“Obviously, German national socialism is not something that has any direct relationship with what I’m doing right now,” Spencer told me. That was horseshit, but I let him continue. Nazis were violent, he said, and “that is not something that I would have anything to do with. I’ve never advocated that or ever glorified that. I am a dissident intellectual. I am not in charge of the police force or the Army. I’m not ordering the roundup of anyone and throwing them into camps.”
There is the small matter of his aesthetic, starting with the famous fashy haircut. One might, with exceptional charity, attribute the haircut to a trollish desire to get his enemies worked up. But hair aside, his appropriation of Nazi tropes is relentless. In his notorious speech that ended in a roomful of fascist salutes, for instance, he referred to the mainstream media as the “Lügenpresse” (“lying press”), a Nazi-era smear against anti-Hitler media, even if Spencer flubbed the pronunciation.
More to the point, Spencer’s ideas themselves are Nazi to the core, and he knows it, even if many of his followers do not. Hitler, too, viewed politics as a struggle and disdained those who imagined it instead as cooperative. For his own race he envisioned a special destiny, like that of an apex predator, expanding its territory until it occupied the land nature intended for it. Here is Spencer, in that same “Hail Trump” speech, on the destiny of whites:
“To be white is to be a striver, a crusader, an explorer and a conqueror. We build, we produce, we go upward … For us, it is conquer or die. This is a unique burden for the white man, that our fate is entirely in our hands. And it is appropriate because within us, within the very blood in our veins as children of the sun, lies the potential for greatness.
That is the great struggle we are called to. We are not meant to live in shame and weakness and disgrace. We were not meant to beg for moral validation from some of the most despicable creatures to ever populate the planet. We were meant to overcome—overcome all of it. Because that is natural and normal for us. Because for us, as Europeans, it is only normal again when we are great again.”
Thwarting the competition among races, Hitler proposed in Mein Kampf, was a cavalcade of abstractions: justice, human rights, democracy, communism, capitalism. Spencer mocks these same abstractions as shibboleths of the modern age. Members of the mainstream right, he said in a December 2016 speech, “talk about global capitalism, and free markets, and the Constitution, and vague Christian values of some sort. But they never ask that question of Who are we? They never ask that question of identity.” His “Hail Trump” speech describes
“the concepts that are now designated “problematic” and associated with whiteness—power, strength, beauty, agency, accomplishment. Whites do and other groups don’t … We don’t exploit other groups. We don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, and not the other way around.”
These are among the most orthodox Nazi statements ever uttered by an American public figure…
He sounded vulnerable, for the first time since he’d said the St. Mark’s campaign had wounded him. “I have a right as a citizen to walk the streets and not be attacked, and I have the right to be protected,” he complained.
Spencer was obviously right when he said he should not be assaulted. But we both could taste the irony in the situation. If he hadn’t caught himself, he might have started talking about his “human right” not to be brutalized with impunity. Instead he recovered, and used the irony to his advantage. “The fact that they are excusing violence against Richard Spencer inherently means that they believe that there’s a state of exception, where we can use violence,” he said. “I think they’re actually kind of right.”
“War is politics by other means and politics is war by other means,” he said. “We don’t all want the same thing. And that’s why I think there is a kind of state of war going on.”