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Collapse of White Nationalist Party Offers Lessons for Anti-Fascist Strategy

The inherent instability of white supremacist groups offers anti-fascists the tools to sow chaos within the movement.

People march through the streets with colorful signs reading "WE WANT JUSTICE WE WANT IT NOW" and "RACIST COPS MUST GO" during a street protest in New York City, on September 5, 2020.

2024 began with a declaration of failure from within the white nationalist movement: The National Justice Party (NJP) is toast. Billed as a working-class white political party from the people who ran The Right Stuff (TRS) podcast network, and the racist talk radio vehicle TDS (renamed as such after being originally called The Daily Shoah) in particular, the NJP was an intentional effort to soak up the remnants of the “alt-right” who wanted to continue their public activism after most of their organizations had collapsed.

The NJP positioned itself to offer what few far right organizations were currently doing: be both politically militant and upfront, building interest around contemporary issues and using elections as a place either to potentially run candidates or push wedge issues often manipulated by white nationalists. The NJP came together under the control of several different people who came to prominence from the alt-right, such as hosts from the Right Stuff and Greg Conte, former collaborator with Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute. They would create NJP chapters around the country, find issues that appealed to working-class white voters and show that they were willing to take positions the Republicans and Democrats were unwilling to, thus positioning themselves as a political vanguard fighting for white workers. But despite becoming one of the largest “post-alt-right” white nationalist groups in the country after its 2020 launch, their recent collapse reveals that internal fractures are continuing to keep the modern white nationalist movement in disarray.

The alt-right emerged in 2010 as a new form of branding for fascist politics, linking up different dissident strains into a de facto ideological coalition, and moved from online to “IRL” (in real life) organizing around 2015 with organizations like Identity Evropa, the Proud Boys and the Traditionalist Workers Party (which itself had been formed earlier). But after public blunders such as their public violence at August 2017’s Unite the Right rally, significant deplatforming from tech companies, and aggressive counter-organizing from anti-fascists, their earlier model of street activism never became a significant force for community organizing.

While the alt-right successfully moved Trumpism, and subsequently the entire American conservative movement, far to the right, the GOP still fails to be an explicitly white nationalist party and, thus, appears tragically moderate to these right-wing militants. Their subsequent destruction holds key lessons for anti-fascists, who can exploit white nationalists’ vulnerabilities by understanding the problems that they will face as they attempt to regroup.

How a Movement Collapsed

“With the help of our fantastic National Staff we will be folding up the corporation and dissolving the party after Christmas,” the NJP published on its Telegram channel on December 14, at the end of a series of public outbursts from various podcasters and party activists who were celebrities in their movement. A fracture between podcaster Mike “Enoch” Peinovich and his various NJP colleagues and his TDS co-host Jesse Dunstan, also known as “Sven” and “Seventh Son,” started to form when Sven publicly said that the National Justice Party was a failing front organization for the larger TRS project. Since 2022, the TRS subscriber network, which has sustained the most popular white nationalist podcasts in the country after they were shunned by payment processors and web hosting companies, has transitioned to the NJP supporters’ network, thus uniting the party and the podcast network to become one singular organization. There would now be no division between the party and TRS; they were one body with one pathway to participation and a single financial infrastructure.

This process had uneven support in the organization, and at the end of 2023 Dunstan engaged in a series of public rants, calling other figures in their organization “parasites” who contributed nothing, such as the national socialist podcaster Eric Striker. “I never needed him and my website is worse for having him on board,” said Dunstan. These outbursts give a window into a key contradiction that has plagued the party since its inception: remain racist celebrities on a podcast network or organize. The activists wanted to have in-person rallies, flash mobs and political events, usually highlighting incidents of what they considered “black on white crime” or to draw attention to white working-class areas hit with disasters, such as East Palestine, Ohio’s environmental emergency or the opioid crisis in rural Appalachia. This is a fundamentally different theory of change than that found among those who only want to publish articles and make podcasts, as the latter was built around the notion that changing minds through propaganda was the most effective route to, eventually, changing their political reality.

Part of what broke up the NJP was their leadership’s attempts to torpedo any competing voices, subsequently eliminating any chance of collaboration. Nick Fuentes, the leader of the white nationalist groyper movement, which maintains a large footprint among young National Conservatives, is a divisive figure in the white nationalist movement. Many within NJP, particularly their leader and popular podcast host Eric Striker, have voiced criticism of Fuentes for his “Christian nationalism,” an ideology they believe deprioritizes what they view as the primacy of race. Striker also went after emerging stars of the movement like Keith Woods, Richard Spencer’s former podcast co-host and popular YouTuber who is credited with starting the #BantheADL campaign that Elon Musk gave extraordinary publicity to. In general, NJP’s leadership followed much of the post-alt-right in making enemies of all their former comrades, denouncing everyone from Richard Spencer to the street fascist group, Patriot Front.

The key strategic conflict is between Enoch’s vision of continued “white advocacy,” which involves street activism and intends to intervene on real political issues; and Dunstan’s, who believes his parody songs and podcasts are the most important element in building their movement (which is also known as “metapolitics,” or the politics of building consciousness through culture and education). As the blowback from the lethal Unite the Right in 2017 continued, a rally that left one anti-fascist protester dead and dozens seriously injured, and many of the leading alt-right figures faced personal and professional consequences, institutions like Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute and Radix Magazine, and publishers like Counter-Currents have returned to their focus on building community through metapolitics, largely through on-line (and in person) conversations and lectures. The NJP/TRS merger intended to meld both media content and public activism, but this created serious problems when their rhetoric attracted the wrong kind of attention: it could lead to law enforcement investigations that could, ultimately, collapse the entire network, as well as anti-fascist responses.

The NJP built on much of the model of the earlier Traditionalist Worker Party, the national socialist political party created by Matthew Heimbach and his former father-in-law Matt Parrott. After an incident colloquially called online “the night of wrong wives,” where Heimbach was seen cheating on his wife with Parrott’s wife, the party collapsed and scattered. Much of the NJP’s leadership ended up being composed of former TWP cadre, while Heimbach created his own alternative vehicle called the Patriotic Socialist Front, melding ethnic nationalism with authoritarian Marxism and “patriotic” Stalinism. This leadership included former TWP leader Tony Hovater, who became famous in 2017 when The New York Times published a friendly feature on him, acting as chief of staff of the NJP. Hovater was later accused of financial mismanagement through Enoch’s attorney and their social media subsequently devolved into pointing fingers and releasing the private information of their (former) members. According to a leaked August 10th, 2023 email message to former NJP leader Tony Hovater from Director of Executive Affairs, Valentino Ferrante, the party was receiving about $5,426 a month, an average of $62.95 per supporter, leading to a yearly budget in the hundreds of thousands. Hovater alleged numerous financial improprieties from leading NJP figures and staff, such as Mike Peinovich using $50,000 for back surgery or embezzling around $200,000 in cryptocurrency (which was a standard method of payment form supporters), on top of making $6,000 per month in salary. After Hovater reportedly brought up some internal issues, Dunsten said he pushed for fire Hovater, who he said was taking orders from an NJP member that was concealing their Jewish ancestry.

The Internal Discord of Their Movement

The NJP grew, primarily using the podcasts in the Right Stuff network as a mutually reinforcing echo chamber: the NJP added real-world relevance to the podcasts and helped them grow at times when they were removed from most financial transaction systems, search engine results or social media platforms. For those invested in the Right Stuff, such as Peinovich or Dunstan, the podcast’s subscribers are their source of income, so their participation in the party as subcultural celebrities was necessary to keep the dollars (or Bitcoin) coming in.

“From the very outset, Sven saw it as a distraction from his enterprises that detracted from those enterprises. It was designed so that the NJP would either grow big enough to push him out if it succeeded, or would drag him down with it if it failed,” wrote white nationalist Matt Parrott in a January 8 blog post, outlining the forces that he believes brought down the organization. Because the alt-right’s behavior became so immediately toxic and anti-fascists would doxx them rather quickly, they often had to go public and try and turn their movement work into a career. When that transition took place, the calculations became different, and the blended world of fascist personalities and street activism created a contradiction in the kinds of behaviors that built their celebrities and those that can build movements.

The online rhetoric of the alt-right was largely honed on the Right Stuff podcasts, which brought open racial slurs back into vogue among white nationalists (who had, for a time, tried to use more moderate language to appeal to mainstream conservatives) and thinly hinted at extreme levels of violence, including articles that justified genocide of non-white people and Jews. This gave the movement much of its energy, what Richard Spencer said in a 2016 interview was the “Dionysian energy” that was important for drumming up interest. But when that translates to real world activity, it brings the attention of police and ensures that they will never break into the conservative base of Republican voters. So far, there has seemed to be little attention paid to the National Justice Party by the police, though research has shown that they held significant overlapping membership with groups like Patriot Front, which have faced extensive police attention, as well as those involved in earlier acts of violence, such as the 2017 Unite the Right rally.

The alt-right always struggled to move from the world of online pseudo-intellectualism and into real world activism. For example, Identity Evropa, despite growing rapidly after its formation in 2016, was unable to sustain an offline presence and was often relegated to private conference, anonymous sticker campaigns, and eventually collapsed under a sequence of failed leaders. A number of groups followed, such as the American Identity Movement and Vanguard America, none of which were able to formulate a successful public strategy, which is the assumed prerogative of any community organizing operation. Now, projects like Counter-Currents and Richard Spencer’s newly rebranded Alexandria have retreated back into their insular world of publishing, reading groups and endless Zoom calls. NJP intended to retain the same vision that hit its zenith at Unite the Right, but in doing so never built out a stable coalition. Instead, they saw the rest of the movement as competitors, assuring division remained, and took “principled stands” on every issue of little importance.

The NJP’s implosion was the result of the contradiction implicit in the coalition it was trying to form. To become an influential street force with the potential to play a role in local elections, it needed the kind of “big tent” community that the alt-right branding had once created. But that temporary alliance, which was forged in the racist optimism that early Trumpism created amongst white nationalists, had largely been destroyed by 2019, due to a combination of their ineptitude, on display at events like Unite the Right, and by the effective work of anti-fascists. What was left in the circle around the NJP was forged either in the remnants of earlier organizations that built their base primarily among neo-Nazi activists or, secondarily, racist podcast fans who had less of an investment, or experience, in the world of street actions. While the rhetoric of TDS may sound like it lines up with the ultimate aims of the defectors from the National Socialist Movement (NSM), these are largely separate communities that failed to gel in the way that is necessary to sustain a coordinated project. The reason that the Traditionalist Workers Party had legs in its mid-2010 incarnation was that it intentionally recruited from among a working class, middle-American base. But the core of The Right Stuff were middle-class online lurkers, so positioning that crowd to take up the model honed by Heimbach and his street stormers was destined to fail.

Secondarily, those whose politics are developed in the anonymous world of trolling and hyperbolic podcasts have trouble transitioning to real-time or IRL activism because their physical presence forces them to take responsibility for their rhetoric. While it may be easy enough to say the most extreme sounding things possible on a subscriber-only podcast feed, it is much different when you have to be legally liable for your community organizing choices and if you want to reach beyond your base for new recruits. If participants engage in illegal and violent activity and then were to be traced back to their organization, those leading that organization, such as Peinovich, could face criminal charges or civil penalties. And with the demonstrated lack of composure by the white nationalists in their community, it’s more than possible that their near genocidal podcast rhetoric could lead to real-world acts of terror.

Anti-Fascist Lessons

Parties like the NJP have a long track record not only of helping to effectively build white nationalism, but also for becoming vectors of racist violence. However, they also have an inherent vulnerability in the fact that they absorb members of a rather disparate movement and place them onto membership lists and leave financial trails that anti-fascists can use to identify fascists and create campaigns to subsequently destroy the organization.

The Right Stuff remains one of the core propagandists in the more anonymous world of white nationalism, so the NJP’s formalization would have inherently put its subscribers at risk by ensuring their association with formal racist organizations was documented internally. As of yet, researchers have not exposed these public records, but, as with most formal white nationalist organizations, their consolidation means that they now have centralized one of the largest databases of white nationalists in the country; it will only be a matter of time before that information ends up public.

Because the founders of the NJP were so well known to anti-fascists, their moves were tracked from the beginning, meaning they were unable to show up unopposed in many parts of the country that they would likely hope to recruit from. Over the past several years, an overwhelming number of public white nationalist events were disrupted by anti-fascists, meaning that the options for public organizing have diminished since they cannot hold even the briefest recruiting drive without dealing with community opponents. With growth as their primary reason to formalize, NJP was unable to achieve any metric of success since they could only appeal to the racist base they had already cultivated through the podcast network. In the end, they never stopped being anything other than online content creators.

Official membership has always been acknowledged by the white supremacist movement as their key weakness, which led to an incredible amount of law enforcement infiltration in the 1980s. This is what pushed the preference for “lone wolf” violence (which is a misnomer since the entire white nationalist community is responsible for these attacks) and was at the heart of the “Leaderless Resistance” model offered by former Klansman Louis Beam. They were responding to potential police informants, but today the online register for these organizations makes them particularly vulnerable to anti-fascists who can pose as recruits, find a digital footprint, and follow it to personal identities. For example, Mike Peinovich was first revealed to be a New York City software developer with a six-figure salary when anti-fascists traced back a stray email address from an old blog to his name, and then used that to locate his personal information. In doing so, they successfully doxxed one of the most important white nationalists of the alt-right era and reversed his success. When these organizations recruit people into their official membership rolls, every one of their supporters suddenly faces the same kind of vulnerability. If their information is ultimately released and community organizing campaigns create systems of accountability, then it sends one of the most powerful messages that the anti-fascist movement can delivery: The stakes are too high for anyone to join the white nationalist movement. The Right Stuff supporters’ network still exists even after the destruction of the NJP, and so the weakness inherent to centralized information and membership data still remains.

The inherent instability of white supremacist groups has always been one of the most effective vectors for anti-fascists to use to create dissension and fracture the movement. Because TRS/TDS has such an incredible reach in the larger white nationalist movement, the infighting that is happening now may have ramifications by sowing division at large. With their institution collapsing, information may flow more freely, helping anti-fascists gain a foothold in confronting what is one of the most established white nationalist media ventures of the century. Anti-fascism is generally effective when making the less committed periphery around the white nationalist movement see participation as coming at too high a cost, and if that feeling extends even to being a paid subscriber to a project like The Right Stuff, then this could further push the movement into collapse.