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How a Mainstream Racist Group Revived the Terroristic Tome 'Siege'

A foundation that sought to mainstream racist pseudoscience and pro-segregationist viewpoints established a publishing house that produced and promoted literature encouraging neo-Nazi terrorism, Hatewatch found. 

Hatewatch reviewed a cache of letters from 2001-03 between James Mason, a prominent neo-Nazi writer and advocate for revolutionary racial violence, and two white supremacist activists affiliated with the Foundation for Human Understanding (FHU), a Georgia-based nonprofit founded by proponents of racist pseudoscience in 1973. The letters reveal that FHU owned a neo-Nazi publishing house called Black Sun Publications, which released a second edition of Mason’s terroristic magnum opus, Siege, in 2003 and rescued the book from obscurity. Greg Johnson and Ryan Schuster, the two activists, detailed their plans to use FHU and Black Sun to promote other works of Mason and those of a World War II-era Nazi spy and esotericist named Savitri Devi for a younger generation of extremists.

The communications are part of a larger collection of Mason’s personal papers at the University of Kansas.

Hatewatch found that Johnson, now the editor-in-chief of the white nationalist website Counter-Currents, and Schuster repeatedly praised Mason and his terroristic worldview throughout their correspondence. In the forward that Schuster wrote for Black Sun’s 2003 edition, he described Siege as “a cookbook and guide.” In the same section, he encouraged others to “act in a manner commensurate to Timothy McVeigh of Oklahoma City fame,” referring to the 1995 bombing of a federal building that left 168 people, 19 of whom were children, dead.

Mason’s involvement in the neo-Nazi movement dates to the 1960s. He first published Siege as a newsletter between 1980 and 1986. The text promoted a dystopian vision of racial terrorism that elevated serial killers, mass murderers and guerrilla warfare. Mason also advocated that the now-deceased cult leader and convicted murderer Charles Manson become a neo-Nazi leader.

Since its original release in book form in 1993, neo-Nazi activists reprinted Siege in 2003, 2015, 2018, 2021 and 2023, distributing it via online booksellers and as a PDF on white supremacist online forums. It has arguably emerged as one of the most popular and influential texts on the global white supremacist movement alongside William Luther Pierce’s The Turner Diaries and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. In the mid-2010s, a range of white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups with ties to acts of real-world violence, such as Atomwaffen Division and The Base, embraced the book to justify their terroristic worldview and distance themselves from other wings of the movement that embraced more traditional political action. More recently, a mass shooter who murdered three Black people in Jacksonville, Florida, in summer 2023, cited Siege in a screed explaining his motivations for the attack.

FHU’s ownership of Black Sun, as well as the correspondence between Johnson, Schuster and Mason, shows how seemingly divergent wings of the radical right can find grounds for cooperation. Though Johnson has not publicly acknowledged his connection to Mason or Schuster, he has described white supremacist terrorism as an inevitable reaction to multicultural, multiracial societies in  multiple posts on Counter-Currents after attacks in the United States and elsewhere. Johnson’s website also offered copies of Black Sun’s Siege for sale for $20, plus shipping and handling, between 2012 and 2019, according to internet archives. Counter-Currents described the book as “a tool for mental self-liberation and perhaps even a guidebook for living near what we hope is the end of the present Dark Age.”

Hatewatch reached out to Schuster over email and iMessage multiple times but did not receive a response. Hatewatch reached out to Johnson over email but did not receive a response.

Tying Black Sun Publications to FHU

In their communications with Mason, Schuster and Johnson repeatedly described themselves as affiliated with the Foundation for Human Understanding, the Georgia-based racist publishing house.

Founded in 1973, FHU literature denigrated racial integration and promoted pseudoscientific beliefs about race and its relationship to intelligence. Between 1973 and 1994, FHU received $348,700, or roughly $1.34 million in today’s dollars, from the pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund, according to an archive of the fund’s grantees from 1997 at Ferris University’s Institute for the Study of Academic Racism. In addition to supporting more niche organizations promoting eugenics and other forms of racist pseudoscience, the Pioneer Fund has donated millions of dollars to prominent universities and academics to support research that bolster their bigoted beliefs.

The fund’s tax returns from 2000 to 2003 do not indicate that the organization gave FHU any funding in that period. In 2000, Robert Travis “R.T.” Osborne, one of FHU’s founding members and a professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, joined the Pioneer Fund’s board in 2000 as a director, per tax records.

Hatewatch reached out to Edward Miller, who was listed on the Pioneer Fund’s latest tax filing as the organization’s treasurer, over email but did not receive a response.

On May 16, 2001, Johnson, identifying himself as a philosophy student preparing for his dissertation defense, wrote to Mason and said, “I and a friend are creating a publishing imprint. … to transfer some of the intellectual energy and vision of the European right to the English-speaking world.” Johnson named several writers they planned to translate, including Italian fascist theorist Julius Evola and French ethno-nationalist Alain de Benoist.

In a letter dated June 18, 2001, Schuster referred to “Dr. Gregory Johnson,” whom he described as his “colleague,” and acknowledged Johnson’s prior correspondence with Mason. Schuster told Mason that “our publishing imprint Black Sun is owned by a 501(c)3 tax-exempt education corporation known as the Foundation for Human Understanding.” He wrote that the FHU had “publish[ed] numerous books on race and intelligence (most notably Baker’s Race) but has since fallen into complete inactivity.”

Multiple tax returns and documents from Georgia’s Department of Corporations identified the FHU as 501(c)3 nonprofit. FHU published numerous books and pamphlets throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including reissuing John R. Baker’s 1974 book Race in 1981, which argued that racial differences determined civilizational development. By the late 1990s, the group’s activities were limited. A 1999 tax filing for FHU listed the fair market value of all assets owned by the company that year as $782 and its gross profit on book sales as $60.

In the same June 18, 2001, letter, Schuster said he and Johnson intended to transform FHU into a “conducive medium with which to transfuse some of the more poignant European reactionism of thought onto these shores.”

Montana corporate records indicated that Schuster registered Black Sun Publications in that state on Nov. 9, 2001. The records did not specify an explicit connection with FHU. Yet in a Nov. 21, 2001, letter to Mason, he referred to “FHU / Black Sun” as if the two companies were the same entity. Black Sun’s now-deleted website also cited many of the same authors that Schuster and Johnson referenced in their correspondence with Mason as figures they hoped to promote through FHU.

Johnson and Schuster’s collaboration with FHU appears to have continued into at least 2002. On Jan. 2, 2002, Johnson offered Mason “copies of any FHU and Black Sun books that interest you” in exchange for some photographs of neo-Nazis. Then, on June 10, 2002, Schuster wrote to Mason expressing frustration with the company’s financial state.

“So to not swiftly exhaust the capital set aside to fund other Black Sun projects, I think it wise to solicit tax-deductible donations through the FHU. But I may be kidding myself. The last FHU fundraiser Greg orchestrated received a whopping $2,000.00. Kind of makes you sick…” Schuster wrote.

Hatewatch requested tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service for FHU for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 to see if the records elaborated on the connection between Black Sun and the foundation, but the IRS said via a mailed letter that the forms were no longer available.

‘Many young persons … would benefit from reading SIEGE

Despite the connections that FHU once had to more mainstream racist groups, correspondence between Schuster and Mason shows that Black Sun saw it as a means to promote Siege, as well as Mason’s more esoteric works, for a new generation.

In a phone conversation with Hatewatch, Mason confirmed that he worked with Schuster to produce the second edition of Siege and met with him multiple times in person.

Following Schuster’s initial letter to Mason on June 18, 2001, in which he described his and Johnson’s plans to revive FHU, he turned his correspondence with the neo-Nazi leader toward discussing the group’s publishing plans.

In a letter from Sept. 11, 2001 — the same day that the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil left nearly 3,000 people dead — Schuster suggested to Mason that he issue a second edition of Siege. The new text, Schuster said, would be “replete with a new introduction, re-designed cover, added appendixes, and perhaps inclusive photos different from the original edition.” On Oct. 3, he told Mason that copies of the first edition were selling for up to $150 online.

“What seems so obviously apparent, is that many young persons connected to myriad fringe circles of resistance who would most benefit from reading SIEGE, cannot now obtain copies because of scarcity and price,” Schuster told Mason.

On Nov. 21, 2001, Schuster hinted that the attack might impact printing the book.

“In the wake of the Sept. 11th clean-up job, you can just about write-off whatevers small percentage of Amerikan [sic] printing facilities might have been coerced into re-printing Siege without censorship harassment,” he wrote to Mason.

Schuster wanted to publish some of Mason’s other books as well. On Nov. 30 he wrote Mason to confirm an oral agreement they had made regarding Black Sun’s agreement for the rights to four of Mason’s books. Schuster offered $2,000 for Siege and $500 each for three other books.

These included two texts, The Theocrat and Revisiting Revelation, that Mason had self-published upon his release from prison in 1999 for threatening his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend and her Latino boyfriend. The Theocrat juxtaposed passages from Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the Bible. Revisiting Revelation explained Mason’s idiosyncratic version of Christianity, which he had developed in prison and incorporated blatant antisemitism and UFOs. Mason proposed the third book, a pictorial history of American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell, during his earlier correspondence with Schuster.

Per the Nov. 30 letter, Schuster sent Mason half of the funds, totaling $1,750, up-front. In a phone conversation with Hatewatch, Mason said he did not recall Schuster paying him for the titles.

“He asked me if I wanted money for Siege, and I said no. Because, to quote Charles Manson: ‘I’m not in this for money. I’m in it for life or death,’” Mason told Hatewatch.

On Feb. 10, 2002, Schuster told Mason that he was considering changing Black Sun’s immediate publishing plans to feature an all-neo-Nazi roster, naming Mason, Savitri Devi and David Myatt. Myatt is the alleged founder of the Order of Nine Angles, a Satanist umbrella group that became intertwined with later neo-Nazi groups enamored by Siege, such as Atomwaffen Division.

On Aug. 23, Schuster sent Mason a check for $1,600, which included the remaining amount due for all the books. Schuster excluded $250 for Revisiting Revelation, which he had decided not to publish.

Black Sun released Siege in summer 2003 as a limited edition, with a print run of 500 copies. Some appear to be autographed by James Mason, according to listings with online booksellers. Schuster reprinted the 1993 version of Siege, albeit with notable additions, including a new preface from Mason and an introduction from Schuster lionizing the neo-Nazi ideologue. Schuster also included photos, a page from Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible with a handwritten dedication to Mason, and an appendix with newspaper clippings and letters. The book’s cover featured a photo of the wreckage of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks.

Johnson collaborated with Mason to promote neo-Nazi esotericist

The correspondence also sheds light on a hitherto unknown collaboration between Mason and Johnson to revive the work of World War II-era Nazi spy and fascist esotericist Savitri Devi.

Savitri Devi Mukherji, born Maximiani Julia Portras, was a French-born Nazi sympathizer and spy who developed an elaborate synthesis of Hindu theology and Nordic racial ideology. In her 1958 book “The Lightening and the Sun,” she presents Hitler as the last avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. Savitri Devi’s transformation of World War II-era Nazism into what academic Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke described as “a religious cult of cosmic significance” won her favor among postwar neo-Nazi groups in the United States and Europe.

Throughout 2001 and 2003, Johnson requested Mason send him and Schuster photos, letters and other materials related to Savitri Devi. In his first letter to Mason, Johnson explained he received the neo-Nazi’s address from Michael Moynihan, a musician and editor of Siege’s first edition in 1993.

Johnson described himself and Schuster as “admirers” of the deceased neo-Nazi esotericist. WhoIs records for the website, where Johnson now hosts work associated with a Counter-Currents-funded archive of her work, indicate that Schuster first registered the domain on July 25, 2001, using a P.O. box in Bozeman, Montana, associated with Black Sun.

“We understand that she carried on a far-flung correspondence with the leading people of the post-war movement. We think that it would be a tragedy if her letters were lost to the teeth of time,” Johnson wrote to Mason on May 16, 2001.

Johnson also expressed sympathy for Mason’s violent dystopian vision.

“I want to tell you how much I admire both you and your work,” Johnson wrote to Mason in the same May 16, 2001, letter. He added, “I have also read Siege and find myself in complete sympathy with your evaluation of Charles Manson & the world situation in general.”

Mason told Hatewatch that he did not recall corresponding with Johnson, nor was he familiar with Counter-Currents, the website that Johnson founded in 2010.

“I’ll be damned if I know. It does not ring a bell,” Mason said.

Johnson’s deepening engagement with the white supremacist movement coincided with his apparent effort to build a career in academia. In a letter to Mason dated Jan. 2, 2002, Johnson lists a mailing address at the Pacific School of Religion, a progressive Christian seminary in Berkeley, California, in his signature. In another letter, dated Oct. 3, 2003, Johnson wrote to Mason using the school’s letterhead.

A spokesperson with the Pacific School of Religion verified that Johnson worked as a visiting assistant professor at the school’s Center for Swedenborgian Studies from 2002 to 2005 but declined to comment on specifics around his departure.

“We affirm that both PSR and the Center for Swedenborgian Studies vehemently denounce White nationalism, anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination in all its forms,” Hallie Fryd, PSR’s director of communications, told Hatewatch in an email.

Johnson, under the pseudonym “R.G. Fowler,” released And Time Rolls On: The Savitri Devi Interviews in 2005 through Black Sun. Though Johnson offered his thanks to several prominent neo-Nazi leaders, including Turner Diaries author William Luther Pierce, he does not reference his correspondence with Mason in the acknowledgments.

Centering FHU in Atlanta’s white nationalist scene

Corporate records for the FHU indicate that members of the group’s leadership were deeply involved in other white nationalist causes as well.

Hatewatch reviewed 1988 articles of incorporation that FHU filed with the state of Georgia, as well as tax returns for the group from 1999, 2004 and 2005. The documents indicate that the group underwent a series of personnel changes somewhere between 1988 and 1999 that brought it closer to a network of white power activists active in the greater Atlanta area, including the later head of the secretive Charles Martel Society (CMS), Martin O’Toole.

Greg Johnson, who said he collaborated with O’Toole’s group, FHU, in the early 2000s, previously served as the editor for CMS’s publication, The Occidental Quarterly, between 2007 and 2010.

O’Toole, a Georgia-based attorney and spokesperson for Atlanta’s Sons of Confederate Veterans’ chapter, appears in FHU tax documents as the organization’s director in 1999, 2004 and 2005, as well as an annual registration document filed in 2007. Atlanta Antifa, an antifascist collective, documented O’Toole’s extensive ties to the racist right, including to Sam Dickson, one of the founding members of CMS and a former lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan, as well as to Nebraska-based neo-Nazi Gary “Gerhard” Lauck, who served multiple prison sentences in Germany on charges related to smuggling Nazi propaganda through Europe.

Richard Spencer, who became involved with CMS in the late 2000s but who left the group formally in 2018, described O’Toole as the “Sam Dickson fan club president” in a conversation with Hatewatch. Since the 1970s, O’Toole and Dickson have collaborated on a range of racist and antisemitic causes, including a book publishing company that promoted the works of David Irving, a self-styled historian whom multiple European countries have convicted of Holocaust denial.

O’Toole first became involved with CMS in a leadership capacity in 2011 and served as the group’s president and chairman from 2015 through 2021, per tax records. In 2022, racist radio personality James Edwards replaced O’Toole as CMS’s president and chairman, though O’Toole has remained on its board.

Hatewatch reached out to O’Toole over email but did not receive a response.

Founded in 2001, CMS bills itself as “the intellectual home of Western Nationalism.” Through its website Occidental Observer and magazine Occidental Quarterly, CMS cloaks its dreams of a white nationalist ethnostate in the guise of quasi-academic rhetoric.

Spencer described the organization as besieged by infighting and internal drama. In a conversation with Hatewatch, he described the group as “very cliquish” and said, with regards to the group’s activities, that there was a “fuddy-duddy quality to the whole thing.”

‘He was talking about selling drugs to fund the movement’

Though Johnson remained involved with the white nationalist movement, going from CMS to founding Counter-Currents in 2010, Schuster’s trajectory is murkier.

Black Sun, the publishing house that Schuster registered in Montana, fell into inactivity after releasing the Savitri Devi collection. Montana’s secretary of state office, which requires businesses to periodically file paperwork regarding their activities, first registered Black Sun as inactive after Schuster failed to file the requisite paperwork on Nov. 9, 2006, according to business documents obtained by Hatewatch

Multiple databases indicate that Schuster remained in Montana until at least 2017, when he relocated to Idaho. Mason told Hatewatch that he tried to reach out to Schuster sometime prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but was unable to reach him.

“He seems to have dropped out of sight,” Mason said.

Hatewatch asked multiple researchers, as well as current and former members of the far right, if they had met or were aware of Schuster’s activities after Black Sun dissolved. Few did.

Travis McAdam, a current Southern Poverty Law Center staffer who has been tracking hate and extremism in Montana for over 20 years, told Hatewatch that he recalled seeing “references to [Schuster’s] Black Sun Publications in various hardcore white nationalist spaces,” but few references to Schuster in particular.

Scott Ernest, a former white supremacist who once served as a recruiter for the Montana-based Pioneer Little Europe Kalispell, told Hatewatch that he “never met him while involved in extremist Montana politics.”

Of the far-right figures whom Hatewatch contacted regarding Schuster, only one met him in person.

Richard Spencer recalled meeting Schuster in March 2011 at a restaurant in Whitefish, Montana, around the time Spencer became president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute. Data brokers indicate that Schuster was living in Missoula at the time. Spencer said that he “didn’t know who he was really” but agreed to meet up.

“He was big into Siege, and he was talking about selling drugs to fund the movement,” Spencer told Hatewatch.

“He dropped it when my reaction was like, ‘What?’” Spencer continued.

During their meeting, Schuster gave Spencer a copy of Siege. Hatewatch sent Spencer a photo of the 2003 edition of Siege, and he confirmed that it was the same version of the book that Schuster gave him. Spencer said that he looked at the book at the time but found it “incomprehensible and disgusting.”

The role of SIEGE in the white supremacist movement

From the Ku Klux Klan’s campaigns of terror in the 1800s to the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, violence has always marked the white supremacist movement. For decades, its pro-terrorism wing looked to William Luther Pierce’s race war fantasy The Turner Diaries, which helped inspire Timothy McVeigh to commit the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

In recent years, a new generation of activists turned to Siege for guidance. These extremists, many of whom were young, saw Spencer and other white nationalists who aimed to leverage more mainstream political institutions in service of building a white ethnostate as inadequately radical. Among them were users on the website Iron March, who formed new neo-Nazi groups that promoted racial terrorism. The most important of these was the Atomwaffen Division, whose members have been linked to numerous crimes, including multiple murders.

While Black Sun’s edition of Siege rescued the book from obscurity, it was Iron March’s third, 2015 edition that gave it the prominence it has today. Atomwaffen Division members were required to read it. One called it the group’s “Bible,” while another said, “Mein Kampf is great, but SIEGE is more relevant to our struggle,” according to internal chat logs from the group obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Siege’s delayed popularity stems in part from Mason’s still-contentious relationship with the broader white power movement. Though Mason’s involvement with the neo-Nazi movement began in 1966, when he joined the American Nazi Party at the age of 14, by the 1980s his fellow neo-Nazis almost entirely dismissed him. It was not until the 2010s, after Siege had been released in two more editions and heavily promoted online by members of Atomwaffen Division and other like-minded violent groups, that it became a definitive text within the movement.

Mason wallowed in extremes, as did his new generation of followers. His fans have embraced fantasies of grotesque sexual violence and have been accused of sharing child pornography. They venerated mass murderers as “saints” and rejected structured political groups in favor of promoting terror attacks. To Mason’s self-styled acolytes, the violence at 2017’s “Unite the Right” was insufficient. In addition, the scrutiny that its organizers faced from journalists, activists and politicians, as well as the legal challenges that awaited them, proved the neo-Nazi leader’s distaste for political activism. Only extreme violence — or to drop out of society altogether, his other recommendation — remained as options.

“When the shit hits the fan, these fakes are going to run for the hills. And we need to be there to guide those who will prove to be worthwhile in this struggle,” Atomwaffen Division leader James Cameron Denton, aka “Rape,” wrote of “Unite the Right” organizers on Aug. 15, 2017, three days after the rally, according to the group’s internal chatlogs that SPLC obtained. By the end of 2018, SPLC identified 27 Atomwaffen Division chapters active throughout the United States in its annual audit of hate groups.

Mason also inspired “SiegeCulture,” a loosely connected, international milieu of white supremacists who embrace accelerationism, a tactic that sees terroristic violence as the sole means to usher in their all-white ethnostate.

Throughout the late 2010s, accelerationists founded several groups in the United States and abroad, including The Base (U.S.), Sonnenkreig Division (Britain), Feuerkrieg Division (Estonia), and Antipodean Resistance (Australia). On Telegram, a social media app popular with accelerationists, Mason’s fans distributed his work and discussed ways to implement his violent vision in a loose network of channels known as “Terrorgram.” Neo-Nazi activists published three more editions of Siege in 2018, 2021 and 2023. Versions of the text have been translated into numerous languages.

Still, the groups that looked to Mason as a guide were not immune to the same pressures that caused more mainstream white power groups to collapse. Five senior members of the group faced federal charges stemming from their involvement. Others, including former leaders and key members Devon Arthurs, Brandon Russell and Samuel Woodward, were already in prison awaiting trial on other charges.

Then, in 2020, Mason announced in a short video clip that someone shared to multiple file sharing sites that Atomwaffen Division was disbanding amid rumors of the U.S. government designating the group a foreign terrorist organization.

Since then, a court in Russia found that Siege is “extremist material” and “prohibited distribution [of the text] within the territory of the Russian Federation,” according to an Aug. 14, 2023, article in the state-owned outlet TASS. James Mason himself is barred from entering Canada.

Spencer Sunshine is a longtime researcher of the far right. His book Neo-Nazi Terrorism and Countercultural Fascism: The Origins and Afterlife of James Mason’s Siege will be released in May 2024.

Illustrations by Nate Kitch

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