The Ghost Dance
Howard Terpning, Hope Springs Eternal – The Ghost Dance
In the 19th century a stalemate that had held for hundreds of years between the European powers and the Amerindian nations broke. The newly formed United States of America had liberated itself from the English crown and, with that, from the restraints of treaties that had held back the white man's westward expansion. Wagon trains began to roll west, extending pseudopodia of settlements into Indian country. Soon the wagon trains were replaced by the steam engine, and the trickle of European expansion became a flood.

War was as inevitable as the war's conclusion. The red man fought fiercely and bravely, inflicting savage terror on the interlopers, slaughtering settlers, taking scalps and wives. But every bullet he fired had to be replaced by trade with the very enemy against whom he struggled, while for every one of those enemies he tortured to death, ten more took his place. And for all that he was capable of inhuman brutality, the ice-water that ran in his enemy's indifferent veins was every bit as terrifying. The red man, outnumbered and technologically out-matched, was doomed.

Towards the end, despair began to set in.

Just as the red man was on his knees, hope flooded back into his heart.

A messiah came, and told them that if they danced correctly, danced in the way their ancestors had danced, the spirits of those ancestors would return from the otherworld to aid their fight against the white man. There was more to it - the messiah spoke of peace, of brotherhood, of cooperation between the tribes; he taught clean living, a rejection of the white man's poisonous firewater; and he prophesized not only the assistance of ghostly legions, but an Armageddon, a cataclysmic renewal of the Earth that would wash away all the white man's railways and telegraphic wires and cattle fences and garbage. The braves won over to this lone light of hope shining in darker times than their people had ever known took to wearing ghost shirts, believed to make the wearer bulletproof.

The Ghost Dance inspired the Indians to unify, or at least to aspire to unity, and to renew their resistance to white encroachment.

It didn't work. Bullets, it turned out, did not bounce off of ghost shirts.

The Ghost Dance led directly to the massacre at Wounded Knee, and while white society was horrified at the piles of dead women and children, the red man's dominance of the continent was broken, and did not return.

The Ghost Dance was far from a unique historical occurrence. Apocalyptic movements have swept through populations stressed by invasion and foreign domination past their breaking points numerous times in history.

Also at the end of the 19th century, fresh from the humiliation of the Opium War, as the Century of Shame dissolved thousands of years of comfortable assumptions about the easy dominance of the Middle Kingdom over the lesser barbarians, the Boxer Rebellion rose up against the foreign occupation of Chung Kuo. Arising from a venerable tradition of martial secret societies, the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists drew in unemployed young men angry at their lack of prospects, their disgraced position under the hands of the European powers, the spread of the alien cult of Christianity through their peoples' hearts, and the collusion of the puppet Qing dynasty with the rapacious trading companies. Like the Ghost Dancers with their ghost shirts, the Boxers were convinced their kung fu made them bulletproof. What need had they for firearms, when they had qi? That belief inspired them to an uprising that succeeded mainly in getting them killed.

Boxers slaughtering nuns
Unknown Artist, depiction of Boxers slaughtering nuns.
In the 1st century AD, the Judeans were conquered and occupied by Rome. This despite that the Romans worshipped false gods, while Judea was under the protection of Yahweh - the one true God, who had promised to raise Israel above all other nations. In the wake of Judean subjugation apocalyptic cults flourished. They taught that the Romans had succeeded because Judea had fallen away from the Law; therefore, by returning to the Law, by obeying it in every respect, down to the minutest detail, they would win back Yahweh's favour, and He would send a messiah at the head of a host of angels to chastise the Whore of Babylon and scour her polluting influence from the Earth. Gangs of young men made themselves the enforcers of the Law by day, shaming and stoning any of their own people who might violate it; by night, they raided and harassed the Roman occupiers, sure that they would prevail in the end, for they had God on their side, and God had angels. They did not prevail. Instead the great Temple in Jerusalem, the central and defining structure of the cult, was dismantled brick by brick, and its holy relics paraded down Roman streets in just another of the city's many triumphs, a passing diversion for the Roman mob to gawk and jeer at.

The Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem
Francesco Hayez, The Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem
We have not been conquered by the overwhelming military power of some foreign empire. Not yet, at least. We have been conquered only by words. Yet our situation is not so different from that of the American Indian, the Han, or the Judean. Our borders are porous, our various "nation"-states accepting millions of immigrants from the third world every year, invaders who come at an ever-increasing rate. Canada's population had already been growing at a rate of 1% per year - hundreds of thousands annually - for decades, only for the country's population to jump by almost 3% in a single year, with a million migrants arriving in the midst of Corona lockdown. The same pattern is seen in the US, Australia, Britain, France, Germany. Small countries such as Sweden or Ireland, with populations of only a few million, risk being utterly swamped by the third world's billions.

Our governments are wholly captured, Quisling states with no loyalty to the nations over whom they preside. All efforts to overthrow these occupation governments have so far come to nought, not least because most do not yet recognize that they are occupation governments in the first place. After all, they were not imposed by a conqueror's armed might, but rather mutated step-by-step in an imperceptibly gradual process from representatives of the people's will and guarantors of the nation's interests, to violators of the nation's interests that are utterly insensible to the people's will. A large plurality of our population supports the regime and its program of pillage and ethnic replacement with fanatic zeal, enthusiastic converts to a novel creed that itself evolved step by oh-so-logical step from the spiritual and civil religions of our fathers to a malign heresy that holds as a moral imperative the dispossession and extermination of the posterity of those very fathers. So far, most of the populace has resisted the suicide cult's blandishments, but for all that they dislike it, they remain morally disarmed before the cult's linguistic assaults, shrinking in fear from every invocation of the magical words 'racist', 'fascist', 'nazi', 'white supremacist', which Westmen have been trained to believe the worst possible things, and which evils the evil suicide cult claims - and believes itself - to be fighting against.

Those captured governments do not stop at keeping the immigration flood gates jammed open. They enforce ruthless speech codes, punishing any natives who go even a bit too far in complaining about the endless river of foreigners, and especially those who complain about the invaders' behaviour.

The dispossessed red man was fed firewater with which to drown his mind, rendering him useless, passive, dependent, and ultimately dead. Opiods are doing the same to the white man, as the occupation governments turn a blind eye, or even play enabler through the medical system and harm reduction initiatives.

The red man was made to starve by the systematic extermination of the buffalo that had been his source of sustenance, at the hands of marksmen who used the herds for target practice to pass the time on the railway trips out West, and who let the massacred carcasses rot by their thousands in the sun. Just so, the white man has become a company man, a creature of factory and office and institution ... and is being systematically locked out of participation in the very organizations he built and outside of which he can no longer easily survive, even to the point of those organizations falling into ruin without him, rotting as uselessly as the carcasses of the buffalo.

indians on horses
James Paick
Small political victories are won here and there - dissident presidents elevated into office against the efforts of the regime media, referenda miraculously won against the preferences of the regime, small cohorts of populist champions pushed into the legislatures. But so far at least this has had almost no effect on policy. Populist parties are electorally quarantined by the larger regime loyalist factions, permanent bureaucracies refuse to cooperate with the tribunes of the plebs, and meanwhile every organ of formal and informal power works to remove the troublesome rebels by every means fair and foul. Trumped up charges are levelled on the basis of fabricated evidence, elections are fortified, supporting voices silenced, and the people's champions forced to fight for their positions with neither time nor energy left over for any meaningful alteration of the state itself.

The last decade has been a demoralizing one. A path to victory is difficult to discern, for the enemy's power is overwhelming; to the contrary, all plausible roads seem to lead only to annihilation. Within a generation, it seems, every Western people will have been fully dispossessed. We shall be rendered a despised and powerless minority in our own homelands, as half of our deranged people go with empty sanpaku-eyed grins into the great Darwinian night.

All without a shot being fired.

Is it any wonder, then, with no clear path forward, with defeat leading to defeat and whatever small victories we win also leading to defeat, that so much of the discourse on the dissident right has turned to the past, to the cult of the body, to tradition? We must RETVRN, we say. We have to go back. You must lift weights, get fit, perhaps learn combat sports - take up boxing or MMA. And of course, you must find God. Go to church, ideally the same church your forefathers attended. Read the Bible. Read old books. Become wise in the ways of the old philosophers, especially the Romans and the Greeks. Reconnect with your roots, it is very Indo-European.

Is all of this not exactly what the Red Man did? The Han Boxer? The Judean Zealot?

Is the entire dissident right no more than the white man's Ghost Dance?

Is it all just cope?

I'd like to think it isn't. After all, I also lift weights, read old books, and find God ... or try to. But then, that I participate in these things is certainly a powerful cognitive bias towards not thinking that it is all nothing more than a Ghost Dance. The dispossession of my people affects me deeply, and personally. As a relatively young male, I feel the full force of it. It is always the young males that occupation governments seek to subdue first. It's not at all obvious what I can do about it, either. It isn't obvious what any of us can do. Would it be so surprising if we looked for ways to cope? And shouldn't we expect those copes to be the perennial copes of angry and sensitive young men?

Consistent with the Ghost Dance hypothesis is that the emergence of self-improvement culture on the dissident right seems to have come about following the reversals and betrayals of the Trump and post-Brexit years. The alt-right of 2015 was focused like an orbital death cannon on political efficacy; it felt it could win, and its energies were wholly consumed in the meme war. The dissident right after 2018 or so no longer believes in politics, and therefore it turned inwards, preaching the gospel of the iron temple. The Ghost Dancers were not only apocalyptic mystics. They too, preached clean living. The Boxers were known to be exceptionally athletic, spending much of the day working their bodies and practicing swordplay.

Also consistent with this hypothesis is that the turn to religion, be it trad-Caths, Christnats, Orthobros, or the various flavours of vitalist and pagan, also grew in popularity around the same time. Likewise the intense interest in history, particularly classical history.

It is almost as though many of us wish to believe that if we live cleanly, develop fizeek, and pray hard to the God our ancestors prayed to in the way in which our ancestors prayed, we shall find a way out.

Against this hypothesis is that no one that I've seen seems to believe that they are immune to bullets. Probably there's some schizo out there who will prove me wrong with a TikTok challenge soon ... actually I kind of hope that happens, it would be hilarious. Nor does anyone hold that Heaven will rip open and send forth an expeditionary force of Einherjar to destroy our enemies and make them submit if we just LARP the old ways hard enough.

To the contrary, the widespread feeling is rather one of doom. At best, at best, we might hope to plant seeds, that our children, and more likely our grandchildren or great-grandchildren, may once again live in a thriving and functional society that does not hate them. We ourselves, we who are live now, are the lost children of history, abandoned and betrayed by our feckless elders, stripped of our patrimony, cursed to have lived to see the last dying embers of the golden age that has now passed, fated from now to know only a darkness that will just become deeper and colder as we live out the rest of our lives. We are Spengler's Roman soldier, guarding his outpost in Pompeii's threatening shadow.

I do not say that is what the future holds, only that this is the prevailing sense: things suck, and the suck will only suck harder from here on out. We train and read and pray, not because we think we can roll back the suck, but only to have the strength to endure it, and maybe to carry some small fragments through that will be worth passing on to whoever comes next. We gather to the old symbols because they remind us of who we are, provide some anchor to our identities as the whirling maelstrom seeks to dissolve us into posthuman madness. We practice clean living - insofar as we do practice it, which I think is not very far, let's be honest - because we know we are under attack, and the drugs and the poisoned food are one of the enemy's primary weapons.

Irrational hope is a dangerous thing, but to abandon all hope is more dangerous still. The zombie junkies dying in our streets are where the abandonment of all hope leads. Things are unlikely to improve for we Westmen in the near future, or even perhaps in our own lifetimes. Too much is arrayed against us, most especially including our worst enemy: ourselves. Yet the examples of the Ghost Dancers, the Boxers, and the Zealots need not lead to despair. The Amerindian has not regained his lands, but he is far from extinct, and in Canada at least is growing rapidly in numbers, wealth, and political influence. The Han most certainly did regain their country, and while they endured a century and a half of massacre and madness, they have once again taken their place as one of the world's great peoples. And as for the Jews, say what you will of them, but the destruction of the Temple was certainly not the end of their story, either.

Yet the Ghost Dance is still a cautionary tale, and the moral of that story and the many similar ones through history is in my opinion this: in the face of dispossession in a rapidly changing world, while it is only natural, healthy, and necessary to reassert cultural identity and reestablish biological health, this is not enough. It is not sufficient to perform rituals. The only divine assistance we can expect is whatever miracles may happen in our own hearts, and we'll be lucky to get that much, frankly. Despair is dangerous, but so is delusion. We cannot go back to a world that no longer exists, but must adapt to the world that is, and the world that is becoming. The only way out is through.