Berlet, Chip

White Supremacist groups in the United States share certain common elements and characteristics. In addition to a view of racial hierarchy, there is usually some form of antisemitism, dualism, apocalypticism, a reliance on conspiracy theories, a masculinist perspective, and antipathy towards gays and lesbians. They also share some common elements with all social movements. At the same time, there are distinctive differences among White Supremacist groups. There are several ways to illustrate these differences. In order to better explain how these groups operate in the public sphere, we separate them into the categories of: political, religious, and youth cultural (racist skinhead, racist gangs, etc.) This typology, proposed by Vysotsky (2004), focuses on how these groups recruit and mobilize supporters around specific ideologies or cultural frames. We also look at several complexities and controversies in the study of White Supremacist organizations.

Organized White Supremacist groups in the United States evolved from their historic base of various predecessor Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi organizations (Schmaltz 1999; Trelease 1995; Chalmers 1965). Over time, they spread into a wide range of competing forms and ideologies.

These groups and organizations constitute what some have broadly termed the “radical right.” While there are some areas where the extreme right White Supremacist movement and right-wing dissident groups (usually listed as being part of the Patriot or armed militia movements) overlap, we do not include the latter in this study because there are important boundaries separating them from White Supremacist race hate groups (Durham 2000).

Despite their many differences, there are some common elements across the boundaries of organized white supremacy, or at least a collection from which certain aspects are selected. Gardell describes a “smorgasbord” in the “white-racist counterculture” consisting of the lore of the Ku Klux Klan, national socialism, the culture of White Power music and racist skinheads, the ideal of the heroic warrior, conspiracism, antisemitism, right-wing populism, and White Separatism. He also includes the idea of race as integrated into religion, and two mutually exclusive religious worldviews: Christian Identity and pagan Odinism (2003:78-79). It is in this similarity of worldview that we find the first in a number of common elements to most White Supremacist groups. While individual members of White Supremacist movements may appear to be deviant or engage in criminal activity, they are also rational individuals who are acting in accordance with complex belief systems and responding to their material reality, cultural forces, and the requirements of movement organizations and ideologies.

A social movements analysis of White Supremacist groups provides a clear understanding of the complexity of such a varied movement. “The use of this approach presents an alternative view to the deviance perspective,” suggest Jipson and Becker, and assumes that White Supremacists “are social movement actors, like mainstream social movement actors and institutions, and are socially, politically, and ideologically constructed” (2000:111). As McVeigh explains, “forms of structural differentiation . . . make the worldview [that is] constructed within racist organizations seem plausible to a critical mass of individuals . . . racial and ethnic heterogeneity, industrial heterogeneity, income inequality, and changes in the economic structure within local communities provide ‘evidence’ that may appear to be consistent with white supremacists’ claims if individuals lack an alternative interpretation” (2004).

All social movements develop a common ideology and establish a set of frames through which they view a struggle over power (Zald 1996; Snow, Rochford, Worden, and Benford [1986] 1997; Goffman 1974). Social movements also pick (or create) narratives or stories that teach members and potential members about what is to be admired and what is to be opposed (Davis, 2002; Polletta 1998; Ewick and Silbey 1995). White Supremacist groups are no different (Berlet 2001; Dobratz and Shanks-Meile 2000, 1995). The complexity of framing processes, intellectualization, psychological undercurrents, and mobilization among White Supremacists is gaining increased attention, and replacing older, more simplistic, models of understanding these groups and their members (see, for example: Ferber 2004, 1999; Gardell 2003; Flint 2003; Blee 2002; Goodrick-Clark 2002, 1985; Dobratz and Shanks-Meile 1996; Kaplan 2000, 1997a; Arena and Arrigo 2000; Berbrier 1998a, 1998b, 1999; Kaplan and Bjørgo 1998; Kaplan and Weinberg 1998; Barkun [1994] 1997; Daniels 1997). The White Supremacist movement relies on several overarching metaframes (or stylistic master frames), especially conspiracism, dualism and apocalypticism.

Conspiracism is the idea that most major historic events have been shaped by vast, long-term, secret conspiracies that benefit elite groups and individuals. Stories explaining the alleged conspiracy are narratives about good and evil that select specific targeted groups, and justify aggression against them by combining dualism and apocalypticism with populist rhetoric calling for an uprising against the evil plotters (Barkun 2003; Goldberg 2001; Berlet and Lyons 2000; Mintz 1985). Populism, in this setting, is primarily used as a style of rhetoric used to generate specific emotions of displacement (Durham 2000; Berlet and Lyons 2000, Kintz 1997, Kazin 1995, Canovan 1981). The conspiracism in the White Power subculture centers on imagined Jewish intrigues. This is mingled with the faulty view that Jews belong to a single race, and thus White Supremacists promote antisemitism in a way that involves religious bigotry as well as racism. This racist and antisemitic mindset employs two other elements common across organized white supremacy: dualism and apocalypticism.

Dualism is the idea that the world is divided into the forces of good and evil with no middle ground. Anthony and Robbins (1997) coined the term “exemplary dualism” to describe how some social and political struggles are turned into cosmic battles that are believed to involve the fate of the entire world. Wessinger (2000b) describes certain types of worldviews that can create a form of “radical dualism” that demonizes perceived enemies. The White Supremacist movement presents the world as a place where heroic warriors-white, heterosexual, (mostly) Christian men and women-are in constant battle with a number of “others”: non-white races, Jews, homosexuals, etc. (Bushart, Craig, and Barnes 2000). The warrior element of dualism helps significantly to buttress the apocalyptic visions of many movement leaders and texts.

Apocalyptic and millenarian visions of an ideal future after a cataclysmic battle help shape the ideologies of contemporary right-wing political and social movements in the United States (Wessinger 2000a, 2000b; Berlet and Lyons 2000; Robbins and Palmer 1997;). These include the Christian Right (Brasher and Berlet 2004, Brasher 2001, 2000); through the Patriot and militia movement (Lamy 1996); to the White Supremacist subculture (Gardell 2003; Blee 1999; Kaplan 1997a; Barkun [1994] 1997; Goodrick-Clarke [1985] 2004). Apocalypticism is the idea that there is an approaching confrontation that will change the nature of the world, during which important hidden truths will be revealed (O’Leary 1994; Boyer 1992). Apocalyptic frames and narratives trace back thousands of years, and were shaped by specific interpretations of the Bible’s book of Revelation and the millennial battle of Armageddon (Weber 1999, Cohn 1993, [1957] 1970). Apocalypticism seeped into secular political ideologies including Hitler’s “thousand year Reich” and other forms of sacralized political ideology (Redles 2005; Gentile 2004, 1996; Griffin 2004, 1991; Berlet 2004b; Ellwood 2000; Vondung 2000; Wistrich 1985; Rhodes; 1980). White Supremacist apocalyptic belief predicts a fast approaching and inevitable confrontation between good and evil, pitting the white race against people of color, Jews, and race traitors.

Women are increasingly encouraged to be active participants in the movement, however they are generally kept in relatively subordinate positions (Blee 2002), and overall, White Supremacist groups tend to exhibit some form of male supremacy (Ferber 1998, 2000). Most groups also stigmatize and denounce gay men, lesbians, and other non-heterosexuals, and generally blame “the Jews” for promoting tolerance of such difference (Perry 2004; Blee 2002, 1991; Dobratz and Shanks-Meile 2000).1

White supremacy is based on pseudo-scientific theories of the genetic superiority of the white “race.” Many of these claims track back to four books arguing that perceived racial differences are both hierarchical and vitally important to the proper social order: Count Arthur de Gobineau’s 1853 The Inequality of Human Races (Tucker 1994:88-91; Poliakov 1974:215-238; Biddiss 1970); Frances Gallon’s 1870 Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into Its Laws and Consequences (Tucker 1994:49-53); Madison Grant’s 1916/1924 The Passing of the Great Race (Tucker 1994:88-96, 124-125; Mintz 1985:32-35), and T. Lothrop Stoddard’s 1920 The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy (Kühl 1994:61-63; Tucker 1994:92-93). In the 1920s, American eugenicists traded ideas with their counterparts in the German Nazi movement (Lombardo 2002; Tucker 2002, Kühl 1994). There are many other sources of information that defend white supremacy, both historic and contemporary, and members of White Power groups use them as a justification for their beliefs.

In the racially-diverse contemporary U.S. military, the problem of White Supremacists entering with a variety of ulterior motives has created investigative and disciplinary issues since the 1990s. According to Scott Barfield, a gang detective with the Department of Defense, the presence of neo-Nazis stretches “across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they’re inside, and they are hard-core.” There is even a problem with “Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad,” Barfield told the SPLC (Holthouse 2006).

Since their views are widely rejected by mainstream media, White Supremacist groups often turn to alternative forms of media, especially the Internet, to get their message out (Simi and Futrell 2006; Kim 2005; Gerstenfeld, Grant, and Chiang 2003; Schroer 2001; Burris, Smith, and Strahm 2000). They also engage in what Oberschall calls public “identification moves” in which social movement leaders collect their members together for rallies, literature distribution, and other group activities that show movement members, the media, a target group, or the government that they are a force to be reckoned with (1973: 308-309). Ezekiel (1995) has noted that in the White Supremacist subculture, such rallies serve to bring greater attention to marginal groups and build the prestige of leaders within their own organization and the movement as a whole. While this is true for all social movements, the controversial content of the White Supremacist messages often is seen as more provocative and confrontational, especially by the mainstream media.

In organized white supremacy, ideology and activity need to be assessed separately. Some groups with a virulent ideology can choose not to engage in violence, while individual members of any group can engage in acts of violence, no matter what the stated or normative methodology of the group (Kittrie 1995, 2000). With the growth of White Supremacist activity on the Internet and a rise in the belief in a methodology called “leaderless resistance” (Beam 1983),2 organizations have been able to actively distance their ideological and “theoretical” positions from the activities of individuals who may share their beliefs. Since movement participation often involves symbolic displays (wearing of insignias, tattoos, etc.) that are readily available to the public, direct links between leadership and individuals is hard to establish.


The study of extreme right groups by scholars presents a number of unusual problems (Blee 2002; Dobratz and Shanks-Meile 2000; Himmelstein 1998). Members of these groups are usually highly suspicious of academics, membership numbers are difficult to verify, and scholars can find it difficult to retain a neutral approach with groups that often promote race hate, religious bigotry, and even genocide. At the same time, the mainstream media and nonprofit watch groups face persistent questions regarding accuracy of reporting and the exaggeration of the threat posed to civil society. Kaplan devoted a whole chapter to his criticisms of “Anti-Cult” and “Watchdog” groups (1997a: 127-163, 170-171). This prompted a dialogue over these issues. (Robbins, 1997; J. Kaplan, 1997b; Wright, 1999). Chermak (2002) reopened the debate with criticisms over how watch groups and the media portray dissident right-wing groups, with a lengthy look at the militia movement. Nonetheless, a number of scholars cautiously rely on data from groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in studies looking at the Patriot and armed militia movements and the extreme right White Supremacist movements.

Freilich (2003) and Van Dyke and Soule (2002) have used group location data to study the militia movement. Other scholars have used similar data and other materials from SPLC and ADL to study a range of right-wing groups including the Ku Klux Klan and other White Supremacist groups (Ferber and Kimmel 2004; Beck 2000). According to Freilich, “the prudent course of action is to utilize the data, while recognizing the potential problems associated with it.” (2003:93) Researchers at both SPLC and ADL say they are aware of these criticisms, and have responded to them by both urging caution, and refining their data collection and reporting (Berlet 2004c). The SPLC divides their reporting of the “Radical Right” into two categories: Race hate and Supremacists, and other antigovernment activists in the Patriot movement, including the militia movement. In the race hate category, SPLC lists Black Separatist, Christian Identity, Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Confederate, Neo-Nazi, Racist Skinhead, and Other3. We do not cover the Black Separatist and Neo-Confederate movements in this study, nor the Patriot movement and antigovernment militias. SPLC has also begun tracking the anti-immigrant movement, due to its overlap with white supremacy (SPLC 2005).


In studying the diversity of the modern, American White Supremacist movement, researchers have often tried to develop typologies that seek to group the significant tendencies within the broader movement. These typologies have often limited the movement to the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, and Christian Identity (Blee 2002; Ferber 1999; Marks 1996). While these four types do present certain organizational trends, they also miss a number of significant developments in the movement, such as the expansion to youth cultures other than the skinheads and the influence of religious belief systems that reject Christianity. As an alternative to previous typologies, we suggest a typology based on ideology and activity of organizations within the movement. The modern White Supremacist movement can be seen as being composed of political, religious, and youth cultural organizations. This typology is based on analysis of social movement activity taking the form of instrumental, subcultural, and countercultural groups (Kriesi et al. 1995).

By relying on the inconsistent criteria of ideology (Neo-Nazi), specific organizational affiliation (Ku Klux Klan), and a distinct youth subculture (racist skinhead), the dominant typologies of White Supremacist groups engage in over-generalization, while simultaneously focusing on distinct organizations and subcultures. In the dominant typologies Neo-Nazi groups can include those with a secular political orientation, or those allied with religious forms such as Christian Identity or Odinism. In fact, it could be argued that virtually any White Supremacist organization may be categorized as Neo-Nazi as a result of the historical influence of the Nazi party on the movement of today (see Figure 1).

We believe that the Neo-Nazi category common in previous typologies more closely approximates the political category of our typology because it is designed to reflect the ideological influence of fascist and Nazi political philosophy. Also, while it is important to acknowledge the historic role of the Ku Klux Klan in the history of the American White Supremacist movement, typological references to the Klan obscure the decline of its influence on the broader movement, rifts between various Klan groups, and important ideological changes such as the increasing influence of Christian Identity. Finally, there are also major divides within youth culture groups, as well as conflicts between them and established groups that primarily consist of older political or religious movement members. Inevitably, attempts at placing groups into the categories listed above often result in a number of organizations, ideological trends, and countercultural shifts being labeled as “other” for lack of a better term. In addition, many of the groups studied are fractious and fractioning, with splits, collapses, and new groups occurring at frequent intervals. This has led some scholars to refer to them as the “Groupuscular Right” (Griffin 2003, Patterns of Prejudice 2002). Because of this constant ebb and flow within and between organizations, typologies of the White Supremacist movement that focus solely on dominant organizations are likely to be problematic.

We think it is easier to understand White Supremacist groups by placing them into broadly defined political, religious, and youth culture categories. Groups within each individual category can consist of a handful of young people hanging out on a corner, a religious belief shared by tens of thousands, or a specific organization with hundreds of members. By creating a typology that organizes groups using ideological similarity and group activity (particularly through the construction of counterculture), we believe that this model allows one to adequately categorize the various elements of the modern White Supremacist movement. The typology suggested presents broad categories to distinguish between individual groups and allows for the development of further distinction within categories such as those explored by Dobratz’s (2001) research into religious White Supremacists. These categories allow multiple organizations to be placed into a broad category without creating exclusive group/subcultural types such as Ku Klux Klan or racist skinhead. Groups that demonstrate similarities in philosophy may be placed into a single category that roughly encompasses similar organizations. By generally defining the categories in this typology, the need for a “catchall” category such as other is reduced significantly. Using similarity of ideology and activity as base criteria, organizations within the political and youth cultural categories may be distinguished further.

This typology creates broad, yet specific categories that allow the classification of White Supremacist groups by focusing on their activities and the source of their ideology. It allows social scientists, as well as criminal justice professionals to develop an understanding of the belief systems, recruitment tactics, and organizational activities of typologically similar groups, as well as, the possibility for mapping alliance structures and organizational changes due to the aforementioned splits and conflicts within and between groups. This is not to depreciate the value of other models of taxonomy, but to argue that this typology is a useful addition, especially for law enforcement professionals who will encounter these groups on the street or inside the military. Using this typology, they may be able to identify more accurately the organizational affiliation of individuals involved in white supremacy, and respond appropriately to their activities or ideological motivations in ways that are sensitive to Constitutional issues.

The typology that we suggest is based on a New Social Movements analysis of social movement activity that divides movements into instrumental, subcultural, and countercultural (Kriesi et al. 1995). To the casual observer of the White Supremacist movement, every organization within the movement would qualify under the countercultural category because they are very strongly identity oriented, engage in exclusive mobilizations, follow a radical, confrontational action repertoire, and have very few alliances with mainstream political groups and parties. However, an analysis of the action orientation of individual organizations within the movement allows one to categorize the groups using the model developed by Kriesi, et al. The groups characterized as political in our typology are in many ways similar to instrumental social movements that are goal-oriented and engage in traditional as well as nontraditional forms of political participation. White Supremacist youth cultures in many ways exemplify countercultural movements which seek to create alternative lifestyles and social structures as precursors to radical social change through confrontational actions. Religious movements may be classified as subcultural movements because of their focus on instrumental goals coupled with a reliance on prefigurative spiritual practice.

By relying on the typology that we suggest, the organizations, ideological tendencies, and subcultural trends that make up the modern White Supremacist movement are situated in the context of their ideology and activity. A broad overview of the movement then can be organized by placing groups into the political, religious, and youth cultural sectors of our suggested typology.


Most White Supremacist organizations we characterize as Political find their ideological inspiration rooted in neo-fascist or neo-Nazi ideology. Many organizations in this category view themselves as direct political descendents of Hitler’s Nazi party while others would prefer to cast themselves as unique organizations with ideologies that are more suited for modern, post-industrial societies. There are a number of key ideological elements that all organizations within the political category share.

Fascist movements are authoritarian. Within such organizations, hierarchies of leadership are seen as natural, and the model for a future society. Elite leadership is acknowledged as both natural and necessary for societies to operate with the sense of order that is a crucial promise of fascist states. Politically, fascists exalt the authority and status of political elites embodied in the fascist party and leaders, ensuring their control over both the state and the populace. Fascist leaders assert and enforce proper social roles and structures; and they use moral rhetoric that extols social stability and values the nation as superior to individual rights (Paxton 2004, Payne 1995; Lyons 1995; Griffin 1991). According to Lyons:

Fascism rejects the liberal doctrines of individual autonomy and rights, political pluralism, and representative government, yet it advocates broad popular participation in politics and may use parliamentary channels in its drive to power. Its vision of a “new order” clashes with the conservative attachment to tradition-based institutions and hierarchies, yet fascism often romanticizes the past as inspiration for national rebirth. (1995:245)

Fascist movements frequently use authoritarianism and appeals to traditional values to develop narrow and exclusionary definitions of nation, race, and proper citizenship in order to increase unity among their idealized and homogenous constituents. National identity is lauded as the ultimate social identity in fascist states. This nationalism is racialized and equated with the racial identity of the social group seen as naturally superior. This sense of national and racial identity serves to delineate in-group and out-group members and allows for scapegoating of minorities and other “enemies” in fascist societies. The pattern of scapegoating seen in fascist movements is a matter of policy as victims provide a practical target for fascist beliefs in superiority through conflict, violence, and war and the pursuit of power for its own sake. Fascist movements are ideologically committed to the achieving power through violence and often take a stance of revolutionary opposition to dominant political systems. When they gain power, fascists are likely to expand their ideological imperative towards violence into war and colonial conquest of other states (Payne 1995; Lyons 1995; Griffin 1991).

Political White Supremacist organizations are likely to engage in activities similar to other marginal political parties. Their primary purpose is to build an organization for what they believe to be a coming racial conflict or the political overthrow of the state. This is achieved mostly through legal activities. A primary focus for political organizations is the spreading of ideas via active development of literature on any number of socially or politically relevant topics that often takes the form of fliers, pamphlets, and magazines. Members are encouraged to distribute literature in locations where potential new members may be recruited. It should be noted that literature distribution is also sometimes used as a means to threaten communities of color, Jewish communities, as well as institutions and communities that are open to homosexuals. The Internet serves as a primary location for such organizations to provide literature for distribution, news that has been adapted or properly framed as racist, and communication for group members (Vysotsky 2004; Gerstenfeld, Grant, and Chiang 2003).

Political organizations, however, are not limited to the relatively passive activity of literature distribution. Many organize and hold public rallies, protests, and meetings as a means of spreading their message and recruitment of potential new members. These events are often carefully planned and occur in what Green, Strolovich, and Wong (1998) term “defended neighborhoods,” areas where racial or ethnic tensions are heightened due to a perception of threat from newly arriving or integrating groups. The goal of such events is to heighten existing tensions and build the organization’s membership by attracting sympathetic individuals from the community.

Most political White Supremacist organizations operate openly as nonviolent political parties or similar organizations. However, behind the public image of a reactionary voice in America’s pluralist system lies a criminal underground of militants who receive ideological guidance and tacit support from such a movement. In response to prosecutions of key leaders of the movement following the terrorist activities of the Order in the 1980s, the White Supremacist movement has taken to advocating “leaderless resistance,” which urges a series of individual or small-cell acts of violence against the state and racially, religiously, ethnically, and sexually subordinate groups that will trigger a larger race war and place White Supremacist organizations in power (Shanks-Meile 2001; Ezekiel 1995). This strategy allows political White Supremacist organizations to keep a “legitimate” public presence while encouraging the violent overthrow of the United States.

We have singled out the following historic and contemporary groups to profile briefly here: National Alliance, White Aryan Resistance, National Socialist Movement, White Revolution, Volksfront, and National Vanguard.


The National Alliance promotes the revolutionary overthrow of the American political system. For a time in the 1990s, the National Alliance was the leading neo-Nazi organization in the United States. The group was founded by William Pierce, author (under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald) of The Turner Diaries and Hunter (Durham 2004, 2002; Ware and Back 2002; ADL 2002; Burghart 1999). The National Alliance is based on a metaphysical belief called Cosmotheism, a form of apocalyptic millenarianism (Whitsel 1998). In practical terms, however, the National Alliance is a revolutionary right-wing political organization with few members paying attention to the religious basis in a meaningful way. According to Durham (2004), Pierce hoped that followers of the National Alliance would embrace Cosmotheism, but it was not a requirement, although rejection of Judaism and Christianity was a necessity.

While the organization is based out of a national headquarters in West Virginia, local contacts and active chapters may be found throughout the United States. Its website contains essays by members, a number of publications, Internet radio, and links to organizations affiliated with the NA. It sponsors a competing version (pitted against National Vanguard) of the weekly radio program American Dissident Voices, distributed on the Internet and broadcast on shortwave radio. Members of the National Alliance also engage in public propaganda campaigns through active leafleting of their local communities.

In 1999, Pierce paid some $250,000 for Resistance Records, a White Power music company producing and marketing CD’s and paraphernalia to a primarily youthful audience. The music business became a moneymaker for the National Alliance. According to SPLC (2002c), by the year 2002, “the Alliance was bringing in more than $1 million a year, had a paid national staff of 17 full-time officials, and was better known than at any time in its history. In just five days in June, Alliance members in 20 states distributed 70,000 leaflets.” That same year Pierce died, and since then the primary activity for the NA has been to spread propaganda and maintain the organization, a task made much more difficult by bitter battles over control of the organization and its resources (SPLC 2002a).

Shaun Walker eventually emerged as the chairman of the National Alliance, however in June 2006 Walker and two associates were indicted by a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City for civil rights violations stemming from an alleged campaign of intimidation and assaults against members of minority groups in that city during 2002 and 2003 (ADL 2006). This further accelerated the declining influence of the National Alliance.


White Aryan Resistance was a very active group that was essentially put out of business after its founder, former California Klan leader Tom Metzger, lost a civil lawsuit stemming from a murderous racial attack by several of his followers. We mention WAR here because it pioneered the spread of a particular revolutionary “national socialist” ideology, which Metzger summarized at the 1987 Aryan Nations Congress:

WAR is dedicated to the White working people, the farmers, the White poor. . . . This is a working class movement. . . . Our problem is with monopoly capitalism. The Jews first went with Capitalism and then created their Marxist game. You go for the throat of the Capitalist. You must go for the throat of the corporates. You take the game away from the left. It’s our game! We’re not going to fight your whore wars no more! We’ve got one war, that is right here, the same war the SA fought in Germany, right here; in the streets of America. . . . (Center for Democratic Renewal 1988)

This type of rhetoric is associated with a national socialist form of neoNazi ideology called the “Third Position,” a political tendency that challenges globalization as part of a call for organic, localized, cooperative economic systems-rejecting both capitalism and communism (Gardell 2003; Berlet and Lyons 2000; Coogan 1999). This form of neo-Nazism has been carried forward by groups such as White Revolution, the National Socialist Movement, and Volksfront.


The National Socialist Movement describes itself as “fighting for Race and Nation,” and an “organization dedicated to the preservation of our Proud Aryan Heritage, and the creation of a National Socialist Society in America and around the world.” NSM calls itself a Nazi Party that cooperates and works with “many like minded white nationalist groups such as the KKK (Ku Klux Klan), Aryan Skinheads, the Racial Nationalist Party of America and many others which are either Nazi or at least racially aware of our Aryan Heritage.” Currently based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, NSM was founded in 1974 as the National Socialist American Workers Freedom Movement. It was later renamed, and taken over in 1994 by current leader 31-year-old Jeffrey Schoep (ADL n.d.(b)).

Schoep outlined an aggressive agenda of expanding activities and membership, launching an estimated 45 units in 29 states by 2004, with “new chapters in Indiana, Kansas, California, Massachusetts, and Canada” (ADL n.d.(b); Jackson and Potok 2004). It favors literature distribution as a recruitment and publicity technique.

As some other White Supremacist groups declined, NSM “rapidly achieved a higher profile,” than its closest new competitors, White Revolution and National Vanguard, according to SPLC. By early 2006, the NSM count rose to “59 units in 32 states as the NSM continued to salvage and reassemble” the neo-Nazi movement in the United States. High profile and aggressive public demonstrations and publicity-conscious activities helped attract media attention and recruits (SPLC 2006).


White Revolution was founded by Billy Roper, deputy membership coordinator of the National Alliance, who was ousted in a power struggle after the death of NA founder William Pierce in 2002 (Potok 2002). The group lays out its worldview on its website:

Any culture can be destroyed and rebuilt over and over again, so long as the founding race of that culture survives. Once the founding race has lost its genetic identity, though, culture, which is a product of race, also becomes moot. Race, therefore, is more important than culture. Better to have the whole world burn except for one White boy and one White girl raised by wolves, than a world of ten billion mulattos who can quote Shakespeare and play classical violin. (White Revolution n.d.)

One of White Revolution’s greatest successes has been in building coalitions and ties to other White Supremacist groups. White Revolution is best known for staging rallies “that attract a wide array of racist participants, ranging from young skinheads to Identity Christians to neo-Nazis and Klansmen” (ADL n.d.(c)). As such, “White Revolution (‘The Only Solution’)” declares its intent to ‘”serve as an umbrella coalition of racial activists from every pro-White organization,’ and unaffiliated ‘Patriots,'” reported SPLC (2002b). The organization encourages members of other groups to attend its events and reciprocates by participating in events organized by other movement organizations. White Revolution urges members to belong to other White Supremacist groups, which allows it to build stronger networks within the movement. The organization has worked to promote itself through active use of the media. Its members are active on a variety of White Supremacist Internet message boards, run their own website, and produce a television program known as “White Revolution Television” (ADL n.d.(c)).

White Revolution, however, has not been able to dominate the White Supremacist movement, and its “unity efforts” have not been as successful as they had hoped, according to ADL (2005).


Volksfront is another national socialist group and calls itself the “independent voice of the white working class” (Volksfront 2005). The organization was founded in the mid-1990s by then neo-Nazi skinhead, Randall Lee Krager, as a means of organizing other White Supremacist skinheads in and around Portland, OR. The organization has since transformed itself into a group that we would argue is more political in its orientation.

Volksfront’s political ideology can best be described as belonging to the “third position” discussed earlier. The organization describes its enemies as “agents of the Stalinist police state, capitalists, communists, Zionists and other enemies of White Self-Determination” (Volksfront 2005) with opposition to capitalism being a critical element of the group’s ideology. The organization’s program and mission statement reserve several points for discussion of the need to “support and protect the rights of workers from capitalist and communist manipulation and exploitation” (Volksfront 2005) and urge its members to engage in political activity to defend its political base. The program calls for the creation of white owned businesses, land ownership projects and other small-scale economic activities designed to create economic autonomy for the white race.

The modern incarnation of Volksfront encourages its members to engage in political propaganda campaigns in order to promote its agenda. The group’s website takes pains to disavow the organization from violent activity and encourages its members to use “media, music, and literature” to promote their cause. However, the group also reserves the right to use violence in “selfdefense” and has been associated with a number of violent White Supremacist activists through its prisoner support program (Beirich and Potok 2004; Vysostky 2004).

Members and affiliates of the group have tended to get involved in violent incidents. For example, in 2004 a judge sentenced a 20-year-old linked to Volksfront to life in prison for the murder of a homeless man (Beirich and Potok 2004).

By blending political ideology that rejects dominant left and right-wing discourse in favor of racial populism and public activity that promotes itself as a mainstream political organization, Volksfront has been successful in establishing chapters across the United States and Europe. While the organization is still small, it has been growing in recent years and building ties to other White Supremacist groups.


National Vanguard, run by Kevin Alfred Strom, and based in Charlottesville, Virginia, disclaims that it is a White Supremacist group, calling itself “an intelligent and responsible organization that stands up for the interests of White people. If other races and interest groups can organize, so can we. Finally, White men and women have joined together-under the banner of National Vanguard. It’s about time” (National Vanguard n.d.).

NV sponsors a competing version (pitted against National Alliance) of the weekly audio program American Dissident Voices, distributed on the Internet and broadcast on shortwave radio. NV has gained attention for creating visually stunning flyers and posting them online in high resolution where local activists download them and print them out for distribution. These flyers, on the surface, tend to avoid naked race hate rhetoric.4 National Vanguard, along with Stormfront (Kim 2005), are examples of White Supremacist groups that design a “micro-frame” as a recruitment tool for consumption by the public; and which does not, in fact, represent the frame presented by leaders to followers (Johnston 1995).


The category of religious White Supremacist groups includes any organization that derives its core ideology from a spiritual belief system and has members who are expected to practice that religion. Religion plays a powerful yet complicated role in shaping the ideologies and activities of social movements, including those on the Political Right (Eatwell 2003; Steigmann-Gall 2003; Kintz 1997, Williams 1994; Jeansonne 1988; Ribuffo 1983). Members of religious White Supremacist groups often look to religious text as the inspiration for their ideas regarding race, and the appropriate behavior and role for members in the larger world (Dobratz 2001). Religious White Supremacist groups frequently construct the idea of a dualistic apocalyptic “holy war” between their faithful allies and their unholy enemies who are seen as plotting vast conspiracies (Berlet 2004a, 2004b; Barkun [1994] 1997). This type of apocalypticism is complementary to a masculinist and authoritarian model of behavior (Quinby 1994).

In addition to constructing a spiritual foundation for racial ideology, religious groups engage in prefigurative activities based around adherence to religious beliefs. Even though members of religious movements often engage in White Supremacist activities that are similar to political movements, they are also likely to be highly involved in a complex subculture based around their spiritual beliefs. Members of groups that fit into the religious category structure their lives to include religious services, meetings dedicated to the study of sacred texts, and special rituals and ceremonies limited to loyal adherents (Futrell and Simi, 2004). Finally, the organizational structure of religious groups derives itself from the individual’s status in the religious group. Movement leaders are likely to be spiritual leaders within the faith and often are recognized as such through official titles such as the use of the title “reverend” in both Christian Identity and Creativity. While religious groups share common structural and ideological elements, there are a number of competing spiritual tendencies. The three primary spiritual forms of white supremacy today are Christian Identity, Creativity, and Odinism; each with its own interpretation of sacred texts or mythology that serves as a basis for racialist beliefs (Dobratz 2001).


Christian Identity is a racialized version of Protestantism that evolved from a mid 1800s theology called British Israelism, which claimed the Biblical lost tribes of Israel were the ancestors of people who settled in the British Isles. The more overtly racist version of Christian Identity, developed in the United States, believes that White Aryan Christians are therefore God’s chosen people, and that America is the Biblical Promised Land. Identity has no central church structure, and exists in the United States as a series of autonomous small churches and religious communities (Blee 2002; Dobratz 2001; Ferber 1999; Kaplan 1997a:1-10, 47-68; Marks 1996; Ridgeway 1995; Barkun [1994] 1997).

The current version of racist Christian Identity began to emerge in the mid-1940s but did not generate substantial published articulations until the 1960s. Key early ministers were Conrad Gaard, Bertrand Comparet, and Wesley Swift (Goodrick-Clark 2002). The theology passed through Swift to William Potter Gale in the mid 1950s, to Richard G. Butler. In the mid 1970s, Butler moved to Idaho and established the Aryan Nations compound from which would be built a racially-pure separatist nation carved out of the United States and composed solely of people from the various historic and genetic “Aryan Nations,” (Levitas 2002; Kaplan 1997a; Barkun [1994] 1997). Aryan Nations became one of the most visible institutional outposts of Christian Identity.

The theology of Christian Identity sees “all of history as a Manichaean struggle between white, divine, Anglo-Saxon Christians, and Satanic Jews,” (Levitas 2002: 81). The main view within Identity sees Jews as evil, in part because they are believed to be the literal biological descendants of a race conceived by Satan and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Identity followers believe that crafty and clever Jews install racially inferior (and subhuman) Black people and other non-Aryan people of color in positions of power. Identity sees the prophetic apocalyptic battle described in the Bible’s book of Revelation as an approaching race war that requires immediate preparation. Identity believers are premillennialist, like many evangelicals in the United States, but they reject the notion of the Rapture, and thus expect to wage the race war during the prophesied Tribulations (Berlet 2004b, Kaplan 1997a; Minges 1995; Barkun [1994] 1997).

The property on which the Aryan Nations compound was located was lost in 2000 following a civil lawsuit filed by the SPLC on behalf of local residents who had been assaulted by compound security personnel. Butler died in 2004, and there have been disputes over who will retain the mantle of leadership for the Aryan Nations group, with competing headquarters and websites. Currently, the two factions are Ayran Nations (Kindred Awake), led by August B. Kreis, III in Lexington, SC; and Ayran Nations: Church of Jesus Christ Christian led by Jonathan Williams in Lincoln, Alabama. The influence of Aryan Nations continued to diminish from 2004 to 2006. Christian Identity, however, continues to exist as a religion and a movement outside of Aryan Nations (Berlet 2004b).


Ben Klassen invented the Creativity religion in 1973 under the name World Church of the Creator, but a New Age group with a similar name forced a name change in 2003 through a civil court case (Hightower 2002). The battle cry of Creativity is “RAHOWA!” which stands for Racial Holy War. Creativity believes that people of color and Jews are “mud races” that are inferior to the “Aryan race.” When Creativity takes power, the “mud races” and white “race traitors” will be expelled from the United States or eliminated (CNC, MHRN, and NCHD 2003; Beirich and Potok 2003; Hightower, 2002). Matt Hale eventually became the national leader (Pontifex Maximus) of the Creativity movement, although he was later jailed after his conviction on charges of soliciting the assassination of the federal judge who issued the ruling in the civil litigation over the name. (SPLC 2004; CNC, MHRN, and NCHD 2003).

Although claiming to operate within the law, Hale has explained:

It cannot be denied that Ben Klassen envisioned that one day, there would probably be an all-out war with the mud races. After all, he did not speak the words, “RAHOWA! This Planet is Ours!” for nothing. In [Klassen’s book Nature’s Eternal Religion], he describes how once we get the White Race’s thinking straight, the White Race will cease to subsidize the mud races, and they shall wither on the vine. Then, the White Race under the banner of Creativity shall expand its territory until all of the good lands of this planet earth are ours. The mud races may very well offer some resistance and that resistance will have to be destroyed. (Hale n.d.)

Creativity considers Christianity to be polluted by Judaism, and teaches the importance of maintaining racial purity to keep the white race superior (Dobratz 2001). The religion believes that spirituality is expressed through nature as the collective will of the white race (Klassen [1973] 1992). In addition to Nature’s Eternal Religion, Klassen’s other two core founding texts include The White Man’s Bible (1981), and Salubrious Living (1982). In the past, Creativity was very successful at organizing neo-Nazi skinheads through an affiliation with a racist record label and its rejection of traditional Christianity (Burghart 1999).

In many ways, Creativity functions more like a revolutionary right-wing political organization similar to the National Alliance. Yet Creativity has a more developed founding religious text from which to draw, and its members tend to see their struggle as a “holy war,” regardless of their familiarity with the intricacies of Creativity’s spiritual basis.

For example, a March 1998 issue of the group’s newsletter The Struggle carried a full-page advertisement urging members to “Order the Holy Books of Creativity,” and suggested the books be read so that members could “fully understand the power and greatness of our religious Movement.” At the same time the cover story by Matt Hale urging a “fruitarian diet as set forth in our Holy Books,” conceded there “is no requirement that Creators practice salubrious living (as outlined in Creative Credo 5 through 9 of The White Man’s Bible), but you will be extremely glad that you did” (Hale 1998).


Odinism, Ásatrú, and Wotanism are related forms of paganism based on the spiritual themes of Norse mythology. Gardell uses the term Ásatrú to encompass Odinism (2003:153), Others use Ásatrú/Odinist (Kaplan and Bjørgo 1998:109-110), but we find it less awkward to simply refer to Odinism, as did Dobratz (2001). Most Odinists are not racists, but the racist form of Odinism claims it is the true religion of the white northern Europeans, especially Scandinavians. Norse gods are therefore the true gods of the Aryan race. Odinism has appealed to young people looking for an alternative to Christianity or atheism (Gibbons 2004; Gardell 2003; Goodrick-Clarke 2002; Dobratz 2001; Kaplan 1997a).

Small circulation print newsletters and magazines such as Fenris Wolf also help network the movement, as do Internet sites and online stores. A major publisher of racist Odinists books and tracts was 14 Word Press. The “14 words” are from the statement by jailed White Supremacist David Lane: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children” (ADL n.d.(a); Lane 1999, pp. xix, 6, 27, 83-99, 102-105, 126). In 2001, Micetrap Distribution took over the catalog from 14 Word Press, adding it to an online distributorship of racist music and print materials.

The White Order of Thule is a racist Odinist movement built around Norse warrior myths. (“Thule” is pronounced “Two-Lee”). According to Burghart and Massa (2001) the group “teaches its few members everything from ‘Practical Occultism,’ ‘Jungian psychology,’ and ‘Archetypal Pathworking,’ to ‘Folkish Hygiene’ and ‘Hermetic Philosophy.'” Recommended books include Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Yockey’s Imperium, Spengler’s The Decline of the West, Redbeard’s Might is Right, Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World, and Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols (Burghart and Massa 2001).


Despite an almost total lack of ideological cohesion, youth subcultures play a major role in the White Supremacist movement. The late Aryan Nations leader Richard G. Butler conducted specific outreach to young White Power advocates, inviting them to national gatherings and even holding neo-Nazi rock concerts at the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, ID. These events drew hundreds of skinheads from across the country, and significantly influenced the construction of ties among various neo-Nazi skinheads who were then better able to build a skinhead movement in the United States (Burghart 1999; Ferber 1999; Hamm 1993).

The youth culture sector of the White Supremacist movement displays relatively unique features in terms of primary activities. Youth cultural elements in the White Supremacist movement tend to cluster around activities particular to their subcultural affiliations. At the same time, certain other activities are common elements of most White Supremacist youth subcultures. Members of youth subcultures are often able to identify themselves as holding White Supremacist beliefs through active displays of neo-Nazi and other White Supremacist symbols as part of a deliberate aesthetic. Watch organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (www.adl.org) and Center for New Community (www.turnitdown.com) have collected information on dozens of symbols used to identify oneself as a White Supremacist. Members of White Supremacist youth cultures are likely to communicate with one another through small-scale publications or “zines” which often combine elements of specific youth subcultures and the politics of white supremacy. The skillful construction of a White Supremacist zine inextricably links white supremacy to the subculture in a way that forces youth involved to adopt the ideology as a condition of membership. Most importantly, youth subcultures help to sustain and develop the movement through the development of prefigurative spaces. Rock concerts, parties, and subcultural “crash pads” and “hangouts” are locations where new recruits are exposed to the politics of white supremacy and the subculture of the movement. Older members (who are respected by all the members of the subculture, new and old alike) reinforce the ideals and norms in these settings. Finally, prefigurative spaces give recruits a sense of belonging and community that often leads them to seek out such movements as a solution to feelings of strain (Futrell and Simi 2004; Blazak 2001; Ezekiel 1995).


The skinhead subculture has its roots in England in the late 1960s. A wave of immigration from Britain’s former Caribbean colonies, especially Jamaica, brought the youth culture of the region to the UK. The earliest skinheads were interracial groups of working class youth who maintained short, clean cut hair and a “mod” appearance and organized around Jamaican “ska” and American soul music. As reggae and Rastafarianism began to dominate Jamaican youth subculture in the 1970s, the skinhead subculture lost much of its interracial character and became a white phenomenon. Economic hardship and a reputation for violence led many skinheads to adopt nationalist politics and engage in sporadic attacks against immigrants from Asia and South Asia. The change in the subculture, combined with the influence of early Punk rock nihilism and the development of a musical style known as “Oi!” (a mid-tempo form of Punk rock which contained lyrics that often reflected the working class lifestyles of the audience), opened the door for the British neo-Nazi National Front to look to the skinhead subculture as a source of potential recruits. Skrewdriver, the first neo-Nazi Oi! Band (which was fronted by a member of the National Front) would make the term, skinhead, virtually synonymous with racism and violence in 1980s England. Nazi skinheads began to appear in the United States around 1984 with the formation of the neo-Nazi organization (read: youth gang) known as Romantic Violence by skinhead Clark Martell. The group began its activities by publishing leaflets and distributing records by European White Supremacist bands such as Skrewdriver, No Remorse, and Brutal Attack in Chicago area record stores and through the mail. Martell also formed the first American neo-Nazi skinhead band, Final Solution, in 1985 (Burghart 1999; Hamm 1993).

The “traditional” skinheads in Europe and the United States resisted the influx of racist politics into the subculture, and a culture war for the hearts and minds of new members exists within much of the subculture between racists and anti-racists. Violence often attributed to “rival skinhead gangs” or within the Punk rock and skinhead subculture may be the result of conflicts between rival political tendencies. Such conflict is part of a repressive effort against the influence of White Supremacist politics on the subculture by anti-racist activists. What may appear to many law enforcement and/or social science professionals as a conflict between groups of “deviant” youth may in fact be a conflict between rival political organizations for influence within a cultural space, and a battle for potential recruits to their respective social movements.


The culture war within the Punk rock and skinhead subculture, combined with the limited appeal of the genre, has forced the White Supremacist movement to diversify its musical propaganda efforts. It found a more fruitful breeding ground within certain genres of the heavy metal scene. In recent years, many acts within the heavy metal music scene have grown to national prominence. Despite metal’s mainstream acceptance, a growing group of bands and artists has focused on maintaining the underground status of some elements of the subculture. Beginning in the late 1980s, underground heavy metal has developed a style of music that “features fast and heavy guitars, double drumbeats, and growling vocals” (Burghart 1999:52) with lyrics that focus on horror movie style topics related to violence. While this music was designed to shock, it had little political message and songs that may have been deemed “political” often focused on populist anti-elitist themes. Deriving from the “Death” metal of the underground scene, Black metal sought to upstage this earlier form by focusing on clearly establishing their group identity as evil rebels through the bold rejection of mainstream society, religion, and politics (Burghart 1999).

The Black metal underground consists of individuals who view themselves as intellectuals and philosophers. Much of the appeal of the music style and subculture is based on the outsider status of its adherents who view themselves as inherently superior to most people. The pursuit of “evil” status, and belief in the intrinsic superiority of the Black metal audience, led many of its initial artists to seek out philosophies that matched the music’s message. Many of these people quickly gravitated to neo-Nazi ideologies and Adolf Hitler as a symbol of ultimate evil. Black metal’s rejection of religion allows the subculture to mask antisemitic politics under the guise of atheism (Burghart 1999).

While music subcultures are not particularly dangerous in and of themselves, Black metal has produced a coherent social movement that values turning philosophy into action. As with many other subcultures, the Black metal scene communicates with its members via fanzines, music, and the Internet. Yet, unlike in many other subcultures, there are several organized networks of neoNazis, whose overall effect has been to associate permanently the Black metal genre with the politics of National Socialism. The largest of these groups is the Pagan Front, “an international conglomeration of record labels, individuals, organizations, and bands that seek to promote ‘black music for white people'” (Burghart 1999, 60). This quasi organization lists among its ideological principles that it is “pro-Aryan,” consists of “proud national socialists,” and consists of “serious activists” with “zero tolerance for enemies of [their] race” (www.thepaganfront.com). The Black metal subculture has earned a reputation for turning words into deeds. Some of the founding members of bands in the genre have been arrested and convicted of crimes ranging from arson attacks on churches to murder (Burghart 1999). With its focus on seeking out and valorizing “pure” evil, philosophical attachment to neo-Nazi ideology, and propensity for violence, the Black metal subculture has proven a fruitful recruiting ground for White Supremacists. While National Socialist Black metal represents one subset of a larger culture, there appears to be little internal critique of its politics within the subculture under the guise of remaining “apolitical.”


The musical styles that fall under the industrial, noise, apocalyptic folk, and gothic labels vary greatly. However, the fan base for all of these genres contains a great amount of crossover with many individuals following some or all of them. Some of the artists who choose these musical styles also often “crossover” within the broad subculture. Much like Black metal, this subculture prides itself on examining the more sinister aspects of modern society and many of its members also view themselves as intellectuals pursuing taboo subjects. Many of the early performers in these genres used Fascist and Nazi imagery as a means of criticizing what they saw as growing social control and authoritarianism in their societies. These bands and individuals would generally be identified with political movements of the left in their criticism of industrialization, war, environmental destruction, and animal experimentation. However, there are clearly performers within the genre that have chosen to address similar issues using neo-fascist and neo-Nazi ideologies. For these individuals the fascist imagery of the subculture allows them to actively advocate for white supremacy, Odinism, and race war (Burghart 1999).

Much like the Punk rock/skinhead and Black metal subcultures, the industrial/noise/apocalyptic folk/gothic subculture appeals to youth who are experiencing some form of strain and provides an outlet for their anger as well as a means to reject mainstream society. The White Supremacist movement is aided in its recruitment within this subculture by the fact that certain pioneers of these musical genres are also some of the most ardent advocates of neo-fascism and/or neo-Nazism. This lends legitimacy to supremacist attempts to “infiltrate” the subculture and use it as a recruiting base (Burghart 1999).

White Supremacist elements within the industrial/noise/apocalyptic folk/gothic subculture appear to have a limited influence on the scene as a whole. Although many members of the culture view themselves as “apolitical” and the pattern of White Supremacist recruitment within this subculture follows that of Black metal, it would appear that there is somewhat more internal criticism of neo-fascist/Nazi ideology and recruitment.


While researching the movement, scholars have often attempted to categorize the major ideologies, organizations, and cultural tendencies that make up modern, organized white supremacy. These varying typologies have generally shared four categories Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, and Christian Identity (Blee 2002; Ferber 1999; Marks 1996). These typologies do reveal certain organizational trends, but do not take into account a number of significant changes such as the influence of White Supremacist ideology on youth cultures other than skinheads, and the development of religious belief systems that reject Christianity in favor of pagan or other spiritualities.

Using the typology of New Social Movements developed by Kriesi, et al. (1995), we suggest an alternative typology based on ideology and activity of organizations within the movement. This typology organizes the movement into “instrumental” political organizations that engage in the political process however marginal they may be; “countercultural” youth cultural groups that rely on alternative forms of communication, social activity, and symbols as well as direct confrontation with the state and “mainstream” society; and “subcultural” religious movements that focus on attaining concrete goals while engaging in alternative spiritual practices.

By categorizing organizations using this typology, one can begin to make important distinctions in the types of individuals involved with a specific group, the type of propaganda an organization produces, the recruitment tactics and style of the members within it, and its propensity for violence. This not only assists scholarly research, but has an applied societal value in helping develop practical plans for minimizing violent confrontations when members of these groups become involved in disputes, criminal investigations, or issues of military discipline.

Despite the ideal typical construction of this typology, there is nonetheless significant crossover between groups within these categories. Political and religious groups often seek new recruits by allying themselves with youth cultural trends. The history of one of the largest White Supremacist music labels, Resistance Records, serves as a perfect case example of the importance of ties between political and/or religious groups and youth culture. Resistance was founded in the early 1990s by Creativity movement member, George Burdi, as a means for releasing music by his band RaHoWa. Burdi actively promoted White Supremacist counterculture through CD releases and a glossy magazine and actively built a skinhead base for the Creativity movement. After Burdi experienced legal and financial trouble, the label was sold to a fellow movement member, and then Resistance was sold again to William Pierce of the National Alliance. Resistance’s ties to the National Alliance gave greater legitimacy to the organization in the late 199Os and increased skinhead participation. The label also began to expand into other musical styles to promote white supremacy in Burdi’s final years of ownership and much more actively after it became the property of the National Alliance (Burghart 1999). Further study of the relationship between political and/or religious organizations and youth culture should be conducted; however, there is anecdotal evidence that a similar relationship exists between NSBM and Odinism.

The overlap that exists between organizations may have more than a strategic basis. While alliances between organizations are common, individuals may find themselves associating with multiple types of organizations through a combination of ideological and personal motivations. Instrumental movements that are perceived as successful may gain members, yet spiritual beliefs or the emotional benefits of counterculture! participation that such movements provide (Polletta and Jasper 2001; Jasper 1997) may not be affected by the success or failure of a particular organization.

In addition, there are a number of prefigurative spaces where White Supremacists may meet across the various typologies. Large scale gatherings are often purposely organized to draw together the various organizations and elements within the broader White Supremacist social movement in order to facilitate movement growth and expansion, as well as to solidify participation by members (Futrell and Simi 2004). Furthermore, the Internet serves as a space where members of various organizations can interact, particularly on “nonsectarian” websites such as stormfront.org where participation by members of a broad White Nationalist movement is tolerated and intercommunication is actively encouraged.

While the phenomenon of transmovement fluidity may undermine the typology provided, we believe that it serves to underscore the important differences and identities of individual movement members and provides a clear organizational tool for identifying specific movement organizations within the broad White Supremacist movement.

In the past, many of the groups mentioned here have been described in public discourse as crazy “extremists.” Traditional scholarly conceptions of the White Supremacist movement have often focused on the ideological and criminal “deviance” of movement participants. Detailed sociological study of movement members, however, has found that they are no different from other social movement participants who develop complex ideologies and respond to material forces, cultural changes, and the influence of organizations and ideologies (Jipson and Becker 2000). By locating White Supremacist groups within the context of how all social and political movements operate, one can begin to see how specific frames guide White Supremacist ideology, analysis, and action; especially the metaframes of conspiracism, dualism, and apocalypticism (Berlet 2004a). Understanding how these groups assemble their ideologies, pick their goals, and justify their actions, makes them easier to understand.

* Send correspondence to Chip Berlet, Political Research Associates, 1310 Broadway, Suite 201, Somerville, MA 02144, 617.666.5300 c.berlet@publiceye.org

1 There has long been a tiny subculture of gay neo-Nazis. However, this subculture may be more intimately linked to a sado-masochist or “fetish” sexual underground than an organized White supremacist movement. In July of 2006, a group calling itself the Aryan Anarchist Skins staged a demonstration in Illinois, with a spokesperson stating: “We accept homosexuals, bisexuals, lesbians.” Rival groups immediately denounced it as a hoax, an issue that remained unresolved when this article was submitted.

2 Leaderless resistance encourages actions by small cells or lone individuals with ideological ties to the White Supremacist movement without direct organizational affiliation. This philosophy is espoused by many leaders and rank-and-file members of the movement as a means for promoting acts of violence and intimidation without directly implicating other movement members; and therefore, shielding them from criminal liability.

3 See the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Groups in the United States map at: http://www.splcenter.org/intel/map/hate.jsp.

a The genealogy chart (Figure 1 ) traces the path of ideas, not organizational ties. Christianity, paganism, pantheism, Odinism, and the Nordic heroic warrior myths do not automatically intersect with either white supremacy or antisemitism.

Ideas about valor, heroic warriors, nationalism, and race were widely circulated throughout Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with one vehicle sparking discussion being performances of Wagnerian operas, which Adolf Hitler as a youth greatly admired. These concepts were reinforced by the development of scientific racism and theories of white supremacy advanced by writers including Gobineau, Gallon, Grant, and Stoddard.

Mythical claims about sinister anti-Christian conspiracies by Freemasons and the Illuminati society circulated in the 1790’s; then were transformed into claims by Protestants about plots by the Roman Catholic Church in the 1820s. The Freemason myths were melded into the hoax document, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the early 1900s, blaming Jews for global subversive machinations. Industrialist Henry Ford widely circulated these antisemitic claims in a series of articles in his Dearborn Independent newspaper, later collected in book form as The International Jew. Allies of Ford also promoted Christian Identity.

Hitler, who read a German translation of The International Jew, synthesized an ideology of antisemitic conspiracy theories and white supremacy in his autobiography, Mein Kampf, which also assumed the existence of an Aryan race. (Aryan actually refers to a linguistic subgroup, not a bloodline). Hitler also developed an idiosyncratic understanding of Nietzsche’s concept of the Ubermensch or “superior” men, which Hitler elaborated into the Nazi idea of a master race.

Various amalgams of these ideas are found across the spectrum of organized White Supremacist groups in the United States.

4 See for example, the images at http://www.nationalvanguard.org/docs/love-your-race.pdf; http://www.nationalvanguard.org/docs/missing.pdf


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Brasher, Brenda E. 2000. “From Revelation to The X-Files: An Autopsy of Millennialism in American Popular Culture.” Semeia 82:281-95.

_____. 2001. “When Your Friend is Your Enemy: American Christian Fundamentalists and Israel at the New Millennium.” Pp. 135-45 in Millennial Visions: Essays on Twentieth-Century Millenarianism, edited by M.F. Lee. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

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Center for New Community, the Montana Human Rights Network, and the Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity (CNC, MHRN, and NCHD). 2003. Creating a Commotion: Matt Hale and the “World Church of the Creator. ” Chicago, IL.

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_____. 1993. Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Coogan, Kevin. 1999. Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Autonomedia.

Daniels, Jessie. 1997. White lies: Race Class, Gender, and Sexuality in White Supremacist Discourse. New York, NY: Routledge.

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_____. 1996. “Ideology and the Framing Process in the White Separatist/ Supremacist Movement in the United States.” Quarterly Journal of Ideology 19:3-29.

_____. 2000. The White Separatist Movement in the United States “White Power, White Pride! ” Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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_____. 2002. “From Imperium to Internet: the National Alliance and the American Extreme Right” Patterns of Prejudice 36:50-61.

_____. 2004. “The Upward Path: Palingenesis, Political Religion and the National Alliance.” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 5:454-68.

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Ferber, Abby L. 1998. White Man Falling: Race, Gender, and White Supremacy. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

_____. 1999. “The White Supremacist Movement in the United States Today.” Pp. 346-54 in Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence, edited by Fred L. Pincus and Howard J. Ehrlich. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

_____. 2000. “Racial Warriors and Weekend Warriors: The Construction of Masculinity in Mythopoetic and White Supremacist Discourse.” Men and Masculinities 3: 30-56.

_____, ed. 2004. Home-Grown Hate: Gender and Organized Racism. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ferber, Abby L. and Michael S. Kimmel. 2004. ‘”White Men are this Nation:’ Right-Wing Militias and the Restoration of Rural American Masculinity.” Pp. 143-60 in Home-Grown Hate: Gender and Organized Racism, edited by Abby L. Ferber. New York: Routledge.

Flint, Colin, ed. 2003. Spaces of Hate Geographies of Discrimination and Intolerance in the U.S.A. New York, NY: Routledge.

Freilich, Joshua D. 2003. American Militias: State Level Variations in Militia Activities. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing.

Futrell, Robert and Pete Simi. 2004. “Free Spaces, Collective Identity, and the Persistence of U.S. White Power Activism.” Social Problems 51:16-42.

Gardell, Mattia. 2003. Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

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_____. 2004. “Fascism, Totalitarianism and Political Religion,” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 5:326-75.

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Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

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Goodrick-Clark, Nicholas. [1985] 2004. The Occult Roots of Nazism. London: I. B. Tauris.

_____. 2002. Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. New York: NYU Press.

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_____. 2003. “From Slime Mould to Rhizome: an Introduction to the Groupuscular Right.” Patterns of Prejudice 37:27-50.

_____. 2004. “Introduction: God’s Counterfeiters? Investigating the Triad of Fascism, Totalitarianism and Political Religion.” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 5:291 -325.

Hale, Matt. 1998. “The Suffering Which Can Be Avoided.” The Struggle, Issue 33 (XXXIII), p. 1. Dated “March XXV AC” in a system that sets dates from the founding of Creativity by Klassen in 1973.

_____. n.d. (circa 2002). “Creativity’s Strategy for White Victory,” originally on Creativity website which is now offline, periodically posted on web, various wordings and punctuation, this version on file at Political Research Associates.

Hamm, Mark S. 1993. American Skinheads: The Criminology and Control of Hate Crime. West Port, CT: Praeger Publishers.

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Jasper, James. 1997. The Art of Moral Protest. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.

Jeansonne, Glen. 1988. Gerald L K. Smith: Minister of Hate. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Jipson, Arthur and Paul Becker. 2000. “The Social Significance of White Supremacy.” Sociological Focus 33:111-112.

Johnston, Hank. 1995. “A Methodology for Frame Analysis: From Discourse to Cognitive Schemata.” Pp. 217-246 in Social Movements and Culture, Social Movements, Protest, and Contention 4, edited by Hank Johnston and Bert Klandermans, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Kaplan, Jeffrey and Tore Bj0rgo, eds. 1998. Nation and Race: The Developing Euro-American Racist Subculture. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Kaplan, Jeffrey and Leonard Weinberg. 1998. The Emergence of a EuroAmerican Radical Right. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

Kaplan, Jeffrey. 1997a. Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah. Syracuse, N. Y.: Syracuse University Press.

_____. 1997b. “Interpreting the Interpretive Approach: A Friendly Reply to Thomas Robbins.” Nova Religio 1:30-49.

_____. 2000. “Ku Klux Klan.” Pp. 163-66 in Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right, edited by Jeffrey Kaplan. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press (Rowman and Littelfield).

Kazin, Michael. 1995. The Populist Persuasion: An American History. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Kim, T.K. 2005. “Electronic Storm: Stormfront Grows a Thriving Neo-Nazi Community,” Intelligence Report, Summer 2005. Retrieved January 15, 2006 (http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=551).

Kintz, Linda. 1997. Between Jesus and the Market: The Emotions that Matter in Right-Wing America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Kittrie, Nicholas N. 1995. The War Against Authority: From the Crisis of Legitimacy to a New Social Contract. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

_____. 2000. Rebels With a Cause: The Minds and Morality of Political Offenders. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Klassen, Ben. [1973] 1992. Nature’s Eternal Religion. Milwaukee, WI: Milwaukee Church of the Creator.

_____. [1981] The White Man’s Bible. Lighthouse Point, FL: The Church of the Creator.

Klassen, Ben and Arnold De Vries. 1982. Salubrious Living. Lighthouse Point, FL: The Church of the Creator.

Kriesi, Hanspeter, Ruud Koopmans, Jan Willem Duyvendak, and Marco G. Guigni. 1995. New Social Movements in Western Europe: A Comparative Analysis. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Kühl, Stefan. 1994. The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Lamy, Philip. 1996. Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy. New York, NY: Plenum.

Lane, David. 1999. Deceived, Damned and Defiant: The Revolutionary Writings of David Lane. St. Maries, ID: 14 Word Press.

Levitas, Daniel. 2002. The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s.

Lombardo, Paul A. 2002. ‘”The American Breed’: Nazi Eugenics and the Origins of the Pioneer Fund.” Albany Law Review 65:743-830.

Lyons, Matthew. 1995. “What is Fascism?” Pp. 244-45 in Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, edited by Chip Berlet. Boston, MA: South End Press.

Marks, Kathy. 1996. Faces of Right Wing Extremism. Boston, MA: Branden Publishing.

McVeigh, Rory. 2004. “Structured Ignorance and Organized Racism in the United States.” Social Forces 82:895-936.

Minges, Patrick. 1995. “Apocalypse Now! The Realized Eschatology of the ‘Christian Identity’ Movement.” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 49:83-107.

Mintz, Frank P. 1985. The Liberty Lobby and the American Right: Race, Conspiracy, and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

National Vanguard. No date. “What is National Vanguard?” Charlottesville, VA: National Vanguard. Retrieved January 15, 2006 (http://nationalvanguard.org/intro.pdf).

Oberschall, Anthony. 1973. Social Conflict and Social Movements. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

O’Leary, Stephen D. 1994. Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Patterns of Prejudice. 2002. Special issue on the “Groupuscular Right,” 36(3).

Paxton, Robert O. 2004. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Payne, Stanley G. 1995. A History of Fascism, 1914-45. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Perry, Barbara. 2004. “White Genocide: White Supremacists and the Politics of Reproduction.” Pp. 75-95 in Home-Grown Hate: Gender and Organized Racism, edited by Abby L. Ferber. New York, NY: Routledge.

Poliakov, Léon. 1974. Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Polletta, Francesca. 1998. “Contending Stories: Narrative in Social Movements.” Qualitative Sociology 21:219-46.

Polletta, Francesca and James Jasper. 2001. “Collective Identity and Social Movements.” Annual Review of Sociology 27:283-305.

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Quinby, Lee. 1994. Anti-Apocalypse: Exercises in Genealogical Criticism. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Redles, David. 2005. Hitler’s Millennial Reich: Apocalyptic Belief and the Search for Salvation, New York, NY: New York University Press.

Rhodes, James M. 1980. The Hitler Movement: A Modern Millenarian Revolution. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University.

Ribuffo, Leo P. 1983. The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Ridgeway, James. 1995. Blood in the Face : The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. New York, NY: Thunder’s Mouth Press.

Robbins, Thomas and Susan J. Palmer, eds. 1997. Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements. New York: Routledge.

Robbins, Thomas. 1997. “Religious Movements and Violence: A Friendly Critique of the Interpretive Approach.” Nova Religio 1:13-29.

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Schroer, Todd J. 2001. “Issue and Identity Framing within the White Racialist Movement: Internet Dynamics.” Pp. 207-231 in “The Politics of Social Inequality,” Research in Political Sociology, Vol. 9, edited by B. Dobratz, L. Waldner, and T. Buzzell. Amsterdam: JAI/Elsevier.

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_____ 2002b. “A Group Is Born,” Intelligence Report, Winter 2002. Retrieved January 15, 2006 (http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp7sid=53).

_____. 2002c. “William Pierce: A Political History,” Intelligence Report, Fall 2002. Retrieved January 15, 2006 (http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/ article.jsp?sid=35).

_____. 2004. “Pontifex Ex,” Intelligence Report, Summer 2004.Retrieved January 15, 2006 (http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp7aid =476).

_____. 2005. “Center Newsletter Tracks Anti-Immigration Movement. Montgomery, AL: Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved January 15, 2006 (http://www.splcenter.org/news/item.jsp?aid=129).

_____. 2006. “Nazis Rising,” Intelligence Report, Spring 2006. Retrieved July 18, 2006 (http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=617)

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_____. 2002. The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

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All of the websites below were online at some point in 2005-2006. Websites that were offline as of July 20, 2006 are crossed out and listed as (offline). This list (along with URLs from the works cited) is online at http://www.publiceye.org/racism/jpms34.html.


American Defense League, http://americandefenseleague.com/

American Renaissance, http://www.amren.com

Aryan Militia, http://www.aryan-militia.com/

Aryan Nations-New Hampshire

Aryan Network, http://www.aryannetworlc.com (offline)

Blood and Honour/Combat 18, http://www.bloodandhonour-usa.com/ indexl.html

German Defense League, http://www.compuserb.com/germandefenseleague

Heritage Front (Canada), http://www.heritagefront.com

Ku Klux Klan units not primarily based on religion

Free Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

Libertarian National Socialist Green Party, http://www.nazi.org

National Alliance, http://www.natall.com, www.narvan.com

National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP), http://www.naawp.com (offline)

National Socialist Movement, http://www.nsm88.com

National Vanguard, http://www.nationalvanguard.org.

Nationalist Movement (Crosstar), http://www.nationalist.org

New Order, NSDAP/AO (Gerhard Lauck), http://www.nazi-lauck-nsdapao.com

Order of White Knights, http://www.orderofwhiteknights.org

Political Soldier (3rd Positionists)

Rebel Army

Stormfront (White Nationalist Community), http://www.stormfront.org

Volksfront, http://www.volksfrontinternational.com/

White Aryan Resistance

White Nationalist Party

White Nationalist Party (UK), http://www.white.org.uk

White Revolution, http://www.whiterevolution.com

Women for Aryan Unity (Canada), http://www.crusader.net/texts/wau/


Christian Identity

Aryan Nations (factional split)

Ayran Nations, (Kreis), http://www.aryan-nations.org

Ayran Nations: Church of Jesus Christ Christian, (Williams), http://www.twelvearyannations.com

Children of Yahweh, http://www.childrenofyahweh.com

Christian Separatist Church Society, http://www.christianseparatist.org

Church of True Israel, http://www.churchoftrueisrael.com

Imperial Klans of America (Imperial Knights), http://www.k-k-k.com

Kingdom Identity Ministries, http://www.kingidentity.com

Kinsman Redeemer Ministries, http://www.kinsmanredeemer.com

Ku Klux Klan units primarily based on Christian Identity

Knights Party (Ku Klux Klan-Thomas Robb), http://www.kkk.com

Mission to Israel, http://www.missiontoisrael.org

Posse Comitatus (many autonomous units)

Scriptures for America, http://www.scripturesforamerica.org

Sheriffs Posse Comitatus (James Wickstrom), http://www.possooomitatuG.org/indox 1 .htm (offline)

Creativity Movement

Creativity Movement International, http://www.croator.org/faq.html (offline)

Creativity Movement Ohio, http://www.oroativityohio.oom (offline)

Creativity Movement U.S., http://www.oreativitymovoment.ua (offline)

Klassen was Right, http://www.klassenwasright.ojb.not (offline)

Matt Hale, http://www.matthale.org (offline)

Rahowa, http://www.rohowa.u9 (offline)

Rahowa (Klassen’s Teachings), http://www.rahowa.com

Skinheads of the Racial Holy Way, http://www.creatorforum.com

SS Rahowa, http://www.9srahowa.com (offline)

White Faith, http://www.whitefaith.ojb.net (offline)

White Struggle, http://www.whitestruggle.net


14 Word Press, http://www. 14words.com (offline)

Heathen Front, (Allgermanische Heidnische Front), http://www.heathenfront.org

White Order of Thule



Golden State Skinheads, http://www.goldonstateskins.com (offline)

Gutz Skinhead Crew, http://www.skinheadz.oom (offline)

Hammerskin Nation, http://www.hammerskins.net

Keystone State Skinheads, http://www.kss88.com

Maryland Skinheads, http://www.niarylandskinheads.com

West Virginia Skinheads, http://www.wvskinheads.com (offline)

Black Metal

National Socialist Black Metal, http://www.nsbm.org

Pagan Front, http://www.thepaganfront.com

Music Labels, etc.

Diehard Records, http://www.diehardrecords.net

Free Your Mind Productions (formerly Panzerfaust Records), http://www.freeyourmindproductions.com

Micetrap Distribution (Micetrap Records), http://www.micetrap.net

NS88 Videos (skinhead videos), http://www.ns88.com/shop

Resistance Records, http://www.resistance.com


Political Research Associates


Northeastern University

Journal of Political and Military Sociology, 2006, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Summer):11-48

Chip Berlet is senior analyst at Political Research Associates and co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort (Guilford: 2000). He has written about U.S. right-wing social movements for over 30 years in publications ranging from popular, including the Boston Globe and the Progressive, to scholarly, including Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions; Contemporary Sociology, Journal of Hate Studies, and Research in Political Sociology.

Stanislaw Vysotsky is a Ph.D. candidate at Northeastern University. His research focuses on analysis of right-wing social movements, activities, and counter-movement dynamics. He is currently developing a study of the ideological motivations for violent responses to White Supremacist organizing efforts held by militant anti-racist activists.

Copyright Dr. George Kourvetaris Summer 2006

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved