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Putting the Political Trump Into Perspective: The Republican Party 1854-2016 (Part I)
Where in the world did Donald Trump come from? Although that may be a question that many of the MSNBC crowd, as I call them (the American center-left), may be asking themselves,---"What ever happened to the 'Party of Lincoln?'---I rather think that is beside the point; since I maintain that the "Party of Lincoln," as such never existed, as I have set out to show.
Donald Trump is a rich, white American man, who, during the primaries, ran an aggressive, anti-Republican Establishment, populist campaign that brought him a lot of success, so much success that he is, of course, the Republican nominee running against Secretary Clinton.
In my opinion, Mr. Trump's campaign, in typical Republican fashion, tapped into a wellspring of nativism and racism. This racism was not a betrayal of the "Party of Lincoln," in my view becasue, although the Republican Party of the nineteenth century was the abolitionist party,---as against the Democrats (especially the Southern Democrats)---I contend that the abolitionism of the former was more utilitarian than moral.
As we try to figure out the origin of the racism, which Trump and the Republican party has been tapping into for some fifty years now, there is critical understanding we must have.
White anti-black racism has always been more bitter and intense, in the United States of America, than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. The reason for that is because, in North America, the dominant European founding colonial power was England.
England was different from all other European countries that founded colonies in the Western Hemisphere---different from France, different from Spain, different from Portugal, different from Holland, different from Sweden, etc.
England's singular difference was the fact that its initial labor force was made up of enslaved European/British "white" workers (indentured servants).
England initially used "white" slaves because, unlike all other European countries, it had the surplus population.
England had the surplus population because of the aggressive land privatizations (including "enclosures") that I previously mentioned, that were separating millions of "peasants" from the land.
As we noted before, according to historian Howard Zinn, more than half of the Europeans that came to America during the colonial period, say 1619-1776, came as indentured servants.
In Parts G & H we talked about how, in North America, the Euro-American elite had come under interracial class-based resistance from enslaved blacks, enslaved whites ("indentured servants"), and even Native Americans.
In order for the "one percent" to protect themselves from this, they constructed what we might call a middle management layer, to act as what is called a social buffer. This "middle management" layer was drafted from a portion of the oppressed that happened to share the same skin color. This is the origin of the concept of "whiteness."
"Whiteness" as a form of identification or self-identification had not existed anywhere in the world before its legal creation in the late-seventeenth/early-eighteenth century British-American colonies.
The Caribbean and Latin America (Central America and South America)
In these regions of the Western Hemisphere, differences in geography and demographics compelled the colonial projects in a different direction. While regimes of "white" supremacy and slavery was set up in these regions (especially in the Caribbean islands), the "middle management" layer was put together in a different way.
The Europeans in the Caribbean found themselves vastly outnumbered by Africans, by ratios of ten-to-one or more. The colonials, therefore, had to draft their middle management layer by incorporating a segment of the African population.
This process resulted in a mixed-race population of so-called "mulattoes," or "coloreds," who were promoted to middle class status, along with some free blacks. Remember, only England had surplus population which was initially used as slave labor ("white" skinned indentured servants).
As a result, in the Caribbean there was no lynch terror and no formal racial segregation, as in the United States. In North America the Euro-American elite did not have to incorporate Africans (or Indians) into its protective middle management labor.
It is the difference between what Theodore Allen called national oppression, as in the Caribbean (and to a lesser extent Latin America), where you oppress a group but recognize social differences within that group and you honor the privileges of that group's elite; and racial oppression, in which you do not recognize any internal social distinctions and you subject the entire group to the exact same degree of marginalization.
For further reading on all of this, I would recommend a two-volume work by Theodore Allen called The Invention of the White Race, with special attention on volume II: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America.
This is the source of the primordial pool of racism and nativism, which Donald Trump is tapping into today (through "dog-whistling"), and which the Republican party had been feeding on for nearly fifty years, starting with the Nixon Presidential campaign, with the "Southern Strategy."
Its like this:
- In the British colonial America, across the seventeenth century, black slaves, white slaves ("indentured servants"), and hunted Native Americans for that matter, toiled together in hell.
- When the Euro-American elite broke up this class solidarity---which was directed at the "one percent"---with the construction of a "middle management" layer based on race, "whiteness," blacks were left to burn in hell alone.
- With the end of the American Civil War, shortly thereafter (1870s-1930s), the white working class was returned to hell through re-enslavement. I call these years the re-enslavement of the white working class in the Northern industrial employment sector. In Part D I gave some of the factors that caused me to draw that conclusion.
- This is may not be widely known, but black Americans were delivered back to the hell of slavery with the convict leasing system in the South (see, Blackmon, Douglas A. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II).
- The point is that in post-revolutionary America, even hell is segregated.
It could be that this period, the 1870s-1930s (re-enslavement of white working class in the Northern industrial sector) is a source---not necessarily The source---of what is sometimes called white racial resentment, or more strikingly white rage.
This only becomes comprehensible if you can imagine that there is a component of American white racial resentment that blames black people for white working class re-enslavement over the course of the 1870s-1930s---as opposed to the system itself which enslaved both of us.
And, because, as I said, even hell is segregated in post-revolutionary America, this strain of white racial resentment must also erroneously think that black Americans were wisked off to heaven after the Civil War, as whites in the Northern industrial sector were dragged back to hell.
Does that make sense?
Thank you for reading. On to Part J.