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Review: "Amazon Nation or Aryan Nation" by Bottomfish Blues

Polemical essays, due to their angry immediacy, can be easily dismissed by an audience uncomfortable with the subject matter.  Not that this is really a problem: such essays are usually designed to implicate such audiences.  Hence, the essays in Kersplebedeb's recent Bottomfish Blues collection, Amazon Nation or Aryan Nation: white women and the coming of black genocide, will most certainly offend those readers who have no intention of even entertaining the notion that there is such a thing as even a tendency towards black genocide in the everyday operations of US political/economic power.

The first two essays of this collection were written in 1989/90, right when the imperialist camp declared capitalism to be the end of history, and were intended to describe the functioning of white power capitalism at the heart of global capitalism.  The first, "Kill the Kids First: the Coming of Black Genocide", already possesses a certain level of notoriety, and was republished online around a year ago so as to promote this collection.  The second, "Integration", though far shorter, is significant insofar as it treats the internal political landscape of the US as similar to South Afrikaaner and Israeli apartheid, thus mocking any assumption that the captain of world imperialism is the "land of the free."  Not pleasant reading, insofar as pleasant is defined as "sober" and "inoffensive", but this is the kind of subject matter that deserves innumerable polemical treatments.

Let's get the most obvious criticism out of the way: all of this talk of black genocide can be easily dismissed as "conspiracy theory" and often does dip its toes in this kind of reasoning.  Hence the author's flirtation with the notorious thesis that AIDS was a CIA created plague intentionally spread amongst the black population in the US.  In the book's introduction, to be fair, the author briefly notes that this might be an overstatement; it is also worthwhile mentioning that J. Sakai, whose Settlers thesis is connected to the overall logic of these essays, has since critiqued such a conspiracy theory analysis.

But the genre of polemics is not meant to collaborate with the rules of "proper" scholarship.  Driven by the anger, such works are intended to force thought on the plane of immediacy and overstep acceptable analysis so as to punch the reader in the face with everything that is wrong with reality.  While it might be the case that the black genocide thesis can (and will be by anyone implicated by the argument) be dismissed as a conspiracy theory complaint, the arguments in the "Kill the Kids First" and "Integration" are still charting the course of certain tendencies in US society that are even now part of everyday USAmerican society––such as Zimmerman's legal impunity from murdering Trayvon Martin, as the author(s) note in the introduction.

What we are presented with in these essays is a description of actual phenomena, vicious and developing tendencies, that are simply (and angrily) attempting to explain what is happening at the moment it is happening and, in this explanation, also attempt to link this phenomena to past and future processes.  The precursors to black genocide are located in the colonial imaginary of the Jeffersonian period––where there was a real fear of slave rebellion and extermination was treated as legitimate solution––and  the ultimate destination of these processes is found in every government policy dedicated to destroying New Afrikan communities so as to "dry up the sea" and prevent counter-insurgency.

When I read "Kill the Kids First" I could not help but think of the fourth season of The Wire that follows several children who, by the end of the season, are destroyed by the structure of white-settler capitalism.  These processes were described by Bottomfish Blues in 1989/90, along with the seeds of the "absent black father" discourse that, as this essay notes, was intended to be part of the devastation of black woman and black communities… the ultimate result are the "boarder baby" homes dispersed in white communities, fire-bombed by suburban residents because even white babies are a threat to law and order.

So while it might be the case that, as the most dismissive reader will argue, such processes cannot not be planned and carried out in the manner that the author(s) describe, to dismiss the tendencies noted in these old essays would be a mistake.  Even if there is no space in which the colonial-capitalist class discusses how to complete black genocide, we have all of the "snapshots of the scene of crime" (to reference an early version of this collection's title): the destruction families, the criminalization and imprisonment of the population, the dehumanization of the people as a whole, the dispersion of the community through gentrification, the disablement of children, the intentional spread of narcotics in various communities… Add it all up and we cannot help but discover a complex process of extermination.

Connected to this description of a genocidal process, this collection of essays attempts to excavate the ways in which the white feminist movement has been largely complicit.  This critique is not accidental, nor does it fail to address the fact of black women's struggle, because it is loosely charting the ways in which race and gender intersect with class.  Bottomfish Blues was, as far as I can tell, a radical zine connected to Butch Lee, one of the authors of the incendiary Night Vision.  The same concerns, then, about the ways in which the white women's movement has been bought off and made complicit in social control, and how New Afrikan women bear the brunt of this black genocide, are the fulcrum around which the overall argument rotates.

A significant point of interest is the shorter essay, "Integration", that examines two examples of the significant contradiction between settler and New Afrikan women.  Looking at a situation where young New Afrikan women attack affluent settler women on the subway, and how the significant situation of impoverishment and oppression of these angry young women was ignored by the women's movement as a whole provides an important insight into the ways in which the brutal oppression of colonized peoples at the heart of imperialism is dismissed:

"So why can't sisters who tell us all about Palestine and South Africa see the same thing when it happens right here? […] It's only when you admit that New Afrikans are a colonized nation, that you can see what these kids are doing––albeit crude and not thought out––as resistance against oppression. The whole mindset of the integrated women's movement, that we are all sisters together, shields white women from being recognized as oppressors of other women. It takes a shining vision of the future and says that's what relationships are now, instead of the harder reality we start from."

Finally, the collection concludes with a recent essay by J. Sakai and Butch Lee entitled "The Ideas of Black Genocide in the Amerikkkan Mind."  As some of my readers might be aware, Sakai and Lee were once working on a book about Hurricane Katrina and Black Genocide and this essay, according to the editors' introduction, was originally a chapter in that unpublished manuscript.  Although the few comments made about Katrina are tantalizing, and makes me wish that I had access to this unpublished manuscript, this essay itself deals more with the genocide ideology that has operated within the US since it was founded.  Particularly, it examines the ways in which the settler establishment conceived of exterminating their slaves, as they had exterminated indigenous nations, due to the worry of slave revolution.

Here Sakai and Lee also examine how the Haitian Slave Revolution terrified the entire US settler establishment, especially since the introduction of former Haitian slaves (arriving with fleeing Haitian slave masters) into Louisiana plantations produced, within the span of a few years, various uprisings––a history that is most often hidden behind the typical white-supremacist narrative of Lincoln freeing the slaves, etc.  Such a problem is what actually motivated the US to close its doors to the international slave trade (which is treated, by liberal-racist historical depictions such as in the movie Amistad, as some sort of progressive move made by white liberal abolitions), rather than any progressive or moral sentiments.  Slave-owners argued that it was better to increase the slave population by breeding like cattle New Afrikans who had been born into slavery, hoping that this would mean a docile slave population.  Eventually even this solution was seen to be a problem, leading "founding father" racists such as Jefferson to start thinking about policies of extermination.

Charting this genocidal ideology from the Jefferson era to the 1960s, in popular culture and policy, not only reveals how "black genocide" possesses a certain level of "common sense" in the settler mind but how those who are on the receiving end of a genocidal process are also quite aware of its existence.  As the book concludes, in a terrifyingly concrete manner:

"…if genocide is what people have experienced daily for generations, then it isn't anything new. Then, genocide isn't any new threat, any different danger. It's just the same old, same old. No need for an alert at all, really. This contradiction just in itself could be really dangerous, since it is disarming. So what radicals intended to have one effect, might out of political weaknesses in the long run have the exact opposite effect."

That is, since the particular methods of black genocide do not precisely imitate the Nazi holocaust, when people try to point out that there is such a thing as a black genocide, they are treated as "crying wolf".  Or, as a white Republican is quoted as saying at the beginning of this essay in the wake of Katrina: "not a single person was marched into a gas chamber and killed"––therefore it "can't be genocide"!  Meanwhile, all of the processes pointed to in "Kill the Kids First", written back in 1989/90, remain in effect and, if anything, have become more insidious.


  1. Sorry for hijacking this post with an off-topic comment, but could you possibly do a post on your views on Maoism (Third-Worldism) (particularly the sort of line advocated for by RAIM/

    1. In previous posts I've mentioned my line on this, but I would prefer to avoid writing an entire post since I would also prefer to avoid a flame war with people who, despite my differences with them, I also respect as comrades in many ways.

    2. JMP makes a good point. Political criticism should take place in good faith with the aim of advancing revolutionary unity. It's more important to work to advance revolutionary opposition to imperialism within the belly of the beast, seeking out allies where possible without liquidating our orientation toward proletarian revolution, than reducing ourselves to effete debating teams.

    3. Indeed. While I think it is important to sometimes critique another line, as I've done with (for example) Trotskyism, this usually has to do with differentiating a larger tendency of Maoism, with all its interior differences, with one I think is antagonistic towards this line. I tend to think that there are other traditions that have non-antagonistic differences but that easily demonstrate what makes them different in the way they articulate their different lines themselves, in a principled manner, and so to just launch polemics at each other: a) doesn't add anything new to what is always articulated separately; b) exists only to create a sectarianism that probably doesn't need to exist.

  2. Sorry for hijacking this post with an off-topic comment, but could you possibly do a post on your views on the RCP USA and the New Synthesis of Communism put forward by Bob Avakian?

    1. Sorry, just saw this comment now––it was in my spam folder. I have already posted my general views on the RCP-USA's so-called "new synthesis". Considering that the Workers Dreadnought, the Afghanis and the Indians have all written very thorough critiques of the new synthesis (all of which I've linked and discussed on this site), I see no reason to reinvent the proverbial wheel of critique. Just as I also see no point about wasting anymore time talking about a piss-poor theorist with his banal thoughts about communism.

  3. Thank you for this review of this interesting book.
    Great points. It is so important to focus on how
    white supremacy manipulate white people so that they
    act against their own material interests


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