“Ask not what you can do for the movement, but what the movement can do for you.” — Richard Spencer (paraphrased)
I think all of us Richard Spencer observers deduced long ago that the self-described ruler of the world has been pining for a rebrand. Last year, I wrote about him making overtures to the Bernie Left, which were met with cool indifference. He’s been wanting to sell out, the only problem being that no one is interested in buying. I’ve been half-tempted to start a GoFundMe to raise money for a dowry that would be donated to whichever political movement is willing to take him off our hands.
But it appears that with his latest CNN interview with Elle Reeve, Spencer has at last broken up with the Dissident Right — which, in Spencer’s mind, was already cheating on him, anyway. But hey, if there are any niche online political subcultures out there reading this, he’s single!
Before I get into Richard Spencer, let me redpill any newer folks to the Dissident Right on Elle Reeve. This is a bit of lore you need to know before you can really understand this interview’s significance and symbolism.
Elle Reeve was an unknown tech journalist for Vice when, on September 20, 2016, she appeared on the 103rd episode of The Daily Shoah, entitled “Vice Shitty Stories.” The episode was ostensibly supposed to have Elle interview the Death Panel about Pepe the Frog, but it ended up being about the Death Panel trying to redpill the painfully normie Elle Reeve. They tossed poor Elle around like a rag doll as she struggled, tongue-tied, to argue against some of the best White Nationalist debaters on the scene. It made for fascinating listening and superb propaganda.
The podcast ended up becoming an Alt Right landmark. It was one of the first times that Alt Right representatives were interviewed by someone connected to a major media outlet, and they were able to get their ideas out completely uncensored.
While Elle was made to look quite silly in the episode, it was also the most attention she had ever gotten in her career. She then set about making “the Alt Right” her main journalistic beat, and she was one of the first media figures to do so.
A lot of people on the Alt Right had a soft spot for Elle for a few reasons. First, even though she is a shitlib journalist, she was at least willing to go into the lion’s cage for a no-holds-barred uncensored interview with elite White Nationalists. Second, after the podcast, she appeared to make a good-faith effort to understand her subject. She attended an American Renaissance conference and interviewed Spencer at the infamous “Hailgate” NPI conference. Thirdly, the Alt Right made Elle Reeve. If you trace her career trajectory, it all goes back to that one episode of The Daily Shoah. She was nobody until she started talking to White Nationalists. Elle Reeve’s rising career is therefore a testament to the Alt Right’s relevance.
Chris Cantwell learned the hard way, however, that none of this is a reason to trust Elle Reeve. Her Cantwell interview before Charlottesville ended up being one of the most devastating anti-White Nationalist propaganda disasters. Granted, Cantwell was behaving so buffoonishly that I doubt much deceptive editing was required to make him appear so, and his decision to upload a video of himself crying remains the single greatest own goal in the history of White Nationalism.
The entire world was talking about the Alt Right after Charlottesville, and by that time, Elle had been covering them for a year. She was perfectly poised to present herself as an “Alt Right expert.” She knew all of them, they knew her. She’d been in the belly of the beast. Few journalists could make these claims. Whatever else one might say about her, she was smart enough to see which way the wind was blowing and managed to carve out a niche for herself in an extremely competitive field despite her obvious shortcomings. I will give her credit for taking the initiative.
If Richard Spencer was going to give his farewell interview to the Dissident Right, it is therefore perhaps fitting that he should give it to Elle Reeve, who was there at (almost) the beginning,
Five years after their post-Hailgate interview outside the NPI conference, things have come full circle. Elle Reeve and Spencer have been reunited once again, but oh, how the tables have turned. Elle, who was then an unknown, scrappy millennial Vice reporter, is now with CNN. Spencer, for his part, who was once the face of the most exciting and talked-about news story in the world, now finds himself a broke and broken man with nothing to show for his adventures but a trail of burned bridges and broken lives that he left in his wake. He has long since surpassed in relevance by a 23-year-old who lives with his parents, and he is now even shunned by White Nationalists.
The interview was part of a CNN special on the Charlottesville civil trial that aired Sunday night called White Power on Trial. I guess they wheeled out Elle Reeve because she has a history with some of the main figures and they assumed she would be able to get these people to open up to her.
If there were any lingering doubts as to whether or not Richard Spencer is the poster child for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the 8-minute interview should seal the deal. Right out of the gate, Spencer tries to distance himself from the movement and dodge any blame for how things turned out.
Elle: I mean, what you don’t want me to ask about is, like, the most interesting thing.
Elle: Like, did you do it all on purpose, and do you feel bad about it?
Richard: Are you talking about Charlottesville?
Elle: Yeah, and the whole thing, the whole movement itself. Did you do it on purpose, or did you not care?
Richard: I didn’t create the movement.
Elle: You named it. You became the face of it.
Richard: I was trying to unite everything to where it would be simply me, and it would have been better if they had fucking bent the knee and shut the fuck up.
Better for whom?
There’s a lot to unpack here. Basically, Spencer thinks that the Alt Right should have been a Richard Spencer cult of personality. Most of us already knew that, but it is refreshing to hear Spencer himself just come out and say it rather than try to gaslight us into thinking that his maniacal dopamine-chasing was somehow carried out for our benefit.
But at the same time, Spencer acknowledges that he did not create the movement. This raises the obvious question: “If you didn’t create the movement, then what is your claim to leadership?” He didn’t create the movement. He’s never written a book. He ran a blog, but it was one of many blogs. It wasn’t the biggest blog, nor was it light-years better than other blogs. His fan base was miniscule compared to that of TRS or The Daily Stormer. So why him as leader? The simple answer is that better candidates didn’t want the job. Spencer says as much in the interview.
Richard: The whole 2016-2017 experience was quite something, wasn’t it? I was making headlines every week. Trump was also reaching people online, and the Alt Right became a kind of advertising wing. And the Alt Right’s anonymous, and I am not anonymous, and if I dare say so, I think I am interesting.
Well, that part is true, but only in the same sense as someone like Ted Bundy is interesting. However, he is on to something. The main reason Spencer was able to land the job of Alt Right spokesman is because most of the movement was anonymous and no one else wanted the job. If the TRS doxes had happened a year earlier, Mike Enoch probably would have wound up with that job. Gavin McInnes (who had some Dissident Right cred due to his association with Takimag) could have gotten the job if he wanted it, but he wanted to grift instead. Thus, Spencer got the job because no one else wanted it.
That’s not really a strong claim to leadership. That’s like becoming the heavyweight boxing champion because the last champ retired. It’s not really proof that you’re the best.
Elle: You mean you were, like, a symbol of a broader movement that didn’t have a face.
Richard: Exactly. Yeah, and people could kind of freak out and love to hate me, or maybe hate to love me.
Let me interrupt Richard here. What he is talking about here is called “narcissistic supply.”
To a narcissistic sociopath, what you feel about him is not as important as the fact that you feel something and feel it intensely. To a narcissistic sociopath, being admired is of course the ideal, but failing that, being hated is the next-best thing. More than anything, a narcissist wants to be the center of your world. Thus, to Spencer, “love to hate” and “hate to love” are basically the same things. In both cases, he is the center of your world. They both fulfill the need for narcissistic supply.
Richard: There was “the punch of Richard Spencer” in 2017.
Yes, he referred to the event in the third person. I’m sorry, but I find that funny. He doesn’t say, “There was the time when I was punched in 2017.” He calls it “The Punch of Richard Spencer” as if it was a major historical event on par with “The Sinking of the Lusitania.” I wonder if Abraham Lincoln is up there in heaven talking about his death and saying, “I wanted to enjoy a play, but then The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln happened.”
Richard: So that’s kind of when, like, political violence: It’s back, baby. And antifa is real, and then it was almost like the Alt Right and the Alt Lite were kind of fighting back. And so you had, like, Nathan Damigo punch that Goldilocks, or whatever. I feel like I was attached to these people who want to come hang out and be Alt Right and . . . [Dramatically rubs his hands across his face] Yeah, I mean, I just was too old, and I was slumming. I don’t know.
Wow. Where to begin?
One of the managers for The Smiths complained that the band “wanted to be as big as The Beatles but also be as anti-establishment as The Sex Pistols.” But you can’t do both. Similarly, Spencer wanted to be respected as a serious intellectual like Jared Taylor, but he also wanted the street cred of Mike Enoch.
One cannot help but consider it an insult that Spencer would refer to associating with the greater Alt Right as “slumming,” but to be fair, compared to the days when he was doing conferences with Peter Brimelow, Paul Gottfried, and Jared Taylor and working alongside Steve Sailor, John Derbyshire, and other Dissident Right legends, Spencer was indeed kind of slumming throughout most of 2016 and 2017. That’s not a diss on the Alt Right so much as it is a reflection of the high-class characters Spencer used to run with. But then you have to ask, “Why wasn’t he doing that anymore?”
The only reason Spencer was “slumming” with 4chan kids that he was “too old” to be hanging around with is because he wanted to be seen as a leader. He could never lead people like Taylor and Brimelow, not merely because he was younger, but also because he was far less talented and accomplished than they. Can you imagine Jared Taylor “bending the knee” to Richard Spencer?
Spencer wanted to speak from a balcony to throngs of worshipful supporters. That meant he had to “slum.” He had to look down to find people who looked up to him. The Hailgate incident was a blatant attempt to pander to the very same people who Spencer now says sullied his reputation. After Hailgate, the old guard backed slowly out of the room, and the 4chan types were the only people willing to associate with Spencer. Eventually, he just went wignat.
Then, Spencer goes into Narcissistic Personality Disorder overdrive:
Richard: I think I underestimated about a lot of people. I think a lot of people wanted to be me. One of the big things in the Alt Right was, “I want to be Spencer. I want to be in the headlines.” It created a tremendous amount of jealousy.
Sigh . . .
Let me ask the readers of Counter-Currents a question: Can you think of a Richard Spencer rip-off?
I remember a time when every podcaster was trying to be Mike Enoch, and I’ve seen a million bloggers trying to write like Andrew Anglin, but I have never seen a content creator who made me say “Man, this guy is totally ripping off Richard Spencer. He’s jacking all of his talking points. He’s shilling for the EU and advocating for ethical child pornography. He even talks like the guy from the B-52s and everything.”
Spencer never really had much of a fanbase. During the Internet Bloodsports era, when Spencer was at his peak relevance, he could barely get a thousand viewers for his livestream — a third as many as Baked fucking Alaska.
Let me put this in perspective for you. If Richard Spencer was seen on television by millions, and only 1% of the people watching said, “Hmmm, I’d like to know more about this guy,” and then became fans, that would be tens of thousands of people. Mind you, Spencer is a guy who everyone had seen on TV at one time or another. He was therefore profoundly ineffective at what he did.
That Spencer had any amount of influence at all was due to the fact that he had the goodwill of all the bigwigs who did have substantial fan bases, and who were willing to vouch for him.
This is one of the reasons Spencer has crashed so hard. He put all his eggs in the networking basket and no eggs into the “cultivating a fan base” basket. This is probably because cultivating a loyal base of support is hard and tedious work that often involves being nice to people who are not important, but who will support you forever and follow you to the gates of Hell in exchange for a morsel of respect. But Spencer was never the type to soil his hands by engaging with unimportant people.
Instead, Spencer networked and won over the key bigwigs in the movement who did have large followings. But when those aforementioned bigwigs withdrew their support, and he had no fan base of his own to fall back on.
Richard: After Charlottesville went the way it went, there was no way to transfigure this movement. I mean, on some level this movement was about, like, 4chan people and computer programmers and basement-dwellers and incels and whatever. But it was like there was this energy and opportunity around Trump where it can be transformed into something that I want, and certainly after Charlottesville, that was impossible.
Leaving aside the fact that he is leaning into every negative liberal stereotype about White Nationalists, I like his choice of words here. It wasn’t that the Alt Right might possibly be transformed into “a movement that could change things” or “a movement that could advocate for white people” (Spencer does not mention white people at all in the interview). No, he hoped that the movement would be transformed into “something that I want.” It was always only ever about him.
Richard: At the end of the day, Unite the Right meant putting me next to, like, Azzmador, who is just disgusting and gross.
Again, this is because Spencer did not actually have a fan base of his own. Thus, he needed people like Azzmador of The Daily Stormer — people who actually did have significant fanbases — if he wanted to have his picture taken speaking in front of a large crowd, which was all he ever wanted.
I’ll admit that I initially wasn’t too hot on Azzmador. He was a little too edgelordy for my taste, but I must say, he has really grown on me. Post-Charlottesville, he has improved his style a lot. Rather than being an edgelord, he now gives off a dad-like vibe and tries to be more of a positive role model and mentor for the youth. It’s quite a remarkable turnaround.
Despite currently being a fugitive from the law, Azzmador still streams regularly. You can find him on Odysee. Do listen and support.
Back to Spencer:
Richard: I don’t like ugly, stupid freaks. It always just should have been about Richard Spencer.
So here, Richard “Hailgate” Spencer is claiming that it was the movement that made him look bad.
The sense of entitlement is really breathtaking here. After all this time, I should not be surprised by Spencer’s narcissism, and yet I am. I never dreamed that he would ever take his mask off to this extent.
Then, Spencer was asked if he has any regrets.
Richard: I ultimately regret being a part of that whole crowd. All of that juvenile ironic Nazi humor is just so over, and I cringe when I think about it now.
Plot twist: Richard Spencer is an optics cuck! Where is your god now, wignats?
Spencer isn’t wrong, but he makes it sound like he did not actively participate in it himself. If you didn’t know who Richard Spencer was, and then saw this interview, you would think like that Nazi humor was something Spencer himself was above and that he dirtied his hands by hanging around people who made Nazi jokes. In reality, Spencer did quite a bit of Nazi LARPing himself. Aside from Hailgate, Spencer reportedly made people give him Roman salutes when he entered the room.
Elle: Whenever I ask you to explain those regrets, it’s always in terms of “I was hanging out with losers. I let myself get dragged down by this filth.” But those were your people. Those were your guys.
I can’t read Elle Reeve’s mind, but it sounds like she is somewhat appalled at Spencer throwing his own people under the bus. Spencer thought throwing everyone under the bus would make him look better, but it actually made him look like a huge asshole. There is a bit of “WTF?” in her voice when she says, “those were your guys.”
Elle: Why don’t you take responsibility? If they wanted to be you, and they went into the street and beat people up, what does that say to you?
Richard: You seem to just wanna . . . Your entire point here is just to prove that I’m like a piece of shit, and why don’t you just accept it.
I mean, what else is there to say?
The first article I ever wrote for Counter-Currents was called “The Skeptic War,” which was about the infamous Kraut and Tea controversy and the concurrent Based Mama-led Kilroy controversy, which together destroyed the immensely popular Skeptic Community. In it, I wrote:
Finally, the Kraut and Tea debacle is a cautionary tale of how destructive narcissistic sociopaths can be if allowed into positions of influence in a movement. There’s a lesson here for the Alt Right . . Between Kraut and Tea and Based Mama, the antics of these two sociopaths have managed to take a popular and thriving online community and make its name synonymous with dishonesty and incompetence. The Skeptic brand will never recover. Will the Alt Right brand be far behind?
I try to imagine a world where Richard Spencer never existed, and it’s frankly infuriating to think of what might have been. No Spencer, no Hailgate. “Alt Right” becomes a catch-all term for anyone who is not liberal or neocon. No Alt Right/Alt Lite schism.
To be perfectly fair, let me say that I believe that, given the kinds of personalities within the movement at the time, that a Hailgate-type incident was probably inevitable. However, there are several reasons why I think that the canonical Spencer-instigated Hailgate was more damaging than any theoretical, alternate reality Hailgate.
First, Hailgate happened at a time when the Alt Right had tremendous momentum. Had it happened six months or a year later, after we had had time to consolidate our gains, it would not have been nearly as damaging.
Second, alternate reality Hailgate would have been instigated by a guy in the Alt Right. That would have been orders of magnitude less damaging than the Hailgate we got, which was instigated by the guy claiming to be the leader of the Alt Right. This in turn deprived everyone in the movement any possibility of plausible deniability or the chance to say, “He doesn’t speak for all of us,” because Spencer was going around claiming that he did indeed speak for all of us.
One might say that Richard Spencer garnered a lot of attention for the Alt Right, which is true, but in hindsight, I do not think that was a good thing. Part of the problem with the Alt Right was that it got too big too quickly. You had a lot of people go from obscurity to the national limelight overnight. Most of those people were in no way prepared for the level of attention they were getting. Had the Alt Right grown more slowly, it would have allowed those people to make their rookie mistakes when there were not so many people watching. It would have given the psychos time to implode before they became celebrities.
No Richard Spencer, no Eli Mosley debacle. Again, to be fair, Mosley probably would have ended up being exposed as a fraud eventually, anyway, but had he not been known as the right-hand man of the guy claiming to be the leader of the Alt Right, it would have been exponentially less damaging to the movement than it ended up being.
No Richard Spencer, no fruitcake freakout. Spencer’s “I rule the world” rant was the second-most embarrassing controversy the Alt Right had to suffer through after Cantwell’s “crying Nazi” video. It played into every Hollywood stereotype about White Nationalists.
I will concede that Richard Spencer did do one good thing for the movement: his debate with Sargon of Akkad. While not the first Alt Right Internet Bloodsports event (that was JF Gariepy versus Destiny), that debate did kick off the Internet Bloodsports era, which was both the Alt Right’s greatest hour and also its last hurrah. I have encountered many, many people who have said that they got into the Dissident Right as a result of Internet Bloodsports.
There are other people who could have done as good a job or better debating Sargon, but there was no one who could have generated as much interest. The reason that “Spencer versus Sargon” became the event that it did was because Sargon and Spencer were both memes. That made their match-up “meme versus meme.” “Enoch versus Sargon” or “Anglin versus Sargon” would not have been as sexy as “Spencer versus Sargon.”
That is the one thing Spencer did that yielded tangible positive benefits for the movement at large. That said, like Hailgate, I think the Internet Bloodsports era was probably inevitable. It was a consequence of Kraut and Tea’s idiocy, which was set in motion for reasons entirely unrelated to Spencer. It would have happened anyway, just more slowly.
All in all, I therefore have no choice but to declare that Richard Spencer was a gigantic net loss for the movement for white survival.
I find myself feeling today somewhat similar to the day when I learned that Matt Heimbach had become an anti-racist activist. I have a smug feeling of satisfaction and a strong urge to tell the world, “I told you so.”
I wrote “similar,” because when Matt Heimbach took his mask off, he was already banished from the movement, anyway. It was an epilogue to a story that had already ended. But with Spencer, I had been worried that we might have to deal with carrying that guy on our backs forever.
I wish I had the energy for Schadenfreude. I would love nothing more right now than to spike the football and yell at the wignats, “I was right all along!” But my emotions now are subtler. I feel like the Allied soldiers must have felt on November 11, 1918: an enormous weight has been lifted off me. Rather than jubilation, my overwhelming feeling is that of relief. Thank God, it’s finally over.
* * *
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