Apr 15, 2010

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Ethnic Hegemonies in American History, Part 2

Civil War and Empire

Since colonial times Southerners had used imported African slave labor. Consequently they lived symbiotically with the most genetically different of Earth’s peoples.[23] Slavery continued after the Revolutionary War and became increasingly important as commercial cotton cultivation spread westward through the Gulf Coastal region at the start of Scots-Irish hegemony. The resultant Cotton Kingdom, ruled by a mix of Southerners from the old Atlantic coastal colonies and Scots-Irish from the interior, sought expansion into Latin America by conquest, while New England, which then valued ethnic, cultural, and religious homogeneity, opposed it.

The South was thus the region most tolerant of what is now called racial diversity. New England, for example, tended to liken all Indians to the dangerous heathens that nearly destroyed it in 1675.[24] Such attitudes led John Chivington, a clergyman and Union officer who defeated a Southern invasion of the New Mexico Territory at the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862, to perpetrate one of America’s most notorious massacres of peaceful Indians at Sand Creek in 1864. Confederates, in contrast, made Cherokee Indian Stand Watie a brigadier general in their army.[25] New England was also extremely hostile to newly arriving Irish Catholics, and many of its political leaders began careers in an Anti-Masonic Party opposed to Masonic religious tolerance. But because blacks were rarely seen outside the South, it was easy for them to be idealized in New England.[26]

The new Republican Party became the political vehicle for restoring New England’s hegemony by attacking slavery, but its support was initially limited to Greater New England, both the original coastal region as well as an area south of the Great Lakes settled by immigrants moving west from there.

That changed rapidly, however, when New England’s publishing dominance influenced public opinion through publications like Uncle Tom’s Cabin that demonized Cotton Kingdom whites and idealized its blacks. Calls from a small cadre of abolitionists for slaves to revolt and kill whites created great fear among southerners. They had already suffered through Nat Turner’s murderous slave revolt in 1831, and abolitionist John Brown’s abortive attempt to touch off another revolt at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 raised their fears to fever pitch.[27] Meanwhile, crude southern propaganda that justified slavery’s expansion by idealizing it as good for everybody raised widespread fears that it threatened the freedom of people who did not own slaves.

By 1860 enough Scots-Irish and German Midwesterners voted Republican to enable Abraham Lincoln to narrowly win a four-way race. In reaction, the Cotton Kingdom seceded from the United States to become the Confederacy, and the war that followed divided the once hegemonic Scots-Irish for more than 100 years.[28]

New England hegemony and Republican Party dominance was nearly continuous for the next 72 years, even though the Democratic Party of pre-war Scots-Irish hegemony still occasionally won national elections. Former Confederates, who won freedom from Republican occupation and local black rule through an eleven-year insurgency, found common ground as Democrats with urban Irish Catholics, who had themselves resisted discriminatory New England hegemony in the major New York City anti-war revolt of 1863.[29] Greater New England, however, was now largely free to economically and culturally dominate America. Regional centers of economic power like Chicago’s meat packing and manufacturing industries, Pittsburgh’s steel industry, Cleveland’s oil industry, and especially New York City’s commercial, financial, and railroad dominance arose throughout Greater New England. Its tycoons paid homage to New England’s traditional cultural hegemony by building opulent mansions in its heart at Newport, Rhode Island and by mimicking New England mores.

But even New Englanders began to question the consequences of the Civil War’s power shift as tycoons enriched themselves by depressing wages through mass immigration to the east coast from Southern and Eastern Europe and to the west coast from Asia. Meanwhile, railroad monopolies preyed on German and Scandinavian farmers in the Midwest by keeping costs high for the manufactured goods they bought and low for the crops they sold. Expansion into the third world, once anathema to greater New England when sought by the Cotton Kingdom, was now embraced as Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were quickly added to an American Empire. Trusts and corporations gained new quasi-governmental powers, enabling them to increasingly encroach on elected local governments. The extremes of wealth and poverty these policies created caused the last quarter of the nineteenth century to be called the Gilded Age.[30]

Progressivism and Populism

Gilded Age excess met widespread popular resistance. Under often Irish Catholic leadership, labor began to organize in the face of fierce plutocratic resistance. A populist movement by immigrant and Scots-Irish farmers fighting predatory northeastern financial domination led to the foundation of the Populist Party, which was soon incorporated into the Democratic Party by the great Scots-Irish leader William Jennings Bryan. At the same time, Greater New Englanders created a Progressive movement to restore regional values by fighting the destructive effects of plutocratic policies encouraging corruption, imperialism, economic exploitation, and mass immigration. Populism was thus a bottom up movement among those living outside and harmed by the regional power core, while Progressivism was a top down movement inside it seeking to blunt power’s hardest edges.[31]

Both reacted to the increasing prominence of America’s Jewish population. Jews first immigrated to the United States in significant numbers from Germany before the Civil War and quickly became prominent in commerce. By the Gilded Age many of them had become tycoons who contributed significantly to its excesses, just as its importation of cheap labor brought a second and much larger wave of Jewish immigrants to America from the Russian Empire. In response, many populists began explicitly criticizing Jewish excess from below, just as progressive elites were attempting reform from above.[32]

Populism and progressivism both contributed to creating the Socialist Party, the primary voice of America’s first true left. Its social connection to populism was evident in the presidential election of 1912 when its candidate received his highest vote percentage of any state in heavily Scots-Irish Oklahoma, where two years later a Socialist gubernatorial candidate got nearly 20 percent. Left support swiftly disappeared in such Populist regions, however, as the Socialist Party and its later direct offshoot the Communist Party increasingly became vehicles for urban Jewish upward mobility.[33] (Most Russian Jews arriving in the United States during the Gilded Age were initially extremely poor, and many had previously participated in socialist and other leftist organizations that had violently confronted Russians and their government.[34] Consequently they were pre-adapted for socialist activity.) Thirty years later, Woody Guthrie was valued by the Left as much for his rarity as an Oklahoma Communist as for his music.

The First World War and the Great Depression

In 1912 Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, became president for eight years when regular and Progressive Republicans split. Wilson’s roots were northern Scots-Irish, but he experienced the South’s brutal invasion by northern troops as a child and worked in Greater New England-dominated academic culture as an adult. Consequently his sympathies were more with English-descended northern and southern elites than the Scots-Irish center, and he was more a Progressive than a Populist despite his Democratic affiliation. He appreciated the importance of race, however, and social separation of whites and blacks was maximal in his administration. He is most remembered for bringing America into World War I despite a peace platform, which was largely motivated by his sense of ethnic solidarity with British elites. His decision almost certainly saved the British from defeat.[35]

At the war’s end, largely Jewish-led Communist revolutions seized power briefly in Germany and Hungary and for nearly a century in Russia. None of these turned out well for Jews as a whole, however, and all generated intense anger because of indiscriminate killing of non-Jews. Their brief victory in Germany provoked an anti-Jewish revolution, ultimately causing their worst demographic disaster since Bogdan Khmelnitsky freed Ukrainians from Polish and Jewish domination in 1654. Even in Russia a wily Georgian Communist Josef Stalin broke their power by 1927. The left did not successfully revolt in the United States, however. It barely survived repression falling hardest on its rural non-Jewish former populist factions at the Wilson administration’s end. The American left has consequently persisted into the twenty-first century as a Jewish-dominated movement that would otherwise be scarcely recognizable to its post-World War I activists.[36]

In 1921 Greater New England Republicans returned to power in a landslide made possible by millions of previously politically inert German-Americans and other European immigrants in the populist heartland who had been angered by the war against their ethnic kin in Europe and by intense government-orchestrated discrimination at home.[37] Lingering Greater New England progressivism finally ended mass immigration and brought ethnic stability, but financial excess led to economic disaster in 1929.[38] The resulting misery returned the Democrats to power for another twenty years.

Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal politically united white Americans more than at any time since the pre-Civil War White Republic, even as blacks remained socially separate. Corporate excesses were curbed and organized labor encouraged. Economic inequality among whites began to decline significantly for the first time since the Gilded Age. A balance between protecting private property and encouraging public purposes was achieved, resulting in infrastructure of lasting value and quality. A national élan consequently developed that helped win the Second World War.[39]

The New Deal had a dark side as well, however. Scientific research on racial diversity was virtually ended because of conflict with its ideology of equality and its association with German National Socialism. Communists and their close allies, still overwhelmingly Jewish, were welcomed into the New Deal as full participants, even while working openly as agents of the Soviet Union.

The Second World War and After

Roosevelt also secretly maneuvered to subvert a strong peace movement and draw America into World War II on the Soviet side against Germany, despite great public opposition. Anglo-Saxon ethnic solidarity honed during World War I, anti-German pressure from an increasingly influential Jewish community, and Soviet sympathy among the left all helped blind Roosevelt to the nuances of mid-twentieth century European power politics. Germany was consequently demonized while the Soviet Union, a regime surpassing it in brutality and mass murder, was idealized. World War II thus ended with Europe’s eastern half enslaved for another 44 years.[40]

National Socialist Germany officially embraced racial research and ethnic nationalism, but paradoxically it ultimately subverted its racial nationalism by emphasizing minor linguistic differences at the expense of authentic kinship. It consequently treated genetically nearly identical Slavic neighbors like the Poles with brutality while allying with the Japanese, who sought to ethnically cleanse Oceania of whites. Its defeat had the long-term result of tarnishing ethnic nationalism into the next century so even defense against mass non-white immigration remains difficult.

Roosevelt’s death near the war’s end transferred the presidency to his Vice President Harry Truman, who was not expected to do well politically. As in the aftermath of the First World War, a German-American reaction in the populist heartland, and an Irish Catholic one in the urban northeast, shifted control of congress to the Republicans for the first time since 1931. Truman soon faced revolts in his party from pro-Soviets led by Henry Wallace because of hardening relations with Stalin, and from southern Democrats under Strom Thurmond for weakening social separation of blacks and whites. Despite expert opinion that he would fail to survive this perfect political storm, Truman won the election of 1948 because of his strong roots in America’s Scots-Irish heartland.[41]

Republicans finally gained the presidency in 1952, when the party’s Greater New England wing and its candidate Dwight Eisenhower outmaneuvered Robert Taft, the candidate of the party’s heartland populist wing, which included many World War II skeptics who viewed the Soviet Union rather than Germany as the main enemy. In that year’s election Eisenhower easily triumphed over Democrats who were now reduced to their southern and urban base.

Following the election, the Taft wing’s last champion, Senator Joseph McCarthy, representing the German-Irish anti-Communism of Catholic “old immigrants,” was quickly suppressed with the blessing of Eisenhower, who used Truman’s Cold War with the Soviets as a cover for building America’s postwar empire. Governments unfriendly to American corporations in Iran and Guatemala were soon covertly eliminated. Efforts to end American Communist influence, which flourished under Truman despite his occasional resistance, ended for good under Eisenhower with the fall of McCarthy. Paradoxically, as American opposition to anti-communism increased domestically, the continuing Cold War intensified opposition to communist states abroad. New Deal policies limiting domestic corporate power and promoting relative income equality continued long past the depression, however, so the Eisenhower years of the 1950s are still fondly remembered as a time of unprecedented happiness and prosperity.[42]

The Democratic Party slightly expanded its traditional base to win the close election of 1960, but just a few years later its nature changed significantly. By 1964 the civil rights movement, a concerted attack on traditional southern race relations, was elevated to its primary issue. In response, the South, which was the party’s strongest region until 1960, became its weakest region in 1964 and every subsequent election. By 1968 in the name of reform a movement led by Jews like Allard Lowenstein as well as some Greater New Englanders attacked and permanently stripped power from the party’s traditional northern Irish-led urban labor base, a split exemplified by the televised confrontation at that year’s Democratic convention in Chicago between Richard Daley, its Irish mayor, and Connecticut’s Jewish senator Abraham Ribicoff. By 1972 Daley wasn’t even permitted to attend the next convention. In the same year, the charismatic George Wallace inspired a momentary flare-up of white nationalist resistance, winning the Democratic Party primaries in northern industrial Michigan and Maryland, before he and his campaign were crippled by one of the gunmen who changed so much in American politics in the 1960s.[43]

Part 2 of 4

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[23] Oppenheimer, The Real Eve.

[24] Jill Lepore, The Name of War: King Phillip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (New York: Knopf, 1998); Phillips, The Cousins’ Wars.

[25] Patricia Faust, ed., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper and Row, 1986).

[26] A. J. Reichley, The Life of the Parties: A History of American Political Parties (New York: The Free Press, 1992).

[27] Henry Mayer, All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery (New York: St. Martin’s, 1998).

[28] Phillips, The Cousins’ Wars.

[29] Barnet Schecter, The Devil’s Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America (New York: Walker, 2005).

[30] Phillips, The Cousins’ Wars; Kevin Philips, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich (New York: Broadway Books, 2002).

[31] Fischer, Albion’s Seed; Phillips, The Cousins’ Wars.

[32] Fredrickson 2002; Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

[33] Nathan Glazer, The Social Basis of American Communism (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1961).

[34] Nora Levin, While Messiah Tarried: Jewish Socialist Movements, 18711917 (New York: Schocken, 1977); Howard Sachar, A History of the Jews in America (New York: Knopf, 1992).

[35] Phillips, The Cousins’ Wars.

[36] Howard Sachar, A History of the Jews in the Modern World (New York: Knopf, 2005). Cf. Ginsberg’s The Fatal Embrace.

[37] Samuel Lubell, The Future of American Politics, 2nd edition, revised (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Anchor, 1956).

[38] Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963).

[39] David Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 (New York: Oxford, 1999); Robert Reich, Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (New York: Knopf, 2007)

[40] Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom (New York: Public Affairs, 2003); Patrick Buchanan, Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost its Empire and the West Lost the World (New York: Crown, 2008); S. Courtois, N. Werth, J. Panne, A Paczkowski, K. Bartosek, and J. Margolin, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Cambridge: Harvard, 1999).

[41] Michael Barone, Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan (New York: The Free Press, 1990); Lubell, The Future of American Politics.

[42] Barone, Our Country; Brinkley, The Unfinished Nation; David Halberstam, The Fifties (New York: Villard, 1993).

[43] Barone, Our Country.

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  1. avatar
    Whites Unite said:

    George, this is a great ethno-political summary of American history!

  2. avatar
    John Walters said:

    I am very ignorant of these historical matters, but I am reminded of an informative comment
    recently seen on occidentaldissent:

    http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2010/04/16/a-white-southerner-friend-gives-his-perspective-on-black-labor/#comment-47157

    It reads in part:

    Culturally, if not always genetically, the South traditionally was comprised of two white groups: Cavaliers and Scots-Irish.

    While most planters were not descended from the First Families of Virginia, the Cavaliers did set a cultural precent, as seen in Gone With The Wind, that lasted until the end of the Civil War. The Cavaliers were pre-moderns in their thought. As such, they emphasized hierarchy over egalitarianism. …Rather than stressing the work ethic, this group tended to put an emphasis on duty, which was not necessarily the same as work. Robert E. Lee is a stellar example of this value. He defended the South out of a sense of duty.

    The Scots-Irish were at the opposite end of the social ladder. …Prior to Anglicization, Scotland still had a herding culture, even though animal herding had been giving way to settled agriculture for some time. To herders, manual labor is also something to be avoided whenever possible. As a rancher myself, I can tell you that taking care of animals is far less work than farming. Rather, the Scots prided themselves on their fighting ability–something necessary to keep interlopers off their grazing lands.

    The stereotype of the lazy Southerner has more than a little validity to it. Of course, just because these groups didn’t subscribe to the Yankee work ethic didn’t mean they did nothing. They were usually at the leading edge of westward expansion, and also developed fine whiskeys, were very much into horse racing, and music (they gave us bluegrass, modern country, as well as inventing rock and roll).

    There is an excellent book on these Scots-Irish titled “Cracker Culture”. And the Genoveses wrote a masterful work on the Cavalier class titled “Mind of the Master Class”.

    A later comment adds:

    Most Southerners are descended from the people who came with the Cavaliers, but who weren’t the actual noblemen themselves. They were the servants, tenant farmers, artisans etc. who lived in the same part of South Western England.

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