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Not to be confused with suprematism.

Supremacism is the worldview that a particular age, race, species, ethnic group, religion, gender, social class, belief system, or culture is superior to other variations of that trait, and entitles those who identify with it to dominate, control, or exploit those who do not.[1]


Feminist theorists have argued that in patriarchy, a standard of male supremacism is enforced through a variety of cultural, political, and interpersonal strategies.[2] Others contend that this enforcement has often been accompanied by various forms of female authority.[3] Since the 19th century there have been a number of feminist movements opposed to male supremacism, usually aimed at achieving equal legal rights and protections for women in all cultural, political and interpersonal relations.[4][5][6] These movements sometimes argue for scenarios of female supremacism, either through suggesting historical forms of matriarchy or arguing forms of radical feminism, separatist feminism, or political lesbianism.


Centuries of European colonialism in the Americas, Africa, Australia, Oceania, and Asia were justified by white supremacist attitudes.[7] During the 19th century, the phrase "The White Man's Burden", referring to the thought that whites have the obligation to make the societies of the other peoples more like their own, was widely used to justify imperialist policy as a noble enterprise.[8][9] Thomas Carlyle, known for his historical account of the French Revolution, The French Revolution: A History, which inspired Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, argued that European supremacist policies were justified on the grounds they provided the greatest benefit to "inferior" native peoples.[10] However, even at the time of its publication in 1849, Carlyle's main work on the subject, the Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question, was received poorly by his contemporaries.[11]

Before the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America was founded with a constitution that contained clauses restricting the government's ability to limit or interfere with the institution of "negro" slavery.[12] In the Cornerstone Speech, Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens declared that one of the Confederacy's foundational tenets was white supremacy over black slaves.[13] Following the war, a secret society, the Ku Klux Klan, was formed in the South. Its purpose was to "restore" white supremacy after the Reconstruction period, even though there still was white, Protestant supremacy in the United States, at the time.[14] The group preached supremacy over all other races, as well as over Jews, Catholics, and other minorities.

Cornel West, an African-American philosopher, writes that Black supremacy arose in America in response to white supremacism.[15] Groups advocating some version of Black supremacy include Nation of Islam, the New Black Panther Party, the Black Hebrew Israelites, and the Bobo Ashanti denomination of the Rastafari movement.

During the early 20th century until the end of World War II, known as the pre-1945 Shōwa era, in Japan, the propaganda of the Empire of Japan used the old concept of hakko ichiu to support the idea that the Yamato were a superior race, destined to rule Asia and the Pacific. Many documents, such as Kokutai no Hongi, Shinmin no Michi, and An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus, discussed this concept of Yamato supremacy.

In Africa, black Southern Sudanese allege that they are subjected to a racist form of Arab supremacy, which they equate with the historic white supremacism of South African apartheid.[16] The alleged genocide in the ongoing War in Darfur has been described as an example of Arab racism.[17]

In Asia, ancient Indians considered all foreigners as barbarians. The Muslim scholar Al-Biruni wrote that the Indians called foreigners impure.[18] A few centuries later Dubois observes that Hindus look upon Europeans as barbarians totally ignorant of all principles of honour and good breeding... In the eyes of a Hindu, a Pariah(outcaste) and a European are on the same level.[19] The Chinese viewed the Europeans as repulsive, ghost like-creatures and even devils. The Chinese writers also referred to the Europeans as barbarians.[20]


From 1933–1945, Nazi Germany, under the rule of Adolf Hitler, promoted the idea of a superior, Aryan Herrenvolk, or master race. The state's propaganda maintained that Germanic peoples were members of an Aryan Herrenvolk that was superior to the Jews, Slavs, and Romani people, so-called "gypsies". Arthur de Gobineau, a French racial theorist and aristocrat, blamed the fall of the ancien régime in France on racial intermixing, which he argued destroyed the purity of the Aryan race. Gobineau's theories, which attracted a strong following in Germany, emphasized the existence of an irreconcilable polarity between Aryan and Jewish cultures.[21]

Many modern-day white supremacist groups around the world use German Nazi symbolism, including the swastika, to represent their beliefs.

According to the annual report of Germany's interior intelligence service, the Verfassungsschutz, for 2012, at the time there were 26,000 right-wing extremists living in Germany, including 6000 neo-Nazis.[22]


Some academics and writers claim that Christian supremacism was a motivation for the Crusades to the Holy Land, as well as for crusades against Muslims and pagans throughout Europe.[23] The Atlantic slave trade has been attributed in part to Christian supremacism as well.[24] The Ku Klux Klan has been described as a white supremacist Christian organization, as are many other white supremacist groups, such as the Posse Comitatus and the Christian Identity and Positive Christianity movements.[25][26]

Some academics and writers also allege Muslim or Islamic supremacism. Others claim that the Qur'an and other Islamic documents always speak of tolerant, protective beliefs, which have been misused, misquoted, and misinterpreted by both Islamic extremists and Islamophobes.[27] Examples of how supremacists have exploited the name of Islam include the Muslim participation in the African slave trade, the early 20th century pan-Islamism promoted by Abdul Hamid II,[28] the jizya and rules of marriage in Muslim countries being imposed on non-Muslims,[29] the majority Muslim interpretations of the rules of pluralism in Malaysia, and "defensive" supremacism practiced by some Muslim immigrants in Europe.[30] Other writers posit a "poisonous, violent, Islamic supremacist creed",[31] and that supremacism is as inherent in Islam as it is in all other religions.[32] Bruce Bawer, an American writer, alleges that Saudi Arabian princes have funded institutions to paint accusations of Islamic supremacism as "Islamophobic lies."[33]

Some academics and writers allege Jewish supremacism, often in relation to Israel and Zionism. Author Minna Rozen writes that 17th century Jews who lived in Jerusalem were supremacist in their views that they were superior over other Jews.[34] Ilan Pappé, an Israeli historian, writes that the First Aliyah to Israel "established a society based on Jewish supremacy."[35] Joseph Massad, a Professor of Arab Studies, holds that "Jewish supremacism" always has been a "dominating principle" in religious and secular Zionism.[36][37] Kevin B. MacDonald, known for his theory of Judaism as a "group evolutionary strategy", has been accused by the ADL[38] and his own university psychology department[39] of being antisemitic and white supremacist in his writings on the subject.

Zoroastrianism, an early monotheistic faith that influenced Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, originated among a people who called themselves Aryans, including the Persians.[40] Friedrich Nietzsche's writings, such as Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Zarathustra being another name for Zoroaster), were interpreted by Nazis as a foundation for their ideas of the Aryan Übermensch and white supremacism.[41] The Nazis also appropriated the Zoroastrian symbol of the faravahar.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Supremacist". Merriam-Webster. 
  2. ^ Peggy Reeves Sanday, Female power and male dominance: on the origins of sexual inequality, Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 6-8, 113-114, 174, 182. ISBN 0-521-28075-3, ISBN 978-0-521-28075-4
  3. ^ Peggy Reeves Sanday, p. 113.
  4. ^ Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus. London: Collins. 2006. ISBN 0-00-722405-2. 
  5. ^ Humm, Maggie (1992). Modern feminisms: Political, Literary, Cultural. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-08072-7. 
  6. ^ Cornell, Drucilla (1998). At the heart of freedom: feminism, sex, and equality. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-02896-5. 
  7. ^ Takashi Fujitani, Geoffrey Miles White, Lisa Yoneyama, Perilous memories: the Asia-Pacific War(s), p. 303, 2001.
  8. ^ Miller, Stuart Creighton (1982). Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-03081-9.  p. 5: "...imperialist editors came out in favor of retaining the entire archipelago (using) higher-sounding justifications related to the "white man's burden."
  9. ^ Opinion archive, International Herald Tribune (February 4, 1999). "In Our Pages: 100, 75 and 50 Years Ago; 1899: Kipling's Plea". International Herald Tribune: 6. : Notes that Rudyard Kipling's new poem, "The White Man's Burden", "is regarded as the strongest argument yet published in favor of expansion."
  10. ^ "Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question". 
  11. ^ "Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question". 
  12. ^ "Constitution of the Confederate States". March 11, 1861. : "No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed."
  13. ^ Alexander Stephens (March 21, 1861). ""Corner Stone" Speech". : "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."
  14. ^ Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, Perennial (HarperCollins), 1989, p. 425–426.
  15. ^ Cornel West, Race Matters, Beacon Press, 1993, p. 99: "The basic aim of black Muslim theology — with its distinct black supremacist account of the origins of white people — was to counter white supremacy."
  16. ^ "Racism in Sudan". 
  17. ^ "Welcome To B'nai Brith". 2004-08-04. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  18. ^ The First Spring: The Golden Age of India by Abraham Eraly p.313
  19. ^ The First Spring: The Golden Age of India by Abraham Eraly p.313
  20. ^ The Haunting Past: Politics, Economics and Race in Caribbean Life by Alvin O. Thompson p.210
  21. ^ Blamires, Cyprian; Jackson, Paul. World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia: Volume 1. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc, 2006. p. 62.
  22. ^ "Verfassungsschutzbericht 2012" (in German). Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV). September 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  23. ^ Carol Lansing, Edward D. English, A companion to the medieval world, Volume 7, John Wiley and Sons, 2009, p. 457, ISBN 1-4051-0922-X, 9781405109222
  24. ^ Mary E. Hunt, Diann L. Neu, New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views, SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2010, p. 122, ISBN 1-59473-285-X, 9781594732850
  25. ^ R. Scott Appleby, The ambivalence of the sacred: religion, violence, and reconciliation, Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict series, Rowman & Littlefield, 2000, p. 103, ISBN 0-8476-8555-1, ISBN 978-0-8476-8555-4
  26. ^ " - The Website of Political Research Associates". Retrieved 2015-07-04. 
  27. ^ Joshua Cohen, Ian Lague, Khaled Abou El Fadl, The place of tolerance in Islam, Beacon Press, 2002, p. 23, ISBN 0-8070-0229-1, ISBN 978-0-8070-0229-2
  28. ^ Gareth Jenkins, Political Islam in Turkey: running west, heading east?, Macmillan, 2008, p. 59, ISBN 1-4039-6883-7, ISBN 978-1-4039-6883-8
  29. ^ Malise Ruthven, Islam: a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, 1997, Macmillan, 2008 p. 117, ISBN 0-19-950469-5, ISBN 978-0-19-950469-5
  30. ^ Bassam Tibi, Ethnicity of Fear? Islamic Migration and the Ethnicization of Islam in Europe, John Wiley & Sons online, June 2010.
  31. ^ Mark W. Smith, The Official Handbook of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy 2008: The Arguments You Need to Defeat the Loony Left This Election Year, Regnery Publishing, 2007, p. 27, ISBN 1-59698-049-4, ISBN 978-1-59698-049-5
  32. ^ Robert Spencer, Stealth jihad: how radical Islam is subverting America without guns or bombs, Regnery Publishing, 2008, p. 101, 203, 207, ISBN 1-59698-556-9, ISBN 978-1-59698-556-8
  33. ^ Bruce Bawer, Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom, Random House, Inc., 2007, p. 152, ISBN 0-7679-2837-7, ISBN 978-0-7679-2837-3
  34. ^ Minna Rozen, Jewish identity and society in the seventeenth century: reflections on the life and work of Refael Mordekhai Malki, Mohr Siebeck, 129, 1992 ISBN 3-16-145770-6, ISBN 978-3-16-145770-8
  35. ^ Ilan Pappé, The Israel/Palestine question, 89, 1999 ISBN 0-415-16947-X, 9780415169479
  36. ^ David Hirsch, Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections, The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism Working Paper Series; discussion of Joseph Massad's "The Ends of Zionism: Racism and the Palestinian Struggle", Interventions, Volume 5, Number 3, 2003, 440-451, 2003.
  37. ^ According to Joseph Massad's "Response to the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Report1" on his Columbia University web site during a 2002 rally he said "Israeli Jews will continue to feel threatened if they persist in supporting Jewish supremacy." Massad notes there that others have misquoted him as saying Israel was a "Jewish supremacist and racist state." See for example David Horowitz, The professors: the 101 most dangerous academics in America, Regnery Publishing, 271, 2006
  38. ^ Kevin MacDonald article "Kevin MacDonald: Ideology" Check |url= scheme (help). Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  39. ^ Rider, Tiffany (October 6, 2008). "Academic senate disassociates itself from Professor MacDonald". Daily 49er. 
  40. ^ Janet Levy, Iran and the Shia: Understanding Iran, The Rosen Publishing Group, 2009, pp 9-10.
  41. ^ Bill Yenne, Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts: Himmler's Black Knights and the Occult Origins of the SS, Zenith Imprint, 2010, pp 43-44.
  42. ^ George Lundskow, The Sociology of Religion: A Substantive and Transdisciplinary Approach, Pine Forge Press, 2008, p 118.