Untimely Observations

Honor the Tribe - An Interview with Andrew Yeoman of BANA

The United States, late to follow Europe, is lurching toward a centralized government, taking more and more power and relevance away from local and state governments. Advanced communications and international corporations threaten to create a worldwide monoculture. Rootless global interests move work and wealth around according to the whims of markets, merely paying calculated, temporary lip service to local people and local interests.

But lately, in the wake of failing economies, what seemed inevitable only a few years ago is showing signs of becoming impossible and inhuman. More and more people are questioning their alliances, wondering why their neighbors are selling them out to make a quick buck as they struggle, wondering where their food and resources would come from if the trucks and the boats and the planes stopped coming. Localism and tribalism start with the question "what will happen to us."

Humans are tribal, and they aren't unconditionally altruistic. They won't willingly toil forever for the benefit of strangers while the people they know, the people who share their values and culture, and their friends and families suffer. The gauzy illusion that we are all one global family, that "we are the world," is wearing thin and the seams are showing. The 21st century may yet see maps re-drawn, and the return of "us" vs. "them." The way things are going, National Anarchism might start to sound like a swell idea.

Andrew Yeoman is founder of the Bay Area National Anarchists. He's explained some of the basics of his worldview in a series of interviews.

The Occidental Quarterly - An Interview with Andrew Yeoman, Part 1 and Part 2

Voice of Reason - The New Nationalist Perspective: Sunic interviews Andrew Yeoman

A collection of lectures about BANA along with some filmed actions and protests can be found on YouTube at Bay Area National Anarchist TV.

In the broadest sense, National Anarchism seems to be somewhat universal, because it puts emphasis on the formation of individual tribes and cultures. It could be viewed as an advantageous political philosophy for any group that wants to maintain some sort of separate identity and sense of autonomy. But for Virtus, I want to focus on the kind of tribal cultural ideal that inspires you, and what I've gathered is your preference for traditional sex roles within the kinds of communities you want to build.

Let's start with a stupid question. Why is fostering strong, traditional families important to your tribe?

Let's face it, strong families have greater merit and meaning than weak ones. By weak I mean fractured, broken, or dysfunctional. The kind of family member who has issues that you dread being around. I think most people might have one family member that fits that role and that is not what I would consider a bad thing, even if it is regrettable.

Family life is the fundamental building block of an organic community and the harmonious existence of that community. It's readily apparent from demographic groups that have a lack of father figures or caring family that youth will find alternatives figures to fill the function of a missing familial connection. I've seen good kids destroyed by absent parents and overbearing ones and I think that's where tribes are important.

The poorly used proverb, "it takes a village to raise a child" has a kernel of truth to it. My views on the importance of family were influenced by living in an Italian American community whose motto "family always comes first" always struck me as the right value system to have and was quite different from what I grew up with. I'm a child of the eighties and was raised in a broken home. I witnessed firsthand the tragic effects of divorce, a parent with a mental illness, custody changes, physical abuse and alcoholism in my own upraising. I wouldn't wish the kind of problems I had to go through on anybody. In adulthood I naturally found an extended family through friends and kindred spirits that has since expanded across the globe and includes eighty eight year old meditation devotees to charismatic nineteen year olds.

When I decided to get re-involved as a political activist a few years ago I discovered a strange truth. When you get involved in political movements and various groups the dynamic is not so much about political issues but rather the values of the social hierarchies you interact with. Those values usually revolve around identity, respect, and resource acquisition. What Troy Southgate calls the "organic community" is the cyclical nature of human life that relies on men and women to harmoniously complement and fulfill each other in familial, tribal, and national roles.

It is my belief, child of the modern world as I am, that liberal values of socialization through public education and mass media are detrimental to the overall health and well being of the family. That is not to say that other forms are perfect, but when looking at the big picture of how modern society can be compared to others by examining the creations of the past, through art (modern art), architecture (1980's), entertainment, literature, and so forth, I think it can be shown that families, tribes, communities live in spiritually and socially impoverished times when compared to as recently as the post World War II era.

There are however hopeful signs of a neo tribalism taking root in our society that can take the corrective steps against the vast social failings we are witnessing today.

Your mention of Italian-American families above reminded me of today's Mexican-Americans. A few days ago my compadre showed me an invitation to a quinceañera given to him by a co-worker. He said the man was bragging about how many "godfathers" his daughter had -- he was really proud. From what he told me, I guess anyone who contributes to the girl's celebration is honored as a "godfather" or "godmother." All of these people had pitched in to celebrate this young girl's coming of age. I'm anti-immigration and I'm an assimilationist for practical reasons -- but as an outsider looking in I think there's a lot we can learn from Mexicans in terms of the importance of both family and community.

What historical tribal communities, cultures and traditions are you using as models for the sort of tribes you envision? Of course, we can never truly re-create the past, but I suspect you must have some sources of inspiration.

I agree entirely about the Mexican or Hispanic sense of solidarity. They still have the values that we have lost in the Kulturekampf in our own society.

However, I think the example most relevant to contemporary Americans is the Amish. Despite differences in lifestyle I have with that community they live a very tribal existence that is largely free of government influence, is traditional, and in tune with nature and the cycle of life. Parents take care of their children, grandparents are taken care of by their family, and the community all pitches in to help families raise new homes or farm buildings not out of coercion but on the principle of mutual aid, long lost by many Christian denominations.

Other examples I have in mind are more esoteric for most people. Going backwards in time I'm inspired most by the Spanish anarchists of 1936-39, the Free State of Fiume 1919, the Paris Commune 1848, Knight Templars 12th century, the Hashshashin 10th century, and the Anglo-Saxon tribes, Varangians, and Spartans of ancient history. I won't say that all aspects of these various peoples are worthy of imitation or that it's even possible to recreate them. But a careful study of their history reveals a series of traits that usually include an independence, religious piety, martial valor, and traditional ways of life seems to support a higher quality of life than their peers.

An important feature of what myself and others are doing is creating a new narrative or mythos of tribal identity that is aware of our archaic past yet invigorated with a passion for the present and the predefined roles from which we cannot choose. A common myth created by liberals is that who a person is an accident of birth. That you just kind of randomly appeared in the body, gender, and ethnicity you inherited. This is the basis for denying the importance of racial, sexual, or genetic differences or the importance of national identity -- that your life is an accident.

Recently I have been studying the Munich Soviet Republic 1919, Baron Ungern von Sternberg of Mongolia 1919-21, and warlord Arkan Ražnatović of Serbia 1991-95, which are fascinating examples of what kind of men society turns to during a severe national crisis.

Yes, actually the Amish crossed my mind as I was reading through some of your previous interviews. I grew up about 20 minutes from Lancaster County, PA. We saw the Amish, but more often we encountered the Mennonites (what I call "Amish Lite") -- an older Mennonite couple lived next door to us for a while. It was odd as a mainstream American boy to be invited over for old fashioned hot chocolate at a home with no television and no microwave oven. It made an impression; those people were living in a different world of their own free will.

You spoke of the "kind of men society turns to during a severe national crisis." Can you elaborate on what you mean, and further, where do you think those men would come from today? Affluent, liberal, "gender neutral" society believes that we no longer need that kind of men. Will those men simply appear, or is that a kind of raw masculinity that needs to be forged and shaped?

Oh they exist, but if history is any lesson they operate in obscure positions in far flung locations and then rise to prominence through a combination of ambition and their social network. Arkan from Serbia was such an example. In his youth he was a petty criminal in Serbia, he was forced out of the country to stay out of trouble but contracted through the Communist government to provide deadly services on request. In today's world I have met private military contractors working in Kosovo or providing security off the coast of Somalia that fit the bill. They could be rogue evangelicals with a crusade to win, a retiring French Foreign Legionnaire, or leader of a street gang. It's impossible to know where or when they will make their appearance but everyone knows when they arrive on the scene. No one would have thought a nobody German soldier in 1918 would nearly take over Munich in five years. It's clear that these are the kinds of men are a polarizing force: they are either loved or more often hated by their peers but they overcome these obstacles. Keep a look out for men of social movements that gossip and rumors surrounding them reaches near hysteria. These are the actors in the area of operations of life.

There are plenty of men whose testosterone is greater than estrogen, hell I train with some almost every day in mixed martial arts. But they are few and far in between. And let's face it, the average man is a coward. I was looking at picture of some teenage Marines on Facebook the other day and I couldn't help but think what a bunch of clowns. Grown up emo kids in camouflage a fighting force does not make. I remember a few years back in Nashville at some random after party meeting a white and black member of the army. The white guy was missing a front tooth and he and the black were skinny as rails and lovers. I still haven't quite figured out how that happened.

I was thinking the other day about honor and how different societies conceive how to achieve it. I have trained with traditional Japanese martial artists and these are quiet, dangerous, and honor bound warriors who act only in self defense. Such fighters would never enter a competition such as UFC because there is no honor to be gained from fighting for money or entertainment. Looking around I think honor is a trait distinctly lacking in our estrogen rich society. For a man of the Western cultural tradition such as myself, honor is not just an abstract thought of just acting with personal integrity. Personal integrity is something you're supposed to do and does not bestow honor by itself. An honor bound man is obligated to make amends when he, his family, tribe, or nation are disrespected. Or raped. Or killed.

There was an example in Richmond, California recently with two teenage white girls raped by a dozen gang members outside of their prom. These gangbangers were arrested but spared the hiding of what an honor bound community would have given these villains. This trait can be found in nearly all traditional societies. However in today's twisted world the media pays huge accolades to families of crime victims who forgive the perp such as what happened with Amy Biehl. These men will have a personal sense of honor, loyalty, discipline, and ambition or aggression to such a level to essentially be a different species from modern man. However it is worth noting that it won't be brash or rude display of masochism. Ambition is realized through diplomacy and tact with those in positions of authority. Respect is given when it is earned.

John Robb often wrote about "superempowered" individuals who are able to use technology and extend their will to have world changing effects. Osama bin Laden is an example of this, the world's first in the flesh James Bond supervillian. This man was critical to taking down one world superpower and by all appearances has trapped the other one in a zero sum game. His status is such that even if he is killed he will be revered by a billion people for fighting for what he believed in. Regrettably he has chosen a path of indiscriminate violence to achieve his goals.

The Japanese have an ideal of the ultimate fighting that consists of winning the battle with no fighting at all. That disarming your opponent is greater than harming them. This kind of man is threatening to the "gender neutral" world you aptly describe because when such men form a Männerbund a higher will to power comes into play and the zeitgeist changes so fast they won't even know what happened.

Well, there are plenty of battle-tested, fearsome warriors who have earned the name in the current U.S. Military.

Let's talk a bit more about honor. I agree that honor is more than mere integrity, which is only part of it. The concept of honor has been neutered and made superficial -- to so many people it has become little more than a synonym for "good." James Bowman wrote that honor has predominantly been about courage for men and chastity for women. One could also say that, especially for men in the West, honor has been about defining acceptable and unacceptable uses of violence. I tend to see it as a form of quasi-spiritual accounting for men, a system of credits (manly actions) and debits (dishonor) in a man's internal spreadsheet. We want to keep in the red, maintain what we've determined to be a tolerable balance between glory and shame.

What do you think are some of the reasons why Western honor culture is in ruins? How can men re-build what they have lost? And how does a man live an honorable life in a world that is hostile to Traditional concepts of honor?

Honestly I do not have a good explanation as to exactly why honor has largely receded in importance in our culture. I will say that I think blaming schools of thought like cultural Marxism or feminism or some other cultural phenomena is a misstep because it skips personal and collective responsibility. It is easy and even convenient to point fingers at the Other but very hard to accept fault. A higher culture, just like a higher man, is able to acknowledge its shortcomings without denouncing others.

Instead I will refer to the cyclical theory of civilizations which is rooted in the work of Oswald Spengler. Much like the human organism, human values go through life cycles. They are born or created, rise onto their own in adolescence, achieve mainstream acceptance or adulthood, and then weaken in old age and finally die in order to be reborn. Honor has been going through the same slow, multigenerational, decline that accompanies a civilization at its end game. This is not the first time it has happened nor is it likely to be the last. One of the most famous examples of this occurrence in ancient history is the inglorious end of the Roman Empire when the barbarians were crossing Rome's Tiber river the upper classes had parties to welcome their new overlords. Similar celebrations are being held by the same type of lick spittle today. One of my favorite Italian philosophers is Julis Evola and when writing about a similar decline in Italian national life that although the process of decay was impossible to reverse but it was essential for men of race, that is, in Evolian terms, men of a higher ethical calling, to carry the torch so that its knowledge would be passed on to a more worthy generation than our own.

Although Evola was quite pessimistic in the practical possibility of recreating society in a traditional image, I find a parallel attitude about society the failing institutions in Nietzsche's comment that "that which is falling should be pushed." People that know me will tell you that I hate timid intellectualism that thinks grand thoughts that never culminates into acts. Actions are the one and only way to legitimize ideas and if you are only thinking you are in fact simply doing nothing. Since I am involved in a political movement to make real changes in my community that often involves participating in street protests and talking to the public about issues that are important.

Now becoming involved with political struggles is not for everyone but consider this food for thought: traditional societies have three traditional classes that mirror the archetype a man can aspire to: the farmer, the warrior, and king. In modern times this translates into acquiring resources, playing the role of a guardian or guardian, and organizing your personal life how you want to live. Robert Heinlein summed it up best in the last century:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Although I love that quote, the decadence of the emasculated times when he wrote that is apparent with the politically correct gender neutral pronoun he used: instead of an ambivalent "human being" an unapologetic man would of started the sentence with the noun "Mankind should be able to..." since the word mankind is inclusive of women.

Personally I find it essential to be not just well rounded, as Heinlein suggests, but also involved with the folk religions of my ancestors, strengthening my body through exercise and martial arts, and mentoring youth to the best of their, and my own, abilities. There is a lyric of the band Death in June that I think sums up manhood very well: the strength of my body is the strength of my mind. In the traditional cycle of mastery in trade crafts there are three degrees or ranks: the apprentice who is trained by a master until the apprentice becomes a journeyman at which point he is mentored becoming himself a master. I think the ultimate goal of manhood involves not just reproduction, valor, or love, but mastering an aspect of life and sharing that skill with worthy students whom he hopes one day to surpass his own level of expertise. One of the most honorable mentions is of course Sir Isaac Newton who said, "If I have been able to see further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants."

I noticed you made a point to say that mankind is inclusive of women. It is sometimes, in a big-pictures sense, and then sometimes it isn't. One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received as a writer was this: Never say "people" when you mean "men."

Above you seemed to say that both men and women should be prepared to do anything and everything. That's not a bad idea, but do you think there's a natural division of labor there? Doesn't it make sense in terms of efficiency to have males and females focus on different kinds of tasks, as so many of our ancestors did?

Yes it does and I agree that until very recently, perhaps a hundred years ago, our society had the right combination for effective socialization of gender roles.

I will say that it is reasonable to have exceptions to the rule and that zones for other lifestyles are acceptable for people who have different prerogatives however those zones should not held to equal or superior status to the rights of the national community. One of my grandmothers who grew up during the Depression in Kentucky self described herself as a Tomboy because as a child she liked to explore the mines and climb the tress like boys did. There is nothing out of the ordinary in those activities by today's standards however today's definition of a Tomboy has connotations of gender bending that were she still alive would be completely unacceptable to my grandma's values.

What we have today is a transgression of all values and the problem with that is that is that it does not lead to a healthy cultural life or environment to raise the next generation to reach the best of their abilities. This brings to mind a quote by Ian Smith that went like "it's not for us that we struggle but for our grandchildren and their grandchildren."

Gender relations are taught in social science departments in universities across the Western world as flexible, malleable, and designed according to social expectations. The truth is that gender roles are fragile and upsetting the balance of how men and women relate to each other creates disharmonious results on the social organism. I define destructive socialization patterns as anything that negatively affects the present and future generations. If we do not man up to the responsibility to the tried and true models of social continuity our communities will disappear like the once ubiquitous aurochs.

The only antidote to the cultural pathology of the education system and mass media in our society that I have been able to find is positive peer pressure from a tribe. Everyone has a tribe, their friends, family, and community that make up the social part of your life. Who you choose to have in your tribe and what kind of language they use is critically important in being able to find the integral balance needed in a world in flux. The tribe cares for itself, protects itself, and screens bad characters out of its circle. The metric of success for a tribe is was it able to reproduce itself according to its own will to power or was it subsumed by more powerful forces? That is the question that powerful men and women guide themselves by.