter-Currents emerged out of the necessity to create what Johnson calls “a metapolitics” of white nationalism (the term was coined by Alain De Benoist upon his creation of GRECE, a think-tank on European civilization that led to the French New Right, a model for Counter-Currents).
In Johnson’s words, Counter-Currents operates from the assumption that white nationalism is not palatable to the mainstream because “it offends the values of the electorate … our people think our goals are immoral … incoherent and impractical … because our enemies control academia, the school system, publishing, the arts, the news and entertainment media, and they have remade the American mind to their liking. My aim is to change people’s sense of what is politically desirable and right, and their sense of what is politically conceivable and possible.” He has dubbed his political program the North American New Right — inspired by the French New Right — and sees Counter-Currents as the foundation for “truth, justice, and a nice white country.”
The North American New Right’s point of departure is a fantasized white genocide. As Johnson wrote in a 2014 article, “the white race is threatened with simple biological extinction, compared to which all other political issues are trivial distractions.” As Johnson writes in another article entitled “White Nationalism Is Inevitable,” the nature of this ethnic cleansing or white genocide is packed in euphemisms like ‘diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism.” This “identity politics for white people” positions itself as the answer, and sees its goal as an ethnostate removed of all non-whites.
Like many white nationalists seeking to shield themselves from accusations of white supremacy, Johnson claims to “believe in self-determination for all peoples.” White nationalists are not white supremacists, he writes, “because it is not our preference to rule over other groups. Although if forced to live under multicultural systems, we are going to take our own side and try to make sure that our values reign supreme.”
Johnson is a master at such rhetorical slipperiness. In the same piece, he describes white nationalism as a project aimed to prevent inevitable racial oppression:
[I]t is a form of oppression to impose white standards on non-white populations ... Blacks don’t find white civilization comfortable. It is like demanding they wear shoes that are two sizes too small when we impose our standards of punctuality and time preferences, demand that they follow our age-of-consent laws, or foist the bourgeois nuclear family upon them. These things don’t come naturally to Africans. White standards like walking on the sidewalk, not down the middle of the street, are oppressive to blacks … But if we don’t impose white standards upon them, we have chaos.
This absurd example of why American society might be oppressive to African-Americans is only one way in which Johnson reveals a racism that he is otherwise very content to acknowledge. Elsewhere, he writes with less equivocation: “a lot of Blacks living together according to their own natures never rise above primitive savagery.”
In his 2010 essay “Confessions of a Reluctant Hater” (later the title of one of his books), he constructs a long-winded defense of racism as “the acknowledgement of the reality of objective, biological differences between the races, differences that are so dramatic that racial mingling inevitably causes hatred and violence.” As he goes on to admit “I do prefer Whites to other races, but that fact alone does not mean that I hate other races … But I must be frank ... I really do hate other races.”
Johnson reserves much of his hatred for Jews: as he writes, “the organized Jewish community is the principal enemy — not the sole enemy, but the principal enemy —o f every attempt to halt and reverse white extinction. One cannot defeat an enemy one will not name. Therefore, White Nationalism is inescapably anti-Semitic.” Johnson fully endorses the familiar conspiracy theory that Jews own and manipulate most of Western society, and their control of society and of Hollywood will lead to the extinction of the white race.
Even whites, who might think that Greg Johnson’s ethnostate would be a place where they can live happily, would be in for a disappointment. As Johnson writes in his book New Right vs. Old Right, published in 2014, “some whites matter more than others.” He engages the movement to adopt a “resolutely elitist strategy,” as, he declares, “History is not made by the masses. It is made out of the masses. It is made by elites molding the masses.” While he first equates those elites to “educated, urban middle and professional classes and above” he shifts in a later essay, declaring that by elite he means “people of above average, intelligence, taste, and virtue” not higher socio-economic status — still, he clarifies: “you won’t catch me dead at a Taco Bell”.
As for white people he disagrees with, he explains in a 2006 piece written under the pseudonym Mike Meehan that: “the people I hate the most, with all the bitterness of moral condemnation, are fellow Whites who collaborate with other races to destroy their own.” This rhetoric is less apparent at Counter-Currents, which is meant to be more appealing to the presumably white mainstream.
Forging A Mainstream Appeal
Most of Johnson’s contradictions can be understood in light of his self-professed desire to make the movement more appealing to the mainstream (which the alt-right calls “normies”). To do so, it is necessary to “articulat[e] and communicat[e] forms of White Nationalism tailored to the interests and outlooks of the full array of white constituencies,” including “ivory tower theorizing but also artistic expression, topical cultural and political commentary.”
Wary of offending mainstreamers, he has decried, for instance, the use of Holocaust Denialism in the movement or of Nazi flags at 2017’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville — but not in and of themselves. In fact, Counter-Currents celebrates the birthdays of Hitler and Mussolini, and Johnson has told his followers that, “we have much to learn from them.”
But while Johnson defends the influence of the “Old Right” (German Nazism and Italian fascism) on today’s alt-right, he takes issue with belligerent Holocaust Denialism or Nazism, as well as with the abrasiveness, trashiness and hyperboles of Andrew Anglin’s Daily Stormer or Alex Linder’s VNN, which he deems unstrategic. In contrast to their appeal to the masses, Johnson describes Counter-Currents’ approach as “to target elites: the existing elite and the elite that we will raise up from all social classes to replace them.” Thanks to it, the leaders of the future white ethnostate can form their minds: as he writes, they “will be more likely to emerge among the readers of Counter-Currents and The Occidental Observer than from the readers of The Daily Stormer and VNN Forum.”
The strategic ability to disown (or be discrete about) repulsive ideas has been key to the alt-right. Johnson has praised the value of the alt-right’s ironic web culture which provides “a space where people can try ideas on for size and then if Mom looks over their shoulder, they can say ‘woah, I’m just playing around here, don’t take this seriously, right? I’m not committed to this, I was just being ironic ...’ That’s very useful.” Counter-Currents’s pseudo-intellectual equivocations similarly offer an entry point to the movement for those with highbrow, academic pretenses.
Johnson’s pieces often slowly and argumentatively build up to their support of white nationalism. An example of this can be found in his 2017 speech at the Scandza forum, an invitation-only white nationalist conference held in Oslo, where Johnson defends his case for white nationalism through a lengthy analysis of issues with eclecticism and post-modernism’s sense of irony. What could be a professor’s reactionary complaint about contemporary aesthetics eventually turns into a conclusion that eclecticism “break[s] down the sense of cultural unity” within a given culture, leading to “something that’s not the product of any particular people and its genius, but a least common denominator precipitate of all the peoples in the world who’ve had their differences erased as well ...When I hear people extolling eclecticism, I reach for my revolver.”
Johnson’s ability to masquerade as a genuine academic even allowed him to be approved to appear at a 2016 literary conference on science fiction and the work of author Philip K. Dick, sponsored by California State University. Johnson claimed to be an independent scholar looking at how Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is in fact an anti-Semitic fable about Jews persecuting Jesus, showing that Dick had “a good deal of wisdom about Jews and the Jewish question.” As The Jewish Journal reported, Johnson’s appearance was later quietly pulled.
But Johnson’s academic wanderings and his basking in references to philosophers, filmmakers or composers sympathetic to white supremacy, Nazi or neo-Nazi ideology do little to conceal the violence of his white nationalist agenda. After the death of Heather Heyer at Charlottesville, when his longtime foe Richard Spencer tweeted that he would “no longer associate” with Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, who called Heyer’s death “payback time,” Counter-Currents tweeted “Richard’s really killing it with the power-c------.” In an interview with Colin Robertson, known online as Millennial Woes, held shortly after Charlottesville, Johnson promised to do “everything in my power to make sure this guy [James Alex Fields, Jr., who rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at Charlottesville] gets a good lawyer,” adding “my heart goes out to him.” Heyer, he added, “willingly joined a violent mob of people and that violent mob attacked [Fields] and set this thing in motion. So morally speaking she should be treated as one of the attackers.”
The academic tone of Counter-Currents is part of a strategy to conceal the white nationalists’ violent agenda. In an earlier version of his article, “Confessions of a Reluctant Hater,” Johnson, writing as Meehan, asserts that “non-White criminals” like “O.J. Simpson or Mumia Abu Jamal or Tookie Williams … are no different from rabid dogs” and “thus must be neutralized.” This was later deleted from a version of the same article published in 2010 under Johnson’s own name on Counter-Currents. When republishing the piece, Johnson also edited out the passages advocating for violence as well as those on his hatred of white race traitors.
Extreme and Pseudonymous: Tracing Johnson’s Life and Early Writings
But when unconcerned about respectability, Greg Johnson’s writings reveal even more sinister colors. Johnson’s first known screeds differ in their boisterous, aggressive tone from his current academic talk and from his pretense of good-heartedness (he describes himself as “too sentimental and soft-hearted”).
Like many within the alt-right, Johnson started writing under pseudonyms at a time when “[he] was working for people who would fire [him] if they knew [his] real views”, as he declared in an interview with Alex Kurtagić of the far-right disestablishmentarian Wermod and Wermod Publishing Group.
Johnson’s first known public writings date from the early 2000s, around the time of his conversion to white nationalism. Johnson has described being “red-pilled” (that is, converted to the far-right) in the beginning of 2000, when seeing Holocaust denier David Irving speak in Atlanta. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 then revealed to Johnson a “superb opportunity to awaken our people on the Jewish domination of American foreign policy and the Jewish question in general” since Johnson believed the government of Israel was behind the hijackings. The night of 9/11, Johnson reported 10 years later, he was already attending what he described as a “hate dinner” in Atlanta.
Another important event that emboldened Johnson was his presence in Paris at the “Fête des bleu-blanc-rouge” in September 2001. The event was sponsored by the National Front, a far-right, anti-immigration, Islamophobic political party. At the time, the National Front was led by Holocaust denier and anti-Semite Jean-Marie Le Pen, the father of its current leader, Marine Le Pen. Johnson describes the experience as “intoxicating” notably because of the presence of “thousands of like-minded people … in Paris was concrete, palpable, visceral proof that white people could join together to accomplish great things.”
Johnson had just graduated with a PhD in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. His dissertation focused on Immanuel Kant and Emmanuel Swedenborg and he penned or edited books, reviews, papers and prefaces on the topic. Previously, Johnson taught part time at Atlanta’s historically black Morehouse College, where he was employed from February 1994 to December 1997 according to the college’s records.
While earning his master’s and PhD, Johnson began the process of leaving academia to become a “private philosopher” or “philosophical consultant.” To do so, he created an organization called The Invisible College and occasionally taught private classes in Atlanta. Class topics included philosophy and paranormal experience in 1997, aesthetics in 2000, and a class on Wagner’s “Ring” in 2009. His last Invisible College class — on Giambattista Vico’s New Science — was offered shortly before the creation of Counter-Currents in July 2009. Five years later Johnson gave a speech at the London Forum describing Vico as the far-right’s Karl Marx.
Online, however, Johnson was voicing much more problematic ideas, using the same email address he gave students to register for his Invisible College classes, and was open about his racism on an Ayn Rand libertarian listserv in 2001:
I have actually taught logic and critical thinking to such blacks over the course of a semester, and I administered tests to them. After a while, I began to notice that ALL of these apparently "bright" black students were not particularly capable of logic and critical thinking, even though they were highly attuned to the social realm and quite capable of giving the superficial impression of high-level cognitive functioning. Over the years I did, however, encounter a few black students who were genuinely intelligent, on the rightward fringe of the black bell curve. But none of these students were superficially "bright" at all.
Radicalized after 9/11, Johnson sent an email to a similar Ayn Rand listserv urging Americans against going to war. In it, he approvingly quoted Osama Bin Laden’s urging to "find a nationalistic government that will look after their interests and not the interests of the Jews.”
As Johnson declared in an interview with Radio 3 Fourteen, he initially identified as a libertarian in his undergraduate years before becoming more conservative as he entered graduate school where he emerged as a full-on white nationalist. Johnson published essays criticizing Ayn Rand; one, written in 2000 for the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, took issue with Rand’s defense of abortion, which is deemed inconsistent with her philosophical framework.
In January of 2002, Johnson began teaching at the Swedenborgian House of Studies at the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) in Berkeley, California. In 2012 he defended himself on Occidental Dissent over accusations of being a Christian (raised Lutheran, Johnson now relates to neo-paganism). Johnson describes PSR as “unbelievably PC … when they realized that I had no interest in writing and teaching from a perspective that put race, sex, gender, and social justice issues in the fore, they bought out the remainder of my contract and I left their employ in 2005.”
Throughout the 2000s Johnson aired more violent ideas using pseudonyms (which include The Cat Lady, T.C. Lynch, Trevor Lynch and Mike Meehan) and embraced the nefarious aspects of far-right, white nationalist ideology.
In an article entitled “To Cleanse America: Some Practical Proposals” written in 2003 under the pseudonym T.C. Lynch, Johnson is explicit about white nationalism’s chilling implications. White nationalists tend to shirk questions about the actual removal of non-whites, which is where the violence of their agenda is harder to conceal. Johnson is fond of explaining, for instance, that if mass migration to America was possible, then it is also possible to reverse it. Here, however, a younger Johnson spells out a straightforward plan to achieve what white nationalists truly advocate for. Its “beauty,”, he writes, is that it would “encourage most non-Whites to leave on their own initiative.” This is not what the plan reveals.
Johnson’s “practical proposals” consist of levying “fines of $10,000 per day per alien on any business that employs them and any landlord who rents to them. That should send most of them scurrying for the border. After six months or so, the police and the military would track down and deport can those that scour out the ones who remain and deport them. After another six months, the government would can offer a bounty of $1,000 per head for those who slipped through the cracks.” People here legally would “be immediately stripped of their citizenship and all the benefits that come from it ... [and] made to pay exorbitantly high taxes. We should allow them to sell their property and take the proceeds with them. But to make a quick departure even more appealing, we should declare that after a year, we will allow them to leave with only their lives and the clothes on their backs. Those who cannot take a hint would then be arrested and deported, with a $1,000 per head bounty for those who remain.”
That goes for Jews as well, as Johnson deplores “the excessive kindness that was [Hitler’s] greatest flaw.” Johnson advocates for the confiscation of all property “at the very least,” which he implies would convince them to leave the country. His endorsement of violence couldn’t be more explicit:
But there would be violence! There would be race war!" the defeatists will bleat. Of course there would be. There already is violence. There already is race war. There already is ethnic cleansing. “Yes, there would be thousands of White race traitors marching and holding candlelight vigils. That's why we have rubber bullets and fire hoses. Yes, Blacks and Mexicans would riot and burn down their neighborhoods and Korean convenience stores. But that's why we have police and the National Guard. What? Do White men no longer know how to crack heads and fire guns?
Another recurring theory, promulgated throughout his writing, is that Hollywood is in the hands of a Jewish conspiracy group attempting to effect white genocide. In an article he wrote for TOQ under the moniker Trevor Lynch, Johnson explains that Jews “portra[y] white Alpha males pursuing and even marrying black women” to incite other males “to follow them down the path to white racial extinction” and “genocide.” Similarly, on VNN, he explains that the “Jewish agenda of the mass media systematically conceals Black criminality and morally intimidates well-meaning Whites from protecting themselves against it.”
As Johnson himself declared in a discussion on past pen names, “in [the internet’s] privacy and anonymity people can be more honest about controversial matters.”
Johnson’s anonymity ended when he joined The Occidental Quarterly in the fall of 2007, and in 2009 he started the webzine TOQ. As he recalled in a later interview, “I was told I would have to use my own name. At the time, I was told that since TOQ is the would-be flagship of the intellectual wing of the Anglophone movement, it would not be suitable to edit it under a pen name. I accepted that argument at face value and took the plunge. At that point, I crossed the Rubicon. After about a year, all my old professional ‘friends’ and contacts simply melted away.” While at The Occidental Quarterly and throughout his later creation of Counter-Currents, his writing got a facelift, but his ideas remained the same.
The GRECE Connection: Transatlantic White Nationalism
Johnson was fired from The Occidental Quarterly in April of 2010, over what he claims was a personal conflict with Sam Dickson, the president of the board of the Charles Martel Society which publishes the journal. Johnson describes his firing:
… the reasons were entirely personal. I could no longer work with Sam Dickson. Before I worked with him, he was one of my best friends. When I began working with him, I gradually came to view him with contempt for his calamitous decisions, his calamitous indecision and laziness, and his increasingly unstable, kooky personality. He repaid my contempt with hatred. I suggested that for the good of the cause he step down, and he responded by firing me.
Johnson wasn’t shy of voicing, at least after leaving, his disgust with the Quartely’s refusal to publish articles critical of “scientific materialism and Christianity.” This alleged closed-mindedness, he mentions, was best embodied in a controversy about cuts the magazine made to an interview of French far-right philosopher Alain de Benoist. “Everything critical of scientific materialism and Christianity was dropped,” Johnson complained.
The think-tank that de Benoist co-founded in 1968 with other European nationalists, GRECE, is a clear blueprint of Counter-Currents today. In 2010, when Johnson and Michael Polignano founded Counter-Currents in San Francisco, it was listed as a nonprofit to “educate Americans about the ideas of the French Groupe de recherche et d’études pour la civilization européenne (“Research and study group for European Civilization”) and related European thinkers and intellectual movements, primarily in France, Germany and Italy.”
GRECE was the first to call for a “metapolitics” to enable the cultural change that would make a far-right program possible. It was perceived as laying the stage for a French New Right, a term GRECE has shied away from but one that Johnson himself claimed through his establishment of the North American New Right. Initially defined by its pro-European nationalism, anti-religious paganism and critique of modernity and liberalism, GRECE eventually started defending the existence of ethnic differences, defending a “differentialist antiracism” — the idea that races indeed are different, which is a strength — and that the solution lies in preserving differences by refusing to live in a melting pot, while not verging into apartheid.
Counter-Currents owes even more to the outspoken Guillaume Faye, a dissident member of GRECE who left the organization in 1986. In 1999, in a book entitled Archeofuturism, Faye laid bare the ways in which GRECE had failed to appeal to the mainstream; notably for its unconvincing embrace of anti-racism and Third Worldism. The path Faye traced for GRECE is identical to the approach embraced by Counter-Currents: openness about the influence of the Old Right (Nazi and Fascist movements) on the New Right which Johnson contends with in his collection of essays Old Right vs. New Right. It also involves a move away from outspoken paganism which alienates potential Christian followers, the formulation of “disorienting doctrines … presented in the form of a ‘debate’ rather than dogma” and an attention to “concrete problems,” among others. The aforementioned concrete problems include “the catastrophe represented by demographic-shifting immigration into Europe” and a call for a white, European ethnostate.
This link with French and European white nationalism is at the heart of the Counter-Currents project. While Johnson translates many of the French New Right’s pieces into English for his website, a number of Counter-Currents’ pieces are themselves available in French (which Johnson seems to read and translate fluently), as well as German, Spanish, Slovak, Danish, Italian, Dutch, Estonian, Ukrainian and other European languages.
Johnson is also a frequent attendee and speaker at European conferences like the Scandza and London Forums, and occasionally makes an appearance at conferences like American Renaissance. In the spring of 2017, Johnson spoke at white nationalist conferences in London, Tallinn and Stockholm, and eventually spent a month in Eastern Europe to work on his next book, a white nationalist manifesto.
Since creating Counter-Currents, Johnson has also started two regular forums inspired by the London Forum: the New York Forum and the Northwest Forum, both aimed to boost the North American New Right. They are invitation-only conferences where various far-right personalities are invited to speak, including men’s rights activist F. Roger Devlin, Arktos editor-in-chief and Alt-Right.com cofounder Jason Jorjani, American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor, Holocaust denier Kevin Macdonald, Holocaust denier and white nationalist artist Charles Krafft, and The Right Stuff’s Mike “Enoch” Peinovich.
As the Northwest and New York forums make apparent, Johnson’s white nationalism is also building on an American tradition. The Northwest forum has devoted itself to celebrating the 100th birthdays of famous American white nationalists, racists and anti-Semites such as Francis Parker Yockey (at the September 2017 forum) and George Lincoln Rockwell (at the March 2018 forum). Yockey is the author of Imperium, a book which describes how to save the West from decline by purging its foreign elements. Yockey actively supported Nazis during World War II, advocated for the “cleansing” of “everything alien” from Europe, and denounced its cultural decay as part of an established Jewish-American conspiracy.
George Lincoln Rockwell, dubbed the “American Hitler” by the BBC, is the founder of the American Nazi Party. He fetishized Hitler and denied the Holocaust. Rockwell ran for the governorship of Virginia in 1965 yet failed to garner significant popular support, in part due to a “quarantine” strategy by Jewish community leaders. He is an inspiration to white supremacist and Turner Diaries author William Pierce, KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and many others in white nationalist movements. Still, he was deemed someone who went “too far for the conservatives, but not far enough to win anyone else” in a piece commissioned by Johnson and published in Counter-Currents. Rockwell was shot dead in 1967 by one of his followers.
A History of Infighting
Gatherings like the London, Scandza, Northwest and New York forums are meant to give the illusion of a united, powerful, historical, transcontinental white nationalist movement, but they are actually places where its fissures are laid bare. Most recently, a highly dramatic flare-up occurred between Arktos CEO and co-founder of Arktos Media Daniel Friberg and Johnson, initially over Friberg’s assertion that he was denied an invitation to Scandza because of Johnson. After Friberg tried to organize a counter-conference and engaged others to boycott the forum (without much success) Johnson penned a comment on The Right Stuff ranting about Friberg’s past “burning [of people] financially and personally,” his “threatening to sabotage the [Scandza forum]” and accused him of outing Scandza organizers to antifa. He also colorfully referred to Friberg “a piece of shit who should be flushed from this movement forever.”
The cofounders of Altright.com, Richard Spencer and Daniel Friberg, penned a piece on June 1, 2017, titled “Greg Johnson’s Attacks and How To Deal With Them,” accusing Johnson of wishing to be “THE leader and guru of the Alternative Right.” They conclude:
We are however deeply concerned about the division he’s creating and urge everyone to question his motives and hold him to the same standards you would anyone else in this movement. Today we are putting down our feet and say that “enough is enough”.”
Friberg and Spencer also accused Johnson of being “afraid to show his face publicly.”
As Spencer and Friberg themselves recapitulated, this is not the first scandal and in-fighting that Johnson finds himself embroiled in. While Johnson has denounced such drama as showing that the movement is “sick” he is also known for having lashed out at other prominent far-right figures.
In 2014, Johnson accused Matthew Parrott and Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Workers Party (see SPLC story here) of having “made up the story that Heimbach was disinvited from NPI because a ‘gay mafia’ disapproved of his Old Testament opinions on homosexuality.”
Johnson’s feud with Richard Spencer, which both now acknowledge openly, can be traced back to the fact that Spencer decided to get arrested after his National Policy Institute’s The Future of Europe Congress was banned in Budapest in October 2014, a decision Johnson found puerile. “The final straw for me,” Johnson commented on Occidental Dissent, “was Richard’s disastrous mishandling of the Budapest conference. When a foreign government tells you that your conference is banned and that the police will take the necessary steps to make sure it does not take place, you do not vow defiance.” As SPLC reported, “he got personal in another comment when he said, ‘Richard is basically being dominated by Nina Nogoodnik, his Russian-Georgian wife.’” Since then, Johnson has called for the alt-right brand to be dissolved, saying it had outlived its utility.
Similarly, in an angry thread about Johnson’s firing from Occidental Quarterly, he referred to Occidental Dissent’s Brad Griffin as a “hacker, phisher, and mental patient” (Griffin has since then been invited on Counter-Currents’ radio hour).
Johnson also disagrees with the methods of Andrew Anglin’s The Daily Stormer, calling them “vantardist” rather than vanguardist for so openly linking nationalism with German Nazism, a decision Johnson deems a distraction from efforts to mainstream white nationalism. In a later piece more explicitly directed at Andrew Anglin, Johnson decried Anglin’s assertion that the Holocaust is a hoax and his premature populism. “Anglin also makes the ludicrous claim that ‘all of the real power lies’ with angry and disenfranchised young white men, who are also politically powerless and inert,” Johnson wrote. “Again, these people are mostly just historically inert ballast manipulated by elites.” Johnson’s elitist vision of white nationalism has alternately angered and seduced followers.
Such drama is familiar in alt-right circles. Johnson, too, has long been the recipient of trolling comments insulting him for his presumed homosexuality. During the Scandza 2017 drama, for instance, Daniel Friberg, in a reference to Johnson, called for the alt-right “to get rid of the passive-aggressive castrati trying to pose as our leaders.”
Johnson seems to be relatively less harsh toward LGBTQ individuals. As he told Red Ice TV, “the homosexual category is not entirely a group of people who are enemies of white people: I would say Jews are, I would say non whites are, just because of our nature, it’s not good to be in a racially mixed society especially a society that’s ruled by a hostile Jewish elite.” He also called homosexuality a “‘natural suboptimal condition,’ like baldness or myopia or a propensity to pack on the pounds.”
Johnson entertains a close relationship with Mike Peinovich. Scandal erupted in January 2017, when Peinovich was doxxed: his real name was revealed as well as the fact that his wife was Jewish. This led to torrents of disappointment in white nationalist circles. Johnson’s seemingly whole-hearted defense of Peinovich is not exactly an embrace. As he praises Peinovich’s ability to see through Jewish plots to “mix our genes and loyalties to the point that we can never contemplate reversing our programmed march to extinction,” he writes, “a partly Jewish woman with weak ethnocentrism and little connection to Jewish culture doesn’t really threaten me. She’s not exactly one of us, but not really one of them, either.” If Peinovich was able to endorse his ideology despite his Jewish wife, Johnson says, it’s simply because “Mike had a front row seat on America’s decline in his very own family.”
The most effective threat to Johnson’s hateful agenda, however, has come in the backlash from Charlottesvillee’s Unite the Right rally, and the resulting crackdown on white nationalist content by internet service providers and social media companies.
Counter-Currents remains a small but functioning publishing house. Nielsen bookscan reports that New Right vs. Old Right sold 245 physical copies since its publication in February 2014, with a few other books by Johnson or Counter-Currents similarly selling a couple hundred of copies (without counting the books Johnson sells directly through his website.)
With upwards of 197,000 unique visitors a month in August 2017 (its highest number yet) compared to 6,000 when it first started, Counter-Currents relies heavily on donations, made until recently through both Paypal and Patreon. According to Johnson, Counter-Currents was able to raise around $40,000 in donations in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 — thanks in part to a matching grant from an anonymous donor.
In the aftermath of Charlottesville, companies like Facebook, Paypal and Patreon decided to curtail the usage of their platforms by white nationalists. Counter-Currents saw its Facebook page deleted, as well as its Paypal account and Patreon page. “The worst blow,” Johnson wrote, “was from PayPal, since this put us in a cash crunch.”
With no Paypal, and with the takedown of Patreon, Greg Johnson migrated to a Hatreon platform, a donation platform set up by gun rights activist Cody Wilson with no guidelines restricting hate speech, making it the new favorite fundraising platform of the alt-right. Johnson’s Hatreon has been plateauing at $400 a month, with 30 patrons supporting it: Johnson’s exhortations to followers to bring him more supporters than Altright.com’s Richard Spencer, which attracts 43 patrons on Hatreon and makes over $558 a month, have mostly remained unanswered.
Counter-Currents is resilient, however, and started accepting bitcoins as well as checks. It is planning on publishing a tutorial on digital currencies for potential donors. Moreover, Johnson announced that “thousand and thousands of dollars in donations” poured in after Charlottesville, enabling him to amass a “war chest.” Johnson has also called for the creation of an electronic ethnostate to prevent such vulnerability in the future.
Though Johnson announced that the crackdown made him decide to leave the U.S. for “much cheaper climbs in an area of the world that has a much less oppressive social environment than the United States,” he was instead discovered living in the liberal haven of Seattle, Washington, in February 2018. So much for his claim that he would, like Ho Chi Minh, join the ranks of “revolutionary expats.”