About James Mason
James Mason’s involvement with this country’s organized neo-Nazi movement dates back to the late 1960s. He joined George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party as a teenager, where he first met Dr. William Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries. Years after Rockwell was assassinated by one of his supporters, Mason grew dismayed by efforts within neo-Nazism to build large political parties and organizations, and he began to advocate for an underground, terroristic approach to catalyzing white revolution.
From 1980 to 1986 he published his newsletter SIEGE, where began to extrapolate his increasingly radical ideas. Violent, dystopian and in full support of racial terrorism, SIEGE lionizes the most virulently racist minds of its day. In the newsletter, Mason insists that only the full collapse of American democracy and society will bring conditions sufficient to bring order through Nazism. Mason's praise for serial killer Charles Manson earned SIEGE much scorn in racist circles, and Mason was pushed to the movement’s margins by the late 1980s. Since 2015, members of the Iron March forum, hate groups connected to it such as Atomwaffen Division, and their fellow travelers have advocated that Mason’s dark, terroristic visions in SIEGE present the only way forward. Mason’s SIEGE is now more popular than ever within the racist right internationally.
In his own words
“Revolutionary discipline must mean that WE will be the single survivor in a war against the System, a TOTAL WAR against the System.”
– Siege, Third (Iron March) edition, p. 174
“At this point, anything which contributes to friction, chaos and anarchy can only help us in the long run.”
– Siege, p. 179
“For the United States there will be no need for concentration camps of any kind, for not a single transgressor will survive long enough to make it to that kind of haven.”
–Siege, p. 101
“While on this aspect let us give some thought to what the next logical step might be toward opening the way to full, revolutionary conflagration in the United States: from almost random shootings and immediate death or capture of the killers, to select and consecutive assassinations by various Movement people in different parts of the country simultaneously. … We’ve already seen the killing of two vile system creeps in San Francisco by Dan White. If I were asked by anyone of my opinion on what to look for (or hope for) next I would tell them a wave of killings, or ‘assassinations,’ of System bureaucrats by roving gun men who have their strategy well mapped-out in advance and well-nigh impossible to stop.”
– Siege, p. 283
“Those of you with backgrounds similar to mine in the American National Socialist Movement will be among the first to sadly admit that it was indeed a damnable shame that Hitler did not, in fact, kill at least six million Jews during the War.”
–Siege, p. 436
“At this point it should come as no surprise to anyone that I would include in the first rank the name of Charles Manson, probably the farthest ahead of his time, for having done in fact many of the things outlined in the highly futuristic – but nonetheless straight-down-the-line – Turner Diaries.”
– Siege, 397
“If you are determined to unleash iron justice or make a valiant sacrifice with your life, then do so with finesse and style. Moreover, select prudent targets that count! Aim for the most menacing, and influential pigs; then dispatch them with methodical viciousness. Act alone or in small numbers.”
– Ryan Schuster, summarizing Mason’s argument in the second introduction to Siege, p. 17
James Mason has been an active neo-Nazi since he was 14 years old, when he joined the youth group of the American Nazi Party in 1966. He was with them for ten years before joining the National Socialist Liberation Front in 1976, a group that advocated armed revolution to overthrow the “system” and establish a neo-Nazi government. From 1980 to 1986, Mason published Siege, a manifesto in newsletter form filled with his terroristic, dystopian ruminations. There, he spread the idea that neo-Nazis should follow serial killer guru Charles Manson as the next Hitler, while also encouraging random attacks and murders to destabilize society.
Working directly with Charles Manson, in 1982 Mason formed a group called the Universal Order to spread his message. Although Siege stopped publishing in 1986, neo-Völkisch musician Michael Moynihan edited Mason’s newsletters into the book of the same name, published in 1993. It became a neo-Nazi cult classic and has been reprinted several times. The book first re-emerged on the Iron March forum, where moderators and users committed to popularizing Mason’s text. The hashtag #ReadSiege became popular on “alt-right” social media, especially as groups and influencers connected with the Iron March forum promoted the text more forcefully. After the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, the book’s warning about the futility of public marches resonated with many neo-Nazis. Initiates of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division – a group that first coalesced on Iron March and whose affiliates have been linked to five murders since 2017 – are required to read the book, and Mason has mentored the group’s leadership from his Denver apartment.
The American Nazi Party was the first important, self-described neo-Nazi group in the U.S. after World War II. Founded in 1959 by George Lincoln Rockwell, it grabbed more headlines than members, but it jump-started a postwar revival of National Socialist politics that has continued to this day. In 1966, Mason was 14 years old and already infatuated with Nazism. He found the party’s address in 1964, in a book titled Extremism USA. He wrote to them and joined the group’s youth section. In 1967, the party changed its name to the National Socialist White People’s Party (NSWPP), just before Rockwell was assassinated and replaced by Matt Koehl. In 1968, Mason had disciplinary problems in high school, and in retaliation planned to murder the principal and other school staff. But he called the party’s Alexandria, Virginia, headquarters first, and staff member William Pierce recommended that instead Mason should come there. He did, and there he learned the printing trade. In 1970, upon turning 18, Mason became a full-fledged party member and returned to Chillicothe, Ohio, where he stayed until the early 1990s.
While Rockwell was a charismatic speaker and leader, Koehl quickly alienated many party members. Many new splinter groups, formed by people who quit in disgust or were expelled from the party, emerged throughout the early 1970s. These included figures like Mason’s friend and mentor Pierce. Pierce would later found the National Alliance, which at one point in the 1990s was the country’s largest neo-Nazi group. Pierce also wrote The Turner Diaries, which inspired the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 and injured more than 680.
Joseph Tommasi, a Los Angeles-area neo-Nazi organizer, was another of Mason’s allies who left the NSWPP. He founded a new group called the National Socialist Liberation Front (NSLF) in 1974. (The name was originally used by the NSWPP’s college student group; David Duke was its most well-known member.) It was committed to armed revolution, and in addition to functioning as a public, legal organization, members also engaged in armed, illegal actions. The NSLF program proclaimed, “THE CRACK OF GUNFIRE IS THE ONLY REALITY THE MASSES CARE TO PAY ATTENTION TO.” The group perpetrated publicity-seeking acts like attacking left-wing bookstores and tear-gassing public events. Tommasi was also feuding with the NSWPP, which proved to be his undoing. He was shot dead by a member during a 1975 altercation in front of the party’s headquarters in El Monte, California.
Rockwell, Tomassi and Pierce were Mason’s earliest and longest enduring influences. Mason glorifies and critiques the first two, especially, across the hundreds of pages that make up Siege.
In 1973, Mason ran into the first of many legal problems. He and fellow neo-Nazi Greg Hurles went to a car dealership and took out a vehicle for a test drive. In the parking lot of a local Dairy Queen, they maced several black teenagers, including a 14-year-old girl. For driving the car, Mason served six months in a Cincinnati workhouse. Shortly after Mason's release, Tommasi died.
After he was released, Mason left the NSWPP in 1976, joined the NSLF, and started focusing on producing neo-Nazi periodicals and leaflets. He was involved in different attempts to bring together neo-Nazi organizations in the later 1970s, which turned into a tumult of vicious infighting. Between 1978 and 1980, Mason worked with the National Socialist White Worker’s Party, and edited their newspaper The Stormer. This group was led by Vincent Allen and was yet another of the many splinters from the NSWPP.
In 1980, Mason became part of an attempt to revive the NSLF. The group’s newsletter, Siege, was under his editorial control and largely consisted of his rambling thoughts on the finer points of neo-Nazi organizing. In 1981, the NSLF leadership passed to Karl Hand, who had previously worked with various white supremacist groups, including David Duke’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Hand lead the NSLF until the group folded in 1986 when he was arrested for attempted murder. (Hand is still active in the white supremacist movement today, working under the name the Racial Nationalist Party of America.)
Mason abandoned the strategy of building a legal, public neo-Nazi party, and instead became interested in strategies of leaderless resistance and the possibilities that widespread social collapse could offer. There had been a wave of racist murders in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some, although not all, were by neo-Nazis such as Frank Spisak, John Paul Franklin and Fred Cowan. In fact, Mason had previously worked with Franklin in the NSWPP.
Mason also started corresponding with members of Charles Manson’s “Family,” and then Manson himself, who was serving a life sentence for masterminding a series of infamous murders in Los Angeles in 1969. Manson, who had originally planned to use the murders as kindling for a race war, had carved a swastika into his forehead in prison.
Mason started to glorify Charles Manson in the pages of the Siege newsletter, an endorsement that was not received well by his fellow Nazis. Mason left the NSLF over the dispute in 1982, and formed his own group, Universal Order. Siege became the official publication of this new group, and in its pages he continued to promote Charles Manson as a neo-Nazi icon.
Mason’s interest in Charles Manson was part of his new political approach. Mason thought that white people were too well-off and brainwashed to adopt National Socialism. He also realized that many non-Jewish white people were also complicit in running the “system” that he hated. Mason thought that Nazis were being continuously being persecuted by their enemies in power and thus could not take power as long as the existing U.S. government remained in place.
He thought, therefore, that acts of murder and other violence would help create enough social chaos to destabilize the system. He also started cheering on armed attacks by Communists, as well as black and other revolutionary racial nationalists, which were common in the 1970s and 1980s. Anything that tried to take the system down was good. If Communists and police shot it out in the streets, all the better. Amid the chaos, the Nazis would have an opportunity to mobilize the white masses and take power.
This was part of a larger turn in the U.S. white supremacist movement, which was moving away from being pro-patriotic and instead adopted an armed, revolutionary approach. The 1980s clandestine group The Order was the most famous example of this change.
Mason’s endorsement of social chaos received little support, even among other Nazis, and he ceased publication of Siege in 1986. It did, however, attract the attention of some musicians associated with the industrial noise and neofolk music underground scene, including Boyd Rice and Michael Moynihan. Moynihan was an up-and-coming young star in this very small subculture, and his music project Blood Axis would later gain a small following. Rice was older and had connections with neo-Nazi leaders Tom Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance and Bob Heick of the American Front. Moynihan contacted Mason in the late 1980s and offered to edit Siege into a book.
During this time, Mason drew the attention of law enforcement for his interest in underage girls. In 1988 and 1991, police conducted two raids on Mason’s home in Ohio and seized pornographic photos of a 15-year-old girl. In 1992, he pleaded guilty to two counts of the misdemeanor “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.”
In 1993, Moynihan finally released the book Siege on Storm Books. The delay ended up being beneficial, as a revival of interest in Charles Manson was in full bloom. For an unrepentant neo-Nazi text that praised serial killers, the book received a lot of attention. Mason was featured in music publications and alternative weekly newspapers. The book’s initial print run sold out.
By then, Mason was living in a small town in Colorado, where he again became involved with young teenage girls. He was arrested on two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, although this charge was later dropped. After he was released on bond in May 1994, he threatened two people with a firearm: his ex-girlfriend, who was then 16 years old, and a Latino man she had been dating. Mason was arrested for felony menacing; in May 1995 he started a three-year sentence on the charge. He was in and out of prison for years, and was released in August 1999.
Turning to Christianity, he had written a number of books in prison, which he self-published after he left prison. These included The Theocrat (2000), which was a comparison of Bible passages with Hitler’s Mein Kampf. In 2003, Ryan Schuster in Bozeman, Montana, reprinted Siege with a new introduction via his Black Sun Press.
By then, Mason had been active in neo-Nazi circles for several decades, and decided to lay low, although Siege remained a cult title. But he was rediscovered during the new wave of interest in white nationalism that had taken off by 2016. One of these new groups, the neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division, announced its existence in October 2015; it had been created in the Iron March online forum. Atomwaffen required all of their members to read Siege. In 2017, a new edition of Siege appeared, published by Iron March.
The hashtag #ReadSiege grew as a counterpoint to the tactics and strategies associated with the alt-right after the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville in August 2017. The attempted fascist demonstration was stopped by police before any speakers started, and attendees began rioting and fighting with counterprotesters in the streets. The incident became infamous when, later that day, James Alex Fields Jr., who had earlier marched with neo-Nazi group Vanguard America, rammed his car into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators. Heather Heyer was killed, and many others were wounded.
To some Nazis, the setbacks they experienced – the rally itself was not allowed to even start, and afterward there was a subsequent media backlash and widespread online deplatforming – were all a vindication of Mason’s thesis: The strategy of holding legal rallies in public would always end in failure. Everything was stacked against white supremacists, they reasoned, and there was no way to succeed if they acted within the law. The only thing to do was either to drop out of society altogether or go underground and start planning terrorist attacks. After Charlottesville, #ReadSiege soared in popularity as a hashtag on social media.
Atomwaffen Division associates killed three people from 2017 to 2018. In May 2017, an apartment where four members lived became a murder scene when Devon Arthurs killed two of his three roommates, Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman. The fourth man, an active duty National Guardsman and the group’s founder, Brandon Russell, was arrested later for possessing materials to make a dirty bomb. Inside the apartment was a framed picture of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, whose terrorist attack had been inspired by the Turner Diaries, a book written by Mason’s friend and mentor William Pierce. In January 2018, Samuel Woodward, another Atomwaffen Division member, was arrested for stabbing to death Blaze Bernstein, a gay, Jewish student, in an Orange County, California, park.
In December 2017, Nicholas Giampa, a follower of Atomwaffen Division on Twitter, was arrested for killing the parents of his 16-year-old girlfriend, after they made her break up with him over concerns about his ties to neo-Nazism.
Amid the revival of interest, Mason himself also reemerged. Several of his books, in addition to Siege, have been brought back into print by Atomwaffen Division members. He now publishes new essays online and gives interviews to white supremacist podcasts. Mason also meets with Atomwaffen Division members in his swastika-bedecked apartment in Denver, Colorado, where he coaches them on the finer points of propagandizing murder and genocide.