On January 19, 2017, college student and independent journalist James Allsup interviewed Richard Spencer, President and Director of the National Policy Institute and American Editor of altright.com. Spencer, in what is perhaps his most informative and fair interview intended for a broad audience, discusses race and identity (in particular, white identity), the past and future of the alt-right movement, the fate of libertarianism, the current state of the “alt-lite,” and a couple of different controversies surrounding him.
- Richard Spencer | The Alt-Right’s Future in Trump’s America (Full Interview)
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Note: This is not a precise, verbatim transcript. For the sake of clarity, the informal phrasing of the actual interview has been made somewhat more formal (which includes the removal of redundancies), and a few minor errors in speech have been fixed. Some links have been added to provide background information. Questions and answers have been given time stamps and links to their place in the video, so readers can more readily access the exact words for themselves. Section headers have been added to make it easier to find different topics.
(caption) 00:04: The interview is simply that — an interview, and neither an endorsement nor condemnation of his views.
The National Policy Institute
Allsup 00:09: Richard, how are you today?
Spencer 00:10: I’m doing great. How about you?
Allsup 00:11: Good, good. Thank you. So, before we begin, a lot of people are confused about what exactly the National Policy Institute is. There’s a lot of discussion online about the fact it has a very milquetoast name, in the opinion of some people, but the goal is anything but milquetoast. So, can you tell me a little bit about what NPI is, and what your goal is?
Spencer 00:31: Well, we were thinking about calling it Darth Vader’s Evil Hate Lair, but we felt that that might have been a little too salacious. So we just went with National Policy Institute.
It is interesting; we are going to be doing more actual policy this year. The alt-right, for a long time, has been more cultural, you could say meta-political. It’s been more meta-political than it has been political, because we haven’t been connected to power in any way, and we have been on the fringes to a great extent.
When NPI was founded — it was actually founded by William Regnery and Samuel Francis — the idea behind it was to do cultural stuff and scientific stuff, but also to actually form national policy. And we’re actually going to be doing more of that this year. I don’t think that Donald Trump is going to simply implement anything we produce, but what I think we can do is set the edge of policy, that we can say that this is the idea that the left and the right are not willing to think, and that this is the edge of the Overton Window. And I think that’s a great thing.
But in terms of our interest, it’s a 501(c)(3) that does all sorts of projects. And I’ve just started this new project, which is altright.com. And that’s a collaboration with people from Arktos, and people from, really, around the world. And that’s going to be probably the place where I put most of my energy for the next weeks and months going forward.
Race & Identity
Allsup 02:07: Beginning with the cultural phenomenon, the cultural battleground right now, a lot of people describe NPI — when it’s covered, it’s almost universally described as racist. They throw the word “racist” at it. Or “white supremacist.” Or any one of these other scary buzzwords meant to shock people, —
Allsup: — to scare people. So, the goal of NPI, would you define that as racist?
Spencer 02:30: Well, the word “racist” is one that I certainly would not identify with. And it’s a word I avoid, because it’s not a real term. It doesn’t really mean anything. It’s extremely vague, and it’s always a pejorative. And it was invented as such. So, it’s basically, you know, ‘Sarah Palin’s racist,’ ‘This institution is racist,’ ‘America is racist,’ —
Spencer: — blah blah blah. But then also, when they use it personally, it’s a way to silence someone. It’s a way to make sure that someone is socially ostracized, that you don’t listen to them. I think Peter Brimelow is usually given credit for this: that a “racist” is someone who’s winning an argument with a liberal. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Although I would probably say that a “racist” is someone who’s winning an argument with a conservative, as well. Probably even more likely. But no, it’s not a real word.
I would say this, though: that race is real, race matters, and race is the foundation of identity.
And what I mean by that is that race is real in the sense that it is a concept that can be studied. You can study it genetically, it can be studied historically, and so on.
Race matters in the sense that it’s not just, say, eye color — not a big, important factor in outcomes — no, race matters tremendously. Race is going to inform society. Almost every issue — political issue, cultural issue, sports, everything, almost everything — is based in race, or at least there’s a racial component to the way that we think about things. So obviously race matters. It matters tremendously in everything.
Race is the foundation of identity. That’s kind of more of a touchy-feely version of this, but it’s maybe the most important one. And that is that we understand ourselves as coming from someplace. We understand ourselves as being part of a bigger story. We’re part of Europe, we’re part of this big European story that traces back to prehistory, that includes Greece and Rome, that includes the Middle Ages and the tumults that came afterward, that includes coming to America, and so on. We’re part of this big, you could say a big narrative about who we are. We aren’t just individuals. We aren’t just some, you know, raceless, genderless soul, or brain, existing in the world, interacting with others. No. We have roots.
And, in a way, you have a race whether you want to or not. Because, oftentimes, our adversaries say, ‘Well, define us.’ And you see this among liberals, many times, on college campuses, they’ll be like ‘Ooh, I don’t have a race,’ ‘I’m an African ally,’ and —
Allsup: ‘A child of the world. World citizen.’
Spencer: Yeah. ‘A world citizen.’ Or ‘I’m a male feminist.’ Or whatever. Well, no. Your adversaries will say, ‘No. You are wrong. You are a white male.’ And so, in a way, you have an identity whether you like it or not. It’s just such a crucial component of existence.
Distinguishing Terms: “White Supremacy,” “White Identitarianism,” & “Race Realism”
Allsup 05:38: Yep. So, talking about race, and talking about white identity in those terms, will almost inevitably get you labeled as a white supremacist. Now, you’ve rejected that term. I think that it’s pretty clear, the differences between being a white supremacist and being someone who talks about white identity. But could you just quickly go over the difference between “white supremacy,” “identitarianism,” and “race realism.”
Spencer 05:59: Sure. That’s an interesting way of thinking about it.
“White supremacist” is a lot like “racist” in the sense that it’s not a real word, it’s just thrown out there. But “white supremacist” might have more of an objective validity in the sense that “white supremacist” is like a slave owner, or something like that — someone who wants to lord over other races. There’s been a tremendous amount of white supremacy in American history. I would not deny that. There’s been a tremendous amount of white supremacy in world history. That is not the future. The future is not owning African slaves, or owning any kind of slaves. So, no, I’m not a white supremacist in that sense.
“Identitarian” is a word that actually came from France. Interesting. It was actually used in a context of non-white immigrations. It was used in a context of Arabs, Muslims, so on, coming to France and saying that they weren’t becoming citizens, they weren’t going to be the citoyens. They had this identitarian quality to it. And some people who were, you’d say mostly on the right, adopted that word as their own. So “identity” means — it’s identity politics — it means that that question ‘Who are we?’ is at the root of all thinking about politics. And that’s what I am. Again, there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s philosophers that we could put in the identitarian camp. But I would just say if I would sum it up in an interview like that, it’s that question of ‘Who are we?’
“Race realism” is another camp, you could say. It’s interesting. If we’re drawing a Venn diagram, I would say that most all identitarians are race realist, but certainly not all race realists are identitarians. A race realist is simply someone who thinks that race is real, that that’s a valid concept, that you could study it genetically or historically or whatever, and that it has impact. So, you could, for instance, believe that race is real, and want mass migration, or want to intermarry with someone of the other race to create a hybrid person. You could do all of these things and believe that race is a real thing.
Allsup 08:17: It’s almost like race realism is a scientific understanding, whereas white nationalism is a political goal. And then white supremacy is almost neither of the two —
Allsup: — It’s less scientific, I guess.
Spencer 08:27: But historical. And a bit of a slur word. But race realism is a kind of — I would say that it’s a scientific understanding.
Spencer: Whereas identitarianism is a political understanding. But as I said before, and I say this half-jokingly, it is a more touchy-feely understanding of it. It is emotional. Identity is not just a pure — you don’t know your identity by looking at your 23AndMe account, you know what I mean? That’s race realism. [23AndMe] is a race realist organization, we should say that. But in terms of identity, it’s something more. It’s like, ‘This matters. I want to be part of my family.’
Anti-White Indoctrination & The Rise of the Alt-Right
Allsup 09:09: Yep. And you talk about that. But oftentimes, from the media, from academia, we hear things like, white people have no culture, —
Allsup: — that white people are culpable for the sins of their forefathers, things like that. But it seems like that pendulum is swinging back in the opposite direction, and a lot of people are beginning to reject that. So, do you think that the media’s persistence with that really anti-white narrative, and academia’s persistence at the same time, is having its intended effect anymore?
Spencer 09:36: Well, I’ll say this. If you are under 40, and you are politically active on the right, you are either alt-right or you’re alt-right friendly. Obviously, there’s some exceptions to that, but that is the general trend. The alt-right is a young man’s movement. I’m 38. People who are my age and younger are aware of all this stuff, they know who I am, they know what these ideas are, they have maybe a glimpse of what the French New Right is, and so on.
This is a growing movement precisely because we have gone through indoctrination all over these years. I mean, I am older than a lot of alt-rightists, but in the late 90s, early 2000s, the kind of indoctrination I faced in college was pretty much the same. Maybe not as intense as it is now, but it is pretty much the same. So yes, there is this way that, if you keep punching and punching and punching and punching at someone, that at some point they’re going to punch back. And at some point, they’re going to kind of harden themselves, and recognize that, you know, basic bitch libertarianism, conservatism — these are not going to help you. You can’t just claim to someone, ‘Oh no, I practice universally preferable behavior.’
That’s not going to work. You’re going to have to fight. Because politics is about fighting. Libertarianism kind of gets it all wrong. Murray Rothbard-stripe libertarianism as a political doctrine, you can have any culture underneath it — that’s in a way wrong because politics is not about liberty. Politics is not about freedom. Politics is fundamentally about friend and enemy distinctions. It’s fundamentally about struggle. It’s fundamentally about violence. And I say that with a little bit of hesitation. But the truth is, politics is about the state. The state is able to use power. The state is able to legitimately engage in violence. So politics is a dangerous sport, you could say. And it’s not about liberty. We need to understand that.
So if we’re going to have a politics for the future, we need to be aware that it must be about power. It must be about the struggle. It’s not going to be about freedom.
Allsup 11:59: Did you at one point consider yourself to be a libertarian? I heard a lot of people on the alt-right did.
Spencer 12:03: “A lot of people on the alt-right” — I’m not — Maybe I’d describe myself like that. I don’t think so. I was definitely interested in libertarianism. You know, around the time of the stock market crash in 2008, I was searching for an understanding about what happened, and that actually led me to a lot of deep reading, particularly in the Austrian School, which I found to be the most radical version of libertarianism, so therefore the most interesting one.
I have respect for Rothbard. I certainly have high respect for Hans Hermann Hoppe. And so on. Lew Rockwell. Those people. Tom Woods is another guy who does some interesting stuff. I’m not one of them, but I do find value in what they do.
I just think that that moment is over. I think that there was a kind of Ron Paul moment, when being edgy, being truthful, being dangerous, was about saying ‘End the Fed’ or so on. And that moment is really over. Right now, being edgy and being dangerous is being alt-right. And I think it’s actually going to stay like that for a long time, because the future of the right in the United States is as an identity movement. It’s not as a movement that is based on capitalism, or so-called inalienable rights, or so on.
The Need For Real-World Advocacy
Allsup 13:31: If the alt-right wants to establish that permanence, what needs to happen? You mentioned before needing to move from the shadows of the internet to the real world. How does that happen?
Spencer 13:41: Well, it’s going to happen in baby steps, I would say. And in a way, you know, my being here right now is a baby step. This is a private place. It’s an office, too, but it’s also just a place that we want to bring in some people we want to talk to. It’s a place where we can get away from the public sphere and really meet people and get to know them, and see if we can influence them. So, we’ve just got to take baby steps. We’ve got to take them at some point.
And I get that people fear the dox, they fear having their name out there, and they fear for good reason. I mean, I don’t want to claim victim status, but the fact is, my mother has been attacked now in her home town by this nasty woman named Tanya Gersh. So they will go after your family. They will try to humiliate your family. Most attacks are not violent, although they are willing to do that now — we saw at the NPI conference. So there is a lot to fear, but we’re going to have to do this. We’re going to have to go IRL. We’re going to have to move towards real-world activism. We’re going to have to show our face. We’re going to have to stand tall and say, ‘This is who I am.’
And once you do it, you never want to go back. I couldn’t imagine being an anonymous shitlord on Twitter, and doing something else. Once you’re here, you’re here to stay. It is hard. But we have to just slowly move there. And we can’t just get in this — I don’t know how many alt-right people I’ve known who always are like, ‘One day, we’ll have a movement,’ or ‘One day …’ — look, ‘one day’ is today. We’ve got to do this now.
The Demise of the Liberty Movement
Allsup 15:33: That’s what crippled the liberty movement, so to speak, back after 2012 with Ron Paul Republicans. People got complacent, and people thought, ‘Someone else will do the work. Someone else will pick up this tab for me.’ And it just never happened. And as a result, it collapsed.
Allsup: So, you mentioned the need to move to the real world —
Spencer 15:51: I would be interested in talking about the libertarianism collapse. I’m just curious if I can ask you a question. Because I was certainly excited in 2008, and less excited in 2012, to be honest, but why did that movement collapse? Was it Rand Paul — he seemed to get away from populism, and he became a kind of left-libertarian by 2015.
Allsup 16:19: That’s exactly what happened. And there were too many concessions made on fundamental libertarian principles.
Allsup: They were making too many concessions to people like Black Lives Matter. Rand Paul in his 2016 campaign really tried actively very hard to court the sort of left-libertarians.
Allsup: But not the Rothbard libertarians, but the Jeffrey Tuckers of the world.
Allsup: Right? And they made a concerted effort to —
Spencer: That’s an ironic statement, you know, because Jeffrey Tucker might have written those newsletters. I’ve heard that rumor. Fascinating.
Allsup: Maybe true. And he has some public writing in his past that is fairly controversial.
Spencer: Oh, totally. Yeah. Yeah.
Allsup: It’s interesting to see that —
Spencer: But he became the most ridiculous left-libertarian of all time, at this point.
Allsup: He went through the same Jack Hunter effect, where he used to talk about things that were real, and now he talks about — and then they get discovered, and exposed, and they apologize and grovel and —
Allsup: — retreat into this intellectual cesspit, where there’s no substance to it anymore.
Allsup: So that’s emblematic of what happened to the liberty movement. It just fell apart.
The Deploraball & The “Alt-Lite”
Allsup 17:19: Talking about going into real life, going to the real world. One of the events that’s been heralded by most of the mainstream media as being the coming-out party for the alt-right is the Deploraball, which is taking place on January 19th, only a couple of hours from right now. You were banned.
Spencer: [smiling] Yeah, I’ll just admit that I was banned.
Allsup: [laughing] Why?
Spencer 17:43: Well, I was kind of politely disinvited. Let’s just say that. I kept that under wraps, but that did get out. So I’ll just confirm it, who cares?
Spencer: I would have gone just because, you know, parties are fun. Who doesn’t want to go to a ball?
Spencer: And definitely I know a lot of people who were involved, so it would have been good to see them. Also, we were joking about this before we went on camera, that, what is the makeup of the attendees there? And you were saying they’re probably one third alt-right, one third genuinely “alt-lite,” that is, people who would not agree with that statement, “Race is real, race matters, race is the foundation of identity,” but who are kind of like pro-Trump, ‘whee!’, and then a third of them are leftist infiltrators. [chuckles]
Spencer: That probably is true. I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of people attending the Deploraball are alt-right, that is, they agree with me. And I think that is fascinating, because one of the fascinating things about the Trumpists, as they call themselves — the alt-lite — is that they’ve hitched their wagon to “free speech” — ‘We love free speech, we love that’ — and yet they are engaging in tremendous amounts of thought policing. You take one step too far and you’re gone.
Baked Alaska went one step too far and he could not attend. You can’t imagine the left doing that. The left would revel in some wild, left-wing activist, wearing black leather jackets and coming in fresh from the street. They would love that. It’s like, ‘Welcome, comrade’ kind of stuff. The right, you say one thing critical of Zionism or something, it’s like, ‘I’m sorry, you can no longer attend this party.’ It is ironic that they are engaging in the most thought policing, yet they claim to love free speech.
Allsup 19:50: Do you think they have embraced certain alt-right tendencies because it’s cool, not because they really agree with fundamental ideology?
Spencer 19:57: It’s a good question. When we’re talking about the Trumpists, or the alt-lite, I would say that they don’t really have any ideology. You mentioned that maybe their ideology is Bill Mitchell-ism, which is ‘Guys, we’re here to support Trump,’ basically. That’s their “ideology,” their Communist — their Trumpist Manifesto, is ‘Guys, this is what we’re here for. Support Trump.’
They don’t have ideology. They don’t have ideas. If they have ideas, they’re definitely not original from them. They’re kind of coming from mainstream conservatism to a degree, but their edgy ideas are coming from us, they’re coming from the alt-right. And they are kind of playing footsie with us, often. So in this weird way, the alt-lite, or the Trumpists, are only interesting because of the alt-right.
They’re only interesting because they kinda sorta sound like us. And like Trump himself. Trump is not an identity politician, he’s not a white nationalist, but Trump is interesting precisely because he seems to almost be a white nationalist. He seems to be pointing in that direction, towards identity politics. So it’s a similar thing, where these people aren’t really that interesting on their own.
Mike Cernovich is a brand, and I guess he promotes a Gorillion Mindset of some sort. I don’t know what that means. I’ve heard him say things like, ‘Stay calm and rational.’ Like a gorilla, you know. Odd.
Allsup: And taking blue pills. Taking blue pills.
Spencer: Yeah. Taking blue pills —
Spencer: I don’t even hate Mike Cernovich. He’s fine. He’s an amazing tweeter, and brand guy, and news hound, whatever — that’s great. But what does he really believe? I don’t know. I don’t know what his core beliefs are. I don’t know what even a policy platform would be. So, there is this emptiness at the heart of it. Lauren Southern, a very nice girl, and I don’t really have huge problems with her, but it’s basically kind of like, ‘Ann Coulter, but I’m 30 years younger’ — I don’t want to insult Ann — ‘Ann Coulter but I’m 10 years younger.’
Spencer: There’s no real there there. And there’s only the semblance of there because of the alt-right.
The “Hailgate” Moment
Allsup: For those of you who don’t know, the moment where at the NPI conference, the “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory” —
Spencer: [smiling] I raised a whiskey glass.
Allsup: And you raised — you did not intentionally, at least to my eye, intend for that to take place. But it did.
Spencer: Right. Yeah.
Allsup: And so, it brought the media scorn onto the alt-right, and suddenly a lot of these people who had, like you say, played footsie with the alt-right realized, ‘These people talk about race. They don’t just post Pepes on Twitter and troll journalists.’
Allsup: ‘There’s something more to it.’ And they jumped ship immediately.
Allsup: Are you thankful for that, looking back?
Spencer 23:10: That moment was kind of amazing, when you think about it. That Hailgate moment. And it wasn’t really the moment itself, because on Sunday, everyone was in extremely high spirits. Everyone was like, ‘I loved your speech. Oh, this is a great conference.’ No one thought it was going to happen. But when the video went viral, that was the real Hailgate. So it was like three days after, basically.
Spencer: Anyway, that Hailgate moment is fascinating, because it’s like this intense ball of good and bad and interesting and — complexity. You don’t really know what it is. It’s an important event. There is a benefit towards people wanting to be called “alt-right.” Even if it’s Milo [Yiannopoulos] — Milo never said he was alt-right, he just said he was alt-right friendly or something — but you have popular mainstream conservatives calling themselves alt-right, you have people who have no idea who I am, or what any of these ideas are, calling themselves alt-right.
That’s good, you could say. That is positive. We’re kind of bringing them in. We’re attractive. No one would want to be called a white nationalist, like ‘I’m a white nationalist. I don’t know what it means, but you know, hey, it sounds good.’ No, that never would happen. But that alt-right name was kind of bringing people in. It stood for edginess, anti-establishmentarianism, Trump, open-mindedness, or whatever, and that’s great, it’s a great thing.
At the same time, it almost had to happen, because we needed to kick Bill Mitchell off the bus. It’s like, ‘We’re not going to become you. We aren’t going to become cheerleaders.’ And I’m sorry, he seems like a perfectly nice man, but he’s utterly cucked, and he’s a political cheerleader. ‘And we don’t want you. This is an identity movement, and sorry, you are either in it or you’re off it.’ It all happened really quickly, but I think these are inevitable things that were going to happen.
The other thing you could say is, ‘Oh. Everyone saw this video that was crazy.’ Well, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Now, there is such thing as bad publicity, you know. Being accused of murder or something, it’s not good. But in terms of reaching people, we reached more people than we ever have. And many of those people are going to actually take us — they’re not just going to look at it and go ‘Wow’ — they’re going to actually read us and think about us.
So, it was a big ball of complexity. I think there was actually a lot of silver linings. I think it was probably overall a good thing, believe it or not, a good thing because I and our movement in general, we aren’t fragile. With Hailgate, some other movements might break, but we never broke. There were no denunciations, there were no apologies, it was just kind of like, ‘Look. We were all excited. Deal with it.’ And more people found out about this. In terms of media requests, or donations, or whatever — believe me, it has not harmed me. So, it was what it was. It was a moment in time.
I don’t think that we should ever become a neo-Nazi movement. I think that is just an obvious non-starter. We don’t need to be Roman saluting everywhere. We need to create “scandals” in the sense that we’re saying things that are powerful, we’re demonstrating something that’s so powerful that it’s shocking people. Shock is good. Ezra Pound said, shock the bourgeoisie. There’s something powerful in that, if you aren’t shocking average Americans, then you’re not doing your job. You need to shock them out of the mental prison.
We don’t need to be conservatives and claim that we love everyone, that everyone’s good, that ‘you’re a great American, I’m a great American,’ whatever, no, no — sometimes you need to shock people. That’s what the alt-right is. The alt-right is a vanguard movement. And if you understood it as anything other than that, you misunderstood it.
Ultimate Goal: A White Ethnostate
Allsup 27:20: Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the political goals of the alt-right, and of NPI, and of you. Given the ability to create a society in the United States, in the land that’s currently the United States, what would that society look like?
Spencer 27:34: It depends on when we’re talking about. Are we talking about a kind of a sci-fi, forward projection, you know, or are we talking about what’s happening right now, like in the foreseeable future?
Allsup 27:47: Would you support the eventual creation of a white ethnostate in the land that is the United States?
Spencer 27:54: North America, not necessarily in the land of the United States, yes. I would support, eventually, a creation of a new kind of political order, an ethnostate — that is, a state that is based on protecting my people and our civilization.
Now, is that going to happen next Tuesday? Absolutely not. The fact is, an ethnostate is by its very nature — it’s a kind of post-American entity. It’s something that’s just over the horizon. It’s not possible, but it’s something we need to think about.
But in terms of, what can we do now, what are some policies that we can do now, obviously immigration is a tremendous policy, I —
(video cuts at 28:34)
The Complexity of White Identity
Allsup 28:34: In your speech at Texas A&M, you stated to a protester that you don’t believe that people can just self-identify as one race or another. You addressed this as a Rachel Dolezal question. ‘Can someone who doesn’t have any DNA of one race identify magically as that race?’ What would the standard be for defining oneself as a white person? What DNA standard would you support for that?
Spencer 29:00: It’s a kind of difficult question, to be honest, because my definition of race is not purely genetic, in the sense that — obviously an African cannot become a white person. But in terms of who is white, this can be a vexing question. But I would say this: A southern Italian who has Moorish blood, but who is Italian, that is, he has an Italian identity, he might have a Roman Catholic identity, he has definitely European identity, that person is absolutely white.
Another way of thinking about this is the — there’s this very famous National Geographic cover, and it’s actually one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. It’s a photograph of a striking Afghan woman with green eyes with light-brownish hair, staring out into the camera. And if I just say that, you know what I’m talking about. Again, one of the most famous photographs of the last 100 years. And that woman is Aryan at some level. That woman has probably very similar DNA to me. Does she really have the European identity? I would say no. The fact that she is a Muslim changes that fundamentally. The fact that she’s coming from this just radically different environment changes that differently.
Now, can there be connections between the whites in the Middle East, whites in Europe, whites in North America? Of course there can. But identity, it’s not just purely about race. I know this is a, you could say a wishy-washy way of answering it. But it’s not like you’re going to show me your 23AndMe account and it’s official. It’s deeper than that. It’s bigger than that.
But yes, obviously the genetic component of race is an indispensable aspect of racial identity. I cannot become black. An African cannot become white. But in terms of — I am not a purist. I do not go for a 100% Bavarian phenotype or something like that — or genotype. We have a big family. And there are certainly, obviously differences within our family. There are serious differences between a Scotsman and an Italian, between a Slav and an Irishman. And I think that’s a good thing. So, yeah, that’s how I feel. We’re just not at a point where we’re having to divide ourselves up. If you’re white, you know it.
Whites’ Tendency Toward Universalism
Allsup 31:42: Why do you think white people specifically have such a problem talking about identity? The majority of black people don’t have a problem talking about black identity. The majority of Hispanics don’t have a problem talking about Hispanic identity. In America, you don’t see East Asians necessarily doing that at the same degree that you see African-Americans and Hispanics doing it. Why do you think white people have such a problem doing that?
Spencer 32:04: My friend Sam Dickson once said that he wants to be transracial, that he wants to not be white, because it’s so much easier to be, say, an African-American, where they just know who they are — they literally call each other brother and sister, and so on. If white people could be as smart as African-Americans, we might have this rooted, no-questions-asked sense of identity. And I think that that’s an important thing to remember, that sometimes we’re a little too white for our own good.
I think that there are a lot of different ways that you can answer that question, and I think maybe the simplest answer, but it’s not the right one, is that it’s been, you know, maybe legal, like ‘White identity’s illegal in the country’ and so on, ‘You can’t do that,’ ‘Being white’s bad,’ that kind of PC indoctrination — obviously that’s important.
But I don’t think that’s actually the most fundamentally important thing. There’s some contradiction in white people, that we desire to transcend ourselves, and we desire to project ourselves upon other people. And these can be in a way very good attributes. They get to that Faustian spirit in our soul, that idea that I’m not a mere biological being, I actually am a mind, and so on — this abstractness that we’re uniquely capable of. I think that can be kind of turned around, where you lose touch with the world. You’re too much in the clouds. You’re too much trying to transcend race. And you’re not grounded in the here and now, and with your family. I think that’s a big problem.
I think there’s also something of projecting out whiteness upon other people. I’ve seen funny pictures from the colonial ages of a young black man dressed up as an Englishman, so he’s wearing like a tweed waistcoat, and smoking a pipe, or something like that. And I will grant — I actually have met a few funny African Englishmen out there, there’s one on Twitter, AfroFogey, who seems to genuinely want to be a white person, and God bless him, I guess. [laughing] But those are one in a million, basically. I mean, literally one in a million.
But what I’m saying is that we sometimes think of ourselves as universal. And so we project our own worldview on to others. So, when people talk about something like economic development, or modernization or something, what they’re basically saying is, ‘Are these Indians, are these South Americans, are these Alaskan Eskimos — are they becoming European?’ And we basically treat that as “neutral,” and as raceless in a way. I think we need to understand that what we have really is ours, that European society isn’t just neutral. It is something that derives from us. And even other races that have achieved equal levels, or even higher levels, of economic development — I’m referring to East Asia, say, parts of India, and so on — that, even if it might resemble a Western country superficially, it’s not Western. It’s fundamentally moving in a different direction, and based on different values.
So, I would say there are two things. There’s PC indoctrination, that’s one thing. But I think the more powerful things are these spiritual things, the desire to transcend ourselves, and this desire to project our reality on to others.
Allsup 35:37: So what’s the next step for the alt-right? Trump won the election, that was obviously big. It doesn’t have a direct benefit to the alt-right, but the cultural narrative that underlies that certainly does. I’m sure interest in the alt-right, interest in NPI, is bigger than ever before, at this point —
Spencer: Yes, undoubtedly.
Allsup: What is the next step? We mentioned earlier concrete ways that people can get involved. Should people run for office? Should people establish their own political organizations? What do you see the future being for the next five years for alt-right advocacy?
Spencer 36:07: The future is that we’re going to keep on keeping on, creating new web sites, doing more work, creating more content, doing more interviews like this, where I’m really communicating with people. I’ve been able to communicate with people of different ideologies more in the last six months than I have in the last six years, easily more. More times by a factor of ten, or a hundred. And I think that’s great. We need to do that. We need to be there in the public square.
So, I think in some ways — again, we’re not talking about the grand ethnostate project — we’re just talking about what can we do in the foreseeable future? And that is, make more content, just be ourselves, be there, keep going. And I don’t think we’ll quite know what’s exactly going to happen.
Allsup 36:53: You ever consider running for office?
Spencer 36:54: I have seriously considered it. Ryan Zinke was appointed the [Secretary] of the Interior, and I was thinking about running for his seat. I decided against it because it would be too difficult. Running as an independent would be — you’d have to get a lot of signatures, and so on. I think it would be a lot easier to do something via Republican primary.
I do think it’s something we should consider. And I know how difficult it will be. I am not a man of illusions. I grasp how difficult it could be. But I would say this: Could you really surprise people? Could you get so many more votes, if Richard Spencer ran in Montana, than people might imagine? Would it be a media circus where everyone would be talking about these ideas? They’d have to have an opinion on it. And I think that is ultimately a good thing, in the sense that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, I think that would ultimately be a good thing.
And so, I think that’s something we could do. I think also we can influence people in invisible ways. I don’t think it necessarily needs to be ‘Richard Spencer runs for office’; it could be that alt-right ideas are starting to inflect mainstream conservatives in invisible ways, in ways they don’t even understand. So, yeah, that’s basically what I think we should be doing in the next five years.
(video cuts at 38:11)
Allsup 38:11: When I told people I was going to talk to you, the number one question I got —
Spencer: Oh, I can’t wait for this.
Allsup: — was a ‘What did he mean by this?’ question. And it’s a tweet from 2016, where you stated that homosexuality is the last implicit stand of white identity.
Allsup: What did you mean by this?
Spencer: [still laughing]
Allsup: And I know no other journalist would ever ask you this question. So I’m taking the opportunity —
Spencer: It wasn’t from 2016. It was from 2013.
Allsup: Was it really?
Spencer 38:35: Yes, it’s 2013. Ah, very interesting. This is like a lesson in meme formation, which I think is very funny. Basically, I was getting in an argument about Duck Dynasty, which some people might not even remember. Is it still going on?
Allsup: I think so.
Spencer: Okay. It’s a reality show with a bunch of actual middle-class yuppies, who are — this is the fascinating thing — who are dressing down as, you know, total rural hick, redneck, you know, big beards, kind of thing. Actually, my mother’s family comes from the Louisiana delta, so I’ve met the real thing, not the Duck Dynasty thing.
Anyway, I think someone — I think it might have been Ilana Mercer, actually — wrote a column that said — this is an in-depth story I’m telling here — wrote a column that said, Duck Dynasty is terrible, its basically making white people look like imbeciles. And I watched one episode, which is about as much as I could bear, and I think that is absolutely true. They’re making them look dumb. And this is actually a bad thing. We shouldn’t be all excited about Duck Dynasty as the ‘conservative forces.’
And so, we’re getting in a discussion about that, and I said someone on the nature of — because, Duck Dynasty became very controversial when one of the guys said he was against gay marriage. And in late 2013, that was that inflection point where you couldn’t be against gay marriage anymore, whereas six months earlier you could, but now you can’t. And he was against that.
I was basically saying that a lot of these hot-button issues, like abortion, like gay marriage, like a couple of other things — that I get why traditional Americans don’t like gay marriage, I get why they don’t want abortion, I get it all. And I sympathize with it. But we actually need to get beyond that kind of stuff. Those are superficial and, actually, kind of facile hot-button issues that aren’t getting at the real core of the problem. The real core of the problem is our humiliation as a race and a people — and you could say gay marriage is a part of that, sure — our humiliation as a race and a people, and our loss of our sense of ourselves, and our displacement. Those are the core issues. And if you’re just talking about abortion, if you’re just talking about gay marriage or whatever, you might as well take up gardening, because you’re not getting at the root of the matter.
So I said that the — I should have written “anti-homosexuality is the last stand of implicit white identity.” That’s what I meant. I don’t — I mean, you could flip it around and say that there is a kind of hipster homosexual culture that is very white … I didn’t say that, though. I, basically — it was in the context of that. Then, basically, some of these people who hate me — and believe me, I have my haters, not just on the left, actually the most intense ones are on the right — so they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s promoting homosexuality. He thinks that we all — all identitarians must become gay to save the white race.’ Absurd nonsense. And if they look at the tweet, and look at the thread, it’s just obvious what I was saying, but these people — whether they’re mendacious or stupid, I’ll let the world decide.
Anyway. But then it became a meme. And so, I kind of went with it. And I think one day, I tweeted, it was like 2015 or 2016, I tweeted some funny thing, like — what did I tweet? — like, anime is the last stand of implicit white identity. And at that point, it’s funny, because it was this thing that was dogging me for a while, and I was basically getting all these tweets, and I was like, ‘Listen. I didn’t say that. I’m not promoting homosexuality. I’m just making a complicated point.’ But that didn’t help. But once I turned it into a meme, and made it funny, then it ended.
So now, I love it when someone does the “is the last stand of” —
Spencer: — I mean, you could basically say anything. You could say, ‘Bottled water is the last stand of implicit white identity.’ You can just keep going. And it’s really funny. So, yeah. What’s the most absurd thing that we could say? ‘Neckties are the last stand of implicit white identity.’ It becomes funny. And so — it becomes a meme. I would say to anyone, if you’re ever dogged by a little controversy, turn it into a meme. Basically, own it. And that will end it.
Allsup 43:01: Excellent. Well, where can people find your work and your writing and your projects?
Spencer 43:04: Right now, go to altright.com. Altright.com. It’ll be easy to remember.
Allsup 43:09: Thank you. Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute, and altright.com.
Spencer: Thank you.