Kenneth Burke on Charlottesville

Sexual analogies are clearly enough revealed in the white man’s fantasies or apprehensions that regularly accompany the doctrine of “white supremacy.” . . . Dostoevski, writing in Czarist Russia at a time when the distinction between nobles and peasants was so pronounced that the physical beating of peasants by the upper class of their representative was the born, gives us a mysticism of many strands, but among these strands are such ambiguous association as we are no considering. The cult of abjectness, the strangely mystical dream (in Crime and Punishment) of the horse being beaten to death, by a peasant who afflicts upon this still more abject creature the signs of his own socially abject status, the masochistic cult of suffering — there is an endless labyrinth of possibilities here, which we can never exhaust: social, sexual, and personal or familial. The familial order of motives (grounded in the relation between elders and children as “classe”), presumably impinges upon the reverence for the “Little Father” on the side of social distinctions, while its sexual implications are revealed in the theme of paedophilia that runs throughout Dostoevski’s works. The mystic reverence for the saintly prostitute seems to symbolize the very essence of the hierarchic order. This figure combines both maternal and erotic woman (she is in essence virginal, but in the accidents of her social status a whore); in this duality she is as exalted as Christ the King and as abject as Christ the Crucified. (There is a Bengalese proverb: “He who gives blows is a master, he who gives none is a dog.”)

Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric of Motives