If people really want to understand the persistence of white supremacist ideology they need to understand the powerful need people have to exist within the context of a narrative that transforms the chaos of life into definable structures of cultural value.
When dominant narratives break down and fall apart, like during times of national crisis, peripheral narratives have opportunities to seep in, especially if they claim restorative power in the face of national humiliation and defeat.
Nazi Germany, for example, emerged from the post-WWI conditions imposed on it by the victors. But don’t take it from me, here is a quote from a film featured at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website:
The humiliation of Germany’s defeat and the peace settlement that followed in 1919 would play an important role in the rise of Nazism and the coming of a second “world war” just 20 years later. What shocked so many in Germany about the treaty signed near Paris, at the Palace of Versailles, was that the victors dictated a future in which Germany was deprived of any significant military power. Germany’s territory was reduced by 13%. Germany was forced to accept full responsibility for starting the war and to pay heavy reparations. To many, including 30-year old former army corporal Adolf Hitler, it seemed the country had been “stabbed in the back”—betrayed by subversives at home and by the government who accepted the armistice. In fact, the German military had quietly sought an end to the war it could no longer win in 1918. “It cannot be that two million Germans should have fallen in vain,” Adolf Hitler later wrote. “We demand vengeance!”
The big news that capped another crazy week is the ouster of Steve Bannon. In the interview he gave The American Prospect, Bannon said something I happen to agree with (which of course to some will just further confirm I’m a card carrying member Alt-Right). Even though I’m opening myself up to further smears, here’s the part I agree with:
“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
I have been advocating for more focus on economic issues for awhile, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the Democratic DNA anymore. The lasting effects of what the Clintons did to the party in the 90’s is a significant factor in the rise of peripheral narratives gaining more traction.
In constructing my own fictional narrative (which I hope to start sharing soon) I researched two other significant factors contributing to what people are now seeing rise to the surface: the occult and conspiracy culture.
I’m not sure the reaction to what happened last weekend will lead to a better understanding of the elements at play, or a shift in focus from identity politics to economic populism. Instead, symbolic statues open to interpretation are being argued over, taking the battle in Charlottesville to dozens of different locations across the country.
With the media fanning the flames of conflict between Nazis and Antifa agitators, what happened last weekend will spread.