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First, Do No Harm

1,166 words

[1]French translation here [2]

It should go without saying that any cause is better served by doing something well than by doing it badly. But it needs saying, because in my ten years of observing and participating in the White Nationalist scene, I have seen more than enough poorly planned and executed events, botched demonstrations, inept videos, ugly websites, and bad writing, all of which do the cause more harm than good. They set us back rather than move us forward. 

In fact, it is better to do nothing for the cause at all than to do something that reflects badly on it.

If asked to explain these travesties, most of the well-meaning perps will surely say that they felt they had to “do something.” They were mad as hell, and they weren’t going to take it anymore. Well bless them. Obviously nothing would ever happen if people didn’t “do something.” But “something” can be “anything.” And we don’t want to do just anything. We want to advance our cause. We want a white homeland. So the first principle of responsible activism should not be “Do something.” Instead, one should take a page from medical ethics and “First, do no harm.” (Harm to the cause, that is.)

Why, then, do activists “do harm”?

There are many ways that things can go wrong through no fault of one’s own. Websites can be hacked, software can have flaws, printers can botch a job, a demonstration can be rained out, etc. Whether you are responsible or not, the cause has been set back. In cases like that, the best thing to do is not to brood over it and keep picking the scab, but to learn what can be learned and get back in the game.

Others “do harm” simply from lack of forethought, knowledge, experience, or taste. There is nothing wrong with these traits as such. They are universal features of youth, and youth usually brings with it many compensating virtues. They become problems only if individuals are unaware of their inadequacies, or if they are unwilling to correct them, or if they lack proper guidance from more mature and experienced mentors.

There are very few mentors in the movement today. (I am not counting the people who set examples of what not to do.) This puts a heavy burden on those who are willing and able to provide guidance.

But the “first, do no harm” principle applies to mentors as well. At the very least, a would-be mentor has to level with those who come to him for advice. All purpose words of encouragement do no good if someone is about to embark upon a project that puts him and the cause in a bad light.

It is particularly imprudent if one uses one’s name to endorse harmful products and actions, since it depletes one’s credibility, which is a precious commodity. Given that the system works overtime to “discredit” leading White Nationalists, it seems crazy to help them out.

I have not been particularly good as a mentor, but I am striving to improve. It is easy to mentor someone who is mature, self-confident, and emotionally healthy. But such people need very little mentoring. The hard cases are people who are immature, insecure, and neurotic. Unfortunately, our cause is filled with talented people of that description. And in those cases, I have not done all I could.

Ultimately, the root is fear: It is dangerous to level with a person who might be more than a little neurotic, and if he has serious mental problems, then the principle of “no harm” (to the cause and to oneself) means that one should not encourage him—or discourage him, for that matter—but just be silent and back slowly out of the room. From bitter experience with kooks, I am afraid that I err on the side of caution.

This brings us to one of the chief reasons White Nationalists “do harm”: Personality disorders like narcissism [3] and mental illnesses like hypomania [4], depression [5], and manic depression [6] are over-represented in our ranks. Learn the signs.

I want to deal with these problems at greater length in the future. But for now, I just wish to observe that even though White Nationalism is anti-egalitarian and elitist in theory, in practice White Nationalists tend to coddle and even promote people who are mentally and physically botched and unhealthy.

Part of this tendency is based on Christian “virtues,” such as pity for the lame, the halt, and the blind, or the soul-body dualism that allows us to believe that noble souls might be hiding behind Halloween masks of rage, brooding, and insanity. But non-Christians fall for the same traps too.

As a rule, White Nationalists are so alienated and so desperate to find people with talent that we are blind to glaring faults, or turn a blind eye to them.

But in doing so, we tacitly confess that we really don’t take this all that seriously. We aren’t really looking for people who can become political soldiers in a world-historical struggle. We are looking for audiences, sounding boards, echo chambers, drinking buddies, dinner companions, pen pals, phone friends, racialist sewing circles and sorority sisters, and the like.

When we surround ourselves with crazies—or even mere ineffectual, well-meaning milquetoasts—we are confessing that we don’t really think we can win, that none of us will “Die Fighting,” but we are bound and determined to “Die complaining”—complaining about the same stuff we have been complaining about for 40 or 50 years.

Serious activists don’t associate with kooks, even kooks who are all about “doing something.”

There are plenty of character flaws that keep White Nationalists silent and sidelined, but refusing to follow obvious kooks is not among them. These are good reasons for not getting involved, among many others.

I should note that I am not claiming that certain strains of White Nationalism “do harm” by their very nature. I am not, for example, one of those race-wise bourgeois conservatives who blame the failure of White Nationalism to gain traction in their circles on the mere existence of the KKK and neo-Nazis, as if more mainstream groups would magically begin to get good press if the “costume clowns” would just go away—as if fellow White Nationalists were a greater enemy than the establishment and its media mouthpieces.

Any costume can be a clown costume if worn by a fool, even a jacket and tie. And every kind of group can make a positive contribution to our cause—from the most radical vangardists to the most accommodating mainstreamers—provided they choose realistic goals and rational means, then do something positive.

Of course the ultimate principle of activism is not “avoid harm” but “do good.” Yet a distant good is often harder to determine than an immediate harm, and the White Nationalist movement is still making baby steps. So for us today, the most reliable way of pursuing that ultimate good is to first do no harm.