“At the center of all these noble races we cannot fail to see the blond beast of prey, the magnificent blond beast avidly prowling round for spoil and victory; this hidden center needs release from time to time, the beast must out again, must return to the wild.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
One of the stimulating aspects of philosophy is its subjective nature. The branch of philosophy known as the philosophy of the mind takes an ontological approach in exploring the nature of subjectivity. By examining it through that lens, subjectivity is in flux with objectivity. Philosophy of the mind claims that the way humans experience reality is through a unique emotional or mental state that is infinitely variant to each individual. And while that idea may have strokes of truth brushed over its rather abstract canvas, behind most philosophical works is a foundation constructed with context.
Subjectivity and context could be viewed as in tension with one another if you apply the idea of objectivity to the latter. Context is a basis in which subjectivity can thrive. For example, take into consideration the above quote by the 18thcentury German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. This quote is derived from his work titled “The Genealogy of Morals,” a collection of essays exploring the histories of moral concepts.
Even though he was credited with saying “there are no facts, only interpretations,” Nietzsche had context behind his philosophy, which was inspired by both the current times as well as his own worldview.
In contrast, there is an unwavering ability for an individual to view a philosopher’s work subjectively, and to assign their own meaning to it in order to advance their own ideologies. Universally speaking, with all instances of this sort of subjectivity, the original context still exists, but the subjective interpretation can bury it. This was demonstrated by Adolf Hitler.
Blond beasts and the Übermensch: A Cultural Critique or Racist Mating Call?
Hitler, a man who needs no introduction, happened to be one of the most prolific misinterpreters of Nietzsche’s philosophy. In 1930’s Germany, Hitler intertwined Nietzschean thought into his orations in parallel to the public media designed by Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich’s Minister of Propaganda and Hitler’s close confidant. These false interpretations of Nietzsche were used as kindling for the eventual firestorm of racism and white supremacy that was in its incipient stage amongst the German population.
To Hitler, the “blond beast” Nietzsche describes symbolizes the Aryan race. Its propagation and creation was the goal of his ethnic purification that led to the architecture and execution of the Holocaust. Nietzsche’s quote, among others, was subjectively translated to support the goals of the Third Reich. The irony of it all, however, is that Nietzsche would have despised what Hitler stood for. Nietzsche was in opposition to the ethnocentricity and anti-Semitism at the core of Nazism. If you put the entire quote into its proper context, it reads:
“At the centre of all these noble races we cannot fail to see the blond beast of prey, the magnificent blond beast avidly prowling round for spoil and victory; this hidden centre needs release from time to time, the beast must out again, must return to the wild: — Roman, Arabian, Germanic, Japanese nobility, Homeric heroes, Scandinavian Vikings — in this requirement they are all alike. It was the noble races which left the concept of ‘barbarian’ in their traces wherever they went; even their highest culture betrays the fact that they were conscious of this and indeed proud of it.”
The continuation of the quote describes a multicultural inclusion in Nietzsche’s original thought. Quite the contrary to a blonde-haired beast with blue eyes and white skin. And if you fast forward to the present time, the cliché “history repeats itself” is relevant when it comes to Nietzsche’s work being misinterpreted to fit a white ethnocentric narrative. Insert Richard Spencer.
Richard Spencer is an infamous figurehead of the modern-day white nationalist and alt-right movement in the United States. In replacement of brown shirts and swastikas, Spencer and his followers commonly don clean suits and undercut hairstyles, while masquerading their extremist views as an honest attempt at “preserving white European culture” in the midst of globalization, refugee replacement, and mass immigration into the U.S.
Similar to Hitler, Nietzsche is credited to be an inspiration to Spencer, despite the problematic tension between the former’s context and the latter’s subjective interpretation of said context. The rhetoric of Spencer and his movement is often portrayed as a form of intellectual thought, as per the National Policy Institute of which he is the president and director. His is a professional attempt at normalizing the white identity movement and increasing its attractiveness with an illusion of a clean-cut and well-mannered presentation.
The modern white identity movement has the goal of establishing an independent white nation-state that is based on the values and culture commonly associated with white Europeans. Preservation of race and heritage is paramount, and grassroots movements are the way ideological adherents can further the cause. Instead of violent skirmishes and collective aggression, the identity movement’s goals can be achieved by educating, local organizing, and inserting like-minded individuals into the state and national political arena.
Semantics are also important. “White Supremacy” carries a historically negative reputation and can be off-putting to potential recruits who might be afraid to get involved with the extreme fringe elements. Instead, “White Identity Movement” is a softer and more accessible term: It centers on the concept of identity instead of overt supremacy.
The ideas of Spencer and his adherents are dangerous and grotesque in isolation. Yet, they are relatively mild in comparison to what lies on the fringe ends of the right-wing/ethnocentric militant spectrum. There you will find a maelstrom of violence, terrorism, and racist rhetoric in some of its most brutal and unfiltered forms: White nationalists whose beliefs overlap with Spencer’s ideas yet take them to their logical conclusion. White nationalists who partake, in domestic terrorism.
Although the right-wing is not independent in the sphere of U.S. domestic terrorism, evidence supports the notion that it makes up the majority of current incidents. Unfortunately, open-source intelligence on the exact number of white supremacist related incidents is hard to come by due to overlap within the category with other violent groups, such as incels, radical Islamists, and environmental/left-wing extremists.
There is a spectrum of domestic terrorism, and it would be a relatively simple task to create a Venn diagram with white supremacists and right-wing extremist groups labeling the quadrants. Both are separate entities, yet they have similarities. For instance, the concept of “accelerationism,” which will be elaborated on later, is at the core of both the extreme-right boogaloo and militant white supremacist ideologies.
The boogaloo movement, along with other right-wing militant groups, does not entirely exclude people of color or other targeted groups within the white supremacy movement. With the complexity and lack of precise information aside, there are enough resources available to infer that white supremacists have had an alarming rate of increased recruitment and activity in recent years.
According to Colin P. Clarke, an adjunct senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, “Since 9/11, more people have died in the United States because of white supremacist terrorism than jihadist terrorism.” According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), in 2017 two thirds of U.S. terror attacks were tied to right-wing extremists. Between 2017 and 2018, white nationalist chapters in the U.S. rose from 100 to 148, demonstrations from 76 to 91, and there was a 182 percent increase in the distribution of white supremacist propaganda. These changes illustrate an upward growth trajectory.
The reason why there has been such a rise in white supremacist activity and related domestic terrorism is hard to prove empirically, but the presidency of Donald. J Trump is commonly cited as a major factor. Critics of President Trump often make the claim that his rhetoric and public statements are welcoming to white supremacists and are a call to arms for them to feel safe emerging from dormancy. It is still too early to say, but it is highly likely that the current civil unrest following a string of highly covered deaths in the black community, will further energize the white supremacist base, which views its culture as being under a heavier siege than ever before.
Stormfront is the oldest white supremacist forum on the internet, and the surge in new users looking for a like-minded community reflects the recent race-related events. In the forum section titled “New Members Introduce Yourselves,” a user named Slacker341 writes in their introduction: “I believe the time is coming [sic] for segregation and a second civil war is not far off. This will be a civil war of the red states against the blue states, not a war of color but of values. Until then I want to belong to a group of fellow European Americans who believe being white is nothing to apologize for but to be proud of.”
In the same section, another new user by the name of “BasedGrunt” claims to be an active-duty U.S. Marine in transition into the civilian sector. “I am a skilled public speaker, organizer, and tactician both militarily and politically. I will ultimately run for political office in the near future, “BasedGrunt writes, followed by an expressed desire to enter the Kentucky political circuit.
And finally, a user by the name of “Euroancestry” keeps it short and sweet: “I hope to find what I am looking for, which is a community that shares my beliefs and values. We all see what is happening to the U.S.A. and it is so scary.” Replies from Stormfront members often include links to videos with titles like “Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told!” and “The Islamic Doctrine of Migration.” Nothing out the ordinary or alarming there, just innocent media suitable for the whole family…
Those are just three instances of a myriad of recent posts that reflect a community that is alive and well with new users. Even some who are actively serving in the U.S. military (which is quite troubling) seek to dig deeper into the thorny brambles of the white nationalist movement. On its face, Stormfront aligns closer to the softer version of white nationalism mentioned earlier as the “white identity movement.” Within its community, however, it is almost certain that there are people who belong to and recruit for the more extreme militant demographics within the movement.
The Most Extreme of the Extreme
There is a wide array of groups within the white supremacy movement, with some of them being more violent than others:
Atomwaffen Division: Atomwaffen Division (AWD) is a neo-Nazi group founded in 2015. Its goals are inspired by the philosophy of the late Charles Manson, a prolific cult leader who wanted to start a domestic race war in the early 1970s, as well as by James Mason, a decades-long neo-Nazi and close ideological advisor to the group. AWD utilizes aesthetics borrowed from Nazism and Satanism for the design of its propaganda — a practice likely inspired by Nazi Heinrich Himmler’s Schutzstaffel paramilitary organization (SS) and its fascination with the occult.
AWD kept its internal communication shrouded in secrecy until the independent investigative journalism organization ProPublica acquired around 250,000 messages from their chat logs. Those logs shed a rare light into the inner workings of the group and revealed intensive levels of violent and racist rhetoric and calls for direct action. Over the past four years, multiple members have been arrested or imprisoned for planning terroristic plots.
AWD was known to have roughly 80 members spread across 23 states until the February 2020 arrest of multiple key leaders. The group disbanded at that point, although not entirely. Similar to the Dark Lord Sauron in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a part of their soul remained on the earth, and it eventually found a new Mordor to call home. And like so, in July of 2020, remnants of AWD announced their resurrection into the National Socialist Order (NSO).
The Base: The Base is a neo-Nazi network founded in 2018 by an extremist under the alias “Roman Wolf.” The group shares similarities with AWD. Like AWD, James Mason is a noted inspiration for The Base’s movement. The concept of unifying the white race and invoking a race war through violent means is central. According to the Counter Extremism Project, The Base primarily operates as a training apparatus for small two to three-man cells spread across the country (their exact locations are unknown).
Once vetted and allowed into the group’s communications channels, recruits and members have access to information from the fields of explosives, guerilla warfare, counter-surveillance, weapons training, and other military tactics. Similar to AWD, digital propaganda is also a tool to further the group’s message into mainstream online communities.
The exact number of members is not known, and the process of getting through the vetting is intensive. Suspected members have been arrested for a potential attack on a pro-Second Amendment rally in Virginia in January 2020, although no violent attacks under their name have been reported thus far.
Rise Above Movement: The Rise Above Movement (RAM) is a group of militant white supremacists that started in 2018. It is based primarily in Southern California. Members of the group have been documented as participants in bloody melee skirmishes at U.S. demonstrations. The group prefers to utilize hand to hand combat. It trains in MMA and other martial arts techniques in preparation for urban combat. Members of the group commonly overlap with larger and more established groups, such as Identity Evropa, Hammerskin Nation, and The Base.
Tactics, Techniques & Procedures
White supremacists share common TTPs amongst each group. This list is not comprehensive but sufficient to highlight the capabilities of the groups, and why they should not be taken lightly:
Accelerationism: Among all neo-Nazi and white supremacist extremist groups, accelerationism is a common characteristic. By definition, accelerationism is the expediency of complete societal collapse through primarily violent means. White supremacists who subscribe to this ideology believe that they will be able to establish their own white ethno-states following the collapse of society. They seek to plan and take actions that put that collapse in motion.
Social Media: Social Media is one of the most important tools white supremacists have at their disposal. The social media giants (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit) have severely cracked down on extremist sites. This has damaged the extremist sites’ ability to influence the mainstream. There has been an influx of social media platforms, which started in response to big tech, that promises to foster an environment that allows free speech in every form. These communities like Gab, Telegram, BitChute, 8kun, and 4chan (not new but still relevant) to name a few, are breeding groups where groups can openly communicate and propel their messages and propaganda. However, all forms of social media, mainstream or otherwise, are used as a recruiting ground for emerging white supremacists.
Propaganda: The majority of the larger extremist groups have a powerful digital propaganda wing. Forms of propaganda range from memes to professionally produced videos showcasing their training camps and ideological messages. It is common for groups to have a dedicated propagandist whose online alias is tied to their work. There is also an element of offline propaganda being spread in cities across the U.S. in the form of physical fliers and posters.
Literature: Literature and the distribution and consumption of educational materials are held to high regard amongst white supremacist groups. By studying past movements and hearing modern ideas, members are energized and further radicalized. Third Reich propaganda is a common starting point, but modern white supremacists have vast access to journals and webpages dedicated to their ideas.
Websites like VDare, The Daily Stormer, American Renaissance, The Revolutionary Conservative, and Occidental Quarterly, contain vast amounts of content that caters to every corner of the white nationalist realm. SEIGE is a neo-Nazi publication created by James Mason (AWD) in the 1980s and is a commonly referenced collection of works within the most extreme elements of the white nationalist movement.
Training: As unfortunate as it is, there are reported military members (both active and veterans) in many of the militant groups. They offer their skills and tactical training in backyard settings and underground training camps. Firearms, explosives, and other forms of tactical training and readiness are highly emphasized within militant groups. Resources from online databases, as mentioned regarding The Base, are commonly shared with properly vetted members.
Into the Future
White nationalism, extremism, and ethnocentric terrorism are not disappearing anytime soon. The social temperature in the U.S. is currently at fever-dream levels. Racial tensions and the public’s cries of lamentation for the systematic reform of the U.S. legal and judicial system are a powerful tool that white nationalists can use to persuade non-radicalized yet sympathetic whites towards their cause.
The 2020 presidential election is only a few months away. No matter what the outcome is, it is highly likely the built-up hate and discontentment amongst extremist factions on both sides will be released in some capacity. The modernization and digitalization of extremist groups assist with both recruitment and the efficient delivery of propaganda across the internet.
The power of ideology is evident. The ease with which an individual can be radicalized and inspired to carry out lone-wolf attacks will be a constant factor in the future. Extremist groups may rise and fall, but there will always be one that replaces the next. That may sound demoralizing, but it is the unfortunate reality of the age of information.
“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
This article was written by Michael Ellmer and originally published on Grey Dynamics.