David Iverson. Sydney Libertarianism 1956

Deadlock in Little Rock

Source: Broadsheet No. 1, 1956;
Transcribed: by Curtis Price.

“Hurrah, hurrah,
We bring the jubilee.
Hurrah, hurrah,
The flag that sets you free.”

Once again a Yankee army of liberation is invading the South to prove the superiority of Federal authority to that of the Confederate states. In the American Civil War, the abolitionists who opposed Negro slavery supported the military slavery of thousands of Yankees in the Federal armies even though it might be argued that the lot of the Yankee G.I. was far worse than that of Uncle Remus and that both were certainly not free. A similar situation exists today in Arkansas where selected Negro children are being set free from high school segregation by means of 111 paratroopers each.

When this sort, of thing happens on the other side of the Iron Curtain, America is one of the first to proclaim that armies of liberation are a contradiction in terms, that you cannot obtain freedom by coercion of the civil population. Disorder in Hungary is an expression of popular discontent and should not be put down by force of arms; disorder in Little Rock is anarchy, a threat to free institutions, and must be put down by force of arms.

Of, course, Eisenhower and Faubus differ over the cause of the disorder, whether it is the unruly Southern extremists or the too forward school governors, but they are both agreed that “law and order” should be maintained by the use of troops either to get the Negroes to school or to keep them out. The power of the state – federal or confederate, with a Republican or a Democratic government – rests on coercion.

Eisenhower and Faubus claim not to base their authority on sheer force of arms, they are both “representatives of the popular will.” It seems a little difficult at first sight to understand how the popular wills of America and the Deep South can be so diametrically opposed but it becomes easier when we realize that there is no ‘popular will’ for either Eisenhower or Faubus to “represent.” People, or rather, various social groups have different ‘wills’ or demands – they want different things, they are caught up in different ways of living and these ways of living often have little in common. The industrialist, for example – and the Deep South is becoming increasingly industrialized – wants an expanding skilled labor force that will increase production and depress wages, while the white proletariat of the South wants to restrict entry into the skilled trades in order to maintain wage rates. Negroes educated at the higher standard “white” schools are, of course, potential recruits for the skilled trades.

Thus the Southern industrialists have joined with Yankee investors and the Negro bourgeoisie against the Southern white proletariat and also against the traditional Deep South farmers who want to retain their abundant supply of cheap unskilled labor.

While the industrialists have overcome their racial prejudice because of their economic interest, the farmers and proletariat still find that the two coincide. Moreover, the ingrained racial prejudice of the Southern white is closely linked with his psychological organization, independently of his economic interests. The Negro is not only the out group and the scapegoat for the Southern whites, he is also their most common id. projection – whites are clean, decent and respectable but “niggers” are dirty, lascivious and disreputable. All the desires that the white’s super-ego rejects are projected onto the Negro – so much so, indeed, that a Negro is in danger if he merely casts an appreciative glance at a well-proportioned white girl.

It is therefore not surprising that the ‘enlightened’ industrialist and financier cannot convince the Southern whites that Negroes are their equals. However, forcing white students and their parents to acquiesce to integration under the bayonets of big business is not to convince them of the “brotherhood of man,” but merely to compel them to conform – their behavior is changed but not their emotional economy. Once the threat of bayonets is removed, the South reverts to its former behavior, or even to a more intensified racial aggression because of the repression to which it has been subjected.

Federal paratroops may prevent white students from chanting “Two, four, six, eight – we ain’t gonna integrate,” but once the troops leave the white students not only chant, they also bark – and so the paratroops return. And it appears that without a radical change in the emotional organization of the Southern white, the paratroops will have to stay if “integration” is going to continue. It is not surprising that with the Federal High Court “integration” judgement and its various orders has gone along a spectacular rise in the membership of the Ku Klux Klan.

The deadlock in Little Rock is the same deadlock that always occurs when conformity is produced by repression. To speak of “Negro emancipation” or “equality of educational opportunity” is only to confute the issue which is simply that state power proceeds by coercion and repression and can never be on the side of freedom.