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

The Toastmasters Model

[1]1,444 words

White Nationalists constantly talk about the need for real world or IRL (In Real Life) communities. Attending a national conference a couple of times a year is not enough, since the time and expense prevent most people from going, and after the conference is over, most of the people one meets will at best become online friends, unless one lucks out and meets someone from one’s hometown. 

We need real world communities where we actually live, groups that can meet more than once or twice a year, if they are to nurture lasting friendships and political or business collaborations.

Fortunately, over the past couple of years, there has been an explosion of IRL community organizing, including The Right Stuff’s “Pool Parties,” Counter-Currents’ New York Forum and Northwest Forum, and various networking dinners and luncheons in New York City and around the country, as well as imitations and spinoffs.

[2]

So you’ve found a local group of people. Now what do you do? To answer that, ask yourself what all of you have in common. First, you share political convictions. Second, you have a desire to socialize with like-minded people. Not everyone is there to engage in activism. Not everyone is there to debate fundamental ideas about political ideology. And if you press the group in these directions, it will dissolve.

Thus, the first lesson for both activists and ideologues is not to try to refashion the group in terms of your interests; instead you should think of the group as a place to find and recruit people who share your particular interests; if you treat it as an opportunity to meet new people, you have a stake in the group’s continued existence.

So how do you keep the group alive and make it flourish? If you are not going to engage in activism or debate about Evola and Norse paganism, what will you do?

Basically, you are there to socialize. But even socializing requires a structure and a program. First of all, not all people are energized by social interactions. Introverts, for instance, find it exhausting. Beyond that, conversation ebbs and flows, so you need something else to do during the quiet moments. Now, many things can serve as the secondary focus of a social gathering. One can go hiking or camping, for instance, or go to a museum or a concert or a pub. But, again, these aren’t for everyone. One thing that we all do, however, is eat. Which is why gathering over dinner or lunch is the most common way that racialists socialize.

So let’s say that you have a monthly or even weekly dinner gathering going. In my experience, the quickest way to ruin such a group is to have an unfocused, free-for-all discussion. Why?

First, there is a tendency for the discussion to degenerate into complaining about the latest outrages in the news. But many of us can get depressed all by ourselves, and we seek social interaction for encouragement. Thus unstructured complaining sessions drive away all but the most embittered and defeatist, which is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.

Second, in an unstructured discussion, people tend to fall back on what they already know. So one guy will tell that joke that he knows; cranks will ride their hobby horses; attention whores will trot out their well-rehearsed stories. And they will do it over and over again, until the neurotypical and socially adept flee, never to return.

Third, in an unstructured discussion, articulate and socially dominant people hog all the airtime, while others remain silent, become alienated, and leave. And we never learn why, because we never listened to them.

So to make your dinner gathering work, it needs to have a structure. Or, to be specific, part of it needs to be structured. There should be plenty of slack and play time as well for people to have side conversations. The best times for this are when not everyone is present, namely the beginning and the end, since some people always arrive late or leave early. There also should be no program as people sit down, examine their menus, and place their orders. Nor should there be a program as things wrap up and people pay their checks.

But now that everyone has arrived and ordered their food, and you have tapped a glass to get their attention, what do you do? My recommendation is to follow what I call the Toastmasters model.

Toastmasters International, founded in 1924, is a non-profit educational organization that helps people develop public speaking and leadership skills. A typical Toastmasters meeting has three basic components: a roundtable, where all participants speak extemporaneously for a few minutes on a common topic, a longer prepared talk by a single participant, and then a session in which each speaker is evaluated by the group and given recommendations for improvement.

The beauty of the Toastmasters model is that nobody in the group actually needs any expertise in public speaking for the group to produce positive results. Moreover, one does not need to actually join Toastmasters to use its model, but Toastmasters does offer useful comprehensive training materials for different kinds of public speaking.

The Toastmasters model has three benefits for White Nationalist gatherings. First, it provides an opportunity for each person to speak, even the shy ones, which keeps all members engaged. Second, more than 99 percent of politics, including political leadership, is non-violent persuasion, yet the vast majority of people are terrified of speaking in public. Thus if our movement is to attain political power, it is important for as many White Nationalists as possible to become comfortable speaking in public. Third, one can learn more than just speaking skills. The round-tables and speeches can be structured to provide useful talking points—facts, anecdotes, arguments, even jokes—that we can use to become more persuasive.

I started a White Nationalist Toastmasters-style group in New York City in early 2015, and it has been meeting about once a month since then. The group meets for lunch at 1 p.m. on Sundays. In the beginning, we did roundtables, speeches, and evaluations. Most of the participants were already good speakers, but we all made progress. I found it difficult, however, to recruit people to do longer talks, and the group grew too large to do all three components, so we eventually dropped the speeches and evaluations and focused simply on roundtables. These meetings were often highly engaging. After the regular program was over, some people would linger on talking until close to dinner time.

A couple tips.

First, find a restaurant with a private room (Yelp lists such restaurants) that will allow you to order off the menu and pay separately. Many restaurants will try to make you pay a deposit or guarantee a certain amount of orders, ask you to order off a special menu, and make you pay a common check with a tip already figured into it. I avoid such places. When I call a restaurant, I don’t ask them what their policies are. I just tell them I have a Toastmasters-style group, and we are looking for a regular meeting space (since restaurants like the idea of regular customers). I then tell them specifically that I want a private room, off the menu ordering, and separate checks. Sometimes they will agree to that even if it is not their general policy. I find that Irish pubs and Asian restaurants are generally more flexible. Naturally, I gravitate toward the pubs. I also find that restaurants in business districts that do most of their business during the weekdays are more flexible during weekends.

Second, learn to be assertive. You will have to interrupt side conversations to get the program started. Generally, when people sit down, I will announce the general program (since there are always new people) and the topic of the roundtable discussion. People can then mull it over as they examine their menus. Then, when all the orders are in, you should begin the roundtable, and continue it through the meal until it is complete. You might think that you are being kind or generous by loosening the program up a bit, but there will always be people who resent it, especially if you allow side conversations to pop up during the roundtable. A good deal of slack time for side conversations is built into this model anyway, so be firm about sticking to the program.

By following the Toastmasters model, you can build a cohesive, engaged group whose members will not just battle alienation and build friendships but also steadily grow as individuals, becoming more persuasive and confident advocates for our cause.