Splinters of White Nationalist Movement Are Returning to Neo-Nazi Author Who Advocated Violence

(Screenshot / PBS Frontline & ProPublica)

Some splinters of the white nationalist movement have embraced decades-old writings penned by neo-Nazi James Mason, signaling that they are questioning the efficacy of engaging in right-wing politics and are instead favoring the use of violence. Although not widespread, and despite arrests and infighting among adherents shrinking the movement, some channels of the white supremacist movement’s violent undercurrent continue to take new interest in Mason’s propaganda.

“Siege” is a collection of essays written by neo-Nazi James Mason in the 1980s and was first published as a collection in 1992. Mason joined the American Nazi Party as a teenager, and after American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell was murdered by one of his followers in 1961, Mason abandoned hope in the extremist right’s ability to form political organizations. The propaganda essays in “Siege” argue for gaining power in society through armed conflict rather than through political means and endorse the use of terrorism to achieve the goals of the white supremacist movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that adherents to Mason’s ideology have been arrested for murders and building bombs, and Mason himself served time in jail in 1995 for felony menacing.

As the so-called “alt-right” gained influence in 2016, internet users submerged in white supremacist circles would routinely chide one another about “Reading Siege,” seemingly as a joke designed to mock the idea that their movement was filled with violent extremists. Then, people stopped laughing and started reading, and—what’s worse—the material resonated with some.

Members of the neo-Nazi gang Atomwaffen Division, or AWD, republished “Siege” online in 2017 and made themselves devout followers of Mason’s chaotic vision. AWD members have celebrated homicides, and group members have been arrested and suspected of numerous murders in the U.S. It is currently unclear how many people are still members of AWD after arrests and infighting affected the group last year.

Failed Republican congressional candidate Paul Nehlen began promoting “Siege” last year alongside the hosts of “Bowl Gang,” a podcast dedicated to mass murderer Dylann Roof. Roof murdered nine people in a black church in South Carolina in 2015 with the intention of sparking a race war in America. Lately, Nehlen has used his own voice to encourage a race war reminiscent of “Siege.” Angry White Men reported that Nehlen said he wasn’t opposed to “somebody, say, leadin’ a million Robert Bowers to the promised land.” Bowers was arrested on 63 counts last year for his murder of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

One of the latest figures to embrace Mason’s writings is Seth Wallace, who is better known in white nationalist circles by his online persona, “Joachim Hoch.” For a short while, Wallace was a broadcaster of note in alt-right circles online, appearing on podcasts alongside failed neo-Nazi Senate candidate Patrick Little, white nationalist podcaster Jean-François Gariépy, alt-right poster boy Richard Spencer, and the hosts of the white supremacist podcast The Right Stuff including Joseph Jordan (who used the moniker “Eric Striker”). Wallace also co-hosted a now-defunct podcast streaming project called “Heel Turn” that was meant to unify the still-splintering alt-right movement.

In February, Wallace wrote on Twitter that he was stepping away from the alt-right and social media. On May 22, Wallace took to YouTube to announce that he had tossed aside the alt-right, and called the alt-right the “Flight 93” movement, a reference to the plane that was hijacked by terrorists on 9/11 that crashed into a field when passengers attempted to regain control. He likened alt-right namesakes to the terrorists controlling the plane of the white supremacist movement, and said that “someone’s got to charge the cabin.” But rather than disavow white supremacists, Wallace said that he had grown to favor Mason’s approach of violent acts of terror as more pragmatic to the end goals of the alt-right.

“At the end of the day, I think I’d like to be judged for having done the right thing—not having been a lukewarm kind of person, not having been the type of person who will ‘optics cuck’ or cover for bad people or hide truth and throw good people under the bus,” Wallace said. “In order to save our people, we will need to destroy our governments.”

He added later, “There is no political solution.”

Although the subculture surrounding Mason’s essays in the white supremacist movement is small, it is intensely cliquish and insular. Inside group chats, believers goad one another inches closer to committing mass acts of terror and celebrate those who do. The Anti-Defamation League has reported that movement members have come to embrace “accelerationism,” a desire to destabilize society and force society’s self-destruction. In that push toward further radicalization, Mason’s writings have received a new breath of relevance among the fringes.