Why Vanguardists Can’t Win

William Pierce combined penetrating insights with the wrong approach

The Vanguard

It is time to call out the vanguard.

In 1971, William Pierce wrote an infamous article in Attack! called Why Conservatives Can’t Win. This destructive mantra has been mindlessly repeated so many times over the past forty years (even years after the swift collapse of the National Alliance) that it has become an article of faith to alienated vanguardists.

I want to know if vanguardists can win. If conservatives are losers, does that mean vanguardists are winners? I don’t think they can win and intend to show you why.

Defining Vanguardism

The vanguardist is a peculiar species of White Nationalist with a range that extends across cyberspace. This political animal has a number of discernible, trademark characteristics. Specifically, a “vanguardist” is someone who believes:

(1) Conservatives are worthless.

(2) Ordinary people are lemmings.

(3) Worse is better.

(4) The system is broken.

(5) A collapse is coming.

(6) They will benefit from this collapse.

(7) A massive Jewish conspiracy is responsible for their plight.

(8) Revolution is the only solution.

Instead of engaging the cultural and political mainstream, a vanguardist is someone who favors withdrawing from the system, sealing themselves off in enclaves, and organizing around a dynamic leader.

Vanguardists with the financial means to do so like to hide out in bunkers in places like Washington, Idaho, or West Virginia. The majority of vanguardists though are tied down by their jobs and just log on to the internet under an anonymous pseudonym to entertain themselves and vent their frustrations.

It’s really an angrier version of sitting down in a La-Z-Boy with a six pack (or if you are Will Williams, a bottle of Jack Daniels) after work to watch Monday Night Football. The lemmings spend their leisure time trying to enjoy themselves. The vanguardists woad up their faces and streak through the internet for a few hours every night.

Some people continue to say that “vanguardists” don’t exist. Well, I strongly disagree. Having interacted with vanguardists for years, I know them quite well, and can describe their way of life in elaborate detail.

Vanguardists are easy to recognize. They are more ubiquitous in cyberspace than whitetail deer in the backwoods of Alabama at midnight. That’s saying something given the shape of my bumper.

So why can’t vanguardists win?

(1) Alienation – The single most important thing to understand about vanguardists is that they are radically alienated. I’m not talking about being merely disappointed, demoralized, or disillusioned with the status quo. Vanguardists travel well beyond that stage into waters where they are ultimately transformed into aliens within their own society.

The vanguardists express their sense of alienation in all sorts of ways. It is the impulse behind everything from their tendency to withdraw from society, their hostility to their own culture, their belief that White people must be punished for their sins, creating their own religion, dressing up in uniforms, creating their own flags, advocating alliances with despotic foreign regimes like Iran and North Korea, hiding out in a bunker, their demonization of their peers, the lavish praise they heap on Europe, etc.

The key to understanding vanguardists is that they are aliens within their own society. They are like Jews living among the Gentiles. The vanguardists are strangers in a strange land … America.

The saddest part of this radical sense of alienation is the estrangement of so many vanguardists from their own families.

(2) Unnecessary Barriers – Vanguardists are a tribe of radically alienated people going through a type of ethnogenesis.

From the outside, it looks at first like they are creating unnecessary barriers between themselves and their target audience. From the inside, they are going through a tumultuous personal identity crisis. They are trying to draw new ethnic markers that separate “us” from “them.”

It is a mistake to write off the vanguardists as political retards. Why do they insist on insulting their audience, dressing up in ridiculous costumes, creating their own religion, heaping praise upon hostile foreign regimes?

Isn’t that counterproductive? How are these things in any way essential to White Nationalism?

The vanguardists are not engaged in a political project in any true sense of the word. They are not trying to convince anyone to become a White Nationalist or to score victories in a political struggle. The vanguardists are radical non-conformists who are expressing their own sense of individuality in an underground sub-culture.

Vanguardists are the beatniks, hippies, goths, or punks of the White Nationalist movement. If it is shocking to the bourgeoisie to get a tattoo or a piercing, how much more shocking is it to get a swastika tattoo or parade around main street as a uniformed Neo-Nazi?

If vanguardist behavior comes across as “offensive,” it is because that is the intended and desired effect.

(3) Turn on, tune in, drop out – When seen in this light, vanguardist behavior starts making a lot more sense. It was their counterculture predecessors on the Far Left that pioneered dropping out of the hopelessly corrupt system:

The Hippie Code:

“Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you have known it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on, if not to drugs, then to beauty, love, honesty, fun.”

I like to think of vanguardists as “totalitarian hippies.”

They are radical expressive individualists with an authoritarian streak. Their tendency to quarrel among themselves and their refusal to yield to authority (except when they are the dictator) is the major reason their organizations always prove so dysfunctional and short lived.

As with the hippies, “the system” is not as impenetrable as vanguardists imagine it to be. When the hippies grew up and got real jobs, they “mainstreamed” the counterculture.

(4) Communication – Their radical sense of alienation, ethnogenesis and expressive individualism all combine to produce a failure to communicate between vanguardists and White America. They can’t get beyond the communication stage.

This is due less to a vast Jewish conspiracy than it is to succumbing to their own alienation and no longer having much in common with their audience. It certainly doesn’t help matters that they are aggressive and antagonistic toward their audience.

(5) Lemmings – As I explained above, the vanguardists sail deep into the waters of alienation where they undergo ethnogenesis and become a distinct tribe of White people. They have set sail away from White America. During their voyage, they have accumulated markers that distinguish themselves from ordinary people, namely the rejection of their own nationality.

When the vanguardists look back at the world they have left behind, everyone on the shoreline looks indistinguishable. They all look like gullible herdlike lemmings from the perspective of a radical non-conformist.

The vanguardists then conclude that ordinary people are too stupid to be worth bothering with. The system is too powerful. They cannot be persuaded of anything because the media is so influential.

In reality, the real problem is the self-imposed isolation of the vanguardists, not the legitimacy of the mainstream media, which fell into disrepute in Middle America for over two decades now.

(6) Non-Conformists – The vanguardists draw the conclusion that only a tiny minority of White people are persuadable, namely, the non-conformist intellectuals who have an authoritarian personality type that don’t immediately dismiss an extremely radical message.

The vanguardists look at the numbers and accept the premise that they cannot spread their message, successfully, to a wider audience; this in spite of the available evidence. They don’t have the numbers to compete in mainstream democratic politics or even a desire to do so.

(7) Rhetorical Radicals – The last thing a radical non-conformist wants to do is “shut up” and “blend in” or “work within the system.” As a matter of principle, vanguardists refuse to work within the experience of their audience, which is boring and bourgeoisie. This results in a failure to communicate and reinforces their cardinal belief that “the system” is hopelessly broken.

As I explained above, the radicalism of the vanguardist is not in any sense a political project. Rather, it is a type of expressive individualism for radically alienated people.

That’s why it is extremely important to the vanguardist that his radicalism be based in rhetoric and words which communicate his own sense of alienation and individuality to the man on the street.

(8) Z.O.G. – For the vanguardists, there has to be an explanation for their inexplicable failures, which cannot in any sense be pinned on their own misguided behavior: Z.O.G. motherfuckers, man.

Jews control the media. That’s the problem.

If the vanguardists like Alex Linder or Bill White could only get on television, all their problems would be solved. Presto, everyone in America would want to become a radically alienated, angry non-conformist who worships Hitler and practices Creativity like Craig Cobb.

The obvious problem with this theory is that the Jews are more than happy to put the vanguardists on television and write about them in newspapers. They almost never miss a chance to do so.



The Jews have given vanguardists free publicity ever since the days of George Lincoln Rockwell in order to portray all White Nationalists as violent, unsympathetic, alienated fanatics who dream about The Day of the Rope and kooks who have nothing in common with ordinary White people.

(9) Fantasism – Given all the above, Jews controlling the media, the lemming like behavior of White people, the omnipresent Z.O.G. which framed Edgar Steele, the patriotards who identify with America, the foolish “mainstreamers” who keep pushing the “system politicians” … vanguardists are pessimistic about our future.

They have given up on engaging ordinary White people and persuading them to become White Nationalists. So what is there left to do?

Create an elaborate fantasy world.

Vanguardists are radically alienated non-conformists. They are bearish on reality. Their whole lifestyle is based on rejecting reality and fitting in with their peers. This is why vanguardists have never created anything resembling a practical plan for getting us to the White ethnostate. Any such plan would have to take into account reality based obstacles that they would much prefer to ignore.

The way vanguardists tend to cope with reality is through an overactive imagination.

The best example of a vanguardist creating an elaborate fantasy world is Harold Covington’s Northwest Quartet. It assumes all kinds of wildly unrealistic scenarios. The Pacific Northwest is like Ireland and vanguardists are the IRA liberators of the people.

It has been a cornerstone of vanguardism since the days of George Lincoln Rockwell that the collapse of the system is imminent and that vanguardists will seize power in the aftermath. “Worse is better” is a strategy for realizing this fantasy world.

If every defeat for White Nationalism is a secret victory, then all we have to do is keep on losing, and in the long run we will win, without making any sacrifices or inconveniencing ourselves in any real way.

Conveniently omitted from this optimistic narrative is that vanguardists, as radically alienated non-conformists, calculate their every action to maximize the offense given to their neighbors. In the event of a real national emergency, vanguardists are about the last people in America that would emerge as leaders in their local communities.

(10) Escapism – Fantasizing about the inevitable collapse of the system and the imminent rise of the Northwest Republic is one way of coping with the unpleasantness of reality. Escapism is another.

This is why vanguardists have so many arcane debates about historical subjects like Holocaust revisionism. One way to flee from reality is to escape into the distant past or the near future or to the comfort of a more hospitable country abroad.

You can spend a good amount of time that way avoiding the things you dislike about your own neighborhood.

(11) Violence – As explained above, fantasism and escapism are the bread and butter of vanguardists, who have largely given up on reality based methods in light of their own extreme level of alienation from society.

Most of the fantasist schemes (i.e., the Northwest Republic) involve successful acts of criminal violence. The Order is one example of a group that took this sort of talk seriously.

Unfortunately, violence tends to have exactly the opposite effect.

White people in the Pacific Northwest were glad to be rid of The Order. They responded negatively to Oklahoma City and threw their support behind the federal government. The only people who saw James von Brunn as a martyr were other alienated vanguardists.

(12) Lashing Out – The last resort of the vanguardist is lashing out. This usually takes the form of rhetorical sabotage (i.e., pissing in the punch bowl) on other pro-White websites.

Spreading defeatism is one way of empowering our enemies, sharing the misery of the alienated, sapping the White resistance, and punishing White people who fail to respond well to their own righteous anger.

Final Thoughts

Vanguardists can’t win.

They can’t win because they actually want to lose. If every defeat is a secret victory, vanguardists have been winning for decades, although you would never know it from the state of White America, or the state of every vanguardist organization in existence.

Vanguardists have no solutions to our problems. Their hostility to our target audience makes our job harder, not easier. They say they want a revolution. A vanguard is supposed to be a spearhead of a revolution.

If that is the case, they should finally man up and go make one, instead of constantly trying to disrupt what we are trying to do, which is what works, as we saw yesterday.

About Hunter Wallace 12381 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Lemmings behaving lemmingly:

    Gallup: Only 13 percent approve of Congress


    Americans’ satisfaction with Congress has hit an all-time low in a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

    Just 13 percent said they approve of the job Congress is doing, while 83 percent said they disapprove.

    The lowest approval rating for Congress in a Gallup survey prior to this poll was 14 percent in July 2008.

    Among Democrats, 16 percent approve of Congress, down from 29 percent in November. Republicans are less positive, with 7 percent saying they approve of the job Congress is doing.

    We can’t work within the mainstream. Civilization has to collapse.

  2. Lew,

    I wrote a long response to your response to me, yesterday; the computer ate it, somehow, when I attempted to “submit” the comment. I had to go to work, so I had no time to to re-write the post.

    I want to apologize to Sutherners. I want them to know that there are Yankees tht know what happened. It’s wrong to let things fester. Which is what Whites do, to White detriment. I believe that Southerner Whites and Northern Whites must work together – as WHITES.

    You ought not be embarrased a whit by the Southerners that have challenged me. Their remarks were witty, and en pointe. There was only one fellow that exhibited real bitterness, behind his very elegant words (Southerners still know how to turn a gorgeous phrase). My reply to him astonised him. He kept pressing, as though he could not believe what a Hated Yank was saying. I guess he expected a pro forma “You’se guys owned slaaaaaaves – and you were BAD” reaction. I think I shocked him far more than he shocked me. I love that! Anyway – to a man (and it’s always men who overtly challenge. Southern women are more…Belles with a Switchblade hidden in their Expensive Bag, on this subject). I believe I provided him with a whole new avenue of thought….and was delighted with the opportunity to do so.

    One of my favorite Founders was a dyed-in-the-plain-wool Connecticut Yankee to the core Stephen Hopkins. He was a contradictory fellow – a Quaker, and yet a fiery orator, and he called for rebellion from English tyranny decades before we actually did. When he was a member of the Continental Congress, his vote on the debate as to whether or not we should rebel from England was one of the things that history turns on. He was depicted in the film “1776” as an ornery old drunken goat (he was much more educated, polished, and “professional” than his characterization – and he did love his Jamaica rum), who, when asked as to whether the Congress should debate in the first place, his character replied with the words “I’ve never seen, heard, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about. Hell yes, I’m for debating anything!”

    I am trying to source the comment. Those lines are well in keeping with everything else Hopkins ever said. A great deal of the dialogue for mthat film was taken form direct quotes of the sources. That said- I saw the film when I was 11 years old. I can not – can NOT describe the impact that line had on me. I am not understating the case when I tell you that those 2 sentences have been one of the primary influences in my entire life.

    So I’m glad and gratified when a Southerner brings up the War of Northern Aggession. This means a Southerner is willing to talk about a deeply important issue. It’s not “ancient history”. The conflict is still very much at play, culturally, and in the struggle for the course of this Nation. I’m thrilled that a Southerner is talking to me. We Yanks and Southrons are not enemies; the dialogue helps clarify who the real enemies are!

  3. I hope folks here are also paying attention to the discussion of this “Why Vanguardists Can’t Win” essay on Stormfront.
    Here is the second page, where the discussion really gets to the heart of the matter:

    At the end, Old Fritz really hit the point home much better and simpler than I did here. He is a leader..I am not and never wanted to be. Old Fritz isn’t saying that the tactical gains made in battles about immigration/affirmative action/etc are nothing…but he is saying it is temporary and often quickly undone; it is not enough…it is not the grand prize; these are skirmishes in a very big and long war; Whitey needs more from its leaders than what the conservatives have been offering (and yes of course, the same goes for the “vanguardists” too).

    People like me are angry at the whole ‘movement’: angry at the mainstreamers because they tend to lose perspective and become carbon-copies of the “conservatives” they tell us that they are trying to move towards us, and frustration at the fringe folks who have the right principled ideals and genuine dissident spirit but not much of the “get ‘er done” stuff in them. We get angry because there seems to be a lot of confusion in pro-White circles about what is this White race we are supposed to be fighting for, why it is a necessary fight, and what is our ultimate goal in prosecuting this fight. WNs have never clearly, decisively ironed out and these important fundamentals in cohesions with each other (and I suspect many of us haven’t really clarified and ironed it all out in ourselves either).

    You know, Mr. Wallice’s critique could have been useful to the advancement of our racial cause, if that had been the intention, if the method had been CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM, and if it was balanced by a similar constructive critique of the state of pro-White conservativism/right-wingers. The entire WN movement deserves and needs such a critique in order to advance. None of us can claim to have won. None of us can claim to have it perfectly right, until we have the result of victory already in our hands and can justly wear that crown. Until then, we need to decide what we are really striving for and find some major degree of agreement on it, then we need constructive criticism, and then we need some constructive actionable solutions.

    What do we really and specifically want to accomplish?
    What are the conservatives doing right? What needs to be changed/improved?
    Where are the vanguardists right? what needs to be changed/improved?
    After that is figured out, we can get into the specific constructive actionable steps. We can figure out how not to put all our eggs in one basket. We can figure out a stronger, more productive and more advancing division of labor. We could start to see ourselves as part of a common team, but with different useful roles, different deployments and different battlegrounds, and within different White population segments most suited for each of us to do our best and be our best for the racial struggle.

    We have to decide whether our racial Cause comes first (and what precisely that is), or do we and our own aesthetics/fetishes/materialistic and career interests/”movement” sect reputations/etc. come first?

    So here we are… a bunch of pro-White folks who are frustrated with our situation and frustrated/untrusting of each other (surely for lots of good reasons). So where do we go from here? How do we really go up from here?

  4. Most Vanguardists refuse to do anything constructive. There is actually a strong case to be made that the system is broken and broken permanently, so you would think the vanguardists would be pulling out all the stops to PERSUADE people who don’t already agree with them the vanguard position is correct. But no, they don’t bother with persuading anyone. Instead, they retreat into self imposed isolation, preach to the choir, and insult any who disagree by calling them lemmings. There are exceptions of course but those exceptions do not change the general case.

  5. The vanguardists aren’t willing to think seriously about our problems.

    (1) The polls have repeatedly shown that the public is opposed to amnesty. Whites are even more adamantly opposed to it. This contradicts the vanguardist myth that ordinary people are lemmings.

    (2) The polls have consistently shown for two decades now that the public has little trust in the mainstream media. Newsweek was sold for a dollar. CNN’s ratings have plummeted. Newspapers are declining in circulation. This also contradicts the vanguardist belief that ordinary people are lemmings.

    (3) Conservatives are overwhelmingly opposed to amnesty and liberalizing our immigration laws. Anyone who doubts this ought to start reading Free Republic. This contradicts the vanguardist belief that conservatives are worthless.

    (4) The worthless Republicans have blocked the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform multiple times.

    (5) The only thing stopping the DREAM Act now is a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The threat of a filibuster has stopped it twice already within the last four months.

    (6) Something like 20 percent of Americans believe the federal government has the consent of the governed.

    (7) Over 50 percent of Americans consider the federal government a direct and immediate threat to their freedom.

    (8) White Americans overwhelmingly believe their children will be worse off and that the country is headed in the wrong direction. You would never know this from talking to vanguardists.

    (9) If the system is broken, why are the Democrats pushing so hard for everything they want now? Why are they threatening to keep the lame duck in session all the way until January 4th?

    Maybe it is because they know their legislative agenda (including the DREAM Act) is dead in the water in 2011.

    (10) The vanguardists actually believe that losing is a strategy.

    (11) They believe in attacking the people who agree with us on issues like immigration and who are persuadable on other issues.

    (12) They insist on erecting unnecessary obstacles to communication that makes our job of seizing power harder … for no other reason than to express their own individual sense of alienation.

    (13) If the vanguardists were serious about changing the status quo, they would have to get over their own alienation and start working with the Whites who are persuadable.

    (14) They would have to prioritize immigration and translate their worldview into concrete goals.

    (15) They would have to map out a strategy for getting us to the White ethnostate.

  6. Hunter, what do you make of the fact that Potok, Foxman, Dees, Zeskind, Jealous and their lackeys are always attacking the grassroots conservatives? It seems to me that these attacks are more evidence the Vanguardists are wrong about the conservatives. If the conservatives are just worthless sad sacks with no potential to take this country in a direction that the SPLC and the ADL does not want to go, why would Zeskind and the others spend so much time attacking them?

  7. “more evidence the Vanguardists are wrong about the conservatives”

    Or that they were right that white conservatives wouldn’t get motivated until a collapse, or more accurately when they could just about *see a potential collapse looming on the horizon*, but they don’t realize yet that the collapse (in those terms) has started and they need to come out of the bunkers now and get active.

  8. While most people aren’t as deluded as the knoxville type clowns, I do see a sort of vanguardist groupthink invade the thinking of otherwise rational people.

  9. I’m ready to applaude the precision with which Hunter Wallace hit the bone with this essay. The matter of alienation amongst “vanguardists” have been a critical dampener on growth of White Nationalism throughout the Western world, to a greater extent than most people probably realise.

    For all the lies and foul methods of the mass media and politicians, what really have blockaded ethnocentrism amongst Europeans is the behaviour of “vanguardists”, who have been given publicity and screen time by the media in order to blackpaint White Nationalists and turn the public against dissidents, despite heavy mistrust against the current establishment since the 1980s. After all, the blooming of the alienated skinhead subculture and the sheer amount of free bad publicity it provided about the ethnocentric Europeans was a catastrophe. (Note, of course, the importance of movies such as Romper Stomper to lure culturally wrecked working class youths into the skinhead trap, as well as certain “alluring” media coverages about the early skinheads which reinforced this effect.)

    Level-headed, intellectually honest and non-frothing arguments and articles, mainly on the Internet, have swayed considerably more people towards a pro-European position than any amount of contraproductive, uniformed stomping about and “vanguardist” subcultural oddities that rival Hippies and the like in their aggressivenes to functioning communities.

    In the coming years, please do not give the mass media any free goals by swastika flag waving and the like. We need a vital movement focussed on our survival, which is open to the populace not alienated from it, and which is able to work with the tools and material at hand. Although a heavy coat of hyper-egalitarian lies and belief systems covers the main populace’s thinking, a great many of them are able to spot at least some of the major flaws with the current regime. What they need are pro-Whites who are good at working with people and informing them of the dire situation at hand.

    That ought to give us good odds towards the, sadly, quite probable collapse and/or civil war which immigration-burdened Western countries face in the decades to come. Perhaps a collapse is necessary or at least unavoidable, but apart from preparing for it, we would be stupid not to try hard to sway the people before it all goes apart in the seams. This whole mess might be possible to solve without bloodshed en masse.


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