THE new Police Scotland “Hate Monster” campaign has provoked a widespread backlash on social media.

The initiative set up to combat hate crime came under fire for its patronising tone, and because it centred young men from “socially excluded” communities, who are “heavily influenced by their peers” as being most likely to engage in such abusive behaviour.

The campaign goes on to state that those in this category “may have deep-rooted feelings of being socially and economically disadvantaged, combined with ideas about white-male entitlement”.

But it is perhaps a fitting juxtaposition that this initiative comes to public attention at the same time as millionaire businessman Frank Hester, a top donor to the Tory Party, has been exposed for his racist and sexist comments about Diane Abbott MP (below).

The National:

It begs the question: who are the real hate monsters? As someone who has experienced various forms of racism – though thankfully this has been quite rare – I argue that Police Scotland is looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

In the words of Colin Burnett, author of the novel A Working Class State Of Mind, “the state needs to have a look in the mirror, not the working class”.

There are a few elements to this that are worth breaking down and analysing, focussing mainly on racial prejudice and discrimination.

First, it is worth dealing with some of the language used in the “hate monster” campaign – not because it is unique, but rather because it reflects a trend in how issues like racism have come to be understood.

“White male entitlement” is part of the lexicon of “privilege theory” which views oppression through a matrix of unearned benefits and advantages gained by those who are not targeted for their skin colour, ethnicity, gender and so forth.

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Thus, part of the way to overcome racist attitudes is to undergo a highly personalised, and individualised, “journey” in which one’s inner hate monster is inoculated.

This has in turn sprouted an a whole industry of consultants, facilitators, workplace educators and training schemes, and is enmeshed in the corporate world.

Peggy McIntosh, a senior research scientist, activist and scholar in the United States, is often referenced as a key intellectual around the evolution of privilege theory.

She puts it in this way: “White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks.”

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There are nuances here which can be interesting and offer certain insights. But there is, in the end, a clash between such an understanding of the world and class politics, just as there is a difference between human resource departments and trade union organisation.

Rather than ostracising young men from economically marginalised communities for their so-called “white male entitlement”, unity across the diversity of the working class – on the basis that such collective strength might improve material conditions and provide a sense of agency in a deeply alienated society – offers the possibility of genuine emancipation.

The alternative is an often puerile and pessimistic orientation on human nature, which seems to imbue “whiteness” or “maleness” with innate traits and advantages. This has the effect of de-historicising racism and sexism and obscures a deeper understanding of why and how they exist in the first place. And, crucially, it confuses identity and representation with real progress.

This is why Prime Minister Rishi Sunak can lead a reactionary government which scapegoats and demonises refugees and migrants while talking up the credentials of his “diverse” Cabinet, and why Margaret Thatcher is claimed by some people as a feminist visionary.

The National: Prime Minster Rishi Sunak during a visit to an apprentice training centre at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry (PA)

Today, the threat of racism is not something which is driven and animated from below, it is stoked from above by the political establishment and integrated into the operation of the state itself.

You need only look at recent scandals around the police in relation to institutionalised racism and sexism to get a sense of this. Or indeed, the way in which the Prevent “deradicalisation” programme has targeted certain communities.

As the National Union of Students warns: “One of the most harmful outcomes of this policy has been the fuelling of anti-Muslim sentiment, specifically in far-right groups like the EDL. ... If all Muslims are considered to be vulnerable to radicalisation, then all Muslims are treated as possible criminals, aligning perfectly with the far-right agenda.”

The Tories, through their acceptance of millions of pounds from the now infamous Hester, have shown that might makes right, not the other way around; that the institutions, far from being enlightened, are at the whim of capital if the price is right.

It was Lindsay Hoyle, who occupies the coveted role of Speaker of the House of Commons, who prevented Abbot from speaking from the green benches in a Prime Minister’s Questions session which focussed on abuse directed against her, from one of the richest people in Britain.

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And it is the austerity consensus at Westminster which has come alongside the politics of fear and division, in a vain attempt to rationalise declining living standards. Who has spewed more racism into society: the powerless and the marginalised, or the right-wing press and their political allies? The answer is obvious, and the solution entails understanding that racism is a structural problem that requires the redistribution of power and wealth to properly confront.

The conditions for hate crime emerge from their social context – just as a fish rots from the head.

The American civil rights activist and historian William Du Bois wrote: “The theory of race was supplemented by a carefully planned and slowly evolved method, which drove such a wedge between the white and black workers that there probably are not today in the world two groups of workers with practically identical interests who hate and fear each other so deeply and persistently and who are kept so far apart that neither sees anything of common interest.”

We need to remove such a wedge between workers, whether it is driven by the outlandish racism of the radical-right and their funders, or by patronising and intellectually vapid “hate monster” type campaigns.

“Unity is strength”, in that sense, is not just a laudable idea, but a practical necessity. It is no surprise that such a slogan derives from the workers’ movement.