Remembering William Pierce:
September 11, 1933–July 23, 2002
William Pierce died ten years ago today. Pierce was an immensely influential and intensely polarizing figure. But ten years should be long enough for passions to cool and reflections to ripen. Thus to commemorate his passing we are publishing several articles this week which, we hope, will encourage a greater appreciation of his contributions to White Nationalism.
I also wish to draw your attention to some of Pierce’s best writings which I have reprinted on this website:
- “Conservatism or Radicalism?“
- “Dostoyevsky on the Jews” (Portuguese translation here)
- “Elites vs. Masses“
- “Rudyard Kipling: The White Man’s Poet” (French translation here)
- “The Measure of Greatness” (French translation here)
- “Miscegenation: The Morality of Death” (German translation here)
- “On Christianity“
- “On Liberty“
- “Our Cause“
- “Rockwell: A National Socialist Life“
- “The Roots of Civilization“
- “What is Racism?“
- “Why Conservatives Can’t Win“
- “Why the West Will Go Under“
I first encountered William Pierce’s writings in 2000. I believe that I first heard his name in March in connection to Savitri Devi: As editor of National Socialist World, Pierce created an abridgement of The Lightning and the Sun for the first issue. In later issues, he published excerpts from Gold in the Furnace and Defiance.
Some time later, on April 22, 2000, I purchased The Turner Diaries and Hunter from Dent Myers at his Wildman’s Shop in Kennesaw, Georgia. Frankly, I found them repulsive, The Turner Diaries in particular. Pierce may have been inspired by National Socialism, but his model of revolution was pure Lenin and his model of government pure Stalin. If he had the power, he would have killed more people than Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot combined. He epitomizes everything about the Old Right model that I reject: one party politics, totalitarianism, terrorism, imperialism, and genocide. At the time, I remarked that as a novelist and political theorist Pierce was a first rate physicist. I regarded him as a monster.
But when I heard that Pierce had a weekly broadcast, I wanted to hear the monster’s voice. “Hello!” I found Pierce’s radio personality angry and gruff but amusing. Occasionally, he talked about killing people, just to remind you that he was the author of The Turner Diaries. I don’t remember the topic of the first broadcast, but there was enough substance along with the lurid appeal, so I tuned in the next week. And the next week, and gradually, although I resisted every step of the way, Pierce did influence my thinking.
At the beginning of 2000, I was a Right wing intellectual. I rejected modern egalitarianism, liberalism, and capitalism based on classical political philosophy and the great critics of modernity and the Enlightenment from Vico to Rousseau, Hamann, Maistre, Herder, Nietzsche, and beyond. Although I had heard of the European New Right, I had not yet explored it. But I was deeply immersed in thinkers who influenced it, such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Evola.
I was racially aware and increasingly Jew-wise, but beyond the aesthetics, I was not attracted to National Socialism. It was Savitri Devi, oddly enough, who got me to take National Socialism seriously, although her initial appeal had as much to do with her eccentricity as anything else.
But all of this was on a rather rarefied intellectual plane. It was Pierce’s American Dissident Voices broadcasts that demonstrated the relevance of White Nationalist ideas, and specifically the Jewish question, to contemporary politics. I particularly benefited from his analysis of Jewish media power, both in his report Who Rules America? and in the new illustrations he gave every week.
Around the beginning of 2001, I decided to begin research for a new biography of Savitri Devi. (I hope to find time to finish it some day.) So I emailed Pierce and asked him about his interactions with Savitri Devi. To my surprise, he responded immediately. He told me that he would try to find his correspondence with her. (It never turned up.)
On the weekend of July 14 and 15, 2001, Mike Polignano and I visited Pierce at the headquarters of the National Alliance in West Virginia. We spent several hours together on Saturday afternoon. I taped an interview with him about Savitri Devi. (Sadly, the tape was lost.)
I think Pierce enjoyed talking to a fellow Ph.D. and voracious reader. He took special pride in showing us around his vast and impressive library. One of his prize possessions was an autographed copy of Madison Grant’s Conquest of a Continent inscribed to Adolf Hitler.
Pierce also introduced us to several National Alliance staff, including Billy Roper, an Australian named Robert Hawthorne, and his secretary Suzanne. He was obviously trying to sell us on the National Alliance, and he was doing a good job. But in the end there was a vast gulf between his vision and mine.
Pierce was relaxed, friendly, talkative, and funny. When I said “negroes” he said, “‘Negroes’? Is that what they call them in Georgia these days?”
There were, however, occasional flashes of the author of The Turner Diaries. He suggested, for instance, that Mike pursue his biology studies in graduate school so he could develop race-specific biological warfare agents. (Of course the Israelis are doing just that, so I guess he thought why not develop a White Death?) I thought of it as his Bond villain persona, complete with lap cat.
Pierce was completely unpretentious. His office was much smaller than his secretary’s. When I asked him for photocopies of the excerpts from Savitri Devi’s Defiance and Gold in the Furnace that he had published in National Socialist World, he cheerfully agreed, got up, and made the copies himself.
He told me he would ask Suzanne to make one more search for his correspondence with Savitri and asked us to stop by the next morning before we left town. The letters, alas, had not turned up. So we took photos with Dr. Pierce (and his cat Hadley) and bid him good bye. He was an extraordinary person, and I hoped we would meet again. But a little more than a year later, he was dead.
It was only after Pierce’s death that I discovered another side of his personality: the philosopher and religious thinker. In Minneapolis, I was given the books and papers of a deceased professor who had been involved with the American Nazi Party and its offshoots beginning in the early 1960s. The trove included correspondence with Pierce (signed Heil Hitler!), a complete set of National Socialist World, Pierce’s pamphlets on cosmotheism, a pretty much complete set of National Vanguard magazine, and even sheet music for National Alliance songs. Around the same time, Kevin Alfred Strom began publishing other philosophical and spiritual works at the National Vanguard site.
I found that Pierce had a deep feel for philosophical and spiritual questions and a first rate speculative mind. The angry man persona is not present in these writings. Instead, his prose is restrained, Olympian, luminous, sometimes even poetic. I have reprinted some of my favorites among these essays here. If you only read one essay by William Pierce, let it be “Our Cause.” I will share my thoughts on cosmotheism in another essay.
During our conversation on July 14, 2001, Pierce told us something that I will always remember. He loved physics, and he said that giving up academia was the hardest thing he ever did, but in the end, nothing could compare with the freedom to spend the rest of his life speaking the truth.
If you wish to share your thoughts and recollections of William Pierce, it is not too late. I will be putting up new essays all week.
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