Date of birth: September 11, 1933
Died: July 23, 2002
Place of birth: Atlanta, Georgia
Affiliations: John Birch Society, American Nazi Party, National Socialist White People's Party, National Youth Alliance, National Alliance (founder)
Businesses: National Vanguard Books, Resistance Records
Works: The Turner Diaries (1978, as Andrew Macdonald), Hunter
(1984, as Andrew Macdonald), New World Order Comix # 1:The Saga of…White
Will!! (1993, comic book)
William Pierce, who died on July 23, 2002, gained renown in far-right circles throughout the world as the author of The Turner Diaries. A fictionalized account of an apocalyptic Aryan revolution in the United States, the book was the inspiration behind one of the worst terrorist acts committed in the United States - the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people. As founder of the National Alliance, the largest and most active neo-Nazi organization in the United States, Pierce used several media - weekly radio addresses, the Internet and most recently white power music ventures and racist video games - to promote his vision of a whites-only homeland and a government free of "non-Aryan influence." Since Pierce's death, his followers have vowed to carry on his work.
Long Career in Bigotry
William Pierce, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, has been active in the extremist movement since the 1960s. A Ph.D. in physics, he taught at Oregon State University from 1962 to 1965 and, during that time, briefly joined the John Birch Society, a hard-right political organization. He stopped teaching as his political views grew more radical and, in 1966, moved to Washington, D.C., where he began associating with George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder and leader of the American Nazi Party. Pierce claims that he was never a member of the ANP, but he met with Rockwell often and became the editor of the National Socialist World, a quarterly aimed at intellectuals and academics that was published by Rockwell's World Union of National Socialists.
After Rockwell's assassination in August 1967, Pierce became one of the principal leaders of the National Socialist White People's Party, the successor to the ANP. In 1970, Pierce left the NSWPP and joined the National Youth Alliance, a far-right political group (with neo-Nazi leanings) founded by Willis Carto in 1968 that attempted to recruit college students to "smash" liberal causes on campus. (Carto, head of the extreme-right Liberty Lobby, established the NYA after an earlier incarnation of the group, Youth for Wallace, failed to get Governor George Wallace elected as president in 1968.)
By 1971, Pierce and Carto were openly feuding. Carto accused Pierce of stealing the Liberty Lobby mailing list to send letters that vilified Carto's group. Ongoing disagreements between Carto and Pierce and their supporters caused the NYA to split into factions, and by 1974 Pierce's wing became known as the National Alliance. Since then, Pierce has run the group and edited its magazine National Vanguard (originally titled Attack!), as well as an internal newsletter, National Alliance Bulletin (formerly called Action). He also broadcasts the group's "American Dissident Voices" weekly radio address and controls other businesses associated with the NA: National Vanguard Books, Resistance Records and Cymophane Records.
Forming the Cosmotheist Church
In the early years of the National Alliance, Pierce held weekly meetings near Washington, D.C., in an effort to attract people to the organization. At the same time, Pierce was formulating a philosophy that became the basis of what he called "Cosmotheism," a racist religion that stresses the superiority of the white race and the unity of the white race with nature.
In 1985, Pierce relocated the National Alliance from Arlington, Virginia, to a 346-acre farm in Mill Point, West Virginia, which he bought for $95,000 in cash. He called his new compound the Cosmotheist Community Church. (There has been some speculation over the years that at least some of the money used for the purchase had come from the proceeds of bank and armored- car robberies committed by The Order, a white supremacist terrorist gang that included National Alliance members and whose aims were drawn from Pierce's novel, The Turner Diaries.) Pierce's formation of the church may have been a last-ditch effort on his part to avoid paying taxes; he had tried, years earlier, to acquire tax-exempt status for the National Alliance itself by claiming that the organization was educational. The Internal Revenue Service denied his application in 1978; he appealed, but an appellate court upheld the I.R.S. decision. As it happened, the Cosmotheist Church did receive federal, state and local tax-exempt status, although it lost its state exemptions in 1986 for all but 60 acres and those buildings being used exclusively for "religious purposes."
An Autocratic Leader
The NA owes much of its strength to Pierce's autocratic leadership style. He differs from most leaders on America's far right because of his intellectual abilities and the discipline he demands from his followers. Though not particularly dynamic or charismatic, Pierce is well-educated, focused, organized and carefully tends his group's image. He maintains the organization's relatively high profile by publishing a steady stream of publications; producing speeches for the group's weekly ADV radio broadcast; and writing copy for the monthly, members-only National Alliance Bulletin as well as articles for Resistance magazine.
Pierce tightly controls the NA's message by requiring adherents to obtain his permission before they speak publicly or create new propaganda materials. His strict enforcement of these rules has helped the National Alliance conduct its activities with little of the internal politics and strife that have sapped the strength of other hate organizations.
Pierce is cognizant of the fact that the vast majority of Americans do not accept National Socialism as a viable political ideology, so he attempts to present his views in a manner palatable to an American audience, particularly middle-class professionals he wants to attract to his group. In interviews Pierce has emphasized that he does not like to use the term neo-Nazi and shuns Nazi uniforms and displays of Nazi symbols. He says, "Most level-headed people, even if they think of themselves as National Socialists, are going to be hesitant to get involved with that kind of circus." Instead, Pierce uses articles, the Internet and particularly his weekly ADV radio addresses to disseminate his propaganda.
The ADV broadcasts are aired on local radio stations, can be picked up in most of the country on shortwave radio and can be downloaded in audio form from the NA's Web site. Transcripts of the speeches are sent via e-mail to subscribers and are sent to financial supporters in the form of a monthly newsletter called Free Speech.
Much like his writings, Pierce's weekly radio broadcast is incendiary. While the particular topic varies depending on current events, Pierce's message never essentially changes: each broadcast is a springboard for the NA's enduring bigotry and anti-government contumely. And while Pierce's invective targets several minorities, he depicts Jews as being at the root of social, economic and political problems affecting the white population of the United States and Europe.
Although Pierce eschews visible tokens of Nazism, in his speeches he plainly vaunts National Socialist ideology. In the December 16, 2000 ADV broadcast, Pierce championed Nazi Germany, envisioning a future United States that would resemble Hitler's Third Reich. He enumerated various policies modeled after the Third Reich that he would like to see implemented, including forced sterilization of women and children on welfare; forced sterilization of children who have a congenital defect; social and economic incentives for "the brightest and healthiest women" to have large families; and "clean and orderly communities, with lots of healthy white children, hiking and camping and learning crafts or folk traditions."
In an ADV broadcast about one month later, on January 27, 2000, Pierce used Nazi-like imagery in comparing Jews to blood-sucking ticks and pathogens that destroy the white race. "We were fit three thousand years ago when we lived in an environment that did not include Jews," Pierce said. "Even in Europe when Jews were present, we eventually developed antibodies against them that allowed us to survive....Letting Jews into the United States was like giving smallpox-infected blankets to the Indians. They used us to break down the Old Order in Europe with two ruinous, fratricidal world wars."
Pierce is often contradictory in his statements. Although he claims that he does not advocate violence, his ADV speeches are often filled with violent images and incitement toward violent action, not only against Jews but also against whites whom he views as "race traitors." In a March 25, 2000 ADV speech, Pierce railed against white women who date black men, "Why should I not be able to do what is right and natural and kill those who commit such an abomination?" (The punishment and murder of interracial couples is a prominent theme in Pierce's two novels, The Turner Diaries and Hunter.) In the same speech, he directed his rage once more against the Jews: "We should be going from door to door with a list of names and slaying those who have engineered this assault on our people....And we know who the engineers are....They are, first and foremost, the media bosses and the other leaders of the Jews."
In another speech on November 11, 2000, Pierce, using Holocaust imagery, talked about "feminized, Judaized wimps," white men who are not doing their part to advance the white race: "The feminized wimps need to be removed from our government, from our media, from our educational institutions, and replaced by real white men....That'll be a tough job....I don't really care how the job is done -- whether the wimps all get machine-gunned and bulldozed into giant lime pits or whether their thinking is eventually straightened out by a program of prolonged trauma and privation."
Although Pierce promotes violence in his speeches and novels, he is careful to distance himself from those in the movement who commit violent acts. He has also made it clear that any NA member who gets into trouble with the law should not expect legal or monetary assistance from the NA.
The Turner Diaries: Inspiring Criminal Acts
Nowhere is Pierce's promotion of violence clearer than in The Turner Diaries, a novel he wrote under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. Considered required reading by virtually every member of the white supremacist movement in the United States and by many extremists abroad, the book describes the world takeover of an all-white guerilla army called the Organization, and the army's systematic extermination of blacks, Jews and "race traitors."1
While he penned The Turner Diaries more than two decades ago, Pierce continues to champion its ugly vision of a world for whites only. A National Alliance radio broadcast aired in early 1997 provides one of many examples:
In 1975, when I began writing The Turner Diaries...I wanted to take all of the feminist agitators and propagandists and all of the race-mixing fanatics and all of the media bosses and all of the bureaucrats and politicians who were collaborating with them, and I wanted to put them up against a wall, in batches of a thousand or so at a time, and machine-gun them. And I still want to do that. I am convinced that one day we will have to do that before we can get our civilization back on track, and I look forward to the day.
The Turner Diaries is thought to be the inspiration behind a number of violent crimes, most notably Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. The bombing, which killed 168 people, was the worst terrorist act ever committed in the United States. McVeigh was so impressed with the Diaries that he sent copies of the novel to friends, with notes encouraging them to read it, and sold the book at weekend gun shows. In addition, in a search of the car McVeigh drove on the day of the bombing, F.B.I. agents found a copy of a highlighted passage from the Diaries, which focused on terrorist bombings of the United States Capitol and an airliner bound for Tel Aviv.
The Diaries also inspired a crime spree in the early 1980s perpetrated by a white supremacist gang called The Order (the inner circle of resistance fighters in the Diaries was named The Order). Led by Robert Mathews, the Order attempted to bankroll an Aryan revolution; its crimes included murder, robbery, counterfeiting and the bombing of a synagogue. More recently, inspired by The Order and The Turner Diaries, members of a white supremacist gang calling itself the Aryan Republican Army committed 22 bank robberies and bombings across the Midwest between 1992 and 1996.
The activities of The Order have also been cited as a role model for an alleged conspiracy by a group of white supremacists in East St. Louis, Illinois, who called themselves The New Order. In March 1998, federal authorities arrested three men in the group who planned to bomb the Anti-Defamation League's New York headquarters, the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. They had also talked of bombing state capitols and post offices and poisoning public water supplies with cyanide. Like other admirers of The Order, members of the group were reportedly heavily influenced by The Turner Diaries.
Pierce's sequel to The Turner Diaries, called Hunter, has also become popular among white supremacists. It tells the story of a drive-by killer who tries to cleanse America of its "sickness" by murdering interracial couples and eventually "working his way up" to assassinating Jews. Hunter is dedicated to the racist murderer and synagogue bomber Joseph Paul Franklin, who confessed to killing as many as 18 individuals between 1977 and 1980 in an effort to start what he called a "race war." All of his victims were interracial couples, blacks, Jews or white women who said they had dated men of another race.
New Ventures: The Internet and White Power Music
William Pierce has initiated many new ventures since he wrote The Turner Diaries. He was quick to understand the potential power of the Internet and to take aggressive steps to incorporate it into the National Alliance propaganda arsenal. The organization relies on the Internet as a tool for recruitment and for broad, inexpensive dissemination of Pierce's ideas in the United States and abroad. National Alliance literature and The Turner Diaries are available on the NA Web site in a
number of languages, including Swedish, French, German, Portuguese and Russian. Pierce's ADV broadcasts are also available in several formats.
In 1999, Pierce turned his gaze toward a new industry -- white power music. In April of that year, he purchased Resistance Records, a music company that features white power bands playing rock, Oi and heavy metal music, with fierce lyrics directed against Jews and other minorities. Resistance was originally founded in 1993 by neo-Nazi skinheads from Canada who operated the company out of Detroit in order to avoid Canada's strict anti-hate propaganda laws. In addition to selling CDs, the company published Resistance magazine, which featured articles on the white power music scene. American and Canadian authorities raided Resistance in 1997; the company was temporarily put out of business until it was purchased in 1998 by Pierce's old nemesis, Willis Carto, and Carto's business partner, Todd Blodgett, a former low-level staffer in the Reagan administration. Pierce and Blodgett later worked out the deal that led to Pierce's taking control of Resistance.
In the fall of 1999, Pierce also purchased Nordland Records, a Swedish white power music company, and folded it into Resistance Records, in effect doubling the company's inventory. In addition to selling CDs, Pierce relaunched Resistance magazine, which had ceased production when the company was raided.
Pierce saw these purchases as an opportunity to reach out to the group that had the most potential to carry out his vision of a white revolution: young alienated racists and neo-Nazis. In the first issue of the revived Resistance (Fall 1999), he wrote, "Resistance Records will be producing and distributing music which speaks directly to the soul of our people. It will be the music of our people's renewal and rebirth....It will be music of defiance and rage against the enemies of our people."
In the Spring 2000 issue, Pierce expressed his hope that "resistance music" would influence young people who are not yet politically motivated. He said: "Through music I want to give them more awareness and a better understanding of what needs to be done. Music is truly a mass medium which reaches and influences everyone, not just those who are already politically committed."
During 2000, Pierce enhanced his ability to penetrate into the neo-Nazi youth culture in the United States and abroad by making business deals with a young German neo-Nazi, Hendrik Möbus.
In 1993, Möbus, then 17, and two other members of his band Absurd were convicted of killing a 14-year-old boy in the former East Germany. Möbus was released from prison after serving just over five years. While incarcerated, he promoted a genre of music known as National Socialist Black Metal or NSBM. The music combines neo-Nazi ideology, neo-paganism and anti-Christian and anti-Semitic rhetoric with a heavy-metal sound.
Once out of prison, Möbus continued to produce and promote NSBM music and was active in neo-Nazi groups. In July 1999, he violated probation by giving a Nazi salute and, shortly thereafter, was ordered to finish his sentence for making demeaning and mocking statements about his murder victim (both actions are illegal in Germany). In December 1999, Möbus fled to the United States and, in August 2000, was arrested by United States marshals near the National Alliance headquarters in West Virginia, where he had been staying with Pierce. During Möbus’s incarceration in the United States, he became a cause célèbre for the National Alliance,
which raised money for his defense and held rallies — joined by members of other extremist
groups — to demand that the United States government grant him political asylum. Möbus has
since been deported to Germany to serve three more years in prison.
Although Pierce denied knowing that Möbus was an international fugitive, he was clearly aware of Möbus's situation. Möbus had become a staff writer for Resistance, authoring an article (under a pseudonym) on the NSBM scene in the Spring 2000 issue. The article acknowledged that he "was now on the run, wanted by German authorities with an international arrest order."
In his ADV broadcast of September 9, 2000, Pierce claimed that he and Möbus had met to help Pierce "establish new outlets in Europe for [Pierce's] records" and to discuss "the role of music in our overall effort." It appears that Möbus was helping Pierce to make inroads into the NSBM scene. In June 2000, through Möbus's help, Pierce purchased a stake in Cymophane Records, an NSBM music company.
These forays into the resistance or "hatecore" music business are not only part of a well-considered attempt to advance Pierce's agenda in the United States and in Europe -- they are also potentially lucrative. Pierce and the National Alliance stand to make millions of dollars; in DM News, a direct marketing magazine, Pierce said that he expected Resistance Records to gross between $500,000 and $700,000 in sales in 2000.
Ties to Extremists Outside of the United States
Pierce's embrace of white power music also signals his desire to further strengthen the ties between "racial nationalists" in the United States and Europe. In the pages of Resistance, he wrote, "The revolution we're building in America is also being built by others in every country in Europe....Sharing our music is a way to do that."
In fact, Pierce's interest in building ties to nationalists abroad extends beyond neo-Nazi youths. Over the years, he has established close ties to leaders in the British National Party, a racist, anti-minority, neo-Fascist party in Great Britain, and to the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD) -- the German National Democratic Party -- an ultra-right-wing nationalist party in Germany. (After a series of violently racist and anti-Semitic incidents in Germany in 2000, authorities there have considered banning the NPD, which attracts a large neo-Nazi following.) Pierce has made a number of trips to Germany in the last few years to attend NPD events and has also invited NPD members to his headquarters in West Virginia. In a speech before the NPD's youth congress in October 1999, Pierce reportedly told the attendants that "it is essential -- not just helpful, but necessary -- for genuine nationalist groups everywhere to increase their degree of collaboration across national borders."
The same week Pierce spoke to the NPD congress in Germany he also attended an international conference of nationalists in Thessaloniki, Greece, which reportedly included racist leaders from Greece, Portugal, Romania, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Austria and South Africa.
The Future for Pierce
Pierce has said that he considers the NA to be "the only serious, mature, radical right-wing organization in America," equivalent to the NPD and the BNP. The National Alliance has grown significantly since its early days and currently has over 1,500 members and over 35 cells across the United States. Pierce promises to guide the organization with a strict hand, attempting to reach out to various segments of the population -- from young neo-Nazi skinheads to middle and upper middle-class professionals. He has said, "We are currently engaged in the work of creating political consciousness." Pierce clearly believes he can convince enough people to bring about his "white revolution." His optimism is supported by the fact that he is revered in the hate movement both in the United States and abroad and is currently one of the most popular figures on the far right.
William Pierce died on July 23, 2002. He was 68. His death will fundamentally, and probably adversely, affect the National Alliance, which centered on his personality. More >>
1Previously sold only by the National Alliance, the book is now published by Barricade Books and is available in most major bookstores. Barricade Books has reportedly sold thousands of copies since its first edition hit the shelves in late 1996.