CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Since William Luther Pierce died 10 years ago, on July 23, 2002, his National Alliance has collapsed from being one of the nation's largest, most influential right-wing hate groups into increasing irrelevancy.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., is releasing Shipwreck, an analysis of the group's recent history, Monday. His article is published in the group's Intelligence Report, which he edits.
"The Alliance has been transformed from the nation's radical-right powerhouse into a tiny band of small-time propagandists, criminal thugs and attention-seeking losers," Potok writes.
Pierce, founder of the National Alliance, lived in Hillsboro in Pocahontas County on a compound larger than 300 acres, from which he ran his nationwide organization. The Alliance distributed neo-Nazi messages through books, music recordings, radio broadcasts and the Internet.
Resistance Records was the National Alliance's main source of income when Pierce died. Membership dues and the income from selling records were bringing the group nearly $1 million a year.
Pierce's books, written under the name Andrew Macdonald, include "The Turner Diaries" and "Hunter." Both promote extreme anti-Semitism and racism, glorifying the killing of "inferior" Jews and non-white people.
White people who voluntarily associate with black people away from their jobs, Pierce adds, also deserve to be killed.
Pierce gained national publicity when Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City federal courthouse bomber, revealed "The Turner Diaries" had inspired him.
The April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing killed 168, including 19 children under than 6 years old. The bombing also injured more than 680 and damaged or destroyed 324 additional buildings within 16 blocks of the courthouse.
"The Turner Diaries," published in 1978, includes a bombing scene eerily similar to what happened in Oklahoma City.
"In more than a dozen ways, the Oklahoma City bombing was depicted in 'The Turner Diaries,'" Potok said during a telephone interview last week. "It was patterned precisely after the bombing of the FBI headquarters building in 'The Turner Diaries.'
"I have covered the National Alliance for 15 years, since I came here [to the SPLC] in 1997. Ten years ago, it was the most sophisticated, best-financed hate group in America. It was a very big deal.
"When Pierce died, we started to follow in great detail what was happening to the group and its travails."
Before he founded the National Alliance, Pierce earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Colorado, and later taught physics at Oregon State University.
Collapse of the National Alliance
Eric Gliebe, Pierce's handpicked successor, took over when Pierce died.
Potok attributes the collapse of the National Alliance to Gliebe's "mismanagement of the organization and his lack of charisma. Today, Gliebe is despised by the radical right and most of Pierce's former members."
In his Shipwreck essay, Potok points out that the Alliance currently "has a membership of fewer than 75 people, has not published a magazine in recent memory and is in desperate need of funds."
Shortly after Pierce died, The Intelligence Report published excerpts from a speech Pierce delivered on April 20 that year, the last speech before his death.
In that speech, Potok's new article reports, "Pierce mocked the white power movement, saying there was no such thing, and denigrated members of the neo-Nazi groups as 'hobbyists, freaks and weaklings.'"
During the interview, Potok said, "When we published details of that secret speech, a couple of months after Pierce's death, we caused havoc in the National Alliance. No one in the movement understood the level of contempt in which Pierce held them.
"We understood we would probably cause a great deal of damage to Pierce. The effect was quite explosive. One effect was a major boycott of Resistance Records -- the main income earner for the National Alliance at the time Pierce died.
"That choked off a lot of financing for the National Alliance. A lot of skinheads went to other smaller white supremacist labels for their music," Potok said.
Gliebe also ran into problems.