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Discovering Implicit White Communities, Part 1

William Sheldon

November 13, 2009

During the 29 August 2009 episode of James Edwards’ The Political Cesspool radio program, his co-host that evening, Winston Smith,  asked Dr. Greg Johnson, editor of The Occidental Quarterly, the following question: “Do our people really not understand that race is everything or do we understand and choose, en masse, to ignore and repress it?” 

Dr. Johnson replied by directing the listening audience to read one article in particular, “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism” by Professor Kevin MacDonald. “This is a very important issue and it is something I think about all the time,” Johnson responded. “One of the most important things written on racial consciousness, White racial consciousness that I have ever seen, I am proud to say was published in the Occidental Quarterly ... it is about the whole concept of implicit Whiteness ...“  

Why is MacDonald's article on implicit Whiteness so important? Of course the best way to find out is to read it yourself, but short of that, the following summary will provide the reader with the highlights. 

A Synopsis of “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism”  

There is consensus among psychologists that two kinds of processing exist in the human mind, implicit and explicit.  Implicit cognitive systems — developed earlier in our evolution — are unconscious, effortless, and fast. They are acquired either through biology (e.g., our natural sense of beauty or sexual attractiveness) or overlearning (e.g., multiplication tables). Overlearning can also happen from reading repeated news articles that reinforce a particular bias. The subcortical parts of the brain drive implicit processes. 

Explicit systems, which evolved later, are conscious, controllable, limited by attention, and slower compared to implicit processes. They are acquired by culture and formal teaching.  Implicit mechanisms can be over-ridden by more recently evolved explicit mechanisms.  The capacity to hold attention on a task in working memory is an explicit process. (This same ability is also closely correlated to IQ, by the way.)  Conscientiousness, another explicit process, is defined as the “ability to control one’s behavior to conform to social conventions and to pursue long-term goals.” Another way of describing it is “effortful control.”  This trait can be measured in five-year-olds by testing them on their ability to delay gratification: Children with poor effortful control choose to have one piece of candy right now rather than wait a bit to get two pieces.  In general, girls are more conscientious. Conscientiousness generally increases with age.  Individuals who are low on the conscientious scale are more likely to end up in prison or addicted to drugs. The seat of conscientiousness is the prefrontal cortex (PFC). 

MacDonald writes, “There is also evidence that white people are less ethnocentric than other human groups: Western cultures tend toward individualism, whereas most of the rest of the world is much more collectivist in outlook.” There are several theories to explain the mechanisms behind ethnocentrism (see MacDonald’s “Biological Roots of Ethnocentrism,” a chapter in Cultural Insurrections, for more explanation of why groups differ).  The problem for European-derived people is that because their ethnocentrism is relatively weak, it can be governed through the control of cultural information.  That is why the control of culture is so important to our future. 

Implicit and explicit expressions of ethnocentrism can be assessed separately. The Implicit Associations Test has been interpreted as evidence that Whites hold implicit negative stereotypes about Blacks. Whites are shown photos of Whites and Blacks in succession. The photos are paired with negative or positive words. Some 80% of Whites take longer to associate positive words with Blacks than with Whites. On the other hand, questionnaires that offer the participant more time to consider an answer assess explicit attitudes.  White college student populations exhibit strong pro-Black attitudes on such tests.  

Another method of measuring explicit attitudes is interviews.  One study found that 77% of Whites thought that Whites had a culture worth preserving. However, only 4% of these respondents claimed to be a member of an organization based on racial or ethnic identity [my emphasis].  These types of studies demonstrate that Blacks and other minorities have stronger explicit ethnic identities than Whites.  The gap between implicit and explicit attitudes is greatest among White liberals.  There is a positive correlation between education level and the likelihood that Whites will move their children to private schools as the percentage of Black students rises.  Insidiously, it is poorer Whites with less education but a stronger sense of ethnocentrism that are more likely to be forced to send their children to integrated schools. 

Generally speaking, all people become more racially conscious as they get older. Explicit expressions of bias in favor of one’s own race start at age three or four, peak around middle school, then disappear in adulthood.  Implicit racial bias remains strong into adulthood.  In other words, we learn the official explicit racial ideology by adulthood, and then spend the rest of our (White) lives trying to control our implicit leanings.    

Implicit attitudes about race manifest themselves in the choices we make about where we live and the people we choose as our friends. Writes MacDonald, "Despite the current cultural programming, White people are gradually coalescing into what I term 'implicit White communities' in multicultural America—that is, communities that reflect their ethnocentrism but that 'cannot tell their name'—they cannot explicitly state that they are an expression of White ethnocentrism.”  This trend, he says, will increase in the future. 

MacDonald cites four overlapping examples of White identities that have emerged in America in the second half of the 20th century, identities that are permissible within the official state-supported multicultural ideology: Republican (primarily rural and suburban) voter, NASCAR racing enthusiast, country music fan, evangelical Christian. “These implicit White communities are insufficient for ethnic defense, however, and I conclude that progress in defending the ethnic interests of Whites will happen only by legitimizing explicit assertions of ethnic identity and interests."

The question is, how do we reach a point where European Americans can make such assertions?


There are strong psychological challenges working against us, at both the cultural and biological levels. They fall into three categories: elite sabotage; conscientiousness; guilt and shame. Elite sabotage occurs when high-status Whites support policies that are harmful to their broader kin, but beneficial to themselves and their immediate family in the short term. For example, Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan, is paid over $700,000 per year. She was selected for the position, in part — perhaps large part — because she is a strong advocate of diversity.  

On the other hand, while supporting diversity has large benefits for individual Whites, dissenting from the dominant ideology that supports diversity and non-White immigration carries huge potential costs. Organizations like the $PLC are eager to do all they can to remove people from their sources of livelihood and hold them up to public shame and ridicule.

Elite sabotage leads logically to further discussion of conscientiousness. Conscientious people are concerned with maintaining a positive reputation. Conscientiousness is closely correlated to being cooperative, dependable, and honest.  A good reputation is a mechanism for creating long-term payoffs, in a friendship, a career opportunity, etc. This mental ledger is calculated in the PFC.

The downside is that conscientious individuals are so concerned with their reputation that they become conformists. MacDonald says, “Once the intellectual and political left had won the day, a large part of the success was that it dominated the moral and intellectual high ground related to issues of race and ethnicity.” Guilt is a signal to the group that an individual will behave better in the future. Shame functions as a signal of submission to those higher in status. Guilt and shame keep us in check and make it difficult for us to oppose the dominant ideology: multiculturalism. “The first step [in changing this] is a psychological one,” writes MacDonald. “Proud and confident explicit assertions of ethnic identity and interests among White people, and the creation of communities where such explicit assertions are considered normal and natural rather than a reason for ostracism.” 

Creating Explicitly White Cultural Space

Near the end of his Political Cesspool interview, Greg Johnson talks about how MacDonald's seminal “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism” has framed the work he does an editor.

Part of the of project of The Occidental Quarterly, both the print journal and now the TOQ Online publication, is to help people get in touch with their suppressed, unconscious, racial feelings, and when I first heard Kevin MacDonald speak about this I felt enormously hopeful because I realized that although the enemy has, for now, won the battle for people’s conscious mind, they have not been able to change people’s genetics, they haven’t been able to change the deep wiring of the brain, nor can they, and this is why there is such a ferocious energy on the part of our enemies to constantly reinforce these false messages, because they know that the moment the propaganda lapses people’s biological instincts will reassert themselves, and therefore, there can never be a space in our culture that is free from their propaganda.

Actually, Johnson overstates the power of our enemies. The fact is that there is space, explicit White space one might say, in our society that is free or nearly free of enemy propaganda. His own publications, Occidental Quarterly and TOQ Online are shining examples, as are Occidental Observer and The Political Cesspool. There is a broad continuum between implicit and explicit White space. In Part 2 of Discovering Implicit White Communities, I will start cataloging examples of implicit White communities beyond the four listed by MacDonald. We will also draft criteria that may be used to evaluate where on this continuum a given community (or space) fits. With such an infrastructure established, we can then start to sketch the organized and patient strategy required to nudge towards explicitness the many implicit communities widely present in our society.

Go to Part 2 of this article.

William Sheldon is a librarian.  He is founder and editor of the ourgazetteer.org project. 

Permanent URL: http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/authors/Sheldon-Implicit.html 

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