When American Renaissance had its first conference in 1994, the American media were dominated by the big three television networks, magazines and newspapers were primarily printed, and the internet was still in its infancy.
Thus, if one wanted to publicize the importance of racial realism and white racial consciousness, it made sense to have a public conference in which credentialed experts stood up and made their case not just to a hundred or two hundred people assembled in a hotel ballroom, but to whatever mainstream media outlets would provide coverage, potentially carrying the message to millions. And it worked. American Renaissance conferences were covered by the major media, and some talks were even rebroadcast by CSPAN and National Public Radio.
Why have a live audience at all? First, because a paying audience covers the cost of the conference, including transportation and lodging for the speakers, and even generates a profit for the organizers. Second, a live audience provides empirical proof that people want to hear these ideas, with the attending social validation. Third, conferences provide opportunities for fellowship and networking, a sense of real world community, to the dissidents who attend.
The world has changed dramatically, however, in the last 20 years. In 2010 and 2011, American Renaissance conferences were canceled because private venues caved in to “anti-racist” pressure. Since then, American Renaissance has had its conferences at a state park in Tennessee, which cannot discriminate because of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
The National Policy Institute has had two conferences in Washington, D.C. at the Ronald Reagan Building, under the protection of the First Amendment (and the watchful eyes of the Department of Homeland Security). When NPI tried to host its 2014 conference at a private hotel in Budapest, it was shut down by the Hungarian government.
In short, the days when American White Nationalists could court global media attention by holding public conferences at private facilities are over. And the media are far less willing to relay our message accurately anyway.
So maybe it is time to rethink the conference model altogether. The internet and digital audio production and film-making technologies have dramatically undermined the monopoly of the mainstream media. Jared Taylor can sit in his family room, address a digital camera, upload his talk to the web, and practically everyone on the planet with computer access can view it.
Every American Renaissance speech could be professionally filmed and distributed the same way. The cameraman could travel to the speakers and film them in their homes with proper lighting and sound. They would also have the leisure to get every presentation perfect, without being hurried along by the conference schedule.
But what about the audience? The first function of a paying audience, namely to fund the event, would be obviated by sending a single camera man out to film the speakers. The second function of the audience, to be extras at a media event, would be obviated as well, because we have our own media now. To put it crassly, laughter and applause can be professionally dubbed, and nobody will miss the Q&A sessions.
If we don’t need conferences to deliver speeches and garner media attention, then the only remaining function of a conference is fellowship and networking among attendees. The model I propose does not, however, provide such opportunities. But I have to ask: is a national or international conference really the best way to facilitate networking? As I see it, there are two major problems.
First, conferences are very expensive. Conference costs break down to: registration + transportation + lodging + food. We are told that around 150 people registered for the NPI conference in Budapest. Let’s be conservative, and estimate that the average cost of the conference per attendee was $750. That is $112,500. The next American Renaissance conference may attract 200 people, and the average cost will probably be about the same. That is $150,000.
Most of these large sums does not go into the movement. The money goes out of the movement into the pockets of airlines, hotels, car rental firms, restaurants, etc.
In short, for the amount of money that goes out of the movement to attend the annual American Renaissance conference, the movement could employ a full-time activist with a decent salary and benefits package for 2 years. The trick is to get our people to invest that money into the movement, rather than put it in the pockets of the system.
Second, for movement organizers and writers, the networking that goes on at national and international conferences is highly valuable. But for most other attendees, the effects are rather ephemeral, since when the conference ends, they scatter in all directions. Unless they happen to meet someone from the same large city, almost all of them return to their original social isolation until the next expensive annual conference.
Fortunately, there are ways to network far more effectively for far less money.
Writers and organizers do not need large, public conferences, which are targets for spies and protesters and vulnerable to being shut down after people have spent time and money to attend. Instead, they can attend smaller, private, less vulnerable gatherings.
As for the broader racially conscious community, the best kind of networking events are local, because local gatherings can be done much more cheaply and repeated far for frequently than national and international ones.
When I was the Editor of The Occidental Quarterly, I began doing regional “Editor’s Dinners” for TOQ writers, subscribers, and donors. (I did events in Atlanta, Orange County, and San Francisco.) This year, I have done talks in London and Philadelphia. In the New Year, I have talks scheduled in New York City, Seattle, Atlanta, London, and Stockholm, and I am planning others in Baltimore, Washington, and Boston. Such a model could be easily adapted by American Renaissance, which has a considerably larger mailing list and more resources.
Of course, it is important not just to bring people together for networking at a one-time event, but also to provide them with a model for future local meetings. The purpose of my talks is to set forth such a model, and over the next five months, I hope to polish and perfect that model with a group in my current area.
Do I think that the White Nationalist movement can do away entirely with national, public conferences? Yes, I do. When the model was first created, it was optimized to a very different world, in which Jared Taylor could hire private hotels, invite the global press, and actually get his message out through mainstream channels. Those days are gone, but fortunately, we can now get our message out, and foster real world community, in far cheaper and more effective ways.
Now, surely someone will object that even though we might be able to perform all the functions of a conference more cheaply and effectively in other ways, we still have to do conferences simply to “show the world” that we can do them. Unfortunately, as we have learned in 2010, 2011, and 2014, our enemies can also stop us from doing them. Thus if the sole reason that remains for conferences is to defy our critics and enemies, it strikes me as a rather expensive and risky way to pursue little more than bragging rights.
I am sure that those avid for scandal and infighting will interpret this essay as nothing but an “attack” on Jared Taylor and American Renaissance. That is not my intention. I have the highest regard for Jared Taylor and his work. I have used the American Renaissance conferences as examples because of their virtues: they are the most successful White Nationalist conferences and the models for pretty much all the rest. But I believe that the model needs to be rethought, and even if this were just about Taylor, I know he is big enough and reasonable enough to give my ideas a fair hearing.
Note: Over the last couple of months, I have been contacted by a number of people asking me to put them in touch with people in their areas. As you may have noticed, Counter-Currents has recently been plagued by website problems, which are now almost completely rectified. I have also had problems with my email and database programs. If you have not heard back from me, please get back in touch.