The unexpected death of National Alliance leader William Pierce shifted the neo-Nazi landscape, but the appointment of Erich Gliebe as Pierce's successor means the organization lives on.
The unexpected death this July of neo-Nazi William Pierce, founder and chief of the highly influential National Alliance, was a tectonic event on the landscape of the radical right. The man who just a year earlier had said that he needed four to five years more to solidify his revolutionary organization suddenly was gone.
Unfortunately, America's leading neo-Nazi may have been too pessimistic. A number of factors suggest the Alliance may well outlive the man who built it.
At the time of Pierce's death, the National Alliance was better organized, better known and more profitable than at any time in its 28-year history. Its pamphlets, radio broadcasts and Internet propaganda were reaching more people than ever before.
Resistance Records, the group's white power music label, had grown into the world's most successful distributor of racist music. And Pierce, from his deathbed, issued detailed instructions to help ensure a smooth transition.
The man chosen to replace Pierce as chairman, Cleveland unit leader and Resistance Records manager Erich Gliebe, will be a very different kind of führer — a former boxer and tool-and-die maker versus a one-time university physics professor.
But even assuming that Gliebe fails to live up to his predecessor, the National Alliance could flourish as the core staff under him remains unchanged and the group's expanding music business continues to fill its coffers.
The Bridges He Built
The influence of Pierce and the Alliance was immense. It began with Pierce's fictional writings, most especially his novel of race war, The Turner Diaries.
"By itself," former Alliance attorney Victor Gerhard wrote, "The Turner Diaries probably recruited more people to the cause of White racialism than any other publication, person, organization or event."
But Pierce's influence also derived from his commentaries on current events, his ability to maintain a far more disciplined group than others, and his refusal to compromise.
Although Pierce was an elitist who harshly criticized other hate groups — as he did in his very last speech, a remarkable secret talk that is detailed in this issue of the Intelligence Report — he also built important political bridges in his later years.
He was close to two European neofascist parties, the National Democratic Party of Germany and the British National Party. In the United States, Pierce's work was not only an inspiration to the violently inclined; his organization also made alliances with white ethnic groups, cultivated the young through racist music CDs and concerts, and counted close friends in key positions of other groups.
"The National Alliance's importance has been defined by its influence over other like-minded organizations and not by the size of its own apparatus," Leonard Zeskind, a veteran analyst of white nationalism, wrote in the Los Angeles Times after Pierce's death.
"Its cadres have participated in the fight against immigration, marched alongside others for the Confederate flag and staged white-power concerts and skinhead rallies."
Extremism in Black and Green
Neo-Nazism is not the only extremist threat. In this issue, the rise and fall of a black supremacist cult based in Georgia — a cult whose leader is imprisoned on child molestation charges and which is allegedly linked to widespread criminality — is explored in the remarkable saga of Dwight York, founder of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.
The black supremacist ideology of the Nuwaubians is not merely the flip side of the white supremacism of groups like the National Alliance.
The Nuwaubians are far more cult-like, living largely cut off from society and blindly devoted to their authoritarian leader. More importantly, their anti-white racism, like that of many other black nationalists, is largely a reaction to the history of anti-black racism in America.
In the same way, the eco-radicals who are profiled in this issue of the Report are wholly different than the men and women who populate the Alliance.
They are not animated by racism or anti-Semitism. They do not call for the wholesale slaughter of their enemies. But there is clear evidence that despite their protestations to the contrary, eco-radicals are increasingly willing to engage in personal violence.
Americans who believe in democracy are increasingly being called on to defend it from a variety of threats. As citizens of this country, it is incumbent on all of us to condemn those who propose to solve our problems through violence even as we support the search for solutions that will help our nation flourish.