Even maligning white people and culture is white supremacy

Correct me if I'm wrong, I don't see people here talking about a very important kind of white supremacy.

I do see people discussing discrimination, prejudice, bias, and structural forms of racism, discrimination, and privilege, and their histories, as well as overt and coded white supremacy.

But I don't see people discussing a third kind of white supremacy. I'm not sure what name to give it. Maybe you can help me. I would call it "bourgeois" white supremacy, because it's rooted in the errors of the Enlightenment.

This is the white supremacy that basically views white traditions as "objective," "emancipated," or "self-evident." Or it views white traditions as "a Leading." In reality, white traditions are not universally valid. They are expressions of a particular tradition and culture: white culture.

White people are not objectively more beautiful, white social customs are not universally valid, white traditions are not The Truth.

Duh. Right?

Except there's a catch. The catch is that it is possible to profoundly criticize white culture and people from a perspective of bourgeois white supremacy; it is possible to confess all of our prejudice and racial sins in a way that is profoundly white supremacist. It is possible to call white people and culture the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth, in a way that claims white culture is The Truth.


In order to criticize something we need criteria. Where do those criteria come from? When those of us who are steeped in white culture criticize white culture, we are doing so using criteria that come from white culture.

In other words, there is circular reasoning here.

Any attempt by white culture to deny the circular reasoning, even by criticizing whiteness as if from an abstract, "objective observer," like an omniscient narrator, is an act of bourgeois white supremacy. It would be viewing white traditions and culture (and "criteria") as True, or self-evident.

If the circle is denied, the **very act** of criticizing white people claims that those (white) criteria are the Supreme, the Ultimate, the Good, the Beautiful, and the True. The act of criticism using white criteria is the act of white supremacy.

Even the words I'm writing come out of white traditions--this is not an alien language, it's white English. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that, and it is inescapable for some. Every act of culture--language, art, philosophy--comes from somewhere. My words come from white culture--a culture that is not Supreme.

From the way I'm understanding things these days, to overcome bourgeois white supremacy, we must admit our circular reasoning. There is nothing to be ashamed of in using white criteria to criticize white culture. But affirming the circular reasoning destroys the claim to Supremacy.

At the end of the day, the kinds of white supremacy as seen in white privilege, discrimination, structural racism, and the KKK--these all fail to live up to the ideals of white traditions and culture.

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Comment by Chaplain Stogumber on 7th mo. 16, 2016 at 8:23am


there are a few things which are objectively better than others. Which means that they are generally liked, even by non-whites, and that without much proselytizing, pressure or indoctrination.

That said, I support your case for cultural relativism. Definitely. At the peak of cultural relativism, there was the Star Trek Prime Directive which "prohibits Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations".

Whites have gone a lot downwards since these times. A lot of them are now missionaries, aggressively proselytizing for unreflected "good causes" all over the world, like they were in the first period of imperialism.

Comment by Darrin S. on 7th mo. 18, 2016 at 5:51pm

It is actually not so much a case for cultural relativism as pointing out that cultural relativism, among many other things, is a white value. That said, it is a white value I support.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 18, 2016 at 7:28pm

A "white value"?

I get: [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_relativism ]

"Cultural relativism is the principle that an individual person's beliefs and activities should be understood by others in terms of that individual's own culture.

"It was established as axiomatic in anthropological research by Franz Boas in the first few decades of the 20th century and later popularized by his students..."

It sounds like a good principle for anyone wanting to understand why "They don't do stuff like we's around here know is good and right and proper!" -- or a good practical consideration for anybody traveling someplace where he might be outnumbered & not particularly welcome.

A "value"?

A [sic] "white value"?

The article continues: "... This principle should not be confused with moral relativism."

Um, maybe you'd meant _that_? [see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism " ]

"Moral relativism may be any of several philosophical positions concerned with the differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures. Descriptive moral relativism holds only that some people do in fact disagree about what is moral; meta-ethical moral relativism holds that in such disagreements, nobody is objectively right or wrong; and normative moral relativism holds that because nobody is right or wrong, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others even when we disagree about the morality of it."

"Not all descriptive relativists adopt meta-ethical relativism, and moreover, not all meta-ethical relativists adopt normative relativism. Richard Rorty, for example, argued that relativist philosophers believe "that the grounds for choosing between such opinions is less algorithmic than had been thought", but not that any belief is equally as valid as any other.[1] "

"Moral relativism has been debated for thousands of years, from ancient Greece and India to the present day, in diverse fields including philosophy, science, and religion...."

but that isn't a 'value' either.

Quite a few people of quite a few ethnic backgrounds do value exotic persons, artifacts, ideas, foods" -- and much appreciate the fact that we weren't all created battleship gray with identical ideas. That's not "a value", however, more of a personality trait.

But many none-white people have had to learn to be wary of white people bearing surveying instruments, glass beads, lawyers & heavy weapons...

Comment by Darrin S. on 7th mo. 18, 2016 at 10:27pm

Do I really need to say that just because it's a white value, that doesn't mean it's exclusively a white value? That seems outrageously obvious to me.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 19, 2016 at 12:11am

So all you were saying was that there are white people who approve of cultural differences?

Given how many of us there are who'd rather live in a bleached out world, with no danger whatsoever of anything unfamiliar or unexpected ever happening to them... except perhaps for brief visits, when they get bored, to vast amusement playgrounds with names like Europeland or Africaland or Asialand...

About all one could safely say is that "Some people like a little variety; while some of us would just as soon not have any." Why should 'black,' 'white', or any of the other human color phases people mistreat each other over -- come into it at all?

Comment by Kirby Urner on 7th mo. 19, 2016 at 12:15am

I used to clerk a program run by AFSC in Portland focusing on racism / negative stereotypes / suspicions / lack of trust, between Asian and Latino ethnicities.  Lots of prejudices.  The program worked well, bringing groups together, organizing trips, dances, leadership forums.  I found it refreshing to work with racism issues, but not particularly with so-called "whites" (people of no color) and their attitudes. The name of the program was LAAP.  Our main paid staff were from Ecuador and the Philippines. My role was volunteer and low key.

Comment by Darrin S. on 7th mo. 19, 2016 at 12:46am

PS Forrest to your point above, I don't care if we call moral and ethical relativism a value (I am not sure I understand your quibble with that term but in any case, if you call it X, it is a non-exclusive white X--philosophical position? Ok, so be it).

My point about white supremacy is this: let's say we decide that moral relativism is the supreme accomplishment of human species, as someone did in their comment above. And indeed, I agree: relativism is a philosophical gem of white culture, among other cultures. Keep in mind that in white culture, moral relativism has a history stretching back thousands of years, epitomized by the Reformation, Descartes, Hume, the discipline of anthropology, and on and on.

The white supremacist thing to do in this case is first to identify the white version of moral relativism as an objective human value, found in all cultures.

We could then go around saying "native american cultures are way more morally relativistic than white culture: look at these intolerant working class white bigots voting for Trump!" I'm saying that is white supremacy because the white understanding of moral relativism is the moral yardstick by which indigenous peoples are being called superior.

Asians do better in white school structures than white people--they're so smart and so good at math!

Check out this black guy whose dancing, when judged by the standards of white esthetics, is better than any white guy I've ever seen--what a compliment! But see, it's not white supremacy because we're saying nice things about brown people and bad things about white people.


But we're so used to this kind of thinking. It's so easy and seems so innocent and free of condescension. But it is white supremacy.

What I'm saying is, we need to watch the yardstick by which we're measuring the world--at the end of the day, no matter how many other cultures we're exposed to, it's always going to be a white yardstick. And there's nothing wrong with that--it's the only yardstick we have as white people. It's a great yardstick--one I'm proud of, but it is decidedly a white one.

Until we own that, we will commit white supremacy every day.

Comment by Kirby Urner on 7th mo. 19, 2016 at 1:17am

Maybe you're talking about ethnocentrism and our blindness to it?  "Whites" come from many diverse backgrounds and fight each other to the death over cultural issues.  Which whites think they're the supreme ones, all of them?  No wonder they fight!  Lets all be proud of our cultural heritage, whatever that is. 

Comment by Darrin S. on 7th mo. 19, 2016 at 1:28am

I'm saying there is nothing wrong with ethnocentrism (if defined as evaluating one's own and other cultures according to the standards of our own culture)--I'm saying this kind of ethnocentrism is not necessarily a bad thing and in any case, it is entirely inevitable. And I'm saying that the way we white people habitually deny our ethnocentrism is white supremacy.

The problem is that instead of admitting that's what we're doing, we often pass off our ideals as somehow objectively valid, universal, invisible, or spontaneously authentic. And I'm saying this falsehood is a betrayal of white culture and values.

The only step I'm inviting us to take is to simply embrace ethnocentrism. But I promise you: try to do this and it is very radical. Ever since I have started trying to do this, I have noticed this white supremacy everywhere, particularly in myself. I could say more but will stop there :)

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 19, 2016 at 1:48am

So you're saying that people are ethnocentric? Well, yeah; being that way is a good yardstick on how well you can count on anyone you don't know personally to behave in the ways you expect.

A couple of thousand years back, in Hellenistic civilization anyway, that was about the only way people had to navigate their social universe. Biblical characters? -- You get a word or two about their pedigree, the name of the town or region they're from -- and (for anyone who knew the available stereotypes at the time) that was all you needed to know.

What traits people use to separate their ingroup from all those outgroups -- Those don't need to be 'racially' based. In the United States, due to our ongoing history of slavery -- they are. In 16th Century Europe they tended to be based on religious affiliation.

But the real point might be something I noticed back when I used to have more dealings with homeless people: Their 'ingroup' was whoemver they felt safe with, whomever they had some confidence in not to let them down; race didn't look to make all that much difference.

With everyone else... people who've lost a lot, but are still afraid of losing more -- Different ethnic groups look a whole lot more like The Enemy. ("Maybe our troubles are because 'They're getting all the goodies We ought to have'.") Racial & ethnic hostility is rising because a whole lot of people are hurting -- and a lot of money has gone into mystifying everyone about some pretty obvious reasons why we keep on getting 'Brave New World for the rich, 1984 for the poor.'

As long as Liberals in general, and Quakers in particular, are focusing on 'identity politics' we're missing the more significant causes of human suffering -- wars, 'austerity' policies, harsh and judgemental treatment of people who've been crushed under a corrupt and crashing tangle of dysfunctional social machinery.


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