Editor's Note: This weekend, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that his government would "use all legal means" to prevent the Budapest white nationalist gathering explored below from occurring, presumably by banning foreign visitors from entering the country. According to the Hungarian blog HungarianAmbience.com, officials at the planned venue for the conference also have cancelled their contract with conference organizers, saying they were not aware of the nature of the gathering. Still, chief organizer Richard Spencer is reassuring those planning to attend that the conference will go on as scheduled, even if meeting will be a "little more inconvenient" than it would have been.
One of the most polished American racists of recent years is Richard Bertrand Spencer, a 36-year-old Ph.D. program dropout who, in his khakis and oxfords, looks more like some ambitious young Capitol Hill staffer than a white supremacist. Indeed, with a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s from the University of Virginia, Spencer’s resumé reads a lot like that of a well-heeled, up-and-coming politico.
But several years ago, when he was in his early thirties, Spencer left mainstream conservatism for what he calls “a life of thought crime.” Since then, he has established racist websites and ascended to the top spot at the National Policy Institute (NPI), a white nationalist nonprofit he runs from his home in Whitefish, Mont., along with two affiliated publishing outfits. After holding a series of highbrow-racist conferences on such topics as the future of white people, Spencer has now set his sights on bigger things — building bridges to the organized European racist right.
Though past NPI conferences have featured leading European racists, Spencer is moving beyond one-off presentations from these folks in order to connect with two newly important radical-right strains on the continent: the Movement Identitaire, a pro-white, anti-Muslim and anti-globalist movement that started in France in the early 2000s and has been growing rapidly since, and Jobbik, the anti-Semitic and racist organization that became Hungary’s third-largest political party this spring, when it polled more than 1 million votes.
“We hope that our budding society will act as a forum for a number of different traditionalist groups in Europe, including Identitarians,” Spencer told Hatewatch. “We are eager to involve Europeans who seek to connect with community and tradition, and thus preserve true diversity against the flattening of globalism.” His interest, Spencer added, is to reach “any European who seeks to develop racial identity and consciousness.”
A key upcoming moment in this effort comes at a planned Oct. 3-5 conference NPI organized in Budapest, Hungary. Co-hosted by Jobbik, the Inaugural Identitarian Congress is slated to feature prominent European nationalists of various types and several leading American racist ideologues (see biographies below).
Little is known about Spencer’s new allies in the U.S., but across the Atlantic they are seen as serious threats to European democracy. Members of the European Union, the European Jewish Congress and other prominent human rights defenders have warned of the dangers posed by Jobbik, which has been widely described as fascist, is patently anti-Semitic, and yet has grown rapidly. Similarly, the Movement Identitaire, which started small but made a name for itself with the 2012 invasion of a French mosque, is deeply worrying to European officials.
Fascists in Suits
Jobbik sits at the heart of network of far-right groups that have emerged and strengthened since the financial crisis hit Europe and the United States in 2008. By winning nearly 21% of the vote in Hungary’s April parliamentary elections, the party became Eastern Europe’s largest far-right group in terms of political representation.
Jobbik dislikes the European Union, “global capitalism,” immigrants, Jews, the Roma and the LGBT community. It drew international attention and condemnation in 2012, when party official Marton Gyongyosi — one of the scheduled speakers at Spencer’s Budapest event — told the Hungarian parliament that Jews were a threat to national security and should be registered. When the obvious comparisons to the Nazi registration of Jews were drawn, Gyongyosi duly apologized, claiming he had been misunderstood.
But the list of anti-Semitic statements from Jobbik members is long.
Jobbik EU candidate Judit Szima, for instance, edited a newsletter that said, “Given our current situation, anti-Semitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews.” In 2012, Jobbik member of parliament Zsolt Baráth sparked outrage with his commemoration of a notorious 1882 incident, the Tiszaeszlár blood libel. Jews at the time were accused falsely of killing a young Christian girl and the blame foisted on them by Hungarian political leaders led to an outbreak of anti-Semitic violence. Jobbik also has Holocaust deniers in its ranks. In 2014, a county-level party official, Tibor Ágoston, referred to the Holocaust as the “holoscam.”
Now, the Jobbik cancer is spreading through Eastern Europe. According to Reuters, there are currently ties between the party and half a dozen other hardline nationalist groups in Europe’s former Communist bloc.
But what Jobbik wants from NPI may be different, according to Gabor Gyori, a senior analyst at Policy Solutions, a Hungarian think tank. It is apparently trying to present a more intellectual and less threatening look.
“An international conference hosted and attended by a more sophisticated group of extremists is very alluring to Jobbik, especially if for the general public the image of the conference will be that of genteel, educated, international gentlemen, not the standard far-right rabble-rousers,” Gyori told Hatewatch. “This is the image Jobbik wants to cultivate now, though critical viewers may well realize that those assembled at the NPI conference are nothing more than better-clad, well-coiffed and rhetorically skilled skinheads.”
Ghosts in the Streets
In addition to principals of Jobbik, Spencer’s conference is slated to feature three prominent leaders of the Movement Identitaire, a movement that has now spread from France to many other parts of Western Europe.
The movement was born when the Bloc Identitaire burst on the scene in 2003, founded by former members of the French anti-Zionist party Unité Radicale. (Maxime Brunerie, a Unité Radicale member who had ties to the American neo-Nazi group National Alliance, tried to assassinate French president Jacques Chirac on Bastille Day in 2002.)
The group says it opposes “imperialism, whether it be American or Islamic,” that last a reference to what’s seen as an invasion of Europe by Muslims. In its pamphlet, “We Are Generation Identity” — propaganda published by Arktos Media, another co-sponsor of the NPI conference — it describes its mission as “reconquest.” That’s an unmistakable reference to the Spanish “Reconquista” of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors in 1492, the culmination of a long, Christian struggle to take Europe back from non-white Muslims.
The Bloc Identitaire is led by Fabrice Robert, one of those scheduled to speak at NPI’s Budapest conference. Robert has a long track record of racism and anti-Semitism. For example, at the end of high school in 1992, Robert was sentenced to a one-month suspended prison sentence and fined 10,000 francs for distributing stickers lauding French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. He has been fined for similar offenses twice since.
Fabrice Robert declined an interview request.
The Bloc Identitaire is best known for its publicity-drawing stunts, including spooky videos posted on YouTube that show masked and white-robed supporters who gather suddenly in flash-mob style, bearing torches and marching silently through the streets of European cities, sometimes bearing cryptic signs. The videos are typically set to haunting classical music. Other Identitaire videos depict still photographs of its supporters, interspersed with a few words indicating that Europeans should fight back, also silent and set to music.
The group’s most notorious action took place in 2012, when its youth wing invaded and occupied the Poitiers mosque, the site where Charles Martel defeated invading Muslim armies in 732. It also has distributed soups in Muslim and Jewish neighborhoods that contain pork, which is forbidden to observant members of both faiths. These so-called “identity soups” were banned by the European Parliament in 2006 for being “discriminatory and xenophobic.”
European experts say that despite the movement’s heavy reliance on the Internet, it is far more important than a simple media phenomenon.
“The Movement Identitaire today is mostly visible on the Internet and in flash mob-style actions on the streets, predominantly in France and Germany,” Thomas Grumke, a professor who specializes in the extreme European right at the University of Applied Sciences and Public Administration in North Rheinland-Westphalia, Germany, told Hatewatch. “Their connections to militant, well-rooted racist groups like Jobbik show, however, that they have influence on an international scale, that their ideological clout must not be underestimated, and that they have moved far beyond being an Internet phenomenon.”
From Academia to Hate
Spencer is certainly not the first American professional racist to try to forge ties with his white brothers and sisters abroad. William Pierce, the late founder of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, once wooed the racist German National Democratic Party and Greece’s rabidly anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic Golden Dawn group. Pierce even spoke at those organizations’ events in the late 1990s. Although there was much talk at the time of a “pan-Aryan” international white supremacist movement, cooperation beyond these ties was minimal.
But others, too, have traveled to overseas extremist events. Jared Taylor, who edits the white nationalist journal American Renaissance, once spoke to the French National Front (NF) and his annual conferences have featured prominent figures in the European radical right including Bruno Gollnisch, at one time the second-in-command of the NF, and Nick Griffin, leader of the racist British National Party. Gordon Baum, the leader of the Missouri-based white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, also once spoke to the FN.
But none has managed to co-sponsor an event with a party that has won as many votes as Jobbik. How has a young Ph.D. dropout in a remote Montana town come to be the key American racist building a transnational alliance?
Spencer grew up a child of privilege, attending private school in Dallas and some of America’s finest universities. He seemed to be your typical nascent academic until 2007, when he dropped out of a doctoral program in history at Duke University. Since leaving Duke, Spencer has worked for a series of harder- and harder-line racist publications.
His move into the radical right started with a stint as an assistant editor at Pat Buchanan’s The American Conservative magazine and, later, as editor of the far-right and sometimes racist Taki’s Magazine. Beginning in 2008, he made a series of major speeches at the H.L. Mencken Club, which regularly features prominent white nationalists.
Spencer was increasingly fixated with the idea of white identity — a concern shared with the Movement Identitaire and Jobbik. In a 2009 piece for Taki’s Magazine, he put it like this: “In our increasingly globalized world (it’s not just a cliché), race hasn’t been obscured or overcome, as many had hoped, but heightened and magnified — and contemporary white consciousness, if we’re to use this term, is so complicated and bizarre … that no serious cultural publication should refrain from discussing it.”
By 2010, under the financial umbrella of the rabidly anti-immigrant VDARE Foundation, Spencer was running his own racist webzine, Alternative Right, and getting published by leading white nationalist journals including American Renaissance, Occidental Observer and Right Now!
In 2011, Spencer took over NPI and Washington Summit Publishers, after their founder, longtime white nationalist Louis Andrews, took ill. And, the next year, he founded Radix Journal, a co-sponsor of the Budapest conference that has published work by the American anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald, Russian ultranationalist Alexander Dugin, and similar ideologues.
Speaking at a 2013 American Renaissance conference, Spencer made his aims clear, urging nationalists to reject immigration and focus on the long-term goal of establishing a “white ethno-state in the North American continent.” It appears that now he is trying to make friends with those who would very much like to do the same thing in Europe.
Here is a rundown of extremist speakers, in addition to Spencer, who are scheduled to speak at the NPI’s Budapest conference:
Alexander Gelyevich Dugin is a Russian political scientist and fascist who supports a Eurasian empire made up of Russia and former Soviet republics such as the Ukraine and set against “North Atlantic interests.” Dugin has close ties to the Kremlin and serves as an adviser to Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the Duma, the Russian parliament. He has set up nationalist political parties including the National Bolshevik Party, National Bolshevik Front and the Eurasia Party. During this year’s conflict in the Ukraine and Crimea, Dugin was in regular contact with pro-Russian separatist insurgents.
John Morgan is the American editor-in-chief of Arktos Media, a co-sponsor of the NPI event. Morgan, a big fan of the Jobbik party, says the publishing outfit is named to evoke “ancient European tradition” and “northernness.” Arktos publishes books by prominent fascists, including Dugin and others who were to attend the NPI conference, as well as handbooks on the Movement Identitaire. Some of Arktos’ works are particularly radical. Guillaume Faye and the Battle for Europe is a compilation of postings from American neo-Nazi websites including Vanguard News Network and National Vanguard. Arktos recently moved to Budapest from the United Kingdom. Morgan has been published on the American racist website Counter-Currents.
Manuel Ochsenreiter is editor-in-chief of the German monthly news magazine ZUERST! (meaning First), which is “committed to the life and survival interests of the German people and the precious heritage of our European culture.” The magazine describes other media as controlled by “foreign interests.” According to The Interpreter, an English-language site specializing in Russian news, ZUERST! burnishes “the image of the Third Reich in popular culture” and opposes “what it regards as the humiliating legacy of denazification.” Just after the magazine began publishing in 2010, workers for its distributor, Bauer Media, threatened to strike, calling it a pro-Nazi magazine. Bauer dropped the publication. Ochsenreiter also is an on-air correspondent for the conspiracy-minded television channel, Russia Today. And he published a book, State Murder in Baghdad: Saddam Hussein and the Gallows, which compares the prosecution of Saddam Hussein to the Nuremburg trials. Ochsenreiter is close to Alexander Dugin and supports Russian interests in the Ukraine.
Tomislav Suni? was born in Croatia but has American citizenship and has taught at American universities since receiving a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a former Croatian diplomat. A prolific writer, former radio host and regular fixture on the radical-right speaking circuit, Suni? has addressed Klansmen, neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers. A rabid anti-communist, probably due to his father’s persecution by the Yugoslav regime, Suni? criticized non-European immigration at the 2003 Eurofest event, sponsored by the Sacramento, Calif., chapter of the neo-Nazi National Alliance. In August 2003, he gave a lecture in German alongside the lawyer Horst Mahler, who is currently serving a prison sentence in Germany for Holocaust denial, at a conference sponsored by Germany’s nationalist far-right party, the National Democratic Party. Suni? is close to prominent anti-Semite and former California State University psychologyprofessor Kevin MacDonald, who wrote an introduction to Suni?’s book Homo Americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age. It says Suni? “addresses the modern world of hyper-liberalism, globalist capitalism and the crisis of our inherited Indo-European civilization.”
Jared Tayloris the founder of the Virginia-based New Century Foundation and editor of its American Renaissance journal, which, despite its pseudo-academic polish, regularly publishes proponents of eugenics and blatant anti-black and anti-Latino racists. (It is now an online publication.) Taylor hosts annual conferences where racist intellectuals rub shoulders with Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. In 2005 Taylor wrote: “Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.”? In addition to speaking to the FN in France, Taylor has prominently featured European racists at his conferences. In 2011, Taylor spoke at a NPI event dedicated to raising “the consciousness of whites” and ensuring “our biological and cultural continuity.”
Philippe Vardon established the very active Generation Identity chapter in Nice in 2002. Vardon, who also was a founder of the original Bloc Identitaire, has tried to run for office unsuccessfully more than once. His chapter is known for catchy slogans like “Neither veiled — or raped,” which reflect his training in communications. Vardon penned the forward the movement manifesto written by Markus Willinger, Generation Identity: A Declaration of War Against the ‘68ers. In it, Vardon writes of the evils of “unchecked mass immigration” and “triumphant multiculturalism.” Vardon attempted to join the FN in 2013, but when the party became aware that it had issued him a membership card, it was pulled. More recently, his group has been railing against immigrants that it blames for spreading the Ebola virus. He now also leads Les Identitaires, the think tank of the French Identitarian movement.
Markus Willinger is the youngest of the Identitaires appearing at the NPI conference. Born in Austria in 1992, Willinger has been active in extremist politics since his teens and is now a student at the University of Stuttgart. He is best known for his 2013 manifesto (see above), which Arktos translated into English from German. The book denounces multiculturalism, immigration, equality between the sexes, and other liberal ideas championed by the leftist movement that peaked in 1968. The book affirms “European identity, culture, and tradition, our will to keep Europe alive, and our resolve to not be the last European generation” and ends with this statement: “Our patience has reached its end. Don’t think of this book as a manifesto. It’s a declaration of war. Our war against you.”