Playing with Hate: White Power Music and the Undoing of Democracy1 Nancy S. Love Director, Interdisciplinary Studies Program Professor, Government & Justice Studies Appalachian State University “It is a hard thing to live haunted by the ghost of an untrue dream; to see the wide vision of empire fade into real ashes and dirt….” --- W.E.B. DuBois “Music speaks to us at a deeper level than books or political rhetoric: music speaks directly to the soul. Resistance Records…will be the music of our people’s renewal and rebirth.” --- William Pierce Introduction The official biography of Ian Stuart Donaldson, lead singer of the racist skinhead band, Skrewdriver, opens with the following description of how the band’s music affected its author, who is known only as Benny: Ian Stuart opened my eyes, and many others to the Whiteman‘s cause. I can still remember the first time I heard his voice come growling out of my speakers, sending a shot of adrenalin through my body and from that day on my life changed. In track after track of hard hitting, boot stomping rock he sang of truth, of clenched White fists, and pride of our people‘s past, and the promise of a bright and glorious future for the youth who dared to dream and dared to fight.2 Benny’s experience is more common than some might suppose. 3 Right-wing extremism is on the rise in western liberal democratic nation states due, in part, to the challenges globalization poses to their economic security and cultural identity.4 A growing white power music scene plays a major role today in efforts of the radical right to recruit youth to white supremacy.5 Variously described as the “soundtrack to the white revolution,” “a common language and a unifying ideology,” and, in the case of Ian Stuart Donaldson’s band Skrewdriver “’the musical 1 wing’ of the National Front,” hate music now fuels and funds white supremacist groups across the globe. 6 A key question in defining hate music is “when does hatred toward an other become hatred toward the other?”7 The labels White Rock, White Power, or White Noise, the name of the British National Front record label that produced Skrewdriver’s music, most frequently refer to racist skinhead music and occasionally also fascist experimental metal. Although many country, folk, and pop songs express anger, grief, pain, and even hatred toward individuals, two main features distinguish hate music from these other musical genres. Hate music is: 1) overtly racist and/or ultranationalist; and 2) directly associated with violence toward historically oppressed groups.8 As we will see, Ian Stuart Donaldson’s music, which he preferred to call White Rock, clearly qualifies as hate music on both counts. In this chapter, I argue that current increases in right-wing extremism are best understood as part of a longer cultural-political project of racial hegemony in western liberal democracies.9 I situate racist skinhead music in this historical context in order to show how it reflects and reproduces the complex ties between liberal democracy and white supremacy. In the process and without denying the real dangers they may pose, I would shift the focus away from external threats to liberal democracy, such as, international terrorists and Muslim extremists. Although many liberal democrats may also see racist skinheads as quasi-outsiders, as “lone wolves” surviving on the margins of society, I argue that racialized hatred runs throughout the history of liberalism and continues to shape western democracies.10 Among other things, the racist skinhead music scene reveals deep ties between the cultural politics of 2 liberal democracy and an emerging form of fascism that Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.“11 My title phrase, “playing with hate,” refers to the entrenched racism that shapes the complex relationship between white supremacy and liberal democracy. Responses to the white power music scene, I argue, reveal how both sides in this relationship are “playing with hate,” though in very different ways. Racist skinhead musicians reproduce a cultural politics of identity-based aversion to non-whites, while often denying the seriousness of their hate-filled music. Liberal democrats, who often attribute racial hatred to individual pathologies, deny that their rhetoric of liberal tolerance may obscure the complicity of hegemonic liberalism with white supremacy.12 I urge liberal democrats to recognize the hate music of racist skinheads as, in some respects, a

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