YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

December 4, 2014

“Race relations” as managed by the Left

whitepolice[This is the first of two blogs on the subject of race relations after Ferguson. See https://clarespark.com/2014/11/25/reflections-on-the-ferguson-aftermath/.%5D

Is there a thread linking the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner cases?

This blog is about the horrific consequences of abandoning the widely differing details of each of these deaths, in favor of collapsing unique events into the discourse of “race relations.”  This, along with securitizing mortgages, was a practice initiated by the white liberal establishment in response to thuggish “cultural nationalists” who mounted urban race riots in the mid to late 1960s. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of legal integration was annexed to the Pan Africanism of “black power” with the blessing of cultural anthropology and the Democratic Party. This recent history, documented in widely available books, has either been ignored or forgotten or buried. For my blogs on this transformation see https://clarespark.com/2009/10/31/the-offing-of-martin-luther-king-jr-and-ralph-bunche/ and  especially https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/ .

The most elite universities and foundations came up with the idea co-opting the mob’s “leaders.”  Along with this mystification that erased individual differences for the sake of the organic community/multiculturalism/social stability/group cohesion, came the ratification of a certain kind of reactionary nationalism.

Recall that for decades, Nazis and “fascists” were believed to be produced by excessive “nationalism.” Only a few voices bothered to make distinctions between contrasting forms of “nationalism.” The anti-slavery Senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner, was one of these. Oddly the late historian Eric Hobsbawm was another, but he was arguing from the communist Left, whereas Sumner thought of himself as a moderate conservative.

First, Charles Sumner: For the lawyer Sumner, an admirer of the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution (that he viewed as having the force of law, affirming human equality and negating slavery), the state had limited functions: national security and the protection of individual human rights (that meant equality before the law, rich and poor alike). He was also a modernizer who believed that all Americans deserved an excellent free education. See https://clarespark.com/2009/10/05/charles-sumner-moderate-conservative-on-lifelong-learning/. For Sumner’s view of railroads as modern improvements see https://clarespark.com/2013/11/30/railroading-captain-ahab/, and https://clarespark.com/2008/05/03/margoth-vs-robert-e-lee/.  I see Sumner as a proponent of limited government. Were he alive today, he might be a libertarian with a bias in favor of meritocracy; he would surely be enraged by the inferior educations tolerated in ghetto schools. Sumner was a man of the Enlightenment, as was his intellectual descendant Walter Lippmann (see https://clarespark.com/2009/08/19/noam-chomskys-misrepresentation-of-walter-lippmanns-chief-ideas-on-manufacturing-consent/.)

radicalrepublicans

Second, Eric Hobsbawm, who made crucial distinctions between liberal nationalism and conservative nationalism in a widely read Nation article: Liberal nationalism, unlike its conservative form, was about reducing privilege, step by step. Conservative nationalism was solely about the control of territory and resources, in competition with other states.

The cultural nationalism favored by today’s liberal elites who  push “multiculturalism” based on racial identity or similar forms of artificial “community” (like affinity groups), would have to be rejected by that forgotten man, Sumner.  Hobsbawm would probably go along with the ethnicity/race craze that has substituted for class analysis since the days of the Popular Front, even though 1930s Marxist-Leninists were strongly anti-racist before they got their marching orders from Stalin to bond with their prior class enemies, the “anti-fascist [imperialist, racist] bourgeoisie.”

Then the New Left came along, allegedly the friends of the downtrodden. Those who had benefited from prestigious educations went on to fight for the commanding heights of academe and journalism, which they now occupy, having been tolerated by weak-kneed liberals (conservatives having been banished from the respectable humanities owing to their “McCarthyism”). Their students have been indoctrinated into the belief that “African Americans” (a Pan-African term) are a cohesive whole, each one oppressed by “Whitey.” Some of these new model “anti-racists” even write popular television shows in which blacks not only enjoy interracial sex or marry with whites, but dominate them, sometimes behind the scenes (Scandal comes to mind: will Olivia Pope and her “gladiators”–other liberals masquerading as moderate Republicans– ever escape from her father’s net?).

Even some anchors on Fox News Channel accept the premises of identity politics: the police should “look like” the communities where they enforce the law, as if “white people” need to be reined in or “balanced” by members of minority groups. (Joe Hicks made two appearances on Fox, mocking such a premise, but he has disappeared from their channel as of this writing.)

unicorn

If historian Michael Burleigh is correct, and the most salient feature of Nazism was the “racial state,” then I will have to drop my cautious use of the term “proto-fascist.” We are in for it, the real thing, shipmates.

cultural-nationalism

The law is now a dead letter, as dead as Charles Sumner’s vision of limited but just government.  (For an academic critique of nationalism that I found on the web see http://professornerdster.com/nationalism-why-wont-you-just-die-seriously/.)

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4 Comments »

  1. Saw this linked on Epstein’s article. This blog is amazing. Thanks!

    Comment by Mitchell Murray — December 9, 2014 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

  2. “the police should “look like” the communities where they enforce the law”
    Caught former NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on PBS NewsHour boasting “And we now have in the New York City Police Department police officers born in 106 countries. So the department is reflecting the population of the city, certainly more than any other city agency is concerned, and we’re proud of that.”
    According to the Historian Quentin Skinner – “For Hobbes, there’s no reason whatever why a representative should have to resemble the persons represented”.
    Its an inversion of democracy. Mussolini found it more convenient to deal with identities – Big Unions, Big Corporation, Big Churches, Big Cultural Organisations, than with the individuals comprising society. For instance, both the the Nazis and the Fascists had the Catholic Church dissolve the organisations which represented Catholic popular political action – the Partito Popolare Italiano and the Zentrum Partei once the Church had achieved its objectives ie a Concordat.
    Classic sellout!

    Comment by Romanoz — December 7, 2014 @ 9:41 am | Reply

  3. Clare,

    You write “This blog is about the horrific consequences of dividing people up by “race,” a practice initiated by the white liberal establishment in response to thuggish “cultural nationalists” who mounted race riots in the mid to late 1960s.”

    Funny, when I think about the origin of race riots my mind turns to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1919, where the white inhabitants burned down the blacks’ part of town.

    On Sumner your attempt to draft him into today’s Republicans’ anarchist wing, the soi disant “libertarians” who so want unregulated pipelines, is a hoot. A religious man, there is no way Sumner would have had any patience with the Ayn Rand atheists, nor with the unwashed Evangelicals of today’s Republican Right.

    He was a Massachusetts Republican then, and he would still be one today. Imagine a young Mitt Romney, but one capable of speaking a full sentence without uttering two lies.

    You are also quite incorrect to write of Hobsbawn speaking from the Communist left. He was indeed a member of two or three Communist Parties for many years, but far from speaking for them he was more likely to lecture them on true Marxism or some such nonsense.

    -dlj.

    Comment by David Lloyd-Jones — December 4, 2014 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

    • Did you read my blog or the links? I was not writing about the origins of race riots, but about an attempt by the liberal establishment to co-opt “black power”-initiated race riots in the mid-1960s. As for Sumner, I see him as more of a libertarian than an anarchist. He was ahead of his time then and now. I have numerous blogs on Hobsbawm, whose tetralogy I waded through carefully. He wrote like a social democrat, though that was in contradiction to his article in the NATION. See for example https://clarespark.com/2012/11/23/historians-vs-pundits-the-eric-hobsbawm-synthesis/. I have other blogs on him as well. Most of this website is a critique of racism in America, including confusing modern versions of racism masked as anti-racism.

      Comment by clarelspark — December 4, 2014 @ 10:08 pm | Reply


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