American Herald Tribune | Danny Haiphong: Will Washington make it out of its internal crisis? This question should be on the minds of whoever is paying attention to recent developments. Donald Trump has only been in office for a little over seven months. During this time, a large portion of the ruling class has waged an unprecedented campaign to unseat him from office on the basis of collusion with Russia. Both major parties have participated in the anti-Russia “dump Trump” effort. Then Charlottesville happened, and suddenly the ruling class found yet another reason to neutralize the President’s ability to rule.
The Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally received much attention from both the corporate press and independent activists. Hundreds of white nationalists of various political groupings came together to protest the removal of a memorial statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Counter demonstrators clashed with rally participants, many of whom were armed with weapons and Nazi memorabilia. These rallies have rarely garnered the attention of the ruling class in the past. This time, however, the rally ended in the death of one and the injury of many more after a car crashed head on into the crowd of counter protesters.
President Trump has once again come under fire, this time for his perceived inadequate response to the events that transpired at the “Unite the Right” rally. Trump condemned the violence of “many sides” but failed to single out the white supremacist groups in particular. This prompted Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck pharmaceutical corporation, to resign from Trump’s council on manufacturing. Others followed suit. The Administration has since been scrambling separate itself from far right groups. However, the fact that many of these groups publicly supported Trump has not helped the current Administration to stave off the internal crisis inside of Washington.
Donald Trump has been blamed by many for the resurgence of white nationalism in the US mainland and for the crisis in Washington as well. Critics of the billionaire real estate mogul cite his openly racist and misogynistic ideology as the basis for increased violence against oppressed groups. What is often missing from this analysis is the broader historical context for white nationalism in the US. US imperialism has always been a system based on white superiority. White mobs have played key roles in the development of the US as a nation, first by acting as slave patrols for ruling class slave owners and then as lynch mobs directly after emancipation.
In the 21st century, many of these same white supremacists now occupy positions in local police departments. US police departments are on record to murder a Black person in the US nearly every day. US imperial policy abroad does not fare any better. The US government has given extensive support to Nazi regimes, whether through the safety it provided Nazis during World War II or the sponsorship it gave to Ukrainian fascists in the so-called Maidan revolution in 2014. This doesn’t include US support for terrorist proxy forces in Libya and Syria or the brutal dictatorships it has supported in Chile, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.
It is from the blood soaked, racist history of the US ruling system that white nationalists find their true bearings. Yet much of the pressure being placed on Trump to condemn white supremacists has relied on US exceptionalism’s multi-layered mythology. Enter Paul Krugman, long time journalist of the New York Times. In a recent opinion piece, Krugman blasts Trump for being “un-American.” Krugman argues that Trump’s racism, aversion to criticism, and boastful demeanor make him unfit to identify with the lauded values of the American nation-state.
Krugman’s use of US exceptionalism to oppose Trump reveals the landscape of Washington’s internal crisis. The internal crisis in Washington is a reflection of the broader crisis of the system of imperialism. US imperialism cannot offer reforms to provide relief from the chronic joblessness, poverty, and dispossession that characterizes life for over half of the US population. It cannot scale back the militarization of US society for fear that these conditions will cause popular unrest of an unmanageable variety. And US imperialism needs endless war regardless of whether it threatens to turn humanity into nuclear dust, lest the system risk the further loss of influence over the direction of the planet.
Washington can no longer wash away the reality of who it serves or what role it plays in reproducing white supremacy. In contrast to Krugman’s assertions, “real Americans” do in fact believe that their nation reigns superior over all others because of its affiliation with whiteness and empire. However, this superiority complex comes at the expense of humanity. The US exceptionalism narrative was written by those who have become wealthy from the labor of poor and oppressed people landlocked in its borders. What Krugman seeks is not an end to white supremacy, but a more acceptable form of it.
White supremacy is an indispensable piece of the puzzle that is US imperialism. White supremacists should be confronted, but the repressive state apparatus that enforces war, racism, and poverty from a position of power should be confronted too. Ruling class antipathy toward white supremacists is disingenuous and represents little more than a trap. The Democrats and Republicans who oppose Trump’s lack of response to Charlottesville have different concerns all together. Their primary aim is to neutralize Trump on the questions of war with Russia. Every criticism that comes out of the mouths of the likes of Krugman amounts to nothing more than a lecture on Trump’s character. This becomes even more evident when the silence of the Democrats and Republicans on support for Ukrainian fascists and Venezuelan oligarchs is taken into account. For the ruling class, white supremacists are nothing but a proxy to achieve broader ends.
Nazis and white supremacists were not made by Trump. They, and he, were made by a system that supports forces of reaction to destabilize independent nations. They were made by a deportation and incarceration regime that terrorizes millions of Black Americans and undocumented immigrants every day. White supremacists could not exist without the deep class division sewn by system that keeps Black workers in far worse a condition than their white counterparts. These conditions have created an internal crisis in Washington, the future of which remains to be seen.