Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism

March 17, 2019
Posted in Blog
March 17, 2019 Editor
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Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism

drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

WN: There is much on “savage capitalism” on this website. This expression likely references Rudyard Kipling’s famous line “The savage wars of peace” from his classic pro-American Empire poem: “The White Man’s Burden: The United States & The Philippine Islands, 1899“.

Further, a direct connection between such mass killers and Donald Trump is made in this article: “People who do despicable acts of hate keep praising Donald Trump and so do far right Christians“.[1]

This beside the fact, as reported in this post, that an international Tribunal just found Trump and Filipino dictator Duterte guilty of crimes against humanity!…

There is also a post on this website: “Kipling, the ‘White Man’s Burden,’ and U.S. Imperialism“.

A “dummy spit” (as seen in the article) is akin to a puerile hissy fit: “The act of overreacting (as an adult) to a situation childishly, in an angry or frustrated manner.”

There is hope in the response by New Zealanders. Please see: “Because There Is No Difference: On Bikers, Headscarves, Haka and Unity“. And the action described in this article is deeply moving: “Christchurch Mosque Attacks Survivor Farid Ahmed Says He Forgives Terrorist Who Killed His Wife“.

excerpts:

Despite his own denials, anti-Muslim xenophobia underwrites the 74-page manifesto compiled by Australian mass murderer Brendan Tarrant. The title itself, The Great Replacement, references a far-right conspiracy theory holding that white genocide is being engineered by useful idiots amongst the liberal elite advocating mass migration, demographic growth and cultural diversity.

To this conspiracy theory, the failure to uphold cultural and racial supremacy is identified with the destruction of whites. The politics of the dummy spit underwrite the belief that acknowledging the existence of and respecting other cultures and ethnic groups is tantamount to the death of the Self. It reflects the mentality of the infantile ego, yet to discover the existence of others outside of the realm of the known, associated in practise with the ego.

It is not a little telling that this atrocity was carried out on the same day as the latest in a series of large-scale climate strikes by secondary students throughout Australia and the world. On the one side, those directly threatened by a very real crisis took active measures to do something positive and constructive. On the other, a small group of people preoccupied with the threat of the existence of others carried out a negative and destructive atrocity. The contrast could hardly be clearer.

What to make of the difference between the two? In an eponymous [same name — as question posed] 2017 work[2], anthropologist Ghassan Hage inquires, is racism an environmental threat? Hage explicitly links the global rise in racism, demagoguery and bigotry, of which we can quite easily include this latest Christchurch massacre, with a reaction amongst elite groups to the social consequences of climate change.

In awakening a need for meaningful and profound social change amongst increasingly vast sectors of the world’s population, Hage argued, the climate crisis has come to present increasingly clear and present threats to elite privilege. It has done so in the main, he contended, through rude infringements of scientific fact and lived daily experience on the ideological mores that have upheld a world order of haves and have nots built on 500 years of colonialism.

Such formed the basis, Hage argued, for a tendency within advanced capitalism to oscillate between what he called ‘savage’ and ‘civilised’ capitalism—the ‘savage’ being that of the racialised associated with the early period of colonialism. The ‘civilised,’ by contrast, was of the type commonly associated with modern industrial capitalism and the liberal democracies associated with it.

This oscillating tendency reflected in essence a scapegoating dynamic[3], deriving from the fact that capitalist development remained an ongoing process after it had reached an advanced stage. This was specially insofar as late capitalism is plagued by periodic crises driven by the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, or by democratic challenges from below. This, Hage argued, drove the oscillation between ‘civilised’ and ‘savage’ modes, as privileged elites returned to violence to rescue their privilege from the shortcomings of the system that upheld them, or from democracy, or from both.

The Islamic bugbears and hobgoblins in particular were created as a result of the power of the corporate media to control the meaning of deviance and impose their definition on public discourse[4]—not on the features of those so demonised. The global instability created by a world order in which the richest one percent owned half the world’s wealth and the richest ten percent owned ¾ of it could be blamed on the Islamic Other.

Which brings us back to this latest example of white supremacist terrorism in Christchurch. Nothing about this atrocity and the terrible loss of life is special, other than the fact that it took place on the same day as the latest round of climate strikes lead by secondary students. The contrast between the preoccupation with conspiracy and manufactured crisis and the very clear scientific understanding of climate crisis reflects with a unique conspicuousness the function of the former in dodging the reality of and constructing scapegoats for the latter.

If whites are feeling insecure, this has nothing to do with the social and environmental consequences of global economic modality built on the assumption that the world is an infinite resource and infinite garbage dump—it is the fault of those existing outside of the culturally hegemonic and supremacist monoculture for existing. Herein lies the scapegoating dynamic of savage capitalism, built on a white victim complex refusing to acknowledge any difference between respecting other cultures and the death of the Self.

As Ghassan Hage noted, the impetus for the scapegoating of savage capitalism and the white victim complex arises out of accumulation crisis, as the very real social, economic and environmental consequences of maintaining the world of haves and have-nots becomes harder and harder to sweep under the rug. As corporate-captured governments around the world continue to fail to act on climate change in prioritising profit over the planet, opposition from the young in particular can only ever grow.

As long as they continue to be useful in suppressing the ultimate reality that there is no class privilege on a dead planet, prominent Islamophobes in the corporate media and politics (Andrew Bolt and Cori Bernadi here in Australia being prime examples) will continue to promote the conspiracy theories driving the likes of Brendan Tarrant and Anders Brevik to deadly violence. In the end, the terror that these atrocities produce for the affected communities only reflects the racialised terror from which the Western-dominated world order was born, and whose consequences condemn us all to ecological Armageddon.

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  1. [1]In it we read:

    The New Zealand Mosque white supremacist terrorist’s manifesto praised Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” (I bolded the word terrorist because, I haven’t seen it used in many headlines. Apparently, that word is reserved by the media for followers of Islam.)

    There it is again, Trump keeps getting praise heaped upon him by the most despicable people on earth. The reason they admire him is because his constant dog-whistling resonates with them. They get what so many right wing Christians apparently do not–Donald Trump kindles hatred and bigotry, not just in this country, but around the world. The worst representatives of “whiteness” on the planet love Donald Trump. Christian Trump supporters, you’d be better off just admitting it, these are your teammates.

    The leadership of America’s largest hate groups all look to Donald Trump for inspiration. They go on record with it. David Duke slobbers all over himself singing Trump’s praises.

    And Trump keeps fueling the flames of hatred. Just yesterday, he made an extremely thinly veiled threat against his opponents by saying that he has the support of the police, military, and Bikers for Trump and implied things “would be very bad, very bad” if his supporters decided to get “tough” on his opponents. These are the kinds of things that give unstable bigots ideas. These are the kinds of irresponsible comments that cause things like we saw in New Zealand–or Las Vegas–or Orlando–or, well, you get the picture.

    I know I’ve asked you this before, right wing Christians, but I’m going to ask again: are you cool being teammates with these kinds of people? Will you even admit that your guy in the White House stokes them up and they all seem to be big fans of his, like you are? Does it bother you in the least that this stuff keeps happening and the common denominator is that the terrorist perpetrators are white supremacists who admire the man you say is doing God’s work?

  2. [2]A book review link is here.
  3. [3]There is much on this website about scapegoating, with reference to brilliant theorist René Girard.
  4. [4]Please see in this connection “Rupert Murdoch Is a Relentless Purveyor of Islamophobia“.

Editor

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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