Recently I watched a short video of Charles Barkley interviewing Richard Spencer, the self-proclaimed founder of the Alt-Right movement. The video is rather short, and as far as interviews go it isn’t Barbara Walters. It isn’t even Katie Couric and Sarah Palin. Nonetheless, the video is quite enlightening and gives us a presumed unfiltered eye into the mind of Spencer. For instance, one of the first things that I noticed is that Spencer appears to really want to be seen as hip, cool, and maybe, just maybe, he kind of likes Barkley a little bit (which, by the way, is symptomatic of another phenomenon I’ve noticed among many white racists that seemingly idolize black celebrities, be they sports heroes or music icons). More on this hollow dichotomy later.
To be totally fair to Spencer, the video that I watched is edited for length, but it does not appear that any of his answers were edited to suggest that he is speaking things that he did not actually say – context or otherwise.
That said, one of the most intriguing things that I noticed in the interview is that Spencer’s worldview goes beyond that of just casual or even lazy racism. This isn’t to be dismissive of racism. On the contrary, I believe that racism is deeply ingrained in our American culture and is a systemic part of our institutions. But a good deal of the racism that the average white person like myself is bound to encounter on a day to day basis is basically lazy. It isn’t informed by anything other than infantile distrust of people who look different and media propagated stereotypes; the bad tipper, the sex addict, the infatuation with gold and symbols of wealth (yes, these are black stereotypes, not a critique of Donald Trump). That isn’t to say that this type of racism is innocent. No racism is innocent, or cute, or anything else. But this type of racism is just lazy. At least in the case of someone like Spencer, his racism is informed by a pseudo-intellectualism and a hollow ideology.
Indeed, Spencer’s worldview is very much that of the ideologue. What Spencer describes as his worldview is less General Lee, and more Adolf Hitler. Spencer’s worldview smacks of the totalitarian mindset. I should note right away that I don’t believe that Spencer is a fascist, at least not in the traditional sense. Often when we think of fascism, we think of Hitler, but it would be more appropriate to think of Mussolini. Hitler’s brand of authoritarianism went beyond that of Mussolini. Hitler was a true totalitarian, in the Arendtian sense of the word. I feel that this is an important distinction to make because Mussolini, for all his evils, was more interested in power and expansion than he was in accelerating nature. Hitler was the one who thought that man could seize the path of nature and, like an industrialized mechanism, could speed it up to fulfill his worldview.
And this is what brings me to Spencer. Spencer seems to think that nature is malleable. To some extent this is true. We can hunt a species to extinction and we can pollute the planet to the point that it is uninhabitable. But, for Spencer, this malleability of nature is directly applied to the races. Which brings me back to totalitarianism and to Hitler.
A core belief of totalitarian movements has been that man can, and should seize the path of nature and accelerate it. For Hitler, his view of nature was that there are inherent differences among the races that cause some to be better or superior, and others to be inferior. These so-called inferior races would, in his worldview, eventually die off and be bred out of existence.
In Hitler’s state of nature, there was no equality, and eventually the superior race would rule the globe by virtue of being the only race. Nazism sought to accelerate this supposed eventuality by first encouraging and then requiring “pure Aryans” to breed with each other. At the same time Jews, gypsies, Western Europeans, homosexuals, the disabled, and so many more, were first deported, then concentrated, then exterminated. These were the first, second, and final solutions to the “question.”
When Spencer speaks of isolation among the races, this is him advocating for the first solution to the question. He also hints at favoring concentration of the races, keeping Indians in India, as he mentions, for instance. He also makes references to the next generation, and how they will need to either carry on this work or be consumed by the alternative, if action isn’t taken now. This suggests that he also favors the acceleration of nature, in line with the Nazi ideology.
In the interview, Spencer first argues that whites are no longer in control of nature, and he uses diversity in business as an example. However, he backtracks on this a few scant seconds later when he is pressed on this statement. He then concedes that, yes, whites are indeed in control of much of the western world, particularly in America. But even here, Spencer feels the need to draw distinctions between whites and others. Notably, he singles out Jews. He concedes that whites and Jews control business and industry.
For Spencer, as he explains earlier in the interview, to be white is to be a WASP, a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Jews, then, no matter how European they may be, no matter if they are Ashkanazi or some other group from the diaspora, are, to him, not white. And his reference to Jews controlling business, the hallmark of the capitalist, is straight from Hitler’s rhetoric. For Spencer, just as for Hitler, Jews are to political and economic systems as cats are to Schrodinger. They are simultaneously the evil capitalist, bent on monied control of the people; and the evil communist, bent on forcing everyone to be equal in oppression. This is textbook Nazi dialogue.
This demonization by proclamation of the enemy to be both poles of a so-called oppressive dichotomy, while adopting both poles of the same dichotomy himself to be palatable to more people, is just an example of the totalitarian movement. Just as he proclaims Jews are both the capitalist and the communist, he proclaims that he is both in opposition to race mixing, but also against racism. He has taken both sides and hollowed them out of any meaning, leaving just a shell of a diseased ideology. This is a core fundamental of Nazism, which was both against the capitalist superstructure, but also against the socialist utopia.
It’s also worth mentioning that Spencer calls the Alt-Right a movement. This is an important distinction. By definition, a movement must remain in motion. Once it becomes static, by normalization, the movement dies. It cannot sustain itself under its own weight and so must invent new targets to attack. It has to cross national borders. It must remain in motion until it swallows all. Even then, it will surely collapse under its own weight as a single-race existence will not lead to harmony, but to an internal conflict where there is a lack of trust among the remaining people. Enemies will become those who not just look different, but who think differently, or those who have minor, superficial physical dissimilarities. A movement such as this must, and will, if left unchecked, consume all, even adherents to the movement.
Spencer’s explanations of his worldview in this interview move him beyond that of the lazy racist, beyond the classical fascist of the last century, and plant him firmly in Nazi totalitarian territory. He views the Alt-Right as a movement that must continue to grow. He views the Alt-Right as a solution to the question of multi-culturalism and race mixing. He views the Alt-Right as a way to ensure that his supposed superior race remains superior by eliminating all others, first by expulsion and then, by concentration if necessary. One can only surmise that he might be willing to, if pressed advocate for the final solution.