Last Friday my colleague and I flew down to Nashville, rented a car, and drove out to Montgomery Bell State Park to attend the 2015 American Renaissance (AmRen) conference. My colleague, who went to the conference all four times it was held at this scenic venue, commented that making this journey is starting to feel like a ritual for him. Although, I only attended the last three conferences, I tend to agree, and perhaps having steadfast and reliable rituals is a good thing, but a conference concerning our movement should never become too familiar or repetitious. We need growth and development to show that we are alive and thriving.
There were, in fact, a number of indications of growth and development at this year’s conference. In terms of demographics I noticed several differences. For one thing, I heard a rumor that the venue was sold out, which I don’t recall happening previously. Second, while I saw many familiar faces, there were also many new faces, including quite a few young people in their early 20s. Third, compared to past years there seemed to be more women in attendance, which perhaps portends a change in cultural consciousness. Lastly there seemed to be fewer Jews at the conference than in past years as well as a greater openness to discussing the Jewish Question (not necessarily from the podium, mind you). Granted, I am not a seasoned AmRen conference attendee, so my sample size for comparison is relatively small.
The content of the speaker presentations demonstrated a newly emerging consensus regarding the strategies necessary to secure the survival of the white race in America, namely that there will not be a renaissance of America as it once existed. The American system is like a sinking ship. Some might argue it would be the honorable thing to go down with the ship, but white people have not been the captain for some time. We are the victims of a mutiny. So perhaps it is best to salvage what we can and start building a life raft. This was the attitude that I sensed, and of course there was some push back from more conservative types. However, my purpose in going to the conference was not to argue over possible future scenarios, but rather to realign my compass so as to better search for dry land. In this regard, much of what I heard from both the speakers and the conferees has been educational to say the least.
In terms of oratorical skill, including both thematic organization and clear delivery, I rate the speeches given by Richard Spencer and Sam Dickson as the best. Both were conceptual in nature and dealt with the psychology of our enemy but examined it from different angles. Mr. Spencer was the second speaker on Saturday morning. His talk was entitled “Why Do They Hate Us?” and focused on the guilt complex of our own kindred. “Before we have a leftist problem, a black problem, or a Jewish problem,” he said, “we have a white problem.” Our greatest enemies are those who should be our allies but have a pathological aversion to any declaration of positive white identity.
Mr. Spencer traced this pathology back to the emergence of Christian morality, which subverted the Nietzschean “Master morality” of our ancestors. When pressed on this point by some defenders of Christianity during the question and answer session, he conceded that the current problem we face is a post-Christian one. This post-speech addendum perhaps muddled his point which is that our people cannot overcome this guilt complex without addressing the flaws of Christian morality. Spencer was not arguing for abandonment of Christian morality and a return to Master morality, but rather a reconciliation of the best aspects of the two so that we can “rise and greet the dawn with a clear conscience.”
As always, Sam Dickson was the final speaker at the conference. I heard several people comment that his speech, entitled “A Benediction for Heretics” was the best they had ever heard from him, and I must to concur. Sometimes, Mr. Dickson seems to ramble a bit, but this year he was on point. He demonstrated how our enemies claim to be free from ideology yet filter all information they encounter through an ideology of freedom. While freedom is not necessarily bad, once it becomes tied to an ideology that views it as an unquestionably good thing, other goods things, like truth, tend to diminish. Our movement is considered heretical because we question the notion that freedom is the highest good.
I should note that Jared Taylor’s speech, entitled “What Is Wrong With Our Country?” was also superbly delivered. Yet I felt I had heard this same speech from Mr. Taylor before. It included many of the key points he has made in the past. Essentially this: the correlation between race and IQ explains so much about the racial tensions in our society, and those who disagree with us on this point have such irreconcilable differences in their perception of reality that separation is the only logical solution. While I have heard these points before, I never tire of hearing Mr. Taylor speak, and his ideas are worth repeating, especially considering the number of new people in attendance at the conference.
Without question, video blogger RamZPaul delivered the most entertaining speech of the conference on Saturday night after the banquet. It was entitled “The Red Pill,” a reference to the film The Matrix, but was mainly about rat experiments conducted by John B. Calhoun in the 1950s and 1960s. Calhoun observed erratic behavior among rats given the provisions necessary to survive in overpopulated situations. The rats ceased to behave like rats and eventually lost the will to live. RamZPaul discussed how humans have a greater capacity to adapt to such situations, yet we react similarly to rats when our “conceptual space” becomes overpopulated, which is what happens when diverse groups of people with contradictory life ways are forced to associate with one another. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, his talk was filled with jokes and was incredibly hilarious. He’s like Bill Nye the Science Guy, except he is a Nationalist Guy. Be sure to watch this talk when it is posted on YouTube.
The centerpiece of the conference was a debate on whether white survival can be secured using the system already in place. John Derbyshire and Peter Brimelow argued that it can be, while Richard Spencer and Sam Dickson argued against this possibility. The two sides seemed to be coming from places that did not really touch upon each other’s arguments. I found myself agreeing with Derbyshire and Brimelow that using the system to preserve white survival is certainly possible in theory, but also agreeing with Spencer and Dickson that it is very unlikely. The flaw in the affirmative argument is not just that it relies upon unforeseen alterations in the current trajectory of the system, but also that if such an unforeseen circumstance were to occur, then it would only provide a brief reprieve while leaving the inherently degrading democratic system intact, which would eventually result in a resurgence of the same problems we are facing today.
Mr. Derbyshire made what seemed to be a false choice argument that the only two options are to reform the system by working within it, or to engage in a revolution, which he characterized as necessarily atrocious, likening it to the bloodiest Communist cultural revolutions of the past. Is there really no middle way, a path that, while not entirely bloodless, would also not be remembered as an atrocity by our descendants? There very well could be. It is fruitless to dwell upon the unforeseen possibilities of the future and instead set goals for the present based upon our understanding of how the American democratic system can never lead to a lasting favorable result.
One useful thing Mr. Derbyshire stated to this end is that politics follows culture and not the other way around. So we must focus our efforts on transforming culture. This is the metapolitical strategy. On Sunday morning, before Sam Dickson gave his talk there was a time of remembrance for the late Sam Francis, who passed away ten years ago. A montage of video clips from his AmRen conference speeches was screened. What stuck out to me from these video clips was a single sentence, Sam Francis’ response to a question on how we proceed: “The first thing we need to do is build white racial consciousness.”
Mr. Pupurs discussed his personal history as a dissident in the Soviet Union, an interesting story, but what was more important was his description of the activities of the All For Latvia party. The party has taken on the task of creating new traditions for the Latvian people. Most notably, they hold a flag rally on Latvian Legion Day, March 16th, when the Soviet assault began against Latvia in 1944. Pupurs stated that this day represents the day when Latvians stood up against their would-be oppressors but is also thought of as the day they lost their independence.
In addition to holidays, All For Latvia educates young people in folkways, specifically song and dance, which have been passed down since before the introduction of Christianity to Latvian culture. These activities are designed to arm young Latvians with a sense of identity to protect them from the introduction of destructive and corrupting globalist influences. As a result, the average age range of the All For Latvia party is between 20 to 40 years old.
Similarly, Mr. Tait, the first speaker of the conference on Saturday morning, described his personal involvement in British politics and the current political scene in the United Kingdom. The story of the BNP’s rise in popularity and steady decline provides important lessons, perhaps the most important of which is that a movement cannot solely be defined by its leader. In this case, Nick Griffin was an irreplaceable figure in the BNP, and because others were kept from flourishing, the party could not sustain itself. At the same time, Tait asserted that “our message is our messenger.” We must have excellent leaders whose skills in conveying the message are appropriately refined.
Mr. Tait has an almost spiritual view of politics. In the beginning of his talk he spoke of how he had seen people inspired by the truth of the nationalist movement become transformed, overcoming obstacles in their personal lives at the behest of a higher sense of purpose. He stated that people are hungry for a national identity and when they feel that it can be rekindled they are willing to give much more than they have. Toward the end of his talk he advised that we reject the complacency of a liberal way of life and think of our movement like we might think of church, meeting at least once a week, twice a week if possible. He advised creating small groups of people who live within an hour from one another to best accomplish this. He likened the spirit of our people to the Holy Spirit that Christians offer themselves to be filled with.
One tradition that has been consistent at all of the AmRen conferences I’ve attended is the Saturday night party held at one of the park villas after the events of the day are over. This is the best time to meet people and gather in a festive kind of fellowship. I went hoping to find out how to make the small localized community groups described by Matthew Tait into a reality. It occurred to me that there were representatives from many well-known nationalist web sites—the primary media outlets of our movement—including American Renaissance, VDare.com, Radix Journal, the Traditionalist Youth Network, The Right Stuff, and I believe there was someone from The Political Cesspool present, although I didn’t speak with him. These media outlets have far larger audiences than those who can make it to an annual conference. Can this larger audience be connected together and formed into groups at the local level?
The answer to this question is still not clear to me. It seems that certain people must act as ambassadors of white identity for their local community. These ambassadors must prove themselves as trustworthy. They must develop systems by which the larger audience of our media outlets can connect to them safely, and as their local community grows they must also find ways to protect the individuals who have joined the cause.
What happens when these local groups meet together? They should explore strategies to expand white racial consciousness, both overtly and covertly. They should create new traditions and bring a sacred seriousness to old traditions. They should support and encourage individuals to surpass their personal flaws. New problems will always arise, but they should find ways to plan for these obstacles and ensure that the group is capable of sustaining itself. They should act according the virtues that we understand as vital in creating a better society, which is to say that they should reject equality and democracy as a part of their procedure and advance aristocratic values to groom their members for leadership.
These are the kinds of ideas that I went to the AmRen conference eager to discuss. For the most part, I do not think my efforts were successful. While I did learn something from the talks and made a number of contacts with people who will be helpful, many other people I spoke with seemed content with their internet-based activism. I spoke to several people involved with web sites who did not seem to understand what I was proposing. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this since I am an unseasoned conferee among those who have been involved in the movement for many more years than me. Still, I sense a yearning to go beyond web sites and conferences. It is only a matter of time before this movement actually does.