As long as ignorance about this continent’s colonization is perpetuated, as long as our society is conditioned to overlook the scars that continue to define it, the violence we’ve seen this month will persist. And as the U.S. empire’s decline continues, the reaction from a threatened settler-colonial apparatus will make the violence keep getting worse. When the latest product of the online hate sphere shot up a store in Buffalo, New York last week, killing ten black people, he was acting on behalf of this reaction. He was carrying out the logical conclusion of the belief that whites have a right to rule this land, and that their rule must be maintained by any means necessary.
“It is hard to understand the nationalistic ocean in which you swim, and it bleeds into your understanding of history,” observes the YouTuber Hello Future Me in his recent video about Zuko, the prince of the genocidal Fire Nation from the anti-imperialist series Avatar: The Last Airbender. “Fire Nation children are taught that the Air Nomads had a military, that it was not a genocide, it was a fair fight. And Zuko was likely taught the same. In Nazi Germany, they made sure to depict the Jews as a nefarious, rich, powerful group, undermining the German people and society, rather than the reality: a diaspora of disconnected small communities….when Auschwitz workers were asked how they could possibly participate in these atrocities against civilians, they answered that to them, enemies were everywhere. They were told they came from every walk of life, they were academics and they were businessmen, not just soldiers. They were trying to destroy their people in every way culturally and socially. And so the line between civilian and soldier simply disappeared. They were all enemies of the state. That’s the sort of belief that Zuko was brought up with. An honorable war with the goal of spreading prosperity, and that there never was a genocide, but a war against those in the way of progress. And this is, in a way, a kind of child abuse. Lying to them about the world, and dictating their role in it.”
Such is the way that U.S. children are brought up. The school system doesn’t give them adequate access to information about the genocide of indigenous people, or about the ongoing history of institutional racism in this country. A 2014 study found that in all states, schools implicitly teach that there was no genocide, virtually omitting the term and portraying the violence as having been part of an inevitable conflict. “All of the states are teaching that there were civil ways to end problems,” said professor Sarah Shear about the curriculum contents documented within the study, “and that the Indian problem was dealt with nicely.” Avatar is art imitating life, the life of denial and structural violence that we in the core of imperialism navigate.
Without the educational tools to give Americans awareness of white supremacy’s existence, and with reactionary pundits currently seeking to stir up hostility towards the very concept of white supremacy, atrocities like the Buffalo shooting are becoming more common. The idea that school curriculum must be censored in order to prevent the proliferation of “critical race theory,” a specifically legal phrase that reactionaries portray as encompassing every statement arguing for institutional racism still existing, has led to rampant paranoia. If someone believes there’s a conspiracy to divide us by our race through promoting anti-American disinformation, they can easily believe there’s a conspiracy to replace white people, the lie that motivated the Buffalo shooter.
The racist propaganda proliferated by Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, and other reactionary demagogues has the goal of preserving the demographic balance that the settler state depends on. To maintain its power, the settler state requires a numerical and land control advantage for the favored race—the whites—and the ability to exploit the colonized races. The colonized must remain either in the minority, or minoritized, treated as second class citizens so that an apartheid political exclusion can be maintained. The U.S. empire’s internal colonies can’t be allowed to gain the leverage to overtake the imperial hegemon. This is why right after the settler state was pressured into giving civil rights to black people, it created a new Jim Crow in the form of the mass incarceration system. A system that only partly consists of the infamously high-proportioned U.S. prison population; there are millions more who live without civil rights due to having criminal records.
In response to this persecution, as well as to the disproportionate poverty and police brutality that keep getting worse for America’s internal colonies, these colonies have been rising up. The 2020 George Floyd protests were the largest demonstrations in the history of the country. In reaction, the settler power apparatus has been waging counterrevolutionary war against this stirring decolonial revolt. The Minneapolis riots led to the creation of a mercenary company that’s been stalking and intimidating local activists, setting a precedent for nationwide use of unaccountable paramilitaries against liberation movements. Reactionaries are manufacturing paranoia about a plot to destroy America through racial police atrocity stories, which they claim are fabricated. It’s like how Umberto Eco describes fascism’s conspiratorial mentality:
To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the U.S., a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.
There is indeed an effort to bring about the end of the United States, but it’s not the product of an engineered outside destabilization scheme as the fascists imagine. It’s merely the inevitable outcome of the colonial contradiction in this country. The idea that the United States is a prison of nations, and that it must be abolished and replaced with a socialist federation of formerly colonized nations, is the position of communists who’ve correctly analyzed our conditions. And it will naturally gain mass support from a populace that’s increasingly suffering from the impacts of America’s decline. The solution is to scrap this failing project of the settler state, and build our society anew under the guidance of a vanguard party.
This is the realization that most colonized peoples, as well as most of the whites who are exploited by capitalism, will come to as they gain class consciousness. But as Eco observed, fascism can gain support for its hateful ideas by tapping into the frustrated middle class. By reaching out to the members of the labor aristocracy, the petty bourgeoisie, or those who aspire to be part of these classes, and telling them that they can address the aggravation created by their conditions through waging war against those beneath them. These useful idiots of capitalism get radicalized into being the footsoldiers in the counterrevolutionary war, whether this means joining a fascist militia or committing lone wolf hate crimes. Either fulfills the goal of terrorizing the revolutionary parts of the masses, which under our conditions disproportionately consist of colonized peoples.
“What does it mean to deconstruct those beliefs?” Hello Future Me says. “Beliefs that are deeply tied to your understanding of how the world works, and your understanding of yourself? The psychology of radicalization and deradicalization helps articulate how this happens….one study [cited in the video] found that cultures which place a value on honor and obedience are more prone to radical nationalistic ideologies because they can more easily exploit people’s fear of losing significance. Deradicalization, then, centers on finding a new significance.” The video cites a paper titled The Psychology of Radicalization and Deradicalization: How Significance Quest Impacts Violent Extremism, which states that “Deradicalization may occur if one came to regard one’s radical means as morally unacceptable, ineffective or both, and hence unlikely to promote one’s significance….deradicalization may reflect a weakening of such influence [by] falling outside of its sphere.”
The only way we can end these racist attacks is by making that sphere of hate nonexistent. Which will require the abolition of the United States, and the construction of a workers state which unifies the oppressed nations against the forces of reaction. Under this post-colonial federation, promoting racist lies won’t be allowed, and the source of the violence will be cut off.
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