Tuesday, December 12, 2017

White Identitarianism, Its Promise, And Its Peril

     Above the entrance to the church fluttered a hastily made banner. The masculine symbol had been crudely painted on a white sheet; the white flag indicated that the worshipers were white males and that blacks and women were "welcome" at their own risk. The population was now split into four mutually antagonistic segments. The separate groups began to realize that there was some point in keeping their members together in little cadres. The streets and apartment buildings were death traps.
     Inside the church the men were silent in prayer. They were led by an elderly deacon, whose inexperience and confusion were no greater or less than any in the congregation.
     "Merciful God," he prayed, "in whatever Form the various members of our flock picture You, corporal Entity or insubstantial Spirit, we ask that You guide us in this time of direst peril.
     "Brother lifts sword against brother, and brother against sister. Husband and wife are torn asunder against Your holiest ordainments. Protect us, and show us our proper response. Perhaps it is true that vengeance is solely Yours; but speak to us, then, concerning Limited Cautionary Retaliation, and other alternatives. We would see a sign, for truly we are lost in the mires of day-to-day living."
     The deacon continued his prayer, but soon there began a series of poundings on the door. The deacon stopped for just a second, looking up nervously, his hand straying to his sidearm. When nothing further happened, he finished the prayer and the members of the congregation added, if they chose, their amens.
     At the end of the service the men rose to leave. They stood at the door, in no hurry to abandon the sanctuary of the church. At last the deacon led them out. It was immediately noticed that a yellow factsheet had been nailed to the outside of the door. The Roman Catholics of the neighborhood had decided to end the centuries-long schism. Why not now, when everybody else was settling their differences? A Final Solution.
     A bullet split wood from the door frame. The men standing on the stoop jumped back inside. A voice called from the street, "You damn commie atheist Protestants! We're gonna wipe you out and send your lousy heretic souls straight to Hell!" More gunfire. The stained glass windows of the church shattered, and there were cries from inside.
     "They got one of the elders!"
     "It's those crummy Catholics. We should have got them when we had the chance. Damn it, now they got us holed up in here."
     The next day a blue factsheet was circulated by the Jewish community explaining that they had finally gotten tired of having their gabardine spat on and that everybody'd just have to watch out. Around the world the remaining clusters of people fractured again, on the basis of creed.
     It was getting so you didn't know who you could trust.

     [George Alec Effinger, “All The Last Wars At Once”]

     Identity politics. Identity movements. Identity ambiguity. Identity fluidity. Identity versus Identity.

     It’s all getting to be a bit much.

     Having said that, I shall remind my Gentle Readers that I believe the rise of the white identity movement, generally connected to the ill-defined political movement that styles itself the Alt-Right, was:

  • Compelled by the prevailing sociopolitical conditions;
  • On the whole, a positive development.

     I maintain those stances despite my conviction that identitarianism is a form of collectivism, and usually proves destructive in the long run.

     Yet I own and regularly wear a sweatshirt emblazoned with the slogan:


     (Don’t fall off your chair, now!)

     Bril emerged near the pink star, disliking its light, and found the fourth planet. It hung waiting for him like an exotic fruit. (And was it ripe, and could he ripen it? And what if it were poison?) He left his machine in orbit and descended in a bubble. A young savage watched him come and waited by a waterfall.
     "Earth was my mother," said Bril from the bubble. It was the formal greeting of all humankind, spoken in the Old Tongue.
     "And my father," said the savage, in an atrocious accent.
     Watchfully, Bril emerged from the bubble, but stood very close by it. He completed his part of the ritual. "I respect the disparity of our wants, as individuals, and greet you."
     "I respect the identity of our needs, as humans, and greet you. I am Wonyne," said the youth, "son of Tanyne, of the Senate, and Nina. This place is Xanadu, the district, on Xanadu, the fourth planet."
     "I am Bril of Kit Carson, second planet of the Sumner System, and a member of the Sole Authority," said the newcomer, adding, "and I come in peace."
     He waited then, to see if the savage would discard any weapons he might have, according to historic protocol. Wonyne did not; he apparently had none. He wore only a cobwebby tunic and a broad belt made of flat, black, brilliantly polished stones and could hardly have concealed so much as a dart. Bril waited yet another moment, watching the untroubled face of the savage, to see if Wonyne suspected anything of the arsenal hidden in the sleek black uniform, the gleaming jackboots, the metal gauntlets.
     Wonyne said only, "Then, in peace, welcome." He smiled. "Come with me to Tanyne's house and mine, and be refreshed."

     [Theodore Sturgeon, “The Skills of Xanadu”]

     (Another “don’t” for you: Don’t wish you had a memory like mine. Yes, it provides me with a great many interesting bits of reference material, some allegorical and some more direct, but it’s also a source of a mighty sorrow. I remember far more than I’d like. I often wish I were as good at forgetting as I am at remembering, for the past is both an inexhaustible treasure and an indelible record of human folly: mine included.)

     Human commonalities mostly express needs: survival needs; security needs; the need for acceptance; the need for self-approval; the need for self-improvement. These are close to being defining characteristics for Homo sapiens terrestrialis. Black, white, brown, red, or yellow, we all share them. None of the lesser orders possess them all.

     Human individuality is mostly about wants: our personal desires, preferences, and tastes. These are beyond my ability to enumerate. No two of us have exactly the same set, to exactly the same intensities, arranged in exactly the same priority order.

     Identity movements attempt to add an intermediate category: some characteristic that serves both to collect some of us into a mobilizable group and, thus collected, to divide them from others. These days, the movements most in the news pertain to race, sex, and erotic orientation.

     The collection part is potentially innocent. There’s nothing wrong with taking pleasure in some aspect of oneself. I am pleased – occasionally, somewhat more – to be all of the following:

  • White;
  • Male;
  • Heterosexual;
  • Catholic;
  • Married;
  • Politically libertarian-conservative;
  • A technologist;
  • A scientist;
  • A writer.

     To the extent that any of the above characteristics are alterable, I would not dream of altering them. I’m happy to be what I am, and I hope most profoundly that you are, too. No matter how greatly we may differ, I want you to be happy with yourself.

     I also don’t want you to hate me. Or anyone else, come to think of it. That’s how self-regard that takes pleasure in various of one’s characteristics can remain innocent.

     Love of oneself does not require hatred of anyone else. Similarly, love of “one’s own” – whites, men, heterosexuals, Catholics, whatever — does not require hatred of those who aren’t part of the relevant group. Yet contemporary identity movements are as flush with hatred as they are with love...and sometimes much more so.

     The promise of identity groups is the same as the promise of a group of any other sort: to the extent that the members of the group can collaborate on a common aim without doing damage to persons not in the group, they can help one another to advance on that aim.

     The early civil rights movement showcased that promise. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t promote hatred of anyone. Indeed, he emphasized Christian love of neighbor, regardless of the color of the neighbor’s skin. Dr. King and his followers didn’t seek to deprive anyone of anything; they merely sought equal treatment under the law for the American Negro. If it had remained that innocent, the civil rights movement would have been wholly constructive. Unfortunately, it fell into the pit of Hell with Dr. King’s assassination and the ascendancy of figures such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan, all of whom promoted envy, resentment, and hatred – successfully.

     Thus also with white identitarianism.

     The burgeoning white-identity movement can still retain its innocence. However, purveyors of hatred are gaining a purchase on it. The hatreds are variously aimed: at blacks; at Orientals; at Jews; at Muslims; and so forth. Not only is that a corruption; it weakens the movement’s possibilities for gaining its proper aim.

     Hatred deflects one’s energies from constructive channels into destructive ones. If it is unnecessary to the attainment of the common aim – and I maintain that it is – then it can, should, and must be avoided.

     This is a book of love: love of one’s own, not hatred of the other. It is intended to bring hope, not to fuel a sense of hopelessness. It is meant to bring people together, not to drive them apart.

     [Robert S. Oculus III, The White Book]

     Are you minded to be an identitarian of any sort, Gentle Reader? It wouldn’t surprise me. The whole country is trending that way, to the extent that a couple of states are actually taking secession. I won’t insult your intelligence with an inanity such as “love trumps hate,” or anything like it. But I will exhort you to be aware of your true motivations.

     Love of one’s own is right and proper. The defense of one’s own against aggressors, regardless of their identities, is right and proper. The desire to get along with one’s neighbors necessarily includes those things – and includes one’s neighbors within their protection.

     It’s my contention that whites and blacks – more strictly speaking, Caucasians and Negroes – are observably sociopolitically immiscible at this time. The envy, resentment, and hatred that divide the two races dwarf any of our commonalities. Perhaps it need not be that way...but just now, it most certainly is. The facts speak for themselves.

     Facts have more power than anyone’s intentions.

     There’s a separation in progress: the separation of the races into separate, largely racially exclusive zones. That separation is driven by the inchoate realization that blacks mean trouble for whites – that even a sound, self-respecting black married couple can produce children who will hate their white neighbors and see them as acceptable targets for predation. No one who accepts this, consciously or otherwise, will placidly sit still while it takes shape around him.

     But it’s not a reason for whites to hate blacks.

     Similarly, Americans are slowly coming to acknowledge that Muslims mean trouble for Christians and Jews...for all non-Muslims, really. Suspicion has swelled about the rapid multiplication of mosques in this country. Far too many of them have been found to promulgate the Wahhabist / Salafist hatred and militancy that gave birth to Islam-powered terrorism, al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the unending slaughters in the Middle East. Just as whites are steadily separating from blacks, informal, sotto voce cordons are forming around Muslim-heavy districts. This, too, is entirely understandable, right, and proper.

     But it’s not a reason for non-Muslims to hate Muslims.

     It’s possible to love our own, to recognize the facts of our time, and to act on them in defense of ourselves and those we love without hating anyone or wishing them ill.

     There’s much good potential in the loosely defined “alt-right” movement. There’s also a lot of potential for harm, and harm there will surely be if persons with evil intentions gain a foothold within it. Consider the anti-Semitic comments to this movie review.

     You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. And it is most definitely wrong to hate “the other” and to work for his destruction. If he strikes you, you may strike him back, as grievously as necessary to ensure your survival, security, and the survival and security of those you love. But unless you actually desire the outcome I speculated about here, you need not hate – and if you do hate and do desire that outcome, you are no friend to freedom or justice.

     You're also no friend of mine.

     That’s enough, I think. I could have wrapped it more concisely: Love your own, but don’t hate “the other.” Merely defend yourself against him as necessary. Should defense require separation, then work for that separation. Hatred and what follows in its train are neither desirable nor required.

     Identity groups that retain that posture can be innocent and constructive; they can help us to defend that which is dear to us without causing still greater terror, chaos, and destruction. Those that fall to the infection of hatred will sow the wind.

     With that I yield the floor to my Gentle Readers.


Anderson said...

The first 'schism' that I ever read about in history was devised by God, himself, when he split Isreal. And the obvious work of the Holy Spirit in the Protestant community means that God is still in the 'schism' business, to further his own purposes. So don't be too hard on the Protestants. "I have other sheep who are not of this fold". -John:10:16

Unknown said...

Hatred is entirely self-destructive. It is the equivalent of drinking poison and expecting your opponent to die. In this respect, it is much like refusal to forgive a wrong. The clause in the Lord's prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" is entirely applicable in both cases.
This may represent a statement of the reality of the destruction it does to our own souls as much as a declaration of our intent to forgive in the face of (and despite) our own inclinations to the contrary. By asserting the above, I am asking God to hold me to a very high standard.
It also implies that I might become to damaged and full of hate to fulfill my side of the contract. This should be a very sobering thought.

mobius said...

Heh, it's possible to dislike everyone, without hating them. ;)

It seems to me, hatred grows from helplessness, one victim at a time.

Francis W. Porretto said...

(chuckle) H. L. Mencken once wrote that the misanthrope was the ultimate egalitarian democrat, because he hates everyone equally. There's a morsel of truth in that...but not enough to warrant emulation.