Posted on June 24, 2024

Whiteness and the West

Bo Winegard, Aporia, June 19, 2024

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Like Ishmael, Western elites are appalled by whiteness. Some have compared it to a disease—a plague or cancer; others, to an almost metaphysical force for evil and savagery. Indeed, in a country riven by political and cultural polarization, progressive and conservative elites remain united in their distaste for white identity. {snip}

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But white identity is justified not only as a bulwark against anti-white policies and ideologies. It is also a positive good, an attachment that provides meaning and discipline and teaches reverence and humility while encouraging the transmission of a commendable heritage of political, philosophical, institutional, and artistic ideas. Without white identity, European culture, the unique manifestation of the European temperament, will decay and its fragments will either be absorbed into a vast, insipid cultural porridge or they will disappear. The machinery of diversity eventually turns everything into a homogenous cosmopolitan paste.

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White identity, though more popular and more confident than it once was, is still assailed by mainstream pundits and rejected by ordinary moderates on both sides. Often those who attack white identity do not waste time with arguments. They insult, demean and denigrate. But more thoughtful critics do forward arguments, and these should be addressed by advocates of white identity. The three most popular and persuasive of these objections are:

  1. It’s illiberal
  2. It’s anti-American/Western
  3. It will intensify racial conflict

The first objection that white identity is illiberal rests upon a peculiar and misleading view of liberalism. Liberalism champions individual liberty, legal equality, free markets, rule of law and human rights. None of these are violated by white identity or even by white identity politics. In fact, one could make the opposite case: Modern interdictions on white identity violate the spirit of liberalism and especially violate freedom of association, which is a crucial individual liberty.

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The second objection that white identity is anti-American or anti-Western is often propounded by mainstream conservatives and classical liberals as a rebuttal to the taunts of progressives, who vilipend the West for the sin of whiteness. The claim seems to be that the West is not pervaded by or defined by whiteness, but that it is open and tolerant and cosmopolitan—a set of ideas and institutions that are not defined by race or ethnicity.

As a historical claim, this is obviously false. The West—and its cultural offshoots—was created by white people. Before the 1900s, this was so self-evident that few bothered to articulate it. The United States was founded not as a grand experiment of cosmopolitan democracy, as is sometimes claimed, but as a European, perhaps even English, experiment in republicanism. {snip}

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{snip} America was conceived as a white country—any other claim is simply mendacious. {snip}

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When whiteness disappears from the West, the West will have changed irrevocably.

The third objection that white identity will intensify or inflame racial tensions is, I think, the most plausible objection to white identity. The mainstream conservative’s desire to promote national identity over any local or parochial identity is not inexplicable or wholly wrong. Identities can become factions and factions can instigate internecine wars that destroy the nation. At minimum, factionalization reduces general social trust and makes collective action more difficult.

Yet, the force of this argument is diminished by several facts. First, progressives eagerly promote black and hispanic and Asian identities while concomitantly promoting anti-white rhetoric and policy. {snip}

Second, and more important, the West is historically white. It was created and preserved by white people. And yet white people are being replaced in the very countries their ancestors built. To compound this wrong, they are being asked to celebrate their own diminishment. {snip}

And third, the most powerful cause of racial tension in the West is not white identity or whiteness; it is the resentment that grows like a poisonous fang from the mouth of other races and their white allies. The color-blind champions have contended that race differences are trivial and that culture is to blame for racial disparities. But this is implausible. And it certainly does not alleviate the bitterness caused by envy of more successful groups, bitterness which is encouraged by progressives and many mainstream outlets who constantly condemn the supposedly pervasive racism that holds blacks and hispanics down. Color blindness will not work. Large racial disparities are inevitable. And thus honesty and an embrace of white identity—not a truculent white identity of course—may in fact ameliorate racial hostility.

Whites should not cower from their identity or their cultural achievements. Instead, they should embrace them. Ethnic pride is normal and healthy; so too is white identity. It does not require hating other groups. Nor does it require domination and subjugation. It simply requires a healthy embrace of this fact: The West is pervaded by whiteness because it was created and sustained by white people. Instead of apologizing for this or running from it, we should be proud of it—and grateful to our (mostly) white ancestors who bequeathed the gifts of Western Civilization.