The Fire Eaters

I have long wondered why the Fire Eaters have attracted such little attention from American White Nationalists. For those unfamilar with the term, the Fire Eaters were a small band of Southern secessionists – the ‘revolutionary vanguard’ of the Confederacy – who succeeded in fomenting a revolution against the United States in 1860/1861. They engineered the destruction of the Democratic Party, checkmated the ‘conservatives’ of their day, and set in motion a chain reaction of events that led to the formation of the CSA.

There are numerous interesting parallels. Like White Nationalists, the Fire Eaters spent decades in the political wilderness as a cornered minority. They were dismissed as “extremists,” “hotheads,” “ultras,” and “radicals” by their mainstream contemporaries. They chaffed under the rule of conservatives whom they believed sacrificed Southern rights and honor. The Fire Eaters subscribed to a version of the ‘worse is better’ theory and worked to ensure the election of Abraham Lincoln and the defeat of Stephen Douglas. They were convinced that the Union was unsalvageable and only a minority of White Southerners could be replied upon.

The Fire Eater strategy is of particular relevance to White Nationalism. It tackled an important question: how are the passive, fundamentally conservative masses to be awakened from their slumber? The Fire Eaters invested their hopes in separate state action by a handful of the most radical states. In the context of a national outrage, this would force the moderates into choosing between resistance or submission and allow the radicals to carry the day. The federal government would overplay its hand and the ensuing backlash would lead to a further wave of secession.

Their answer to this problem is worth considering in our times. Will anything short of troops in the streets and boots on the neck suffice to get the job done? In 2009, I seriously doubt even that would galvanize timid suburbanites, but much could change in decades to come. South Carolina wasn’t ready to leave the Union in 1833 over the “Tarriff of Abominations.” The principle of secession triumphed in the South long before it was acted upon. The idea that Whites have legitimate interests must be established before a White ethnostate is given a serious hearing.

By 1860, the perpetuation of the Union had become a question mark. It was no longer taken for granted by all parties. A radical milieu had been advocating secession for almost thirty years. Fringe ideas had penetrated the mainstream national conversation.

There is profit to be made in studying these precursors of ours.

About Hunter Wallace 12382 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. To succeed, white nationalism must focus on the present and future and dissassociate itself completely from the “bitter” past. Why should we carry the baggage of pro-slavers, Nazis and Klansmen? They fought their own battles – and lost. This is our war. There’s plenty of ammunition from current events.

    Constantly fighting rearguard actions to defend lost causes makes us vulnerable, keeps us fringe, as the other side knows full well. Let the dead rest in peace, and be wary of anyone who disturbs them.

  2. “To succeed, white nationalism must focus on the present and future and dissassociate itself completely from the “bitter” past.”

    Ironically it is this very past that shows us this! Many Italian Fascists were deep into the ‘Futurism’ aesthetic movement. Forward!

    “There’s plenty of ammunition from current events.”

    Yes, Jared Taylor over at American Renaissance aptly proves this. Amrens website focuses almost exclusively on current events and has proven to be a limited success!

  3. I don’t think we should feel ashamed of the past. That said, I don’t think we should get wrapped up in history and lose sight of the present struggle.

  4. Gentilhommes,

    “To succeed, white nationalism must focus on the present and future and dissassociate itself completely from the “bitter” past. Why should we carry the baggage of pro-slavers, Nazis and Klansmen?” (rick)

    Do I take this to mean that, in the event that a semi-informed/-intelligent interlocutor notices that I am, in effect, a Neo-Nazi, I should swear that I am no Nazi, denounce National Socialism, Hitler, etc., in terms of all the PC pieties expected from the cravenly apologetic mouth of a Hollowcaust-worshipping Kahn-servative (so as to “completely” dissociate myself from that disreputable background) rather than forthrightly concede that I am a National Socialist and attempt to explain my position (knowing, admittedly, that many, most, or perhaps all such persons will be intellectually/emotionally incapable of accepting what I say)?


  5. Nazism was a uniquely German ideology that could have developed and been successful only in Germany and only at a certain point in history. At least that is the way I see it. We can’t reproduce it here; we’d need an Adolf Hitler, just for starters. Then we’d need a populace of tough, smart folk. The only prerequisite that we have here & now is a satanic dictatorship slowly eating us up.

  6. With all due respect to Rick I think he missed Prozium’s point about the book. That is, Southern secessionists were isolated and marginalized much as white nationalists are today and we can at least learn some things from their experience and apply it to our struggle.

    Encouraging white nationalists to study this chapter of American history is no different than military academies studying tactics and strategy from centuries ago and adapting them to modern technology and current conditions.

    I’ve come to believe that worse is better. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The more our government is populated with open anti-white racists like Obama and Sotomayor the sooner white people will discern the futility of milquetoast conservatism and turn to something more radical.

  7. @Mr Dithers: Good response, and I agree with you except for this point: The lesson of the Fire Eaters is that they were on the wrong side of history and it proved a disaster for them, their beloved homelands and America itself. Admire them if you want, but why bring WN into it? Our enemies love that. History is replete with fringe groups that succeeded and failed. We’d be better off to openly admire the strategy and tactics of the Abolitionists. Where would that leave the SPLC and other anti-white racists? (And, not incidentally, they were successful.) We’re on the right side of history now. These associations matter.

    I agree that “worse is better,” but the “something more radical” white Americans will be turning to isn’t going to be some failed ideology from the past. It’s going to be separation and self-determination. The precursor was that recent mass rally in Washington, not those (probably staged) neoNazi costume parties.

  8. Rick,
    Again, the study of historical movements like the Fire Eaters can provide valuable lessons for WN’s to draw upon. I don’t think anyone will use the book as inspiration to revive the antebellum South or start a second civil war over slavery. That the Southern secessionists ultimately failed in their quest is beside the point and owing more to the military aspect of the conflict than it is ideological shortcomings.

    WN’s need to organize and formulate a political strategy. That’s much easier said than done but the status quo is not acceptable to me. Becoming more radical doesn’t entail dressing up in brown shirts with nazi armbands shouting “Sieg Heil”, but whites need to begin practicing hardball racial politics like every other racial group. Otherwise it’s just a matter of time before we devolve into a race of persecuted vagabonds hoping that blacks and browns are merciful to us and our children.

    The conservative vs. liberal vs. libertarian circle jerk is a failure and unless I was out to lunch the mass rally in Washington, while promising, was absent of any explicity pro-white racial overtones. We still have a long way to go.

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