Sunday, November 02, 2008

Obama Finally Secures White Aryan Leftist Vote

One of my favorite subjects is the anti-capitalist right or, as the estimable Jonah Goldberg might call it, the "liberal fascists." In the 1930s we look to the syndicalist Spanish Falange party and their contemporaries, the German socialists of the nationalist variety. From the 1960s to today, aspects of George Wallace Southern populism and Jean-Marie Le Pen's French version contained various redistributionist (or anti-redistributionist dimensions depending on whether the tax money could plausibly go to non-whites) measures.

I was reminded of this tradition while reading this interesting article from Esquire on the 2008 voting preferences of America's most extremist racists. (Spolier alert: they love Obama.) From Tom Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance and former Klan head (and one of the characters in this must-see 1988 Geraldo Rivera brawl), we learn that
The corporations are running things now, so it’s not going to make much difference who's in there, but McCain would be much worse. He’s a warmonger. He’s a scary, scary person--more dangerous than Bush. Obama, according to his book, Dreams Of My Father, is a racist and I have no problem with black racists. I’ve got the quote right here: 'I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother’s white race.' The problem with Obama is he’s being dishonest about his racial views. I’d respect him if he’d just come out and say, 'Yeah, I’m a black racist.' I don’t hate black people. I just think it’s in the best interest of the races to be separated as much as possible. See, I’m a leftist. I’m not a rightist. I hate the transnational corporations far more than any black person.
Those of you with access to odd Texas radio stations, or who grew up in the foothills of anti-government Michigan, may not be so shocked by these kind of statements. I would be willing to bet, however, that most histories of the KKK (and like-minded groups), written mostly by leftists, avoid mentioning this anti-capitalist rhetoric. Thoughts?


Blogger Robot said...

I see Yglesias is onto this story now, too. I was first, however, and my analysis breaks bricks whereas his barely treads water.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Scantron said...

It's funny you mention this, because I've thought a lot about it lately, and I know that the Sheriff, with his proximity to Texas republic radio, has too.

I'll mention two facets, one contemporary and one more historical. I think that a lot of contemporary leftists don't know who to ally themselves with on the NAFTA/globalization issue and are a bit shocked to find that white rural America is sometimes on their side. I heard this radio interview with a journalist who had written an account of a road trip through "red America" (the name escapes me) and she was surprised to find small-towners having clamorous meetings about NAFTA, using the language of workers' rights. She suggested an alliance with Seattle anti-globalista types, but the small-towners couldn't believe it.

Now, ideally at least, there is a breakdown along the lines of both intentions and values: leftists presumably want greater autonomy and less exploitation for workers, everywhere, whereas rural whites want to protect *Americans* from international institutions that are usurping their sovereignty. Of course, in reality these two camps are likely to blur, and anti-globalization rhetoric is constantly being pitched to unionized workers in terms of specifically American values. This is the tension between class struggle and nationalism that has been alive for centuries (since the birth of nation-states, basically) and that has boggled leftist scholars like Hobsbawm and Tom Nairn. Benedict Anderson's book is on one level very much about this.

I've sort of dipped into the historical stuff already, so I'll just go ahead and say that I think most scholars are very much attuned to the redistributionist slant among hard-right or fascist-leaning rural people. Just last week for a polisci course I read an article by one Gregory Luebbert explaining how peasant class alliances created fascism in Germany and Japan. Peasants want redistribution, so (I think this is how it goes) when they form an alliance with the bourgeoisie and cut out labor as the middle man fascism is the result. (In any case the economic form assumed is corporatism, as you point out in your remarks about Spain and Germany.) Barrington Moore Jr., while not saying that the peasantry causes fascism, does say how in certain circumstances the peasants, through their opposition to capitalism, can become reactionary when allied with landed elites.

Overall I think it makes sense that a certain segment of the right fears the tumultuous effects of international capitalism and wants to secure basic prosperity for themselves, whatever the cost to other nations. The thing is, this is not always a "fascist" move, or it might not be fair to call it one. "Little englander" conservatives in the 20th century, if I've got this right, were willing to engage in some protectionism, e.g. Ted Heath, but Margaret Thatcher brought in a more neoliberal ideology. Fascism and racism are extreme outgrowths of this tendency (or at least, actual policies based around fascim and racism are rare), but are probably always latent in a society.

12:28 PM  

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