America is breaking down.
Everywhere we turn, we see crisis after crisis. Workers unable to afford rent in cities where they work several jobs. The crumbling of infrastructure leading to undrinkable water. Growing levels of pollution that make some areas unlivable. Dropping violent crime rates in the face of rampant police killings and mass incarceration.
But moreover, we also are seeing the blow back from a society built on genocide, slavery, and the mass marshaling of white anxiety and fear. Almost every week now, we are seeing largely young white men, and sometimes middle aged men, commit unspeakable acts of violence, killings, shootings, and bombings.
In response to one of the most latest massacres in Parkland, Florida, hundreds of thousands today will participate in the ‘March for Our Lives’ demonstrations, with some polls stating that 1 in 5 teenagers will take part in the protests. The New York Times noted:
“As a group, [young people]…combine liberal social beliefs with an intensely wary view of the existing political and economic order, opinion polls have found.”
And these walk outs are taking place at a time when resistance is growing. From pipeline blockades to wildcat strikes, from riots against the Alt-Right to anti-police freeway shutdowns. Above all, the people in power hope that these forces, do not link up. Thus, in an effort to push growing anger at the totality of life within capitalist civilization, those in power promote instead gun control, and the various organizations behind the rallies, will attempt to march youth into the waiting arms of the Democratic Party.
But the reality is that at the heart of this crisis lies society itself, and calls for giving the State more power will only lead to a more authoritarian version of it, while struggles that fail to move outside of and against social managers which attempt to box them into piece meal reforms, will only be subsumed by the forces they seek to ascend from. If we are to truly make lasting change, and fundamentally create a less violent world, then at the center of our project needs to be the abolition of the institutions and systems of domination which perpetuate violence on a mass scale.
The Nu-Martyr and the Crisis of White Anxiety
“It’s not just fear that mass anxiety produces, or the constant desire to find these enemies which are promoted as supposedly omnipresent, but moreover it is the anxiety of not being called on by the State to engage in its defense.”
In the United States we are witnessing the creation of a ‘martyr culture,’ as young men with seemingly nothing to live for, are deciding to end their lives after leaving a trail of death and destruction. In return, these young men are seen as martyrs, and for examples of this, we need only look to the Alt-Right cult of personality built around Dylann Roof, to Nikolas Cruz quoting Elliot Rodgers positively, to Devin Kelley’s desire to copy Roof’s massacre.
For a small group of almost entirely young white men, they see their only chance at transcending their current conditions through mass amounts of violence aimed at wider society; and almost always against those as seen as beneath them: women, former partners, younger children, and people of color.
The editor of The Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin, summed up this philosophy firmly in the lead up to Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville:
Many of us are out of shape.
We feel emasculated.
Many of us feel we have never had power.
We crave power.
We lust after power. We want to be part of a group, which will give us power. A group that will confirm our worth as men.
We do not have identities.
We want identities.
We want to be productive. All men want to be productive. We want to build, we want to create, we want to be needed.
We have problems with women. All of us do. We lie to each other and claim that we do not. But we all do.
We are a generation of throwaways, which (((those who write history before it happens))) have slated to be the last generation of Heterosexual White Men.
We are angry.
There is a atavistic rage in us, deep in us, that is ready to boil over.
There is a craving to return to an age of violence.
We want a war.
In return, the message boards of Alt-Right, reddit feeds of Men’s Rights Activists, and /pol/ boards all sing and meme the praises of their martyrs as if they were revolutionary combatants facing down an occupation government – a reality that some of them would argue, is actually true.
Meanwhile, we are also seeing a breaking point of mass white anxiety. Since the founding of the United States, white men of various classes have been told to prepare for civil war, to be ready to catch the escaped slave, to root out the ‘commie’ from their workplace, and to defend the homeland from external and internal enemies. In fact, the ‘well regulated militia’ of the 2nd amendment actually referred to the slave patrol, which gave rise to the modern police force. Subsequent gun control legislation, from the late 1800s to the passing of bills aimed at curtailing the use of arms by the Black Panthers, all aimed at disarming Black people. While these original forms and modes of governance have evolved and changed, they are still fundamentally functioning in the same way within our society; albeit in a much more expanded form.
But it is not just the fear that this mass anxiety produces, or the constant desire to find these enemies which are promoted as supposedly omnipresent, but moreover it is the anxiety of not being called on by the State to engage in its defense. This is why people join militias and tell themselves that defending a billionaire is ‘fighting globalism.’ This is why the Right loves InfoWars’ conspiracy theories that read like a WWF script and why people bought into the manufactured idea of an ‘Antifa Civil War.’ This is why the snake-oil from CPAC about Islam or antifa all sounds like repackaged anti-Semitic and anti-communist conspiracy theories – because they are. It’s not just that those on the Right like being lied to, it’s that they’ve heard this song before.
According to science, the average gun owner is a white man without much education who is worried about providing for his family and who is afraid of black people. [A] study by two Baylor sociologists who plotted gun owners on a “gun empowerment scale.” They found that the people who were “most emotionally and morally attached to their guns” were 65 percent male and 78 percent white. A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago also found that racial resentment among whites fueled opposition to gun control. “The gun is a ubiquitous symbol of power and independence,” the sociologist said. “Guns, therefore, provide a way to regain their masculinity, which they perceive has been eroded by increasing economic impotency.”
‘”You will not replace us,” chants the young white man, as he marches behind those that will do just that with everything from condos to robotics.”
Ironically, it is also this engine of anti-Blackness within American capitalism which has pushed the elites to create a system in which Blacks are routinely ground into the dirt, both through repression and also in terms of wages and conditions. But this continued system of racial apartheid under neoliberalism has only helped shrink the middle class and allowed the wealth gap to increase. In short, the Devil’s Bargain of white supremacy helped create the wider system of everything from resource extraction to automation that now is attacking the wages, life expectancy, and living conditions of even white workers.
But ironically in this situation, there is an austerity effect in the wage of whiteness, or the physiological wage that sitting at the top of the racial caste supposedly produces. Meaning: as things get worse, the supposed benefits of white supremacy have become largely spectacular, not material. No one thing exemplifies this more than Trump himself, who on one hand destroys mining regulations that lead to an actual doubling in coal miner deaths, and on the other, attacks trans military troops as a way to make his supporters happy.
For his base, the fact that Trump’s program directly attacks them economically does not seem to matter – for as long as the billionaire continues to “trigger the libs,” they seem ready to accept any injustice. Thus, reactionary whiteness isn’t just the sea in which a future fascism can swim in – it is also simply suicidal. What makes it all the more ironic, is that it is sold with Alt-Right packaging; of resistance to ‘white genocide.’ “You will not replace us,” chants the young white man, as he marches behind those that will do just that with everything from condos to robotics.
Nowhere is this suicide more on display, than those who at a rate of almost every week, are blowing up, shooting up, and massacring – everyday people.
No Use For a Name
“the fact that Trump’s program directly attacks them economically does not seem to matter – for as long as the billionaire continues to “trigger the libs,” they seem ready to accept any injustice.”
As many have rightfully pointed out, white men don’t get called terrorists, even though their actions clearly cause terror. What is clear, is that the State gets to define who is a terrorist, and who is not. And moreover and more importantly, the State gets to define what violence is justified, and what violence is not. This in itself is both as ironic as it is problematic, as States across the world are the largest purveyors of violence on a global scale.
Moreover, often those who engage in illegal actions that are labeled terrorists by the State: anarchists, antifascists, Black Lives Matter demonstrators, Water Protectors, and so on, are not killing and attacking members of the public, but simply breaking the laws put in place by the dominant system to maintain social control. But to the State, blocking a pipeline with oil in it, is a form of terrorism, while sending bombs to black people’s homes, is simply “deranged.” In the eyes of the State, ‘only we get to do that.’
Thus the cry from liberals to force the State to label the acts of white men terrorism misses the point: the problem is not that the State has a limited view of what is terrorism, but that we are using its yardstick to begin with.
Giving the State More Power Will Not Make Us Safer
“The correct step forward however, would be to begin from where this actual power lies, not in ‘democracy,’ but in disruption, occupation, revolt; to begin to take space and make something new, not call on the elites to “hear us.” Standing in our way are those who seek to channel our rage back into the Democratic Party and the graveyard of politics.”
The cause of all of the problems we have discussed lies at the heart of capitalist civilization and white supremacy itself; thus, better managing and controlling that system isn’t going to change it in any fundamental way.
If we want a clear example of this, we need only look at police murders. Since the start of 2018, according to Killed by Police, 285 people have been killed by US law enforcement, making for an average of over 3.5 per day. Despite the implementing of various reforms: from body cameras, to “diversity” training, to the hiring of more officers of color, this average of almost 3.5 killed per day has not deviated for several years. Things have not changed, because the fundamental realities of the nature and power of the police have not changed.
This is why the massive school walkouts in response to the Parkland shooting and the recent demonstrations in Sacramento in the wake of the police killing of Stephon Clark, have been powerful because they fundamentally have attempted to shut down society, and show a collective rejection by young people of the world in which adults have built and managed.
The correct step forward however, would be to begin from where this actual power lies, not in ‘democracy,’ but in disruption, occupation, revolt; to begin to take space and make something new, not call on the elites to “hear us.” Standing in our way are the career activists and politicians in waiting that seek to manage and contain revolt, to channel it back into the Democratic Party and the graveyard of politics.
Everyday brings another 3.5 police murders, another Alt-Right killing spree, and another rising tide of sea water. This system is going under with or without us, the question is, can we save ourselves?