CSA: Confederate States Of America (2004)
CSA: Confederate States Of America (2004) (llco.org)
CSA, directed by Kevin Willmott and produced by Spike Lee, is a faux documentary done in a BBC style interspersed with fake commercials. “The most dangerous film in decades” airs on a television station in an alternative present day Confederate America, where the South won the “war of Northern aggression.” The television station warns that the film does not reflect the views of the station and could be dangerous if viewed by minors and “servants.”
While describing an elaborate alternative konfederate American history through the fake documentary, the movie criticizes much of the real history of white supremacy. This is done by using real quotes from historical figures, splicing in real footage, using fake commercials for real products that use slave iconography and so on. In the additional footage on the DVD, it is pointed out that slave iconography is still used today all over the place. Uncle Ben’s Rice and Aunt Jemima’s syrup are two obvious examples.
The movie gets much right about American history. For example: “The principal founding fathers [of the CSA] were all Southern,” a white historian says, “In the best tradition of George Washington.” The movie also points out that Abe Lincoln did not really care about emancipating Blacks at the time of the civil war and the Emancipation Proclamation was mostly symbolic. In a later scene, exiled in “Red Canada,” a broken and reflective Lincoln criticizes himself in 1905 for not really supporting Blacks.
In another revealing scene, the movie points to the material basis of the War of Northern Aggression:
Mr. Johnson: “By 1860 a young prime field hand would sell for as much as a luxury car,”
Mr. Johnson: “American slaves represented more capital than any other asset in the entire nation,”
Bobby: “Golly, Mr. Johnson. America was always a slave based economy.”
Mr. Johnson: “That’s right, Bobby. And, that’s why we fought for it.”
Behind the dark humor of this movie is a J. Sakai-like interpretation of the Civil War as a conflict between two kinds of white supremacist settler capitalist systems. This is emphasized by several quotes from various white historical figures in the North emphasizing that the slave system is dangerous and not maintainable. Their objection is not to slavery as such, but to the idea that it is feasible over the long term.
The movie also covers “Northern Reconstruction” in great detail. The wounds of war were healed when Jefferson Davis reintroduces slavery to the North. Northern whites quickly lose any moral indignation over defeat when they too are able to own slaves. The leader of the pro-slavery position J. D. Fauntroy promotes an explicitly white labor aristocratic point of view in response to Walt Witman’s criticisms of slavery as only benefiting the wealthy. Fauntroy says:
“We are immigrants from different countries, different backgrounds, different languages. Only one tie holds us together: Our common white ancestry. This slavery is afforded not just for the rich, but for everyman… I wish to God that every head of a family in this great land had one slave..”
The white nation also becomes re-united after the Civil War through united white genocide against First Nations and imperial conquest of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The Yellow Peril Act is passed by the state making Asian workers property of white employers. And, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade is reintroduced to pull the CSA out of the depression. The movie also focuses on the close parallels between the CSA and Nazi Germany. A CSA statesman refers to Nazi eugenics as “biologically correct.” This is a good comment on the real history of eugenics, after all, Nazi eugenics was born in the US and england. There is much more to say about the details of this alternative history, but that would be beyond the scope of this review.
One of the more interesting faux commercials is for “Runaway.” It is an imitation of the real hit racist TV show “Cops.” In “Runaway,” the CSA pigs hunt down slaves trying to escape to Red Canada. The portrayal of slaves packed into Rider Trucks and stashed in car trunks is a criticism for the hardships undocumented Mexican migrants face in the real US. The movie indirectly asks white liberals: If you are opposed to the CSA hunting down humyns like this, why do you not oppose the treatment of Mexicans in these ways in the real world? Many liberal whites are too stupid or oblivious to connect the dots though.
The movie is mostly good. However, it does fall into liberal illusions more than once. For example, the movie laments that Kennedy, the “first yankee republikan president to be elected since reconstruction,” died before he could carry out abolitionist reforms. The movie also fails to mention the Soviet Union or Maoist China in its alternative history. Red Canada becomes the base of the abolitionists and latter day John Brown guerrilla attacks on the CSA. In a more realistic alternative history, the Soviet Union under Stalin and China under Mao would have become the main external enemy of the CSA’s slave empire. In this sense, the movie panders to white liberals who idealize Canada and joke that the blue states should join Canada and the red states should become the CSA. It is entirely possible that a white liberal could watch this movie and not understand it as a criticism of the real US. This removes some of the movie’s bite. However, Maoists and more discerning viewers will get something out of it.
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