Racial, Ethnic and Sexual Identity and Difference
Definition of Race
Definition of Culture and Ethnicity
Concept of National Identity
Categorisation and Labels
Race and Identity
Sexual Orientation and Identity
Using Identity against Prejudice
Fear and Negative Beliefs
Hidden Reasons for Racism
Racialism/Racism in Popular Culture
A Return to Individuality and Equality
British Nationalism and National Identity
Immigration and Emmigration
White Supremacism, Neo-Nazi Skinheads and Criminal Gangs
Perceived Heroes of World War Two
Last Updated: 14 June 2016
IntroductionThis section is really a philosophical exploration of the concepts and notions of difference and identity. It is not intended to be judgemental in any way, and is intended to encourage readers to question their own ideas and beliefs about what makes up their identity and to provide impetus for their further development. I am in no way looking to promote discrimination or intolerance, but to attempt to provoke open and honest thought into sensitive issues, promote understanding and tolerance in society, regardless of an individual's background, origin, sexual and psychological orientation.
Whatever an individual chooses to use as his identity is his business, regardless of what I or anyone else thinks, however positive and/or negative (frequently both) that might be for the individual, or indeed for wider society. Acting on one's beliefs regarding difference may however have legal implications in certain instances.
If you want to read more about this whole topic, then please go to the Psychology Bibliography page, and read one of Paul Gilroy's books, The Black Atlantic : Modernity and Double-Consciousness, or 'There Ain't no Black in the Union Jack' : The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (Black Literature and Culture Series). In society as a whole, in different areas, for a variety of historical reasons, various groups of people have used a particular attribute as a strong determinant of their sense of identity. For historical reasons, persons with a particular attribute may have suffered discrimination in areas such as personal relations, relations with the general public, in employment, in education and many others. Using a particular attribute as a sole/main source of identity has both a positive and a negative effect. A unifying aspect, between the holders of this attribute (who can feel good about possessing this attribute), and a divisive aspect, between those who hold this attribute and those who do not. Now, it is not my place to say whether this is right or wrong, but just to point out that there are two sides to every story. A concept of identity can have its uses for a period of time, but for it to be set in stone is perhaps counter productive in the long run.
Definition of 'Race'In Anthropological and Biological Terms, there is no definable concept as 'race'. There are no physical distinctions between what most people consider as distinct 'races'. 'Race' is not a useful scientific term. Yes, of course, one can generalise about what characteristics constitutes a race, but this cannot categorise all members of a so-called 'race'. One can of course look at general physical and biological attributes for a certain segment of a population, but there is no absolute anthropological or biological definition of race. One can talk of ethnicity, however this is a product of various elements, including perhaps national/regional origin, geographic location, language, cultural practices and religious beliefs. Even these are by no means clearly defined, as cultural practices vary considerably between age groups, geographic areas and individuals. Some people mistakenly refer to a nation as a race, e.g. the Japanese race or Swedish race. Are 'races' neatly divided and allocated a country each? With no intermixing? No nation state contains a homogeneous population in terms of the concept of 'race' or anything else. One can speak of a majority or minorites perhaps, but how useful is this? To imply that people of a certain skin colour are not members/citizens of a nation or do not represent the national characteristics may be viewed as 'racist' in itself. A person who is a nationalist is not necessarily a racist. Does speaking a different language constitute a different 'race'?! Unfortunately, our vocabulary is somewhat limited, with terminology often ambiguous, so it is understandable to make such errors occasionally.
It is possible to determine the approximate composition of one's DNA by means of a genome test. This uses 'typical' DNA patterns associated with historical geographical regions, and can be used to determine the approximate geographic % mix of one's DNA over several hundred years. Companies that current offer BioGeographic Ancestral DNA profile as part of their genome analysis include 23andme, ancestry.com and DNA BioScience. According to DNA BioScience, "BioGeographical Ancestry admixture" is the heritable component of what we commonly refer to as "race". The person's DNA profile is compared against 250 worldwide population groups, and ranks the top 20 closest matches in descending order. One can therefore accurately pinpoint the populaces that have contributed to one's genome make-up. Whilst based on stereotypes, such a test may be of interest to those interested in family trees, genetics and/or anthropology. Those we consider to be clearly defined as belonging to a specific 'race' may thus be seen to be made up of a small percentage of one of more other stereotypical biogeographical ancestry types, e.g. African or Middle Eastern.
In addition, genome tests can show the percentage of Neanderthal DNA in one's genome. Neanderthals, aka Homo neanderthalensis, were a separate Hominid species that coexisted alongside Homo sapiens. Neanderthals became extinct approximately 28,000 to 40,000 years ago. Whilst the last common ancestor to both ancient humans and Neanderthals was 1/2 million years old, there is 99.5% similarity between the two species in DNA, and opinions of scientists vary on the subject of interbreeding and its contribution to common DNA found in modern humans. There is some evidence of limited interbreeding, but it is not known to what extent this occurred. Modern studies show between 2 and 6% Neanderthal DNA in modern humans. Extinction hypotheses of Neanderthal populations include climate change and increased marginalisation by the more dominant human populations and spread of pathogens for which Neanderthals had little immunity resistance against. It is also possible that Neanderthal populations were absorbed into ancient human populations through interbreeding. A study from June 2016 suggests that inbreeding in declining Neanderthal populations led to excessively mutated DNA, which was incorporated into the European human populations through interbreeding, thereby reducing their reproductive efficiency for several generations.
Recent research suggests that people of a more mixed race genetic background are genetically stronger, in other words more heterozygous and less homozygous, than individuals with a less mixed race background (or preceived single race heritage).
Definition of 'Culture' and 'Ethnicity'What is culture? It means different things to different people, depending on 'ethnicity' and certainly regional geographic location, and indeed the individual. However, common items thought of as culture could include: national language, regional languages, regional dialects, national television network and popular television shows, regional and 'national' food dishes (sometimes associated with a special occasion or national holiday), style of dress, ways of socialising, music (both traditional and popular), art (usually high art), old and new popular literature, newspapers and tabloids that influence so many minds, perception of historical events, famous historical, popular or media figures, sports or recreational activities, celebrities, learned interactive behaviour which is situationally dependent, the physical landscape - both natural world and building architecture, government, institutions, military history, class structure, historical artifacts, etc.
Wikipedia defines ethnicity at the link below. It is clear that the definition of the term is far from an exact science:
Wikipedia defines culture at the link below.
Culture is a means of communication between individuals, defining shared core beliefs, attitudes and behaviour in many respects. It also defines how people perceive their sexuality, and in what manner they associate their sexual identity and sexuality with different types of display of affection towards others of the opposite sex and same sex. Unconsciously we may adopt ideas about how we should act and behave to belong to the 'right' part of the 'male' or 'female' group. Modern western society is gradually blurring its boundaries in this respect, but unhindered non-sexual affection or touching between males (e.g. holding hands, giving a shoulder massage, sitting in close proximity, walking with arm around the other person, showing and discussing one's mental weaknesses or more sensitive emotions etc.) is not something that society understands or tolerates in many respects. Certain behaviours such as hugging or telling someone you love them may be acceptable in small doses, but not when engaged in too frequently. Women may well freely engage in such modes of communication and interaction without giving it a thought, but men may well feel extremely uncomfortable about this if it is not with a woman (a sexual or gender-based interpretation.) Men may feel insecure that their essence of being male is under threat when they are presented with such unusual non-sexual, affectionate behaviour. Gender identity and behaviour is very much defined by our culture to a large extent, although each person's interpretation is of relevance.
Concept of National IdentityThe concept of national identity is a relative new one, which has only been utilised by nation states in relatively recent history. The modern nation state has only existing for a few hundred years. Modern nation states have themselves promoted the concept of national identity for their own benefit through advertisements and national tournaments, and in many cases through genocide (which is not focussed on too much in historical discussions besides the obvious examples) to strengthen their own position, and also during times of war to recruit soldiers and to keep up 'morale'. This process has clearly accelerated with the advent of television and the modern road and railway networks. For us to think that national identity is a tradition is a matter of philosophy. What constitutes a tradition? How long does something have to be practised or believed until it is traditional? Answers on a postcard please. Are any of our traditions actually static? In reality 'national identity' or 'national culture' cannot be clearly defined and the patterns and traditions of the majority group change by the spread of new technology, adoption of music, food, fashion and behaviours from other cultures or nations, from individual influence, changing values, international media and travel, immigration and emigration, and by the random and chaotic nature of the variables and changing balances within society. In some areas, a national culture may become richer and more diverse, and in other areas it may lose its focus and interest in some of its old literature and arts. In addition, the global economy, fashion, fickle tastes, and mass consumerism can affect a culture too, and means that cultures in each national state become increasingly similar, although ways of adopting some of the same products may vary. Over time a culture may lose its sense of social responsibility, community and family, honesty in tackling social problems, and become more vain, consumption and less community orientated.
Categorisation and LabelsCategorisation can clearly be seen to be problematic. Even the term 'racism' is problematic, as it cannot be easily defined, and is sometimes used to describe prejudice against those of a different nationality alone, or a different nationality and culture, or a different culture, or a different skin colour, or a different skin colour and nationality, or a different skin colour and culture, or a different ethnicity etc. In some cases it is used to describe any kind of prejudice. Can any of these terms actually be clearly and absolutely be defined in all individuals?
The use of pride in difference, for example, sex, sexual orientation and 'race' as identity, has clearly had its uses during the last hundred years. It has helped to gain (theoretically) equal civil rights for all people in modern, industrialised countries. It has been very positive in this respect. Whilst clearly prejudice will never be completely eradicated, neither will crime nor acts of immorality. It is highly unlikely that we will reach a utopian or perfect society as long as people live on this planet. However, the indefinite continued use of stereotypes and a characteristic to define which 'group' one affiliates with, rather than just being an individual, may no longer be constructive, but may in the long term reverse some of the progress it has made, creating more divisions that it once helped to break down. Cultural identities evolve and feed from each other, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the future.
A set of behaviours and methods of communication, often viewed as a 'culture' or 'ethnicity' are not necessarily what defines who were are. They are a set of behaviours and beliefs that we have adopted because other people around us have adopted them. We may not necessarily like them or if given a choice of models of behaviour on a rack, particularly pick that particular one. These patterns of behaviour in many cases existed before we were born and will continue to propagate themselves after we are dead. They spread throughout the population not unlike a virus, slowly mutating over time. It is in a sense an entity unto itself, detached and seperate from the people in a group or in the population but controlling it and its behaviour. Is something that existed before you were born and will exist after you die really something that defines who you are? In many cases, learnt behaviours are useful, for example, the highway code, and the way of driving to ensure efficient interaction and understanding with others, but in other cases, it may not necessary be so useful and indeed have negative consequences as well as positive.
The labels of 'race' and skin colour are defined in normal usage by clumsy use of language and concepts of polarity. For example, hot is seen as the opposite of cold, as opposed to cold being the relative absence of heat. What does the 'opposite' of anything really mean? The implication in language is that 'black' is the opposite of 'white' and they are by definition incompatible. Therefore, using this terminology does nothing but create conflict and division by its very definition and people's perception of language. If nothing else, they are not correct, as 'white' people are not literally white, and 'black' people are not literally black. Language implies that 'coloured' is the opposite of 'white'.
Religion, ethnicity and 'race' are often confused. What is in reality cultural and religious difference is translated to racial difference, but only in the context of interacting with those who we find objectionable. Religious fundamentalism is often the cause of racial tension, and the terminology is not strictly correct. Fundamentalism implies a going back to the core beliefs of a religion, and holding the written teachings of the religion vehemently and to the letter. However, ironically, fundamentalism in every religion it occurs in, is a perversion and distortion of religious truth, used to control people, using religion as a vehicle of control, a means to an end. Fundamentalism is often used in a repressive and in many ways 'right wing' or pseudo-nationalist context. For example, many moslems consider wearing a veil an expression of Islam, but it is simply a cultural fashion amongst fundamentalists. There is no mention in the Koran that women must wear veils. Early Islam was a very progressive and egalitarian religion from inception and early moslems were at the forefront of scientific and cultural revolution. Both Christian and Moslem texts state quite clearly that one should not kill another human being, yet fundamentalist bullies from each camp have historically and currently use their 'faith' to justify killing. Fundamentalists use fear, rigid thinking and brainwashing to coerce the population into their line of thinking. Prejudices arising from a distortion of religion often contribute to racial and cultural tension in the communities they find themselves in. It is one thing whether religious texts reflect the spiritual truth message and faith of the prophet, Messiah or religious teacher. But it is quite another when people claim to represent a religion and flagrantly break many of the teachings of that religion, in particular with relation to violence, killing and war. And quite often people associate these fundamentalist bullies with that religion, so that the faith becomes tainted in the public mind, and that fear can be used to fuel further racism and dubious defensive policies.
Even well educated journalists confuse 'Israeli' with 'Jew'. Within Israel, many Jews are far from convinced about the policies of its government, but outside of Israel, if anyone publicly criticises Israeli policy, they are branded 'anti-semitic' or anti-Jewish. On the Jewish comedy show Seinfeld, there is a sketch where he mocks his uncle Leo on the Today Show - Leo brands everyone and everything as anti-semitic if he doesn't get his way, e.g. losing a bet on a horse etc. When Leo's girlfriend laughs at the joke, Leo gets angry and accuses her of anti-semitism and dumps her!
It is easy to confuse 'race' (if such a thing really exists) with 'nationality'. Indeed, many use the term Jew to refer to a 'race', others to someone of Israeli nationality, others to someone of Jewish ethnicity and others against to someone of the religion of Judaism (Judaic or 'Jew'; 'Jewish' religion). Indeed, many people who have converted to Judaism, but who are not of the 'Jewish race' are termed as Jews. Why have society and people who consider themselves to be 'Jewish' have become accustomed to using confusing terminology and confusing concepts depending on context? Given the vast number of words in our language, it is rather ridiculous to be so imprecise and ambiguous.
Wikipedia defines 'Jew' as follows.
If we take the example of Asian cuisine, and compare it to South East Asian cuisine, then there are noticeable differences in approach to labelling. South East Asian takeaways and restaurants tend to focus more on their national identity, of the food, and likely the mother country of the owners or the owner's parents. This practice is followed as it probaby serves to describe what kind of food people can expect to buy. If the restaurant does not have the Country's name in it, it likely says so underneath the name on the sign, e.g. Chinese takeaway. Of course, the food served up in any Asian or SE Asian restaurants is not really typical of what people in these countries actually eat, as it is 'fancy' food or food prepared to appeal to western palates or the stereotype they have come to expect from such establishments. There are significant differences in the food people expect to eat at a Chinese restaurant compared with an Indonesian or a Japanese restaurant. However, when it comes to Asian food, or at least the type of food which is served in Asian restaurants and takeaways in the USA and Europe, less effort if any effort is made to identify the 'national origin' of the food style or owners. Indian and Pakistani restaurants and takeaways either do not state it, and refer to themselves as curry houses or Balti houses, or they call themselves Indian restaurants, regardless of whether they are/were Indian or Pakistani. From my perspective, there seems to be a gentleman's agreement to do this in both communities in the UK at least, presenting both cultures as 'Indian' and neither restaurant serving pork or beef, to respect the relative religions of Islam and Hinduism. 'Meat' when it appears on the menu normally refers to the red meat lamb only. This is normally the only type of red meat sold at such establishments. Whether this perceived strategy, if in fact a national or international phenomenon, actually benefits these ethnic communities or works against them is another matter. Why cannot the establishment owners be clearer about where they are from, and make the food dishes more authentic to where they came from, to educate people with food? Or perhaps at least call themselves Pakistani when they in fact are, instead of 'pretending' to be Indian, or at least having people confuse them with Indians? Otherwise, 'Pakistani' becomes a 'dirty word' or at least one that people are not proud of or feel comfortable about using for marketing reasons. Where there is fear, it will breed ignorance and prejudice. Such strategies serves only to reinforce racial and cultural stereotypes.
In the 1960s, some British tabloid newspapers referred to immigrants from former colony states, particularly Indian and Pakistan, as 'Pakis', in a manner which was deemed to be racist and derogatory. The term was more widely adopted as a derogatory label for South Asians, including Indians and Bangladeshis. The above clearly is not a cause but certainly does not help. The word is derived from Pakistani, and is an abbreviated form. It is unfortunate that the context in which the term was used was not criticised and labelled as inaccurate and racist rather than the term itself, which is just an abbreviation of a nationality.
Technically speaking, it is not a racial term but a term identifying a national or emigrant of a particular country. The fact that it was applied to various nationalities or 2nd and 3rd generation emigrants from those countries in a blanket manner implies that those persons all are the same in some respect - which is most likely a reference to a combination of skin colour or shades of skin colour, facial characteristics and culture - and how such individuals were perceived to have integrated into British culture and to what degree and in what ways they retained their homeland's culture and so forth. The term 'Paki' is not exclusively a 'racist' term, but also refers to Paki in California - a former Maidu Native American settlement; a Hawaiian high chief during the reign of King Kamehameha III; or Theitia Paki, the current Maori King (at the time of writing) in New Zealand. To label the use of the word 'Paki' in all contexts as 'racist' is therefore slightly presumptuous and ethnocentric.
Because the abbreviation of the word Pakistani has been widely regarded by the public, by the government and the media in the UK as being 'racist', it's use as a legitimate abbreviation for Pakistani nationals has been potentially forever denied to mainstream British society. If the context in which the term was criticised instead of the term itself, then perhaps the term could be used in the same way that the word 'Brit' is used to describe a British national, i.e. in a positive manner. This is not only unfortunate but disrespectful to the Pakistani community that they are not able to reclaim an abbreviation of their own name. Those politically correct 'white caucasian' middle classed busy bodies who continue to perpetuate the meaning and understanding behind the term as being 'racist' continue to disrespect Pakistani nationals or 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation immigrants even if they set out to achieve the exact opposite and believe they are trying to show them respect. In recent years, members of the Pakistani community have begun to use the word 'Paki' as street slang, when referring to each other, much in the same way as Afro-Americans may refer to each other as 'Nigga' in street slang. They are reclaiming the word 'Paki' but in the sense that it is still taboo and naughty. It is still however taboo for any non-Pakistani community outsiders to use the term, including those 'traditionally' labelled as 'Pakis' but 'racists', including Indians and Bangladeshis. This usage of the term is then perhaps more nationalistic than racial. However, it is still not yet 'cool' for the 'white caucasian' middle classes to use the word, and to bring it into the mainstream of popular UK culture, so for now, 'Nigga' is more socially acceptable to use for the youth of all races, and its overuse in the street slang context has resulted in much of its racial connotation having been destroyed. A similar pattern could emerge for the term 'Paki' but then, at least in the UK, Afro-American culture has always been regarded as highly fashionable in the UK since the Mod era and before, and it is not certain whether music from the UK's Southern Asian communities will ever see the same level of popularity.
Race and IdentityWhenever you get people together and say 'we are the same' then by definition, other people are different. Having an 'Afro-American community' is no more helpful than having a 'white' community. Ideally communities should be defined by geographic location alone, such as an East London community or a Manchester community. If white males were to form 'white' support groups and 'white' pop artists were to mention the fact that they were white about 10 times per song, saying they were proud to be white etc., there would be an outcry and be accused of being racist. Perhaps they would be racist. Perhaps they would be no more racist than the 'black gangsta' rapper. It is because people are not used to a 'white' person saying this this that it would be regarded as racist, unintelligent and culturally backwards. It is only because people are so used to minority groups doing exactly the same thing, and there is a sense of it being necessary somehow to combat prejudice and make up for years of relative economic poverty, and perhaps a sense of guilt by the majority, that it is not regarded as divisive or elitist or negative. Let us compare the use of concepts of difference when looking at Nazi Germany. White caucasian Nazi Germany was no doubt united internally (if you were a member of what was considered to be the majority group, with morale boosted, but treated members of 'other groups' in a murderous and despicable manner. As long as we have communities who identify themselves by skin colour, we will probably always have social problems. And as long as we have a majority group that discriminates, and institutional racism and prejudice, then we will probably always have social problems. We can't just wait for the 'other' side to change their behaviour, all parties need to mature and come together multilaterally.
There are clearly stereotypes of what it means to be 'black' in America, in the UK, in Africa, for example. Much as there are stereotypes of what it means to be 'white' in the UK, in the Southern States of the US, and so on. Whilst the stereotypes are highly generalised, there are many people who are defined by their values. For example, a 'black' American stereotype could be seen to be more aggressive, more expressive, better in touch with his feelings, more soulful, more on a 'natural groove', more in touch with sexuality, less 'controlled', whereas the 'white' counterpart could be deemed to be submissive, a 'yes' person, 'rational', defensive, uptight, inexpressive, unsoulful, less comfortable with self and sexuality, more 'awkward' with self. One should of course be whoever one wants to be and not feel limited by learned behaviours and values from one's 'ethnic' group. One can take on any number of positive attributes from any ethnic group without having to take on the whole lot! Take what you want and ignore the rest. Use what is most you.
Of course, who is to say what is meant by defining one's identity as difference. It could be argued that by not identifying oneself with any particular minority group, that one is 'selling out', and that one has adopted the faceless identity of the majority. I believe that everyone should celebrates their mental characteristics and attributes, and be the best that one can be physically and mentally, regardless of background, place of birth or beliefs. However, I believe that it probably not useful to identify oneself by one's physical characteristics. People with blonde hair don't like 'blonde jokes', yet it would be ridiculous for blonde people to label themselves as blonde and join blonde activity or support groups. The same applies to people with blue eyes. If pop artists in the media kept singing about how they had blue eyes, and how wonderful it was to have blue eyes, and criticised blue eyed people who wore coloured contact lenses for selling out, it would be a rather curious state of affairs.
It is curious to notice how much emphasis is placed upon the elements of a physical being that are visible and little interest in what lies underneath, biologically and neurologically. Skin colour and facial features make up a tiny percentage of the total body mass and genetic material. It is curious to note that those who profess a pride in their race perhaps have less pride in belonging to the human race, or in their own bodies (e.g. their internal organs, biochemistry or blood type), besides the skin. It is also ironic that those who believe they are proud of their skin colour do not look after their skin very well, nor the rest of their bodies, or their posture, and show their physical form little respect, pouring alcohol, drugs, unhealthy foods and essentially speeding up the ageing process. This is not really any form of pride in my opinion, even if there is lip service to some notion of skin colour or pride in one's 'race'. Very few people have real pride in their personality and treat themselves very poorly psychologically, abusing their own psyches and having a very unhealthy self-dialogue. One could equally use general level of health or a positive healthy lifestyle choice as a loose and not too serious group identifier if one wanted to. Tattooes and body art or piercings are also used as group identifiers, and ironically many use tattooes as a racial identifier, depending on the style and designs chosen. This is ironically 'defiling' or scribbling on the masterpiece of the skin that many belonging to such groups claim to have pride in.
Taken from the sleeve notes for 'Passing Complexion' on Big Black's album 'Pigpile':
'Nowadays we can see talk show people composed of people who have to tell people they're black because they're pale, don't look the 'black' archetype, and therefore missing out on all the racism they are entitled to. If someone can be 'black' by proclamation, then the term is as meaningless now as it was in the 1920s.'
When individuals feel they have to point out their 'racial' identity to others who hadn't noticed, they are most likely doing so because they feel a positive affirmation with their 'racial group' and they feel it gives them a sense of self-esteem and shared experience. However, the ultimate goal for society is surely to have one where people are 'colourless', where colour doesn't matter, and where people don't actually notice skin colour. So in such cases, whilst the intentions may be 'good', they are achieving the exact opposite of their ulimate goal, and yes they may inadvertently incur racism by pointing out to people that they are different, as if they want to be treated or seen as 'different' and in some cases are likely to be discriminated against. Such people can be 'white' or be 'black' depending on the situation and whether they want to 'proclaim' group membership or not. Is it a positive exercise to vote for someone because of his skin colour (e.g. those that voted for Barack because he is 'black') or voting for someone because of what they are not (e.g. those that voted for Hillary because she isn't 'black')? If Hillary had been associated with racist white supremacist groups historically and during the leadership contest, would this have been an issue, any more than Barack had been associated with a racist 'black' preacher? It is likely that it would have been - racism presumably being more socially acceptable and 'understandable/forgivable' amongst 'ethnic minorities' than amongst 'white' people.
In the 2008 Democratic leadership contest in the USA, the media and the candidates themselves drew attention to the fact that Hillary Clinton was a 'woman' and Barack Obama was a 'black man'. The media discussed the relative merits of having the first woman president and the first 'black' president. Questions such as 'would it be good for America to have a black president' were frequently asked in the media and on political discussion shows. However, perhaps just talking about their relative experience, character and policies would have been more relevant, and if people hadn't discussed the fact that Hillary was a woman or that Barack was 'black', this would have been more positive for society!
Of course, in economic terms, people belonging to a minority 'race' group may well be slightly economically less well off than the majority, 'white', 'caucasian' group. The economic component may overlap with the 'racial' component in many cases but of course not completely and as simply as this. The government should be doing more to ensure that equal opportunities exist, and for the minority groups to feel more supported, and provide counselling services for those who need it, in poor or unfortunate domestic situations, regardless of background, so that people don't have to rely on identity-based groupings or formal 'minority support groups' in the workplace. Forming 'minority support groups' in places of work may perform this counselling and supportive role, but they may also have the negative effect of drawing people's attention to their difference, rather than people enjoying their uniqueness (in terms of whatever characteristic we are talking about), but their 'differences' being invisible/unimportant but respected within the population as a whole. A minority support group obviously excludes majority 'members', and makes majority 'members' feel like 'majority members'.
A group that identifies itself by a particular attribute in response to tight economic pressure or prejudice in society may as a consequence promote inverted-racism and prejudice amongst their own group. It is like a form of inverted snobbery, where some poorer people look down on the middle class, and want to stay in the same poorer areas and speak in the certain way as that defines who they are and is part of their 'identity'. People should have whatever values and behave or speak however they want, and should feel obliged to act 'black' or 'gay' any more than they should try to be 'white, middle-class, heterosexual male' to fit in. The restrictions and rules of society are many and varied, and very subtle. Society with its cultural identities is not an organism, something to be protected and self-propagated indefinitely. Something which necessarily has any value. It is the collective set of behaviours that are often transmitted from person to person not unlike a virus, and self-perpetuates and evolves with time. Art, books, music, respect for self and others, respect for family, knowledge, religious works, these are things to be protected, everything else is irrelevant, is part of cultural evolution and a means to an end. Maybe this is your chance to do your own thing, whoever you are!
A group identity that purports to be about 'race' may not be about race at all. It may be about shared common experience, such as economic and social struggle, where 'race' or skin colour may happen to coincide in some respects. 'Afro-American' may not be the only 'race' included in the group and may include other 'races' or ethnic groups such as 'asians', 'hispanics' etc. So whilst it may be the experience of struggle and hardship that unites the group and gives them a sense of purpose and integrity, it may also be something that holds the people who hold this identity back from being themselves and leaving the experience of shared economic struggle. Losing this sense of community may be too much for some people. Of course, what the group identity means is probably different for each individual that believes they belong to it. Group identities are highly complex and heterogeneous. Not all experiences of struggle require sufferers to formulate a group identity however. Rape victims or victims of violent crime may indeed join support groups or struggle and suffer for a period of time, but are unlikely to want to see themselves as a rape victim as being a defining characteristic of who they are indefinitely, as this merely serves to remind them of something unpleasant. After the victim has come to terms with it (assuming they do), they simply want to feel normal and get on with their lives and get back to being themselves again, living a rich and fulfilling life with rich relationships with others. Similarly, on a more trivial note, a person who has suffered from bad wind or constipation is unlikely to see these aspects of their suffering or experience as a defining part of their personality. Someone who did this would seem very strange and amusing indeed! You simply shrug it off, have a laugh about it, and don't waste any of your conscious time on it if at all possible! It's not worth it!
The media seems to perpetuate racism and the focus on race, in a similar way that it does with the 'difference' of homosexuals. For example, in 2008, in an incident where a tiny minority of Motorsport fans in Spain, watching Formula 1 practice session, dressed up in T-shirts with 'Hamilton family' written on them and with darkened faces and afro wigs, who were poking fun at the Afro-Caribbean driver Lewis Hamilton, rather than just ignore them like the crowd were doing, all TV cameras were on them, broadcasting the incident to hundreds of millions of viewers. So rather than focus on the race, the media focussed on 'race'. Blowing it out of all proportion and giving the impression the whole event was about these individuals, when in reality they were only a tiny proportion of the fans. Instead of ignoring these idiots and treating Lewis Hamilton just as any other racer, and letting him get on with it, they made a big deal of it and drew everyone's focus onto Lewis Hamilton's 'race', therefore reinforcing the concept that he is 'black' rather than just another racing driver. Whilst it was portrayed as being 'news' and an excuse to bash racists, it just served to give racists the spotlight and reinforce the concept of difference and race. The cameramen were loving it, any excuse to shoot something controversial, to increase ratings and get paid more money.
Sexual Orientation and IdentityCulture is a means of communication between individuals, defining shared core beliefs, attitudes and behaviour in many respects. It also defines how people perceive their sexuality to a large extent, and in what manner they associate their sexual identity and sexuality with different types of display of affection towards others of the opposite sex and same sex. Unconsciously we may adopt ideas about how we should act and behave to belong to the 'right' part of the 'male' or 'female' group. Modern western society is gradually blurring its boundaries in this respect, but unhindered non-sexual affection or touching between males.
For example, holding hands, giving a shoulder massage, sitting in close proximity, walking with arm around the other person, showing and discussing one's mental weaknesses or more sensitive emotions is not something that most societies understand or tolerate in many respects. Certain behaviours such as hugging or telling someone you love them may be acceptable in small doses, but not when engaged in too frequently. Women may well freely engage in such modes of communication and interaction without giving it a thought, but men may well feel extremely uncomfortable about this if it is not with a woman (a sexual or gender-based interpretation.) Men may feel insecure that their essence of being male is under threat when they are presented with such unusual non-sexual, affectionate behaviour.
Gender identity and behaviour is very much defined by our culture to a large extent, although each person's interpretation of what it means to be their gender is often unique in some respect. It is clearly a complicated subject as to what consitutes one's gender identity, and what one finds attractive about the opposite (or same sex.) Modern culture is some respects is highly confused as to what gender identity really should be. In a sense it is just learned values and behaviours, programmed in early in childhood with certain kinds of clothes, toys, games, haircuts etc. that one is 'supposed' to have/be involved with. It is a little like alcohol consumption in different cultures. One may assume that getting drunk automatically means one is louder, more confident, more roudy, but in certain cultures, when people are drunk, they become quiet instead, the polar opposite. How one acts when one is drunk is a learned behaviour in some sense, based on what is expected of one.
When we talk about homosexuality, this is not a physical characteristic. It is not generally considered to be a 'social characteristic' either, although it can be viewed as such by homophobic persons. It is a sexual orientation, separate from one's gender (whether one identify's oneself as male, female or otherwise) and one's sex (determined by biology).
Using Identity to fight PrejudiceMany people in our society believe they are the victims of prejudice. And without doubt many individuals pertaining to each 'group' are victims of prejudice in certain situations or circumstances. We are not here to have a debate about who experiences the most prejudice, but merely to point out that prejudice exists in all 'communities' and is experienced by people in all 'groups', whether minority or majority, in varying degrees. Society's goal should be to eliminate prejudice completely, and the only way to achieve this is to eliminate the concepts of difference completely, so that people no matter what 'race', 'ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, physical form, beliefs etc. are treated equally in all areas of life.
What isn't often appreciated in our politically correct western, democratic societies, is that by standing up against prejudice by emphasising one's difference, and trying to create pride within one's group defined by difference to counteract the effect of many years of prejudice, this may actually be perpetuating the stereotypes of difference and the very concept that there are differences between us. To say that ''Yes i'm different, there's nothing wrong with it, I'm proud of it' is to confirm that one is indeed different, rather than saying that one is just the same as the next person, or to not even bother to mention it at all. It is a method many people have used and will continue to use to resist institutional 'racism' or otherwise against them, and give themselves a sense of dignity and pride. In the long term, however, this may not really provide the best mechanism in which to dispel concepts of difference. Prejudiced individuals may indeed reinforce their own beliefs of difference when observing a society containing individuals who identify themselves by their differences. The argument from those prejudiced individuals is that certain groups have an attitude problem, as they keep pointing out that they are different and expect to be treated in a special way, rather than just like behave like everyone else. In a sense, anti-racists who support minority groups and their notions of difference may in a sense be reinforcing racism and prejudice, the very thing that they themselves oppose. This in turn may well reinforce the group identities further, which in turn reinforces divisions in society. It may be an inevitable consequence of a group of individuals thinking they are different to others. This article is arguing that racialism, the belief in the existance of distinct races, although not the same as racism according to definition, actually serves racist purposes and serves to reinforce racism in all areas of society. Prejudice according to perceived differences is of course not just restricted to the concept of 'race'.
Another aspect of anti-racists and anti-racist campaigners is that they tend to view people in terms of their skin colour as much as the racists they condemn. Anti-racists have their 'racism' alarms activated when viewing any situation where there are two persons of different 'race' involved, and automatically either check whether there is racial discrimination occurring, or even whether they can make racial discrimination fit the situation through liberal and creative interpretation (exploring sometimes unlikely possibilities that might paint this view of events). Persons of 'colour' are hence constantly being viewed as objects in a sense, rather than as people, for who they are as individuals, by anti-racists. This may result in positive discrimination or merely anti-racists bringing up skin colour in situations where it does not always apply, given the facts. This may reinforce a sense of difference in ethnic minorities and again fuel further racism by constantly reminding people of physical attributes and their countries or origin or their religion. Anti-racists may be in a sense more race obsessed than the racists. Krist Novoselic was interviewed about his youth on one occasion and he was asked about the racial mix of his school, and he responded that he hadn't noticed.
It is not always true, but it is often observed that the more 'less economically powerful' groupings one associates oneself with, the more prejudiced one is likely to be. Prejudice may serve as a way of empowerment, as a way of feeling good about yourself in opposition to another group that is lower down on the economic pecking order. For example, a 'black' working class male may adopt sexist values in order to feel better about himself and empowered. Quite often, the group with least economic and social power are working class lesbian women of colour. Clearly the way people use groupings to differentiate themselves depends very much on the individual.
The natural survival instinct of the brain is to associate like experiences or objects together, e.g. to avoid life threatening situations, to enable us to know how to open a door when we come across a 'new' door, or how to drive on a road we have never driven on before. It is a process of learning and association to enable life to progress efficiently, and in order to allow any learning of our physical environment and how to interact with it without becoming confused every time the slightest parameter is changed. This instinct of the brain must be managed however in our modern abstract societies, and it is probably one reason why prejudice occurs in the first place, and indeed why racism is perpetuated.
Fear and Negative BeliefsNot all groups have a strong or aggressive 'group' identity that makes members feel good about themselves. Some such groups may lack the self-belief that comes from strong sense of difference. In such cases, members of the group may be more prone to becoming fearful. As Yoda says in Star Wars, fear leads to the dark side! Not that we are suggesting that you look to Star Wars for all your philosophical inspirations (although it does contain analogies to various religious and philosophical beliefs and simultaneously racial stereotypes in an alien setting to amuse). Racism is very damaging to one's self esteem, much as other prejudices are like classism or any behaviour which instills negative beliefs. It is clear that those with low or reduced self-esteem may tend to become fearful and construct (consciously or unconsciously) beliefs about themselves which are not entirely positive that instill fear of certain people or situations on some level. And indeed in many cases these fears may be based on real situations or people that may subject them to more prejudice and insult. However, as with any fear, it is not entirely rational or based on objective reality.
Fears and negative beliefs often tend to be generalised and non-specific. Even fears which are individual specific may not be appropriate as the same individuals do not always act in the same way. Ultimately fear causes distress, defensiveness, paranoia, misery and unhappiness, and stops a person fulfilling his full potential. We are not judging those who experience fear. We are merely looking at the consequences for that person and society in general. Fear of racism in those with a low self-esteem and weak group identity may often lead to defensive or paranoid behaviour. A fearful person is generally not so approachable, no so likeable or attractive to others, and will tend to stick to others he or she considers familiar. This is why shy people who don't come out of their shell rarely mix with members of the opposite (or same) sex enough or are rarely able to 'make a move' to chat someone up, and why potential boyfriends/girlfriends pay little attention to them but focus on those that are more confident, fun and attractive. Fearful people who anticipate racism or hate where there is none (i.e. paranoid) may come across excessively defensive, obnoxious or even racist (as a form of perceived defense). This in turn may fuel the racism the fearful people were trying to avoid, as it may often accentuate their difference and provide negative characteristics for people to add to the stereotyped image of that group's list of generalised characteristics.
The opposite of identifying oneself with a group because of physical or other 'defining' characteristic is the practice of trying one's best to hide this quality, orientation or characteristic. Those who choose to do so may be shooting themselves in the foot. For example, psychology works in such a way that if you act naturally, and act like whatever particular attribute you have is no big deal, and are relaxed, open and honest about it, then others will take very little interest in it and will respect you for your honesty, being yourself, being an individual and respect you as a friend as you are willing to open up to them. Conversely, if you do your best to hide a particular attribute, e.g. the fact that you are gay, then people will notice this and may well gossip more about you, joke about you, not respect you and perhaps find the person rude, if they tell some people and not others. Indeed, the person trying to conceil the particular attribute may think they are succeeding, but everyone around them knows about it anyway. If you try to conceal something, then it may come across as dishonest, unfriendly and even shameful - as if the person hiding it is ashamed of it, or that it is shameful. In a sense you are positively attracting people to develop such opinions of you, reinforcing social taboos, awkwardness and stigmas. When one chooses to hide an attribute, such as one's sexual orientation (i.e. the fact that one is gay, or that one has a boyfriend/girlfriend, referring to one's partner as 'one's friend'), there may be a number of reasons for doing so. Perhaps one considers it private, perhaps one doesn't want the aggravation of confronting what one perceives as narrow minded people, perhaps one doesn't want to be gossiped about, or perhaps one just wants to be treated as everyone else. Ultimately it comes down to fear, low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence. A huge amount of effort can go into hiding one's sexual orientation, for example, but it is ultimately pointless and unnecessary. One is doing nothing to further wider acceptance in society of other people with that sexual orientation. Ironically, by trying to avoid something, one is creating (more of) it! As usual, nothing good can come out of fear. However, it is up to the individual what they choose to say or reveal to others, however fearful their behaviour is.
It is clear that aggressive and strong group identities and fear serve a purpose and have some advantages, but there are clearly inexorably negative qualities to these which cannot be avoided or mitigated in any way. To combat prejudice in general, we perhaps need to try to educate people on all sides as well as boost the confidence of those who lack confidence (perhaps by providing outlets where people can get good support in a non-group reinforcing manner), whoever and wherever they may be, and provide equal opportunities, neither positive nor negative discrimination. You cannot force people to let go of fear, but you can help them to increase their self-confidence whereupon the fear will likely completely disappear. Fear restricts our behaviour and is a natural self-defense mechanism to keep us away from danger. However, not all fears are founded upon real danger. Some fears develop through one particular experience and are generalised across the spectrum. Some fears are well founded, and if we ignore all fears we have ever had we may find out the hard way that something is indeed worth avoiding after all. We have to be honest about what our core beliefs are to really find out what our root fears are, and then we can choose whether we want to do anything about them or not. Fear limits behaviour and can be used to encourage behaviour we would not normally engage in, and as such has been an excellent tool for controlling people throughout history.
Nazi Germany was probably one of the first nation states to use propaganda to its highest effect. It spread false beliefs about Jews to spread undemocratic policies and to do whatever it liked whilst keeping the people loyal and fearful. The Soviet Union used fear via the KGB (secret police) to control the general population and control freedom of speech and curtail political activism.
Hitler in a sense was the first modern politician. He used the media to great effect to promote himself, to create an image that the public could relate to, a public face (as opposed to his private face). He performed and put on an act in front of crowds and the camera to gain kudos and to get what he wanted. He was an image creator. An expert in using his body language to influence others. Using hand gesturing to elaborate his points. Politicians before him had never used the media in this way before. Now it is standard practice in political parties advertising campaigns and public speaking. Modern politics is all about emotionally connecting with people and image making, not really about policies and logic. 'Spin' has in the late 90s and early 00s become a powerful tool in UK political life.
Advertising agencies have since the demise of Hitler's Nazi party used many Nazi-style 'propaganda' to help sell products, to instill beliefs in people about why a brand is inherently good (brand value) and to create a pain or enlarge a pain in people which their product can heal. Modern governments may similarly use fear to control the population and institute policies that it wants which would normally never be approved. Fear of difference or prejudice is clearly not a good thing and can easily be exploited by others. These examples of political history were used to elaborate on the concepts of fear and difference, but it is not the business of this web site to delve too much into politics, and respects the different political opinions of its readers.
Even today, aggressive nationalism uses the fear associated with race to promote government policy. Even well educated journalists confuse 'Israeli' with 'Jew'. Within Israel, many Jews are far from convinced about the policies of its government, but outside of Israel, if anyone publicly criticises Israeli policy, they are branded 'anti-semitic' or anti-Jewish. It is easy to confuse 'race' (if such a thing really exists) with 'nationality'. Indeed, many use the term Jew to refer to a 'race', others to someone of Israeli nationality, others to someone of Jewish ethnicity and others against to someone of the religion of Judaism (Judaic or 'Jew'; 'Jewish' religion). Indeed, many people who have converted to Judaism, but who are not of the 'Jewish race' are termed as Jews. Why have society and people who consider themselves to be 'Jewish' have become accustomed to using confusing terminology and confusing concepts depending on context? Given the vast number of words in our language, it is rather ridiculous to be so imprecise and ambiguous.
Wikipedia defines 'Jew' as follows.
> To read more about fear and negative beliefs, please see the Focus and Belief page.
Double StandardsIt is not infrequently noted that when a person, often but not necessarily of leftist persuasion to varying degrees, who strongly believes in equality between homosexuals and heterosexuals, and indeed between 'races' or 'ethnicities' or social groups in all areas of life observes an example of a racist, classist or homophobia remark, the gut instinct is often a knee jerk reaction; to jump straight in and to condemn that person for the prejudiced or insensitive remark; abhorrence at how a person can be so insecure, childish or horrible; as if they are defending their country against an invading enemy; the desire to 'slag someone off' and judge them for being a bad person, and to make themselves feel better that they are righteous, rational and a 'good person'. The reaction to the racist or homophobic remark may often be out of proportion to the original remark and is often a reaction to all cumulative historically experienced remarks of such a nature directed towards one person. Indeed, such a 'politically correct' person may well be just as judgemental if not more judgemental about the 'prejudiced person' as the 'prejudiced person' was of the 'coloured person', 'white person' or homosexual in question. This is a common double standard and one that is not widely understood or entertained by the general public, except perhaps in some right-wing circles.
In addition, the person may well hold certain stereotypes for racist persons based on appearance, the presence of a British flag or certain trigger words, and anyone who happens to fit in with this physical description may well be treated in a prejudicial manner, e.g. a skinhead or someone with short hair. Politically correct persons of such a persuasion may also believe the media's views of certain youth culture groups, with no real knowledge or interest in learning the finer differences and history of youth culture groups, which compounds the above. e.g. history of mods and skinheads, and the fact that most skinheads in the UK are not far right extremists but influenced historically by Jamaican and mod culture. This can result in unfounded accusations of racism, comments about a person looking like a racist, give dirty looks, nasty stares or other unfavourable treatment - the precise things they themselves complain about from racists. Judging people on apperance, for emotional reasons, without knowing who they are, is one of the trademarks or racists and a quality that is heavily criticised by anti-racists, yet this same type of fearful behaviour is exhibited by many anti-racists, albeit in a different context. Some commentators believe that it is hypocritical to adopt the clothing or appearance of the 'oppressor' and claim that one is not the oppressor as this is the impression you will give. I can understand this logic to a degree, however, what constitutes the appearance of the 'oppressor' is not so black and white, and quite often the perception of the 'oppressor' is a stereotype based on the actions of a minority. Equally in the alternative, art, industrial, punk and gay skinhead scenes, donning the appearance of the 'oppressor' is a form of self-expression, empowerment, irony, mockery, liberation and/or challenging of past cultural fears - giving the forms new meanings or creating more ambiguity within their meanings. Also I think that once you start going down the road of telling people how they should dress so as not to offend anyone or trigger fear, then this is a slippery slope of conformity, and you are right back to the unhealthy situation before punk happened, and the youth have to then challenge the status quo all over again, possibly in a less favourable manner. In my youth, I was warned by a friend of mine who lived in a neighbouring town with a large Asian population that wearing Dr Marten boots (we were 'stoner anarcho punks') was likely to either scare or provoke members of the local Asian community because of their fear of the skinhead stereotype.
Those who have experienced racism or ethnic prejudice in the past may also be oversensitive about anything resembling 'offensive' references, even if there is no such intention and the connection is highly speculative at best. These types of misunderstandings often result from emotional pain but also from a lack of understanding of/interest in/tolerance of the contemporary culture, i.e. a lack of empathy. This is both a symptom and cause of prejudice against them in a self-perpetuating cycle, and an example of arguably unreasonable intolerance perpetrated on behalf of the victims of racism. One example, is of a young couple with their daughter being forced off a bus outside Sheffield in September 2014 because they started singing the 'Peppa Pig' theme tune (a well known children's cartoon) to their 15 month old child to comfort her, and several passengers starting complaining to the conductor that she was being deliberately racist and that she should be removed from the bus, which the conductor obliged as he had no interest in standing up to those complaining. This type of behaviour could be classed as 'tyrrany of the oversensitive or politically correct'. Such examples are widely publicised by the more conservative tabloids and are used by the right and far right as evidence of lack of cultural integration and having to apologise for one's own national culture because of 2nd and 3rd generation Muslim immigrants. This may in turn fuel more racism against Muslims, because of this type of attitude (preceived or real), which in turn makes Muslims more defensive about perceived racism, and so the cycle continues. Tabloid and news coverage of emotionally-charged incidents of 'tyrrany of the oversensitive' are often reported in a scornful, condescending way, rather than to show understanding for the issues and to reach out to these minorities encourage them to feel more involved and attached to the commonalities of national cutural experience, and more empathic towards people outside their own closed communities.
Those who are 'shocked' by racism exhibit the same judgementalism (probably worse) than the actual 'racists' themselves. They reinforce the stigma and emotional intensity attached to 'race' rather than just recognise and let it go or deconstruct it. The person who made the remark is 'out of order', labelled with a negative label, looked down upon, scolded and demonised rather than helped to rid himself of the 'pain' or 'trigger' they had that led them to make the remark in the first place. Demonising and dehumanising an individual is a trait of those with extreme prejudice in whatever form.
One is conditioned to react to something that offends us, and we as a population are almost programmed to look for things to offend us, so we can feel justified in being really 'offended' and being in the right, something that satisfies our egos. We are looking for an excuse to look down on someone or to reprimand someone. Of course, this web site is not condoning prejudice, but it is making a case for not responding to prejudice and negative judgement with more of the same. A perhaps more productive and constructive approach is to ignore the remark or to respectfully find out why such a remark was being made, and get to the bottom of what issue the person had was actually causing it in the first place. Often a 'racist' remark is just an expression of a social frustration about a mode of behaviour of a certain individual. By merely condemning someone as being prejudiced, one is achieving very little, apart from bullying them into not doing it again, and perhaps even reinforcing their position (defensive response).
Hidden Reasons for RacismFear is not the only issue with 'racism'. Fear of people we do not understand and have little contact with. Fear of a majority group that one feels one has not integrated with. Fear through have little economic, family and social power.
Prejudice occurs for many different reasons, and often a combination of reasons. In many cases, a person wants to believe a certain thing because they have a deep down disgust (e.g. snobbery, class hatred, inverted snobbery, beliefs about skin colour, etc.), fear or envy of a particular group of people. Of course, they may not admit these as rational reasons for looking down on this group, so they look for an excuse to hold these beliefs. This excuse can be a single bad experience with a single individual, and that bad experience is then associated with every single person belonging to that group. And in addition, one may seek to 'punish' any member of that group one comes across as they are somehow responsible for that one bad experience one had with an isolated individual a long time ago. The conscious mind has many filters to information that it receives, and we may conveniently forget bad experiences associated with groups that we do not have a deep down fear or envy of, but vividly remember those bad experiences associated with those groups that we have a deep down fear or envy of. Similarly one may conveniently forget those good and positive experiences one has had with a member of that group, and somehow compartmentalise it, so the exception does not spoil one's convenient world beliefs.
For example, because of one mugging incident, one news story, one act of bad driving, you may want to believe that all black people are potential muggers, or all BMW or Mercedes drivers never indicate, regardless of the many positive experiences you have had with these groups. Yet 'white' people may get nervous if they see a group of 'black' youths. And people may become abusive when they see someone driving a BMW. If one is to be honest with oneself, one cannot truly make these generalisations and believe in them. Comments may blurt out in the spur of the moment with some individuals, for example, whilst driving, but they are quickly realised to be non-factual and just there to make oneself feel temporarily better. Eliminating prejudice clearly requires people to be honest with themselves about their core fears and envies, and to understand how their brain files and filters experiences. Sloganeering and preaching to the converted is unlikely to achieve very much and in many cases reinforces concepts of difference. Quite often it is rigid adherence to a concept of ethnicity and fear of others of other ethnicities which causes 'racism', and ethnicity, or rather, the perceived anti-social, defensive or different (non-evolved/integrated) behaviour of a number of people (not all) of a different 'ethnicity', that causes resentment and friction; and which cause people to use the concept of 'race' to define who they don't like (i.e. everyone belonging to that 'race' group). This is how some people can be racist about 'black' people they don't actually like for whatever reason, but still have 'black' friends with whom they are never racist or have racist thoughts about (compartmentalised behaviour). The 'race' becomes a scapegoat.
When we look at prejudice and ways to tackle prejudice, we must first understand what the prejudice actually is and what is causing it specifically, in order to tackle it. For example, 'racism' is other a combination of one of more of the following. Often an objection to one is expressed in the form of objection to 'skin colour' or 'racial stereotype'.
- objection to a particular mode of communication or behaviour
- objection to a certain mode of body language
- objection to a certain type of attitude, including perceived defensiveness, obnoxiousness or antisocial behaviour, judged by one's own personal or cultural standards
- objection to a certain way of speaking, language, accent or lack of fluency in the national language
- objection to a certain national affiliation or 'ethnicity'
- objection to a certain religion
- objection to a certain type of appearance, facial characteristics, skin pigmentation, body size, obesity, clothing
- objection to a certain gender or age
- objection to a certain social class
- insecurity about one's own national, ethnic or class identity
HomophobiaHomophobia can be attributed to one or more objections to the following characteristics (and indeed some of the 'racial'/'ethnic'/'class' characteristics described above), and expressed as a general distaste or aggression towards a homosexual male or female.
- objection to body language
- objection to speech and the sound of a person's voice
- objection to a lack of perceived stereotypical 'masculinity' or 'feminity'
- objection to the presence of stereotypical qualities of the other sex in that person
- objection to a certain type of attitude, including perceived defensiveness, obnoxiousness or antisocial behavioru, judged by one's own personal or cultural standards or sense of sexual identities
- objection to perceived abnormally high level of promiscuity
- objection to the sexual acts engaged in (regardless of who is doing them to who), e.g. oral or anal sex
- objection to the sexual acts engaged in between two persons of the same sex, e.g. oral or anal sex
- objection to perceived 'sordid' method of picking up a sexual partner, e.g. in a public toilet (often reflected in a fear amongst men to enter a public toilet, even more than women!)
- objection to the perceived mental state of an individual - homosexuality seen as a mental illness or psychological weakness
- objection to homosexuality on the grounds of it being an unnatural instinct (for human reproduction)
- objection to homosexuality on the grounds that it is an affront to God
- insecurity about one's own sexual identity - the conditioning of concepts of gender roles, behaviour and mannerisms by society and the media. By seeing something that contradicts these deeply ingrained images and ideas may make us feel uncomfortable.
Racialism/Racism in Popular CultureIt would be nice to see pop and rap artists not use the word 'nigga' and not call themselves 'black', as it reinforces perceptions of difference (regardless of intention and meaning to different segments of the audience), and the slavish, imperialist positions society has put people in for hundreds of years. It not doubt encourages inverted racism, and there really is no excuse in a supposedly politically correct society, which in reality is highly hypocritical, supporting and reinforcing difference in one area, but condeming and not allowing identities of difference in other areas, such as the majority. One day I am confident we will have a colourless, heterogeneous society (not a uniform 'white, heterosexual, middle class' society) where no one uses difference as identity as it is 'soooo 21st Century' and is totally uncool!
'Rap culture' has over the last 30 years moved away from a form of positive expression for 'black' youth in poor urban areas in New York, for example, the projects, and has slowly mutated over time to the materialism and racism of gangsta rap and modern R'n'B. Modern 'rap' music is often about gang violence, social commentary, cussing, style, flirting with the gangster image, money, bling, sex, women ('hoes' or 'bitches'), expensive cars and guns. There is little positivity left. Modern 'R'n'B' is about sex, style and bling. All the soul from hip hop seems to have disappeared somewhere along the line. It was clear that Gangsta Rap could sell records and that grossly exaggerating how bad ghetto areas were (or rather focussing solely on the most negative and profane aspects of life) has created a fad that inspired others to jump onto the bandwagon. Those who claim their were once gangsters are often grossly exaggerating, to try to maintain street cred, and dislike to show any soft side to their character as it is 'weak' or uncool. Perhaps this is to make up for a lack of talent, originality, personality, cheekiness, humour or having anything to say. It is not surprising that youth who grow up listening to such music do not receive a broad and positive cultural musical education! In a sense, obsession with bling and money is an example of overcompensation and vanity; that in poor communities, it has often been up to the individual to 'hustle' or to make opportunities and careers for themselves and not rely on the state or anyone else. This individualism often involves making as much money as possible and showing it off, to feel good about not being poor any longer; the wealth that they and their previous generations have aspired to. However, associating materialism with one's identity is a somewhat vain preoccupation! In a sense, it is another way of making up for a past of slavery and poverty, much like the black power and pro-black movement has been since the 1960s. Whilst serving a purpose in boosting people's self esteem, it is ultimately limiting in terms of really getting to grips with one's identity that isn't tied to superficial physical attributes such as skin colour or the size of one's wallet, and in terms of reducing social tension and not reinforcing stereotypes and differences.
It seems to a trend although not a universal rule for many people to support the candidate or sports person from their own group. If an Afro-American or Afro-Caribbean person supports their chosen candidate or sportsperson for racial reasons, this is seen as being acceptable, non-racist and a positive form of support for 'one's community'. If a 'white causasian' person chooses to support a 'white' person over 'persons of colour' then it is regarded as being racist, unacceptable and divisive. There is an expression that one cannot have one's cake and eat it. There are a large number of people who have stuffing their 'cake holes' and are in need of a diet!
Anyone who supports a candidate or sports person based on biological and/or racial characteristics is highly misguided and experiencing a moment of irrationality. Many people succumb to this behaviour in specific contexts, often disguising our racial prejudices with logic and reasoning about the better suitability of the candidate from 'our group' - even when most of the time they may regard such behaviour as unacceptable. Such people may have a 'blind spot' then in certain contexts or situations. Some people embrace a racial stereotype as being 'cool' or 'one of us' whereas the next person may find it totally distasteful or culturally backwards. It is easier to become annoyed about racial stereotypes from 'other races' than in one's own, where one may not notice it or become annoyed by it.
It should be noted that slavery was not something that was exclusively a 'white' orchestrated form of oppression. Slaves have been used and traded for thousands of years. The first West African slaves were traded by Muslim traders, and later on the Portugese. Slaves from northern part of the West African coast were in general better educated than those slaves on the more southerly part of the West African coast, and as such were more likely to form rebellions. Less educated slaves were therefore preferred, and those who had already experience of agricultural labour. The expanding New World required a large labour source, and for this African slaves were used.
'Between 1450 and the end of the nineteenth century, slaves were obtained from along the west coast of Africa with the full and active co-operation of African kings and merchants. (There were occasional military campaigns organised by Europeans to capture slaves, especially by the Portuguese in what is now Angola, but this accounts for only a small percentage of the total.) In return, the African kings and merchants received various trade goods including beads, cowrie shells (used as money), textiles, brandy, horses, and perhaps most importantly, guns. The guns were used to help expand empires and obtain more slaves, until they were finally used against the European colonisers. The export of trade goods from Europe to Africa forms the first side of the triangular trade.'
When looking for scapegoats for African slavery, who is the most guilty? The actual end users of the slaves, i.e. the new colonies of the New World? The traders who bought the slaves in exchange for European goods, and shipping the slaves (often in horrific conditions) from one continent to another, making a large profit in the process? Or the African kings and merchants who sold their old people as a commmodity, selling them into slavery and often death? It is easy to blame the former two groups of people and over look the latter. Either way, those who are to 'blame' have been dead for at least hundreds of years and it does not make rational sense to blame anyone who is alive today for this. Blaming others for one's problems is never a constructive mindset and only traps oneself into negative thought and identity concepts. Clearly the economic effects of slave labour and plantations can be felt today, but the world picture is much more complicated in economic and social terms now. Clearly these social and economic effects and historical memories can still be felt by many African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, but it is hoped with the development of 'black consciousness' over the last 100 years and the levelling of the playing field and clear role models - in 2008 alone, Lewis Hamilton, the first 'black' (or 'half black') Formula one champion and Barrack Obama, the first 'black' president of the United States, will help to develop this consciousness further and hopefully divert focus away from skin colour and awareness of race, and focus on attributes,actions and personality. Once the media (who have been very 'helpful' in mentioning race and skin colour over and over again in connection with these 'black' role models throughout 2007 and 2008, whilst strangely not doing so with their historical non-black counterparts (e.g. the 'white' president George W. Bush or 'white' F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen) shut up about mentioning skin colour, even if they think it is a positive thing, which clearly mentioning race never is, and the novelty factor has worn off for them, then we can all move on and become more mature as a society.
A common complain by supporters of 'white' power is that anti-racists only seem to protest or demonstate about white on black racism, for example, at political marches by extreme right groups, but rarely if ever to they actually have the guts to stand up publicly and complain about anti-white racism, or 'black' racism, for example in popular culture or indeed political/religious affilitations (e.g. Barack Obama's slightly racist former church). Is this because although they nominally oppose all racism in theory, they have not the guts to stand up in all cases, but focus on the 'enemy' that is easiest and most fashionable to hate? Do they still feel guilty about past slavery still and social oppression of ethnic minorities? Are they lacking in confidence in their own roots? How long are they intending to feel guilty about this for? Anti-racists are seen by the extreme right to be anti-'white' rather than against all racism - they accuse anti-racists, commonly associated with the political left, as being actually racist! Whilst supporting freedom of speeach, anti-racists do not appear to tolerate white-power type marches or freedom of expression, and certain elements of the anti-racism movement often intimidate and pour abuse at marchers, and even send death threats. Is this form of discrimination based on a groups' beliefs a reflection of their belief in equality and the right to exist without prejudice, judgement, discrimination or abuse? If 'white' racists were seen to behave like this with 'black' protesters, would there not be a huge public outcry? To what extent does one really support freedom of speech? As long as they do not incite hatred or say anything that the anti-racists don't agree with? But is anti-racist hatred then acceptable? Do two wrongs make a right? Is mocking and insulting a group of people likely to promote social cohesion? Is threatening someone into silence and non-participation likely to change attitudes in our society for the better? Or is it likely to strengthen resistenace to the anti-racism movement further? Some say according to the law of attraction that if you simply react to what you don't like and focus on that, then you will get more of it rather than less; than if you positively promoted equality and 'non-race'. Is hating a certain subset of racists likely to reduce their racism and likely to promote education, empathy and tolerance? However, for white power supporters to call anti-racists racist is a little like the pot calling the kettle black, or indeed, throwing stones in a glass house!
The lyrics of the CRASS song 'white punks on hope':
Return to Individuality and EqualityIf we are to achieve our goal of eliminating difference, then people need to be what they can be and achieve any goal they want, show that they can reach the top of society and that they are no different to the next person, and emphasise equality and the lack of difference between people, that people with characteristic 'A' are really no different to people with characteristic 'B'. This goal may not really achieved by emphasising the fact that one is different and calling oneself something different to everyone else. We are just people. It is unlikely we will ever eliminate all momentary thoughts people have about difference and stereotypes of group characteristics, much as temptation can never be eradicated from everybody's minds (should this indeed be the desired goal). However, it is clear we can considerably improve the situation from where it is today.
Is it really possible to make value judgements about people who one perceives to be part of a group or different to ourselves (and indeed are these made by default of a perceived difference)? Well, firstly the group (the difference) would have to be clearly definable. Is 'race' always clearly definable? It would also be necessary to interview/study every member of the group to be 100% certain. If you interview or study a large cross section of people (a statistically significant number) and prove a theory correct, it is still just a theory, and only requires one exception to disprove it. The only thing a bad experience with an individual or bad experiences with a number of individuals in different situations and at different times actually proves is that one had a bad experience with that individual or those individuals. Drawing any further conclusions is up to you, but it will be a subjective opinion and an emotional distinction and not a rational one. Often where no actual references, direct experiences or memories exist about a certain 'race' or about 'gay people', we create our own imagined references, depending on what other people have said, our peer group, the media and so on. In such instances it might be wise to actually form relationships with such people before formulating any opinion or belief. Often we may create negative beliefs about people we do not know through fear or jealousy, as it provides us with a sense of certainty about who we are and why we are where we are, providing us with an excuse. The mind often vividly remembers people we don't like and recalls painful experiences, but does not as readily acknowledge or recall positive or neutral experiences. Therefore recollections of occasional bad experiences can cloud our judgement and help to formulate our beliefs, not only about people, but ourselves and our abilities and what we can achieve.
Clearly associating definite social characteristics with all individuals that share a common physical characteristic or similar physical characteristic is meaningless. It is as meaningless as holding beliefs and perceived characteristics about your own group that you think you belong to and that you consider as part of your identity. Are all members of your own identity group perfect citizens and role models? Do any members of your own identity group ever behave badly or commit crimes or cause social problems? Are all members of 'other' identity groups imperfect and socially irresponsible? It is clear there are 'bad pennies' everywhere we look, in all areas of life and they are not restricted to people with certain physical characteristics or sexual preferences. It is useful to stand up for oneself as and when one believes one is being unfairly persecuted and treated or pushed around. It is not useful to keep quiet and suffer in silence and then take it out on the next person that comes along that reminds you of the bad person you met previously; or even to fear the next person that comes along that reminds you of that bad individual. This only creates animosity. Of course, this is easier said than done sometimes, but if you don't try, you will never know.
A person's identity should of course be whatever he or she wants it to be. It is most useful if that sense of identity really focusses on their excellent personal qualities and unique attributes, rather than classification as a particular type of meat or based on one or two of one's negative qualities. Identity based on who one is is infinitely more useful than identity based on a historical imbalance or defined by being against something else. Basing one's identity on one's physical attributes and one's particular sexual interests is rather crude. It is the kind of thing you would expect from a cave man, not an educated, civilised person. What separates us from the animal kingdom is the mind. Ultimately one should be oneself and not a cardboard cut out out what one is supposed to be and how one is supposed to act. One's sense of identity will dictate one's actions and behaviour.
This web site is not condeming difference. This web site seeks to encourage people to expand on their personal qualities and strengths, choose their own personal style, and get to know their own personality and personal psychological orientations, and to ultimately be the best they can be in all areas of their lives. To really develop their personal qualities. In different situations, we temporarily adopt a group identity or at least identity 'sameness' with others we are working with, based on what task people are performing etc (e.g. during a corporate negotation - our company entering an engagement with 'their company', or support team working together and serving the sales team etc., or supporting your national football team at an international tournament), but this may not be something we want to retain as a permanent sense of identity or be taken too seriously to prevent you seeing other people as they are not and not according to how you think they are according to what you perceive their group affiliation to be. Often people will view people's affiliations through their own sense of personal orientation (e.g. preference to associating similar items together or preference to notice differences between items), and this is explored more on the Personality Orientation page. This web site therefore celebrates the differences between people in terms of who they actually are and what they can really be and what they can achieve and/or create. This web site does not promote the concept of association with stereotypical group identities as a long term or permanent strategy.
It would be a positive step also if terms such as 'race' were not used in professional applications and contexts. The removal of 'race' from employment application forms would be hugely beneficial. It is no more relevant to a job that asking the application to tell what coloured eyes he or she has. Why religion is field on many forms is another mystery. Are one's political beliefs also relevant? Or one's beliefs about romance? Perhaps one should declare what one's favourite pop group is also. Why beliefs should be recorded is anyone's guess. It is just not relevant!
British Nationalism and National IdentityHowever, it is clearly up to the individual as to what they want their beliefs about their identity to be, whether it reflects who they actually are, what they can be if they develop all their personal qualities, a worthless individual who is no good at anything or cannot be good at a particular thing, or a stereotype of what their ethnicity group dictates or a combination of the above. It comes down to individual choice. We have seen historically that forcing an identity onto people is not a good idea! Perhaps we are now seeing a resurgence in nationalism and desire for a certain kind of patriotism because of the effects of the global economy (increased internationalism), perhaps in a similar fashion as at the turn of the 20th century, as people feel more disassociated and lacking in a sense of identity. At times of economic upheaval and cultural uncertainty, the crudest of people's fears often come to the surface. This area clearly requires more study and examination so we can avoid the mistakes of the past. This is another good reason to break down the barriers and fears around group difference now! In our industrialised, democratic societies, we imagine that we are all very civilised, but violent conflict often exists just below the surface in many individuals and requires only the slightest encouragement or excuse for an outlet. Our consumer society becomes more and more meaningless and self-absorbed, but violent crime continues to dramatically increase. Perhaps children at school should be taught cultural studies and social anthropology and material culture to understand where their society has actually come from, how it has evolved, and how life in other countries actually is, and how they aren't that different from themselves, and are more able to form intelligent beliefs about what it means to be a citizen in their country; rather than have their beliefs moulded by their parents perhaps somewhat limited understanding and the television and media's 'harmless fun' and dumbing down generalisations.
For example, Scottish nationalists are often unaware that the kilt was invented by Thomas Rawlinson, a Quaker from Lancashire, as a practical work garment for use in his factory. Tartan designs were created in the 1820s and were only then used to designate clans. Much of Scottish culture originates from the Irish mainland.
Click here to read more about the history of the kilt.
Wikipedia's history of the kilt
The British Royal Family used a German surname Wettin prior to the First World War, but it was changed to the more English sounding name Windsor because of increased anti-German feeling in the general population. The surname arose from Queen Victoria's marriage to Prince Albert, son of Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in February 1840. How British is the Royal Family in reality?
The best influencers in history have managed to establish traditions in culture which in a few years are considered traditional.
History is presented at school in such a boring manner, and it could be seen to be relevant and exciting, if presented in a better manner, and how it actually relates to the present. That would however require effort on behalf and imagination. It is no coincidence that every international football tournament has increasing numbers of hooligans and violent thugs who appear to confuse a friendly game with a world war, and with childish ideas about World War Two. Perhaps the majority of football hooligans share the 'red' personality type, as examined in the Personality Types section.
If one is to be extremely nationalistic and/or have inflexible ideas about racial/ethnic purity and cultural preservation, then one really needs to be honest and have a think about what it actually is that one believes in. For example, people who are proud to be black, or proud to be white and British, what are they actually proud of? Many racists consider themselves to be extremely patriotic. The concept of being proud of one's race is often confused with class, nation and many other concepts. Is one saying that one is proud to be part of the 'race' one is born into? Is one proud of the 'culture' and 'ethnicity' of the race one belongs to, in that particular country? Or is one proud of all other cultures and ethnic groups that could be crudely said to belong to that same race?
So is the 'white British race' so wonderful? And other 'races' so terrible? Are we proud of all people of other classes? And how they speak? And how they behave? Often when we find someone being annoying, selfish, aggressive, defensive or anti-social, we make a note of it when they are of a different skin colour, but when they are a member of our ethnic group, we don't find them so annoying somehow, or if we do, we forget it more readily. It is not a rational phenomenon.
If one considers oneself to be proud of British culture and wanting to preserve it from 'outside influence', one has to consider first of all is culture a static thing and also what parts of British culture is one actually proud of? Culture is not a static concept as we have learned. Culture by its very nature is constantly changing. Who is to decide which culture is good and which is bad, and which should be preserved? And how should it be preserved and forced onto people? If we look at British English, the way we speak has changed considerably. With the emphasis on watching television, more and more people speak a characterless 'BBC English' dialect. Regional dialects are disappearing more and more. People with strong accents or dialects are not desired to be heard on television, or if they are, as a novelty. But even regional dialects have changed considerably. For example, in Edwardian Britain, a middle class accent from the north of England sounded very much like a West Country accent today. Should we preserve accents?! The way British English is spoken today has been heavily influenced by Australian Soap Operas such as Neighbours, which has resulted in a national phenomenon of the raised inflection at the end of a sentence (raising the tone on the last word so it sounds like a question). In Edwardian times, it was a popular pastime amongst the youths to steal the hat from a Policeman, who was regarded as a jocular figure. Should we revive and preserve this tradition and steal Policemen's and women's hats? If one looks at the middle classes, who may aspire to read the classics of literature, do they have the guts to actually speak in the language used by the Victorians and Edwardians? Should one preserve the divided class structure in the UK? And the way people identify with a class by various learned behaviours, language, accent?
The last few centuries have seen a great deal of change, with the rate of change in certain areas escalating more and more, technologically, socially and culturally. It is a natural tendency for those who grow into adulthood to reminisce about their youth and to how things were and what they did when they were teenagers or children. Some people continue the rest of their lives in a time bubble, wearing the same clothes and styles at 60 as they did at the age of 20, regardless of fashion. Others try to be more 'hip'. However, there is always some reluctance to change in some area. The former scenario is an example of the desire to freeze culture and society at the snapshot moment of one's youth. Who is to say that that moment is for everyone? And indeed, certain aspects as remembered or revered in opposition to other characteristics which might not be so great so today's standards. The previous generation will of course will similarly have a snapshot view of what their youth was like and how they wish society would still be, so our view is not the same as the older generation's, who make up an increasingly large segment of the population. Those who look back to the 'good old days' are regarded by today's youths as 'old gits' and laughable figures, out of touch with the today in terms of youth culture etc. Retro has been in fashion, for many centuries, with a significant segment of the population always dissatisfied with the current trends. This should be considered when examining nationalism - exactly which 'Britain' are we looking to preserve? Whilst many people may be united on what they don't like, what they do like may not always unite them. One has to consider at the end of the day what one wants to embrace and what one is not particularly bothered about, and what one will not bend to, on a personal level, about who one is and how one relates to modern culture; and to what extent one is going to embrace aspects of it and utilise it for one's benefit and to what extent one is going to resist often in a rather pointless manner.
Many nationalists criticise the influx of muslims into the UK, but how many of these nationalists are proud of the UK's religious heritage? How many are regular members of a church congregation? Britain is after all a Christian country and not a secular country. How many know anything about the development of the British national identity and how nationalism, British independence and church power were closely related over many centuries? Do the same rules apply to religious freedom in the UK as they do in the countries that muslim migrants come from? Are migrants from certain countries wanting to have their cake and eat it? Is it reasonable to come from a country where Christianity is persecuted and settle in a Christian country and expect religious freedom that did not exist in one's own country? To clarify, if one expects all the benefits of a democracy, human rights and religious freedom in the country one migrates to, surely it would seem consistent if one then was active in terms of lobbying for greater human rights, democracy, equality and religious freedom (and against corruption) in one's own country that one left - to stand up for those that are pressured and persecuted?
Of course, national identity is a personal concept, but if someone wants to believe in a certain type of national identity or what constitutes a national identity, that is their business. If someone wants to be a nationalist or an internationalist, then it is clearly up to the individual, but I would stress that an understanding of the issues involved from both sides is very important. One should bear in mind that a nationalist is not necessarily a racist, and the right and far right is indeed constituted of racists, non-racists, and also officially non-racists who are somewhat racially confused. Some may be more culturalist than racist. Objecting to immigration from unskilled migrants does not necessarily mean that one objects to their 'race' or 'culture.' Racism does not necessarily mean that one is racist towards all 'races' either, as some 'races' may bear the brunt of one's disgust more than others. A 'racist' may dislike a specific nationality on account of stereotypes in the media or one particular bad experience with an individual. Does that mean one is 'racist' or nationalist? And indeed some of those who claim to be non-racist are in practice very racist in their policies. For example, in South Africa, during Apartheid, 'blacks' and 'coloureds' were second class citizens compared with 'whites'. However, after the fall of Apartheid, and the new found 'freedom', the same ghettos still exist, rife with gun crime and poverty, and now 'coloureds' are third class citizens. Race is not always the issue, as discussed elsewhere in this article.
One who sees another 'race' differently may indeed be somewhat confused and what they are actually objecting to is economic behaviour or perceived anti-social behaviour or perceived obnoxious behaviour resulting from a difference in values - amongst specific individuals, where race takes the 'blame.' For example, methods of communication may vary between cultures. In some cultures, direct eye contact is seen as threatening or aggressive, and in others, a lack of eye contact may be seen as shifty, untrustworthy or rude. If one moves to another country or culture, one should be sensitive to the way people are used to communicating and be aware of one's surroundings, and just not carry on oblivious and insensitive to others needs and methods of communication.
Rivalry between communities can develop where local councils seek to even the 'playing field' and create equal opportunities by positive discrimination, for example, housing allocation, which rarely has a positive effect on intercommunity relations. Political parties may also seek to place 'more women' in certain jobs, which may result in perhaps not the best candidates getting the job and increased rivalry and tension between gender groups. Encouraging a more diversity in certain employment areas should be achieved by encouraging people to develop their skills and to go into areas that they are genuinely passionate about, regardless of gender, ethnicity etc.
Usually, one's concept of what constitutes British culture is lacking in historical perspective. It is mixed up with various international aspects of modernity, which are perceived as being nationalised in each respective country they find themselves in. Those who are proud of a culture often only think of a few stereotypical notions of that culture and use those to identify themselves with it. However, it is clear that many 'patriots' or people wishing to preserve a culture do not really have much idea of what is really out there in cultural terms, nor have much interest in all aspects of 'their own' culture. How many 'patriots' wear traditional clothes? How many wear characterless international sportswear? Or foreign clothes? What constitutes traditional food? In ex-empire building countries such as the UK, many people only know of a few traditional 'British' dishes and much of the food dishes eaten are foreign in origin. Are people wanting to preserve high culture or 'low' culture? Who is to decide which is superior? Those who wish to preserve high culture look down on the culture of the working class. In Edwardian times, it was the intellectual elite who wished to preserve their intellectual heritage and feared democracy and consumer power. How many 'patriots' in the UK have been to an art gallery recently to view great British painters? Or have read great British Authors such as Graham Greene or Lord Byron? Or have been to see a British living composer, such as Tavener? Or indeed, how many far right extremists actually positively help people in their own communities (as opposed to negative, hate-based actions and behaviour)?
If we go back to the first moment of the creation of a concept of 'Englishness', it was probably the Lindisfarne Gospels, written in the late 7th or early 8th century. Although during the Dark Ages England was divided and ruled by a number of different ruling kings, they were all Christian kingdoms by this stage, Christianity having spread from the Celtic Christian west, from Roman Catholicism and having influenced the Anglo-Saxon Germanic pagan kings. This created a unique although hetereogenenous form of Christianity, unique to England. No one thought of themselves as an English people, but as subjects of their respective kingdoms. It was only really through the Christian identity that the concept of 'Englishness' arose, and it was not a political or nationalist identity but a religious one. The Lindisfarne Gospels for the first time brought together diverse cultural elements of Latin and Roman culture, Anglo-Saxon symbols, Celtic culture and created a diverse religious identity, talking of the English people. They were written by culturally rich and educated Christian monks on the island of Lindisfarne who stood in contrast to the violent society of the mainland and conflicts between kingdoms. They represented a kind of benevolent Christian 'English' brotherhood. The first concept of Englishness was that of diversity and influence from many different lands overseas, and grounded in Christian teachings. This is a far cry from the working class or middle class consumerist and nation state views of what it means to be English today for many people, who are only brought together in times of war or economic depressions.
It is not uncommon for those who claim to be extremely patriotic to be extremely ignorant of their of modern cultural traditions, that they claim to be representing the preservation of. For example, British National Party leader Nick Griffin in 2008 was photographed next to an upside down Union Flag! If he is not aware of the correct orientation of the British national flag, he might want to consider leaving the 'British National Party' or changing it's name!
One naturally assumes that those who claim to be nationalists are mature and experienced politicians but this does not always appear to be the case. In 2006, the Barking and Dagenham BNP had proposed a vote on a particular issue, but when it came to the vote taking place, only one of the eleven BNP councillors actually voted for the motion, as the other ten forgot or neglected to actually vote. Of course, no political party is free from incompetence. Those in power, in the mainstream political parties have the opportunity to make incompetent mistakes and decisions on a much bigger scale, and service old boy networks against the public interest and at the tax payer's expense, but are usually better at covering them up. This web site is not concerned with politics or political affiliation. However, I would merely like to point out the image problem many far right parties have, in terms of perceived political naivity and economic inexperience and unrealistic goals. Whilst we may not agree with many or all of these goals, at least it is refreshing to see a little spirit and honesty. Clearly both mainstream and fringe parties have a long way to go. Of course there are no doubt many supporters of far right parties that support their slightly watered down version of social policies, and in reality support a far more extreme agenda, using the party as a platform for a further move to the right and a starting point. Leaders of course try to downplay this aspect and nowadays discourage shaven headed and para-boot wearing members from attending meetings, and to keep language polically correct (in public) to give them more credibility in the public eye. Perhaps this does reflect a genuine shift to a more middle class audience and mature working class audience, or perhaps it is just spin and image making.
Much of what is very popular is multinational consumer culture which is very similar in other developed countries. Popular culture and technology is imported too very often, with American artists being popular in all countries. Those who wish to preserve culture like international travel and open labour markets when it means they can go on holiday or buy cheap consumer products produced overseas. But then do not like immigration. If one considers the most 'traditional' aspects of culture, quite often they are only 100 years old, and at the time of introduction, were new and an evolution or revolution. All musical forms that have appeared and been highly influencial never stay static but evolve and combine with other influences. The idea of preserving a snap shot of an old cultural form is rather inappropriate, but rather encouraging young people to take an interest in literature and art from all periods, learn about their history, and to create new and exciting cultural forms is more productive and positive. Many countries are becoming increasingly similar in cultural terms, and this is a problem with modernity itself. You can't have your cake and eat it!
People who claim to be patriotic need to be clear about what they are being patriotic about. Are they proud of their fellow citizens? After all, it is the people in a country that give a country its character, as well as the physical environment. Do patriots really like most people in their local town or city? Are people generally friendly? Do people say hello to you in the street? Or do people who you don't know chat to you in shops? Are you friendly to other people? Or do people who you see every day (at work, in the street, etc.) ignore you, even when you say hello? Are people a pleasure to deal with? Or are they often quite miserable and anti-social? Are people very cliquey? Do you find often people to be snobs or inverted snobs (slaves to class)? Modern consumer culture has conditioned people to become selfish, self-centred, self-absorbed, vain and greedy, and dishonest with themselves, at the expense of the community and community spirit. It is easy to blame other people for why a country isn't how it should be, but ultimately it is up to the individual to make their environment a better place. Clearly how a person behaves, treats others and speaks is up to him. But often a 'national or regional' character can emerge whose qualities apply to many people in varying degrees. Monkey see, monkey do. Such a character is in a sense like a virus. Do people have to become slaves to such models or roles? For example, I have personally noticed that on mainland Europe, people tend to be more open and relaxed in work environments, people behaving positively and having a laugh together, whereas in the UK, his work colleagues have generally been quite miserable and utilised 'negative British humour' (basically insulting each other and making bitchy comments and putting people down as a form of 'bonding').
Much has been said about preserving 'Britishness' or encouraging 'British' values in the population of the UK. However, what exactly are we talking about here? When asked what constitutes Britishness, many people say things like 'fair play', 'modesty', 'politeness', 'law and order' etc. These are middle class values and aspirations and do not necessarily reflect the reality of the working class, in the present and especially historically. Drunkenness, coarse, chaotic, lawless behaviour was not uncommon amongst the working classes in the 19th and 20th Centuries and much of today's youth, of any class, on a Friday night, are clearly not embodying these idealised values either!
When some British people make small talk briefly, they often talk about the weather or complain about something amongst themselves. It is almost as if people are embarrassed to be genuinely positive, and being negative is so much 'safer'. The British middle classes often say 'sorry' too much, even when it is not necessary or not their fault. Is this apologetic manner appealing or just a sign of a lack of self-confidence? But often the British rarely have the guts to be assertive and complain if something unfair is happening (going up to a person they don't know and stopping them), but prefer to protest 'in their heads'. This isn't usually a problem on the continent in countries like France or Italy! People seem to strangely gain confidence when they are in a car and as they are 'protected' from the outside, tend to behave worse than they would walking down the street. Perhaps this is part of the 'British character'. Perhaps not! The 'British character' stereotype seems diverged into two forms, the shy, modest, timid, polite, quiet, emotionally inexpressive character and the overly aggressive, obnoxious, angry, loud and rude character. Class inertia and class identity is very strong. Clearly such characteristics vary according to region, socio-economic and 'ethnic' group association and the individual. Such ultimately fearful and negative behaviour really does spread like a virus from generation to generation, and is perpetuated by the individual. It is up to the individual to break the mould of course.
National flags or regional flags often carry different meanings in different countries and in different contexts. For example, if we look at Swedish summer houses, many can be seen to display the Swedish flag. This is not considered to be racist! Cafes in Stockholm may also be seen to display the Swedish flag. If one looks at the UK, there is more stigma associated with the national flag, and displaying the Union Jack is often seen as aggressive or racist. The English flag is often drapped outside people's homes during sports tornaments, but rarely all year around. During sports tournaments, people can be seen to go mad with flags covering their cars. Yet the Union Jack or English flag is seen as racist by many people in the UK. Surely one should be able to display the national flag if one wants to without any assumptions being made. And equally, people feeling more at ease with the national flag all throughout the year, to the extent that it becomes something one doesn't notice or pay much attention to. After all, one is living in a country, it should not be a shock to see the flag occasionally! White supremacists may use the national or regional flag as a symbol of patriotism, but their agenda is subversive and far separated from the democratic national institutions and establishment which these flags represent. Their use is somewhat misguided.
Immigration and EmmigrationWestern economies will continue to become more diverse with economic migrants from all over the world settling up home. There are clearly advantages and disadvantages to every order. However, it is no longer possible to maintain small, local communities with fixed religious and ethnic groupings and local character in the same way that it was a few hundred years ago before road, rail, flight, telecommunications and the internet. There are clearly positive and negative aspects to the change in the fabric of society, and ultimately migration and communication across borders cannot be stopped unless we want to return to rigid, economically inefficient and anti-democratic systems of government. Perhaps increased migration and internationalism/globalisation is a good thing, to make our culture more diverse and rich, no matter in what manner it occurs. Perhaps it is only a good thing when the culture can be diverse but not divided and where the population is well integrated but still diverse and heterogeneous. Perhaps it is a bad thing in that it dilutes our concepts of national character and reduces our sense of national uniqueness, and confuses concepts of identity (which may lead to crises in identity later). Each person should make up his own mind. Whatever goal we seek and what our beliefs are, the most important thing is to reach those goals in an ethical manner, respecting people's human rights and not fighting prejudice or stopping conflict between identity groups by introducing policies that create and reinforce concepts of difference.
When considering the issue of immigration, it is important to bear in mind that it is not just a question of being 'for' or 'against' immigration, but also looking at the effects of immigration and providing the necessary infrastructure for migrant workers and their families. Industry reaps the rewards of cheap labour from Eastern Europe, but does not contribute more widely to the effects these workers and families have on society, for example, social integration and social problems. Migrant worker families in many cases do not speak much or any English and expect the same level of medical and dental care as other UK residents. Council facilities such as waste disposal and recycling are not explained to migrant families who would not understand in many cases anyway as they do not speak English and have little idea of community services available. Medical facilities are often already full to capacity and the necessary manpower to accommodate for the increased numbers of people and the burden of slow interpretor telephone services makes matters worse. New schools are set up to accommodate migrant children who speak much less English than other children of equivalent age. Existing schools are often hard enough to get into in any case. The police often require translators to communicate properly to migrant family members. Migrants may also not be familiar with the local culture in terms of quiet hours at night that people come to expect. All this costs money and requires resources. If a government allows high levels of immigration into specific communities, then it needs to fork out financially (along with the employers - e.g. migrant worker tax paid by employers for community services?) to provide for such infrastructure. Problems are exaccerbated when migrants are concentrated into specific towns or areas rather than spread evenly throughout the country.
The influx of migrant workers is often in manual labour jobs. It is argued that these jobs are not wanted by the locals, and as such migrant workers do not take anyone's jobs. However it is a circular argument, as employers can get away with lowering wages as there is a surplus of available labour, and someone will always do the job even if it is hard work and close to minimum wage. This may in turn discourage local workers. There is also the argument that generous welfare system, gentrification and higher standards of living in general make it too easy for local workers to lose motivation for the lower paid jobs or harder manual jobs, which is one of the problems of a borgeois and wealthy culture.
There is often a notion that ethnic groups fit into convenient geographic areas. Whilst this may be generally true in certain specific cases, more often than not it is not the case, and ethnic groups may be spread out disporadically over wide areas and heavily mixed in with a number of other groups differentiated by language, religion or ethnicity. Whilst these differences go largely unnoticed when there is a powerful, totalitarian state in place, once that state collapses, the country can be thrown into chaos and civil war if the different ethnic groups are sufficiently insecure about their ethnic identity and/or there are signficant historical struggles (over right to land or claims on land as being 'homeland', or between loyalties to different invading groups) or differences between them. In a power vacuum it may be tempting to try to assert one's power and authority, to create some good feelings about who they are and to take power back after years of oppression. In highly heterogeneous areas however the result is rarely positive. Conflicts often escalate on account of tit-for-tat type executions and acts of violence or terrorism. The effects can be clearly seen in collapsed totalitarian states or new states such as Yugoslavia, Iraq or the areas of Palestine and the West Bank.
Whilst the focus is often on immigration in one's own country, this is as stated above only considered a problem by many if the immigrants are of a 'dark' skin colour (can be 'seen' to be different) or are unskilled, but also those who show little interest in cultural and lingual assimilation. However, whilst it is easy to focus on immigration, few focus on emigration. The phenomenon of emigration is probably more significant demographically than immigration, with one in ten British born nationals choosing to live abroad. This usually occurs in English speaking countries, such as the USA or Australia, but also in other countries, typically in Europe. With the advent of cheap air travel in the 00s, many British nationals have chosen to go away to Eastern Europe for example on short breaks, and often on stag weekends, giving the worst impression of British people to the local communities possible! Do British people who emigrate always fully assimilate into their new found homes? Some do, either totally adopting the new culture or mixing elements of their own culture with the new culture. Of course, some stoically resist and insist on never changing their ways whatsoever and who many not bother to learn the local language. Such behaviour is what grates many people in Britain about immigrants. It is easy to focus on immigration as that is what we may observe in our own country, but it is more difficult to be aware of the effects of emigration on other countries. Clearly the levels of intermingling and intermixing will create new cultural forms of an increasingly diverse and global nature, taking cultural elements from all over the world and integrating them into contemporary youth culture etc. but of course not all elements will integrate so well and may cause friction in their respective countries. Whether this will be one additional cause of anti-globalisation, which encompasses many areas, but may perhaps zoom in on the more 'visible' elements in our respective countries, i.e. skin colour, and result in a far right backlash remains to be seen and how our governments handle increased levels of globalisation, both positive and negative aspects. Eventually we may have a global culture with minor local variations. Tastes in music, cars, television, sports, clothes, ugly/bling/show off architecture (rather than fusing the best of the old with the best of the new) and fast foods seem to be converging the world over. Increasingly one can enjoy international type foods in one's country and low cuisine becomes increasingly marginalised (assuming it was good to start with of course!) Countries are increasingly susceptible to the swings of the global financial sector and also to outsourcing of jobs to countries with cheaper labour forces (also meaning cheaper foreign goods, e.g. from China - and increased levels of pollution and cultural desecration there). Wars are increasingly international in their scope, armies many countries becoming involved in each conflict, with insurgents or guerilla fighters being drawn from the world over too. Local conflicts are in a sense being hijacked or greatly exaccerbated by globalisation on both sides. There is less national stability and more volatility determined from outside sources. There is more legislative interference from global or multinational bodies and organisations. We are increasingly at the mercy of multinational capitalism. How well these things are managed in the future will determine how encompassed by global capitalism and market forces we become and how reactionary we become. Clearly letting the country be at the mercy of the global economy is not entirely positive, nor are all aspects of the opposing reactionary nationalism. We should not dismiss either side out of turn, as the far right have many valid points to make about globalisation, aside from the irrational and confused stances they often adopt. There are many valid arguments on both sides.
We as a society have to therefore learn to be colourblind. New economic migrants who believe they belong to a minority group may perhaps want to try to integrate into the society as much as possible, and be encouraged positively and incentivised to do so, by learning the language of where they live fluently, and learning the culture, if such a thing exists, and not being fearful, and mixing with the rest of the hetergenous population. This is only possible by the government encouraging new housing for economic migrants to be spread evenly throughout the country, not settling immigrant populations into specific areas, and through actively encouraging self-confidence and self-improvement, not only amongst economic migrants but amongst the poorer population as a whole. Some initiatives in the north of England appear to be working, where in divided communities of 'whites' and 'muslim asians', schools have days where they take children from a mainly 'white' school to meet and socialise with children of a mainly 'muslim asian' school, free from their parents restrictions and without fear of retribution or social control, so that they learn to get along at a young age as people. Ignorance and lack of familiarity breeds fear and prejudice, and ultimately creates a divided society. This is a good start, but much more needs to be done.
All citizens have to be treated equally, whether they are migrants or not, and the same opportunities and facilities provided for everyone. This may be become increasingly important in western industrialised countries as the incumbent population becomes older, and more people are drawing state pensions and using state facilities, more tax is required to pay for state spending. Perhaps more tax payers are required to pay for it, which means more immigration. Or perhaps the alternative might be massive taxation increases. Politicians will have to decide on these matters. Society may have to lose its fears created by the trend of political correctness to really tackle these issues and discuss them in an open and unemotional manner. Of course, in such a scenario, the economy would to be stimulated enough to provide for all these migrants, and the migrants have to be sufficiently skilled to add value to the economy and workforce, and to create new businesses and jobs themselves. However, this is a problem for politicians, and with anything in politics there is rarely an ideal solution for anything as all policies have positive and negative qualities, and a series of compromises has to be made with policies being sufficiently balanced to consider all areas of impact. Political systems are often inherently inefficient and the temptation for corruption and greed is always present, as it is in all areas of life. This is why I try to steer clear of politics on this web site!
White Supremacism, Neo-Nazi Skinheads and Criminal GangsWhite Supremacy is defined in Wikepedia at the link below.
Let us look at the white power and white supremacist movement for a moment. Extreme nationalists in the UK, and in particular national socialists, for example, claim to be extremely patriotic. They have historical figures that they are very proud of, for example, Winston Churchill AND Adolf Hitler. They admire Hitler's attempts to strive for racial purity, but at the same time seem to conveniently forget that he was actually responsible for the deaths of many British soldiers, and tried to invade the UK. Is it patriotic to support a foreign power that attempted to invade the UK? If one wishes that Britain sided with Germany in the war, then perhaps it would have been overrun by German soldiers who were 'helping', a little like Italy was occupied in many areas by German soldiers. Would nationalists really want foreign soliders in the own country? I think not. It is very popular for British football hooligans (the majority of whom claim to be nationalists or patriotic) who believe they are very patriotic to despise other European nations, in particular the Germans. And anyone who has dark skin. And they are often extremely classist. So they are proud of their race, but only as long as those members of their race are British, working class, support their local football team, share their values, come from the right town or region, talk in the right way, and don't cross them or irritate them when they are drunk. That isn't really being proud of the white race at all! If that was the case, football hooligans, skinhead gangs and neo-Nazis would never fight each other. They would all be united across Europe. In reality, neo-nazi and skinhead gangs across Europe have a superficial unity, but depending on the context, they may hate each other and want to beat each other up; and consider each other foreign scum; but they also have a respect for each other on some level and strive to keep their movement underground. What we have in reality is a group of elitists. Far right nationalists like to think they are representing the nation, their class, their race. But the reality is that they are not. Not all members of their class share all these values. But also not all far right nationalists support violence. And not all are drunken hooligans. They are by no means unified. They do not represent the majority but more individual, divided minorities in the country.
Skinheads (the violent subset), football hooligans and neo-Nazis are very often those playground bullies who never grew up and are still bullies in their own adult lives. Indeed, if one goes to traditional white working class communities on a Friday or Saturday night, for example, Romford in Essex, one finds that a significant number of different groups of youths like to get drunk, mouth off and after closing time, spill out on the streets and like to fight each other given the slightest excuse, as a way to express their freedom and their masculinity, and feel like they have respect with their peers. Where is the class unity? Where is the race unity? Where is the national unity? What we really have are people who like to fight. They may make up ideology to make themselves feel good about themselves and justify their actions, but in reality they are just thugs. In the UK, supporters of the British National Party used to come from traditional, 'white', working class neighbourhoods, and skinheads, but increasingly membership is being made up of upper and middle class people. Are these middle class people proud of everyone in their perceived ethnic group? Or have they eliminated class tensions? I suspect their unity is very context dependent and they reinforce the class divides rather than overcome them.
I would like to point out that contrary to public belief, not all skinheads are racist or violent. Violent skinheads are often presumed to be also racist, although this is not necessarily the case either. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skinhead
It should be noted that the first skinheads were 'black' in the 1960s, or rather 'white' skinheads emulated their 'black' contemporaries, in terms of short hair and also musical tastes, including soul, rhythm and blues, ska, rock steady and early reggae. Skinhead scene first evolved from the mod scene of the 1960s, which was all about the American pursuit of leisure and sharp musical styles (from 'black' America and Jamaica) and Italian fashion. Early skinheads were known as hard mods, or rather those that embraced the mod love of soul, rhythm and blues and so on, but who combined the mods' smart, fashionable and stylistic dress sense with some more working class themes, such as working boots, short practical haircuts and braces. As with the mod scene, hard mods were also influenced by the Jamaican Rudeboy music and culture. Hard mods were also known as Trojan skinheads. Within the mod scene, the Union Jack was a fashion item, and this was also true of the hard mods or early skinheads. Early skinheads, like mods, were non-political and non-racist in general, although still patriotic like the mods. Of course, political affilitations of hard left or hard right may have evolved later on, particularly in the 1980s. The skinhead movement was about personal freedom, working class values, realism, equality and up tempo and soulful music. As with the mod scene, there were always some violent elements in the skinhead scene.
As with the mod love of nightclubbing and dancing away to their favourite musical styles, Trojan skinheads of the late 1960s and early 1970s were also keen club goers, dancing at the ska, rocksteady and reggae clubs along with 'black' youths. Relations between the two groups were not always so smooth but there was no overt racism between the two as a whole. As reggae started to embrace black nationalism, Rastafari religion and ganga smoking, and move away from its dancehall roots and lyrics about rudeboys, sex and relationships; and with the hippie movement of the 1970s with its arguably middle classed intellectual sensibilities, psychedelic and marijuana drug use, and ideology of peace and love; the skinhead scene disappeared from popular culture somewhat, perhaps tended to move away from the reggae clubs to some extent and more into other areas. The skinhead movement fragmented to a large extent, into suedeheads, smoothies and bootboys (synonymous with drinking and football hooliganism).
The skinhead scene saw a revival again in the late 1970s with the punk rock scene and 2 Tone (Two Tone) scene (a fusion of the ska, rocksteady and reggae styles with punk rock sensibilities and a pop sound). 2 Tone was always strongly anti-racist, and punk rock had predominantly being anti-establishment and individualistic, and usually slightly anarchic or socialist in stance. www.garry-bushell.co.uk/oi/index.asp
The 'oi' or 'street punk' movement in the early 1980s in the UK saw a skinhead revival and slight change in fashion and values. Contrary to popular belief, the 'oi' scene was not a racist or Neo-Nazi movement. It was a working class punk movement that sought to bring punk rock away from a middle classed audience and middle classed values, but to the working class and to council estates; to embody working class values and a sense of street realism - to include topics such as violence, sex, football, politics, class struggle and so on - that were relevant to working class youths of Britain. The 'street punk' scene was arguably started by socialist working class bands such as the Angelic Upstarts. Other bands followed, such as the Cockney Rejects (who were non-political and big jokers) and the Exploited (a highly political Anarchist street punk band). By the early 80s, punk had fragmented into many different directions, to new wave, post-punk (e.g. PiL, magazine, Wire, Killing Joke etc.), goth (a label which more describes the fans than the actual bands who were rarely actually goths), hardcore punk (e.g. GBH), Crustcore and Anarcho punk (e.g. Discharge, Crass, Flux of Pink Indians, Conflict etc.) and of course 'Oi'.
The label 'oi' was created by Sounds music journalist Gary Bushell to describe street punk, named after a Cockney Rejects song 'oi oi oi'. Oi was punk rock but fused elements of pop, heavy metal, 'working class chants', pub anthems and even ska. Whilst a few of these bands were Anarchist Punk (e.g. the Exploited), most were either non-political or slightly socialist in outlook, but with a sense of national pride and cheeky sense of humour. All were anti-Thatcherite. The scene was more about social and political realism, day to day existence than strict political manifestos. It was only later in the mid 1980s that the scene was associated with racism after a misinformed attack on a concert venue hosting non-racist oi bands. The 'oi' scene was populated by some punks, and ordinary kids, but mainly skinheads. The vast majority of bands were good natured and non-violent. Naturally, a sub-set of skinheads were racists, but this is simply a reflection of the number of kids in council estates at the time who were extreme right wing and racist. One record Strength Through Oi (a pun on the Nazi 'Strength Through Joy') featured a Neo-Nazi skinhead with his racist tattoos removed on the cover and this was considered by the music press as further evidence of 'oi' being Neo-Nazi. Oi, whilst generally patriotic and anti-Thatcherite, some bands were more 'patriotic' than others, and some skinhead oi bands were right wing in their views, but never openly racist (e.g Combat84). However, some of the latter were later associated with the British National Party (BNP), which contains non-racist members as well as openly racist members (although the BNP gift shop does sell 'golliwogs' making a mockery of its claims to be officially non-racist). It would be wrong to classify such bands as Neo-Nazis, as they did not sing about white power. There is a difference between being conservative, right wing and a national socialist. Not everyone who is right wing is racist or a 'fascist' and into totalitarianism, repatriation or ethnic cleansing. However, this is not to say that many of their fans were not White Power skinheads, and indeed that many white power skinheads do not listen to some of the early oi bands that were not racist at all, and in some instances sang songs against white power.
Later on, overtly 'Fascist' or Neo-Nazi bands tried to take over the scene but still remained a minority. They formed a subgroup known as 'RAC' or Rock-Against-Commnunism, which although oi-inspired in the 80s (e.g. inspired by bands such as the second incarnation of Skrewdriver with it's strong White Power manifesto, the first Skrewdriver having been a non-racist, non-political Clash sounding punk band), later took on more 'dodgy' heavy metal and trash metal overtones. Neo-Nazi skinheads are generally disliked by most other skinheads, even those that are of a right wing (but non-fascist) disposition. Some skinheads consider Neo-Nazis not to be true skinheads, but just idiots who happen to look like skinheads but not embracing the true skinhead ethos. Neo-Nazi skinheads may choose to differ however and deny their Jamaican inspired roots. The RAC bands tended to associate more with Combat 18, the paramilitary wing of the racist organisation Blood and Honour. Ironically, music has cross-pollenated, so that there are now actually (a few) Neo-Nazi ska bands! As strange as it may seem. Most white power skinhead RAC bands now are more thrash metal style than oi in style today. There are numerous more articles on the internet about skinheads and the 'oi' scene should the reader care to read further.
It should be noted that when being 'grossly offended' by RAC bands or anyone who expresses racist or views against the culture or religion of another group of people, or views/lyrics that are inciting violence against minority or other ethnic groups, one should consider the right of people to express their views or the right to free speech. But trying to shut people up, it does little to actually eradicate these views or feelings, and simply drives such networks underground where they are harder to track and control. In addition, where does not exactly draw the line? People 'love to hate' the far right, but there are probably more bands and artists that are anarchists, revolutionary or anti-establishment that label 'all police' as 'pigs' or 'fascists', any politican as 'scum', and anyone involved in animal testing in the pharmaceutical industry or otherwise as a target for 'retribution'. Indeed, picking up a typal anarcho-punk or gangsta rap record will reveal many references to violence, drug dealing or killing police. Some argue that 'gangsta rap' is merely reflecting 'real life on the streets' but clearly it is targeted for a more 'male' audience who like the gangster image more than anyone else. Such hate mongering and calls to violence are clearly worthy of attention as much as the less fashionable sorts from the far right. Very few anti-ALF or anti-animal rights extremist marches take place, protesting about their inhumane treatment of anyone they don't like for whatever reason. So a greater degree of consistency would show less prejudice, which is clearly what everyone is complaining about in the first place!
We should bear in mind that many movements, like some of the above, are more fashion-based and others are more of a lifestyle or movement that may last a year or two, or several decades, changing its meaning between individuals and across generations. We should consider however that anyone who defines himself in terms of a movement or lifestyle group is in a sense limiting himself to the meanings of that group and not allowing a more fluid sense of identity or self-expression. Any movement that is class-based and uses class as part of its meaning will ultimately by defined by that class, or that sub-section of that class, both internally and from the outside. Anyone who defines himself in terms of class is using 'group' as a form of identity and thus reinforcing perception of difference between 'his group' and the 'groups of others', rather than taking elements from all groups and creating one's own sense of identity. Class-based movements, whilst giving many people a renewed sense of pride and ability to express their 'class' life, ultimately serves to reinforced class perception and division in society.
Fashion or lifestyle groups tend to evolve because people get bored of them or find them limiting and want something new. And so it is with the 'skinhead' movement in some respects, although there will always be 'diehards' and also new 'revivalist' entrants who were never there initially to have gotten bored of it, so to them it is all new and still fresh! Whilst I myself am clearly not a 'proper skinhead' and certainly never was when I was in my youth, I like certain aspects of the skinhead 'lifestyle' or attitude, it's unpretentiousness and raw edge, it's unashamed representation of certain elements of working class values, and can relate to skinheads on many levels. There are many refreshing things here that are a panacea to middle class values and enforced political correctness. However, I like to think he can relate to any person of any class, on some level, and does not identify particularly with any class, but is more his own person. Thus he does not embrace the entirety of skinhead values (whatever that means) nor does he embrace the 'BBC style middle class values' that many people feel they are expected to adopt. I am a traditionalist (whatever that is!) and progressive and liberal all at the same time, if that makes any sense. Various positions are a basis for philosophical thought. I would like to make it clear that whilst I can appreciate some aspects of those of the 'extreme right', he believes their logic is flawed and does not generaly identify with them at all, but more the non-racist element of skinheads, i.e. 'proper' skinheads. I am not a proponet of violence and do not glamorise violence but that is not to say that I would not use violence when absolutely necessary, or always necessarily back down in a confrontational situation, as it is on occasion a street reality. This however is not necessarily 'skinhead' but I could be describing many types of people here.
If we look at Orange County in the USA, the local white power movement consists of a number of skinhead gangs, e.g. Nazi Low Riders (NLR) and Public Enemy No.1 (PEN1) which are involved in organised crime (identity theft and methyl amphetamine production/distribution), stabbings, gang murders etc. They despise those 'white' folks who talk to 'coloureds' or who do not wish to break the law or beat people up. So they are really only proud of a tiny segment of the white population. They consider violence and murder as actions of reasonable, good, caring white folk. If they did indeed achieve their goal of a white America or a white state, would they indeed give up violence? It is unlikely and would focus even more on beating each other up and escalating inter-gang violence. Is this the kind of land they want to live in? Full of violence? Those who support racially motivated acts of violence anywhere in the developed world often dislike the police because of their interference in stopping (sometimes with violence) or arresting those taking part in these activities and in their drunken exploits; but these same people often believe in a firm hand of government in law and order - when it suits them.
Whilst gangs have certain attractions for prospective members, i.e. the respect, the easy money, the 'glamour' of the violence and carrying guns or weapons, a sense of family, having people to protect you, the reality is not always so positive. Ex-gang members are usually less than flattering about the gangs they used to belong to. Whilst protecting you, gangs put you in the firing line and dramatically shorten your life expectancy or years of liberty outside of jail. Many people are born into gangs, or join through peer pressure or social adversity, and to form or join a gang just for the sake of it, because it tickles your fancy could be considered by some as rather 'borgeois' (c/f middle classed 'wigger' gangs). Many gang members take drugs and are hardly positive influences on one's life - most are in poor physical condition. Whilst gang's may claim on occasion a moral agenda, e.g. white supremacism, they rarely live up to these aspirations and sell out their principles for the sake of making more money and selling more drugs, and exercising power over others. A video about the multi-racial aspects of the prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood, is shown below, the leader of which is Jewish!
Many ex-gang members report 'family members' turning on them for no reason whatsoever, so the sense that a gang will always treat you fairly if you respect it is not always true. Gangs in many respects are a form of alternative justice/police and alternative capitalism. They are like ruthless corporations, but working to their own set of rules, outside of the law. Whilst gangs and corporations may have fancy mission statements, at the end of the day, their primarily function is money. Respect, image and power are important but probably come second. There is no sense in having respect if you aren't making any money. A gang that has respect but makes no money will likely have a coup d'etat. If one makes a big mistake in one's job in a corporation, or lose a large amount of the company's money, one may well be fired or even sent to prison. In a gang, you will likely be killed. The difference between the two is fear. However, as they are at the end of the day enterprises, claiming a high ground that one is more 'real' is debatable. "Freakeconomics," by Steven Levitts, worked on a study performed by a sociologist involving an interview with a gang member. He describes the gang structure as the same as a large corporation, with the top being ruled by a group that called themselves the "Board of Directors," who demanded regular reports on the drug trade in said gang's territory.
Enterprises have their downsides as well as upsides, and compromises, whatever the context. Wealth can allow one to achieve one's goals more effectively and liberate one to live the life one wants, but it can also render one a slave to the wealth, and fixate the mind on materialism, at the detriment of spiritual growth. It can become like a crack addiction. Whilst some entrepreneurs are in control of their lives, most of the wealthy have to sacrifice something, including the right to control their own destiny. Living every day in fear, basically in a war zone, having to watch your back continuously, from your enemies in rival gangs, people with a grudge, the police or even your own gang, and not being able to walk down certain streets for fear of death is not exactly my idea of an ideal scenario. It may be something you can put up with or thrive on for a while, but as inter-gang conflicts escalate, it can become beyond amusing after a while. Soldiers who fight in wars go on tours of duty, and in between, return home to rest and recuperate. In gangs, this is not possible as you are immersed in it 24/7, until you leave the gang (with great difficulty) or until you die. Those who join gangs for a sense of family could equally get that family bonding elsewhere, with less strings attached. Many skinhead gangs act tough when they are together, with fellow gang members who are 'tooled up', but when they are on their own, whilst some may be genuinely 'tough', the vast majority are not. The days of all gang members being physically tough are long gone and replaced by a drug-fuelled teenage generation who rely on guns instead to be tough. Is a gang worth dying for? Arguably not. It may be worth dying for something that has some real meaning, but a turf conflict or because the boss wants to have a nicer BMW is hardly that. So whilst there may be some attractive and appealing aspects of gang life, and it may seem 'badass', overall, it is not for me.
Although criminal gangs can be viewed as some as a way of escaping the 9 to 5, getting easy money, and basically carrying on in a lawless manner, it is not the same as being 'free' or as being outside of the system/society. Whilst the income stream may be part of the independent/black/illegal economy and there is a source of power outside of the law and normal society, the actual spending patterns of gang members are no different from the average law abiding, sheepish and cowardly consumer. Successful gang members are often more ostentatious in their spending than the next person with the same level of income, it being more difficult to save the money, bank or launder it. Thus, gang members, with their consumer power, are actively supporting the multinational-dominated economy and actively supporting the structure of society, even though they rarely actually pay tax. They are capitalist themselves, albeit in a brutal and violent manner, and are supporting and perpetuating the capitalist society that they belief may be 'oppressing' or killing the spirit of the average person. They are as much to blame for the destruction of the planet and brainwashing media as the next greedy consumer. Gangs therefore break society's laws on the one hand but reinforce society's grasp over the population on the other. They are essentially hyper-capitalist, lawbreaking consumers. Not 'anarchy' exactly. Not national socialism either by any means. Gangs cannot exist without a law abiding society to predate on, or without ways of creating income in the case of various vices being legalised. Laws are required for there to be something to break to generate easy money. Where drugs, prostitution and gambling being deregulated, gangs have to resort to various forms of theft. Gangs are essentially like a parasite on mainstream society, they cannot survive without it. If everyone was in a gang, no one would be growing food, building Mercedes and expensive stereos etc. As described above, some gangs have a claimed nationalist or even white supremacist focus. This usually comes at the bottom of the priority list, below money and criminality, and often racial values are compromised. Patriotism and nationalism are difficult concepts, as the gangs rarely contribute anything positive to their societies, and often what they are patriotic about are the peaceful institutions of their nation, rather than the criminal elements. One is therefore patriotic about a country but at the same time one kills one's own countrymen. One does not pay tax towards the nation's upkeep and one costs the nation a great deal of money in police time and court time. What exactly is one being nationalistic about? And is one in a position to really be nationalistic? Would one prefer a gangster tolerant nation? Clearly that would never work as one needs to break the laws to make money. It is a bit like having one's cake and eating it perhaps. In the case of the far right, is the sort of hard rule from a nationalist government likely to put up with one's own criminality? What is it about a group of 'white' drug dealers working together and giving their countrymen the tools with which to destroy their own lives with that is patriotic or helping the cause of the 'white' man?
If gangs who truly want to be free to use excessive violence to settle their own personal or gang-related affairs, or want society to emulate a more Greek or Roman model, with public executions and killing, then unless there is special allowance for people settling their own 'scores', then in all likelihood such a society would not tolerate violent criminals and would have them promptly and publicly executed, rather than grant them the leeway to actually to carry on being criminals or to join prison criminal gangs in the first place. For example, in the current judicial system, police can't arrest senior gang members without any evidence, or if they are convicted, and are sentenced to death (e.g. in the USA), they are placed on Death Row often for years. In a more violent society, the authorities might simply send soldiers over to cut off the offending persons heads without trial, or if there was a trial, an execution might take place the same day. That is of course not an ideal way to run a country, as if there are mistakes they cannot be undone. Many gangsters claim that they are serving their own communities, and whilst this may be true to some extent, they are also causing large problems in their own communities. For example, it is widely known that the police and judicial system can only do so much about certain forms of antisocial behaviour and crimes or theft where no proof exists, but one knows who is responsible. Here, gangs can step in and 'take care' of things. Gangs like to have a monopoly on violence or serious crime on their own turf, so whilst a gang may be 'cleaning' up the neighbourhood, it is doing so only in the sense that it wants to ensure that only it can do these things! In the event that one asks a gang to help sort out a dispute or 'problem', then one is forever indebted to that gang, and may have the favour called upon any number of occasions - and who is that person to argue with the gang. One then can end up becoming tied to the gang. Aside from all this, one also has the aspect of the local gang being likely responsible for the majority of the drug supply into the community. Whilst they do not make people become physically or psychologically addicted, they can offer incentives, and openly selling drugs can tempt many into developing habits. They provide role models of a sort to children, who see gang members as having power, respect and getting easy money and may tempt youngsters into joining gangs rather than higher education and making something of themselves in a creative sense or wider contribution to society. Whilst gangs can solve community problems, they can also accidentally kill innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire, e.g. in drive by shootings or in cases of mistaken identity. Clearly if one wants to express oneself with extreme violence, there are outlets for such aggression such as boxing, or even joining the army. However, even there, excessive force and sadism are generally not tolerated, as there is a code of conduct or honor. In my opinion, gangs should drop their ideological, political or moral claims/pretence and simply stick to being criminal gangs if that is what they want. If a gang member happens to be a Satanist or a racist, that is a personal choice, but to make claims about a gang's mission statement and goal outside of violent crime and making money is in most cases misleading and pretentious; they should just be honest about what they are.
Some Satanists and Satanic Luciferians are gang members, as they feel it compliments their ideology. Satanism is about the self, and to me, to belong to a gang or populist movement which suppresses some of your own rights to anarchically do your own thing (but which allows you freedom in which to express other chaotic or violent aspects to your existence) or which tells you what to do and think, is potentially out of sorts with this. For some Satanists, a gang is a means to bring about a new age of violent chaos, where one can prove oneself in a Neo-Darwinian fashion. Life is about living your own destiny and choosing your own path, making your own decisions, even leadership, not following orders or being manipulated like the 'masses'. If you choose a gang, even if you are in tune with the goals and intentions of other members, then you have to take the rough with the smooth to a large extent. Prison gangs are like civilian criminal gangs but without the glamour and girls. Your weapons don't look sexy and have to put shoved up your bottom. If you choose to be a 'civilian', then you have to be wary of becoming brainwashed consumer and another cog in the machine, and having your soul slowly eaten away. There are numerous life choices available most of which require guts, determination and self-belief to really pull off well. That is not to say that non-gang existence has to necessarily be boring, mundane and a life an an employee (9 to 5er) working a job you hate. Ultimately one's choices and lifestyle is limited by one's imagination.Whatever path you choose, you have to live with the consequences. Some individuals will choose a gang lifestyle if they were to live their life all over again. That is their business and their choice, but like they say 'What goes around comes around, kid' - Cypress Hill.
Russian skinheads and national socialists look up to Hitler, and also Stalin who massacred millions of Russians. Is this patriotic? Stalin was in fact a nationalist imperialist. And Nazi Germany the USSR's sworn enemy. Nationalistic governments/leaders have historically only got along when their countries are not too close together, when their interests usually conflict. It is all very well being allies when one is far enough apart, but at the end of the day, a far right government seeks to serve its own country's interests above all others and usually at the expense of others, and to expand its territory at another country's or other countries' expense. This is usually how they often appear to have booming economies, when the reality is that their over-intervention in their own countries economies and population bleeds money and they can only subsidise this by exploiting other foreign nations.
It is curious to notice how much emphasis is placed upon the elements of a physical being that are visible and little interest in what lies underneath, biologically and neurologically. Skin colour and facial features make up a tiny percentage of the total body mass and genetic material. It is curious to note that those who profess a pride in their race perhaps have less pride in belonging to the human race, or in their own bodies (e.g. their internal organs, biochemistry or blood type), besides the skin. It is also ironic that those who believe they are proud of their skin colour do not look after their skin very well, nor the rest of their bodies, or their posture, and show their physical form little respect, pouring alcohol, drugs, unhealthy foods and essentially speeding up the ageing process. This is not really any form of pride in my opinion, even if there is lip service to some notion of skin colour or pride in one's 'race'. Very few people have real pride in their personality and treat themselves very poorly psychologically, abusing their own psyches and having a very unhealthy self-dialogue. One could equally use general level of health or a positive healthy lifestyle choice as a loose and not too serious group identifier if one wanted to. Tattooes and body art or piercings are also used as group identifiers, and ironically many use tattooes as a racial identifier, depending on the style and designs chosen. This is ironically 'defiling' or scribbling on the masterpiece of the skin that many belonging to such groups claim to have pride in. Many white supremacists are obese, unhealthy 'slobs' who drink, smoke, eat junk food and defile the very skin they are so proud of with insignia and designs that are intended to say 'I'm white' which should be obvious by looking at the physical form! Many are trying to be 'more white' with their tattooing. Claims of pride over 'race' are dubious and there is certainly a lack of pride over the rest of the physical form! Even where many white supremacists keep themselves in shape, their diets are frequently not so great, and their livers are taking a battering.
Perceived Heroes of World War TwoMany white supremacists and racist skinheads idolise Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, as a role model for national socialism. Some have swastika ('swazis') tattoos (often represented incorrectly, much as some people incorrectly draw a national flag). See Wikipedia for the definition of the swastika and its historical origins http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika.
He was not diagnosed but neurologists examining video footage of him at the end of the war in Berlin, talking to young boys who were being enlisted to defend Berlin, his left hand was hidden behind his back, and shaking violently non-stop, clutching an object to try to suppress the shaking - it was believed he had Parkinson's Disease. Also it is believed that he had cardiovascular problems. His excessive stress levels and coctail of up to 80 different drugs, and the strychnine that he was inadvertently poisoned with over several years by his incompetent physician, evidently took an increasing tole on his health and medical professions today are amazed that he managed to function at all. Drug laws were much laxer in the 1930s and 1940s in Europe overall. Methyl-amphetamine was a new drug produced by German company under the brand name Pervitin and was a best seller amongst the general public. Whilst there was no official drug policy for the military, German soldiers were encouraged to take Pervitin to help keep them fighting, especially during the latter stages of the war when they were exhausted. This was in stark contrast to the Nazi ideal of abstaining from tobacco and alcohol to keep the Aryan race strong. Indeed, the young boys who were enlisted to help defend Berlin against the imminent onslaught of the Red Army in 1945 were bolstered up with alcohol and methyl-amphetamine. Drug addiction made it increasingly difficult for the military to function. This shows the hypocrisy at the heart of the German administration in policy terms and the incompetence and sheer madness of the German military campaigns.
Hitler was on a big ego trip and had little actual interest in the best interests of the people of the German nation, let alone the 'Aryan race'. His economic policies were highly flawed (read: over simplistic and incompetent - much like many of the populist economic policies of modern National Socialist political manifestos) and the economy was kept afloat by slave labour from Jews and other undesirables. Hitler was a traitor to his 'own people'. The night of the long knives showed how Hitler rewarded loyalty, by ordering the SS black shirts to execute all the loyal SA brown shirts (composed of street kids and what we might consider to be today's skinheads), and showed that his rule was paranoid and all about securing his own future, rather than about the German people. His stated goal and intention from the start was not to bring Germany into prosperity but to go to war, with the whole world if necessary. Whether one agrees with the reasons for his military campaigns or not, he was certainly no competent general and went about dragging down the German people by embarking on a war on two fronts. In the closing stages of the war, when Russian forces were advancing into German territory, he instructed the Luftwaffe to bomb his own country, his own infrastructure. His generals ignored his instructions in the latter stages of the war and turned against him, as he ordered highly trained, elite SS divisions into pointless suicide missions. He had no respect for the lives of his inner circle and thought he might as well expend every single soldier's life before he would consider surrender. Was that in the best interests of the German people? Or were these the actions of a sulky child? Hitler refused to entertain the idea of defeat and would rather sacrifice all the people in his nation before his ego backed down. He was not even man enough to accept defeat at the very end, choosing instead to commit suicide rather than face the consequences of his actions. Estimates of the number of assassination attempts on Hitler range between 15 and 35, many including senior officers, generals and aides. A respected military leader would not inspire so many assassination attempts from within his own hierarchy.
Hitler was increasingly aloof about the war as it went on, not wanting to be involved in the details as it became increasingly clear that Germany would lose, instead preferring to stay at his home in the mountains with his entourage, almost as if he was seeking escape from reality. In the final moments of the fight in Berlin, he was seen to be ordering units about on a map that either did not exist, had surrendered or been killed, with his generals just humoring him.
His lust for glory and conquest seemed to be his main driver (a big ego trip), and once all hope of winning was lost, his life had no meaning and he took his own life. Was he inspired by his own 'ethnic Germans' to prosper in a peaceful country? I doubt it. Nazi policies of ethnic cleansing and uniting all 'ethnic Germans' under one Germany was highly flawed, and dependent on the regional policies of Nazi SS commanders in occupied territories. For example, in Poland, many people who were not considered 'ethnic Germans' were classified as Germans as the Nazis could not be bothered to process them otherwise. The classification of 'ethnic Germans' itself was highly subjective and flawed and it was an impossible task to undertake, which is why 'corners were cut' if indeed there were any corners. Himmler took a very pragmatic rather than purely ideological approach to Nazi policy. If one cannot honestly tell one's own people what one's ethnic policies really are, and has to lie about them and hide them, then that is hardly patriotic and in the population's best interests. The Nazis used non-ethnic Germans in the SS, their elite fighting force. For example, Bosnians muslims were drafted into the SS and trained up. The Nazis considered them excellent fighters as their religious beliefs made them good soldiers and very loyal, more so than faithless 'ethnic Germans'. How many neo-nazis would accept that Hitler admired the muslims? Most far right extremists who admire the Nazis believe that muslims are their enemy. In addition, Hitler's stance towards homosexuality was inconsistent. His policies were anti-homosexual but he tolerated the open homosexuality of the head of the SA, Ernst Rohm and his deputy Edmund Heines. Rohm and Hitler enjoyed an extremely close personal relationship. Rohm was only imprisoned later as he had become a political threat. So today's national socialists and communist sympathisers would do well to look at history without rose tinted spectacles. And not idolise highly flawed past historical leaders who contradicted their core ideologies, who were basically power hungry, ego-orientated bullies will little interest in the wellbeing of their own people.
Ironically, Himmler had been in communication with the Allies behind Hitler's back with a view to exchanging a number of Jews for supplies. This request was denied by Churchill and the other Allied Leaders. Clearly there was little concern for the lives of the Jews amongst the allies. Towards the end of WWII, Himmler could sense defeat, and was in contact with the head of the Swedish Red Cross, Count Folke Bernadotte of Wisborg, with a view to potentially allowing some of the concentration camp victims to be freed. In the end, it was agreed to allow Belsen-Bergen to be taken over by the Allied Troops, to serve as an idealised 'positive' example of what a concentration camp actually was.
Belsen-Bergen was considered by the Germans to be the most humane and least murderous of the concentration camps. However, Himmler was not aware of how conditions at the camp had deteriorated, and how disease had killed many Jewish inmates (as opposed to execution and gassing as at other concentration camps). Between 1943 and 1945, an estimated 50,000 people died there, up to 35,000 of them dying of typhus in the first few months of 1945.
Folke Bernadotte arrived at Belsen to inspect the casualties and was horrified as were the rest of the Allied troops.
1947 UN Partition Plan, on 20 May 1948, Folke Bernadotte was appointed the United Nations' mediator in Palestine, the first official mediator in the UN's history. In this capacity, he succeeded in achieving a truce in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and laid the groundwork for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Bernadotte was assassinated on 17 September 1948 by members of Lehi, a Jewish Zionist terrorist group sometimes known as the Stern Gang. The assassination was approved by the three-man Lehi 'center': Yitzhak Shamir, Natan Yellin-Mor, and Yisrael Eldad, and planned by the Lehi operations chief in Jerusalem, Yehoshua Zetler. A four-man team lead by Meshulam Makover ambushed Bernadotte's motorcade in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood and team member Yehoshua Cohen fired into Bernadotte's car. Bernadotte and his aide, UN observer Colonel André Serot, were killed. An ironic end for a man who tried to help Jewish concentration camp victims perhaps more than any other.
Japan, the Soviet Union and Communist China were in fact equally as guilty of nationalism, imperialism, racism and atrocities/ethnic cleansing as Nazi Germany. Stalin was in fact more guilty of ethnic cleansing/genocide than was Hitler, but it is less fashionable to criticize communism than Nazism, which people love to hate more because of its stated, explicit racial policies. The extreme left and extreme right often seem to meet to bring left and right into a full circle. People often assume that communist human rights abuses are 'equal' amongst all the population, apart from the elite in power, and not selectively racist. Hitler wore his racism on his shirt (although he tried to shield the German people of what was actually going on with the extermination of the Jews whilst making them feel complicit in a 'lighter official, Nazism-lite' version of events which was presented to the German nation, whereas Stalin just got on with ethnic cleansing whilst pretending he was a true communist.
A web site summarising some of the death tolls of modern 20th Century dictatorships and wars is listed below.
The biggest mass murder and despot of the 20th Century must surely be Mao Tse Tung, also spelt Mao Zedong, whose rule of Communist China between 1949 to 1975 resulted in the deaths of between 40 and 70 million people, which is the same figure of the total number of military (non-civilian) deaths in WW2 combined for all participating or invaded countries. These victims of Mao were all no doubt 'equal' or equally dead. Possibly the single most murderous act of the 20th Century must surely be the deliberate flooding of the Yellow River, in China, in 1938. This was perpetrated by the Chinese Nationalist government, Kuomintang, in order to halt the advance of the Japanese invading force. It was arguably unnecessary and the flood killed an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 villagers.
Estimates of the number of deaths under Stalin's rule in the USSR vary. Counting the number executed for political or criminal 'offences', those executed whilst in investigative custody, those who died in the GULAG and those who died during kulak forced resettlement ('rich' peasants who resisted the Collectivisation policy), provides a total of 9 million deaths. If we include the 6-8 million deaths attributed to the Holomodor famine, a.k.a. the Ukrainian genocide (10 million if we count the total famine deaths across the USSR as a whole), then this brings the total dead up to 15-19 million. Some even estimate it at 30 million.
The 1931-32 famine was deemed to have been caused by incompetent agricultural policy of Collectivisation, the state taking possession of all agricultural land and having the peasants work on it collectively, thereby reducing output; but on the whole it was largely attributed to the state hoarding huge grain reserves which it refused to release to starving Ukranians as it believed they were exaggerating, continuing to export grain, and enforcing draconian anti-theft laws for grain supplies; or perhaps on purpose as an indirect form of genocide, Ukraine having shown the most resistance in the past to the regime. The total grain output in 1932 was deemed no worse than 1931. The worse famine under the Tsars rule cin 1892 claimed approximately 400,000 lives. During WWII, both Nazi and Communist forces sought to destroy the infrastructure of the 'enemy's' territory, resulting in widespread starvation amongst indigenous civilian populations.
The survival rate amongst POWs captured by the Russians amongst the axis forces was very low, typically between 5 and 10%, the rest dying of starvation, malnutrition, exhaustion or disease on the march or in labour camps. Those POWs captured during the Battle of Stalingrad alone who later died in Soviet captivity number was roughly between 250,000 and half a million.
The holocaust in Nazi Germany and its captured territories during WWII, killed approximately 6 million European Jews. Also killed were a number of dissidents, gypsies, disabled people, political prisoners, and any arbitrarily (non-scientifically) classified as non-ethnic Germans. The number of Jews killed by Nazi Germany is almost equal to the number of Ukrainians allowed to starve to death by the USSR, however, few make a fuss about the Ukrainian genocide. The holocaust almost pales into insignificance if we consider the possible maximum estimated total figure of 30 million victims during Stalin's rule. The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 resulted in between 800,000 and 1,000,000 deaths, yet this is rarely discussed compared with the holocaust. Clearly all such executions and human rights abuses are wrong, but it is helpful to gain a little historical perspective.
People like to pick on Nazism but pay much less attention to the far worse despots of the 20th Century. It is helpful to put Nazism into historical perspective. Hitler whilst imprisoned drew his inspiration from popular books on Genetics, which were based on the concept of Eugenics. This is an extension of Darwinism where one ascribes undesirable social behavioural qualities to physical characteristics and one seeks to selectively remove those with these physical qualities from the population. Ironically the dawn of anthropology, whilst introducing many novel scientific methods, came to very bizarre conclusions. Early anthropology was indeed very racist and very different from modern anthropology today. The upper and middle classes at the end of the British Empire during the Edwardian era were very scared of the dawn of mass consumerism, the spread of democracy especially amongst the poor, and the preservation of high culture, and fearful of the spread of the culture of the working classes. Practitioners of the occult regarded it as a priviledge for the elite and not something for the masses and 'common man'. The western industrialised countries on the whole regarded their 'white' stock as being superior to their respective colonised populations, with a pecking order of evolutional superiority. This was used to explain the success of the British Empire for example. Eugenics was very popular as a concept. It was even a famous British author, D.H. Lawrence, who first came up with the concept of a gas chamber for killing undesirable people (tramps, working class etc.)
It could be argued that a state such as Nazi Germany would have arisen whether it was initiated by Hitler or not. Indeed, many states were quietly indulging in ethnic cleansing in any case. The Nazi government was quite popular in Britain at the time, prior to the war. The fear of communism was rife in Western Europe since the Russian Revolution which occurred during the First World War. Western nations were fully aware of the anti-Jewish policies of Germany but weren't really very bothered. Indeed, during the war, when the extent of Nazi's racial policies became clear, nothing was done about it. Of course, the public were told that one of the reasons they were fighting the Germans was because they were evil and slaughtering fellow human beings in occupied territory, but in reality it was mainly territorial and perhaps financially related. The allies had knowledge of where the actual railway lines were that lead to the concentration camps, that carried millions of Jews to their deaths, but these were never once bombed. They chose other targets to bomb instead, strategic, military and civilian. The allied governments did not lift one finger to help the Jews in occupied territory, only to defeat Germany, and help people in liberated territories as they came upon them. Churchill even declined an offer from Himmler to trade the lives of Jews for trucks prior to the invasion of Normandy. Rudolf Hess himself defected and escaped from Nazi Germany and flew a plane solo to Scotland, whereupon he contacted the authorities with a view to working with the Allies to negotiate a peace settlement with Germany - he was promptly arrested, and sent to prison, without trial, where he lived until his death. Evidently the Allies were not interested in any moves towards peace and wished to continue the war until the bitter end. History is told by the winning side and the motives for war are always glossed over to make them sound good and to inspire loyalty and patriotism.
The relationship with the USSR amongst the West Europeans was a little strained during and after WWII. Clearly, Stalin had shown his true colours when he signed a deal with Hitler, his arch enemy, in order to gain territory when both sides invaded Poland in September 1939. This officially marked the start of WWII. The Allies claimed to be outraged, however it was only really when France was invaded that many of the allied nations became involved in the war. The USSR went to war with Nazi Germany when the Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa. The USA did not bother until the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Stalin was however annoyed that the West European Allies had not not launched their final attack on the Western Front until June 1944. Did the Allies want to see Hitler inflict more damage on the USSR? Or were they focussed on the right strategy, waiting for the right moment, gaining enough intelligence and building up sufficient forces? The Allies were also distrustful of the USSR and suspected that there might be problems after the war, with the USSR being evasive about what was going on in their captured territory and indeed within their own country. Both sides pushing to reach Berlin first, however the USSR reached there first.
The aftermath of WWII of course saw the Soviets retained control of all captured land, on the pretext that it wanted a buffer, a set of satellite states to protect against any possible future Germany aggression. However, it was more an imperialist strategy of spreading communism, or rather gaining more land in their control, than the Trotskyite model of global (indepdendent) revolution. When it was established that the USSR was not going to cooperate with the Allies over the captured Eastern Bloc, did the Allies choose to go to war with Russia, seeing as they had the Atomic bomb and superior numbers of troops? After all, the Allies officially went to war with Germany over the invasion of Poland, and ironically the USSR invaded Poland twice during WWII. The Allies knew what the USSR's real intentions were at the start of WWII, making allies when it suited their needs and desire to capture territory. Did the USSR hold onto its captured territory on account of its disappointment with the allies during the early 1940s? Or was it all along intending to spread it's empire as much as possible. It was most likely more of the latter. The Allies rhetoric of standing up against totalitarian invasion and standing up for self-determinism were hollow words, as it was not prepared to go to war with the USSR over 'East Europe'. If the USSR had pressed on through Western Germany and beyond prior to the Western Allies reaching Germany, then would the Allies have gone to war with the USSR? Almost certainly. But clearly they did not care a great deal about Eastern Europe. It was not as interesting financially or strategically for them.
After WWII, East German communist forces continued to use Nazi Prison camps to detan dissidents, not in a dissimilar manner to the Nazis ironically. One particular Nazi concentration camp in East Germany was used by East German communists and between was run between 1945 to 1950, killing of total of 7000 prisoners. This is a small number compared to the number who died in the GULAG, but still a huge number.
So the East Germans swapped one dictator for another. Poland was occupied by both the Nazis and the Communists. For the Poles who lived in the UK, and who fought alongside the British army in various parts of Europe, they were not invited to take part in the Allied Victory Ceremony, as Churchill was afraid he might upset Stalin. They were not made welcome in the UK, and many decided to emigrate back to Poland, despite it being occupied by Communist forces. When they arrived back in Poland, they were not trusted by the government on acount of their political affilitation and familiar with non-totalitarianism, and many were told that they were not welcome. Many were imprisoned or harrassed by the authorities. Not much thanks for fighting with 'allies' and for those that died to help the allies.
Were the allies fighting the wrong dictator during WWII? It is all very well in hindsight to criticise, but it is helpful to look beyond the propaganda of both sides and examine the actual facts. Clearly politics is always about compromise, and no politician today is regarded universally in a good light, especially during times of war. We should not look at either the First or Second World War with rose tinted spectacles either. It is important to recognise the commitment and efforts of the troops involved, and appreciate the spin that they were sold by their own governments, and remember those who were not acknowledged or recognised for their efforts. It is easy to acknowledge Nazi propaganda, and blame those who fell for it, but we should consider the systematic and long term brainwashing that went on, and also the propaganda of our own governments. We should also remember the silent victims, the innocent civilians who were imprisoned, killed or executed. Not only during the war, but also during 'peace time' at the hands of brutal regimes. Not many think of their sacrifice or suffering.
© 2006-2014 Fabian Dee