Birth of a Nation
2 Sep 2009
Greg Johnson, Occidental Quarterly (Excerpts)
2 Sep 2009
Greg Johnson, Occidental Quarterly (Excerpts)
H. A. Covington: The Hill of the Ravens (2003); A Distant Thunder (2004); A Mighty Fortress (2005); The Brigade (2008).
Every time a friend adds another weapon to his arsenal, he says “I hope to God I never have to use this.” But he keeps buying them, because they may come in handy. I say the same thing every time I pick up a Harold Covington novel. But I keep reading them. They may come in handy some day.
The four novels under review, collectively called the Northwest Quartet, tell the story of the creation of a sovereign white nationalist state, the Northwest American Republic, out of the territory of the United States sometime in the second or third decade of the twenty-first century — right around the corner, historically speaking. The NAR comprises the present US states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, plus parts of Northern California, Montana, and Wyoming. These states secede from the United States through a bitter five-year guerrilla war fought by the Northwest Volunteer Army. The NVA is an armed political party. Its ideology owes much to German National Socialism, but its tactics are modeled on the Irish Republican Army and the mafia, as well as Muslim organizations like Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the insurgents who have stymied the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These novels are war stories, and frankly that makes me squeamish. I know that war is an integral part of human history; that it decides the destiny of nations, races, and the world; that it forms a large part of the data of world history and the backdrop of world literature; that one cannot write about men without writing eventually about war. I know that war is an occasion for edifying extremes of human greatness and depravity. I know that one can also derive personal inspiration and useful information from war stories. But I just don’t find representations of hatred and violence particularly enjoyable. And the better the writer, the more seductive such representations become, resulting in a kind of sadistic pornography of violence.
Covington is a very good writer, and these novels are very entertaining. Yet they are not war porn. Covington shows war as horrible. It is mostly like a camping trip that drags on way too long: boring, sleepless, nerve-wracking, dirty, and grindingly uncomfortable and inconvenient. But occasionally it is livened up by moments of exhilaration and sheer terror. It is just that he thinks the alternative to war is even worse, for peace with the present system means the oppression, degradation, and eventual extinction of our race. Beyond that, these novels are not meant to be mere entertainment. They are meant to be self-fulfilling prophecies. The author wishes to inspire the creation of a real Northwest American Republic, and his novels are filled with a great deal of sound practical advice about how to do it.
These are not just ordinary war novels, moreover. They belong to a new genre: white nationalist revolutionary fiction, a genre that was pretty much created by William Pierce’s The Turner Diaries, written under the pen name Andrew MacDonald. Fans of The Turner Diaries will find the Northwest Quartet to their liking. Furthermore, Covington’s vision of political change is much more practical and detailed than Pierce’s, and although Pierce was a graceful, precise, and often powerful writer, he was not a born storyteller, while Covington is.
Covington calls himself a “hack,” but this is false modesty. He is a highly talented novelist, capable of creating vivid three-dimensional characters. He is particularly deft at crafting characters from working class and Southern backgrounds. Covington also spins complex, gripping plots that move toward deeply moving emotional climaxes. These novels are tear-jerkers. But expect to do a lot of laughing as well, because Covington is also a biting satirist with a wicked sense of humor. He is, moreover, a remarkably versatile stylist — Victor Hugo on one page, Quentin Tarantino on another. In A Distant Thunder, A Mighty Fortress, and The Brigade, Covington’s tales of sassy, wise-cracking teenage terrorists bring to mind Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with its virtuosic fusion of apocalyptic horror, intense dramatic conflict, and teenage frivolity. This is high praise in my book.
The Brigade; By H.A. Covington [*Amazon*]
But the Northwest Quartet is not merely a literary achievement, for these are novels of ideas, and they establish Harold Covington as the most significant American National Socialist thinker since George Lincoln Rockwell. Covington diagnoses what is wrong with America and the current racialist movement, proposes a political solution, and lays out a great deal of sound organizational, strategic, and tactical thinking on how to bring it to fruition. And by communicating these ideas in novels, rather than essays or treatises, Covington assures that they reach a broader popular audience at a deeper emotional and motivational level.
Conditions of Secession
White nationalists agree on the desirability of a white homeland in North America. The question is how to achieve it. Why is the secession of a white nationalist republic from the United States a better aim than a completely white nationalist United States? Why should we be satisfied with a part rather than the whole? Secession is preferable because there simply are not enough of us, and too many of them, for us to save the whole country. We cannot hope to defeat the entire US government and 100 million non-whites. But it is more realistic to hope that a predominantly white area of the country could secede. Secession would not require the destruction of the US government, but only the surrender of some of its territory. (It happened with the Panama Canal Zone, and it could happen again.) The secession of a predominantly white area, moreover, would not entail the moral and logistical nightmare of expelling millions of non-whites.
The strategy of the NVA is to make a large area of the United States ungovernable. The NVA also attacks the regime in its power centers: New York, Washington, D.C., and Hollywood. At a certain point, the regime decides to cut its losses and pull out. As Covington frequently reminds us, in such campaigns it is the accountants who surrender, not the generals. Such wars are difficult undertakings, but they are far easier than full-fledged revolutions. A regime will fight harder for its very existence than for some territory, especially territory remote from the centers of power.
Covington’s choice of the Pacific Northwest is logical because it is one of the whitest parts of the country. The Northwest is relatively far from the power centers in New York and Washington, D.C. It is not surrounded by the rest of the United States, but has a long Pacific coastline and borders on Canada and (in Covington’s scenario) Aztlan. The region is also large and resource-rich enough to aspire to relative economic self-sufficiency, a necessity for a state that would likely face the same sort of political and economic sanctions as Rhodesia and South Africa before they fell to black rule.
Of course no movement as small and sorry as today’s white nationalism is going to wrest one square inch from the US government. Thus the movement must change as well. The first indispensable condition for creating a Northwest American Republic is the concentration of racially conscious whites in the Pacific Northwest. This will make possible a second condition, namely the creation of a real, face-to-face white racialist community and movement, rather than a mere virtual movement. As Covington is fond of saying, no revolution will be made by people who are not within driving distance of one another.
Covington believes that such a racially conscious community must be organized along Communist lines as a revolutionary Party of Northwest independence. The Party has three functions: education (propaganda), recruitment, and preparation. Initially, the Party will operate above ground, carrying out open as well as underground propaganda and recruitment. Covington is scornful of white nationalist organizations that allow someone to join simply by mailing in a check. The revolution will not have a post office box. It will not take credit cards. It will not be tax-deductible. As Covington likes to say, “You do not join the Party. The Party joins you.” It identifies potential members then carefully investigates and tests them. This keeps out informers and kooks. All recruits will be evaluated as potential political soldiers. For, from the moment the Party emerges into the public eye, it is preparing for the day that it is banned. Then it will transform itself into an underground guerrilla army. And while underground, it will be preparing to re-emerge as the government and army of a new society.
Beyond that, no white homeland will emerge unless there are certain moral transformations: whites as a whole must recover their courage, and movement people need to become much more serious. In the novels, Covington speaks of 50,000 racially conscious whites migrating to the Pacific Northwest in the years before the war of independence. But why the migrants begin to come, why whites recover their courage, and why the movement becomes more serious is described as a complete mystery. It would be less of a mystery if these novels became widely read.
But even if the white nationalist movement became dramatically larger, better organized, and more serious, it would still be no match for the United States at full strength. Thus the regime must suffer a crisis, or a convergence of crises, before part of the US could hope to secede. The Irish Republic probably would not have gained its independence had the British Empire not been weakened by World War I. India would not have gained its independence had the Empire not been bled dry by World War II.
Fortunately, we know that the US system is moving full steam toward catastrophes on a number of different tracks. The political system is captive to minority and foreign interests and cannot pursue the common good. Our Israel-first foreign adventurism and profligate welfare spending are economically unsustainable. Multiculturalism and non-white immigration are leading to the ever-intensified degradation and dispossession of whites, which can only lead to increased ethnic conflict. Affirmative action and corruption have filled the government with incompetent employees who are parasites at best and actively throttle productivity and sow social chaos at worst. Education and popular culture continue their descent. The system is dependent on ever-increasing technological sophistication to exploit diminishing natural resources, yet the demographic trends are profoundly dysgenic. Morons are reproducing faster than geniuses, and the political system enfranchises and caters to the morons, with their high time preferences and ignorance of the causes of order and wealth. Furthermore, as Sam Dickson has pointed out, the system apparently has no brakes. For example, even before Social Security was enacted, it was known to be unsustainable, but nothing has been done to solve the problem, only to postpone the final crash by a few election cycles. Of course the system might be able to survive one crisis at a time. But eventually several crises will converge, and the United States will not be able to survive intact.
A Mighty Fortress; By Harold Covington [*Amazon*]
In a mild crisis, the first impulse is to hold on to everything. In a severe crisis, or a convergence of crises, one is forced to choose to surrender some assets to save the rest. Covington’s hope is to create a white nationalist movement that is sufficiently strong to carve off a chunk of the United States when that moment arrives. In Covington’s scenario, the US leadership is more concerned about the territorial integrity of Israel than of the United States. This is a reasonable premise, since even today the United States cannot summon the effort and funds to secure its border with Mexico, but it can summon immensely more money and enthusiasm to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the behest of Israel. (In Covington’s scenario, the US is bogged down fighting and occupying practically every Muslim country in the Middle East at Israel’s behest, but that is still not enough to stave off Israel’s eventual disappearance beneath the Muslim world’s rising demographic tide.) Thus, if the regime is forced to choose between supporting Israel and keeping the Pacific Northwest, the Northwest will be allowed to secede.
In Covington’s scenario, another factor conducive to the secession of the Pacific Northwest is the regime’s decision to acquiesce to the de facto Mexican re-conquest of California and the Southwest and allow the creation of Aztlan. As a general rule, it seems prudent for white secessionists to uphold the principle of secession for all peoples, including Mexicans and Hawaiians. However, our rulers have never been too concerned with abstract principles and general rules. But they are clearly wedded to the destruction of the white race. The secession of Aztlan forwards that goal. The secession of the Pacific Northwest does not. Furthermore, the secession of Aztlan might actually increase the regime’s ability to hold onto the Pacific Northwest by allowing it to reassign troops and resources to the Northwest.
Other factors that conspire to lay the conditions of secession include: (1) an ever-increasing population of dispossessed whites who no longer have anything to lose in taking up arms against the regime, (2) large numbers of well-trained and deeply embittered white veterans from the regime’s imperial wars, (3) a sufficiently corrupt and incompetent federal government staffed by lunatic ideologues, soulless clock-punchers, and affirmative action drones, and (4) a long process of overt and covert propaganda by the Party designed to increase popular discontent and tensions within the system.
Once these conditions exist, it takes only a galvanizing event, a spark to ignite the conflagration. In Covington’s scenario, it is the Coeur d’Alene Uprising, which is modeled on Ireland’s Easter Rebellion. The professional meddlers of “It Takes a Village,” the federal equivalent of the Department of Family Services, decide to seize the children of a family of apolitical neo-Pagans, the Singers, and adopt them out to more suitable parents, who will not read them hateful, racist Norse myths at bedtime. When they resist, they are massacred by federal forces, just like at Waco and Ruby Ridge. But this time, ordinary white people — the Singers’ neighbors — spontaneously take up arms against the feds.
Although the Party played no direct role in the initial resistance, it was prepared to seize the opportunity. Party activists — men and women alike — grabbed their guns and rushed to Coeur d’Alene. They declared themselves the Northwest Volunteer Army, hoisted a tricolor flag, and announced the birth of the Northwest Republic. Federal troops were rushed in, and after 16 days and a great deal of bloodshed, the tricolor was hauled down again. But the rebellion was not extinguished and eventually grew into a war of national liberation.
Conditions of Success
A Distant Thunder; By H. A. Covington [*Amazon*]
The Northwest Quartet contains a wealth of practical ideas that deserve serious consideration.
(1) Loose, Flexible, and Resilient Organizational Structures. Despite the influence of German National Socialism on Covington’s thinking, the NVA is not a centralized organization run on the Führer principle. Covington is above all a pragmatist, and such an organization would be too vulnerable to destruction by decapitation. Therefore, a loose and resilient organizational model is adopted based on the IRA and the Cosa Nostra. The basic unit of the NVA is a three man cell capable of operating semi-autonomously. Cell-members have only limited knowledge of other cells and the command hierarchy, so that if a cell is infiltrated or a cell member is captured, the potential damage is limited. Cells are parts of brigades, each of which has a commander and a political officer who serves as liaison with the Army Command. The NVA also has “Flying Columns”: mobile independent partisan units of 60 to 100 fighters operating in non-urban settings. There are no uniforms, blood oaths, torchlight rituals, and other such trappings, just an atmosphere of ruthless pragmatism and high seriousness in pursuit of victory.
(2) The Paramount Importance of Character. One cannot build an effective revolutionary movement out of defective people. Thus good character is the most important trait the NVA seeks in a member. Character is more important than ideology, skills, social background, financial resources, etc., because without good character, none of these other advantages can be reliably mobilized for the cause. Covington is not just talking about the classical virtues of courage, self-control, and wisdom, but also about traits like maturity and willingness to work with others in the real world, rather than merely in the cyber world of today’s movement. Covington is an admirer of Xenophon, who teaches that the army that is strongest in character has the advantage, other things being equal.
(3) The Revolution Must be Dry. Allied with the character issue is one of Covington’s best proposals, General Order 10: for the duration of the struggle, all NVA forces must not use alcohol or drugs. There are three good reasons for this. First, drink and drugs reduce effectiveness and impair judgment, which can lead to disaster. Second, regardless of the consequences, the demand to give up drink and drugs communicates in a very concrete way that this struggle is serious business. By demanding sacrifices from its members, the NVA commands greater respect and dedication. Third, it weeds out unserious people, those who prefer personal indulgence to racial survival.
(4) Religious Neutrality. Covington is adamant that the white nationalist movement must be neutral on religious questions. The purpose of white nationalism is to create a white homeland. This is a concrete political goal that people with widely diverging beliefs can pursue for many different reasons. It is more important that we work together for the same goal than have the same reasons for pursuing it. Religion in particular is not a topic that can be discussed rationally, thus nothing good can come from discussing it. Therefore, the topic should be avoided. Furthermore, the movement must take special care not to be, or to appear to be, opposed to the religion of the majority of whites: Christianity.
(5) Fight Smart and Cheap. It is possible for a small guerrilla force to defeat a much larger force by fighting more intelligently. The NVA does not recruit impulsive adrenaline junkies or berserkers with death-wishes. It does not ask people to volunteer for suicide missions and last stands. It does not ask soldiers to die for a white homeland — although they all know the risks. Instead, it asks soldiers to make their enemies die for a white homeland, while preserving their own precious lives to fight another day. The NVA looks for every opportunity to extract large benefits at little or no cost. Phoning in a fake bomb threat costs the NVA nothing, but it costs the enemy dearly in money and manpower. Modern technological society is so complex and interdependent that a small act of sabotage can have enormous and expensive consequences. This is why Covington frequently reminds us that in such a war, it is not the generals who surrender but the accountants.
(6) Choose One’s Targets Carefully. The goal of the NVA is a white homeland. It cannot achieve this by alienating the white populace. Therefore, the NVA chooses its targets carefully and seeks to make the regime’s work more difficult while minimizing damage to white civilians. Its chief targets are active functionaries and collaborators of the regime. It also seeks to drive out non-whites by drying up their employment and social support networks. The NVA also seeks to avoid causing death or injury to children of any kind, because this elicits sympathy for non-whites and makes the NVA look like monsters. For the same reasons, the NVA also avoids targeting civilian airliners and religious figures and buildings, no matter how odious.
(7) Deliver Concrete Benefits to Whites. The NVA does not just fight the system. It also seeks to deliver tangible benefits to the white populace. By driving out non-whites, the NVA produces job opportunities and rising wages for whites, lower crime rates, and a visibly more homogeneous community. By targeting the regime’s tax collection system, the NVA ensures that white workers have more take-home pay. The goal is to persuade the white populace of the benefits of white nationalism by actually delivering them during the war itself. This is one way in which the NVA positions itself to emerge at the end of the struggle as the government of a new nation.
(8) Destroy the System’s Credibility. While the NVA works to increase its credibility with the populace, it also works to destroy the system’s credibility by attacking its buildings, personnel, and allies. If the system can no longer protect itself, the people will conclude that it can no longer protect them as well. Again, the NVA is selective, focusing on federal and state rather than local governments. Wherever possible, the NVA seeks a modus vivendi with local law enforcement. If local police look the other way when the NVA is around, the NVA will leave them alone to protect the citizens.
The Republic Realized
The Hill of the Ravens; By H. A. Covington [*Amazon*]
The Hill of the Ravens is Covington’s guided tour of the Northwest American Republic several decades after its birth. At the beginning of the novel, the main character, Colonel Donald Redmond of the Bureau of State Security, is called to the office of the President of the Republic, his father-in-law John Corbett Morgan. He is given a secret and highly sensitive mission: to reopen the investigation into the betrayal and massacre of the Olympic Flying Column during the war of independence. Tom Murdock, the commander of the Olympic Flying Column, and his lover Melanie Young are among the greatest heroes of the Republic. Gertrude Greiner, who betrayed them to the US government, is one of its greatest villains. Thus when Trudy Greiner resurfaces after decades of hiding in Aztlan and announces she plans to return to the Republic to clear her name, she threatens to tear a gaping hole in the mythology of the young nation.
Moreover, if she does clear her name, this will necessarily cast the shadow of suspicion on the other eight survivors of the Olympic Flying Column. In the following years, some of these survivors came to number among the Republic’s most distinguished citizens: Admiral David Leach, the Chief of Staff of the Kriegsmarine; SS Major General William Vitale; Frank Palmieri, the NAR’s Minister of Transport; Dr. Joseph Cord, the Republic’s most brilliant scientist (clearly a portrait of William Pierce, a man Covington despises); and Dragutin Saltovic, an internationally-renowned classical pianist. If any of these men were traitors, it would be far worse for the Republic than the mere exoneration of Trudy Greiner.
Redmond’s investigation provides an ideal framework for a guided tour of the Northwest American Republic-touching on the political system, the military, economics, education, science, culture, and religion — which is Covington’s pedagogical purpose. (My only criticism of this book as a novel is that it feels a bit too much like a guided tour.) The NAR is a society of 40 million racially-conscious white people from all over the globe. It borders on Canada to the North, the United States to the East, and Aztlan to the South.
Because it is a relatively small country surrounded by chaotic and hostile neighbors, the NAR is characterized by high levels of military training and preparedness and high levels of spending on defense and research and development, including a space program. The NAR also has a War Prevention Bureau, an organization dedicated to assassinating foreign enemies of the NAR who try to stir up wars against it. If Saddam Hussein had been half the villain he was made out to be, he could have saved countless Iraqi lives — including his own — with such an organization.
The NAR government also provides education and health care and guarantees full employment. A ministry of culture ensures that the glories of European high culture are both preserved and accessible to all. In one of Covington’s many amusing touches, the ministry also exerts subtle pressures on dress and has apparently managed to turn back the clock to Edwardian or Victorian fashions — let us hope they stop short of powdered wigs, codpieces, and bearskins — giving the novel an archaeofuturistic flavor. (One advantage of fascism is that it does give men more opportunities to dress up.) The NAR is also a “green” society, which prioritizes public transportation, non-polluting technologies, nature preservation, and even uses Jurassic Park technologies to bring back extinct species (another wrinkle on archaeofuturism).
Although the government of the NAR is strong and centralized — indeed authoritarian — it is no dictatorship. The NAR is a mixed regime with legislative and executive branches — multiple centers of power that check and balance each other in accordance with the Republic’s constitution. There is also a popular dimension to government. There is universal suffrage. Since women took up arms to fight for the Republic, they also have the vote. But there are different levels of citizenship, and the higher levels come with more votes, ensuring that quality reigns over mere quantity. Although founded as a one-party state, different “tendencies” have emerged within the Party, effectively splintering it into a multiparty system. All this seems decidedly odd for a movement inspired by German National Socialism. But Covington posits that the NVA could succeed only by rejecting the Führer principle and adopting a decentralized, informal cell structure, and the pluralistic regime he describes seems like a natural outgrowth of this organizational strategy.
The NAR, like the racialist movement today, is also divided between different religious camps, chief among them Christianity, Christian-Identity, neo-Paganism, and complete non-believers, who are always on the verge of strife. Because of this, the NAR ensures freedom of religion and the separation of religion and state. Managing the religious situation requires a delicate balancing act among the leadership. One of Covington’s most interesting and wryly ironic ideas is that in such a situation, National Socialism would serve as a force for moderation.
Libertarian-leaning people will rejoice to learn that the government of the NAR, though strong and influential, is also small. There are two mains reasons for this. First, when left to their own devices, white people create ordered liberty as surely as blacks create chaos, so there is no need for state control of vast sectors of life. Second, government must be large when it goes against the grain of nature, specifically when it tries to make unequal individuals and races equal. When we abandon the lies of equality and multiracialism and let nature take its course, government does not need to be too large. Taxes are low and money is sound. There is so much privacy and freedom of movement that the secret police (a very small agency, directed mostly at external enemies) have trouble even locating individuals. (Try losing the government in today’s “land of the free.”) There is religious freedom and the right to bear arms. Covington evidently dislikes lawyers and envisions a minimal legal system that any citizen can understand.
Far more important, however, is the fact that the Northwest American Republic ensures positive liberty for healthy biological and cultural development. The NAR is a society in which men are free to be men; women are free to be women; and children are free to grow up in a healthy and beautiful environment, free of America’s chaos and violence, drugs and degeneracy, junk food and junk culture. It is a society in which whites are free to act according to their innate sense of decency; to create according to their innate sense of beauty; to apply their genius to discovering the secrets of nature and solving the problems of living; to give free reign to their questing and adventurous spirit.
The worst aspects of Covington’s vision are his “day of the rope” revenge fantasies, which smack more of Old Testament superstition and self-righteousness than of Aryan reason. These can only repulse otherwise sympathetic readers and make our enemies’ work easier. The NAR is no utopia then. But even with its imperfections, Covington has given us a vision — maybe even a world-transforming myth — that deserves to be taken seriously.
* * *
I highly recommend the Northwest Quartet. Besides being enjoyable and informative, these novels deliver another important benefit. White Nationalism is almost entirely a virtual movement of geographically scattered individuals connected by the internet and print publications. There is very little face-to-face community and real-world activism. Because of this, the movement has an overall tone of self-indulgence and frivolity. Whether or not one ultimately accepts Covington’s outlook, nobody can read these books without coming away with a much more serious attitude about white nationalism and the conviction that we need real community, real activity, real dedication and self-sacrifice. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay these books is that they are so subversive that someday the government will have to ban them. So get your copies today.
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