More On The Roots Of “Ethnomasochism”


Last week I made some unsystematic and inconclusive inquiries into the origins of the word “ethnomasochism.”  Readers have been helping out.

Reader A offers this:

I used this term in my blog way back in August `04, though I can`t take credit for coining it: I was translating from the French of Guillaume Faye. Presumably Buchanan derived it from the same source by some other intermediary.

The Faye quotation is at the very end of that link, thus: “For Europeans to have a true awakening from the conformism and ethno-masochistic blindness of our self-styled `opinion leaders,` we have need of a terrible crisis, which alone can give us the energy to defend ourselves.”

Reader B, who I think (judging from the e-address) is South African, tells me that:

Dr Dan Roodt from South Africa used the term first for white Afrikaners who welcomed their demise through black rule.

Reader C suggests the late great Spiro T. Agnew as an original inspiration for the term:

I think that in the case of “ethnomasochism” you might have looked wider out. “National masochism” is well known at least since the time of Spiro Agnew (with a widespread quotation you may google).

The problem seems to be that we have only some years ago learnt to make a difference between “nation” and “ethny” resp. nationalism in general and ethno-nationalism in particular.

I obediently googled the quotation, and here it is, from 1969:  “A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”

Reader D has the audacity to question my grasp of psychopathology:

Mr. Derbyshire, first I would like to bring the following passage from your essay to your attention:

“Pushed by this fear of persecution [i.e. as a racist], and pulled by his desire to come across as better than average, it isn`t enough for him to stop at saying, `It`s bad to hurt other peoples.` He has to one-up his peers and say, `Not only do I believe in treating people equally, I actually really like other peoples. I don`t just really like other peoples, I prefer other peoples. I don`t just prefer other peoples, I hate my own people. My people are a bad people. See? That`s how far from racist I am! Not only do I not dislike others, I actually hate my own people! That`s just how much of a great person I am. See how un-racist I am? I`m not just good; I go above and beyond. I`m outstanding!`”

If the above is true, and I think it is, wouldn`t the proper descriptive term be ethno-sadist rather than ethno-masochist?  After all, the sadist is the one who wishes unpleasantness on others rather than himself, which sounds to be the case here.

Just a thought….

I appreciate the thought, Sir, but when I try to think this through my brain keeps veering off into the old joke about a conversation between Monty Masochist and Sam Sadist:  Monty ? “Hurt me!”  Sam ? “No!”

Finally, a reader at London`s Queen Mary College ? one of whose female students I dated, back in the Upper Pleistocene epoch ? has supplied me with a PDF of the 1981 paper on “Medical Ethno-Masochism” that I mentioned as the earliest use of the term I could find after 15 minutes googling.  

You can read the paper for yourself here.  It is not far in spirit from my own musings on the possibility of an Arctic Alliance.