Learning from the Left: Douglas Hyde’s Dedication and Leadership

White Nationalism is at present confined largely to the political right, i.e., the people who have been on a losing streak since Stalingrad. European rightists do, of course, have much practical wisdom to impart, even if they failed in the end.

But American rightists have not even managed to learn what they can from the losers, much less take an interest in learning from the winners: the left, which has now established ideological hegemony up and down the political spectrum, defining the Limbaughs and libertarians of the “respectable” (viz., ineffectual) opposition as surely as the liberals they huff and puff about.

For those rightists who want to learn from the winners, Douglas Hyde’s Dedication and Leadership (South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966) is a good place to begin. Hyde was a 20 year veteran of Communist activism, serving as news editor of the Communist London Daily Worker, until 1948, when he resigned, renounced Communism, and announced his conversion to Catholicism.

Although Hyde rejected the ideals and aims of Communism, he thought that the party’s highly effective organizational techniques should be emulated by those who wish to change the world for the better. Dedication and Leadership is a 150-page distillation of his experiences and insights.

Communism has killed more than 100 million people world-wide and is still racking up victims. Thus it is hard to think of Communism as anything but evil. But even evil is an accomplishment, and prodigious evil is a prodigious accomplishment.

How did tiny minorities of Communists accomplish so much? Because they worked harder and smarter than their opponents. They were particularly effective in mobilizing important moral qualities: idealism, dedication, and self-sacrifice. (One tends to feel licensed to kill for causes that one is willing to die for oneself.)

The fact that these moral qualities were bent toward evil ends does not make them any less praiseworthy.

How does one find and mobilize idealism, dedication, and sacrifice? Hyde advises the following.

First, recruit people who are already idealistic.

Young people tend to be idealistic, so special efforts should be focused on recruiting them.

Second, if you want to get a lot from people, demand a lot from them.

Communists inspired tremendous efforts simply because they asked for them. Communists were taught not to ask what they party can do for them, but what they can do for the party. The Marine Corps has no shortage of recruits for the same reason: their recruitment propaganda emphasizes sacrifice and discipline, not the perks of membership.

I was particularly impressed by one example of the dedication and self-sacrifice that was routine in Communist circles. Hyde and his fellow party employees took 8/14 of their income—more than 50%—and tithed it back to the party. They did this every payday, not just on special occasions.

How many White Nationalists are willing to tithe any percentage of their income to the cause they claim is sacred to them?

There are legions of professional Jews and Blacks. But there are fewer than ten full-time White Nationalists in the entire United States, and most of them make so little from the cause that it would be inconceivable that they could tithe anything back to it. Poverty is their sacrifice.

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It is not that money is lacking. There are individual White Nationalists whose wealth runs not just into tens, but hundreds of millions of dollars. Something else is lacking: the qualities of character that give rise to real, effective idealism, dedication, and sacrifice.

The truth is on our side. But truth is not enough to win if it remains locked in our hearts and heads, without consequences in the real world. When the first White Nationalist pledges 8/14 of his income to securing the existence of our people and a future for White children, I’ll believe that we will win.

But beyond asking for 8/14 of an employee’s income, Communism asked for 100% of each member, body and soul. And they got it.

Yes, demanding heroic dedication did make some hesitate before joining the party, but when they did, they were prepared to give their all. It also kept out lukewarm sympathizers and fellow travelers. But the party still had ways of utilizing the talents and resources of those who were unready or unable to take the plunge.  

Third, aim high.

If one is going to ask for everything, one has to have a good reason. The Communists asked everything of their activists because they had a world to win. Grandiose aims are only a problem if there is nothing concrete one can do in the here and now to realize them. But if one can forge that link, then even the humblest drudgery suddenly takes on a deeper and higher meaning.

I once asked an audience at a meeting on White community organizing why they were there. There were many answers: meeting new people, networking, seeing old friends, even learning about White community organizing. All of these were good enough reasons to get people there.

But then I offered a better reason: to save the world. Make no mistake, White nationalists are not just struggling to save the White race, since the welfare of the whole world depends upon our triumph. If we perish, the other races will breed recklessly and despoil the planet unchecked, and the one place in the universe where we know there is life will end up nothing but a burnt out cinder in the vastness of space.

So the next time you attend a White Nationalist gathering, remind yourself that you are saving the world. It will make the commute a little easier, parking less of a hassle.

The Communists realized that demanding heroic dedication to a higher cause does not drain people but energizes them. It does not hollow out their personalities but deepens them. Those who live for themselves alone have less meaningful lives than those who dedicate themselves to a higher cause.

Fourth, be the best.

The Communists taught that there is no contradiction between being a good Communist and being good in every other area of one’s life. The same should be true of White Nationalists. If you are going to be a good White Nationalist, you also have to be a good student, worker, employer, artist, spouse, parent, and neighbor.

One is a more credible and effective advocate for White Nationalism if one is well-regarded in other areas of one’s life. The Communists found that personal relationships with exemplary individuals were more important than ideology in recruiting new people to the cause.

Also, if one finds that one’s political commitments are interfering with excellence in other areas of one’s life, then one needs to scale back and regain balance. This prevents activists from burning out and keeps them in the fight.

Fifth, activism is essential.

Most individuals who joined the Communist party were immediately required to engage in some form of public activism. (A few with important social connections were trained as Communist secret agents.)

Public activism came before ideological instruction. By acting publicly as a Communist, one makes one’s commitment open and irreversible. By acting before one receives ideological instruction, one learns in a very personal and sometimes painful fashion the necessity of such instruction. Such activism also helps one weed out people who lack moral and physical courage before anything is invested in indoctrinating them.

Activism has a twofold purpose: to change the world and to change the activists. Since the party must act until the world changes, it must be organized for perpetual activism. Campaigns should be designed to (a) demonstrate that the party cares about its constituency, (b) to heighten the conflicts between the system and the party’s constituency, and (c) by building character, skills, and camaraderie among activists.

Hyde illustrates these and many other points with vivid anecdotes. His discussion of Communist cadre indoctrination techniques deserves an article of its own. I have not read many books that pack as much food for thought into so few pages.

Some White Nationalists might find Dedication and Leadership a depressing read, since it highlights the truly primitive, pathetic, unserious nature of the movement today. But that is the wrong way to look at it.

One does not need to read Douglas Hyde to see that White Nationalism in America today is full of kooks, losers, and dilettantes. One needs Hyde and authors like him if one is serious about creating a movement that can win.

Greg Johnson is the Editor-in-Chief of Counter-Currents Publishing, Ltd. He can be reached at editor@counter-currents.com.