"But, over time, when all has wound itself down, nations disappear."
~Honoré de Balzac, The Bureaucrats
[This essay was previously written in 2016, when I was in Paris, France.
I deliberately left my country or origin, the United States, knowing full
Well that Trump would be elected and that eventually a political and
domestic catastrophe would occur leading to another American Civil War or the dissolution of the United States as a Republic. The original essay begins after the prologue LLT Jan. 12, 2021]
If there was a grim irony in world history in the riotous circus on the Capital grounds, it was when one of the rioters took down the American flag and hoisted up on a tall mental flagpole in the cold January wind, a flag with a blue background with the name TRUMP in white bold letters. Not even Hitler and Mussolini would have allowed their names to be embossed on their radical fascist flags. But the man, Trump, is not like those men whom he aspired be like during all his pitiful, adult life. Trump is more in comparison to Jim Jones, that pathologically disturbed American religious minister was able to sway those hundreds of poor American Black people and White American working-class poor who followed him for guidance out of their poverty. It was in Guyana, in a commune that he created in Jonestown, that Jones, knowing that his days were numbered by the eventual assault of the American authorities, forced his 900 and some followers to take commit suicide by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid, the horror unleashed on the outskirts of a jungle. There was also a jungle of a different kind in Rome before the first Roman Civil War. The Roman historian, Appain, described how the poor and working class ancient Romans who in my observation are in many ways similar in pathos and misery like millions of modern Americans who live aimlessly and are tired of their daily squalor, in that he wrote of his own people of his time—“The poor were overwhelmed with a feeling of great pity – along with some reflections that as for themselves, they were no longer citizens equals under the law, but slaves to the power of the rich…” which ultimately resulted in a mob revolt in the Capital of Rome on December 9th, 100 B.C. in which a corrupted system of an election of Roman consults in which the loser, Glaucia, had his mob of thugs kill the elected winner of the election, Memmius and his followers, clubbed and beaten to death. A similar occurrence took place at the United States Capital in the United States, when thousands of fascistic Americans surged upon Capital steps in the hallways of the Capital building threatening and in on case murdering the policeman, Brian David Sicknick, bludgeoning him to death. There was not one word of remorse or regret from the sociopath and narcissistic predator, Donald J. Trump, the American President.
When one studies the attempt at insurrection in the United States’ Capital on January 6th, 2021, we should consider that a part of responsibility lay with the political decadence and erosion of American Liberalism or what is fashionably known in the Western world as neo-liberalism. Regarding the dangerous and consequence of a naïve political liberalism that has not swept away legally or otherwise fascist nationalism or ethnic cleansing it was the imminent and brilliant Italian Marxist philosopher, Domenico Losurdo who reminds us about the first American Civil War and what was not achieved in which he wrote:
Obviously, in this context the most striking case was the succession
of the South of the United States, which effected advancing liberal slogans
in defense of the natural right to self-government and the peaceful
enjoyment of property. The North’s military victory did not terminate
the conflict. Supporters of white supremacy immediately reacted to the
fleeting advent of multiracial democracy not only with lynchings and
anti-black terrorism unleashed by the Ku Klux Klan, but by resorting to
guerrilla warfare and armed violence.
What happen on January 6th, 2021 in the Capital of the Untied States is not a surprise in the historical sense, but whose political contradictions of the country itself, led to its political and social implosion.
All civil wars are preceded by economic inequality, territorial disputes, and the repression of civil liberties as the old order begins its decline. Considering the actual possibility of a Second American Civil War, anyone interested in American history should understand the ramifications of such a civil war with its fratricide and shedding of American citizens’ blood -- both of which would have massive repercussions and reverberations throughout the world.
Not that the two major political parties would bear total responsibility for a modern American civil war, since the main divisive issues go beyond the Democrats 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 actually 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 now coming to the forefront, issues which could lead to another civil war, only far more ferocious than the initial 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 deeply embedded within the very foundations of American history.
With this historian’s perspective, I would like to examine the central issue of White American Nationalism which is part of the crises that have 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 seeds of such a destructive eruption. Such a racist nationalism like white nationalism can be compared 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 among the politically backward American people, who although they reveal a social naiveté, no longer believe in their corrupt and decadent government. As we have seen, there are incendiary 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 his assassination -- there has been an ongoing struggle within the dominant culture, that being Anglo-American culture, how to integrate and live amicably with various races and ethnicities -- African Americans, 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. Therefore, in describing history or writing about an historical crisis, we must understand that describing the beginning of a civil war or any other war is not an impulse of poetry or storytelling, but an understanding fueled by 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. detached demeanor, without being sufficiently naïve to believe that a certain emotionalism isnot also there in the observation. In William L. Shirer's seminal classical work The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, the journalist describes how Hitler saw the German crisis that had arisen after Germany’s defeat during World War I; how the disastrous Great Depression destroyed the German people especially the German working class; and how it affected him.
Commenting about Hitler’s reaction of that period, Shirer states: To him the empire was sinking into a “foul morass”. It could only be saved if the 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 crisis, various political groups or individuals look for a scapegoat to give credence to their racism and social pathology with its attendant lack of social self-esteem. The New York Times ofJuly 22, 2016 portrayed telling public remarks given by the Republican Presidential aspirantDonald J Trump thusly: “In the speech, parts of which the campaign released..., 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 Times news article then quoted passages from Trump’s acceptance speech as the Republican Presidential nomination, which stressed his political phrase “America First” as a foreign policy theme: “It is time to show the whole world that America is back," Trump stated on that occasion — "bigger, and better and stronger than ever before”.
This nationalistic rhetoric, replete with jingoistic buzzwords, arguably plays on the anxieties of white working class voters who feel socially and politically marginalized. Thus, we see there are those who accept 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 fueled by previous presidential administrations, including the Obama regime. Let me say this: White Nationalism was therefore created not by Trump but by the various political forces that came before him. Obama in particular, Trump's predecessor in the Oval Office, with his vacillations on class and race issues in the United States, is also responsible for rising racial tensions. Indeed, Obama appears to rationalize 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 turn brings about a warped competitiveness through racist behavior and racist violence.
When I speak of a new American civil war, I am not necessarily stressing only the violent aspects of sectarian violence and fratricide, or that such chaos is suddenly among us now. Yes it has in many ways already arrived. However, 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 hatred, racist bigotry and individualistic antagonisms towards the collective community. White Nationalism is therefore tied to the very essence of the United States’ past and present history. During the Reconstruction 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 gave their lives for on the battlefields. Now, we have seen waves of new cumulative 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 USA's 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 Trump and their underlings did 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 of a passage in Thucydides' THE HISTORY OF THE PELOPPONESIAN WAR in which he wrote:
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 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 civil war is an undertaking that should be taken seriously; 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 march 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 basis by the American police forces against African American men and women, is a deadly methodology not quelled by the American leadership, be it government under the auspices of Trump or Obama his predecessor. 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, ignoring the social rights and the question of autonomation for national minorities living in America.
With the advent of the rising class struggle now simmering into random and mass violence in America, with the rise of antisocial 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 and various militias 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.
Several years ago, in an Op-ed commentary in the LA Times, James Kirchich presciently observed:
“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”.
Kirchich went on to speculate 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 the pundit seemed to 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 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 which were made up of sergeants and ordinary Russian soldiers who 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 addition to my mention of white nationalism in the Southern states, it should also be noted about the continual history of overall political repression in the USA's Eastern states, where not only minorities but even white Americans feel the repression in all its general terms. Back in 1847, Karl Marx wrote a critique of the inequality in the eastern United States, 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 extremist political groups and government agencies with their own political agendas, then such a second civil war is not a moot idea but a living emerging fact. I can say as an American, here, and now, I smell the stench of civil war.