Donald Trump and Fascism

Roland Dodds

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular inactive at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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202 Responses

  1. CK MacLeod says:

    For your research:

    • Roland Dodds in reply to CK MacLeod says:

      @ck-macleod That’s perfect. Who made it?Report

      • I haven’t been able yet to find the author or the original source. The fellow who tweeted it out – from among a set of HotAir-vicinity rightwingers amused to find themselves in the second-from-the-left “enemies” sector – didn’t respond to my inquiry, and I’m not sure he knows exactly where it came from.Report

    • Lenoxus in reply to CK MacLeod says:

      I wonder what the meaning of “MUST CHANGE NOW” is. Wouldn’t whoever made that graphic consider those people/groups to be the best of the good guys? Why should they change?Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to CK MacLeod says:

      Argh that chart is horrifying. I don’t know what makes ultra-rightwiners like Taki or Le Pen somewhat less acceptable than Steve Sailer, Kevin B. MacDonald, Derbyshire. They are all equally bigoted to me.Report

      • CK MacLeod in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        The difference is clearly stated in the chart: The “alt-right” can work with the likes of UKIP, Taki, Limbaugh, Coulter, but is separated from them by “the race gap.”

        All of the people at the furthest right openly and flagrantly speak in racial terms about a positive “white” interest, breaking one of the most fundamental and defining, but possibly eroding taboos of our era. For now, if Ann Coulter “came out” explicitly for “whites,” I think it would become difficult even for Hannity and all of her other friends to keep putting her on, but the taboo may become increasingly difficult to enforce, and I would not be surprised if Coulter and others find new ways to undermine it and safely violate it, not least because the anti-racist left insists on re-constructing a white interest for them, by constantly indicting and thus necessarily conjuring “the white” as adversary and enemy.

        In short, I think in the alt-right view, and reasonably, all of the “edgy cons” point to without ever explicitly asserting what on the far right has traditionally been called a “racialist” perspective – “race” or any of its stand-ins as a meaningful reference point or category, without presumption in regard to particular implications, alliances, or programs. In other words, being a “race realist” (Derbyshire, possibly Charles Murray though Murray doesn’t use that term to my knowledge) wouldn’t necessarily imply a favorable reception to Neo-Nazism or to KKK ideology or the Confederate Flag. I’m not sure exactly what the unknown author sees in Ben Carson, but I suspect his placement on the list is in part meant to underline an actual lack of hostility or prejudice towards non-whites as individuals.Report

      • The claim in the chart isn’t that they’re “less-acceptable” to these “Identitarians,” it’s that they’re the extreme right of the Overton Window, people that these “Identitarians” can (and in some cases cases already do) work with and should study to get their more openly racist and proudly retrograde views into the public debate.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        As CK points out, I think the big difference is that even folks like Taki, Sailer, and the like use the “hey, I’m not racist, I’m just pointing out the science and if you don’t agree with the science, it just proves liberals are the ones who truly ignore the evidence!”

        On the other hand, the alt-right just simply says, “white people are awesome! Black people aren’t!”Report

    • b-psycho in reply to CK MacLeod says:

      I *wish* those listed on the “left” were as left as the neo reactionary people thought they were. That’d be quite useful!Report

    • Matty in reply to CK MacLeod says:

      If I’m reading that the Race Gap means the alt-right are those willing to be open about their racism and the rest are not. That being the case what is Le Pen doing left of that gap? Have I been misinformed as I always thought Front National was openly based on white (French) supremacism?Report

      • CK MacLeod in reply to Matty says:


        Not sure whether the creator of the chart means father, daughter, or both. The daughter views herself as an ardent French Republican nationalist. Is French really the same as “white”? Is nationalism the same as racism?

        It seems that a significant number of American left-liberal and other intellectuals have internalized certain arguments about inherent connections between racism, nationalism, patriotism, nativism, xenophobia, supremacism, and other phenomena or ideologies – to the point that the words function interchangeably.

        So, for Marine Le Pen to favor France and the French apparently qualifies her as a white supremacist. See also the recent post by Jonathan McLeod for a typical example: The way he treats analysis of a perceived problem relating to Mexico raises the question of how any statement or position relating to immigration by Mexicans could be put in a way that would not qualify as “racist” for him – which in turn raises the question of what we are supposed to understand the charge to mean, or understand the words “race” and “racism” to mean.

        The problem it seems to me is that if racism applies so broadly and widely, including to ideas and positions that the majority or even a vast majority consider reasonable or at least reasonable to consider, and that analysis does not reveal any direct connection to “racial” questions, then the term must over time lose its force, or even its basic intelligibility.

        The aim is to combat and someday eliminate racism, one supposes, but the means chosen seem as likely to void the charge: If the dirtiest word in our political vocabulary becomes presentable again, our anti-racists would have no one to blame but themselves (though one expects they would blame racism, and the racism of others for the inability to understand it it is obviously racism… and so on… and so on…).Report

        • Matty in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          To clarify a bit I did not mean just nationalism, rather I was under the impression that they (OK I was thinking of the father) have an ideology that.

          1. There is such a thing as a pure French race that is defined in ethic terms as distinct from French citizenship or nationality and is a subset of a racial group that can be called white or European.
          2. That French race is innately superior to others and deserves privileges to reflect this.
          3. Anyone not of the French race should either leave France or accept an inferior status.

          A non racial nationalism in this context would hold that French citizens regardless of ethnic origin should have privileges over non citizens. An intermediate position might be to make the favoured category citizens by birth over those naturalised.

          I may be utterly wrong about this though.Report

          • CK MacLeod in reply to Matty says:

            Aint no expert on the Le Pens. I guess it would be helpful to know where you got those impressions, or where the ideology as you describe it has been articulated. (It may be worth noting that Marine has sought to distance herself from her father and even sought to have him expelled from the party.)Report

            • Matty in reply to CK MacLeod says:

              Now I think about it I realise that this is coming from half remembering stuff that I may have read in newspapers or seen on TV. Not a good basis for an argument so I’ll withdraw absent anything more solidReport

  2. Damon says:


    ” he is a media personality who found a niche in the current political climate of mediocrity and uniform sloganeering, exploiting it effectively. In my unsubstantiated opinion, I imagine Trump ran for president because he figured he would get some free publicity and accolades, and planned to drop out and endorse a candidate who groveled before him like a landed duke from times of yore. I doubt he expected to be the zeitgeist of many white voters whose fears of ethnic displacement are ignored or vilified by the media and political establishment. ”

    Nailed it!Report

  3. LeeEsq says:

    Fascism is not opposed to modernity. The Fascists were deeply into all factors of modernity from electricity, radio, trains, and movies. Anybody with passing familiarity of futurism, perhaps the only avant garde art movement associated with the Far Right ever, knows that they were deeply in love with modernity in it’s material aspects at least.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to LeeEsq says:

      @leeesq and @saul-degraw Fair point. I think it would be more accurate to say it was an alternative-modernism, rejecting elements of materialist ideologies of the time, and that at different points in its development embraced or rejected modernity.

      The architecture point is correct as well.

      As for the current right-wingers I examined here, I would put them distinctly in an anti-modernist camp, which again shows how fascism can change when uprooted from its original period.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to LeeEsq says:

      @saul-degraw @leeesq While researching “the Right” this month, I have been reading works by Savitri Devi, which has influenced the definition of fascism above. She was a bizarre figure who was an ardent nazi, and saw in fascism the possibility to build a spiritual anti-modern society.

      She also believes Hitler was the incarnation of a Hindu God. Weird gal to say the least.

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Roland Dodds says:


        Someone like that is a bit too sui genersis to be representative of much of anything. I don’t doubt the anti-modern views of Nazism though. The Nazis hated modernity and the excesses of Weimar Berlin almost certainly helped give the Nazis a rise to power. The Great Depression caused the number of Germans supporting the Communists to swell but the Nazis saw a much greater addition to their party roles. The Communists doubled in size from 1928-1932 in Germany. The Nazis went from around 180,000 to over a million members in the same time.

        But someone like Devi was probably not representative of the whole. There were anti-modern mystics in the Nazi Party but I think that was a small subsection rather than the every day brutality of the ordinary Nazi. Rosenberg’s The Myth of the 20th Century was one of the best selling books in Nazi Germany, probably right after Mein Kampf but from what I read it is dense and incoherent and more purchased than read and learned from.

        Most people joined the Nazis out of social and economic shock from the defeat of WWI and two extreme economic disasters in a decade.Report

        • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          @saul-degraw Correct, just giving context for the anti-modernism. In fact, the mystical elements of the Nazi movement were suppressed from time to time by the party itself. Some of that was political (an unwillingness to disturb conservative church-going members and authorities) and some of that was ideological.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Roland Dodds says:


        Also there seems to be something about WWI, the 1920s, and the Great Depression that caused a lot of people to go off the rails. Do you think we are going through a mini-version of that?Report

        • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          @saul-degraw Perhaps. To echo their statements, I do think many people are looking for something that our consumer, materialist society can not provide. There have always been those looking for meaning in the current world, but it seems more are willingly to actively embrace radical positions that would not have been acceptable in previous decades.

          I am trying to pull a lot of this into a piece about this segment of the Right. The fact that the movement covers pagans who listen to Black Metal and stuffy academic types (and everything in between) is fascinating in my opinion.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Roland Dodds says:


            I think this is pretty spot on. One of the reasons that I say that the far-left and far-right have more in common than they want to admit is that both share an anti-consumerist and anti-materialist worldview. The left might want a society that is more communal hippie and the right-wing might want something that is more like Tolkien’s idealized Shire but they are both anti-urban and anti-suburb.

            I’m an aesthete and a pragmatist so I don’t really care about consumerism or materialism. My view of liberalism is that the purpose is to make life on earth as painless and post-scarcity as possible. This means a social safety net and it also means things that people want even if it is consumerist.Report

            • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              @saul-degraw The convergence between far Left and Right also has to do with the “New Right” adopting the strategies and language that has allowed the Left to gain cultural traction. When I listen to Richard Spencer or Greg Johnson, there are large segments of time that would make you think they are on the far Left. That is, until they start talking about race.Report

            • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              @saul-degraw In fact, I would say my crisis of faith in liberalism has to do with wanting more from life and society than the purely materialist explanations provided by modern liberalism. It is what got me reading some of the hard left/right websites, something I had not done since my radical political days of yore.

              Unfortunately, as we have noted in this conversation, there is way too much crazy that goes with the Right’s critique of modernity. Stuff that I simply can’t stomach.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Roland Dodds says:


                I have no problem with people who want to live in communal type lifestyles or want something spiritual. I am probably just one of the least spiritual and mystical people out there. I don’t have much patience for new-agey spiritual/mystical talk. I am proudly Jewish* but when it comes to the ultimate question of whether God exists or not or if there is life after death, my answers are: probably not and it could be nice but probably not. Considering the wide-ranging number of religions in the world (existing and deceased), it makes no sense for their to be an onmnipotent God and one true religion.

                My issue with the far-left and far-right is that they tend to think there is one true way that we should all live and to that I just need to say “Wait a second, buddy…..” The conceit of liberalism is that there is no such thing as the good life. There is such a thing as a good life and every person should be allowed to find their good life as long as they don’t harm others or mandate their versions on others.

                Now what attracts me more to social liberalism and the welfare state is FDR’s observation that necessitous people are not free people. Freedom from Want is a valid concern for civil government. And like many liberals, I am willing to change my views on what is a necessity as society changes. I’ve gotten into debates about whether Internet access is a human right or necessity and I would say given today’s economy, it is a necessity. I’ve had people tell me that they get get on board with the idea of clothing, shelter, food, water, and medicine as human rights but stuff like transport and internet access is a bridge too far for them.

                Also I’m Jewish so attraction to the far right is just hard for me. There is debate about whether Jews of European origin became white or not for the American context. The Paleoconservatives like Taki and that alt-right remind me that I will always be Jewish and prove Cornell West might be right when he said Jews who think they are white and duping themselves.

                “Even if some Jews do believe that they’re white, I think that they’ve been duped. I think that antisemitism has proven itself to be a powerful force in nearly every post of Western civilization where Christianity has a presence. And so even as a Christian, I say continually to my Jewish brothers and sisters: don’t believe the hype about your full scale assimilation and integration into the mainstream. It only takes an event or two for a certain kind of anti-Jewish, antisemitic sensibility to surface in places that you would be surprised. But I’m just thoroughly convinced that America is not the promised land for Jewish brothers and sisters. A lot of Jewish brothers say, “No, that’s not true. We finally—yeah—they said that in Alexandria. You said that in Weimar Germany. ”

                *I guess you can call it proud cultural Judaism. I am proud to be part of a group that has been part of world culture for 5000 years and made great contributions to world culture. We have given the world Jonas Salk, Levi Strauss, Marc Chagall, Einstein, Feynman, Freud, Benny Goodman, Marc Bolan, Golda Meir, Judy Chicago, Lou Reed, Mel Brooks, George Burns, Artie Shaw, Bella Azburg, Franz Kafka, Amos Oz, Larry David, Amy Schumer, Philip Glass, Alan Ginsburg, Tony Kushner, Arthur Miller, Spinonza, Stefan Zweig, and many more.

                In fact I think you can see that Jews helped as prime movers in the creation of Modernity which is why many Nazis and Fascists embraced anti-Semitism. They rejected modernity. Wagner hated what Jews did to music and the Nazis hated what Jews did to art.

                On the other hand, we have also given the world Adam Sandler.Report

              • Murali in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Well, you also gave the world Jonah GoldbergReport

              • Zac in reply to Murali says:

                And Magneto. 😉Report

              • Glyph in reply to Zac says:

                A couple of polarizing figures, indeed.Report

              • Murali in reply to Zac says:

                Ian Mckellan is jewish?Report

              • Glyph in reply to Murali says:

                The character’s backstory is that he is a Holocaust survivor, and his goal is to make sure that mutants don’t suffer the same fate.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

                Magneto is Polish?Report

              • Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                No, German Jew, though Wikipedia says his family fled to Poland after Kristallnacht; when Germany invaded Poland they were sent to the Warsaw ghetto.

                Magneto is a pretty good villain (or antihero, or even occasional hero), because he has understandable motives even when his methods are…unsound. He takes the whole “Never Again” thing, and applies it to minority mutants vs. majority humans. And he’s not one for passive resistance or nonviolent protest or assimilation. This is his big conflict with former friend Charles Xavier, who believes peaceful and beneficial coexistence with humans is possible. Magneto, having seen what he’s seen, will never fully trust humans.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Murali says:

                Jonah doesn’t identify as Jewish, and for once I’m behind him 100%.Report

          • Barry in reply to Roland Dodds says:

            “I do think many people are looking for something that our consumer, materialist society can not provide. ”

            Note that in Germany at that time, the Nazis were nothing until the Great Depression hit. It seems to me to be a rather materialistic thing.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          When things turn to crap, blaming the ‘other’ is a built in reaction. And people can ride that to the top.

          So if your economy is in the toilet, or there’s not enough jobs, or way too many people are struggling and not even achieving the success their parents attained but feel they’re working hard — which is gonna get more traction? “Those Other People/Other Country is to blame!” or “Yeah, we’re all screwed up as a county. We’re pretty crap at being a country here”.

          I suspect deep recessions and Depressions are pretty easily leveraged in some ways — scapegoating has always been a powerful tool, and the bigger the problem the more leverage you can get by finding an enemy and pinning the blame.Report

          • Lenoxus in reply to Morat20 says:

            This nicely resolves for me a contradiction in conservative thought that had always puzzled me, that America is super great and thou Shalt Not Apologize for it nor shalt thou talk any smack about it, and also America is going down the tubes and moral decay is constantly on the rise and so on. (Or as summarized by Stephen Colbert, it’s time for “re-becoming the greatness we never weren’t”).

            The contradiction resolved: America is going down the tubes because of some kind of not-America screwing things up, rather than (for example) because America itself possesses some tragic flaw that dooms it, or something.Report

            • CK MacLeod in reply to Lenoxus says:

              The divisions within the broad “right” in America are about as deep-going and complicated as the ones on the left, so in this discussion talking about contradictions within “conservative thought” as though it represents a single flawed doctrine doesn’t make much sense. The very label “alt-right” should already be a clue. Neoconical Reaganish Great American Patriots are only one flavor, and on the far right there will be many who do not put a very high value on national patriotism if the nation in question is “this” America. You’ll find this outlook or some version of it on the left as well, of course.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                …And, even the graphic of the so called “cuckconservative” is really only the most superficial collection of Movement-ish Republicans. It is not in any philosophical sense useful… at best, at literal hit-list.

                Even the term, “Alt-right” as it is starting to gather steam is not a useful distinction… the people in the graphic are a tiny segment of a very particular race-realism stripe; hardly representative of the vast critique of movement conservatism that is readily accessible.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Any movement or would-be movement is going to seek some set of common reference points. The main purpose of the chart appears to be to communicate with and rally a relatively broad selection of internet-active people interested in the “common space” where what-exactly-it-is and who’s-really-in-it can be sorted out over time. So, especially on the left side of the “gap,” it focuses on names that any net-literate symp probably knows.

                Focusing on the the 12 “Political Pariahs” – actually a heterogeneous assemblage of ideas, symbols, and locations or former locations on the internet as well as of individuals – I recognized only 6 initially, and I suspect that many people who thought they knew a lot about the American right got maybe one or two, plus NRx if active on Twitter… possibly while confusing Richard Spencer with Robert Spencer and wondering if Ramzpaul has anything to do with Rand Paul. You’ve got an atheist-rationalist like Derbyshire in the same box as a new old-fashioned Christian White Supremacist like Heimbach, a hacker/troll like “weev,” a scabrous blogger like Ramzpaul, a 4Chan address, and the abbreviation of a neologism – “HBD” for “human biodiversity” – meant to sanitize and update scientific racism.

                Some of the figures/items strike me as rather marginal, unlikely ever to be ready for Prime Time or any important function in a “capable political force,” though I’m no expert: For all I know “weev” is a bigger fish than his Wikipedia entry suggests, and some group has taken “HBD” as its name, but hasn’t yet broken through. Yet I also suspect that if you tracked down each reference and familiarized yourself with what it stands for, you’d be in a much better position to hold a conversation with a self-identified Alt-Rightist (or would-be opponent) as they seek to tap into the reservoir of latent “Non-Cuck Con”-ism typical (according to them, and also according to some on the left) of “Most White Americans.”Report

              • Just as a data point:

                Sailer, Taylor, MacDonald, and the Derb are, IMHO, well-knows as racists. HBD is a well-known euphemism for “scientific” racism. NRx is a moderately well-known term for racists nostalgic for all things medieval. The rest I drew a blank on,Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                @chris and @ck-macleod … well, yes, that’s where I’m agreeing witth you – just that the list is a very strange list of the “Right.” It is a fever-dream list that only makes sense through the prism of race.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to Marchmaine says:


                You know of a better one that also includes the “Alt-Right”? From their perspective, of course, nothing much socio-politically does make sense except through the prism of race, and, again, there are many on the left who seem to agree with them, and from much more high profile positions.Report

              • Chris in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Looking at the chart, I expected it to be titled, “The World As the White Supremacist Race Realist Right Sees It.”Report

              • Neoconical


              • twas a bit of poetic license, tho a quick search suggests it has occasionally been used in just this senseReport

            • Barry in reply to Lenoxus says:

              Umberto Ecco had a ’14 principles of Ur-Fascism’ (title from memory). One thing that that fascism always had one particular contradition: ‘we are the Greatest People Ever!’ *and* ‘we are oppressed’.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Roland Dodds says:

        A lot of the more, for lack of the better word, intellectuals of the fascists movements seemed to want to actively de-Judaize European culture and return it to what they saw as purer, whiter form. Idiots.Report

    • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:


    • Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I don’t take modernity here to mean technological advances. Militarists of all sorts welcome the advance of technology with genuine pleasure.

      Modernity suggests to me something more cultural. The degree to which moral and cultural relativism are embraced is disturbing to some, who are quite convinced that their own culture is morally superior to most, if not all, others. “Modernity” as I’ve understood the term at least flirts with rejecting the notion of moral superiority at all. (Which doesn’t explain the Nazi fascination with Nietzsche beyond his membership in the Teutonic Aryan tribe which the Nazis also wanted to promote, but then again Nietzsche fanboys are quite firm that the Nazis gravely, gravely misunderstood their intellectual hero.)

      The modernity of the 1930’s grappled with a seeming lack of objective meaning to the world; there is an element of nihilism to it. The Fascist reacted to this notion by insisting that meaning comes from fulfilling the leader’s visions and directives, in order that society and the world can be transformed and made better. The notion that “society and the world can [and should] be transformed and made better” was, is, and always will be, quite appealing — what’s distinctive about fascism is its insistence that the road to this transformation is traveled by obedience and conformity to social ideals (which did not necessarily preclude creativity and intellectual development, BTW).

      Modernity seems predicated on liberalism, which fascism rejects: the rights of the individual, the autonomy of the individual — these things are subordinate to the goals of society as a whole, and the exercise of political control by the leadership is from time to time necessary to enforce that. Modernity’s appeal that individuals, and groups, are more or less equal to one another is rejected by the fascist in explicit terms. Fascism is about making people better than they are right now — and that means some people are just plain better than others. Easy to see the appeal (after all, who doesn’t want to improve themselves; who doesn’t want their children to be better and better-off than they are; who doesn’t want their nation to become better, richer, and more powerful) and also easy to see how quickly this could seduce even the most well-meaning of people into racism.

      This is the sort of thing that I took the reference to “modernity” to be about, at least.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


        This sounds about right.

        IIRC, it was Nietzsche’s sister who did the real heavy work in linking her brother’s philosophy to Aryanism and Nazism. She was part of a group that tried to found an Aryan utopia deep in the most remote part of South America.

      • LeeEsq in reply to Burt Likko says:

        The traditional authoritarians and reactionaries of the 19th century, the intellectual predecessors of the Fascists, hated the technological changes of the 19th century as much as the social changes. They loathed the idea of mass politics. What the traditional authoritarians wanted was to return an idealized, medieval, hierarchical, and rural society that never existed. The Fascists were different. They loved the technological changes brought by the Industrial Civilization and to a lesser extent even approved of the social changes. Fascists wanted the masses to be with them and to channel their power rather than fearing the masses like the traditional authoritarians did. Fascism was always a mass movement.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    I think Lee is somewhat right on his point. I am currently reading Fractured: Life and Culture in the West 1918-1938. The leading avant-garde artists of the 1920s and 30s seemed very split between Communism and Fascism/Nazsim.

    I found out what cuckservative means this week. Cuck is apparently a genre of pornography where white men watch their wives have sex with other men. The other men are usually black. So it is short for cuckhold. This is a nasty, nasty term.

    The term “alt-right” is kind of interesting. It seems to be the farthest of the right. The unrepentant racists.

    I looked up Kevin MacDonald on wikipedia. He is featured in the alt-right column above from CK. This is what his wikipedia page says:

    “MacDonald’s most controversial claim is that a suite of traits that he attributes to Jews, including higher-than-average verbal intelligence and ethnocentricism, have culturally evolved to enhance the ability of Jews to out-compete non-Jews for resources. MacDonald believes this advantage has been used by a number of Jews to advance Jewish group interests and end potential antisemitism by either deliberately or inadvertently undermining the power of the European-derived Christian majorities in the Western world.”

    There is nothing alternative about this. This is pure anti-Semitism of a very old school variety. His colleagues have distanced himself from his work and he is shunned by his institution.

    • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      A bit randomly, but the cuckold thing honestly just sounds like swinging mixed with voyeurism, with maybe a female dominant edge.

      I wonder if any sociologists are studying it? Admittedly, cheating spouses have been around since marriage was invented, but as a society we pretty much nodded along (and often secretly approved) of men cheating, whereas women cheating was seen as far more shameful.

      *shrug*. probably wouldn’t be the first weird cultural hangup people worked out through kinky sex. Certainly beats throwing rocks.Report

      • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

        Depends on the society, honestly. Englishmen never trusted the next village over enough to go bang their wives, so they ended up tupping their neighbors’ wives.

        Nobody really minded because they were all arranged marriages, in the main. The kids got kept, and taken care of, and there were houses and lives enough for all.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Kim says:

          Well yeah, I was thinking American cultural attitudes.

          We’ve still got a wide swathe of Puritianism inside our culture, and the 60s and free love didn’t so much as “change it” as “cleave the country in two on the issue”.

          I admit, a rather petty part of me is finding the cuckold thing amusing, if only because I’m certain it drives a certain sort of guy absolutely nuts (*cough* MRA *cough*) but probably any relationship lacking traditional gender roles would. The racial aspect Saul alluded to is a bit disturbing, but I think we’ve had plenty of evidence of late that our country is a heck of a lot more racist than we like to admit.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Morat20 says:

        In my understanding, the fetish itself is technically as you describe and need have no racial component.

        In my limited observation of the porn form of it (and we should be careful I think to always caveat that most porn does not reflect common sexual reality), it very often seems to take the form of [black man as the cuckolder of a white man].

        Presumably this is tied back to the old “black men have large penises” canard, which enhances the humiliation for the white small-penised cuckoldee.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Glyph says:

          Honestly? I always assumed the racism was more implicit than that. “Oh, picture of a white woman with a wedding ring and a black guy? She’s obviously cheating on her husband“.

          Or possibly playing it off as, even in this day an age, an ‘adventurous’ thing to sleep outside your race. (I suppose to add further titillation to sleeping with someone new?). There’s also the possibility that, if you’re going to stray, you might try for someone quite unlike your spouse in every way. (The old canard of dating bad boys but not marrying them? I suppose if you can have both…why wouldn’t you date the bad boy and marry the nice one?)

          You know, the casual presumption that interracial couples don’t exist. I’m sure there are examples that prey explicitly on stereotypes like you mention.

          *shrug*. Poly relationships are, in my limited experience, quite complex and situational anyways.

          I still think sociologists are missing out. Studying our porn is probably more telling, in many ways, then studying our politics. 🙂Report

          • Chris in reply to Morat20 says:

            There is nothing implicit about the racism of the BBC fetish that dominates a lot of the supply and demand for cuckolding in the adult world (porn and stuff). It’s frequently right up front.Report

            • Kim in reply to Chris says:

              Damn, boy, do you know nothing about porn or something?
              Americans only think they consume porn in quantity.
              Japanese on the other hand — what else do they have to do?
              And cuckoldry is currently a very hot topic in Japan, and not mixed race in so far as I’ve seen.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Kim says:

                You were doing so well with substance and then this….Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Parsing her point — they’re both right. For this…genre, I suppose –There’s a lot of very specific, interracial porn that plays to specific racial themes (including some very long standing racist ones). And a lot that doesn’t.

                There’s so much porn out there that confirmation bias is probably unavoidable. Rule 34 and all. 🙂Report

              • Qqxv in reply to Morat20 says:

                There’s so much porn out there that confirmation bias is probably unavoidable. Rule 34 and all. 🙂

                I only consume confirmation-bias porn, in which the participants express firmly-believed stereotypes about the sexual tastes and bodily proportions of various demographics, then participate in encounters which by all rights ought to change their minds, but — sexily — somehow fail to.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Qqxv says:

                Qqxv: encounters which by all rights ought to change their minds, but — sexily — somehow fail to.

                Perhaps the participants suffer from ‘sexlexia’, a very sexy learning disability (Zapp Brannigan is the only previously-confirmed sufferer).


      • Saul Degraw in reply to Morat20 says:


        From what I’ve read, cheating and adultery were fairly common among upper-class England for both sexes. What do you think all those large weekends at country-houses were good for besides eating, hunting, and drinking. Harold MacMillian’s wife was very much known to be an adultress.

        American attitudes might be different but I am a cynic and I always wonder about how many political marriages are marriages of more pragmatic benefit over romantic attraction.

        I knew one guy who said he had cuckholding fantasies. He was also poly and dated women besides his wife with his wife’s consent. I am not sure how the cuckholding fantasy meshes with being poly because poly is supposed to be anti-adultery because everything is known.

        What I gather from the term cuckservative is that they feel like these guys are being emasculated and they want the guys to stand up and say “We are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” and then they go to their night-shift at long-term parking at the airport. So the far-right dudes are not getting that the guys in the videos might like the kink nature of the act.Report

        • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Cuckoldry is all about fantasizing about being… emasculated.
          You can still do the whole thing with everyone knowing about it (or at least being “okay with it happening, just don’t tell me when”)Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Kim says:

            That’s a good point. I mean, isn’t that one way to handle fears? Confront them, I suppose?

            Fear of infidelity is a big one. Fear of your spouse finding someone “better” and leaving you. People do fantasy rape (supposedly more popular than you’d think) — why not fantasy infidelity?

            I suppose the fact that she (or he, there’s got to be a counterpart) comes back to you is probably the payoff. That he or she can be with some fantasy “better” and in the end — you still “win”.Report

            • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

              Rape is about a submission fantasy. That, and a “relatively” consensual rape is normal, if barbaric part of human nature.

              Cuckoldry is about watching, and knowing you’re inferior. Of course, the male equipment is designed to push out other guys seed… So there’s a bit of that going on as well, the naturalness of the whole thing.

              Of course, we’re human, and our fucked up impossible half-wired crazy brains think vore is fucking natural too. (again, a good deal of it is that submission fetish, having bad things happen to you that you can’t resist — part of the key to understanding it is knowing that the experience of living through dying is the thing).Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Kim says:

                So we’re back to “sex is weird, people are weird, and as long as everyone’s consenting and enjoying themselves — for their own definition of ‘enjoying’ — it’s cool?” 🙂

                I’m good with that, but I’m a filthy Gen X liberal. I think I’m gen X. Seriously, I can never keep that straight. 1975ish?

                Swinging would be weird though. I just don’t really have a desire to have sex with other people. My wife’s plenty, thank you. 🙂Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Morat20 says:

        I hate modern sexual politics. Both sides are messed up and should go away.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Eh, I’m on the safe, sane, consensual bandwagon. After that, generally isn’t my business.

          I find the variants of human sexuality and sexual desires rather fascinating, but I also find other cultures fascinating. It’s amazing how humans can take a few root concepts and see them grow in utterly different directions.

          It’s kind of like training a machine learner. A little nudge here and there at the beginning might result in massively different results.Report

        • Qqxv in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Both sides… do it.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      @saul-degraw I’m working on a piece right now about the alt-Right not being that new or different in its foundational texts and attitudes. In many ways, it is just a repackaging of older texts and ideas. More on that later.Report

    • It’s not new, but it is an alternative to the contemporary right. No doubt we’re going to hear about how this is really The Same Thing as the contemporary right, just more honest, but as I’ve been watching the Right Folks (including the Right-Right Folks) butt heads with the Dark Enlightenment Right folks, that’s clearly not the case in any meaningful context unless all righties just look the same from a particular vantage point (which is, to me, not a meaningful context).

      I’m also not sure how much the perveyors of this ideology consider themselves all that “new” and seem to relish in what they consider their Pre-Enlightenment classicism. They have accepted the term “Neoreactionary” but that’s a reference as much to their modern historical placement than any modernism within their ideological bearings.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


        I don’t think the alt-right is the same as the Republican Party or the Contemporary Right but it is complicated in some ways because of how many mainstream Republicans are still reacting to the SSM issue and how some Republicans react to immigration as an issue. But there could be ways that the effect of many contemporary Republican policy preferences equals stuff that the alt-right would support.

        The alt-right are the farthest of the right-wing and I think that most Republicans would see them as being off the deep end just like most Democratic Party supporters see a lot of the far-left as being off the deep end. I know people who make me look rather centerist in my politics and they are not part of the Democratic Party.

        Yet in the world of politics as war and quid pro quo, I am sure many partisan Republicans would see them as being part and parcel of the Democratic Party.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Right, the term indicates that the “cuckservative” has shamefully relinquished his own masculinity. One wonders what the counterpart behavior to this is for a woman who avows to be conservative but is insufficiently so to satisfy these folks, and just how awful the phrase for that will wind up being.Report

  5. j r says:

    A little breathless no? Especially considering that the views that have gotten Trump the most attention (positive and negative) are on immigration. And Trump’s views on immigration are pretty much the same as Bernie Sanders, the big difference is that Trump blames the Mexican government while Sanders blames Wall St.

    And, as @leeesq, points out above fascists are not and never were anti-modernity. If anything, they were obsessed with a sort of hyper-modernity. For instance, what do we call the Nazi’s favorite style of architecture? Modernism.

    Trump is not a fascist. He’s just an old-fashioned populist updated for the age of social media. The message isn’t particularly new or particularly interesting or even particularly radical. It is the medium that is all of those things.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to j r says:

      Bernie wants to legalize the people here. Trump wants to deport them.

      Slight difference, but ya’ know, BSDI.Report

      • j r in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        You do know that “BSDI” is not an argument. It’s not even a coherent expression. It’s a tribal utterance. You might as well be grunting.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to j r says:

          It doesn’t matter what your policy actually is or actually does. What matters is why you have it.

          And both sides do *NOT* have the same intentions.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

            It doesn’t matter what your policy actually is or actually does.

            Deporting people is actually different from not deporting people.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

            It doesn’t matter what your policy actually is or actually does. What matters is why you have it.

            Can I play this game?

            Eh-hemm: “Libertarians are predominantly overprivileged white guys interested in protecting and expanding the policies and norms they personally benefit from.”

            Hey, that was fun!

            Course, since you’re no longer a libertarian that might not sting (youch!!) as much as it would have a few weeks ago.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              It’s possible to also see your comment as having less sting if one realizes that I was mocking the emphasis on intention rather than on outcome.

              I mean, if a given Policy P will also benefit me, I suppose that that’s a reason to argue against it.

              I hope we’d agree that, as reasons to argue against any given policy, “people who think that they will benefit from it are arguing for it” is generally a pretty silly argument.

              I mean, if we don’t want to get all Deontological (because, seriously, how can you argue against Deontology?), we’re stuck actually looking at costs and benefits (and, I suppose, secondary effects).

              And costs, benefits, and secondary effects are actually measurable.

              While “intentions” are… what? Stated?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s possible to also see your comment as having less sting if one realizes that I was mocking the emphasis on intention

                Oddly enough, JB, I actually did realize that and was in turn mocking your mockery of intention. Especially in light of Morat and Mike S’s comments.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m not sure which of Morat’s comment’s you’re talking about but Schilling’s comment contains a link that pretty much demonstrates the importance of the whole “measurability” thing. Be sure to read the correction at the bottom.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ooops. Jesse, not Morat, and Mike, not Mike.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to j r says:


      Re: Architecture. Not really. The Nazis hated the Bauhaus movement. The Gestapo forced the Bauhaus school out of their original building and the Gestapo did a raid in 1933. This eventually caused Mises Van Der Rohe to emigrate to the United States.

      The Nazis preferred more classical art and architecture because they wanted something that resembled the glory of the Roman Empire. Same with the Fascists. Mussolini wanted to turn Italy into a revived Roman Empire.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        The Fascists might have hated modern architecture in theory but the buildings they produced had a sort of stripped down classical style that looked closer to modern architecture and art deco than anything else.Report

  6. Gaelen says:

    Saying Bernie Sanders and Trump have the same views on immigration seems a little much. While both may be broadly anti-immigration, Bernie allows a path to citizenship for those already here when Trump would not. But, more importantly, their opinion of immigrants to this country are starkly different. Stated simply, there is a difference between concern for in-group welfare and demonization of an out-group.Report

    • j r in reply to Gaelen says:

      I don’t agree. Their underlying views on immigration are approximately the same in that they both view increased levels of immigration as some manner of plan by the elites to increase the supply of labor and push down the wages of the native born.

      There are, of course, differences in how Trump and Sanders choose to express this and a significant difference in how they might treat illegal immigrants already here and I did not claim otherwise. I am simply pointing out that they are both relying on the same economic populist argument.Report

      • Roland Dodds in reply to j r says:

        I think @j-r is basically right here. Trump and Sanders do not share the same position on this issue, but they both share a conspiratorial view of why it is happening. I am inclined to side with Bernie’s conspiracy (that the business community wants mass migration for cheap labor) but having this simplistic view of things doesn’t warm me to Sanders.Report

        • Gaelen in reply to Roland Dodds says:

          But Trump’s position isn’t just economic. It’s ‘racialist’ or xenophobic, with, or in addition to, an economic component.

          The claim is that they have ‘pretty much the same views’ on immigration. The views above, and the fact the racialist neo-reactionaries are favorable to Trump’s statement, tell me that Trump and Sanders view immigration very differently.Report

          • j r in reply to Gaelen says:

            …tell me that Trump and Sanders view immigration very differently.

            No. It tells you that their views on race are very different. Their views on the desirability of immigration are the same and for very similar reasons.Report

            • Gaelen in reply to j r says:

              Not really, one is worried about the economic impact of immigration on Americans. The other is worried the economic impact and the browning of America (or at least not letting in all those Mexican rapists).

              The claim you made was about their views on immigration, not just its desirability. If a person says immigration hurts American wages, and another says it hurts American wages and destroys American culture and is suicide for White America (as the neo-reactionaries from the article would put it), how can we honestly say they have the same view of immigration.

              And, again, supporting a path to citizenship for those already here is a major difference.

              Edited to add, I could have said it simply. To Trump (or more accurately the ultra-right wingers from above) immigration is a racial issue. That makes their views different.Report

  7. Doctor Jay says:

    Honestly that DeToqueville quote sets my eyes rolling. So Abraham Lincoln was not a “better” man? Or Dwight Eisenhower? Jimmy Carter? Or John Quincy Adams, for that matter? Oh hell, what about Barack Obama? Really, what constitutes a “better man”? Or a “better woman”, for that matter?

    There have been many thieves and scoundrels in politics, and there will be many more. Furthermore, the nature of the game is such that it makes good people look bad. As smart as DeToqueville was, I don’t think he understood that.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      You forgot FDR and Truman.

      On the other hand, the nation elected Nixon over Hubert Humphrey. I consider this a big tragedy in all sincerity. I think Humphrey was probably the best candidate to be rejected by the American people.Report

      • Doctor Jay in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        As important a leader and significant as he was, I think that FDR engaged in the sorts of things – the sorts of political maneuvering – that probably would get people to say that he’s not of the highest moral character. Also, he’s a very polarizing figure. I thought including him would weaken my case.

        I don’t know that much about Truman one way or the other.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Doctor Jay says:

          So are Carter and Obama. 😉Report

          • Doctor Jay in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            I don’t think many would argue that Carter was of weak moral character. Just that he was a weak president.

            Once he’s an ex-president, Obama will get credit for that, too. In fact, I predict that the Clintons will be compared unfavorably to him on the moral axis the minute Hillary takes the oath of office (should that eventuality come to pass).Report

        • Zac in reply to Doctor Jay says:

          “Also, he’s a very polarizing figure.”

          And Lincoln wasn’t?Report

          • LWA in reply to Zac says:

            Well, aside from that one unfortunate incident, Mrs. Lincoln, Abe was a very popular figure.Report

          • Doctor Jay in reply to Zac says:

            Lincoln was polarizing. The most so in our history. But he isn’t now, and FDR still is.Report

            • LWA in reply to Doctor Jay says:

              Give the Republicans time.
              During the 1970’s most Republicans were silent or mildly praising of FDR. Today they attack him more than when he was alive.

              I never heard the phrase “War of Northern Aggression” until a few years ago. If current trends continue, within a generation they will despise Lincoln as the dictator, and Booth as a hero.Report

            • Zac in reply to Doctor Jay says:

              Yeah, I’m with LWA on this. Lincoln will be controversial as long as we have an un-Reconstructed South.Report

      • I think Humphrey was probably the best candidate to be rejected by the American people.

        I think Carter in 1980 was – and he was rejected in favour of one of the worst men to become president in the 20th century.

        Though there are some good things to be said for McGovern as well.Report

        • Notme in reply to KatherineMW says:

          Sorry, Carter was a buffoon that was continuing things country’s decline. Reagan stopped that decline and started to bring us back. While not perfect he was better than Carter.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      By “better” are we talking about someone who has, at the fundament of his personality, a functioning moral compass? The clarity of vision to actually read that compass, and the wisdom to be guided by it?

      Or are we talking about something more technocratic — administrative skill, mastery of the mechanisms of government, dispensing effective direction?

      Or are we talking about political abilities? A vision and teleology, a leadership style, the ability to inspire loyalty and energy in subordinates, the charisma to rally Congress and the public to a cause?Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    Periodically, we have a short digression discussing how this or that group of single-issue voters within the Republican Party really ought to be upset. The Social Conservatives aren’t getting anything on abortion. The Fiscal Conservatives aren’t getting anything on spending. (Remember when we used to argue with Koz about that? Good times.)

    The best counter-argument was a variant of “well… at least they aren’t as bad as the Democrats!”

    While this *MIGHT* be good enough for some (“Hey, I don’t agree with candidate on X, Y, Z, W, V, U, T, S, or R… AT LEAST THEY AGREE WITH ME ON Q!!!! Also, I’d prefer their Supreme Court nominations.”), I’d hope that we’d agree that there are a lot of reasons that “at least they aren’t as bad as the other party” would turn into ash on the tongue for some folks after a long enough time saying it though, granted, maybe they are saying something like “I remember Perot/Nader! I’m never falling for that trick again! At least my guy/gal isn’t as bad as the other party!”.

    There are a lot of folks out there who are getting sick of being told to shut up and get in line and vote for the guy who isn’t as bad.

    Trump is doing a good job of calling out the guys who aren’t as bad.

    This doesn’t make him a good choice, of course… but there are, apparently, quite a few people out there who are very, very interested in seeing the guys who aren’t as bad being chewed out.

    Even if it takes a buffoon to do it.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to Jaybird says:

      @jaybird Agreed. I actually have a soft spot for Trump’s campaign for the reason you described. So much of American politics is shameless sloganeering, using the same regurgitated comments. Trump isn’t my guy politically, but it is nice to see someone call farce on the unspoken rules that keep shells like Jeb Bush in the “respectable” category.Report

      • greginak in reply to Roland Dodds says:

        Shameless sloganeering seems to exactly define His Trumpness to me.

        What unspoken rules keep Bush in the respectable category. He has tons of money and famous name, and of course a successful hx as governor of the Florida Man. None of those are unspoken or odd in any way. People like Trumpy for being rich although he started off rich. Well so did Bush. Trump is famous and has a big name, well so does Bush and so did Romney, etc.

        I know people seem to like Trumpy since he isn’t a pol but that is just a wee bit clueless. In what world do successful business people and media stars not play politics, manage their brand and make a point of giving people exactly the entertainment they want. Trump is no less political then any other candidate. His schtick is to play he isn’t a politician.Report

        • Roland Dodds in reply to greginak says:

          A different form of sloganeering perhaps. He surely isn’t adding depth to the political debate. But Trump’s willingness to say things other candidates will not appears to be why he stands above his competitors in the polls. Something different is going on there.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Roland Dodds says:

            I’m currently wondering if the lightning that Trump has apparently caught in a bottle is something that any given candidate could have captured with some proper coaching.Report

            • CK MacLeod in reply to Jaybird says:

              Requires not caring about future political viability within the system and parties as currently configured.

              Trump is the choice, today, according to polls, of ca. 20% of Rs, putting him ahead according to one superficial, as misleading as it is common and consensual, measure of popularity. If we compare candidates according to supportability – in other words taking second, third, fourth etc. choices into account – then Trump doesn’t belong on the “top 10” stage. According to one breakdown I saw, in which candidates were ranked according to combined 1st and 2nd choice tallies, he came in 14th. Ditto if candidates are assessed according to approve-disapprove differentials. Both of the latter two standards have historically been much better predictors of eventual performance than early position in the horserace – as any intelligent observer would expect. Of course, as is very well known, our political discussion and to a lesser extent the actual process are not generally oriented toward intelligent observation and rational interpretation, but rather to sensationalism.

              In short, by virtue of temporarily uniting a reactionary splinter of popular opinion, representing around 10% or less of the population, and usually around 1% of a winner-take-all electorate, Trump dominates news coverage… and OT political coverage, too.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      Trump is the candidate for people sick of voting for the lesser evil.Report

  9. LWA says:

    If there is a silver lining in this, it may be that we are forced to actually talk about whiteness as a separate identity, instead of it being the default background.

    White people in my view have grown comfortable playing the tolerant hosts to ethnic minorities. Its considered a badge of honor to “have a black friend”, to be tolerant and broad minded.

    What we haven’t gotten to, is being comfortable being the tolerated minority. Having one black family on the block is hip, living in a black neighborhood is not.

    That’s why I hear even liberal people fret about “press 1 for English”; Roland’s phrase of ethnic displacement is very real, and potent.

    Maybe liberals can do a better job of leading the way to an understanding of our white identity as something rich and wonderful in its own way, neither superior to nor inferior to any other. Its like how you never really grasp what it is to be an American until you go to a foreign country, and see yourself from outside.Report

    • greginak in reply to LWA says:

      To some degree yes, but to really understand race/identity we need to also move past White as an actual ethnicity. It isn’t. It is certainly a useful and powerful identity but it doesn’t actually define a persons ethnicity. Until white people, as a whitey myself, can move on to discussing their individual ethnic history they haven’t much hope of understanding anybody elses. One thing the southern heritage crowd does is they can at least articulate an ethnic heritage that relates to a place and time and cultural grouping.Report

      • Roland Dodds in reply to greginak says:

        But do we rely have much of an identity other than “white”? Although I have very direct connections with Belgium because my father is a first generation American, my mother’s side of the family has not been in Europe for a very long time. To say they are “Irish” or “English” would be incorrect, in that they no longer share the cultural heritage that goes with those identities.

        It is an interesting discussion, and one I will have to write more about later.Report

        • greginak in reply to Roland Dodds says:

          Yes, most of us at least, have more identity than white. Certainly for us white folks being White has had a powerful affect. I’m not saying White doesn’t mean a lot.

          My grandparents were immigrants in teh 1920’s. Mother’s side were polish jews and dads side was greek. Neither were very traditional or religious. But there is no way i can understand myself today without looking at that family history. As a kid being sort of jewish, well culturally but not religious, was part of who i was mixed in with a greek influence. Our history always leads us places and if i only defined myself as white i’d be lost today.Report

          • CK MacLeod in reply to greginak says:

            To call this a fraught topic would be a massive understatement. We can proceed either always with this fact in mind – keeping in mind, for instance, that on some level the adopted justification for our political order and the culture for which it stands is the defeat of what we are attempting to examine, and that we are therefore in a sense forbidden to view it non-prejudicially – or as though we are utterly unaware of or completely uninterested in the fact. So we can either struggle our way inch by inch from land mine to land mine, or trust in the steel soles of our boots, but sooner or later there will likely be explosions. You’ll think you’ve reached a reasonable understanding and mutually accepted set of definitions with a circle of interlocutors, and somebody will come in and call you all the worst names known to our political vocabulary… or you’ll find out that you’ve been having a friendly cordial chat with someone who apparently wants you dead or anyway seems utterly unperturbed by the notion of your enslavement or the near complete defoliation of your family tree.Report

            • greginak in reply to CK MacLeod says:

              One of the hard parts of trying to grasp our own histories is when you come upon something or someone you can’t handle. For some people that is finding their ancestors were victims. For some that means finding they were the oppressors. Neither is a happy situation.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Roland Dodds says:

          I’ve got a half written post in my head about the different types of “whiteness” in America. White American culture is not monolithic. Nor is African-American/Black culture. Or Asian-American culture or Hispanic culture or…

          My experience as a white person is shaped largely by my Italian ancestry, in part because Italians were not always accepted as “white” and therefore were excluded from many white American cultural institutions and traditions; a unique Italian-American culture developed… distinct from Italian culture (which itself is very regional) and from the broader white American culture.

          A good portion of anti-racist work is focused on helping white folks established and understand their racial identity and to find a way to be proud of it without falling into the trappings of what white racial pride has typically looked like.Report

          • greginak in reply to Kazzy says:

            Kazzy, exactly.Report

          • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

            A conversation I have frequently with R, who grew up and lived much of her life surrounded by Italian-Americans in New York, concerns how her experience of Italiana in New York is very different from my experience of my own relatives, mostly in or around Western PA and West Virginia, or in Rome (I don’t know my relatives in northern Italy very well). She will say, “Italians are… !” Usually something quite negative, at which point I remark that I never saw anything like that with my relatives. She then swears that it’s because I haven’t spent enough time around them, to which I reply that I was raised by one, so I have spent some time around them. And so on.

            Don’t get me started on the French, though, who are all alike.Report

    • Doctor Jay in reply to LWA says:

      The thing is, there’s no such thing as a “white identity” and there never has been.

      There is a German-American identity, and an English-American identity and a Scots-American identity and a Methodist identity and a Quaker identity and … Identities form around how one is different from the default. Therefore the default can’t be an identity.

      (I’m all for us engaging with those identities and celebrating them.)

      Being “white” is a matter primarily of not being one of the out groups. That’s not an identity. In the math/cs world, we’d call it a co-identity (short for complement-identity).Report

      • j r in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        I agree with you on the merits of the statement, but from a historical perspective there absolutely has been such a thing as white identity. The definition has just been “not being the other.” Racism and white identity have been pretty close, if not the same thing.Report

        • CK MacLeod in reply to j r says:

          I don’t have the reference at hand, but it has been postulated, and convincingly evidenced historiographically, that the concept of the “white race” in America took hold during the colonial era, when people from these disparate European ethnicities developed a sense of a common interest and set of perceptions in contradistinction to those of the Natives. The separation from African Americans, the vast majority of them imported as slaves and not primarily at first to North America, mostly came later.

          In the meantime, it’s clear that in our popular political culture there is a category called “white.” It is permissible to invoke it one-sidedly for criticism, derision, and derogation, but not – or not yet – for approbation and as a positive interest. Or do you believe that a politician talking like LWA above – “our white identity… something rich and wonderful in its own way, neither superior to nor inferior to any other” – would get very far?Report

          • Lenoxus in reply to CK MacLeod says:

            Or do you believe that a politician talking like LWA above – “our white identity… something rich and wonderful in its own way, neither superior to nor inferior to any other” – would get very far?

            Indeed they wouldn’t. But go back a century or so and few would raise a fuss. Go back fifty years before that, and they’d get in trouble for the part that dismisses superiority. (cf Lincoln insisting to Stephen Douglas that he values white supremacy.)

            Explicit white-identification went away because it was way too thoroughly tainted with the worst of racism; as racism became anathema so did explicit white identity. (Whatever its possible problems, “black pride” hasn’t been responsible for anywhere near the same level of misery as “white pride”.)

            Given this context, the shunning of white identity makes complete sense as a component of anti-racism. But it might ironically have negative consequences in this area as well, because so much modern racism takes the form of confusing whiteness with “normalcy” or “the default”. Arguably, developing a conscious white identity would now be a positive step for the country, especially since some of the possible pitfalls of such (like white nationalism, racism) have in principle been walled off.

            (It would be very interesting if a lot of future conservatives concede most of what liberals have been saying about how race works in this country, in exchange for being allowed to self-identify as white without all the trouble of proxy issues and dog whistles.)Report

      • Roland Dodds in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        I would disagree that there is no such thing as a white identity in the American context. Just because it is defined in the negative (we are not them) doesn’t disqualify it from being a form of personal identity. As many white Americans have no link to the lands and cultures that their ancestors came from, I am a bit hesitant to say they are just “Irish Americans” or “German Americans.”

        I agree with @doctor-jay and @greginak in that specific national identities are much richer than simply being “white,” but having those identities has to be more than just recognizing that ones ancestors came from said location. Like you mentioned in your comment, your family’s background had a specific role in how you viewed and interacted with the world. My mother, who simply knows her family came from Europe a few hundred years ago, doesn’t quite have that.Report

        • Doctor Jay in reply to Roland Dodds says:

          I know a few families that are unbelievably bland, and have no idiosyncrasies. Yours might be one of them, I guess.

          My family is German-American, and they have lived in the US since about 1850. But, for instance, we exchange gifts in Christmas Eve, not Christmas morning. We put up the tree a few weeks ahead of time, too. Neither of these is universal. We were just talking about how we make potato salad a certain way, which is unusual, though not unheard of. There are dozens of tiny little ways in which one might feel themselves to be among “their people”.

          With me, the strongest such feelings are usually associated with geek culture. If you signal to me that you’re a geek, you could be blue for all I care, and I would still name you “one of us”.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Doctor Jay says:

            My family came over long ago, and I’m a mongrel anyway. Scots, Irish, English, German, Spanish, with the last two making up the bulk.

            I have no interest in being German/Spanish-American (no offense to those who do), even if I had any idea how to reclaim such an identity or what proportions it would consist of.

            I don’t think that looking backward to ancient tribal identities will be anywhere near as helpful as trying to forge a new one together in the here and now. I’m one of those weirdos that still believes that a melting pot is something to shoot for, that metal alloys are stronger, that mutts are the best dogs. I like my music a little too loud, I like pizza and fried chicken and black beans & rice and po’ boys and bourbon and beer, though sometimes nothing tastes better than a Coca-Cola. I like that my country produced a MLK AND men on the moon. I think that for all its flaws, America – the idea of America – can still be a good thing. I’m “white” – obviously – but good golly, that seems a really stupid way to think of things. I’m just an American, and so’s the (black) lady who lives next door and the (latina) lady who lives across the street.

            Jeez, maybe Veidt was right, and a space squid is the only thing that can save us.Report

            • greginak in reply to Glyph says:

              @glyph I agree with most of this. I’m a mutt and fine with that. But my mix and what it meant to me growing up is part of who i am. I’d guess there is big difference in how long ago our various ancestors immigrated here and how they got here. I think the issue is some people want to say “we are all american and therefore none of the past matters.” It might not for some but for others it does. We can all be american but still understand where we each come from. It isn’t an either or situation. It should be a both.Report

              • Glyph in reply to greginak says:

                I don’t have anything against understanding where we came from. I do think it’s weird to prescribe returning to older tribalisms, which is how I take this idea that white Americans need to reach back to some other, more ethnically-specific prior tradition, and that will somehow make things better in this country; when it seems more likely to me to lead to further Balkanization and fracturing.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to Glyph says:

                The “white identity” could only be a resultant in multi-dimensional vector space, just like every other identity (or identity construct). One vector or set of vectors would be “ethnic history,” which will loom larger, and be handled with much greater particularity (Aryan, Slavic, Mixed, etc.) in some race taxonomies than others. Other commenters on this thread have implicitly acknowledged other vectors from other origins – in statements that in some other context might be taken as quite controversial, or simply shameful.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

                I think returning to something else is made more difficult by the degree of interbreeding involved, which is likely to become more so rather than less as whites constitute less of a majority and possibly into the minority (depending on how Hispanics identify themselves).

                Not that interbreeding doesn’t happen outside between whites and non-whites, of course, but my wife’s heritage is French and Irish and mine is English and German. My best friend from childhood has a British and French family lineage, and married someone with Irish. The only thing in common here is white. Which makes me suspect we’re going to become more entrenched in the “white identity” rather than less.

                Not in terms of “white nationality”, but more in the sense of general racial/ethnic placement… “American white” basically being it’s own sort of thing. Greg mentions the southern identity, which has its own historical ethnic roots but is not tied to them. I am not sure the “southern identity” as such will be around 100 years from now, and identifying as “southern” will be something of a curiosity.

                The great uncertainty to me is how Hispanics will be identified 100 years hence.Report

              • greginak in reply to Glyph says:

                Ahh I see. I dont’ think we need to return to some older tribalism. I think each person is better off by understanding how their family history affected them. For some that involved generations in the US others are the second gen born here. Neither is better or worse, but without understanding it we can’t really understand others history. It would be like a person understanding how their mom or dad being a hard drinker affected them. If you had an alcoholic parent that would affect a person in a variety of ways. If you can’t understand how an alcoholic parent or whatever affected your childhood that is problem for your life.Report

      • I’ve never heard of a Scots-American Citizens Council. (Though I’ve read that claiming Scottish descent was a thing among the David Duke crowd, because they thought it was the furthest distance away from Jewish.)Report

        • Doctor Jay in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Psychologically and developmentally, the way identity is formed is by noting differences from the “norm” that you share with other people. This is the opposite of whiteness.

          Whiteness is what Kurt Vonnegut called a granfalloon. It is a group of people who affect a common identity or purpose, but who’s association is meaningless.

          The White Citizen’s Council, which you reference, had a very definite purpose: Plunder of non-white peoples. Or as they might put it, “keeping those people in their place”. The white identity was created by them for this purpose. I reject that identity. It makes no sense. I find it ludicrously easy to point to black Americans, or Chinese Americans, with whom I share more identity than certain white Americans, with whom I feel I have nothing at all in common with, other than skin tone.

          Make no mistake, I am white, I can pass. I don’t want to run from it. I benefitted. I simply reject it as an identity.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          While I can perhaps understand why avowed anti-Semites would want to situate themselves as far away from Jews as possible, it doesn’t seem worth getting themselves kilt over.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Mike Schilling says:


          They might not be incorrect there. There is also a long tradition of Scots (specifically Scots-Irish) in the South and other places in the United States but event this got tribal. Lincoln allegedly needed to travel in disguise to get to Washington D.C. for his first term. I remember seeing a cartoon from the time talking about MacLincoln and dressing him in a tam o’shanter and kilt. So even back in the 1860s, Scots were seen as different from those of English ancestry.

          There was also that bit in A River Runs Through It where the father MacClean complained about how the younger son changed the name “So everyone thinks we are lowland Scots.”Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        You might be right historically but I think that the changes to the society caused by the Civil Rights movement and other social changes of the 1960s have sort of created a unified white identity in the United States. Reagan’s election and the defection of many or even most Ethnic Whites into the Republican Party helped create a more unified white identity. So did intermarriage between various white ethnic groups and the decline of maintaining a strong ethnic cultural identity besides some food and festivals. This was aided by the Left seeing things in terms of a few racial groups rather than a few racial groups combined with many ethnic groups because it inadvertently encouraged people who might have previously saw themselves as Cajun, Italian-American, or German to identify as whites.Report

    • Matty in reply to LWA says:

      It’s way OT but the only time I have ever heard “press 1 for English” the other option was Welsh, given this is in Wales I think even the most narrow minded would struggle to define that as pandering to immigrants.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Matty says:

        This is going even further afield than @matty … But I would add to his thought that (at least in my personal observation) there is a lot of overlap in the Venn Diagram of that universe that gets royally P.O.-ed that US governments and corporations offer forms and services in non-English languages, and that universe that gets royally P.O.-ed that English forms and services are not more readily and intuitively available in other countries.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Matty says:

        There was a time when Press 1 For English was a thing I ran in to. In response to the criticisms, many moved to saying at the outset “Press [#] now for language options” before continuing in English as the default.Report

  10. Guy says:

    Who asked if Trump was facist? This is a well reasoned and interesting analysis, but it brings to mind the idea of a long article from a conservative in 2009 or so about how Obama isn’t a communist, but he “taps in to our inner collectivist” or something.Report

  11. LWA says:

    The fact that white culture will eventually be a minority is exactly why its so important to discuss it, and come to grips with it.

    I live in that world- over the past decade or so I have seen my work and personal world become entirely dominated by nonwhite, non Christian, non American born people.

    At my last job 75% of the project team were Asian, and now I work for a family of Persian Jews, and I live at the juncture of two Orange County cities that are overwhelmingly Latino and Vietnamese.

    There is a part of me that feels a smug superiority about being so multicultural, so cosmopolitan as to be comfortable this way.

    But there is a part of me that very much understands the fear and rage of the Trump voter. You have all read the story of Ishi, the last of his kind? That is the secret hidden fear among white people I think, of being overwhelmed and outnumbered and swept aside.

    We need to grapple with that, to not sweep it away as an embarrassment, but to confront and be honest about our own anxieties.
    But to get there we have to stop seeing white/Christian/straight/male as the default for normal people, while everyone else is an exotic oddity.

    We’ve all heard the sneering references to “white bread” meaning bland and uninteresting. Its been pointed out how this is not enlightened at all, but merely another way of exoticizing others.

    What doesn’t get discussed much, is how the White Bread Default paradoxically blinds us to what is wonderful about us.

    Its true- there isn’t a White Nation, and white race is entirely fictional. But what happens when we stop sweeping up Italians, Germans and diaspora Jews all under the banner of “Regular white people” is that we can see our own histories and cultures.

    I am not white bread.
    I am a mixture of Bohemian Catholics and Scots Protestants, filtered through the upper Midwest into Southern California.
    All of the cultures within them are a part of me. I am no more of an outsider than the Persian Jews I work for, because we are all outsiders.Report

    • Notme in reply to LWA says:

      Funny thing, bc if thats your picture you look pretty white bread while trying to rock the hipster pork pie hat.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to LWA says:


      I think White Americans and Europeans have a long way to go before they become Iishi, Last of the Yahi. The fear is positively hyperbolic and it is also very much of the “Oh God! What are they going to do to us based on what we did to them?” variety.Report

      • LWA in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Oh absolutely it is irrational and hyperbolic, and tinged with a lot of projection and guilt.

        Its also intensely primal, sort of like some subsonic tone that only our lizard brain can hear, of Those People coming to Take Our Women.

        We liberals tend to laugh at this stuff, but I think its something we need to accept as real.

        And in my comment I deliberately put a sunny optimistic spin on my conception of a white culture that grows comfortable with being no longer in the drivers seat, generous and welcoming to our new ant overlords.

        But I also know how bad it could go- there isn’t anything magic about ethnic minorities that causes them to be any less bigoted than we are. Like I mentioned once before, if some clever Rove or Atwater finds the secret to getting economically insecure Latinos and Asians to partner with white nationalists against some other group, America could be in for a dark time.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to LWA says:

          Liberals might not like how a lot of White Americans or even White people in Europe think but that doesn’t change the fact people do think this way. The real issue is that liberals don’t really have away to address or assuage the fears. Acknowledging them and going gently seems like giving comfort to the enemy and a betrayal of liberalism. Ignoring them doesn’t do any good though because it makes people feel like their fears aren’t being taken seriously, never a good thing to do in politics, and because you can’t really sham the masses into thinking right.Report

          • LWA in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I would go further and say that we liberals share them even if suppressed.

            I’m likening it to the theory that the most lurid sex scandals afflict the most puritanical churches because they lack the ability to admit to their own desire.

            The statement that I feel awkward being the only white guy in a room full of black people would not typically, in a liberal setting, lead to a frank and honest discussion. Most often in my experience it leads to shaming and guilt.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to LWA says:

              @lwa one of the big shibboleths, I hope I’m using the word right, of modern liberalism is that deep down we are all secret liberals who would be happy if we could live in a European style, secular state that isn’t too serious about patriotism. This is a bit of parody but there are strong elements of this in liberal thought if you ever checked out a liberal blog.

              This line of thought is utterly untrue. Lots of people do not agree with modern liberalism at all. To a certain extent White Americans are allowed to dissent more than people of color from liberalism because their is an assumption that White Americans are racist. When dealing with people of color, white liberal are often shocked to find that some of them could be homophobic or have conservative views on economics or crime or something. It comes across as a bigger betrayal.Report

            • Qqxv in reply to LWA says:

              I think this depends on how you say it. If you clarify that you don’t think this feeling is just and good, then a real conversation could follow. In fact, there’s a strong contingent of liberal anti-racism that treats the phrase “I don’t see race” with suspicion. What you’re getting at is simply a logical corollary, talking about the ways you do see race.

              Of course, at the same time, expressing “I feel awkward being the only white guy in a room full of black people” can make others uncomfortable, especially if black. The key thing is whether a given environment is appropriate. If the space is only for white liberals — maybe. If people of color have said “Hey, white people, here’s a time and place to lay it all out there and be awkwardly honest”, that could work too.

              In any case, if you have had that shaming/guilt experience after saying something like that, I’m tempted to guess that it was silently assumed by the shamers that you wanted your feelings to be considered legitimate, since that’s usually an unspoken statement tied to expressing our feelings. Still, I could be wrong, and your liberal circles truly consider themselves as “beyond” racism entirely, and hence find something appalling about anyone not “there” yet.

              Meanwhile, looking at your sex scandal analogy, I wonder if there are religious conservatives who would cast suspicion on any fellow fundamentalist who insisted he/she had no sinful desires? It is a common theme in the Christian world, the whole “not perfect, just saved” thing. Of course, some things might cross the line, like admitting to homosexual desires (even successfully repressed ones), although that may be changing these days. A quasi-equivalent for liberal anti-racism would be confessing sympathy for Dylan Roof, or something (“I know it’s wrong, but I can totally see myself doing that… you know?”). Just because we live in a culture that can be deemed “racist” doesn’t mean all racism is equally “normal” or whatever. But I don’t think the attitude you expressed is anywhere close to such outrageous extremes — I’m a white liberal too and I get where you’re coming from..Report

              • LWA in reply to Qqxv says:

                I do believe that its common for white liberals to feel unease at losing the power of control, at moving from tolerant host to tolerated guest.

                But it can be an opportunity to grasp that this is how minorities have felt since always.

                Rev. Lovejoy: “Lets us have tolerance for all beliefs, whether Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or other.”
                Apu: “Other?? There are 800 million of us!”

                I think even if we have done a wonderful job of making racism toxic and shameful, it might be good to frame it less as a binary (you are either racist or not) and more as a spectrum of feelings about other people, where we can legitimately talk about our differences and express openly our lack of understanding and frustration with each other’s idiosyncrasies.Report

          • El Muneco in reply to LeeEsq says:

            A lot of this is actually truer than you might think. The difference I have isn’t that liberals are in any way surprised or betrayed – we’re /frustrated/. Liberals really can’t address or assuage the fears because they are only real in the non-liberal mindset. Just like you can’t address or assuage the fears liberals feel because they aren’t really real in your mindset.

            C.P. Snow was not wrong, he was just too early – it’s now that we have two fully incompatible subcultures who can no longer even work together to move forward.Report