Mencken Club Diary Part I

I got to the hotel hosting the Mencken event a little early, so I went to the bar to have a beer and kill some time. This was my first Mencken event and I was having second thoughts about the whole thing. I figured it would be an older crowd, which is fine, but I suspected it would a very libertarian crowd too. I don’t have a lot of patience for libertarians, under the best of circumstances. It had been a very busy week for me so I was especially cranky and I feared I would be something less than my charming self.

As I had my second beer, I was thinking about how best to say “the non-aggression principle is for pussies.” I noticed a middle-aged women at the other end of the bar. She had been at a table, tapping away on her tablet. She relocated to the bar and was making an effort to get my attention. She was sporting a Mao cap, which is popular with cat ladies, so I ignored her, had another beer and played with my phone. Maybe if she had been better looking or I had a few more drinks in me, I would have done her the favor.

The reception was a little like God’s waiting room, assuming the Jews really are the chosen people. The room was old and very Jewish. There was a youngish guy over in the corner, who looked relieved to see me walk in, as that meant there were two people in the room paying FICA taxes. We chatted for a wile and I learned he is a devout libertarian and came to the Mencken event primarily to see Tom Woods. He seemed earnest, so I resisted the temptation to tell him about my plan to send libertarians to work camps.

The formal reception was a sit-down affair with a dinner and drinks. I was relieved to meet some younger people, who share my politics. They were mostly millennials, but one guy was gen X. We were the kiddie table. Keith Preston was at our table and he is an interesting guy. I don’t share his politics, but he is not one of those doctrinaire ideologues, who thinks he has figured it all out and now has to spread the gospel. He’s genuinely curious about what’s going on in the dissident right. He’s a good dinner companion.

That is the value of these events. Going back and forth with strangers using fake names on-line has its value, but meeting and talking in real life has value too. I only had some vague notion about Preston, based entirely on his site. Chatting over dinner and then hearing him speak, I now have a new appreciation for what he is doing. At the same time, I saw him nodding more than a few times as I was making my case for the new counter culture. If not for sitting at the same table, we would remain strangers to one another.

Another big benefit to these things is that you find out that there are more of us out there than is reported. Two of the guys at the kiddie table are college professors. Another is an attorney at a big firm. I know from the comments here, and the e-mails I receive, that a lot men in the professional ranks are “our guys” but they keep quiet about it. That’s a necessary thing, but it also means it is easy to feel like a stranger in the world. Having dinner with a gang of smart, like minded professionals is an antidote to the sense of doom.

At the same time, spending time with a bunch of old guys is an eye opener. Most of us experience our politics on-line, through blogs, social media and videos. The people at the Mencken event experience their politics from network news, the cable chat shows and paper magazines. A lot of what we take for granted, they don’t know exists. What they do know about the emerging counter culture, they don’t fully understand. It’s not simply an age thing. Its that there is a necessary bit of self-ghettoization on out side.

Age is a part of though. Paul Gottfried kicked off the evening with a speech about the state of the Right. He made the point that the average age of Fox News viewers is 60-something and National Reviews readership is around 70. Then he made the error of assuming that reflects the demographics of the Right. The fact is, Stefan Molyneux has vastly more resonance with people under the age of 50 than a Sean Hannity. Sites like 4chan and Reddit have greater political reach than all of the cable shows combined.

Tom Woods, the featured speaker of the night, actually tried to make that point. He talked about how he has built a business on new media, but I don’t think he won any of them over. He also spent a lot of time trying to differentiate between left-libertarianism and right-libertarianism. There’s always been warm relations between paleos and Rand Paul style libertarians and he was well received by the Mencken folks. He’s a good speaker, so I did not run out of the room screaming, even though the whole thing had a 1980’s vibe to it.

Finally, the most important benefit to attending these real life gatherings is that you get to socialize with other like minded people. The kiddie table ended up in the bar, drinking and telling stories. I learned that one of the college professors is connected with a bunch of people in this thing. I also learned that a couple of the others are readers. That’s always an interesting experience for me. I often forget that real people read this stuff. For me at least, the camaraderie and brotherhood is motivating. It gives purpose to my efforts.

I’ll get into the event itself in another post, but people in dissident politics should begin to embrace these events. Co-opting existing institutions is how the New Left won the culture war 50 years ago. It’s a good model to follow. If alt-right people start populating local clubs and organizations, even If it is in a low key way, it helps build the movement. The first step is meeting people at events like Mencken. Two of the guys at my table are local to me, so now we can socialize and conspire locally. That’s how movements grow.

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40 Comments on "Mencken Club Diary Part I"

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TomA
Guest

I’m curious if either of the college professors had heard your podcast segments on girl science, and perhaps had a reaction to it.

joey+junger
Guest

He needs to just go ahead and compile a book of the craziest girl science papers, with his expert fisking as commentary, and self-publish it if he has to. Z-Man is on to something, there. Humor’s a great weapon.

Ursula
Guest

Do you tell them you are The Z Man when you find out they’re readers or maintain anonymity? Must be a surreal experience. So glad there are more of us out there than one might suspect, and even gladder they read you! Enjoy the rest of the conference and thank you for the report.

james+wilson
Guest

The report is a lot of fun. I expect Menchen would be sitting at your table.
Whatever the numbers of the right actually are, small or middling, that is where all the talent is.

Member

It’s where all the real thinking is going on.

Member
“… I know from the comments here, and the e-mails I receive, that a lot men in the professional ranks are “our guys” but they keep quiet about it. That’s a necessary thing, but it also means it is easy to feel like a stranger in the world …” When the tide turns and it is advantageous to be openly on the right at one’s workplace, the hordes of sheeple who presently are enthusiastic proponents of the prog line will unhesitatingly jump over to our side. It would be nice to be able to separate these idiots from those who… Read more »
Saml Adams
Guest
It’s tough operating way behind enemy lines. You develop little rituals to figure out who the like minded might be, but even at the upper echelons you have to be careful. Back right before the election was at the semi-annual exec management meeting for my new firm and at the opening dinner happened to get assigned to a table wth a bunch of guys from a midwest based division that has primarily ag industry customer base. Clearly being from NY was the odd guy out. So we played a funny game of “20 questions” before they figured out I was… Read more »
StAugustine
Guest
Something I think about occasionally is how on earth were those farmers able to beat the British Army : how could they possibly organize under the noses? How could they avoid arrest? The Sons of Liberty yes, and the minutemen sure, but how were they able to communicate and coordinate reliably? I think the situation is close enough an analogy – there was a thing called a “mob captain” for when you needed to make some noise. Look up the Loyal Nine. I’ve never heard of them until this writing. The Committees of Correspondence. These were men not afraid to… Read more »
Anonymous White Male
Guest
Avoiding the supernatural truth that America was meant to be, I think time, distance from England, and the land mass of the American Colonies made the American Revolution successful. Plus, the debt of and the obligation to police the far flung British Empire. The British had a similar problem to Germany during WWI and WWII. How could Germany, a land of about 80 million people, control an area the size of Europe, parts of North Africa, and the Soviet Union? They couldn’t and there was never any doubt they would fail. It boils down to the length of supply lines,… Read more »
Recusant
Guest

Slightly more than a “portion” of the French Navy.

The Brits were having to fight the French, Spanish and Dutch as well as the Revolutionary Army; it’s almost surprising that they didn’t lose sooner.

Rocky Estrella
Guest

The American rebels won the war only when the British Parliament grew weary of funding the fight against them. It was not the money- the British had the world’s largest military and nearly unlimited resources- but like LBJ, Nixon, and the American congress during Viet Nam, they gave up on a war that the military was fully capable of winning if allowed to.

Mark Stoval
Guest
I was thinking about how best to say “the non-aggression principle is for pussies.” One of the things that you get wrong often is that you think the beltway “libertarians” are really libertarians. So be it, I was not put on earth to teach you that Rothbard and Hoppe are further to the right than you will ever be. But your take on the NAP is obviously very far off. “Don’t start no shit, but finish it every time” is a saying that we had in the hills decades ago. The NAP is merely good morality — I will not… Read more »
Saml Adams
Guest

We probably share the same Scots-Irish background. Grew up around a lot of relatives that actually did kill people in far away places. They had very little tolerance for loud mouths and threats. Though it’s only happened a handful of times in my life, funny how just standing there calmly and looking straight at the guy doing the “chimp out” and saying “ok, have at it” shuts things down in a hurry.

Member

Seems to me the NAP is whatever anyone wants it to be. One of those things that can be interpreted any which way.

Some people think Christianity is a suicide pact. I think pope Urban II would disagree.

Mike@Mike.Mike
Guest

Not being sarcastic here. Do you believe there might come a time where it would be morally justified to “take the first shot” in an effort to prevent this country from proceeding further from the point of no return? I am already at the point myself where I believe violence will be required to either bring this country back to something even closely resembling its beginnings, or to change it into something that is not a collective socialist welfare state legislating eventual white extinction.

Mark Stoval
Guest

“Do you believe there might come a time where it would be morally justified to “take the first shot” in an effort to prevent this country from proceeding further from the point of no return?”

Yes. If a group is committing aggression against me, and the left is doing so, then the NAP says I am moral in returning the aggression. They have tried to destroy us, and we of the right need to fight back.

The NAP does not get in our way to defend ourselves.

Alzaebo
Guest

Since “the NAP is for pussies”, attack, attack, attack!

Well, the right has been attacking the wrong people, and defending the wrong people, for decades.

The Left need simply seize the tools the Right has built.
And soft targets are so much easier.

You should be heartened, Zman!
They’re going to make people “better”!

(The NAP is also called “good fences”.)

Glen Filthie
Guest

I agree. And the hotshot – whether he’s a libertardian or some other proggie variant that dares me to ‘take the first shot’ will be dead before he hits the ground, while I draw a bead on the cretins about to follow him.

Alzaebo
Guest

Omigod! Those evil libertardians are about to leave me alone! How shall I ever demonstrate my manly virtue?!

Alex
Guest

I am in NYC this week with the fam, else I would have attended. I was wondering the age bracket when I looked at the site.

There are many of us. I get to talking with my neighbors in management or who own their own business, and I learn about their frustrations with the cat lady crowd or their troubles dealing with the dusky bit of labor, and I smile…

bad guest
Guest

“There was a youngish guy over in the corner, who looked relieved to see me walk in, as that meant there were two people in the room paying FICA taxes”

Z. can turn a phrase every once in a while.

Member
“At the same time, spending time with a bunch of old guys is an eye opener. Most of us experience our politics on-line, through blogs, social media and videos. The people at the Mencken event experience their politics from network news, the cable chat shows and paper magazines. A lot of what we take for granted, they don’t know exists. What they do know about the emerging counter culture, they don’t fully understand. It’s not simply an age thing. Its that there is a necessary bit of self-ghettoization on our side.” Well written. I’ve thought the same thing many times,… Read more »
Audacious Epigone
Guest

Getting your hooks into Woods could pay big dividends.

He definitely understands the shifting mediascape and he’s going to be around for a long time. His following, like Molyneux’s, even if it is numerically still smaller than the audiences guys like Hannity or Rush Limbaugh gets, is more engaged than theirs are. Pound for pound, podcast listeners are worth more.

Woods is in the Rothbard/Deist/Rockwell/Hoppe orbit of libertarians, which is a prime segment for us to peel off. Hell, we don’t have to peel them off–they’re defecting to our side in droves as is.

joey+junger
Guest

Apparently someone tried to start the revolution early, and beat Rand Paul’s ass while he was mowing the lawn at his house the other day. Maybe Lord Fountainhead should move to Michigan and live among his coterie of “Detroit Republicans,” where I’m sure he will be much safer.

Rob
Guest

Those “cat lady” hats don’t look like Mao caps to me. More like
casual Ernst Rohm caps.

Mark Auld
Guest

I’m still having a hard time picturing HL Mencken at the kiddies table. …

onezeno
Guest

“I often forget that real people read this stuff.”

We can’t all be Russian bots. Right?

Karl Krause
Guest

I like the part about the Mao Cap!

TBoone
Guest

Zman thanks for the awesome & highly amusing report of your adventures in God’s waiting room. Love the way you turn a phrase as others have already mentioned. And the good that came from it. As well as the useful attitude as we work to move ‘our thing’ forward.
Work camps… kiddie table… the age thing as fact… all great stuff. I come here to learn. New ‘reputable’ names, history, networking ideas and bad thoughts to keep in mind as the banal evils (bad band name?) try to hold on to power. Looking forward to Part Deux.

Jeff Dench
Guest

People of Colour are the future and comprise almost all the young people. They will never get on board with the dissident right.

I’ll bet you guys think southern pride and the confederate are good things. That basically makes you a traitor and a celebratory of losers

james+wilson
Guest

Two or three years ago a very nice well spoken woman, a high ranking administrator in Detroit government, spoke for you, saying that in spite of the wretched conditions in which natives live there, they place a greater value on not having to endure the day to day self-judgement that comes from living around white people. We are listening to your pain.

A.T. Tapman (Merica)
Member

Hey Tiny, tell me, who will keep the lights on when mudpeople take over? Powerplamts, nuclear and otherwise require people of above average intelligence to safely operate. I hope you like the darkness.

r2228742
Guest

John Derbyshire is there, correct?

MichiganWave
Guest

ZMan, Glad you could attend. Was on the verge of going too, but it would have been $7-800 + half a day vacation. Figured I could just donate some of that to key allies then watch or listen to recordings of the main talks. Hopefully they were recorded. Looking fwd to hearing your next post.

Member
However, don´t forget to make sure none of your new libertarian friends rats on you. And not, it´s not my pure malice speaking. I have had a strong impression for some time that a major part of remaining libertarians are a classical controlled opposition, given a platform where even a slightly “alt-rightish” or even a conventional right-wing voice would long be extinguished by SJWs. But, where there is an artificially nurtured fake dissent the next small step is plain and banal espionage. For instance, actual deeds (not rhetoric, anyone can fake that) of persons like Rand Paul smell of a… Read more »
sirlancelot
Guest

” ” Having dinner with a gang of smart, like minded professionals is an antidote to the sense of doom ” ”

Glad to hear it. Only met one doctor that was on our side. Turns out he was a major in the National Guard 🙂

Was told the upper class will only get involved when the progressive nonsense affects them. Sounds like that time has finally come.

Occasional Commenter
Guest
“Co-opting existing institutions is how the New Left won the culture war 50 years ago. It’s a good model to follow.” I keep saying on other blogs that one tool for re-taking our failed education system is to take over the accreditation system. Once in place, start demanding academic rigor from the schools, else they lose their accreditation. If that happens, their degrees are only worth the paper they’re printed on. For example, their bachelor’s degree might then be deemed inadequate preparation for entry onto a master’s program at another college. Or, if a student decides to change colleges, credit… Read more »
Eclectic Esoteric
Guest

Open source insurgencies generate cascading system failures. I believe we are now witnessing the collapse of our progressive state.

Joseph
Guest

Do you attend this event in disguise, that is using a fake name or your blogging nom de plume? You talk about getting to know people IRL – but how many of you guys are still using pseudonyms at these events? I realize the threat of doxing is real, so no complaints if you are, but I am just curious.