This morning, as every morning, I woke up with a song in my head. On August 27th, that song was Deuchland Uber Alles. Part of it, I think had to do with the fact that I went to bed last night watching the Motor Trend 2012 Driver's Car Award which went to the new Porsche 911 Carrera S. Or maybe it was the Olympics. Or maybe it was the fact that my youngest daughter is now reading about WW1 (All's Quiet). Either way, the granduer of the song, and my growing fondness for Mahler (starting with #5 of course) provoked an interesting question.
If Germany had won WW2, would black Americans have greater or fewer civil rights by now?
In part, the rhetorical question seeks to debunk the racial qua racial aspect of complaints against racism. Racism doesn't exist because whites are white. It exists because whites are politically racist. It isn't about one's 'aryan' qualities that makes one more or less racist, rather about ones need for a theory of race in politics and government.
That in turn raises the question of whether or not the extermination of Jews as part and parcel of the plan of the Third Reich was an ultimate goal, or an enabler, or both. Was it a domestic question or not? I'm not sure of the answers to these questions even though I did read, some time ago, the book Fatherland.
But tangential to the direct question is whether or not the UK would have fragmented & what the character of the British we Americans would be fond of, which goes back to how much of the global order we now know and take for granted would have emerged under the triumphant but exhausted Third Reich. Would Hitler have initiated his own Marshall Plan? Was Vichy France actually so terrible? Is it conceivable that the Germany we have today, which is by all appearances kinder, gentler, more reasonable and civilized would be similar under the National Socialists? What differences in European Socialism, or the sort Barack Obama seeks to establish as a Neoliberal Social Democrat today would be evident as the Third Reich evolved? These are all variations of the question of whether or not Hitler's fascism would have survived and scaled in the post-war era. Surely the Japanese, holding out as long as they did, would not have capitulated as Axis partners and their influence would have been served as well, in the post-war era - the Italians, not so much.
Ultimately, it is a question of the ways in which, philosophically, National Socialism itself regards the citizen and what levels of provisional citizenship Germany would have given to Americans, and much of that depends upon what level of recognitions Americans would have demanded of themselves.
It might be argued that the American defeats in Korea and Vietnam generated a new kind of abashed unity among Americans, and that such a defeat in WW2 would have all Americans demanding the most rights possible for all Americans under German rule. It could also be argued that given any opportunity for advanced rights under a German system, American whites would gladly accept second (or third) class citizens for all American ethnics the Germans bothered to classify. I find it difficult to believe, without researching the matter, that triumphant Germans would leave the matter open to interpretation. There most definitely would be classes of citizens in the Global Third Reich, and you would be held to them.
It is that notion of the Teutonic persnickety factor that suggests to me that whatever rights were granted to the American Negro, he would have them in short order and have little more than that in the long term. And so that is my position. Now what exactly might those rights be? Would they have been enough? Would we have been satisfied? How effective could any protest against them be in the short term, in the long term? And so where would we be today?
Now here's where the question gets a lot more tricky and interesting. Considering the status and tone of the debate on race today, and especially with the particular significance given by writers like T. Coates at the Atlantic about latent racial cultural politics in America:
What are we to make of the inevitable(?) progress in anti-racist politics? In other words, if black Americans understood white supremacy so well, is there anything at all so different about the white supremacy of the Third Reich, of Jim Crow of Apartheid that would have disabled the sort of progress we have seen in America? Would the Black Panthers, MLK and Malcolm X sufficed? Would black America have come up with the right formula no matter who the white overlords were and how they manifested their dominance? I don't see it difficult to imagine black and white resistance against Nazis building, as it were, a second Underground Railroad - a different kind of Civil Rights movement. On the other hand, it's also not so difficult to imagine a horde of white American Nazi sellouts led by the like of Charles Lindbergh. You may feel free to speculate.
What we are now witnessing is not some new and complicated expression of white racism—rather, it’s the dying embers of the same old racism that once rendered the best pickings of America the exclusive province of unblackness.