I am not a white nationalist. However, judging by the comments on the Ian Smith elegy, some of my readers are. For this week, I was going to put up another post in the Dawkins series, but Thanksgiving is coming and traffic should be light, so I thought it might be fun to wade into this wretched hive of scum and villainy.
I am not a white nationalist, but I do read white-nationalist blogs, and I’m not afraid to link to them. The undisputed champion in this department is Larry Auster. I am also fond of Vanishing American, John Savage, New Sisyphus, Age of Treason, and Old Atlantic Lighthouse. The two central organs of intellectual white nationalism in the US are American Renaissance and VDare. If there is a European equivalent, it is probably Brussels Journal. On all these sites, you’ll find thoughtful, well-written commentary that will expand your mind. I’m not sure all these writers would accept the white-nationalist label—this is just my own description.
(The Internet is also home to many out-and-out racist blogs. Most are simply unreadable. But some are hosted by relatively capable writers, such as “The Uhuru Guru” or “Big Effer.” On these racist blogs you’ll find racial epithets, anti-Semitism (see “Why I am not an anti-Semite”) and the like. Obviously, I cannot recommend any of these blogs, and nor will I link to them. However, if you are interested in the mind of the modern racist, Google will get you there.)
What is white nationalism, anyway? I’d say a white nationalist is someone who believes that whites should act collectively to further their collective interests. Much as, say, a French nationalist believes that Frenchmen should act collectively etc.
It is nontrivial to define the word “white.” It is also nontrivial to define the word “French.” However, “nationalist” seems pretty clear. Note that its root is the Latin natus, birth—the association between “nation” and State is not universal. In the Soviet Union, a Soviet citizen might be of Russian, Jewish, Kazakh, etc., nationality. The Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires were thoroughly multinational governments, and the former categorized its citizens by a credal concept of nationality with no place at all for geographism.
This is rather academic. Another approach is to say that white nationalism is what people who call themselves “white nationalists” believe. John Savage has a good link summary, featuring a friendly debate between Steve Sailer (who is perhaps best classified as a Sailerist, a label I’m not at all afraid to stick on my shirt) and the editor of American Renaissance, Jared Taylor.
(It’s also worth mentioning the still-ongoing LGF versus Brussels Journal food fight. Since I am neither a neocon nor a paleocon nor a conservative at all, I feel no need to take a side. In my opinion, both are right and both are wrong. Hopefully, by the end of this essay, my take should be obvious.)
Perhaps the best summary of the white nationalist case I’ve seen, however, is this essay by the Norwegian blogger known only as Fjordman. Fjordman is not a terribly eloquent wordsmith—at least, not in English—but he has a lot to say, and the essay is worth reading. (If you are interested in a weird, overheated ’70s novelization of the same issues, you might enjoy the Great Racist Novel, Jean Raspail’s appalling Camp of the Saints.)
It should be obvious that, although I am not a white nationalist, I am not exactly allergic to the stuff (as should be the case with any intellectual—anyone who takes this as an endorsement of white nationalism is an idiot). Maybe this doesn’t need defending. But I feel the urge to defend it anyway.
One (tangential) comment on the Smith elegy used the phrase “red flags.” While I hate to strike the as-I-was pose—I have no idea who the commenter is, or why he or she feels this way—I have a pretty good memory of when I might have said the same thing. The first time I was linked to VDare, I had exactly this response. (In fact, the first time I found myself staring at a Republican blog, I had this response. But that was a longer time ago.)
The sensation is visceral. It is the sense of the presence of evil—of the Adversary himself. I am not religious, but I do believe in evil. It is impossible to fight without believing one’s enemies are, in some way, evil. To believe one can be above this feeling of pure revulsion and contempt is not to have advanced to a higher spiritual stage, but to be an arrogant prig.
However, without denying the concept of evil, we can investigate our own use of it.
Why does white nationalism strike us as evil? Because Hitler was a white nationalist, and Hitler was evil. Neither of these statements is remotely controvertible. There is exactly one degree of separation between white nationalism and evil. And that degree is Hitler. Let me repeat: Hitler.
The argument seems watertight. (Hitlertight?) But it holds no water at all.
Why does socialism strike us as evil? Because Stalin was a socialist, and Stalin was evil. Anyone who wants to seriously argue that Stalin was less evil than Hitler has an awful long row to hoe. Not only did Stalin order more murders, his murder machine had its heyday in peacetime, whereas Hitler’s can at least be seen as a war crime against enemy civilians. Whether this makes a difference can be debated, but if it does it puts Stalin on top.
And yet I have never had or seen anything like the “red flags” response to socialism. If I saw a crowd of young, fashionable people lining up at the box office for a hagiographic biopic on Reinhard Heydrich, chills would run up and down my neck. For Ernesto Guevara, I have no emotional response. Perhaps I think it’s stupid and sad. I do think it’s stupid and sad. But it doesn’t freak me out.
Some friends of mine live on a street in Brooklyn where there is a Black Muslim storefront with TVs in the window, broadcasting Louis Farrakhan’s Jew-hating black nationalism 24/7. To get from their compound to the subway, you need to go past a little taste of Rev. Louis. Should this freak me out? Should I see “red flags?”
Maybe I should. But I don’t. And to make a conscious effort to change this would put me in the odd position of cultivating hatred. When I ask myself what Albert Jay Nock would do, somehow this doesn’t seem quite the answer.
If you consciously endorse the method of guilt by association that makes any conceivable connection to Nazism taboo, you base this endorsement on moral grounds, and you believe in uniform moral standards, you have to apply the same method to Communism as well. Which means you must adopt a level of fanatical McCarthyism that would make Roy Cohn blush. While the result may be logically consistent, does it serve your interests? Or anyone else’s?
So my conclusion is that the only way to restore balance and perspective, and escape from the Blank Slate Asymmetry, is to suppress the little voice in my head that pops up and says “Hitler! Hitler! Hitler!” Your mileage, as usual, may vary.
So this is one reason not to not be a white nationalist. There are a few such. And I feel I ought to work through them all, before explaining why I am actually not a white nationalist.
A slightly more sophisticated version of the Hitler argument is to argue that white nationalism is evil not because of what white nationalists did in the past, but because of what they might do in the future. In other words, the problem with white nationalism is that it is dangerous.
This is true in a certain sense. But it demonstrates a rather staggering failure of proportion.
Cute little bunnies are dangerous. They could hop onto your face while you sleep, and smother you. I’m sure human history records at least one death by bunny attack. And even if it doesn’t, there’s always a first.
It makes no sense to evaluate danger on an absolute scale. One must compare. Cute little bunnies pose a nonzero threat. They are certainly not as dangerous as leopards.
So what makes white nationalists so dangerous? How many Americans are killed by white nationalists every year? More than by cute little bunnies, I’m sure. More than cougars? Maybe. More than bees? Certainly not.
On the other hand, cougars and bees can’t seize power and establish a genocidal totalitarian state. Whereas white nationalists could.
But so could black nationalists, Mexican nationalists, white environmentalists, anarchists, animal-rights activists, etc., etc. (Watch the movie Your Mommy Kills Animals sometime. It really does take a lot to send chills down my spine, but Kevin Kjonaas did it. The animal-rights people have a marvelous moral rationale for violence and even murder, and damned if they don’t use it.)
The thing about all the ideologies on this random little list is that every single one is fashionable. No one is expelled from polite society for holding them. Au contraire. In many chic contexts, they are actually social lubricants. They certainly attract talented and ambitious young people, which is pretty much a necessity if you want to seize any kind of power.
There are entire departments at every university in the US which teach black and Mexican nationalism—not to mention the other three. A few blocks from where I live, on one of the most fashionable shopping streets in the entire world, there is an anarchist bookstore. Its window is full of books advocating violence, tyranny and terror of every kind. Etc., etc.
And Nazism too was fashionable. Indeed it was profoundly self-righteous. Perhaps the easiest way for a modern American or European to understand Nazism is to understand that a good Brown thought about preserving the Deutsche Volk in exactly the same way that today’s Greens think about preserving the Environment. (Not, indeed, without some overlap.) In a world where this book is a bestseller, who is the leopard and who the bunny-rabbit?
White nationalism is the most marginalized and socially excluded belief system in the history of the world. It is an obnoxious social irritant in any circle which does not include tattooed speedfreak bikers. The idea that a white-nationalist conspiracy is lurking behind the curtain, ready to seize power in one terrible spring, really does make anti-Semitism look plausible. What’s next, the KKK and Snapple? The Protocols of the Elders of Idaho?
So we see that, at present, in the real world of 2007, there is no coherent moral or practical reason to shun white nationalism.
Or is there? I can imagine one possibility which might make white nationalism genuinely dangerous. White nationalism would be dangerous if there was some issue on which white nationalists were right, and everyone else was wrong. Truth is always dangerous. Contrary to common belief, it does not always prevail. But it’s always a bad idea to turn your back on it.
Here at last is our leopard. But could this be a reason to shun and ignore white nationalism? It is precisely the opposite. It is (or would be) a reason to investigate and understand it.
Say hello to the very courageous William Saletan. Mr. Saletan, following Amy Harmon, believes there is indeed a leopard. The leopard’s name is human cognitive biodiversity. While the evidence for human cognitive biodiversity is indeed debatable, what’s not debatable is that it is debatable. Since it’s also the case that everyone who is not a white nationalist has spent the last 50 years informing us that it is not debatable, we have our leopard one way or another.
If you don’t want Mr. Saletan and Ms. Harmon’s courage to go unrewarded, perhaps you should consider reporting Slate and the New York Times to the SPLC Intelligence Project. Contact them using this form. You could also try the NAACP. After all, what fun is it to stick your neck out, if no one tries to cut it off? Can’t you always tell a pioneer by the arrows in his back?
Mr. Saletan seems to genuinely believe that an admission of honest error, and a few nice noises about the future, can extract the entire system of power and privilege he represents from the remarkable corner it’s painted itself into.
Unfortunately, the obscure doctrinal point on which he is admitting error is the most fundamental belief of his society. It is the political mortar of the postwar Western world. It can no more be admitted than the Soviets could admit that capitalism was the best thing for the working class after all. (I’m still not quite sure how the Chinese get away with this.)
Slate is not about to link to Alexander Stephens, Charles Francis Adams, or Carleton Putnam. But I just did. And talented and ambitious young people—especially if they’ve just had to sit through a diversity struggle session—know how to click. The leopard is real.
Of course, I am not a white nationalist. I am not arguing that you should be a white nationalist. I am just suggesting that there are many bad reasons not to be a white nationalist.
And there is one more. You could not be a white nationalist because you believed that the problems white nationalists worry about are not serious or important.
This is just a hoot. Suppose you are an alien and you are observing a country X which contains two classes of people, which we’ll call A and B. You observe the following:
Every year, thousands of people of class B are attacked, raped and killed by people of class A. The converse is extremely rare—at least, rare enough to be a cause celebre. (BTW, I love the argument that class-A people attack, rape and kill other class-A people as well. As though this were some great saving grace.)
Versus class-As, class-Bs are systematically disfavored in competition for educational and professional positions.
Many, even most, people of class A accept a canonical ideology which justifies this situation as a moral response to unidentifiable, irreparable, and ancient wrongs, and appears to motivate ongoing attacks, which are often defended by responsible authorities. In fact, the belief that it is actually the class-Bs who are oppressing the class-As is widespread.
While class-Bs are a numerical majority in some regions, they are a substantial minority on the entire planet. Many respectable and influential people advocate the abolition of all migration controls worldwide, leaving the class-As in a perfect position to extend their theory of violence to a policy of global conquest and destruction. While this is not about to happen tomorrow, over the next century it is quite plausible.
Now. Would you, as a responsible alien obeying all directives for diplomatic communication with primitive planets, suggest to the class-Bs that there was some other problem that they should be worrying about instead? Something more important? Something even scarier? Such as, oh, I don’t know, unusually warm weather?
Behold the massive crack infusion flowing into your arm. (Or at least trying to. Remember, kids, you can always just pull the needle out.)
So why am I not a white nationalist?
I am not a white nationalist because I don’t find white nationalism useful or effective. I don’t feel it helps me accurately perceive reality. In fact, I think it distorts reality. And I believe white nationalism is a very ineffective political device for solving the very real problems about which it complains.
If you haven’t read the Fjordman piece I linked above, now would be an excellent time to do so. (Yes, the site loads very slowly.) Now, compare Fjordman’s white-nationalist analysis of this problem to mine.
In Fjordman’s model, we see two groups: White and Swarthy. White people, or at least some of them, are gripped by some mysterious masochistic urge to self-destruction. If Whites unite, accept even just the slightest touch of White nationalism, and act collectively, they can defeat the anti-White neo-Communist Swarthy jihad that otherwise threatens to devour them all.
In my model, there are not two sides but five. Three of these sides are white, two are swarthy. And we see no mysterious masochism at all, just the usual hominid struggle for factional dominance. One of the white parties (Brahmin) is ganging up with the two swarthy parties (Dalit, Helot) to apply a good old-fashioned whupping to the other two white parties (Vaisya, Optimate). Just another afternoon of nasty on the History Channel.
Not only does my model clarify the reality, it clarifies the tactical options. We see immediately that Fjordman is asking the impossible. His solution is simply for the B faction to dump its DH allies and unite with its OV victims. The lion will lie down with the lamb. Yeah, right! Perhaps Fjordman could be so kind as to inform us of the last occasion on which this worked.
Now, it’s certainly likely that if the BDH alliance triumphs entirely and manages to wipe out all remnants of the OVs, the DHes will just have the Bs for breakfast. Judith Todd could tell you all about it. But has she recanted? Not even. By and large, the Brahmins are absolutely sincere. And since they are the ruling class, their ability to ignore reality is almost unlimited.
And, more to the point, what is the one ideology least likely to convince them to change their nefarious ways? What is the system of thought that Brahmins are most powerfully inoculated against? White nationalism! It’s a strategy that couldn’t be better designed to fail. It is almost eerie in its profound and incurable ineffectiveness.
There is another way to see white nationalism: as a strategy to motivate the OVs to rise up, cast aside their false consciousness, and throw off the Brahmin yoke.
If it’s possible, this is an even worse idea than the lie-down-with-the-lion plan. What was the Second World War, if not an OV rebellion? Did it work? Even if it had worked, would it have been an improvement? Um…
Some of the most fascinating phenomena of postwar history are the rare attempts at actual military defiance of Universalist rule. These include the OAS in Algeria, the AWB in South Africa, and of course the Rhodesian and old South African regimes. Possibly the American Patriot movement counts as well. All these efforts have one thing in common: they were all spectacular failures.
The OAS is typical. What happened with the OAS is that they actually believed the great lie of the last half-century: that an insurgent movement with popular support cannot be defeated. The OAS was made up of French soldiers who had fought against a real insurgency, the FLN, defeated it, and therefore believed they could play the same game only better.
Of course they got their asses kicked, because terrorist or guerrilla movements cannot succeed of their own accord. They are only effective auxiliaries to an internal political conflict within a conventional state. The OAS had some political support in France, but not much, and not nearly as much as the FLN. No one was inventing creative explanations as to why France should go easy on them, buy them off with concessions, open peace talks, etc., etc. So the OAS lost and the pieds-noirs were expelled from Algeria, in a sort of operatic, Mediterranean Operation Wetback. “Non… je ne regrette rien.”
I won’t bore you with the story of the AWB. It is far more sordid and pathetic. And no doubt, if the Rhodesians had actually resorted to armed resistance in 1980, they would have been crushed as well. Probably the same thing would have happened to the Afrikaners in time. It may seem to us that they had a real choice in 1994, but how long would that choice have lasted? They had been folding in slow motion ever since the assassination of Verwoerd.
The problem with white nationalism as a military or political strategy (of course there is no line between the two—if your goal is to capture the government, your goal is to capture the government) is that however much it may manage to fire up the OVs, it fires up the Brahmins ten times as much. Since the latter are the ruling class and hold the whip hand, white nationalism remains a losing strategy. Ouch! Taste the pain, kids.
See also the anti-Semitic species of white nationalism. While a blatant misperception of reality, it at least identifies the fact that not all white people are on the same side. But, by describing its enemy as a basically-nonexistent ethnic-nationalist mafia, rather than a nontheistic Christian sect (which happens to have effectively assimilated many Reform Jews), anti-Semitism ensures that it can only score a hit by missing what it aims at. D’oh. And, needless to say, any remedies that anti-Semites may propose are, um, ineffective at best.
This is the trouble with white nationalism. It is strategically barren. It offers no effective political program. You can be as smart as you want and think about white nationalism forever, and you will not come up with any productive strategy for collective action, white or otherwise.
At its best, white nationalism offers a sensible description of a general problem. This problem certainly exists, and it falls under the larger category of bad government. (If allowing the old cities of North America to be overrun and rendered largely uninhabitable by murderous racist gangs isn’t bad government, really, I’m not sure what is.)
But white nationalism offers no formula at all for how to transition from bad government to good government. Indeed, to the extent that white nationalism succeeds in anything, it motivates its enemies, keeping everyone stuck in the same old destructive patterns.
And the worst thing about white nationalism, in my opinion, is just that it’s nationalism. Nationalism is really another word for democracy—the concept of democracy makes no sense except as an algorithm for determining the General Will of the People, that is, the Nation. And whatever its electoral formula or lack thereof, every nationalist government has seen itself as in some sense a representative of the Volk.
Compare this to the world of the ancien régime, in which French aristocrats had far more in common with Russian aristocrats than with French peasants. The world before nationalism and democracy was a world of mild wars, small and effective governments, personal freedom, and civilized high culture. Let architecture be the judge: all buildings from the 18th century are treasures. So are most from the 19th. The 20th was the age of nationalism, democracy, tyranny, mass murder, and gigantic concrete eyesores. (I live within walking distance of not one but two hospitals which are dead ringers for any Bulgarian secret-police headquarters. Although on reflection this is probably an insult to Bulgaria.)
Note that, before the coming of nationalist democracy, it was actually not a problem at all for wealthy, high-IQ people to live in the same society as poor, low-IQ people. It worked just fine. The latter served the former. They got paid. No one starved. If the mob wanted to riot, there were more than enough Swiss Guards to handle them. It was not Louis XVI’s fictitious oppressions that doomed him to the implacable vengeance of the People, but his irresolution and gullibility that drew him to the deadly Anglo-American fad of popular government. (Try this history if you’re unconvinced.)
The task of restoring the old world is immense. It may not be solvable. It certainly demands the eradication of all present governing institutions, a fate they seem not at all inclined to acquiesce in. But they are after all democratic, and for democracy to abolish itself is no paradox but a triumph—the only really satisfying way to terminate the whole great cult.
Universalism itself is a kind of nationalism. Of racism, even. It accepts only one nation: the entire planet. It knows only one race: the human race. Reading these sentences, any Universalist will nod his head and smile at the unsurpassable beauty of his own faith. Which in fact is unsurpassed only in its potential for gigantic and diabolical evil. As Nock put it, people who believe in world government are like people who believe that if a teaspoon of cyanide will kill you, a whole bottle is just the thing to do you good.
But you can’t beat one fiction with another. The cure for Universalism is not the creed that Universalism hates most. It is a clear and simple understanding of the real principles of political, economic and military organization in human societies. White nationalism, like any nationalism, is a romantic and fictitious idealization of social reality. While it may bring some clarity to these principles, it obscures far more than it reveals.