It is vital that Americans, and the whole Western world, identify clearly one common driving mythology which American leaders would share with Hitler and modern neo-Nazis – Aryanism, the doctrine of white racial superiority enshrined in state power and its use to exterminate non-white peoples all over the earth.
Of all the threats to civilizations on this planet this one – systemic, rapidly (re)organizing Western racism – is the one most likely to plunge much if not all of the world into a darkness from which it is hard to imagine we might emerge as a recognizably human community. It won’t matter at all how green our planet is if it is littered with death camps and the howls of neo-Nazi, KKK or just plain white lynch mobs…
In this post I review a remarkable book which delves in the race-thinking which lay behind Teddy Roosevelt’s foreign policy which created American death camps in the Philippines, fostered Japan’s genocidal role as “honorary Aryans” in East Asia, and still echoes strongly today in the American far right.
But Aryanism was embraced even earlier, from the very founding of America. It was the self-serving doctrine of European empires from the moment their ships reached the shores of foreign lands. Aryanism was comfortably known as the White Man’s Burden, but it justified enslavement of non-whites and their extermination as a self-evident consequence of white races who claimed Darwinian superiority and therefore the “natural right” to own and govern the planet.
Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the new United States, would today be tried as a war crimininal for genocidal “clearing” of the American Frontier, but this history is still carefully muted, indeed shrouded, from American view.
Yet this race-thinking was used to encourage and justify American exceptionalism and thus expansion westward as surely as it fuelled Hitler’s extermination of Jewish populations and Nazi expansion across Europe and into Russia as the Nazi plan for racial domination of the world.
The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War
This book is a political must read if we want to get a grip on the race-thinking behind Amerian (and other) White Nationalism. The title is actually quite misleading. The book is not so much about secret foreign policy as about the origins of that foreign policy in a radical race doctrine known as Aryanism. Unfortunately, it has been successfully disguised as a sort of one-off, mad doctrine cooked up by Hitler and Nazi elites, swallowed hook, line, and sinker by a gullible German people.
Of course Hitler wrapped it in unique Germanic mythology, but In Bradley’s book we learn that this so-called Nazi ideology was driving American imperial ambition and policy 100 years before Hitler arrived on the European scene.
Bradley’s main thesis concerns American – especially President Teddy Roosevelt’s – manipulation of Japan to become surrogate Aryans carrying out conquest in the Far East, over-cooking this to the point that Japan one day would attack Pearl Harbor.
Bradley details the historical record clearly, showing American advisors, and Roosevelt himself, grooming Japanese representatives, advising them of their duty to carry out the “white civilizing mission” all over the globe. This would properly include conquering Korea, for a start, and placing it under harsh Japanese tutelage. In other cases, such as Taiwan, this baldly meant efforts to exterminate “inferior” peoples.
This hitherto suppressed history makes sense of Japan’s plans for imperial expansion and outrage when the United States panicked in the 20th century, and cutting off Japanese imperial life-lines in the Far East.
There is also a larger story of Japanese modern history to which Bradley makes a great contribution, in particular, Japan’s failed push for a “racial equality of nations” article to be inserted into the League of Nations charter at the 1919 Paris Peace Talks. This fuelled intense resentment, but also intensified the Japanese modernization program, having correctly gauged that failure to demonstrate “western” capabilities would make you a target for extermination – eventually.
While the Nazi threat to Europe, Britain and Russia is what most western history emphasizes, the war in the Pacific was extremely hard fought with each Japanese victory – and even defeat – inflicting terrible suffering on each country they attacked.
In the course of telling the story of American manipulation of Japan, Bradley illuminates the larger field of race-based American foreign policy in the 19th century. He produces verbatim statements, private writings, and recorded conversations of leading political elites, especially the forceful and effective President Teddy Roosevelt.
Here we see starkly articulated a policy in which the extermination of entire peoples is dictated by the (white man’s) judgment that they are incapable of adopting white civilization.
The essential theory, held without reservation by Teddy Roosevelt, was really an elaborate mythology accepted as scientific doctrine and a guide to action among all western imperial states. It stated that the German/Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic peoples were the sole descendants of an ancient, supposedly “superior” Aryan race from Persia who almost disappeared because they had allowed themselves to be submerged and degraded in surrounding “inferior” brown and black civilizations. A tiny group of surviving “Aryans” then managed to migrate to the forests of Germany emerging as modern Teutons, a pure race born – so the mythology goes – to rule the world.
We learn that Rudyard Kipling’s most famous poem White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands, (1899), with its startling race images, was written specifically to encourage the United States at that time to continue their extermination policies in the Philippines.
This, again, illustrates the truly culture-wide nature of racism. This poem was beloved and oft-cited, rather than rejected as sheer, unapologetic racism. It is important to realized that this was the case precisely because the mythology of a superior ancient Aryan race was embedded in German, British, and American culture at every level.
In an age where race-thinking was a norm, racism as we recognize it today – a self-evidently derogatory concept – did not have the meaning it has acquired in the West today. That is no excuse, of course – race-thinking and western imperialism are linked at every level of culture, economics, religion and politics. The rapacious greed for free resources, land, slaves, minerals, and especially the treasures of gold, silver, and precious gems in places like India, Mexico, Central and South America, drove the violent, genocidal takeovers by western colonists and the armies that backed them.
In Teddy Roosevelt’s time, as the Kipling poem makes clear, race-thinking permeated all levels of western societies. The media of the time carried popular accounts including graphic pictures called “cartoons” of the waterboarding of Filipinos (mockingly called “the water cure”) recounted as routine in soldiers’ letters home and popularized in US Army marching songs.
Today, “race-thinking” is rejected, and its existence as a recent (and still-present) political doctrine of Western Imperialism buried as deeply as possible by court historians and media.
I certainly did not learn in history class that an estimated 2, even 3 million Filipinos were killed by Americans in military campaigns and concentration camps where torture, executions, and starvation – including that of women and children – were routine policy, if not sport.
Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West 1830-1890 y Peter Pagnamenta illustrates Bradley’s thesis, though more in passing, which is all the more chilling.
While I enjoyed the tale of British aristocrats and their infatuation with the American West, I had been somewhat startled by the author’s repeated observation that many of these aristocrats, including Queen Victoria herself, expressed regret that the American Indian was “doomed to disappear.”
The queen’s observation, colored by mild regret, was not accompanied by indignation, or even surprise. Nor did it prompt any attempts to intervene on the part of the British nobility, despite their personal admiration, in many cases, for particular American Indians they had met.
In Bradley’s book, we learn why the British accepted the coming disappearance of the American Indian in such a resigned, open manner. They recognized and shared the cornerstone of President Theordore Roosevelt’s policies – the fact that Aryan supremacy race doctrines included the historically – some thought divinely given – mandate for white, Teuton, German Anglo-Saxons, the last of the Aryans, to push ever westward, emptying the planet of inferior, non-Aryan peoples.
The formation of the United States was conceptualized by elites as a westward movement, initially of Anglo-Saxon Germans (remnant survivors of Persian Aryans) who invaded England, nearly exterminated the early Briton-Celts, and then pushed westward again, taking ownership of the North American continent, which again entailed emptying it of “inferior peoples.”
Thus the Indian had been duly examined – by white men – and deemed incapable of adopting white/Aryan civilization.
For this reason, their extermination was “historically mandated”, the sentence to be carried out, in stages if necessary, by the US Government.
In one of many initiatives to ethnically cleanse the new “American” frontiers – ever moving more westward – President Andrew Jackson created the Indian Removal Act of 1830, whereby hundreds of thousands of southeastern American Indians were forced to march, along what became known as the Trail of Tears, at gunpoint, thousands of miles to lands far west, far from (at that time) white settler-occupied lands. But there were other other atrocities; following the Black Hawk War in northern states in 1830 millions more acres were opened to white settlers – with once again, Indians “removed” from their homelands.
The reservations were not haphazard responses by US planners, but – as with all such concentration camps – were instruments of first cultural and then physical degradation and, ultimately, death of a people.
Similarly, the concentration camps which riddled the Philippines as part of the US occupation were forms of extermination which supplemented the military, in some cases “hunting” expeditions of people whose extermination was in the historical works.
James Bradley’s book, The Imperial Cruise (and I do recommend Prairie Fever to supplement this) illuminates a dark, hidden corner of the revered Teddy Roosevelt’s American and its race-based imperial policies at home and abroad.
We need to recognize that the Aryan supremacy doctrine was by no means unique to Hitler and the Nazis, emerging as it did in Germany late in the day after its adoption by British, European, and American Imperialism.