This interview about Donald Trump, the question of identity, geopolitics, Islam, and other issues originally appeared in a French publication Europe Maxima. Richard was interviewed by Thierry Durolle.
Europe Maxima: First and foremost, thank you for answering my questions. To begin this interview, could you introduce yourself and the National Policy Institute to our readers?
Richard Spencer: The National Policy Institute is an independent non-profit think tank dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States and around the world. I am the President and Director of The National Policy Institute and Washington Summit Publishers. I am also the founder and Editor of Radix Journal, RadixJournal.com, and a co-founder of the recently-launched AltRight.com.
Europe Maxima: You are considered by the media as a kind of showcase or spokesman of the now-famous Alt Right. We know that the Alt Right is more of a nebula of different tendencies rather than a homogeneous movement. Where do you fit in this Alt-Right nebula?
Richard Spencer: I coined the term “alternative Right” in 2008 in order to differentiate myself from the failures of mainstream American conservatism. I saw the latter as a purely reactive form, seeking to preserve the status quo as opposed to focusing on passing down key aspects of our ancestral traditions to future generations. I have been referred to as the intellectual vanguard of this movement.
Today, Alt Right is, indeed, an umbrella term to describe those seeking the way out of Liberal Postmodernity dominating the United States and Europe through various means: culturally, socially, politically. Alt Right’s current diversity is a natural state in its early stages of development, as we consolidate our message and improve our communication with likeminded counterparts outside the U.S.
Europe Maxima: Several protagonists of the Alt Right seem to be influenced by the French Nouvelle Droite and particularly by Guillaume Faye and Alain de Benoist. As far as you are concerned, you invited the latter in 2013 to talk about the identity question. What did you learn from the French Nouvelle Droite and do you believe that its influence is that important among Alt Righters?
Richard Spencer: The so-called French New Right has left a tremendous impact on the Alt Right, as have earlier renditions of the Right in continental Europe: from Friedrich Nietzsche to the Conservative Revolutionary thinkers in the interwar period. One of the reasons for this influence is the fact that continental Europe has a rich tradition of right-wing intellectuals as compared to the United States, which has, relative to its population, few. Apart from a number of notable exceptions, today, the Right in the U.S. comprises neoconservatives, libertarians, and paleoconservatives, who either fail to address key questions of identity or do not go far enough in doing so.
Europe Maxima: Except the Nouvelle Droite and some famous thinkers like Julius Evola and Oswald Spengler, we don’t really know American thinkers who influenced the Alt Right. Could you name a few?
Richard Spencer: Some of the notable thinkers of recent times in the U.S. include Sam Francis, Patrick Buchanan, Murray Rothbard, and Paul Gottfried. In various ways, these thinkers criticized Washington’s foreign policy of chaos led by neocons and liberal interventionists, questioned the decline of the West, and examined questions of identity.
Europe Maxima: The Lügenpresse depicts you as a neo-Nazi and a white supremacist whereas you consider yourself a race-realist. Does this mean you want a « nice white country » or that you would accept living in a multicultural country as long as there is no racial and cultural mixing between its communities?
Richard Spencer: I consider myself an Identitarian. I have also repeatedly stated that to move forward, we must discard all ideologies of the past.
Proponents of Liberalism (even those who self-describe as the mainstream Left) refer to anyone who opposes them by using emotionally-charged keywords, including “Nazi.” This shows the power of such keywords to shut down rational discussion, but also the fact that globalist elites and their supporters have been in a state of hysteria about the slow paradigm shift toward identity-focused populism since Brexit and, especially, since Trump’s election and inauguration.
If you look at recent violent protests during Trump’s inauguration or those in Berkeley, you will notice that those who have been attacked—both verbally and physically—are not only people like me, with bold and radical ideas, but also mainstream conservatives wearing red Trump hats. This means that our attackers do not differentiate between us. The explicit nature of this friend/enemy distinction is good: our opponents are hostile and even violent, which should convert more open-minded people to our message.
Europe Maxima: Is race, as a concept, more than simple biological materialism to you? What would be the answer of the spiritual vacuity and nihilism the post-modern white man is afflicted by?
Richard Spencer: I do not subscribe to pure biological determinism. I believe that one’s identity is a complex interplay of nature and nurture: from one’s DNA to cultural and social interactions, and, of course, geography—the sense of rootedness in one’s native landscape.
Our European counterparts must understand the uniqueness of American development: our society is hyper-racialized because our history on this continent involved slavery, various waves of immigration, mainly from Europe and, more recently, from other parts of the world, segregation, and so forth. Whereas some older dwindling immigrant communities such as the Irish certainly exist, the majority of Americans of European descent is not only ethnically mixed but also self-identifies as simply White. This is both their reality in terms of self-perception and in terms of being the Other—when they encounter members of other groups.
In some ways, this perception is similar to Americans of African, Hispanic, and other backgrounds. Yet whereas these minority groups are encouraged to embrace their respective group identities through their own institutions and encouragement by the state, such as Affirmative Action in education, Americans of European descent do not have such mechanisms. It is true that up until recently, White Americans held social and cultural hegemony and did not need their own organizations. This, however, has changed: the combination of demographics, immigration, and Kulturkampf has left many Americans of European descent with a keen sense of dispossession.
Europe Maxima: For a couple of years in France, some people like Laurent Ozon created the concept/neologism “Remigration.” “Remigration” is the return of non-white French people to their countries of origin in a peaceful way thanks to bi-lateral state concords, for example. Do you believe something similar could be achieved someday in the U.S.A.?
Richard Spencer: The Alt Right is in the initial stages of political development. We must use our time wisely rather than biting off more than we can chew in outlining currently unfulfillable political goals. That said, I believe that we, as a group, must act solely in our own interests. By definition, this would leave out those outside it. In theory, this could be achieved by various peaceful and voluntary means. So I am not excluding concepts like re-migration from the list of possibilities.
Europe Maxima: What is your opinion on Islam?
Richard Spencer: In the best circumstances, we could both live and let live.
Framing the question of immigration—or mass migration—to Europe and the U.S. along the lines of Islam is incorrect. Islam is practiced in very different regions around the world: Indonesian Muslims are distinct from those in Lebanon and those in Nigeria. Saudi Arabia practices horrific beheading, while Tatar Muslims in Russia are largely secular adherents to generic Russian-European culture. Thus, this question should not only be framed along the lines of religion but also along the lines of ethnicity, culture, and geography.
That said, with some exceptions of historic, indigenous minority communities, large-scale Islamic migration has no place in Europe. At the same time, Washington and its European allies must stop the ongoing chaos and destruction they have caused in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia creating a seemingly never-ending flow of war refugees and economic migrants, which includes serious criminal elements and even terrorists. It surprises me that when the question of refugees is discussed, virtually no one—not even the self-described Leftist antiwar activists—mentions that the best solution, after ceasing to aid the so-called “moderate rebels” and helping in the struggle against global terrorism, is resettlement of refugees and, perhaps, aid in rebuilding in their own ancestral lands, not in Europe or the U.S.
But then one wonders if it will ever be “live and let live” with Islam, and not “live and let die.”
I’ve generally turned up my nose at the “Islam debates” of the 2000s. On one side, liberals (including George W. Bush) claimed that Islam was a “religion of peace”; on the other side, conservative supporters of Bush and the War on Terror claimed that Islam was a maniacal religion bent on installing Sharia Law in Oklahoma—which is why we should engage in endless wars for democracy in the Middle East.
Needless to say, both sides are wrong and misguided. But as much as I hate to admit it, because I opposed the Iraq War so vehemently, the conservative side does contain a kernel of truth. Islam—at its full flourishing (for instance, Wahhabi or Salafi Islam—Islam as a political ideology)—isn’t some peaceful denomination like Methodism or religion like Buddhism; Islam is a Black Flag. It is an expansive, domineering ideology, and one that is directed against Europe. In this way, Islam give non-Europeans a fighting spirit and integrates them into something much greater than themselves. Islam is a “civilization” in Huntington’s sense, and a grave danger for European peoples.
Europe Maxima: Racial and cultural tensions are growing more and more in both of our countries along with a general despondency, mistrust towards the political and media elite and the rise of populism. According to you is it because of an economical and social crisis, a political crisis, a crisis of identity, a crisis of Meaning or even everything all together?
Richard Spencer: Current crisis in the West has multiple causes—both immediate and deep-rooted. The former is obvious: the warfare-welfare state creates crises abroad, accepting the results of those crises—migrants and refugees—at home, while benefitting globalist elites with transnational capitalist interests. This perpetual cycle occurs against the backdrop of moral and cultural degeneration: from entertainment culture to suicidal “tolerance.” Even if it were possible in certain cases, refugees cannot be assimilated because there is no viable culture to assimilate them to. The results are horrific.
Yet many critics of our predicament simply want to turn back the clock to the time of three of four decades ago, when things seemed reasonably “okay,” without asking difficult—fundamental—questions. This is wrong. After all, it was that seemingly comfortable time that set us on the trajectory that led us to where we are now.
Others trace the decline of the West to the era of the Enlightenment that spawned ideologies of Modernity; others yet—to the origins of Christianity; while thinkers like Heidegger go as far back as ancient Greece and the framing of Being.
So this time around we must ask ourselves these difficult questions starting with, “Who are we?” and “What is our place in history?”
Europe Maxima: Do you believe the concepts of Left and Right are still valid?
Richard Spencer: On the one hand, the political spectrum that everyone is used to is largely outmoded. After the collapse of Communism, Liberalism became the only remaining ideology of Modernity with global aspirations, in which both the mainstream Left and Right represent two cosmetically different versions of the same fundamental trajectory. This is why, for instance, you see many Identitarians who would self-describe as Right with a keen interest in the environment and conservation, i.e. issues traditionally associated with leftist “greens,” or they subscribe to anti-interventionist foreign policy—another putatively “left-wing” cause.
At the same time, in a somewhat abstract, semantic sense we can speak of an eternal Left and Right, where the former is about horizontal movement, destruction of existent norms, decentralization, whereas the latter is about eternity, vertical movement, centralization, consolidation, creative spirit, and monumentality. These semantic forms are cyclical.
Europe Maxima: Donald Trump finally became President of the U.S. What do you expect from him in terms of domestic and foreign policy?
Richard Spencer: My expectation of Trump remains pragmatic and therefore modest. At best, he will face inward in order to attempt to solve a multitude of domestic problems, while adhering to Realpolitik in international relations. I do not expect him to dismantle NATO—despite the fact that this alliance is a Cold War relic—contrary to the paranoid theories of his opponents. But needless to say, the alliance needs to be radically rethought.
For me, Trump is more important as a symbol of the kind of energies he has unleashed instead of his actual policies. He, for instance, recently nominated an Anglo-Saxon Protestant, Neil Gorsuch, for the Supreme Court. In practice, Gorsuch’s decisions will likely adhere to examining Constitutional law. Symbolically, however he represents the founding stock of America as a nascent state, whereas none of the recent selections have been representative thereof. Similarly, Trump’s comments, ranging from those about a reasonable relationship with Russia to explicitly questioning immigration, have provided hope for a future paradigm shift.
Europe Maxima: As the name of our website suggests, we defend the greater Europe. What is your opinion on both Europe as a civilisation and as a (pseudo) political and economic structure names the European Union?
Richard Spencer: If you look at maps of, say, the Holy Roman Empire in the past and the European Union today, there will be quite a bit of an overlap. What this demonstrates is that there is a vast spiritual, geographic, and ethno-cultural entity that we could refer to as Greater Europe. Yet the form of this entity has been filled with different content throughout history. Today, the European Union is a symbol of all that is wrong: from its massive bureaucracy to its culturally destructive policies. What this means is that the form needs to be filled with correct content in line with true European identities and traditions.
I’ve expressed skepticism of “Brexit,” as well as all forms of ethnic nationalism, that is, nationalisms that view fellow Europeans as “The Other.” Whether we like it or not, the fault lines of the 21st century—and beyond—are racial and civilizational. We must address issues and crises on this level; in this sense, we must think and act racially. How exactly this Identitarian spirit would express itself in terms of political structures remains to be seen.