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A Winning Ethos


Franz von Stuck, “The Spirit of Victory”

3,874 words

Author’s Note:

This text is based on a talk I gave at the Victoria Forum on July 28th. I want to thank my hosts and everyone who attended for a wonderful weekend. 

The White Nationalist movement is more like a subculture than a political party. It is a network of individuals, web platforms, and organizations. It exists more online than in the real world. We hope this subculture will give birth to political change. But before we can change the world, we need to be the kind of movement that can actually do that. So it is worth asking what sort of ethos would make us more likely to win. Here are a few simple tricks that will give us an edge. If we follow them consistently, they will make our movement increasingly formidable.

1. Populism & Elitism

White Nationalism is populist in the sense that we believe that that a regime can be legitimate only if it represents the common good of a people, meaning the interests of the whole body politic, not just a single part. Populism does not mean engaging in folksy, lowbrow pandering to below-average people. That’s just an elitist parody. Populism represents the whole body politic.

White Nationalism is also elitist, because it turns out that the best way to represent the interests of the whole body politic is through an elitist movement. We need to attract the best of our people to fight for all of them.

Every society is ruled by elites. The only question is whether they rule in the interests of all, or in their own interests. Currently, white nations are ruled by the wealthiest, most powerful, and most diabolically evil elite in human history. When Plato and Aristotle compiled their catalogs of bad forms of government, neither of them imagined a regime so evil that it was dedicated to the replacement of its own population with foreigners. Our rulers are also astonishingly degenerate, delusional, and corrupt. But we are still no match for them in a purely political struggle.

To beat our current elite, White Nationalists will have to become an even more formidable elite. Therefore, all of our people will be better off if we can attract the best of our people to our movement. We want to recruit people who are above average in intelligence, education, idealism, altruism, income, taste, and social capital. We are not snobs. We will recruit the best people, no matter what their class origins. But we will not win if we imitate skinhead street gangs and other groups that recruit from the left side of the white bell curve.

How do we organize a movement that constantly attracts better and better people—a movement that continually reaches higher levels—and then surpasses itself?

The first step is to set high standards and maintain them. White Nationalists are often quite paradoxical. In theory, we are highly elitist. But in practice, we have almost infinite tolerance for profoundly defective people. The motivation is understandable: racially aware people are rare, so we treasure anyone who comes our way.

But we need to have more faith in our message: virtually all white people have the capacity for racial awareness and pride. We are just ahead of the curve. But people of quality will not be receptive to our message, much less contribute to our movement, if we coddle defective and repulsive people. Every inferior person keeps one hundred better people from joining our cause. And again, we will be more likely to build a movement that can represent the interests of all our people if we are highly selective about our membership.

Once we have set high thresholds for entry, and floors below which people cannot sink, we still have to think about ceilings. We don’t want them. We don’t want any upper limits on the evolution of our movement. This is why we need to be quite wary of would-be leaders, because someone who relishes the role of leader a bit too much will want to surround himself with inferiors—flatterers and flunkies—and try to run off genuinely superior people who might challenge his status. The best leadership material is someone who never seeks followers but instead seeks people he would like to follow.

Fortunately, the White Nationalist movement is not a unified, hierarchical movement that needs a single leader. Instead, it is a network of individuals and organizations. Every organization needs hierarchy and leadership. But the movement as a whole doesn’t. Not yet, anyway. Given the danger that a single leader would cap off the upward evolution of the movement, I would rather the average quality of movement people to be a lot higher before we risk that.

In the meantime, instead of waiting around for leaders, we should work to create a movement that can attract a genuinely great leader. Finding such a person is largely a matter of luck. It is not something we can control. But we can control whether or not we are a movement worthy of a leader. So until a leader appears, figure out how you can contribute as much as you can. Because if you are hanging back, watching and waiting for a leader before you start contributing to the cause, that might be self-defeating. Without your efforts, the movement may never attract the kind of leader you are waiting for.

2. Basic Courtesies

One of the highest priorities of the White Nationalist movement is to destroy the taboo against white identity politics. The only way to overthrow a taboo is to openly defy it. A taboo retains its power if people reject it in private but not in public. Thus, if the movement is to triumph, we need explicit White Nationalists.

However, there are serious social consequences for being explicit White Nationalists. People can lose their jobs, families, and social capital. Thus it is inevitable that the first waves of explicit White Nationalists will tend to be people who are psychologically eccentric and have little to lose.

The movement will never win, however, unless we can gain the support of people who are more average in their psychological profiles and above average in their education, income, social capital, etc. Unfortunately, these people have the most to lose from associating openly with White Nationalism.

Therefore, if our movement is to grow powerful enough to win, we also need to make a place for secret agents, who can contribute surreptitiously to the movement without destroying their normal lives. The movement would be weaker, not stronger, if everyone in a vulnerable position doxed himself and allowed the system to destroy him. To bring such people into the movement, we need to respect their desire for privacy by following two simple rules:

  1. Each individual gets to determine his own level of explicitness and involvement.
  2. Everybody else must respect those decisions.

The first principle recognizes that each person is ultimately responsible for his own security and privacy. Online and in real life, one will inevitably encounter both enemy infiltrators and sincere kooks and cranks. Both groups are quite dangerous. So each individual needs to determine his own balance of caution and risk.

The second principle amounts to a plea to be charitable in interpreting people’s motives for being discreet. People of good character have good reasons for being discreet. People of quality are not going to join a movement swarming with paranoids who accuse them of the blackest motives—cowardice, treason—for protecting their identity. Sensible people will fear doxing and back slowly out of the room.

However, even though we must always respect people’s decisions to remain anonymous, we must always try to get people to expand their comfort zones: to do more for the cause, and to do so more explicitly. When we win, it will be safe for everyone to be an explicit White Nationalist. Before we win, it will be risky. But we will never win without people who are willing to take risks. We will encourage people to take more risks. But we will never attract people of quality unless they are certain that we will not presume to take risks for them.

As a reciprocal courtesy, White Nationalist secret agents need to observe two rules as well.

  1. There’s a reason why the first wave of explicit White Nationalists tends to be people who are eccentric and have very little to lose. Don’t rub it in.
  2. Don’t harp on security concerns excessively, especially in public, lest you make yourself and others paranoid, which undermines our efforts to encourage greater openness and commitment.

3. Promoting Cooperation & Avoiding Sectarianism

Right now, White Nationalism is a movement of the Right. But we will win when white identity politics becomes the common sense of the whole culture and the whole political spectrum, Left, Right, and center. That day will come sooner if we can cooperate with wider and wider circles of racially aware whites. Some of the benefits of cooperation include:

To make such cooperation possible, we simply have to learn to work with people who share our views of white identity politics but may not share our views on a whole range of other issues. And as our movement grows more successful in penetrating and changing the whole culture, white identity politics might be the only thing that unites us.

Of course we will continue to have passionate opinions and disagreements on other topics. But we need to be willing to set these aside to work with others for the greater good of our race. That one simple trick is the key to ensuring the broadest possible cooperation and coordination among white advocates, creating a movement that is larger, more powerful, and more likely to be able to save our race.

The principal enemy of such cooperation is what I call sectarianism. There are people who insist on combining White Nationalism with a list of Right-wing add-ons—Christianity, paganism, radical Traditionalism, holocaust revisionism, etc. Furthermore, they insist that these peripheral issues are essential to white preservationism, thus they turn them into polarizing litmus tests and shibboleths. This approach is guaranteed to create a smaller, weaker, dumber, poorer, and less effective—but more “pure”—movement, when we need to go in precisely the opposite direction.

Such behavior is often dismissed as “purity spiraling.” But purity is not a problem. The problem is failing to distinguish between what is essential and what is peripheral to white identity politics. We should keep our core principles pure. The mistake is to demand purity on marginal matters as well.

There is a difference between a political ideology and a political movement. A political ideology is defined by philosophical first principles. A political movement is defined by its goals and assessment of political realities. It is possible for people to join the same political movement for a wide variety of ideological reasons. Insisting that we all have the same reasons is the source of sectarianism.

If our movement is to grow, we need to discourage such sectarian tendencies. Currently they are of the Right, because that’s where our movement began. But Left-wing sectarianism will inevitably emerge as our movement grows to encompass the whole political spectrum.

Doing away with sectarianism will also do away with endless silly debates about purges and entryism. A political party needs to worry about “entryism” and can conduct “purges.” But White Nationalism is mostly a virtual movement with no clear boundaries between “inside” and “outside.” So it can neither guard itself against entryists nor purge dissenters. All of that is empty talk when anyone can become a “member” of our movement simply by setting up a forum account, and when anyone can become a “leader” simply by starting a website, podcast, or YouTube channel.

4. Disagreement & Collegiality

I have argued that the pro-white movement should be as pluralistic as the society we are trying to change. We will be united by our common goal of racial salvation. But we will have all sorts of differences on less essential issues, like style and tactics, as well as the inevitable personality clashes.

So how do we handle these disagreements?

One suggestion in our circles is that we should never fight among ourselves. We should never “punch right” or disavow one another but instead present a united front to the world. This seems reasonable. When you are under attack, you should strive to unify your camp and sow discord among your enemies.

But there are important caveats.

First, there is a difference between physical fighting and the battle of ideas. If our people are being assaulted, doxed, or persecuted by the state, we should always rally to their aid, regardless of differences of personality or principle. (Of course we should only come to the aid of innocent victims. If we come to the aid of reckless people with a record of getting into trouble, that creates a moral hazard, and we cannot allow such people to monopolize scarce resources.)

Second, in the battle of ideas, there is no sense in demanding that we present a united front, particularly on issues where there are real disagreements of principle. It is not “divisive” to sincerely disagree with someone. Again, our aim is the hegemony of pro-white ideas. We wish to change the whole cultural and political spectrum. Which requires that we engage the whole cultural and political spectrum. But this means that we cannot agree with each other on every issue, nor can we hide our disagreements. Indeed, declaring our disagreements is how we differentiate our approaches before the public.

Our movement needs to cultivate many different voices addressing many different audiences and employing many different strategies. So obviously they can’t all say the same thing. We have to disagree with each other openly. We have to set boundaries openly. We have to criticize one another openly. Being open and frank about our differences is, therefore, essential to the growth of our cause.

Moreover, our movement today is primarily intellectual and cultural. Spirited debate is the life-blood of such movements. It is what makes us more interesting and attractive than the mainstream, in which the life of the mind is stifled by political correctness.

But there are good and bad ways of stating disagreements. The good way is to adopt a civil and charitable tone, to give the most generous possible reading of an opposed position, and then offer sound reasons (facts and valid arguments) for the superiority of one’s own view. The bad way is to adopt a paranoid and aggressive tone, to give jaundiced readings of opposed positions, and to play fast and loose with facts and logic. There should be no taboos on criticizing other people and positions in the movement. The only taboos should be against bad ideas, bad arguments, bad manners, and bad faith.

Principled intellectual disagreement, defending yourself from attacks, and calling out people for harming the movement are all legitimate grounds for public debates. Pointless and merely personal vendettas are not.

But doesn’t refusing to shy away from disagreements in our ranks contradict the principle of avoiding sectarianism? Not really. Again, there is a difference between a political movement and an ideological sect. A political movement is defined by its goals and analysis of political realities. An ideological sect is defined by its first principles. It is possible for people to support the same political movement for many different reasons. Spirited but civil debate about those reasons actually makes our movement more attractive to the people we are trying to convert.

It only becomes a problem if people cannot set aside those disagreements when it is time to work on common tasks. The virtue of collegiality is what allows people with differing opinions to work together for the common good. Collegiality is particularly important in our movement, since it is the kind of cooperation that exists between independent actors, as opposed to people in hierarchical organizations, who can simply be ordered around. Collegiality is what allows professors, prelates, and politicians to stop debating and start working together when necessary.

The lack of the concept of collegiality is one reason why people in our movement wish to enforce taboos against debate and disagreement, since they cannot grasp that intellectual debate can be combined with practical collaboration.

One reason our movement is so fractious and uncollegial is that we lack common projects and a sense of forward momentum. The Trump campaign was the high point of movement collegiality. Once we recover that sense of common purpose, momentum, and optimism, people will be more willing to work together.

5. Idealism, Dedication, & Self-Sacrifice

A perennial question debated by American Rightists is: “Why does politics continually drift to the Left?” This indicates that Leftists have a systematic advantage over the Right. I believe that advantage is essentially moral.

But the Left is evil, and the Right is good, so how can the Left have a moral advantage over the Right? Because Leftists are capable of mobilizing moral virtues for evil ends. Leftists are on average more idealistic, dedicated, and self-sacrificing than Rightists. They are willing to work harder and sacrifice more to bring about their ideals. And other things being equal, the team that can muster these to a greater degree will win.

The main stumbling block of the Right is bourgeois morality. The bourgeois ethos holds that the highest good is a long, comfortable, secure life. By contrast, the aristocratic ethos holds honor as the highest value, to which the aristocrat is willing to sacrifice both his life and his wealth. (Bourgeois man, by contrast, is all too willing to sacrifice his honor to pursue wealth and extend his life.) The bourgeois ethos is also opposed to the willingness of idealists to die for principles, whether religious, political, or philosophical. The Left, even though its value system is entirely materialistic and unheroic, still manages to mobilize idealism and heroism because it contemptuously negates bourgeois man.

As a movement, we need to cultivate idealists who take principles seriously and warriors who are willing to fight and, if necessary, die for our people. Only these people have the moral strength to begin pulling the political spectrum back towards the Right—or, better, in a pro-white direction. In his Dedication and Leadership, former Communist Douglas Hyde offers some valuable ideas.[1] [2]

First, young people tend to be idealistic, so special efforts should be focused on recruiting them.

Second, if you want to get a lot from people, demand a lot from them. The Marine Corps has no shortage of recruits because their recruitment propaganda emphasizes sacrifice and discipline, not the perks of membership.

Third, aim high. If one is going to ask people to commit their all, one has to give good reasons. Grandiose aims are only a problem if there is nothing concrete one can do in the here and now to realize them. But if one can forge that link, then even the humblest drudgery suddenly takes on a deeper and higher meaning.

I once asked a group of White Nationalists why they had gathered. There were many answers: meeting new people, networking, seeing old friends, etc. These reasons were good enough to get them there. But then I offered a better reason: to save the world. White Nationalists are not just struggling to save the white race, since the welfare of the whole world depends upon our triumph. If we perish, so will the whales, so will the condors, so will the tigers, so will the rainforests. So the next time you attend a White Nationalist gathering, remind yourself that you are saving the world. It will make the commute a little easier, the parking less of a hassle.

Demanding heroic dedication to a higher cause does not drain people but energizes them. It does not hollow out their personalities but deepens them. Those who live for themselves alone have less meaningful lives than those who dedicate themselves to a higher cause.

Fourth, be the best possible version of yourself. There is no contradiction between being a good White Nationalist and being good in every other area of one’s life. If you are going to be a good White Nationalist, you also have to be a good student, worker, employer, artist, spouse, parent, and neighbor.

One is a more credible and effective advocate for White Nationalism if one is well-regarded in other areas of one’s life. Personal relationships with exemplary individuals are generally more important than ideology in recruiting new people to a political cause.

Also, if one finds that political commitments are interfering with excellence in other areas of life, then one needs to scale back and regain balance. This prevents activists from burning out and keeps them in the fight.

Prizing one’s individual life above the race is a silly thing. Higher values are objective and persistent, not subjective and fleeting. The individual dies, but the race can live on—if it finds the right defenders. Bourgeois individualists tend to lose sight of the purpose of wealth and reputation, which only make a difference if spent, not saved, and are wasted if death takes them intact. In the end, our achievements are measured by what we spend, not what we save. We must spend ourselves to save the world. 

6. The Intensity Gap

In “The Second Coming,” W. B. Yeats brilliantly describes a decadent culture on the brink of collapse. Two lines are especially relevant to our cause:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

For Yeats, civilization is always imperiled by the forces of chaos. The best are the defenders of civilization, the stoppers in the mouth of hell. The worst are the rabble that would tear civilization down if given the chance. What happens when the best no longer feel a passionate attachment to civilization? What happens when such men have to fight against a rabble animated by passionate intensity? Obviously, other things being equal, the underworld will be unleashed, the rabble will triumph, and civilization will fall.

The same disparity exists in our movement today. During my nearly two decades on the White Nationalist scene, I have seen disaster after disaster caused by energetic cranks and kooks. They could have been stopped. But the better men in the movement lacked the conviction and emotional intensity necessary to oppose them.

Our movement will never amount to anything unless the best among us learn to wed good character and judgment to passionate emotional intensity.

Today it is the modern multicultural system that is decadent and teetering on the brink of destruction. Today it is the worst—our ruling elites—who increasingly lack all conviction. This is an enormous opportunity. For if the best of us can put our movement on the right course, and muster sufficient emotional intensity, then—other things being equal—we can win.


[1] [3] Douglas Hyde, Dedication and Leadership (South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966).