Why Fascism When They Have White Supremacy?
America is the smart-aleck adolescent who’s “been around” and has his own hot rod. -– Ishmael Reed
Before the Bush cabal’s takeover of the highest office of the U.S. government, in the main only small Maoist groups treated American fascism seriously. In their newspapers and journals could be found an ongoing discourse on American fascism, delivered in alarmist tones and carried out stridently, usually without any humor or nuance.1 Still, the far Left’s critique turned out to be completely correct on the general tendency of U.S. society toward a far Right seizure of state power.
Today, at the end of two Bush-Cheney terms, there are many good mainstream books on the American fascism theme, from Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? and Chris Hedges’ American Fascists, to Naomi Wolf’s The End of America, Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater and Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. In American popular culture Hollywood films like Brian De Palma’s Redacted, George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck, Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima, the Tommy Lee Jones vehicle In the Valley of Elah, and Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs see in the Bush-Cheney agenda a shocking betrayal of the American democratic ideal and the likelihood, if the Right is not immediately removed from power, of corporate oligarchic rule by some form of military dictatorship. The enormous commercial success of films like Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko would have been inconceivable ten years ago, and the same is true of television shows like Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and Bill Maher’s Real Time, on which can be heard almost every night a clearly reasoned and impassioned argument for Bush’s impeachment.
And if the term fascist is understood in its total scale, as a counterrevolution of property through antidemocratic means, then many other recently published works also belong to the discourse. The list is long and illustrious, from Derrick Bell’s Silent Covenants, Jonathan Kozol’s The Shame of the Nation, Ishmael Reed’s Another Day at the Front, Robert Kuttner’s The Squandering of America, and William Blum’s Rogue State, to Christian Parenti’s Lockdown America, Dean Baker’s The Conservative Nanny State, Elaine Cassel’s The War on Civil Liberties, and Seymour Hersh’s investigative reports in The New Yorker, among many others.2 If the past eight years have been horrendous for American Left politics, probably the worst in the history of the country, they have been for American Left scholarship a golden age.
While the conclusions one can draw about American fascism vary a great deal from one text to the next, a common thesis unites them. In response to the mass mobilization of Americans against the war in Vietnam by student, labor, civil rights, and religious grassroots organizations (the so-called “Vietnam Syndrome,” as the liberal establishment termed it), a numerically tiny capitalist elite has been busy over the past thirty years making certain it never happens again. The picture is extremely bleak in terms of the Right’s list of policy achievements, each a different means towards achieving its overarching goal, a revolutionary upward redistribution of wealth: the near total privatization of the economy, resegregation of the public schools, passage of the Patriot Act, undermining the nation’s labor laws and gutting federal antipoverty social programs, deregulating the financial markets, imposing regressive new tax cuts in behalf of the super-rich, the legalization of torture and domestic spying, de-funding public higher education, the embrace by the U.S. academy of the rightwing anti-Marxist cultural theory of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Foucault, the mass racial incarceration of the working poor, dismantling Affirmative Action, the assault on women’s reproductive rights, an enormous expansion of the military budget, the privatization of federal lands, and the suspension of habeas corpus for the first time since 1861.
All the same, the Right’s tremendous gains over the past three decades have now reached a certain threshold, where the realistic prospect of social control by a reactionary military dictatorship is no longer considered a wild fantasy of the far Left but a logical outcome of far Right’s successful march through the institutions. Another way of putting it is that the somnolent fog of the middle-road or political centrism (Clintonism) has been finally cleared away, along with the transparently self-serving and facile notion that free market capitalism (so-called “free trade”) and basic human rights are compatible. It is no longer assumed that by limiting the federal government’s role in social and economic life a miraculous equal opportunity “New Economy” will flourish in which everybody is happily self-actualizing and autonomous.3 In fact, many erstwhile champions of Clintonomics, such as the “Washington Consensus” economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, have now made an about-face, calling for a new New Deal, a return to Keynesian-style managed capitalism whereby big business is tightly regulated and the nation’s economy placed under democratic control. Needless to say, ten years ago any arguments for Keynesian economics were considered communistic.
To take account of this new and enlivening antifascist impulse and to treat it on its own terms is a useful line of inquiry. In all events, the emergence of a dynamic and all-embracing critique of the American Right is one of the most important political developments in U.S. society during the past ten years. At the same time, examining this impulse from an historical point of view is even more instructive, since the term fascism has in Europe a very specific meaning, one quite different in both form and content from the American version.
In Latin Europe and Germany fascism was a mass movement from below aimed directly at the throat of liberal bourgeois democracy, which had been for the laboring classes of Europe a great sham. Led by reactionary petty-bourgeois nationalist political parties, fascism in Europe was the consequence of the liberal bourgeoisie’s extremely weak relation to the state. How then can it be said that in the U.S. a new fascism is ascendant when American big business is stronger in relation to the state than it has ever been? If, as Antonio Gramsci argued persuasively in the early 1930s, the rise to power of European fascism came from a collapse of capitalist hegemony, the loss of control over the working classes, then American fascism is a brand new breed of ruling-class repression. For in U.S. society the working classes are under ironclad capitalist social control and have been for several centuries. America’s most peculiar feature by far, in stark contrast to Europe and the rest of the world, is that never once have U.S. workers produced a mass socialist movement. The U.S. remains the only advanced industrial society without a labor party. Either American fascism is completely anomalous or it isn’t fascism at all.
The Left Hegelians and W.E.B. Du Bois
The most penetrating analyses of European fascism came from the interwar Hegelian Marxists like Gramsci, and their theoretical work on where the modern Right came from remains authoritative. Importantly, their contributions have not come down to us in formulaic terms or in the shape of a primer on fascism, because fascism for the Left Hegelians such as Gramsci, Lukács, Benjamin, Adorno, and Bloch, while horrifying in its total vision and monstrous objectives – “more horrifying than all the horrors,” as Adorno phrased it4 – was not at all a case of rebellious populism, was not an expression of “revolutionary rage” as it has been so often portrayed. Above all, fascism was not a social pathology peculiar to Germany or Latin Europe nor did it inaugurate a new social type. Rather, it was the assertion of a much older type, the petty-bourgeois opportunist, hustler and wannabe.
“Rotten and blind,” wrote Bloch, this type doesn’t hate exploitation “but only the fact that it is not itself an exploiter.” The fascist, he argued, “does not hate the slothful bed of the rich, but only the fact that it has not become its own and its alone.”5 Fascism emerged, argued Adorno, in the vacuum created by the bourgeois commodification of the world – “between men and their fate, in which their real fate lies.” Thus the fascists made their entrance onto the world scene like people “reduced to walk-on parts in a monster documentary film which has no spectators, since the least of them has his bit to do on the screen.”6
Lukács’s critique was especially prescient. Writing in the early 1920s about the dangers of weak radical Left party organization – the problem of beginning a proletarian class war against the bourgeois state without having already selected “a group of single-minded revolutionaries, prepared to make any sacrifice, from the more or less chaotic masses as a whole” – he diagnosed lucidly the objective conditions for the fascist movement’s arrival. Following Marx’s insight that radical working-class political parties do not happen of themselves, “either through the mechanical evolution of the economic forces of capitalism or through the simple organic growth of mass spontaneity,” Lukács focused on Lenin’s theory of the revolutionary party, in particular Lenin’s strong emphasis on the emergence and increasing significance of a labor aristocracy – in short, of “the divergence between the direct day-to-day interests of specific working-class groups and those of the real interests of the class as a whole.” He wrote:
Capitalist development, which began by forcibly leveling differences and uniting the working class, divided as it was by locality, guilds, etc., now creates a new form of division. This not only means that the proletariat no longer confronts the bourgeoisie in united hostility. The danger also arises that those very groups are in a position to exercise a reactionary influence over the whole class whose accession to a petty-bourgeois living-standard and occupation of positions in the party or trade union bureaucracy, and sometimes of municipal office, etc., gives them – despite, or rather because, of their increasingly bourgeois outlook and lack of mature proletarian class-consciousness – a superiority in formal education and experience in administration over the rest of the proletariat; in other words, whose influence in proletarian organizations thus tends to obscure the class-consciousness of all workers and leads them towards a tacit alliance with the bourgeoisie.7
Not in the least enigmatic, then, is the fact the first European fascists came from an aggressively anticapitalist labor movement. As in Italy with Mussolini, where the movement’s leadership was under reactionary petty-bourgeois control, the fascist movement spread very quickly. That these reactionary groups, the aristocrats of labor, had been allowed by the radical Left to stay in positions of authority, or, rather, that the radical Left had been unable to remove them from power, was a direct result of what Lukács had analyzed prophetically in the early 1920s: the failure of the Left during the most critical of times, the interwar period, to organize across continental Europe, on the Bolshevik model, revolutionary working-class political parties. This failure ended up permitting not only the fascist movement’s cooptation of the revolutionary Left’s slogans, its color (red), and large parts of its political platform, but ultimately its slaughter of the militant trade union rank-and-file.
Here a compelling analogy opens up between Lukács’s early critique of the reactionary tendencies coming to the surface in the labor movements of continental Europe and W.E.B. Du Bois’s stinging critique of the labor movement in the U.S. Du Bois had been arguing that the “Achilles heel” of the American movement was white supremacism. The importance of this conceptual connection, between the interwar Left Hegelians and the Du Boisian critique, will be taken up in a moment. It is enough to say at this point that the kernel of the whole antifascist thesis is in the Leninist theory of the revolutionary party. Lukács formulated it with gleaming clarity. “The difference between Lenin’s party concept and that of the others,” he argued, “lies primarily, on the one hand, in his deeper and more thorough appreciation of the different economic shadings within the proletariat (the growth of labor aristocracy, etc.) and, on the other, in the vision of the revolutionary cooperation of the proletariat with the other classes.”8 Following Lenin’s analysis, Lukács defined the leaders and organizers of the revolutionary party as “the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all the others.”9 The fertile link between Lukács and Du Bois is thus: that while in Europe the main problem for the revolutionary Left was a labor movement filled with opportunistic petty-bourgeois types, in the U.S. the problem was a labor movement dominated by white supremacists.
Yet the underlying differences, from an organizational standpoint, and also as object of critical analysis, refuse to stand still – in fact, they appear impossible to overcome, for the extremely difficult problem of working-class reactionaries in Europe was, and continues to be, far more complex than in the U.S. precisely because of the sharp economic gradations in the European laboring classes. In the U.S., as a result of the Anglo-American ruling class’s preference for plantation economics (the capitalist monoculture), this problem had been simplified to an incredible extreme, in which all the reactionaries were to be found in one place alone – in the all-class monolith known as the “white race.” This is what makes the U.S. situation anomalous in virtually every sense, above all on the question of how to organize a popular-democratic political party. For this American party will be qualitatively different than the Bolshevik party in that its leadership will be radical in the first instance not by virtue of its revolutionary proletarian socialist outlook or advanced level of class consciousness, but in the depth and clarity of its anti-white supremacist political program. To put it another way, everyone in the U.S. who is socially not-white is already radical, and this includes, crucially, any Euro-American defector from the all-class white monolith, what Theodore Allen termed the “class-collaborationist white identity.” Allen referred to the American white social order perspicaciously – as a “corral.”10
In the U.S., the revolution ain’t crowded, as Allen was fond of putting it, because the vast majority of workers is trapped up in the white monolith, a place with very few if any economic gradations, where there are plenty of white-skin privileges (“the token of their membership in the American “white race,” in Allen’s terms) but no social mobility, and therefore where the reactionary petty bourgeoisie is a more or less insignificant factor in the labor movement. The inverse is then extremely consequential – the organizational role of the progressive American petty-bourgeoisie. To put it another way, the fact that of the fifteen most industrialized countries in the world the U.S. has a smaller percentage of middle-class people than any nation but Russia – the richest 10% of the U.S. population, about 10 million households, own 84% of the stock and 90% of the bonds; in terms of ownership, the bottom 90% owns virtually nothing outside of their house but a great deal of debt – is sound reason to be very optimistic about a socialist solution.11 For the sudden reversal of this situation is where the fundamental difference between Europe and the U.S. takes on a life of its own, where the feeling of being awake for the first time is experienced powerfully. Because once free of the white corral, seeing freedom now no longer as a racial privilege but as a human right, every American worker is directly on a new path, the path to a revolutionary American socialist nationalism.
Allen argued that the failure of the “radical” American Left has been its failure to follow this logic all the way to the truly radical end – the building of a singular Left movement, one premised on the repudiation of white racial privilege, on the constant protest against white supremacy on every front. He proved that this failure is a result of “the white blindspot,” a reflexive and politically disabling denial on the part of white radicals of black labor’s centrality in the U.S. class struggle. More to point, Allen maintained that any American radicalism worthy of the name is one that follows to the letter Marx’s profound insight in Capital: that “Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.”12 Acting on this insight means to reset the American labor movement, from the prevailing middle-class identitarian and anarchist-minded social movement type to a multi-fronted laboring-class populist attack on corporate profits and white supremacy at the same time. Here, the role of the progressive American petty bourgeoisie is crucial, because the question is organizational beginning as it does with political education, with a clear and correct theory of how to pull it off. For Allen, studying the late 19th-century populist movement was essential to this undertaking, as was a close examination of the 1930s communist movement and the 1960s African American civil rights struggle, since in these movements the reactionary role of white racism was raised to the fore, and was in fact largely responsible for the revolutionary Left’s popular appeal among the most militant sections of the American working class.13
In the 1930s and 1940s, Adorno was theorizing fascism as a classic case of “belated individualism,” by which the capitalist system’s “liquidation of Utopia,” through the totalization of its closed and monopolistic hierarchies and of the antagonistic society such monopolization of the economy produces, had injected into the masses of humanity an extremely violent and deeply perverse contradiction. Adorno termed it “infantilism raised to the norm” – the desire for a “collectivist order” that is “a mockery of a classless one,” namely the socialist Utopia “that once drew sustenance from motherly love.”14 But “they are the nice folk,” Adorno said.
They are found in all political camps, even where the rejection of the system is taken for granted, and has thereby produced a slack and subtle conformism of its own. Often they win sympathy by a certain good-naturedness, a kindly involvement in other people’s lives: selflessness as speculation. They are clever, witty, full of sensitive reactions: they have refurbished the old tradesman’s mentality with the day before yesterday’s psychological discoveries. They are capable of everything, even love, yet always faithlessly. They deceive, not by instinct, but on principle, valuing even themselves as a profit begrudged to anyone else. To intellect they are bound both by affinity and hatred: they are temptation for the thoughtful, but also their worst enemies. For it is they who insidiously attack and despoil the last retreats of resistance, the hours still exempt from the demands of machinery. Their belated individualism poisons what little is left of the individual.15
If much of this passage sounds like a description of American “reality TV” or an episode of Saturday Night Live or the political careers of Bill and Hillary Clinton, it is because the Hegelian Marxists had taken on an avowedly insoluble task yet one universal in political meaning: “to let neither the power of others, nor our own powerlessness, stupefy us.”16
The thrust of the Hegelian Marxist critique is that wherever there is bourgeois culture, fascists can be found everywhere organizing on the ground. So Adorno looked to “the innermost recesses” of bourgeois humanism for the “very soul” of fascism. There rages, he said, “a frantic prisoner who, as a Fascist, turns the world into a prison.”17 Fascists “combine utmost technical perfection with total blindness… they arouse mortal terror and are wholly futile.”18 Bloch argued in the same vein that “The instigator, the essence of the Night of Knives, was, of course, big business, but the raving petit bourgeois was the astonishing, the horribly seducible manifestation of this essence.”
From it emerged the terror, which is the poison in the ‘average man on the street,’ as the petit bourgeois is now called in American, a poison which has nowhere near been fully excreted. His wishes for revenge are rotten and blind; God help us, when they are stirred up. Fortunately though, the mob is equally faithless; it is also quite happy to put its clenched fist back into its pocket when crime is no longer allowed a free night on the town by those at the top.19
To the notion that German Nazism created a completely new regime of fascist terror, one unprecedented in its strategic scale and therefore difficult if not impossible to lift from its own socio-historical context, Adorno offered the following critique:
The Fascist era has not brought about a flowering of strategy, but abolished it.… The Fascists raised to an absolute the basic idea of strategy: to exploit the temporary discrepancy between one nation with a leadership organized for murder, and the total potential of the rest. Yet by taking this idea to its logical conclusion in inventing total war, and by erasing the distinction between army and industry, they themselves liquidated strategy. Today it is as antiquated as the sound of military bands and paintings of battleships. Hitler sought world domination through concentrated terror. The means he used, however, were unstrategic – the accumulation of overwhelming forces at particular points, the crude frontal breakthrough, the mechanical encirclement of the enemy stranded by armoured spearheads. This principle, wholly quantitative, positivistic, without surprises, thus everywhere ‘public’ and merging with publicity, no longer sufficed.… When all actions are mathematically calculated, they also take on a stupid quality. As if in mockery of the idea that anybody ought to be able to run the state, this war is conducted, despite the radar and the artificial harbours, as if by a schoolboy sticking flags into a chart.20
The everlasting gift offered by the Hegelian Marxists is a demystifying critique of fascism, an understanding of fascism in terms of its transparent commodity character, which “consigns amusement to idiocy,” Adorno said, “by the brutality of the command which echoes terribly in the rulers’ gaiety, finally by their fear of their own superfluity.” Rather than a bold new regime of social engineering, European fascism sustained itself “on the offal of European irrationalism”; it “turned the mask of evil upon the normal world, to teach the norm to fear its own perversity.”21
His [Hitler’s] consciousness regressed to the standpoint of his weaker short-sighted opponents, [which] he had first adopted in order to make shorter work of them. Germany’s hour necessarily accorded with such stupidity. For only leaders who resembled the people of the country in their ignorance of the world and global economics could harness them to war and their pig-headedness to an enterprise wholly unhampered by reflection. Hitler’s stupidity was a ruse of reason.22
These are heady, irreducible concepts. Intended for dialectical criticism, to both deepen and nuance the philosophy of historical materialism, in which society is treated as “essentially the substance of the individual,” to use Adorno’s well-known formulation,23 they were meant explicitly as a rejection of the notion that historical movements such as fascism can be understood outside the history of the capitalist mode of production and the situation of the individual in its stupid, psychopathic social relations – in other words, outside the commodifcation of humanity. My contention is not that their writings be considered the final word on the question of fascism. The point is simpler and is offered in the spirit of the Hegelian Marxists themselves: that without understanding fascism in the context of what Bloch called “the bourgeois conformist” – he defined this type nicely: “it prefers to lash out in the direction of least resistance” – the unwanted outcome will be a definition of fascism which greatly exaggerates its actual military and economic power and, worse, separates it from the historical development of the bourgeoisie as a reactionary social class.
Not only did the liberal bourgeoisie’s complete failure to solve all the basic problems of everyday social life – of universal suffrage, decent public housing, literacy and healthcare, poverty, world war, permanent unemployment, cyclical economic depressions, environmental crisis, in a word, how to organize a decent human society, one without mass alienation, hopelessness and despair – produce fascism, but fascism itself is the bourgeois class’s last contribution to world history, its final testament to the wasteful excess, inefficiency and pointless chaos inherent in its mode of production and its terminally ill social relations. Fascism is the ultimate proof that the capitalist class has long since run its course as the “leading class,” a class that can put the masses of humanity on the path to a better and more interesting world.
The American anomaly
The American people are capable of conquering their prejudices, provided that their schooling shall be sufficiently severe and costly. -– C.C. Hazewell (Atlantic Monthly, November 1862)
The American anomaly is thus: Why would the U.S. ruling class need fascism to save itself when it already has white supremacy?
If the Bush gang’s seizure of state power in 2000 wasn’t fascist – not in the European sense, but rather as fulfillment of the U.S. business class’s most devoutly wished-for dream, a world without any laboring-class protest of capitalist exploitation, of white bourgeois conformism on a mass scale – then the question is less about the Right’s current agenda, which is transparent, and more about where it came from, its peculiar lineage. This takes the inquiry in another direction, to a place referred to by Aimé Césaire in Discourse on Colonialism as the long prehistory of European fascism: five centuries of “legitimate” fascist terror set loose on the world’s non-European peoples, from Columbus, Pizarro, and Cortez, down to Duvalier, Somoza, Batista, Pinochet, Marcos, Duarte, Lucas García, Rios Montt and Mejía Víctores (the latter three, graduates of the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia), the Shah of Iran, Chiang Kai-shek, General Suharto of Indonesia, General Zia of Pakistan, Generals Thieu and Ky of Vietnam, King Faisal of Egypt, and Saddam Hussein – to name only the most well-known military-torture regimes in the Third World. Armed, trained and financed by liberal western governments, these fascist regimes (Christian Nationalists, in the main) visited upon the colonized an unending series of holocausts whose human toll, while possible to estimate, can never be fully accounted for. On behalf of bourgeois economic progress, hundreds of millions of lives have been violently taken from the world.
Beginning with the extermination of the indigenous peoples of the hemisphere and the African Slave Trade, more than one hundred million people were disappeared. As Césaire says, these unconcealed genocides were quickly “absolved” by the West on the pretext of their victims’ non-Europeanness. Only centuries later, when Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco turned fascism against their own kind, was there a popular awakening in the West of antifascist consciousness and organized resistance. In precisely this sense it is easy to see why a majority of Europeans went to the streets to protest the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, before it even happened, perceiving in it, as a great many did, the coming of an Arab holocaust on a scale with the Third Reich’s destruction of the European Jews. They were essentially correct. A new British study estimates that the U.S. invasion has caused 1,220,580 violent deaths and turned more than five million Iraqis into refugees. Yet the average American believes that 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the US invasion in March 2003; the most commonly cited figure in the media is 70,000.24 On the American antiwar Left today, the words Arab genocide are rarely spoken. Cuban theorist and historian Roberto Fernández Retamar described the U.S. situation lucidly:
The white population of the United States exterminated the aboriginal population and thrust the black population aside, thereby affording itself homogeneity in spite of its diversity and offering a coherent model that its Nazi disciples attempted to apply even to other European conglomerates – an unforgivable sin that led some members of the bourgeoisie to stigmatize in Hitler what they applauded as a healthy Sunday diversion in Westerns and Tarzan films. Those movies proposed to the world – and even to those of us who are kin to the communities under attack and who rejoiced in the evocation of our own extermination – the monstrous racial criteria that have accompanied the United States from its beginnings to the genocide in Indochina.25
Former CIA analysts Kathleen and Bill Christison have argued perceptively that the U.S war in Iraq has copied exactly the Israeli conquest of Palestine, which itself was a copy of the U.S. genocide of the Native Americans. The U.S. “identifies with Israel’s ‘national style,’” they write:
Israel is essential to the “ideological prospering” of the U.S.; each country has “grafted” the heritage of the other onto itself. This applies even to the worst aspects of each nation’s heritage. Consciously or unconsciously, many Israelis even today see the U.S. conquest of the American Indians as something “good,” something to emulate and, which is worse, many Americans even today are happy to accept the “compliment” inherent in Israel’s effort to copy us.26
Seven decades earlier, in 1933, W.E.B. Du Bois had argued the same thesis but in more specific terms – as a critique of the American Left’s persistent “white blindspot,” as he termed it:
And while Negro labor in America suffers because of the fundamental inequities of the whole capitalistic system, the lowest and most fatal degree of its suffering comes not from the capitalists but from fellow white laborers. It is white labor that deprives the Negro of his right to vote, denies him education, denies him affiliation with trade unions, expels him from decent houses and neighborhoods, and heaps upon him the public insults of open color discrimination.27
Two years later, in his masterpiece Black Reconstruction, he found the root of the white American working class’s anomalous lack of class-consciousness and its corollary, active participation in the capitalist exploitation of labor, in white supremacy:
The race element was emphasized in order that property-holders could get the support of the majority of white laborers and make it more possible to exploit Negro labor. But the race philosophy came as a new and terrible thing to make labor unity or labor class-consciousness impossible. So long as the Southern white laborers could be induced to prefer poverty to equality with the Negro, just so long was a labor movement in the South made impossible.28
One of Du Bois’s most powerful insights in Black Reconstruction is that the poor white’s greatest dream was to be a slaveowner himself. Short of that he was content to ride around with the slaveowner’s posse, to be a slavecatching sheriff’s deputy, all the time anticipating with baited breath the moment he’d be “allowed a free night on the town by those at the top,” that is, to set off in search of an African American, any African American, to tar and feather, hang and burn.
Pace the interwar Hegelian Marxists, the consequence of seeing fascism as a uniquely European problem is the erasure of this traumatic non-European past from American memory, American in the hemispheric sense. More to the point, after the Cuban Revolution a great sea change took place, in which the long history of fascist violence against the peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean, Black America, and Native America was, through literature and popular culture, recuperated, to use Rigoberta Menchú’s felicitous term. The Latin American testimonio was one such form, but there were many others, especially in poetry (for example, the Nicaraguan poetry workshops of the Sandinista Revolution led by Ernesto Cardenal, as well as the Black Aesthetic movement in the United States and the Caribbean). The argument that this dilutes the definition of fascism – that by calling racist and colonialist violence fascist, one ignores or misses the historical specificity of the European experience – misunderstands the nature of fascism. For while fascism is in the first instance a national question, the decision to impose it on a whole laboring people is a card in the deck of every oligarchic or minority ruling class. This has been true from antiquity down to the present.29 As history proves, much depends on the relationship between civil society and the state. Where civil society is weak, fascism is often the first resort, and where it is strong fascism is pushed to the margins where it either withers away on its own or lies dormant.
Historian Lerone Bennett, Jr. argues that at the heart of the American anomaly – this bizarre hatred of working people in a land home to one the world’s largest laboring-class majorities – is the myth that Lincoln freed the slaves. “The testimony of sixteen thousand books and monographs to the contrary notwithstanding,” Bennett writes in his study of Lincoln, Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream, “Lincoln did not emancipate the slaves, greatly or otherwise. As for the Emancipation Proclamation, it was not a real emancipation proclamation at all, and did not liberate African-American slaves.”30 In more than 600 pages of clear and driving argument and meticulous documentation, Bennett proves the thesis that Lincoln was a racial segregationist always in the open about his white supremacist worldview, a fierce enemy of abolitionism, an outspoken advocate of ethnic cleansing (of American Indians and African Americans), a public defender of the Fugitive Slave Act, and a strong supporter of the Black Codes. “By his votes, by his speeches, by his silence,” Bennett concludes, “Lincoln backed a system that violently placed all Blacks outside the bonds of community and violently condemned them to subhuman status.”31 He writes:
The long white years from slavery to the segregated South to the Third Reich to South Africa have taught us that it is one thing to accept personal responsibility for an evil that one can’t change but another and more dangerous act to persuade others to support evil. Lincoln crossed that line repeatedly in the fifties, acting as a cheerleader for slavecatchers in public speeches in which he urged Illinois citizens to go out into the streets and woods and help capture runaway slaves and return them to slavery.32
The real scandal here is the heroic, and insane, mythification of Lincoln by left-liberal American scholars and civil war historians. Bennett calls them “the Feelgood School.”
Members of the Feelgood School tell us that Lincoln said at Cincinnati that “there is room enough for us all to be free.” They don’t tell us that he said in the same speech that there was no room at all for slaves in the South to be free and that it was necessary to provide “an efficient fugitive slave law” to return to slavery fugitive slaves who believed there was room for all of us to be free.… Everybody, or almost everybody, tells us that Lincoln said in Chicago in July 1858 that we should stop all this quibbling about this race or that race and get on with the business of realizing the Declaration of Independence, which Lincoln called the “white man’s Declaration of Independence.” Almost nobody tells us that he said in the same speech that the interests of White people made it necessary to keep Blacks in slavery and that God himself was a fellow white conspirator, having, as Lincoln put it, “made us separate.”33
As Bennett stresses, the persistent defense of America’s “Great Emancipator” against the mountain of evidence proving the opposite thesis is really “a defense of contemporary racial politics by a defense of Lincoln’s conservatism and his anti-Black opposition to immediate, general, and real freedom for Blacks.”34
Bennett’s recent study raises the question of what other liberal bourgeois myths of the nation function in this same way – that is, to re-cement the anomalous centuries-old bond of political loyalty between white workers and their white bosses. Nixon’s Southern Strategy, the Reagan Democrats, and Clintonism are not new. Each was a replication of the original White Restoration following the Civil War, the so-called “Birth of the Nation,” in which ruling elites in the North, to derail the popular-democratic reconstruction of the South, whose socialist spirit they feared would soon spread throughout the rest of the society, denigrated and demonized African American civil rights. Derrick Bell has provocatively termed it “America’s silent covenants”: the automatic, and essentially autonomized, defense of capital by the masses of white workers, through direct class collaboration with their white bosses and employers, aimed at keeping African Americans down and out.35 The beginnings of the American anomaly are at the moment of white racial oppression’s imposition in the early 18th century, when poor and propertyless European Americans were taught their first lesson in how to “fold to their bosom the adder that stings them,” as one George W. Summers of Kanawha County Virginia put it a century later to the Virginia House of Delegates in the aftermath of Nat Turner’s Rebellion.36
Here is the underlying and yet mostly unarticulated question of American fascism: Will America end up the same way it began? Not with Nazi-style storm troopers and a night of the long knives, as the American left-liberals keep warning, but with a national resurrection of the Klan, this time in the latest Armani suits? In this light, Ishmael Reed has rightly termed the so-called “New Right” “the neoconfederates.” To call them “neocons,” he says – the description most preferred on the American Left – is purely euphemistic.37
On the American Cultural Left today this question, or the Du Boisian critique, is rarely if ever raised. It is considered hackneyed, crudely out of sync with our radically new “poststructuralist” or culturalist moment. Like the Lincoln as Great Emancipator myth, the notion that we are now living in a postmodern age where the old white racial system of American ruling-class social control has mutated into a brave new “multicultural” world of globalized “postindustrial” identities (the Cultural Left has replaced internationalism and internationalization with “globalism” and “globalization”), has permitted a near total displacement of the analytic of black freedom struggle, of class struggle against the American system of racial exploitation and violence. This bizarre paradigm shift is rationalized on the claim that nation-states no longer matter. A new irreversible “multitudinous space” has emerged, we are told, “far beyond” the old spheres of national class struggles. It is actually a return to what Bennett calls “the American Analytic”: the anomalous practice in the U.S. academy and mass media of celebrating people “not for leading but for not leading” – for fleeing, for “lashing out in the direction of least resistance.”38 Here, the books of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri are de rigueur, as is the Nietzschean and Heideggerian cultural theory of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Delueze, and Jean-François Lyotard, as well as the post-Marxism of István Mészáros, fully elaborated in his work Beyond Capital. In this theory, transcendence of national identity, of national consciousness and belonging, is seen as an exceptionally good thing, for now the centrality of labor can be finally marginalized, freeing up American tenure-track professors to pursue “cutting-edge” research projects on the infinitely vast and ever-expanding Foucauldian webs of power invading everything, especially the social democratic welfare state, civil rights struggle, and the national labor unions.
Another new myth of the nation being advanced by the Cultural Left is that the concept of “the people” or the collective national subject, best embodied by the Old Left’s New Deal or majoritarian politics, is merely a social construct having no objective referent in the real world. In this case of taking the path of least resistance, we are told that laboring people have been discursively produced by a complex and highly integrated network of cultural discourses or assemblages. Consequently, the best we can hope for is a “politics of cultural difference.” In place of an oppositional rhetoric of intellectual engagement, which is seen as bad, we get an oppositional style in which group identity is celebrated and individual subjectivities treated as always already discursively “situated,” that is, as both products and producers of the “dominant culture.” Recall Hardt and Negri’s strange thesis in Empire – the bible of the Cultural Left – that the 1960s antiwar movement ended up producing economic globalization.39 Because power is diffuse, because power is not political, it is atmospheric. Thus, if the nation or the national collective subject is inherently bad because the discourse of the nation on which it is authorized produces inherently bad subjects – bad because they are unaware, by design, that their whole national “mode of being” is a statist and hence totalitarian social construct – then all national traditions, even antifascist, anticolonial and socialist ones, are suspect, from Cuba and Venezuela to Black Power and Palestine. They too produce bad subjects because they too are top-down in structure and organization, but above all because they still stubbornly subscribe to the notion that political economy and who exactly controls it matters to the fate of their societies.
How deeply entrenched this notion has become in Left academic circles can be seen in the repudiation of all nationalisms, even by those most sensitive to the victims of racist-colonialist violence, dispossession, and exploitation. For example, Jacqueline Rose, after chronicling a depressingly long list of Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, from the systematic, government-sanctioned theft of olive trees, targeted assassinations, and the murder of children, to torture in Israeli prisons, all sorts of daily humiliation of the people, and Israel’s new Apartheid Wall, concludes that “self-determination is a myth” and that, moreover, “The worst delusion of all perhaps is that of national selfhood.”40 With a nod to Hannah Arendt’s critique of nationalism, she argues that the more any nation strives to be independent and self-sufficient “the less it will be able to save the people it was created to protect.”41 This includes for Rose the Palestinian nation, as purposelessly fragmented and collectively under attack by Israel as it is and has long been. When launched against nationalist regimes in occupation of other people’s land like Israel and the U.S., such a critique of nationalism is morally unchallengeable and is of course, especially from the standpoint of its victims, to be strongly encouraged. But on what authority, historically speaking, is this sweeping repudiation of nationalism made?
In all events, it is not the historical record. For example, in Rose’s concept of national independence and self-sufficiency, the late 17th-century Powhatan Federation – a self-sufficient national entity comprised of dozens of different Chesapeake Indian peoples, which its organizer and leader Chief Powhatan believed would put an end to the theft of Indian land and more massacres by English plantation owners and their petty-bourgeois colonial-settler death squads – was merely a delusion that resulted in the displacement of “the people it was created to protect.” Yet history proves the very opposite thesis: that like the Palestinian nation now, the Chesapeake Indians’ national aspirations were never delusional nor were they in the least responsible for the decimation of their indigenous societies. In fact without these national aspirations it is very likely that not a single Chesapeake Indian would be alive today. In the case of the Palestinians, without the claim to national self-determination, the Israeli Zionist conquest of Palestine and the realization of Zionism’s singular goal (“A land without a people for a people without a land” – that is, the de-Arabization or Judaization of Palestine) would be today a fait accompli.42 That Israel has been unable to complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is due to the qualities of national steadfastness, creative resiliency, and moral righteousness which Rose and the Jewish intellectuals she celebrates have claimed for Judaism. Unfortunately, the truly breathtaking scale of this historical irony is lost on Rose, whose main concern it turns out is not a defense of Palestinian national rights to the land but rather devising a more sophisticated apology for Zionism than the morally indefensible ones in current circulation.
Not only is the Old Left majoritarian rhetoric considered by the new Cultural Left statist and hence reductive, authoritarian and repressive, deserving of categorical rejection, but the African American civil rights movement agenda is also thought guilty of having produced reductive and repressed subjects. For example, the post-Marxist Foucauldian Mike Hill argues in his book After Whiteness that “race in the civil rights era was evidently more countable, but less multiple; more easily reducible to racial opposition, but less able to account for racial mutability, than is the case at the dawn of the twenty-first century.”43 He concludes therefore that by “racially emancipating the state,” the civil rights movement ended up producing a “post-white national imaginary,” through which civil rights are now “expunged on the very authority civil rights once commanded. And for the first time in U.S. history the nation invents racism without the need for race.”44
This kind of dazzling wizardry imputed to the well-heeled managers of the U.S. ruling class by the Cultural Left is consistent with the latter’s overall outlook on the world: nation-states have disappeared, imperialism has ended, labor is over, the race card has been pulled mysteriously from the deck, and the regulation of human sexuality is no longer a function of political economy but rather a function of cultural discourse.45 Richard Rorty argued shrewdly that beneath the Cultural Left’s new radical mythmaking is an ideological collaboration with the political Right:
My feeling is that there’s been a tacit collaboration between Right and Left in changing the subject from money to culture. If I were the Republican oligarchy, I would want a Left which spent all its time thinking about matters of group identity, rather than about wages and hours. I agree that the oligarchy managed to make the term “liberal” a bad word, and thus shifted the Democratic Party toward the center. It was a rhetorical triumph. The Left hasn’t managed anything of the sort. What it has done is to capitalize on the success of the civil rights movement, and to get more breaks for various oppressed groups over the last twenty-five years. It seems to me that all the work of getting those breaks was done without notions of “culture.” It was done using the kind of rhetoric Martin Luther King used, modified for the use of women, gays, and what not. King was not interested in African-American culture. He was interested in getting African-Americans the life-chances that whites had.46
In the same vein, Timothy Brennan has offered convincing proof in his new book, Wars of Position, that the American Cultural Left has been busy purging its ranks of communists and socialists on a scale the Cold War McCarthyites would have found salutary. While the techniques have clearly changed, from official blacklists and mass political firings to today’s cultish identity politics and an anarchist repudiation of mass socialist movements, the effect on American Left politics is basically the same. Brennan argues that “the writing in cultural studies journals is, purely speaking, anarchist in its politico/moral positioning,” yet it is not an interventionist anarchism aimed at short-circuiting the system of imperialist globalization. Rather, it is “an anarchism that follows the echt protocols of the philosophy-as-art of Nietzsche and the psychoanalytic politics of pop Lacanianism, where one posits the body as a substitute regime for mere government.”
There one need not suffer guilt for exploiting others, since one’s body ventures nowhere, takes responsibility only for itself, and allows each subject to enjoy that happy antinomy of a universal experience in a particular being. This is not a move restricted to the theoretically well versed or the widely read. It has become a common sense and is bolstered by a convergence, on the one hand, of a forbidding poststructuralist armature and, on the other, of a rather lazy American individualism.47
As Brennan observes, Jacques Derrida’s apolitical theory of politics – that, as Derrida puts it, “we cannot formulate a single destructive proposition which has not already had to slip into the form, the logic, and the implied hypothesis of exactly what it is trying to refute” – is so widely shared among American Left intellectuals as to have become another banal formalism, one no different in practice than the depoliticizing Cold War formalisms of the 1950s.48 And if one considers Bennett’s study of Lincoln, Derrida’s popular deconstructionism has much in common with Lincoln’s position that freeing all slaves immediately by an Emancipation Proclamation or a Thirteenth Amendment “would produce a greater evil than the continuation of a nation half slave and half free.”49 The Derridean theory’s salient characteristic is anti-statism, and “this anti-statist outlook,” Brennan writes, “has myriad corollaries.”
In some wings of globalization theory, it leads to denouncing defensive nationalist struggles abroad; in postcolonial theory, it reduces liberation strategists like Amilcar Cabral, Ahmed Sékou Touré, or Frantz Fanon to unethical demagogues while raising the postcolonial critic to an honorable observatory role; in domestic debates over the public sphere, it champions the micro-heroisms of critic, hacker, artist, and flaneur against the sullied arenas of politics as usual with its horse trading and its constituency politics. Above all, the stateless ones discover that in abdication a theory of virtue can be built, for it is not sufficient to denounce the state on the grounds of its meaninglessness or irrelevancy; rather, it must be denounced on the grounds of its inherently criminal nature.50
If it seems peculiar that the American Left has been nearly completely absent from national public debate over the most consequential economic and social issues of the day, from the condition of trade unionism and the current state of U.S. labor law, universal healthcare, and the resegregation of public schools, to the reckless machinations of the financial bourgeoisie, U.S. foreign policy, and the military budget – concerns that were central to 1960s New Left as well as to the 1930s Old Left – one need only appreciate the great lesson of Bennett’s book on Lincoln: that when it comes to covering up the nation’s ugliest and most enduring oppressions and then doctoring the terms of political discourse about them in such a way that they can be willed self-servingly, willy-nilly, into historical oblivion, the record of the white American Left is not very good. Here, Bennett’s demystification of the liberal-left’s blind worship of Lincoln and Brennan’s powerful critique of the American Cultural Left lead to a new kind of thought: that in abdicating its historic role in the formation of social policy and in politically organizing the popular classes for an equalitarian march through the institutions, the U.S. Left has cut itself off from the nation’s moral center, from the radical and steadfast African American freedom struggle, without which it cannot, as U.S. history proves at every turn, begin to undermine the Right’s hold on power much less marshal together a new social mandate for change.
Amiri Baraka refers ironically to the American Cultural Left as “the Super Left” – “the anarchist-minded folks,” he says, “who are so militant they opt for passivity and content themselves with merely calling their perceived enemies names. The mask of the foolish juvenile delinquent left who sees no progress in doing anything but name calling.”51 Brennan’s critique in similar. He likens today’s American Left to the 1920s Futurist movement, and quotes Gramsci to flesh out the comparison. “The Futurists: A group of small schoolboys who escaped from a Jesuit college, created a small ruckus in the nearby woods, and were brought back under the rod of the forest warden.” Following Ishmael Reed and Amiri Baraka, we can deepen Brennan’s analogy. “The American Cultural Theorists: A group of smart-aleck PhDs who’ve ‘been around’ and have their own hot rods, created a small ruckus in the nearby coffeehouses, and were brought back under the rod of the college dean to make up for a lot of missed office hours.”
Toward a new American patriotism
We have begun to create a new geopolitics of oil that is not at the service of the interests of imperialism and big capitalists. –- Hugo Chávez
Whereas the Cultural Left has been incognito on the question of American white supremacism, the full consequences of which will be felt soon enough, just as they were in the immediate aftermath of Reconstruction’s overthrow, the non-academic grassroots American Left, while severely limited in funds and institutional support, has been soldiering on, and African American academics like Robin Kelley, Cornel West, Patricia Williams, Gerald Horne, and Michael Eric Dyson continue to carry the torch passed to them by Du Bois, Malcolm X, Dr. King, and Fannie Lou Hamer. Horne’s recent study, The Color of Fascism, is an excellent example of such scholarship, as is Dyson’s Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. There is also the work by European American academics like Robert Jensen and Eric Lott, whose intellectual formations have been African American in training and outlook. Still, among the Euroamerican Left those most attentive to the whiteness of American fascism are from outside the academy, such as Jonathan Kozol, Theodore Allen, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Tim Wise, Stan Goff, Sharon Smith, and Dave Zirin.52
Although this Euroamerican tradition of anti-white-supremacism has a long and rich history, going back to Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, and John Brown, and has maintained its fiery iconoclasm in the face of intense and often brutal reaction, from the Klan violence of the 1880s against antiracist organizers within the populist movement and the anticommunist purges of the labor movement in the 1940s and 50s, down to the 1970s “white backlash” against the civil rights movement and the current rightwing attacks on Affirmative Action and “political correctness,” it continues to lack a proper name. A good reason for this is that the tradition in question, which has given us writers like Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, Stowe, Melville, Twain, Sinclair Lewis, Allen Ginsberg, and Dorothy Allison, and artists like Johnny Cash, Brian De Palma, Clint Eastwood, Walter Hill, Jonathan Demme, and Bruce Springsteen, has become marginal today because its anti-ness has not been transfigured emotionally and poetically into a positive form of patriotic nationalism.
This tradition is not one of flag-burning, nor is it in the least embarrassed by American identity. Not a hyphenated identity, it is multicultural without ever having to announce it. And if it is guilt-ridden, it is the good kind of guilt: guilt that motivates serious political risk-taking, that never temporizes with the white social order but instead takes the moral high ground against it. It is oppositional but also curative, perceiving correctly in the white identity, as it always has, a marrow-eating terminal cancer. If it is radical, that radicalism is mainly about clarity, truthfulness and moral commitment to a political program whose aim is to make things better for working people, starting from the bottom up, by attacking capital on every front, not allegiance to this or that school of “radical” thought or way of life. It rejects political centrism, or what Dr. King called “the white moderates,” not for being in the center but for being on the Right. The solid center is the moral critique of oppression, the last thing one ever hears from those in the political middle. In short, the American anti-white-supremacy tradition is an Enlightenment tradition. Thus, whenever well-meaning critics of the Bush regime say that the Bush thugs have hijacked the country and betrayed its highest democratic ideals, they need to be reminded that their discourse owes its existence to American anti-white-supremacism, the first and probably the only antifascist discourse in the nation’s history.
The emerging antifascist sentiment in U.S. society is in search of a true name. Unnecessary is a list of all its manifestations, most obvious of which is the gut-level disgust towards the white Democrats for failing to bring the troops back from Iraq. Ron Paul, clearly no anti-white-supremacist, raised $4 million in one day for his presidential campaign, all from ordinary Americans, merely on the basis of his call for immediate withdrawal. Also appealing about Paul for Americans is his position that, under Bush and Cheney, the U.S. has moved much closer to rightwing military dictatorship. “The American Republic is in remnant status,” he says. “The stage is set for our country to devolve into a military dictatorship, and few seem to care.”53 There are dozens of other signs. And yet the American Left has neither a candidate nor a program to offer in response, because it has fled the anti-white-supremacy tradition without even knowing it.
What might be its new patriotic name? To be American is to be opposed to white supremacy. The concept is clear. Less so, though, is the task of creating this new language. It will require some purposeful thinking. The trashing of three centuries of visionary political vocabulary by the far Right, helped along by the anti-Enlightenment Cultural Left, has put the American antifascist tradition on what appears to be scorched earth, and the corporate monopoly control of the mass media brings instant gloom to those interested in fashioning any new political vocabulary. At the same time the African American civil rights movement is and has always been a living legacy: its critique of the original fascism, U.S. white supremacism, is sunk deep into the nation’s soul. What waits now, what every anticipatory American democratic desire is really about, is a linking of the new guerrilla tactics of political resistance with the revolutionary African American freedom struggle.
My view is that this can be done by an attack on corporate profits. The statistics bear repeating. The top 1% of households received 21.8% of all pre-tax income in 2005, more than double what that figure was in the 1970s (the greatest concentration of income since 1928, when 23.9% of all income went to the richest 1%) – this despite an increase in labor productivity of more than 80%. Between 1979 and 2005, the top 5% of American families saw their real incomes increase 81%, while over the same period the lowest-income fifth saw their real incomes decline 1%. In 1979, the average income of the top 5% of families was 11.4 times as large as the average income of the bottom 20%, but in 2005 the ratio was 20.9 times. All of the income gains in 2005 went to the top 10% of households, while the bottom 90% of households saw income declines.54
That none of the leading Democratic presidential candidates ever mentions these statistics is related to the fact that within the bottom 90% of American society an even more revolting tale would then have to be told. Today, for every dollar of per capita income among white Americans, the average African American makes about 57 cents. In 1968 it was 55 cents. Economist Dedrick Muhammad notes that at the current pace it will take 581 years to achieve income equality in America – this despite the fact the African American high school graduation rate has climbed from 30% in 1968 to 79% in 2002, and the African American college graduation rate has increased from 4% to 17%.55
The consensus among U.S. sociologists is that this massive and enduring income gap between African Americans and white Americans accounts for the extremely high African American infant mortality rate: in 2001 it was 14.0, more than twice the white infant mortality rate of 5.7. Sociologist Angie Klotz reports that among all countries the overall U.S. infant mortality rate ranked 12th in 1960, 24th in 1994, and 28th in 1999. It is, by far, the worst in the industrialized world.56 Which brings us back to Du Bois: that “the lowest and most fatal degree” of African American suffering “comes not from the capitalists but from fellow white laborers.” As Jonathan Kozol has proved in his studies of the U.S. public education system, for savage inequalities such as these to persist the white majority’s consent is required. For without white laborers’ class collaboration, whether active and direct as in the enforcement of racial segregation (“white convenant” neighborhoods, racial discrimination in the workplace and funding for public health and education, the criminalization of African American male youth in local law enforcement and the courts) or by way of willful ignorance (statistical blindness to empirical facts, such as the grotesque disproportion of African Americans incarcerated in U.S. prisons and those infected by the HIV virus), the system of racial oppression long maintained by the U.S. governing class could not continue another month.
In terms of statistical blindness, a new study by economists John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer reveals a different aspect of the American Left’s “white blindspot” – its failure to link the punishing effects of NAFTA and other “free trade” policies on U.S. labor unions with the persistence of racial discrimination against African Americans in the workplace. They point to a telling set of new statistics: “The share of black workers in manufacturing has actually been falling more rapidly than the overall share of manufacturing employment. From the end of the 1970s through the early 1990s, African-Americans were just as likely as workers from other racial and ethnic groups to have manufacturing jobs. Since the early 1990s, however, black workers have lost considerable ground in manufacturing. By 2007, blacks were about 15% less likely than other workers to have a job in manufacturing.”57 While they draw no conclusion about how to explain this sudden decline, the inference to make is fairly clear. The Right’s passage of NAFTA – and here the idea that Hillary Clinton is the perfect running mate for John McCain is not pro-Obama demagoguery but completely correct – has been an extremely effective means of purging from organized labor its most militant trade union rank-and-file, African Americans, and replacing them with new immigrants, who, compared to battle-hardened African American workers, are of course far less likely to engage in long and drawn-out contests with bosses and employers.
And so how is the link between the attack on corporate profits and the African American freedom struggle, between anti-corporate politics and the fight for black equality, to be made? If it were easy, we would not be in the situation we are in today. Yet in the end the proposal is not difficult to conceptualize nor is its vision of the future especially complex. U.S. CEOs who move their companies offshore for bigger profits are traitors to the nation and should be treated that way, that is, they should be criminalized. This blatant type of anti-Americanism is not only a form of political tyranny, as many liberal critics say, but above all fascist in aim and outcome. The purpose of this move, in the realm of national political discourse, is to reverse the criminalization of African Americans by transfiguring symbolically the signifier “crime” – from its association with blacks to an association with corporate America.
What can enable this paradigm shift is a better historical understanding of where the Anglo-American capitalist class came from, that it has always been fascist, beginning with its massacre of Virginia’s tenantry in the early 1600s, which was followed immediately by the establishment of chattel-bond servitude in the continental colonies. This paved the way for the genocide of the American Indians and the racial enslavement of African Americans for more than two centuries. In manic pursuit of present profit, the slaveholding class set up a monocultural plantation economic system in which vast fortunes could be easily made so long as the black laborers under it were kept in a state of permanent fascist terror and the poor and propertyless from Europe prevented from developing any type of alternative small-farming economy like the one in New England, which of course would have necessitated an alliance on their part with African American slaves.58 Hence, the analogy to Nazi Germany and the gas chambers – rather than to three centuries of African American everyday life in the South, as well as in the urban Bantustans of the North – further marginalizes the African American civil rights agenda. It puts us a giant step back in the struggle to remove the current racists-fascists from power.
Medical historian Harriet A. Washington substantiates a vital part of this thesis in her new book Medical Apartheid, where she proves that the Nazi regime’s program of medical experimentation on Jews and other non-“Nordics” was prepared in advance by the American-led International Society for Racial Hygiene.59 Founded in 1910, its American members worked under the aegis of the Carnegie Institution. As Washington shows, their research and medical experimentation on African Americans was organized around a single goal: “to find wide physiologic evidence of black inferiority.”
In a refinement of earlier scientific racism, eugenics was appropriated to label black women as sexually indiscriminate and as bad mothers who were constrained by biology to give birth to defective children. The demonization of black parents, particularly mothers, as medically and behaviorally unfit has a long history, but 20th-century eugenicists provided the necessary biological underpinnings to scientifically validate these beliefs…Thus eugenics undergirded mediosocial movements that placed the sexual behavior and reproduction of blacks under strict scrutiny and disproportionately forced them into sterility, both temporary and permanent. Scientists also vigorously researched black fertility, compiling data on black birth rates and using women of color predominantly to test many reproductive technologies and strategies, from involuntary sterilization to Norplant to “the shot.”60
In the current conjuncture, especially provocative about Washington’s study is the proof she provides that the entire white American eugenics movement was premised on vehement ideological opposition to interracial sex and marriage. The notion that the child of an interracial sexual union “supplies a genetic taint to his family and haunts his progeny, making them unfit to marry” motivated all their work, was their enduring obsession. When seen in this light, the Obama movement takes on a very different political character. Today more than three in four Americans say they approve of marriages between blacks and whites – a startling change from even a decade ago when less than half approved. In 2006 the Pew Research Center found that more than one in five American adults say they have close relatives who are in interracial marriages.61 That is, if, as many on the Left believe (not to mention a majority of Americans), that U.S. presidential elections are purely symbolic affairs, having little to do with policy questions and fundamental economic and social issues, why not follow this logic all the way to the end and begin seeing in the Obama movement a profound, even paradigm-shifting moment in U.S. history and society – one in which large numbers of Americans have been voting Obama precisely because he’s from an interracial union, because he is a political symbol of an emergent anti-white supremacist American nationalism? Also in this light can be seen he absurdity of the Left’s obsession with 9/11. Whether or not Bush and Cheney ordered the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers has nothing to do with the relation between domination of the economy by Wall Street and the endurance of white racial oppression. It is, like the analogy between the Bush regime and Nazism, a displacement of popular anti-monopoly capitalist energies and thus serves the interests of the Right much more than it does the Left. Moreover, built into the inside job theory is the unbelievably naïve notion that, once it is proven that Bush and Cheney orchestrated 9/11, the masses, inspired by the truth of the facts, will conclude that the U.S. state is fascist, and begin organizing a mass revolt against it. The Obama movement’s success so far in mobilizing a mandate for social change is as far away from 9/11 and the inside job theory as the earth from the moon.
Back to Du Bois
Du Bois, and all those after him who closely studied his work and expanded it, come to the same conclusion about American fascism: it is a classic case of class collaborationism in which the popular-democratic impulse to socially allocate America’s great wealth is triangulated by U.S. elites, where race consciousness or group identity is made to supersede the always boisterous and eclectic multicultural class consciousness rumbling below. This has been the story of the last thirty years, in the Democratic Party, the U.S. academy, and the mass media. And while the effectiveness of the elites’ misinformation techniques can never be underestimated, it is wise to see them as Langston Hughes did in the 1920s (in his poem “Rising Waters”) – as “foam on the sea, and not the sea,” as a futile attempt to distract us from the obvious, from the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.
Compelling in this respect is the fact that the old white male liberals, who in the 1980s and 1990s came under merciless attack from the American Cultural Left, are today the only ones left on the political horizon talking about the centrality of white racism in the Right’s seizure of state power. For example, Paul Krugman argues in his new book The Conscience of a Liberal that the upward redistribution of wealth over the past thirty years could not have happened without the Right’s appeal to white racial solidarity, without the hysterical claim, whipped up in the corporate media every day, that white male workers are being screwed over not by rich white men but by African American civil rights. Lately Krugman is very optimistic, not only because a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House in 2008 appear to him quite likely but also, and more importantly he says, because the vast majority of Americans no longer oppose interracial marriage.
A perceptive insight, it leads to others just as perspicacious. First, if the conscience of America was permanently deepened and improved by Dr. King and the African American civil rights movement, American white supremacism will never again take the form of a fascist mass movement. “Movement conservatism,” as the Right calls its white racist electoral base, is a minority movement far outside the American mainstream. And second, if the American fascist tradition, embodied by Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, Tom Delay and the white supremacist evangelical Christians they represent, has become a radical fringe movement, it can be expected to behave like such a movement, that is, illegally: with paramilitary violence and the use of psychological and social terror – what Chris Hedges calls “Christofascism.”
Here Krugman’s optimism becomes wispy, for while the conscience of white America was during the 1960s in an inchoate state, its most experienced antiwar and civil rights organizers were hardcore political people coming directly from the socialist movement or Popular Front of the 1930s and 1940s. Today, there is nothing like the Popular Front. Today, American graduate students in the humanities know more about Foucault than they do about Du Bois, and rather than sympathetic to the goals of the New Deal and international socialism they are openly hostile to them. Where then will the foot soldiers in opposition to the radical Right come from? In the 1960s they came from the universities. Today, the universities are silent not only on the Iraq War but on every other major social issue as well. Nor will these foot soldiers of the Left be coming from George Soros’s Open Society Institute or Jeffrey Sachs’s Earth Institute, which, despite annual operating budgets in the hundreds of millions, do not train activists for political work in the U.S. Nor will they be coming from the Christian churches, which were co-opted by the rightwing evangelical movement in the 1980s and 1990s.
Where they will come from is the question of the day and will remain U.S. society’s most vital political question until it becomes too late to answer it. The task of the American Left now is to prevent this kind of scenario from happening. A new Popular Front, with a new name, is possible, never more so than today. Yet the new vocabulary will not come from strategic interventions in the corporate media, nor will it come from more conferences on the atrocious state of the U.S. Left. It will come from creative thinking zoned into the nation’s antiracist moral center, which is, to paraphrase the great German communist Ernst Bloch, the only unchanging thing in American history. In his magnum opus, The Principle of Hope, Bloch wrote elegantly about this kind of thinking:
Happiness, freedom, non-alienation, Golden Age, Land of Milk and Honey, the Eternally-Female, the trumpet signal in Fidelio and the Christ-likeness of the Day of Resurrection which follows it: these are so many witnesses and images of such differing value, but all are set up around that which speaks for itself by still remaining silent.62
For Bloch, utopian thinking was much better off daydreaming than trying to offer itself up to the calculating world of realpolitik, where “the still unavailable goal” of a world without masters is always subject to co-optation by middle-class opportunists in behalf of their short-term objectives and is thus cancelled out. Bloch wrote during very dark times, when the dawning of what he called Utopia’s “intended fundamental content” had been forced by fascism to remain concealed. This content is best expressed, Bloch argued, in Marx’s final concern: in “the development of the wealth of human nature.” Writing in the late 1930s, Bloch saw this goal as one standing “before the creation of the world, of a right world.” It was staying, with all its irrepressible social power, latent, confirming that human beings everywhere are still living in prehistory. “True genesis, he wrote, “is not at the beginning but at the end, and it starts to begin only when society and existence become radical, i.e. grasp their roots.”63
The embarrassing failure of the American Left over the past thirty years has been its refusal to apply this insight to the society in which we live. The radical tradition in America is not a French anti-Enlightenment “poststructuralist” tradition. It begins with an Enlightenment tradition, the African American abolitionist movement, America’s first real freedom struggle, and continues down to the 1960s civil rights movement. Just as it attacked in the 1850s and 1860s Lincoln’s notion of a “White Declaration of Independence” and forced him into equalitarian glory, it fought the Klan in the 1930s and prevented the U.S. from becoming fascist. Bennett puts it well: “In the end, the militant abolitionists discovered that the issue of Black freedom is a total issue that raises total questions about the meaning of America. The end result was that the Freedom Movement of the 1860s, like the Freedom Movement of the 1960s, branched out into issues of women’s rights, sexual freedom, and economic democracy.”64 If today American fascism seems right around the corner, that is because the radical African American tradition has been pushed to the side in favor of the postmodern Left’s fake radicalism, its self-serving group identity politics, and the lure of a safe life in the ideological center.
The Bush-Cheney regime has blown the Cultural Left’s flimsy “radical” cover, revealing simultaneously the gaping hole in our current political culture: the absence of a central organizing authority on the Left responsible for fashioning new slogans on behalf of a popular-democratic political program, one premised on attacking corporate profits. In short, a Left that is not afraid of offending “the flag-wagging, book-burning, Fortress America legions who will elect America’s next president in November, 2008,” as Alexander Cockburn has recently put it.65 As Cockburn rightly suggests, this hole will not be filled overnight, and yet there is no time to spare. Fortunately for the Left, the hard work of filling it up was begun many years ago. The task now is to complete the unfinished social and economic reconstruction of America, to make the true horizon of real American democracy commensurate with this reality. For the other reality, a big corporation-dominated America ruled by Christian fascists, is possible only to the extent that white supremacism’s many-headed hydra is allowed to persist.
Understanding the persistence of white supremacism is the same as understanding the far Right’s rise to power, and understanding the American Left’s failure to challenge the Right is the same as understanding how the Left displaced the African American civil rights agenda and in so doing the analytic of social class. A return to this agenda is not an exercise in nostalgia, nor is it some abstract argument for “getting back to class” or class analysis. It is the place where the majority of Americans are still waiting, where human beings come before profits – where the “Achilles heel” of the U.S. working classes, as Du Bois called white skin privilege, is finally fixed so that the specific fate of African Americans is seen as the fate of all American workers.
The Cultural Left calls this place “the White Anglo-Saxon Male Heterosexist Culture.” Accordingly we are supposed to see any return to it as a very bad thing. As Rorty, Brennan, and Baraka have argued correctly, this is not politics: it is a type of religious belief, one in perfect harmony with the far Right’s own approach to history and society in which battles over the definition of culture sweep aside battles over control of the economy. Rorty articulated the problem nicely: “Does anybody know how to run a non-invasive welfare system? I don’t think you can. You’re just going to have to settle for lots and lots of Foucauldian webs of power, about as weblike and powerful as they always were, only run by the good guys instead of the bad guys.”66
A stirring case in point is Hugo Chávez’s removal in 2005 of Citgo’s entire five-member board made up of U.S. oil company executives, which he replaced with several young Marxist economists. In analyzing Citgo’s pattern of capital investment, these economists found that Citgo was investing far more in the U.S. than in Venezuela. Now leading the board is Dr. Juan Carlos Boué, whose 1997 Master’s Thesis at Oxford University proved that during the previous twenty years Venezuela had produced for Citgo “huge amounts of money without receiving anything in return.”67 By 2004, shortly after Boué completed his doctoral dissertation, Chávez had closely studied these findings and was convinced by Boué’s overall thesis: that rather than spending Citgo’s annual dividend on expanding U.S.-owned refineries and developing new ones, it should go towards broadening the Venezuelan government’s antipoverty programs. Chávez promptly fired Citgo’s board and put Boué in charge.
Today Citgo’s investment in Venezuela is more than $2 billion whereas in 2000 it was $225 million. Economists Mark Weisbrot and Luis Sandoval sum up the results of this radical strategy in their important 2007 study, The Venezuelan Economy in the Chávez Years:
The poverty rate has decreased rapidly from its peak of 55.1% in 2003 to 30.4% at end of 2006, as would be expected in the face of the very rapid economic growth during these last three years. If we compare the pre-Chávez poverty rate (43.9%) with the end of 2006 (30.4%) this is a 31% drop in the rate of poverty. However this poverty rate does not take into account the increased access to health care or education that poor people have experienced. The situation of the poor has therefore improved significantly beyond even the substantial poverty reduction that is visible in the official poverty rate, which measures only cash income.68
In the main, the American Cultural Left considers Chávez a military dictator who stays in power through a combination of armed force and patronage politics. Breastfed on three decades of Foucauldian anti-statist ideology in the academy, often under the guise of “post-Marxism,” and shamelessly unhistorical in their approach to basic human problems and concerns, trained to see in fundamental economic and social policy questions wispy godlike “re-instantiations” of repressive power relations, it has no interest in viewing Chávez’s redistributive approach as a positive example. Yet such an approach is probably the last thing standing now between the American people and a replication of the racial violence and exploitation of the crisis years of the 1870-80s and of the 1920s-30s.
Bennett notes that American abolitionists such as David Walker, Henry Highland Garnet, and Wendell Phillips “anticipated modern analysts like Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon, saying that there never was any other violence, except slaveholder violence, and that slave violence against slaveholder violence not only advanced humanity but was itself an expression of the highest octave of humanity.”69 In response to Lincoln’s statement that “the Negro has nothing to do with it,” meaning the Civil War, Phillips was eloquent, and what he said then, in 1861, has special resonance today. To cheering crowds he declared:
I never did believe in the capacity of Abraham Lincoln, but I do believe in the pride of [Jefferson] Davis, in the vanity of the South, in the desperate determination of those fourteen states; and I believe in a sunny future, because God has driven them mad; and their madness is our safety. They will never consent to anything that the North can grant; and you must whip them, because, unless you do, they will grind you to powder.70
1. Arguing consistently that the American Christian Right is a fascist movement has been MIM Notes (published by the Maoist International Movement), the Revolutionary Worker (published by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA), and Workers World (published by the Workers World Party).
2. The outpouring of scholarship critical of the American Right in the Bush-Cheney years is immense and of extremely high quality. Other important texts include Robert Pollin’s Contours of Descent, Marjorie Cohn’s Cowboy Republic, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair’s End Times, Timothy Brennan’s Wars of Position, Mahmood Mamdani’s Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Tariq Ali’s The Clash of Fundamentalisms, Doug Henwood’s After the New Economy, Joel Kovel’s The Enemy of Nature, Gabriel Kolko’s The Age of War, Greg Grandin’s Empire’s Workshop, Andrew Cockburn’s Rumsfeld, Noam Chomsky’s Failed States, Joseph Sliglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents, and Paul Krugman’s The Conscience of a Liberal. This, of course, is only a very partial list.
3. In a new investigative report on Hillary Clinton’s political career, “Seeds of Corruption,” Alexander Cockburn notes that Clintonism began right after Arkansas voters threw Bill Clinton out of office in 1980. Cockburn writes: “The man charged with supervising the Clintons’ makeover was selected by Hillary: Dick Morris, a political consultant known for his work for Southern racists like Jesse Helms. Morris ultimately guided President Bill Clinton into the politics of triangulation, outflanking the Republicans from the right on race, crime, morals posturing and deference to corporations” (CounterPunch, November 15, 2007: www.counterpunch.org/cockburn11152007.html).
4. Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott (London & New York: Verso, 2005), 55.
5. Ernest Bloch, The Principle of Hope, Vol. 1, trans. Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice and Paul Knight (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995), 31.
6. Minima Moralia, 55.
7. Georg Lukács, Lenin: A Study on the Unity of His Thought (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1971), 27f.
8. Lenin, 27f.
9. Lenin, 27.
10. Theodore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race, Vol. I, Racial Oppression and Social Control, (London & New York: Verso, 1994), 198.
11. Economist Doug Henwood has been conducting empirical studies of the U.S. middle class since the mid-1990s. For the relevant data, see: www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Wealth_distrib.html; and www.leftbusinessobserver.com/IncomePoverty2004.html. See also the Labor Party Press: http://lpa.igc.org/lpv46/lpp46_wto_roundup.html.
12. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. I, The Process of Capitalist Production, translated from the third edition by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling (Chicago: Charles Kerr, 1906), Chapter VII, Section 7.
13. Mark Naison’s authoritative Black Communists in Harlem during the Depression (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983) provides many compelling examples of how the American Communist Party’s strong emphasis on eradicating white supremacy from the U.S. labor movement increased its popularity not only among black workers but among whites as well. In my recent study of Langston Hughes, Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006), I discuss the appeal of the CPUSA’s anti-white-supremacist political platform in depth. See in particular chapter two, “Socialism, Nationalism, and Nation-Consciousness: The Antinomies of Langston Hughes,” 56-105.
14. Minima Moralia, 22f.
15. Minima Moralia, 24.
16. Minima Moralia, 57.
17. Minima Moralia, 89.
18. Minima Moralia, 57.
19. Principle of Hope, 31.
20. Minima Moralia, 107.
21. Minima Moralia, 176, 188, and 97.
22. Minima Moralia, 107.
23. Minima Moralia, 17.
24. See Mark Weisbrot, “Holocaust Denial, American Style,” AlterNet, November 21, 2007 (www.alternet.org/columnists/story/68568/).
25. Roberto Fernández Retamar, Caliban and Other Essays (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989). 4.
26. Kathleen and Bill Christison, “The Power of the Israel Lobby: Its Origins and Growth,” CounterPunch, June 16/18, 2006 (www.counterpunch.org/christison06162006.html).
27. W.E.B. Du Bois, “Marxism and the Negro Problem,” in W.E.B. Du Bois: A Reader, ed. David Levering Lewis (New York: Henry Holt, 1995), 541.
28. W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction, 680.
29. Perry Anderson in his authoritative socioeconomic history of Antiquity, Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism (London & New York: Verso, 1996), demonstrates that the Greco-Roman world featured “the most radical rural degradation of labour imaginable – the conversion of men themselves into inert means of production by their deprivation of every social right and their legal assimilation to beasts of burden: in Roman theory, the agricultural slave was designated an instrumentum vocale, the speaking tool, one grade away from livestock that constituted an instrumentum semi-vocale, and two from the implement which was an intstrumentum mutum,” 24f.
30. Lerone Bennett, Jr., Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co., 2007), 6.
31. Forced into Glory, 194.
32. Forced into Glory, 289f.
33. Forced into Glory, 125.
34. Forced into Glory, 136.
35. Derrick Bell, Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
36. Quoted in Theodore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race, Vol. 2 (New York: Verso, 1997), 257.
37. See Ishmael Reed, “John C. Calhoun, Post-Modernist,” in Another Day at the Front: Dispatches from the Race War, by Ishmael Reed (New York: Basic Books, 2003), 101-08.
38. Forced into Glory, 360.
39. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 266.
40. Jacqueline Rose, The Last Resistance (London & New York: Verso, 2007), 44.
41. The Last Resistance, 45.
42. “A land without a people for a people without a land” is the well-known formula of Israel Zangwill, one of the founders of the Zionist movement. See Jacqueline Rose’s discussion of Zangwill’s slogan in The Last Resistance, 48f.
43. Mike Hill, After Whiteness: Unmaking an American Majority (New York: New York University Press, 2004), 36.
44. After Whiteness, 52.
45. This is Judith Butler’s thesis in her book The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997). She argues that the old theories of sexual regulation as a function of political economy have been transformed by the new postmodernist moment.
46. Richard Rorty, Against Bosses, Against Oligarchies: A Conversation with Richard Rorty (Charlottesville, VA: Prickly Pear Pamphlets, 1998), 31f.
47. Timothy Brennan, Wars of Position: The Cultural Politics of Left and Right (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 151.
48. Wars of Position, 151.
49. Forced into Glory, 221.
50. Wars of Position, 151f.
51. Amiri Baraka, “Obama ’08 – Act Like We Know,” Seeing Black, Feb. 20, 2008: www.seeingblack.com/article_380.shtml.
52. Gerald Horne, The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States (New York: New York University Press, 2006); Michael Eric Dyson, Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster (New York: Perseus, 2006). In terms of Robert Jensen and Eric Lott, I’m thinking in particular of Jensen’s book The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism And White Privilege (San Francisco: City Lights, 2005), and Lott’s Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is an antiracist human rights activist who grew up in rural Oklahoma, daughter of a landless farmer and half-Indian mother. She is the author of, among other works, Red Dirt: Growing up Okie (London & New York: Verso, 1997). Tim Wise is the Director of the Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE) in Nashville, Tennessee and author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press, 2004), and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (New York: Routledge, 2005). Stan Goff is a retired Special Forces Master Sergeant. He is the author of Hideous Dream: A Soldier’s Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti (Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press, 2000) and Full Spectrum Disorder: The Military in the New American Century (Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press, 2004), as well as the weblog Feral Scholar. Sharon Smith’s research has brought to light the resegregation of U.S. society, in particular of the U.S. public schools. She is the author of Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2006), and Women and Socialism (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2005). Dave Zirin writes perceptively of white racism in American sports on his web site The Edge of Sports, and is the author of What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2005), Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2007), and Muhammad Ali Handbook (London: MQ Publications, 2007).
53. Quoted in Mike Whitney, “Ron Paul: Big Media’s Invisible Candidate,” CounterPunch, November 9, 2007 (www.counterpunch.org/whitney11092007.html)
54. These statistics come from the U.S. Census Bureau. For the relevant data, see the Economic Policy Institute’s study, The State of Working America, 2006/2007, by Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein, and Sylvia Allegretto (New York: Cornell University Press, 2007).
55. Dedrick Muhammad, “The Black/White Divide: An Unavoidable Truth,” Inequality.Org (www.demos.org/inequality/article.cfm?blogid=253418EE-3FF4-6C82-577DD9D0F5761F04).
56. Angie Klotz, Income Inequality, Racial Composition and the Infant Mortality Rates of U.S. Counties (2005), 5f. MA thesis in the Department of Sociology of the College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Research and Advanced Studies of the University of Cincinnati (www.ohiolink.edu/etd/send-pdf.cgi/KLOTZ%20ANGIE.pdf?ucin1115693615).
57. John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer, “The Decline in African-American Representation in Unions and Manufacturing, 1979-2007.” Center for Economic and Policy Research, February 2008: www.cepr.net/documents/publications/unions_aa_2008_02.pdf.
58. On the massacre of Virginia’s tenantry, see Allen, The Invention of the White Race, Vol. 2, 75-96.
59. Harriet A. Washington, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (New York: Doubleday, 2006), 192.
60. Medical Apartheid, 191f.
61. For the relevant data, see David Rosen, “Barack Obama: Love Across the Color Line and Political Dirty Tricks.” CounterPunch, Feb. 27, 2008: www.counterpunch.org/rosen02272008.html.
62. Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope, Vol. 3 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996), 1375.
63. The Principle of Hope, 1375.
64. Forced into Glory, 272.
65. Alexander Cockburn, “Hillary’s Big Problem and How Bill Can Fix It,” CounterPunch, November 13, 2007 (www.counterpunch.org/cockburn11132007.html).
66. Against Bosses, Against Oligarchies, 34.
67. Ana Campoy and David Luhnow, “Citgo Scales Back in U.S. to Fund Chávez’s Goals,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2007, A1 and A18.
68. Mark Weisbrot and Luis Sandoval, The Venezuelan Economy in the Chávez Years (Washington, DC: Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2007), 3 (www.cepr.net/documents/publications/venezuela_2007_07.pdf).
69. Forced into Glory, 352.
70. Quoted in Forced into Glory, 349f.