William Luther Pierce III (September 11, 1933 – July 23, 2002) was an American white supremacist, author, and political activist. He was one of the most influential ideologues of the white nationalist movement for some 30 years before his death. A physicist by profession, he was also an author under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald of the novels The Turner Diaries and Hunter. Pierce founded the National Alliance, a major white nationalist organization, which he led for almost thirty years.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, to a Presbyterian family of Scots-Irish and English, Pierce was a descendant of Thomas H. Watts, the Governor of Alabama and Attorney General of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. As a child, Pierce did well academically, graduating from high school in 1952. He received a baccalaureate in physics from Rice University in 1955, earned a doctorate from University of Colorado at Boulder in 1962, and became an assistant professor of physics at the Oregon State University in 1962, where he joined the anti-communist John Birch Society. In 1965 he left his tenure at Oregon State University and became a senior researcher for the aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut. In 1966 Pierce moved to the Washington, D.C. area and became an associate of George Lincoln Rockwell, who was assassinated in 1967, after which Pierce became co-leader of the National Youth Alliance, which split in 1974, with Pierce founding the National Alliance.
In 1978, Pierce wrote, under the pseudonym "Andrew Macdonald", the novel The Turner Diaries, which depicts a violent revolution in the United States, followed by world war, and the extermination of non-white races. In 1984, he wrote another novel, Hunter, portraying the actions of a lone-wolf white supremacist assassin. In 1985, Pierce relocated the headquarters of the National Alliance to Hillsboro, West Virginia, where he founded the Cosmotheist Community Church to receive tax exemption for his organization. Pierce spent the rest of his life in West Virginia hosting a weekly shortwave radio show, American Dissident Voices, publishing the internal newsletter National Alliance Bulletin (formerly called Action), and overseeing his publications, National Vanguard magazine (originally titled Attack!), Free Speech and Resistance, as well as books published by his publishing firm National Vanguard Books, Inc. and music produced by his record company, Resistance Records.
In 2002, Pierce died of cancer. At the time, the National Alliance was bringing in more than $1 million a year, with more than 1,500 members and a paid national staff of 17 full-time officials, and was better known than at any time in its history, after which it entered a period of internal conflict and decline.
William Luther Pierce III was born on September 11, 1933, to a Presbyterian family of English and Scotch-Irish descent in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of William Luther Pierce Jr. and Marguerite Farrell. Pierce's younger brother, Sanders, an engineer, was born in 1936, and later assisted Pierce in his political activities. His father was born in Christiansburg, Virginia in 1892. His mother was born in Richland, Georgia in 1910, with her family being part of the aristocracy of the Old South, descendants of Thomas H. Watts, the Governor of Alabama and Attorney General of the Confederate States of America. After the American Civil War, the family lived a working-class existence. Pierce's father once served as a government representative on ocean-going cargo ships and sent reports back to Washington, D.C.; he later became manager of an insurance agency but was killed in a car accident in 1942. After the elder Pierce's death, the family moved to Montgomery, Alabama and then to Dallas, Texas.
Pierce performed well academically in school, skipping one grade. His last two years in high school were spent in a military academy. As a teenager his hobbies and interests were model rockets, chemistry, radios, electronics, and reading science fiction. His first aspiration was to become an astronaut.
After finishing military school in 1951, Pierce worked briefly in an oil field as a roustabout. He was injured when a four-inch (10 cm) pipe fell on his hand, and he spent the rest of that summer working as a shoe salesman. Pierce earned a scholarship to attend Rice University in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Rice in 1955 with a baccalaureate in physics. He worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory before attending graduate school, first at Caltech and then the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, where he earned his doctorate in 1962. He taught physics as an assistant professor at Oregon State University from 1962 to 1965.
His tenure as assistant professor at Oregon State University (1962–1965) coincided with the rise of two social movements, the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War movement, which he regarded as Jewish-led, communist-inspired, and a threat to European Americans. He was briefly a member of the anti-communist John Birch Society in 1962, but eventually resigned. In 1965, in order to finance his political ambitions, Pierce left his tenure at Oregon State University and relocated to North Haven, Connecticut, to work as a senior researcher at the Advanced Materials Research and Development Laboratory of aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. In 1966, moved to the Washington, D.C. and became an associate of George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party. During this time he was the editor of the party's ideological journal, National Socialist World. When Rockwell was murdered in 1967, Pierce became one of the leading members of the National Socialist White People's Party, the successor to the ANP.
According to the American neo-Nazi James Mason, during the first National Socialist World Congress in 1969, when a delegate asked what should be done with "White race traitors", Pierce formed with his hand a pistol being fired, rousing the audience to its feet.
In 1968, Pierce left the NSWPP and joined Youth for Wallace, an organization supporting former Governor of Alabama George Wallace's bid for the presidency. In 1970, along with Willis Carto, he reconfigured Youth for Wallace into the National Youth Alliance. By 1971, Pierce and Carto were openly feuding. Ongoing disagreements caused the NYA to split, and by 1974 Pierce's wing became known as the National Alliance. Among the founding members of the board of the National Alliance was professor of classics at the University of Illinois Revilo P. Oliver, who was to have major impact of Pierce's life both as an adviser and friend.
The National Alliance was organized in 1974. Pierce intended the organization to be a political vanguard that would ultimately bring about a white nationalist overthrow of the United States Federal Government. Pierce spent the rest of his life living in West Virginia, where he hosted a weekly radio show, American Dissident Voices, the internal newsletter National Alliance Bulletin (formerly called Action), and oversaw his publications, National Vanguard magazine (originally titled Attack!), Free Speech and Resistance, as well as books published by his publishing firm National Vanguard Books, Inc. (many of which promoted Holocaust denial) and his record company, Resistance Records. On the topic of the Holocaust, he believed that the number of deaths has been exaggerated, and that many of the details had been fabricated.
In 1978, claiming that the National Alliance was an educational organization, Pierce applied for, and was denied, tax exemption by the Internal Revenue Service. Pierce appealed, but an appellate court upheld the I.R.S. decision. Around the same time, he was interviewed by Herbert Poinsett on Race and Reason, a public-access television cable TV talk show.
An anti-zionist, he attempted during the Yom Kippur War to force McDonnell-Douglas into canceling military contracts that sent armaments to Israel, by buying shares of the company's stock and putting forward the motion at the national shareholder's meeting. The company rejected the motion and continued supplying Israel with weapons. Some of Pierce's later speeches on American Dissident Voices concerning the Arab–Israeli conflict were reprinted in Muslim publications and on websites, including that of the Lebanese Shia Islamist group Hezbollah.
In 1985, Pierce moved his operations from Arlington, Virginia, to a 346-acre (1.40 km2) location in Mill Point, West Virginia that he paid for with $95,000 in cash. Here, he founded the Cosmotheist Community Church, in what may have been a last-ditch effort to avoid paying taxes. In 1986, the church applied again, this time successfully, for federal, state, and local tax exemptions, however lost its state tax exemption for all but 60 (out of nearly 400) acres, which had to be exclusively used for religious purposes. The other 286 acres (1.16 km2) were used for both the National Alliance headquarters and the National Vanguard Books business and warehouse, and were denied tax exemption.
In 1990, the documentary series Different Drummer produced a portrait of Pierce, which was aired on PBS. He later participated twice on a public-access television cable TV live talk show hosted by Ron Doggett, "Race and Reality," aired from Richmond, Virginia.
On May 19, 1996, Pierce made a rare personal appearance in the mainstream media, on 60 Minutes, during which Pierce was asked by Mike Wallace if he approved of the Oklahoma City bombing, and he replied "No. No, I don't. I've said that over and over again, that I do not approve of the Oklahoma City bombing because the United States is not yet in a revolutionary situation". Pierce was frequently described as a neo-Nazi, although he personally rejected this label. When confronted with the issue by Mike Wallace on 60 minutes, Pierce described the term as a "slander", while stating:
In 1998, Pierce also appeared on a documentary produced by the Discovery Channel about white nationalism in the United States. As the leader of the National Alliance, Pierce established contacts with other nationalist groups in Europe, including the National Democratic Party of Germany and the Greek party Golden Dawn. Pierce's other recruiting efforts included a 51-minute informational video titled America is a Changing Country, and forming an anti-globalization group – the Anti-Globalization Action Network – to protest at the G8 summit in Canada in June 2002.
Pierce's last public speech was made in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 28, 2002. On July 23, 2002, he died of cancer. At the time, the National Alliance was bringing in more than $1 million a year, with more than 1,500 members, a paid national staff of 17 full-time officials, and was better known than at any time in its history, after which it entered a period of internal conflict and decline.
After his death, the British National Party published an article in remembrance of him.
Before Pierce died, he allowed Robert S. Griffin, a tenured professor of education at the University of Vermont, to live with him for a month, with the result being the self-published work The Fame of a Dead Man's Deeds (2001). The book's title was taken from Pierce's favourite quote, an Old Norse proverb from the Hávamál in the Poetic Edda:
Pierce gained national public attention following the Oklahoma City bombing, as Timothy McVeigh was alleged to have been influenced by The Turner Diaries (1978), the novel written by Pierce under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. The book is a graphically violent depiction of a future race war in the United States, which includes a detailed description of the "Day of the Rope" mass hangings of many "race traitors" (especially Jews, gay people, and those in interracial marriages or relationships) in the public streets of Los Angeles, followed by the systematic ethnic cleansing of the city, and eventually the entire world. This violence and killing is called "terrible yet absolutely necessary". The story is told through the perspective of Earl Turner, an active member of the white revolutionary underground The Organization, led by the secret inner circe known as The Order (a reorganized SS).
The part most relevant to the McVeigh case is in an early chapter, when the book's main character is placed in charge of bombing the FBI headquarters. Some have pointed out similarities between the bombing in the book and the actual bombing in Oklahoma City that damaged the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and killed 168 people on April 19, 1995. When McVeigh was arrested later that day, pages from the book were found in his car, with several phrases highlighted, including "But the real value of all of our attacks today lies in the psychological impact, not in the immediate casualties" and "We can still find them and kill them."
The Turner Diaries also inspired a group of white revolutionary nationalists in the early 1980s who called themselves the Silent Brotherhood, or sometimes simply The Order. The Order were an offshoot of the Aryan Nations. They were tired of being merely "armchair revolutionaries". The Order was connected to numerous crimes, including counterfeiting and bank robbery, and supposedly gave money to the Alliance. The Order's leader, Robert Jay Mathews, died in a stand-off with police and federal agents on Whidbey Island, Washington (state) , when police fired flares into his hideout, igniting a fire. Other Order members, most notably the late David Lane, were all captured and sent to federal prisons, where they still continue to voice their support for white nationalist ideals. In 1996 Pierce sold the rights to The Turner Diaries to the Jewish publisher Lyle Stuart.
In 1989, again under the Andrew Macdonald pen name, William Pierce published another novel, Hunter, which tells the story of a man named Oscar Yeager, a veteran of the Vietnam War and an F-4 Phantom pilot who assassinates interracial couples and liberal journalists, politicians and bureaucrats in the D.C. area. In interviews, Pierce called Hunter more realistic, and described his rationale for writing it as taking the reader through "...an educational process".
Although raised as a Presbyterian, Pierce became an atheist as a teenager. In the 1970s, however, Pierce created the religious philosophy of cosmotheism, based on a mixture of German romanticism, the Darwinian concept of natural selection, and Pierce's interpretation of George Bernard Shaw's play, Man and Superman. The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center assert that Pierce created cosmotheism in order to acquire tax-exempt status for the National Alliance after he had failed to do so earlier, and the SPLC refers to it as a "bogus religion".
In effect, cosmotheism is a form of panentheism, asserting that "all is within God and God is within all." It considers the nature of consciousness to be mutable and destined to evolve, via biological eugenics, towards a complete 'universal consciousness,' or godhood. The word cosmos means an orderly and harmonious universe. The purpose of cosmotheism, therefore, is the upwards-striving of biological life to ever higher forms of being.
In his speech "Our Cause", Pierce said:
All we require is that you share with us a commitment to the simple, but great, truth which I have explained to you here, that you understand that you are a part of the whole, which is the creator, that you understand that your purpose, the purpose of mankind and the purpose of every other part of creation, is the creator's purpose, that this purpose is the never-ending ascent of the path of creation, the path of life symbolized by our life rune, that you understand that this path leads ever upward toward the creator's self-realization, and that the destiny of those who follow this path is godhood.
Pierce described his form of panentheism as being based on "[t]he idea of an evolutionary universe ... with an evolution toward ever higher and higher states of self-consciousness," and his political ideas were centered on racial purity and eugenics as the means of advancing the white race first towards a super race and then towards personal godhood. In his view, the white race represented the pinnacle of human evolution thus far and therefore it should be kept genetically separate from all other races, through racial segregation.
Pierce believed in a hierarchical society governed by what he saw as the essential principles of nature, and the survival of the fittest. He advocated white separatism, as, in his view, white people should remain separated from other races and establish a meritocracy. He thought that extensive programs of "racial cleansing" (mass expulsion) and eugenics, both in Europe and North America, would be necessary to achieve this socio-political program.
Pierce married five times. His first marriage was to Patricia Jones, a mathematician whom he met while attending California Institute of Technology. They were married in 1957, and had twin sons, Kelvin and Erik, born in 1960. Kelvin is an aerospace engineer, while Erik is a computer scientist. The marriage ended in divorce in 1982. Pierce remarried that same year to Elizabeth Prostel, whom he met in the National Alliance office in Arlington, Virginia. The marriage ended in 1985, at which time Pierce moved his headquarters to Southern West Virginia. In 1986, Pierce married Hungarian Olga Skerlecz, a relative of Iván Skerlecz, Governor of Croatia-Slavonia, and the marriage lasted until 1990. Olga moved to California after their divorce. Pierce then married another Hungarian woman named Zsuzsannah in early 1991. They met through an advertisement that Pierce placed in a Hungarian women's magazine aimed at arranging international marriages. Zsuzsannah moved to Florida after their divorce in the summer of 1996. His final marriage, which lasted until his death, was to another Hungarian woman, Irena, whom he married in 1997.
The following works were published under the pseudonym "Andrew MacDonald":
In 1993, Pierce wrote the script of the comic book New World Order Comix #1: The Saga of White Will which was illustrated by Daniel "Rip" Roush and coloured by William White Williams.