William L. Pierce
National Vanguard’s editor describes his spiritual and intellectual evolution from a non-political university professor into a White radical.
Until I was 30 years old, I had hardly given a thought to politics, to race, or to social questions. I had no clearly thought-out ideology and, in fact, except for a brief commitment to Christianity between the ages of 14 and 18, had never concerned myself with ideological matters.
During World War II, I was far too young to understand or even pay attention to the issues involved in that most decisive political event of the century. Not even the incessant barrage of morale-boosting war movies and other jingoistic propaganda (produced, incidentally, by the same tribe which during the Korean and Vietnam wars worked equally hard to undermine American morale) had any effect on me; I was so deeply into science fiction that I seldom came up for air.
When I reached adolescence I tapered off a bit on my science fiction reading (I have long since given it up altogether), but then my after-school time was filled up with the real thing: science. I had a laboratory in my bedroom, and I spent all the money I earned mowing lawns and delivering newspapers to buy chemicals and apparatus.
After an unfortunate accident sent a young friend to the hospital with bad second- and third-degree burns and set my bedroom curtains afire, my laboratory was banished to the garage, but my interest was unabated. My boyhood dream, a decade before Sputnik I, was space travel and extraterrestrial exploration.
Even after I was packed off to military school at the age of 15, my interests continued to be devoted almost wholly to science. I waited as eagerly each month for the arrival of my Scientific American as I had previously waited for the appearance on the newsstands of Planet Stories. I finagled an afternoon job cleaning up the stockroom of the chemistry lab at military school, which was a mess from years of inattention by uninterested teachers, and I used the opportunity to continue my self-education in matters scientific.
When I became an undergraduate at Rice University (at that time Rice Institute) in Houston, Texas, I chose physics and mathematics as my major and minor courses of study. Anyone who has not himself majored in physics will have difficulty in appreciating what that means, in terms of the degree of commitment and the amount of intellectual effort required. While the English majors and sociology majors concerned themselves with campus politics, panty raids, beer parties, and dormitory bull sessions, I and the other physics majors puzzled out solutions to Laplace’s equation and sweated over the calculation of particle trajectories.
I do not mean to imply that there was no time left for sex, beer, and whatever else undergraduates concern themselves with, but only that, relatively speaking, physics majors were obliged to indulge themselves in these pleasures on the run. And this was much more the case when I became a graduate student, first at Caltech and later at the University of Colorado. There simply were not enough hours in the day, or days in the week, to do the amount of studying required and to worry very much about politics and other extracurricular matters at the same time.
Being a physics graduate student really is a totally absorbing occupation, and I was one most of the time between the ages of 21 and 29, a period in the lives of most young intellectuals when they are doing a lot of thinking about – or, at least, are very much aware of – the political and social issues of the day. But for me, any time not devoted to physics during this period was spent in frenetic physical activity: chasing girls, skiing, flying, sailing, mountain climbing, shooting.
Toward the end of my graduate studies there wasn’t even time for physical recreation, and I often slept on a folding cot beside the electromagnet in my laboratory when I finished the day’s work, long after midnight.
Thus, when, just before my 29th birthday, I became an assistant professor of physics at Oregon State University, I was, one might say, an ideological virgin. And I managed to keep my virginity for another year, because it took me that long to set up a new laboratory, gain confidence in my ability to teach the courses (especially the graduate courses) I was assigned, and to “settle in.”
Then, for the first time in my adult life, I had time to notice what was going on in the world around me and to reflect on it. And in 1963 there was a lot to notice and reflect on. It was then that the “civil rights” revolution was first coming out of the closet, and there were sit-ins, “freedom” marches, and other integration-directed media events practically every day.
There were no major riots or confrontations in Corvallis, Oregon, where I was teaching, but even on the Oregon State University campus one could see a microcosm of the racial ferment taking place elsewhere. There were several interracial couples on the faculty and the usual brainless liberal blather about racial matters in the student newspaper.
As the turmoil grew, it became more and more difficult to remain a disinterested observer. It was clearly necessary for every responsible adult to try to understand the implications of this “civil rights” thing and then take a position. But I had no ground on which to stand.
I had no regional prejudices, having lived in nine different states, four of them in the South and five outside. I had had very little previous experience with non-Whites and had not thought much about them one way or the other. If anything, I was inclined toward the liberal position on the race question.
I can remember one dormitory bull session as an undergraduate, in which I had supported the right of a person to marry or cohabit with anyone who would have him, Black or White.
And at military school I had once indignantly declined an invitation to accompany a carload of my classmates on a “coon conking” excursion into the local “nigger town.” This was a sport that consisted of driving along close to the curb and poking a closet pole out the car window to knock down Blacks on the sidewalk. I strongly felt that, as long as Blacks were minding their own business, no one had a right to bother them.
I believe that I could have been properly categorized as a libertarian rather than a liberal, but mine was no by means a dogmatic libertarianism, merely a vague feeling that people should be left alone as much as possible, and that society should not attempt to regulate their lives or impose the prevailing standards on them. This was consistent with the resentment I had felt as a teenager when I was obliged to apply for a social security card and, later, when I had to fill out my first Form 1040.
Libertarianism, however, provided no answers to the race question. On the one hand, I felt Blacks should be allowed to do whatever they wanted, without hindrance or harassment. But I also felt that Whites who did not want to eat with them or hire them or send their children to school with them should not be forced to do so. How could one reconcile the “rights” being demanded for Blacks with the rights of Whites?
I had no answer, and the media did not provide one I could accept. It was clear that they were solidly on the side of the Blacks and were using every trick in their propaganda book to emotionally sway the public to their position. Certainly the spectacle of overweight White housewives, their hair in curlers and their puffy faces distorted with hate, screaming obscenities at small Black children as they got off a school bus, was hardly one to win sympathy for the segregationists, and the scorn in the voices of the news commentators as the TV cameras gloatingly lingered on such scenes left little doubt in the minds of TV viewers across the nation that opposition to the “civil rights” movement was a disreputable position.
Why, I wondered, did the media always choose the least articulate segregationist available when they wanted to screen an interview, and why did they so seldom show the seamy side of the integration movement?
And I could hardly help noticing that the shrillest and pushiest of those demanding “equality now” for Blacks, both on the Oregon State campus and in the media, were not Blacks but members of another minority group – which raised, for the first time in my life, the Jewish question. I had no answer to that question either.
Talking to my colleagues cast little new light on these issues, which I felt were extremely important. On the one hand were the liberals, whose dogmatic narrow-mindedness precluded any rational discussion on matters which touched the very heart of liberalism.
To them the doctrine of universal human equality was simply beyond questioning. Blacks were biologically equal to Whites, they believed, and the only things which kept them from being socially equal were “injustice” and “oppression,” which must be swept away – at any cost. Actually, I wasn’t interested in debating the question of whether Blacks are inherently equal to Whites. If my time in military school had taught me anything, it was that the notion of inherent human equality is utterly false.
Such a notion could only be maintained by someone who had never undergone the experience, as I had, of being cooped up in close quarters with 500 other human beings, day and night, for two years. I got to know my schoolmates (all of whom were White) rather more intimately than the average person ever gets to know anyone, and it was abundantly clear to me that they differed enormously in inherent quality. Some of my classmates were boys of intelligence, character, and sensitivity; others were the scum of the earth; and the rest were at various points in between.
Being aware of the differences in biological quality which existed among Whites, I was not inclined to accept the liberals’ blanket assertion that Blacks were “equal” to Whites. But whether the average intelligence of Blacks was approximately the same as that of Whites, or whether the races were similar in some other narrowly defined respect, was not the salient question. Blacks were manifestly different from Whites, and the question to be answered, it seemed to me, was what was the proper relationship to be sought between the two races? Should it be segregation, as those puffy-faced, shrieking women demanded; or should it be total and immediate integration, as the media spokesmen insisted; or should it be some third way? And what conclusions were to be drawn from the pre-eminent role of the Jews in the affair?
My conservative colleagues were of no more help in resolving these questions than the liberals. There were a few who, behind closed doors, would whisper angrily to me, “The Jews are the ones behind this ‘civil rights’ agitation.”
But why? There was no coherent answer. And what should a responsible person do, other than whisper angrily? Again, the conservatives had no answer.
In seeking a conservative solution, I went so far as to attend several meetings of a local chapter of the John Birch Society. According to the Birchers, all the “civil rights” uproar was part of a communist program for taking over the country. Perhaps so, but that answer begged my basic question on race.
I quickly found out that the two topics on which I had wanted an intelligent discussion – race and the Jews – were precisely the two topics Birch Society members were forbidden to discuss, on pain of expulsion. When I persisted in my questions, I was given a pamphlet which explained that anyone who raised these questions at a Birch Society meeting was almost certainly a “neutralizer” – a communist agent whose role was to “neutralize” the Birch Society by distracting it from its anti-communist mission with questions about race and the Jews.
Conservatives, I discovered, are just as narrow-minded and bigoted, on the average, as liberals. I also came to the sad realization that, whatever may have been true of universities in ages past, they can hardly be considered today to be communities of scholars, “founded in freedom for research to sober, fearless pursuit of truth, beauty, righteousness and to all high emprise consecrated,” to quote the words on my Rice diploma. They are largely communities of timeservers, going through the motions of scholarship.
I suspect that the percentage of free spirits and thinkers unbound by convention may still be somewhat higher on the average American university campus than in the average redneck bar, but not drastically so. The cliches are different, but the primal reek of herd instinct is about as strong in both places.
I turned to the university library for answers. I began reading voraciously in subjects to which my scientific specialization had previously forced me to give short shrift, especially history. My reading was quite random at first: a book on the Civil War and the problems of the Reconstruction Era, followed by Gibbon, then by a treatment of the Second World War, and then by a survey of European prehistory.
Eventually, however, I was able to synthesize an overview of history which yielded several fundamental insights, the most important of which concerned the biological basis of history and of human culture. I began to understand that history is not just a succession of political events and cultural developments; it is the record of various human groups in their struggle to survive and evolve, of their interactions and conflicts.
The course which the history of any one human group follows is influenced by many factors, but the most important and basic of these factors is the specific racial character of the groups. Thus, the histories of Negroes, of Chinamen, and of Whites, though subject to the effects of differing environments and differing cultural preconditions, are profoundly different primarily because the groups these historians describe are profoundly different biologically. And the differences in cultural preconditions themselves are, in most cases, primarily a product of biological differences also.
Such a conclusion may seem self-evident once it is recognized, but, like many other things which, perhaps, ought to be self-evident, it has managed to escape the attention of a great many people – including many who write history textbooks. For me it was a great revelation which changed the way in which I saw the world around me thenceforth.
Insight into the Jewish question came more slowly – not as a revelation, but as a gradual increase in understanding of Jewish behavior and Jewish thinking. But even before I felt I had a fairly complete understanding of the Jewish role in American life, I realized that it was a very important role, which had to be understood if anything else was to make sense.
Two years of intensive and extensive study of history, of the biology of race, of Jewish affairs, and of related topics certainly increased my understanding. But it did not provide the answer I was seeking: How should I respond to the “civil rights” offensive?
I did not realize it at the time, but no amount of study could have provided me an answer, for that involved a question of values. There are two types of knowledge: that which comes from a study of the external world, and that which comes from the soul. But it was another 10 years before I finally came to understand clearly the difference between objective and subjective knowledge and the way in which they are related.
In 1965 all I knew was that there was a massive, well-organized effort afoot to bring about profound and irreversible changes in the racial character of the American population, and I felt that these changes would be for the worse and must, therefore, be opposed. I could not, at that time, say why I felt the way I did, nor did I have any clear idea as to what I should do to implement my feelings.
I was, in other words, still lacking an ideological basis for action: a self-consistent set of values, principles, and goals from which I could derive a correct position on any issue which might arise and which would serve as a guide for proper action. I was groping intuitively for a goal without yet understanding the nature of intuition.
I tried to orient my own feelings relative to those of my colleagues with whom I had discussed the race issue. The liberals seemed to have an ideology of sorts, although it didn’t make good sense to me, while the conservatives were quite short on ideology.
When I brushed aside the cliches and looked for their ultimate goals, it seemed to me that for the liberals it was self-annihilation, while for the conservatives it was self-preservation, in the narrowest sense. As for me, it was to do what I was created to do – although I could not have expressed it that way at that time.
But what to do and how to do it – that, I still did not know. I only knew that I must do something; I could not continue to be merely a spectator indefinitely, while events cried out daily for action.
I decided to become a writer.
It seemed to me that if I could write a book which would explain the conclusions I had reached about the racial basis of history and about the long-range historical implications of the present drift toward racial mixing in the United States, other persons could be reached, persuaded, and organized into some sort of force capable of acting effectively in the political arena.
With this objective in mind, I left my faculty position for one with a large corporation in Connecticut. By doing so I not only gave myself more free time for writing, but I also doubled my salary. In addition, I gained staff privileges in the Yale University library, one of the largest and best in the country.
Before I even began my book, however, I made the discovery that I was not the first person to set foot on that trail. I was amazed to find dozens of books in the Yale library written by others who had reached conclusions similar to my own. Most of the books were intelligently written – better books than I felt I could write myself, at the time – and several had been put out by major publishers.
And there they sat, some since the early years of this century, gathering dust on library shelves, influencing no one. That realization considerably dampened my enthusiasm for writing a book.
It also called my attention to a problem I had not seriously considered before then: the problem of motivating people. I had naively assumed that the task I had taken on was merely one of persuasion – of convincing people that my view of events was correct – and that, once convinced, they would not hesitate to act.
Perhaps I had fallen into the common error of judging others by myself, or perhaps I had foolishly put too much faith in the old Christian saw, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” In any event, it was becoming clear that the truth alone was not enough. One must not only know the truth, but one must then have the will to act on it – and will, it seemed, was much more the missing ingredient than truth.
On the matter of understanding the motivation – or lack thereof – of my fellow men, I had no flashes of revelation; it took me an embarrassingly long time to piece the picture together. Meanwhile, I wasted three precious years editing and publishing an ivory-tower ideological quarterly.
The understanding which gradually emerged is what may fairly be said to have radicalized me – to have convinced me that radical ends can only be attained by radical means. That conviction was the product of my interactions with a large number of individuals over a period of several years. I shall not attempt to relate those interactions in chronological order but shall merely describe a few which epitomize the others.
In early 1968 I applied for and obtained a Federal license to deal in firearms. I then went into the mail-order gun business. My purpose was not only to supplement my scanty income, but also to attract the attention of those persons most likely to be responsive to my ideological message.
For this latter purpose I had advertising flyers printed and distributed which described the firearms I was offering for sale as “Negro control equipment.” The mass media jumped for the bait. Headlines such as “Extreme Rightists Arming for Race War” appeared in newspapers all over America and were even picked up by a number of European papers.
I became something of a celebrity, and my gun business thrived – until the Federal gun control law of 1968 went into effect and virtually outlawed mail-order sales of firearms.
The people with whom I came in contact as a result of this little experiment fell into several categories. First, there were the primitives, who liked to talk about doing violent and bloody things but who had neither the patience nor the understanding for the long, unexciting preparatory work which must be done first if violence is to be effective.
The thinking of the primitives was essentially conservative. Underneath the braggadocio (“I’m gonna kill me a nigger with this gun”) was a very limited, defensive conception of things. The time might come, at a very late stage, where such people could be helpful – but I realized they were not what I was looking for.
Then there were the non-primitive conservatives. They didn’t brag about any anticipated mayhem, but their motivation was essentially that of the primitives, and their imagination was just as limited. They had vague ideas of defending themselves from lawless Blacks, of shooting rioters in their neighborhoods – nothing more. Their only concern was protecting themselves and their property. Cooperative action to achieve longer-range goals did not interest them.
And there were the business and professional types – successful, well-to-do men, some of them members of the Establishment. I managed to get myself invited to a few Washington cocktail parties, thinking that the support of such people would be invaluable in organizing the sort of effort I had in mind.
I found a common pattern at these parties. There was a superficial receptiveness to what I had to say. People were ready to joke about Blacks. They didn’t approve of racial mixing, and they detested Jews. They agreed heartily with my assertion that it was necessary to actively oppose the efforts of the controlled media, the churches, and the Federal government to force Whites and Blacks to mix.
That is, they agreed until it began dawning on them that what I was saying was not just idle cocktail chatter, but that I was deadly serious. Then they became uneasy. And when I hinted that anyone who agreed with me had an obligation to become involved in a common effort, their uneasiness turned to something close to panic.
On more than one occasion I had the experience of having someone introduced to me who would say something like, “I read the articles in the Washington Post about your ‘Negro control equipment.’ Keep it up; give ‘em hell.”
I would respond by mentioning that I had just published a pamphlet on the controlled press in America and that I would mail him a copy. The reaction would invariably be, “Oh, no, don’t do that! They check the mail, you know. In my position, I can’t afford to get involved. I’m sure you understand!”
Yes, I understood – or, at least, I was beginning to. I understood that American society, like a dead fish, is rotting from the head down. The Gentile Establishment in this country is totally corrupt and will never act from other than narrow self-interest. Its members are more to blame than the Jews for America’s racial problems, because they not only have had the power to oppose the Jews’ schemes, but, unlike the masses, they have understood all along what the Jews have been up to.
It is not just their greed which manifests their corruption; it is also their abject cowardice. After all, they are racists, of sorts. Some will even support an effort to oppose racial mixing – if they can be convinced that it is completely safe.
That means that there must not only be no danger to their persons, their incomes, or their investments, but also no danger of social embarrassment, no danger of being caught in a breach of the etiquette of their class. Raising one’s voice in public is such a breach of etiquette. So is using plain language about race, which everyone can understand.
Jesus said it a long time ago, and he was absolutely correct: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
There was little danger of my becoming rich by following the course I had chosen, but my experiences with wealthy conservatives convinced me that I should take no chance that I might, at some future date, be influenced by concern for material possessions. I divested myself of the property I had left – including my automobile and my bank account – and took a vow of poverty. From then on I would never own more then the clothes on my back, the few essentials of my trade, and pocket money.
I talked to several retired military officers. They did not display as much cowardice or greed as the Establishment types, but they were limited in other ways. They had great difficulty in thinking or acting outside the conventions of their caste. I had not expected it, but I found a lot of the same squeamishness conservatives had shown when I talked about the grim realities of our situation and of the necessity of going to the roots of the problem and using radical surgery.
One general principle I learned is that people are fairly predictable – almost mechanical, one might say. They are very strongly constrained, not only in the type of things they do but also in what they are able to think about, by their social circumstances and backgrounds. It is very difficult for them to cope with events which require thinking and acting outside their well-worn ruts. Among adults there are few exception to this rule, regardless of social position or inherent intelligence.
It applies not only to the deeply conservative middle class and to the amoral men of the Establishment, but also to the masses. People who think that the so-called “common people” will spontaneously rise up and make an end of their tormentors when economic conditions become bad enough or when school busing or some other outrage is carried a bit further are just as mistaken as those who nurse the forlorn hope that the Whites of the Establishment will one day respond to a twinge of racial loyalty.
Some profess to see hope for the future in the redneck bars of the nation, in the motorcycle gangs, even among the dropped-out youths of the drug culture, because of their “healthy, vital, elemental racism,” as one dreamer expressed it. Yes, there is elemental racism there, but there is also elemental stupidity and apathy. Just look at what the common people keep voting for – and listen to their reasons for voting.
The masses, just like the Establishment, will never do spontaneously what needs to be done. They can act properly only when they are regimented and guided every step of the way. Democracy is a huge part of our present problem, and it will certainly not be a part of the cure.
That may be a difficult conclusion for many readers to accept. It is a radical conclusion. It took me years to accept it, but eventually I could no longer avoid it.
Actually, my narrative oversimplifies the process which led to my becoming a radical. There were two separate intellectual developments involved, which were so closely interconnected that it would be very difficult to separate them here. One led to my understanding the necessity of radical ends; the other, the necessity of radical means.
The first development was complete when I understood the futility of conservatism; the second when I understood the uselessness of conservatives.
By conservatism I mean the seeking of limited goals – economic, political, social, or racial – as ends in themselves. Limited goals only make sense, in the long run, when they are stepping-stones on the way to an all-encompassing goal.
History is a dynamic, unstoppable, all-encompassing process. One cannot hold it back, but one can, sometimes, influence its course. But when one changes the course of history, one changes it for all time and for all things, whether one wants that or not. The radical understands that and accepts it; the conservative does not.
When I speak of radical means, I do not intend to evoke an image of a wild-eyed bomb-thrower. For the purpose of this narrative, radical means refers primarily to people, to participants in the process of bringing about historical change, and not so much to any particular type of tactics.
That is, there was a time, even after I had begun thinking in terms of radical ends, when I still thought in terms of working toward them with the help of people whose outlook was essentially conservative. I have already described how I became disabused of this idea.
I finally came to realize that I must seek other men and women who were capable of sharing my whole vision of what the world could become – not just one small aspect or another of that vision. I must seek men and women who understand and accept that our proper goal is not a happier or more prosperous life for ourselves or even for our children. Nor is it to save America, or even Western civilization.
What must be saved is the gene pool of our race. If we are able to do that, everything else will eventually be achieved. If we fail to do that, everything will ultimately be lost.
The acceptance of that goal, and the ability to achieve satisfaction by devoting one’s life to its furtherance, are the two most important criteria by which I judge potential co-workers.
There is more, of course. There is an understanding of why our goal is all that ultimately matters. There is the ability to fit that goal into the larger picture of the nature of reality and of man’s place and purpose in that reality. But that is another story.
Let it suffice to say here, in conclusion, that, despite the long and painful process through which I had to pass in becoming radicalized, fighting it every step of the way, the process seems to have been easier for other people, especially those born since the Second World War. This is important, because it means that there is a growing, maturing supply of the very best human material with an understanding of what must be done.
It is from this reservoir that the cadres of the National Alliance are now being recruited.
National Vanguard magazine No. 61, June 1978