501. Dispersion (VIII)
Political settlements require a means to legitimise their rule; even a dictator cannot rule without a formula to legitimise his state—nobody rules by simple muscle power alone. In the USSR, the formula that underpinned the state’s legitimacy was roughly: “The USSR is the world’s first proletarian state; it will lead the world to a new age of unprecedented material prosperity and freedom, a new classless world without national chauvinism or conflict—this is guaranteed by the laws of history as understood by Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.” What, then, underpins rule in the current Western states?
I think the current formula that underpins the Western states can be seen as roughly this: “The Western world hegemony was built by Europeans, known as ‘whites’, influenced by the Christian and Classical legacy; if you belong to this group, you are a privileged person—effectively superior to others, your ancestors ruled the globe and created modern science and technology. However, as the leading civilisation, it is impolite and rude to brag about this; therefore, we pretend that race, sex, and culture do not exist—except as repressive constructs without any deep foundation. Your role, particularly white males, is to sacrifice yourself to universalise the benefits the West created so that everyone can think like you and enjoy your technological privileges. Every ‘white male’ is privileged; and so, as an act of noblesse oblige, it is your role to support the liberal democracies as they extend Western benefits across the world—either through immigration to the West, or by war abroad; even if this is against your subjective interests, your sacrifice will save the human race.”
The reason this works as a formula for legitimisation is that it flatters all European people—especially the educated—with the idea that they are all basically superior to other groups; however, the clever thing about it is that it occults that idea—the idea is implicit not explicit, and it is a big no-no to boast about Western superiority. Hence all European men within Western states are flattered that they are privileged and yet express this privilege by sacrificing themselves for other peoples (and women). The legitimisation process owes something to the Victorian missionary who worried about “our dusky cousins”.
Occasionally, residual Marxists or even dissentient rightists will point out that “anti-racists” obviously implicitly see themselves as superior to those whom they supposedly see as “just another person”—the left calls this “white saviour complex”. It is a logical outcome from the process used to legitimise the current Western state: all Europeans covertly see and understand themselves to be privileged and yet the people who voluntarily give this up are “good people”.
Hence people who buy into the legitimisation process do so because they are flattered: “Naturally, I’m superior but I’m too good to say and anyway I give my power away.” This explains why people who fully accept the state’s legitimisation formula will often say, very smugly, “Ugh. That town is so white—not like London, so wonderfully diverse.” The state’s legitimacy derives, in effect, from the view that Europeans want to be “good aristocrats” who try to share their wealth and culture with other people—and are so good at noblesse oblige they do not even see the lower orders as such.
It is a clever way to legitimise a state, because it flatters even the most humble person; if you accept the formula, you too are an aristocrat who is too well-behaved to brag about it. The left competes to alter this formula slightly—to point out ways in which some “aristocrats” are not pretending well enough (“white saviour complex”). At base, the formula appeals to a certain innate religious desire for people to sacrifice themselves for an ideal; just as the Russians voluntarily sacrificed themselves to “build socialism”, so too the white man quietly sacrifices himself to make the world “like him”—although the game (its implicit double consciousness) requires him not to admit that the difference even exists.