The usual tropes about White nationalism have been reignited due to the recent Buffalo shooting, to the extent that US president Joe Biden even felt the need to express his opinion on the matter.
Joe Biden has condemned those who spread white supremacist lies “for power, political gain and for profit” during a visit to Buffalo, New York, where 10 people were killed in a racist shooting last Saturday.
The US president was close to tears as he recalled the victims’ lives, then became angry as he described forces of hatred that have haunted his administration.
“In America, evil will not win, I promise you,” Biden said. “Hate will not prevail and white supremacy will not have the last word.”
The mass shooting shook a nation that can sometimes seem numbed to atrocities and marked an alarming convergence of racist extremism, gun violence and the radicalizing effects of social media.
Today, White nationalism has no real power and no meaningful representation among the elite. Additionally, its outbursts of violence, which are rare but always “theatrical” and “spectacular” (who said “staged”?) just further alienate them, without them ever really achieving anything. This is not to deny White nationalism’s historical record as an ideology embraced by liberal European powers and the US, from its founding fathers up until the middle of the 20th century. White nationalism was always intertwined with liberalism, and this is seen in the words of the central liberal philosophers.
But today, it is an ideology that has outlived its usefulness to liberal empire, and therefore, it is under siege, and its adherents are perpetually stigmatized.
But Islam is also stigmatized in the liberal media, and we often find ourselves complaining about a lack of authentic representation. So with this in mind, let us take a look at White nationalism from the perspective of the contemporary White nationalists themselves.
We should begin by clarifying that we obviously don’t support White nationalism in any form. Its focus on the racial factors within humanity is like Marxism’s emphasis on economics. This is in complete contradistinction to Islam. Islam measures a person’s value through taqwā (piety or “God-consciousness,” as it’s often translated) and it is always understood in Islam that the ideal society, as represented by the first three generations of Muslims, is multi-racial and multi-ethnic.
We therefore oppose the very foundation of White nationalism and acknowledge its historical role in dominating and ethnically cleansing non-White groups and peoples, both Muslim and non-Muslim. It is a racialist approach towards existence with a very bloody history. In present times, this has transformed into an identity-politics-espousing secular model of activism.
We must also clarify that contemporary White nationalism, like so-called “Islamism,” is not inherently violent. There are both “moderates” and “radicals.”
A “moderate” would be someone like Garrett Hardin (1915-2003). He was a demographer whose ethnonationalism mainly translated into ecological concerns for our biosphere due to supposed population overgrowth.
A more “radical” approach would be that of the scenario presented in William Luther Pierce’s The Turner Diaries (1978), perhaps the movement’s most popular novel. It is basically about an apocalyptic race war between Whites and non-Whites, set around 2099.
However, not all White nationalists are “radicals” who would want a race war. In fact, the majority seem to want some sort of ethnostate and separation (or “segregation”) on peaceful terms, if possible.
Another interesting point to note is that some White nationalists may not even be accepted by all as being “White,” oddly enough. Someone such Michael Levin for example, considered by the infamous Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to be “an unabashed white supremacist,” is in fact an ethnic Jew.
Finally, and most importantly, what exactly is “White nationalism”? White nationalism often overlaps with the alt-right. Croatian thinker Tomislav Sunić symbolizes this ambiguity, as he’s categorized both as an alt-right ideologue and a White nationalist. He has also authored books against Americanism and democracy.
The Basic Concepts
To understand the “basic concepts” of White nationalism, we can examine Greg Johnson’s White Nationalist Manifesto. Greg Johnson is the editor-in-chief of Counter-Currents, a publishing house, and also the leading “academic” resource for White nationalism. This particular book is interesting because there are very few (if any) theoretical works on White nationalism authored by White nationalists themselves, let alone something as general and introductory as a “manifesto.”
Within the first part of the manifesto, he discusses all the usual notions associated with White nationalism, such as “White genocide.”
What we’ll be focusing on however is the second part of the manifesto, titled “Basic Concepts.”
Greg Johnson begins with a chapter on “Whiteness.”
He deconstructs common attacks on “Whiteness.” This includes the idea (quite widespread in different European nationalisms) that “White” is too obscure a term. For instance, why would an Italian ally with a Finn based on something as elusive as “Whiteness”?
Johnson writes on pp. 62-63:
Now that Europe itself is being colonized by non-whites, the same process of racial polarization is taking place there as well. Blacks, Arabs, and South Asians in Europe do not see Frenchmen, Englishmen, and Germans. They simply see white men. And we simply see non-whites. Our differences do not matter to them, and their differences do not matter to us. As racial tensions increase in Europe, our people will realize that they are not being attacked as Frenchmen or Germans, but simply as white men. And when Europeans resist ethnic displacement, they will increasingly regard their race as their nation and their skin as their uniform. The sooner we see ourselves as white people, united by common enemies and challenges, sharing a common origin and a common destiny, the sooner we will be equal to the tasks facing us.
He also says that being “White” is not something biological, but is rather a matter of personal subjectivity. This is the same argument used by non-binary gender fundamentalists, who argue that gender is not biological, but instead something social or psychological.
He writes on pp. 65-67:
White Nationalists are often met with the objection that race is merely a social construct, not a real biological category. (…)
First, one has to note that some of the very same people who treat the social construction of race as an objection to White Nationalism have absolutely no problem with advocating non-white identity politics. So if social constructivism undermines identity politics, perhaps our opponents should begin by abandoning their own. (…)
Second, White Nationalists think that identity is more than just a matter of race. Every Italian is a white man, but not every white man is Italian. Italian identity is a matter not just of common biological descent, but of a shared language, culture, and history, which are human constructs. These constructs are limited and shaped by our genetic heritage and objective historical events, but at the core of every culture are conventions which are free creations of the human imagination. (…)
The social constructivists wish to knock the biological prop from under White Nationalism. But removing race realism still leaves the greater part of White Nationalism, namely white racial consciousness, in place. And again, if social constructivism is true, there is nothing to stop White Nationalists from simply stipulating that we want racial and ethnic homogeneity.
So White nationalism does believe in race, but not in a deterministic way, as may commonly be imagined.
Johnson then questions if Whiteness even needs to be “defined,” writing on pp. 67-68:
White Nationalism does require an answer to the question: “Who are whites?” But it does not require an airtight definition of whiteness. There is an important distinction between a phenomenon and its definition. The white race is a phenomenon that exists in the real world. Our primary acquaintance with white people is through sense perception. We know whites when we see them.
Definitions are attempts to verbally articulate the essential traits of what we see in sense perception, and since we can always perceive more than we can say, all definitions are inadequate. But the lack of a good definition does not imply that we don’t know who white people are, much less that white people don’t exist. It simply proves that when confronted with the richness of nature, words fail us again and again.
Earlier we mentioned the presence of ethnic Jews within White nationalism. Greg Johnson says one of the questions used to “trap” White nationalists is regarding the Whiteness of “White-passing” non-European ethnicities such as Jews, Persians, Georgians and Armenians.
He maintains that it’s immaterial – “some clearly look white, others not.” He says on the same page that a general definition of Whites, besides these exceptions, would be that White people “are the aboriginal peoples of Europe and their unmixed descendants around the world.”
Greg Johnson argues that the real “White supremacists” are not the White nationalists, but in fact the liberal imperialists. According to him, liberal civilization is a “white civilization,” and liberal imperialists are consequently the true “white supremacists.”
He writes on pp. 70-72:
As for the idea of whites reigning over other people, I don’t want that. I am a universal ethnonationalist. I believe in self-determination for all peoples. The people who are actually committed to whites ruling over other people are civic nationalists who claim to be Western civilizational chauvinists but not ethnic or racial nationalists. Civic nationalists have basically conceded multiracialism to the Left. It is a victory they are not even going to question, much less try to roll back.
Chauvinism is an attitude of superiority. A Western chauvinist believes that Western civilization is superior. What is Western civilization, though? Basically, it is white civilization. Thus civic nationalists are committed to the idea of white civilizational superiority, which is the first form of supremacism. They try to evade this implication with a hat trick, of course, declaring that Western civilization is a universal civilization, but this is simply false.
White Nationalists are not white supremacists, because it is not our preference to rule over other groups. Although if forced to live under multicultural systems, we are going to take our own side and try to make sure that our values reign supreme, our preference is to go our separate ways. That’s reason enough for an amicable, no-fault racial divorce, so we can live in the manners that most befit us in our own separate homelands.
The remaining chapters are not directly related to our discussion. For instance there is one on diversity, arguing that it disturbs social harmony and fosters conflict. The last section is about “building a movement,” which is more politically focused.
It’s always more productive to gain an accurate picture of an ideology before criticizing it.
We now have a basic general overview of White nationalism:
It’s a political movement which embraces identity politics for the sake of the White people. It is overtly racial, and aims to cement “racial consciousness” among Whites. In theory at least, it’s not inherently violent – even if specific individuals might utilize violence. More interestingly, it is not fundamentally a supremacist ideology, whereas liberalism is.
Islam’s paradigm of course, is significantly different:
Diversity is not a curse, but a blessing. Tawhid unites ethnic groups. Islam doesn’t deny the differences that exist between races and tribes. Islam does not make such things the yardstick for acceptance and virtue. It is taqwa (piety and God-consciousness) which determines a person’s superiority or inferiority.