This is the seventh installment in this series.
If there is one issue that divides White Nationalists, it is the difference of opinion over whether to pursue an elitist or populist strategy to power. The major theme of Leonard Zeskind’s Blood and Politics was the struggle between “vanguardists” and “mainstreamers” for predominance in the movement. Zeskind used the historic rivalry between William Pierce and Willis Carto to illustrate his point. I came away from our meeting with the impression that there is much to this theory.
Some White Nationalists believe in recruiting an elite cadre, waiting for the long awaited “collapse” to come, at which point the masses will rebel and this natural elite will mysteriously rise to power. They believe the system is hopelessly broken and are highly dismissive of the idea of building a mass movement. They correctly point out that history is made by culture bearing elites, not the passive masses. These people seriously doubt a majority of White Americans can be persuaded to accept our racial views. They also point out that the existing public organizations are flypaper for the dysfunctional, marginal types that infest and discredit all fringe political movements. In a racialist version of Gresham’s law, the bad chases out the good. The vanguardists believe that if we change the culture, political victories will follow.
Another group of White Nationalists believes in building a mass movement, moderating our rhetoric, contesting democratic elections and rising to power through sheer numbers. This is the BNP approach. They dismiss the idea of a “collapse” as little more than a myth or a fantasy. Although they share the belief of the vanguardists that the system is rotten and rigged against us, “mainstreamers” see no alternative but to roll up their sleeves and work within the status quo. The “mainstreamers” are convinced the masses privately sympathize with us and will rebel if prodded to do so in the right set of conditions. As was the case with the Civil Rights Movement, they believe a cultural revolution will follow political victories.
From my perspective, it is interesting to note how similar this internal debate within White Nationalism is to the internecine wars within libertarianism. The libertarians also have their purists (the Mises Institute/Lew Rockwell.com faction) who balk at the notion of any practical compromise with the state. There is another group of Beltway libertarians (the Cato Institute/Reason types) who are more flexible and treasure the influence they wield in public policy debates. Both wings of libertarianism have millions of dollars to work with and their movement is at a much higher stage of maturity than White Nationalism. The Libertarian Party is now America’s largest third party.
I’m convinced that White Nationalists have much to learn from the libertarians. In particular, I have long observed how Lew Rockwell and associates have used populist rhetoric to advance a pro-business, anti-populist economic agenda. They have built a mass movement around a political figurehead and a cadre of radical writers and intellectuals. Like White Nationalism, the libertarian scene is a kook rich environment, but somehow they have proven far better at managing the problem and moving beyond that image. For the most part, the paleolibertarian elite has overcome their prejudices and are busily organizing the masses to advance their radical agenda. In contrast, our vanguardists retreat to the wilderness of Idaho or West Virginia to wait for the Day of the Rope.
Also, the libertarians, unlike White Nationalists, aren’t divided on whether to follow a cultural or political strategy. They are doing both successfully. The libertarians have plenty of writers and think tanks that specialize in discourse poisoning public policy debates and the middlebrow bourgeoisie with libertarian ideas and interpretations of history. They also had the Ron Paul campaign drawing disaffected youth into the movement and giving them a cause to fight for and mobilize behind.
The failures of libertarianism are just as illuminating as their various successes. A major stumbling block for the Ron Paul campaign was the hostility he encountered from the Beltway libertarians in trying to broaden his appeal. This division (motivated by status concerns) thwarted his ability to unite all the resources of the movement behind a single leader. Within the White Nationalist movement, the infighting between the various factions has plagued us since our earliest days and stiffled our effectiveness.
In the Rise and Fall of Anglo-America, Eric P. Kaufmann made a critical point when he noted that Anglo-American “dominant ethnicity” only successfully reasserted itself (ex. the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924) when the Northeastern WASP elite cooperated with their more numerous, but humbler populist brethren in the South and Western states. We would be wise to ponder the implications of that in our own movement. The common man isn’t the fountain of wisdom the populists make him out to be; he has to be educated and led into battle by a vanguard. Similarly, an elite without a constituency is little more than a gentleman’s club. To an extent, the libertarians have closed this gap and moved beyond it.
Which brings me to the most disturbing aspect of libertarianism: their success in appealing to and mobilizing White Nationalists in support of their political candidates. At this late date, it should be the other way around. Even the elitists among us are natural populists: if we didn’t genuinely care about the welfare of our race, we wouldn’t be involved in this movement. It says a lot about the state of the movement that we still haven’t been able to bridge this divide between the vanguardists and mainstreamers, the elitists and populists, when lesser men who care nothing at all for ordinary White people have been able to do so.
In my next post, I will discuss the emergence of libertarianism as our major competitor, and why I think it is necessary to confront this burgeoning movement before it absorbs the best elements of our own.