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White Supremacist Science Fiction: Reading The Turner Diaries

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

The Turner Diaries-smallThe recent attack by a white supremacist on a black church in Charleston reminded everyone that radical Muslims aren’t the only terrorists out there. In fact, an FBI report studying terrorism in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005 shows there were more attacks by far-right groups than Muslim groups, even in the most recent years of that period. A study of terror attacks in the European Union reveals that less than two percent were religiously motivated. Most were either by separatist or far-right organizations.

So what motivates radical right-wing terror groups? What’s their equivalent of ISIS beheading videos? While there is a large body of white supremacist videos and literature, the undisputed classic is The Turner Diaries.

This novel, written in 1978 by white supremacist activist William Luther Pierce under the pen name Andrew MacDonald, tells of a race war in the 1990s in which a group of whites called The Order overthrow the Zionist-controlled U.S. government and kill all Jews and racial minorities. The book became famous because a scene depicting the blowing up of an FBI building was eerily similar to the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. Later investigation showed he had been inspired by the book, as had a short-lived racist group called The Order that committed a string of robberies and killed a Jewish radio personality. Several other white supremacist criminals have also been inspired by the novel.

While it’s not proven that the Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof, had read the book, it’s so well-known in the circles in which he circulated he surely must have heard of it. Curious, I decided to track it down.

I was immediately faced with a problem. While it’s available on Amazon, where to my chagrin I discovered it’s outselling my own novels, I didn’t want anyone to profit from such a book. Luckily, a pirated edition is available for free at Archive.org and Solar General. The latter has a whole library of objectionable books free for download. Being an author myself, I’m against pirating books. I made an exception in this case and felt no guilt whatsoever.

Archive.org had a warning stating, “Ownership of this book might be illegal in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.” Living in the European Union, I realized that downloading this might go against censorship laws against hate literature.

F— that, nobody tells me what I can and can’t read.

Settling in with my pirated and possibly illegal copy of The Turner Diaries, my first impression was surprise at how coherent it is. Most white supremacist literature reads like it was written by someone who flunked eighth grade English because they were too busy hiding behind the school pulling the wings off of flies. This is not to say that it’s well-written. The diary format means everything is told rather than shown, and there is little characterization for the white characters and none for the minority characters. Jews and blacks are all stereotyped and identical, and no black character is even graced with a name.

The story opens with our white hero, Earl Turner, getting arrested under the Cohen law, which has banned all private gun ownership. This law is only enforced in white neighborhoods because the System is paranoid about being seen as racist and thus never goes after minority criminals. Political correctness has gone so far that rape has been decriminalized so that black rapists (which in Turner’s world includes all black males) won’t be oppressed for expressing their culture.

Because the System has hired too many minorities through affirmative action, it’s become highly inefficient and Turner is soon released, but not before he’s woken up to his true Aryan identity and the need to stop the Jews and blacks from destroying America.

Turner joins the Organization, a white resistance group that’s planning to start a race war. Turner is an engineer and becomes one of their chief bomb makers. These passages are given in detail and are probably accurate, given that the author was a professor of physics.

The Organization goes on a bombing and assassination campaign and the System begins to crack down harder on the general population. There is quite a lot of guerrilla tactics and ideology covered here that will be familiar to anyone who has read Mao, Lenin, or twentieth-century military history. The Turner Diaries is first and foremost a political primer, so Pierce often stops the action to go on educational tangents.

Sometimes this indoctrination is done through editorial asides. The diaries are supposed to have been published in 2099, the centenary of the white revolution, and the future editor has to explain some aspects of twentieth-century culture. For example:

Note to reader: ‘Women’s lib’ was a form of mass psychosis which broke out during the last three decades of the Old Era. Women affected by it denied their femininity and insisted they were ‘people,’ not ‘women.’ This aberration was promoted and encouraged as a means of dividing our race against itself.

Occasionally I nodded in partial agreement to particular statements. Not to the above paragraph, but to statements such as,

He [the average member of the public] hasn’t an idea in his head that wasn’t out there by his TV set. He desperately wants to be ‘well adjusted’ and to do and think exactly what he thinks is expected of him.

And

In their own way, the liberals, despite their pretensions to sophistication, are as mindless and as easily manipulated as the conservatives.

William Luther Pierce

William Luther Pierce

Pierce is clever to weave in some home truths to make his vile pill more palatable.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Turner proves himself on a number of missions and is brought into the Order, the secretive command of the revolution. The uprising begins to pick up, as does the author’s excitement. As a writer myself, I can often tell when a writer is really into a scene. Pierce absolutely loved writing about nuking Tel Aviv and New York and probably orgasmed when he described The Day of the Rope, when all race traitors, such as liberal clergy and misegenators, are hanged. These passages are written in loving detail.

Of course, the revolution triumphs in the end. Whites the world over rise up to throw off their Zionist oppressors and kill all minorities. The Asians prove too numerous and the entire continent is saturated with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Turner himself dies as a martyr, flying an airplane rigged with a nuclear device into the Pentagon.

It’s all very cartoonish in a disgusting sort of way. After finishing the book I felt like I needed to give my brain a shower. I was also left wondering why anyone would swallow this.

I didn’t wonder for long. Pierce did get one thing right — we live in a system that discourages critical thinking. People believe in all sorts of ridiculous things, such as astrology or Creationism, which are generally left unchallenged because these don’t lead to violence. Then there are all those Facebook friends who share unsourced Internet stories or shallow memes that fit with their world view. Even most “free thinkers,” proud in their rejection of mainstream media, will just as blindly follow their own brand of alternative media. It’s a matter of degree rather than substance, and everyone wants to feel like they’re special and carriers of the Truth despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.

The real danger, then, is uncritical thinking. When people get comfortable in their belief system and fail to continually challenge it, they become intellectual sheep. Often this is relatively harmless (“I’m special because I’m a Leo”) or annoying and potentially damaging (“We must teach children that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time”), but in its more radical manifestations (“I’m superior because of my nationality/sexuality/race”) uncritical thinking can lead a young man to walk into a prayer meeting and kill nine people.

They say that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. The same holds true for the mind.


Sean McLachlan is the author of the post-apocalyptic Toxic World series and several other titles, including his action series set in World War One, Trench Raiders. His historical fantasy novella The Quintessence of Absence, was published by Black Gate. Find out more about him on his blog and Amazon author’s page.

9 Comments »

  1. “In fact, an FBI report studying terrorism in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005 shows there were more attacks by far-right groups than Muslim groups”

    And attacks by ALF and ELF dwarfs both…

    “Being an author myself, I’m against pirating books. I made an exception in this case and felt no guilt whatsoever.”

    So, hypocrisy and theft is ok as long as you agree with it or as long as you think the author is evil…

    “This law is only enforced in white neighborhoods because the System is paranoid about being seen as racist and thus never goes after minority criminals. ”

    Sounds like Rotherham, England…

    “The real danger, then, is uncritical thinking”

    Yet you started this thing by blindly bringing up a couple of “studies” that “prove” what you wanted to have proven…

    Comment by TW - July 1, 2015 5:33 pm

  2. When this book was making headlines there was considerable debate as to if the bookstore where I worked would carry it or not. I thought we should. And we did.
    So I read it.

    It read like the world’s most awkward, didactic, discursive, poorly paced, flatly written, frothingly xenophobic, Men’s Action Adventure novel conceivable.

    The ferocity of the author’s hatred was alternately cartoonish and disturbing. Ultimately, his world view demands the death of everybody on the planet who is not exactly like him.
    I recall a scene where the roguish survivalist heroes encounter, in the street, a famous Pop Musician. You know, one of those weirdos you see on the MTV. They immediately hang him from a street lamp.
    He dresses strangely and he plays music that I do not like, hence he must die. Now. While I watch.

    Although time seems to have proven me wrong, back then I found reading the book perversely comforting. It seemed impossible to me that anything so ludicrously labored and poorly written could inspire anything or anyone for long. I guess a message of that kind of hatred has power no matter how absurdly it is delivered.

    Comment by John Hocking - July 1, 2015 7:26 pm

  3. > He dresses strangely and he plays music that I do not like, hence he must die. Now. While I watch.

    There’s no shortage of appalling passages cited in Sean’s piece above, but for some reason, this one really strikes me. It speaks volumes about how white supremacists have glorified casual violence against those whose art they find lacking. Differences in art, race, religion, gun control, sexual mores…. all are justification for instant public execution.

    Thanks for sharing that, Mr Hocking. Words to ponder, as always.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 2, 2015 2:25 am

  4. TW: Thank you for providing a perfect example of what I was talking about.

    Comment by Sean McLachlan - July 2, 2015 8:45 am

  5. John Hocking: Interesting, I’ve never seen a copy of The Turner Diaries in a bookstore. Did you sell many? Did any of the customers comment?

    Comment by Sean McLachlan - July 2, 2015 8:46 am

  6. Sean: My experience with The Turner Diaries was back during the heyday of the book superstore and my store was one of the biggest. While a smaller, more focused store might easily dodge carrying such a book, my store was so huge that not putting that book on the shelf felt like censorship, and seemed to me to potentially risk glamorizing it by making it “forbidden”. So we put a copy in the fiction section.

    I don’t believe we sold any. There were a good number of comments and conversations spawned by its presence on the shelves. I was taken to task about it more than once. This happened for plenty of other titles, ranging across the literary spectrum, during my time in the store.

    Comment by John Hocking - July 2, 2015 2:16 pm

  7. >> In fact, an FBI report studying terrorism in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005 shows there were more attacks
    >> by far-right groups than Muslim groups”
    >
    > And attacks by ALF and ELF dwarfs both…

    TW,

    I understand that you tend to strike back at any criticism of right-wing philosophy, in any form. But I find your remarks sloppy reading, at best. Here’s exactly what the FBI report says:

    “The majority of domestic terrorism incidents from 1993 to 2001 were attributable to the left-wing special interest movements the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Right-wing extremism, however, primarily in the form of domestic militias and conservative special interest causes, began to overtake left-wing extremism as the most dangerous, if not the most prolific, domestic terrorist threat to the country during the 1990s. In contrast to the ALF and the ELF, which have pursued a philosophy that avoids physical violence in favor of acts of property damage that cause their victims economic harm, right-wing extremists pursued a qualitatively different method of operation by targeting people.”

    Yes, the ALF and ELF had more acts of vandalism in the 1990s. But using that to try to obfuscate Sean’s argument that the leading source of terrorist killings in the US is currently right-wing terror groups is partisan thinking at is worst.

    > Yet you started this thing by blindly bringing up a couple of “studies” that “prove” what you wanted to have proven…

    I think they prove exactly what he set out to prove.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 2, 2015 3:01 pm

  8. […] wonder why they picked up his book! While I didn’t find myself as scandalized as when I read The Turner Diaries, I did raise an eyebrow at some of the passages. This is a book of its time, and while we may have […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » When Big Game Hunting was Glamorous: a Review of The Man-Eaters of Tsavo - September 16, 2015 5:28 pm

  9. […] For a review of a science fiction novel that really was written by a Nazi, check out my review of The Turner Diaries. […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Book Review: The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad - September 30, 2015 6:07 pm


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