Editor’s Note: This is a lot of fun. I hope this calm, civil debate continues. It could be fruitful.
Here’s my response to Patrick Casey’s response:
“Hunter Wallace of Occidental Dissent wrote a response to my recent article, Subculture vs. Strategy. Although I disagree with much of what Hunter outlines in the article, I appreciate his willingness to discuss these issues in a calm, respectful manner without resorting to insults and other petty forms of behavior. …”
There is no reason for insults.
As I said in my last article, I’ve been on both sides of this issue. It is an interesting debate. I understand the mainstreaming mindset because I used to be one. The same is true of Matt Parrott. The truth is that our people shift in between mainstreaming and vanguardism. When they are feeling optimistic about reforming the system, mainstreaming is the dominant paradigm. When they are feeling pessimistic about reforming the system, vanguardism tends to be the dominant paradigm. Many of the people who are now in the mainstreaming camp will eventually become vanguardists.
In the long run, I am sure we will all emerge on the same side of this debate. Mainstreaming is running out of time. We’re on the precipice of mainstream politics failing for good. We’ve only got around 20 years now until we are an outright racial minority in the United States.
“The crux of Hunter’s article is that there will always be a divide between mainstreamers and vanguardists. I think that’s probably true. But as I will argue later, these approaches are not equal. …”
The debate has been going on for 50 years now since it began with Willis Carto and William Pierce in the 1970s. White Nationalists have always had this disagreement on tactics.
“Hunter writes that “The mainstreamers have been attempting to ‘appeal to the normies’ since the days of Willis Carto and the Liberty Lobby…It is a dandy’s conceit to believe that it is about how pretty we look in public. That has nothing to do with it.”
Hunter’s mistake here is assuming that I’m only talking about public appearance. I don’t expect everyone to look like a GQ model. Jeans and a t-shirt is fine for street activism, so long as you’re in decent shape. I’m more concerned with messaging and rhetoric at this point. …”
As Patrick says, appearance is a secondary issue that flows from a difference in mindsets. The fundamental difference is over persuasion. Can the average person be won over to our cause? Is the fundamental problem internal or external to the White Nationalist movement?
The mainstreamers believe the problem is internal and incline toward reform. They believe we are the problem. The problem is our ideas, our appearance, our messaging, our rhetoric, our associations, etc. They believe that negative stereotypes are based in truth. Thus, the key to winning people over is to avoid playing into those stereotypes. That’s why mainstreamers are so concerned about image and appearance. Their strategy is uplift suasion and rests on the key assumption that generating positive images of White Nationalists will erode stereotypes and lead to a mass movement.
The vanguardists believe the problem is external and incline toward revolution. They believe the problem is that Jews control the commanding heights of our culture. This isn’t our fault. The problem isn’t our appearance, our messaging, our rhetoric, our associations – the Ku Klux Klan was a mass membership organizations in the 1920s – all of which were normal and mainstream before Jews seized power in the early 20th century. The problem is that Jewish political and cultural hegemony stigmatizes our ideas, our appearance, our messaging, our rhetoric and our associations as uniquely ugly, violent, hateful and immoral. Jewish power sets the boundaries of “mainstream” discourse and creates negative stereotypes of White Nationalists and positive cultural portrayals of fat, shrieking blue-haired lesbians.
Vanguardists DON’T believe the negative stereotypes have any basis in truth. We’re NOT more ugly, more hateful, more violent or more immoral than anyone else in America. The problem is that Jews control the commanding heights of our culture and make it seem that way. Uplift suasion is doomed to failure because positive portrayals of White Nationalists threaten Jewish power and don’t erode cultural stereotypes. As a result, Identitarians who argue endlessly about the color of their polo shirts remain stigmatized.
At the end of the day, the dividing line is “racism.” The taboo is imposed from above by a Jewish elite who turn a blind eye to anti-White racism out of self-interest. Identity Evropa isn’t the first White Nationalist group to be stigmatized and marginalized as just another “hate group.” The difference here is that Identity Evropa imagines itself to be a higher status group which has no basis in fact.
“But I can tell you that from personal experience, presentation (optics + message/rhetoric) does matter. When I discovered /pol/ in 2012 and learned the truth about various controversial issues, my first reaction was to seek out others of like mind. Unfortunately, I only discovered various 1.0, Neo-Nazi groups, which I found completely unappealing for more reasons than “optics.” Years later, though, I would discover IE and the Alt-Right, and decide to dive in head first. …”
In my case, I came into this scene through Pat Buchanan. I was growing concerned about immigration, multiculturalism and affirmative action. That’s how I stumbled across the truth of changing racial and cultural demographics. None of the existing groups appealed to me and I only got involved in organizations years later when I felt the need to move beyond anonymity. I joined the Council of Conservative Citizens and the League of the South because both groups were pro-White, pro-Southern and pro-Christian and were on the more normal end of the White Nationalist spectrum.
I got involved in this in spite of the “various 1.0, Neo-Nazi groups.” It seems the same is true of Patrick Casey. I’m guessing it was due to a similar combination of truth, self-interest and idealism. That’s what pulls everyone into the orbit of the White Nationalist movement, not the clothes we wear or tattoos or ideology or religion which divides up the scene into the long existing subcultures.
“Conversations with the most active, committed, and intelligent people I know in the movement reveal that they had similar experiences. This is evidence that the 1.0 approach is alienating far more than just “normies”. People with a lot to offer quite often have high standards.”
And yet, the WN 1.0 approach didn’t alienate either of us, or we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Neo-Nazis and skinheads have always existed and most people don’t join groups or ever have any interaction with them. Obviously, it hasn’t stopped bright, idealistic young people from coming into the White Nationalist movement. This is because WN 1.0 was never synonymous with Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and skinheads. It always included more buttoned down real world groups like American Renaissance and the Council of Conservative Citizens.
“Hunter writes that “It is a waste of time to appeal to the average person.” Aside from the obvious defeatism here, this attitude is incorrect because all of us were “normies” before seeing the light. (The term “normie” is used within the context of nationalism to refer to a non-nationalist. If Hunter has a more arcane definition of the term, I do not know what it is.) …”
The average White American is an individualist and conformist and our appeals to the common good of the White race bounce off them like water rolls off a duck’s back because it isn’t in their self-interest to join such a marginal cause. Most people under liberal democracy don’t know who their own ancestors were. We’re not recruiting normal people. We’re recruiting people who are extraordinarily intelligent or idealists or who are transgressive non-conformists. When our cause reaches a critical mass and self-interest becomes a factor, then and only then will we start winning over the average White American. Until then, we have to focus our attention on building a cultural vanguard.
“What you have here is a paradigm that states that
-People outside of the movement are normies
-There’s no use trying to appeal to normies
In other words, there’s no use in trying to appeal to people outside of the movement. Obviously that’s not what Hunter explicitly states, but that is indeed the implication.
The glaring issue here is that all of us, by this definition, were “normies” at one point.
Does this sound like a recipe for success?…”
Forgive me, but I don’t really think in terms of this Alt-Right lingo, even though I sometimes use it.
I was around for years before the Alt-Right got started in 2008. Obviously, “normie” is an overly broad category that masks a range of personality types outside the movement. Some people are more intellectually curious and altruistic than others. Some people are more driven by selfishness and appetite. My point is that the average American is an individualist and conformist (i.e., Pierce’s lemmings) whereas we are collectivists and non-conformists. We attract truth seekers and idealists.
“Later in the article, Hunter writes:
“The funny thing is, identitarianism is also a subculture. It is also a small, insular club that appeals to a narrow slice of the nationalist movement. If these people looked in the mirror, they would see they have their own haircut, clothes, lingo and other class signifiers. Does anyone else see the irony in knocking “WN 1.0” when the people who fund this organization have been around for the last 30 or 40 years?”
Hunter is correct about Identitarianism being a subculture. But I never advocated against forming a subculture at all. Again, going back to the political identity paradox which I explicitly defined in my original article: You need some degree of group identity, but too much of it becomes a bad thing. Having similar haircuts and lingo is in a completely different category than wearing Stahlhelms, roman saluting, and calling for genocide. The former is intruiging and attractive, whereas the latter is outlandish and alienating. …”
I suppose I don’t see it that way.
It’s more like a high school lunchroom where one subculture group sits at one table and another subculture group sits at a different table. In this case, the upper middle class suburbanites who have the same haircut and dress like Best Buy employees don’t perceive the limits of their own subculture. From where I am standing, they come across as kind of deracinated. What’s their non-abstract identity?
My takeaway is that people have always divided over aesthetics. Optics is a naturally divisive subject. This is true of all groups, not just the Alt-Right. It was true in high school. It is true in White Nationalism. Optics is inherently opposed to creating a broad-based, mass movement because it divides people along class and subculture rather than, say, race or religion which has greater appeal.
We should ground our cause in truth and morality, not in optics. A nation includes all classes of its people. It includes fat people, ugly people, dumb people, old people and women too. It includes fascists with fashy haircuts and white polos as well as the one wearing Stalhelms and jackboots!
“At the end of the article, Hunter writes:
“I’ve been around long enough to find this amusing and see value in both perspectives. To be perfectly honest, I swing between both poles. I was more of a mainstreamer when the Tea Party got started and Trump was MAGAing during the campaign. I’ve been more of a vanguardist lately since Drumpf sold us out.”
Again, I appreciate Hunter’s ability to approach this rationally.
But I would implore Hunter to consider that the 1.0 model and the Identitarian model are not equal in terms of effectiveness. …”
I kind of regret popularizing the term WN 1.0. In the months before Unite the Right, I stressed that the fundamental difference between WN 1.0 and the Alt-Right was that the latter had finally overcome the division and infighting of the former, which I remember as its defining characteristic. Now, I don’t believe there is a real difference between WN 1.0 and the Alt-Right. The spectrum of Millennials that runs from Identity Evropa to SIEGE-pilled Atomwaffen is the same as it has ever been.
“For one, it should be noted that the average age at recent White Lives Matter rallies appears to be upwards of 30, which would suggest that the “vanguard” approach is failing to bring in new blood. Most of the people at these rallies, I would wager, have been doing this for decades. That’s not an insult to them, but it’s evidence that the 1.0 approach is not responsible for the recent surge in nationalism and identity that has been commonly referred to as the Alt-Right. …”
It’s true that the average person who attended White Lives Matter is over thirty. The major difference though is that the Hard Right groups are overwhelmingly composed of married men. Nearly everyone in League of the South is married and has children. No one is rage spiraling about thots.
The three largest rallies of the last two decades occurred in 2017 – Pikeville, Charlottesville and Shelbyville. In all three cases, the Hard Right groups participated. There is no evidence that Identitarianism is a larger movement or has greater appeal in North America. All the polls show that it is the exact same constituency which supports the “Alt-Right” or “White Nationalism” or “Neo-Nazism” or whatever you want to call it. The constituency is Disaffected Racially Conscious White Americans.
Meanwhile, Identity Evropa, despite having older members, is largely comprised of young men in their early 20s. Everyone, regardless of age, has something to offer; the point here, though, is that the 1.0/vanguard approach is not bringing in many new people to the movement. …”
Identity Evropa isn’t any bigger than Traditionalist Worker Party. Again, I see it as different strokes for different folks, in this case middle class suburban vs. working class rural fascists.
“Moreover, GI in Europe disproves most of Hunter’s claims. After ditching the 1.0 baggage, GI was finally able to create a movement worth participating in. According to accounts from various GI figures, after deciding to create something new and move beyond 1.0, the did, believe it or not, begin recruiting the “mythical normie” (non-Identitarian) in large numbers.
GI is not civic nationalist, as many of their (seemingly only American) detractors argue. GI leaders have been very explicit about this, but some people seem intent on downplaying GI’s success because it debunks their theories. And make no mistake, GI has been resoundingly successful: taking to the seas to turn migrant vessels away; large rallies of well-adjusted, fit young people; massive chapters in many European countries; phenomenal activism; owning businesses, gyms, and clubhouses, etc. …”
Generation Identity is also dwarfed by the ethnonationalist groups in Europe like ONR in Poland or Golden Dawn in Greece. It has never held a rally anywhere close to the scale of the one in Poland in November. Those LARPers are by far the larger force in European nationalism!
“But perhaps the greatest success GI has achieved is being able to explicitly advocate for their respective people’s interests without being completely barred from polite society. GI is able to work with the AfD, FN, etc. They’re even defended by moderate conservatives when the media decides to attack them. Given the example of GI, it appears that “They’re just going to call you Nazis anyway!” thing is complete nonsense. We want to depathologize ethnic/racial identity, and GI has proven that it’s can be done, so long as that’s actually your goal. Sometimes I’m concerned that many people want to keep ethnic/racial identity as fringe as possible, in order to feel more rebellious. …”
Yeah, I don’t know about this.
In Germany, the rise of AfD was driven by Merkel’s migration crisis and especially by PEGIDA, which IE would dismiss as LARPing around Dresden with flags. In France, the Front National has been around for decades and was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen who is an old school ethnonationalist. Pan-European Identitarianism doesn’t have much traction in Europe. The nationalist scene in Western Europe and Eastern Europe is dominated by ethnonationalist groups.
“Furthermore, the success Identity Evropa has achieved since forming in May 2016 is evidence that what we’re doing is working. We have roughly 1,000 members in chapters all across the country – all of whom have been strictly vetted. We deny more people than we allow in to mainstain standards. We’ve delivered consistent, top-notch activism since the very beginning. In fact, since taking over in early December we’ve deployed at least ten banners, one of which was nearly 200-feet long; we’ve flyered various placed across the country; we’ve created multiple memorials, including one to Justine Damond that garnered international coverage and a large degree of support from those elusive “normies”; and we’ve also ensured that our local chapters are getting together at least 3-4 times a month to socialize. Activism is great, but building local networks and forming social bonds is necessary for having a real movement.”
IE has done a number of great things. I liked the Kate Steinle memorial. I also liked the one in Minnesota. We intended to do a candlelight vigil in Antioch, but a reporter tipped off Antifa and we had to cancel it. There is nothing wrong with banner drops either. I’ve also been talking about the importance of building social bonds off the internet for years now. In our case, the result has been families. I’ve lost count of the number of babies who have been born in our group in the last five years.
“In conclusion, the Alt-Right blew up because it was not 1.0. It created its own culture, memes, content, etc. that was far more creative, funny, and convincing than anything 1.0 had to offer. It was thus able to appeal to young people. At some point, however, certain elements of the Alt-Right began devolving into 1.0, and opting for transgression over strategy. This is why I believe the term Identitarian is a preferable description for what I’m involved with. …”
In defense of WN 1.0, there was no social media at the time. The Alt-Right rose with social media and the smartphone after 2007. Patrick is also rewriting the history of the Trump campaign. The explosion of the Alt-Right on Twitter was always transgressive. It began with the #cuckservative meme in the summer of 2015. It was the Alt-Right at its most vicious in terms of trolling conservatives and journalists in gangs. I mean, it simply isn’t true that we went on there and made a polite, reasonable, milquetoast case for the Alt-Right; it was brutal, so brutal we triggered Jonathan Weisman into writing (((Semitism))). The truth is that things have calmed down on Twitter after the censorship.
What’s more, WN 1.0 suffered from vicious people taking advantage of the anonymity of cyberspace, but Stormfront and VNN Forum in its heyday never held a candle to 4chan in that respect. It simply isn’t true that Alt-Right Millennials and Gen Zers are more polite and moderate. The opposite is true. The content is far more crude and less intellectual in tone than WN 1.0. The smartest people involved in the Alt-Right were all “WN 1.0” and this includes the older people involved with IE.
“My intention here is not to “knock” the people involved in 1.0, as I’m sure many of them are and were, in Trump’s words, “very fine people”. Instead, I simply want to learn from past mistakes to forge a brighter future.
(If you enjoyed reading this, please consider becoming a supporter or leaving a tip. Thanks!) …”
I’m sure the old timers in this scene will find this amusing.
Is there a real difference between WN 1.0 and the Alt-Right or Identitarianism? WN 1.0 was also divided between mainstreamers and vanguardists. WN 1.0 also capitalized on the internet to disseminate its message. WN 1.0 was also characterized by factional infighting. WN 1.0 also suffered from low social capital due to being primarily an online movement. WN 1.0 also had the boots vs. suits divide. WN 1.0 was also constantly rebranding itself with new euphemisms for people whose ideas remained essentially the same. WN 1.0 also had people who believed they could become mainstream through uplift suasion, changing their media image and distancing themselves from Neo-Nazis.
In defense of LARPers, I don’t think they get enough credit or publicity on this side of the Atlantic. Generation Identity and Identitarianism isn’t the only game in town in Europe.