THE U.S.A. & CIVIL WAR TWO
By J.R. Nyquist
It is an intriguing thesis shared (with minor variations in theme) by Patrick Buchanan, whose latest book anticipates the destruction of the West. There is no doubt that the European element in our nation is declining. Immigrants from Asia and Latin America are growing in number. The white birth rate is falling. Church attendance is down. Muslims are appearing in our midst, and so are Buddhists. The country is becoming a multi-cultural hodgepodge of races and groupings.
Does this mean America is now an "empire," as Chittum maintains?
In recent years, I have heard the term "empire" applied to our country, and this appellation bothers me. An empire is composed of conquered territories held together by legions. America is not like that. We are a shopping mall held together by money. So I object to the term "empire" applied to America. The English had an empire in 1800. Alexander the Great had an empire. George W. Bush has Puerto Rico.
This idea of calling a republic an "empire," if not derived from Star Wars, borrows from Roman antiquity. We are told that the Roman Republic, ruled by strict senators and civic-minded tribunes, degenerated in the wake of Rome's military victories. Wealth and power gained by imperial adventures undid republican virtue and republican institutions. By reading the letters of Cicero and the self-serving chronicles of Ceasar, we can trace the course of the Roman Republic's decline into empire.
The historian Gaius Sallustius Crispus, himself a senator when the Roman Republic collapsed, depicted his colleagues as weak and ineffective, more concerned with furniture and good living than with the state. This led inevitably to dictatorship, to the dark methods of Augustus Caesar, who ruled under the fiction of republican forms. Here we see the beginning of what is rightly called "the empire"--a dark device of ancient connivance overawed by a succession of climbers and generals, each uniquely criminal (with few exceptions).
Since the loss of Roman virtue was much lamented by historians like Livy, Tacitus and others, much that went wrong in history was blamed on the rotten "empire." But "empire" has not always had a negative meaning. British politicians long spoke of empire as something good and inevitable. But even here, in the light of the British example, it is unfair to call the United States of America an "empire," because the U.S.A. generally returned its conquests to self-rule--e.g., Cuba, the Phillipines, the inhabited parts of Mexico, West Germany, and Japan. This is hardly an imperial tendency.
How then can an intelligent writer, like Chittum, claim that America has become an "empire"?
Chittum's idea of an American "empire" derives from a different notion of what an empire is. He is not claiming that the U.S.A. tyrannizes the globe with armies of invasion. His aim is to show that America is not one nation, but many nations. To put it another way, "empire" is Chittum's word for a multi-national configuration. In coining the word, under cover of an "objective" pose, Chittum is trying to make a case for nominal and pragmatic racism based on Machiavellian realism. Since there are many nations inside the United States, only the naked force of the central government holds them all together under a single plan. But here is where Chittum's argument falls apart. The United States is not held together by brute force. It is held together by shared language, borders, and history--and by the cash nexus, i.e., by money. Insofar as Chittum uses "empire" to signify a territory held together by brute force, he is failing to recognize the very real power of American culture (love it or lump it)?
Real Africans laugh when they hear black Americans refer to themselves as Africans. Clearly, from the African perspective, black Americans are as American as apple pie. If only this were fully acknowledged and understood, a great self-misconception would be nipped in the bud.
However, Chittum does not recognize the great internal likeness that all Americans share. He does not believe that races can mix together peaceably (unless one race is clearly dominant). He wants to say that nationhood, the idea of the nation-state, is based upon a people who are ethnically, religiously, and racially similar. Only these elements can form the glue that holds people together. He does not admit that other factors might bind diverse peoples together. He is quite strict in this. "The heart of America, its culture and its wealth," writes Chittum, "beats in the European, English-speaking North. Here we see the pattern of black inner cities surrounded by primarily white suburban and rural areas."
Liberals and Conservatives, members of both major political parties, have come to reject this notion, maintaining that white and non-white people in the U.S.A. are united by a single Liberal creed. Here an ideological blueprint replaces genuine common culture. This notion is clearly unsatisfactory and Chittim knows it. Yet he still underestimates the power of American culture to unite us.
If Chittum were a fish, the last thing he'd likely discover is water. We take for granted what surrounds and conditions us continually. Yes, there is a serious racial divide. Yes, Liberals and Conservatives (socalled) have not been able to bridge this divide. But if we assume that blacks and Hispanics want to destroy the United States and set up their own separate nations, then we are assuming the creed of Adolf Hitler. Now perhaps this is inevitable (I do not pretend to know), but surely we should be a little suspicious of an argument that leads us, through alleged "objective" discourse, to indirectly affirm the program of the Third Reich.
After all, does everything boil down race war?
If you drive down the wrong street in Chicago or Los Angeles, and you happen to have the wrong skin color, you might end up dead. Chittum would argue that a race war is going on right now. We are just pretending it's not there. White flight is still a reality. Racism is still prevalent. No political solution has appeared. Only spiritual or cultural solutions stand any chance of working. (Perhaps we ought to have a separation of politics and race in this country, along the same lines as the socalled "separation of church and state").
Chittum sees no potential for harmony between races and religions under a single state. For him, all differences of race are absolute and insurmountable in terms of political unity. To Chittum's way of thinking, nations are nations of one race and one race only. Peoples are unified only insofar as they agree (with a small percentage of dissent) on fundamentals. All things being equal, Chittum could be right. No doubt there are countries, like Switzerland, where political stability and ethnic disparity go hand in hand. But this is the exception and not the rule.
If Chittum's analysis is mistaken, it is because he has underestimated the shopping mall. There we find the mystical, unifying power of money and "stuff." Consider, as well, the front end of a television set, or listening to pop music. This may horrify some readers, but sitting in front of the tube unites the modern barbarian in ways we hardly realize.
Given the power of modern technology and its media culture, the seduction of all races and religions now reduces to shopping-mall hedonism. In reality, this is the final Liberal creed. This is the alchemy of global capitalism. The "invisible hand" of corporate greed now transmutes humanity into unisex mall rats with green hair and nipple rings.
The problem, of course, begins where the shopping mall ends. Whether you believe that America is now an "empire" or a "shopping regime," the end comes when the dollar collapses and the economy tumbles. Will we embrace one another as fellow Americans and brothers? Or will we revert to the naked group selfishness of tribalism?
This is a great question-mark upon our future.
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