Deliberately Inducing White Guilt

Inducing White Guilt

ANDREW JOYCE

“Group-based guilt is debilitating because it may undermine internal attributions for in-group success and may threaten the in-group’s identity as moral and good.”
    Iyer et al. “White Guilt and Racial Compensation,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2003.[1]

“We’re not sorry! And we’ve stepped over the prospect of being sorry.”
   Jonathan Bowden

I am frequently bemused by the mystery of the failure of our ideas to win over those White masses sleepwalking into permanent displacement from their own lands. That which seems self-evident — the demographic projections, the crime figures, the well-documented plans and trends, the bold intentionality of it all — is yet insufficient to break through into the deeper instinctual consciousness. Why? In a recent conversion I had with Kevin MacDonald, it was mentioned that when White people are told they are being slowly replaced, they get angry. And yet it appears a gentle and transient anger, incapable of translation into clear political trajectories and easily muzzled by the poisonous triad of media, entrenched government, and the academy. My recent reading of Ed Dutton’s Race Differences in Ethnocentrism answered some questions, but provoked more. The text is primarily concerned with what might be termed “hard biological” explanations for low ethnocentrism among Europeans, possibly at the cost of placing too little emphasis on cultural and socio-ecological factors. In particular, I felt the text understated the case that present-day low ethnocentrism is something that has been deliberately cultivated over time, and that part of that cultivation has been the widespread dissemination of shaming propaganda carefully designed to threaten and undermine White in-group identity. I am thinking, of course, about the concept of White Guilt.

Discussions about White Guilt are becoming increasingly common on both the Left and Right, and basic distinctions can be made between explanatory theories. One set of theories ascribes to White Guilt a “dishonest and evasive” character, in which White Guilt is on some level a self-serving and self-satisfying charade that enables Whites to continue to patronise and dominate minorities. These theories emanate from the harder, old-school Marxist Left. Another set of theories ascribes to White Guilt an “honest and spontaneous,” character, in which it arises as genuine feelings of regret at alleged historical wrongs or at the holding of a privileged position in society. These theories emanate most commonly from the center-Left of the ideological spectrum. Another set of theories, ascribes to White Guilt an “honest but cultivated” character, in which White Guilt arises as genuine feelings of regret and discomfort at alleged past and present wrongs, and is the product of a debilitating and ceaseless social critique designed to undermine the ability of Whites to see their interests as legitimate and thus the ability to defend and protect those interests. These theories emanate almost exclusively from the dissident Right. The centre-Right appears to stand alone as advancing no position on the matter, much as it has forfeited taking any positions on mass migration or issues of ethnic identity.

The old-school Marxist position on White Guilt is perhaps best articulated by Slavoj Zizek (pictured), and I am thinking in particular of his critique of the democratic establishment in his February 2019 essay They Are Both Worse! For Zizek, White Guilt is in fact a (conscious or unconscious) strategy pursued by factions of Whites in order to assert moral superiority. He writes:

The Politically Correct prohibition of asserting the particular identity of White Men (as the model of the oppression of others), though it presents itself as the admission of their guilt, confers on them a central position: this very prohibition to assert their particular identity makes them into the universal-neutral medium, the place from which the truth about the others’ oppression is accessible. And this is why White liberals so gladly indulge in self-flagellation: the true aim of their activity is not really to help others but the Lustgewinn [attainment of pleasure] brought about by their self-accusations, the feeling of their own moral superiority over others. The problem with the self-denial of white identity is not that it goes too far but that it does not go far enough: while its enunciated content seems radical, its position of enunciation remains that of privileged universality. So, yes, they declare themselves to be “nothing,” but this very renunciation to a (particular) something is sustained by the surplus-enjoyment of their moral superiority.

There is clearly a lot to unpack here, but I think Zizek has produced a usable critique of White Guilt in spite of himself. Although his ideological commitments prompt him to engage in hyperbolic radicalism (“the problem with the self-denial of white is not that it goes too far but that it does not go far enough”), his basic conclusion that the more effusive strains of White Guilt offer “surplus-enjoyment” and “moral superiority” cannot be easily dismissed. They in fact cohere rather well to arguments of those like Kevin MacDonald, where Whites are deemed to possess a special proclivity for forming and enforcing in-groups based on morality and senses of moral order. In a society divided into moral tribes, which is essentially what the postmodern Left has contrived to create, and in which the possession of White identity is itself deemed immoral, it would make sense that Whites would be conflicted and that some of them would attempt to maintain social standing by making a public demonstration of their lack of ethnic identity. Of course, such a strategy is bound to come with an expiry date. At the present time, Whites maintain majorities — dwindling, but majorities nonetheless — and White Guilt posturing thus brings many more social positives than penalties. However, when Whites slide into minority status and lose significant aspects of local or national power, it isn’t difficult to imagine that, in the context of ubiquitous White-Guilt cultural narratives, retributive penalties imposed by ascendant non-Whites would become increasingly common. It is highly likely that, faced with greater penalties than rewards, effusive White self-flagellation would cease to be a feature of White strategies for social standing. In short, I argue that White Guilt is a warped but explicable ‘luxury’ that is pursued only within the relative safety and encouragement of White majorities manipulated into the belief that possessing a proud White identity is immoral. This perverse luxury cannot, and will not, survive the demographic decline of Whites.

Centre-Left theories ascribing to White Guilt an “honest and spontaneous” character, in which it arises as genuine feelings of regret at alleged historical wrongs, or at the holding of a privileged position in society, are very common in academia. In these theories, White Guilt is often quite narrowly defined, ignoring, for example, responses to Holocaust propaganda or similar works that present a litany of alleged past moral transgressions. Iyer et al. (2003), for example, focus only on the United States and describe White Guilt as “the dysphoria felt by European Americans who see their group as responsible for illegitimate racial inequality.”[2] Their discussion of group-based guilt would seem to indicate that group-based guilt is significantly easier to induce than personal guilt. In one study they mention, it was found that European Americans could be quite easily coaxed into group-based guilt simply by being told that “members of their group had treated outgroups unfairly in the past.” Further studies showed that both White Europeans and European Americans experienced group-based guilt when told they enjoyed illegitimate racial privilege. Once initiated, it would appear this can be quite difficult to reverse, even when faced with negative behaviours from outgroups. This is because one of the central psychological features of guilt is the focus of attention on the self. “Those who feel guilty concentrate on what they have done wrong and the extent to which they are responsible for the harm that has been caused.”[3] A further feature of group-based guilt is the desire to make restitution and a willingness to accept punishment. Much Centre-Left academic research on White Guilt implies, unlike Zizek and his ilk, that it is a genuine phenomenon, though one that has limitations. For example, Iyer et al. comment that while European Americans can be persuaded to “equalize opportunity,” a different set of psychological processes need to operate in order to offer compensation (financial or otherwise) to outgroups. Despite these differences, however, Iyer et al. concluded their study of White Guilt among college students that “White guilt [based in a self-focused belief in White privilege] is an independent predictor of support for compensatory affirmative action.”

Although much of this research seems to imply that White Guilt is a naturally developing phenomenon in response to putative revelations of past injustice, a small number of studies indirectly demonstrate that White Guilt can be easily induced with trigger propaganda. In one study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Harvey and Oswald (2000) attempted to “test the notion that Whites can be made to support Black programs when presented with guilt-inducing stimuli that portray their in-group as oppressors.”[4] The guilt-inducing stimuli was a civil rights videotape that was subsequently found to provoke in 133 White undergraduates “shame, personal distress, guilt, and empathy,” as well as increased support for programs like affirmative action, thus proving the hypothesis that “guilt and shame may be induced within Whites” by having them watch propaganda depicting their in-group as morally transgressive towards out-groups.  Harvey and Oswald conclude: “Our research suggests that guilt and shame may be induced in Whites by having them focus on the perpetuation of oppression by their in-group toward a relatively powerless group.”[5] It is interesting to note that studies have shown that White Guilt is most prominently produced not by focusing on the alleged suffering of out-group members, but through emphasis on alleged White misdeeds,[6] reinforcing arguments suggesting that Whites have a strong tendency to form moral in-groups and to react strongly to morality-based cultural and emotional stimuli.

Such framing was of course in evidence since the days of the Frankfurt School (pictured above) and their work on the “Authoritarian Personality,” and reached a kind of perfection in the late 1970s with the publication of White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism Training (University of Oklahoma Press, 1978) by Judith H. Katz (pictured), an incredibly hostile and profoundly influential Jewish psychologist and ethnic activist. For Katz, White Guilt was perhaps the most useful antidote to White ethnocentrism, something she described (p.11) as a “disease,” and “a form of schizophrenia.” Katz asserted (p.12) that there is sufficient evidence to “indicate that racism is a critical and pervasive form of mental illness.” All manifestations of positive White identity are thus the result of the fact Whites are permanently locked “in a pathological and schizophrenic state,” (p.15), and “being White in America implies being racist” (p. 23). Katz wrote (p.10):

Racism is a White problem in that its development and perpetuation rest with White people. … Therefore, the “race problem” in America is essentially a White problem in that it is Whites who developed it, perpetuate it, and have the power to resolve it, … The psychological disorder racism is deeply imbedded in White people from a very early age on both a conscious and unconscious level.

Katz was, in turn, building on social experiments carried out in the late 1960s by Irwin Rubin, another Jewish psychologist who developed “sensitivity training” as a method to induce White Guilt and reduce White ethnocentrism.[7] Rubin was delighted when his research indicated “that sensitivity training may well be a powerful technique in the reduction of ethnic prejudice [among Whites].” The techniques of Rubin were further perfected and advanced by yet another Jewish psychiatrist, Peter Kranz, who pioneered “racial confrontation” and “race relations” classes at North Florida University in the 1970s designed to induce White Guilt in White students. Kranz, who grew up in a Jewish milieu in New York, argued for multiculturalism without assimilation, and asserted, in the context of discussing his classes and “racial confrontation groups,” that it was Whites who would have to adapt to demographic changes in their environment—i.e., in the 1970s, before the idea of rapid demographic change in which Whites would become a minority was even a topic of public discussion:

Historically, Whites have exhorted non-Whites to make changes so that they would be acceptable as full-fledged Americans. However, events in the U.S. have shown the dishonesty and tragedy of this emphasis. Therefore, a major focus of each group was to help Whites see they must learn and change within themselves if further violence is to be avoided.[8]

The emphasis of the classes was thus on cultivating White self-focus with the goal of inducing White Guilt. And they were very successful, with most White students emerging afterwards repeating imparted mantras. One White female student commented after the course that “it made me cognizant of the insidious nature of racism.” Very similar sentiments were expressed by another White participant following Katz’s course several years later: “I wanted not to be seen as a racist, and I shared with the group my feelings of guilt, as well as my concern about racism.”[9] And, as discussed in one 2001 study, these feelings are still being induced to great effect with one respondent commenting after a race sensitivity course:

“So, I feel like a light bulb has gone on for me. I grew up not having to think about being White very often. … Today I think about being White all the time. Sometimes I feel guilty, sometimes I feel thankful. Then I feel guilty for feeling thankful.”[10]

Intuitively, I suspected that individuals with pre-existing low levels of ethnocentrism would be especially vulnerable to White Guilt inducement, and this appears to have been borne out by at least one study that concludes “participants who had more unfavorable personal evaluations of Whites (low private collective self-esteem) reported more White Guilt.”[11]

Remarkable among discussions of White Guilt in the “mainstream” is the total absence of any discussion of the proliferation of guilt-inducing stimuli in modern culture, and especially the central role of Holocaust education, memorialization, and commemoration in every corner of the White world. I recall being in Baltimore a few years ago, and being stunned by my discovery that the city had a Holocaust Memorial Park (ER: pictured above is a memorial site in California). What connected a city in the Eastern United States with alleged events in rural Eastern Europe more than 70 years ago? This question appears to pale into insignificance against the need for an omnipresent psychological battering ram to break down White ethnocentrism. Thus, every town in the West must commemorate a historical narrative that in many countries remains illegal to question. The Holocaust narrative is perhaps the ur-stimuli of White guilt, and certainly Holocaust historiography has been adapted in recent decades to encompass “bystander historiography” — that is to say, the study of those nations who, although engaged in warfare against the Axis, “did nothing” specifically to help Jews. Holocaust historiography is much like a net that grows every larger in order to drag more prey into the vortex of White Guilt.

From these roots, many branches have formed. Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997) is a classic case of the production of high-level guilt-inducing stimuli, with White audiences being informed that, “like medicine,” viewing the movie would “be good for them.”[12] After viewing the film, one academic wrote for a journal regarding what he observed in the audience, focusing first on a Black couple, and then a White couple:

The white couple seemed to cling to each other in a desperate attempt to manage the tragedy that had unfolded before them in graphic and picturesque fashion; it appeared as if they sought a bond, an unspoken assertion of identity which would allow them to tuck away the collective guilt they had so effectively succeeded in submerging deep within their psyches. I heard the young man ask his companion, “Are you okay?” She replied, “I think I’ll be fine.”[13]

Conclusion

White Guilt stimuli are now ubiquitous in education, cinema, television, policing and justice, and politics. One of the fundamental flaws of Leftist explanations and critiques is that they fail to take into account the interest that hostile minorities have had in lowering White ethnocentrism, and the role of Jews in this particular sphere of activity is well-documented and simply beyond question. Elements of the Marxist critique advanced by Slavoj Zizek are difficult to dismiss entirely. It appears clear that significant elements of White self-flagellators are indeed seeking social standing and enjoying “surplus-enjoyment” in their self-regard as being morally superior, even if this is a strategy that is destined to expire the moment such a lack of collective feeling begins to attract negative consequences. However, only the dissident Right has advanced a theory of White Guilt that covers all aspects of its manifestation. This is the argument that, generally speaking, White Guilt is an “honest but cultivated” phenomenon, in which White Guilt arises as genuine feelings of regret and discomfort at alleged past and present wrongs, and is the product of a debilitating and ceaseless social critique designed to undermine the ability of Whites to see their interests as legitimate and thus the ability to defend and protect those interests.

************

Original article


 [1]
                    [1] A. Iyer et al. “White Guilt and Racial Compensation: The Benefits and Limits of Self-Focus,” PSPB, Vol. 29, No.1, January 2003, 117-129, (117).

[2]
                    [2] Ibid, 118.

[3]
                    [3] Ibid.

[4]
                    [4] R. Harvey & D. Oswald, “Collective Guilt and Shame as Motivation for White Support of Black Programs,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30:9, 2000, 1790-1811, (1791).

[5]
                    [5] Ibid, 1806-7.

[6]
                    [6] E. Knowles & K. Peng, “White Selves: Conceptualizing and Measuring a Dominant-Group Identity,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89:2 (2005), 223-241, (227).

[7]
                    [7] I. Rubin, “The Reduction of Prejudice through Laboratory Training,” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 3:1, 1967, 29-101.

[8]
                    [8] Cited in Katz, 17.

[9]
                    [9] Katz, iv.

[10]
                    [10] J. Arminio, “ Exploring the Nature of Race-Related Guilt,” Journal of Multicultural Counselling and Development, Vol. 29 (2001), 239-252, (244).

[11]
                    [11] J. Swim & D. Millar, “White Guilt: Its Antecedents and Consequences for Attitudes Toward Affirmative Action,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25:4 (1999), 500-514, (505).

[12]
                    [12] J. R. Jeffrey, “Amistad (1997): Steven Spielberg’s ‘true story’,” Historical Journal of film, Radio and Television, 21:1, (2001), 77-96.

[13]
                    [13] C.J. Fontenot, “Black Misery, White Guilt and Amistad,” Melus, 24:1, (1999),

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