Pascal Bruckner is a well-known French philosopher and writer who has widely critiqued society and culture. His book, Le Sanglot de l’homme blanc. Tiers-Monde, culpabilité, haine de soi (The White Man’s Sob. Third World, Guilt, Self-Hatred), translated as, Tears of the White Man, examines Third Worldism that has spawned so much self-hatred in the West. Despite his reputation as a neocon, the essay that follows is worthwhile.
The white West has all the credentials of an ideal culprit. Across the Atlantic, he founded a new nation on the extermination of the Indians, the slavery of Africans and the segregation of blacks. As for Europe, he had to bear the burden of four centuries of colonialism, imperialism and slavery, even though it was European nations that first advocated its abolition. What makes the Western world the scapegoat par excellence is, first of all, that it recognizes its crimes. It has invented the unhappy conscience—it practices repentance daily, with an almost mechanical plasticity, unlike other empires that struggle to recognize their crimes, the Russian, the Ottoman, the Chinese dynasties, the heirs of the various Arab kingdoms that occupied Spain for nearly seven centuries. We Westerners alone beat our chests when so many cultures present themselves as victims or as innocents.
The Guilty White Man
Contrary to the hopes of 1989, it is not reason and even less moderation that has prevailed after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Another ideology has replaced the promises of salvation brought by real socialism to start the battle again on new bases: race, gender, identity. For three discourses, neo-feminist, anti-racist, decolonial, the culprit is now the white man, reduced to his skin color. Nothing a priori brings these three rhetorics together except the figure of the Cursed One, the white heterosexual male who federates identical aversions. But white women have nothing to lose by waiting: we shall see that a certain “indigenous” supremacism also designates them to the general vindictiveness—the birth of an anti-racist, neo-racism obsessed with pigmentation as in the colonial era.
It will be difficult, however, to persuade 500 million Europeans, especially in the East, of their inherent harmfulness because of their skin tone. Even if it is becoming more and more colored, especially in the West, the majority of the European population remains light-skinned, with important nuances between the Swedes, the Andalusians, the Bulgarians, the Gypsies, the Inuits, the Samis, according to a whole chromatic gradation: the guilt-tripping of these peoples is going to be a gigantic task, but not impossible. It has already succeeded, in part, in Western Europe, where attempts are being made to inculcate in individuals the dishonor of being what they are. A vast re-education enterprise is underway, at the university, in the media, which asks those who are called “the Whites” to deny themselves. Thirty years ago, there was enough reason left on the Right and the Left to laugh at this nonsense. The last time we were subjected to race propaganda was with fascism in the 1930s: the a priori disqualification of a part of the population. We had been inoculated, thank you. It is coming back to us from across the Atlantic, disguised as its opposite, anti-racism, with new protagonists, and is finding an echo as far as the European Parliament. The professors of shame, neo-feminists, decolonialists, indigenists would absolutely like to prove to us that our way of life is based on an appalling exploitation of people and that we must repent. Suddenly, a whole part of the Western world discovers itself abominable, under the gaze of certain minorities: like Monsieur Jourdain was a prose writer in spite of himself, we are criminals without knowing it, by the simple fact of having come to this earth. For us, to exist is first to atone.
A new humanity is being set up, which establishes another hierarchy: at the bottom the outcasts, the dregs of the earth, the white heterosexual Western male. At the top the black or Arab or Indian woman, lesbian or queer, the new queen of the universe. Between her at the pinnacle and him in the dust, the whole range of shades, from white to beige, from beige to brown, from brown to dark. According to these new prejudices, it is better to be dark than pale, homosexual or transgender than heterosexual, woman rather than man, Muslim than Jew or Christian. There are, as the advertisements and platforms show, the old people, monochrome, servile, stupidly heterosexual. And the new, multicolored, composed of dynamic, talented minorities with a thousand contrasting eroticisms. How not to switch instantly from one to the other if one is young? If reconciliation is impossible, if Blacks and Whites, men and women can no longer live together, what is left? Definitive separation or the regime of permanent denunciation under the leadership of an army of jurists, charged with arbitrating disputes.
As early as 1983, I warned about the possible eruption of anti-white racism. During decolonization, especially in Africa, there may have been a counter-racism of peoples in the process of liberation, especially in Patrice Lumumba’s Congo in the summer of 1960. What is absolutely new is that it is “Whites” in Europe and the United States, generally belonging to the wealthy classes, who curse themselves, denouncing “the unbearable whiteness of our culture.” The hatred of the white man is first and foremost a self-hatred on the part of the wealthy white man. His spectacular self-flagellation has something of a show about it—it’s who will castigate himself the loudest, the longest. We’ll remember actress Rosana Arquette’s tweet on August 8, 2019 that she was sorry “for being white and privileged.” One hopes that this act of contrition will have at least earned her some roles in Hollywood. The fact remains that this regressive doctrine, disguised as left-wing discourse, resurrects the worst clichés of 1930s Europe. When emancipation is no longer distinguished from persecution, there is something rotten in the so-called “progressive” party.