The Burning Issue: Race and Racialism

Cobra modification. Joint work of Karel Appel, Constant, Asger Jorn, and Erik Nyholm (1949).
“Cobra modification”. Joint work of Karel Appel, Constant, Asger Jorn, and Erik Nyholm (1949).

Abstract: The problems of racial strife, ethnic conflict, discrimination, and ethnic ghettoization, show no sign of abating. The ideology of multiculturalism and “colour-blindness” has proved ineffectual. This article investigates why. Race as ‘social construct’ is criticized. Racial cognizance has its roots in the unconscious. Therefore it tends to be naïve and exaggerated. This is borne out by research in cognitive science. Light is shed on psychology’s view of ethnoracial difference. Differences depend on which aspects of our common heritage that are become dominant in the population. Thus, it is not necessary to rely on a biological explanatory model. Yet, a categorical denial of biological difference is not the right way to combat racism. Community psychology research shows that ethnic integration does not foster sense of community. Ethnocultural separation, while maintaining cultural transaction, is a better solution than integration. The article highlights the problem of difference anxiety in the context of ethnicity and race.

Keywords: cultural unconscious, white flight, segregation, psychosocial alienation, dark nature, human kinds, difference anxiety, ideology of sameness, cognitive science, cultural psychology, ethnic sociology.


Race as “social construct” is prominent in the popular discourse, but it is not the prevailing model in academia. There is a radical lack of agreement among academics on the nature of race. Recent research shows that people are acutely aware of race and ethnicity; when different peoples mix, social trust is drastically reduced. According to research at the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, “interethnic exposure underlies the negative relationship between ethnic diversity in residential contexts and social trust” (Thisted Dinesen & Mannemar, 2015). In Sweden the phenomenon of “white flight” is very pronounced. According to a dissertation (2015) presented at the Linné university, the ethnic Swedish residents start to move out from their housing area when the non-European proportion of residents reaches 4% (cf. Neuman, 2015). Evidently, news media’s furtherance of an anti-essentialist view of ethnicity hasn’t had the slightest effect.

I advance the perspective that “racial awareness” has its roots in the unconscious and that it is coupled with an innate tendency to differentiate people according to social status and kinship. Race is connected with social status. It doesn’t matter that most white people today reject the notion of race, because they act differently. Blacks have, on average, lower social status than Whites. What contributes to their lower status is that they are less successful in society. In the U.S., 1 in 3 black males can expect to go to prison in their lifetime (cf. Knafo, 2013). In Sweden, unemployment among Blacks remains a big problem; in the Somali group it is believed to be at least 80%, partly due to an astonishing preponderance of analphabetism. Such social differences give rise to “racial awareness”, whether or not intellectuals produce articles about the irrelevance of pigmentation. This is compounded by historical facts, i.e., that white civilization thoroughly eclipses black African civilization.

Racial social reality is not consciously constructed. Despite this, race exists socially, regardless of the many intellectual evasions. The intellectual tendency of sweeping racial differences under the carpet is counter-productive. As long as we shy away from a conscious concept of difference, it is bound to manifest unconsciously. The average person will unthinkingly follow his instincts, avoiding people who are unconsciously perceived as different. Due to the effects of political correct propaganda racial awareness is today unconscious, with the necessary consequence that archaic fear and mistrust contaminates the picture of the other. Conscious awareness of ethnoracial differences would allow us to control ourselves appropriately; to sidestep the habitual and systematic reactions underlying discrimination. An upstanding citizen of society preferably looks to the individual rather than racial belonging. So he might take the coloured man into his employ, anyway. Otherwise he would unconsciously place his application at the bottom of the pile. He would fall prey to the unconscious awareness of racial differences, which manifests surreptitiously as negative feeling.

The epistemology of ignorance

In the present time, people are nurturing a kind of “moral purity” in racial matters. Shannon Sullivan, Nancy Tuana, et al., analyze this phenomenon in their book Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance (2007). Central to the argument is that there is a conflict between today’s opposition to segregation and the preservation of ethnic identity, the latter of which brings with it many wholesome effects. The authors’ standpoint is that a lack of knowledge or an unlearning of something previously known is often produced for purposes of domination and exploitation. Especially in the case of racial oppression, ignorance tends to be unconsciously generated and supported. As a substitute for conscious understanding, people fall back on unconscious sentiments according to which the human race is racially divided into full persons and subpersons. This is very pronounced in the Swedish debate, where the latter are called “small people” (‘den lilla människan’; an euphemism of the archaic Germanic notion of the Untermenschen). That’s why the Swedish BP chairman, after the Gulf coast oil catastrophe, said “We care about the small people” (referring to the people living in the region), something which caused affront in the USA.

Due to the fact that white people turn a blind eye to the racial problem, they are able to fully benefit from racial ontologies, hierarchies, and economies. “Colour-blindness” in education produces and distributes white ignorance of other races. Marilyn Frye (The Politics of Reality, 1983), demonstrates how white ignorance often is an active force in the lives of anti-racists, such as feminists. The consequence is a hierarchical racial ontology in which white people dominate all others. Alison Bailey (‘Strategic Ignorance’, 2007) says:

If, as [Maria Lugones] suggests, “the desire for control and love of purity are conceptual cousins,” and if the Racial Contact is about control, then I suspect that the logic of purity is what shapes white ignorance, the erasure of nonwhite history, resistance, and other means of maintaining white supremacy […]
  Color blindness is essentially a form of ignoring that equates seeing, naming, and engaging difference with prejudice and bigotry, and not seeing, naming, noticing, and engaging difference with fairness. Purity is at work here. To be color blind you must learn to split and separate race from humanity. Color blindness relies on the cognitive habit of training the multiple (racial diversity) into a fictitious unity (we are all human). The color-blind responses to racism initially seem to be just, until we consider how the illusion of equality is purchased at the cost of multiplicity. Color blindness is just the sort of cognitive dysfunction Mills has in mind. When members of dominant groups actively ignore multiplicity, they practice hearing and seeing wrongly. So, color-blind responses to racism are an agreement to misinterpret the world. They are a perfect instance of how whites can act in racist ways while at the same time believing they are behaving rightly! (Bailey, 2007, Kindle Loc. 1211-26)

Stephanie Malia Fullerton (‘On the Absence of Biology in Philosophical Considerations of Race’, 2007) discusses the ‘epistemology of ignorance’ in connection with the absence of biology in philosophical considerations of race. Although a typological understanding of racial biological difference is difficult to sustain in the face of the great genetic variation within an ethnic group, she maintains that the notion of race as mere ‘social construction’ is counter-productive:

If such differences are “real,” does that render racist practices inevitable and incontrovertible? Surely not. The irony, however, is that in claiming that biological differences must be denied as a precondition for combating racism, this line of reasoning epistemologically privileges what it otherwise seeks to deny. The insistence that race has no biological basis therefore places biological “facts” about race outside the realm of critique and denies the philosophical analysis of the biological and social coconstitution of racial identity […]
  [Philosophic] race theory’s reliance on the irrelevance of biology to race and racial identity is ill advised and ethically unsustainable. This is because many of the genetic differences that coincide with different sociocultural identities have material consequences for those who inherit them. These consequences are, first and foremost, bound up in the genetic determination of the overt morphological characteristics that figure so prominently in the perceptual practices inherent to racial embodiment and recognition […]
  In other words, it is just as inappropriate to unreflexively invoke scientific authority in the claim that race does have an objective (i.e., empirically verifiable) biological basis as it is in the claim that it does not. Instead, race theorists must recognize the ways in which biological knowledge in this area both shapes, and is shaped by, sociocultural understanding and must engage critically with that knowledge production as it occurs. To not do so is to miss dangers inherent to current empiricist projects and by inaction to allow scientific racism to gain a renewed foot-hold in contemporary discussions and debates. (Fullerton, 2007, Kindle Loc. 3544-85)

Fullerton’s worries should be taken seriously, considering the recent advances in genetic research. All of humanity, except the black Africans, carry important genetic traces of two other species, namely Denisova and Neanderthal. Although the amount of DNA is small in each individual, it is believed that at least one-fifth of the Neanderthal genome may lurk within the Caucasians and Mongolians (cf. Choi, 2014). It is from the Neanderthals that we have inherited our white skin. The following is a selection of other Neanderthal properties: insulating skin, freckles, rosy cheeks, red hair, straight hair, thick hair, large eyes, projecting nose, and certain properties of the skull, such as elongation. It is likely that the genes for light eyes were inherited from Neanderthals too. The Tibetans acquired their high altitude capability from the Denisovans (cf. Gibbons, 2014). Whether structural and proportional differences of the brains of black and white races are accountable to Neanderthal genes is as yet unknown. (Neanderthals had a 10% bigger brain than modern humans and a markedly different brain structure).

Separation or integration?

John Dewey (1859-1952) and Horace Kallen (1882-1974) have redefined segregation: it means choosing to live with one’s own group, pursuing one’s own values. (Yet, some have argued that their thought on the matter of race leaves something to be wished for.) Frank Margonis (‘John Dewey, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Alain Locke’, 2007) says:

Horace Kallen set the terms for much of this discussion by proposing a conception of cultural pluralism. He argued that different ethnic enclaves ought to be allowed to pursue their own culture, language, and values in their own neighborhood institutions […] Kallen considered this a federation of cultures, “a democracy of nationalities, cooperating voluntarily and autonomously through common institutions in the enterprise of self-realization through the perfection of men according to their kind…” (Margonis, 2007, Kindle Loc. 2605-608)

Cultural separatism is not to be understood as forced segregation. Curiously, today it is the black people who continue to insist on the importance of race. Cultural segregation has been a long-standing argument among black leaders in the U.S., such as Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), who endorsed racial separatism. Professor W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) argued that black Americans must actively pursue self-segregation to establish black churches, schools, and other institutions. He was, in a sense, a race theorist.

Shannon Sullivan (Revealing whiteness : the unconscious habits of racial privilege) references historian Rivka Shpak Lissak’s argument that “self-segregation is needed to provide a space in which ethnic practices can continue as something other than dead museum pieces. Only in that way can the distinctive identity and culture of ethnic groups persist” (Sullivan, 2006, Kindle Loc. 2542-43). Sullivan writes “in defence of separatism” and argues against an assimilationist model that governs all peoples by one standard (ibid. 2006, ch. 7). A “transactional separatism” allows for the continued distinctiveness of different ethnoracial groups and attempts to develop continuities across them. Sullivan says that self-segregation ought to be seen as a transactional response to an oppressive environment that a person or group wishes to avoid:

[This] change in particular transactions would attempt to eliminate a situation in which the dominant group’s desires are always or primarily that to which an oppressed group has to respond. If a dominant group will not voluntarily make room for oppressed groups’ needs and desires — and dominant groups rarely do — then oppressed groups might need to create a separate space in which they can develop, nurture, and satisfy them. Without such a space, those needs and desires are in danger of being snuffed out in their transaction with more powerful, dominant groups. (2006, Kindle Loc. 2571-74)

She exemplifies with the destructive effects of racial integration of high schools in the early 1980s. The black/Latino high school of her hometown was abolished, and its student body was split up and bussed to the other two schools, predominantly white:

Racial integration was achieved by making the black and Latino/a students, who had been in the majority at their original school, small minorities of non-white students at their new schools. Here is a case that calls for transactional separatism, which would value the separate space of the third high school… [One] of the (unintended) results of segregating black and Latino/a students in their own high school was the creation of a safe space in which white domination could be challenged, or at least avoided for a while. Even though tensions and divisions between black and Latino/a students existed, the third high school enabled each group to form a place of belonging and togetherness that was destroyed when they were dispersed to other schools […] The needs and desires of white lawyers and administrators who had decided that integration should take place in the town dominated the situation, disregarding what the black and Latino/a families wanted, which was to leave their high school intact […]
  [The] effect of their decision was to dismantle a concentrated space of non-whiteness and disempower the non-white people who occupied it. Sprinkling black and Latino/a students into white schools diluted them into innocuous bits of diversity that could be held up as “proof” that the town was non-racist and progressive. Enacted in this way, the integration of the town’s schools harmed black and Latino/a students by using them for the sake of white interests — and all of this in the name of antiracist progress. In contrast, a separatism that made room for black and Latino interests and voices would have done far more to combat white privilege and domination. (ibid. Kindle Loc. 2576-92)

The conclusion is that segregation is sometimes wholesome. Colour-blindness is ineffective in that it compounds the racial problem by allowing racial cognition, which in its unconscious guise is archaic and ontological, to continue to operate beneath conscious radar. The fact that racial discrimination was outlawed only meant that racial oppression transformed from relatively conscious to relatively unconscious forms. Sullivan discusses the ontological view of race and white privilege that manifest as “unconscious habit”:

This unconscious, invisible mode of operation is what enables white privileged habits to be increasingly effective and pervasive […]
  A white collective unconscious tends to pursue white privileged goals and perpetuate white privileged values, impacting an individual’s unconscious habits but not reducible to them. A white privileged world tends to produce white privileged processes of digestion for all the human organisms that inhabit it. (ibid. Kindle Loc. 2697-706)

The remarkable thing is that ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘diversity’ today function as euphemisms for the racist practice of assuming that white people are the neutral, homogeneous standard against which all the other, “diverse”, peoples should be measured. It means that immigrants cannot have something distinctive and valuable to contribute to the reciprocal relationship with the white middle-class. Sullivan says:

Whiteness and its concomitant privileges tend to operate as invisible, and since whiteness is the standard to which all should aspire, then people of color too should aspire to give up their race and become race-free (= white) […]
As an antiracist strategy, colorblindness does not eliminate non-white people in the sense of literally attempting to kill them. But in its claim to not see race, colorblindness metaphorically kills non-white people [in its] refusal to recognize them as the specific people they are. The non-white person must become a mere person, while the white person’s ontology — and all the privileges it confers — goes unchallenged because whiteness is not considered a visible race in the first place […]
With colorblindness, white middle-class women can have their cake and eat it too: they can struggle against racism without openly struggling with anyone because the contentious topic of race is erased from all possible discussion. Any attempt to (re)introduce it can be parried with the claim that one does not see race at all […]
  Too often the notion of multiculturalism functions as an acknowledgment of some differences that simultaneously conceals others. It tends to be used to recognize only the relatively easy differences of style of dress, cultural customs, and types of food, remaining silent about the difficult differences of access to power, economic opportunities, and ontological status […]
How do they so happily coexist? One answer is found in the recognition of a kind of racial fetishism at work in their coexistence. If the logic of fetishism involves simultaneously seeing and not seeing something, then contemporary proponents of multiculturalism, diversity, and colorblindness can be said to fetishize race, seeing it when they desire to celebrate it and not seeing it when the political stakes are much higher than those involved in mere celebration […]
Diversity is not a cure-all for white privilege, and celebrations of multiculturalism do not necessarily eliminate racism. They can enable the ontological expansiveness of white people into non-white worlds — and all in the name of antiracist intentions and practices, which makes them potentially powerful cover-ups for white domination. (ibid. Kindle Loc. 2760-804)

Zachary P. Neal and Jennifer Watling Neal have researched the psychosocial effects of ethnic integration. They find that “the contextual conditions that foster respect for diversity often run in opposition to those that foster sense of community” (Neal, 2013). The more diverse or integrated a neighbourhood is, the less socially cohesive it becomes. A more homogeneous neighbourhood (segregated from other communities) is characterized by close-knit interpersonal networks that are necessary to promote sense of community. Richard Florida says:

Urbanists and planners like to imagine and design for a world of diversity. Diversity, we like to think, is both a social good and, as I’ve argued, a spur to innovation and economic growth.
But to what degree is this goal of diverse, cohesive community attainable, even in theory? […]
Their simulations of more than 20 million virtual “neighborhoods” demonstrate a troubling paradox: that community and diversity may be fundamentally incompatible goals […]
  If diversity is unattainable at the neighborhood level, might it be possible at the level of the city, as essentially a network of more or less similar neighborhoods? Jane Jacobs liked to say that great cities are federations of neighborhoods. It’s exactly what I see in vibrant cities like New York or Toronto. When I asked Neal about this, he sounded a more optimistic note: “Their patchwork of segregated communities allows for both diversity and cohesion. We usually view segregation as problematic, but when it comes in the form of a patchwork of neighborhoods and enclaves that each have their own character, it may actually ‘work.’”
  For this reason, urbanists and local policy makers might be better off refocusing their efforts away from the unachievable ideal of diverse and cohesive neighborhoods and toward creating cohesion across the various neighborhoods that make up a city. In his watershed book “Bowling Alone”, Robert Putnam distinguished between two types of social capital: “bonding,” which occurs within like-minded groups, and “bridging,” which occurs between them. If, as the Neals’ study shows, we can’t make our neighborhoods more diverse and cohesive at the same time, perhaps the primary, over-arching, and achievable objective is to reinforce the bridging ties between them. (Florida, 2013)

Segregation today leads to ghettoization. For instance, religious congregations are housed in awkward basement premises. It would have been better if governments subsidized the growth of culture among ethnic minorities, since it is certain to reduce the harmful effects of ghettoization. Evidently, for the majority of immigrants, assimilation doesn’t work. The solution might lie in promoting cultural and residential segregation. Note that this is an entirely different concept than personal segregation in the way of racial laws, such as separate buses for Blacks.

Race according to psychology

It is not necessarily so that ethnoracial differences are wholly accountable to innate biological differences. Jungian psychologists reason in terms of collective unconscious innateness, common to all peoples of earth. There arise functional and mental differences depending on which aspects of our common heritage that are become dominant in the population, something which in turn gives rise to cultural differences. Accordingly, Carl Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz reason in ethnoracial terms, saying that different populations have different character. Joseph Henderson has elaborated on the theme and introduced a notion of a “cultural unconscious”, signifying a cultural level of the psyche (1984). Jungian analysts Sam Kimbles and Thomas Singer have investigated “cultural complexes” and “group complexes” (cf. Kimbles, 2000; Singer, 2002 & 2004 & 2010). Michael Vannoy Adams goes as far as redefining the collective unconscious. Apart from congenital archetypal factors, pertaining to humanity as a whole, our collective attitudes and behaviours also rely on unconscious ethnic factors. In order to comprehend the ethnic and racial issues, the human and social sciences must complement the social discourse with a perspective of cultural innateness (cf. Adams, 1996 & 2013). M-L von Franz discusses the French character:

But [the French] always let you know they are thinking, “Ah, that is a woman!” And if you are old and have gray hair, still you are a female; you are not a male, and you are not a neuter. There is a kind of anima atmosphere. That’s why one enjoys so much to be in Italy or in France or in the Latin countries. There is a certain anima culture where men are aware of women.
  In the Germanic countries you have the feeling that the men, like in the traditional English clubs, are much happier when they are among themselves: “Yes, let’s retire from the ladies and have some nice serious relationships with each other. And the ladies can gossip in their own corner.” This is due to certain cultural developments and perhaps to a backwardness of the Germanic tribes that immigrated into Europe. They have kept their primitive patriarchal warriors’ social order, while other tribes that settled earlier have, by becoming agricultural and settling on the land, developed the feminine and the anima qualities.
  You might say that there is a bleeding wound represented in this story, this strange “not-thereness” of the feminine principle. There are also certain Nordic women who are a bit like trolls or pixies; they are very nice and good-looking and polite, but you don’t feel a human contact with them. They seem to be living in a dream. I’m sorry, I’m probably hurting some people’s feelings here by saying such things, but I assure you I could say just as many negative things about other countries too! It’s just that each country has its own weak spot. (von Franz, 1997, p. 50-51)

(This is an apt portrayal of Swedish women.) In this way, the archetypes that are active in the population become determinants of the cultural attitude. It also depends on what psychological function (thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition) has acquired dominance. Sweden is perhaps the most extreme Germanic country in this sense, because here women are truly “neuters”. A Polish woman, who lives in Sweden, recently commented on this. She concludes that here women “go unseen” (cf. Nachman, 2015). She puts the blame on the feminists who, I would say, are deeply patriarchal in an inferior sense. Von Franz continues her discussion of the French:

[The] French as a nation are predominantly a feeling people. Feeling is their dominant function, and therefore there is a certain unwillingness, or inability, to think. Characteristically, when the French do think, they show a tendency toward schematic, abstract thought, which is typical for the inferior thinking of feeling people.
  Jung once gave a lecture to a society of French physicians and philosophers. He was young at the time and he explained his concept of the unconscious to them in a very simple way, yet he got nowhere. The message simply didn’t arrive. Then he tried to explain it in a rational, philosophical way, and again in a medical way, but still nothing sunk in. Then finally one member of the society (who was Jewish and therefore may have had a broader viewpoint) said, “Ah, I understand, you are talking about religion!”
  You see, religion is a subject that’s in another drawer. One doesn’t think about it. It’s considered to be a self-evident truth that one lives by but never reflects on. One uses one’s mind only for playing with little rational details, not for asking deep questions. The deep questions are forbidden. They are in the drawer for religion, and that is the affair of the Church and the priests. The ordinary person doesn’t think about such things.
  I’ve given lectures several times in Paris. It was very difficult to convey what I wanted to say, because I felt a kind of blockage. Once I did a very stupid thing. I thought, “The French are rationalists, schematic rationalists,” so I gave a lecture on my book Number and Time. But there are some real thoughts in it, not just schemata, so I got nowhere. The only discussion they seemed interested in revolved around occult number symbolism. That was the one subject I hadn’t touched on. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it, but that’s the subject they brought up. Occultism! that, they liked! I was very disappointed, but afterward they commented rather favorably on my feminine qualities, so that comforted me and I went home quite happily. But I had to put my mind in my back pocket; I couldn’t convey any real thoughts to them, or so it seemed. (von Franz, 1997, pp. 139-40)

Indeed, the French and the Swedes are remarkably different, considering that our nation harks back to a “primitive patriarchal warriors’ social order”. This might serve as an underlying theoretical foundation for a discourse about Black and White diversity in America. If the French and the Swedes are that different, why can’t American Blacks and Whites be different, too? Pronounced differences do exist, and they are innate in the Jungian sense. We cannot rule out that the diverse cultural attitudes depend on biological variation; but it is not necessary to advance this argument. It suffices to say that different cultural complexes are active in the black and white populations. Thus, there are innate tendencies of psychology pertaining to different ethnic groups, although this is hardly enough to underpin a strict taxonomy of race, nor is it necessary to emphasize this point.

Psychosocial alienation

Joseph Henderson, who posits four predominant cultural attitudes, contends that “a prerequisite for psychological maturity lies in attaining cultural maturity no less than in developing one’s personality in the context of an individual life situation” (Henderson, 1984, p. 76). He says that if the individual does not remain true to his own cultural attitude, then it may have damaging psychological consequences (ibid. pp. 12-13). This might be what is taking place in America and Europe, where Blacks are expected to function psychologically like Whites. Christian black Africans who migrate to Sweden generally find the practice of worship in Swedish churches utterly boring. They expect a more impassioned sermon and they want to sing and dance. So they create their own Christian communities. What’s wrong with this form of segregation? Segregation has a negative ring to it, but there are positive forms of segregation, too. If society were to promote positive forms of segregation it would allow minority groups to build their own cultural enclaves, which could develop into thriving and happy communities. In that case, segregation (cultural separation) would function as remedial against psychosocial alienation.

Society today supports integrative efforts, but should instead support positive efforts of cultural growth, allowing people an environment with which they can identify. This would allow them to individuate, instead of living in an environment where they cannot really be themselves, and where they cannot give expression to their own innate ethnic nature. Instead, they have to live with a feeling of resentment about the racist attitudes of the surrounding. If they cannot individuate, aggression and criminality is the alternative way of strengthening the ego. It is natural man — dark nature — making a statement about the untenable situation. If we won’t accept social status and ethnicity as decisive factors in human relations, then dark Mother Nature will strike back with a vengeance. That’s why the integration of ethnic groups has very damaging consequences. People know this instinctively, and that’s why they prefer to settle in ethnic monocultures.

The concept of dark nature has been elaborated by M-L von Franz. This being a recurrent theme in fairytales, it serves to compensate the total disregard of the dark side of the feminine principle, the darkness of the Earth-Mother. In fairytales it is portrayed as the witch with a phallic attribute, such as a broom, a long tooth, or tongue. The current suppression of dark nature means that the inner darkness of our nature is being denied. It is connected with a pronounced reluctance to accept suffering as an integral part of life (cf. von Franz, 1993, pp. 205ff). It is not simply a conscious process. Rather, it has its roots in the Christian ethical heritage where only “good” has true reality. The repression of the feminine spirit in the form of Dark Mother Nature has backfired in the way it comes to expression as a vulgar motherly sentiment, revolving around material comfort, bodily and societal welfare. Thus, the feminine comes in the backdoor, as it were, in the form of an unbridled materialism. Von Franz says:

In the social milieu of France we find evidence of the shadow everywhere… [It] has for a long, long time been relatively easy to live in France. So the French tend to fall for a very narrow-minded, materialistic set of values. It is the witch, it seems, who lurks behind all this in those tight-lipped French women who make political marriages, who sell their daughters and sons to neighboring families and discuss the inheritance in detail. France, the country of love, is also the country where marriage politics are constantly at work, and questions of money and inheritance play a tremendous role. I have never analyzed a French person without having to discuss money problems for ever and ever. These problems seem to be linked up with the witch, who is not outwardly accepted and who therefore rules in the darkness of the forest. (von Franz, 1997, pp. 137-8)

The race problem belongs to dark nature. It will never go away, and we must stop pretending that it is merely a wrongful conception that can be rectified, and that it is neither present in myself nor my children, but only in other people. It is a painful ever-present reality, which is not really a problem that I can pursue outside myself and rectify, since it is part and parcel of human nature. Racial strife does not depend so much on economical differences than the fact that coloured people find it hard to fit in. We ought to think of race in relation to the unconscious and instinct, but stop racializing the discourse in terms of conscious attitudes, arguing that white people have an unduly “racialized consciousness”. This is popular in the postmodernist discourse right now. It it easy to refute by pointing at crime statistics. In that case, black man would have a much more “racialized consciousness” than white man. After all, according to U.S. crime statistics, in 2005 there were 37,461 reported rapes of white women by black men and less than 10 rapes of black women by white men (cf. Winther, 2010, here, & ‘U.S. Department of Justice report’, 2006). (The reported rape figures are believed to represent less than half, probably only ca. 37-38% of the real number.)

Thus, racial strife has nothing to do with a “racialized consciousness”, for these rapes weren’t committed for conscious reasons. Rather, it is a manifestation of “dark nature”, common to both white and black man. According to FBI’s homicide statistics for 2013, single victim and single offender, there were 409 homicides with white victim and black offender. The number of homicides with black victim and white offender were 189 (cf. ‘FBI Crime Reports’, 2013). Thus, Blacks are accountable for 68.4% of black-white interracial homicides despite being only 13% of the population. It means that a black person is 13 times more likely to commit interracial homicide than a white person. One must keep in mind that these figures also prove that interracial homicide is a rare event. Still, the over-representation of Blacks in violent crime is truly daunting.

The average intellectual applies our Christian ethic in the most superficial way, and provide a solution to the racial predicament. We must neutralize hatred by elevating forgiveness as ideal and stop seeing people as “other”. An obvious conclusion is that black people, especially, should stop thinking in terms of out-group and in-group. Supposedly, as long as Blacks remain defensive about their group affiliation they will persevere in their victimization of white people. It is the formulation of an intellectual seated in an ivory tower, safely removed from reality. Racial strife is analyzed in terms of racial exclusivity, which is supposed to be the conscious standpoint of the offender. But this is merely the offender’s conscious rationalization of the archaic impetus of the unconscious. The idea that we can remove ‘dark nature’ by adopting a forgiving sentiment in an ethnically mixed environment is nonsensical. It’s like saying that we should be able to stop climate warming by composting kitchen refuse.

The truth in the matter is that homicide is predominately the effect of innate aggression which the criminal personality is unable to control. It has its roots in the archaic psyche of man. Central to archaic man is the theme of emancipation of the ego from the serfdom under the unconscious. In Fiona Lloyd-Davies’s documentary, Congolese soldiers say: “When we rape, we feel free” (Schlanger, 2014). Killing and raping remain the most prominent rituals whereby temporary ego emancipation is achieved. That’s why, in historical pagan societies, the murderous ritual was institutionalized as the blood sacrifice (cf. Winther, 2008, here). Yet it remains equally thematic today, in the way Boko Haram and IS are attacking civilian villagers in a rampage of rape and murder.

When analyzing the U.S. crime statistics, we must primarily understand it as expressions of archaic man, and not as sociological effects of group segregation. The notion that a person prone to murder shall become a decent and loving person just by adopting the notion of racial inclusivity is highly implausible. On the whole, disidentification from white man is wholesome for black people, and vice versa, because individuation requires that one remains true to one’s own nature. Disidentification has an alternative route. It risks taking concrete expression in the form of hatred and murder. This is evident from the fact that different ethnicities and cultures are wholly capable of respecting each other as long as they live remote from one another. But when they mix, social trust is drastically reduced. Psychosocial alienation due to ethnic inculturation has as consequence that Dark Mother Nature (the witch) awakes, belching out black smokes of evil. In the Aztec pantheon, she appears as the Earth goddess Coatlicue. Her hunger for human sacrifice is insatiable. It is also what’s behind the recruitment to extreme Islamism in Western societies.

Race according to cognitive science

Research on children performed by cognitive scientist Lawrence A. Hirschfeld (1996) contradicts the postmodernist notion that race and “rankism” are social constructs, conscious designs to set people up for exploitation. Hirschfeld has researched children’s awareness of race, especially in the preschool years, from 3 year and upwards (Race in the Making – Cognition, Culture, and the Child’s Construction of Human Kinds, 1996). Cognitive science has found that our thinking rests on foundational metaphors, ingrained in our psychology from times immemorial. They rest inaccessibly and firmly in our psychology on account of our brain’s neurological structure. Thus, we have evolved to categorize, which is for the most part not a conscious function. It gives rise to “folk theories” of time, space, causality, etc. Central to this is the archaic notion that every entity has an “essence” or “nature” which makes it what it is. Oaks have oak essence and dogs have dog essence. Thus, kinds exist and are defined by essences (cf. Winther, 2014, here).

Hirschfeld has found that “human kinds” is an especially powerful metaphor — a fundamental and unique part of our conceptual armoury — and that already 3-year-olds apply this ontological principle. It has to do with the fact that acquiring knowledge of social groupings is a necessary part of the child’s early development. It is in their nature to display a marked and sophisticated curiosity about the organization and the constitution of the social world (cf. Hirschfeld, 1996, pp. 191-92). Hirschfeld says:

[Young] children’s attention to these nuanced aspects of social environment is animated by a curiosity about human kinds […] Hence, even 3-year-olds in the United States recognize that race is not simply a function of outward appearance and that, instead, it represents an essential aspect of a person’s identity, it is something that does not change over the course of one’s lifetime, and it is something that parents pass on to their children […] Even preschoolers reason differently about race than about other kinds. For the young child, race is more readily inherited and more relevant to identity than other aspects of outward appearance — even aspects, such as physique… (ibid. pp. 192-93).

The abstract principles that give rise to the idea of race are both biologically determined and products of an evolved adaptation. It is a naturalistic partitive logic — a social ontology that classifies the “natural” kinds of people that exist in the world. Yet, the fact that we have an inborn susceptibility to race does not mean that “racism” is innate. Rather, racial thinking is predicated on a domain-specific competence for perceiving and reasoning about human kinds. (Domain-specific learning implies that we have many independent and specialized knowledge structures, rather than one cohesive knowledge structure.) Discernment of social status is an essential skill among all primates. It also serves an important Darwinian purpose, namely to acquire the discriminative ability to favour members of one’s own ethnorace over others — a pronounced characteristic of natural man and part of our “dark nature”. That’s why many tribal appellatives are pejoratives, etymologically derived from “beast” or “stinking”, etc. Thus, it is not a consciously fabricated “social construct”. Our human psychological endowment provides a cognitive bias to favour members of the in-group. Even young preschoolers believe a person’s racial identity to be permanent and heritable, related to family background.

Perhaps the most striking feature of young children’s racial knowledge is the remarkable ease with which it is acquired. As Katz (1982) observes, we can easily find school-age children who can neither read nor subtract, but it is impossible to find any that do not know about racial stereotypes. (ibid. p. 87)

The remarkable thing is that race is not a simple induction from perceptual experience. Rather, it develops out of a special-purpose cognitive faculty. The notion of essence is a conceptual attempt to capture “kinds” rather than properties or attributes (cf. p. 86). Rather than relying on appearances, young children’s racial concepts depend on an ontological form of animistic thinking that is in many ways independent of perceptual factors, which means that preschoolers’ racial beliefs are unable to influence their behaviour in a systematic way: “It is not until later that children come to know which specific surface cues are relevant to specific kinds because it is not until later that they integrate their perceptual knowledge with their ontological knowledge” (p. 137). Racial thinking in children is not about capturing difference in the environment, which has been the common assumption. To the contrary, it is about the creation of difference in the face of similitude. It is a strategy for rendering the complexity of the world sensible and explicable (cf. p. 195).

Hirschfeld regards these findings as in many respects disquieting, because race is not simply a bad idea invented by Carl Linnaeus. In fact, it is a “deeply rooted bad idea”, firmly grounded in our minds (cf. p. xi). It means that ‘the Negro’ partakes in the ‘essence of Negrohood’, invariably coupled with certain behaviour. Thus, our naive beliefs about hidden racial qualities are bound to perpetuate discrimination. Says Hirschfeld:

Many people, perhaps understandably, prefer to believe that this is not the case. Many prefer to believe that race is an accident of how we happen to categorize the world. I suppose that this preference alone accounts for why so many people continue to believe that race is not only a bad idea but a superficial one — one that could be “set straight” by simply correcting the misinformation that we receive as children, by extolling the virtues of our diverse world. As comforting as this view may be, children [are] more than aware of diversity; they are driven by an endogenous curiosity to uncover it. Children, I will also show, do not believe race to be a superficial quality of the world. Multicultural curricula aside, few people believe that race is only skin deep. Certainly few 3-year-olds do. They believe that race is an intrinsic, immutable, and essential aspect of a person’s identity. Moreover, they seem to come to this conclusion on their own. They do not need to be taught that race is a deep property, they know it themselves already […]
  Multicultural interventions aside, there is no reason to believe that we can similarly vaccinate our young against racism. In part this is because cognitive vaccinations have the unfortunate property of looking more like propaganda than anything else. They are attempts to convince people that something they know perfectly well is not the case. We don’t get people to diet by telling them that they are not hungry. We won’t get people to stop deeply cognizing race by telling them that they do not. It matters little whether we are talking to adult followers of Jean-Marie Le Pen or David Duke or to 5-year-olds. We are simply not likely to rid ourselves of racialist thinking by denying that racialism is deeply grounded in our conceptual endowment. The susceptibility to think in racial terms is genuinely within us, clearly in virtue of our cognitive endowment. (Hirschfeld, 1996, pp. xi-xiii)

Whereas Whites continue to subject Blacks to discrimination, Blacks subject Whites to criminal victimization at an astounding disproportion. We now know what drives these phenomena: the racialized unconscious, which is equally pertinent to the black population as the white. This explains why white people often dream about ‘the Negro’ as signifying the primitive aspect of personality. Carl Jung notes that this was a common dream symbol among his American patients. But we cannot educate our unconscious and say: “No, you mustn’t think of black people in that way.” Instead, we must face the facts about racial differences (e.g. the statistical facts that I referenced), for sweeping them under the carpet is to no avail. To the contrary, we must analyze them in light of our innate function of autonomous categorization. As Hirschfeld explains, more than being a function of discernment of perceptual factors it is what gives rise to the essentialist view of race. This, in turn, will reinforce discrimination and victimization on both sides.

In accordance with the central tenets of psychoanalysis, the facts must be placed on the table. Otherwise the evil circle cannot be broken. In 1961, at a congregation in St. Louis, Martin Luther King Jr. said to his black audience: “Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58 percent of its crimes?… We’ve got to face that. And we’ve got to do something about our moral standards.” Accordingly, in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign the voters were made to understand that he would not encourage the irresponsibility, victimhood, and economical dependency rampant in the black community. It was bound to cause affront, because in many people’s view he had insulted an entire people. But it is not clear to me how denying the facts of reality would be helpful to the black children whose fathers are in jail. Aren’t the material facts of reality, for those who suffer the consequences of dark nature, a greater insult than the mere intellectual facts?

Race as social construct, which downplays the realness of ‘dark nature’, has been thoroughly refuted by cognitive science. To expose the racial problem allows for an integration with consciousness just because it causes resentment and activates the racial complex. Should the average person become aware that he is predisposed to view other ethnicities as inferior out-groups, it would make a world of difference. It means that personality is no longer unconsciously racist, unlike the great majority of people today. Consciousness has the capacity to control instinct and unconscious impression. Accordingly, one’s demeanour need no longer be determined by archaic conceptions of ‘Negro essence’. The other two alternatives are “unconscious racial resentment” or “racialism à la David Duke”. Hirschfeld says:

Conventional wisdom, rather than appreciating that race as a category of the young mind has remarkable accordance with race as a category of adult cultural power, denies both that race is a complex category of the young mind and that it is an instantiation of the category of adult cultural power. I have argued that neither of these denials is well grounded… [The] findings I have reviewed show that many of the more intricate and to some extent obscure aspects of adult belief (including essentialist construals) appear to be in place virtually from the moment a child shows signs of being racially aware. (ibid. p. 189)

Hirschfeld’s book is well-researched. Of course, we already knew that people are acutely aware of race and ethnicity. This book explains why. Racial awareness has its roots in the unconscious and it is coupled with an innate tendency to differentiate people according to social status and kinship. Yet, there are two problems that he does not attend to. Hirschfeld underestimates the ethnoracial characteristics that are truly veridical and says that our cognitive endowment is the source of the essentialist view of race. Indeed, but when people become aware of the differences that actually exist, the naive ontology pertaining to ‘the Negro’ is “verified”, and may then serve to underpin our exaggerated notion of racial character. So we have to face the facts about ethnoracial differences as well as our innate function of autonomous categorization. Otherwise the evil circle cannot be broken.

Another quandary is the fact that our inborn susceptibility to differentiate the human species according to race is hardly enough to explain the severe problems of interracial criminal victimization and discrimination, even though it explains the target choice. In many cases it is merely the offender’s conscious rationalization of the archaic impetus of the unconscious. Victimization is in itself a powerful underlying motif, regardless of conscious notions of race. Hirschfeld’s book represents an important step towards finally coming to grips with the issue of race, although it must be complemented with insights about the archaic unconscious.

Difference Anxiety

The way in which we unthinkingly endorse notions of integration and wholeness impacts individuation (i.e., individual emancipation) in a negative way. Interestingly, Albert Einstein worried that his Theory of Relativity would propel popular thought in a direction of ethical and cultural relativism. After all, “everything is relative”. In fact, he could equally well have named it the Theory of Absolutes, since it postulates strange universal absolutes. This is also a characteristic of quantum theory. There are both relatives and absolutes in the world. Yet, in the present era we refuse to acknowledge dark nature. The belief that all human beings on earth are similar in all respects is an unrealistic notion, since nature promotes diversity. Economical disparity is today understood as the result of conscious and deliberate oppression. As the dogma of the uniformity of mankind is unquestioningly accepted, there is no room for an alternative explanation. But this standpoint is untenable. It is high time for intellectuals to grasp these issues. It belongs to the task of integrating the shadow of nature.

Indian author Rajiv Malhotra focuses on the problem of differences (Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism, 2011). He shows how the West’s history-centrism drives it into claims of exclusiveness. It results in anxiety over differences which it seeks to resolve through projects of digestion in order to obliterate whatever seems challenging. Instead, says Malhotra, we must preserve difference with mutual respect — not with mere “tolerance”. He alerts the reader to the grave dangers of a difference-negating “sameness” that is marketed worldwide by secular and religious streams in Western culture. The doctrine of ‘sameness’, the idea that everything is the same, cannot be used to guide our actions in this relative world. He says:

The suggestion that difference must be seen as positive and be examined openly by all sides is often met with resistance from Indians and westerners alike. I call this resistance ‘difference anxiety’. The term refers to the mental uneasiness caused by the perception of difference combined with a desire to diminish, conceal or eradicate it. Difference anxiety occurs in cultural and religious contexts frequently.
  Such an anxiety seeks the relative comfort of homogeneous ideas, beliefs and identity. It runs counter to the natural world, where differences are inherent in the immense variety of animals, plants, flowers, seasons, rocks, and indeed at every level of the cosmos. I will argue that we must not try to erase differences but, rather, respect them — even celebrate them. First, however, these differences must be defined and acknowledged.
  As a way of resolving difference, Western civilization is given to isolating the elements of other civilizations and placing them in its own conceptual categories — categories formulated by the ‘white’, ‘Christian’, and ‘progressive’ race. This categorization privileges the Western gaze and enables it to declare itself as the universal norm for others to emulate. It is a system for gaining control. (Kindle Loc. 480-89)

The doctrine of ‘sameness’ surreptitiously privileges Western thought as universal. Malhotra exemplifies with Christian proselytizers, in India, who deploy “inculturation” to give the appearance that they embrace sameness whereas what they truly believe is that the dharma traditions are illegitimate. It is a way of ‘tolerating’ differences ostensibly while paving the way for the elimination of difference through conversion. As a result, the universal potential of Indian thought is downplayed and ignored. Western universalism espouses toleration. ‘Tolerance’ is the catch-word of today. Yet it is really a form of chauvinism which underlies much Western thought in its encounters with other cultures. “Tolerance is a patronizing posture, whereas respect implies that we consider the other to be equally legitimate” (Kindle Loc. 321-22). Malhotra says:

I wondered aloud if anyone in the audience would like to be told at the upcoming luncheon that he or she was being ‘tolerated’ at the table. No husband or wife would appreciate being told that his or her presence at home was being ‘tolerated’. No self-respecting worker accepts mere tolerance from colleagues. Tolerance, in short, is an outright insult; it is simply not good enough. I pointed out that this notion of tolerance had emerged from religions built on exclusivist claims according to which other religions are false. Hence, tolerating them is the best one can do without undermining one’s own claim to exclusivity.
  Religious ‘tolerance’ was advocated in Europe after centuries of religious wars between adherents of the different denominations of Christianity. In many European countries, Churches functioned as religious monopolies according to which the mere practice of the ‘wrong’ religion was a criminal offence. ‘Tolerance’ was a positive attempt to quell the violence that had plagued Christianity for centuries in Europe, but it did not provide a genuine basis for real unity and cooperation, and so it often broke down. (Kindle Loc. 324-32)

And so it is with everything. The refusal to see genuine differences between the sexes means that a wet blanket is used to smother feminine nature, which cannot be respected — only tolerated. This wet blanket is the ideology of sameness. It means the inculturation of the feminine, the smothering of the feminine archetype. There is a call to tolerate all forms of differences, because they are all the same, anyway. However, since the feeling function is the evaluative function, our inner feeling is bound to revolt. It reasons in terms of good or bad, and thus it gives rise to differences. Something or someone is devaluated whereas another phenomenon, group, person, or theory is acclaimed. We cannot have this if everything is supposed to be the same and everything and everybody are to be tolerated.

So the doctrine of sameness must needs lead to instinctual and emotional atrophy in the individual. Natural feeling is repressed by means of rationalistic ideology, following the tenets of political correctness. The foremost tenets are sameness and toleration, which are really a wet blanket that shall serve the purpose of inculturation (which means that there is really a power motif behind it, including claims of exclusiveness). It only serves to smother the individual, in the manner of which today’s political culture of sameness and toleration has stifled our emotional intelligence. Yet, there is no one-size-fits-all political consciousness. Malhotra says that there can be no single universalism. Stepping out of the fog of sameness means that one can see that Indian culture is different, too. This realization is essential for our capacity to understand a different culture and to truly respect it.


© Mats Winther (July 2015).


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