American Renaissance 2022Jef Costello
When I headed to the nineteenth American Renaissance conference last weekend (held once more in the beautiful Montgomery Bell State Park in Dickson County, Tennessee), I was uncertain as to what the mood would be. I was hoping the conference would energize me — but the opposite result was also possible. After all, just a little more than a week earlier, the great “Red Wave” had turned out to be a trickle. Many of my fellow thought-criminals were, I had heard, feeling pretty blackpilled. The prospects for the country seemed more dismal now than ever. And no less a Dissident Rightist than Kevin MacDonald had proclaimed that the election showed we had failed to get our message out.
But my fears were unfounded — and I should have realized this from the get-go — for our people are far too savvy to believe that the Republicans are going to save us. And many of us believe that working within the present political system at all is futile. This was the view taken by the conference’s first speaker, Christopher Zeeman, popularly known as “The Zman.” The title of his talk, “What is to be Done?” was borrowed from Lenin (who himself borrowed it from elsewhere). None of us, The Zman asserted, will get what we want from the current system. We should not think of ourselves as “conservatives,” because there is nothing in this society left to conserve. We are not, he said, part of a “great silent majority.” Instead, we are a minority of dissidents, of revolutionaries who need to sweep the present system away. In preparation for this, he advised us to engage in “networking” — not virtual networking, online, but networking in person and locally. However, he also cautioned that one of the Right’s major problems is with presentation; we very often present ourselves badly.
The Zman was not the only speaker to talk of revolution and of the futility of reforming the present system. Nor was he the only speaker to insist that white people must form racially conscious, local communities. Such sentiments were expressed again and again, and I got the distinct impression that these were, in fact, the views of the majority of attendees. In what follows I am going to focus primarily on the presentations that contained some common themes, the variations on which were very interesting.
Gregory Hood’s presentation, “Nationalists Without a Nation,” complemented The Zman’s. Hood is the star writer at American Renaissance, and his talk was eagerly anticipated. He began by referring to the “weird spiritual sickness at the heart of our society.” The American people are dispirited and tamed, and the primary mechanism that has brought this about is the media. Indeed, Hood argued plausibly that “the system” today consists chiefly in media rather than in government and government agencies. It is the media that is the primary means of enforcing conformity to the establishment’s values. The media propagates lies and conceals truth. Individual men and women may know in their hearts that what is peddled about today is a perverse pack of contradictions. But everywhere one turns — whether it is journalism, TV entertainment, social media, or cinema — the same lies are being hammered home. The effect is to cow most men and women into submission. The sheer ubiquity of the lies creates the impression that everyone else must believe these things.
Our elite derives its power, Hood explained, from the degradation of those it rules. In particular, the Democrat Party depends on maintaining a plurality of broken, unhappy people desperate to achieve some sense of wholeness. On the one hand we have the black underclass, which the Democrats have no intention of really helping, for they depend upon stoking black resentment against whites. On the other, we have affluent whites desperate to confer some meaning on their empty lives of acquisitiveness through signaling that they endorse the latest, most moral ideas. (The recent revelation that more than two-thirds of single, childless women vote Democrat is a sad illustration of this.)
“I no longer have a country,” said Hood. Indeed, what today is America? There is nothing binding us together. We are now more divided than we have ever been, by race and by politics — and the idea that something or someone is going to bring us all together seems positively laughable. Echoing a theme heard again and again throughout the weekend, Hood declared, “We are not going to vote our way out of this.” So, what is to be done? If we are going to survive as a race, Hood argued, we have to bind together. Right now, we are essentially a stateless people being treated as a conquered enemy.
Hood’s own conception of what “binding together” would mean was not unlike The Zman’s: forming real ties in real, local communities. “We are citizens of this unknown ideal,” he said. But Hood also stressed a vision of the white race’s mission that is at least as old as Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation: the idea that it is principally whites that make possible civilization, and the other nations depend upon us. This idea was happily endorsed in a question period later in the conference by an attendee whose ancestors came from the Indian subcontinent.
Some of these same themes appeared again in Jared Taylor’s talk, entitled “Madness: Rare in Individuals, Common in Groups.” Here Taylor was attempting to address a question that often comes up on the Right: Why are white people so prone to insane, suicidal self-hatred? Some of us tend to think that this is something new, but Taylor argued that it is quite old. He cited the crazies of the French Revolution (at least our Leftists haven’t gone quite that far yet!). He also cited the Abolitionists, many of whom, Taylor theorized, were probably psychotic. It is the Abolitionists, with their hatred of their fellow whites, who probably come closest to today’s loonies. And just like our loonies, the Abolitionists’ hatred for their white opponents far exceeded their love for blacks.
What can explain such madness — this moral fanaticism coupled with hatred of one’s own? Taylor noted that white people seem to have a compulsion to throw themselves into virtuous causes. He cited research showing that feelings of virtuousness stimulate the basal ganglia, flooding the brain with dopamine. Are white people just dopamine addicts? Possibly. But the real mystery is why whites are attracted to causes that are anti-white — why, as Taylor put it, they “make a fetish out of opposing their own people.” We simply do not see this at all in other races. Is there any other race that campaigns for other races to the detriment of its own? Why are we the only race that gets a dopamine surge from hating ourselves? So far as I can see, Taylor did not really offer a theory that might explain this most mysterious aspect of whites.
Taylor ended his talk by asking us to bear in mind that though white Leftists may be pernicious, they are nevertheless members of our own race. We should avoid simply dismissing them as “evil,” and should recognize that most are well-intentioned. Our goal, he said, is not revenge against our white enemies, but saving our common race. To do that, we must at least try to change the minds of our opponents. But he cautioned that we cannot do that through appeals to self-interest alone. We must persuade them that our cause is morally good. In addition, just as did The Zman and Hood, Taylor advocated the construction of racially-conscious white communities. In contrast to so many of the other conference participants, he also suggested that we not give up entirely on the electoral process.
Taylor’s talk was followed immediately by Sam Dickson’s (titled “A Time Whose Idea Has Come”), and his remarks exhibited an interesting contrast to Taylor’s. Dickson began by saying that it is imperative that we “know who we are.” This is not the same thing as the Delphic exhortation “know thyself.” To know “who we are” means to know ourselves within the context of people, history, culture, and land. It is to know the parts of ourselves that are unchosen, and the parts of ourselves constituted through relations to others, living and dead. And though Dickson did not say this, I would add that only by knowing “who we are” can one “know thyself” — since an enormous amount of individual identity is formed precisely through our relatedness to others like ourselves and to our culture and history. I can only know “I” by knowing that I am a part of “we.”
So, who are we? Echoing Hood’s remarks on the previous day, Dickson uttered obvious truth when he claimed that virtually everything that makes civilized life possible today was the product of the white race. We are entitled, he went on to say, to the immense gratitude of other races. What we receive instead is hatred and resentment — but this is precisely because they owe us so much. Nietzsche was invoked several times in this conference, and truly it is hard to see how, in explaining the behavior of our enemies, we need anything more than his theory of ressentiment and “slave morality.”
Dickson went on to speak specifically about our American predicament. He cited three fundamental problems that are peculiarly American. First, most of the people who came to these shores from the Old Country came voluntarily. Their materialism, individualism, and religious fanaticism were stronger drives than their love for their homeland and their people, and Dickson theorized that these traits are genetically transmissible. We thus have poor raw material to work with, for we white Americans are a nation genetically disposed towards individualism, greed, and nutty enthusiasms. I am reminded of D. H. Lawrence’s words in his late novel The Plumed Serpent, which are so splendid I cannot resist quoting them:
Was that the clue to America, she sometimes wondered. Was it the great death-continent, the continent that destroyed again what the other continents had built up. The continent whose spirit of place fought purely to pick the eyes out of the face of God. Was that America? . . . And did this account for the great drift to the New World, the drift of spent souls passing over to the side of godless democracy, energetic negation? The negation which is the life-breath of materialism. — And would the great negative pull of the Americas at last break the heart of the world? . . . White men had had a soul, and lost it. The pivot of fire had been quenched in them, and their lives had started to spin in the reversed direction, widdershins [counterclockwise]. That reversed look which is in the eyes of so many white people, the look of nullity, and life wheeling in the reversed direction. . . . And all the efforts of white men to bring the soul of the dark men . . . into final clenched being has resulted in nothing but the collapse of the white men. Against the soft, dark flow of the Indian the white man at last collapses, with his god and his energy he collapses. In attempting to convert the dark man to the white man’s way of life, the white man has fallen helplessly down the hole he wanted to fill up. Seeking to save another man’s soul, the white man lost his own, and collapsed upon himself.
But I digress. Dickson’s second point about America was that its founding stock had a problem with the use of power. They set up a form of government meant precisely to thwart the use of power and to maximize the freedom of the individual, rather than the good of the community. This has resulted in America being particularly vulnerable to various tribes that have come to the country seeking their own advantage. These groups are able to game our system for their own ends. The American political system provides no mechanism that would serve as a bulwark against this and secure the advantage of the founding European stock. And the values of the system provide absolutely nothing to which one could appeal to justify action taken in the interests of that stock. Finally, Dickson cited the failure of white Americans to think in long-range terms about the good of their country, and their tendency to seize on cheap, quick, short-term solutions to problems — e.g., “If only the Republicans could get 5% more of the Hispanic vote!” We have a marked tendency to postpone making the radical decisions that must inevitably be made if we are to survive.
In characterizing our enemies on the Left and what our attitude towards them should be, Dickson’s approach could not have been more different from Taylor’s. Dickson described Leftists as “evil, wicked, and horrible” (his exact words). We have, he said, separated into two nations entirely, and there is no putting them back together again. And there is no converting most Leftists, because they are not reasonable and were not honestly mistaken in the first place. Dickson sounded an optimistic note, however, when he said that our enemies cannot prevail, because they have set themselves against nature and against facts. Thus, the present system is doomed to failure. Breakdown is inevitable, and when it comes we are going to have to take those radical decisions that we have been postponing for so long. We must, Dickson insisted, “become as hard as diamonds.” And he ended, surprisingly enough, with some words of praise for the ruthlessness exhibited by comrades Lenin and Stalin on taking power.
Dickson has been a speaker at every American Renaissance conference, and traditionally he is the one who speaks last, at the final session on Sunday. I am quite happy that he got the last word in this case, for I must say that, in terms of their attitudes towards our enemies, I side with Dickson over Taylor. The simple reason for this is that the characteristic one sees in Leftists time and again is dishonesty. Some of them are openly and willfully dishonest — for example, in the way that they lie about their opponents (most, I would add, seem to be completely without principle). And some of them lie to themselves. But those people are almost always at least dimly aware that they are lying to themselves, as evidenced by their incredibly unhinged response to any opposing views that might, if seriously considered, cause them to think.
A further characteristic they exhibit is hatred — not just hatred for their political enemies, but for strength, health, beauty, achievement, masculinity, femininity, family, hierarchy, religion, meat, and much else. In short, a hatred for life itself. It is hard not to notice that Leftists come up short in all the categories just enumerated, and hard not to draw the inference that this is, in fact, the real reason for their hatred. Once again, as Monty Python said, there’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya.
I am well aware that there are rank-and-file Democrat voters who are not particularly ideological. My mother, for example, voted Democrat all her life simply because her parents had voted for FDR, and because she thought JFK was good-looking. She wasn’t dishonest in her convictions; she didn’t actually have any political convictions; nor was she moved by envy. In fact, all her natural instincts were “conservative,” especially her strong belief in hierarchy. Can we win over people like my mother? Probably. But the most vocal, active Leftists and those who maneuver themselves into positions of power and influence cannot be saved. Basically, anybody who has a serious ideological commitment to Leftism is probably beyond hope (I’ve known a few exceptions to this in my life, but very few).
Now, there is much else about this conference which I have not discussed, and which I can only mention in passing. For example, retired police officer Daniel Vinyard gave a presentation on the vilification of the police and on black crime that was alternately moving, horrifying, and funny. In a pre-prepared video, Ruuben Kaalep of Estonia’s Conservative Party delivered an eloquent defense of ethnonationalism (Mr. Kaalep did not appear in person because he has refused to get the Covid jab and thus cannot enter the United States). And ex-Congressman Steve King delivered up a memorable banquet speech on Saturday night. Peppered with amusing asides as well as a kind of Cook’s tour of European history, King’s talk was a likeably eccentric defense of Western culture and the people who made it.
Lastly, one of the conference’s major highlights was the appearance of Laura Loomer, a well-known figure on the Right. She has worked, among other things, for Project Veritas, and most recently tried unsuccessfully to unseat Republican Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida’s 11th district. Loomer describes herself as the most banned woman in America, and she does indeed seem to have been banned from everything — even Uber Eats. Her talk, titled “Campaigning for America First in the Age of Big-Tech Election Interference,” was largely an account of her travails.
Loomer’s was easily the most controversial presentation of the entire conference. The reason is simple: She is Jewish. Thus, here was a speaker who was indeed saying all the right things — but a number of the attendees I spoke to felt that she had no right to be saying them. For when she spoke of “our people,” who was she talking about? Few questioned Ms. Loomer’s sincerity (and I know I will catch some heat for this, but I found her hard to dislike). She clearly identifies as white, but is she? And can we accept her as an ally? These questions were debated all weekend.
Some felt that Ms. Loomer should not have been invited, but I was not one of them. Her presence gave us something to disagree about, and that made the weekend’s discussions livelier. Surely this was partly Mr. Taylor’s intention. As he put it to me in conversation, and with a bit of a twinkle, “We believe in diversity.” He meant intellectual diversity, I am sure. Mr. Taylor is to be commended for trying to stir up controversy among the faithful, for controversy makes us think. It may not change our minds, but it can lead us to strengthen our positions with better arguments. Mr. Taylor — and his associates — are also to be commended for putting on yet another splendid conference. What a pleasure it is not just to be among the like-minded, but among the active-minded. I can hardly wait for next year.
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Dickson is correct, the left is “evil,wicked and horrible”.They are our enemies.Jared Taylor is very naive(he feels white leftists are mostly well intentioned and can be reached).Increasingly,I view JT as an unrealistic squish.
Not only that, but they’re not even interested in any type of reasoned debate or listening to your side of things. All they want (most of them anyway) is to see you destroyed. How exactly are we supposed to try to “reach” those types of people??
And sorry, but as strongly as I believe in white advocacy, white people ain’t magic. In fact, many of our most rabid opponents are as WASPy as the original Harvard student body. They’re not getting a pass from me. In fact, they should be judged even more harshly because they ought to know better.
I suspect Dickson and Taylor are thinking of different types of leftists. Dickson is thinking of activists. Taylor is thinking of comfortable, overeducated, liberal-minded types who are not terrible people, but who have terrible ideas and support terrible causes (a description of my family and many of the people I know).
I have lost count of the number of podcasts and radio interviews with Jared Taylor, where he will step into his third party personage and ask himself the question as to whether he believes that there is a nefarious group of people (i.e., jews) who have been actively involved in an organized, maliciously crafted, well thought out, internationally coordinated, evil conspiracy to destroy all historic White European nations and to orchestrate the eventual genocide of the White race and, without fail, Taylor will swear that he does not believe that this is true. He will then immediately skip to repeating what Tanstaafl has described as ‘The Suicide Meme’ and claim that Whites are, for some mysterious and inexplicable reason and without any outside encouragement, have decided to commit racial suicide.
To hear Taylor constantly repeat this kind of idiocy and expect Whites to continue to respect him is getting increasingly ridiculous.
Think about it for second. Starting in the middle 1960s, one by one, every historic nation – the USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany and the leaders of almost every other historic White nation in Europe suddenly went bat-shit insane within a few short years of each other and decided – without a shred of coordination, according to Taylor, and without any hidden hand deviously pulling the strings behind the curtain – and chose to throw open their borders and allow millions of incompatible, indigestible, parasitic, violence prone and racially hostile savages from the third world to swarm into their nations? And, Jared Taylor expects Whites to believe him when he claims all of these exact same threats to White Western nations happening within a few short years of one another were only a ‘coincidence’ and that there isn’t a cabal of White race hating subversives overseeing and promoting these polices which will be sure to destroy White Western civilization world-wide?
Interesting conference. Do the conference participants think that we have moved on anywhere in 19 years of hosting this conference? Would it be realistic to build an all-white community in the US along the lines of Orania? That might be better than holding a conference for 20 years. In 20 years, such a community could be bringing together thousands of families with young white children and be involved in farming professionally.
Did you actually read the article?
That quote of D. H. Lawrence… Wow.
There have always been good, admirable white Americans, going back to 1607 and before, but Lawrence is onto something there.
Regarding white Americans’ “tendency to seize on cheap, quick, short-term solutions to problems,” I think part of the reason is that, along with the mindset of “if it doesn’t work here we’ll move somewhere else,” America has had a democracy with such a large voting franchise, and politicians continually pandering to short-term interests to get elected and stay in office. At the same time, though, other kinds of regimes in the 20th century didn’t do a whole lot better, with problems like widespread corruption and too much decision-making vested in one or a few people at the top. Classical liberal systems obviously worked better when Multiculturalism wasn’t a factor.
I think Dickson is right about Leftists–at least the activists. I’ve had a lot of experience with them for over 40 years, sometimes having lived with them, and the committed tend to be very twisted people, driven by hatred, envy and a very poor understanding of their own personal flaws and guilt. For all their talk about constructing better worlds, they are good at one thing–destruction. The attacks on beauty and innocence are closely related to this. Admittedly, in the Soviet Union, there wasn’t always such a mania for destroying cultural heritage. In some high circles there was appreciation for great authors of the past, classical music, etc., and for rigorous education (with important exceptions such as Lysenko). And in Europe and the Anglosphere there have been reasonable combinations of the economic Left with social conservatism. The American Left seems to be another, crazier breed though. And the Left in countries like Germany seem to be following their example more.
Thank you for the review. I anxiously await the videos to appear at AmRen and I hope someday to have the privilege of attending and meeting too many to mention.
Wouldn’t that be something if a wignat at an Amren conference hooked up with Loomer? Complete with a post-coital cigarette and conversation juxtapositing Zionism and white nationalism a la Kevin MacDonald.
Both Taylor and Dickson are right, but they are talking about different parts of the struggle. For ‘the Right’ anyone to the left of them is ‘the Left’. And yet there are a lot of people who are not ideologically Left as much as ‘culturally Left’ or even ‘inertially Left’. They’re not really our enemy. Currently they’re a resource for our enemy, but that’s because the enemy controls their environmental inputs including the information they receive about the world. But, we need to be prepared to speak to these people instead of justifying – or accessorizing – our political marginalization with a disdain or hatred born of impotence.
I find the call to form like-minded ‘communities’ potentially short-sighted. There’s value in having small seeds (individuals) spread across the country as well as communal ‘strongholds’. I am an advocate for building local political expertise and experience so that our values are represented in policies (and the resistance to policies) that are no conducive to White safety and growth.
We don’t have to pick one tactic as long as our strategy and conflict doctrine implemented by the various tactics. It is not ‘either/or’ is ‘all/and’.
I’ve replied to this article on my site (here).
American Renaissance was one of the first “Alt-Right” websites I came across, way back when (the other one was the old South Africa Sucks).
An article presented therein on AmRen had to do with the Jena 6 hoax crime. The article not only covered how the media and the race hustlers misrepresented and exploited what were actually two unrelated incidents, it also went into the wider political implications of what was becoming a militant anti-White agenda. Interesting, is it not, that one had to go to what was then the outer limits of the Internet to find the reality.
Jared Taylor and AmRen provide a very important function to the Dissident Right, and that is presenting a respectable front with its conferences where business attire is the uniform of the day. This enforces a certain discipline. And yes, statistics and scientific presentations are an important aspect of the struggle. While they do not appeal to everyone, they are understood by critical opinion makers in the wider info-sphere.
Obviously, AmRen is one part of the wider Dissident Right spectrum. There is plenty of room for the street activists, the subversive content creators, the underground economy entrepreneurs, the alt-tech coders, the lone wolf banner droppers, the Great Internet Troll Army. All have their missions, all are part of the struggle.
Radical vanguards open the way for the suit-and-tie faction to push policies into the mainstream by making the latter look reasonable. And then everyone else follows on.
If nothing else, the AmRen conferences do produce some mighty fine videos of their speakers. It’s history in the making…and all on public record.
The demographic that immediately jumped out for me:
“More than two-thirds of single, childless women vote Democrat”.
This is one of the main problems we have to work on. How can we get our message out to them without completely deprecating their bad choices? Without them, how will we increase our numbers and bolster our culture?
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