White supremacy is an indeterminate but vital concept in modern political discourse, particularly in Britain and America, where it is most commonly used. As a tool of political assassination it is often successful, so feared are its present and past associations; but what does it actually mean?
Trump, we are told, is a ‘white supremacist’, or at least has a taint of the ideology in him, or at least knows people who have. He ‘dog-whistles’ to openly white supremacist groups. His very platform is based in white supremacist doctrine, and appeals, implicitly or directly, to those who understand certain words and gestures.
But still, and alas, few if any of the media figures making these charges appear willing to spell out what white supremacists actually want, or why Trump sympathises with them, or even why it would be a bad thing if he did.
Just because something is elementary doesn’t mean it can go without saying. We need to be told what something means if we are to condemn it, and no-one at present is bothering to do this. The dull public is supposed to recoil from the term itself, shocked into skipping any effort at private reasoning.
But we won’t do that here. What is this thing and why is it bad?
According to dictionary definitions, white supremacism is any system of belief holding that white people (Europeans) are superior to other races, and that political arrangements, whether in individual countries or internationally, should reflect that.
Some white supremacists are relatively gentle, others absurdly hard-line. Proposed courses of action range from simply acknowledging the preferability of white people in existing policy areas (such as immigration), to wiping non-whites from the face of the earth through systematic mass murder.
Where are we supposed to believe Trump sits on this spectrum? Where are the Proud Boys? Where was Hitler? Most interestingly, where is the average person today?
Superiority can be objective or subjective depending on the aspect being considered. Beauty, for example, is more the latter, while intelligence is more the former.
Though IQ tests are imperfect, we can note by their evidence that European people are not the most intelligent race around, apparently inferior to both northeast Asians and Ashkenazi Jews. Northeast Asians are also healthier, with longer life expectancies, and more numerous, more hardworking and less violent. Black Africans are faster and more fertile, etcetera.
These facts could easily be cited as evidence against white supremacy as a ‘theory’, but that would not likely diminish its popularity. This is because what is called ‘white supremacy’ is not a theory at all. It is a tradition.
Rather than a simple and vulgar “better than you” calculation, European supremacy (and we will switch from the meaningless ‘white’ label here) is the default and historical condition of all European or European-founded countries.
The United States, despite the declared values of its founders, was created as a European nation. It was designed to function as one, and no doubt expected to remain one as a matter of common sense and intuitive self-interest. And indeed, that supremacy would last as a quite explicit policy until about the midpoint of the 20th century, when the logic underpinning the founders’ attitudes became subject to critical analysis. The 1965 Immigration Act permitted a flow of non-Europeans into the country. European supremacy, once a banal fact, transmuted gradually into a question.
Skipping to the present, America is due to become a European-minority nation in just a couple of decades. (We are working here with ideas of purity traditional to America when counting Europeans. right or wrongly).
In anticipation of this Gotterdammerung, the cultural primacy of Europeans in America is already being actively challenged, and even where usefully extant, lamented.
To have an opinion worth hearing on this matter means choosing from three options: it’s good, it’s bad, or it makes no difference. (This is true also in Europe, Australia, Canada, and anywhere else Europeans have been a majority; all such places are facing the same challenges.)
If you think it might be bad that European primacy is fading in the West, you can expect to be accused at some point of white supremacism. And that’s OK. You are not necessarily a lunatic, a bigot, an ideologue, or even a European. You just happen to believe European countries are better with a European character.
And why might you believe that?
Well, you might be an art-hound and understand that the most richly creative nations have European majorities. You might be gay or lesbian and understand that your enemies are most comfortable in non-European company. You might be an anti-racist and understand that European racism, though real, is at least less open and acceptable than elsewhere (try being Indian in Turkey or African in China). You might be a romantic and understand that the third world, with its caste barriers and tribal character, all but prohibits romance. And so on.
Perhaps some form of liberal white supremacy, though in need of a new name, will become more popular as the demographic transition approaches.
To close, Donald Trump may well believe that America should remain a European-majority country. I am quite sure a lot of his supporters do.
But perhaps a greater diversity of people agree with them than are willing, at present, to say so.