Malcolm Gladwell talks about the importance of people he calls
Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen in the viral propagation of ideas. Connectors are people who have a gift for making friends and
acquaintances. Gladwell attributes this knack to “some combination of
curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy” (p. 49).
Although he does not talk about introversion and extroversion,
Gladwell’s examples indicate that good Connectors are extroverts, who
are energized rather than drained by social interactions.
Good Connectors are people who have a foot in many different social
worlds and thus can bring them together. Interestingly, in terms of
finding new information and opportunities, most advantageous connections
are often weak ties of acquaintance. This makes sense, because your
close friends are all in the same social world, so it stands to reason
that acquaintances would expand your connections to other realms.
Connectors are extremely valuable for the spread of ideas through
word of mouth, simply because they know more people in more social
In my experience, the best Connectors are not just people who reach
out, but who are approachable and responsive when others reach out to
them. That is half of how connections are made. Once made, such
connections have to be maintained as well. This is why Facebook is such a
boon to us. Although it is fashionable to deride social media, what
differentiates it from the other media is that it facilitates
person-to-person connections, particularly the loose, tenuous, and
far-flung ones that are actually the most world-expanding.
Many movement people deride the internet in favor of the real world.
Of course the real world is where politics happens. But before politics
comes metapolitics: sharing ideas and building networks. And the
internet is great for that. I would wager that 95% of White Nationalists
under 50 would not be with us were it not for the internet.
The most important principle of movement connectivity I know is what I call the Fight Club principle: everybody gets to choose his own level of explicitness and involvement, and everybody else has to respect that decision.
Since every society, regardless of its ideology, is ruled by better
than average people, we need to recruit better than average people to
our cause. But the people who have the most skills, resources, and
connections also have the most to lose. Such people will not involve
themselves in a dissident movement unless they have a reasonable
assurance that we will respect their privacy. People who rant at and
browbeat people who do not wish to become open advocates set off alarm
bells. They are not to be trusted. They may “out” people someday. Thus
prudent people will not and should not have anything to do with them. If
you want people to connect to you, they need to know that you
understand and respect their decisions about their level of involvement.
The best Connector I know in the White Nationalist world is Jez
Turner of the London Forum, which is one reason why the London Forum is
such a success, putting on veritable movement summit conferences
multiple times a year. Given the bitter factionalism and difficult
personalities in the movement, this level of success requires excellent
diplomacy and a lot of good humor. The reason that there are not London
Forum type events in every major European city is that good Connectors
are in short supply.
One of the weaknesses of depending on Connectors is that once they
are gone, the network is destroyed. That is what happened when my friend
Beryl Cheetham, who was an important Connector, died this year. Once
she was gone, I had no way of contacting the people I knew through her.
But there was enough redundancy in our broader network that I could
reestablish those ties, and the most helpful person for doing turned out
to be Jez Turner.
Because of my role as Editor of Counter-Currents, I am a de facto Connector.
But I’m just not good at it. Psychologically, I am introverted (INTJ,
to be exact), so it is a stretch for me. At a certain point, I just
can’t deal with one more social interaction and shut down, which is why I
am often a tardy correspondent. Nor am I good at multitasking or
remembering names. Ideally, I would have an assistant who is extroverted
and good at multitasking (women are typically better at that than men).
Gladwell does not talk about the opposite of a Connector, which is a
polarizer: a person who sows distrust and discord. Connectors build up
the social capital of the movement. Polarizers tear it apart. I have
encountered two kinds of polarizers.
The first group are polarizers on principle: they openly announce
that their strategy is to subject anyone who is closer to the mainstream
to relentless attack, both ideological and ad hominem, on the
theory that this will split off people and win them over to their
vanguardist groupuscule. I don’t deny that such an approach might appeal
to some types of people, primarily masochists with inferiority
complexes or under-fathered “lost boys”—the kinds of people who wanted
to join the Marine Corps after watching Full Metal Jacket, for instance. But, as I argue in my essay “The Smartest Guy in the Room,”
it only appeals to people who are inferior to whoever is issuing the
harangue, which is no way to put the movement on an upward path toward
attracting better and better people. Superior people simply ignore such
polarizers, or want to crush them like bugs. I suspect that polarizers
on principle are simply trying to make a virtue out of indulging their
own prickly narcissism and tendencies toward paranoia and embitterment.
The most insidious polarizers actually pose as Connectors. Like
genuine Connectors, they like to be at the center of things. But their
dominant drive is ego gratification, and whenever that conflicts with
the needs of the movement, the movement always loses. I have had
dealings with two such people over the years. Both of them pose as
Connectors and uniters of different camps and factions. But I began to
First, despite their pose as uniters, the trend of their thinking
always pulls toward the negative. They are gossips, gatekeepers,
well-poisoners, purgers, and shunners.
Second, they prefer the Star Chamber and the whispering campaign to open discussions, so the accused cannot defend themselves.
Third, they always insisted on remaining middlemen. They would not
just put people in touch and let them take it from there, because at
that point they were no longer needed.
Fourth, they would tell me stories designed to alienate me from people I did know.
In both cases, however, it turned out that these people were
pathological liars. And their lies served only one purpose: to stir up
drama and intrigue around themselves, which apparently satisfied a
neurotic need for attention and a desire to feel powerful. There is
really no calculating how much damage such drama queens have done to the
movement, since the people they drive apart seldom ever compare notes
and realize how they have been deceived.
Gladwell’s discussion of Connectors brings a very important
phenomenon into focus. Connectors are extremely valuable and extremely
rare. If we want our message to go viral, we need to find and cultivate
Connectors whose tendrils reach out into as many different worlds as
Polarizers, by contrast, are a plague. Open polarizers are easy to
spot and are generally ignored, because the better sort of people don’t
want to work with jerks. Drama queen stealth polarizers are a much
bigger problem, but now you know how to spot them.
In my next essay, I will look at Gladwell’s discussion of Mavens and Salesmen.