The following was delivered as a speech at the second National Policy Institute’s conference, which was held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, on October 26th.
There may be a collapse. It could happen. It could happen tomorrow. Vengeful gods could hurl boulders from the sky, cleansing the earth with fires and floods. There could be blood in the streets and gnashing of teeth. A plague of locusts or killer bees, some Chinese flu, or the Zombie Apocalypse. Your debit cards might run empty and your “smart”phones might get real dumb. We may be forced to band together in primal gangs and fight for survival. We may be forced by circumstances beyond our control to rediscover lifeways more familiar to our species—to our ancestral brains—than this endless, banal sprawl of corporate parks and shopping malls.
Or you may just get that one day as a lion, to die like you were born, kicking and screaming and covered in someone else’s blood.
It has a certain appeal.
But while any or all of that could happen (and it could all happen tomorrow), it is also possible that this broken, corrupt system could limp along for a very long time.
Yes, it should fail catastrophically. It deserves to fail. But no matter how much the world needs a reckoning or a reset button, it’s a lot easier on a day-to-day basis for people at every level of society to keep patching it together and doing the best they can until they run out of duct tape.
So . . . until that day comes . . . until everyone runs out of duct tape . . . Until then, almost everyone, even American leaders, seems to agree that America is in decline.
And during that decline, we can expect to see more of what we’ve already been seeing. For most people, that will mean a “progressive” ratcheting down of quality of life, and the lowering of expectations.
What we won’t see is some “great awakening” or a dramatic change in leadership or direction. The people who run America aren’t going to “come to their senses.”
As America declines and becomes a failed or failing state, the corporations and businessmen and bureaucrats who run it will continue to preach globalism and multiculturalism and feminism.
They will continue to condemn anything that could be considered racism or tribalism—especially among whites—until they are safely in the minority. They will continue to condemn “male sexism” and continue to promote any kind of go-girl female sexism that emasculates or devalues men. They will continue to promote reverence for their own academic priest class while condemning as “extreme” any religious belief that challenges the moral authority of progressive beliefs. They will continue to promote dependence on the State for security and income and healthcare—for life itself.
And, no matter how many “conflicts” they escalate or how many people they kill or imprison or how militarized their police state thugs become, they will officially continue to condemn “violence.”
They will continue to do all of this because it makes perfect sense for them.
If you were the rulers and toadies of a nation in decline, whose people were bound to lose wealth and status and you wanted to protect your own interests and keep your heads, why would you not want to keep those people separate, emasculated, weak, dependent, faithless, fearful and “non-violent?”
Figureheads may come and go, but I see absolutely no reason why the message will change.
Many of you may see yourselves as civilized men. Sane men in an increasingly insane, vulgar and barbaric world.
But you’re wrong! You are the new barbarians.
The official message will continue to be that:
• If you believe that all men are not created equal
• If you believe that free men should have access to firearms
• If you believe the government cannot be trusted to regulate every aspect of your life
• If you believe that race means blood and heritage — not just “skin color”
• If you see that men and women are different and believe they should have different roles
• If you believe that men should act like men
• If you believe that gay pride parades and gay marriage are ridiculous
• If you believe in some “old time religion”
If you believe any or all of those things, then, according to the State and corporations, the Academia and the media, you are a stupid, psycho, hillibilly, Neo-Nazi, woman-hating, wife-beating, homophobic throwback, reactionary Neanderthal.
You know it. Dance to it. Make it a techno remix. Because make no mistake: you are dangerous, traitorous and quite possibly seditious.
Well, I’m reminded of the words of rapper Eminem:
I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t then why would I say I am
In the paper, the news, every day I am
Radio won’t even
play my jam
It doesn’t matter what you think you are. You are whatever they say you are. They control the message. No matter how reasonable you think your message is, the radio is not going to play your jam. No matter what you think you are, to them, you are the barbarians. So own it… be it. And, if you’re going to be the barbarians, then start thinking like barbarians.
What does that mean? What does it mean to be a barbarian? Classically speaking, a barbarian is someone who is not of the State, of the polis. The barbarian is not properly civilized — according to the prevailing standard of the State. His ways are strange and tribal. The barbarian is an outsider, an alien.
How must a man’s thinking change, when he is alienated by the State of his birth?
How does a man go from being a man of the polis to an outsider — a barbarian — in his own homeland?
These are important questions because if you see no viable political solution to the inane and inhuman trajectory of the progressive state — and I don’t — then any meaningful change is going to require a lot more than collecting signatures or appealing to the public’s “good sense” or electing the right candidate.
What you need is to create a fundamental change in the way that men see themselves and their relationship with the State. Don’t worry about changing the state. Change the men. Cut the cord. And let them be born to a state of mind beyond the state.
Show them how to become barbarians and break the sway of the state. How do you do that? Well, that’s something I’m going to be thinking and writing about for the next few years.
But I can offer four lines of thinking that I think could be helpful.
1. Separate “us” from “them”
This conference is about the future of identity. Which identity? Who are we talking about? Who is we? When I talk to guys about what is happening in the world right now, they’re quick to tell me what we should do about it, but who is this we?
You and the corporations that sell you garbage food, ruin your land and outsource your jobs? You and the “expert” shills who turn your values into “psychological problems?” You and the paid-for media that mocks you? You and the Wall Street bankers who financialized the economy for their own short-term gain? You and the bureaucrats who want to disarm you and micromanage every aspect of your life? You and the politicians who open up the borders and fall all over themselves to pander to a new group of potential voters instead of working for the interests of the actual citizens of the country they swore to represent?
Americans, especially, are used to speaking in terms of “We the people.” But there are 300 million people in the United States and that’s a lot of “we.” Be more specific.
Be more tribal.
One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got was this: never say “people” when you mean “men.” Well, my advice to you is to never say “we” when you mean “they” and never say “us” when you mean “them.” Stop using democratic language. Stop pretending that we are all on the same team, because we’re not. And we don’t have to be. Decide who you really care about. Figure out what you have in common. Define your boundaries. Decide who is in and who is out. The people who are in are “us.” Those people are “we.” Everyone else this “they.”
2. Stop getting angry because things don’t make sense!
Almost nothing you read or hear in the news today seems to make any sense at all.
People get so angry, so frustrated, so betrayed. It’s like “our leaders” are crazy or stupid, or both. It doesn’t make sense to put women in the infantry. That’s obviously crazy! It doesn’t make sense to encourage kids to take out college loans they’ll never be able to pay back. It doesn’t make sense to invite people into the country when you cannot afford to care for the people who are already here. That’s nuts!
It doesn’t make sense to start wars and then say you’re trying to “win hearts and minds.” War is not a good way to win hearts and minds! And worrying about hearts and minds is not a good way to win a war!
It doesn’t make sense that bankers and CEOs get golden parachutes and go on vacation or get jobs in the administration after knowingly and intentionally destroying companies, jobs, lives, the environment — whole segments of the economy!
But if you realize that they — the people who run the country — are doing things to benefit them and not you, everything makes perfect sense.
Consider the possibility that America’s leaders really don’t care if American soldiers live or die. Consider the possibility that American colleges and bankers don’t care if you live the rest of your life in debt to them. They’d probably prefer it. Consider the possibility that American politicians care more about keeping their jobs in the short term and looking good in the media than they do about what happens to the people of their country in the long term. Consider the possibility that “you” are not part of an “us” that “they” care about. I promise that if you meditate upon this, things will start to make a lot more sense.
If you let go of the idea that these people are supposed to care about you or the country, and you allow yourself to see them as gangs and individuals working to further their own interests, you can relax and appreciate their crafty strategy.
Let go of foolish expectations about what these people should be doing. Step back and see them for what they are. Don’t be mad. Don’t be outraged. Be wise.
As Nietzsche recommended: be carefree, mocking, and violent.
3. De-Universalize morality
Men who were raised with American, Egalitarian, “Late-Western” values want to be “good men.” They want to be fair and just, and they want to be just to everyone. This can be absolutely paralyzing.
It really creates an internal conflict for men—good men—who are especially athletic or who have some kind of military or police background. They were taught and they believe in good sportsmanship and equal justice.
They want to do the “right thing,” no matter what. They want to be Batman.
However, it is also in the nature of these men—even more than other men— to think vertically, hierarchically, tribally, to think in terms of “us” and “them.” To evaluate others naturally, primally, by the masculine, tactical virtues of strength, courage, mastery and honor.
But as soon as the football game or the superhero movie is over, progressive America goes back to hating and punishing those virtues. Progressive America goes back to hating and punishing men who act like men. These “good guys”… these guys who want to be heroes get blamed and played and dumped on and treated like garbage.
No matter what the progressive American message is, when it comes to men who act like men—especially white men—no one really cares if they get treated justly or fairly.
Still, these “good guys” don’t want to exclude women from anything because it seems unfair they have sisters and mothers and they want everyone to have a chance. But women—as a group—don’t care when men feel excluded.
In fact, when men object to anything, groups of women are the first to call them “whiners” and “losers.” “Good” white guys as a group care about what happens to black people as a group. They want to make sure that blacks are being treated fairly and equally and they go out of their way to make sure they aren’t “discriminating.”
Do black people as a group care what happens to white people as a group? Does a Mexican dad with three babies care whether or not some white kid from the “burbs” can get a summer landscaping job?
The problem with these late Western values is that they work best as intra-tribal values.
They only work when everyone else is connected and interdependent. Fairness and justice and good sportsmanship promote harmony within a community. But at some point, you have to draw that line. You have to decide who is part of that community and who is not.
You cannot play fair with people who don’t care if you get wiped off the map. You don’t have to hate everyone who isn’t part of your tribe, but it is foolish to keep caring about people who don’t care about you.
These heroic types are the natural guardians of any tribe, but their heroic natures are wasted and abused when they are asked to protect everyone, even enemies and ingrates and those who despise them.
If Western Barbarians are going to hold onto any portion of their western heritage and identity, they need to resolve these moral conflicts.
They don’t necessarily need to abandon morality or moral virtue, but they need to pull in their aegis and become, as in Plato’s Republic, ”noble dogs who are gentle to their familiars and the opposite to strangers.”
Be morally accountable. But only to the tribe.
If they are going to prosper and endure in a failing nation, the New Barbarians must give up the tragic, misunderstood hero routine and realize that they aren’t Batman. Why would anyone want to be?
4. Become independent from the State, and interdependent between each other
The United States of America and its parent corporations offer a wide range of products and services. All of them have strings attached and the more you depend on them, the easier it is to control you.
It is not really much of a threat to them if you get online and “like” a naughty page or vent your lonely, impotent rage, so long as the rest of your identity folds neatly into the bourgeois American lifestyle.
So long as you still go to a make-work job at some big company and keep yourself busy for 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week so you can purchase their wide range of products and services.
And then, in the time you have left, you go online and you get to be Orthodox guy or Roman guy or Odinist guy and post cool pics of Vikings and Centurions and Crusaders.
But that’s not a real identity or a real tribe or a real community. By all means, use the Progressive State and take whatever you can from it while there is still something left to take, but if you truly want some kind of “alternative lifestyle” to what the state has to offer, if you want to maintain some kind of tribal identity that can endure America’s decline and collapse—also known as a sudden absence of adequate products and services—instead of “community organizing” on the Internet in your underwear or retreating to a country compound with the wife and kids, bring some of those Internet people close to you and live near each other. Take over a neighborhood or an apartment complex, start businesses and provide services that people really need.
It’s great to have writers and thinkers, but you also need mechanics and plumbers and seamstresses. Serve everyone, but be loyal to people “in the family” and make them “your own.”
It doesn’t have to be some formal thing. Don’t issue a press release. Just start quietly building a community of like-minded men and women somewhere. Anywhere.
Don’t worry about creating some massive political movement or recruiting thousands or millions of people. Don’t worry about changing the state. Barbarians don’t worry about changing the state. That’s for men of the state — who believe in and belong to the State.
Shoot for 150 people. A small, close-knit community of people working together to become less dependent on the State and more dependent on each other.
Recent immigrants—many of whom are literally “not of the State”—can serve as examples. It wasn’t long ago that the Irish and Italians lived in insular communities. Think of Russian parts of town.
Look at places like Chinatown in San Francisco: every few blocks, you see these buildings marked. Something . . . something . . . something . . . “Benevolent Association.”
Sounds nice, right? Could be a front for Triad Gangs. Could be there to help Chinese schoolchildren. I have no idea. But I am sure that it is for Chinese people. There are also doctor offices and law offices and repair shops and grocery stores. There is a whole network there of people taking care of their own people first.
There is a community there of people who are exclusive, insular and interdependent. They go to each other first for what they need. They are harder to watch and harder to control. They are less dependent on the State and more dependent on each other. And when the collapse comes, they’ll take care of each other first, while everyone else is waiting for the state to “do something.”
Whoever your “us” is, whatever your “tribe” is, it’s just an idea in your head until you have a group of truly interdependent people who share the same fate. That’s what a tribe is. That’s what a community is. That is the future of identity in America.
Land belongs to those who take it and hold it. And this land is no longer your land or my land — officially it’s their land. You may not be able to reclaim it, at least not just right now, but you can become and live as happy Barbarians, as outsiders within, and work to build the kinds of resilient communities and networks of skilled people that can survive the collapse and preserve your identities after the Fall.
Readers who want to learn more about Jack Donovan should check out his site: Jack-Donovan.com.