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Remembering Willis Carto:
July 17, 1926–October 26, 2015

carto19602,000 words

Willis Allison Carto died Monday night in Virginia, full of years (89), achievements, and honors. But this memorial tribute is nevertheless way overdue. If you know the broad outlines of Mr. Carto’s life (biography review here) you know that he was, for well over a half-century, the founder and patron of those political movements we now variously call Paleoconservatism, Race-Realism, White Nationalism . . . or Alt Right.

Pause and consider. When you imbibe the heady sophistication and philosophical analyses here at Counter-Currents—or laugh at the mordant humor of Mike Enoch’s The Right Stuff; or addictively check out The Occidental Observer and Radix Journal every day; or appreciate the rich, deep lore available at such sites as Inconvenient History and Euro-Synergies—then you must give a tip of your mental hat to Willis Allison Carto, the old pioneering strategist who made this Alt Right possible.

Lest we forget, Mr. Carto himself had quite a few titles, imprints, websites, in his long life. Right. Western Destiny. The American Mercury (which he owned in the ’60s and ’70s).The Washington Observer. The Spotlight. The Journal of Historical Review. The Barnes Review. American Free Press. The Noontide Press. Independent Publishers.

The Anti-Buckley

Back in the Fifties, when Bill Buckley and his National Review crew were trying to reinvent American conservatism by casting it as something cutesy and sanitized and nice-to-the-Jews, Mr. Carto, a Purple Heart recipient (once shot by a Jap sniper on Cibu Island, May 1945) looked the enemy in the face and did not flinch. He did not balk or cringe when they called him an anti-semite, a racist, a crypto-nazi.

Nicey-nicey folks of the National Review stripe get shirty when you call them names. So it’s appropriate that in 2015 we now have a fine snide name to call them. Cuckservatives! I don’t know if Willis Carto paid attention to that word when it was making sound and fury in the political blogosphere this summer, but I like to think that he did.

Of course he did. He must have heard about it. And must have had a great big triumphal end-of-life belly-laugh. Bwah-hah-hah!

The comeuppance of the cucks! National Review goes down hard. Willis Carto lives to see it. Oh what a world! What a world!

William F. Buckley, Jr. and Willis A. Carto sparred continuously, in print and in the courts, for much of their adult lives. Initially, in the early- and mid-Fifties, they swam in the same waters, along with such luminary confederates as G. L. Rockwell, Russell Maguire, and Revilo Oliver. After National Review got launched in 1955, however, Bill Buckley began to disavow his old associates, along with the teachings of his upbringing and religion. Willis Carto founded Liberty Lobby the same year, but unlike Buckley built his enterprise into a sturdy multi-million-dollar organization, with a townhouse a block from the Capitol.

National Review assiduously ignored Carto until September 1971. Then it published a “hit” piece on him, bylined by one C. H. Simonds and full of formulaic denunciations about “anti-Semitism” and Carto’s deep sympathy for the American Fascist philosopher Francis Parker Yockey. Where did this come from? Well, it appears that the rising popularity of Yockey’s Imperium (published by Carto’s Noontide Press) and bearing an Introduction signed by Carto, was the probable trigger for this smear job. Imperium was then being widely distributed by the National Youth Alliance—formerly Youth for Wallace, later National Alliance. (((Someone))), presumably the ADL, decided this new Danger on the Right was both fearsome and—better yet!—a attractive fundraising opportunity.

Thereafter Willis Carto and Liberty Lobby made regular appearances in the mainstream press—National Review, the New York Times, and a strange, short-lived 1981 magazine backed by political journalist Jack Anderson, called The Investigator. Carto and Liberty Lobby immediately sued for libel on the grounds that they were therein described as “neo-Nazi, fascist, anti-Semitic, and racist,” and these allegations were based entirely on one-sided reports from biased sources. Antonin Scalia of the US Circuit Court eventually found for Carto and Liberty Lobby in 1984.[1] Meantime, The Investigator was long gone from the newsstands, having folded after that first unfortunate issue.

In an even more protracted case, 1971-85, Carto and Liberty Lobby sued Buckley for the hit piece by “C. H. Simonds.” The court agreed that the Simonds article was “a muddled smear,” but agreed with Buckley that Liberty Lobby should not have reported Buckley’s “close working relationship” with George Lincoln Rockwell in the 1950s.[2]

Meantime, from 1978 to 1983, there was a libel suit between Buckley pal (and Watergate co-conspirator) E. Howard Hunt and the Liberty Lobby. A Wilmington, Delaware newspaper and The Spotlight (then published by Liberty Lobby) both claimed that CIA operative Hunt had been present in Dallas at the time of the JFK assassination. Hunt decided to sue Liberty Lobby but not the Delaware paper. Carto’s attorney Mark Lane was able to show that Hunt had indeed been in Dallas at the time of the assassination; and was almost certainly one of the suspect “tramps” arrested (and swiftly released) by Dallas Police on November 22, 1963.

Operational Security

Willis Carto and his wife Elisabeth were friends of mine. We first met at a Liberty Lobby function on Capitol Hill in 1985. Thereafter I saw them frequently for about ten years, first in DC, then in Southern California. I wrote occasionally for The Spotlight, and worked freelance for book-editing projects at the Institute for Historical Review in Costa Mesa.

In March of this year, 2015, I decided to look up my old friends. I hadn’t seen them since their Christmas party in Escondido in 1995. (I remember I brought a bottle of pinot noir, and that I had a dangling tailpipe and dented muffler. Willis advised me I really ought to get that muffler replaced. Which I promptly did.) Then I moved out of the country[3] and the Cartos lost their mountaintop house through the actions of some very erratic, ungrateful employees.

I knew that Willis and Elisabeth had recently (February 2015) moved their editorial headquarters (The Barnes Review and American Free Press) from Capitol Hill in DC to a spacious office-park suite in the wilds of Prince Georges County, Maryland. From California I remembered Willis’s fondness for cheap, anonymous business estates with lots of room to store shippable books and back issues of magazines. The Cartos’ enterprises in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa had been set up this way. Neverthless I was quite unprepared for the long, almost impossible trek it was from Largo Station at the end of the Washington DC Metro, to their offices many miles to the north.

The Largo end of Prince Georges County is almost entirely negro. There is a Metro station and a bad shopping mall; otherwise, not much there there. You get out at Largo station and discover there is virtually no public transportation beyond. I had to pay an Guinean cabbie $50 to drive me to the Cartos’ office park some ten miles away. Once I got there, it took them a while to remember me (we were all twenty years older) but when they did they were full of useful information, such as Elisabeth’s recommendation that I rent a car from Enterprise next time I come up from Washington—much cheaper than Metro and taxi. They told me how they now had a home in Orange County, Virginia (over an hour’s drive away), and how they, and most of the editorial staff, came into the office only once each fortnight.

I gathered that these new, remote offices were taken in consideration of Operational Security. Back in California, they had once lost a warehouse of books through (Jewish) terrorist bombings, and some years later they got forced out of their premises at gunpoint by greedy, disgruntled employees.

But that kind of swindle was Willis’s Achilles heel. Like King Lear, Willis Carto was repeatedly done in by deceitful “heirs” and underlings. He never went mad on the Blasted Heath, and he always sprang back with new enterprises, but still it was disconcerting to watch him make the same mistakes over and over.

Tragicomedy and Hope

The classic, central saga about Carto in this respect is l’affaire IHR: the mind-numbing, seemingly endless lawsuits between him and his former employees at the Institute for Historical Review (roughly 1993-2000). This is a tale that the ADL, SPLC and Antifa groups never tire of recounting with gleeful Schadenfreude.

Briefly, an heir of Thomas Edison had left Willis Carto (or one of his enterprises) a legacy of about seven million dollars. Some senior employees at the IHR discovered this, declared that part of the legacy had been siphoned to Carto’s other enterprises, and proceeded to evict him from the organization’s board as well as from the premises of the IHR.[4] Later on, the IHR employees obtained a court judgment against the Cartos and seized their Escondido house (which the Cartos supposedly made semi-inhabitable by disconnecting all the mains and filling the bathroom commodes with cement).[5]

aceNone of this should have been a surprise to Willis. His first director of the IHR, 1978-81, William David McCalden (aka “Lewis Brandon”) was also the first to turn traitor. Very energetic but egotistical, David took his personal contacts and mailing lists from the IHR, and set up a sort of rival, one-man, operation called Truth Missions, which consisted of little more than a monthly newsletter making fun of Willis Carto and his successive employees. David’s young successor, Keith Stimely, came aboard at age 23 and helped turn the Journal of Historical Review into a serious, scholarly publication; while also helping Willis amass a devastating “dirt file” on McCalden (distributed c. 1984 as Dossier on a “Revisionist” Crank). Then Keith too turned against Willis, and wrote up his own dirt-file: Willis was an opportunist, a huckster like Kirk Douglas in Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole. Someone who signed his name to the Introduction to Imperium, even though Revilo Oliver wrote it! A philistine, someone who couldn’t sit through a Bruckner symphony without squirming![6]

What always baffled me about Willis is that he did not spot this repeating pattern, and thereby foresee the 1993 IHR “coup,” when his four senior employees, with the assistance of the IHR’s outside counsel, seized control of the premises and forced Willis and Elisabeth out of the offices at gunpoint. This time the situation snowballed to the point where the Cartos and their other organizations (Liberty Lobby, The Spotlight) were forced into bankruptcy.

The Cartos were amazingly resilient, and recovered even from this disaster. But it still beggars belief how Willis got himself into this tragicomic predicament again and again.

Perhaps you just can’t build a successful nationalist, racialist organization, unless you are able to maintain a high-trust mentality, the kind of trust Willis took for granted growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. If this is the case, then we’re just all going to have to take our risks and take our knocks. Trust everyone but cut the cards. In the meantime. . .

Farewell then, Willis, comrade. Many lessons learned!


1. Carto and Liberty Lobby sued, won a judgment. The case was appealed. Judge Antonin Scalia of the US Circuit Court upheld the findings that Carto and LL had been defamed and that Anderson and his writers had acted with malice.

2. The one finding against Liberty Lobby has a very contemporary ring: ‘On two counts of the magazine’s charges, Judge [Joyce Hens] Green ruled that Liberty Lobby committed libel by saying National Review favored allowing ”militant sex deviates” the right ”to molest your children,” and that the magazine was a ”mouthpiece” of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.’ NY Times, Oct. 26, 1985.

3. Willis was disappointed when I moved to London for some years on business. He was a real old-fashioned Midwestern Anglophobe.

4. Some employees would stay with or visit me while plotting with IHR board members. Like Mrs. Surratt, I “kept the nest where the plot was hatched.” Except in this case I really did believe that this nice Mr. Booth was merely a charming young actor.

5. Personal anecdote.

6. Keith Stimely, 1986 memoir about the IHR and Willis Carto.


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  1. Posted November 13, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    “The Cartos were amazingly resilient, and recovered even from this disaster. But it still beggars belief how Willis got himself into this tragicomic predicament again and again.

    Perhaps you just can’t build a successful nationalist, racialist organization, unless you are able to maintain a high-trust mentality, the kind of trust Willis took for granted growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. If this is the case, then we’re just all going to have to take our risks and take our knocks. Trust everyone but cut the cards. In the meantime. . .”

    I believe it’s attributable to a number of things: Monstrous egos, moral deficiencies and a lack of two things above all else:

    1. True humility–which should dictate to those who diligently cultivate it within themselves as among the chiefest of virtue that it is never our job to tear down those with whom we disagree but rather speak the truth in love and beyond that live the truth without waivering. Which would render feuding, power-struggles and falling-outs absolutely unnecessary in virtually every situation.
    2. A love of truth above all else–which should work hand in hand with true humility to compel us live by (among much more of course) Franklin’s words “Gentlemen, we must hang together or we shall surely hang separately.” Which should compel us in like fashion to reach out to and work with anyone and everyone we can so long as to those issues in defense of which we stand shoulder to shoulder we remain devoted.
    3. A real vision.
    How can anyone who is guided by a vision to preserve for us and our posterity our liberties and exalt the truth backstab a brother in the trenches? They cannot. Such instances are a departure from any such vision and can only be motivated by selfishness.

    It is never love of truth or true humility that drives a wedge between two people who are endeavoring to live by such ideals. But rather ego, myopia and love of self over all else.

  2. Posted November 13, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Willis A. Carto was a towering luminary in the alternative right-as the founder of Liberty Lobby, the publishing powerhouse behind the famed Spotlight newspaper; that unlike other mainstream publications in America boasted the distinction of being a publication so effective in its zealous devotion to telling the whole truth that the government sued it out of existence in a sham court proceeding, to the comparably formidable American Free Press which it reformed as literally a week later; and The Barnes Review the historical revisionist magazine that dutifully ferrets out suppressed and forgotten history quintessential to understanding our present dilemmas in direct defiance of prevailing platitudes and political correctness right on up to this present moment.

    Simply put, to the cause of truth, Mr. Carto was a William Randolph Hurst–and an infinitely more noble and decent man.

    Though I can only hope his legacy will inspire greater deeds of valor and deeper levels of devotion to that sacred cause of truth, few if any can say that they have accomplished so much and left a legacy so great as our fallen brother, who died peacefully at his home but a few nights age, being full of years at the age of 89.

    Let us honor his memory and his life’s work by renewing and redoubling our own efforts in the trenches in the war being waged against every bastion of Western Christian civilization–and remember that the battle is not to the strong alone, but to the vigilant the active and the brave.

    While as a Christian, this writer does not know whether or not Mr. Carto ever came to a full and saving knowledge of the author of the truth and liberty he so valiantly and effectively championed, I pray the blessing of the God of our fathers on all those who survive him and carry on the fight which he stood shoulder to shoulder with in, and that He would rest his soul.

    The work of a noble life well-lived is passed to us my friends. Let us have our grief turned to resolve that we may by the grace of the God of truth and justice vindicate it and see it through to completion.

    Deo VIndice.

  3. RH
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like he didn’t adjust well to new technologies.

    Carto was somewhat influential in the 1980s and continued to work hard, but had practically no Internet presence as far as I can tell. Setting up a website seems like a more effective way to spread your message than renting out offices and continuing to publish books and magazines.

    Too bad, should’ve had some better advisers.

    • Posted November 13, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      The methods Mr. Carto used will never be truly obsolete and we are foolish to abandon them. But we are also selling ourselves short to neglect current technological trends.

      A balance, as is most often the case with everything is what is needed. 🙂

  4. Posted October 30, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  5. Posted October 30, 2015 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    Devastating news. We lost the great Michael Collins Piper earlier this year, and now Willis Carto. These are huge losses to the movement.

  6. sean maguire
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    My deepest condolences to Mrs. Carto and the entire staff of the American Free Press. Mr. Carto was a most brilliant warrior for the survival of our White Aryan Folk. May Willis Carto rest in peace as his wisdom will lead us to full victory. 14–88

  7. Posted October 29, 2015 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Keith Stimely is mentioned in this tribute as a former Carto associate and IHR employee (serving as editor of the Journal of Historical Review, 1983-1985, some of its finest years).

    Stimely died young, and quite many years before the rise of the Internet. He leaves only scant traces here and there online. Not a single hit on Youtube, for example. He was only 35 at death, according to his Metapedia page. Born April 9, 1957 in Connecticut. Died December 19, 1992 in Portland, Oregon.

    May I ask if anyone knows Stimely’s cause of death? A sudden accident? A result of a long illness?

    • Posted October 29, 2015 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      I knew Keith Stimely, and as for what took his life, I would prefer not to say. He was not the only important WN with a left-coast lifestyle.

  8. Ryan
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I too hope he was aware of the influence that the Alternative Right has being having in the last 6 months. His work laid the groundwork all those year ago.

    He was commited, loyal and a visionary. A good man.

    RIP Mr Carto

  9. Lew
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I chatted with Carto at an event years ago without realizing who he was or why he’s important. After the conversation broke off, I remember thinking what a sharp man for someone so old.

    Some feeble and tiny minds in certain sectors of the altright have been denigrating White Nationalism for years. In point of fact, American White Nationalists were decades ahead of today’s non-WNst alt-rightists on every issue that matters including the worthlessness of cuckservatism.

    The best voices of the old-school, nationalist “Old Right” deserve at lot more respect than they get pretty much everywhere but here at CC.

  10. Posted October 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Willis Carto was a great man.

    He did more for the racialist cause in North America than almost any other individual of our time. Here was a man who really got things done, a man who kept a metaphorical army in the field from the 1950s through the 2010s, a man whose created and led organizations that have influenced many millions. He should be admired, and if there is any justice his name should enjoy pride of place in any history of the “North American New Right”.

    I agree with the author’s appraisal that Carto’s main weakness was trusting underlings too much. The thing is, would-be bringers-down did not get much done. He did.

    Just ten thousand or so like him, and it’d have been a different ballgame. If the number of Cartos ever breaks into the tens of thousands again, switch that verb tense to the future. It will be a different ballgame.

    Thank you, Mr. Carto, for a lifetime’s energetic and selfless devotion to our people.

  11. fnn
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    What happened with Michael Collins Piper at the end was very sad. But then I have no idea re the full story.

  12. Theodore
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    If for nothing else, Carto deserves credit for promoting the work of Yockey. The relative lack of interest of the “movement” in Yockey is as distressing as the even greater lack of interest in Salter. Carto did what he could.

  13. Sandy
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    I miss the Spotlight (not a pun). Great article. Thanks.

  14. Posted October 29, 2015 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    Interesting that Willis Carto lasted so long. As you noticed Carto had many opponents who were his one-time sympathizers. What about H. Keith Thompson? I wonder what Keith Stimely would think of the obit… But obviously Willis was much better at running a business that the other also-rans.

    • Posted October 29, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      You raise some good points, but since these are heavily weighted by the opinions of our late friend Stimely, I will try to sort them out:

      HK Thompson was a gentleman not given to random disparagements or gossip. I don’t recall him ever making a putdown of WAC in my hearing. But Keith Stimely was an indefatigable terrier, able to draw out negative remarks from anyone when they were needed. Thus, his dossier on McCalden (for Carto’s benefit), followed a couple of years later his similar treatment of Carto himself. Both were festooned with derisive opinions and recollections from Thompson, RPO, Lou Byers, and various IHR colleagues and board members. For that matter, in his famous 1986 tape-recorded interview with Thompson (transcript available somewhere here on this website), Keith even mocked his close friend T. Francis. So Keith picked up a lot of grudges, but also had a rapid burn-rate and got through most of his hobby-horses in a few years. The only person Keith never totally mellowed on was McCalden, whose speculative mockery of Stimely and Thompson he considered beyond the pale.

      Keith wasn’t particularly angry with WAC anymore in 1991, and I suspect that a quarter-century on he would have appreciated this tribute.

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