The last three years have been a marked and unending period of decline for the organized “alt-right.” Ostensibly led into a somewhat cohesive social movement by Richard Spencer, the collection of publications, podcasts, high-profile white nationalists and organizations that made up the alt-right saw their peak in the two days they laid siege on Charlottesville, Virginia. Yet they were shut down afterward as anti-fascist activists confronted them, kicking them off platforms and legally challenging them. There have been attempts to regroup since, with Spencer returning to his work of “building meta-politics” and others forming white nationalist organizations like the Patriot Front or going even more extreme with “accelerationist” terror organizations like Atomwaffen Division or The Base.
The neo-Nazi website, The Right Stuff, and its headline podcast, “TDS” (formerly “The Daily Shoah”) were a central part of this world, creating much of the slang and internal language that became the popular dialect for the white nationalist movement, mixing the world of pseudo-intellectual white nationalism and the violent and vulgar racism of neo-Nazis. The hosts of “TDS” were hit as hard as anyone: leaders were doxxed, jobs were lost, and their platform was taken virtually off of all mainstream internet channels. The hosts of “TDS” have persisted, publishing episode after episode, and sustained by a small army of paying subscribers. This is not enough for them, and they are venturing back into the world of white nationalist organizing with a new group called the National Justice Party.
The New Party
The first in-person meeting for the National Justice Party was held on August 15, where Mike “Enoch” Peinovich, co-host of “TDS,” alleges a couple hundred people came together.
“We’ve decided to create a political vehicle that we can use to channel all the energy that people have against what’s going on right now in a way that will be actually challenging the system instead of into the Republican Party,” Peinovich said on “TDS,” taking the position that the Republican Party ultimately does not serve white nationalist ends.
In an email that was circulated to interested participants, Peinovich was listed as the chairman, and other affiliated people include Joseph Jordan, the real name of white nationalist podcaster “Eric Striker”; Michael McKevitt, a member of neo-Confederate group Identity Dixie and linked to The Right Stuff; Tony Hovater, a neo-Nazi member of the now-defunct Traditionalist Workers Party who was profiled in a much-maligned New York Times piece; Warren Balogh, who is involved in suing Charlottesville city leaders over the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally; Gregory Conte, an associate of Richard Spencer; and Alan Balogh, Warren’s dad and alleged associate of the neo-Nazi National Alliance.
At the National Justice Party meeting, Peinovich showed a video of cut-together images intended to show an apocalyptic situation for white supremacists: immigration, declining white birth rates and the false belief that pedophilia is becoming politically acceptable. The name for the party likely comes from the publication National Justice, run by Peinovich’s co-host for another white nationalist podcast, Joseph Jordan, otherwise known as Eric Striker. That publication is filled with accusations of “Zionist” control of institutions, the supposed violent proliferation of “antifa” and “white genocide” conspiracy theories. The platform for the National Justice Party, which was shared privately with guests, promises to nationalize or break up major tech and pharmaceutical companies and banks, “set an immigration and natal policy” to keep the U.S. white, and confront the “Zionist occupation of our government.” Tech companies have been a focus of white supremacists because of the intense deplatforming they have received, and so they have taken the talking point of “nationalizing” them as public utilities. This is an example of the far right adapting a left-wing political point to their own purposes: They want to neutralize private ownership of these platforms, but for very different reasons than the left does.
While these types of quasi-political organizations rarely have the ability to make a dent in the U.S. electoral system, they do have the ability to organize and further radicalize the far right. Anti-fascist movements have largely destabilized most of the formal organizations that allowed the white nationalist movement to grow, and this is the newest attempt to reinvigorate this movement by pulling together a large swath of the community into a unified front. While groups like the Patriot Front have also been doing this over the last year, Peinovich’s high-profile status among white nationalists gives the National Justice Party the frightening ability to create a groundswell. By framing itself as a political party, it has the ability to create a more protected space for political activism, a strategy that was used by Matthew Heimbach for the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party, whose collapse left a void for Peinovich to fill.
“[I] do think the name is a bit of a head-nod to Poland’s Law and Justice Party,” says Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, an organization that tracks hate groups. “By making ethno-centric distinctions between ‘law-abiding’ Poles and ‘law-breaking’ immigrants (along with their political allies), the nationalist Law and Justice Party has been able to draw older voters into a coalition with poor people who support Law and Justice’s social programs. It seems like this platform is something close to what we might see out of this new [National Justice Party].”
The rhetoric used in the opening meeting of the National Justice Party seems to be drawn from conservative fearmongering over the supposed violence of Black Lives Matter protesters. They hope to draw on these white anxieties by uniting a traditionally popular message of “law and order” with their own white supremacy.
The “Alt-Right” in 2020
This situation comes at the nadir of the white nationalist movement’s collective organizational strength. By using the language of “security,” they can hope to channel white fears about the Black Lives Matter movement back into organized white supremacy.
“The white nationalist wing of the alt-right is largely running on fumes at this point; there have been no new innovations for a while, and the remaining groups are static or in decline,” says Spencer Sunshine, a researcher who tracks the far right. “The [more moderate by comparison] ‘alt-lite’ is doing better by milking anti-antifa rhetoric, now promoted by Trump, and high-profile street clashes which have expanded to include opposing the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement.”
The National Justice Party does not need to run candidates to be effective. Presenting itself as a political party adds some protection and the appearance of legitimacy, even if members are simply organizing as a street force or white nationalist activist organization. The Traditionalist Workers Party was the “political arm” of the earlier Traditionalist Youth Network, but instead of being an electoral group, the party simply focused on being a “big tent” organization for “third position” fascist ideas that combined economic protectionism with racialism. Even organizations that did run candidates — like the U.K.’s National Front in the 1970s — engaged in public attacks on marginalized groups and activists, and were a threat to public safety.
While figures like Peinovich have become pariahs on most social media, they have continued to try and retain a presence on these platforms despite almost constant bans, and The Right Stuff currently has a Twitter account. If they are allowed to have a growing presence on public social media, then this new project has the ability to reach a wider audience and potentially recruit from disaffected parts of Trump’s base. The question now is how those measures can be undermined as tech companies decide exactly how they want to approach far right threats. While the racist language of the National Justice Party is just barely coded, it may be diffuse enough to go under the security systems of social networks and allow it to build up steam.
There are currently no Federal Election Commission filings for the National Justice Party, which is the kind of registration that would offer it the protections that usually come with a political party. It is still unclear if donations are coming in for the party as an official political entity, but it does not appear to be registered as such at the moment.
Although it is likely that the party will never have electoral sway, it provides itself as a vehicle to push white nationalist talking points and foment vigilante violence. At a time when attacks against Black Lives Matter protesters are becoming a common form of rightist vigilantism, this is a frightening development that could have real-world consequences. Instead of allowing far right organizations like the National Justice Party to become a violent force, activists should consider it a potential threat in its infancy, which is the only way to undermine fascist movements before they lead to tangible harm.