Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

White Guilt. From Stickers in Ipswich to Identitarian Politics.

with 19 comments

Racist stickers found on streets of Ipswich

A council has taken down around 60 white supremacist posters plastered around a UK town over the weekend, authorities have said.

“It’s OK to be white” and “reject white guilt” were written on signs across Ipswich, according to images shared on social media.

Max Stocker, a council spokesperson, told The Independent they have been working to remove the posters, which also included the message “beware non-white rape gangs”.

Similar messages have been spotted around different parts of the UK in recent months, including Hull and Perth, according to local media.

Signs saying “it’s OK to be white” were also put up in Bristol city centre last week.

Some of these posters bear the mark of Hundred-Hands, a group encouraging the spread of posters containing messages of white supremacy over social media.

Sam Murray, an Ipswich resident, claimed she removed 10 signs in the town herself.

“This does not have a place here,” she told The Independent.

“Ipswich is a nice town,” she said. “It is diverse and normally people just get on with their lives.”

Bryony Rudkin, deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council, called the white supremacist messages “deplorable”.

“This racist behaviour does not represent the people of Ipswich or our town,” she said.

“Council staff have been out over the weekend taking these stickers down.”

Police are investigating the posters and aware of similar reports in other areas of the UK, a Suffolk Police spokesperson said.

“It’s OK to be white” spread as a slogan across the US several years ago, and posters started appearing across American universities.

One of the few telling points in Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission (2015) was his invention of a group called “Indigenous European – a direct response to the Indigènes de la République which claims to represent “colonial subjects” on French territory.  This is not the product of the jaded writer’s imagination. I Identity politics is the mainstay not just of campus politics but also, in Houellebecq’s twist, of an influential section of the European right. Génération Identitaire claims to stand for Europe against the “Islamisation of Europe” and the “migrant invasion”. Hope Not Hate writes that the British offshoot, Generation Identity, has this basis.

Martin Sellner, de facto spokesperson for the movement, talks of the need to preserve “ethno cultural identity” which extends back to an ancient European heritage.

Houellebecq illustrates how identity politics have moved on from the time when Naomi Klein could regret that “The need for greater diversity – the rallying call of my universality years – is now no only accepted by the culture industries. It is the mart of global capital. And identity politics, as they were practiced in the nineties, weren’t a threat, they were a gold mine.” Hollywood and the media aside, these issues have shifted into national populism, fall out from the EU Referendum, and the efforts of those who failed to oppose the Hard Right Brexit project to throw a smokescreen about Labour’s election disaster. (1)

Now we have people putting up stickers spreading the right-wing identity message. Those there say that at the Farage rally to celebrate Brexit last Friday some also repeated other ideas from this quarter, the fight against “cultural Marxism” held responsible for the other side, in the argument, liberal identity politics.

This is not just a fringe movement.

Prominent Spectator writer Douglas Murray’s Madness of Crowds (2019) is a sally against the “religion of social justice” prompted by “identity politics”. His The Strange Death of Europe (2017) is a lament about the suicide of Europe through mass immigration. The Spectator writes ends with a plea against those politicians who wish to “change our home into an utterly different place.” In short, Europe’s identity is under threat from others. Murray anglicised Éric Zemmour’s complaints against post-68 ‘cultural Marxist’ attacks on “(famille, nation, travail” with Renaud Camus’s fear of Europe’s inhabitants being replaced by newcomers, the Grand Remplacement. (2)

During Brexit we’ve often heard that the ancestral inhabitants of Britain are under threat from metropolitan, and cosmopolitan, elites. The late Roger Scruton observed in 2017 that, “The question of identity is bound up with that of sovereignty: who governs us, and from where?” Spiked runs a profitable ‘anti-woke’ troll farm promoting national populist, and pro=Brexit,  identity politics under the mask of saying, “Identity politics is really for rich white people“.   This ‘question’ has received a left response: the ‘real’ working class, who struck a blow against the capitalist EU in the Leave revolt, is under attack from liberal identity politics. Some with no doubt admirable aims speak of “the caricature of the white working class as racist and culturally conservative”.  In Haringey Labour it’s been debated that the working class needs its separate party group (Haringey: Labour members call for ‘working-class section’ in bid to regain power).

Identitarians.

The identitarians, who have branches across Europe, including Britain, were founded in France. Struggling against ‘cultural Marxism’, affirming their culture and selves. Douglas Murray has talked about “desire to continue to feel yourself guilty..” for the legacy of Empire. This is an idea can be traced back to Pascal Bruckner’s Le Sanglot de l’homme blanc (1983). From disillusionment with Third Worldism, the belief that revolution would come from the global South, the French essayist has not stopped exploiting the theme. In La Tyrannie de la Pénitance he already observed, in 2006 Western “masochism”, the desire to apologise for the, very real, crimes of imperialism. Imprisoning people in their ethnic and racial identities, leads to individuals staking up a tally of resentments, not to free themselves as a collective group with universal right. Many will sympathise with Bruckner and his conclusion that “shame” should be replaced by a common search for freedom. But most people who read La Tyrannie would retain the diatribe against those protesting at past atrocities and injustices, and his mocking at the “agglomeration of tribes” standing against the common identity of Citizenship. (4)

There is a point at which identity politics on the left meets the far right and that point has been reached by the French Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR) The PIR’s spokesperson Houria Bouteldja offers a picture of the world in imitation of US Black Power. She melds attacks on ‘Whiteness’ (Blanchité) and laments for the decline in Arab virility. Bouteldja takes it upon herself to speak for the “nous”, the “Noirs”, the blacks to the ‘vous’, the ‘Blancs’, the Whites, and has some words of advice to the “vous”, the ‘Juifs’, the Jews. In the struggle for the voice of the indigenous she affirms a belief that commemorating the memory of the Shoah is, for whites, the “the bunker of abstract humanism”. Anti-Zionism is the “space for an historic confrontation between us and the whites”. She has been pictured with a placard reading “Zionists to the Gulag”. Bouteldja is fêted in Berkley and other ‘post-colonial’ academic quarters. She has been given space in the populist US left journal, Jacobin. A certain Richard Seymour has called her “admirable”. (5)

White Guilt.

Those now rushing to affirm working class identity should take note of that adventure. Those who wish to talk about a halt to White Guilt have more in common with their approach than they might wish. Both the side attacking some kind of inheritance of ‘whiteness’ and those trying to stand up for an indigenous, left-behind, working class share something with the right-wing ‘identitarians’. That is the immense weight they claim for the past. The enemy of human rights and the French Revolution,Edmund Burke, would be amused to find that political debate has become a squabble about the “Inheritance from our forefathers”, the ” partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”

This Blog prefers another side of the dispute altogether

Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.

Tom Paine.

 

 

  1. Page 115. No Logo, Naomi Klein. Flamingo. 2000.
  2. Page 320. The Strange Death of Europe. Immigration, Identity, Islam. Douglas Murray. Bloomsbury. 2017. Eric Zemmour, Le Suicide Français. Albin Michel. 2014. Le Grand Remplacement. Renaud Camus. 2011.
  3. Page 4. Where We Are. The State of Britain Now. Roger Scruton. Bloomsbury. 2017.
  4. Page 175. Murray. Op cit.
  5. Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous. Houria Bouteldja. La Fabrique. 2016.

19 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. However much this movement is criticised by yourself and people like you there is simply no doubt that it is a reaction to fifty years of political correctness and a liberal establishment that was constantly apologising for slavery, colonialism and finally, being white. It is significant that in this article you make no mention of the racist rant on Good Morning Britain last week by Professor Kehinde Andrews where he described being white as a form of disease. He should be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred but instead is defended by his employers, Birmingham University, on the grounds of free speech, disgusting.

    I am afraid that the genie is out of the box and there is an understandable and in many ways justifiable white backlash that has been a long time coming. Just as the PC crowd can only explain Brexit by accusing those who voted for, and campaigned for it of being some species of crypto fascists. Their is a white backlash and it’s the fault of the self hating white liberals who have bowed and scraped to the false god of multi culturalism.

    Dave Roberts

    February 5, 2020 at 3:13 pm

  2. Of course in the last sentence their should be there. You need an editing facility as well as a response one for comments on specific posts.

    Dave Roberts

    February 5, 2020 at 3:15 pm

  3. Marxists would be in favour of a multi-racial society but never a multi-cultural one.

    For reasons why, read Marxs’ views on culture.

    Steven Johnston

    February 5, 2020 at 3:38 pm

  4. Very true, Dave. I couldn’t agree more.

    Mrs Roberts

    February 5, 2020 at 5:22 pm

  5. Alastair Stewart’s “resignation” is a good example of how anti-racism has moved from the streets into the boardroom. Anyone involved in anti-racist campaigns in the 1980s will remember the left wing nature of many of these campaigns. At a time when governments, employers, institutions and much of the trade union movement paid little attention to the idea of equal opportunities it was left to black activists and various radical groups to take to the streets and challenge British racism. Today official anti-racism is part of the boardroom furniture, visualised less through a political slogan on a placard than in the form of a human resources training manual. Rather than acting as a mechanism to potentially unite black and white against their employer it acts as a disciplinary management tool. Being racist, or being seen to be racist, or not even being racist but having someone mistakenly think that you may have been, have all become sackable offences. Here we find anti-racism is no longer about someone’s politics but about “offence”, about feelings and the management of language. In this respect, anti-racism has become more akin to a new etiquette regulated by authorities and employers, a form of therapeutic protection for people who are officially labelled as vulnerable. It has been interesting to note that many of those defending Stewart have done so by describing what a gentleman he is, to all people. This is not entirely insignificant but nor is it necessarily anything to do with being for or against racism. Indeed, in the 19th century it was upper class gentlemen who embodied most fervently the elitist outlook of the racist. But once anti-racism becomes understood as a form of politeness both the “sacking” and the defence of the “gentleman” Stewart make sense. Of old, it was not only radicals who would oppose people being sacked for having incorrect opinions, there was a more general sense of solidarity and recognition that it was not the place of employers to determine correct thoughts and ideas. Today, in comparison, there is an understanding that you can be sacked for causing offence – it has become a new norm. Similarly, there is an understanding that if someone offends you, you should complain to the authorities. In this respect, the complainant in the Stewart affair was simply following the correct protocol of the modern citizen. There has been a significant backlash to the events at ITN. Many have questioned how this official approach helps the cause of equality, pointing out how divisive it is and how forcing reactionary ideas underground or creating an atmosphere of anxiety amongst different sections of society helps nobody. They have a point.

    SW

    February 5, 2020 at 5:25 pm

  6. ALASTAIR Stewart’s “resignation”

    SW

    February 5, 2020 at 5:29 pm

  7. ALASTAIR Stewart’s “resignation” is a good example of how anti-racism has moved from the streets into the boardroom.

    SW

    February 5, 2020 at 5:31 pm

  8. Anyone remember the left-wing hierarchy of radicalness from the 1980s?

    Black people were more radical than white…

    Women were more radical than men…

    Young people were more radical that old people…

    Well, what a load of ball & locks that turned out to be.

    As, all you had to do was look at a picture of Karl Marx when he wrote Das Kapital.

    Though these days they’ve have to update to read that LGBT+ are more radical than straights. That the disabled are more radical than the able-bodied.

    Steven Johnston

    February 5, 2020 at 5:41 pm

  9. Thanks! Seeing racial collectivists go at each other’s throats is the nest best thing after watching the DEM and GOP parties flinging ordure through the screens on their cages. Keep up the good work. p.s. Nice Brexit!

    oiltranslator

    February 5, 2020 at 5:48 pm

  10. Andrew Coates

    February 5, 2020 at 5:51 pm

  11. Almost as funny as the spats between Randians & Libertarians.

    Or Randians and Whittaker Chambers!

    Steven Johnston

    February 5, 2020 at 5:52 pm

  12. So a young, black, disabled LGBTQA+ woman is the most radical of them all? Is that what you are saying, Steven?

    Emily

    February 5, 2020 at 5:53 pm

  13. What about slave reparations for the great-great-grandchildren of slaves? It is the big talk in the States at the moment so it is coming our way for sure. Do you think think the descendents of black slaves should receive compensation, financial or otherwise from the State, Steven?

    Emily

    February 5, 2020 at 6:14 pm

  14. Emily you got it! You’ve won a 12 month membership to the SWP.

    Steven Johnston

    February 5, 2020 at 6:17 pm

  15. I can’t help noticing that “identity politics” – as regularly denounced in the Morning Star and by Spiked Online – only (according to them) seems to have afflicted one side of the Brexit debate (just as the so-called “culture war” is only ever waged by the “liberal” side).

    Blue Labour’s appeal to “family, faith and flag is not denounced as identity politics; nor is David Goodhart’s appeal to the “people of somewhere”; nor is the repeated invocation of what he calls the “white working class” by Morning Star favourite Ian Lavery MP (they even touted him as a possible leadership candidate for a while!)

    Yet the Communist Party of Britain (the ideological masters of the Morning Star) could, in the immediate aftermath of the general election, put out a statement (“Politics of identity – British, Scottish or European – rather than class win the day”) accusing Labour of failing to defend “the millions of working-class and Labour supporters of Brexit… in many working class communities hard-hit by industrial decline since the 1970s [who] saw this as another, more grievous example of betrayal by their own party, its leadership and a London metropolitan elite”.

    Marxists have a criticism of “identity politics” — of “naming and claiming”, of the idea that just to name yourself as part of a given group is to claim a moral backing for your words and actions, above and beyond evidence and reason. But the Morning Star’s idea here is just “identity politics” in the form of claiming moral authority as representing non-metropolitan, non-London, “traditional” people.

    “Class” vs “identity”?

    The Spiked Online, the Morning Star, the CPB and other Stalinists and semi-Stalinists (e.g. Andrew Murray and Len McCluskey) pretend to counterpose what they call good old-fashioned “class politics” against identity politics (“culture wars”, etc.).

    The problem for these people is they understand class not by Marxist analysis (property relations and relationship to the means of production), or even serious bourgeois social science, but by categories drawn up by the marketing industry (the “National Readership Survey”) that defines the “working class” as semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers lumped together as “C2DE”.

    This category becomes even more problematic when applied to retired people, no longer part of the production process or connected to organised labour.

    What lies behind most of the talk about identity politics, “culture wars” etc is a refusal to recognise that the working class has long been in large part ethnic minorities, women and LGBT+ people and is now majority white-collar. These are at least as much Labour’s “heartland” constituents as retired white former manual workers.

    Jim Denham

    February 6, 2020 at 9:33 am

    • Exactly, well put Jim.

      Andrew Coates

      February 6, 2020 at 11:52 am

  16. So because labour refused to recognise this, they voted tory instead.

    All makes sense now, thanks for clearing that up Jim!

    Steven Johnston

    February 6, 2020 at 10:10 am

  17. I agree Andrew, that is what the Tories did and that is why they won the election. It was that simple.

    Steven Johnston

    February 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm

  18. Thanks Jim.

    rebeccalesses

    February 7, 2020 at 2:30 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: