The East Is … White? Xi Jinping Is A Cracker?
Stan Grant, a white guy who is a leading commenter on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Oz's BBC), believes that China's hegemonic brutality is -- wait for it -- a manifestation of Whiteness. He writes:
It is not possible to understand China without understanding race and racism. Specifically, without understanding whiteness.
Yet far too often the conversation around the rise of this new superpower is in predominantly geo-political terms, about authoritarianism versus democracy, about human rights — or whether we will go to war.
But race sits at the heart of it all.
But Stan, you might be thinking, if Chinese nationalist thinking in the Xi era is built around Han Chinese superiority, how on earth is this the fault of white people? Ah, Stan's way ahead of you:
In some ways, Xi's China may represent the end of whiteness. Except that the Chinese Communist Party itself mirrors whiteness.
The irony is Xi has also become what he opposes. He is a Han nationalist — his idea of Chinese power is ethnic Han superiority — persecuting non-Han, non-white people in his own country.
If whiteness is power, Xi Jinping is its champion.
The continuation of white power, in darker skin.
David Rieff tries to make sense of this in his Substack newsletter. Excerpt:
Imperialism is a White Supremacist construct, and therefore to be an imperialist power is to be a white power, even if you are, well, non-white. And say what you will about Grant, he carries this argument to its logical conclusion. Xi’s China might have represented the end of whiteness, he laments, but instead “the Chinese Communist Party itself mirrors whiteness.” How can this be? Well, it has turned out that Xi is a Han nationalist, committed to the idea that “Chinese power is ethnic Han superiority.”
Grant is probably right about this. But instead of this leading him to question his own efforts to put all forms of capitalism, including the Chinese, indeed, arguably all forms of power, into the Procrustean Bed of White Supremacy, Grant doubles down, insisting that Han persecution of non-Han is nothing less white people persecuting non-white people.
One feels as if one has entered a lunatic asylum. The Han are not white, and somehow they are. But in Grant’s world, and in this he is in no sense expressing a fringe view but rather is an emblematic figure of a very wide current of an opinion, whiteness is a synonym for power, full stop. Thus, for Grant, the tragedy of Xi’s China is that it has become what he believes historically its opposed, whiteness, of which, he says, “Xi Xinping is its champion…the continuation of white power in darker skin.”
Whiteness as metaphor, in short. It is this metaphorization of understanding, no is the deepest intellectual, and in some ways, the deepest philosophical ill that afflicts us.
This is not one of those things you can roll your eyes at ("Look at those lunatic liberals, ha ha!") and move on. As Rieff -- a man of the Left -- notes, Grant's view is not on the fringe, but represents "a very wide current of an opinion" among Western elites -- particular white Western elites.
Where do these liberals -- white and otherwise -- think all this "blame whitey" stuff is going to go? It is one thing to examine the racial dynamics within society and culture; it is quite another to blame another race entirely for the evils of the world, as if it were an expression of their racial being ("whiteness"). There is a reason why people can say whatever vicious thing they want about white people as a group, and not only will there be no consequences for their racism, but they may even be promoted within the elite system -- but nobody would dare speak ill of non-white peoples as a group. So you get the absurd claim that Xi Jinping's racism is really white racism.
Again, where do they think this going to go? David Brooks was shocked by the closet anti-black racism of some Latino members of the Los Angeles City Council, revealed in a secretly recorded and released tape. Brooks wrote:
Besides being offended by the racist comments made by members of the Los Angeles City Council — as so many people were — I was also struck by the underlying worldview revealed during their leaked conversation.
Council President Nury Martinez — who has since resigned from the Council — along with two colleagues and a labor ally talked about a range of subjects, including redistricting, but two assumptions undergirded much of what they said. Their first assumption was that America is divided into monolithic racial blocs. The world they take for granted is not a world of persons; it’s a world of rigid racial categories.
At one point Martinez vulgarly derided someone because “he’s with the Blacks.” You’re either with one racial army or you’re with another.
The second assumption was that these monolithic racial blocs are locked in a never-ending ethnic war for power. The core topic of their conversation was to redraw Council districts to benefit Latino leaders.
“It’s real simple,” one of the participants in the conversation said at one point. “You got 100 people, right? Fifty-two of them are Mexicano. I feel pretty good about it. I feel pretty good about my chances of beating your ass.”
Those two assumptions didn’t come out of nowhere. We have had a long-running debate in this country over how to think about racial categories. On the one side there are those, often associated with Ibram X. Kendi and others, who see American society as a conflict between oppressor and oppressed groups. They center race and race consciousness when talking about a person’s identity. Justice will come when minority group power is used to push back on white supremacy. “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination,” is how Kendi puts it.
On the other side, there are others, like Thomas Chatterton Williams, Coleman Hughes and Reihan Salam, who argue that racial categorization itself can be the problem. The concept of systemic racism is built upon crude racial categorization. As Williams puts it, America should fight racism while over the long term getting rid of “the categories that come out of the collision of Africa and Europe in the slave trade and the New World.”
You do that by emphasizing how much all humans have in common and by emphasizing how complex each person’s identity is — that it includes race but so many other things, too. The last thing you want to do is traffic in the sort of racial essentialist categories that were so rampantly on display during that conversation among the City Council members.
That conversation is what happens when the assumptions of the former school of thought are embraced as a matter of course. You don’t get a righteous struggle against oppression. You get a bunch of people who assume that public life is a brutal struggle of group against group, and who are probably going to develop derogatory views of people in rival groups.
Well, yeah, but it's a little late for that, don't you think? We have been through at least ten years in this country of the demonization of white people as a group, by elite culture -- including elite media culture, which has magnified these outrageous, racist claims of people like Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, and others. And by Woke Capitalism, which has empowered these race radicals within corporate life. Here in Central Europe, where I now live, it's common to hear Europeans working for US multinationals express frustration that their American bosses have introduced American cultural politics into their European workplaces.
About fifteen years ago, when I was at The Dallas Morning News as a columnist, I mentioned in a piece -- maybe I quoted somebody, or said it myself, I can't recall -- that in Dallas, there was a lot of conflict between blacks and Latinos. One of my then-colleagues, a white liberal, appealed to our boss to get the piece spiked, on grounds that it wasn't true and it would cause problems. Though more liberal than I was, my boss let the piece go, because she knew it was true, though liberals in Dallas officially did not notice these things. One of my good friends, a raging white liberal, a gay man who lived in a mixed white-black-Latino neighborhood, wrote in to say that OF COURSE IT'S TRUE, and it's a reality that has to be dealt with. But our elites -- again, particularly white elites -- refuse to do it. They prefer to live in their ideological bubble.
The truth is, tribalism is basic to human nature. Classical liberalism's creation of the Individual as a political unit was a great achievement of justice in most (but not all) respects. This is where Martin Luther King stood: on calling for black people in America to stop being treated by white-dominated society as a monolithic group, but to be granted justice on the same terms as everybody else. He was right. But now "justice" has been redefined as equality of outcome, and branded "equity". Which is why we now have people from favored ethnic groups being massively favored, and others massively disfavored, based not on their actual talent and performance, but based on their race. Take a look at this:
Related, this insane University of Minnesota doctors' graduation rite in which the new physicians vowed to fight structural racism and the usual suspects in their profession:
You know what this is going to do, in the long run? Drive people to seek out Asian doctors for the best medical care. That is to say, it will diminish the faith people have that their physician, whatever his or her color, is about as competent as any other physician. Now we know that doctors were admitted to medical school on the basis of ideological categories that included privileging race over intellectual capabilities.
If we talked about "blackness" in America the way we talk about "whiteness," you would hear endless discussions in the media about how "blackness" is making cities uninhabitable because of crime. Never mind that the victims of black crime are overwhelmingly black people; such complicating factors don't trouble the minds of liberals, who prefer Theory over messy Reality when it comes to social issues (conservatives tend to be this way about free-market economics). We hear little talk about the many factors contributing to multigenerational black poverty, which itself drives crime. No talk about the collapse of the black family, and of the kinds of values internal to any community that make it possible for the young (and not so young) to flourish. There is only one acceptable response to the culture framed by the media and other elites: somehow, this is the fault of Whiteness.
I mentioned in this space the other day, I think, that a Baton Rouge cop said recently that crime in the majority-black Louisiana capital has never been as bad there as it is today, and for the first time, it has become general in the city, not confined more or less to the black neighborhoods. That's bad, but the worst part was his saying that he can't imagine anything that's going to make it better. You can't have stricter policing, not after the Summer of Floyd (Baton Rouge was where the Alton Sterling event played out; even though the Obama Justice Department investigated and found the two white officers had behaved properly in that killing, bad feeling is everywhere). And, said the officer, there don't seem to be any forces internal to the city's impoverished black community that work towards social stability. I did mention a despairing white Boomer liberal friend in Baton Rouge, a former juvenile court judge who said that if you want to see why things are so horrible in our city, go spend some time in juvenile court. He went on to explain that the total collapse of the black family, and the social consequences thereof, are shocking, and inescapable. Middle-class professional white people there don't talk about it if they share any doubt about the liberal narrative, because we either don't want to be seen as racist, or we genuinely wonder if noticing some of this stuff is racist. Middle class professionals of all races can afford to push that out of mind, because their kids don't go to school with the ghetto kids, and the ghetto, being far away, keeps its problems to itself. Not anymore, at least not in my former city.
But these realities are certainly escapable by people who don't have to face these unpleasant facts, and by liberal elites who manage the Narrative. You would think that history would have shown us the great evil of scapegoating people on the basis of race and religion. But here are our liberals, doing it as a matter of course -- even to the point of blaming Chinese racism on white people. Tell me, how does this mentality differ from this letter from Martin Latsis, head of the Soviet secret police in Ukraine, to his agents, explaining to them how to carry out Lenin's campaign of Red Terror:
Do not look in the file of incriminating evidence to see whether or not the accused rose up against the Soviets with arms or words. Ask him instead to which class he belongs, what is his background, his education, his profession. These are the questions that will determine the fate of the accused. That is the meaning and essence of the Red Terror.
We have seen what that did in the Soviet Union. And in Nazi Germany. And in the segregated South. And in Rwanda. And all over Europe in ages past, when Christians carried out pogroms against Jews. Tribalism, which is hard to distinguish from racism, is fundamental to human social groupings. It's in our nature. We can try to overcome it, but it's always going to be there, and is always going to emerge in times of great social stress. The Latino, anti-black tribalism we saw in Los Angeles is the way most of the world works. The de-tribalization wrought by liberalism is in one sense one of its greatest achievements. (The down side is the loss of the capacity for social solidarity, but that's a different topic.)
And yet, the Left and its Establishment-Right allies, have thrown it all away. Somehow, they really do believe that only white people are racist, and that if we can only contain and suppress the whites, who carry within their whiteness the polluting seed, then racial utopia will emerge. They're scandalized, then, to hear Latino politicians talking in raw, racial terms behind closed doors. Do they not think that black pols in L.A. do the same thing? More to the point, do they not think that black voters and Latino voters outside of polite middle class settings, think and talk in the same way? Working-class whites do. This is the way of the world. Learning to see all people are morally equal, and to treat them that way, even when it strains tribal loyalties, is an achievement of civilization. Atticus Finch, Harper Lee's fictional white small-town lawyer who stood against his own tribe to defend a black man in a Jim Crow Southern court, is a symbolic hero of the classical liberal tradition. No more: according to liberals like this black law professor, Atticus is a "white savior" and a "dangerous myth" because of the concept of justice that he symbolizes.
Today's liberals see justice not at Atticus Finch did, but as Karl Marx did. And they are counting on all the whites of the United States to behave as whites on campus do: with guilt-ridden docility. I do not believe it's going to go down that way, not if there's any kind of serious economic collapse. This is why for years I've been banging on about how leftist identity politics inevitably calls up demons among whites that the leftists will not be able to control. Last week, I heard a lecture by Carl Trueman, who spent some time in it talking about the erotic pull of Evil, and mentioning the Nazis being absolute masters of aesthetics. Sitting in the audience, I thought about how one thing that has kept wokeness from realizing its full potential as a tyrannical totalitarian ideology is the fact that it is not sexy. Or at least they haven't found a way to make it sexy yet. If the radical Right, white tribalist types ever manage to master aesthetics, we could be in real trouble in this country.
I think what gets to me most about that moronic Stan Grant piece is what it demonstrates about the need for our intellectual classes -- media, academic, scientific, etc. -- to avoid seeing the world as it is, and instead construe it in such a way that reassures them in their prejudices. Eventually, a system that lies to itself about reality is going to collapse. What Stan Grant wrote in that column has no value as serious analysis about contemporary China and its ambitions, but as David Rieff observes, Grant's approach to understanding reality is quite common among his class. This is how these people really do see the world. Once you spend enough time among them, and come to see that there are entire areas of human experience that they don't want to know about, because it violates their internal model -- well, you realize that our society is more fragile than you think, because the people who run it live by therapeutic lies.
When that social order breaks down, it will be back to blood for everybody, as a matter of survival -- thanks in large part to the postliberal American Left, which did so much to raise consciousness of racial identity, and make that the most salient political characteristic in American life today. That they have done this in a highly diverse society, where we have to find a way for all of us to live together in peace, is unforgivable.
Get weekly emails in your inbox
Hannah Arendt said in her 1951 book The Origins Of Totalitarianism that a shared characteristic of the pre-totalitarian liberal elites in both Russia and Germany was a carefree willingness to knock down pillars of civilization, simply for the pleasure of watching those who had been unjustly excluded in the past rush in to claim a place for themselves. When the history of our own civilization's decline and fall is written, note will be taken of the Western elites -- not all leftists, not by a long shot -- who destroyed the moral and legal pillar rejecting collective guilt, and, along that spectrum, those who destroyed the liberal principle of judging people not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.
The Stan Grant idea of equating power with whiteness is a stupid, ideological way of reading the world. But Stan Grant is a big deal in Australia -- and, as David Rieff said, Grant's orientation towards the world is common, at least among the ruling class. People like Grant have a lot of power to set the Narrative for the way we all come to understand the world. It is important to understand that they cannot be trusted.
UPDATE: Australian readers write to say that Stan Grant identifies as Aboriginal, not white. So noted.