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The Psychology of Conversion

William Blake, "The Conversion of Saul" [1]

William Blake, “The Conversion of Saul”

2,101 words

Translations: Estonian [2]French [3], Polish [4]

How do we convert people to White Nationalism? To answer that question, we have to ask ourselves how we were converted, then do the same for others. The most natural method of conversion is to share the information that converted us: information on biological race differences, the problems of diversity, systematic anti-white discrimination and vilification, the peril of whites being demographically swamped by fast-breeding non-whites, and the role of the organized Jewish community in creating this situation and preventing our people from solving these problems. 

When you view conversion as a matter of information, the task seems rather clear cut. But it also seems rather overwhelming and hopeless. For although the internet has been a great boon to our cause, there is simply no way that we can compete with the system in terms of ability to access and indoctrinate the minds of our people. Once our cause is framed as a race with the system to deliver information, we can only despair or take refuge in fantasies of leveling the playing field through collapse or finding a pro-white billionaire who will buy us a television network or a movie studio.

I want to suggest, however, that the process of conversion is both more complex and more hopeful than simply delivering information to people.

In The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James devotes two chapters to the psychology of religious conversion. In these chapters, he quotes extensively from autobiographical accounts of religious conversions (all of them to Christianity). What is striking about these narratives is that the conversions did not take place through the acquisition of new information or even a new worldview. In all cases, it is clear that the converts already believed in God, sin, and redemption through Jesus Christ before their conversions.

William James [5]

William James

Thus conversion was not a matter of changing their beliefs, but instead a matter of changing the relative importance of their beliefs. James distinguishes between the center and the margins of our interests. At the center of our interests are “hot and vital” matters from which “personal desire and volition make their sallies.” They are the “centers of our dynamic energy . . .” (William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience [New York: The Modern Library, 1994], p. 217). They are the things that matter, the things that cause us to act.

James also claims that our beliefs naturally cluster together into different “systems” of ideas. As our interests shift, some systems become the focus of our attention, glowing with heat and vital interest, while others become cool and marginal. According to James, when one’s “focus of excitement and heat . . . come[s] to lie permanently within a certain system . . . we call it a conversion, especially if it be by crisis, or sudden” (p. 217).

James wishes to reserve the word conversion for religious transformations, but one can speak of political conversions as well. “To say that a man is ‘converted’ means . . . that religious ideas, previously peripheral in his consciousness, now take a central place, and that religious aims form the habitual center of his energy” (p. 218). When a new system of ideas becomes the permanent core of one’s life, “everything has to re-crystallize about it” (p. 218).

James’ account of conversion has important implications for White Nationalism.

First is the sobering realization that informing our people is not enough if the information remains peripheral to the active centers of their lives. If the information is not important enough to act on, then nothing will change.

Second, the key to White Nationalist conversion is ultimately moral. It is a matter of values. The key is not to inform, but to make information matter, to make it of central and supreme importance, so that competing values no longer have the power to inhibit us from acting upon it.

Unfortunately for us, James claims that psychology can only describe the process of conversion, but it cannot account for all the details of how and why these changes take place. Indeed, he says that not even converts themselves are fully aware of all the factors at work.

3-conversion-of-st-paul-fra-angelico [6]James’ account of conversion applies quite well to my case, although I don’t know if I am typical or not. I did not become a White Nationalist through the educational efforts of the movement. I was aware of racial differences, the negative effects of diversity, anti-white discrimination, white demographic peril, and even the Jewish problem through mainstream sources and personal experiences long before I encountered the movement. Most of the information I received about these matters was, of course, selected to confirm establishment biases and freighted with negative value judgments. But nevertheless, I was aware of every element of my present worldview by the time I was 16.

Only three things were lacking.

First, I needed to put the information together and draw the proper conclusions. And even that was pretty much sketched out too, for hadn’t I been informed a thousand times already that white racial awareness is a slippery slope to National Socialism?

Second, I was inhibited from drawing these conclusions by the extreme moral stigmas attached to them and by the extremely negative images I had been sold of advocates of such ideas. I simply could not be one of those people, those vicious, moronic brutes.

In my case, the moral stigma was far less forbidding, because I had never been an egalitarian or felt the least shred of unearned guilt. But even though I was capable of disbelieving in Christianity, equality, and white guilt, I still accepted that no decent, intelligent, cultured person today could believe anything remotely like White Nationalism. (That only changed in 2000, when I met my first actual White Nationalist.)

Beyond the moral stigmas attached to ethnocentrism, I also ascribed undue value to freedom, individualism, and capitalism and assumed that such European values were universal and would be reciprocated by all peoples.

I sought out information from the movement only after my inhibitions had melted away, only after I finally drew the conclusions from what I already knew about our race’s terrible plight and what must be done to reverse it.

I believed everything that White Nationalists believed, and I became quite well-informed rather quickly. But not even that was enough to convert me to White Nationalism, for one more factor stood in the way.

I was still not a real White Nationalist, because my beliefs were essentially a private hobby, an intensely interesting sideline to my life, but nothing more. The core of my interest was still philosophy, and my goal was to pursue an academic career.

The reasons why my White Nationalist beliefs were marginal are complex. Part of the matter, surely, is the fact that they came later than my other convictions. But another part of it is that I believed that White Nationalism ultimately didn’t matter. Specifically, I believed that there was nothing I could do—nothing anyone could do—to reverse our race’s decline.

But I did not despair, because I also believed that the current system was unsustainable, thus it will eventually perish from its internal corruptions and contradictions. And since it seemed unlikely that the system would outlast our race, I believed that after “the collapse” our people would have a fighting chance. Until then, however, nothing could be done. So my primary energies were focused elsewhere, where I felt I could make a difference.

My real conversion to White Nationalism came together in the fall of 2001. The reasons are complex as well.

One factor was 9/11, which led me to make my first public statements on the Jewish problem, because I came to believe that real headway was now possible. Another formative experience was my visit to Paris to attend the National Front’s Fête des Bleu-blanc-rouge. It was intoxicating to be among thousands of like-minded people. We cannot win as isolated individuals. But there in Paris was concrete, palpable, visceral proof that white people could join together to accomplish great things.

There were other galvanizing events as well, but when I think them through, they all lead back to the dawning conviction that I could do something, because we could do something. Even if you believe that something can be done, you will not act if you feel that you are alone, since individuals cannot change the course of history by themselves. We know that if we declare ourselves openly, there will be opposition. Thus it makes sense to be cautious until you know that others will stand with you. And for all the flaws of “the movement,” then and now, I became convinced that enough White Nationalists are capable of courage, loyalty, and solidarity that we can change the course of history, just like other intellectual movements have done. We really can save the world.

Krishna instructs Arjuna [7]

Krishna instructs Arjuna

Another crucial realization was that there is no contradiction between activism and belief in larger historical forces that constrain our ability, individually or collectively, to change the world. The solution lies in the teaching of the Bhagavad-Gita: that each individual should do his duty, regardless of the consequences. We know the right thing to do, but we do not know the consequences of doing the right thing. Thus one should act according to knowledge of duty, not conjectures about consequences.  One should do one’s duty to the utmost and let the gods sort out the results. And I believed that my duty was to fight. That is the ethic of a movement that can save the world.

Once these ideas crystallized, everything else fell by the way. Pursuing an academic career seemed particularly absurd. I couldn’t do it. Not even as a racket.

I wish to close with a heartening suggestion. Maybe we can worry less about informing out people, because (1) they are better informed than we think, and (2) the system is educating them better than we ever can.

One reason I found 9/11 tremendously encouraging is that is showed Americans to be far better informed about the Jewish problem than I had expected. A few days after the attacks, NBC and Reuters released poll data indicating that two-thirds of the public believed that the terrorist attacks happened because the United States was too close to Israel. In the years since, direct experience has only deepened my conviction that our people are much more aware of White Nationalist concerns than some might think. If you create a safe and sympathetic environment, then listen, it is astonishing what you will hear. And like me, most of these people have been first exposed to these ideas by the system, not the movement.

Some of us despair because we will never be able to compete with the system’s diversity propaganda. But don’t White Nationalists believe that exposure to diversity inevitably creates ethnic hatred and conflict? If so, then by forcing diversity upon whites, the system is doing our work for us. And the propaganda is only getting more intense. I grew up in an overwhelmingly white community. My education was virtually untouched by political correctness. I was immune to white guilt. But still, I was past 30 when I finally arrived at White Nationalism. Today, I know fully-conscious, well-informed White Nationalist teenagers. Most of their education came from the system. The movement just provided the finishing touches.

I believe that America today is very much like Eastern Europe in the 1980s: a totalitarian system committed publicly to another version of the lie of egalitarianism. Like Communism, the American system is becoming increasingly hollow and brittle as more whites decide, in the privacy of their own minds, that equality is a lie, diversity is a plague, and the system is stacked against them. But they do not act on these convictions because they think that they are basically alone. If they slip, they know they will be persecuted, and nobody will come to their defense. (Nobody but those people.) But if the system’s ability to stifle dissent wavers long enough for people to realize that they are not alone, then things can change very quickly. And such changes hinge on moral factors, not information.

I am not denigrating movement efforts to educate the public. But information alone cannot produce conversion. Thus no question is more important for White Nationalists to crack than the psychology of conversion. I would be particularly interested to hear Kevin MacDonald’s thoughts on the matter [8], but all of us need to reflect on our own intellectual journeys. Our goal should be to develop a whole array of techniques to convert passive believers into active fighters. Information is the kindling, conversion the spark that will set the world ablaze.