The renaissance of racism was one topic that we at Mediolana did not except to be writing about in the late summer of 2017, but with the rise of authoritarian populism in both key developed economies and emerging markets – and a nod to the 16-bit cult video game PakiBash – it makes perfect sense to elucidate the mechanics of this phenomenon.
Contemporary postmodern racism – while certainly not excluding the possibility of physical violence – is a predominantly virtual beast. But it has far-reaching real-world consequences, including ’tilting’ elections, the dehumanisation of out-groups and – crucially – guaranteed decline. Here’s how it works:
- Activate ad campaigns. The media is critical in creating a fecund climate for postmodern racism. It does this by running increasingly shrill stories which make popular scapegoats synonymous with structural economic and social problems that they have little-to-no tenable causative connection with, especially vis-à-vis the rest of the population. Wildly inaccurate extrapolations from unrepresentative examples are routinely deployed in this phase.
- Increase the heat. The next step – in which the media often (though not always) plays the roles of both cheerleader and instigator – is to claim that in an era when hate speech has become the defining wallpaper of our digital culture, ‘ordinary people’ are somehow being silenced from expressing hate speech. This has the effect of getting people to adopt confrontational demeanours, raising the temperature far beyond rationality.
- Airbrush inconvenient facts. That EU migration constitutes a vast economic subsidy to, say, the finances of the United Kingdom – a net benefit of £8.8bn from 1995 to 2011, as opposed to a £604.5bn drain on the exchequer during the same period by British nationals – is something that must be flushed down the memory hole. Sexual abuse – something which numerous high-profile cases have demonstrated is tragically institutionalised at all levels of UK society – is, somehow, to be construed as solely committed by people with darker skin tones and ‘alien’ names working in the margins of the nighttime economy.
Postmodern racism is, in many senses, a quite brilliant stratagem. And to certain population demographics, this new and improved form of Paki-bashing will doubtless provide that surge of adrenalin which is otherwise presumed missing from their existences.
However, it does not actually solve any of the problems it purports to explain. Quite the reverse: (i) it infantilises sections of the general public by conning them into believing that their own deficiencies – such as catastrophically low levels of educational attainment – can be remedied by blaming abstract entities; (ii) it deliberately polarises and degrades political discourse; and (iii) it gives a Get Out of Jail Free card to the taxpayer-funded agencies whose performance and policies have been central in engendering systemic decay.