Summary: The events of Charlottesville evidence the racist and xenophobic hate of the alt-right but we must not forget that, although perhaps not hate-based, racism remains a structural feature of our capitalist society. The struggle against racism is also the struggle against capital — Editors
The horrific scenes in Charlottesville of the alt-right spewing hate and violence while proudly holding their lit torches and displaying their swastikas and confederate flags seemed a throwback to an era that many would like to think we have left behind. That one person, Heather Heyer, was killed and many more wounded is a tragedy but one that should have been expected and, perhaps, could have been prevented given that the alt-right, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, and other White supremacist groups, share the founding goal of creating a White ethno-state wherein women would be severely controlled – this would presume ethnic cleansing and the forced removal of diverse racial/ethnic groups or, at best, a state economically and politically controlled solely by White men with no civil liberties for other groups.
While many mainstream news journalists and Washington politicos, on both the Democratic and Republican camps, have justly denounced the racism and xenophobia displayed in Charlottesville, the discussions have centered primarily on the hate evidenced by what they perceive to be a small extremist faction of the population and on the president’s failure to immediately condemn these white nationalist groups and instead lay equal blame “on many sides.”
The show of solidarity with diverse peoples in the media is important work that brings a sense of validation and solidarity to the many communities of color, indigenous groups, Muslims and Jewish, women and GLBTQ who have been undoubtedly left with a hole in their hearts at the evidence that there are still people in the world who can view us as less than human and wish evil upon us. What has been missing, however, which I think needs to become the next phase of discussions around Charlottesville, is attention to the structural dimensions of racism – the material conditions that have rendered Blacks, Latinos, Indigenous groups, and other peoples of color at best second class citizens and unfortunately too often merely the expendable workers of capitalist production.
Although groups and people who identify with the alt-right are clearly extremists in their views and hate, the reality is that racism and xenophobia remains very much in place within our society – in the significant wealth inequality, in education, in housing and the de facto segregation that continues today. Racism and xenophobia are also clearly evident in current anti-immigration policy that many Whites and even some people of color support, even though these attitudes may not be based on hatred. Mass deportations of Mexican and Central Americans, travel bans on people from Muslim majority countries, a Wall that is meant to keep immigrants out that may also result in dividing the long-standing Tohono O’odham tribe that reside on both sides of the US-Mexican border all evidence an unfounded fear that the Other is out to “destroy” our way of life, a deeply held belief that “Americans” (read White) deserve better than the rest of the world, and that we are in some way superior. That many Americans would not express these thoughts aloud and perhaps not even to themselves suggests that they have not taken the time to analyze the ideologies that these immigration policies are founded upon. The argument that “national security” will make America great again is merely a well-designed strategy of lies to make the Other the scapegoats of a capitalist structure that by definition must keep the masses economically spiraling down in order to preserve the capital accumulation of the few.
It’s time to actively reject not only the current administration’s racist policies but also to unite in solidarity across races and social differences to uproot the capitalist system that feeds off of and reproduces an alienation so devastating that it distorts our humanity to the degree evident in Charlottesville