Color Clash

The Race War

by Ronald Segal
Viking, 416 pp., $6.50

Color and Race

Daedalus, 350 pp., $1.75

The struggle between whites and nonwhites, an expatriate South African informs us on the opening page of The Race War, “is the major preoccupation of mankind.” The title alone is the clue to the book. The world is perilously split between the rich, smug, mostly white exploiters of the temperate lands, and the impoverished, miserable, mostly non-white peoples of the Third World. The West—which is the villain of this morality tale—lives off the blood of the dark-skinned masses, exploiting all off-white shades for its economic advantage and political power. But the game is nearly up. The non-whites are seething, and “the sense of outrage rouses all regions of the population, driving even many of those cajoled by privilege into revolt.” The real war is not between communism and capitalism, nor one against poverty and injustice, between ethnic groups within a single nation (as one might suspect from the recent blood bath in Indonesia), nor between political factions as in China and Vietnam, but only between whites and non-whites. This is a war that cannot be halted, for “violence must surely spread till the rich and the poor, the dominant and the dominated, are alike, in the final accommodation of an equal humanity or an equal annihilation.”

A pessimistic forecast, and one designed to scare all complacent palefaces out of their skins. In this category are not only whites, but all those who share the acquisitive values of the West, including the venal leaders of the new nations, and also Japan, which, according to Segal, “is viewed in practice as no more than a satrap of the white world.” That it may also be viewed as an example less fortunate nations emulate is not apparent to the author. The condemnation of the white world is near total, and even the Russians are not spared Segal’s bitterness for their reluctance to sacrifice their creature comforts to the spread of their ideology. There is no use shedding tears for the white world, which is doomed to bring about its own destruction from an excess of greed and complacency. If it refuses to change its ways by opening its heart and its coffers to its non-white (or more properly its impoverished) brothers, “then its destruction is a questionable loss.”

In the coming race war there is apparently no use in choosing sides, since Nature has taken care of that for us, Whites are what they are—colonialists, imperialists, exploiters—and non-whites are virtuous victims of white rapacity. The fact that non-whites can no more be lumped together than can non-yellows, non-blacks, or equally non-definable groups—or that they may be as beastly to one another as they are to whites—does not greatly interest this indignant polemicist. What counts is that the “wretched of the earth,” to use Fanon’s phrase, are mostly non-white, and are no longer willing to suffer oppression at the hands of the white world. As they become aware of their condition, “the communal racism of colored peoples must appear increasingly irrelevant to them in…

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