Michael Walker, American Renaissance, August 2008
When Jared Taylor invited me to speak at the 2008 American Renaissance conference, he asked that I offer an update to a talk I gave on European nationalist movements at an AR conference 10 years ago. Instead, I proposed a talk with the title “What Can I Do?” which he bravely accepted, noting that it was “the most difficult subject of all.”
During the 10 years since I spoke to an AR audience, I have come to feel that a deep interest in the comings and goings–alas as much going as coming–of diverse nationalist movements, interesting and entertaining though they are, has something of the voyeur about it. So many years have passed, so many false dawns have come, that it is time to look closely at our dilemma. It is time not merely to look closer to home, not just to look at them or even at us, but to look at me.
I assume this audience shares with me the three following assumptions: (1) that whatever else we believe we all agree that the culture and influence of the white man are in rapid decline, (2) that this fact is to be deplored, and (3) that over the last 50 years more could and should have been done to prevent that decline.
Other speakers are more able than I to offer analyses and accounts of our situation. Instead, I shall throw off some ideas about how each of us might be more effective. If I give some of you a few ideas this talk will not have been in vain.
My first point is that you must know what you believe. Does this sound obvious? Groups and individuals often seem to be reactive, not clearly stating what they believe. They form groups that sweep far too many difficult subjects under the carpet. If you don’t know what you believe you will have trouble explaining yourself to anyone, let alone convincing him. If you cannot explain what you want, you are on a long trip to nowhere. This is as true in politics as it is in business or private life.
If we know what we believe we come to the next thing we can do and that is stop apologizing. It’s easy not to be apologetic about our beliefs at an AR meeting. I mean stop apologizing in your daily lives. When we apologize we are on the defensive. For example, I never apologize for the British Empire. And as for the subject of reparations for slavery, I believe in reparations the black man owes the white man, if only for the fact that so many black people are alive today and thriving thanks to white hygiene and technical efficiency. That is reason enough for compensation and gratitude.
Here are two different conversations on the same subject that show what I mean about apologizing:
Alan: How can you defend a massive wall between the US and Mexico? It reminds me of Germany. We need Mexicans because they do the jobs we won’t do.
Michael: We need to put up that wall to stop illegal immigrants
Alan: That’s just so negative. This country was built by immigrants anyway.
Michael: We can’t take so many millions at one go, since the country can’t absorb them.
Alan: How can you defend a massive wall between the US and Mexico? It reminds me of Germany. We need Mexicans because they do the jobs we won’t do.
Michael: Is that so? How many of these illegal immigrants do you want? How many would you let in? If it doesn’t matter then say directly that you don’t believe in national boundaries at all. How high should taxes go to support them? How much extra income tax are you willing to pay?
Alan: We have to look at income tax later . . .
I hope you notice that in the second dialogue Michael is not apologizing. Apologizing sounds like weakness, and an impression of weakness is never good in politics.
My next point is about optimists and pessimists. I have often been asked if I am optimistic about these matters, but I have never understood the question. It’s irrelevant. If we believe, we believe, and it is our duty to act on what we believe.
Now it is true that for some, especially for a second generation of supporters of any movement, the chance of success plays a crucial role in their decision to join. For the first generation–the true believers as it were–it is a fatal mistake to make the “chances of success” a gauge of whether to act or not.
Propagandists and leaders of movements tend to be optimists while the members and followers are often pessimists. The pessimists first: we all know them–the doom and gloom merchants. They paint such a negative picture they give the impression nothing is worth trying.
A long time ago there was in the USA a pro-white racially conscious publication that was notorious for its pessimism and downbeat reporting. If you saw someone brooding like Hamlet and asked “What’s up with him?” the answer would be that he had been reading the latest issue. This magazine had an annual series in which the white person whom the editor thought had done the most damage to the white race would be depicted on the front cover, looking healthy and confident, and be awarded the honor of “Majority Renegade of the Year.” I wrote to this publication suggesting a series called “Majority Hero of the Year.” I got a letter back rejecting my proposal on the grounds that there are no majority heroes.
There is another kind of pessimist–perhaps we should call him a misanthrope–who can only see the worst in people with whom he disagrees, instead of trying to work together on the basis of what they hold in common. A well-known British nationalist magazine that is also out of print took the misanthropic view of Harold Wilson, former Labour prime minister of Britain. He was well known for his opposition to Ian Smith’s unilateral declaration of independence in Rhodesia, and was a confirmed internationalist on all major issues. The magazine often ran a not-very-good photograph of Wilson’s owlish face with the caption “No change.”
So far as I know, the nationalist press never conceded anything good about Wilson. It never mentioned the remarkable fact that despite great pressure from Washington, he refused to commit Britain to engagement in Vietnam. He had also surprised many with his unexpected and stubborn resistance to metric measure when Britain joined the Common Market, demanding, for example, that we keep the pint as our measurement for beer. So far as I know, Wilson’s insistence on the pint was unplanned, unpredicted, and based on some instinctive attachment to a cultural memory or tradition. Why couldn’t the nationalist press recognize what was good in this instinct, and argue from it that Wilson should extend his firm positions to other areas? It is wrong always to see only the bad and never the good.
Optimists can do great harm as well. This is especially so when they make rosy, confident predictions about successes that are not achieved. In the past, British nationalists have boasted about how they would perform in elections only to leave their supporters dejected and mistrustful when the miserable results came in.
Optimists are often unable to say they were wrong. A political leader who has misjudged the electorate should be able to admit he made a mistake, but it seems that those who oppose the decline of the white man can never admit they were wrong.
The next point I would like to make is about cranks and historians. I put them together, but I don’t want to imply that all historians are cranks or vice versa. Also, historians are not to be despised and one must be careful whom one calls a crank because many who point out unwelcome truths are called cranks. My definition of a crank is someone whose views are either so persistent, so emphatic, or so extreme as to cause embarrassment in “normal” company. If you feel you might be embarrassed by, say, having someone to dinner with friends or relatives–especially relatives–then he is likely to be a crank.
Women have a better nose than men for cranks and are less afraid to call a spade a spade. Some years ago I went with my wife to a meeting in Germany organized by a man who edited a publication I read regularly and enjoyed. When we arrived a little late he was in the middle of addressing a meeting in exactly the terms one might expect of someone who had just achieved supreme power. In fact he had reached about paragraph 20 of what he called the “Constitution of the Fourth Reich.” My wife was pitiless: “Quite definitely a nutter,” she told me.
What about historians? Bizarre as it may seem, historical controversy often causes more acrimony than does debate about pressing subjects of the present. As a foreigner addressing an American audience, I might assume I could speak respectfully of Abraham Lincoln, but I might be wrong. By speaking of Lincoln I evoke what is to many a bitter past and create unnecessary controversy.
Nationalist parties can create emotional and romantic appeal by evoking history, but they also make enemies. The National Front in France uses the tricolor, the French national flag, as part of its appeal to voters. That flag diminishes my enthusiasm for their cause because it is the flag of the French Revolution, which I despise. What, moreover, might a Breton nationalist who otherwise supports the front think of that flag? At the very least, when we make historical references and appeals to symbols, we should be very aware that they are divisive, and should be very sure of where we stand as to their meaning and legacy. Any political movement that ties its appeal to particular historical figures or movements risks alienating people who would otherwise support it.
It is important to remember that the general public is not greatly interested in history. For Joe Six-Pack, history is a yawn. He is not interested in ideologies or great men, but in what the British socialist politician Tony Benn called “security, peace, and prosperity.” These may seem tame to some of us, but we should not lose sight of their importance. Just see how quickly a festive atmosphere in a non-political setting will sour if you point out that Enoch Powell was right. A few men will think this is an interesting way to start a conversation; almost no women will.
And this brings me to another point: women. I cast my eye around this room and there aren’t enough of them. Nor are there enough of them making the arguments we consider vital. We may not like it but we live in a society dominated by female values. This is not the time and place to look at the whys and wherefores of that or to consider whether it is desirable, but it is so. We need to be realistic–that’s what politics is about, not pious dreams.
What does that mean in practice? Among other things, it means there is even less interest in history and even less susceptibility to historical romanticism than there might otherwise be. It also means that although facts are undoubtedly important, facts alone cannot persuade rationally. Women on the whole are not much interested in comparative IQ statistics. Men may be, but not women. Women are interested in knowing if they or their children can wander the streets without fear of harm or unwelcome attention. That interests women very much and that is where our politics and thoughts should be.
What if you had a group of people who got together to, say, clean the streets in some area because the municipality wasn’t doing its job, or that traveled together on public transport late at night to make sure everyone felt safe? If American Renaissance did this, there would hardly be a woman out there–not even a committed leftist–who would find it in her heart to denounce you.
Some years ago I suggested to the British National Party that it collect trash because it puts your opponents in an awkward position. How do you denounce people for collecting trash? I thought my advice had gone unheeded, but I was very pleased to read recently in an “anti-fascist” posting on the Internet that the BNP was doing just that. “The BNP should know,” the anti-fascists sniffed, “that collecting rubbish is the responsibility of the local council.” That’s not a very effective criticism.
Women are a magnet for any movement; they attract money and men. I’ll give you both a negative and a positive example. About 30 years ago I was at a National Front meeting in central London. I had been told that the new organizer was efficient and ambitious, and it was true. He chaired the meeting in an effective, dynamic way, but there was another person at the meeting, who gave the opposite impression: a young woman making no effort to hide her boredom. “Who is that woman?” I asked, and was told she was the organizer’s girlfriend. “Well,” I said, “either he will lose her or the front will lose him.” Within a month, he had resigned and neither he nor his girlfriend were seen or heard of again.
I can cite a positive example from here in the USA. Some years ago a Briton of my acquaintance organized a group called “American Friends of the BNP,” the purpose of which seemed to be to raise money for the BNP. This person would invite speakers or organize events, at the end of which he would take up a collection. At one of these events he invited two British girls on a visit to America to come to the monthly meeting and help take up the collection. It seems that they were not political in any way and did not really understand what the meeting was about, but they were willing to oblige. They were even willing to oblige when the organizer asked them to wear Union Jack T-shirts. Now if Jared Taylor or I wear Union Jack T-shirts we are just two men wearing T-shirts. Union Jack T-shirts have another quality when worn by young ladies. The takings were reportedly a good 20 percent above the usual figure.
My next point is about networking and socializing. Let us concede that rationally speaking, there is no need for any of you to make the effort of physically attending this conference. DVDs will undoubtedly be made of all the speeches, which can be watched in the comfort of your home. In a sense, our speeches here are just a pretext, in the same way as coffee is only a pretext for conversation when you say to someone, “Let’s have coffee.” What is especially important is that we meet, socialize, get together, make new contacts, renew old ones, and exchange ideas and addresses with a willingness which is never the same when we only see names or faces on a screen.
Some years ago, at about the time the British National Front badly lost an election, it suffered what I thought was an even more serious loss: it lost “Excalibur House,” its social venue where members would meet for a drink or to play billiards. This was, in my opinion, a much more serious setback than a disappointing election result. That many people did not see it that way suggests to me that they do not understand the importance of social cohesion, association, and solidarity as a prerequisite of any political advance or influence. I must first effect change in my own life and the way I interact with others before I can change what is going on in the world at large. This is something women grasp instinctively, and when movements are dominated by men, they suffer from failing to grasp it.
Alliances are my next point; people need to have a better understanding of what an alliance is. In one sense we in this room are an alliance. Mr. Taylor has not made us sign 39 articles of faith before attending this conference. All he needs to do is restrain cranks and historians. I have no doubt that what others here may think about hunting, for example, is quite likely to be different from what I think, but we set those differences aside.
A late political leader noted that “one should be prepared to work with people next to whom one is obliged to hold one’s nose.” He himself was unable to do this, and failed to build bridges that could have been very useful to his organization.
The fact remains that political movements that try to discuss race are always in a ghetto and seem friendless. I wonder how seriously they try to make friends. The best way to make friends is to support other groups out of friendship and conviction without expecting any immediate reward, and to praise, where possible, more readily than to condemn. If we praise a prime minister who defends the British pint we indirectly condemn those who do not. Being constantly negative encourages the “ghetto feeling” and makes one an easier target for attack. This does not mean that one should not attack where attack is justified, but an attack is more effective the more incisive it is, the more it appeals to general justice, and the more it is made in the knowledge of having at least the tacit support of friends.
Schuster bleibt bei Deiner Leistung is a German saying that means each of us should have talents on which we should concentrate. People are for the most part vain and need to be flattered. We need to be better at appreciating what each of us is good at and concentrate on encouraging that talent to flourish. People must be rewarded for what they do. Reward is not the reason we act on our beliefs, but with no reward at all–not even thanks or recognition–it is difficult for any of us to make a full commitment to anything. That is nothing to be ashamed of; it is human nature.
Coming together on the basis of what we believe–and I mean the three points I made at the beginning of my talk–we become a lobby and a force that grows in influence. We are an alliance of people who have come together united in one specific belief. We need to be able to join other social clubs and meeting houses and we need to have a more even balance of men and women than I see here today. These things come before political success.
In France the French New Right understood that, but unfortunately fell into a kind of Parisian intellectual ghetto of its own. Still, the French were right to stress what they called the metapolitical, that which precedes the purely political.
The size of a nation also matters. I think it is no coincidence that, generally speaking, it is among small groups and in small nations that white resistance to multi-racialism is strongest. In small nations, fewer resources are needed to maintain a political party or movement that can have a national impact. At the same time, in a large country there is likely to be more geographical movement, which breaks up the closely knit groups that are the basis for an identity that opposes the one the national government promotes. For these reasons, oppositional movements are easier to start in the smaller European countries.
We should also, as Lenin said, know the enemy. At the present time, the great mass of people are not historical movers and are not going to try to act to change history. They take things as they come, unless provoked by extreme physical duress, and even then they follow committed persons who can offer solutions.
In my opinion the enemies of white survival or separation can be divided broadly into three groups. At the top is a small group of manipulators and propagandists who will never change their views and who are committed to the destruction of all movements similar to AR. All that can be done with them is to beat them. A second, larger group is composed of committed, active opponents, many of whom aspire or feel solidarity with the first group and are politically committed to it. This group includes those who believe they are opposing something truly evil and who draw that belief from distorted or false information. I believe that a large number of these people are women and their numbers and hostility will diminish greatly if we speak rationally and banish crankiness and provocation. The hostile media understand this. That is why they go to considerable lengths to depict racially conscious whites as evil and deceitful, and to portray their efforts as weak and small.
The third group–the largest and the least politically committed–must be made to understand that its interests coincide with ours. Our interests are theirs but they do not yet understand that.
In order to counter the three groups that oppose us, therefore, I need to have the strength to fight the leadership of my opponents directly, to convince some opposing activists that they are misinformed, and to appeal to a larger mass of people by an appeal to facts, strength, and shared interests. Clearly, none of these things can be achieved effectively by an individual alone, so we should certainly be joining groups and engaging in dialogue with the world around us. At the same time, arguing personally with individuals is often more important than spreading propaganda anonymously, and is certainly more important than telling those who already agree with me what they want to hear.
We need to present ourselves well on every occasion, private and public. Media savvy is something that can be learned, but again, it is important not to be defensive or apologetic–nor to be superior or condescending. I recall a British political leader of a white nationalist party being interviewed by a black journalist who made the entirely reasonable point that many colored immigrants were fearful of the suffering that would be caused by any scheme of enforced repatriation. The politician could not hide his condescension for the journalist or his disdain for the question. He insisted that people would simply have to follow the law as it then would be. There was even the suggestion of a smirk on the man’s face.
This left an unpleasant impression on me, even though I was broadly sympathetic to the scheme. One can imagine what kind of impression it must have made on the great majority of people watching the interview. We must, of course, advance our own interests, but it is wrong to be callous about the interests of others.
Another point to bear in mind is that although elitists often forget the people and their importance, populists can make a different mistake. They often miscalculate the effect of robust views expressed by the poorly educated. Those who express robust views are not usually any braver than those who speak more circumspectly; often they simply have less to lose. Rough talk about foreigners or scroungers is no substitute for a strong and well-based conviction that can be translated into deeds and commitment. Talk is cheap and easy, and it is easy to value it too highly. Commitment is quieter and more self-effacing. It is often undervalued and its importance overlooked.
Finally, it is often said that people are “asleep,” or they do not hear the call, or that they are unable to act in what is obviously their own interests. You know the kind of language I mean. I hope I have already replied to that objection. People will join us if they are drawn by the presence of women, the assurance of power, and the pursuit of their own interests.
In this context I should like to see more direct, non-ideological involvement in the day-to-day. A specific example from current American politics would be this: The southern border with Mexico is essentially unguarded, whereas American troops make sure “insurgents” do not cross into Iraq or Afghanistan. How can guarding the borders of those countries be more important than guarding America’s own borders?
Americans will, of course, have many other facts and parallels on which to base trenchant arguments. AR is good at this. Arm yourselves with facts and use them. People are also very inclined to listen to arguments based on fairness. This was what propelled the big advance in civil rights in the 1960s–an appeal to fairness.
At the same time, we must be able to make different arguments at different times. We can, for example, criticize the American government because it is prepared to enforce a bloody peace in Iraq but is not willing to ensure that the streets of Detroit are safe. This is a scandal that the great majority of Americans can surely understand. It is hard to criticize a position taken on these lines. It is easier to criticize one based on historical grievances or truthful but spiteful-sounding statistics about black crime. Some people must come to their own realizations of things in their own way. It is true that black crime rates are substantially higher than white crime rates, but it may not be useful to insist on saying so. It may be enough repeatedly to raise the issue of crime in Detroit and demand solutions rather than explanations from politicians. Some people will find their way to a more realistic understanding of the world when they are confronted with the issues in such a way.
Then again, other people may be impressed by statistics, at least statistics relevant to them. These would be contemporary statistics, not historical ones. Let the dead bury their dead–we are in the business of here and now.
Legitimacy is an important but elusive quality, and it often comes from strength or the appearance of strength. Strength comes above all from social acceptance, and social acceptance works in mysterious ways that are certainly not altogether rational. It has to do with what people think other people are thinking.
Acceptance often comes from activities that are not obviously political. In countries such as Belgium or Denmark or Switzerland where white identity movements are strong, it is possible to organize people unofficially and discretely to offer security on public transport late at night, to help older people, and do other things that receive favorable attention but are not political. Too often, among people who support any minority position, there is an obsession with parties and elections. It must be stressed that electoral success not built on solid social alliances and support will not last. Movements with sure foundations are those that have deep roots as a social and socializing movement, and are recognized and appreciated by people who are not politically engaged. In this respect, political movements are like religions: They are strong if they have healthy social and cultural roots and weak if they do not. I am not saying that one has to belong to a large organization, but three or four people together can achieve more than three or four times what one individual can achieve.
American Renaissance has got some but not all of these things right. On the whole, it avoids cranks and historians. It is difficult to steer between the Scylla of over-respectability by taking bland positions that betray our work, and the Charybdis of ghetto-building extremism. I believe AR also avoids the issues of pessimism and optimism. As far as women are concerned I cannot award AR high marks; if I were Jared Taylor’s headmaster I would say, “Room for improvement here, boy.”
What about in the area of being sure of what we believe? AR does not have a clear political platform, but there may be good reasons for this. Whether AR should in the long term be mainly a magazine or an activist movement is something AR will have to define for itself in the years to come. As for providing an opportunity for networking, AR is to be congratulated. It is hard enough to put on a major conference without having to face scurrilous attempts to undermine you along the way.
As for alliances, anyone is free to disagree with AR’s approach. Even if you agree with the three main assumptions with which I began this talk–about the importance of preserving and strengthening our culture–there may be those who do not wish to work within the same group. In that case, create a new group but not a hostile group. At this stage, there is nothing wrong with having many groups that cooperate loosely, tightly, or not at all, but they should share one fundamental operating principle: They should save their ammunition for those who oppose the very notion of a white future. There may be groups who share your general vision but with whom, for whatever reasons, you cannot work. Do not attack them. Just ignore them and work separately in your own way. Let us be ready to attack, and attack with conviction where and when we are sure of our ground, but nothing is gained by attacking groups with whom we have much in common.
Let me sum up the points I have made: There should more networking, more socializing, and more imaginative initiatives. We should make alliances, be realistic, and ensure that women are not hostile, disgruntled, or simply absent. To slightly misquote what one famous American president said, I should not first be asking what movements or organizations or individuals can do for me, but what I can do for them. It is very hard to answer the question “What can I do?” However, I hope these ideas may help some of you in finding answers to that most difficult question.
[This article is adapted from Michael Walker’s speech at the 2008 AR conference. Mr. Walker is a freelance writer and commentator based in Europe.]