Wednesday, August 28, 2019

White Power and American Politics

White Power and American Politics
Peter Schultz

            It is pretty important to locate the white power movement in US politics in order to understand its appeal and our politics.

            The easy and currently the prevailing view is that the white power movement is aberrational. That is, it is not central to US politics, plays no essential role in US politics, and is the result, by and large, of what might be called the “damaged” minds of charismatic individuals. By this view, the movement originated in the minds of those who had been adversely affected by, say, the Vietnam War or by US wars in the Middle East. So, it is crucial to identify these individuals by means of certain “warning signs” that allegedly give them away. The all-seeing state needs to be fortified to prevent the kind of violence visible in El Paso, Pittsburgh, Charleston, and even Christchurch, New Zealand.

            Now, these views rest on certain assumptions, the most important one being that US politics is not the kind of politics that would benefit from or could make good use of a white power movement. And this view of US politics depends upon the view that US foreign policy, since the end of World War II, was essentially benign; that is aimed at ameliorating the human condition by changing those parts of the world characterized by widespread poverty and “rurality.” By means of large and pervasive agricultural and industrial projects, the US would change the underlying conditions – poverty, backwardness, illiteracy, tribalism – that led to violence and to an embrace of communism. The US would, it was and is declared, change lives, livelihoods, and even landscapes.

            However, it is fairly obvious now that such assumptions about US foreign policy are rather hollow insofar as US policy clearly aims at establishing US global dominance based on free enterprise, counterinsurgency, and cultural hegemony. Some argue that the Cold War as waged by the US was always about hegemony, while others argue that it was only with the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union that US elites severed the links between its exercise of power and “development” aimed at the amelioration of the human condition.

But so long as US policy is understood as aiming at global dominance, it does not matter, from the standpoint of the status of white power, whether such dominance was the goal from the end of World War II or from the end of the Cold War. By either view, it becomes clear that a white power movement would serve the cause of global dominance and would be a useful prop for supporting US hegemony.

And so, by this view, the white power movement is anything but aberrational because it is part and parcel of a US foreign policy that aspires to hegemony or global dominance. So it is not surprising there were links between the conduct of US foreign policy and the white power movement. For example, in light of Angola’s civil war, along with the nationalist movements fighting against white rule in Rhodesia,” the Ford administration was willing to rely on “mercenaries” who had connections to the white power movement, such as Lt. Col. Robert K. Brown, creator of Soldier of Fortune magazine and a passionate supporter of the white regime in Rhodesia. As one white mercenary from the US said: “What we have here is an ideal core of white people who are able to raise the standard of living among the Africans.” And among these mercenaries, Rhodesia represented a society even, because of its white supremacist regime, superior to US society. So, in racial terms – but not only in racial terms - the white power movement both asserts US superiority at least as it once was and is willing to fight to recover that superiority by military or paramilitary means.

Insofar as US elites are pursuing a program of global dominance, then just so far they will tolerate those who support that program and will do so even if it means embracing some tenets of the white power movement, whether that means resisting gun control, redeeming US participation in the Vietnam War, or endorsing torture. It also means that we shouldn’t expect the white power movement to disappear when Trump disappears from the White House. That movement has arisen within and draws sustenance from a certain kind of politics, a politics that strives for, aspires to global dominance, a “Pax Americana” if you will. And it will be only when US elites reject this kind of politics that the white power movement will disappear from the American political drama.

As I have said before in these pages, our problems are political problems and they cannot be solved unless we adopt a different kind of politics. To reject the idea of white supremacy, one must reject policies that endorse global dominance by white people. For as Muhammad Ali once said, defending his refusing induction into the US military during the Vietnam War: “Ain’t no Viet Cong ever called me ‘nigger!’” It really is a simple as that.  

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