Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward a Secular Theocracy, by Paul Edward Gottfried, University of Missouri Press, 2002, 158 pp., $29.95
As the editor of American Renaissance I meet many people: some friendly, some hostile, all interesting. One of the most interesting was a black nationalist and separatist named William Brock, with whom I became acquainted not long after starting AR. He was friendly, candid, and amusing, and respected white people who were loyal to their race and culture. He once asked me a question I have never forgotten: “I think it’s great, of course, but why are white people committing suicide?” He mused about the influence of Christianity, world wars, and “the Jews,” but neither of us had convincing answers.
White suicide is, of course, the great question of our time, though only a small minority see clearly enough even to raise it. We see what is happening, and those who celebrate our decline see it too, but the vast majority of whites are shuffling towards the precipice with glazed eyes and obedient smiles.
One who is not is Paul Gottfried, professor of humanities at Elizabethtown College, archenemy of the neo-cons, AR conference speaker, and author of several books on politics and the plight of the West. His latest volume is a dissection of the poisoned state of mind that makes whites not only hate their own history and identity, but commands them to glorify and feel inferior to “victims” of all kinds: homosexuals, non-whites, foreigners, women, AIDS carriers, and essentially anyone unlike themselves. American Renaissance generally concentrates on the crisis that has arisen from loss of nerve among whites, but contemporary liberalism has turned its guns in many directions. Men, heterosexuals, explorers, war heroes, and many others who were once honored or at least considered normal are likewise made out to be villains. Only in the West do we find this kind of self-loathing, and Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt is as good a mainstream treatment of the white man’s disease as one is likely to find.
The Therapeutic State
Government, of course, has taken the lead in promoting the disorder. “The administrative state,” writes Prof. Gottfried, “most plainly in the United States, has come to define itself through a struggle against social pathology.” The most important objective for our rulers is to stamp out “improper thought,” to equate any remnants of traditional thinking with mental illness. They are more passionate about fighting “bigotry” than fighting crime, and it is this compulsion to eradicate every time-tested loyalty as if it were insanity that inspires Prof. Gottfried’s name—”the therapeutic state”—for the form of government that now prevails in the West. This book does not get very far in explaining why the state tries to poison our minds and discredit the past, but it includes a good analysis of the principles governments follow:
“Fairness, caring, and openness,” Prof. Gottfried writes, must be the hallmarks of all government action. However, by no means everyone benefits equally from all this “caring.” The state diligently divides us up into victims and victimizers, with the former getting the “caring” and the latter getting the blame. Victims are all non-whites, women, homosexuals, foreigners, immigrants, and sometimes Jews. The victimizers are, of course, white men, and the government punishes and rewards us accordingly: “Some people will be pumped up to feel good about whoever they are, while others will be required to forfeit, disavow, or disparage their inherited identities.” An important objective is to promote everything and everyone who is as different as possible from what used to be the norm: “The state glorifies differences from the way of life associated with the once-majority population. It hands out rewards to those who personify the desired differences, while taking away cultural recognition and even political rights from those who do not.” A mix of perverts, misfits, hermaphrodites, aliens, and non-whites “represent[s] what democracy as public administration holds up as the happy alternative to how things used to be.”
Public figures become part—or even full-time arbiters of proper and improper thought, which results in the “replacement of traditional ethical values by a cult of psychological normality.” Those who disagree with modern liberalism are not simply mistaken; they are either outright evil or, more likely, suffering from a mental illness that sufficient “sensitivity training” will cure.
For whites—but only for whites—it has become a sign of good taste to minimize the accomplishments of their ancestors and to admire all things alien. Biological loyalties are suspect—at least for whites—and for all people there can be no such thing as human nature that determines sex roles or makes any of us impervious to the state-administered therapy that will cure us of retrograde views.
Clearly, it is in the interests of “victims” to milk their status for every possible advantage, but what is in it for the “victimizers”? “Why don’t they object passionately to their own apparent humiliation?” asks Prof. Gottfried. He does not offer any answers, but he does point out that “a transformation of the self-image of the majority population would have had to take place in order for the therapeutic state to have reached its present strength.” The white man, in other words, has been neutered. But how? Why? Prof. Gottfried does not say.
Government has worried about our psychological state for many years. Prof. Gottfried finds that as far back as 1965, President Lyndon Johnson was telling us: “We dream of a world where all are fed and charged with hope. And we shall make it so.” It is not the US government’s job to feed the world; it is arrogance bordering on insanity to talk about “charging it with hope.” It is utopian crusades of this kind that send our busy-body government into every corner of our lives to refashion us and “charge us with hope.”
One of the most effective mind-control techniques is constantly to evoke the specter of “fascism.” This works best in Germany, but even in the United States, which went to war against fascism, the slightest revolt against “sensitivity” or “caring” is supposed to lead straight to brown shirts and stiff-arm salutes. And, as Prof. Gottfried notes, “the unconquered fascist past has a remarkably fluid content. It keeps taking the shape of whatever is deemed politically incorrect, be it restrictions on immigration, enforcement of customary gender distinctions, or paying tribute to a recognizably European national heritage.” Anything the bureaucrats don’t like is “fascist.”
Needless to say, America is so good, so well fed, and so charged with hope that its techniques must be exported to rest of the world. As Prof. Gottfried explains, “Spearheading this mission have been media and academic personalities, from the American president on down, who define foreign policy as an extension of domestic crusades.” This means stamping out “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” and all other forms of newly-discovered mental illness are big international challenges that guide our foreign relations. Once again, Lyndon Johnson was an early pioneer, pointing out in 1966 that “our safest guide to what we do abroad is always what we do at home.” True to form, President William Clinton justified our war against Serbia as an assault on “bigotry.” War is now, in Prof. Gottfried’s words, “the exercise of power as a form of caring;” we now kill people if they show too many signs of unacceptable mental illnesses.
As Prof. Gottfried points out, American notions of “caring,” “inclusiveness,” and deprecation of the majority population are quickly becoming the norm in Europe. Germany, in particular, must consider everything in light of whether it atones properly for Nazism. Prof. Gottfried describes “Weimar 1999,” the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Goethe’s birth in that town, as an especially loathsome example. The events, for which there was federal government money, concentrated as much on the nearby Nazi camp of Buchenwald as on the ancient Thuringian town ostensibly being honored. This new brand of German “civic patriotism” even required staged, public conversations between Weimar school children and elderly survivors of the camps. Any celebration of anything German must be tempered with apologies for Hitler.
As Prof. Gottfried explains, “maintenance of a contrite mood serves social reform.” Once Germans are sufficiently softened up, even letting in swarms of non-white immigrants can be seen as atonement for Nazism. The country is so hysterical about the dangers of “improper thought” that a federal judge, Rudolf Wassermann, wrote in 1994,”He who denies the truth about the Nazi extermination camps threatens the very foundations upon which the German Federal Republic is erected.” The very foundations! Prof. Gottfried quotes the famous German historian Ernst Nolte: “There will continue to be a kind of soft totalitarianism, which is certainly not bloody, which allows some range of opinions, and which is even permissive in matters that are not politically important, but intellectually it is totalitarianism all the same.” He could have been writing about America.
Of course, a history of slavery or a Nazi past are hardly required for white abasement. The British likewise (like all other Europeans) “have declared war against the scourge of prejudice directed against racial minorities that have immigrated to England.” Fortunately, there are still cultural and political strains in Europe that protect it to some degree against complete collapse. The motto of the Vlaams Blok, a Flemish political party in Belgium, states its priorities in its motto: Eigen Volk Eerst (Our Own People First). Although in the United States the Republican Party is unable to bring itself to oppose immigration despite the clear fact that non-white newcomers vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, Europeans are not so paralyzed by racial guilt. Umberto Bossi of the Italian Lega Nord (League of the North) strongly criticizes the Italian government for letting in so many foreigners who will vote for the left.
In most European countries there is vigorous above-ground political resistance to dispossession, though not always for explicitly racial reasons. Pim Fortuyn in Holland was opposed to Arab immigrants because he thought they could not be made to understand the homosexual-libertine culture of contemporary Holland. Pia Kjaersgaard of the Peoples Party in Denmark is somewhat more openly racial, but opposes immigration primarily because immigrants do not share the altruistic values that make the welfare state work. In any case, opposition of this kind has arisen in response to Europe’s infection with the originally American disease of glorifying the alien.
New Face of the Left
Professor Gottfried points out that although the great campaigns for “political correctness” are now associated with the left, they represent an almost complete shift away from the old socialist utopia. Practically no one wants to nationalize the economy anymore or give power to the proletariat, and even some liberals pay lip service to the idea that there must be limits on the redistributionist efforts of government. This is partly because basic welfare state programs are now universal throughout the white world. Our rulers are now intent on changing thinking and behavior rather than establishing the classless society. If the foot soldier of the old left was the trade unionist, that of the new is the social worker. Far more important than improving the lot of the workers is stamping out “improper thought,” and coddling non-whites and homosexuals.
The therapeutic state has discovered that much as it loves to boss us around for our own good, planned economies simply do not produce enough of the wealth the state is so eager to redistribute. Therefore our rulers are happy to promote free markets and competition (within “caring” limits) to, as Prof. Gottfried explains, “provide the state with more funds for social benefits by generating taxable wealth.” He goes on to explain that “social control by the state does not presuppose a socialized economy, and government intervention into child rearing, spousal relations, and intergroup dynamics can now go forward in conjunction with market forces.” Tony Blair’s Labour Party, for example no longer treats capitalists and wealthy industrialists as the enemy. They are the ones who produce the wealth needed to pay for the nanny state. Mr. Blair’s political passions are essentially indistinguishable from those of Hillary Clinton’s, with opposition to the House of Lords thrown in for local color.
Today, the European left loves the United States as the pioneer of “political correctness.” It would like nothing more than to enforce American-style uniformity across the entire political spectrum, to put immigration and rights for homosexuals beyond political discussion, and make apologies for racism and the Holocaust the new national religion. In a complete reversal of the Cold War period, it is now the European right rather than the left that opposes American power and influence.
As always, the left craves power—the immense power of the therapeutic state. The left used to want the power to run the entire economy; now it wants the power to control our thoughts. As Canadian Human Rights Commission member John Hucker explains, “you can’t rely simply on the free exchange of ideas to cleanse the environment of hate and intolerance.” Canada therefore forbids “hate and intolerance,” and gags and punishes the guilty. Likewise, many European countries have criminalized “incitement of hatred” and “Holocaust denial.” In the United States, the First Amendment still protects speech, but stiffer penalties for “hate crimes” are already punishment for unfashionable preferences. We have entered the age of what Prof. Gottfried calls “coercive tolerance.”
Role of Religion
What, though, has caused the white man’s disease? Prof. Gottfried makes a case for the view that Protestantism prepared whites (and men and gentiles and homosexuals) for neutering. His arguments are thoughtful but not, I believe, convincing. It is true that the fiercer variants of Protestantism held that man was inherently depraved, and saved not by words but only by God’s grace. This tradition now takes the form of “members of the majority group constantly dwelling on their collective sins and proposing public expiation.” Of course the sins to be battled have changed. No longer is there much worry about fornication, adultery, perversity, covetousness, sloth, or bearing false witness. Instead, “Yale, Harvard, and Princeton Divinity Schools have centered their training on combating sexism, homophobia, and misogyny.” Prof. Gottfried argues that the constant spectacle of white apology has a religious origin: By confessing his sins, the white man “is allowed to feel righteous individually while being part of a historically wicked society. And as a country redeemed from its own racist, sexist, homophobic past, the repentant Protestant is allowed to go forth and bring enlightenment to others.” He adds that “people proclaim their guilt for acts they have not committed” because “public contrition serves to showcase the self-consciously virtuous, while at the same time satisfying those embattled minorities that are demanding public recognition as victims.”
The Church is now the handmaiden of the state in promoting the new religion of tolerance, giving clerics a moral influence they lost at the end of the Middle Ages. In just one generation, the very nature of its teachings have shifted, and it agrees that its own past is just one more chapter in the depraved history of the white, male gentile oppressor. Christians now apologize for the Crusades, for having permitted slavery, sexism, and colonialism. And as Prof. Gottfried points out, American Jews have even succeeded in launching a movement that “has shifted from sharp distinctions drawn between Nazism and Christianity to a gradual blurring of the two.” Christianity is inherently anti-Semitic and genocidal.
Prof. Gottfried argues that the therapeutic state could not have taken root without Calvinism and the guilt it fostered. This might be an attractive theory were it not for the fact that white self-hatred seems to be just as common in Catholic countries, and particularly virulent among secularists. Furthermore, the people who perform today’s ritual confessions of sexist and racist sin do not do so out of anything like the conviction that drove their Calvinist ancestors. William Clinton may go through the motions of white abasement—and gladly reap the approval it brings—but can anyone believe he feels real guilt for anything? Edward Kennedy is ostensibly a Catholic, but is he cut from different cloth?
It is certainly true that the crusade to smite victimizers has become the new religion of the white man, but is this really a perversion of Christianity? Is it not just as likely to be an expression of underlying zealotry that in the past might have appeared as Christianity but now appears as something completely different. The mind of the Salem witch-burner is not unlike that of today’s “anti-racists” and other liberal crusaders, but witch-burning did not give rise to anti-Western hatred. Fanaticism comes in many forms, some religious some not, and for hundreds of years, Christianity defended the West in all its pride, and contempt for outsiders. Its transformation into an echo chamber for self-hate is surely more symptom than cause of our decline.
Where, though, will all this end? Prof. Gottfried suggests it may eventually dawn on the elites that what they have put in motion is not in their interests: “Staggering numbers of unfriendly foreigners must tell in the end,” he writes, and “Hispanic racialists, Third World patriarchs, and Mexican irredentists will likely eat up the present regime, if given the demographic chance.” At the same time, he shows keen insight into the profoundly irrational nature of the sickness that grips the West:
“Thinking these leaders govern through calculation disregards the fantasy aspect of their vision, one that has likewise spread among their citizen-subjects. The relation between the two [rulers and subjects] is derived partly from a shared obsession, a misplaced quest for religious redemption that takes the form of worshipping at the multicultural shrine.” Self-destructive madness can rage on until the lights go out if it is driven by what amounts to religious fervor.
What Prof. Gottfried is telling us is that Third-World invasion, devaluation of marriage, praise for perversity, scorn for historical tradition—all these things will eventually destroy the very societies over which the elites now throne—but even the clear prospect of destruction may not shift them from their course.
Prof. Gottfried Replies
Jared Taylor deserves to be congratulated for his thoughtful study of my book on multiculturalism. It is hard to imagine a review that deals with its themes more fairly and more intelligently. Most significantly, Mr. Taylor has grasped the subversive nature of my work, to expose politicized “sensitivity” and the indulgence of designated victims as a social sickness and as a tool of governmental control. But multiculturalism is not simply a way to jerk people around. It traps the political class in a set of beliefs and sentiments that opens the door to its own destruction through violence, social pathologies and, finally, the enthusiastic attempt to digest often indigestible minorities endowed with special rights. Those who embrace this ideology are not acting in a cold, calculating fashion but are subject to the same até, fated delusion, as those they mislead.
This brings me to what Mr. Taylor finds unsatisfactory about my arguments. One, I do not propose any solution to the problems posed. Although what is at issue is a thoroughly diseased Zeitgeist, I’m not sure how one sets about changing it. One change that I do suggest may take place: Being overrun by Latinos and other self-consciously anti-WASP and anti-white “minorities,” would keep the present generation from turning on the Western past. But such a catastrophe is not the solution that would recommend itself to readers of AR.
Two, Mr. Taylor criticizes my treatment of American Protestantism, as a chief cultural cause of the politics of guilt. As my reviewer well knows, there is no one who respects more deeply than I his Southern Calvinist roots or the association of Calvinism with both manly virtue and bourgeois morality. Unfortunately that once admirable Calvinist tradition has been recently invoked, however selectively, to support questionable attitudes, from social guilt to moral righteousness identified with holding “sensitive” political opinions. (This, by the way, can be seen even among those once stalwart Calvinists, the Southern Presbyterians and Dutch Calvinists, who now routinely apologize for past insensitivities.) The linking of Bill Clinton to a liberalized Calvinism is therefore not far-fetched. As a member of a Southern denomination that came out of Presbyterianism, by way of the hard-shell Baptists, Mr. Clinton shows religious habits that are at least derivatively Calvinist.
Moreover, anyone looking at the religious underpinnings of political correctness in the U.S. should be drawn to the Protestant matrix of our political values. Since its beginnings this once proudly WASP country has been predominantly Protestant, and Protestant denominations, including the Evangelicals, have showcased their outreach to minorities for decades. Unlike much of the Catholic clergy, moreover, most mainline Protestant leaders, as illustrated by their umbrella organizations, have been social and moral radicals throughout the second half of the twentieth century.
My own interpretive emphasis on the relation between Protestant religiosity and the politics of guilt does not of course exclude the consideration of other religious variables. American Catholics stand to the left of most American Protestants in their voting habits; and in a shocking exposé of radicalized Catholic clergy, L’invasione silenziosa, Alberto Carosa and Guido Vignelli document the Italian Catholic hierarchy’s support for Islamic immigration and the endorsement of state-support of Islamic cultural activities. But my argument is not gainsaid because there are Catholic as well as Protestant gravediggers of the West. In the US, Protestant leaders, who link Christian morality and multiculturalism with immigrationism, have been the major religious influence in changing political attitudes on this side of the Atlantic. And since the US has vastly more cultural as well as political and economic power than other countries, it is our identifiably Protestant politics of guilt that is the most likely to be exported.