FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Empire and White Supremacy

Now, when I say question the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

So tell me why, can’t you understand
That there ain’t no such thing as a superman

Gil Scott-Heron

What happens to a nation once its most privileged symbols have been thoroughly discredited?  Where does a country turn to begin again?

After eight years of the Bush-Cheney regime, the United States confronts these questions in light of a deep and profound crisis of legitimacy. The current crisis is intimately shaped by the demands of 21st century American imperialism and is reflected in the (un)spoken language of white supremacy.

The financial crisis engulfing the global capitalist system has exposed the hollow core of the American Dream.  As thousands of individuals and families have their homes go into foreclosure, the symbolic center of the American Dream – the home – has turned into an economic nightmare from which no one can awaken.

The reckless financialization of global capitalism which accelerated over the course of the last decade has not only discredited free market fundamentalism, but has also severely compromised the economic and political standing of America’s unique brand of consumer capitalism.  The ideology of an infinite American prosperity is no longer tenable as capitalism unravels and more and more Americans face desperate economic times with equally desperate choices.

The trends that progressives have for years been highlighting – the consolidation of wealth among a coterie of the elite, the record gap between rich and poor, the downward decline of wages, and the ever increasing level of poverty – are now coming to the forefront of public conversation.

And in so doing, calling into question the foundational assumptions of American superiority.

While the veiled and coded language of American foreign policy has been deciphered and well understood by those on the receiving end of America’s imperial promises, the rogue and cynical exploits by the recent administration has taken the mask off of the imperialistic machinations of American power.  Average citizens have been forced to face the wide gulf between the rhetoric of politicians and the military actions pursued in the name of the American people.

As if the crisis of capitalism and the overreach of imperial America were not enough, Americans are now in the midst of a hotly contested presidential election dominated by the age old American pastime of the politics of race.  While racial politics have always been a prized weapon in the arsenal of both political parties, what makes the 2008 incarnation of this political ritual unique is that the appeals to white supremacy – not the amorphous language of “race” to which mainstream media commentators refer – while recognized and justly denounced in its most extreme expression, still resonates within the political landscape precisely because of the crisis of capitalism and the military exploits of the American Empire.

In times of economic crisis and national malaise, the old political standby of subtle and not so subtle appeals to white supremacy becomes logical.  Why?  Because so much of what constitutes the American nationalist imaginary joins all that is felt to be familiar, normal, secure, and safe with the attributes, disposition, and outlook of the quintessential white person.  And in moments of national anxiety and economic insecurity politicians must reassure the American people that all is right (and white) with America.

Thus, it should not come as a surprise that there has been a lack of critical commentary on the white supremacist dimensions lurking just beneath the surface of what is taken to be a legitimate political appeal to the middle class as represented in the language and image of “Joe Six-Pack” and “Joe the Plumber.”  So as the story goes, the dreaded “outsiders” of the White Republic are produced and reproduced – immigrants, terrorists, socialists, muslims, black nationalists, and the list goes on – in an effort to make sure that all that is solid for the United States of America does not melt into air.

On November 5, 2008, Americans will wake up to a new day.  And as with all new days there will be work left over from the previous day to do.  But for the United States of America, the work that is left over is from the beginning and has steadily increased over the course of centuries.

And, once again, we will begin the long arduous process of making a nation.  Perhaps, just perhaps, we will eschew the short sighted vision of power and might and just try to do what is just and right, both in America and throughout the world.

Corey D. B. Walker is an assistant professor of Africana studies at Brown University and the author of A Noble Fight:  African American Freemasons and the Struggle for Democracy in America.

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail