For most of its post-WWII history, white nationalists have not exactly been on the cutting edge of technology. What they have done, however, has had mixed results, with some of their outreach efforts becoming massive operations.
Willis Carto turned the Liberty Lobby and its paper, The Spotlight, into a business with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, creating the platform for the Populist Party and making Carto a very wealthy man. This even lead to the Institute of Historical Review, an “academic institute” whose only function was to deny the Holocaust, which Carto lost and then battled with IHR members like Mark Weber for years over endowments. Tom Metzger tried to draw out a niche for the White Aryan Resistance by bringing it down into the gutter by producing what they labeled as “the most racist newspaper on earth.” As his operation and outreach to racist skinheads like Hammerskins and Volksfront grew, he lost his house and everything he owned after Mulugeta Seraw was murdered by WAR affiliated skinheads in Portland, Oregon. The lawsuit that followed destroyed WAR, and set a new precedent of responsibility for these “behind the scenes” racist organizers.
The real step forward for the white nationalist movement was the development of Stormfront, a white nationalist web-forum developed by Klansman Don Black out of Florida. Even now, Stormfront has a special place in the world of internet hate, growing month after month. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s The Year in Hate and Extremism 2015 outlined how their growth has been steady.
The total of registered users is just shy of 300,000, a fairly astounding number for a site run by an ex-felon and former Alabama Klan leader. And that doesn’t include thousands of visitors who never register as users. At press time, Stormfront ranked as the Internet’s 13,648th most popular site, while the NAACP site, by comparison, ranked 32,640th.
Their number of registered users has now broken that 300,000 mark, and they have had to update their servers recently just to be able to match the increase in traffic that has come from people discussing Donald Trump.
All of these different communications methods, as successful as some have been for them, are still fossils. They are relics of the past, both in their distribution format and in their cultural affiliations, rhetoric, and philosophical starting points. Movements like the Alternative Right, Neoreaction/Dark Enlightenment, Human BioDiversity, Radical Traditionalism, and all related “identiatrians” have almost no cultural connection to many of these more KKK/neo-Nazi derivative formations, even if their ideas are cut and paste from them.
Instead, these movements were New Media bound right from the start, circling around internet blogs like Alternative Right or hidden forums on places like 4Chan. Today, their outreach has only grown, and the foundation of this outreach strategy has become podcasting.
A real vanguard of this, so to speak, was Richard Spencer and Vanguard Radio. As we have written before, Richard Spencer began his website Alternative Right in 2010 to bring together all the disparate edges of the conservative movement that were no longer a part of the GOP. Paleoconservatives, race realists, neoreactionaries, radical traditionalist catholics, ethnic pagans, Evolian traditionalists, nationalists, identitarians, Men’s Rights activists, and so many more were all drawn into this movement. The real center of this was Vanguard Radio, which was the podcast that was used both as an interview show and, for a time, a regular chat segment with Spencer talking to co-hosts Andy Nowicki and Colin Liddell. The end of 2013 had a traumatic break from Alternative Right for Spencer who, after stepping down as editor, continued to be associated with the website in the press. After Rachel Maddow did an expose on Spencer and Alt Right after the Jason Richwine scandal at the Heritage Foundation, Spencer became increasingly upset with Alternative Right continuing. On Christmas of 2013 he pulled the plug on the website, angering the Nowicki and Liddell, who had become the current editors. He moved Vanguard Radio over to his new project, the National Policy Institute affiliated Radix Journal, and renamed it the Radix Journal podcast. Over its years it has interviewed names from the far-right movement, such as anti-semitic psychology academic Kevin McDonald, the male-tribalist Jack Donovan, Counter-Currents editor Greg Johnson, American Freedom Party Presidential Candidate Merlin Miller, the Traditionalist Youth Network’s Matthew Heimbach, and Pat Buchanan, among dozens of others. He has included a series looking at films by Stanley Kubrick, James Bond books and movies, and a range of other television and films, all of which intending to bring a sort of artistic intellectualism back to the racist right.
Greg Johnson followed suit, using his podcast stream to host talks that he gave on Plato, speeches by nationalists like Johnatahn Bowden, interviews and panel commentaries on white nationalist topics, and to sync together disparate podcasts like Robert Stark’s the Stark Truth. Matthew Heimbach went on to host episodes at Counter-Currents, help out on the briefly lived Kinest racialist Christian podcast Tribal Theocrat, and to do the occasional Traditionalist Youth Hour. The podcast field was eventually swamped with white nationalist content, with places like the White Voice, the Nationalist Network, and White Rabbit Radio. All of these tended to ally with the conspiracy world, often devolving into White Genocide and Zionist Occupied Government narratives. The very popular Daily Stormer website attempted to bridge the gap between the more bizarre and “old school” factions of the white nationalist scene with the smarter and more contemporary crowd, but they eventually moved their show over to Aryan Radio to be alongside speeches by the neo-Nazi William Pierce.
The internet has been critical for outreach of these groups, and it has been since the mid-1990s, so the fact that there are entire podcast networks dedicated to their work is not surprising. What is disturbing, however, is the popularity that many of them have gotten. Radix Journal Podcast and The Daily Shoah, especially, are seeing a renaissance in terms of listeners. The Daily Shoah, which is the podcast project of The Right Stuff, has only been around since early August 2014 but has already soared in popularity. This has come mainly from their “Opie and Anthony” approach to politics where they have vulgar skits targeting Jews, people of color, and LGBT people in the most disgusting language possible. Their popularity has led for them to develop a podcast network of their own coming out of their own crowd, all of which are complete with their own jargon and code-names. This includes Free Radio Skyrim, Fash Britannia, and Fash the Nation, where two hosts banter mainly about how Donald Trump is the savior of the white race and that Bernie Sanders is just a Jew.
The Radix Journal podcast itself has maintained the popularity immensely, and you can see that on their Soundcloud listings there are between 3,000 and 20,000 full listens even on shows that have not been available for very long. Spencer has done this all in an incredibly smart way as he utilizes his iTunes streams effectively. He uses multiple channels, one for the regular podcast, one for the audio of speeches at his conferences, and one for the older conversations he had with Jonathan Bowden several years ago. All of the podcast stream in iTunes with an RSS feed, which is the same deal with The Daily Shoah, Counter-Currents, Tribal Theocrat, American Renaissance, and several others. Even for less specific far-right projects, like Jack Donovan’s Start the World or The Pressure Project, subscribers are in the thousands, and only increasing. As places like The Daily Shoah helped to increase the number of white nationalists active in these online publications and forums, Radix took off as well. In 2015, Spencer increased his podcasting to about once a week, and the listenership tripled. He has now publicly committed to doing a once a week podcast, a once a week video(which will also be streamed on the podcast), and also doing a monthly Google Hangout on YouTube, which is a format that has become popular for The Daily Shoah contributor, Millenial Woes. What this amounts to, when looking at the entire Alt Right network of media, is an almost constant stream of content who is increasing more rapidly than anyone would have expected. Spencer says that he expects to, conservatively, double his reach in 2016, and he just might be right.
Stormfront itself has created a podcast of its own, a five day a week operation where Don Black babbles incoherently, showing both that he is out of touch with the world and even his own movement. This feed has failed to become anywhere near as popular as his successors, which generally shows how different that movement of today has become and how it has left the old-guard racialist groups in the dust. Even leaving out this radical fringe of the fringe, the numbers are staggering when you simply look at just how many people are listening to the vast majority of these shows on an almost daily basis.
People assume that a huge part of this increase is the candidacy of Donald Trump, and it certainly is, as well as white reaction to changing demographics, refugee immigration, recent crimes from Islamic participants, and Black Lives Matter. The real issue, however, is less that there is just a “spark” that has caused it, and rather than this new generation of the radical right is just more effective at targeting and growing their base. They have crafted a message that is more effective than the KKK ever had, and now they have grown to a point that their community has an echo chamber through social media that allows them to continue growing their reach. In this way, it is less that new converts are being made through events and arguments, and instead that the already-racist are simply being “activated.”
For anti-fascists, this presents an incredible challenge, which means effectively targeting their outlets when possible while continuing to shine a light on the way that they code their messages. An example of this is their use of iTunes is almost monolithic, and Soundcloud has already proved that it is not going to accept open racialist content. What anti-fascists and anti-racists cannot do is continue to ignore this faction of the racist community, assuming that they are only an irrelevant fringe. Instead, their growth signals a real shift in the thinking, and it is going to be critical to grow anti-racist work, confront their organizing directly, and to develop strategies that go far beyond liberal anti-racists narratives so that the very structures of racial inequality can be dismantled. “No Platform” is critical in this context, and now we are heading to the digital world of confrontation as well as meeting them in the streets.
10 thoughts on “Hate, Now Streaming: White Nationalism’s Podcasting Breakthrough”
This is a calm, rather neutral and academic criticism of the far-right propaganda reach. But you need to spend more effort explaining why their cause is bad. A lot of journalists and academics like researching more than writing, so your level of detail far exceeds your polemics.
This is intended as friendly, constructive criticism, but you need to make at least a third of the essay a dissection/explanation of (to borrow from Orwell) Why You Write. At the very least I’d like to know your own point of view.
LikeLiked by 1 person
So, I feel like you really are not aware of what this site is or what the Antifa/Anti-Fascist Action movement is. There are literally a dozen long-winded articles on here explaining why racism and white nationalist are a disgusting force. This article is meant to outline the details about their recent communications projects, we do not need to rehash why they are enemies every single time we write about them. There is absolutely no journalistic mandate to rehash explanations why neo-Nazis are “bad” every single time since people are coming to this website with anti-fascist organizing in mind.
Likewise, we actually wanted to downplay that discourse in this article in particular because so, so much of the content on this website is filled with those arguments. It is now implicit to this discussion, and we are not going to insult our audience by pointing out the obvious every single time.
LikeLiked by 1 person
No, I’ve seen other antifa sites, and a demonstration or two. I get notifications and emails from some. The other antifa presences are much more fervent, politicized if you will. I was noticing that you wrote more like an interested but dispassionate academic researcher. That’s fine, I am pretty neutral-but-curious on these matters myself, and that’s why I liked your coverage.