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White men invented everything!

Over the last decade or so I’ve seen a very strange pattern that was once at the margins, but is now at the center of culture. Take something banal, such as literacy or war, and claim that it was invented and perpetuated by heterosexual white men. In the late 2000s, this started happening in academic and para-academic circles, and usually, I would laugh because the assertions were ludicrous on the face of them to anyone who knew people from various cultures (I’m the child of immigrants from Bangladesh) or who read history (I do). In fact, at the time I assumed most people were engaging in rhetorical flourish and signaling. They couldn’t actually believe these things, right?

Things have changed in 2020. What was once a source of amusement is now part of the cultural script. White heterosexual males are now seen to the Prime Mover in human history. Or perhaps evil demiurges responsible for our fallen world? There are young people who I have talked to who are amazed to learn that white males did not invent oppression. The first time I experienced this a few years ago I still laughed and found it strange, but now I’m rather alarmed. It’s ubiquitous. A fair number of young people who see through the mirror of lies reach out to me alarmed and disturbed once they know the “truth.”

What was once useless signaling is now taken as a deep insight into the structure of reality. Here is an NPR interview with James Hamblin, M.D., a writer at The Atlantic who is promoting a new book, Clean: The New Science of Skin:

How did your identity as a cisgendered white male influence your reporting on this subject?

Probably one of the main reasons I’ve been able to go so long without using [shampoo and deodorant] is because of the privilege of my position in American society. To the degree that these standards are culturally determined, I am coming from the group that has created these norms. That is why I believe I was able to push against them without more discriminatory consequences. I mean, people call me “gross.” But I didn’t suffer professionally to my knowledge. And other people would have.

Shampoo is originally a Hindi word. Even if Hamblin is thinking narrowly about the particular cultural details of American consumer capitalism which promotes a “hygiene script”, many younger people reading or listening to him won’t pick up on that. Rather, they will take him seriously and literally. They’ll think shampoo was invented by white males to oppress non-whites.

This is a small detail that illustrates a broader cultural problem: the abolition of knowledge independent from ideology. I am pretty much without hope that this can be generally turned around. Most people listen to what the elites tell them, and our cultural elites now turn all factual claims explicitly into instruments of ideology. Facts are always vetted based on their ideological utility. This is, I think, a fact of life itself. To some extent, it was always like this, but in 2010 elites might express some chagrin at their behavior. Today there is no shame.

Those of us who are not happy with this situation need to figure out how to survive, persevere, and find others who don’t enjoy lying constantly and effortlessly.

Addendum: the reflex to think your own culture/group “invented everything” is pretty normal. Afrocentrists, Indian nationalists, and Chinese chauvinists, all engage in this. The curious thing about the modern West is that people of white European descent also make this claim…but they think that their inventions were bad! One prediction I would make is that once this normal way of thinking, where the ends justify the means, is embraced, it won’t be hard for many to default back to pride in the white European invention of literacy, logic, and rationality. Retribalizing white people in the ends of social justice may have unintended consequences. But then again, ideas like “unintended consequences” requires some understanding of history, which the youth do not need.


15 thoughts on “White men invented everything!

  1. I object to your cultural appropriation of “unintended consequences” which was, as we all know, invented by straight, white cis-males (SWCM)

    It’s especially appalling since you are not trained as an an economist, and the inventor was most certainly a SWCM economist. I cannot even imagine how the concept could have any meaning in genetics; maybe in the context of GMOs or something, but that’s technology not a science like economics.

  2. Those who do not remember history are condemned to relive it.

    And the rest of us are condemned to relive it with them.

  3. I think this idea needs to spread wider in literate culture – just how racist is to think that only white people have the capacity to be true opressors. I’m thinking of an SNL-type sketch where an earnest SJW is lecturing a mixed group about how white people invented colonialism, slavery, etc. Then some listener timidly chimes in with “Even parts of Africa that had no contact with Europe had genocidal wars and…” “No don’t be silly. Africans are not capable of such a thing. Only white men are able to invent the idea of genocide. If Africans ever did that, they must have just been aping white people. I mean seriously, you think an African could come up with that on their own? Please. Not without help from white people.” [Audience gets more uncomfortable, and more speak up with examples. Finally they all get behind one example.] “Genghis Khan! Yeah, what about him? He raped and pillaged all through Asia and even plundered a part of Europe!” SJW looks uncomfortable, and finally speaks up: “Well… Genghis Khan was white.” “What?” “That’s right. He was a white man who came in and dominated the peaceful indigenous people of Mongolia, who were just grazing horses and singing songs. And he just shows up and does his white man oppression thing, and suddenly these sweet Mongolians are being forced to ride out and kill people. I mean, think about it. Why else could they have done something like that? This is exactly what white men do.”

  4. my wife thinks hamblin responded pretty well to the question. and i agree. BUT, i think the issue is once you concede the premise nuance is lost for most of the audience…

  5. You have to look at all this from the perspective of the Oligarchy which wants to keep things together when the current financial cycle will not just implode, but explode and tear a lot of our current societal system apart.
    Now ask yourself, how could you keep your position and control during the hard transition which will take away a lot of security, wealth and freedom from the average person in the USA? By keeping them busy with nonsense and having established a new “priesthood” and pseudoreligious fanatics, and the Cultural Marxist preachers are nothing but that, which indocrinated the majority so thoroughly, that you keep them down and controlled when the crash comes, accepting the “solution” you present to them and so forth.
    The more nonsense people accept from the channels the Oligarchy controls and the more other means of communication got discredited or even destroyed, censored out of existence, the less likely there will be a true revolution or even resistance to their plans. Its that simple.

    And if you want to know what’s coming, just listen to people like Lynette Zang:

    She sums it up quite nicely. I don’t agree with gold being the solution or the state sector being evil, like many Libertarian Americans claim, but the problem is that the state being controlled and abused by a corrupted Oligarchy which doesn’t work in the slightest for the common people any more.

    But what she’s saying about the currency reset being prepared is absolutely right. Even if the Plutocracy doesn’t want it, and they are dominant in the Oligarchy, they might have no other choice within the next months or year. Looking at the current dollar expansion, this is really, really borderline. And the Covid-19 crisis is causal for the latest escalation, not causal for the underlying problems the USA and the Financial System London and New York created in the last decades has. Its just the best excuse and opportunity to make it “go up” in a controlled way.

    Its “real fun” that so many people were attacked for demanding controlled central bank accounts and money for everybody, to get control over the banking and fraud system, for long, and now the Oligarchy might do it by force, on their terms, to save their rule and their Neoliberal perversion of private-state ownership and economics, which just favours the 1 percent.

    Everything you see and hear from the propagandistic channels, all these absurd ideological Frankenstein monsters, being the preparation for the big shock which might lie behind the next corner. The really big thing is happening in the Financial sphere, this is now really unexplored territory, nobody ever had such a situation with the digital fiat money and the USA are going to the max with their dollar leverage right now. The bets are on but not even those in charge might be sure about all consequences and they are afraid, so they want to direct the anger, the frustration, the desperation already, just in case they need ideological support to keep people under control.
    So much big money is right now going into dumbing down and manipulating the young people in an unprecedented way, this is happening in purpose.

    The Corona crisis is the biggest crisis since many decades and it hits an already destabilised and weakened, artificially prolonged American business and financial cycle. This might be the biggest bubble bursting in all of known history and everybody realising what’s going on has to be afraid and preparing in their own way. The Oligarchy by creating a narrative for the reset and societal restart. That’s what we’re seeing, with all the pawns shouting unbelievable silly nonsense which just distracts from the real things going on.
    Its nothing new, we all had this before, but this time the sheer size and magnitude is different, it will affect the whole world.

    Guess who’s losing all their savings and social security right now? Middle aged and older white Americans before anybody else. They will be hit, if this turns out like now more and more observers are saying, like by a train. This will get very ugly and they better want the rest of society behind their back for the “reforms” which the reset will need, or otherwise the Oligarchy knows damned well they could get hanged.
    Obviously they need not just a financial, but also a political exit strategy. The whole “woke” crap is just the political exit strategy in the making for a totalitarian control when things get ugly.

  6. I think that this is a permutation of “The White Man’s Burden.” At its core it denies agency to non-whites. It is one segment of whites telling the others that non-whites are less capable and need “uplifting” by us and that this can be accomplished by negating any accomplishments remotely connected to whites which by default “empowers” non-whites. “We” have to do this because they can’t “empower” themselves because … and around and around we go.

  7. RE: Humor… glad to be of service: always ready to use it, whether appropriate or not.

    Because I am in my 60s, much of what you rail against/despair of on the left is not part of my experience. Think of someone who was just a few years too young for the crazy stages of the New Left and for whom the older generation was similarly positioned with regard to the Old Left: sympathetic to many of the stated goals and some of the tactics, but skeptical of many of the positions and attitudes (Our Line’s Been Changed Again), especially those based on politics as a fashion statement or accessory.

    I do find myself having to push back on some of these attitudes in my children (who are, I think, about a decade younger than you) and keep them focused on what would actually improve people’s lives in the here-and-now rather than on pie-in-the-sky* attitudes. Got into an argument this weekend with my 19 y.o. nephew along these lines the other night, that became unfortunately heated after I told him how easy and irresponsible it is for a young white male from a 1% family to spout ultra-left attitudes since the consequences of his opinions would have little effect on his life (beyond perhaps impressing the girls with his political commitment and sophistication).

    *In this song, you can easily substitute “revolution” or other ultra-left attitudes for “religion”.

  8. These attitudes also present a worrying tendency of universalizing Western European and American experiences. Many of my friends have been South Asian, Eastern European, or West Asian. Coming here, they are completely bewildered by these systems of values, both in the aforementioned way that they deny agency, and how they assume that dynamics present here have analogs that are present elsewhere.

  9. it’s become more and more common for white liberals to ‘whitesplain’ ‘my culture’ to me over the years. it started in small doses in undergrad, but now it’s pretty standard if i disagree with them

  10. A good examination of moral relativism will be more illuminating than anything else here. As a beligerant atheist, I hold all these ideas – human right, equality, sanctity of human life etc. – to be the most toxic and nebulous ideas of our time.
    I do not mean they should be ignored but do mean that they are practical ideas that arose from practical concerns, not something divinely ordained or unreachable by ordinary folk.
    Under this set of mind, moral relativism – which has been unfairly maligned by philosophically shallow, excessively serious pseudo-intellectuals – can be eminently defended.

    By the way I think self-hate is the least of White men’s problem.

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