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Hell is truth seen too late. –– Thomas Hobbes
In A Life in the Political Wilderness, Welf Herfurth discusses three pillars of any movement: the streets, the intellectuals, and politics. I don’t think he actually uses the words “Three Pillars,” but Troy Southgate does in the introduction.
“The Streets” means doing and organizing things for other people. This can include, though it isn’t limited, to:
-soup kitchens, food drives, meals on wheels
-care for the elderly - making sure they get medicine, food, help getting to and from appointments, companionship, protection against elder abuse, etc.
-gun shows, craft fairs, farmer’s markets, conventions
-hiking groups, running clubs, hunting clubs
-life skills classes: cooking, shopping on a budget, speed reading, googling effectively, parenting
-childcare (many churches, for example, have childcare during services)
-new mothers’ groups
-adopting a stretch of highway
-benefit concerts, free events at a public park
-cow plops (what? too alienating?)
-sports - either playing them for leisure or in an amateur league
-social halls, coffee houses, music venues
-parades, rallies, demonstrations––”political street theater.”
-neighborhood watches (too soon?)
The reasoning behind “street” action is threefold. Street action gains publicity and social proof, it defangs one’s critics, and, most importantly, it fosters social cohesion and camaraderie.
Coordinated activity, to the accompaniment of music (or at least some rhythm), builds bonds between people like nothing else. Even telling people to walk at the same pace will build a stronger bond between them. Folk dancing, marching, singing, sea shanties (or chain gang songs!) are all examples of this.
The power of music is demonstrated in this video clip, where white anti-apartheid activists can be seen dancing along to songs which denigrate them. (To be fair to the activists, something similar happens in many “dance clubs” in North America and Europe.)
Herfurth also writes about the “parallel worlds” created by both Communists and Fascists in the lead-up to the second world war. These groups had their own schools, meeting halls, bookstores, summer camps, rallies, parades, dances, social clubs and more.
I have seen similar parallel worlds in my life. I once knew several Unitarians and went to a few of their services and parties (more on this later). There are Unitarian youth groups, conventions, summer camps, knitting classes, retreats and other events every day of the week. Young people can be part of a social circle where everyone is a UU. At that point the omnipresent leftism becomes like water to a fish.
I should emphasize that members of a “parallel world” are not in a walled-off compound somewhere. They go to work, to church, to parties, they have acquaintances and even friends who are not part of that world. It is also “common knowledge” that they are part of this parallel world––not some secret shame.
In fact, some people may envy them for their presence in it. In Dedication and Leadership, Douglas Hyde, ex-communist turned Catholic, mentions how many left-wing people would confess to him that they knew they should join the party and admired his selflessness. A parallel world is generally more effective if people aspire to be in it, instead of looking down on it.
Herfurth also suggests that nationalists (his target audience) should go, not only to conservative meetings, but to meetings for liberals, environmentalists, and groups all across the sociopolitical spectrum. I personally recommend going in a group––even a group of two. Going to these meetings will get you out of the house, talking to people, and may give you ideas for new approaches to your own struggle. Best of all, it will make your beliefs more visible to other people––it’s much harder to hate “Nazis” if some show up to various meetings, are polite and well-dressed, and ask insightful questions.
“The intellectuals” refers to intellectual arguments, inspiring myths, and appeals to smart people (elite or otherwise). Again, this is not just a matter of laying out the facts plain as day and waiting for people to “wake up.” Appealing to intellectuals can involve, among other things:
-artistic movements. Fascist art and architecture was avant-garde by 1930s standards––one of the reasons it was so popular with intellectuals. Even today people will admit to finding “cultural fascism” appealing.
-a parallel status system. Every culture and subculture has one. In punk subcultures, for example, you gain status by getting arrested at a protest, hanging out with Henry Rollins, etc. Hipsters have a complicated and never-quite-explained status system, where you can gain status by owning obscure records, working at a nonprofit, etc. Kurtagic discusses this at length here.
-better web design. VDare and AmRen took this to heart, and both are much more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate in consequence.
-storytelling. People tell themselves stories to help simplify the world. Many of these stories are pieced together from disparate or misleading information, but they make the world simpler. Create a narrative which makes sense, that can compete with egalitarianism.
-fashion. Herfurth recommends adopting something of the aesthetic of the left. Being visually indistinguishable from leftists fosters confusion, and, as the creator of the Brady Bunch explained, “The confused do not laugh.”
It would also be good, although he doesn’t say this in so many words in the book, to be always better-dressed than the opposition. Most people don’t pay conscious attention to dress, and as Beau Brummel pointed out, “If people turn to look at you in the street, you are not well-dressed.” Still, dress makes a subconscious impression.
Photo, apparently, by Matt Writtle. From this page, which you read at your own peril.
-education. Think of TEDTalks, Peer2Peer University, cooperative/collaborative homeschooling, etc.
-record labels, publishers, clothing stores (e.g. Urban Outfitters, Goodwill, Threadless).
-propaganda analysis - I took a course on this in high school, and it was one of the few courses from that time that stuck with me. At the time I was into “punk rock” and the course helped me see how, say, punk magazines would literally sell me anti-authority.
-philosophy, and studying philosophical movements
-symbols. Herfurth recommends adopting and adapting some of the successful symbols and memes of the left. Why should leftists “own” environmentalism for example?
-mythology and narrative. The leftist mythos in America states that white people are born with the original sins of privilege, colonialism, racism etc. which they must purify through endless abnegation to their moral superiors. This isn’t some consciously believed and articulated ideology, and one can’t defang it just by pointing out logical holes or historical errors, or venting spleen about minorities. There has to be some greater and more inspiring mythos to put in its place.
“Mythos,” by the way, doesn’t necessarily refer to centaurs and fairies––or bankers and lizards, for that matter. Think of the stories about William Wallace and other folk heroes, who may not have really been heroes (e.g. Abraham Lincoln).
“Politics” means getting and keeping political power. It also means convincing people to join a movement (not just this or that party) and to assent to certain forms of political power. This includes (within the US political system):
-winning national elections
-winning state-level elections
-winning local elections (schoolboard, mayor, city council, etc.)
-telling your representative you want a certain law passed
-voting in propositions
-joining a political party
-starting a political association (e.g. a student group)
-hosting meetings, lectures, speeches
-passing out flyers
-lobbying the gov’t
-propaganda posters and literature
-boycotting advertisers, writing them letters telling them why. These have been effective for some conservatives, for example the boycott of Lowe’s due to their advertising on “All-American Muslim.” (This led to a reverse boycott a few weeks later.)
-turning the leftist coalition against each other. This has not been spectacularly effective––Occam’s Butterknife and all that. My favorite method is to describe dysgenics as “unsustainable” and watch the epicycles grind against each other.
-sloganeering - “Stop Worker Exploitation,” “Child Abuse Stops Here,” “Community First,” “100 Million - Never Forget,” “Freedom from Filth,” “Thugs get slugs,” “No Sympathy for the Devil” - very stupid and almost meaningless but have powerful emotional resonance.
-Turning leftist slogans on their heads: “Diversity is just a social construct,” “Social welfare is anti-environment,” “The democrat’s war on mother earth,” etc.
-publishing movement newspapers and magazines.
-adopting “side” issues. If you start addressing and making headway on important issues that no other politicians will touch, like student loansharks, you can get more public support.
-reframing the debate. Just saying “I’m not a Nazi” isn’t enough, you have to show what you are. Again, this is related to creating a new mythos.
I remember seeing a poster from Spain during the Civil War. It showed a fresh-faced young man, in some kind of Communist uniform with a red neckerchief, grasping the hand of a rotting skeleton in a tattered green dress. Both had expressions of wild glee on their faces. Underneath it said (in Spanish) “Communism and Death Go Hand-in-Hand!”
No rational argument, no bullet-points or sarcasm, just an idea, presented as simply as possible.
The main problem is that reality is very hard to “spin” the alt-right viewpoint into an uplifting, inspiring narrative. It’s inherently elitist and egalitarian. Leftism tells people that they’re special, they have a place in the world, they’re one with everybody. It absolves them of fake historical “sins,” so they can commit real here-and-now sins as long as they don’t upset their allies in any way. It gives them a feeling of belonging. Generally speaking, I don’t think the “incorrectosphere” (as a friend of mine put it) gives people anything like this. Mostly it just gives you indigestion and loneliness.
As you can see, these three categories (streets, intellectuals, politics) are not hermetically sealed from one another. However, they are sufficiently different to merit distinction.
They are somewhat analogous to the battles for cultural legitimacy, scholastic legitimacy and political power––though not quite the same. Most “intellectuals” don’t know anything about kinship and sex selection, for example, and “cultural legitimacy” is very vague when you’re trying to think of something to do in your day-to-day life.
If you are a fan of The Brothers Karamazov you can think of it as trying to convert Alyosha, Ivan and Dmitri––you have to use different methods for each.
Vertical vs. Horizontal Transmisson
Reluctant Apostate makes a useful distinction between vertical and horizontal transmission of memes, ideas, ideologies, etc. If I understand correctly:
-Vertical transmission means an ideology transmitted from one generation to the next, usually from parent to child.
-Horizontal transmission means an ideology transmitted from peer to peer, or through media.
This distinction doesn’t exist in, say, an Amazonian tribe, and these aren’t hermetically sealed categories either. Horizontally-transmitted ideas can be vertically-transmitted and vice versa. However, this is still a useful distinction to keep in mind.
With vertical transmission, the path is (somewhat) clear––teach your child to be a morally upright person, remove as many negative influences as you can, homeschool if at all possible––in essence, control horizontal transmission and lead by example. But with a friend or relative you can’t do that.
I think the answer is to use peer pressure to your advantage. People are social creatures and tend to imitate each other. That’s why divorce and obesity can spread like wildfire through a social circle. It starts with one couple doing a “trial separation,” or one woman gaining 20 pounds, and ends with many ruined lives (or waistlines).
(This is also why I can’t take “anti-slut-shaming” seriously. Shame is a very powerful social control. You only have to get shamed once, or see someone else get shamed once, to develop a crimestop reflex to avoid it in future.)
Every social group has one or two members who are very influential and who the other members follow. If you can be one of them, you can have a great deal of influence over their opinions without doing anything overt.
On Getting Discouraged
The reality is that too many people (and I include myself among those people) have been focusing, not on community building, not on intellectual matters, not on political theatre, but on venting pent-up frustrations over the web. They (okay fine, we) express their (our!) anger in the worst possible way––alone, sitting in front of a glowing box, not doing anything active or physically demanding.
This is part of the reason change seems totally impossible. Alone, slumped over a screen, you really can’t do anything except vituperate. You might remember a sentence from a comment here and there, but what mostly stays with you is the delivery––which is often pessimistic and brutal. If you’re not careful, this aura of negativity can ruin your day, and make “red pill” reality feel like Gloomy Sunday via the Plague Dogs. Keyboard war is a pro-depressant.
There is no risk-free, inexpensive, quick fix that will just fall into your lap. Real change involves boring and sometimes draining work. You will not “win” every interaction. You must soldier on anyway.
As a final note, I’ll just remind you that you are capable of doing something on one of these lists. Most of you are capable of doing something within all three pillars. GTFOff the internet!
Note: I was originally going to publish this late in May, but with the craziness in the air in the US right now, I figured, why wait? Unfortunately that means this article isn’t as polished as it could be but I’m willing to sacrifice looking good if it leads to some positive action when the iron is hot.