Publication DateSkip to main content
White supremacy constitutes a belief system that the white race (sometimes described as "Aryan" or "Northern European") is somehow superior to other races. As put into practice by far-right militia and terrorist groups in the United States, the belief system of white supremacy ceases to be simply a bigoted ideology and becomes an action plan to create a religious state on earth based on the destruction of perceived infidels and evil forces.
The roots of white supremacy go as far back as the colonial slave trade. Historically, slavery was considered to be a normal outcome of war; the victor won the right to enslave the vanquished (e.g., as the Spanish enslaved the Moors). However, due to the expanding agrarian economic markets of the Americas, by the 17th century the need for slaves began to outweigh the supply. A conundrum arose for the Catholics and Protestants of Europe: how could a religious people, whose faith is rooted in the exodus of the slaves from Egypt, enslave other people?
The answer was to reclassify those other people (in this case, Africans) as not human, thus clearing the moral way for the massive enslavement of African "savages." The white supremacist ethic of the slave trade allowed African natives to be "rescued" by Godfearing whites. They were saved from the untamed jungle, dressed in white man's clothes and religion. The slaves were treated like children, with grown men called "boy," as long as they accepted their subordinate role.
The link between white supremacy and terrorism begins when African slaves began rejecting their sub-human subordination. White supremacist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, rose to power during the Reconstruction Era (1870s), in reaction to attempts to empower newly freed slaves. Similarly, 20th-century racist terrorism (e.g., the bombing of black churches in the 1960s) took place during periods of black empowerment.
Citation in APA 7th Edition
White Supremacy. (2003). In H. W. Kushner (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Terrorism (Vol. 1, pp. 408-410). SAGE Reference.
Unlike Europe, neo-Nazi groups in the United States have never been criminalized. American neo-Nazis are part of a wider extreme right-wing, white supremacist movement that also includes the Ku Klux Klan. While they have little overall influence on U.S. politics, they have had a serious impact locally, where they have engaged in intimidation and committed violence against particular groups and recruited disaffected youth into their organizations.
The Intelligence Project, begun by the civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center, has monitored hate groups in the United States since 1979 and provides a respected clearinghouse of information about neo-Nazis and related groups operating in the United States. Its 2006 Year in Hate report lists 844 active groups, of which 191 are neo-Nazi.
As a social movement, the neo-Nazi movement is not static but undergoes change constantly; groups split and merge, and new groups form out of other social contexts. This is true worldwide, as the movement responds to changing societies and draws on the legacies of racism everywhere.
The growth of the Internet has facilitated the growth of neo-Nazi movements in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The Internet has given neo-Nazi organizations, like other social movements, a low-cost way to reach sympathizers and recruit adherents. Cyberspace has enabled European neo-Nazi groups to escape state controls by having their Web sites hosted by groups in the United States. American neo-Nazi groups have links to European neo-Nazi groups on their Web sites and vice versa. This may be the precursor to the growth of a more coordinated international movement, which would be a threat to democracy and racial equality worldwide.
Citation in APA 7th Edition
Neo-Nazis. (2008). In J. H. Moore (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Race and Racism (Vol. 2, pp. 361-364). Macmillan Reference USA.
The intensity of contemporary debates over the legacy of antifascism are to no small degree the result of the fact that there is no consensus over the historical role of antifascism as a political and cultural movement. Unlike Italian fascism and German National Socialism, which were defeated and discredited militarily and politically in 1945, antifascism emerged from the war with its reputation enhanced by the aura of resistance movements and the Soviet victory. Postwar European communist parties and regimes, especially in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), drew their legitimacy from the sacrifices of heroes and martyrs who became the touchstone of state-sanctioned myths and rituals until 1989. While for some historians antifascism was marked by an extraordinary mobilization of the intellectuals in defense of culture and democracy, for others it was thoroughly corrupted by its association with communism.
Though communist antifascism was attractive to varying degrees in different periods, it is necessary to more broadly include noncommunist anti-fascism and go beyond parties and organizations to include ideas, intellectuals, the press, everyday life, and religious movements. A more capacious approach would also include "an attitude or feeling of hostility toward fascist ideology and its propagators." It is therefore advisable to distinguish the official antifascism of the Comintern from local initiatives as well as from exile intellectuals and noncommunist resistance groups, which encompassed a much more complicated fiber of beliefs, convictions, hopes, emotions, attitudes. The three main phases of the history of antifascism considered below are: antifascism before the rise of Hitler (1920–1933); antifascism in the era of Hitler and Stalin (1934–1945); antifascism after fascism (1946–1989).
Citation in APA 7th Edition
Antifascism. (2006). In J. Merriman & J. Winter (Eds.), Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction (Vol. 1, pp. 106-113). Charles Scribner's Sons.