Race war preppers

Inside the private chats of The Base, a Neo-Nazi survivalist network gearing up for racial armageddon

Jan 7 · 9 min read

When 11 Jews were gunned down at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27, the alt-right greeted the news of the massacre with macabre celebrations, sick jokes and memes quoting the shooter’s final Gab post: “Screw your optics. I’m going in.”

But in the private chats of a nascent white separatist network known as the Base, a more serious discussion was taking place.

Members were mulling over what the killings meant for their long-term project of achieving a white “homeland” through armed struggle. “By presidential midterms things will be at a fever pitch,” a user named badman23 writes. “Political violence will get worse.”

“That should be considered a positive sign for us,” replied Norman Spear (alias), the founder and de facto leader of the group.

The word “acceleration” gets bandied about, most often by Norman, who foresees a chain of events that ultimately leads to collapse of the “System.” He predicts the imminent passage of gun control and hate speech laws, which will in turn drive radicalization and insurrection. “These are measures we should expect and even welcome as positive indicators,” he writes.

In Neo-Nazi parlance, the “System” refers to the “Zionist Occupation Government,” or ZOG for short. Norman and his group see themselves as the seeds of a vanguard liberation army that will one day wrest control over four Northwestern states through a campaign of terror.

Not everyone shares Norman’s take on the Tree of Life shootings. One writes: “ It was strategically useless. Accelerationism [in my opinion] has its time and place, but hastening hate speech laws and antigun regulations is not a good play.”

Norman remains optimistic: “[A]cceleration is acceleration in either case and I’m less concerned with the System reaction if it ultimately contributes to acceleration itself, which it’s safe to assume it will. So look at the silver lining.”

In April, two months before launching The Base, Norman laid out his grand strategy in a a series of short videos titled “Guerrilla Warfare Theory.” Reciting a Cliff Notes version of Mao Zedong, Norman says guerrillas only need to inflict enough damage through “sustained operations” to force concessions.

To do this successfully requires three things: time, meaning the guerrillas must possess the ability to sustain attacks indefinitely; frequency, meaning the time between attacks must be relatively short for maximum psychological impact, and most importantly, leadership.

Norman envisions a white nationalist IRA, a guerrilla army that will bomb “ZOG” into capitulation. Though he’s heavily influenced by groups like the National Socialist Liberation Front, Norman rejects their decentralized model of leaderless resistance.

Still, he maintains that lone wolves like Bowers have value.

Lone wolf guerrillas can theoretically have limited usefulness under very specific circumstances, such as in the initial phase of a revolution acting as a potential catalyst and accelerant inspiring other lone wolves and ideally creating a snowball effect.

The day before the shootings in Pittsburgh, Norman had elaborated on this idea in the group chat, citing one of his favorite examples: Ted Kaczynski.

“He got his demands met as far as his manifesto published by using coercion. Imagine if there were 1000 ‘unabombers.’”

Later, what Norman writes eerily foreshadows the events of the following day: “Imagine if there was a Unabomber now who’s [sic] demand was to stop the caravan.”

Around the time Norman Spear set up the Base, he was active in the “Read SIEGE” group on Gab, sharing Atomwaffen memes and posting about forming an army of Unabombers. (AngryWhiteMen.org)

Go Northwest, young man

The Base is not so much a formal organization as it is a grab bag of white supremacists, including remnants of dead or dying groups like the Traditionalist Workers Party and the Northwest Front as well a sizable contingent of cultish young devotees to the works of the militant Neo-Nazi propagandist James Mason, who inspired the formation of Atomwaffen Division.

Though they adhere to different flavors of fascist ideology, they share a common goal: the establishment of an all-white ethnostate in the Pacific Northwest.

The dream of a white nationalist “homeland” in the Northwest is one that refuses to die despite the fact many of its staunchest advocates have passed away and their organizations have gone to ruin. Known as the Northwest Territorial Imperative, the idea gained currency in the 1980s and is commonly called “the Butler Plan” after Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler, who orchestrated a failed attempt to put it into action.

During the closing decades of the 20th century, the Northwest became a Mecca for far-right extremists of all stripes, and separatist aims animated organizations like the infamous Neo-Nazi terrorist group known as The Order.

In this regard, The Base is something of a throwback. Many white nationalists see Trump’s presidency as an opportunity to enter the mainstream, but members of the Base have rejected movement building, with its emphasis on “optics.” At a time when other groups are forming think tanks and trying to infiltrate the Republican Party, The Base is indulging in fantasies of armed guerrilla insurgency aimed at “liberating” the Northwest.

Norman Spear first appeared on the white nationalist scene a few months after Unite the Right in 2017 on “Lone Wolf Radio” hosted by Chris White, a British sympathizer of the white separatist group the Northwest Front. On the podcast, Spear describes himself as a Northwest Front supporter and a future “migrant” who hopes to take part in the Butler Plan.

Norman traveled to Washington in July of meet Northwest Front leader Harold Covington, but it was not to be. According to White’s blog, he and Norman were at a diner in Bremerton waiting on a call from one of their contacts when they got word that Covington had died.

A few years ago, Norman would likely have been fresh meat for the Northwest Front organization—just another of a series of young “migrants” put to work at the Northwest Publishing Agency licking envelopes, answering phones and running Covington’s errands—but now he stands poised to pick up the torch.

Covington was a prolific author of Neo-Nazi speculative fiction, and the influence of his work on Norman is unmistakable. The blueprint for The Base was laid out in Covington’s 2007 novel The Brigade. The book takes place in the proverbial not-too-distant future. Under the presidency of Hillary Clinton, “white genocide” is underway. Her administration is euthanizing elderly whites while a program colloquially referred to as “It Takes a Village” (after the the title of Clinton’s book) is taking white children from “poor or politically incorrect families” and selling them to the highest bidder.

The heroes of the novel are members of the Northwest Volunteer Army (NVA). Its motto is “Ex Gladio Libertas,” Latin for “Freedom comes from the sword,” which The Base has adopted as its own.

The Base fuses Covington’s ideas about white separatist guerrilla struggle with survivalist and militia culture, but where preppers are generally concerned with merely readying themselves for eventual civilizational collapse, The Base aims to hasten it.

Lone wolf pack

Much of the discussion on The Base’s chat server revolves around what to do when SHTF, prepper lingo for “Shit Hits the Fan.” Some is virtually indistinguishable from what one might find on any survivalist forum, but standard prepper fare—talk of bugout bags and HAM radio networks— is often peppered with white nationalist fantasy and violent ideation.

These conversations can be both silly and deeply disturbing. In one instance, members discuss a hypothetical SHTF scenario and theorize about how much force would be needed to take over a small town. They envision a three-way battle between civic nationalist “patriot” militias, antifascists and Neo-Nazis. Cadiantrooper writes “We successfully take the village at first and then the patriots come back eventually with a stronger force. We’ll re-enact the gun battle in the mall from Dawn Of The Dead.”

“Norman Spear” (Gab Profile Pic)

But the main purpose of The Base is to facilitate real-life meet-ups of “action-oriented” white nationalists to build interpersonal ties as the basis for future organized armed struggle. The network holds regional “activity contests” where members are encouraged to go out in the woods and practice survival skills or engage in arms training.

These activities are hardly innocuous. In a report-back from a solo camping trip, a member based in the Southwest who goes by Pymander : “Got to get out in nature and do some hiking. I had a 9mm and a few extra mags, got tempted to visit the synagogue i saw near where i was staying ;).”

Later, when talking about the Oklahoma City Bombing, the same user says “[I] approve of wht [sic] McVeigh did. Killing innocent children only makes the wound deeper and more real for all involved. They don’t deserve to be spared in guerilla [sic] attacks.”

Returning to Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, Pymander echoes Norman’s Unabomber comments: “[If] 10 more people snapped like Bowers, it’d cause utter chaos. 100, now things would get interesting.”

Playing soldier

Many of the Base’s members, including Norman, are former soldiers—or at least they claim to be—so discussions tend to be filled with military initialisms and other tactical jargon. Chats take on the character of what is derisively referred to as “LARPing,” short for “live-action roleplaying.”

Once, Norman suggested members use their downtime to “collect intel” and asks if they have any antifa in their “AO,” short for “area of operations.” One mentions that he suspects his neighbor is antifa because he has a sign in his yard that reads “Hate Has No Place Here” in several languages.

It’s hard to imagine the Base will ever evolve into an organized, effective fighting force like the IRA. They’ve nearly splintered several times in a few short months over relatively trivial issues, the most contentious of which has been whether or not James Mason is a “degenerate” for having sex with a 15-year-old girl:


All pedophiles and rapists get the rope


d00mr: You gonna rope James Mason?


Weren’t those false accusations?


Nah, he just likes young women nothing wrong with that. Christian morality literally makes it harder for the white race to reproduce. If she is able to breed she should. Its natural for a man to lust after youthfulness

Recent publicity has hamstrung The Base’s ability to recruit. In the wake of a Vice piece published in November, the group’s Twitter account, with more than 1,000 followers, was banned. It was also kicked off the alt-right Twitter alternative Gab, which was briefly shut down after the Pittsburgh shooting.

Several Base members were doxxed by antifascists across the country including Joshua Bates, founder of the short-lived GoyFundMe platform. Shortly thereafter, Bates publicly announced that he was leaving the white nationalist movement.

Members initially welcomed Vice’s coverage, but Norman decided to shutter the chatroom not long after. According to the chats, he will likely set up a new group made up entirely of members who have met each other in person to create an added layer of security.

But groups like The Base don’t have to be highly organized or ideologically cohesive to be a threat. The most dangerous aspect of the Base is the space it provides for white nationalists to stoke each other’s hunger for violence. A frustration with the inability of electoral politics to deliver on their radical goals drove them to seek out an insurgent alternative. And when that fails, too, nothing remains but to take matters into their own hands.


The only thing we want is radicals

People who will DO SHIT

Like Bowers


“Fuck your optics”


People who will not just agree with us but stack Jewish corpses 10 feet high

Justin Ward

Written by

Radical journalist. Write about extremism, politics, class, labor, history and media. Bylines at SPLC, The Baffler & ArcDigi.Twitter: @justwardoctrine

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