Over the Halloween weekend, the National Policy Institute hosted its conference entitled “Become Who We Are,” in a city that is not-so-affectionately referred to as “the belly of the beast.” In the seat of American imperial power in Washington, D.C., an elite collection of the self-aware European diaspora came together to discuss issues affecting our growing movement, to hear enlightening presentations from its leaders, and to get to know one another in preparation of building regional and local networks.

But what does the title mean? Are we not already “who we are?” The phrase is immediately borrowed from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, in which the eponymous character remembers, alone on a mountaintop, how he counseled himself to “become what you are!” The eminent 19th century German philosopher and himself a student of the Greek language, however, borrowed this from Pindar of Thebes, one of the Nine Lyric Poets, in the Ancient’s second “Pythian Ode.” In it, Pindar advises the victorious chariot racer Hieron to “Learn and become what you are.” As the conference’s keynote speaker thundered this weekend: before we can do, we must first know.

In fact, looking back on my arrival at the weekend’s first event —a luxurious three-course dinner along with an open bar—my first impressions from the fellow guests were that everyone surrounding me was highly educated. Security stood like a statue outside our completely-booked room, and I saw a number of additional chairs brought in. I never felt crowded though, and leaned in as I caught up with old comrades or introduced myself to friendly newcomers over White Russians. Richard Spencer smiled and nodded as I remarked that a packed venue was a good problem to have. As he addressed the guests, he highlighted how many present were Millennials.

The following morning I walked to the conference with a number of other young men, most of whom were attending one of these events for the first time. As we neared the National Press Club, I eagerly scouted out if I could distinguish any of the local vagrants as bothersome Antifa. I know, I know, that task is virtually impossible, though I did begin to see some gaze at us with mouths agape. I stared back as I entered, wondering if they even cared to move. One eventually followed and said “Hey!” as the doors closed behind us. Not the most exciting entrance, but I did hear some others were sprayed with silly string. The horror.

To make up for being let down by those who would deem themselves our opponents, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Kevin MacDonald speak in person for the first time. His topic was the Origins of the White Man. What struck me most about MacDonald’s talk were not the prehistoric origins of our people, but how our healthy and subconscious instincts for self-preservation are suppressed by conscious puritanical moral ideals of universalism. MacDonald argued that we are (or at least many of us are) by nature egalitarian as this was a useful instinct in societies of warrior bands or Männerbunde. This instinct can itself be suppressed in the future by a newly hegemonic and conscious ideal of group interests that are morally valid. Taking to heart the lesson that we are a moral people and that our cause can and must be portrayed as such is perhaps the most important point that was made the entire weekend.

Richard Spencer was next in his well-prepared “Political Theology” speech, in which he argued that people are now being exposed to the truth, or “red-pilled”, not just by us, but reality. The present circumstances are so obviously against the interests of Europeans that it can no longer be ignored. This makes our message all the more potent and harder to obscure by our enemies. Spencer, much like fellow traveler Alex Kurtagić, believes that an alternative dream to the one offered by the Left must be offered in order for us to reach the top of the mountain. Who we are now is not nearly enough. What we can possibly become is the only thing we will settle for. Like the first speaker, Spencer offers a message that must be accepted if this movement is to ever grow, let alone attain power: Pragmatism is unrealistic; idealism is the only thing that will bring us success.

Professor Keith Preston followed with a cutting criticism of identity within the American system. People must be a subject of the state, they can identify with their job, and they can identify with what they consume. Preston is rooted in National Anarchist circles, and like Jack Donovan, he is independent of the movement but adds important contributions that are always interesting. What stands out to me as an Identitarian, however, are the racial exceptions to these rules. Yes, a man can identify as a student or an engineer, for example, but there are also plenty of student or engineering associations that are based around racial and ethnic lines, so long as these are not White student unions or White engineering associations. Such identities are allowed because the political losers have so much to give up to the political winners that this transfer of wealth, status, and power is explained away as trivial. Indeed, you only have to look at the undue moral authority groups like Black Lives Matter have within the poisoned mainstream to witness how untouchable they can be. Bernie Sanders infamously surrendered without a fight to that group at a rally of his a few months ago, and stood by as his actual supporters were labeled as “liberal white supremacists.” Hillary Clinton herself waited some time before finally ejecting Black Lives Matter protestors from her own rally.

Lunch was served, and attorney Sam Dickson spoke on Southern identity and the recent attacks it has suffered at the hands of its enemies in the media and government since the deplorable shooting committed by Dylann Roof. Instead of laying the blame on the murderer where it belongs, the Left’s attack on all of Southern identity in response to the shootings is reawakening or stirring it up more than ever.

Dickson recounted his experiences of running into groups that identify as Southern but have no honor or dignity. Obese men in overalls and unkempt beards playing banjos do nothing but replace Southern pride with disgrace. Clearly, such men who seize onto caricatures of the South are forgetting any authentic heritage their ancestors left them. They instead adopt self-images conjured up by the same people who are now campaigning to remove the Confederate flag from all areas of public life. Avoiding such traps is of paramount importance in any political movement, but especially ones such as ours where we do not have fair access or coverage by the larger media. From what I can tell, the biggest challenge Confederate flag supporters present our movement is that the majority are attached to the current dispensation, more so than many other groups. Convincing the subculture of Confederates and its parent culture of traditional American masculinity to move on from the current system and think radically may actually be a bigger challenge than converting liberals.

Roman Bernard, one of two speakers from France, most likely surprised many in the audience initially when he looked with optimism to the European Union. The international institution is among the most anti-White European organizations on the planet, yet Bernard emphasized that nothing happens in the EU without consent from its member states. It is possible that the EU could be surreptitiously deviated from its present course into a path that favors the interests of European Man.

In order however to accomplish this Herculean task, I imagine another one must be completed: convincing the populist or nationalist political parties that are most likely to support our message of taking our side to start taking each other’s side as well. European Parliament political groupings of nationalist parties have historically proven unsteady on their feet. A track record of cooperation across national boundaries is a necessity before pro-Europeans can successfully engage an elite international organization that already has a firm anti-white identity.

One Frenchman followed another with the keynote speaker, Guillaume Faye, giving his optimistically-titled talk, “Why We Will Win.” Faye’s enthusiasm and passion was definitely an inspiration, according to one attendee asking a question following the presentation. He argued that the attacks of non-Whites against Whites in our own countries are becoming impossible to ignore or for the current governments to handle and explain away. As Greg Johnson has pointed out, those who are fighting us are already working at full capacity. One break in the dam could unleash unstoppable white waters that would wash out the present system. Faye believes like we all do instinctively that we are better than our enemies. Spencer argued as much in a recent podcast, saying plainly that if we merely had the right ideas, the problems facing our people could be solved practically overnight. Islam is not a threat to a self-confident civilization.

A live podcast followed, featuring Spencer, Henrik Palmgren of Red Ice Radio, Lana Lokteff or Radio 3Fourteen, and Mike Enoff of The Right Stuff in sunglasses that would fit right in on the red carpet. Conversation was light and began with an expressed disappointment in the meager display of riffraff outside the building, and winded on towards more serious reflections. Questions from the audience were a sizable portion of the panel discussion, and it is fully anticipated that including talks of this format will become a mainstay at our events.

The conference broke for two hours, returning to the National Press Club room used earlier this February for the evening portion in a more relaxed setting. A light dinner was available along with wine, beer, cocktails, and mixed drinks. After some time unwinding from the day’s events, Spencer addressed the crowd as a Cuckservative in what could be called the best Lindsey Graham impression I have ever seen and heard. A text message alerted our Cuckservative-in-Chief that two of his adopted Haitian children had let loose on a murderous rampage at an Apple store, and the world was a number of Geniuses shorter.

He yielded the floor to Jack Donovan, and a hush fell over the men and women circled around him. The lessons he imparted to us would aid us to think tribally. While we can sympathize with strangers, we must not shed tears for them. In looking at who is us, barbarians cannot think of criminals as a type of person, but as a designation by the State. Should we become powerful enough, the State could designate us all criminals. I wondered, would that stop us? It could certainly be a blow to a movement that is clearly made up of high-status individuals. It would not be a blow to a movement that derives its status from its own members and those it hopes to reach.

Donovan’s words sounded like an ancient wisdom shared over a campfire in a northerly encampment, in the hopes that they would strengthen the students gathered for the many trials to come. He reminded us of our own ancestors’ strength and raised our cheers as he reminded us that all people have done horrible things, and those we descend from are not any more evil just because they were better at it than all the rest. If we are to be barbarians, we must loot and plunder, to take what is ours. “Let me be a friend to my friend; but I will be an enemy to my enemy, and pounce on him like a wolf, treading every crooked path.” In doing so, we must offer no apologies, no arguments, and no explanations. Such things belong within the tribe.

Live music by Robert Taylor followed, with much of the crowd singing along and listening intently while others allowed it to serve as a lively backdrop to their conversations. As our time at the Press Club came to a close, we left as a group and were greeted in the street by a few Antifa protestors. I recall only seeing a handful, with one shouting something in a peculiar accent that one usually only hears among mentally troubled group homes. One light-skinned, lanky man wearing a mask could not even be bothered to raise his voice as he muttered “white supremacist.” Spencer confronted one face-to-face as the conference-goers streamed by. After I was a few blocks away, I saw several police cars arrive, and I heard later that one female Antifa was hauled away kicking and screaming. All in all, any costs they attempted to impose on us for our gathering were mild in effect and pathetic in attempt.

Naturally, the fellowship and drinking continued in dozens of smaller groups across various bars and hotels. I had a splendid conversation with an artist from New York who was about to go on his first hunting trip, and I recommended to him the wonderful documentary hosted by Roger Scruton, “Why Beauty Matters.” Eventually, it was time to retire.

The last event was the brunch the next morning. After most had finished eating, Spencer took feedback from the room. A number of suggestions were offered, among them including workshops at future conferences centered on particular topics. Such topics could be strategies for approaching potential allies for our cause. A common theme was that we must continue moving in the direction of being not just an intellectual movement but a cultural one. Sam Dickson emphasized the importance of folk music in building camaraderie. As someone who does not have much experience with folk music, I can still vouch for its power as I have personally witnessed it become the life of the party, pulling me in with its passion and authenticity. We committed to each hosting our own local gatherings, even if that meant beginning with just a few people.

As I left D.C. for home, the memories racing through my head kept pointing to the same conclusions for the weekend: growth, maturity, and success. I have gotten something out of every conference I have been to, and while this event stands on the shoulders of giants, I cannot help but say that this was the best conference of ours that I have experienced. Speakers and attendees did not have to wait for me to say it to express the same sentiment themselves. Such is the inevitable result of highly-motivated and talented people, mostly young, gathering for a common and just purpose.

The trajectory of NPI events is also self-evident. Beginning in a modest room of the Ronald Reagan Building, moving to a larger and more elegant room at the National Press Club this past February, and finally transitioning to The Press Club’s largest hall this Halloween, steady growth has rewarded the diligent efforts of the conference’s speakers and the many men and women that have contributed along the way. The challenge we acknowledged lay before us was to take this spark and light others around the country, transforming excitement into persistent momentum as we widen and deepen our networks and sharpen our talents. Indeed, that is a challenge for every single man and woman reading this, so that when we look back on our deeds as we clawed and scratched our way to the top of the mountain, we may know that we worthed ourselves of the heights we were destined to attain. We might then say on our way, as Pindar said, “O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible.”