What is Racism? Ruthless Criticism

What is Racism?

[Translated from Gegenargumente Vienna]

Classical racism in theory and practice

In the third volume of Capital, a prime example of racist argumentation shows up following a comparison between wage labor and slavery (“Now, the wage-laborer, like the slave, must have a master, who shall put him to work and rule him,” p. 510). Marx quotes a defender of slavery, a certain O`Connor, who held a widespread view about the nature of the negro. This is a perfect exemple of how racism works:

“Now, Gentlemen,” he said amid great applause, “nature itself has assigned this condition of servitude to the negro. He has the strength and is fit to work; but nature, which gave him this strength, denied him both the intelligence to rule and the will to work. (Applause.) Both are denied to him! And the same nature, which denied him the will to work, gave him a master, who should enforce this will, and make a useful servant of him in a climate, to which he is well adapted, for his own benefit and that of the master who rules him. I assert that it is no injustice to leave the negro in the position, into which nature placed him; to put a master over him; and he is not robbed of any right, if he is compelled to labor in return for this, and to supply a just compensation for his master in return for the labor and the talents devoted to ruling him and to making him useful to himself and to society.” (New York Daily Tribune, 20 December 1859; cited in Capital Vol. 3, p. 510)

Mr. O’Conor construes the relationship between master and slave, which is a relationship of violence and does not exist without violence, as a result of the different abilities and qualities of different human types. Abilities, which exist independently of the relationship between master and slave, are given by nature and generate this relationship in the first place. One human type is strong, but in O’Connor’s view a little lazy, because by their very nature they are not meant to work for other people – from which it follows, if taken seriously, that the “negro” possesses the intelligence which the apologist for slavery denies. The racist, however, wants to have researched negro biology as a mixture of physical ability and mental deficiency – strong on the one hand, unwilling to work on the other. Even here the racist confesses that, because this is the case, only one conclusion follows from this negro nature: that the muscle-bound black, as long as he does not want to work, bums around until he no longer enjoys it – and that’s that. The postulate that this natural strength of the negro must not be left unused under any circumstances, but that it must be made accessible “to society” does not come from nature, not even from racist natural history, but from the society of that time. Physical strength – by the way, apart from pigmentation – is indeed just a capability; it does not follow from this that it must be used, nor how.

The other human type is designed to complement the negro. He compensates for the negro’s alleged defect by forcing him to work. But it is extremely puzzling how this “master,” who has been given the deficient negro by “nature,” is supposed to accomplish this. The human type intended to rule is characterized only by the “brains for governing” and by the parallel “ability,” but it is completely inexplicable how the means to force other people to work for themselves should arise from, of all things, the brains of those qualified to govern. Because ultimately the racist has explicitly denied that the physically stronger man has the intellectual capacity for the crazy “insight” that it is simply natural for him to do slave labor. So if one takes the racist nature-fiction seriously for a second, the following idyll arises: the two described human types are hanging around – and no relation between them follows from this and does not guarantee slavery. One type is strong and unwilling to work, the other type is intelligent and has a gift for ruling. And every time the smart ones try to force the strong, unwilling ones to work, they have to get them into a muzzle – unfortunately, the unwilling are at the same time the strong. What bad luck!

It is immediately noticeable that the intellectual standards of racists are modest; on the other hand, it is clear that these did not affect the practice of turning negroes into slaves, because slavery was not the result of an accidental scientific investigation of the negro – but the other way around. The introduction of capitalism in the New World – whether in the colonies of the Caribbean or in the USA – had led to an enormous upswing in the world market for slaves because there were too few free wage laborers available and because guest workers as well as illegal immigrants were not invented until many years later. There was a shortage of labor, white immigrants could afford to be picky, the natives did not want to do it or died like flies; the expansion of capital invested in plantations and mines was not going to be allowed to fail because of a labor shortage, so slaves were imported (see in addition Marx’s comments on “The Modern Theory of Colonization” in Capital Vol. 1, p. 931). Capital is not at all dogmatically fixed on free wage labor, it also takes slaves or prisoners of war or concentration camp prisoners, as is well known. Historically, the wage laborer won out not because of respect for his nature or human rights, but because of his superior efficiency compared to that of the slave (see in addition Marx’s note on the difference between slave labor and wage labor in Capital Vol. 1, p. 303-4, footnote).

What then does the racism, in the strict sense, consist of in the above account? The defender of slavery does not want to “argue” simply and truthfully for the interest and benefit of the slave owners and the society of that time – rather, he wants to represent the violent treatment and compulsion to work for the benefit of others as a fact that corresponds to the peculiarities of those forced to do it. They are designed by nature in such a way that it is precisely slavery that does them justice. Of course, the contradiction is that what the negroes supposedly are of their own accord must first be brought about by using a great deal of violence against them. Violence, says the expert on the nature of the negroes, is perfectly ok, because if they are slaves by nature, they should be treated as such. The racist does not even want to do without the fiction of a higher harmony between slaves and slavemasters that is concealed to lowly reason, because the slaves are also forced by the masters to, among other things, provide “for themselves,” and the slave masters deserve a “fair compensation” for the problems and stress that the slaves cause with their recalcitrance. The negro must be forced to his good fortune, says the racist, and therefore the coercion against him is actually in his own interest. This is the racist ideology as spread by the priests, professors, and other educated people of the time. The basis of this ideology was the political and economic conditions of the time, in which people were brutally sorted into the socially useful function of slaves.

South African racism: Neither prejudice nor racial segregation

The historically last variant of the oft-reformed apartheid system quite straightforwardly emphasized the political considerations in the treatment of blacks. The similarity between the method of legally defining South African blacks as foreigners and the civilized European use of immigrant workers can hardly be denied. Even in the darkest days of racial “segregation,” blacks always had the right to work in South Africa insofar as they were needed in the mines, factories, and farms or as domestic servants – a “separate development” of the “races” was never up for discussion. In addition, apartheid politicians felt they didn’t need any rights because the state had no other interest in them than that. The distinction between a white national people with military rights and voting duties and blacks who were used as a living inventory like a “raw material” or else resettled, was an internal continuation of colonialism after the white immigrants and their descendants had become politically independent. The special legislation for colored people was finally enshrined in the modern way by defining them as citizens of foreign countries (founded especially for this purpose) who were only tolerated in South Africa to a limited extent for work and who could easily be deported or admitted at any time. They were allowed to enjoy the status of citizens in the respective “Bantustans”; these were reserves created and run by South Africa for storing a “reserve army” of workers who were under tribal supervision, but otherwise had no significant means of subsistence. Their borders were drawn outside any fertile lands to ensure that the only perspective left to South African blacks was the South African market economy. In this way, the racist Republic of South Africa took the decolonization process into account and tried to make a reality out of the fiction that its distinction of natives in the “Population Registration Act” (into four groups) was ultimately only a variant of the “normal” distinction between citizens and foreigners. However, this fiction was still supplemented by the well-known daily harassments: “whites only” public facilities, transportation, and the famous park benches. Except for toil, blacks had no business in South Africa, and if it couldn’t be avoided, like during commutes to and from the workplace, they were only tolerated in “separate” facilities.

Neither South African nor international employers were embarrassed by the gradated rights granted by skin color; it was taken for what it was, i.e. a location advantage of South African capitalism. By distinguishing the working class (by “reserved jobs”) into a privileged white part and a black part without any political or union rights, it featured the only African political economy based not on the export of raw materials and “development aid,” but on capital accumulation. It provided the not very surprising proof that capitalism also functions with a proletariat without civil rights; and with no regard for whether the workforce could reproduce itself on starvation wages and under ruinous working conditions, because enough destitute people existed inside and outside South Africa to replace those who were used up. The reason for the sorting of the population of South Africa was therefore the interest of the government in assigning its black subjects to the sole function of an arbitrarily re-settled, otherwise disenfracnhised work force and reserve army – the official justification obeyed the racist model according to which differences in the races mandated different treatments of people on the basis of skin color: the state would merely sort and treat the different human species according to their nature, and in this way do them justice.

Fascist racism: Aryan and Jew

On the “Aryans”: the master race has a servile nature

Today, Hitler’s characterization of the “Jew” is considered perverse in every respect: “It is nowadays regarded by almost everybody as a hate crime against the Jewish people that he ascribed to this ’race’ closer standing to the animal than the human genus; that, on the other hand, he did not want to attribute the ’harmlessness’ of an animal to the Jews, but rather to have discovered in them a will that was hostile, because parasitic, to the people’s body.” (Huisken, Foreigner Enemies and Foreigner Friends, p. 67) He is chastised far less for positive racism to the Aryans; at most, for an unjustified privileging of the Aryan “master humans” over other “races.”

The racism toward the Aryans is to be analyzed quite independently; if their characterization is considered a collection of positive traits that cannot be denied to other peoples, this sheds a strange light on these critics of racism. Hitler’s praise of the Aryan is a blueprint for the total citizen who has nothing better to do than sacrifice himself. Hitler, as is well known, had big plans for the German people. Like every German Chancellor before and after him, he wanted to lead Germany to the status of a great world power, and he knew exactly what this meant for the master race: an existence as a human material; giving up one’s own interests and needs, sacrificing oneself for the state at work and in war, i.e. the well-known fascist virtues of perseverance, willingness to fight and idealism in action for Germany. These demands on his beloved people, which he enforced with the Gestapo, conscription, martial law and the People’s Courts, etc., corresponded for him to the true identity of the Aryans, to the very nature of this noble human race:

This self-sacrificing will to give one's personal labor and if necessary one's own life for others is most strongly developed in the Aryan. The Aryan is not greatest in his mental qualities as such, but in the extent of his willingness to put all his abilities in the service of the community. In him the instinct of self-preservation has reached the noblest form, since he willingly subordinates his own ego to the life of the community and, if the hour demands, even sacrifices it… This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture… The basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call – to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness – idealism. By this we understand only the individual's capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men. In giving one's own life for the existence of the community lies the crown of all sense of sacrifice … But, since true idealism is nothing but the subordination of the interests and life of the individual to the community … it corresponds in its innermost depths to the ultimate will of Nature. (Hitler, Mein Kampf)

You are nothing; your people are everything! This is already in the nature of the Aryans. What the fascist state demands and enforces with violence is nothing more than that which exists in the abilities of the Aryans – selflessness, willingness to sacrifice in service to the community, giving one’s life. It was not a problem for the Fuhrer that sacrificing one’s own life is the “noblest form” of the “instinct for self-preservation,” since the Aryan is at once an individual and a genus being; by sacrificing himself for the race, the individual lives on in it after he dies as an individual. This genus metaphysic emphasizes that there can be no question of community, of common purposes, if only service, duty, sacrifice, and submission for the individual can be mentioned – this is a very one-sided use of people. The embodiment of this morality in the national nature of the people makes it clear that the individual will does not count at all; anyone who refuses to do his duties is, by definition, denatured, degenerate. Fulfilling duties is genetically rooted in the German citizen, one would say today. The beneficiary of all these virtues is the “race” and its “preservation”; “but Hitler’s dialectic of species and conspecifics was never meant in any other way than as an image for the people who serve the state and the state that demands services.” (Huisken, ibid.) The fascist state uses its people as a means of its world conquest and thus serves to preserve the “race”; the people find their species-appropriate fulfillment in being used, says this racial doctrine.

The “Jew”: humans without a state are sub-human

In view of the order of things, the Fuhrer had to despair at the actual situation of the nation. Destined by the natural quality of its human material for world domination, Germany as a Kaiserreich had lost the world war and was in permanent crisis as a Weimar democracy. Constrained by the victorious powers, disrupted by a workers’ movement, disdained by “the markets” as a “business location,” with millions unemployed, Germany was socked with unproductive people. So there had to be a disruptive element that prevented the Aryans from developing their intrinsic virtues. The Fuhrer then promptly identified this disruption, the destructive element in the national body, as the “Jews,” strictly according to the logic of his Aryan racism: if the master race, by their willingness to make sacrifices for their state, is capable of and bound for world domination, then those are the subhumans who, as a somehow seperate people, have not even established a state of their “own.” It is only the state that makes a human into a human being, and if a “human type,” which according to the criteria of national madness constitutes a “nation,” has no state, it lacks the essence of true humanity! The Fuhrer saw his beloved Germany infiltrated and “overrun,” as one says today, precisely by members of such a people:

The mightiest counterpart to the Aryan is represented by the Jew…In the Jewish people the will to self-sacrifice does not go beyond the individual's naked instinct of self-preservation…His sense of sacrifice is only apparent. It exists only as long as the existence of the individual makes it absolutely necessary…That is why the Jewish state – which should be the living organism for preserving and increasing a race – is completely unlimited as to territory. For a state formation to have a definite spatial setting always presupposes an idealistic attitude on the part of the state-race, and especially a correct interpretation of the concept of work… Since the Jew never possessed a state with definite territorial limits and therefore never called a culture his own…He is and remains the typical parasite, a sponger who like a noxious bacillus keeps spreading as soon as a favorable medium invites him … wherever he appears, the host people dies out after a shorter or longer period. (Hitler, Mein Kampf)

Very sympathetically drawn, this “Jew.” No wonder that Hitler hated this construct and the humans he subsumed under it! This “Jew,” this construct, never thinks of sacrificing for the nation – therefore he has not, in the opinion of the Fuhrer, created his “own” state. The “Jew” is someone who takes himself and his interests seriously, and who enters into alliances only for his interests – “his sense of sacrifice is only apparent.” This “race” does not have the selflessness that a state simply cannot function without. Here, by the way, Hitler was on target about something: no state puts up with people fighting for their own quality of life instead of submission, service and performance of duty; regardless of the fact those who were identified as “Jews” in the Third Reich had nothing like that in mind. Maybe more likely “Bolshevism,” but for the Nazis that was a Jewish conspiracy anyway! The Fuhrer did not refer to the actual activities of the Jews in that time for his diagnosis of “parasitism.” “People without a state” was the decisive finding.

Crisis and class war: consequences of the people’s character

This national delirium, which the Nazis turned into a valid political line with several years of propaganda, terror, and a few democratic elections, consistently viewed the crisis situation of the nation through national eyeglasses and interpreted both as a problem of peoples. Whatever exists in the world, from economics and crisis to culture and war, was known to the Fuhrer only as a result of the different human species, the “races,” and thus an expression of different ethnic characters. Everything one does expresses nothing but one’s respective national identity, one’s nature and race, one’s Aryanism or Jewishness. The Nazis interpreted the economic crisis as well as the class conflict not as social and economic phenomena, but as volkish questions, as an attack by a foreign people on Germany. If the German workers could not come up with ideas about class struggle that were harmful to the state because their identity was their willingness to sacrifice, then how could they?! Only in this way: “when I recognized the Jew as a leader of social-democracy it began to fall from my eyes like scales ... The more I got to know the Jew, the more I had to forgive the worker” (Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 64 and 67). And if the type of work that the Fuhrer admired organizes for capital in exchange for wages nothing but an exploitation tantamount to the selflessness and willingness to make sacrifices of the German-Aryan race, how could the nation’s balances be in crisis?! Only because:

Jewish finance demands not only the absolute economic destruction of Germany but its complete political enslavement. The internationalization of our German economic system, that is to say, the transference of our productive forces to the control of Jewish international finance, can be completely carried out only in a State that has been politically Bolshevized. But the Marxist fighting forces, commanded by international and Jewish stock-exchange capital, cannot finally smash the national resistance in Germany …(Hitler, Mein Kampf)

Hitler thus had no problem discovering the camouflaged auxiliary troops of the stock exchange in the German Social Democratic Party and the German Communist Party. Both the workers’ movement and finance capital weakened Germany, Jews were active in both, so finance capital and its apparent opponent were exposed as variants of a Judaism that was decimating Germany. “The Jewish state is territorially unlimited,” that is to say: wherever a “Jew” is active, he must, due to his “type,” be the agent of an anti-German Jewish quasi-state purpose. He can’t help it because that’s what constitutes his identity. Just as the good German lives out his Aryanism – in case of doubt, guided by the Gestapo, etc. – so the “Jew” inevitably lives out his volkish nature:

Neither pro nor contra would Hitler make himself dependent on the will of the people: On the Aryan he put the nature-given drive to national deliverance by force... On the Jew he executed the judgment, independent of their actions and practical thinking, that here parasites are at their state-destructive work. This judgment equaled a declaration of war and was led as a campaign against the enemy – up to their destruction, not in the surrender of a national sovereign, which was not there, but only in the extermination of a people. (Huisken, Foreigner Enemies and Foreigner Friends, p. 70)

Democratic racism: natives and foreigners

This survey of the racism against “negroes” and “Jews” has led to the following preliminary conclusions:

According to its self-image, democracy is anti-racist. Racist remarks and acts are considered to be detrimental to the nation’s reputation and are condemned by other democrats. However, the anti-racist self-image of democracy is merely the result of a biased distinction. Only earlier, outdated racisms – such as those about “Negroes” and “Jews” – are regarded as such, while the racisms that are accepted and normal in democracy, that are a fixed part of politics and public opinion, are not at all considered racist. Some examples:

National identity

“The Germans and their identity... What actually is that: a German? First it is a natural circumstance to be German. It is the consequence of the fact that one was born here, grew up here, speaks the German language, feels at home here and part of a people. I am a German, like a Frenchman is a Frenchman, or a Russian is a Russian. That is neither a shortcoming, nor a merit. I did not select it ...” (R. Von Weizsaecker [President of Germany, 1984-1994]).

This is how the former German President Von Weizsaecker promotes German identity. He regards the sorting of humankind into different peoples to be a rather natural affair that results from birth, language, and the feeling of being at home. Foreigners who were born and grew up in Germany, who can speak German and know their native country only from vacations, could easily have taught him: being a national is a legal status, and that is what constitutes the difference from foreigners. Both are government decisions resulting from the limited scope of a monopoly on the use of force, and not immanent “consequences” of natural “facts.” This has nothing to do with the natural process of childbirth, but at most when a state takes the occasion to place the newborn child among its own people; and it has nothing to do with language, but at most when a state requires immigrants to learn the language. For example, anyone who was born after 1938 in the area of East Germany as a child of formerly Austrian parents was, in accordance with the balance of power at that time, a German, but in 1945 was was transformed back to being an Austrian like their parents, without any change in birth or language. The force monopoly was changed after 1945.

Von Weizsaecker claims that the German race or “identity” is something apart from nationality and a passport, i.e. prior to and beyond politics and law; being German is owed to a commonality that distinguishes them from other peoples, and is also located beyond any deliberate decision by an individual. One cannot resist this “identity,” one belongs to the “German” species whether one wants to or not – not because the state recruits the young on the occasion of their birth without asking them, but because circumstances that can’t be avoided – birth, talking, growing up – determine that someone is a German citizen, just as other people are stamped as French or Russians, something that just as “naturally” leads to feeling at home in the native county, which means having positive stance towards it. This way of talking about “national identity” asserts that citizens exist independently of states, that there are different nationally-defined human species independent of states, that belonging to them constitutes the essential determination of an individual, precisely his or her identity, and that these different species represent the necessity of the different states. Germany must exist because there exists the tribe, the race, the species of the Germans, and not the other way around, as it is in reality.

“I didn’t chose it,” Von Weizsaecker stresses, and thereby does not want to criticize it, but rather to claim that incorporation into a national collective is a basic fact of human existence prior to politics and independent of the state to which one has to submit, which one has to accept: collectivism, the way we like it. However, obedience is already owed to state leaders.

“Illegals” and other foreigners: culture, mentality, etc.

The distinction between nationals and foreigners as one of personal “identities” is a modern racism that is not considered as such. What is produced solely by citizenship laws and immigration policies, the differences in the treatment of people, is considered a mere political after-effect, as merely a post facto “legalization” of phenomena that have their origin elsewhere. Modern racism has entrusted the category of culture to do what nature once did. While the fascist wants to moor the different human types in blood and race so that the fabricated imperatives of nature can be executed by the political power, the democrat is eager to get the state organized environment out of nationally quite different “ways of life” in order to extract from habits, preferences and customs an imprint, a determination, a “social essence” of the people, which also subdivides humanity into subgenera just like the category “race”: into “ethnicities” with different “cultures” and cultural identities. To avoid misunderstandings: of course there are “cultural areas” with various different habits, preferences and customs. In Japan, people eat and worship differently than here, and in Turkey too. But, and this is to be categorically maintained, the treatment of a Japanese person who wants to invest in this country depends on the interest that his money meets with in this country, and not on his culture, which is courted for his money; just as a Turk is not deported because of his culture or because of his Islam, but because, if he is only a poor wage worker, he has nothing to offer that is of interest here.

In modern cultural racism, peculiarities of ways of life are inflated into a danger that the fascist calls the problem of “race mixing”: the types of people, democratically constituted by “culture,” are incompatible: foreigners are different, that’s why they should get out; multiculti is no good! Beyond all willful activities, individuals are regarded as small “ensembles” of their native social conditions, and so they meet the local as well as culturally conditioned ethnic “immune system” that produces rejection reactions. The economic cycles of immigration policy emphatically disprove this notion. When there were too few workers in this country and extras were recruited from abroad, “mentality” and “culture” did not matter; linguistic and other difficulties of adaptation were treated as practical problems that should not hinder the use of foreigners. Popular xenophobia was even reprimanded from above. Since mass unemployment has become a permanent feature, politicians regularly remember that foreigners are not as radically obtainable as nationals – they still belong to another state, and that counts against them. Meanwhile, xenophobia is regarded as a “natural” and understandable accessory in the mental toolkit of modern citizens; politicians “must” take this emotion into account through harassment and deportations, otherwise some citizens will take matters into their own hands and inflict abuses on the basis of “feelings” which are an integral part of the local “culture.” It is not the “foreigners,” but the interest in them that has changed, that’s why they are now considered a “problem.” Tourists, by the way, may be like them in culture and mentality, but they are not considered foreigners in the same sense – they bring foreign exchange.

By far the most radical racist figure not considered as such is today’s “illegal.” As the name suggests, these are people who do nothing illegal in this country, but are completely and truly illegal. They are, in their entire person, unlawful, unauthorized, and have no right to exist. What they suffer as a result of legislation and enforcement, everything that is done to them, is ascribed to them as their identity: they are the illegals. They are then treated the same way; in case of resistance, tied into straight-jackets and deported. Marcus Omofuma, for example, died primarily of the racism against illegals because of his treatment as a piece of illegal existence to be deported. (It surely didn’t help him that he was also black.) The defiant objection that “no human being is illegal!” sees a contradiction to “illegality” in one’s mere existence as a human being – possibly with “innate” rights – but this is enormously mistaken. Of course, it has nothing to do with these people that they are illegal – they are made this way by law, but then they are in this way. In the modern world, a human being is defined by what the law grants or refuses, and someone who has no right to exist in this country is still a human, but one awkwardly living in it as a “wetback.” Incidentally, he cannot invoke the famous-infamous human rights either, because deportations are in accord with human rights.

Equality and human rights

When it suited the politicians, they referred ideologically to the ethnic diversity of the human-types who couldn’t possibly peacefully co-exist in the Soviet or Yugoslav “multi-ethnic states,” and thereby foreigners became a problem because of their very presence. When it suits the politicians, they also refer to the opposite, namely to the equality of “humans.” Certainly, humans are not equal, neither in terms of abilities or needs, but the bourgeois state power decides to treat its subjects in some respects equally as a demand of human nature. Indifferent to – one might even say: callous toward – their differences in economic means, the state obligates its people to use property and money-making as means of advancement. (The resulting conflicts between capital and labor, between poor and rich, are consequences of this equality and do not contradict it.) Here too is a racist image or mental figure, in that equal treatment by the political power is presented as a consequence and demand of an alleged equality of human beings.

It is the same with human rights. Their good reputation is partly based on simple ignorance of the articles in question; the customary practice in the west of waging various wars in the name of human rights should at least arouse suspicion. In any case, the rights and duties codified in them are owed to the needs and interests of bourgeois politics, which in this way brings to heel “the human” – first and foremost its own citizens, foreigners conditionally – and makes them resources. Complementing this treatment of people, the figure of “the human” is constructed in the various declarations as those who are allegedly “born” with these rights, so that the political power just grants – as well as withdraws – them, and declares itself to be the mere executive branch of human nature: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). In his essay “On the Jewish Question,” Marx quotes the:

“Constitution of Pennsylvania, Article 9, § 3: ‘All men have received from nature the imprescriptible right to worship the Almighty according to the dictates of their conscience …’ and the “Constitution of New Hampshire, Article 5 and 6: ‘Among these natural rights some are by nature inalienable …’”

However, as always, these rights have nothing to do with birth and nature, but a lot to do with the interests and points of view of the legislative authority. Huisken calls this a “total racism”:

“The basic principles according to which these states govern their people claim to be tailored to the human, i.e. to the human species... Nothing less and nothing more is claimed than that man only becomes what distinguishes him as a human being through the constitutional securement of human rights. In short: a human becomes a true human by enjoying human rights. We are dealing here with a truly total racism … Democrats would like to be charged with their constitutional principles directly by the human species as a whole. The inconsistency that can inevitably be found in all forms of racism is that something corresponding to the human, his – natural or social – essence, which still has to be imposed on him by mobilizing considerable means of violence, can also be found in this case... With the naturalization of the valid principles of securing power, the state authority grants itself the highest legal title to enforce them against its citizens. The democratic state thus defines itself as the very first human right for everyone. If it is the facilitator and guarantor of all these rights, wouldn’t a human without them be lacking that which makes him truly human?” (Huisken, Foreigner enemies and foreigner friends, p. 71)

Human beings are nothing without the state, which makes them human beings through human rights and human duties! In the notion of a “natural” human equality and in the naturalization of the principles of bourgeois rule, the racist construction of the “white man” is only generalized, “universalized”; this is quite simply declared to be the species essence of the “human.” It remains a racist construct even if it is so total that the whole of humanity falls under it. It contains the joke of any racist construction: submission under a political rule and its law is glorified into a requirement of the species. What the political power imposes on people with its violence in rights and duties corresponds to the nature of the “human,” analogous to that of the “negro,” which in the opinion of the racists of earlier times predestined them to be slaves. Democracy is therefore not unfamiliar with the invokation of a constructed human nature that gives the state orders to exercise political power.

In the days of the cold war, this human rights racism was further developed into the “human rights weapon.” The simple fact that humans were governed in real socialism differently was already a political crime, according to this insight, because it deviated from the only humane and therefore universal western principles. Of course, the second superpower of that time actually was an annoyance with its world-political ambitions, but the USA did not want to give up its declaration of war on behalf of the “enslaved” Soviet people. What they got from their “support” by the west is now apparent: the situation of human rights in the former Soviet Union has improved and the situation of the humans has gotten enormously worse.

Democratic anti-racism

With the removal of the apartheid regime by South African democracy, the material situation of the majority of the black population has not changed. Nowadays, however, these people’s plight is not an international scandal because this situation is no longer based on race, but on belonging to the class of people with no property who need jobs because they have nothing else. Apparently, it was never the misery as such that was the scandal, but only the South African method of assigning people to misery according to skin color. For some years now, the internationally recognized and human rights-compliant version of dealing with commodities, money, wage labor, and property, which forces a crappy life on so many, has also been in force in South Africa.

The death of Marcus Omofuma has revealed the finer points in the proper constitutional and police state handling of “illegals” to a broad public. It is not right to kill someone by taping their mouth shut, politicians quickly came to agree with that small part of the public that was outraged; but deporting people out of the country when they desecrate the holy country’s soil by their illegal presence must be unobjectionable. Escalating violence against deportees is regulated in detail in the relevant laws, since the officers need clear laws so that an understandable over-zealousness – a “police mentality” or “work-to-rule”? not in deportations! – does not endanger the reputation of the republic once again.

The normal anti-racism in everyday democratic life consists of denying racist “generalizations” or “stereotypes” – and thus affirms the racist standards. Anyone who wants to stand up for blacks, foreigners, or Jews with the suggestion that they are not at all what the racists claim, expresses their concern in this dispute by accusing the racist of a simple error, and implicitly agrees with the racist: if blacks or Jews really were “like that,” then what?

Racism is not a complicated, semi-unconscious historical-social-psychological phenomenon. Racism is a highly respected moral view of one’s fellow citizens, workers and entrepreneurs, millionaires and homeless people, residents and foreigners and illegals, women and men, which looks to see whether the individual gets what he deserves, what belongs to him, what corresponds to him. This view has its firm orientation in the conviction that class society is first of all a community in which secondly each individual realizes that which is already inside him as a “predisposition,” that for which he was “born” – at least in principle, even if the world is full of exceptions. Capitalism, or rather the distribution of people into the professions, hierarchies and careers that it generates, becomes in this view an attempt to do justice to “humans” according to the differences in their “talents” and “abilities” – as if occupations and jobs exist in the market economy in order to allow “humans” to “develop” or “realize” themselves and not the actual reason: they make money. Those who are outside this select national “community” are, as we all know, considered a special case for this reason alone and are at best tolerated.

The scandal for this consciousness is only the unobjective selection and treatment of people in comparison to “objective” requirements; if, for example, career oppportunities are not decided by educational achievements – this is the true “natural selection”? – but by skin color, national origin or gender, hence according to aspects irrelevant to today’s moral standards. It is fine if someone is excluded from university and higher education as long as the procedure meets the current standards, i.e. women and Jews are in principle admitted to university as well. It would only be an outrageous scandal if the state were to sentence people according to their skin color to the poverty that is inevitable in the free market economy. Democratic anti-racism is not usually outraged about the outrageous results of the use and treatment of people in capitalism, but only about previously recognized and now reprehensible methods of institutionalizing poverty. “Nobody may be disadvantaged and preferred because of their sex, descent, race, language, homeland and origin, religious and political opinions,” it says in the exemplary German constitution. But everyone has to be “disadvantaged and favored” because of their achievements in school, because that is how the selection that is practiced today works. Everyone must be discriminated against because of their lack of money or property and excluded from the social wealth that certainly exists. Everyone must be discriminated against and favored because of their class – wage labor or capital – because that corresponds with the laws of capitalism. Everyone is allowed to beg regardless of gender, race, etc., as long as it is tolerated by the local government. If hundreds of millions of people go hungry and millions starve every year, according to the criteria of the market economy, then that is really only because of the money they do not have, and therefore they do not have access to all the food that is available for sale. There is no discrimination that is unobjective, i.e. improper to the market economy.

In this view, the unpleasant-to-ruinous “destinies” produced by the competition in school and university and later in the labor market and the companies are regarded as results of differences in individual endowments or “gifts,” provided that all the individuals participate on an equal footing. In this racist thinking, the true nature of “humanity” finally comes into its own in this, the best of all possible worlds.

How not to fight racism

One should not try to defend Jews by testifying that they are not at all what the Fuhrer (or his kindred spirits today) says. The objectively correct suggestion that Jews are also capable of state formation affirms the fascist standard that is applied to people. It is not a compliment to say that people do not assert their interests; that they have internalized servitude and duty in every respect; that they are the personification of the “will to sacrifice.” It is not a complement to attest that a people is the way a fascist leader wants his human material to be. It is no good to cultivate a positive racism toward Jews by ascribing all the positive (!) qualities of the Aryans to this “Judiasm.” A choice has to be made.

“Nigger” and “gypsy” are no doubt offensive words and stand for sub-humans – but only among racists. It is no good if one concedes the racist use of language and avoids these terms for this reason, eliminating niggers and gypsies by means of language rules – and “fights” racism by taking the objects of racist aggression out of circulation in a semantic way. Its as if the anti-racist wants to pass off a fib himself: if there really were such a thing as niggers, he wouldn’t have any objection to treating them as sub-humans, but naturally because he is against that, he sidesteps the dispute by slyly signalling to the racist that he does not need to take action – there aren’t any “niggers” here anyway, everything is ok, only upstanding niggers, i.e.. blacks!? Blacks are, by the way, differently pigmented, and nothing follows from that – if a racist claims that something does, it is a practical question of the balance of power whether they can get away with it. The implicit denial or relativization of facts – of different skin colors, in this case – or references to the conclusions of modern genetic research are also no good if done with an anti-racist intention. Racism is a political need and can’t be refuted by scientific findings.

Every time I read “Sinti and Roma,” a picture appears in my mind’s eye in which an overly-subtle anti-racist tries to dupe the Fuhrer. The Fuhrer gives the order for the final solution to the gypsy question, and the anti-racist shows that he is zealous and compliant: “I have followed the command, my Fuhrer, but there are no gypsies here. There are Sinti and Roma!” What if the Fuhrer doesn’t fall for it? By the way, the attempt to escape racism by renaming failed once before. In the process of their assimilation efforts, German Jews also changed their “Jewish” names. It was no help to them.