The recent spate of White Supremacist and rising Nazi Sentiment in the United States has left many people baffled as to how such specious beliefs can not only have survived into the 21st century, but are seemingly experiencing a renaissance, particularly among those that identify as conservative and/or Republican.
The answer to this question, though actually fairly uncomplicated, requires a bit of understanding of the fundamental differences between the demographic composition of the two major political parties of this country, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, rather than their politics and platforms.
The demographic groups that make up the Democratic party consists, generally, of the following: Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Women, Immigrants, LGBTQ, Muslim-Americans and other marginalized populations. What do all these groups have in common? They have all experienced some manner of social oppression, discrimination, targeted hatred or other disadvantage. As a result, these populations have had to form communities as a matter of survival. Now, while these communities may have diverse expressions and desires, the impetus behind forming these communities had been to bring safety, representation and equality to their various populations. Gathering under the umbrella of Democratic and liberal sensibilities, the modern Democratic Party has become more of a collective of communities than a collective of individuals.
The Republican Party, lacking this degree of diversity, suffers from its own homogenous nature. Largely white, largely male (at least, males hold the majority of positions of power) and largely conservative (socially, economically and religiously) it consists of the most significantly advantaged social group in America. Having never experienced oppression to any degree, they have lacked the impetus to form any sort of cohesive community. This lack of cohesion is evident in the rise of the Tea Party, which has resulted in what now appears to be a clear splintering of the Republican party onto Moderates vs. Ultra-Conservatives, fighting amongst themselves for control of their political agenda.
Put another way, the Democrats, in general, have more practical experience in collectivism, whereas Republicans, in general, operate on the principle of “every man for themselves”. This is exemplified in the perpetuation of their “bootstrapping” ideology that demands that the neediest among us must “work harder” to support themselves. They ignore the reality that injury, illness, accident, disaster and other circumstances beyond their control can not only adversely impact a person’s ability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but also put them at a significant survival disadvantage.
The problem with the “Survival of the Fittest” mentality of many identifying as Republicans and Conservatives is twofold: First, fittest is almost universally defined among them as dominance – the strongest survive, the weak exist to be crushed into submission, leaving no room for compassion or empathy. Second, the practical expression of this attitude results in a society in which alliances are tenuous, actions that help a competitor are avoided, even if those actions benefit the individual as well, and trust and loyalty, by nature intended to be enduring qualities, are temporary states of being, if they manifest at all.
In the last decade, however, starting with the economic recession between 2007-2009, many of those in this social demographic experienced a rude awakening to the consequences of a “survival of the fittest” mentality. Companies, facing massive economic losses as a result of the recklessness of Wall Street, downsized their personnel dramatically, shedding their costlier employees first. In most companies, this meant that white men, thoroughly entrenched in a belief that “their kind” would always stick together no matter what, found themselves being shown the door at a rate that outpaced almost every other demographic group. Women, minorities and other marginalized workers, long known to be the underpaid workhorses of almost every company, were given heavier workloads to make up for the staffing reductions, (assuming they weren’t already doing the work of their newly-exited co-workers in the first place), and business went on as usual. Collectively, white men, shocked by the revelation that they were not irreplaceable or protected, began the to feel vulnerable; as if they were under attack. But, rather than correctly identify the source of the attack as being those “like them who had thrown them under the bus in the name of profit, they began a slow descent into the delusion that the ones that had kept their jobs – blacks, women, immigrants, etc. – had, in fact, stolen them.
As these “job-stealing” groups slowly began to ask for, demand and, to some extent, receive more socio-economic power, the growing feeling of whites being under siege grew among them. They attributed more public and visible representation of women and minorities as rampant political correctness. Women being represented in major movie franchises were labeled as part of a feminist campaign of discrimination against men. Blacks gaining prominence in media and entertainment were characterized as an expression of hatred towards whites. Marginalized groups were not only stealing their jobs, they were stealing their way of life.
None of these things were true, of course, but it was an easier idea to come to grips with than the harsh reality that corporate America, indifferent to the manufactured plight of the White Man, was carrying on as they always had, following the money that was now starting a steadier trickle into marginalized populaces. Having had a solid lock on the coveted “18-50 white male” demographic dollar for decades, corporate America was moving on to fresher sources of revenue by touting their diversity and inclusion creds to attract dollars. (For example, as loudly as Conservative and Christian Republicans decried normalizing the “gay lifestyle”, gay men have the highest amount of disposable income among almost every demographic group in the country). Businesses that don’t go where the money is don’t stay in business for long.
Triggered by the advances of those that they viewed as less and less deserving of advancement than they, the “in it for me” attitude morphed the gains of others as being at the expense of them. Feeling something that they incorrectly identify as subjugation, they feel the same drive to form some manner of collective with others experiencing this same “faux-pression” – a drive that runs in almost schizophrenic contrast to their default self-centered setting.
Having its roots in delusional faux-pression rather than genuine, actual marginalization, however, any attempt at building community becomes doomed to failure. Community forms out of a real and pressing need for survival – it is the same reason we formed tribes in our ancient history – there is safety in numbers and the survival of the individual is intimately tied to the survival of the group. The survival of the faux-pressed, however, is not threatened – their status as the dominant social demographic is – a condition that is entirely a construct of the ego. As such, real community becomes an impossibility, as it is a state that requires inclusion and diversity, not the othering conformity that their existing worldview demands.
In the absence of the ability to create genuine community, they are forced to settle for an aggressive solidarity, forming an impenetrable wall of ego and delusion, built upon the only attribute they all seemingly have in common: Whiteness. Solidarity, a poorer imitation of community, is, at its core, aggressive defense of an ideology, and ideologies don’t require a reality to be grounded in – they spring from perception.
The problem is that the advantages inherent to whiteness in this society are ubiquitous to the point of being an accepted fait accompli for marginalized communities, are practically invisible to many white Americans. If a person’s perspective is of their own individual identity, including their identity as white, they become blind to the collective impact that their “White Privilege” has on non-white communities. It is this blindness that gave rise to “All Lives Matter” in response to the assertion that “Black Lives Matter”, it views Affirmative Action as a way of taking college educations from a white student rather than a corrective measure to address the systemic racism in U.S. education system, and why “Not All Men” has become the rallying cry of individual white man who refuse to see threat that men as a collective pose to women in this country and become enraged when a woman relates to all strange men according to that threat.
In giving all these things due consideration, all this White Supremacist Bullshit is nothing new. It is, in fact, another expression of the same delusions that many White, Male, Republican, Conservatives, still considering themselves the majority and perpetually at the top of the social pile, have held throughout history. Extreme assertion of dominance, as illustrated by the recent rise of the “Alt-Right”, is what happens when that delusion collides head-on with reality. And while marches and swastikas and doxing and tiki torches blazing through the night are intended to evoke fear from all non-white quarters, in understanding the true source of these behaviors, pity seems to be a far more appropriate response.
White Supremacy sounds like a scary thing, largely because we saw in World War II what happens when it takes hold inside a desperate population, and if nothing else, the people who subscribe to the superiority of whiteness idea are desperate. But, unlike the critically poor, depressed and defeated people of 1930’s Germany, the desperation of the white supremacist is something that exists almost exclusively in their own minds. It is a condition exacerbated by their tendencies to insulate themselves from anything that runs counter to their belief in their own desperation – like facts. They only thing rational people can do is develop the fine art of keeping an eye on them while ignoring them utterly. And as big and frightening as they try to make themselves out to be, the Human Community on this planet is ten thousand times bigger than they can ever be.
And in facing the sea of Humanity, the wall of white supremacy bullshit cannot withstand.