I’ve been having second thoughts about WN 1.0.
The subject has been on my mind lately because it is a concept that we started propagating here many years ago. It was our friend Kievsky who articulated the difference between White Nationalism 1.0 and White Nationalism 2.0. He expanded on this concept on his own blog Mindweapons in Ragnarok although his definition has nothing to do with how the term is used today.
The term WN 1.0 survived the loss of its substance. Kievsky envisioned a White Nationalism 2.0 that would be based on what he described as the three pillars of The Culture of Learning, Entrepreneurialism and Tribalism. This ideal of White Nationalism 2.0 was about the furthest thing imaginable from the post-literate anonymous shitposters on imageboards who came to be entirely dependent on sharing viral memes on corporate social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
I lost interest in the subject and didn’t return to it until the months before Unite the Right in Charlottesville. By that point, I had come to associate WN 1.0 with the years in between the collapse of the National Alliance in 2002 and the rise of the Alt-Right and social media:
“I’ve seen the term “White Nationalism 1.0” bandied about for years. I have always associated it with the White Nationalist movement in the 2000s. I remember it as a time when the movement was dominated by shitposting anonymous messages on vBulletin messageboards, micro-führers like Billy Roper viciously competing with each other over the same small pool of followers and the disorganization and chaos that followed the collapse of the National Alliance in 2002. It was the age of VNN Forum.
White Nationalism 1.0 was the pre-Richard Spencer, pre-Alt-Right, pre-social media era. It was the age of Billy Roper, Alex Linder and Erich Gliebe. It was the age of the vBulletin forum. It was White Nationalism before the smartphone and Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. …”
The overwhelming thrust of my criticism was that WN 1.0 was bad because it was an age of anonymous shitposting. It was bad because the movement was deeply fractured, disorganized and inert. I complained at the time that “these guys were too individualistic to put their differences aside. Their message was too extreme to resonate. They also had unrealistic expectations.”
In everything I wrote about WN 1.0 though, I was careful to paint a more complex picture. Sure, there were buffoons like Glenn Miller, Craig Cobb and Von Bluvens, but there was also men like Gordon Baum, Don Black and Jared Taylor. I also wrote an article in which I listed all the reasons that WN 1.0 failed. I explained why it was never as simple as these guys were just clowns with bad optics.
In the two months before Unite the Right, I had an exchange of words with Billy Roper who opposed the rally in Charlottesville. He predicted at the time that Unite the Right would fail and that within weeks that its organizers would be at each others throats. I think it was Harold Covington who chimed in to agree with Roper on that point. HAC predicted that egos would collide and it would the wreck the whole thing. It had happened before many times in the past and it would likely happen again.
In hindsight, Roper and Covington were correct. That’s exactly what happened and how it played it out. Charlottesville wasn’t the unifying moment that we had expected it to be that would catalyze us to move beyond this era of anonymous shitposting. It was highly divisive and destroyed our momentum. It unraveled with amazing speed as the Alt-Right cracked and disintegrated after August 12th.
Six months later, I look at WN 1.0 and the Alt-Right in a new light. Specifically, the Alt-Right doesn’t really look that different from WN 1.0 if we understand the latter to be a group of largely anonymous people on the internet who were engaged in vicious infighting in the 2000s. If you compared the worst vitriol of VNN Forum in 2004 to the vitriol of shitposters on the chans, would it be better or worse?
Having lived through both WN 1.0 and the Alt-Right, a few differences come to mind:
1.) The Alt-Right’s penchant for vicious trolling wasn’t a prominent feature of WN 1.0. The closest thing that comes to mind would be Bob Whitaker’s Mantra. It was trolling but it was aggravating in the sense that you got tired of being screamed at in ALL CAPS that “Anti-Racists Are Anti-White.”
2.) The psychopathic hatred of women was also relatively absent from WN 1.0 which generally complained about the lack of women in the movement. The idea that White Nationalists would be talking about creating rape squads would have been considered scandalous a decade ago.
3.) WN 1.0 didn’t drive a wedge between generations. There wasn’t the same resentment against the Boomers who are blamed in every other breath these days.
4.) Even though people in WN 1.0 always argued over optics, it wasn’t nearly as focused on aesthetics. I recall bitter arguments over swastikas and brownshits. There was a bitter divide between suits and skinheads. Overall, it seems like WN 1.0 was more interested in morality while the Alt-Right is much more interested in optics. The latter is more visual than the former.
5.) WN 1.0 was far more intellectual than the Alt-Right. READ SIEGE is a meme but in the WN 1.0 days people had the attention span to write books. Academics can’t figure out what the Alt-Right is because it is a post-literate discourse that is communicated though tweets, images and memes.
Admittedly, I’ve been growing nostalgic for WN 1.0. The single best aspect of WN 1.0 was how much I learned in those years. More than anything else, I remember all the debates we had about history, philosophy, religion, science, etc. It was full of bright, well educated people who knew a great deal about the world. I was always learning something new. I’m also struck by how lowbrow the debates have become on forums compared to what I remember when I got involved in the scene.
Where is our William Pierce? I miss those erudite, serious voices. This isn’t a joke.