America’s Six(+) White Supremacies and Donald Trump’s Fascist Remix
New Amsterdam was the first European colony on what is now Manhattan. Even as the Dutch and their diverse subjects stole land from the Lenape, they built a remarkably tolerant and cosmopolitan colony. It became a commercial hub with immigrants from all over Europe as well as from parts of Asia and Africa, mixing and competing together on a relatively even playing field. As it grew and changed hands and eventually, reluctantly, became a part of the United States, this area retained this culture and this economic role to a significant degree, even through demographic changes and major developments nationally and globally. After all, continually incorporating outside elements is one of the pillars of this culture. And the necessity and value of commerce hubs has only grown over the centuries, even if what that entails has transitioned. Sounds quite idyllic, doesn’t it?
But from the start, one thing the folks in this diverse and tolerant community were competing over was shares in the enslavement of Africans, and the trade in enslaved human flesh. And while all were welcome to live and trade, those in power concentrated an extreme amount of authority over the rules of the game. People brought their different cultures, and they were welcomed to a significant degree, and there were beautiful elements of that. But as part of the tolerance, people also brought relations of power from their different backgrounds. Even though agriculture and industry were quickly replaced by trade and speculation as the main source of revenue in the area, they needed buildings to speculate in, and food to eat as they invested. While slavery wasn’t the most profitable form of labor to serve those interests, it was welcomed and accepted. You could even say it was “tolerated.”
When you think of racism, this is not the picture that first comes to mind. It’s not deep southern crackers blissful in their arrogant ignorance. It’s not the missionary mindset to ‘save the souls of the heathens’ exercised by the Spanish conquistadors, or in a very different way by the New England puritans. It’s not the hardscrabble ‘me and my kind first,’ anti-urban populism of Appalachia. It’s not even the classically educated, freedom-for-all-but-my-slaves “enlightenment” of Washington, Jefferson and the rest of the tidewater founding fathers. All of these versions of White supremacy have survived, and maintained their regional strongholds over the centuries, even as they have evolved. And at various times each has had more or less power in shaping the US as a whole, and it’s role in the world.
But it is this transactional ‘New Amsterdam’ (or New York) white supremacy, imperfectly embodied by Donald Trump, that has become the magic bullet to unite the rest, to unite the US in general behind rising American Fascism, and even to unite fascist movements around the world. One of the most horrifying elements of this is it’s universal applicability — where White supremacists can unite with Hindu Fundamentalists and Latin American Fascists, and where people from every heritage inside the US can barter with the wages of white supremacy. It’s part of Trump’s historical role as someone whose alleged business acumen, and more importantly his living caricature of a business personality, has been very widely looked up to in large swaths of immigrant and Black communities, even though his white supremacy has been on display ever since he made his name, and was even a factor in how he made his name.
Driving the push to fascism are the enormous challenges US imperialism faces in maintaining a unipolar world order in the face of global warming and massive global migrations. And while most of the Democrats have been working to keep their (and our) heads in the sand and maintain an unsustainable status quo, the republicans generally have been trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to turn over the post WW2 ruling consensus and impose something much more draconian. To accomplish this, all kinds of figureheads, styles, compromises and policies have been proposed and tried. And yet until Trump (alongside Christian theocrat Mike Pence) came along, in this historic moment, the fascists had only been able to gain ground incrementally against their ruling class rivals.
To understand how this situation has come about, and to start to get a grasp on how to resolve it in the interests of the people, we need to recognize a few key things:
- White supremacy is not eternal or metaphysical. Neither it’s ideology or its power relations are built into our DNA.
- As Bob Avakian’s has pointed out: “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.”
- Different regions of this country had vastly different relationships with slavery, with the genocide of Native Amercians, and with the subordination of Latin America, beginning well before the United States was even a notion on the horizon of history. Different cultures developed and they involved vastly different white supremacies.
- In the context of the rise of global capitalism-imperialism, shifting political, ideological, military and material alliances between different regions in the US have been key to the development of this country as the world’s sole superpower, and especially to it’s ruling consensi and ability to legitimize its rule over the centuries. These alliances, and these rifts, were most stark during the civil war, but they have been in constant tension since the 1600’s.
- Many reformist efforts for social justice have played these various white supremacies off of eachother and set them against one another, but those struggles have also been distorted and manipulated by the power struggles between these different blocs.
So how does this all point to a solution? Do we just stop Trump and then this new, fascism-enriched remix falls apart? To some degree, yes. And this is urgently needed. It is a battle which must be waged by everyone who hates what Trump is doing and what he represents. We are facing fascism and people must take up this fight way beyond, and in opposition to the normal channels of impeachment, elections, court battles. It can only be stopped by a sustained movement in the millions, becoming ungovernable and creating a political crisis until this regime is removed. And while all that won’t end white supremacy, it could knock this fascist juggernaut off the tracks. This is the defining struggle of our time.
But what then? Are our only options finding different kinds of alliances between the various white supremacies (and their corresponding regions, cultures, etc) that could ameliorate this situation? If there are really all these different kind of white supremacies, do we have to patiently go down the line and uproot them one by one?
Beneath it all, these white supremacies and their corresponding regional interests, cultures, and ideas all stem from ways that the ruling classes have aimed to organize people to meet the needs of capital. And as long as we maintain this capitalist-imperialist system, these various interests will be battling it out for influence and control as the people, and especially those targeted by white supremacy, bear the violence of these struggles.
But if we stop maintaining this system, if we replace this with a different system based on the needs of humanity and the planet, then we could resolve the fundamental structures giving rise to all of this and wage a substantial assault white supremacy from every angle. We could even use some of this lopsidedness and fissures as engines for change.
Bob Avakian has said: “We hear from masses of people — and I’ve seen this in reports recently — statements or sentiments along the following lines: “I know revolution is needed,” or “I know revolution is what’s gotta happen at some point,” but “what do we do now, what do we do in the meantime?”
Answer? Make revolution. Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. Prepare minds and organize forces for the time when a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people, in the millions and millions, emerges. Work actively and consciously to bring this time closer and to bring things to where we are in the best position to act decisively when this does come about. Devote your life, energy, daring and creativity to confronting, fighting through and overcoming the obstacles to making this happen, and to winning more and more people to doing the same.”
A force basing itself in the emancipation of all of humanity can radically change the whole equation of power, even as that force must address (not pander to) these regional variations. This might seem almost too simple, but it’s directness — directly aimed at the fundamental contradictions of this system — are part of its beauty and part of why this path is possible. Actually accomplishing this will be an enormous and complex struggle. It will take conscious struggle in every realm, in every region, and around the world. But that doesn’t negate its basic simplicity. This is what the communist revolution sets out to do. There is a very important universal element to this strategy and for the sake of clarity, it’s worth contrasting this communist strategy, and its potential ability to unite millions across this country with the ‘universality’ of Trump’s White supremacy.
Trump’s transactionality, based in the “New York state of mind,” that we’ve discussed here provides his worldview with a certain perceived universality. And this is a key element of its strength. Even as it eviscerates communities of color and destroys the lives of untold millions of Black and Brown people, it reinforces a delusional aspiration where anyone can conceivably gain power, and anyone with power can chart the course. Historically this conception has been useful in opposition to some of the more blatant forms of white supremacy: promoting Black entrepreneurship, elements of cultural nationalism, and ‘tolerance’ even as Black people in the South were tied to the land, buried under the debt of sharecropping and lynched for any reason a white man could conceive. But those differences don’t erase the white supremacy that prevails in both systems of thought, the interdependence of these two white supremacies, nor the categorical subjugation of Black people which both serve.
Meanwhile the “left” version of this transactionality has gained enormous traction, with detrimental effects. With only an implicit embrace of crude capitalism, people are being led to celebrate the commodification of identities and individual human beings, and even turn oppression itself into a commodity to be traded for economic or political capital. Not only does this funhouse mirror of Trump’s mindset provide a horrifying vision of one possible future should it somehow become dominant, but it serves to divide and paralyze people who should be acting together to create a radically better future.
Bob Avakian’s New Communism provides a radically different universality. One where we are all in this together and where we can create a radically better world, building vibrant and diverse cultures, traditions and communities on the basis of a shared humanity, a shared planet, and the emancipation of humanity from all oppression and exploitation.