The “European right-wing comes of age,” triumphantly declared one of the largest white nationalist groups in the United States, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), after an announcement of the results of the 2014 European elections.
Like the Council of Conservative Citizens, many on the American far right, from the Tea Party to hardened white nationalists, paid close attention to the European results. Looking at these votes for nationalist, anti-immigrant, racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-European Union political parties—the American hard right saw hope for the future here at home.
During IREHR’s analysis of far-right leaders in the United States, several different themes emerged at the top of their concern. These may animate far-right organizing efforts over the next year: 1) nationalist, anti-globalist arguments in the age of austerity and financial turmoil, 2) anti-immigrant politics as a winning message, and 3) the necessity of a white electoral strategy here at home. But not everyone agrees that electioneering is the white nationalist path to victory here or abroad.
The US and European Far Right
For years, far right activists in the United States, particularly those interested in mainstreaming their particular brand of bigotry in the political arena, have looked to Europe as a source of hope and inspiration. They have also developed long-standing multilateral relationships with their European counterparts.
Take, for instance, a scene captured in Leonard Zeskind’s Blood and Politics where a CofCC delegation traveled to France to attend a 1997 National Front (FN) “festival” in Paris. At the event, the CofCC delegates presented FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen with a Confederate flag, to which Le Pen responded by saying “We are sympathetic to the Confederate cause.”
For several decades now, leaders from the National Front, the British National Party, Vlaams Belang, and others have also traveled to the United States to meet American allies at conferences and other events.
American far right interest in Europe has ebbed and flowed based on the electoral success of their European counterparts. With the exception of the Tea Party, electoral success has eluded most American far right groups. Now far right victories in the European elections have rekindled the hope of American groups.
“Folks, I’m here to tell you that this week’s election results in Europe have given me a lot of hope,” proclaimed Tennessee white nationalist talk show host, James Edwards.
Capturing the enthusiasm of many American racists, Edwards attempted to cast the issue as a growing conflict between globalism and nationalism, “In country after country the voters are increasingly beginning to favor nationalist parties. I can’t say that all of these parties are the genuine article and can be trusted to hold the line, but what is encouraging is that the people believe that they are an alternative to the globalist establishment and are turning out in support.”
Edwards framing the issue as a blow against globalism echoed the victory remarks of National Front leader Marine Le Pen. “The people have spoken loud and clear… they no longer want to be led by those outside our borders, by EU commissioners and technocrats who are unelected,” she declared. “They want to be protected from globalization and take back the reins of their destiny.”
The Virginia white nationalist think-tank, American Renaissance, called the elections “a promising shift to the Right” and hoped that “we are perhaps seeing the first rays of a new dawn after a long night.” Elaborating on the meaning behind the vote, “the results of elections to the so-called European Parliament show that the peoples of our mother continent are at long last showing signs of resistance to–indeed, incipient revolt against the cosmopolitan elites that have for so long misruled them.”
Matt Parrott of the Traditionalist Youth Network pushed the argument further, arguing that Europeans are more interested in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nationalism than in America’s liberalism. While there is little evidence suggesting that the European public is drawn to Putin’s nationalism, for many of the most successful far right political parties it is true. During a trip to Moscow, for example, National Front leader Marine Le Pen declared her admiration for Putin’s “patriotism.” UKIP leader Nigel Farage has also named Putin as the world leader he “most admires.” Parrott also encouraged American white nationalists to learn from the successes of their counterparts in Europe.
The coded language about globalists and cosmopolitan elites was wholly insufficient for American anti-Semites like David Duke, particularly with the new-found success of several European political parties that have openly expressed anti-Semitism.
Already kicked out of several European countries for his racism and anti-Semitism, Duke saw the results as a victory for his brand of bigotry. He cast the vote as an important “first step,” in rejecting Jews. In his typically bigoted manner, Duke wrote that, “the results of European Parliament elections held last week have at last shown that in many parts of Europe, resistance to the ideologies enforced by Jewish Supremacists—mass immigration and globalization—are being decisively rejected.”
Anti-Semitic professor Kevin MacDonald echoed Duke’s anti-Semitism in a piece for his the Occidental Observer website, “It’s no secret that Jewish organizations have been strongly in favor of the EU and its policies promoting immigration and multiculturalism. So it’s no surprise that they are quite negative about the results of the elections for the European Parliament.”
MacDonald derided concerns over the votes for parties like Jobbik and Golden Dawn. “What is missing in this opposition is any glimmering that native Europeans have a legitimate interest in preserving their culture and their demographic dominance in areas they have inhabited for thousands of years,” MacDonald wrote. “The policies advocated by Jewish organizations will result in the death of European civilization.”
“European far-right/anti-immigration parties are gaining in popularity, thank God, and they did well in this EU election (in France, Britain and Greece),” noted Alex Linder, the Missouri-based white nationalist colleague of accused Kansas Jewish Community Center shooter Frazier Glenn Miller, at the Vanguard News Network.
Linder echoed the exuberance of his colleagues, but made sure to emphasize the anti-immigrant aspect to the vote. Many on the American far right have seized on the anti-immigrant message sent by the election, hoping it will scare politicians here away from addressing immigration reform. Berkeley-based anti-immigrant activist, Brenda Walker, wrote for the white nationalist website VDARE that in Britain, “Immigration Restriction Wins for UKIP; Will US Republicans Notice?”
The White America Strategy
Beyond the anti-EU / anti-globalism and anti-immigration rhetoric, other American far right leaders also saw a distinctly racial and cultural element to the vote. Commentator and former presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan, long a supporter of the European far right, perhaps best articulated this theme. In a May 23 column, Buchanan contended that the electoral success by the far right meant that Europeans were voting to preserve their “separate and unique ethnic and cultural identity.” Buchanan further held that the results heralded a return to “traditionalism and cultural conservatism, reverence for the religious and cultural history and heritage of the nation and its indigenous people.”
The Euro-Election results give a boost to efforts by white nationalists to push their “white America” strategy on the movement. Also known as the “Majority Strategy” as first developed by the late white nationalist philosopher-general Sam Francis, and more recently resurrected as the “Sailer Strategy” by Peter Brimelow and Steve Sailer of VDARE, the argument holds that Republicans should abandon efforts to reach-out to communities of color, and instead adopt an explicitly racist politics to appeal to white voters. Combined with efforts to restrict immigration which would “stem the influx of Democrat-voting Third World migrants”
As Richard Spencer of the white nationalist National Policy Institute wrote in 2011, “By adopting The Majority Strategy, Republicans would not just be saving themselves, they would be saving their country.”
Tea Party on Both Sides of the Atlantic
The Tea Parties are often less explicit about the racist aspect of this strategy, but they have used many of its elements. At the same time, some in Europe have referred to the emergence of these far-right political parties as analogues to the Tea Party in the United States. While Nigel Farage happily claimed that UKIP is a “British Tea Party,” other European far-right parties, like Alternative for Deutschland, aren’t at all happy with the appellation.
Nor are some American white nationalists keen on the comparison. Writing for the Radix Journal, Michael McGregor notes that while UKIP “made anti-immigration a primary part of their political platform and seems intent on implementing some impediments to the flow of mass migration. The Tea Party seems content to remain a massive scam operation that sucks money out of retired citizens who think their donations go towards winning back America.”
Not all American white nationalists were buoyed by the election results. Among the most vocal white nationalist critics has been Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute. Just days after the election, Spencer tweeted out a brief critique aimed at the anti-EU sentiment of the voters, “I would be inspired if, across Europe, Rightist parties were seeking to take over and strengthen the EU.”
Though as late as 2011, Spencer had been an advocate of the “Majority Strategy” to appeal to white voters using racial issues, he has apparently abandoned that approach.
Spencer followed it up with a podcast for his Radix Journal, and spoke with French Identitarian Roman Bernard about how anti-EU sentiment had become a far right “bogeyman.” The two discussed how anti-EU sentiment was “negative politics” that distracted from the mission of creating “white consciousness.”
To further drive the point home, Spencer published a Radix Journal article by Michael McGregor which was critical of all white nationalist electoral efforts. Calling talk of efforts to emulate UKIP’s success in the United States a “hopeful delusion,” McGregor argued that it “is not a phenomenon we can emulate in America, nor does their platform fully restore whites to their rightful place as the masters of their own destiny.”
McGregor also the deconstructed the idea of “taking America back” a concept popularized by the Tea Party and shared by white nationalist mainstreamers. “It is also disingenuous to lie to ourselves into believing that we can take America back. No, we can’t take America back nor should we attempt it. America is dying and trends such as rampant illegal immigration further balkanize Americans along racial lines (which is a good thing).”
McGregor further attacked the entire electoral project, “it is pointless for us to see their success and try to emulate their tactics over here.” He added, “We should not waste our money and resources on fruitless electoral politics. We should focus our energies on developing ideas, culture, and groups that present an alternative view of the world and create a sense of community for those who share our beliefs.”
Writing in the first edition of the Radix Journal, Spencer put forth that alternative view of the world, “one of our most important tasks—and one for which Traditionalism could be a great aid—is to form a cosmopolitan, that is, pan-European nationalism, an identity that stretches beyond ethnicity, tribe, religious sectarianism, and the disputes that have, from time to time, turned the continent into a slaughter bench.”
Putting that vision into practice, Spencer recently announced that he is organizing 2014 National Policy Institute conference, “Identitarian Congress” to be held in Budapest, Hungary on 3-4 October. He is building a new international network outside the structures of party politics, centered on culture and ideas.
For some American white nationalists, far right success in the European elections has rekindled an interest in electoral campaigning and re-engaging in the debate around immigration reform. At the same time, a segment of the movement has shunned electioneering and seeks instead to construct a different type of international network of racists and anti-Semites.
The emergence of these dual strategies requires American anti-racists to 1) use innovative new approaches, and to 2) continue building relationships between American and European anti-racist / anti-fascist organizations. The future is at stake.