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Benoist on racism

Benoist on racism
September 18, 2013, 03:27:18 PM
From What is Racism? by Alain de Benoist*

Fighting racism requires knowing what it is — not an easy task.
Today the word “racism” has so many contradictory meanings that it takes
on the aura of a myth and is, therefore, difficult to define. The following
will attempt to define racist ideology, independently of any sociological
considerations. The first difficulty arises from the fact that racism is a
Schimpfwort: a term with pejorative connotations, whose very use inevitably
tends to be more instrumental than descriptive. Deploying the adjective
“racist” involves using a powerful epithet. It can be a smear designed
to disqualify those at whom the term is addressed. To call someone a racist,
even if the charge is intellectually dishonest, can be a useful tactic,
either in successfully paralyzing or in casting enough suspicion as to curtails
credibility. Such an approach is commonplace in everyday controversies.
On the international level, the term can acquire a significance and
weight that does not hide its real nature and purpose.1 Because of a certain
affinity, “racism” can be used as the correlate of a whole series of other
terms: fascism, the extreme Right, anti-Semitism, sexism, etc. Today, the
almost ritualistic recitation of these terms often implies that they are all
synonyms and that any one falling into one of these categories automatically
belongs to all of them. The end result is to reinforce the vagueness of
the term and to discourage meaningful analysis.
Used in the most diverse senses, the terms “racism” and “racist”
become prepackaged formulas, generating stereotypes. Antiracists tend to
attack racists in much the same way as racists might go after anyone else.
Paradoxically, while the signifier “racist” is vague, the signified is rigidly
fixed. The charge of having a “racist temperament” follows the same reasoning
for which racists are rightly reproached, i.e., vaguely attributing to
an entire group traits found in some of its members which, as Pierre-
André Taguieff has pointed out, generates another problem: “There is no
effective struggle against racism once one creates a false image of it, for
then antiracism becomes a mirror image of the racist myth. To treat in a
racist way those whom one is accusing of racist conduct is part and parcel
of current antiracism, and one of its shortcomings. Above all, to fictionalize
‘the Other,’ even if he be racist, is to miss who ‘the Other’ really is,
never coming to know him.”2
Public opinion’s disapproval of racist theories and conduct itself contributes
to obscuring the issue. In France, where racism is a crime and
where, on the whole, it is severely sanctioned,3 there is a tendency to deny it
the status of an ideology or of an opinion. Furthermore, the law makes no
distinction between racist theory (“inciting racial hatred”) and racist behavior.
Under these conditions, racism has less to do with ideas than with the
penal system.4 As for the approach which tends to define racism as an intellectual
disease — an approach frequently using biological metaphors —
racism becomes a “leprosy” (Albert Jacquard) or “madness” (Christian
Delacampagne). This does not help matters either. Moreover, these two
interpretations — as “delirium” and as “crime” — are contradictory. If racists
are mad, they do not belong in court, but in asylums and, of course, a
biological dimension raises the question of contagion. When all is said and
done, the word “race” and its derivatives (racism, racist, etc.) appear so
emotionally charged that it has been compared to the word “sex” in the 19th
century. Both words invite evasion or semantic substitution. Any study of
racism must take all of this into consideration, even if only to avoid falling
into the same trap. This is why it is advisable to follow Pierre Fougeyrollas’
advice: “The social sciences must study racism as an ensemble of observable
phenomena among others and in relation to other phenomena.”5


The word “racism” appeared in the Larousse dictionary for the first
time in 1932. A careful examination of dictionaries since then reveals that
the definitions of the term overlap: “A system which affirms the superiority
of one racial group over the others” (Larousse); “A doctrine claiming
the existence of biological differences between various races and the superiority
of one of them” (supplement to the Grand Littré); “A theory of the
hierarchy of races based on a belief that social conditions depend on racial
characteristics” (Robert); “A theory of racial hierarchy which claims the
necessity of preserving the so-called superior race from miscegenation
and the right to dominate other races” (Petit Robert), etc. UNESCO’s
1978 “Declaration on Race” defines racism as “any theory claiming the
intrinsic superiority or inferiority of racial or ethnic groups which would
give to some the right to dominate or even eliminate others, presumed
inferior, or basing value judgments on racial differences.” Ruth Benedict
writes: “Racism is a dogma according to which one ethnic group is condemned
by nature to congenital superiority.” More recently, Arthur Kriegel
has written: “Racism is an ideological-scientific system which divides
the contemporary human species into sub-species, resulting from separate
development and endowed with unequal average aptitudes. Miscegenation
with these inferior sub-species could only result in half-breeds inferior to
the favored race.”6 None of these definitions deals with behavior. Rather,
they all focus on theory — a “system,” a “doctrine,” a “dogma.” These
theories share two major characteristics: belief in the inequality of various
races, and that this inequality legitimates domination of so-called “inferior”
races by those deemed “superior.”
More sophisticated definitions have been suggested, and the literature
on this subject is considerable. For the most part, these definitions echo
those already discussed, and they suggest five main components as constituent
elements of racist ideology: 1) A belief in the superiority of one
race, and more rarely of several races, over others. This belief is usually
accompanied by a hierarchical classification of racial groups; 2) The idea
that this superiority and inferiority are of a biological or bio-anthropological
nature. The conclusion drawn from this belief is that superiority and
inferiority are ineradicable and could not, for example, be modified by
social milieu or education; 3) the idea that collective biological inequalities
are reflected in social and cultural orders, and that biological superiority
translates into a “superior civilization,” which itself indicates
biological superiority. This implies a continuity between biology and
social conditions; 4) A belief in the legitimacy of the domination of “inferior”
races by “superior” ones; 5) A belief that there are “pure” races and
that miscegenation has an inevitably negative effect on them (“decline,”
“degeneration,” etc.). The question is whether one can infer racism when
(and only when) all these theoretical traits are present, or if there are some
elements more “fundamental” than others. The first point is that, above
all, racism is a theory of racial hierarchy and inequality. This is fundamental.
As to the rest, things are more complicated.

* Translated by Francis J. Greene
1. Thus, Resolution 3379, adopted by a 72-35 vote, with 22 abstentions on November
10, 1975, by the UN General Assembly, according to which Zionism is “a form of racism
and racial discrimination,” sought to delegitimate the State of Israel by semantic means
See Thomas Mayer, The UN Resolution Equating Zionism and Racism, Genesis and Repercussions,
in Research Report (London: Institute of Jewish Affairs, April, 1981), pp.1-11.
2. See Pierre-André Taguieff, “Les Présuppositions Définitionelles d’un Indéfinissable:
“Le Racisme’,” in Mots, No. 8 (1984), pp. 71-72.
3. As Irène Kraut, a lawyer for LICRA, has stated: “I have never seen an accused
racist acquitted of the charge,” in L’Arche (August-September, 1985).
4. Contrary to common belief, public opinion polls do not indicate a “resurgence of
racism,” but, rather, a decline. According to the IFOP poll, published in Le Point (April
29, 1985), only 6% of the French have negative attitudes toward Blacks and Asians, while
33% and 27% respectively claim to be positively disposed to both groups. The proportion
of positive and negative feelings toward Arabs is the same: 20%. By contrast, a SOFRES
poll among Parisians, published in Le Nouvel Observateur (November 1, 1967) registered
65% hostile to Arabs and 52% to Blacks. Public opinion polls, however, are unreliable
indicators of behavior. According to Michael Billig: “The fact that a person expresses
prejudicial feelings toward a particular alien group does not necessarily mean that the individual
will always react with hostility to a specific member of that group.” See his “Racisme,
Préjugés et Discrimination,” in Serge Moscovici, ed., Psychologie Sociale (Paris:
PUF, 1984), pp. 450-451. The opposite is often the case.
5. See Pierre Fougeyrollas, Les Métamorphoses de la Crise: Racismes et Révolution
au XXème Siècle (Paris: Hachette, 1985), p. 90.
6. Arthur Kriegel, La Race Perdue. Science et Racisme (Paris: PUF, 1983), p. 143.

Anyone who suggests limited or no immigration as an alternative to limitless immigration is always eventually accused of racism. Hierarchy and domination are almost never the motivations against immigration however. Why then, if not for ignorance or bias, aren't public suspicion and scorn typically cast upon the accuser instead?

Re: Benoist on racism
September 18, 2013, 06:29:37 PM
“A system which affirms the superiority of one racial group over the others” (Larousse)

I would add one key term to that:

“A system which affirms the universal superiority of one racial group over the others” (Larousse)

For example, if you're a Yamomami, it's absolutely preferred to have other people from your tribe around, or you get the slow genocide treatment by outbreeding. That's not racism, it's genetic self-preservation.

But someone who says "I hate black people" or "I hate white people" or even "I hate rich people" is obviously a racist.

Re: Benoist on racism
September 19, 2013, 09:40:51 AM
By the very same standards, our specieism should get the same treatment as racism. The law may have strong provisions against wiping out spotted owls but the public certainly doesn't. Where is all the ritual shaming, the ostracism and righteous mass media wrath when people act out human supremacy and domination against animals?