The Second American Civil War and White Nationalism


But, over time, when all has wound itself down, nations disappear.
From The Bureaucrats by Honoré de Balzac.

All civil wars are preceded by economic inequality, territorial disputes and the repression of civil liberties, as the old order begins its decline.  In the case of the actual possibility of a Second American Civil War, anyone who is interested in American history, should understand the ramifications of such a civil war with its fratricide and shedding of American citizens’ blood, and which would have repercussions throughout the world. Not that the two major parties would bear the total responsibility for a modern, American civil war, for the main divisive issues go beyond the Democrat and Republican parties.  As Lenin put it so bluntly and succinctly “Since the emancipation of the Negroes, the distinction between the two parties has been diminishing… Their fight has not had any serious importance for the mass of the people.  The people have been deceived and diverted from their vital interests by means of spectacular and meaningless duels between the two bourgeois parties”. What Lenin was saying about the manipulation of the American political system was that the two parties’ main concern was how to succeed in creating a more ‘rewarding’ capitalist economy that would progress towards a unilateral, hegemonic world power.                    

 What is now taking place in terms of the political schisms in both parties is only part of the broader issues which is now coming to the forefront in 2016 and which could lead to another civil war, only more ferocious than the American civil war from 1861 to 1865. What I see happening in terms of the breakdown of the monolithic capitalist system in the United States is a break-up of the country into five to six regional nation-states based on economic, social and political interests.  Unlike the break-up of the Soviet Union, it will be a more embittering political divorce because of historical class divisions and racial biases, including racist bigotry that is embedded within the foundations of American history.  It is with this historian’s view in mind that I would like to examine the central issue of White American Nationalism which is part of the crises that has emerged  in modern America. White Nationalism is not a unique phenomenon, for one only has to study the undertones of German nationalism, which wedded itself to Nationalist Socialism under the Third Reich, to see the core or seed of a destructive eruption. Such a racist nationalism like white nationalism can be seen as something akin to an earthquake that erupts and breaks apart not only the earth’s surface, but destroys living and working infrastructures, as well as killing masses of human populations.  It is this unleashing of such a political earthquake that has exhibited itself in the politically backward American people, who although they reveal a social naiveté, no longer believe in their corrupt and decadent government. There are opportunists in the embittered Republican Party and self-serving neo-liberals in the Democratic Party who are manipulating the American people to their advantage.

Since the Reconstruction period after the death of Lincoln brought about by assassination, there has been an ongoing struggle within the dominant culture, that being Anglo-American culture, as to how to integrate and live amicably with African Americans as well as Mexican Americans, Native Americans and other national minorities.  What should be understood is that different ethnic groups or races are not “people of color” but national minorities living within a centralized nation-state that supposedly gives human dignity and human rights to all peoples.  However, history being what it is, there is a difference between what one idealizes about in history, and what is actual fact in the human condition.  In other words, in describing history or writing about a historical crises, we must understand that describing the beginning of a civil war or a war is not an impulse of poetry or storytelling, but an understanding with factual evidence of what has occurred or might possibly occur in any human event. In this sense, when I write about White Nationalism and the possibility of a second American civil war, I admit the need to study the issues with a calm demeanor, without being naïve that a certain emotionalism is also there in the observation.

In the seminal, classical work The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, the journalist describes how Hitler saw the German crises that had arisen after Germany’s defeat during World War I and how the disastrous Great Depression destroyed the German people, especially the German working class, and how it affected him. Shirer comments about Hitler’s reaction of that period by stating:

To him the empire was sinking into a “foul morass”.  It could only be Saved only if he master race, the Germans, reasserted their old absolute Authority.  The non-German races, especially the Slavs and above all the Czechs, were an inferior people. It was up to the Germans to rule them with an iron hand…”

Shirer was instructing us on how during a country’s economic and cultural decline or crises, various political groups or individuals look for a scapegoat to give credence to their racism and social-pathology with its lack of social self-esteem.  In The New York Times (Friday, July 22, 2016) the journalists wrote about Trump as the Republican presidential nomination that “In the speech, parts of which the campaign released on Thursday afternoon, he dwells particularly on illegal immigrants and lawless Americans, saying they are as dangerous for the nation’s security as the Islamic State and refugees”.  The news article then went on to quote passages from Trump’s acceptance speech, as the Republican presidential nomination, which stressed his political phrase  “America First”, as a foreign policy theme,  in which he said  “It is time to show the whole world that America is back — bigger, and better and stronger than ever before”.   This nationalistic jingoism arguably plays on the anxieties of white working class voters who feel socially and politically marginalized.   Thus, we can see that there are those who see Trump’s rhetoric as unique in his ways regarding racism and nationalism.

Any kind of language that signals the so-called greatness of the American theme plays well to millions of Americans who see themselves already as “Exceptional” and which has been fueled by previous presidential administrations, including the Obama regime. White Nationalism was created therefore not by Trump but by the various political forces that came before him.  Obama in particular, with his vacillation on class and race issues in the United States, is also responsible for rising of racial tensions. Obama rationalizes that the American people are a unified people which is politically delusional on his part. 

Therefore any kind of racist nationalism, be it white or otherwise, is created by the very environment from which it has risen from through class antagonisms and the lack of economic parity, which in turns brings about a warped competiveness through racist behavior and racist violence. 

When I speak of a new American civil war, I am not stressing only the violent aspects of sectarian and fratricide, or that such a chaos is suddenly among us now.  What I am referring to is a dialectical or slow-to-sudden eruption that takes place in any given nation-state due to national self-hatred destruction brought about by class hatreds, racist bigotry and individualistic antagonism towards the collective community.  White Nationalism is therefore tied to the very essence of the United States’ past and present history. During the Reconstructed period after the first American Civil War, “Black Codes” were created in Southern states that desired to control the African American wages and new won freedoms that African American Union soldiers give their lives for on the battlefields.    Now, in 2016 there is a new repression against Black Americans, including Mexican immigrants, Mexican Americans and Muslim Americans from Iraq, Syria and beyond and which has resulted in the butchery of these people on the streets of America, in their homes, places of worship and places to which they go to enjoy their culture interests. The American police policies are part of the overall enforcement of the capitalist, American system which perpetuates such crimes against national minorities in the United States, and which Obama and his underlings do not take responsibility for, and which lays open fascist terror from Neo-Nazi groups, nationalist minority terror cells and overseas terrorist groups that seek revenge.  I am reminded by a passage in Thucydides:’ THE HISTORY OF THE PELOPONESIAN WAR in which he wrote what:

So civil war broke out in the cities, and the later revolutionaries, with previous examples before their eyes, devised new ideas which went far beyond earlier ones, so elaborate were their enterprises, so novel their revenges.  Words changed their ordinary meanings and were construed in new senses.  Reckless daring passed for the courage of a loyal partisan, far-sighted hesitation was the  excuse of a coward, moderation was the pretext of the unmanly, the power to see all sides of a question was complete inability  to act… The cause of all these evils were love of power due to ambition and greed, which led to the rivalries form which party  spirit sprung… So civil war gave birth to every kind of iniquity in the Greek world.

When one looks back at ancient or even modern history, it is not so much that we recognize that history repeats itself, but that such new historical periods can even be more lethal or even farcical without any deep, tragic undertones. Regarding the case for a second civil war emerging within in the United States, we should understand that civil war is an undertaking that should be taken seriously, for it is not a dinner party between ladies and gentlemen, but an interlocking of killing and general abuse among the citizenry on a massive scale.  Civil war is not a scenario for the kind hearted and humanist, but a political fight and struggle to the death.

The American youth who have marched in the streets against the oppression of national minorities in America is part of the enrichment of the overall American struggle, regardless of whether it lacks genius or professional, revolutionary leadership. What thousands and thousands of American youth understand, along with segments or swaths of the working class, is that the bigotry and anti-social agitation, along with the brutality almost on a daily bases by the American police forces against African American men and women, is a deadly methodology that is not quelled by the American government under the auspices of Obama.  Then, what we observe through the American media, regardless of its left or right attitudes, is that racism, especially white nationalism is part of the panorama of the growth of American fascism that has integrated itself in much of the social fabric of American society. With the entrenchment of the far right in the Republican Party and the neo-liberalism that has intentionally destroyed the ranks of progressives within the Democratic Party, we can observe the vast polarization of America with a dominant Anglo-American culture consumed with its smugness, and who ignores the social rights and the question of autonomisation for national minorities who live in America.

With the advent of the rising class struggle that is simmering into random and mass violence in America, with the rise of anti-social rhetoric by white nationalists goaded on by either the bigoted police forces or extremists within the Republican Party, or with the self-righteous oligarchs and neo-liberals in the Democrat Party who view themselves as the ‘Savior’ of the Union, we are beginning to see the awakening of the Second American Civil War.

Finally with the adventurous anarchists or minority terrorist cells within the United States that condone mass killings of innocent American civilians, then one might ask on which side will the American military eventually find itself on, should a civil war in the United States become a somber reality. 

In an Op-ed editorial in the LA Times written by James Kirchich writes

“Americans viewing the recent failed coup attempt in Turkey as some exotic foreign news story - the latest, violent yet hardly unusual political development to occur in a region constantly beset by turmoil - should pause to consider that the prospect of similar instability would not be unfathomable in this country if Donald Trump were to win the presidency”.

What the journalist thinks is that the Pentagon generals would support liberal democracy against the brazen “character” that Putin once referred to, when alluding to the personality of Trump. What Mr. Kirchich fails to understand is that the American generals are going to take the side that merges with their own self-interest regarding the military industrial complex.  That is not to say that there are not officers who would not support a more progressive side in a civil war, but that would be found more among the NCOs’ and enlisted men. It should be remembered that it was the Soviet Soldiers' Committees that were made up of sergeants and ordinary Russian soldiers that supported the Russian revolution.  A military coup d’ etat is not about spreading self-determination and liberation, it is about maintaining martial law and civilian obedience to military authority.

In my mention of white nationalism in the Southern states, it should also be noted about the continual history of overall political repression in the eastern states, where not only minorities but even white Americans feel the repression in all its general terms.  In 1847, Marx wrote a critique of the inequality in the eastern United States that is still alive and thriving under the auspices of American imperialism.  In his letter Marx stated “Nowhere, either does social inequality obtrude itself more harshly than in the eastern states of North America, because nowhere is it less disguised by political inequality”  In modern times in the United States with its economic stagnation within the interior, with a mediocre education system in further decline and the battling of racial tensions among the American people who have sided with various divisive political groups and government agencies with their own political agendas, then such a second civil war is not a mute idea but a living emerging fact. I can say as an American that I smell the scent of civil war.