Gerald Horne’s Japan

The historian Gerald Horne is a black internationalist. This stance pushes the reader into the whirlwind of world history. In part, the boldness with which Horne charts the movement of world history has to do with his prose. He has a way of lifting up from archives the experiences of New World Africans and their descendants and allies in the struggle. They appear in his prose as historical agents that comprehend the existing political and economic order governed by empire, race, and racism.

Even when their voices are absent in the records, Horne knows how to dramatize the nature of their struggle. All the humiliations, insults, and violences they experienced— evinced in the vulgar racist language of the annals and countless reports on atrocities, and most important, accounts of what the oppressed did with what was done to them by white supremacy—in Horne’s hands, would link up with world-historic developments. He pieces together a myriad of vignettes drawn from the local experience of race and racism to create a mirror that allows the reader to grasp imperial convulsion and anarchy.

All in all, Black self-determination is the central analytic in Horne’s corpus. The struggles for Black liberation and all the solidarity projects against racism and imperialism, in his accounts, are tethered to wars, revolutions, inter-imperial rivalries, and crises of a world order built upon race and capitalism. These volatile circumstances enable centers of global power, from Washington to London to Moscow to Tokyo, to shift, clash, and realign. Horne refers to this contestation and jousting for global supremacy as the “race for the planet,” the title of the book he published in the aftermath of the collapse of the Cold War.

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