This is the text of Hunter Wallace’s address at the Atlanta Forum on January 28, 2017, which will appear in the forthcoming Counter-Currents anthology The Alternative Right.
The crisis began around late 2014 when a year and a half of public rallies by the League of the South had begun to take its toll. We had spent the previous two years building up an amazing real world network of activists across the South. There was nothing else like it on the American Far Right. We were holding monthly rallies, annual national conferences, state conferences, private events, etc.
Believe me, it was fun taking it into the real world after spending a decade or more camped out in the anonymity of cyberspace. We learned that our enemies in Dixie were not as organized as we had imagined them to be. We learned that doxxing is not as problematic here as it is elsewhere. We learned that various issues like opposition to immigration and refugee resettlement were broadly popular in our region. In hindsight, I think you could say that we saw the Trump movement coming.
Somewhere along the way, we began attracting women to our movement. It is striking how most of us are married and have young children now. We can’t do the public activism like we used to anymore because our responsibilities have multiplied. If you look at the Far Right as a whole, it is not a problem we should complain about. Whereas White Nationalists have argued about the lack of women in the movement, our wives spend enormous amounts of time talking and networking on Facebook. Women seem to really enjoy the social aspect of our movement that you can’t get by interacting exclusively with anonymous people online. We don’t go to immigration rallies now so much as weddings and baby showers.
Anyway, I look back fondly on 2013 and 2014. I got married, had a son and met lots of great people who share my views all across the South. That was fun. That was valuable. That was a good investment. We needed an institution that would enable us to propagate our views, coordinate our energies, build real world networks, challenge the status quo in public space and overcome the well-known weaknesses (i.e., the autism and extremism) of a purely online movement.
At the same time, we eventually came to see the limitations of this approach. It was easy for the opposition to violate our civil rights and knock down billboards which were very expensive to put up. It was impossible to keep up the pace of the rallies—too expensive, too much traveling, we hit a ceiling, etc. More than anything else though, the constant bickering on Facebook over small points of disagreement and the willingness of some to tread into violent territory which made others uncomfortable began to fracture the movement. What’s the point of spending so much time recruiting ordinary people at public rallies only to squander it by alienating them with extremism on social media?
During the first half of 2015, the pace of our public rallies began to slow down. Several leaders including Michael Cushman dropped out of the League of the South. That was the case until the Dylann Roof mass shooting in Charleston ignited a campaign of cultural genocide across the South. We lost the Confederate Battle Flag at the South Carolina Statehouse. The Southern Heritage movement and the League were briefly reenergized. We held more rallies than ever before, but eventually the news cycle rolled on, the enemy was repulsed, enthusiasm faded, and burn out returned as a major problem.
In the midst of the reaction to Charleston, Donald Trump announced he was running for president on June 16, 2015. Everything was about to change. The inconceivable started to happen.
Donald Trump Changes America
Southern Nationalists weren’t prepared for Donald Trump.
We are so accustomed to thinking regionally, but the anger and alienation that we saw at our protests in the South was national in scope. It was even global. No one was even trying to summon all that anger and alienation and channel it against the liberal establishment.
How should we feel about this? We have been too narrowly focused on the Confederacy. We never entertained the possibility of a successful nationalist and populist revolt in our lifetimes, another Andrew Jackson, put into the White House by a MARS coalition led by the South. The Populists had mounted a fierce challenge in the 1890s and even briefly captured the Democratic Party, but they were beaten back. We have just witnessed the most improbable election since Jackson’s victory in 1828.
In light of our own history, we shouldn’t be surprised. It actually makes sense. Radical Reconstruction changed the nature of our people. Previously, the South had been much less coherent, which was one the major reasons we lost the War Between the States, but living under the boot of radicalism changed America. The differences between the lowland and upland South faded into the Solid South of the Jim Crow era. White Northerners lost interest in pushing Radical Reconstruction. The Yankee mind of the late 19th and early 20th centuries turned instead to imperialism and commercial progress.
As hard as it is to believe, eight years of living under President Barack Hussein Obama may have had a similar effect. The experiment seems to have cooled the enthusiasm of non-Southerners for “social justice.” Maybe it was all the Black Lives Matter rioting in the streets? Whatever the cause, a critical mass of White Northerners in rural areas started voting a lot more like rural White Southerners and changed the world. The racial and cultural gap between coastal urbanites and interior ruralites has widened to such a degree that it has become the primary polarity of American politics.
I’ve occasionally written about this over the years. We have seen Upper South states like Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia become much more Republican. The same process has now moved across the Mason-Dixon line and into the Rust Belt and Midwest. The Left has demonized and written off the White working class. President Donald Trump is the result.
Living Through History
When Donald Trump began to steamroll over his Republican rivals during the “Summer of Trump,” I dropped everything else I was doing and started blogging about it. I sensed that something historic was unfolding in this country. I wanted to capture it and be a part of it.
This was not because I had changed my convictions. As always, I remain a proud Southern Nationalist, but there were a lot of exciting developments going on outside the movement. Suddenly, the Alt-Right was rising like a sleeping giant that had awakened after a long slumber. I found this extremely fascinating because I had come to Southern Nationalism from the world of the Alt-Right in 2011. The Alt-Right’s focus on identity raised awareness of my Southern ethnic and cultural identity.
Unlike other Southern Nationalists, I backed Trump to the end, voted for Trump in the primary and general election, and preferred a Trump victory. I was delighted when he won the presidency. In my view, Trump was weakening mainstream conservatism, undermining taboos, polarizing the electorate, and mainstreaming a diluted form of populism and nationalism. He was having an impact like Pat Buchanan or Ron Paul, but on a vastly greater scale. Just from experience alone, I knew it would redound to our benefit. I saw Trumpism as a necessary stepping stone on a much longer journey.
The Tea Party was another stepping stone. It looks like nothing more than silly mainstream conservatism in hindsight, but it too was part of a long-term process. The populist wing of the Tea Party moved to Breitbart and eventually pushed the Right in a more nationalist direction. We need to be more historically conscious because one day President Trump will be gone, we will still be here, and something else probably even more radical will emerge as the successor of Trumpism.
As with Jacksonian America, this moment too will pass sooner than we think. It is an episode, not the season finale. We’ve got to remain historically aware and take a longer view.
The Rise of the Alt-Right
2015 and 2016 were breakout years for the Alt-Right.
Southern Nationalists have a lot to learn from why and how this happened. The Alt-Right aggressively pushed itself into the national conversation and by doing so reaped a windfall of publicity and converts. Southern Nationalists were consumed by bickering on Facebook. The Alt-Right was pragmatic, worked within the system to promote its own ends, and rallied behind President Donald Trump. Southern Nationalists, who are convinced the system is hopelessly beyond reform and that they should have nothing do with it, were ideologically inflexible and sat on the sidelines.
The Alt-Right through its links to Gamergate and the Manosphere grasped the importance of memes, swarming social media, particularly Twitter, to discourse poison or push a Narrative. The Alt-Right moved and planted its flag on Twitter and learned how to roll with the news cycle. In contrast, Southern Nationalists retreated further into their own bubble and away from their audience. Southern Nationalists were becoming more militant, more open to violence, more alienated and thus more divided during this same period. The Alt-Right understood the appeal of being edgy, having fun, and smashing taboos to a younger audience. Southern Nationalists were becoming more dour, pessimistic, and angry. Overall, they were in a really sour mood, and that had a negative impact on the movement.
For the Alt-Right, the most striking development of 2016 was the rise of the Alt-Lite brands. I’ve been extremely critical of these brands many of whom I believe are financially motivated hucksters, but they are not without their virtues. We can still learn a lot from their success. First and foremost, there is Breitbart which transformed the Right and the entire American political spectrum. There are also brands like PJW and Cernovich who amassed huge followings by skillfully exploiting social media to reach new audiences. There is a lot here we ought to study and adapt for our own purposes.
Southern Nationalism has become a bit unglued.
We haven’t adapted to the Trump era. The movement is being pulled in different directions: some want to move closer to our people, as they have moved toward us under Trump, while others want to move further away. I’m here today to share with you a vision which I have named the Alternative South. This is actually a project which I have talked about with Michael Cushman many times over the years which never came to fruition. Strangely enough, we unconsciously began working on it years ago.
The Alt-South isn’t a membership organization. It is inspired by the relationship of White Nationalism to the Alt-Right. Basically, the Alt-South would be a space for everyone in Dixie who isn’t some kind of leftist or mainstream conservative (i.e., nationalists, populists, reactionaries) to come together to discuss our past, present, and common future. Southern Nationalists would be at the core of the Alt-South. The Atlanta Forum could become our annual gathering similar to the role the NPI conference plays with the Alt-Right. Instead of narrowing our influence and alienating people who are somewhat sympathetic, the idea here would be to reach out to all kinds of different rightwing tendencies as well as average Trump supporters and imbue them with a renewed sense of Southern national consciousness.
The Alt-South would be a ton of work:
- From our experience with the League of the South, we would love to continue the real-world meetups, networking, and conferences. There is no reason why these meetups or conferences have to be public. We don’t have to host public demonstrations to take our movement offline. In fact, it would probably make more sense to host several private gatherings in major Southern metro areas to get the movement started. We’ve already tested a model of this at the Augusta meetup.
- There’s no reason why we couldn’t host public events like the AmRen conference. James Edwards has suggested to me organizing another conference like the one in Memphis in 2014. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love for us to do that who would volunteer to provide the security.
- Many of us have already gone public with our beliefs. There is no reason why we couldn’t continue the demonstrations at a far slower pace. They were a useful entry point into Southern Nationalism. We have to learn from our mistakes though and avoid burnout. We’re also living in a different era with the Trump administration in Washington being broadly sympathetic to many of our issues. Instead of holding our own protests, maybe we could engage in some counterprotesting for a change?
- There is no reason why we can’t continue to publish deconstructionist e-books. I have in mind here Michael Cushman’s Our Southern Nation and Paul Kersey’s The Truth About Selma. We need more books in this vein about a variety of subjects. I highly recommend both of these books. You can find and purchase them through the OD sidebar. We need to build our own canon and make it available to newcomers.
This probably sounds familiar to you. It is what we have been doing for a number of years now. How would the Alt-South be any different from Southern Nationalism?
- Specifically, we need to borrow the meme warfare and swarming from the Alt-Right. I was shocked by the efficacy of trolling in 2016. Sadly, the golden age of Twitter trolling is over, but we can still manage without the aggression, the targeting and the hard edge racial language that gets our social media accounts banned. The #DraftOurDaughters campaign is one example that was very effective.
- From the Alt-Lite brands, there are many lessons to be learned. We need to look at Breitbart as a model of what we should be doing. We need to pool our resources, organize as our own company, generate enormous amounts of content and roll with the news cycle on Twitter. We need elbow our way into the national conversation. That’s what we are attempting to do right now with AltRight.com
- We need to get into punditry, build platforms and learn how to monetize our content. We need to build more attractive websites to propagate a discourse about Southern ethnic and cultural identity.
- Perhaps the most important thing we need to be doing is mastering and building up our presence on social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Periscope. The Rebel Yell podcast is a great example of the content we ought to be producing. Ideally, we would have the means to distribute our content (blogs, podcasts, e-books) to large receptive audiences. The Alt-Lite brands now have the power to do this with a few tweets. That’s worth thinking about.
- We need to be far more ambitious and serious about our writing and podcasting. The success of BREXIT and President Trump should inspire us to believe that the future we want to achieve is possible.
- We need to be looking for nationalist and populist candidates in state and local races—the Southern equivalents of Paul Nehlen—that we can rally behind and support.
In such a way, we will blend the Alt-Right and Southern Nationalism into the Alt-South. We will take the strengths from both and try to minimize the weaknesses.
Occidental Dissent Will Be A Model
Just watch what I am doing at Occidental Dissent.
I’m already in the process of implementing everything I have said here and more. I haven’t spelled it out, but many of you have no doubt noticed the recent changes. I’m confident that Occidental Dissent as a platform of the Alt-South will explode and reach never before seen heights.
Southern Nationalism will thrive during the Trump years as we organize and build bridges with Dixie’s Deplorables. Things are not nearly as bad as so many believe. Southerners aren’t going back to sleep. They’re edged much closer to our way of thinking. The polarization is going to reach never before seen heights as The Resistance begins in earnest. We will live through this, prosper, and come out on the other side like our Southern Nationalist forebears in Jackson and Polk’s America.
This is not yet our time, but we are closer to it than ever before. Thank you! Deo Vindice!
Note: Let there be no confusion on the matter of security. The recent events by the so-called antifa in Washington, DC and Atlanta continue to illustrate why a security force is necessary. The Left’s open embrace of political violence also makes me wonder if this will all end in bloodshed after all. They are the ones initiating violence and systematically attempting to violate the rights of their political opponents. We’re not the ones doing this and the Trump administration needs to come down hard on them.
Also, I’m extremely happy with what I have seen from the Trump administration so far. I think President Trump has the potential to be another Andrew Jackson. I think he is doing a lot of good things, but like Presidents Jackson and Polk, I am not sure what that will lead to 20 years from now. As with Jackson and Polk, the Northeast has never been known for supporting American Greatness.
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