Racial Politics In America

Ron Unz writes: Consider that blogger Steve Sailer is a California native who moved back to live in his hometown of Los Angeles around twenty years ago. While he was growing up, that city was among the whitest in America, but for the last couple of decades the population has been half Hispanic, with white Europeans probably constituting no more than 20% of the total. Racially- or ideologically-charged topics are his primary focus, especially those connected with politics. But although his posts regularly deal with all sorts of national controversies, in recent years he has only very rarely written anything about Los Angeles politics or California issues in general. Indeed, someone reading his blog over the last decade would have remained almost entirely unaware of the many hard-fought state and city election campaigns that had spent so many hundreds of millions dollars on advertising that blankets the airwaves all around his own home. The obvious reason for his remarkable silence is that nearly all those political candidates and campaigns were so bland and boring that there was almost never anything interesting to say about them. These days, Los Angeles is just not a very “exciting” city to live in or write about. By contrast, Brazil is an extremely “exciting” country, and if he were living there, his blog would surely be overwhelmed with local stories.

Oddly enough, both Los Angeles and California had experienced far more such negative “excitement” decades ago, when both were still overwhelmingly white. Although Southern California had widely been considered a true American paradise in the 1950s and early 1960s, several tumultuous decades soon followed, encompassing the Watts Riots, the two hundred or so racial Zebra killings in San Francisco and statewide, the Manson murders, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the extremely high urban crime rates from the 1980s onward, the LA Riots, and the bitter racial turmoil of the 1990s. Throughout most of the second half of the twentieth century, our state was notorious for its bizarre and often dangerous politics, with the 1978 killing of a San Francisco-area Congressman in the huge Jonestown Massacre followed just a week later by the assassination of the mayor of that same city at the hands of a conservative former supervisor. Yet as whites became a much smaller share of the population, all this turmoil and controversy seemed to fade away, a trend exactly contrary to what fearful white activists might have normally predicted.

Admittedly, many of the examples mentioned above, such as the deadly urban riots and the Zebra killings, were directly associated with the state’s black population. But California had always had by far the smallest black population of any large state, and that fraction has dropped by less than a percentage point in the last fifty years. So black demographic changes cannot be responsible. However, today 60% of the state population is neither black nor white, and perhaps this majority has had a salutary buffering effect on the local version of America’s eternal black-white racial conflict.

California still has very serious long-term problems far beyond the deadly wildfires currently ravaging portions of the state, but few of these seem related to bitter racial or ideological conflicts. Probably the leading concern is the extremely high cost of housing, and once these huge living expenses are properly considered, the state’s resulting poverty rate is among the worst in the country. The post-Cold War era of the early 1990s saw the disappearance of Southern California’s huge aerospace industry, which had traditionally been the largest source of well-paying middle class jobs, and although the current Tech Boom—or perhaps Tech Bubble—has created enormous wealth, nearly all of that has been concentrated within a sliver of the population, giving California one of America’s most unequal income distributions. Some of these poverty problems are being gradually alleviated by the 2015 enactment of a huge rise in the statewide Minimum Wage, which will reach $15 per hour by 2023, a political movement that I’m proud to have substantially fostered, but the impact is a gradual one.

It seems undeniable that most of these major California problems are closely connected to the doubling of the state’s population since the late 1960s, and nearly all of that huge increase was due to very heavy foreign immigration. Such rapid population growth naturally benefits Capital at the expense of Labor, so the resulting changes have both raised housing costs and lowered worker wages. There has also been a sharp reduction in the quality of life as more and more residents have been pushed out into the less desirable portions of the state, such as the smoggy Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which often require horrific traffic commutes to Los Angeles area jobs. Even the recent spate of wildfires may not be entirely unconnected since suburban growth puts more areas at risk and state water problems have been exacerbated by increased consumption. But most of these same problems would have occurred if the many millions of newcomers had been white rather than Hispanic or Asian.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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