So You Want to Build a Mannerbund

By Henry Delacroix for the American Sun

It is one of the most used terms in our sphere. It is something that frightens the left. It is a means to build a tribe, develop a society and seed a civilization. It is a way for men to raid, control or dominate a territory. It is something many segments of the dissident right discusses building offline. It is the mannerbund.

Whether explicitly using the term or not, all pieces of the right that are on the edge of the Overton Window our outside of it discuss attempts at networking that involve building what amounts to a trusted mannerbund. It would be useful to research what it takes to make a mannerbund work. It cannot just be beers and a posting career. For no more than ten dollars, one can read up on, arguably, the greatest mannerbund created of all time: the Afrikaner Broederbond.

The Broederbond was a secret society exclusively made up of Calvinist Afrikaner males. Its origins were very modest. It was eighteen young men coming together to discuss the state of the Afrikaner people. In 1921, they decided to make it an official secret society with roughly forty men. This was a society of men who within a generation would capture a national government and proceed to run it for the next forty years.

This was a group that transitioned from a more culturally focused society to a secret society that was bent on capturing power and using it for the benefit of its people. Who were its people? In short, the Afrikaners were the bad euros of South Africa who worked the land, were sharpshooting frontiers types, and pioneers who were battered and eventually defeated by the British Empire in a series of events. Major cultural and social events were the Great Trek or Voortrek, when Boers first were expelled from the Cape Colony by Anglos, and the two, brutal Boer Wars, when Boers were finally crushed by the Anglos all thanks to diamond and gold discoveries. For a recent historical survey of South Africa’s formation, Diamonds, Gold and War is a fair book on this process. These were tough people tied to the land ruled over by an occupation government of Anglos who imposed their culture and ways on them while lording political power over the economically and politically dispossessed Afrikaners.

One can see the reason why a small group of men would find common cause and motivation to engage in this endeavor. The similarities flyover Americans, the great middle or the Amerikaners see between their scenario and the current West stand out. There is always tension for rule between priests and warriors or missionaries and pioneers, and the similarities about the South African situation and every Western nation are undeniable.

What exactly did the Broederbond do? They sought upstanding men of good morals and great competency. These men had to be Afrikaners who were Calvinist. No exceptions. They had monthly meetings, reported on social and cultural changes and moods, and they built businesses or infiltrated the decision making positions at other businesses. They quadrupled in size within five years and had grown by 1400% within a decade.

Members would propose new members that they would recruit personally. Votes were held at a cell for the member’s application, and ultimately, the headquarters would decide on their enrollment. Cross referencing was done across committees to look into an individual and just one objection would sink a candidate. There was an initiation ritual and ceremony. Above all else, secrecy was required. Even if someone left the organization, his membership in it would never be revealed. Spill secrets and face removal. Not just removal, one would be shunned by the Broeders and their adjacent social circle in society. Spilling secrets meant that the person who recruited that member would face consequences.

The Broederbond had a goal: allow Afrikaners to grow and prosper economically, socially and culturally. They networked and assembled a team bit by bit. Despite the secrecy, they did not sit still or hide out. They infiltrated and became the power of the National Party. Even if the Broderbond and the National Party became mirror images, one was nominally a cultural organization that renounced politics while the other was a political party. They used their cell structure to have a small group of men of high agency in every town. Directives did go out from HQ. A newsletter did help direct the official lines. Annual meetings did induct new men and discuss the coming year, but they had men everywhere. This was important as it helped create the voting coalition and working of the electoral situation to allow the great ’48 election upset.

The year 1948 is the key for the Broederbond. In that year, the 1948 election allowed them to assume control of the national government and not look back until they stabbed their people in the stomach decades later. Each Prime Minister or President from 1948 until the end of apartheid had been a broeder. Once they won electoral victory, they took the nearly 3,000 Broederbond members and dispersed them throughout key government agencies. These men also knew other politically reliable or sympathetic men to place in charge of key nodes. These nodes were often nodes in control of hiring and firing employees. They removed obstacles and unreliable individuals. Personnel is policy. They had the personnel to enact policy.

The Broederbond was smart in seeing that controlling radio, which was new, was important for power. They would later restrict television in ways that no Western country has done. The Broederbond used its control of government to implement pro-Afrikaner policy in the broad education system and even form Afrikaner universities. The Broederbond also pushed the Afrikaans media, which never quite met the power of the English press, but helped shape the culture. They understood the power of using front organizations and not feeling the need to have their faces in the limelight when they could appoint a member or ally with far less visibility or heat but ideologically committed to the cause to be in charge or state the desired rhetoric. These front orgs not only pushed information and memes out but pulled in interested figures who could be potential recruits.

The cultural element mattered in a nation with a cold civil war as we see today across the West. The Broderbond used a propaganda piece with a multi-year payoff to catapult their organizations prestige, despite being a secret society. The centennial of the Great Trek (Voortrek) was a celebration of Afrikaner history that they spun to their advantage. It made the journey and hardship of the Afrikaners of 1838 central to the identity of the nation as a whole. It allowed them to focus on social and cultural themes with many front orgs to find individuals. How could this be approached today? Before you roll your eyes at this idea, consider America’s current situation.

This essay is written in 2019 as a cold civil war rages on with stirrings and warnings of it going hot. Benign social organizations focused on celebrating a heritage event could allow for open face gathering with private coordinating. The event as a multi-year process could pull in a lot of potentials to be filtered and screened by chapter captains charged with recruiting as a secondary objective to their primary objective of simply organizing the celebration. Is there an historical opportunity coming separate from political cycles and non-partisan that one could wrap in American patriot memes and designs that could be shaped and slanted to play up the goals, aims and desires of flyover Americans? Is there one that is a near term celebration of a significant importance for our nation? The 250th anniversary of the spirit of 1776 in the middle of what looks to be a roaring ’20s offers a multi-year opportunity. Even now, there are likely municipal committees and regional steering committee boards looking for people. Be that guy for your town.

The Broeders understood the mechanics of the state and levers of power. They were not any ruffians but scholars, businessmen, lawyers and leaders of their communities. It is easy to see papers that show where Broederbond internal documents have the exact language that would be later seen in government policies. Reading about the Broederbond’s moves to place its men and help Afrikaners in South Africa, it is like watching another group do what the communists did in the West in the first half of the 20th century. All from a wee gang of guys meeting in 1918.

They made mistakes, too. They did not have ideological firmness. They softened up. They allowed the thirst for cheap labor to suck in bigger immigration populations that created more problems. They tied their rationale for rule to a church, nominally their church, but ultimately, outside of their total control. This would hurt them later on as apartheid became a hotter topic. It is curious to read how the global ostracism in sporting events bothered them. One could argue they should have allowed mixed teams for PR purposes to the globe or that they never should have cared for lame international global events for something as dumb as sport. They also fell for the dumb right wing idea that you leave the opponent’s institutions intact because principles or something abstract. They did not shut down Anglo universities. They did not shut down the Anglo press. In short, compared to the communists, they did not have the will to neuter their internal enemies or encourage them to emigrate.

Some observers note how the Afrikaners gave in just before they could secure sovereignty as the commodities source for China as the industrial giant grew. China did fund communist insurgents, but the situation was changing in the ’90s for China. South Africa sending resources to neuter the effects of BDS by the West would have worked. The end of apartheid was right before China took off, but even then, BDS did not cause the Afrikaners to give in. They did it to themselves.

The Broederbond was at the vanguard of ending apartheid. Their leaders had been softening for years, supporting policy changes and debating others that a decade earlier would have never been considered. In 1978, their leader Gerrit Viljoen had decided with the inner council that transitioning to a future with a black president was going to happen, and they would lead it. This was an elite betrayal of the population it had proclaimed for decades to be representing. The year 1978 is interesting as this was the year when the big leak of Broederbond internal documents that was the source for the major news expose and book on the Broederbond was released. Thousands of members were doxed, so to speak, and one wonders if this was a coordinated operation by the inner council to put a shinier face on their secret organization as things heated up in the republic. One believes they ultimately wanted to be accepted by the West more than lead and build an awesome civilization of their own. Rather than a hermit kingdom, they chose to be enriched by the global elite as they knifed the small Afrikaners in the back.

There is much to learn from them. They were a cell structure with a wide distribution. There was a leadership cadre. They were incredibly specific about enrollment requirements. They had a youth outreach at the universities. This attacks the old argument of quality or quantity. What filter you put in entry requirements reflects your leadership’s desired more than its goals? Seeking ideological purists will ensure power accrues to the piece of leadership that sets ideology. A filter based on identity allows for a lot of implicit traits, behaviors and basics to have aligned goals, and places responsibility on your team to seek ideological confirmation or development. There were no exceptions to the identity filter for the Broederbond.

The Broederbond was also strong on keeping their men oriented towards virtue. Divorced? Sorry, you’re not allowed in and if in, you’re out. If someone stepped out with poor behavior and was immoral, they could see the door. A key they had was being friends and deeply committed to one another. They were friends. They used their real names. Members called each other broeders with all the implied meaning. They did not simply demand ideological conformity or use punishments to keep men engaged but had rewards. Carrots went with the sticks and were granted.

The rewards were jobs and a slice of power. There was a committed mission to ensure a wonderful life for Afrikaners, which was not just an empty toast, because a member could debate & formulate policy and then if chosen, be there to implement it. They understood the specifics within the state and how to wield power. Even if you could be implementing policy, would you know where to start for appointing men? If your state was struggling with city district attorneys who were Soros puppets, would you know the requirements for changing probation policy, plea deal policy or judicial discretion? What happens if you do know the department to install people into or fire people from but the silly requirement for director includes five years’ of service in the state and you do not know anyone with that credential? Forget finding that specific man to fill that spot, what if you know a guy who knows one of /ourguys that does have that experience? This is where not just networking but the private political intelligence they amassed became useful. Private corporate intel is important, too, as someone has to beat the market. Networking in real life with consistent growth in numbers will always be better than more online posting. When you get to know people, you learn who is likely to uproot their life and move to a state capitol or DC. Not all can do it.

One can spend years posting with a guy halfway across America. How much is that worth versus getting a like minded man a job or a wife? How could you even help that posting friend find a job if he does not trust you with his name? The Broederbond had initiation rituals developed with meaning. Was it a LARP? Not so if they could be assigned functions that got things done for the group and their people. The rituals became means of cementing friendships formed. Accolades, rewards and designations were granted for accomplishing things, not just showing up. Men today have greater advantages with the technology at our disposal to disseminate and communicate instantly with one another. The Broederbond would have killed for those tools. They also operated not fully understanding what the global left was about or what it had morphed into in the ’70s. We do.

This also means we are facing surveillance they never had to face. The Broederbond also operated for decades where the opposition also had secret societies so any investigation into their activities would mean an investigation into others, and their opponents did not want that. Just look at the Proud Boys vs. Antifa for how that does not apply now. After 1948, they operated with a compliant government, which we will not enjoy. How many feds are reading this post? There is another mannerbund turned political organization that faces the same challenges we do, survives and even thrives, but they deserve their own essay.

The Broederbond is not a perfect model to follow. The environment they faced does not apply to modern Westerners. The timeline and limitations to the franchise allowed for a different timeline, but the idea is not that one needs to win today but that one needs to assemble a team so that when victory arrives, you make the most of it. Their experience is a model to learn from and it is still possible to deploy some of their methods and ideas.

One cannot just Google “how to make friends” and take a random How To website as a methodology. The new year looms in the near term. Want a resolution? End 2020 with a circle of five reliable, committed men. Your mannerbund may start small but if you can mimic the best pieces of the Broederbond’s methods even a quarter of their success is a worthy achievement. Learn from their later failure and never ever forget the original mission. They took an oath to the bund, to the mission and to the people which made the mission worthwhile. Their tale ends in failure but as the greatest mannerbund in recent memory, the Broederbond should be an inspiration for what a very small band of committed, determined and driven men with a will to power can achieve.

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