In 2001, [Richard B. Spencer] received a B.A. with High Distinction in English Literature and Music from the University of Virginia and, in 2003, an M.A. in the Humanities from the University of Chicago. He spent the summer of 2005 and 2006 at the Institute Vienna Circle. From 2005-07, he was a doctoral student at Duke University studying modern European intellectual history…

More on Spencer.

And more.

The writings of Friedrich Nietzsche made a lasting impression; Spencer found his critiques of equality and democracy darkly compelling. He identified with the German philosopher’s unapologetically elitist embrace of “great men” such as Napoleon Bonaparte and the composer Richard Wagner. Yet Spencer found little in Nietzsche about the organization of the state; it was only after entering the humanities master’s program at the University of Chicago that he discovered Jared Taylor, a self-proclaimed “race realist” who argues that blacks and Hispanics are a genetic drag on Western society. [Taylor has nothing to do with U of C; Spencer discovered him online.]

… He was attracted to the writings of the late University of Chicago professor Leo Strauss, a Jewish German-born philosopher who had been accused by some of supporting fascism. Spencer’s master’s thesis was an analysis of German philosopher Theodor Adorno, who he argued was afraid to admit how much he loved the music of Wagner because Wagner was an anti-Semite championed by the Nazis. “If you looked at what I was doing, there was a clear interest in radical traditionalist right-wing German philosophy, a semi-fascist type thing,” Spencer says. “But there was always plausible deniability to it all.”

By the time he entered Duke as a Ph.D. student in European intellectual history in 2005, his views were on his sleeve. Fellow students recall Spencer openly sharing his opinions on biological differences between races and endorsing books such as Harvard professor Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We?, which argues that Hispanic immigrants are less suited than Europeans for assimilation. One Caucasian woman who was a student at the time recalls Spencer saying that people with her level of education needed to bear more children. Yet Spencer was charming enough to maintain collegial relations with his peers; an official graduate student party that he hosted at his spacious apartment was well attended. “Not many of us had ever come across as an out-and-out fascist,” says a college professor who studied in the same history Ph.D. program as Spencer. “We didn’t know how serious he was.”

… “In this weird way that Trump is trying to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to America, [Spencer says,] he’s also, like, bringing America to an end in the sense that he is a first step to white identity politics, which will bring about fragmentation… This is where I am kind of a Hegelian. Whenever you see a phenomenon, you see its negative aspect. There is a dark side to something that is happening, and I think that is Trump’s dark side, that he is reviving America and accelerating [the end of America]… That’s why I love him…”

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3 Responses to “Wow. We sure make classy fascists here.”

  1. dmf Says:

    https://soundcloud.com/center-for-the-humanities/reason-after-its-eclipse-a-conversation-with-martin-jay
    some timely discussion of alt-right/Bannon abuses of Frankfurt schoolers

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    dmf: Thanks. I’ve been looking for just that sort of thing.

  3. dmf Says:

    my pleasure Martin is what a public intellectual should be like in this tragic country of ours.
    @paulkrugman Nov 29
    Trump has already made it clear that his ardent working-class fans will get the Trump University treatment

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