On the way to Richard Spencer’s top-secret white-supremacist conference on November 19, a young African-American woman drove me in her Uber from Washington, DC, to the rolling hills of Maryland horse country. On the peaceful drive past large, beautiful estates, she told me how she’d had to work three jobs—as a DHL courier, Amazon-warehouse deliverywoman, and Uber driver—just to continue to live in ever-more-expensive DC, where she’d grown up. When we finally got to the winery that Spencer’s National Policy Institute had booked, Mike Enoch of the Daily Shoah podcast, who promulgated the slur “dindu nuffins” for African Americans, was holding forth on the horrors of “corporate neoliberalism.”
Then Eli Mosley of the campus group Identity Evropa, who calls Jews “oven-dodging…kikes,” took Enoch one further: “We need to be explicitly anti-capitalist. There’s no other way forward for our movement.” As 60 mostly young, male racists gathered around him, Mosley, whose real name is Elliott Kline, confidently predicted, “Twenty eighteen is going to be the year of leftists joining the white-nationalist movement!”
These were clear examples of the alt-right’s seductive, and highly contradictory, new emphasis on economic issues. Fascism has often incorporated a pretense of holding “socialist” positions, but some members of the alt-right seem to genuinely believe that the racist state they’re fighting for will benefit what one recently called “the proletariat.” That same afternoon, in an interview in the winery’s unheated barn, Spencer said, “I support national health care. Becoming alt-right means…we have duties to our fellow [white] people. And the trillions spent in insane wars, I would much rather spend that on something that is immediately useful to whites.” About the concept of a guaranteed minimum income provided by the government, Spencer told me, “I actually really like this idea.” In the whites-only, Jews-out, no-votes-for-women ethnostate that he is trying to create, Spencer said, “We need to have a kind of altruism. We need to be willing to take care of people and not simply think of ourselves as individuals who can acquire as much wealth as possible.”
A few minutes later, Spencer’s co-panelists told the gathering exactly who “the capitalists” and “the corporations” were who were hurting “the people”: “Jewish interests,” Enoch, whose real surname is actually Peinovich, enunciated deliberately. “This cosmopolitan clique of elites!” he boomed, as Spencer giggled. “The left will not…name the people behind this…but we can!” he went on. “We can…speak for white Americans who don’t want to sacrifice any more of their children for Jewish wars!”
Yes, the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Trump’s bombing of Syria, had become “Jewish” wars to the white people in the barn, some of them veterans. To Enoch/Peinovich, it seemed that any unnecessary, unjust, or imperialist war had been secretly started by the Jews.
“This rootless! cosmopolitan! clique!” Peinovich vociferated, as Spencer nodded vigorously and laughed. On Twitter and his podcasts, Peinovich frequently exhibits a sadistic streak when he goes after individual women, Jews, and people of color. On one podcast, he attacked criticisms of rape as “this bullshit fantasy of the media, academic elite.… It’s been done, it’s what happens.… Whatever.” But here, in addition to his usual violent bombast, Peinovich spoke with what appeared to be real passion about the enormous misery that George W. Bush’s wars had wrought. His voice quaking, the bearded founder of the white-nationalist blog The Right Stuff said, “I’m against these wars, which…are not [in] our interests.” Kline, an Army veteran, added, “You want to know why there’s so much PTSD, drug abuse, suicide…among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Because they come back and they don’t know why. ‘Why were we there, what did I do, why did my friends die?’ The answer is no more of these wars!” Then Kline screeched, “Jewish wars!”