Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Tom Pepper launched another one of his treatises on ideology on The Faithful Buddhist. This time he argues that the mass shootings last weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio by two avowed White Supremacists were not about racism, but Capitalism and the desperation of the working class, and the failure to propagate the right ideology: class struggle.
You can read Tom Pepper’s article here so you understand what I am referring to.
I offered a comment on the article that the two mass shooters publicly espoused White Supremacy and White Nationalism in their online screeds and manifestos, that White Supremacy/White Nationalism are violent ideologies that drive young White men to terrorist acts against immigrants and Hispanics (El Paso), Black and brown people (Dayton) and queers (the transgender brother who was shot first in Dayton).
Tom Pepper refused to publish my comment. Apparently, Tom Pepper wants to hide his own complicity with White Supremacy by saying “it’s not about racism, it’s about Capitalism and class struggle.”
Tom Pepper wants you to believe last weekends’ mass shootings have nothing to do with racism. Almost no one in America believes that lie, except White Supremacists. And Tom Pepper.
Tom Pepper wants to argue that White Supremacy and White Nationalism operate as phantom ideologies that mask the ‘real’ ideology (Capitalism). His argument is that White Supremacy/White Nationalism are not the ideologies that matter in this situation. White Supremacy/White Nationalism are the ideologies that Tom Pepper refuses to own up to.
Tom Pepper wants you to believe that the shooters were ‘extreme cases’ of mentally ill individuals acting alone. Individuals who commit terrorist acts in the name of White Supremacy and White Nationalism never act alone. Their violent ideologies are hyped through propaganda networks that radicalize White communities. White Supremacy and White Nationalism are extremely violent and dangerous ideologies, and Tom Pepper’s attempt to minimize and deny the power of these ideologies implicates his complicity with them.
So I will do my best to recreate the comment that I offered.
Once we understand ideology as the beliefs-in-practices which give our lives meaning, providing us with goals and, importantly, actual social practices in which we can meet those goals successfully, then we can begin to see just how it is possible that for many millions of people in America there is a dearth, not excess, of ideology.
Both mass shooters in El Paso and Dayton publicly avowed White Supremacy and White Nationalism in their online screeds and manifestos. White Supremacy is an ideology that has all the characteristics that Tom Pepper says are required for a powerful and effective ideology that gives a sense of order, meaning and purpose to one’s life, what he calls a ‘hypergood’.
Far too many people today are left without what Charles Taylor calls “hypergoods.” That is, they have no clear organizing principle which can serve to give purpose to all their more quotidian pursuits.” (Tom Pepper).
White Supremacy/Nationalism gives young White men a strong group identity, a sense of meaning and and purpose to their lives, a sense of belonging, a political project—building the White Nation—and a praxis for achieving those personal and political goals. White Nationalism offers defeated White men a powerful role as the bulwark of a White Nationalist State, a Whites-only culture, and the subjugation of people of color.
Tom Pepper refuses to see the historic role that ideologies of White Supremacy and White Nationalism have played in colonization and nation-building, through which Capitalist economies are built. He refuses to see the role of White colonization and White Supremacy in the ‘primitive accumulation’ (Marx) of labour, land and natural resources, in the displacement and extinction of indigenous peoples, of raced-based assignment of labour regimes (slave vs. wage vs. salary vs. profit-sharing), the imposition of cultures of social reproduction (White privileged eugenics vs fragmentation of BIPoC families and communities) and the various forms of enslavement (slavery, Jim Crow, mass imprisonment) that create a permanent Brown underclass and provide White Supremacists and White Nationalist with a sense of superiority and power. Global Capitalism would not have succeeded were it not for the theft of indigenous lands and the extinction of indigenous populations, and the exploitation of labor from Black slaves. White Supremacy and White Nationalism were and are critical ideologies for the imposition of a Capitalist-State regime.
White Supremacy/White Nationalism in America has always worked as an ideology since Slavery to give failed, defeated White men, excluded from White-owned Capitalism and wealth, a sense of power, self-worth, identity, belonging, meaning and purpose to their lives. The ideology of White Nationalism is how they get to own the sense of superiority and pride that is otherwise denied them in terms of real wealth and power as White men. White men who perpetrate violent White Nationalism as terrorists acts against Black and brown people, women and queers enforce White Supremacy and their ‘heroic’ role in its ascendency.
Ethno-religious nationalism has always worked as a powerful ideology that unites a defeated racial subgroup and ignites the kind of racist, ethnic and religious hatred that maintains the power of the dominant race. It works on every continent, and with every racially dominant group against minority racial or ethno-religious groups: Nazi Germany, Islamic Nationalism (Saudi Arabia), Hindu Nationalism (India), Buddhist Nationalism (Myanmar and Sri Lanka), Chinese State Nationalism.
For more on the rise of White Supremacist/White Nationalist terrorism in America: