The Conservative Worldview: Herrenvolk and Untermenschen, Revisited
The following essay is one that I published during the Presidential election year of 2012, except for the photo and Postscript. It was more of a conjecture at the time, and it ruffled a few feathers, but I think the passage of time has provided even more confirmation of the underlying hypothesis.
Romney and Conservative propagandists are crying that President Obama is “divisive.” That is sick, hypocritical and pathetic. The conservative worldview itself is based upon the division of people into two groups, the “Herrenvolk” and the “Untermenschen.”
“Herrenvolk” is German for a race, people, or nation considered superior to all others and therefore qualified to rule over them. American Conservatives see themselves as the Herrenvolk, the “real Americans,” the job creators, the “haves,” the true (fundamentalist) Christians, native-born, native-English-speaking, heterosexual fetus-protectors who believe America is superior to all other countries, literally and morally. With blind self-glorification, they assert that no one helped them achieve what they have, they did it all themselves. This makes them superior. A subset still maintains that being White also makes them superior. And being male. When the notion of a “Sarah Palin/Glenn Beck” ticket was proposed to Glenn Beck his response was, “I’m gonna take back seat to a chick? I mean, ‘Go shoot a bear, make some stew, I’m hungry in here!’” For Conservatives like Beck, Limbaugh and Allen West, women should be subservient to men.
The enemies of the Herrenvolk are the “Untermenschen,” “inferior people.” Romney suggests that they are 47% of the U.S. population. They are the “have nots,” freeloaders, moochers, scavengers, parasites, leeches, losers, hippies, foreigners, gays, atheists, Muslims, liberals, socialists, collectivists, communists, and anyone who lives off of taxes, which (as American Conservatives see it) is money robbed from Herrenvolk.
The moral disgust that Conservatives feel toward Untermenschen is compounded by the belief that, aside from race and sex, Untermenchen choose to be Untermenschen. Untermenschen could be fundamentalist Christians, but they choose not to be. Homosexuals could choose to be heterosexual, but they refuse. Liberals could choose to be Conservatives, but they insist on siding with Untermenschen. Poverty is also a matter of choice. In ConservaWorld, everyone can find or create jobs that pay well enough to provide for all of their needs, so, if they can’t provide for all of their needs, that was their choice. If someone has a disabling medical condition which inhibits them from finding gainful employment, well, maybe their medical condition resulted from their lifestyle choices, and they don’t deserve support regardless of their need.
In the Conservative worldview, only the Herrenvolk deserve to vote, prosper and rule.
Thus their complaints about President Obama. He is the son of an African and he once went to a Muslim school. Africans and Muslims are Untermenschen to American Conservatives. President Obama may call himself a Christian now, but a prominent preacher in his church said bad things about America. Anyone who denies the sanctity and supremacy of the United States of America is an Untermensch. So is anyone who belongs to that preacher’s church. Furthermore, President Obama openly advocates support for Untermenschen, and he takes money from Herrenvolk to do that.
Thus Conservative complaints about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, and welfare. Herrenvolk wouldn’t need this support. Anyone who does need such support is an Untermensch, and Untermenschen do not deserve such support. So the Herrenvolk owe nothing to the Untermenschen. But the Untermenschen owe everything to the Herrenvolk.
Thus the voter identification laws, and questions as to whether Untermensch Americans should have the right to vote. Only Herrenvolk are worthy, but Untermenschen are so numerous that allowing them to vote is a threat to Herrenvolk. The lazy, dependent Untermenschen will always vote to tax the Herrenvolk more and to increase their own entitlements. So every means must be used to restrict the number of Untermenschen who are able to vote.
Thus the Conservative push for fundamentalist Christian theocracy. American Conservatives see their religion, fundamentalist Christianity, as one factor giving them Herrenvolk superiority. From their perspective, there is only one true religion, the one which they believe in, and it is superior to all others. As General Boykin said, in reference to a Muslim warlord, "I knew my God was bigger than his; I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." Anyone who rejects or impedes the authority and influence of fundamentalist Christianity is Untermensch.
Thus complaints about Obama “apologizing” to other countries and their people. To the Conservative mind, the USA is Herrenvolk among nations, the rest are Untermenschen.
Thus the Conservative “Project for a New American Century” and its corollary policies of global threat and domination by Herrenvolk America.
That’s my Herrenvolk Hypothesis of the Conservative worldview. Is there any scientific evidence for it? Well, Chris Mooney, having reviewed the scientific literature concerning the Conservative brain, concluded that Conservatives are “hierarchs” and highly sensitive to in-group/out-group distinctions. By "hierarchs" he says he means that they support various types of inequality. I think they simply view the world in terms of superiors and inferiors, i.e., hierarchy. When he talks about their “in-group/out-group distinctions,” he’s referring to their reflexive impulse to distinguish between Us and Them.
They are very self-righteous. They are not self-critical. They have very little critical thinking about their own behavior. They are often nasty and mean-spirited. They are bullies. They are prejudiced. And the higher they test on these questionnaires and scales, the more conservative they are.
Remember this, the Ugly Republican, when they smile and ask you to vote them into power. When they say, “Believe in America,” they mean a Herrenvolk America.
Now it would be "."
I wrote this essay around the time that I began researching the political psychology of authoritarianism. Further research into authoritarian psychology gave me a better understanding of it. That led to one essay about the neuroscience behind it [republished here, on my personal website], and later essays about it here and here on caucus99percent. Now I believe that political orientation is a phenomenon which must be incorporated into theories of political science and sociology. Perhaps into theories of "political economy," as well.