Something that came as a bit of a surprise to me in the past few days is that there appears to be far more controversy around the question of the existence of a “White” nation in either the U.S., Canada or both than i had previously realized. I’ve long been familiar with the works of David Roediger (Working Toward Whiteness & The Wages of Whiteness), Noel Ignatiev (How the Irish Became White) and Ted Allen (The Invention of the White Race), and of course i am also deeply influenced by the underground historical materialist text Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat by J. Sakai. These authors, some more problematically than others, have covered much of this ground already in terms of coming to a working understanding of the White Nation, including how its borders have never been fixed and has readily, but not without turmoil, integrated people from outside of its original founders.
So for myself the existence of a White Nation was never particularly controversial. Even thoroughly recalcitrantly First Worldist and White chauvinist formations such as the “Maoist” Revolutionary Communist Party, USA hold to the existence of a “European-American” oppressor nation (Draft Programme of the RCP, USA).
That said, while i feel that those who argue against the White Nation thesis produce arguments of dubious quality, in the process revealing their own rotten politics and analysis, it has nevertheless forced me to think out a little more my perspective on the issue. To that end, and with the hopes of one day doing a much more thorough study, i’ve put together the following basic thoughts on the topic.
1) To start with, let us define this national grouping that we are talking about, this “White nation”. Simply put, it is the dominant oppressor nation in Occupied Turtle Island. It is the English-speaking nation descended originally from European settlers of various British (English, Scottish, Welsh), German, Dutch and to a lessor extent Scandinavian backgrounds and who are knit together by a shared, significant historical experience of oppressing Onkwehón:we, Métis, Chicanos, Boricua and Africans through colonization, genocide, slavery and land theft. This shared history of violent settler-colonialism on this continent gave rise to the sense of sameness they now broadly share. In other words they share a common psycho-spiritual (cultural) makeup, economic existence and culture. That said, regional variations of course exist – however we should not confuse these as implying various “White nations” or “sub-nations”. (1)
2) Secondly, this sense of sameness transcends the artificial settler border that separates the two dominant geopolitical entities in North America – the United States and Canada. In this regard the differences between the “Canadian nation” and the “American nation” are for the most part rather superficial. This is not to deny that there were slightly different European settlement patterns in the U.S. and Canada, or that there are not slight differences today. Overall they share much in common in terms of history, language, economics and culture – far more so than they do not. With this in mind i would argue that the English-speaking oppressor populations of the two territories in fact constitute a single White settler nation. Again to hammer in a point raised in 1), while it may be useful for various reasons to distinguish between various subsections of this settler nation (2), the existence of sub-sections should not be confused with saying that there exists a multitude of English-speaking settler nations on this continent.
3) Thirdly, i actually do not particularly care for the term “White nation” for a host of reasons. Primarily, it is an incorrect term in the sense that it draws on racialist ideology and imagery. Not only this, but it can confuse the issue in a number of ways by drawing on this racialist imagery. The term i prefer at this present moment, and the term that is referenced in the title of this article, is the North American nation. However, i find myself forced to continually deploy terms like “White”, “White Nation” etc because they are pedagogically useful due to the widespread understanding of “Whiteness” in Occupied Turtle Island.
4) Fourthly, we must examine the question of the french-speaking territory of Québec, and whether or not it is part of the North American nation. This is because Québec while politically a part of the Canadian confederation also has long standing contradictions with North America (specifically Anglo-Canada). These contradictions, which are largely as a result of Anglo-chauvinism in North America even gave to rise to a Québec ”national liberation movement” in the 1960s which continues, though decreased in size and potency, to this day. So the question is whether Québec constitutes its own settler-colonial nation apart from the North American nation or if after 250 years of political and economic unity with North America it is a fully integrated, if somewhat unique, entity within the North American political entity. Regardless however of whether or not Québec is deemed to be a distinct settler-colonial entity, it is undeniable today that Québec is a fully integrated junior partner in North American imperialism, the parasitic capitalist world-economy and is no friend of the oppressed nations – domestically or within the Third World. (3)
5) Finally to deny that others – Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, Ukranians etc – can become, indeed for the most part have, integrated into this “White” nation founded on a history of violent settler-colonialism is a total folly. In fact it has more often than not been the case that Irish, Italians, Poles and other peoples from Europe who were at one point or another nationally oppressed (in particular the Irish) on that continent have indeed become integrated fully into the North American nation by taking up the practices and beliefs of the original settler-colonists with regards to the domestic colonies in Occupied Turtle Island. Many have noticed and elaborated upon this phenomena:
I had my fill of seeing people come down the gangplank on Wednesday, let us say, speaking not a word of English, and by Friday discovering that i was working for them and they were calling me nigger like everybody else. So that the Italian adventure or even the Jewish adventure, however grim, is distinguished from my own adventure. – James Baldwin, African novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic
I was not very long there until, like water, I found my own level. ‘My people’ – the people who knew about oppression, discrimination, prejudice, poverty and the frustration and despair that they produce – were not Irish Americans. They were black, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos. And those who were supposed to be ‘my people’, the Irish Americans who knew about English misrule and the Famine and supported the civil rights movement at home, and knew that Partition and England were the cause of the problem, looked and sounded to me like Orangemen. They said exactly the same things about blacks that the loyalists said about us at home. In New York I was given the key to the city by the mayor, an honor not to be sneezed at. I gave it to the Black Panthers. – Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, Irish republican socialist
So to deny this is at the very best to be guilty of stretching the truth (taking counter-examples to this trend and extending them to the general), but it is actually much closer to being willfully ignorant of history and current socio-economic, cultural and political on-the-ground reality in Occupied Turtle Island. It it is to be metaphysical, undialectical and philosophically idealist in ones approach to nation.
To reiterate, these above points are not meant to be in depth or definitive, but rather what i hope can be the leaping off point of a wider discussion on settler-colonialism, internal/domestic colonialism, White Power and decolonization in Occupied Turtle Island.
1) Some organizations, such as the original Maoist Internationalist Movement, long ago pointed out that is difficult to even draw significant differences between the British nation and the North American nation. Still others, like the Uhuru Movement, link together all of what are generally considered to be distinct Western European nations and their settler-colony offspring (North America, Israel, Australasia) together into a single White, or European, nation. I personally feel that a fairly good argument can be made for this broadening of the concept of the White nation, but for the purposes of these brief thoughts i keeping the scope zoomed squarely in on so-called “North America”.
2) For my own purposes i tend to distinguish between Anglo-Canadian and U.S. (American) sub-sections of the north amerikan nation.
3) My own loosely assembled thoughts on the “Quebec question” can be found in the article Settler-Colonialism in Disguise: An Indigenist Critique of Québécois Nationalism.
Enaemaehkiw Túpac Keshena (Mamaceqtaw)