New Vistas for American Renaissance
Richard Spencer, Radix Journal, May 8, 2014
For more than 20 years, American Renaissance and Jared Taylor have set the standard for a White consciousness movement. Others have undertaken this mission: William Pierce, Revilo Oliver, Willis Carto, among them. But Jared has been most successful in adhering to the norms of modern political organization. AmRen has, for two decades, focused on a few key issues that are (or should be) harmonious with “American values”: free association, the legitimacy of group interests, and the scientific study of genetic differences.
Jared has also avoided the obsessions and crankiness that have, unfortunately, characterized much of American racialism. (I have long been under the impression that many in alternative or dissident movements like to indulge in their own marginalization, perhaps out of a desire to shock for shock’s sake, or as a preemptive excuse for failures in life.) With Jared and AmRen, there is a certain radicalness in mainstreaming, in presenting ideas that have world-changing consequences in packages that seem mellow and respectable.
American Renaissance’s 2014 conference took place just outside Nashville, Tennessee, in comfortable Montgomery Bell State Park. It marked the 20th anniversary of AmRen events, a fact that was mentioned only briefly by Jared, perhaps not wanting to dwell on the past. Fittingly, the conference marked a certain milestone.
This had something to do with the contingent of scruffy leftists that protested for an hour or so on Saturday afternoon. It was hard not to chuckle at their signs, which sported crudely drawn swastikas, and their chants, which were a mixture of vague physical threats, vague Marxism, and vague demands for liberal tolerance. Nevertheless, their presence made the conference feel relevant and “real,” not merely academic. (The Forces of Diversity were significantly fewer than last year, probably due to the fact that their previous protest failed to persuade state authorities to shut down the 2013 event.)
For me, the real milestone was the speeches themselves. Indeed, as I listened, I sensed that an evolution of sorts was taking place. The talks of Jack Donovan, RamZPaul, and John Morgan–as well as Alex Kurtagic’s speech in 2012 and my own in 2013–all presented racialism “in a different key.” Perhaps they even presented a reversal of some of the rhetoric that informed AmRen gatherings of the past two decades.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Saturday morning began with the always entertaining John Derbyshire, the kind of man we all wish had been our professor in anthropology or the history of science in college. But I’m afraid I wasn’t able to detect much of a through-line in this year’s presentation. It struck me as wandering romp through Chinese history. Interesting at times, but never necessary.
The next speaker, Douglas Whitman, who presented on the biological reality of race, was a revelation. Whitman’s talk was stimulating, sensible, and generous (though he did twice refer to “those slimy Marxists!”). The revelation was Whitman himself. He struck me as the kind of man, Henry Harpending is another, who could be of tremendous value to our movement. He possesses academic authority (he’s a professor at Illinois State University); he clearly cares about his race and civilization; and he is a “happy warrior.” He also gave us a great slogan for a T-shirt: “Society is a racial construct.”
The way of men
It was with Jack Donovan’s talk that the “evolution” was in full effect. It’s worth noting that Jack Donovan has never identified himself as a “racialist,” “White nationalist,” or “White advocate”; and he is more often attacked as a “self-hating homosexual” or a “misogynist.” Certainly, much about his personal history has rubbed fundamentalists the wrong way . . . But even the most truculent paleoconservative would struggle to deny that Jack’s talk was insightful and masterfully composed.
One dominant mode of thought in American racialism, and AmRen in particular, is that Blacks and Third World immigrants are “unassimilable” and, if they are present in large numbers, would destroy American society as we know it. This is certainly true. But such a view fails to help us understand why our current demographic disaster is happening and why Whites are so incapable of resisting it. Jack suggests that the problem is not simply “foreigners” but the very structure of American life–and how this has been psychically internalized by White people. The modern American White man is a “free agent”: a man who has little loyalty to his place, friends, co-workers, and likely has never met his neighbors. (We can all see a little bit of ourselves in Jack’s description.)
Loyalty limits your options. Loyalty to no one opens your options. You become a mercenary . . . . ‘Discrimination’ becomes a dirty word . . . not because it is evil, but primarily because it is unprofitable.
Jack argues that White dispossession is predicated on Whites’ own embrace of the mentality of the consumer, the careerist, and the money-accumulator. His indictment is thus not simply of “socialism” (the perennial bogeyman of the American Right) but “capitalism,” or more precisely “capitalist man.” And it is capitalism–debt, shopping, buying and selling–that has become the American elite’s favored form of social organization. As Jack states, “Hopeless people without dreams”–without identity, without a history, and without a future–“are easy to control.”
In a moving coda, Jack observed that the ultimate outcome of American meaninglessness is not just the obsessed shopper and salesman but the hipster and SWiPL. These are people whose identity is irony, whose dress, language, and tastes are in sarcastic quotation marks. (Imagine a smirking hipster sporting a lumberjack beard, drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, wearing ‘80s Rayban knockoffs, and a T-shirt featuring an Atari game from his childhood.)
Contemporary racialism certainly has its share of ironists, those whose activism amounts to gawking at the latest Black-on-White criminal outrage or debating the best way to pick up unstable women at bars. Jack proffers radical “sincerity” as the alternative. Leftists of the last century discriminated between the armchair Marxist and the writer who was “committed” (“engagé”) to revolution. We should do the same.
Life as a white minority
Jack was followed by three speakers who reported on White racialism in other lands. The first was Philip Craik, who discussed the community of Orania on South Africa’s northern Cape. Orania is an enclave that is exclusively for the Boer people, the “White Tribe” of Dutch Protestants who trekked through Africa and settled in its southern region in the 17th century. Orania represents a distinctively post-Apartheid survival strategy for Boers: it is a secure community that is semi-sovereign and could be compared to a state or municipal government in America: its restrictions are something like citizenship, and it governs and regulates construction and economic activity.
Orania “just works”: the entrepreneurs who created it turned an abandoned settlement into a thriving farming town. But at the end of the day, Orania remains under the dominion of the South African government, and thus the African National Congress. I was surely not the only one who imagined that little Orania might be too tempting a prize for the ANC to seize and plunder if the opportunity arose. I was also surely not the only one who wished that Craik had spent less time recounting the history of the Boers and showing us an Orania promotional video, both of which we could have found online, and instead talked about various survival strategies for Whites as racial minorities.
Nationalism and beyond
Next came John Morgan, a “citizen of the world” in the best sense of the term: John is an American who created a Euro-centric publishing firm, Arktos Media, which was based in India and now operates out of Hungary. Last winter, John had the opportunity to speak to protestors–and ultimately revolutionaries–from Ukraine’s Euromaidan movement to remove Victor Yanukovych from power. Whatever one might think about Maidan, the Right Sector, and Svoboda–I must admit that I am not sympathetic–John had a chance to become, in a small way, a part of history; and the Traditionalism (with a capital T) that Arktos advocates became a part of history, too. As John relates, “The political struggle is an outward form of a cultural struggle.” As America is dominated by a religious culture that is “thoroughly corrupted by liberalism, thoroughly moronic, or both,” Morgan suggested that we look towards Eastern Europe as a source, or at least as a model, of authentic nationalism.
There were two things that were conspicuously absent in John’s talk. (Yes, I know it is unfair to criticize a speaker for what he did not say. ) The first was Russia, and in particular the development of the country over the past 25 years–from leading a “Communist” empire that was, to a large degree, an expression of traditional Russian imperialism to the humiliation of the 1990s and, most recently, to Russia’s reentering the geopolitical stage as the preeminent counterweight to U.S. hegemony. Surely this is more lasting and consequential than Ukrainian ethno-nationalism?
The second conspicuous absence was a discussion of the problems of nationalism in itself, especially as it has been expressed by groups like Right Sector. No doubt, most in the audience would concur that nationalism is a natural and healthy form of politics for all peoples. That said, modern racialism comes, as Sam Dickson noted in his talk, in the wake of extremely destructive and fratricidal forms of nationalism that arose throughout the 20th century (and, of course, much earlier). However deeply Right Sector might be influenced by Tradition, it is primarily motivated by passionate (and, to a degree, understandable) historical grudges against Russia (as an embodiment of the Soviet Union), Jews, and Germans. Could even the most hard-core fellow traveller really look forward to yet another violent conflagration between White people? Thus, one of our most important tasks–and one for which Traditionalism could be a great aid–is to form a cosmopolitan, that is, pan-European nationalism, an identity that stretches beyond ethnicity, tribe, religious sectarianism, and the disputes that have, from time to time, turned the continent into a slaughter bench. My sense is that in this all-important project, Ukrainian nationalists won’t be of much use.
After John, the English barrister and long-time nationalist advocate Adrian Davies chimed in about developments in Western Europe. Adrian is a talented orator, who can be concise and humorous while speaking extemporaneously. He was rather bullish on the prospects for European nationalist parties in the coming years. France’s Front National, for one, has not only survived the retirement of its long-time leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, but has actually increased its popularity under his daughter, Marine. Adrian noted that the FN has been successful in finding a new constituency: the working class, which has certainly been affected by the flood of unskilled, Third World immigrants.
It’s worth noting that Radix’s Roman Bernard has been much more bearish on recent trends within the FN. In a podcast following FN’s recent electoral gains, Roman argued that the party hasn’t so much brought its ideals to the working class as it has begun to be defined by the outlook and tastes of this new constituency: this includes dropping the FN’s traditionalist character and even promoting non-White politicians.
Across the channel, British Nationalism is in turmoil. Much of this has to do the rise and fall of the British Nationalist Party: throughout the first decade of the 21st century, the BNP scored a series of electoral coups that seemed to many of us like breakthroughs. But as this decade began, major figures and factions within the BNP lost confidence in its leader, Nick Griffin. In 2013 a new competing party was formed, the British Democratic Party.1
One of the biggest beneficiaries of this disorder has been the United Kingdom Independence Party. UKIP’s platform is “Euro-skeptic” and libertarian, and the party’s identity has become intrinsically linked with its charismatic frontman, Nigel Farage. Beneath the façade, however, UKIP has succeeded by being the Party of general right-wing protest and unspoken racialism (as UKIP’s detractors correctly observe). In other words, much as in America, nationalist energies are being articulated through inherently liberal rhetoric. As Adrian argued,
UKIP is made up of people whose instincts are fundamentally sound . . . but they are still too obsessed with Anglo-Saxon concepts we need to put behind us: unlimited individualism, the great benefit of unfettered capitalism, etc.
Could UKIP be “co-opted” by the system? Adrian asked a higher-level question, “Can the establishment co-op UKIP and remain the establishment?” Unfortunately, my answer must be “yes.” In 2009, major establishment figures were genuinely disturbed by the Tea Party, which seemed to advocate something like anarcho-nationalism. Conventional Republicans were being reframed as radicals, or were being “dared” into making radical statements by populist forces. The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, went as far as voicing the potential of secession (!). In a short period of time, however, the Tea Party beoame a barely distinguishable wing of the GOP. (Perry now mostly talks about prison reform.)
Predictably, insurgent populist parties–UKIP, the Tea Party, the BNP, the Euroskeptics, und so weiter–ride a wave of negative social mood, but fail to articulate an end goal or real alternative to the current order. UKIP’s guiding fantasy appears to be the good ol’ days of Margaret Thatcher, that is, an earlier stage of liberalism and racial decline. The ability of the established order to absorb such energies should not be underestimated.
After our group enjoyed a steak dinner, we were treated to a lecture on the so-called “Dark Enlightenment” by noted YouTuber “RamZPaul.” “Comedic stylings” is probably a better term than lecture, or perhaps “serious comedy.” RamZPaul has the rare gift of timing, and the ability to deliver a joke in a deceptively bumbling manner, à la Bill Murray.
The Dark Enlightenment (which RamZ’s talk equated with “neo-reaction”) is a decisively “alt Right” phenomenon that doesn’t merely differ with policies of the mainstream Right–it opposes the root assumptions on which they are based. According to the DE, all flavors of the American political spectrum–from the Tea Party to Republicans to Democrats to leftists; from Richard Dawkins to Andrew Sullivan to Cliven Bundy–are all fundamentally liberal in nature. They may have passionate disagreements over style, the scope of government and the military, or the role of religion, but these are disagreements over means, not ends. They each hope to inaugurate a society organized by individual rights, the market, and a benign government, in which every person will pursue his or her chosen form of “happiness.” The entire American experiment–from the Declaration to legalized gay marriage–was a liberal disruption of the traditional order of God-Church/State-People. (Martin Luther, it could be said, was the first, though unintentional, “progressive.”)
I often find argumentation like this to shift between profound truth-telling to “all is lost!” fatalism to “I’m more right-wing than you!” geekiness. Perhaps any successful movement needs a little bit of each? Whatever one thinks about DE, the “take-away” is that race is not “everything”; it might not even be the most important thing; it could be that the racial crisis is a symptom of a deeper crisis at the heart of Occidental civilization that has persisted for centuries.
In the subsequent Q&A, I caused a bit of a stir by asking whether liberal universalism was predicated, not simply on Luther, but on Christian monotheism itself. Moreover, as Christianity loses sovereignty in the hearts and minds of European peoples, might this offer an opportunity to rethink our relationship with the “Other”: to view other cultures and races not as more souls/individuals to be converted to Christianity/integrated into democratic capitalism, but to see them as different peoples with their own pasts, destinies, and, indeed, gods. It became obvious that RamZ and many in the audience are not quite ready to follow me down this path . . . which is fine.
Can we handle the truth?
Sunday featured two speakers who have addressed each and every AmRen conference since 1994: Sam Dickson and, of course, Jared Taylor. The centerpiece of Jared’s talk was his claim that White people are not simply motivated by their material interests or greed or ethnocentrism; they possess a moral imagination. That is, they genuinely care about the suffering of others–other people in their race, other people of other races, and even animals and the natural world. This can be, in Jared’s estimation, a wonderful thing; it is a quintessentially White trait that is the basis of a civilization that values recognition and dignity. Jared’s urged us not to simply to view “liberals” as our enemies, but to speak to them honestly and in good faith.2
Sam Dickson closed the conference with a talk on the converse to cliché “truth will set you free”: lies will make you slave. Modern America–maybe the entire modern world–is in the grips of the lie of human equality. For any “conservative” who remains an equality-slave, he can ultimately conserve no great tradition, nor anything of value at all. The concept of race is ultimately that of an extended family, of a people that has interbred for millennia and that has a shared historical experience. If race is meaningless or fraudlent, then why not do away with nation and “family values” as well. If America is simply an accumulation of individuals from around the globe who believe in equality, then what right does one have to prevent any “potential American” from immigrating? Echoing his talk from NPI’s conference this fall, Sam suggests that America has, from its very beginnings, been slave to individualism and an anti-Europeanism that has obscured its racial identity.
As usual, I found myself resonating with Sam’s oration . . . but afterwards, I began to think that his central metaphor–“Lies will make you slave”–might have masked more than it revealed. Has the American racialist movement been empowered by the scientific study of racial differences? To a certain degree, yes. I have met individuals who have changed their minds as new evidence was presented to them. But such people are quite rare; they have the personality type of the free spirit, scientist, or revolutionary, who takes opinions regardless of their consequences. (I’m reminded of Martin Luther’s famous declaration, “Ich kann nicht anders!”)
But if the history of American racialism has taught us anything, it is that the truth has not set us free–and, furthermore, that truth is always molded, informed, and concealed by political power, social pressure, hopes, and wishful thinking. Martin Luther King Jr. was, from our perspective, never in possession of the “truth,” but he was set free by a “dream”–the idea that emancipating his people would be uplifting to all of humanity. This “dream” has remained powerful for decades, despite the mountains of IQ studies, crime statistics, and evolutionary theorizing put forth by our movement. I certainly don’t mean to say that these publications don’t have value–I’ve been involved in publishing a great many of them–but for us to build a movement and ultimately hold power, the ”truth” is insufficient. It’s fitting that in the second half of Sam’s talk, he discussed creating a master narrative of the White race, involving our connection to the ancients, the age of the cathedrals, and high culture of Europe. With stories like this, what we omit is as important as what we include.
Monarchy . . . the problems of Americanism and capitalism . . . race isn’t everything after all . . . the former Soviet bloc is healthier spiritually than the so-called “free world” . . .
What’s happening here?
Perhaps the best way to describe this “new key” for American Renaissance is that activists are finding–indeed, forced by events to find–new ways of articulating some of the basic principles of our movement: that race is real, that race matters, and that race is an indispensable component of any form of nationalism or traditionalism. For decades during the Cold War, racialism was articulated as “anti-Communism,” with the Soviet Union cast as a violent, egalitarian superpower. For AmRen, which was founded in the wake of the Cold War, racialism could be imagined as a wing of conservatism or libertarianism: if liberals were dedicated to violating free association and equalizing society, “race realists” could best understand the limits of state power. Each of these perspectives is valid, in its way, but as this year’s AmRen conference made clear, an exploration of new vistas is being undertaken. This is, to a large degree, generational, but not merely so. If the “alt Right”–or Dark Enlightenment or Reactionary-sphere or Manosphere or whatever–is to be successful, it must not merely be dissident; it must be necessary.