GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

September 5, 2015

Dismantling the Victimocracy

Filed under: GA — adam @ 4:09 pm

Here’s the trick: you need a term of anathematization, like “racism.” You start with some act, group or individual that is rejected virtually unanimously (like the Holocaust and Nazis, or lynching and the KKK) and you attach the term to that. Once the anathematizing term is in place, you turn it into a shell game: “racism” becomes the shell that we keep finding the pea under, with the pea being some act, group or individual that was never considered racist before, but can be by analogy to what we have all already agreed to call “racist.” Convincing people of the analogy might seem difficult, but it really isn’t if we consider the long term. Of course there will be many failures—analogical constructions will be rejected, ignored, and ridiculed. But things can only move in one direction. Insofar as our common rejection of “racism” has elevated us morally and protected us from some violent cataclysm (like a civil war) we can never raise the threshold for “racism”—we can only lower it, as new antagonisms that are “like” the ones we have transcended will generate the needed analogies.

In that case, it is clear that the only way of breaking up the victimocratic order is by neutralizing the power of anathematization at its root. It is impossible to argue about what should really count as “racism,” as if we were establishing a proper system of weights and measures—each participant in the argument can only locate a moment in history where his preferred definition was prevalent. The term itself is tied to whatever danger it warded off, and its use will continue to correspond to whatever danger is felt, or simulated. Many people on the right wish to polarize the term and throw it back in the face of the victimary left, e.g., by referring to blacks as being on the Democratic “plantation,” or to the left’s atrocious treatment of “dissidents” from victimary groups. It’s worthwhile trying all kinds of things, but that approach seems to me more likely to entrench the term of anathematization that, as I have pointed out, is unidirectional. To put it bluntly, the victimary will not be destroyed until the response of the vast majority of people to charges of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., is, simply: “I don’t care.” The way there will not be comfortable to people whose cut off date for the use of “racism” and related terms falls somewhere between 1960-1984 (the latter date marking the birth of the Rainbow Coalition and a new racialization of politics).

It’s worth considering these matters now because resistance to the victimary is starting to take shape. Quite a few contemporary pundits, of varying ideological affiliations, have attributed Donald Trump’s popularity to the emergence of a white nationalism in American politics (modeled on anti-immigrant political parties in Europe), even while acknowledging that this is not Trump’s intention. There is a fairly intellectually powerful white nationalist politics that I do think is starting to take a more public form, in part in response to Trump’s very explicit and forceful repudiation of our bipartisan pieties about immigration. You can find this politics in places like the VDARE website and the online magazine Taki’s, and elsewhere, no doubt. A white nationalist position, or, at least, a white privileging position, is articulated very forcefully by writers like Steven Sailer, John Derbyshire and, most prominently, Ann Coulter. Their arguments for privileging a white America are, in fact, far more thought out than the arguments for continued high immigration levels and, more generally, “diversity.” They have been displaying (and far more lucidly) a Trump-like bluntness on questions of ethnic group interests, race and crime, race and intelligence, and much else, for many years now. There is no doubt that their response to being called “racist” would be “I don’t care.” And, after years of attacks on normal Americans (attacks that have intensified throughout the Obama administration, at an increasing rate) simply for being white, it seems to me inevitable that people will feel they have no choice but to counter-attack on the same basis. The logic will be that your attack on me just for my whiteness exposes you as a loser, parasite, terrorist, and so on. A very simple and easily learned and sustained logic.

Meanwhile, I have just come across a science fiction writer and blogger called “Vox Day” (his blog is Vox Populi) who has written a war manual for combatants in the victimary wars, SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police. From what I’ve seen (for example, The SJW Attack Survival Guide, an excerpt from the book, available on the website), it is very good. He outlines the stages of the SJW attack, and lays out a plan of defense. If you are subject to a SJW attack, don’t apologize and don’t resign. Force them, whenever possible, into a prolonged administrative and/or legal process to purge you and don’t give them any ammunition. Find ways to expose and undermine your attackers. All excellent advice, sure to be put to use more and more often. And there is a simple principle to base such counter-attacks on (this is me, but it seems to me that both Vox Day and the white nationalists make similar assumptions): the principle of difference. There are differences between social groups, including racial ones; there are differences between men and women; there are differences between same sex attraction and opposite sex attraction; there are myriad individual and group differences in terms of capability and effort. We cannot know in advance what ramifications these differences should have when it comes to ethics, politics, esthetics, and social and economic institutions. The victimary antagonist (the SJW) must deny all these differences, or at least their relevance (other than as signs of victimization) and attack any expression of them; they must be forced to issue this denial explicitly and repeatedly, in the face of the most recalcitrant evidence and the most disturbing events; if they concede difference, one must pursue them through all the consequences of that concession. The counter-attacks should be personalized: how would you advise your daughter to behave at a frat party? Which neighborhoods would you prefer to live in, or walk through on a pleasant evening? Etc.

Of course, though, the first term of anathematization, in the history of the victimary, was not “racism”—it was “antisemitism.” Certainly there are vast reservoirs of anti-Jewish resentment among the white nationalists, much of which (how much is hard to tell) veers into blatant, occasionally Nazi-style antisemitism. But I will reiterate my previous assertion in this new context: the response to being called an anti-Semite will have to be “I don’t care” (and, of course, many of the anti-Semites one routinely sees on, for example, articles on Yahoo, are already there—indeed, already back in the 80s it was already fairly easy to repel, as crude pro-Israel politics, accusations of antisemitism). This will clearly be a very new terrain, but we sworn enemies of the victimocracy must accept it. Jews are different as well, and so is Israel, and we will not be able to guarantee (why would anyone want to?) that those differences are always “celebrated.” (If I’m wrong about the Jews, show me how—if all you can do is call me antisemitic, I have to assume you can’t…”)

But we hardly know how to think any more outside of a post-Holocaust, civil rights, which is to say an emergent victimary, framework. What is good and what is evil if “racism” is no longer assumed to be the evil pole? I have my answers. Civilization is good, barbarism—well, if not necessarily evil (barbarians have their virtues, there are rules of the game), then to be fought. Discipline and disciplines are good; bureaucracy is, if not evil, then an evil. Converting violent antagonisms into legally adjudicated ones is good—reducing the legal realm to an arena of group vendettas is evil. Converting legally adjudicated antagonisms into economic competition, artistic exploration and leisurely engaged in arguments is good; allowing the legal sphere to colonize public discourse by using it to shut up or coerce your political enemies is evil. That’s for starters, anyway. Perhaps there will be some other answers. At any rate, our terror at any sign of “racism” reflects a primitive state of public life—it operates on the assumption that the only response to noticeable group disparities will be violence. But from whom do we expect that violence, and why? There are group differences, and plenty of differences within groups—there are plenty of ways of blocking scapegoating and demonization without a priori anathematization. The reliance upon anathematization leads to atrophy in our signifying and ethical capacities, which must be regularly refreshed. I certainly see no problem engaging with Steve Sailer who asks why American Jews are so pro-immigration when it comes to America while, as Zionists, supporting Israel’s rather… miserly immigration policy. A very good question! And very answerable—yes, there’s some hypocrisy and group narcissism here, along with some over-reaction to historical traumas resulting from the nativism of the 1920s and the exclusion of refugees from the Holocaust; still America’s dilemmas are not quite Israel’s; but perhaps America’s immigration dilemma is graver than we realized, maybe some reconsideration is in order; maybe even Israel is a model for a new approach to immigration in the US (as Sailer himself, I can’t tell how ironically, sometimes suggests). The question is often posed in a very leading, hostile way (not so much with Sailer, it seems to me), but so what? We’ll find out soon enough if the interlocutor is interested in real answers (and if we are!); if not, if some violence is intended toward us, well, we prepare for that, then, by strengthening the supports of civilization. But we desperately need to widen the sphere of possible discussion, regardless of the risks. The liberal democratic order has become like one of those crab shells taken over by secondary user, so we’re going to need to go shell-less for a while.

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