| by CTEC


The Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) was an American neo-Nazi and white nationalist group active from 2015 to 2018 that embraced neo-fascist Traditionalist and identitarian ideologies. Operating during the heyday of the so-called “alt-right” in the U.S., TWP aimed at mobilizing grassroots activism for the establishment of a fascist white ethnostate in America modeled on Hitler’s National Socialism. In pursuit of this goal, TWP founder Matthew Heimbach helped build the Nationalist Front, an umbrella organization that facilitated collaboration between TWP and other American neo-Nazi groups, including the National Socialist Movement, League of the South, and Vanguard America. The majority of TWP’s action revolved around organizing political rallies and participating in violent clashes with antifascist activists in order to promote their white nationalist and fascist cause. Most notably, they helped organize and marched at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, for which they faced legal repercussions. The group collapsed in March 2018 after a violent domestic dispute between Heimbach and his co-founder Matthew Parrott. 

Picture of TWP leader Matthew Heimbach

TWP’s vision of a neo-Nazi white ethnostate and its radical Traditionalist ideology place it squarely within the neofascist movement that also birthed accelerationist terror groups. TWP acknowledged the goal they shared with accelerationist groups—bringing down the existing political order and building a fascist ethnostate in its wake—but saw themselves as choosing different tactics. Where accelerationist groups envision destroying the state through small-cell terrorist violence and chaos, TWP aimed to build a political and social movement. TWP operated in similar spheres as accelerationist groups like Atomwaffen Division, welcoming individuals affiliated with Atomwaffen in their online spaces and at their events. As such, it provided a kind of bridge between the non-militant alt-right and violent neo-Nazism, viewing itself as more hard-core and militant than other alt-right groups like Identity Evropa and condoning terrorist activity by Atomwaffen, but choosing to stick to street protests and organizing. 

TWP leader Matthew Heimbach networked extensively across the neofascist scene, both with American neo-Nazi groups and international groups. Heimbach particularly focused on the Greek group Golden Dawn, which originated from the online Iron March community and invited them to send a representative to the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally. Heimbach also had a long-running admiration for Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which he viewed as a bastion of white nationalism. He invested substantial time and effort into networking with Russia’s white nationalist elements, including the Putin-linked neofascist Traditionalist Alexander Dugin and the ultra-nationalist militant Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), which the United States recently classified as a terrorist group


The Traditionalist Worker Party grew out of Heimbach and Parrott’s earlier group Traditionalist Youth Network (founded 2013), which was intended to promote the Traditionalist school of thought to American high school and college students. In 2015, Heimbach and Parrott founded the Traditionalist Worker Party, which took an explicitly political approach and emphasized local organizing for “real life working families who share our identitarian and Traditionalist vision” [quote taken from TWD’s now-deleted website]. Classic radical Traditionalism is rooted in the thought of 20th century European philosophers Rene Guenon and Julius Evola, and it advocates that the modern world is in a state of irreparable decay and must be destroyed in order to restart an ancient cycle and rebuild society around a “super-fascist” state ruled by an elite caste. TWP adapts Traditionalism to the American white nationalist worldview, seeing today’s pluralist, equality-focused America as degenerate and undermined by Jewish power, and it seeks to disrupt the current political order and replace it with a fascist or National Socialist state exclusively for whites. Identitarianism, commonly traced to first the New Right of 1960s France and then 21st century writers like Renaud Camus, operates along similar lines, asserting that Europe belongs exclusively to ethnically white people who deserve to protect their homeland and culture by banning immigration and countering globalization. Identitarians argue that each race or ethnic group should be separated from others into its own homogeneous space and cultural homeland, claiming that this doctrine of separation means that they are not white supremacists, but white nationalists. 

TWP’s original purpose statement on its website was “Faith, Family, and Folk.” While on the surface it looks like simple right-wing advocacy for “American values,” it instead functioned as a broadly palatable package for Traditionalism and identitarianism. As 2017 progressed, however, TWP grew closer to militant neo-Nazism/neofascism and accelerationist elements. Heimbach began to participate in the neofascist Iron March forum, the original breeding ground for modern accelerationist terror groups. In April 2017, Heimbach wrote in the TWP Discord that “Iron March was a big net positive for me, drove me to read NS books, Siege, and evolve ideologically.” In mid-2017, TWP transformed its original mission statement into a “25 Point Plan” that included David Lane’s 14 Words and an endorsement of “National Socialist” revolution. 

TWP’s traditionalism and identitarianism were already strongly associated with accelerationist terror groups both in Europe and America. These groups combine Evolian traditionalism with violent texts like James Mason’s Siege and William Luther Pierce’s The Turner Diaries to assert that the only way to end the decay and bring down the degenerate society is by sowing chaos with violence and terror and by initiating civil and/or race war. As such, TWP’s popularization of Traditionalism lays concerning groundwork for radicalization towards accelerationism. Identitarianism can also be traced to racial violence and terror: Renaud Camus’s identitarian theory of the “Great Replacement” has inspired multiple mass shooters, including the 2019 Christchurch shooter in New Zealand and the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburg. 

Indeed, TWP’s Discord messages are saturated with references to Siege, William Luther Pierce, George Lincoln Rockwell and praises for mass shooters like Dylann Roof and Anders Brevik. A handful of TWP members embraced esoteric Hitlerism—an extreme, spiritual version of Traditionalism that combines worship of Hitler with the belief in modern degeneracy and the need for purifying violence. As such, TWP has strong ideological affinities with the accelerationist network and similar goals, though they embrace a different set of political tactics. Heimbach wrote in the TWP Discord in 2017 that “there are lots of tools in the Natsoc [national socialist] toolbox; with each one focusing on a specific thing to be built. AWD [Atomwaffen Divison] does something different than us, but different does not mean bad.” 

Heimbach himself engaged with obscure parts of the neofascist Traditionalist scene, particularly admiring Corneliu Codreanu, the deeply anti-Semitic and ultranationalist fascist who operated Romania in the period between the world wars. Codreanu’s paramilitary Iron Guard, also called the Legion of the Archangel Michael, endorsed ethnonationalism, Traditionalism, and Orthodox Christian mysticism and managed to briefly come to power in 1940. In 2015, Heimbach claimed “I do not identify as a neo-Nazi. I consider my biggest spiritual inspiration to be the Legion of St. Michael the Archangel,” (though he later did openly open neo-Nazi views). In a widely circulated image of Heimbach at a Charlottesville court appearance, Heimbach is wearing in a t-shirt with Codreanu’s face on it. He also claims inspiration from other fascist movements, including the Spanish Falange, British neofascist Oswald Mosley, and even Bashar al-Assad of Syria and the Ba’athist Party. 

Heimbach’s interest in making TWP into a key part of the transnational Traditionalist and neofascist network was also evident in his ties to the shadowy Russian figure Alexander Dugin. As Mark Sedgwick writes in Against the Modern World, Dugin built an ideological variation on white nationalist Traditionalism (“neo-Eurasianism”) that identifies the developed West as the representation of the degenerate, cold, amoral society of the Kali Yuga (Dark Age, end of the cycle) and identifies Russia as the remaining defender of white society and Orthodox Christianity. Dugin believes that Russia is the nation best poised to bring about the spiritual renewal of the West; indeed, he sees it as having a mission to do so. Dugin’s message justifies the renewed global ambitions of Putin’s Russia, who Heimbach identified as the “leader… of the anti-globalist forces around the world.” Heimbach invited Dugin to speak via video conference at the launch of TWP in 2015. 

Heimbach’s extensive ties to Russia and his desire for its greater geopolitical influence to fight “anti-Christian degeneracy” were particularly concerning in light of America’s escalating confrontation with Russia in that period, as Russia was accused of election interference on behalf of Donald Trump, and even more so in the context of their invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In May 2016, Heimbach posted a photo of himself and other white nationalists in support of Russia’s “Novorossiya” project to build an autonomous state in the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine. Heimbach also attempted to bring Russian white extremists into the American fold, particularly the Russian Imperial Movement, a Kremlin-linked militant project to amplify Russian power and spread “Christian Orthodox imperial Nationalism.” He hosted RIM representative Stanislav Shevchuk in fall 2017 for a tour of Washington D.C. and Gettysburg, and he traveled repeatedly to Europe to pursue further connections. The State Department has since designated RIM as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) group. As such, its close ties to the American far right indicates the security danger posed by TWP’s pursuit of the transnationalization of American white nationalism. 


At the time of the Charlottesville rally, TWP had a fairly substantial membership, with Heimbach claiming to have “several hundred” members and affiliates. The organization was structured hierarchically, with around ten regional chapters scattered throughout the American south and midwest that reported back to the central leadership team of Heimbach and Parrott. The bar for participation in TWP’s online spaces and Discord was relatively low, however, and the Discord in particular welcomed many members of other neo-Nazi or neofascist groups for networking and discussion purposes. Many TWP members and affiliates were also associated with other American groups, including those under the umbrella of the Nationalist Front, as well as the Ku Klux Klan and, in a handful of cases, the Atomwaffen Division. 

TWP’s original recruitment strategy in the days of the Traditionalist Youth Network focused on college campuses and young people in general via leaflets and other promotional tools. Later, TWP focused its recruiting message on attracting specifically working-class families, positioning themselves as the only group focused on the welfare of the American working class and their Christian, family-oriented values. Heimbach viewed the rise of Donald Trump and the alt-right in 2016 as a key recruiting opportunity for TWP, calling Trump a “gateway drug” to white nationalism. He believed that Trump tapped into and encouraged a vein of white resentment that primed them for extremism and told the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens in March 2016 that “we can then move [Trump supporters] from civic nationalism and populism to nationalism for us.” The group made an concerted effort to avoid a publicly radical appearance that might alienate the “folksy” white southerners they wanted to attract, generally avoiding the use of swastikas and other overt Nazi symbolism. Matthew Parrott in particular made an effort to preserve TWP’s “approachable” character. For example, he banned a Discord user who was a member of the Finnish extreme neo-fascist Nordic Resistance Movement for consistently evangelizing esoteric Hitlerism, arguing that “TradWorker depends on ensuring that Christian, folkish, and secular folks feel welcome and comfortable in our project.” 


The official TWP website included a “Propaganda” page “with sample posters they encouraged people to print and distribute locally in order to “let people in your area know they’re not alone.” Sampled on July 9th, 2017, these posters ranged from a simple logo with the relatively innocuous slogan “Fight for faith, family, and folk: Defend our traditions” to calls to defend the endangered white race, and to demands for “National Socialism Now!” The posters all display the TWP logo and the link to the their website. Multiple posters feature Celtic cross symbols and images of men performing the Hitler salute. A number of them represent efforts to tap into mainstream right-wing and Christian “culture-war” type political issues—several use graphic anti-abortion imagery to position TWP as a pro-life group, while another exclaims “break the chains of drug addiction!” Others are openly identititarian: “100% European Identity, 0% White Guilt” and some perpetuate the “white genocide” narrative: “Action: Our Youth Shall Not Be Massacred.” Overall, TWP created an extremely wide variety of propaganda designed to appeal both to aggrieved members of the mainstream right and to the already radicalized. 

TWP has also been linked to the use of St. Michael’s Cross symbols associated with Codreanu’s Iron Guard/Legion of the Archangel Michael. It was found painted on campus symbol “the Rock” at the University of Tennessee in January 2018, alongside the letters TWP and a Celtic Cross (See below). The 2019 Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant also painted a St. Michael’s Cross symbol on to his gun. 

The Rock


The majority of TWP’s activity revolved around organizing white nationalist rallies or attending speaking events which periodically resulted in violence with counter protesters. Their first major public skirmish occurred at their June 2016 “Faith, Family, and Folk” rally in Sacramento, CA, which they organized alongside the hate groups Golden State Skinheads and Blood & Honour America Division. The rally quickly erupted into violence, with Heimbach bragging that they had hospitalized six antifascists. In 2017, TWP organized a series of rallies with their Nationalist Front collaborators. Nationalist Front held its annual conference and a large rally in Pikeville, KY in April 2017. 

Most notoriously, TWP was involved in the planning and participated in the Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally in 2017 that resulted in significant violence and the death of Heather Heyer. According to the case presented in the Sines v. Kessler trial investigating violence at Charlottesville, the “other Unite the Right organizers saw Heimbach and TWP as a bridge between more suit-and-tie white nationalism and its violent fringe.” When the trial wrapped up in November 2021, Heimbach, Parrott, and TWP were found guilty of participating in a civil conspiracy and ordered to pay punitive damages—$500,000 apiece for Heimbach and Parrott, and $1,000,000 for TWP as a whole. While the Charlottesville violence destabilized the alt-right scene, TWP continued to organize rallies and held a “White Lives Matter” protest in Shelbyville, TN on October 28th, 2017, alongside Nationalist Front contemporaries League of the South and National Socialist Movement. An image from ProPublica identified multiple Atomwaffen Division members present at the event, including Vasilios Pistolis, an American Marine also involved in the Charlottesville violence and who was highly active in the TWP Discord. Indeed, Cory Smith (User Dr.Cocopuff), a known Atomwaffen member, posted an image in the Discord of TWP and Atomwaffen members displaying their flags alongside each other at the Shelbyville rally. 

TWP also became involved in violence while attending white nationalist speeches and events, especially those of alt-right figurehead & white ethnonationalist Richard Spencer. TWP had a strained relationship with Spencer, who they viewed as being a classist, “boat shoes,” “suit-and-tie” style activist, in contrast to TWP’s working-class and sometimes militant style. During cross-examination with Spencer in the Sines v. Kessler trial, Heimbach stated that he “would view us in many ways subculturally in competition with one another because the version of white advocacy that you and I had were so fundamentally different from one another.” Nonetheless, TWP and the Nationalist Front participated in Spencer’s 2017 and 2018 campus speaking tour to confront protestors, which in multiple instances erupted into violence and arrests. 

In March 2018, Heimbach was arrested and jailed after assaulting Parrott over a domestic dispute, having caught Parrott having an affair with Heimbach’s wife, who was also Parrott’s stepdaughter. Both Heimbach and Parrott departed from TWP over the incident, which ultimately marked the end of the group. While members Tony Hovater and Derrick Davis attempted to rebrand the group and carry on, the project quickly crumbled. Heimbach and Parrott reunited in late 2019 to build the “Global Minority Initiative,” organized on the messaging app Telegram to provide support to incarcerated violent white nationalists like Dylann Roof. However, Heimbach announced his departure from all white nationalist organizing on Gab in March 2020. Nonetheless, in 2021 he resurfaced and announced plans to rebuild TWP as a left-wing “Nazi Bolshevik” group, though the project appears so far unsuccessful. 

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