Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Effect Of 50 Years Of Warsocialism Abroad On Politics At Home


npr |  "To be clear, I'm not arguing that this is at all representative of Vietnam veterans — this is a tiny, tiny percentage of returning veterans," Belew says. "But it is a large and instrumental number of people within the White Power movement — and they play really important roles in changing the course of movement action."

In her new book, Bring the War Home, Belew argues that as disparate racist groups came together, the movement's goal shifted from one of "vigilante activism" to something more wide-reaching: "It's aimed at unseating the federal government. ... It's aimed at undermining infrastructure and currency to foment race war."

The Vietnam War narrative works first of all to unite people who had previously not been able to be in a room together and to have a shared sense of mission. So, for instance, Klansmen and neo-Nazis after World War II had a very difficult time aligning, because Klansmen tended to see neo-Nazis as enemies ... the people they were confronting in World War II. But after Vietnam they see common cause around their betrayal by the government and around the failed project of the Vietnam War. So that's one function.

Another function of the Vietnam War is to provide a narrative that shapes the violence itself, and this is partly material in that veterans who are trained in Vietnam War boot camps come back and create boot camps to train other White Power activists. People who didn't serve in Vietnam War combat even use U.S. Army training manuals and other kind of paramilitary infrastructure to shape White Power violence and they even choose Vietnam War issue weapons, uniforms and material and even obtain stolen military weapons to foment activism.

On the White Power movement turning on the state
The turn on the state happened in 1983. It happened at the Aryan Nations World Congress, which was a meeting of many different factions of the White Power movement and the thing that's important about this turn on the state is that it's openly anti-state for the first time in the 20th century. Prior Klan mobilizations had really been organized about maintaining the status quo or maintaining what historians would call "systemic power," which is to say, state power and all of the other kinds of power that are bound up in state power.

thenation |  The belief expressed here is that the majority of Americans are soft and insulated, ignorant of a long-running war, and that revolutionary racist terror is the only remedy for an American society suffering from a terminal cancer of liberalism and tolerance. This conviction may seem obscure and The Turner Diaries mere fiction, but as the historian Kathleen Belew demonstrates in her compelling new book, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, it has been at the core of decades of white-supremacist organizing and violence. 

Meticulously researched and powerfully argued, Belew’s book isn’t only a definitive history of white-racist violence in late-20th-century America, but also a rigorous meditation on the relationship between American militarism abroad and extremism at home, with distressing implications for the United States in 2018 and beyond. Two fundamental insights underpin the book: first, that there exists a profound relationship between America’s military violence and domestic right-wing paramilitary organizations, and, second, that the character of that relationship underwent a decisive change in the late 1970s and early ’80s.