This book is written for us—for people who have a clear understanding of race and are ready to fight. It makes a few basic race-related arguments—”survival of the different races and cultures is as important as the survival of the whale, elephants, and different birds”—but its entire thrust is practical: What must we do to survive?
Welf Herfurth, a German now living in Australia, has thought intensely about racial politics for decades. He has studied deeply, he writes well, his insights are sometimes brilliant, and he is not afraid to cast aside even the most fundamental notions about how Western societies should be run. I think his conclusions—even his assumptions—are almost always dead wrong, but A Life in the Political Wilderness is still one of the most provocative essays on practical racial politics to appear in some time.
Mr. Herfurth has a distinctly European view of politics that was nurtured in his days as an activist in the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), but travel has tempered his perspective. He was living in Iran at the time of the Khomeini Revolution and was impressed by how a seemingly impregnable regime can fall when the people oppose it. A stay in South America and many years in Australia have also colored his views. The result is this collection of essays that appeared elsewhere, but hang together very nicely without duplication.
A Leftist Revolutionary
Mr. Herfurth is the last person one would expect to find in American racial circles: a Leftist revolutionary. He notes, like many before him, that nationalism (his word for white racial consciousness) is so fundamental it is neither Right nor Left, but in a world of categories, it falls naturally on the Left:
[E]very nationalist I have encountered has opposed the neoliberal agenda of free trade, privatization, deregulation, union-busting, etc. Nationalists take a left-wing position on most economic issues.
He believes nationalists should break the Left’s monopoly on opposition to capitalism and globalism, and repackage themselves as “a revolution of the decent, i.e., people who are not underclass but who deserve better treatment.” He wants to appeal to those who feel left out of the market system, and says American nationalists who talk about small-government and classic liberalism have it all wrong.
Mr. Herfurth admits that capitalism has created wealth but argues that the cost in alienation has been much too high. He notes one of the key communitarian tenets of Leftism:
“. . . the need to increase community bonds, a sense of fellow-feeling and shared destiny, and have members of the community work, at least in part, for the good of the whole instead of their own selfish benefit.”
He also cites Leftist slogans from May 1968: “The society of alienation must disappear from history. We are inventing a new and original world.” He adds that this is precisely “what we nationalists are trying to achieve: an overcoming of the alienation of members of the white race.”
One road to healthy community is redistribution: “We need to move towards an economy where people are treated on the basis of their ‘merit,’ their ‘social value,’ and not merely their market value.” That takes big government.
Mr. Herfurth stresses over and over that no movement can make progress unless it appeals to economic interests, and believes that the current world recession makes a turn to the Left especially appealing. He suggests that unemployed people over 55, along with recent college grads who cannot find a job are perfect candidates for (racial) nationalism.
Mr. Herfurth argues that most whites will oppose immigration when they realize it hurts them economically. In Australia, it is the middle-class Pakistani or Indian who takes a job in law, medicine, or accounting, that puts a native white out of work. Whites can therefore more easily oppose white collar immigration than Sudanese or Kurd asylum seekers who go on welfare but do not compete for jobs.
As he explains, “A racist slogan like ‘Pakis go home’ is not the expression of a social movement; it is an expression of animus or resentment.” Instead, nationalists must explain that Pakistanis are economic competitors.
Mr. Herfurth would even have Nationalists dress like lefties in black, anarchist garb and, at least outside of America, lead demonstrations against MacDonald’s and Starbucks. This confuses and enrages the liberals. At the same time, fighting globalism is a way to oppose the capitalist system and take a stand for local identity.
Mr. Herfurth insists that the basic goals of nationalists are not different from those of liberals: a just economic system, a caring society, local autonomy, rising standards of living, a strong sense of community. The only real difference is that liberals believe these things can be achieved in a multi-racial society because they have convinced themselves that race does not matter. Nationalists know better, but by endorsing the same goals as the Left, they can inject a necessary understanding of race into the search for a better life.
Mr. Herfurth is not much interested in party politics but instead wants a cultural revolution. How do you get that?
“It is an axiom of modern political life that no revolution has ever succeeded without the support of students . . . . It is almost certain that once the universities go, the rest of a country’s institutions go.”
He warns that “if a piece of propaganda scares students, white, middle-class, and left-leaning youth, and fails to appeal to them, then it won’t appeal to anyone.” He says that in Australia, even out-and-out Marxists who mouth Trotskyite nonsense get better attendance at their events than nationalists, because they are on the Left and can attract young people.
Mr. Herfurth notes that the traditional Leftist concern for workers does not conflict with nationalism, pointing out that Communists in China, Vietnam, and Cambodia were ultranationalist. No mushy multi-culti for them. Likewise, what does support for mass immigration or gay rights have to do with solidarity with the working class? Nationalists can win support—and also fly the Leftist flag—by putting the emphasis where it belongs.
For this reason, Mr. Herfurth says the British National Party gets it right when it says, “We’re the Labor Party your granddad used to vote for.” This is healthy, nationalist, economic Leftism without the vile excrescences we now associate with the Left. Mr. Herfurth only wishes the BNP would go further and say, “We’re the radicals who rioted at Seattle in 1999.”
Comes the Revolution
Mr. Herfurth is a genuine revolutionary who does not believe in the multi-party system at all. Political parties just split the country into squabbling, selfish interests and, most of the time, serve party hacks rather than the people they claim to represent.
Nationalists and populists think they have the truth, and that their politics reflect the will of the people. They think—mistakenly—that by winning office they can take that truth to Parliament and legislate around it:
I myself applaud the efforts of the electorally successful populist parties like the BNP, the FN and the Vlaams Belang; but the existing constitutional order, in Australia, and in Europe, is the disease, not the cure.
A good many nationalists in Australia and elsewhere are in political fairy-land; they think they can form a nice little bourgeois liberal democratic party, and be treated with the same respect, and enjoy the same rights as all the other liberal democratic parties.
Instead, even the most successful and reasonable European nationalist parties face the cordon sanitaire and are never treated as legitimate representatives of the electorate. Since party politics are stacked against nationalists, Mr. Herfurth wants something else:
The nationalist thing to do would be to abolish these parties, which represent conflicting, warring interests, and amalgamate them all into one giant party which would represent the national good.
Mr. Herfurth would do the same with trade unions, industry lobbies, and professional associations. If that sounds like dictatorship, he does not deny it. He notes that separation of powers was instituted so that no one would hold too much power and thus misuse it, but:
I myself hold the opposite view: political office without the limitations of the separation of powers and the constitution confers a grave responsibility on the politician who holds it. By placing all the responsibility in his hands, the politician is forced to make the right decision.
He insists that “by diffusing power, no one ends up holding it, and so no one ends up bearing responsibility—for success or failure.” At the same time, elected officials do not care about the long term because they may be voted out of office any time. The solution is plain: “In order to achieve nationalist goals, the existing liberal and parliamentary order must be overturned.”
Even liberal freedoms of assembly and the press are a snare because they do not apply to nationalists. They give the appearance of liberty while the system crushes dissent through extra-legal means. In Mr. Herfurth’s view, a nationalist regime would end the charade and make sure only the right ideas were promoted.
As he puts it:
Surely elections, multi-party systems, frequent changes of government, the freedom of the press to snipe and criticize the government of the day, and parliamentary debates, cannot be ends in themselves? Was Iraq invaded to give the Iraqis these dubious blessings?
In one of the book’s most remarkable passages, Mr. Herfurth writes:
I as a nationalist look at a country like North Korea or Cuba, with some degree of envy: there, the respective populaces are disciplined, and led by a political leadership which is anti-US and which, despite all its faults, acts in the national interest as represented by the State—above all classes, all special interests, which exist in our own liberal democratic societies. . . . [O]ne can be sure that social pathologies are dealt with firmly by the law. At the same time, non-one doubts that Cuba and North Korea are dead and repressive countries, and that their standard of living is far below that of the Western States. The challenge for any theorist of Western nationalism is to isolate the good from the bad.
Mr. Herfurth argues that a regime that forbids elections and the formation of opposition political parties does not necessarily lack the support of the people. The people can show support through acclamation or passive consent.
But how will movements that cannot even get a seat in parliament manage to overthrow the system? Many nationalists argue that the fight should be to change the culture first; politics will follow. Mr. Herfurth cites the example of past mass movements started by communists and fascists, and the contemporary case of the Islamic radical groups Hamas and Hezbollah, which “are charities, religious groups and guerilla armies.”
The idea is to create parallel movements and organizations that operate outside of politics and that eventually overwhelm a corrupt system.
As he puts it:
Nationalism has to be expressed as a style, as a way of life, before it can become an electoral movement. . . . Nationalism must, before it becomes embodied in a party, be a state of mind and a mass movement.
If that mass movement ends up taking power the way Mussolini did in his march on Rome, so much the better.
Mr. Herfurth says that the NPD has the right idea. Especially in East Germany, “it runs kindergartens, discos, youth groups, community volunteer organizations which assist pensioners.” Even parts of the Red Cross are “fully controlled by nationalists.” The main idea is “Germans helping other Germans.” Some people call this the “soup kitchen strategy.” Mr. Herfurth himself is in a volunteer fire brigade, which is a typically non-political organization that can be a vehicle for changing culture.
The great obstacle to nationalism is the liberal insistence on the equivalence of races. Mr. Herfurth argues that the present leaders of the West are racial liberals because they fought a long battle against Apartheid, segregation in the South, the White Australia Policy, and other nationalist programs. Our rulers seem to think they are still fighting the same battles, but Mr. Herfurth hopes the younger generations will be able to see the catastrophe their thinking is bringing on.
A more immediate irritant are the “anti-fa” (“anti-fascist”) militants who sincerely believe we are secretly planning death camps for “the racially impure.” They are motivated by hatred and nothing else. As Mr. Herfurth notes, ask them if they have a policy on unemployment or trade and they will draw a blank. As he puts it, they “believe in racial harmony and the brotherhood of man—and the use of violence to enforce it.”
At the same time, nationalists make many mistakes. Mr. Herfurth decries “the standard white nationalism/Nutzi [sic]/Far Right nationalism, which is geared towards kicking the Negroes, the Hispanics, the Muslims, etc., out of one’s country.” All this does is attract white trash, and is, in any case, purely negative:
Even a thorough-going ethnic cleansing of non-whites will not overcome social alienation. Much of the social pathologies in the West can be traced back to the individual’s isolation and alienation from his community.
Even if whites have homelands, Mr. Herfurth thinks they could split into alienated isolation. This is part of the problem of nostalgia: “Many of the Far Right populist politicians in Europe, the USA, and Australia seem to want a return to the bourgeois, halcyon days of the 1950s, which were whiter, cleaner and safer, but hardly communitarian.” The past will not return and nationalists must prepare for something different.
The nostalgics think they must dress in suits, and appease their critics by acting as housebroken as possible. Mr. Herfurth argues that the system cannot be appeased because it hates us, and trying to please it only sets up our opponents as the arbiter of correct behavior. But it is even more stupid for nationalists to deck themselves out in runes and Celtic crosses—and worse—that scare people. It is the regalia of the Left, along with a communitarian sympathy for the disfranchised that will create a new system and a truly nationalist culture.
Mr. Herfurth believes that the young are still rebellious and that they can be attracted by an appeal to heroism. Being a nationalist takes guts—though only when nationalists come out from behind their computers. Mr. Herfurth laughs at racialists who praise the courage of the white man but are terrified of a lefty with a camera. He points out that the challenges we face are nothing compared to Robert Mugabe’s political opponents, for example, or the Tibetans who stand up for their country against the Chinese. As Mr. Herfurth says, nationalist politics is “a duty to my nation and to my people,” and duty means hardship and risks.
It would be easier for Americans to critique Mr. Herfurth’s Leftists prescriptions if we had a thriving nationalist movement that had real influence on policy. Even so, it is hard to imagine his conception taking root here—or anywhere else. Even if nationalists could be persuaded to lead demonstrations against big business and the World Bank—and that would be a struggle—it would be hard to convince anyone they were Leftists. Racial egalitarianism is now the central dogma of the Left, and the most doctrinaire Marxist will be run off the Berkeley faculty if he says the wrong things about race. When the Bloc Identitaire distributes pork soup to the poor in France, no one thinks it is a Leftist gesture, because it leaves out Muslims. Any nationalist who managed to convince the Left he was one of them would have to suppress his racial consciousness to the point of futility.
Nor is there a good way to start a Leftist racial-consciousness campaign that appeals to class or economic interests—desirable though that would be. In the West, the poor are largely non-white, so redistribution benefits them rather than whites. This is why blacks and Hispanics are all for handouts and why Tea Party activists are called “racists” when they oppose them. Whites resent the taxes they pay for dialysis for illegals and school lunches for their children. Nationalists can—and do—make a useful economic-interests argument against that, but it is an argument of the Right, not the Left. Any policy that lets rich whites keep their money out of the hands of poor non-whites comes from the Right.
Ethnomasochism is so central to American thinking that an economic argument that makes perfect sense in a non-racial context is unacceptable as soon as there is a racial element. If the crime-prone, uneducated, non-English-speaking, tax-consuming immigrants that cross our Southern border were white we would do a cost-benefit analysis and tell them to stay home. It is precisely because they are not white—and therefore bring “diversity”—that sensible arguments make no headway. A Tea Party appeal to what amounts to white economic interests is a vital first step, but until the racial insanity is cured, that will not get very far.
If anyone should have a Leftist, working-class reason to resent Mexican immigrants it is blacks, who compete with them for jobs. An anti-immigrant alliance with blacks is possible and even desirable, but that is a roundabout expression of racial consciousness.
The nationalist movements that succeed in Europe do not preach a class/economic message. They appeal to history, culture, kinship, and tradition. As many of them put it, they are Identitarian. If whites are unable to see themselves as a distinct people with a distinct destiny, no appeal will save them.
What probably most startles American readers of Mr. Herfurth’s book, however, is his admiration for the one-party state. He is right: the balance of powers is designed to make sure no one gets too much. He is also right that politicians represent narrow segments of society and even betray those segments when it suits them. Hans Hermann Hoppe argues that monarchy is better than party politics because a monarch actually owns his country and cares about its future, whereas politicians care only about filling their pockets while they are in office.
But North Korea and Cuba are what you get when one-party states go wrong. A wise dictator may be wonderful: Lee Kuan Yu did well for Singapore, and a case can be made for China’s current Communist party. Saudi Arabia could do a great deal worse than its current royal family, and the mess we have made of Iraq leaves one longing for Saddam Hussein. But is that the way white people want to live?
Even to ask that question evokes Soviet Russia and its satellites, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Peronist Argentina, and Greece under the colonels. Whatever the merits of any of these regimes, they do not inspire today’s whites. Those who are attracted to all-powerful states are like Swedes who think they want to try multi-racialism: “Those Americans got it wrong but we will get it right.” The European Left accuses nationalists of being “anti-Democratic.” It is a very bad idea to give that accusation legitimacy.
Finally, it is good to promote an alternative, racial-nationalist culture. Let there be music, books, stage plays, Internet sites, conferences, and communities that celebrate us and our heritage—as many as possible. But it will be a very long slog before that culture “overwhelms” the system, and if the idea is that the counterculture is to take power through a “march on Rome” rather than through the ballot box, it will scare potential supporters and entrench enemies.
Despite Mr. Herfurth’s incisive criticism of democratic politics, the best chances for our race are in the small countries of Europe, where dynamic nationalist parties influence policy and even hover on entry into government. In Denmark and Austria or in an independent Flanders it is possible to imagine genuinely healthy regimes that could be models for the rest of the continent. Politics of this kind—and it is inevitably identified as Right Wing—is hard work with many setbacks, but it offers more hope than veering Left or dreaming that power will someday fall into the hands of parallel cultures we might build outside of politics.
Of course, we in the English-speaking world are far behind. It is frustrating to see our positions—eminently moral and rational—either ignored or smeared as “hate.” It is vitally important to reflect on what works and what does not, and to imagine different routes to success. Wrong or not, Mr. Herfurth’s ideas are part of our struggle.