- Counter-Currents Publishing - https://www.counter-currents.com -

The Smartest Guy in the Room

Headboard [1]2,112 words

I recently had an epiphany about how White Nationalists might do a better job of creating a genuine vanguardist movement. Vanguardism, as I never tire of pointing out, is and must always be an elitist strategy [2]. History is made by elites. Whites, however, are ruled by a Jewish and plutocratic elite that is at best indifferent to the future of our race and is at worst intentionally supporting policies that are leading to our simple biological extinction [3]

To save our race, White Nationalists must depose the existing elite and make white survival and flourishing the highest political priority. But to beat our enemies, our elite has to be better than their elite. White Nationalism will never win until our movement becomes an elite capable of giving our people a future again. And that is a tall order.

According to Patrick Le Brun, one principle of doing well in business is “Never be the smartest guy in the room.” The same is true of politics. If I were the smartest guy in White Nationalism, we would be doomed. Fortunately, from the start, I was privileged to meet people whom I genuinely admire as superior intellects, Kevin MacDonald and Phil Rushton among the very first. And in recent years, I have been very excited to meet more and more younger people who are frighteningly smart, many of them coming out of the “neoreactionary” blog sphere.

The great puzzle that I face is how to create an intellectual movement that attracts and sustains the interest of people who are much smarter than me. My IQ is 136, heavily tilted toward the verbal. That puts me in the 99th percentile for the general population but at the low end of the spectrum for really smart people. There are at least ten million white people who are smarter than me, and it would be nice to have more of them on our side.

Of course, the problem is not just to attract smarter people, but also people who are more creative, noble, honorable, and brave than average.

The Down Escalator

Now, let’s survey the various existing models for creating a vanguard, to see if they are likely to put our movement on an upward or a downward trajectory. Any organization in which, by default or design, the founder ends up the smartest guy in the room has to be judged a failure.

APPLEWHITE [4]First, there is the guru/religion model, in which a teacher claims to have access to a body of wisdom which he dispenses to his students in a hierarchical course of study. This model never surpasses the founder. It only attracts people who are impressed by the founder’s knowledge and aura of wisdom. Superior people are put off.

It does not matter what doctrine the guru preaches, whether it be Traditionalist wisdom or Faustian self-transcendence. The National Alliance is an example of an organization that was ideologically committed to surpassing mankind but could not even surpass its founder, William Pierce.

(I discuss the appeal and limitations of this model in more detail in my essay “Metapolitics and Occult Warfare [5].”)

Hartmann [6]Second, there is the Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann/drill-instructor [7]/polarization model, in which one subjects the moderate voices and polite websites where the White Nationalist movement abuts the Republican mainstream — American Renaissance, VDare, NPI, Radix, etc. — to relentless vulgar abuse in order to split off some of their followers, who will then gather at other websites and chat rooms to trade fantasies of ultraviolence.

Unfortunately, this strategy only attracts people who are inferior in intellect and self-confidence to the person issuing the harangues. Superior people are repulsed, and the founder ends up bickering in a chat room with grabastic pieces of amphibian shit. (Occasionally, though, things liven up when one of them goes on a killing spree [8].)

cocktailculture [9]Third, there is the gentleman’s club/fraternity model, in which people at least try to dress like an elite [10]. This model is the least problematic. It can provide a forum for back channel communication among the activists and writers. It can mentor young writers and activists. It can bring donors together with people who need money for promising initiatives. As a model, it is not inherently, constitutionally opposed to an upward trajectory.

But the one such group that I have direct experience of excluded from the start some of the most important people in the movement, people who were bigger than — and thus threatening to — the founders.

Furthermore, the frat model is a poor fit with the movement’s most creative people, who tend to have introverted personality types.

Finally, the more conservative a group is, the more likely its ethics are to be bourgeois rather than aristocratic and warrior-like. But the present system has been carefully calibrated to keep bourgeois men placidly working and consuming and playing it safe and smart until extinction. Only an aristocratic, warrior ethic that holds selfishness and safety in contempt has a chance of stopping white genocide. (For more on the difference between the warrior and bourgeois types, see my essay “The Moral Factor,” Part 1 [11], Part 2 [12].)

Classical vs. Bourgeois Virtues

Again, if by default or design, any organization ends up with its founder as the smartest guy in the room, it is doing something wrong. One reason this happens is because it is important for some individuals to always be the smartest in the room. In short, the purpose of too many groups is not really to save the white race, but merely to feed the narcissism of a “great leader.” This sort of narcissism is often entwined with a thoroughly bourgeois value system, forming a rope sturdy enough to hang any organization.

In 2009, my friendship with a minor but perennial fixture on the White Nationalist scene took a turn for the worse when he mentioned, quite casually, that one of my biggest flaws is not knowing how to “suck up.” “Suck up to you,” I translated in the privacy of my thoughts. He’d always had a neurotic need for attention. That was clear to everyone. But I never thought his need so desperate that he would voice it, much less be satisfied with the insincere praise that he was inviting. My initial reaction was pity. But he had lost all dignity, and my pity quickly soured into contempt.

“Sucking up” has an entirely pejorative tone. It means insincere flattery as a tool of social climbing. But sucking up is just one tool of unscrupulous ambition, along with slander, blackmail, and fraud. When sucking up fails, the others are not far behind.

In my book, these vices are worse than outright theft, assault, or even murder. An “honest” thief merely takes your property. A confidence trickster takes your property and undermines the trust that makes advanced civilization possible. I’d hang every one, from Bernie Madoff on down to the beggar who claims he just needs 50 cents for a bus ticket.

These vices flourish in a bourgeois society, in which financial success is the highest goal, which allows people to wallow in moral squalor with good conscience, as long as they end up “winners.”

Advanced, high-trust societies are also hierarchical societies. But hierarchy is one of the main causes of lying, because it is often the first resort of those desperate to retain or raise their status. As one rises in a hierarchy, it is simultaneously more important to have correct information and harder to obtain it, because suck ups will conceal bad news, cherry-pick data to confirm one’s prejudices, hail bad decisions, and just feed one’s ego.

This is why frankness in speaking the truth is one of the classical aristocratic virtues. This is why magnanimity — “bigness” of soul — is an important feature of leaders. Magnanimity flows from high and justified self-worth, self-esteem that is strong enough to hear the truth, even when it is bad news, even when it is not particularly flattering.

By contrast, the narcissist’s need for constant external affirmation, is an aspect of the classical vice of “pusillanimity” or “pettiness of soul.” One sign that your boss is a narcissist is that he cannot bear to be corrected and punishes people for bringing him bad news.

One sign of magnanimity is the ability to lose gracefully from time to time, since it demonstrates that an individual’s self-worth is not tied to victory in every little contest. (Losing gracefully all the time merely makes one a Republican.)

Pusillanimous people, by contrast, are “competitive.” They make contests of everything, even when you just want to relax with your friends. They always need to win — or be seen to win — because their self-worth depends upon constant external affirmation.

Although magnanimity involves frankness with peers and superiors, Aristotle also claims that magnanimity can license “irony” when dealing with inferiors, irony being a kind of lying. When an inferior makes an honest mistake, the magnanimous boss will downplay its seriousness. “Think nothing of it. These things happen all the time.” Magnanimous people don’t get angry about such things, because they have realistic expectations of human behavior. And they know that accurate information is both valuable and rare, thus they do everything they can to avoid giving incentives to their underlings to lie or conceal bad news.

The Upward Escalator

How then can we create a movement that can constantly surpass itself, that can constantly attract better and better people? We want a movement in which people are smarter, more creative, more noble, and more brave with each passing year. That is the only way we will raise up an elite that will beat the enemy’s elite.

First, a heresy: beware of leaders and the leadership principle. This flies in the face of the common sense of the movement. It even flies in the face of my own experience, for in the last 10+ years I have met many highly talented individuals who have done practically nothing for the cause because of the collapse of the National Alliance, which supplied them with leadership.

Of course we will need leaders eventually. Just as we will need followers eventually. But just as I think that populism is premature [13], I think we are not ready for leadership either.

Leaders only attract followers, and followers are generally inferior to leaders. Once a movement finds a leader, its tendency to surpass itself is capped off. Thus I would much rather wait until we have a far higher average before risking that. Instead of seeking followers, seek people you would like to follow. Believe me, when we need leaders, they will emerge. So in the meantime, let’s worry about becoming a group that a great man would want to lead. Because we are not there yet.

Second, we need to cultivate the classical virtues necessary for an ever-ascending movement. We need to value magnanimity. It takes a certain bigness and self-assuredness to seek out greater men than oneself. I am not paying myself a compliment here. I know that I would like to be such a person, that I need to be such a person.

We must shun petty-minded, narcissistic men who only want to be surrounded by flatterers and flunkies. If a man is vain, he is needy. If he is needy, he is weak. When weakness is wedded to ambition, intrigues and lies inevitably follow, and the social capital of a high trust society will be consumed as narcissists claw their way up on stage.

We need to cultivate an ethic that causes truth rather than flattery to be the lingua franca. We must be humble but frank with superiors, frank and collegial among peers, and gentle and ironic with inferiors.

We need to avoid people who are pretentious, because they cannot spot superiors; who suck up to the people they recognize as superior; who back-bite among their peers; and who tyrannize over people they think beneath themselves. Again, such people inject false information and ulterior agendas into all interactions, depleting the social capital of high trust civilization.

So how do we organize this upward intellectual and moral trajectory? I want to end with one more heresy: beware of organizations. One cannot have organizations without leaders, and I already explained my reservations about them. But there is an alternative model to the hierarchical organization, namely the non-hierarchical network. (I go into some detail about the limits of hierarchies and the need for such networks in my “Metapolitics and Occult Warfare,” Part 4 [14].)

This means that we start where we are right now — namely situated in a web of virtual and real-world networks — and we must think about how to build them up and make them better. What changes can we make, right now, in our interactions with other White Nationalists to set our movement, and our race, back on the upward path?