Editor’s Note: I wrote this biographical article to fill in some blanks for a journalist who is writing a book about the Alt-Right. There are a lot of those coming out next year.
I grew up in Eufaula, AL.
In hindsight, that fact alone seems to explain a lot about me. I had a normal childhood. I don’t recall ever having any negative experience that triggered a racial awakening. I wasn’t attracted to the movement by racial animosity. My life was pretty ordinary until my second year in college at Auburn University in 2001.
By then I already knew three things:
– First, I knew that race existed and that racial differences were real from growing up in the Alabama Black Belt. It wasn’t something that I thought much about. I had arrived at that conclusion from observation and experience. I found it strange that anyone could believe otherwise given the sheer weight of the evidence.
– Second, I understood the connection between racial identity and politics. In the Alabama Black Belt, elections are mere racial head counts which determine which racial group holds political power. This struck me as just another realistic observation about the world. All the happy talk about colorblindness and individualism is belied by the results that routinely play out in Alabama’s elections.
– Third, I knew that I had populist instincts. I identified with my people. I was already interested in exploring and learning more about their history.
In late 2001, I was posting on internet gaming forums when 9/11 happened and I came across Pat Buchanan’s book The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Culture and Civilization. It was that book which cemented my worldview. I had become interested in immigration due to a new chicken plant which was attracting illegal aliens to my hometown. I was also interested in the debate about reparations for slavery at the time. It was Pat Buchanan though who first drew my attention to changing racial and cultural demographics.
It began to dawn on me that by the mid-21st century Whites were going to become a minority nationwide and that the whole country was going to look like the Alabama Black Belt. I knew from first hand experience what that was going to be like and that it was going to be an unmitigated disaster for my descendants. Coupled with the invasion and dying populations of Western Europe, I was “red-pilled” (a term which only came into use much later) that Western civilization as a whole was dying and that a great historical event was unfolding within my lifetime.
After 9/11, I found Pat Buchanan and shortly thereafter I found Stormfront, which was still then in its infancy. If memory serves, I found it either through word of mouth on a gaming message board or through searching online for Pat Buchanan. I became an active poster on Stormfront for a few years. What I took away from Stormfront was an interest in White Nationalism and the idea of setting up a vBulletin forum.
I was still very young. I was at the beginning of my journey. I had become interested in paleoconservatism and White Nationalism, but I didn’t want to be limited by those things. I wanted to interact with a broader group of people and discuss a wider variety of subjects. After a series of bans on a gaming messageboard, I bought and set up a free speech vBulletin forum called “Freedom Forums” which went through a series of names – “Hellfire Forums,” “The Phora” and “The Lyceum” – before finally stabilizing as “The Phora.” From 2001 until 2005, I ran all these free speech forums which together became known as “The Phora,” and which still exists today under its own management.
Looking back on it now, The Phora was like the 4chan of the early 2000s. It was a purely anonymous messageboard where people who had been banned from other messageboards came together to discuss edgy ideas. It wasn’t just a White Nationalist forum. I went out and recruited paleoconservatives, libertarians, communists, socialists, liberals, moderates, anarchists, nihilists, Neo-Nazis, trolls, gamers, etc. The idea was to throw all these people together in one forum and have them debate current events, economics, politics, history, philosophy, race relations, religion, science and any number of topics. As a model, it worked and for many years this generated all kinds of fascinating discussions on the internet where I learned a bunch of things.
How should I describe this world to an outsider? I suppose you could say that it was the fringe of White Nationalism. It was an archipelago of vBulletin messageboards that radiated out from Stormfront. The Phora, for example, begat Aryan Dawn which developed into Pantheon Europa which evolved into Skadi Forum which split into Ave-Melita, The Nordish Portal, Blut und Boden, Stirpes, Großdeutsches Vaterland, etc., etc. That was just one offshoot of The Phora which wasn’t a “hate group” so much as it was a debating society. There were many others like the Speakeasy, Stumble Inn, The Beer Barrel, Salo Forum. There were all kinds of small, niche forums that catered to an ever widening audience for White and European identity politics.
I was a college student in my early twenties. I was exploring my own identity. I was in the process of building my worldview. So, you know, I was interested in White Nationalism, but I also went through a Nietzsche phase, an Ayn Rand phase, a Michel Foucault phase, an Aristotle phase, etc. As the warlord of this free speech messageboard, I read deeply into political theory, philosophy, history and science trying to make sense of the world and spent years debating people on the internet about these topics.
As for politics, I loved reading Pat Buchanan, Peter Brimelow, Jared Taylor and Sam Francis. I discovered American Renaissance and VDARE shortly after finding Stormfront. I found William Pierce and the National Alliance. I never joined the group, but I enjoyed listening to the old man’s radio shows. I also enjoyed reading LewRockwell.com – the Mises Institute was directly across the street from my apartment in Auburn – and Justin Raimondo’s Antiwar.com. I cultivated a mix of White Nationalist, paleoconservative and libertarian discourse. All these columns and ideas were shared and debated at length across our archipelago of messageboards.
It was the early 2000s and President George W. Bush loomed large over our emerging world. From the beginning, I hated everything about George W. Bush. In fact, I disliked W. so much that I voted for Al Gore and John Kerry out of spite. I hated the Iraq War. I hated his push for comprehensive immigration reform. I hated his free trade deals. I hated hearing lines like “Axis of Evil” and “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” I came to really dislike mainstream conservatism and felt vindicated by the Crash of 2008. I wasn’t alone either. Bush confirmed everything we had come to dislike about mainstream conservatism.
In 2006, I had a big falling out with my fellow administrators at The Phora. The one thing that I never developed much of an interest in was the technical side of managing a vBulletin forum. The Phora was regrettably destroyed half a dozen times by hackers. I had graduated from college, was doing new things in my life, and washed my hands of the project and turned it over. A new version was created which has remained online to the present day. I was banned from my own forum in 2007 and haven’t posted there in nine years.
I founded Occidental Dissent in 2006. It started out as a WordPress blog and vBulletin forum. I eventually scrapped the original blog and forum, briefly joined a new throwback forum called The Lyceum, scrapped that forum, started a new short lived blog called Odessa-Syndicate, and finally relaunched Occidental Dissent in the summer of 2008. It took me two years to shake the habit of forum posting and transition to blogging. I’ve been blogging in this space ever since and haven’t looked back. I like WordPress much better than the old vBulletin archipelago which has been slowly withering away since the rise of blogs, podcasts and social media platforms.
2008 was a seminal year in the history of the Alt-Right. It was the last year of the George W. Bush administration when the American economy crashed. It was the first time I had heard of Richard Spencer after I discovered Takimag. It was the year the nascent “Alternative Right” got its name. It was the year the Alt-Right got heavily involved in the Ron Paul campaign and it was also the year Barack Obama was elected president. If I hated George W. Bush, I would have have crawled over broken glass to avoid voting for John McCain whose amnesty bill, sanctimonious anti-racist moral posturing and neocon warmongering embodied everything I despised about the GOP. In the end, I voted for Chuck Baldwin in the 2008 general election out of disgust with McCain.
Some pundits falsely assume that the Alt-Right began as a racist backlash against Barack Obama. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The “Alternative Right,” or Dissident Right, was born in opposition to George W. Bush and mainstream conservatism – it was all the people who had been purged over the years from “respectable” National Review/The Weekly Standard conservatism and who had begun to congregate in the forum archipelago. In the beginning, it was mainly White Nationalists, paleoconservatives and libertarians who posted on websites like The Phora, Original Dissent, and Liberty Forum and who opposed George W. Bush and the neocons. This was a vibrant intellectual scene many years before the “Alt-Right” got its name.
From the White Nationalists, the Alt-Right took its views on race and identity. From the paleoconservatives, the Alt-Right took its views on free-trade and culture. From the paleo-libertarians, the Alt-Right took its views on foreign policy and backed Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012 when the libertarian wing was ascendant. From the nihilists and trolls, the Alt-Right took its spirit of iconoclasm. A radical sense of realism (i.e., to be “red-pilled” and see the world for what it really is and follow the truth wherever it leads), a strong sense of identity, and an iconoclastic temperament are the hallmarks of the Alt-Right culture.
Over the years, I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I got caught up in this, and my best answer is that we are all in a way products of our culture, which is a product of time and history. In the 1830s, Eufaula, AL was settled by White settlers who aggressively pushed aside the Creek Nation. In the 1850s, the same spirit led men from my hometown to carry the banner of “Southern Rights” to the battlefields of Bleeding Kansas. In 1861, Barbour County, AL was a hotbed of secession. Eufaula, AL was the quintessential antebellum Alabama cotton town. In fact, we produced the first governor of Confederate Alabama, John Gill Shorter.
In the 1870s, Barbour County, AL was redeemed in the Election Riot of 1874. In the 1890s, Barbour County produced Reuben F. Kolb, Alabama’s leading Populist who ran for governor in 1890, 1892 and 1894. In 1907, the reformer Braxton Bragg Comer was elected governor of Alabama; I grew up in Comer, in the remains of what used to be Comer Plantation. I’m proud of the fact that Henry Steagall of Alabama’s 3rd District was an author of the Glass-Steagall Act which shackled Wall Street during the Great Depression. In 1943, Chauncey Sparks of Eufaula was elected governor of Alabama as a strong states’ rights Democrat, and in 1958, John Patterson of nearby Phenix City, AL was elected governor of Alabama.
None other than George Wallace was from Clio, AL – the backcountry of Barbour County, AL where I am from. George Wallace was governor of Alabama for 16 years. He ran for president three times in 1968, 1972 and 1976 and had a major national impact on the American Right. Surely, it is not a coincidence that being born and raised in what is arguably the populist county in the most populist state in the United States, or being surrounded from birth by scenes of the Old South in all its splendor and glory, or growing up in the hometown of the most well-known segregationist in American history had something to do with my political and cultural views. I think it might have gotten the ball rolling. It’s a hop and a skip from George Wallace to Pat Buchanan to Donald Trump.
Who am I really? What’s my identity? Where do I belong? I’m a White Southerner, a Millennial, an Alt-Right Southern Nationalist writing about my people in the early 21st century.
Note: At some point, I will pick up the story from 2008, but this period of the Alt-Right is more well known. There’s not much to say about it that hasn’t been already said. The 2001 to 2009 period were the formative years of the movement and I am surprised that so little has been written about this.