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By Aidan Mattis
AUTHOR’s NOTE: The following is meant to portray a genuinely objective and neutral description of Richard Spencer and what he believes. I, the author, do not intend to praise or criticize, simply to inform. Opinions presented are my own or Mr. Spencer’s, and do not reflect the views of The Libertarian Republic.
I had just left the opening speaking event at CPAC 2017 when I noticed a crowd a reporters surrounding someone in the middle of the aisle. I’m not the tallest guy in the world, so I made a point of pushing myself to the front of the circle. Shoving aside reporters from NBC, CNN, and even some foreign media outlets, when I suddenly found myself standing directly in front of the man who is the defacto leader of the Alt-Right movement. Despite my voice being all but gone, I managed to shout my way to getting Richard Spencer’s attention.
Our exchange was brief, maybe three or four questions. I asked him about his opinions on white supremacy, what he believes race is, who I am, who he was. Finally, I asked him about his opinion on Rock music. My goal in this was to get him to admit that a genre developed from Blues, originally created by African slaves and their descendents, was good. Thus, cultures mixing could be good. To my surprise, he completely agreed that cultures could mix to produce great things. Though he then made the comment that he doesn’t particularly like rock, and that “Depeche Mode is the official band of the Alt-Right,” I’d been placed on my heels. The Richard Spencer I’d read about was a staunch White Nationalist, the driving man behind the idea of a “European Ethnostate” and “peaceful ethnic cleansing”. Why would he like cultural mixing? He did explain that it was more the genetic mixing of the races that troubles him, but we had little time to speak.
I walked away from that conversation intrigued, but mostly confused. Who was this guy? I knew he was the guy who got punched for being a “Nazi”, I knew he was the guy who had led a group to “heil” Trump on video once or twice. I realized, then, that these were snapshots of the man’s life and personality, and I was curious to know more. Regardless, I was a college freshman with a political blog that has peaked at a grand total of 64 views on a post (most of which were classmates forced to read my work). I was content to move on without trying to get deeper into this guy’s head.
It was when he mentioned me, without my name, in his recap video of his brief experience, that I realized what an opportunity I had. If he felt that I had been respectful and genuinely open minded towards him, perhaps he’d be willing to sit through a full interview? I emailed him, got confirmation and a phone number, and on Friday morning, I made the call.
It was early in the morning, I was drinking coffee from the dining commons and I assume he was drinking coffee as well. According to Spencer, he likes his coffee black, preferably from his Aeropress®, though he occasionally will enjoy a cappuccino or other specialty espresso beverage. I can’t stomach what they serve us here at Penn State without plunging half a pound of sugar and a quart of half and half into it, and thus I envy Spencer’s access to high quality beans. We spoke for about thirty minutes, and I have to say I was impressed. Though I sincerely disagree with him on much of what we discussed, Spencer was articulate, he was polite, and he spoke to me openly and as an equal.
To get into who Richard Spencer is, he grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, TX, as part of a typical American family. He remembers “meeting other kids in the neighborhood, riding bikes, all that [kid] stuff…” Spencer had a fairly idyllic, ‘Leave it to Beaver’ upbringing. He attended two private schools in his youth, Greenhill and St. Mark’s. Both in suburban Dallas, he explained that St. Marks, while preppy and “waspy,” had the most effect on who he would become.
As an adult, he prefers coffee to tea, and he likes a restaurant prepared medium rare steak if he’s going out to treat himself to dinner. Spencer and I agreed very much that “the one undeniable benefit of mass immigration has been spicy cuisine.” As I was closing out the interview, he also made sure to inform me that his favorite evening beverage is a good glass of bourbon, but that is enough of the platonic.
Getting into the real “meat and potatoes” of our conversation, I opened by telling him that “I don’t want to make a huge sting operation out of this, I don’t want to slander you, I just want to figure out who you are.” The very first thing we did was define race. Spencer explained that in his opinion, “race is an extended family, very often on a continental scale, but it can be on a regional scale.” He remarked that race vary anywhere from the inhabitants of an entire continent to a single, extended familial line. “It is an extended family that has interbred over at least the course of tens of thousands of years,” he said, “and this could be due to continental separation, or to other factors as well.” Spencer also explained that “the essence of evolution is that a gene pool is plastic to its environment.” This means that populations adapt and evolve based on the conditions of the world around them, meaning that certain modern races have different traits better suited to their ancestral homeland.
Richard discussed this definition solely under the evolutionary umbrella. When asked whether he identifies more as creationist or as evolutionist, he said he is “not a creationist at all.” As we continued, Spencer saw some irony in the left wing. They continuously denounce both the concept of race as a genetic and physical construct, in favor of calling it a social construct; at the same time, these people also denounce religion and creationism in favor of evolutionism. He said that “the only way races could be genuinely equal is if they were created” to be that way. Spencer was clear, however, that he does not believe in broad racial superiority. “[Races] will take on different characteristics, they’ll have different qualities,” he suggested. He went on to explain that evolution can happen very quickly, citing the creation of the golden retriever dog breed over the past hundred years as an example. He went on to say that “no one denies the existence of race in the natural world. We seem to think that humans are special”.
Getting on from the subject of race, we discussed the petition going around for Spencer to take a DNA test. “Oh I’ve already done the DNA test” he said, laughing, “I’m over 99% European, mostly northern European.” He said this very matter of fact, continuing to explain that he has trace amounts of Middle Eastern, African, and Asian DNA as well. “People have this weird idea that 23andMe was going to prove that we’re all mixed in and it just didn’t happen.” Spencer went further, explaining that when he usually talks about race, it is on a grand scale. Continentally, people groups tend to have generally the same skin color, generally similar body archetypes, and share many phenotypic traits. Later in the interview, he said that “if you threw a northern european man into Africa, he would not survive”, citing the necessary evolutionary divergence of different races as the reason that we have so many tangible differences in our modern populations.
Spencer’s concern with race comes at an interesting place. He does not concern himself with the mixing of cultures, having acknowledged that this can produce favorable things like great food and great music. In terms of the accusations of being a white supremacist, he then denounced the idea of overall racial superiority as “ridiculous.” I asked him, on the topic of the term Nazi, whether he has anything against the Jewish people as a race or as a religion. “No, I don’t have anything against them. I’m not even sure that guy, did someone hear Nazi?” he responded. Spencer then went on to take note of the growing use of the term Nazi to encompass anyone left of center by far left activists. On the use of the word, he remarked that “The term Nazi is just a meaningless term,” and that “all of these basic conservatives , normal conservatives, are also getting punched – [he] of course got punched because [he is] Richard Spencer”. He referenced that at the DeploraBall, he saw a lot of violence against people simply for wearing MAGA hats. Moving back onto the original question of alleged anti-semitism, he said “I will definitely express criticism of jewish envoys to the United States, even Israel’s foreign policy and so on. But it’s not coming from a place of bigotry, it’s in a way the opposite actually.”
Spencer displayed an affinity for ethnic loyalty, stating that “people generally love themselves” and that “even if white people had lower IQs, [he] would still be a white advocate.” At this point we delved into the idea of a “white ethnostate” through “peaceful ethnic cleansing”. Spencer was quick to correct the record on this comment. “We still have this idea that Richard called for peaceful ethnic cleansing; I never called for ethnic cleansing.” Richard explains that his basis for, and the history behind, the quote in which he says the words “peaceful ethnic cleansing” comes from the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. He says that this was “a real example of peaceful ethnic cleansing, and obviously [he] was being a bit provocative in terming it like that…overall, the map of Europe was literally rewritten”. Discussing how the landscape of Europe was redrawn along linguistic, cultural, and at times religious lines, Spencer explained that this would be the model for the creation of an Ethnostate should it be done by government. However, he understands this is not likely to be the course of such a movement, because “this is not a policy that could be put forth by Donald Trump.” In terms of how his Ethnostate would come to be, Spencer simply remarked that he does not know what form the creation would take at the moment.
“I don’t imagine a little, linguistic nation state somewhere,” Richard explained of his vision, “the Ethnostate is…a homeland for all Europeans. It’s going to be much bigger, probably imperial in nature.” By imperial, Spencer explained that he meant this in the context not of an empire in the style of the British Crown, but that of Rome. One large, connected region ruled as a federal system from a central capitol, with administrative sectors like the American states or Roman provinces. It would not have “overseas colonies or…military base[s]”, but would simply be a centrally ruled homeland. I mentioned the current effort by the Chinese to promote a similar idea, in which they’ve begun shipping Han Chinese into outlying minority populations in an attempt to breed them out. Spencer had heard of this, yet did not say this is the way he would like to implement his idea. He suggested that any european nationalist state would be “post-American” and result from a “para-nomadic” period.
Because we’d spent the whole time talking about white people, I shifted the conversation at this point to the southern hemisphere. There have been suggestions for a long time now about the possibility of a United States of Africa. I asked Richard his opinion, and he seemed very intrigued by the idea. He explained that he believes the “fault lines of the 21st century and beyond are going to be racial, and…[he] doesn’t know if [a United States of Africa] would work or not…but that seems to be the general trajectory”, meaning that our species is headed not for multiculturalism, but a voluntary re-segregation of races to their geographic homelands. He swung the conversation back to Europe, remarking that “The European Union, whatever you want to say about it, is a part of this trajectory towards ‘pan-racialism’…” He goes on to mention that “Africans recognize – correctly in many ways – that we are stronger as one big block.”
Richard, at this point, made a comment about how the United States, before the demographic shifts of the mid 20th century, was essentially the kind of empire he had previously suggested. One central government ruled a large span of territory, presiding over a number of nominally autonomous states and ethnicities to “take advantage of the economies of scale” developing in that land. He described the situation of pre-modern America as that of an imperial state under the guise of a federal system of equally powerful states and their central meeting point.
My conversation with Spencer lasted about half an hour, and should be summed up in a short series of points.
- Spencer sees race as a tangible, physical difference between different populations of people; this results from the adaptation of the various gene pools to their local environments throughout early human history.
- Richard does not make any claim regarding the superiority of one race to the others, stating that “there is no universal, cosmic criterion for determining when one individual is better than another”. Any minor, singular traits that are superior to those of another race are based firmly in evolution and adaptation to one’s ethnic home. Essentially, a Norwegian in Norway is superior to other races only in Norway, because that is where he is adapted to be. In Liberia, he would be drastically inferior.
- Contrary to the accusations of his being a neo-nazi, Spencer asserts that he has “no problem” with Jews, but he will still feel free to criticize the foreign policy of Israel and other Jewish representatives as he would anybody else. He is frustrated by the use of physical violence by the left in recent months, especially as it pertains to people who are simply your average Republican.
- His ethnostate idea is currently impractical in the current geopolitical climate, and he seems to understand this. This is not to say that he has abandoned it, but simply acknowledges that at present the idea may not be wholly realistic. He also made sure to explain that he thinks the world is on a trajectory heading towards ethnostates, and that the transition can be peaceful.
- Finally, Mr. Spencer explained that the Ethnostate would not be a small region, but rather a large and centrally governed “empire” to be considered a homeland for all ethnic Europeans. Not an empire in the sense of conquest, but in the sense of its large territory and central governance.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the goal of this article is not to praise spencer nor to put him on a cross, but simply to present a picture of who he is an what he believes. My intent is to provide an objective look into the ideology of someone who rarely is portrayed in an unbiased manner. Every voice should be heard, no matter what we may think of that which they have to say.