Voices Of White Resistance: Democratic Theory And The Task Of Contending With White Nationalist Voice

As white nationalists have come to increasing prominence in recent decades, their presence presents a significant challenge to democratic societies. Motivated by a sense of racial imperilment, and opposed, sometimes violently, to core democratic ideals, white nationalists cannot be meaningfully incorporated into the political life of societies which promote inclusiveness and pluralism without threatening those values. Yet democratic theory, which seeks to offer ideal visions of what democratic societies could look like, provides no means for contending with the active presence of white nationalism in contemporary democratic societies. This article uses the concept of voice to explore these shortcomings in several theories of democracy, including deliberative, agonistic, and empowerment theories. In doing so, it draws on a wealth of white nationalist media, both physical and digital, to demonstrate how attitudes regarding racial imperilment, often articulated in terms of a ‘white genocide’, foreclose on any possibility of incorporating white nationalist voices into democratic societies. Moreover, an examination of white nationalists’ ongoing project to shift the boundaries of what is permissible in popular discourse, a process which is amplified by digital media technologies, suggests that they are nevertheless a pressing problem for democratic societies which should be addressed. In doing so, it is important to move beyond the focus on voice which underlays much democratic theory, exploring instead the experiences of social life to which white nationalist voices speak so that we might gain a better understanding of what motivates white nationalist voice and, potentially, how it might be addressed.

Tags: National Separatists, white nationalism, White Supremacy