American exceptionalism ideology and culture of the 'American dream' must be fought!>
October 21, 2012
American exceptionalism ideology and culture of the 'American dream' must be fought!
by Lil Joe
World market capitalism arose from the 15th - 17th centuries. The so-called Age of Discovery and Exploration was also a period of colonisation and mercantilism, Dynastic and Colonial Rivalries and Wars. It was a period also of economic transition and subsequent political revolutions. These economic transitions were initiated by the establishment of world-market, characterised by rise of world trading merchants, buying from domestic [home] commodity producers that resulted in world commodities mediated by them and they as 'middle man' having the bulk of money bringing them to economic dominance, first in the Netherlands. The Spaniards had a global empire, primarily in South America, but they extracted wealth in the form of gold for its basis, rather than use in trade. The English became the nation of merchants in connection to small commodity production that was displaced by capitalist Co-operations; capitalist Co-operations evolved into capitalist Manufacture and Manufacture into and displaced by capitalist large-scale Industrial commodity production on the basis of wage labour. Industrial capitalists in England came to dominate the world-market displacing the Dutch commercial dominance. Political changes accompanied economical dominance of capital and money, which changes occurred in the Netherlands and in England, then France. These changes were bourgeois representative republics [the Italian city-states, the Netherlands] and by common economic interests with political interests of absolute monarchies [England, France]. The monarchies depended upon the bourgeoisie financially and the bourgeoisie in turn benefited from the rise to political dominance of the realm by absolute monarchs, both for the suppression of rogue fiefdoms and lords of manors with their tolls and taxes, and gotten rid of by the centralisation of bureaucratic-military monarchical States, and also because these monarchies established common frontiers of these centralised States. Absolute monarchies were transitional to the rise of the nation state - eliminating internal tolls, taxes and levies that had previously been established by the lords and barons that merchants had to pay. In the bourgeois's republican States and the centralised governments of absolute monarchies there were continuous territory under single governments single kingdom borders. These borders were the content and outline limits that were to become content of domestic market economies and borders of the bourgeois nation-states. The rising bourgeoisie in the Netherlands, then England, and subsequently France, accomplished bourgeois republican or democratic revolutions. Republics in Italy, the Netherlands and then in France established representative governments. In England in 1644 the Royalty was overthrown by Civil War, then following a brief Restoration imposed from with out the 2nd or so-called Glorious Revolution brought the return of Parliament as the dominate political power, and the monarchy established as subordinate to it. Ditto the House of Lords to the House of Commons. The French Revolution was republican and democratic, the 3rd Estate displaced the Estates-General, superseded by the National Constituent Assembly, the power of the Convention and the Committee of Public Safety fighting the revolution to its logical conclusion by the complete break-up of the gentry and royalty by revolutionary terror. As merchant capital arose but was superseded by industrial capital, finance capital, in connection with both merchant and industrial capital arose in these nations to finance the bourgeois bureaucratic-military State. Government deficit spending was fed to finance capital by national government's systems of taxes appropriation. As in Europe so in the United States the capitalist classes were the ruling classes. But, in the U.S., the nation arose from its beginning as a bourgeois republican state. Here there was never a feudal ruling class or absolute monarchy - England mercantile empire was government by Parliament and not by the monarchy. The American colonies' War of Independence broke the global British mercantile political system. This break from Empire was supported by British industrial capitalists, liberal politicians and economists. The same year in which the Declaration of Independence was written appeared also Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations -1776.
Just as in Nature, one species lives on another; so, in Society, classes do the same. - Dennis Diderot
European history has for thousands of years been a history of class struggles.
The existence of class formations correspond to relations of production and forms of appropriation and distribution of labour power and its products. Class dominante forms of appropriation of surplus labour of the producing classes has occurred through history in corresponding relations of production and to these relations corresponding systems of domination and political repression with corresponding ideological expressions and justifications.
For instance the appropriation of the surplus produce resulting from surplus slave labour e.g. based on relations of production in which the slaves are chattel -owned by landed aristocracies or the State- is justified by the slave-owners and their ideological representatives - priests or philosophers as being the will of god [the Christian Bible and priests, preachers and political powers], caste [the ancient Egypt and the Hindu caste system], or 'by nature' [Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson]. It is thereby presented as justified that the slave owners own the producing classes and thus directly the products of slave labour.
Corvee labour is appropriation of surplus from surplus labour of serfs by the landed aristocrats inheritance as owners of the land forcing landless serfs to work so many uncompensated days of surplus labour on the manor, the manorial system, or fiefdom and other feudal relations such as the rent of land to landless peasants forced to pay rent in kind in 'exchange' for use of land for their production of their own means of subsistence plus the rent or tax or tribute in kinds. These relations of production and power-dependence relationships were justified by caste and religion. The surpluses transferred to the kings, lords of the manor, fiefdom lords and aristocrats were the main forms of appropriation of surplus labour embodied in surplus products; but, as yet, there were no value and surplus value, which emerged from capitalist commodity production on the basis of wage labour.
Capitalist commodity production operates on the basis of wage labour in which the proletariat is the producing class and the capitalists the appropriating class. Surplus labour appropriation is the result of capitalist ownership of the means of social production and a propertyless proletariat are a universal condition. Having no means of production and subsistence of their own workers are compelled to find 'jobs' working for capitalists in order to get money [wages] to purchase means of subsistence -food, clothing, shelter. Conditions for employment force proletarians to work an excess or surplus labour time, that is, unpaid labour time that belongs necessarily to the capitalists, as a condition of employment upon the purchase of the labour power. The labour process is a valorising process, a value adding process.
These relations of production were justified by Renaissance labour theory of property and bourgeois political economy, the ideology of contract and bargain to justify 'exchange' between capitalists's appropriation of labour power on the market, and competition between capitalists and between workers determining the price of labour power. This was ideologically justified as well by the Calvinist work ethic, and even more vulgarised American political economy the ideology of the American dream both to justify expropriation of native American lands and telling 'American workers' this is the 'land of opportunity' as opposed to an 'old world' rigid class/caste society: upward mobility, classless democracy, that if 'Americans' are 'poor' it is their own fault.
In the United States class property is formulated as law and protected by the State e.g. slave owners, land owners, capitalist owners, and have from the very beginning of the republic been guaranteed by law and protected by the State. Hegel made this insightful observation, even though Frederick Jackson Turner drew from it but ignored the expressed political analysis of the State - including in the United States, as well as Europe, being a class State the primary purpose for which is an expression of class conflicts. The historical basis for the legal structure of capitalist owned means of production and subsistence in the United States has been wonderfully analysed by Charles Beard in his Economic History of the Constitution of the United States. I will be drawing from the data and analysis of the Constitution and the expansion of the frontier both from Hegel's insight and Beard's classic, and even to some extent from Turner's "Thesis".
As result of the War of Independence the material premise of U.S. history is the first Thirteen Colonies of British Empire becoming the first Thirteen States. It is not as commonly asserted by demagogues and ideologists of American exceptionalism the Declaration of Independence but the Constitution and it alone that is the fundamental document regarding law and the State. That "All men are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights -among them life, liberty and pursuit of happiness - are nothing but words. Powerful loaded terms and buzz words in American culture, having been internalised as synonymous with American exceptionalism and rugged individualism.
"American" Society and its 'history' is represented in a culture of Manichean symbolism. The language as means by which ideas are transmitted in the culture and thus acculturation is internalised by socialisation through upbringing and educational brainwashing the lie that 'America is the last best hope of mankind', a 'city on a hill' and 'the light of the world', 'the envy of the entire world' and 'leader of the free world', the 'freest nation on earth', 'the world's oldest democracy' and so on. You here this in the electronic media, symbolised in movies and television, and bragged by demagogic politicians both Democrat and Republican in support of U.S. imperialist invasions and occupations of other countries in the name of spreading 'freedom' and 'establishing democracy', but in actuality establishing imperialist suzerainities, lackeys, quislings and bootblacks who supposedly constitute a 'national government.'
'American' children are from the origination of self-consciousness socialised into a belief system of Manichean symbolism by which they are conditioned to emotionally respond with patriotic zeal in a culture of loaded terms. The false belief that the U.S. so-called 'Founding Fathers' were either inspired by 'God' or the most honest, exceptional political geniuses 'of all time'. That they were committed to 'freedom' and 'human rights' as every man's god given right, loaded terms and buzz words connected to emotionally charged symbolism as red herrings diverting working class Americans from empirical consciousness of relations of production and the actual facts of history - the empirical facts and actual property interests of the U.S. founding documents and political institutions as instruments of capitalist class rule.
Political ideological concept of the republican form of governance evolved in different historical conditions in Europe than in the United States. Notwithstanding official State dogma of 'separation of Church and State', in the United States, yet the Church as well as the State are conveyors of an 'American exceptionalist' distortion even of universal bourgeois ideological concepts of 'freedom', and of 'human nature'. This has its theoretical basis in Thomas Hobbes' The Leviathan, John Locke's Treatise on Civil Government and Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws.
"Freedom"! "Equality"! "Rights of Man"! These words are derived from the rising bourgeoisie and its philosophical spokespersons in the European Renaissance and the Enlightenment. The American bourgeoisie and their political representatives, the so-called Founders/ "Founding Fathers" were part and parcel of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment. This is the language that's recited in the Declaration of Independence to appeal to European intellectuals and liberals such as the French materialists and British political economists. The 'original intent' of the language of the Declaration of Independence, which very closely relies on if not plagerised the language of John Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government, was addressed in particular to British intellectuals, the history of the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and the politics of the Revolutions of the 17th Century, the Levelers and John Locke.
American exceptionalism as far as stated ideology and language of the politicians and their declarations and founding documents is therefore not so 'exceptional'. But, the open frontier and extermination of native Americans was unique, and is the basis for the so-called 'American Dream'.
I must recognise in shame that descendants of African slaves in the U.S. are just as much patriotic racists as are descendants of European immigrants. 'Black history month' and 'studies' brag about 'the Buffalo soldiers' and 'Tuskegee Airmen' killing 'Indians' and 'foreigners'. Black Americans in contemporary America are integrated throughout the bureaucratic military State and Armed forces. So are 'Indians' and 'Mexican-American' natives and new immigrants. The so-called 'Dream Act' is in part to recruit 'foreigners' to fill in for the decline in volunteers, inching up on an 'American Foreign Legion' comprised of neo-colonials?
The 'dream' inhering in the expectations of property, fortune and fame among immigrants from Europe served the interests of European as well as American capitalists. The export of Europe's surplus population and their import to the United States was a quid pro quo. The dream of emigrating to America to acquire property and 'make good'/ 'get rich' therefore has its basis - has its historical basis - in racism, genocidal extermination and violent suppression of native Americans and the conquest of Northern Mexico and racist cultural suppression of Mexicans. Manichean symbolism is the negative portrayal of "Indians" as "evil" - violent savages and heathens.
Conversely, Europeans and their American descendants symbolised in Manichean images as good, bearers of 'civilization' and 'Christian salvation. Presently this racism is extended in anti-immigrant hysterical racist hatred of 'Mexicans', who are portrayed as 'aliens' , 'criminals', cheap labour undermining American wages and jobs - thus in this connection threats preventing 'Americans' from achieving 'the American dream'. America as a 'nation of immigrants' -from many comes one' : a nation of immigrants united in flag waving, patriotic imbecility.
Patriotism is racism and American exceptionalism is patriotism. It is the last refuge of the scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson noted, in that it makes the gullible among the producing classes identify with the 'race', culture and 'national interests' of the appropriating classes. Emotion laden buzz words are articulated in demagogic rhetoric of politicians and preachers to invoke pride and sacrifice as 'all Americans must pay their fair share' and sacrifice in promoting so-called national interests and patriotic duty. American workers have internalised the Manichean belief of bourgeois interests in the preservation of capitalism that capitalism in the United States is a 'unique American way of life', in opposition to the Satanist atheism and 'godless communism' as an 'un-American' foreign 'idea'. Communism and 'class warfare' is un-American' and 'evil'.
Political concepts of freedom, free enterprise and contract labour and government by consent of the governed for legitimacy for the use by the possessing classes of State coercion and violence, repression of rebellious producing classes, are in Europe well known to members of all classes to have evolved through class struggles and political revolutions. This is not the case in the United States. In America the flavoring of concepts of 'freedom'/ read 'free enterprise and democracy' were shaped by racial slavery - 'States rights' - and genocidal Westward economic and political expansion: the open ended frontier.
Patriotism is the refuge of the bourgeois ideologists and political demagogues in America only because American workers are socially duped by upbringing and education, both public and private as well as religious institutions, to internalise this patriotism, together with racism and patriarchal monogamous ideology and dysfunctional families being hidden from view, the bullshit about 'the family is the cornerstone of the nation', America is a 'Christian nation', and regard of other nations as economically because culturally inferior to American exceptionalist culture and family values.
[This is not the purpose of this write-up to go into this in detail, but workers who read this are encouraged to Google and read Wilhelm Reich's The Invasion of Compulsory Sex Morality, The Function of the Orgasm and The Mass Psychology of Fascism]
Ancient States, including Rome were aware of the intricacy of religion, patriarchal monogamy and on this institutional basis the ideology of patriarchal family as cornerstone of the race, patriotism and nationalist supremacy and exceptionalism as useful for demagoguery and justification for the patriarchal State. These ideologies changed according to changing of circumstances through wars and class struggle revolutions through the course of European history. Hegel was the first to understand and articulate this, and at the same time applying this to America noted the historical difference between the European class States and the American as yet unformed class State as temporary. He located the temporary difference as the frontier in America postponing the formulation of a similar American class State.
In his Lecture on the Philosophy of History,
Georg Wilhelm Frederich Hegel said:
"If we compare North American to Europe, we shall find in the former the permanent example of a republican constitution. A subjective unity presents itself; for there is a President at the head of the State, who, for the sake of security against monarchical ambition, is chosen only for years. Universal protection for property, and something approaching entire immunity from public burdens, are facts which are constantly held up to commendation."
The foregoing statement from Hegel's Philosophy of History is a clear insight into sociopolitical conditions of the time. It is also consistent with and a summation and revision of European Renaissance and Enlightenment recognition that the State is a police power. What Hegel wants to show is that the State and Law is an instrument of class struggle. The State exists in connection with class property, its protection from expropriation by producing classes.
Frederick Jackson Turner's Thesis on the Significance of the Frontier in American History was based on these Hegelian premises. Yet, as the bourgeois historian and hostile to Marxism he was, it is not at all out of character that Turner makes reference to Loria rather than to Hegel's explication of the State. Achille Loria (1857-1926) - Italian reactionary sociologist and economist, falsifier of Marxism. (See Engels' Correspondence to Conrad Schmidt in Zurich @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1895/letters/95_03_12.htm#n3)
Turner was attempting to turn the critical issue in American class wars from the conflicts of sectional class battles between Southern agricultural capitalists, whose mode of production and appropriation was based on chattel slavery on the one side, and on the other was capitalist industrial commodity production on the basis of wage labour, to instead use the expansion of the frontier in American history ideologically uniting all European immigrants as 'civilised white people' against 'Indian savages', the doctrine of American exceptionalism. The religious ideological tinge of this racist, genocidal doctrine was that the civilising Europeans were 'Christians' and the 'Red skins' [indigenous Americans] were 'heathens'.
"Loria, the Italian economist, has urged the study of colonial life as an aid in understanding the stages of European development, affirming that colonial settlement is for economic science what the mountain is for geology, bringing to light primitive stratifications. "America," he says, "has the key to the historical enigma which Europe has sought for centuries in vain, and the land which has no history reveals luminously the course of universal history." He is right. ..
"What is the frontier? It is not the European frontier -- a fortified boundary line running through dense populations. The most significant thing about it is that it lies at the hither edge of free land...
"In the middle of this century the line indicated by the present eastern boundary of Indian Territory, Nebraska, and Kansas marked the frontier of the Indian country. Minnesota and Wisconsin still exhibited frontier conditions, but the distinctive frontier of the period is found in California, where the gold discoveries had sent a sudden tide of adventurous miners, and in Oregon, and the settlements in Utah. As the frontier had leaped over the Alleghenies, so now it skipped the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains; and in the same way that the advance of the frontiersmen beyond the Alleghenies had caused the rise of important questions of transportation and internal improvement, so now the settlers beyond the Rocky Mountains needed means of communication with the East; and in the furnishing of these, arose the settlement of the Great Plains and the development of still another kind of frontier life. Railroads, fostered by land grants, sent an increasing tide of immigrants into the Far West. The United States Army fought a series of Indian wars in Minnesota, Dakota, and the Indian Territory."
It will be shown as we consider the significance of American natives to European Renaissance and Enlightenment philosophy and sociology that Loria was but writing consistently of the look to the life of the 'noble savage' or 'man in state of nature' derived from Hobbes The Leviathan. About which more later.
The rise of merchant capitalism in frameworks of mercantile capitalism of empire gave rise to powerful money classes in Europe. The Netherlands, England and subsequently France had bourgeois democratic revolutions, Royalty or Executive -Presidents, prime ministers - were subordinate to Parliaments or National Constituent Assembly. When for the next few years of popular revolutions and wars of national liberation won power they were for the most part modeled on the European form, not the U.S. Constitutional republic subordinate to Supreme Court with the authority to vindicate out trash legislation.
The American colonies War of Independence wasn't even a revolution in the European sense. It wasn't the rise of class against class -the overthrow of one dominate class representing the possessing classes holding State power by the overthrow and destruction of that State and expropriation of the old possessing classes by the new possessing classes.
In 18th century Europe the capitalist classes were already the dominate economic and political power and it was these British relations of production based on capitalist commodity production and wage labour that were exported to the 13 Colonies by and embodied in the people and things who and that arrived here. The success of the War of Independence didn't change these relations of production. Yet, in the Southern Colonies, which became the Southern States, while under the British Empire and continuing after the War of Independence were based on capitalist agricultural commodity production on the basis of chattel slavery, whereas in the North capitalism was developing in classical English forms. These relations of production between South and North continued in the United States up to the American War Between the States, thus the Civil War was a Revolution in that the relations of production based on chattel slavery were destroyed.
In the England of the 1640s we see a parliament based upon the most whimsical franchise, which at the same time regarded itself as the representative organ of the people. The lower house represented the nation in that it represented the bourgeoisie and thereby national wealth. In the reign of Charles I it was found, and not without amazement, that the House of Commons was three times richer than the House of Lords. The king now dissolved this parliament and now recalled it according to the pressure of financial need. Parliament created an army for its defence. The army gradually concentrated in its ranks all the most active, courageous and resolute elements. As a direct consequence of this, parliament capitulated to this army. We say, "as a direct consequence," but by this we wish to say that Parliament capitulated not simply to armed force (it did not capitulate to the King's army) but to the Puritan army of Cromwell which expressed the requirements of the revolution more boldly, more resolutely and more consistently than did Parliament.
And, indeed, two thunderclaps occurred, the revolutions of 1640 and of 1688. In England, all the earlier economic forms, the social relations corresponding to them, and the political system which was the official expression of the old civil society, were destroyed.
When we speak of dictatorship we must in the first place be clear as to what interest of what particular classes find their historical expression through the dictatorship. For one era Oliver Cromwell, and for another, Robespierre expressed the historically progressive tendencies of development of bourgeois society. William Pitt, likewise extremely close to a personal dictatorship, defended the interests of the monarchy, the privileged classes and the top bourgeois against a revolution of the petty bourgeoisie that found its highest expression in the dictatorship of Robespierre.
Contrary the authors and signers of the Declaration of Independence, on behalf of the Continental Congress, it wasn't against the so-called tyranny of monarchy, that is King George III, but Pitt and after him Townshend who were, as heads of Parliament, the Prime Ministers that governed the Empire and its American colonies and imperial policies.
In the summer of 1766, King George III of England replaced Prime Minister Rockingham with William Pitt. Pitt was popular in the colonies. He opposed the Stamp Act and believed that colonists were entitled to all the rights of English citizens.
Pitt suddenly became sick. Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, took over the effective reins of the government. Unlike his predecessor, Townshend was not concerned with the subtleties of the rights of American colonists. Townshend wanted to strengthen the power of the British parliament which would simultaneously strengthen the power of royal officials. He convinced the Parliament to pass a series of laws imposing new taxes on the colonists. These laws included special taxes on lead, paint, paper, glass and tea imported by colonists. In addition, the New York legislature was suspended until it agreed to quarter British soldiers.
The Acts also insured that colonial officials, including governors and judges, would receive their salaries directly from the Crown.
All 'analysis' of the American War of Independence as a 'bourgeois-democratic revolution' against an English feudal monarchy are therefore just plain false.
The 'separation of powers' already existed in England by the 18th century. The institution and ideological arguments for this, thus, existed prior to the U.S. Constitution. It was an inspiration referred to in political writings by Locke and Montesquieu. The 'idea' of 'separation of powers' - viz of an Executive, Legislative and Judiciary wasn't therefore the 'ingenious invention' of the so-called American founding fathers. The claim of 'American exceptionalism' on these grounds are therefore false and without historical accuracy or foundation.
Besides, the U.S. republic, though not a monarchy, wasn't established to be a democracy, but Constitutional Republic. The real power was concentrated in the Senate, the Executive and the Judiciary. The House of Representatives was to be nothing but a pacifying shadow of power, its function in the present similar to the ancient Roman tribune of the people. House legislation can be buried in Senate Committee. There was no constitutional requirement that such legislation go to the Senate floor for 'debate'. The rules of 'debate' in the House are but minutes of demagoguery. There is in Senate hearings also the filibuster. Furthermore, to block the possibility of 'tyranny of the mob' being expressed in the Congress, Legislation passed both Houses can be vetoed by the Executive. But, also, even if signed into law can be trashed by an Judiciary. No one would emigrate to the U.S. motivated to subject themselves to this Oligarchical Republic.
What I have fought for was the organisation of the proletariat into a class party, becoming and by winning the Majority in the House of Revolution state what will begin a political revolution: displace the Senate, abolish the office of the President and abolish the un-elected life-time seated Judiciary. I will return to this. Suffice it to at this point say, the government has no real checks and balance, were this the case as in the case of the Roman model the branches of government would openly recognise that the House and Senate represented antagonistic classes and corresponding conflicting class interests. To the contrary all members of Congress, in the House as well as Senate are political agents of capital. There is not now, nor has there ever been in the U.S. Congress, Presidency or Judicial any proletarian class party, not even as a significant minority. The Federalists, the Democratic Republicans, the Democrats and the Republican Parties have always represented one or another faction of capital, which is itself comprised of separate, conflicting factional and regional capitalist interests.
In old European capitalist economies the hungry, the destitute, those sick, homeless and poor were enticed by local capitalists wanting to rid themselves of surplus population and by agents of American capitalists wanting cheap proletarian labour power to compete with 'native' proletarians for jobs in the Northern states - urging these paupers to pack up their families and emigrate to the American 'land of milk and honey'. The advertisements were probably similar to those written of by Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath. These in the novel were circulated by California grower's agents in the Dust Bowl states: advertising migration to California as a horn of plenty. The North-Eastern States were highly exploitative of proletarian labour and there was no free land to settle in the Southern States, where labour power on plantations was worked by chattel slave labour. The British government wanted to rid the country of an unwanted, useless surplus population, see for instance the writings of Thomas Malthus and Herbert Spenser On Population' , and of Marx and Engels on the history of pauperism and the surplus population in England. On the other hand, the American government, wanted this surplus population to use it in expanding its Western frontier, as settlers on expropriated native American territories.
European immigrants neither needed nor possessed pass ports, visas, or even I.D. cards: they were from Europe. European immigrants were lumped together as so-called 'white folk', who were an original 'entitlement culture' believing that White folk were entitled to native American lands and to kill the natives that resisted - even genocide by guns and biological weapons used against those who didn't even resist!
Similarly, the current anti-immigrant hysteria regarding 'illegal aliens' from 'Mexico' - the 'average American' geographically illiterate racist believes that everyone from South America is a "Mexican' - as such the average Spanish speaking brown or even English speaking brown persons who speak with a so-called 'Mexican accent' are becoming a color caste, all are targets. 'Mexicans' are automatically suspects of a 'criminal element', 'suspects' of being criminals by 'illegal' migration to lands formerly part of old Mexico! Legislation against being a 'Mexican', or rather targeting brown complexion persons with Spanish speaking abilities or English speaking with 'Mexican accent' has been passed and signed into law in Arizona and upheld by the supreme Court's decision, the modern language of the previous Dred Scott decision. Where 'Indians' who weren't massacred out right were herded off onto concentration camps, euphemistically called "reservations', today the 'Mexicans' who are not killed by police or border control guards are deported to old Mexico. Similar to the South African apartheid policy of forcing Africans to live in Bantustan 'homeland' Reserves, so in America today it is a process in progress U.S. Mexico policy is to turn Mexico into a reserve Bantustan for cheap because 'illegal' labour, workers who are 'illegal aliens' have no rights that capitalist appropriators-employers have to legally respect. The so-called 'War on drugs' is just as much a sham as the imperialist's 'War on terror'. Just go to Mexico and you will observe on street corners Mexican federal soldiers in military combat costumes armed with machine guns. Autobuses traveling passengers in Mexico are often boarded by these soldiers, searched and treated to other indignities. The rubric of 'co-operating' with the U.S. imperialist's so-called War on terror is used by Mexican authorities, lackeys of US imperialism to turn Mexico into a Police State. It is a POLICE STATE. The armed forces in Mexico are similar to the "Indian police' which patrol Indian reservations.
The genocidal wars of aggression and occupation of native American territories and settlers on native American lands on the one hand, and the conquest of half of Mexico and bringing Mexican territory into the United States was and is the racist basis for the so-called 'American dream'. The sending of European settlers West, also had the effect of postponing the class conflict in the States, as every vagabond or pauper of European ancestry had the entitlement to native American and Mexican occupied territoriality lands. This is the historical significance of the frontier in American history, as Hegel noted above. This was the underpinning of the 1841 Homestead Act, the 'Independence of Texas' and the War with Mexico. The Mexican territory that is now called the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah were previously part of Mexico.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was also an Abolitionist who helped fund John Browns' armed abolitionist activities, was right in his prediction in opposition to the aggression against Mexico and expropriation of half its national territory that,
The swallowing of the arsenic can inference that the conquering of Mexico would bring new land. The new land being brought under by the United States would pose a problem because then the issues of slavery would arise again and the territory would be a problem to whether it would be a free or a slave state. A similar issue happened later in 1850 with California in which California became a free state and this made the balance between free and slave states off, the north now had the advantage of free states outnumbering slave.
Frederick Jackson Turner articulates an appropriation and revision without reference to Hegel's initial exposition of his Thesis on the Significance of the Frontier in American History. He does it in such as way as to turn it on its head. This was done in such a way as promoting the first ideological statement of 'American exceptionalism': that 'because' the United States had an expanding frontier it became the so-called land of 'freedom and opportunity' - i.e. for European immigrants and American citizens, without dwelling on the genocide and aggression it entailed. The 'American dream' in Turner's 'thesis on the significance of the frontier in American history' is the racism and violence that still plague American society. This opportunistic, racialised bourgeois ideology and culture has been internalised by American workers by upbringing, education and religious manipulation and has had and continues to have debilitating effects on American working class consciousness and politics. Why be a 'socialist proletariat' and have powerful independent labour unions based political associations fighting to expropriate capitalist property when in a 'land of freedom and opportunity' where every pauper can pull himself up by his own bootstraps, and by practicing the Calvinist 'work ethic' of hard work and playing by the rules, on a so-called 'level playing field', every pauper, vagabond and worker can self-elevate into the capitalist class, become a capitalist?
In the 1830's Georg Wilhelm Frederich Hegel presented a university Lecture on the Philosophy of World History, the collection of which were published in 1837. In one lecture he said:
In the United States of North America all the citizens are of European descent, with whom the old inhabitants could not amalgamate, but were driven back. ... The original nation having vanished or nearly so, the effective population comes for the most part from Europe; and what takes place in America, is but an emanation from Europe. Europe has sent its surplus population to America in much the same way as from the old Imperial Cities, where trade-guilds were dominant and trade was stereotyped, many persons escaped to other towns which were not under such a yoke, and where the burden of imposts was not so heavy. ...Many Englishmen have settled there, where burdens and imposts do not exist, and where the combination of European appliances and European ingenuity has availed to realize some produce from the extensive and still virgin soil. Indeed the emigration in question offers many advantages. The emigrants have got rid of much that might be obstructive to their interests at home, while they take with them the advantages of European independence of spirit, and acquired skill; while for those who are willing to work vigorously, but who have not found in Europe opportunities for doing so, a sphere of action is certainly presented in America. ...
As to the political condition of North America, the general object of the existence of this State is not yet fixed and determined, and the necessity for a firm combination does not yet exist; for a real State and a real Government arise only after a distinction of classes has arisen, when wealth and poverty become extreme, and when such a condition of things presents itself that a large portion of the people can no longer satisfy its necessities in the way in which it has been accustomed so to do. But America is hitherto exempt from this pressure, for it has the outlet of colonization constantly and widely open, and multitudes are continually streaming into the plains of the Mississippi. By this means the chief source of discontent is removed, and the continuation of the existing civil condition is guaranteed.
A comparison of the United States of North America with European lands is therefore impossible; for in Europe, such a natural outlet for population, notwithstanding all the emigrations that take place, does not exist. Had the woods of Germany been in existence, the French Revolution would not have occurred. North America will be comparable with Europe only after the immeasurable space which that country presents to its inhabitants shall have been occupied, and the members of the political body shall have begun to be pressed back on each other. North America is still in the condition of having land to begin to cultivate. Only when, as in Europe, the direct increase of agriculturists is checked, will the inhabitants, instead of pressing outwards to occupy the fields, press inwards upon each other, - pursuing town occupations, and trading with their fellow citizens; and so form a compact system of civil society, and require an organized State. http://history-world.org/Geohist1.htm
In 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner in a speech on The Significance of the Frontier in American History at a meeting of the American Historical Association at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois stated:
Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development. Behind institutions, behind constitutional forms and modifications lie the vital forces that call these organs into life and shape them to meet changing conditions. Now the peculiarity of American institutions is the fact that they have been compelled to adapt themselves to the changes of an expanding people -- to the changes involved in crossing a continent, in winning a wilderness, and in developing at each area of this progress out of the primitive economic and political conditions of the frontier into the complexity of city life.
Said Calhoun in 1817, "We are great, and rapidly -- I was about to say fearfully -- growing!" So saying, he touched the distinguishing feature of American life. All peoples show development: the germ theory of politics has been sufficiently emphasized. In the case of most nations, however, the development has occurred in a limited area; and if the nation has expanded, it has met other growing peoples whom it has conquered. But in the case of the United States we have a different phenomenon. Limiting our attention to the Atlantic Coast, we have the familiar phenomenon of the evolution of institutions in a limited area, such as the rise of representative government; the differentiation of simple colonial governments into complex organs; the progress from primitive industrial society, without division of labor, up to manufacturing civilization. But we have in addition to this a recurrence of the process of evolution in each western area reached in the process of expansion.
In 1886, distinct from Hegelian bourgeois philosophy Engels (op. cit.) in a correspondence to the American proletariat regarding the formation of an American working class conscious party -more particular socialists/communist party formations of U.S. workers into a revolutionary proletarian party was written by him to American workers from an optimistic Marxist perspective. He wrote:
"The [proletarian] movement in America is in the same position as it was with us before 1848; the really intelligent people there will first of all have the same part to play as that played by the Communist League among the workers' associations before 1848. Except that in America now things will go infinitely more quickly; for the movement to have attained such election successes after scarcely eight months of existence is absolutely unheard of. And what is still lacking will be set going by the bourgeoisie; nowhere in the whole world do they come out so shamelessly and tyrannically as here, and your judges have got Bismarck's smart practitioners in the German Reich brilliantly driven off the field. Where the bourgeoisie conducts the struggle by methods of this kind, things come rapidly to a decision, and if we in Europe do not hurry up the Americans will soon be ahead of us. But it is just now that it is doubly necessary to have a few people there from our side with a firm seat in their saddles where theory and long-proved tactics are concerned, and who can also write and speak English; for, from good historical reasons, the Americans are worlds behind in all theoretical things, and while they did not bring over any medieval institutions from Europe they did bring over masses of medieval traditions, religion, English common (feudal) law, superstition, spiritualism, in short every kind of imbecility which was not directly harmful to business and which is now very serviceable for making the masses stupid. And if there are people at hand there whose minds are theoretically clear, who can tell them the consequences of their own mistakes beforehand and make it clear to them that every movement which does not keep the destruction of the wage system in view the whole time as its final aim is bound to go astray and fail--then many a piece of nonsense may be avoided and the process considerably shortened.
As Hegel the completion of the Western expansion resulted in formation of classes in the United States the same as Europe: "when wealth and poverty become extreme, and when such a condition of things presents itself that a large portion of the people can no longer satisfy its necessities in the way in which it has been accustomed so to do" - in this case, the European immigrants could no longer migrate into Indian country and expropriate native American territory and lands.
There was no more Homestead Act type land grants to be given. The mining discoveries of silver and gold had come to be appropriated by capitalists, and there was no more individual miners. There would not again be anything similar to the California gold rush where 'dreamers of fortune and fame' had the possibility of 'striking it rich'. The so-called American people, having no means of production and subsistence from private plots, which were being taken from them by finance capitalists, the rail road capitalists, agribusiness capitalists and big ranchers now had no other option but were now "compelled to adapt themselves to the changes" universality of bourgeois conditions of production from coast to coast. From the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, the poor and destitute no longer having the option of joining wagon trains West now instead had to find jobs working for capitalists.
Yet Engels' optimism regarding the development of a class conscious proletariat, -that class politics as Hegel predicted would emerge from the end of the frontier, ending options and illusions of working class and poor whites dream of becoming capitalists, and by Marx in this connection regarding advancement of proletarian solidarity transcending race consciousness in post Civil War America. Marx wrote in the 1st volume of Capital, toward the end of chapter ten on the working day:
In the United States of North America, every independent movement of the workers was paralysed so long as slavery disfigured a part of the Republic. Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded. But out of the death of slavery a new life at once arose. The first fruit of the Civil War was the eight hours' agitation, that ran with the seven-leagued boots of the locomotive from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California. The General Congress of labour at Baltimore (August 16th, 1866) declared:
"The first and great necessity of the present, to free the labour of this country from capitalistic slavery, is the passing of a law by which eight hours shall be the normal working-day in all States of the American Union. We are resolved to put forth all our strength until this glorious result is attained."
At the same time, the Congress of the International Working Men's Association at Geneva, on the proposition of the London General Council, resolved that "the limitation of the working-day is a preliminary condition without which all further attempts at improvement and emancipation must prove abortive... the Congress proposes eight hours as the legal limit of the working-day."
The ideology of 'Americans' [whites] under attack as victims and in need of racial solidarity against 'Indians' in the West and against freed Blacks and carpetbaggers in the South - thus the rise of the Ku Klux Klan as 'protection' of white people generally and white women in particular - has saturated American culture. See the "Cowboy and Indian" movies, propaganda movies concerning the battle for the Alamo, D.W. Griffith movie The Birth of a Nation - e.g.
DW GRIFFITH THE MASSACURE 1913
The Barbaric Savage: Perceptions Through Films
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
The Last of the Mohicans (1936) Full Movie
Manifest Destiny - ironic protest song about genocide of Native Americans from "1994" the Musical
The Alamo 1960 Movie Trailer, John Wayne
Some facts about the Alamo.wmv
This culture has its historico-practical component. U.S/American racialist culture has been enforced through a distorted history. Every aspect of Turner's American exceptionalism, racialism, racism and the ever elusive, illusory American dream must be fought in context of practical-critical class war objectives.
Pragmatism in the history and contemporary American working class is part and parcel of the racism and opportunism that reinforce it. Competing for what jobs existed, opportunist craft trade unionism of the labour aristocracy adopted the bourgeois ideology of white supremacy and racial solidarity to monopolize the best jobs with the best wages. Blacks, Indians and Mexican-Americans were excluded from these unions and union jobs. Yet, in New York and in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, communism and the IWW was emerging among the advanced workers, who also fought racism which was identified as bourgeois ideology of divide and conquer.
Without capitulating to identity politics in any way, neither practical expressions nor theoretical manifestations of it, nevertheless at the same time racism is the act to which identity politics is a response. Malcolm X said of the print and media propaganda has the ability to present the victim as the villain and the villain as the victim! Working class whites regard the State as citizen friendly and their 'protectors' against Indians, Blacks and Mexicans. Working class and poor Blacks, Indians and Mexicans know the soldiers and cops are their oppressors.
Racism' in American culture is part and parcel of the American dream, which ideologies must be confronted, battled and destroyed by socialists/communists waging an uncompromising ideological and political struggle against it by class solidarity.
The culture of race and advocacy of 'racial solidarity' has penetrated consciousness of the American working class, so that each 'race' or ethnic community regard unity with their respective bourgeoisie as racial or ethnic solidarity, which ideology has become internalised through socialisation, mis-education and acculturation ideologically prevent workers from uniting with each other. As opposed to uniting with 'their own racial bourgeoisie'. This so-called identity politics is nothing but the racialised bourgeois ideology that must be fought and defeated by proletarian solidarity.
The present myth of the middle class as American dream based on 'good jobs with good wages -at any rate 'decent jobs with decent wages - as the ideology of the American dream changed from the 'freedom and opportunity. to get hold of expropriated native american lands to become farmers, ranchers and rich miners, to now mean exclusive access to jobs the wages of labour enabling those with these jobs to live in 'good', or in any case 'decent' houses in Suburbia.This can occur only through the proletarian praxis, engendered by both organised labour and the as yet unorganised sectors together fighting for an independent working class party with class struggle based socialist and communist objectives.
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