Spengler wrote as if decline was inevitable, as if the cycle he described – in which each civilization experiences its spring, summer, autumn, winter – were as unavoidable as the spinning of the earth. Once societies pass their great creative stage and the logicians, rationalists, and bureaucrats arrive on the scene, there is no turning back. Having lost a sense of purpose, civilizations lurch outward to find meaning. They get caught up in a series of disastrous wars, propelled forward to doom by history’s cosmic beat, power for power’s sake, blood for blood’s.
– pg. 21, KISSINGER’S SHADOW, by Greg Grandin, Metropolitan Books, 2015
The big political news in the United States of America over the last few days is that the leading candidate for the Republican Party nomination for next year’s Presidential election, a business mogul by the name of Donald Trump, has called for a ban on Muslims being allowed into the United States. The mainstream Republican Party candidates and personalities have, by and large, denounced Trump’s bigoted call. He has even been referred to as a “fascist demagogue.” But, Trump’s lead in the polls derives from the fact that the things he has been saying, no matter how distasteful to more enlightened Americans, appeal to the Republican base.
It may be said that what we now know as the United States began almost four hundred years ago with the arrival from Plymouth, England, of a sailing ship called the Mayflower north of Virginia on the northeastern coast of America. This was 1620 Anno Domini, and the passengers were English men and women who felt they were experiencing a religious persecution in England which they considered unbearable. They were called “Pilgrims,” also “Puritans.” They were Christians being persecuted by Christians.
The majority population of what we now know as the continental United States at the time when the Pilgrims landed was, of course, Native American tribes. But, in 1565 the Spanish had established St. Augustine in what we now call Florida, St. Augustine being considered the oldest city in the United States.
It would be interesting to establish when precisely it was that the United States became a majority white population. When the United States of America declared its independence from England in 1776, the U.S. was just thirteen former British colonies. Today, the United States consists of fifty two states and a much larger land mass than at independence in 1776.
The United States did not acquire the so-called Louisiana territory from France until 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte having given up his Western Hemisphere ambitions and pretensions after the French were defeated in Haiti by Toussaint, Dessalines, and other former African slaves. This Louisiana territory is about two fifths of the present day United States. In 1776, again, almost all the area west of the Mississippi River was controlled by various Native American tribes. And, in the South and the Southwest, the Spanish were prominent from Florida through Texas and New Mexico all the way to Arizona and California. America, then, is a new phenomenon compared to Great Britain, Germany, France, and so on.
Before I proceed, let me say this. Inside the bastions of pure white supremacy, Europeans like the Spanish and the Italians are not really considered “white.” This is partly because the North Africans were so powerful in places like modern Italy, Spain, and Portugal for so many centuries, beginning with Hannibal, I suppose, and extending all the way up to 1492, when the Moors were expelled from Spain after seven centuries of hegemony. The elite in the United States are called WASPs – White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The Irish, Jewish, Italian, and other populations now part of America’s white majority, came from Europe, afterwards Eastern Europe, in waves of immigration which began taking place in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
In America today, for whatever it’s worth, “white” is equated with “Christian,” hence there is a racial undertone to Donald Trump’s assault on Muslims. (In white America, Arabs are definitely not considered white.) You see what we are dealing with here. Now, at some point after World War II the United States essentially became an empire, insofar as its power and wealth were concerned, and today, in a bit of desperation, there are significant elements in the United States who want to declare the American empire a “white” empire, and, through Trump, they are declaring this to the world.
As planet earth’s imperial superpower, the United States interacts with the world in various ways. Perhaps the most strategically important part of the world outside the United States, because of petroleum and other interests, is the so-called Middle East. In that part of the world, America has very, very, important allies whose populations are majority Muslim. These very, very important allies include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the smaller oil states of the region. Trump’s bigoted outbursts will increase the pressure from their Muslim bases on the kings and leaders in those Middle Eastern states which are American allies. Muslims in this part of the world are in a longstanding, seemingly permanent state of agitation over how extremely supportive the United States is to Israel. The Israel story is a long story. For Muslims, it is a bloody and bitter story.
There are limits to America’s power, once one thinks in a pragmatic fashion. But there is a powerful racial dynamic here, a white supremacist dynamic, and those Americans to whom Mr. Trump is appealing do not think in a pragmatic fashion. They think like this: we are the world’s biggest and baddest, so we should be able to do what we want, wherever and whenever we want. It doesn’t work that way in 2015.
By definition, nevertheless, “empire” means that you should be able to do what you want wherever and whenever you want. If this is not the case, this means you may no longer be an empire. Today, it is in Syria that the United States is now closest to coming face-to-face with Russia. This is one of the reasons the British rushed last week to start bombing targets in Syria, even as the French had begun to do after the November 13 attacks in Paris. Great Britain and France are America’s NATO allies, and there is an aspect of the British and French bombings in Syria which suggests a coming to the aid of the empire on their part.
There were World Wars fought between 1914 and 1918, and between 1939 and 1945, where it was a case of the United States coming to the aid of Britain and France. I’m just saying. The world is a more violent and dangerous place than ever before in history. That is because the weaponry is so deadly nowadays. All over the Middle East and Africa, we see refugees fleeing their native lands, desperate to find a home. The human tragedies are heart-wrenching. Seek to understand the implications of all this, beloved, and “sleep wid yu own eye.”
Power to the people. Remember Danny Conorquie. Fight for Belize.
P. S. I have never received any training in American history. So, if any of the academics wishes to take issue with my propositions and analyses in this column, he or she should feel welcome.