Beginning in the mid-1970s, The Turner Diaries was released in sequential instalments of the white supremacist magazine Attack!. Written by William Luther Pierce, founder of National Alliance, under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald, The Turner Diaries is a dystopian novel dubbed by the FBI as “the bible of the racist right”. It is considered to be the influence for over two hundred murders in at least forty racially motivated terrorist attacks or hate crimes, the most famous of which being white supremacist Timothy McVeigh’s terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. McVeigh, like some other white supremacists, gained inspiration for his terrorist attack from fictional events that transpired in The Turner Diaries.
Set in the year 2099, The Turner Diaries recounts the fictional journal of protagonist Earl Turner, as he depicts his struggle over a century prior against the System, a dystopian portrayal of the American government as an authoritarian and Jewish controlled state, which promotes a race war in order to eliminate the Aryan race. Earl, along with his fellow insurgents, who are referred to as the Organisation, wage guerrilla warfare against the System, which results in an all-out race war across the globe. Pierce depicts Earl and his fellow insurgents as true patriotic Americans, willing to fight and die in order to ensure the survival of the Aryan race. This is a powerful message for those people in America who feel that the white race is under threat from other races. It is thus unsurprising that Pierce’s novel became a powerful tool to entice people to join and support the far right’s agenda both in America and globally.
Unlike the American far right, the English far right lack a ‘bible’ of its own. Although, David Abbott’s, Dark Albion: A Requiem for the English is without doubt close. A collection of thirty-three essays on race, Dark Albion ends with Abbott’s dystopian fictional essay entitled “William the Conquered 2066”. Here Abbott presents an “England [that] has now succumbed” to Islam, one of the chief concerns that the contemporary English far right have today. In spite of the fact that Abbott himself does not identify with far right ideology, he was in fact a conservative candidate in 2019 before he was suspended due to allegations of Islamophobia, I suggest that Abbott’s dystopian essay could be considered a ‘far right bible’.
In what follows, I summarise Abbott’s dystopian essay in order to identify similarities and differences between Abbott and Pierce’s dystopian accounts of the future. From this I hope to assess whether literature can be employed as a means to identify characteristics that belong to the far right as a global entity and those attributes that are specific to localised groups and times.
Abbott begins his dystopian essay by depicting Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, as William the Conquered: a frail and deaf king, a metaphor for England today, who failed to identify his country’s predicament as it succumbed to the infiltration of Islam (pg 228). Abbott discusses at length William’s choice, and his father’s before him, to change the coronation oath from “Defender of the faith” to “Defender of faith” (pg 230), one of many concessions made in order to appease the Muslims, which they regarded as weak rather than humane. Following a number of appeasements and the failure of people to speak out against Islam due to fear or political correctness (pg 231), Abbott goes on to depict a dystopian England for the indigenous people, as their culture and heritage is replaced by Islam and sharia law is imposed upon them (pg 232- 240).
Immediately, a stark comparison can be made between both of the author’s dystopian accounts, as they predict that the future will be awful for those who they consider the ‘indigenous’ people. In Pierce’s account the ‘indigenous’ people are considered the white Aryan race that is threatened by the System, while Abbott presents the ‘indigenous’ people as those who can integrate within and adopt the customs of Western England (i.e. liberalism, democracy, etc.), due to his account primarily concentrating on England. In both authors’ accounts there is a sense that past failure, a failure in the author’s present, has resulted in the dystopian future. The trigger which is deemed responsible for causing this dystopian future is presented as the ‘other’ in comparison to the ‘indigenous’ people.
Evidently, these accounts are encouraging the contemporary ‘indigenous’ people to do something in order to prevent their predicted future from becoming a reality. As founder of National Alliance, a white supremacist group in America, Pierce would have wanted people of the white race to unite in order to fight the ‘other’ that he and the far right at the time perceived as a threat and responsible for his dystopian prediction of the future. Abbott, however, is not affiliated with any far-right organisations; yet his writing can still be identified inspiring people to unite to prevent his prediction of the future. For instance, he discusses the failure of previous writers, journalists, and academics, to discuss the threat that Islam presents for England, and depicts some ‘indigenous’ politicians as failing to recognise the harm that Islamification has done to England in 2066 (pg 231). Similar to Abbott’s account, many English far right groups have adopted a populist rhetoric that is apprehensive about the capacity of the elite to resolve the issue that those whom they perceive as the ‘other’ pose. Thus, groups like the English Defence League (EDL) and the Democratic Football Lads Association (DFLA) have been formed, not in order to fight against the ‘other’, like Pierce suggests, but to bring public attention to the threat that they believe the ‘other’ pose for society and its future.
It is by examining the role of the ‘other’ that we can identify significant differences between these accounts and far-right discourse. The ‘other’ in Pierce’s novel is represented through crude biological racism, as he relies on antisemitic canards and white supremacist narratives in order to differentiate his protagonist and his fellow insurgents from the ‘other’. Abbott, on the other hand, employs cultural racism in order to differentiate the ‘other’ from the ‘indigenous’ people he has solidarity with. Cultural racism is considered a predominately new form of racism that internalises the cultural differences between ethnicities or races in order to form racial prejudice. Islamophobia, a form of cultural racism which is not only based on an unfound hostility to Islam but also the consequences that such hostility has on Muslim people and their communities, is the specific form of cultural racism he adopts to display the ‘other’. Contemporary far-right groups are deemed to be overwhelmingly hostile to Islam. Though the contemporary far right in England often protest the label of racist, the social space that these groups provide are breeding grounds for prejudice and bigotry, and groups are often responsible for adopting blatant Islamophobia in their street demonstration chants and rhetoric. This fundamental difference in the racism that these two authors use in order to depict the ‘other’ illustrates that who the far right and far-right audiences perceive as the ‘other’ is dependent upon two facts. Namely, the time period and the location the ‘indigenous people’ inhabit.
Nevertheless, it must be noted that both authors use crude and abhorrent language in order to depict the ‘other’ in their account. For instance, whilst Pierce employs toxic antisemitism and white supremacist rhetoric; Abbott employed language that represents the ‘other’ as barbaric and primitive as he calls them “swarthy settlers” (pg 231), and the ‘indigenous’ people who adopt their customs as “monkeys” (pg 235). Although obvious differences can be seen in both authors’ accounts of who the ‘other’ is considered to be, the rhetoric that has been employed by each author is littered with hate and prejudice, rhetoric that is identified to be the staple of the far right globally.
By examining Pierce’s The Turner Diaries and Abbott’s “William the Conquered 2066”, this analysis has illustrated that literature can be employed as a means by which we can identify the similarities and differences that individual far right groups have based on the time period and place that they belong. Although further studies are needed, this brief piece has demonstrated that those organisations that can be categorised under the conceptual umbrella of the far right are “disparate, diverse and divergent”, according to the time and place they belong in.
Mr Callum Downes is a Doctoral Fellow at CARR and a Doctoral candidate in Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Exeter. See his profile here.
© Callum Downes. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).