Central to the pull of white supremacy is the idea that your failures are not your fault but the fault of insufficiently grateful minority demographics. It’s a near miss in self-actualization, but the continuation of white supremacy and many white supremacist organized groups is the cultivation of failure.
This failure seems to be largely centred around intimacy in all forms of relationships and white supremacists tend to be deeply fearful and suspicious of any form of relationship but also crave belonging and validation. The result is a confused and frankly pathetic intentional display of vulnerability through attempted bravado.
If they weren’t screwing up the entirety of society and politics this would all be deeply funny.
Recovered white supremacists often talk about how their indoctrination began because they craved a sense of community. They were ultimately brought back from the brink through personal connections made with people from demographics they had been indoctrinated to dehumanize. As ex-Neo-Nazi Christian Picciolini explains, “I’ve never met a happy white supremacist; I’ve never met one with positive self-esteem.”
In some cases this failure in forging and maintaining strong communal and interpersonal bonds is due to parents being absent because of work, illness or other issues. It can also result from being bullied at school. But most concerning there are a lot of white supremacists being raised without healthy familial or emotional bonds.
This shortcoming is especially evidenced in toxic masculinity where men believe they are automatically entitled to reward for being male and become enraged when they are asked to earn things or even show basic respect for other people. In toxic masculinity, male friends cannot be supportive of one another and instead must always be in competition. I’d say it’s like Fight Club, but then I’d be violating the first rule of Fight Club.
But from a fascist mindset all this makes perfect sense.
Fascist imagery is hyper-masculine and involves a lot of shirtless lantern-jawed men with no small amount of homo-eroticism without actually being homo-erotic because that might imply healthy relationships wherein happiness and comfort are encouraged and happy self-actualized people are almost impossible to exert authoritarian control over.
The flip-side to all the sparring sessions and work out regimens and imagery is that white supremacists are set up to meet an unachievable goal. The fascist imagery in regards to masculinity is usually rendered in drawn painted or otherwise unrealistic form entirely because it is unachievable. Male models who engage in body building for pictures do work out and diet daily, but they also purge and dehydrate before photoshoots and afterwards their images are further airbrushed and refined to achieve the look. The fascist aesthetic is so extremist as to be impossible and therefore white supremacists are setting themselves up for failure.
But this can be extended to all aspects of the life of a white supremacist. Their goals are often not articulated because they don’t really exist, but when they do they are unreasonable and unachievable. The point of this in white supremacy is to ensure that they are all failures and therefore easier to control, manipulate, and brainwash. White supremacists fall further into the extremist pit of hate because they primarily hate themselves. They believe that the only escape is blind adherence to the “in-group’s,” values and because those values are so irrational and impossible they always will and must fail.
To ensure the continuation of these Sisyphean efforts white supremacy imposes a false hierarchy in which empathy is weakness. White men fooled by this narrative believe they are naturally just better than women and people of colour, but must defend their position by proving their masculinity to other white men. This negates any possibility for a fulfilling platonic, familial, romantic, or even sexual relationship because engaging in any form of emotiveness necessary for such a relationship to them implies weakness and therefore endangers their position in the imagined hierarchy.
This allows them to engage in and congratulate extremist acts of violence and intimidation, but it also prevents them from forming friendships and alliances. Even in some of these growing and literally evangelical groups the individual white supremacist is alone, lonely, and utterly miserable. He wants to hate everyone who is not white and male and he is suspicious of other white men. Furthermore, where white supremacist groups have leaders that leader will implement authoritarian and cult like control because if the followers have time or energy to question they might realize just how incredibly dumb the system of control they are giving their very lives over to really is.
While white supremacists participate within their groups in intimidation, violence, and even murder they also express fear and jealousy towards other white supremacists groups. Thomas Rousseau who apparently founded or cofounded the Vermont “Patriot Front” is deeply suspicious and critical of the “Proud Boys,” and regularly calls into question their relative masculinity. Rousseau is also known for being especially dictatorial within his chat groups and requires his followers to adhere to a strict workout regime.
Rousseau is no stranger to failure himself as he founded his group the “Patriot Front,” after his previous group the “Vanguard America,” fell apart. It is unlikely he understands what he is doing, but as the cohesion of the group is reliant not on actual comradery but adherence to clear and obvious factual inaccuracies and lies*, Rousseau does seem to at least understand that he cannot allow any of his followers to excel or question.
*One of the myths spread in this and other white supremacist platforms is that Black Lives Matter activists started the fires in west coast states. This originates from a partially intercepted radio communication where the Bureau of Land Management was referred to by its acronym.
If you’re willing to ignore the horrible crimes being committed, the intimidation and harassment of minority communities, and the undermining of our political system, then the most tragic aspect of white supremacy is that it is seeking out young white men who believe themselves to be failures and making absolutely sure that they are.
There is even an aspect of white supremacism sought by some of its adherents that involves degradation and emotional abuse. It’s rather hard to feel sorry for these people because they are deliberately trying to hurt others while failing themselves, but ultimately the reason white supremacy seems so dumb and pointless is because it is. This is Xerxes walking down to have a chat with Leonidas over a stair of his followers bodies. It’s dumb and pointless and it was done in the film to make Xerxes look like an authoritarian, self-absorbed, jerk particularly relative to Leonidas.
But to do that a lot of people need to be willing to have one guy walk all over them. White supremacy wants absolute power but to get that you have to fetishize failure. It’s attractive to white men because they believe they’re entitled to more than they have and it externalizes the source of their failure, but then it inures them in it by cutting them off from healthy relationships and forcing them to fear all others as competition or potential damage.
White supremacy is the ultimate fail.