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Transatlantic Blog

The El Paso shooting: The rise of Racial Collectivist Terrorism

On Sunday, the nation’s heart broke again as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius opened fire inside an El Paso Walmart, killing 22 people and injuring at least 26 individuals between the ages of two and 82. Minutes before the shooting, Crusius took to the website 8chan to post a manifesto that cobbles together racial and economic collectivism with environmental extremism in a way distinctive of the Alt-Right.

These ideological strands weave a political viewpoint that weds standard collectivist economic viewpoints to an imperative to preserve racial unity.

As I noted in my Acton University lecture on the subject, the term Alt-Right as it is used in American political parlance is dazzlingly imprecise, as it has been applied to everyone from libertarians, to President Trump’s adviser Steve Bannon. After El Paso, too, partisans have tried to pin the blame for the shooting on American politicians (and even their donors).

However, the political ideology espoused by terrorists like Patrick Crusius and others I have referred to as Alt-Right has no representation in mainstream U.S. politics, as members of the Alt-Right readily admit. The motivating views of this brand of domestic terrorist need a new name. The best way to think of the El Paso mass shooting and similar attacks is as acts of racial collectivist terrorism.

A glance at Crusius’ online manifesto demonstrates the ways the collectivist ideology held by himself and other Alt-Right figures inspired, fueled, and propelled his killing spree.

Racialism: Crusius writes that the nation’s growing Hispanic population, and the mortality of the Baby Boomers, is bringing the nation to the point that Hispanics will soon displace white people as the dominant political force in American life. (Experts agree, and American leftists frequently celebrate the fact.) Crusius calls for the partition of “America into a confederacy of territories with at least 1 territory for each race,” resulting in the “physical separation” of each ethnic group. (All grammar mistakes in the original, passim.) He believes that “race mixing … destroys genetic diversity,” “creates identity problems,” and is “completely unnecessary and selfish.”

Hatred of corporations: Crusius despises corporations, considering them the key driver of ethnic diversity, poor wages, and environmental exploitation.

He writes:

[Republicans] are either complacent or involved in one of the biggest betrayals of the American public in our history. The takeover of the United States government by unchecked corporations. I could write a ten page essay on all the damage these corporations have caused  … Many factions within the Republican Party are pro-corporation. Pro-corporation = pro-immigration. … Corporations need to keep replenishing the labor pool for both skilled and unskilled jobs to keep wages down. ... The cost of college degrees has exploded as their value has plummeted. This has led to a generation of indebted, overqualified students filling menial, low paying and unfulfilling jobs. … The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources.

He seemingly threatens to crush corporations, writing in a pair of contradictory sentences: “Corporate America doesn’t need to be destroyed, but just shown that they are on the wrong side of history. That if they don’t bend, they will break.”

Advocacy of automation, a Universal Basic Income (UBI), and national healthcare: Crusius holds to the Silicon Valley narrative that mass automation will trigger waves of permanent unemployment. Politicians will have to enact “ambitious” social welfare progams, including a universal basic income (UBI) and an NHS-style “universal healthcare” system, to assure Americans do not starve en masse.

He writes:

Continued immigration will make one of the biggest issues of our time, automation, so much worse. Some sources say that in under two decades, half of American jobs will be lost to it. Of course some people will be retrained, but most will not. … In the near future, America will have to initiate a basic universal income to prevent widespread poverty and civil unrest as people lose their jobs. … Achieving ambitions social projects like universal healthcare and UBI would become far more likely to succeed if tens of millions of dependents are removed.

Crusius complains that mass migration slows the onset of socialistic policies by making automation less palatable, because employers will not invest in high-tech solutions if a steady stream of low-paid workers is available. He writes:

Automation is a good thing as it will eliminate the need for new migrants to fill unskilled jobs. Jobs that Americans can’t survive on anyway. Automation can and would replace millions of low-skilled jobs if immigrants were deported.

…Or killed.

Malthusianism: Crusius believes that America’s consumerist lifestyle has driven the planet to the point of environmental catastrophe. He laments “oil drilling operations,” “urban sprawl,” and “tons of unnecessary plastic waste.” And he cites as an authority the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax.

Patrick Crusius intended the El Paso mass shooting, in part, to ease the (unfounded) burden of overpopulation.

He writes:

The American lifestyle affords our citizens an incredible quality of life. However, our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. … Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn’t willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience. The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations. … [M]ost of y’all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle. So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.

Internalization of the victimhood narrative: The El Paso shooter combines these interlacing theories of hopelessness to paint himself, and the rest of his generation, as victims of capitalist perfidy.

Crusius best expresses his bitterness in one passage:

My whole life I have been preparing for a future that currently doesn’t exist. The job of my dreams will likely be automated. Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs.

Crusius writes that he chose to target “the Hispanic community” after reading The Great Replacement, the manifesto of Brent Tarrant, the Alt-Right terrorist who murdered 51 people attending mosque services in Christchurch, New Zealand. His manifesto, likewise, proves that the best term for these acts is “racial collectivist terrorism.” Tarrant called himself an “eco-fascist,” wrote that “the environment is being destroyed by over population,”viewed mainland China as an ideal society, and instructed his readers to“KILL YOUR LOCAL ANTI-WHITE CEO.” (Screaming caps also in original.)

Analyzing racial collectivist terrorism

Taken together, these ideological strands weave a political viewpoint that weds standard collectivist economic viewpoints to an imperative to preserve racial unity. Although it shares certain elements with traditional leftist politics, the “Alt-Right” deserves to be understood as a unique brand of collectivism on the left side of the political spectrum.

Racism is a form of collectivism. Racial chauvinism, on behalf of any ethnic group, takes exaggerated (and unearned) pride in the accomplishments of others while denigrating all members of other ethnic groups on the basis of their shared history or DNA. This contrasts with traditional Christianity, which view the most significant relationship as the spiritual kinship between fellow believers. Yet this was by no means exclusionary.

Since at least the writing of the Epistle to Diognetus, Christians have reconciled participation in civic polities of varied ethnic composition with the apostolic injunction to “do good unto all men.” This synthesis informed the subsequent history of Western Civilization.

Since at least the writing of the Epistle to Diognetus, Christians have reconciled participation in civic polities of varied ethnic composition with the apostolic injunction to “do good unto all men.”

The demonization of corporations, so rampant on the political Left, finds its counterpart in racialist movements seeking to cut off social interaction between members of different “races.” They recognize that commerce unites people of diverse backgrounds in harmonious professional, and sometimes personal, relationships. Free enterprise also gives individuals the resources and agency to escape the racial collectivist agenda.

Racial collectivist terrorists often support government programs for the confiscation and redistribution of wealth. They share the Left’s view that capitalism generates profits primarily through the exploitation of workers, or through dishonest practices involving finance capital – almost universally at the expense of their own ethnic group. They view members of their ethnicity as a cohesive group that should maximize its share of social wealth, and bear one another’s burdens; hence, their support for UBI, national healthcare plans, and other social welfare programs. Their advocacy of command economics seeks to right alleged historical wrongs and restrict social relationships between ethnic groups to the greatest extent possible.

Racial collectivists terrorists are almost universally secularists who believe they are following the dictates of science. As such, they see human beings as another part of the environment, rather than the crown and pinnacle to which all of creation is ordered. This, with their acceptance of the long-established hysteria about overpopulation and apocalyptic scenarios of climate change, propels them to physically eliminate members of other races who could one day compete with members of their own ethnicity over allegedly scarce and diminishing resources.

Racial collectivist terrorists, in common with other strains of collectivist terrorists such as the Bolsheviks, ignore the human dignity of their victims. They similarly ignore the human dignity that is at the heart of free relationships, in person or through exchange.

The El Paso shooter’s manifesto – as well as that of his hero and hundreds of hours of Alt-Right lectures this author has listened to over the years in research – prove that collectivism is a threat to the human race, whether put to the service of avowed Marxist economic doctrines or pseudo-scientific racial theories that build on socialists’ grievances for their own ends.

At no time has the message of the Acton Institute – that the human dignity of every person is the primary driver of all social institutions and relationships – been more important for the life of our nation, and the world.


Rev. Ben Johnson is a senior editor at the Acton Institute. His work focuses on the principles necessary to create a free and virtuous society in the transatlantic sphere (the U.S., Canada, and Europe). He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History summa cum laude from Ohio University and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.