White supremacy is not just the ideology of racism, but its practice. Racism, with its consequences and justifications, is and always has been the heartbeat, nay the soul, of American capitalism. That heartbeat pumped the blood that powered the establishment, growth and dominance of the United States. The soul of America is self-evident in its prisons, wars and disparities. Both internal demographic and cultural changes are challenging certain assumptions of the system of white power, however. Some things are, indeed, changing. It is inconceivable that white institutional control can continue in the coming decades without creating legal barriers to non-whites exercising power. This, I suggest, is the real motivation behind the talk around the 14th Amendment.
Before we get too carried away with how far we have come and how difficult it would be to reverse the legal gains of the Civil Rights movement (the economic gains by most blacks have been negligible, even now) we need only remember that most of the gains of the made in the Civil War (with monumental exertion and enormous cost) were overturned in their time with the fall of Radical Reconstruction. The war was won, but the peace was lost which meant that, in many ways, so was the war. I am not, of course, predicting the wholesale reversal of the gains of the last decades. Rather, I am just observing that the struggle hasn’t yet been won. If anything, it’s still on and as urgent as ever. And if this summer is any indication the struggle still on is not the one fought 50 years ago, but the one fought 100 years before that.
The slave system was a capitalist system, fully a part of international commodity production; the genocidal conquest of what would become this country was a continental accumulation of capital without which modern capitalism as a world system would have been impossible. Later imperial crusades expanded and consolidated the power of US capitalism, again accompanied by the potent poison of racism and white supremacy. From inception to now it has been white supremacy, both institutionally and culturally, that provided the bedrock self-justification of, what is in essence, a mass rape by the US ruling class and the economic system it rests on. Psychologically it is no different from the violent misogyny of the rapist. Zombie like, it rises from the dead each time it is said to be buried. Zombie like, it refuses to die, it refuses to be killed."