I am continuing to read Arthur Herman’s The Idea of Decline in Western History and to be impressed by it. I highly recommend it to everyone who wants to know how we came to our present pass. It’s especially enlightening as to the history of racism. Readers of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism will find that the estimable Mr. Goldberg only scratched the surface.
Socialism has always been linked to race rackets, whether it’s the affirmative action type of the universalist left or the extreme racism of the nationalist left, such as the National Socialists of Germany. It turns out that it was in fact racism that gave socialism its foothold. During the 19th century, a great many people were convinced that the white race was degenerating and needed to be revived in some way. (Hitler did not make up his philosophy himself; he was drawing upon a large well of ideas with which many people in Europe and America agreed at the time.) Eugenics laws, forcible sterilization, and the various other gimmicks people came up with for the revitalization of white people required huge amounts of money and in many cases outside force. In short, only government intervention could keep the white race pure and robust. Our ancestors gave up much of their (and our) liberty and property because they believed it was a necessity to save Caucasians from oblivion.
(And by the way, it didn’t work.)
Also, I reiterate: egalitarianism leads to racism. Classism is inherent in all societies, but efforts to ignore or eradicate it lead to all sorts of damaging things, such as replacing social class with other divisions, such as race or age. It should be obvious, but perhaps must be mentioned anyway, that classism does not mean hating members of other classes, or depriving them of their basic human rights, nor should class barriers be impermeable. (In fact, they never have been, even when the ruling powers attempted to make them so.) Those are the vices of racism, including the reverse racism of hating white people.
The book includes a chapter about W.E.B. Du Bois, the Stalinist who formed most of today’s leftist racial thought: hatred of America, the assertion that oppressive imperialism has been the sole contribution of the white race to history, that capitalism and chastity are evil, that a “talented tenth” of nonwhite people ought to lead the rest of them to destroy the corrupt western civilization. He visited Nazi Germany in 1936 and clearly drew much of his inspiration from their theories, ironic as it seems. Nazis believed that Aryans were the primordial human race, who spread over the earth created all the benefits of civilization but then degenerated. Du Bois believed almost the same thing about Africans. Du Bois also created the black use of the word “soul”; as Herman points out, Du Bois used it as the equivalent of the Nazi usage of the word Kultur.
Du Bois, it turns out, was from a family of free mulattoes from Haiti. His family was never enslaved, and they were wealthy, educated and refined. Light-skinned mulattoes, even in the era of slavery, frequently escaped the legal and social discrimination that darker-skinned black people lived with. Then in the 1890’s, the Jim Crow laws stripped this gens de couleur libre of their privileged status. “These laws would soon ruin that natural black aristocracy that Fiske [University] had cultivated and to which Du Bois belonged, transforming its members into second-class citizens and leaving them at the mercy of poor-white voters and mobs…. A recurring image in his later writings is the humiliation of the segregated railway car, in which well-to-do blacks (such as himself) are forced to ride in filth and squalor while the lowest white farmhand travels in comfort.” (Herman, p. 193.)
The point here is, attempting to demolish class barriers results in lumping people of different classes together on the basis of other criteria, such as race. The result of this is the creation of fascist demagogues whose reaction of poisonous philosophies culminates in the election of Barack Obama to the most powerful office in the world.