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Life at № 42

Reflections on White Masculinity via The Guardian + Society’s failure to discuss ideas.

[The book is] “slated for 2018 . It’s based on interviews with four different groups around the world. One of them is an organization in Sweden which helps young neo-Nazis and skinheads get out of the movement. Another is Exit, in Germany, which does the same with German neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and Life After Hate, a US group created by former members of the far-right extremist movement. The fourth group, called Quilliam, is a foundation based in London that helps ex-jihadists get out of the movement.

My book is really about masculinity and how men get into these movements and how they get out – how masculinity is entirely wrapped up with this. These are guys that really think that they don’t matter in the world and have been tossed aside.

Participation in the movement gives them validation of their masculinity. There are some differences, of course. The ex-neo-Nazis who go through the program in Sweden are on average 16 or 17 years old. The German guys are a lot older and have a different trajectory. They come in largely through connections they make in prison. They are burglars and petty criminals who are radicalized there.”

Source: ‘Angry white men’: the sociologist who studied Trump’s base before Trump | World news | The Guardian

I’ve been wondering if one can come up with a reasonable theory regarding how large groups of people sometimes (readily) embrace destructive ideologies. Those following religion generally have the excuse of being indoctrinated from birth- those who choose to adhere to groups that offer a zero-sum-game vision of the world are an entirely different story.

I have the impression that much of the responsibility for it rests on the quality of public discourse and debate. Looking through today’s papers it seemed that over 90% of the political articles focused on identity based themes. How to mobilize in the Trump era is a recurrent topic. In the past weeks I’ve seen at least 20 variations of that title. Isn’t the best way of mobilizing to actually have debates? To really overcome racism, sexism and their companions, shouldn’t we be discussing those very things? Debating why they’re harmful to society and how they’re in stark opposition to the values of the enlightenment and modern democracy.

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19 comments on “Reflections on White Masculinity via The Guardian + Society’s failure to discuss ideas.

  1. violetwisp
    February 28, 2017

    People are too busy working in jobs they hate to pay off enormous debts, getting drunk and watching reality TV. They don’t have time to discuss things!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth
    February 28, 2017

    Here, in America, people are too busy doing precisely what you’ve mentioned in the OP. They’re mobilizing according to identity against Trump. I’m not sure that’s going to be terribly effective. For one thing, it’s making the Whinger-in-Chief out to actually be a victim(he isn’t). He whines and whines that everyone’s out to get him. And, I’ll be damned, that’s what it looks like. Instead of us, as citizens, working out our differences, coming together as a block and picking our battles we seem fragmented. Even moreso when you consider that some number of those who are black, Muslim, women, Latino, LGBT, etc., actually support Trump.

    I haven’t said much about it lately because my head is spinning. I really don’t know what to make of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. The debate looks like and feels like an exercise in futility.And with all the automatic finger pointing real substance is lost.
      There are tremendously important concepts that underpin the things people say- so when Mr. Trump says Paris is “a disaster”, the discussion we should be having is what are the very ethics of making such a statement?
      If a single world leader had said NY city was a disaster after 9/11, would anyone have applauded?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ruth
        February 28, 2017

        I’m not sure. In a sense it was a disaster, though I don’t think anyone would have applauded that fact. Yet in another the resolve of the people made it anything but a disaster. I feel quite certain that the people of Paris, Nice, and every other place where terrorists have

        That’s the thing about Donald Trump, though. He really doesn’t have a very broad vocabulary nor a great command of the English language. His adjectives leave a lot to be desired. Everything is either ‘Amazing,’ or ‘Beatiful,’ or ‘A Distaster’. If something bad happens or everything isn’t optimal it’s ‘a disaster’. Everything is exaggerated for dramatic effect. He’s very dramatic.

        If we spend all our time reacting to his broad, overly dramatic, rhetoric we’re going to be spinning our wheels for the next eight years. Make no mistake he will be reelected if those of us who see his presidency as a ‘disaster’ don’t get our shit together.

        For one thing, I’m just not one of those who thinks we should oppose everything he does at every turn just to be obstinate. That is precisely why we have him now. Though those on the right will never ever own it, Obama was opposed by the Republicans at every turn. Nothing was getting done for the people. I believe the Congress should work with whoever is in that chair for the good of the citizens and the good of the world. That’s why the middle class felt left behind – because all that bickering isn’t good for anyone. When you stomp your foot and oppose every.single.thing.all.the.time. people stop listening to you. When you work diligently for the citizenry for their best interests, if you stomp your foot and oppose something then it means something. People take note. People listen.

        Furthermore, what you’ve said here is true. We’ve got to stop being so small-minded, so narrow-minded. If we want our country not to be racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic or whatever other negative attribute you can throw in there it starts with us. We’ve got to have these discussions. And we’ve got to be willing to listen. If we don’t become the voice of reason and if we don’t stop the chaos that this administration has admitted that it is striving for they will get exactly what they are aiming for. Deconstruction. Deconstruction of the American system, deconstruction of the EU, deconstruction of any kind of globalization.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ruth
        February 28, 2017

        Sorry, I was interrupted and didn’t finish my thought there.

        *I feel quite certain that the people of Paris, Nice, and every other place where terrorists have made good on their attempts feel the same way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s the nail on the head: Deconstruction versus construction. And the debate to be had there is if we as a society, as countries, as people, believe in the value of community and collaboration or if it’s a fight to the death to see who comes out the “winner”.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ruth
        February 28, 2017

        I feel that our current administration sees value in the death-match. They want a breakdown of globalization, yes, but even beyond that they seem to want a breakdown within the closed systems, themselves(i.e. races/classes/religions). I do recall Mr. Trump saying early on in one of the debates that you couldn’t be great unless you were rich. I think he means that not only as a country, but as individuals as well. As much as I hear folks on the right bemoaning identity politics(and I don’t care for it, myself) they are using it to revert to an old hierarchy. Welcome to 1950.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. belasbrightideas
    February 28, 2017

    Honestly, the longer I live, the less I understand human beings. I think we harbor the seeds of our own destruction, as they seem to be spilling out of every crack and crevasse these days, and in the most horrendous ways. Unlike the stunning interplay between cheetah and gazelle in the game of survival, there is no strength in this aspect of the human dance but only ugliness. To live to witness this one step forward, ten steps back herky-jerky of humanity is to live with a kind of depression. Best I can do is to shed any expectation that we hold the keys to any sort of redemption and live my own life as if all beings matter. Because, at least to me, they do. Hugs, Pink. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • acflory
      March 1, 2017

      Humans have always been a mix of Angel and Demon, or empathy vs me-me-me, so there will never be a ‘perfect’ society, but some eras foster one side more than the other. At the moment, me-me-me is in the ascendant. I just hope I live to see a return to a more balanced view of life. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

      • belasbrightideas
        March 1, 2017

        And I harbor no such illusions. But may it be so, for you. 😉 Aloha.

        Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        March 1, 2017

        Ah…I once spent 1 hour in the airport terminal, out on a funny little terrace in the warm Honolulu night – between flights – but aloha to you too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • More balanced exists, just not in the mainstream. It’s one of the reasons we left where we lived before. It was a place where everyone saw he world in the first person and in the first person alone.

        Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        March 1, 2017

        😦 I’m not sure I’d call Sotogrande mainstream, but point taken. I may be fooling myself but Australia, or my little corner of it, still feels balanced as well. Sadly, history is far too full of examples of imbalance. Let’s hang on to ours for as long as we can.

        Like

      • Mainstream in the sense that it’s the prototype of the lifestyle the media sells as “ideal”.

        Like

      • acflory
        March 2, 2017

        Oh! lol Yes. Glamour, glitz and the beautiful in-crown. 🙂

        Like

      • acflory
        March 2, 2017

        grrr….’crowd’. Hard to type with a cat sprawled across your lap. 😦

        Like

  4. agrudzinsky
    March 1, 2017

    Political debates are the backbone of the Russian propaganda TV. The “debates” don’t convince anyone. They just rile up the crowd and make it angrier.

    Based on what we discussed in your post regarding Milo, I don’t think debating this crap is a good idea. Allowing fascists to publicly “debate” their ideas means acknowledging their views as valid and worth discussing. No, they are not valid and not worth discussing. Humanity has already gone through the hell caused by these ideas and it all has already been said and done. Discussions are not needed. What IS needed is educating the youngsters about this crap and what it leads to.

    Nazism is resurrecting because the collective memory of the horrors of the Holocaust and communist repressions is fading away. The generation who witnessed them is dying out, and the generation who never lived under either of these regimes is becoming politically active. Education is the answer.

    It’s interesting to note that the ideas of supremacy are the other side of the inferiority complex. This is a different topic, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I worded that badly. I didn’t mean confrontational debates but, more as you put it, education. A public discussion regarding the origin, consequences and ethics of ideas. Enlightenment ideals weren’t about dogma, they can be explained, and I think that’s not being done enough.

      Liked by 1 person

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