Trump's raucous racist rhetoric

Race and America's Long War Author
BIOPOLITICS / Does the public notion of order necessitate extreme violence against specific population groups (natives, blacks, Muslims etc.)? May 5000 poor and lost migrants meet by a wall and mobilize 15000 soldiers?


The approx. 5000 people's large group of poor and lost migrants who have traveled on foot from Honduras to the United States through Guatemala and Mexico, according to Donald Trump, poses a threat to the United States. The so-called caravan is nothing less than an invasion that calls for the mobilization of 15 000 soldiers and, of course, the fulfillment of Trump's key election promise: the wall to close the US southern border to Mexico.

According to Trump, the caravan consists not only of criminals from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, but also terrorists from the Middle East. Not that there is the big difference for Trump; all are the enemies to be kept out of the national space. Faced with Trump's raucous racist rhetoric, one often overlooked the continuity between his late fascist policies and his predecessor Barack Obama's intensive use of drones to liquidate so-called terrorists in foreign countries without any judicial process or ruling. Obama approved more than five hundred drone strikes, ten times as many as during the George Bush junior. According to studies, these drone attacks have had a success rate of less than ten percent and resulted in more than a thousand accidentally killed.

Protests always meet with police.

Sing shows in Race and America's Long War that Trump's war on the caravan and Obama's drone campaign is to be understood as two sides of the same racialized (racist) anti-insurgency paradigm. This goes all the way back to the genocide of Indigenous peoples when Europeans colonized America, and to the enslavement of Africans who were shipwrecked to the new settler colony and used as unpaid labor in US racialized capitalism.

Singh's book is an important contribution to the mapping of the links between racial state terror and capitalism in the United States. He describes in the book's seven chapters how state violence and capitalism have gone hand in hand since the American Revolution and continue to do so. Trump's wall and the war on the caravan are just the latest example of a century-long race and class joining in which the border between the inner and outer disintegrates into a complex mix of police and war, and where democracy and the rule of law have legitimized non-white violence from the start. subjects that threaten the "social order" (read: capital accumulation). Singh's analysis shows not only how settler colonialism, slavery and the prison industry are interconnected and constitute an "inner war", but also how this inner war is linked to the imperialist "outer wars" of the United States. The underlying matrix for both forms of war is racialized capitalism, that is, capitalism that continually splits the proletariat through racialization, punishes the racialized subjects and incites unrestricted labor.

The caravan of migrants on their way to the United States demonstrates outside the headquarters of the US High Commissioner for Refugees in Mexico. They demand buses that take them to the border. Photo: Alfredo Estrella, afp / ntb scanpix


Since liberation in the United States equals expansion, American national democracy is haunted by a kind of original disorder (colonization and slavery) that is constantly being reproduced as racial inequality. The task of the police is to ensure that inequality does not develop into political turmoil and revolution, but on the contrary merely enables the continued exploitation of non-white bodies. In this way, the production of racial inequality merges with the police's biopolitical control of the racialized bodies, which are constantly staged as a threat to the national community. Racism naturalizes war as police work, where white supremacy lives on as a group-differentiated police and control system, where dark-skinned are produced as threats (without rights) to be ruled with violence.

Drone attacks have had a success rate of less than ten percent.

Singh analyzes how racial domination and capitalist exploitation are woven together in the United States, both historically and today. As he writes, criminalization of the native Americans' resistance struggles was a means of securing private property. The colonization of the United States, the oppression of the indigenous people, the slavery of Africans, and the framing of both groups as savage barbarians constitute a material, ideological and affective infrastructure for capitalist deprivation and acquisition that is in effect today. Thus, a straight line goes from paramilitary citizen militia over the slave patrols to the police. They all have the function of criminalizing and controlling non-white subjects while concealing the violence that underlies inequality. In this way, the trauma of the white settlers and slaveowners' violence is translated into and institutionalized as a threatening, "wild" crime to be fought by the state. Racism and police are intertwined in a normative notion of public order and threats of disorder that necessitate extreme violence against certain population groups (natives, blacks, Muslims, etc.). The racialized subjects must not only be monitored, but also punished on an ongoing basis as they threaten society. Military action against Indigenous people and biopolitics against African Americans are the two logics of racial control, which together constitute a counter-revolutionary anti-rebellion paradigm.

Racial control

During that 20. century, domestic political race management became foreign policy imperialism. First with the occupation of the Philippines in 1901 and then in the post-World War II period in a large number of countries from Cuba over Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. "Dark nations" like the Philippines lacked social order and had to be ruled hard. Thus, as Singh shows, it is not a new phenomenon that police and military / war are merging. There is a continuity between colonial border patrolling and slavery, and so US Cold War imperialism and current anti-terrorism. This takes the form of secret liquidations as well as actual invasions. The enemy is criminalized (outside) and criminals are made enemies (inside) in order to secure the accumulation of capital and private property – in addition, new and naturalize old land and resources.

After World War II and during the Cold War, the current geopolitical space was created. A space that stretched from Detroit to Saigon in the 1960s or from Ferguson to Baghdad today. An imperial space, held together by a global logistics economy and racialized police actions. In both Ferguson and Baghdad, it is about fighting hostile and dangerous subjects that threaten the social order – domestic or foreign. Police and military action (war) merge into a global racial regime.

The shooting of African Americans on the streets of Ferguson is linked to militarized killings of Muslims in Yemen and Pakistan. Blacks and Muslims represent an anti-social violence that must be dealt with by legitimate state violence. And any criticism of police brutality is dismissed as an attempt to "make effective police work impossible." After all, this is just part of a major modernization project in which American democracy is spreading into the world (and right into the local black ghettos) for the good of all. And it is only when the police are present that the world is safe. The result is state terrorist control. Any room for political dialogue disappears and protests always meet with more police. Federal police violently attack Occupy and since Black Lives Matter speaks its own clear language.

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