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American Ideology: Racism Welded to Capitalism
Friday, 26 January 2007 21:21
by Edward Strong

Capitalism uses racism to justify slavery and war, and to legitimise military occupations and colonialism. It seeks to create division in the working class, to turn us against each other when we should be uniting and fighting the system as whole.

Racism and Settler Colonies

The US was born a settler colony, that unique product of largely British (but also European) migration during the era of empire, which was to leave a permanent Anglo-Saxon footprint in such disparate lands as North America and Australia.

The settler colony produced a quite different dynamic and mentality from that of Europe and Asia, both of which were characterized by the relative continuity of their native populations.

The establishment of settler colonies meant the conquest and brutal destruction of the native populations.

It is impossible to understand the psychology of the Americans, without understanding what they did to the Indians. This was not ethnic cleansing but something closer to ethnic extermination.

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One of the myths that surrounds American history is that it has been relatively non-aggressive and, of course, anti-colonial.

The new colonial settler society was by its very nature expansionist and aggressive, with an insatiable appetite for territory.

It was characterized by aggressive expansionism, acquisitive materialism, and an overarching ideology of civilization that encouraged and justified both.

It bred both a particularly abhorrent form of racism and a new kind of capitalism.

With a seemingly limitless supply of land, every white male settler could ultimately fulfill their dream of becoming a landowner.

America's restless and constant desire for expansion is rooted in its settler origins.

The settlers constantly set the agenda of government when it came to the theft of Indian land, irrespective of the treaties that the government had solemnly agreed with the Indians. [1]

Britain: The Founder of Modern Racism

Capitalism causes racism, it uses it to justify slavery and war, to legitimise military occupations and colonialism.

Capitalism seeks to create division in the working class, to turn us against each other and waste our energies fighting other workers when we should be uniting and fighting the system as whole.

Racism is a centuries old theory that is used to justify a global system of discrimination against ethnic minorities.

It stems from Britain’s role as a colonial power - seizing control of Africa and India and looting them of food, minerals and precious stones.

In Africa the British ruling class found a massive supply of cheap manpower waiting to be tapped. 115 million Africans were forcibly removed and taken to work against their will in America on cotton, tobacco and sugar plantations.

At home, the British ruling class attempted to present themselves as democrats and "good christians".

To justify this system of cruel and despicable exploitation the capitalists developed the theory of modern racism.

Today, imperialism has not died. The advanced capitalist states are still imperialists that exploit the former colonies and keep billions of people below the poverty line. [2]

America: Racism Is in Your [White] Mother's Milk

America is a colonial society. This is reflected the brutal racism that was a major factor in the founding of modern America.

All capitalist colonial-settler societies, such as the USA, and Israel, have been founded on such attitudes towards indigenous peoples.

Racism — treating and judging people on the basis of superficial physical attributes, particularly skin colour — is endemic to capitalism.

Its pervasiveness under capitalism leads many to think that it is a “natural” if unfortunate aspect of human history. However, the above examples suggest that racism is tied to particular social interests.

Capitalism Bloomed on Cheap and Slave Labour

The European colonial expansion into the Americas that was the basis for the development of capitalism posed the problem of creating a cheap labour force in the new colonies.

It is not well known that the forced labour that was essential to the commercial plantations of North and South America and the Caribbean initially consisted not just of kidnapped Africans but also of indentured white European servants.

However, early class struggles such as the 1676 “Bacon’s rebellion” in Virginia in which black and white labourers launched an armed insurrection convinced the colonial rulers and plantation owners they needed an ideological prop to divide the labouring poor.

Racist ideas are fostered not just by the conscious use of “divide and rule” by the ruling class, the paranoia of small business people under economic insecurity, and the xenophobic nationalism of reformist labour misleaders.

They are also fostered by the relative advantages that have gone to all people socially categorised as “white”. Indeed, that has helped racism to continue even after it has ceased to be official policy.

Racism is often more subtle today, particularly since the horrors of Nazism's strict “racial” categorisation of ability and nature has gone out of fashion.

Often “cultural difference” is a substitute, as in government and media vilification of Muslims — the practitioners of which, along with those who blame Indigenous people for their own conditions of extreme poverty and shocking health, rush to deny is racism. [3] Inside America Today

Nothing much has changed since the founding fathers justified exploitation and oppression:

The extreme racial, ethnic, religious and territorial fragmentation of the nation’s working-class and populace.

The alternately deadening and cooptive influences of imperialism, mass consumerism, Winner-Take-All electoral politics, corporate media and more.

There’s no room either for the remarkable persistence of tyranny – business-class (corporate-capitalist) and white-supremacist rule, the reign of the military sector, and the rise of a powerful prison-industrial system.

Color-Blind: Reassuring the Master Race

Most black politicians, like Barack Obama, try to cover their asses with white America by claiming that “what ails working- and middle-class blacks is not fundamentally different from what ails their white counterparts.”

Equally soothing to the master race is Obama’s argument that “white guilt has largely exhausted itself in America” as “even the most fair-minded of whites...tend to push back against suggestions of racial victimization and race-based claims based on the history of racial discrimination in this country”.

Part of the reason for this “push back” – also known as denial – is, Obama claims, the bad culture and poor work-ethic of the inner-city black poor.

Never mind that lower-, working-, and middle-class blacks continue to face numerous steep and interrelated white-supremacist barriers to equality. Or that multidimensional racial discrimination is still rife in “post-Civil Rights America,” deeply woven into the fabric of the nation’s social institutions and drawing heavily on the living and unresolved legacy of centuries of not- so “past” racism.

Never mind that the long centuries of slavery and Jim Crow are still quite historically recent

It would continue to exercise a crippling influence on black experience even if the dominant white claim that black “racial victimization” is a “thing of the past” was remotely accurate. [4]

America Is a White Supremacist Country

When visiting academic Robert Jensen gave a lecture at York University earlier this month, he began his address to the audience by bringing attention to something that usually doesn't need to be said: he is white.

"In a white supremacist country," he said to the culturally diverse group of students, faculty and visitors, "white people have some advantage."

In 2005, Jensen published The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege. The book closely examines racism in the United States by exploring the concept of white privilege, and then points the finger at the politically correct "multicultural" approach that conceals the reality of racism that still exists in our society.

White privilege is a Westernized concept that concentrates on the invisible benefits - earned and unearned - that white citizens have.

"Whiteness" is actually conceived of as an ethnicity in itself, recognizing how societal structures fix it as the normative - also known as "the white guy."

If you click onto the Wikipedia entry for white privilege, there's an extensive list of "whites-only" benefits: The ability to turn on the TV or read a newspaper and see themselves represented, and the freedom to speak their opinions without having to speak of their race or appearing as a threat to the dominant society.

In his lecture, Jensen gave a historical overview of the "empirical" history of the United States, and how it was that background that led to social and political constructs like race, class and gender to define white privilege. Or in Jensen's own terminology: white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy. [5]

[1] Martin Jacques
[2] World Revolution
[3] Nick Fredman
[4] Paul Street
[5] Rea McNamara
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