Saturday, August 7, 2010

Invisible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in America

by Hunter Wallace

Whether through oversight or neglect on my part, I have never initiated an extended discussion of the Ku Klux Klan on this website. We have discussed the League of the South and the Council of Conservative Citizens. It would be odd not to discuss the strongest pro-White organization in our little corner of America.

Birth of the Klan

The First Klan
The Ku Klux Klan is the oldest and most well known pro-White organization in United States. Founded in 1866 by ex-Confederate veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan quickly grew to include hundreds of thousands of members in the Southern states. In the late 1860s and early 1870s, the Ku Klux Klan fought the federal military occupation of the South and worked tirelessly to restore the racial ideal of America as “White man’s country.”

Eventually, the U.S. federal government cracked down on the Klan insurgency in the former Confederate states. The Force Act of 1870 and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 – two of the three initial “civil rights acts” in American history – were passed by Congress and signed into law by President Grant. The new federal “anti-terrorist” legislation gave the Union military sweeping new powers to enforce “civil rights” in the South and imprison Klan members.

By the early 1870s, the Klan was fading as an organization. General Nathan Bedford Forrest disbanded the Klan in 1869. The individual Klan chapters disintegrated under the pressure of federal prosecutions and military force. The demise of the Ku Klux Klan turned out to be a small victory for emancipated slaves and their Northern sympathizers.

The Klan succeeded in its larger goal: largely through its efforts, defeated Confederate veterans were radicalized, and their determination to resist federal oppression was renewed. A “culture of resistance” was spawned in the South that denied the legitimacy of the federal government and the rights of freedmen. The Klan was quickly replaced by other paramilitary groups like the Red Shirts and White League which fought successfully to overthrow integration.

This “culture of resistance” proved decisive in the long run. The South proved to be ungovernable for its conquerers. White Southerners refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of their appointed rulers. They refused to concede that blacks could hold elected office in the South or vote in Southern elections. Southerners tenaciously clung to their supposedly “outdated” traditions and way of life.

After twenty years of Reconstruction, the North abandoned the quixotic project and concluded it had been a mistake. Northerners tired of hearing about outrageous corruption in the South, incompetent black legislators, race riots, lynchings, and general chaos. The Republican Party was overthrown in every Southern state and federal troops were withdrawn from the South in 1877.

Moral of the story: The North was unable to establish the legitimacy of its rule in the South. It could only rely upon brute force to exercise its power. The Northern public did not have the appetite to use brute force indefinitely and eventually conceded Southern home rule.

Birth of a Nation

The South didn’t become a nation in any sense of the word until the aftermath of Reconstruction. Ex-Confederates were restored to power. Southern historians rewrote the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

In the 1880s, the Jim Crow system began to take root. The myth of the Lost Cause and Redemption was born. Every Southern town was soon dotted with a memorial to the heroic Confederate dead who fought for Southern independence and true American principles.

Southerners began to take on all the characteristics of a distinct people: a national anthem, a national flag, a single political party, national heroes, a foundation myth, ethnic consciousness, monuments, and a peculiar ideology and system of race relations.

After Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the differences between the proud and fractious Southern states that existed before the war no longer seemed as significant. The Klan was dormant for much of this triumphant period. With Southerners back in control of their own states, the Klan faded into historical memory.

Moral of the story: The South was only able to build and nurture a sense of ethnic consciousness after ethnic Southerners regained control of their own political system and institutions. Without the backdrop of Klan resistance in the 1860s and 1870s, the South would have likely remained a defeated province of the American Empire.

The Klan Reborn

The Second Klan
In the early 1900s, Thomas F. Dixon wrote a popular trilogy of books about the Ku Klux Klan: The Leopard’s Spots, The Clansman, and The Traitor. In 1915, D.W. Griffith turned Dixon’s second book The Clansman into a silent motion picture film, The Birth of a Nation.

The Birth of a Nation glorified the Klan and became one of the most influential films in American history. An early demonstration of the power of film and discourse, Griffith later claimed his purpose was “to revolutionize northern sentiment by a presentation of history that would transform every man in my audience into a good Democrat!”

In 1915, the Ku Klux Klan was refounded in Stone Mountain, Georgia. It quickly came roaring back to life in the wake of Griffith’s successful film. Within 10 years, the Ku Klux Klan had become a national pro-White organization with millions of members. The Klan even briefly established a presence in Canada.

The Second Klan differed in many significant ways from the original Klan. It was a national organization that advocated 100% Americanism. It emphasized Protestant Christianity and used the American flag. The Second Klan was based in the Midwest, not the South; in urban metropoles, not rural areas.

Second Klan strongholds included such odd places as Indiana, Maine, Long Island, Michigan, Colorado, California and Oregon. White professionals flocked into its ranks. In the 1920s, the Klan held memorable and photogenic rallies in Washington, DC that were on par with anything that came out of Germany under Hitler.

The success of the Second Klan was the cause of its own unraveling. Ambitious men joined to advance their own careers. They quickly rose through the ranks into positions of leadership. Once they were safely in power, these unscrupulous men ignored the concerns of their grassroot constituents. The Klan was rocked by a series of scandals which tarnished its reputation as the defender of law and order, civilization, and traditional American values.

The Immigration Act of 1924 succeeded in shutting down the flood of Catholic immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe that had aroused nativist sentiment in America. Prohibition became the law of the land and temperance organizations ebbed. Finally, the Great Depression struck and further reduced immigration to the United States.

By the 1930s, the Second Klan had collapsed and lost most of its influence over the American political and cultural mainstream.

Moral of the story: A popular film can change racial attitudes and sweep away old ingrained prejudices. The Second Klan was destroyed from within by opportunists who exploited a mass movement to promote their own narrow interests.

The Third Klan

The Third Klan
The convulsions in American race relations that followed the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education led to the formation of the Third Klan. Independent Klan groups sprouted up across the Deep South like mushrooms.

The Third Klan is best remembered for returning to its violent roots. Klan groups and individuals associated with the Klan used violence against “civil rights activists” to resist integration and social equality. A series of bombings in Birmingham and Atlanta were pinned on Klan activity.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Southern resistance to forced integration split into two camps over tactics. The Klan was unabashed about using violence and intimidation to fight the Civil Rights Movement. The Citizens’ Councils preferred to use persuasion, lobbying, and economic pressure. This was the beginning of a lasting split in the pro-White movement that has continued to the present day.

The Klan would have been victorious in the 1960s were it not for several complicating factors:

- America was preoccupied with a foreign boogeyman, the Soviet Union, which diehard anti-communists were determined to defeat, even if this meant sacrificing Southern segregation.

- America, which had positioned itself as the “leader of the free world,” was more susceptible to foreign criticism than ever before.

- The traditional WASP elite in the North had been overthrown by Jews and European ethnics.

- Southerners divided over tactics and a “culture of resistance” was unable to sink deep roots.

- Business interests and the liberal minority within the South were willing to sell out their own people.

Moral of the story: The Second Reconstruction was successful only because Southerners tacitly accepted the legitimacy of the federal government and inclined toward “working within the system” to fight forced integration.

The Fourth Klan

The Fourth Klan
In the 1970s, David Duke took the Klan in a more mainstream direction. The Klan adopted a new discourse of White victimization. Duke demanded “equal rights” for Whites and an end to affirmative action. The Klan was the earliest adopter of the fight against illegal immigration from Latin America.

In one memorable incident, Duke launched a Klan-organized “Border Watch” that anticipated the Minutemen in many ways. The “Fourth Era Klan” is best remembered as the “Television Klan” or “Media Klan.” Prominent Klansmen regularly appeared on television and didn’t make the best impression with their audience.

Like the Third Klan, the Fourth Klan was defeated in its objective, but in a slightly different way. The issues of the Fourth Klan – equal rights for Whites, ending affirmative action, fighting illegal immigration, fighting communism – were all stolen by the conservatives and incorporated into the political mainstream as the “social issues” of the Republican Party.

Ronald Reagan was elected president. Pro-Whites deluded themselves into believing they could play a role in national politics by voting for the GOP. Republican politicians gave lip service to Klan issues, but cynically used them only to gain political power for themselves.

Moral of the story: The Fourth Klan was defeated when its natural constituency was hijacked by the conservatives. Unlike the Klan, the conservatives were successful in building the institutions necessary to carry their message into the political mainstream.

Fifth Klan

The Fifth Klan
It is my understanding that the Fifth Klan began as a reaction to the Fourth Klan. There were always elements within the Klan who favored the more militant and underground approach as opposed to parading around in front of television cameras and mastering the fine art of public relations.

The Fifth Klan is associated with Louis Beam and Robert Miles. Beam is credited with concept of “leaderless resistance”: a horizontal form of organization that lacks a vertical hierarchy. Resistance groups were to be organized into small cells that would independently operate and challenge the federal government.

It was during this period that the Klan began to evolve into a White Nationalist organization. The “Fifth Era” came to an end when the Reagan administration began a crackdown on the White Nationalist vanguardist underground. This culminated in the Fort Smith Trial in which Frazier Glenn Miller testified as a state witness against Louis Beam and his former comrades in The Order.

Moral of the story: Even in the South, the Klan doesn’t have the broad popular support that it once enjoyed in the past. Racial attitudes have degenerated. The Reagan administration’s crackdown on the White Nationalist underground didn’t create the popular groundswell of resentment that has undermined the legitimacy of the federal government in the past.

Sixth Klan

The Sixth Klan
The “Sixth Era Klan” is the present incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan. It consists of various independent chapters scattered across the South and Midwest. There are no hard figures available, but the SPLC and other anti-White organizations estimate there are about 5,000 to 8,000 Americans involved with the Klan today.

The “Sixth Era Klan” has kept a lower profile. The Klan now exists in a world in which it no longer stands out as the predominant pro-White resistance organization. Jews and White liberals have stereotyped and demonized the Klan to the point where it can no longer successfully appeal to broad stratums of the White population.

The Klan spends a lot of its time these days recruiting through the internet and holding small rallies like other White Nationalist organizations. It is keeping the flame of tradition alive and anticipates a future resurgence of White resistance to integration and multiculturalism.

Preliminary Observations

It is commonplace today to fold the Ku Klux Klan in with Neo-Nazis and other “hate groups” which are deplored by Jews and White liberals. The Klan “hates” racial minorities. The NSM and WCTOC  ”hate” racial minorities. Therefore, the Klan, NSM, and WCOTC are one in the same force.

We shouldn’t adopt the skewed perspective of our enemies. There are some very important distinctions between Klansmen and Neo-Nazis:

- The Ku Klux Klan is an authentic expression of American nationalism. It grew organically out of the Confederate war experience and the oppression of White Southerners during Reconstruction.

- The Ku Klux Klan has deep roots in America. Klansmen are Anglo-Celtic Southerners and Butternut Midwesterners. They are Christians. Their ideal state is the American Republic of the Founders.

- The Klansmen immerses himself in the traditions and folk ways of his ancestors. He is trying to preserve his traditional racial and cultural way of life. He is involved in an institution over 150 years old which spans over seven generations.

- The Klan was once a mainstream national organization with millions of members.

- The Klan once controlled entire states.

- The Klan played an important role in defeating Reconstruction and stirring up nativist sentiment to the point where the Immigration Act of 1924 was passed. The Klan also mounted a serious challenge to the Civil Rights Movement in the South.

- The Ku Klux Klan has a 150 year old tradition of resistance to forced integration.

In sum, whereas Neo-Nazism is an imported European sub-culture that appeals largely to intellectuals and uprooted and alienated individuals, the Ku Klux Klan is more of a crystallization of the racial, cultural, and political outlook of the average White Southerner.

There isn’t much difference between the worldview of the typical Klansman and Tea Party activist. These two groups have far more in common than most people realize. The Klansman is just smarter than the Tea Party activist in that he can actually articulate why he is opposed to “big government” without resorting to media generated talking points.

The Klan Today

The Klan has now settled into one of its inert phases. There isn’t much in the way of Klan violence for the SPLC and Far Left to get stirred up about. At least nothing along the lines of the 1860s or 1960s.

Klan membership has declined. There are fewer rallies with each passing year. Within the White Nationalist movement itself, David Duke’s influence in the 1980s and 1990s has largely become institutionalized. Most White Nationalists prefer to eschew esoteric rituals and dress in suits and ties and hold their events in hotel conference rooms.

The irony of the Klan’s decline is that its cultural influence has grown as it has faded as a formal institution. Ku Kluxism, or the values and beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan, has taken on a life of its own. It now travels as a free floating ideology in its own right and increasingly permeates the political mainstream.

Secular Humanism grew out of Christianity. White Nationalism is similarly unthinkable without the Ku Klux Klan. Just as Richard Dawkins does not need to believe in Jesus Christ to evangelize Christian values, the typical White Nationalist need not be a Klansman to promote the racial values and beliefs of the KKK.

Future of the Klan

If I was forced to project the future course of the Ku Klux Klan, I would predict it will continue to decline as an institution while Ku Kluxism – flying under the colors of “White Nationalism” – matures into an increasingly established and influential social movement.

The Klan has traveled this route before. In the 1870s, the Klan collapsed under federal persecution, but its values lived on in the “culture of resistance” it sowed in the South and through the vehicle of similar groups like the Red Shirts and White League who subscribed to the same ideology.

Within the context of a triumphant White ethnostate, the Klan could reemerge as a mass membership fraternal organization, as the Thomas Dixons and D.W. Griffiths of the future rewrite American history in their own image. The glorious struggle of Klan resistance to the Civil Rights Movement and federal tyranny in the First Underground could be romanticized in theaters.

At the 2010 CofCC National Conference, I noticed Thom Robb was in attendance and his granddaughters – the Heritage Connection duo – were scheduled to sing and play at the event. This blurring of the lines between the Klan and other pro-White organizations like the CofCC and League of the South seems to be accelerating.

Alternative Trajectory

The Klan has been hobbled by its nasty image in the mainstream media as a violent organization based on hostility to other races. In reality, the modern Klan is largely concerned with the welfare and fate of Southern Whites who are suffering under the rule of a hostile and alien Jewish ruling class.

As an institution, I can’t see much potential in the Ku Klux Klan in resisting the encroachment of anti-White multiculturalism. That niche is likely to be occupied by the emergence of new organizations which cannot be attacked and dismissed on the basis of their history.

What the Klan could do is reorganize itself as some kind of Christian ethnonationalist organization – specifically, a mutual aid network – that works to uplift and educate Southern Whites in proper racial and cultural values. This reimagined Klan could rebuild itself like the Early Catholic Church which focused less on fighting paganism than providing aid, comfort, and education to the Roman poor.

The Klan already seems to be drifting in this direction. There are fewer public events like rallies and more private ones like barbeques on private property. In this hostile political environment, the natural focus of Klansmen is shielding their own wives, sons, daughters, and kinfolk from a degenerate society that is always threatening to absorb them.

I can see a future Klan building these alternative institutions and gaining credibility in the American South. The strength of the Klan, which is reflected in the Klan creed and spirit, is that the Klansman – unlike the Jewish-controlled American Left – truly cares about Southern Whites.

The Klansman knows first hand how the Southern working and middle class has been decimated by so-called “free trade.” He has seen the filth that it is taught to his children in public schools and through the mainstream media. He sees through the lies of the Obama administration which promise a postracial utopia and economic cornucopia.

At this point, the Klan could fall back on its own natural constituency – the Southern working and middle class – and work to rebuild its tarnished image through acts of charity. Indeed, the Klan itself could be reimagined a charity – one controlled by Southern Whites – that works solely for their racial and cultural uplift. There are already hundreds of Jewish Federations in America with assets upward of $5 billion dollars. No one is filling this lucrative niche in the pro-White movement.

Imagine a friendly, more insular Klan: one that smiles and talks about Southern culture and heritage, which charters private schools, which assists Southern mothers with things like daycare, which hosts concerts and family friendly events, which addresses issues like chronic unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, the decline of the family, and practices ethnic nepotism to rebuild shattered communities in the South and Midwest.

Such a counter-cultural organization would be incredibly appealing and threatening to the powers to be. Meanwhile, the political goals of White Nationalism would be steadily advanced by countless other groups likely to sprout up and fill the vacuum of real world political activism.


The Klan has a rich history as an American pro-White organization, one without peer, but has fallen on hard times. The Klan could decline while White Nationalism grows or it could reorganize to fill untapped niches within the expanding movement.

In my next post, I will discuss my own impressions of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan is one of the few White Nationalist organizations still active in Virginia and North Carolina. We’ve recently gotten in contact with them and enjoyed the experience.