“I’m beginning to rethink my decision of becoming a nationalist to meet girls,” jokes a young man in a blazer and bowtie, sitting at the head of an all-male table of well-dressed, intellectual-looking 20-and-30-somethings in a wood-paneled Budapest bar.
The conversation veers from lamenting the bar’s shortfall of Viking goddesses to the future of white identity across the West.
The informal pub get-together last week was a precursor to the Future of Europe Congress, a white nationalist event organized by the Montana-based National Policy Institute (NPI). Many attendees were part of the Identitarian movement, a pro-white, anti-Muslim, and anti-globalist ideology that began in France in the early 2000s and has been rapidly growing among European youth. The conference was advertised to feature white nationalist speakers and alternative-right figures from Europe, the U.S., and Russia.
The organizer was NPI director Richard B. Spencer. Dressed in stately attire and double-buckle dress shoes, with a black notebook reading “Field Notes” on its cover, Spencer greets incoming pub night guests with a handshake and smile. The conference had been postponed after Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said he would use “all legal means” to prevent it from taking place. Hungary’s authorities, sensitive about the rising popularity of far-right party Jobbik and a recent statement by Orban on the possibility of establishing “an illiberal new state based on national foundations,” likely sought to distance themselves from the far right and bolster EU credentials with the crackdown.
Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance website and former director of NPI, speaking at the meeting. Photo: Paul Brian
Labeled white supremacists and crazed bigots by many in the foreign and Hungarian media, Spencer’s conference was under fire from the start.
Hungary’s interior minister Sándor Pintér announced he would deny entry to conference speakers “well-known for spreading racist views,” and made good on that statement, stopping many from coming for fear of arrest and deporting one, William Regnery, of the right-wing Regnery publishing family. The arranged hotel venue canceled NPI’s booking and many guests’ reservations, while Jobbik, Hungary’s radical right party, which polled at 21 percent in Hungary’s April election, bowed out several days prior after initially agreeing to participate.
Spencer remained resolute against what he sarcastically termed “the forces of diversity and tolerance,” and assured registrants wryly that “we shall overcome” in a video entitled “Perseverance,” posted September 29 on his second website, Radix Journal.
Orbán has declared Spencer a national security threat
With the government warning in mind, Spencer flew to Austria instead and entered Hungary by train, slipping Orbán’s clutches along with some 70 conference attendees. But late on the night of the gathering, dozens of armed Hungarian police swarm the pub, demanding identification from anyone they believed to be associated with the event. For hours nobody is permitted to leave.
“It’s a fun party,” one bartender jokes as she pours a foaming mug of beer.
Spencer is less amused.
He wonders aloud what to do, while other attendees get a lot of unwanted one-on-one attention from the red-hat-clad police about their names and nationality. Upon identifying Spencer, police detain him at the scene and take him to jail, purportedly for failing to produce his passport. (After several days of being shuttled between an airport detention center and immigration facility, Spencer is informed that Orbán has declared him a national security threat to Hungary. Spencer later e-mails me from a low security Hungarian detention center and tells me he will soon be deported from Hungary and banned from entering all Schengen countries for three years.)
Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s Prime Minister and leader of the conservative ruling party, Fidesz. His centralisation of power in Hungary has drawn criticism from the European Union, the U.S. State Department and from human-rights groups. Photo: Wikipedia.
Spencer’s entourage is stunned, but soon a new plan is hatched high up in the echelons of Identitarianism—or more like among Spencer’s friends, such as Kevin DeAnna, who was staying with him at a hostel after having to leave the hotel they had originally booked.
DeAnna took over logistics after he heard about Spencer’s arrest, doing his best to help out, running on minimal sleep or information.
The next afternoon, participants and media gather at a pre-arranged meeting spot at a Budapest metro stop. DeAnna arrives a few minutes late, with spiky hair and a panicked expression.
“We’re kind of running this underground as a guerilla movement now,” DeAnna tells gathered media and would-be-attendees with a nervous laugh. “But right now by trying to be inconspicuous we’re being about as conspicuous as possible,” he adds, glancing around the metro entrance past a pizza place and a shop selling tabloid magazines. His expression carries the urgency of a character in an episode of 24.
Small groups eventually split off to head to the conference’s clandestine site: a traditional Hungarian restaurant nearby, featuring long tables and ambient lighting. Attendees include well-dressed men and a few women; Flemish nationalists with black, red and white-striped sashes from right-wing student organizations; older academic types; and others of a variety of ages and nationalities. They dine on a sumptuous Hungarian dinner of chicken paprikash, brick-red sauce on a bed of noodles with grilled chicken, followed by a roster of traditional Hungarian desserts.
Some diners bear a resigned demeanor. “We ate a slice of pizza before we came,” says Jack, a friendly-looking American dressed in a beige suit who now lives with his Hungarian wife in Budapest. “Just in case we got arrested or something.”
The attendees’ motives and opinions vary as greatly as the dessert selection.
NPI’s slogan reads “For our people, our culture, our future,” but explicit statements of white superiority are not common at the conference.