Virtual Nations and Spiritual Nationalism: White Racist Symbolism in Trans-Territorial Digital Communities

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:21
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Andrew WILSON, University of Derby, United Kingdom
There are a range of accounts of the application of ritual bricolage that celebrate its combinatory fluidity for its capacity to make space within traditional forms for progressive positions. The 'Ritual Reconstructed: Exploring LGBTQI Jewish identity' project makes a clear case for this approach. Nonetheless, this multivalency means that interventions into the spiritual realm from reactionary and politically extreme positions become possible.

This paper develops themes first examined in a micro-study of web-based cultural expressions by neo-fascist individuals (Wilson 2012). Whilst that initial study explored the appropriation and reinterpretation of symbolic forms associated with paganism(s) by white supremacist or neo-fascist groupuscules.  What emerged was a tendency to reify a mythic version of ‘the nation’ that depended upon a reading of the nation which situated it within an eschatological framework. Thus the ‘Aryan people’ (as an abstract national identity for the disparate white power communities) are understood to be facing obliteration and advocates of white supremacy are afforded a heroic role in the survival of a people facing an historical ‘end’. This perception of threat becomes mobilised as apocalyptic-conspiratorial rhetoric focussed on signifiers of global change (the ‘New World Order’) and/or changing value systems (‘God hates fags’). The paper is intended to expand on these ideas and to map the recombined symbolic forms typically drawn upon by pan-Aryan racists within a theoretical framework informed by Walker Connor’s concept of ‘ethnonationalism’ and Benedict Anderson’s ‘imagined communities’. It will be shown that the beliefs of so-called ‘lone wolves’ such as Anders Breivik and Dylann Roof are, in fact, wholly inkeeping with the rhetoric circulated within the dispersed digital pan-Aryan communites.

Wilson, A.F. (2012). From apocalyptic paranoia to the mythic nation: political extremity and myths of origin in the neo-fascist milieu. In M. Gibson et al (eds) Mysticism, Myth and Celtic Identity. London: Routledge