America's Colonization In One GIF

Like watching cancer spread

Visualizing 200 years of US population density

I learned this map as a kid, at least up to Ohio. We studied the frontiersmen who 'settled' the United States. We played Oregon Trail. On the computer I followed the whole route of a 'settler' family, fording rivers, hunting squirrels, dying of dysentery along the way. Today I find the whole thing unsettling. Today the map looks like watching cancer spread. It's Colonialism in a GIF.

If you watch the map above, you'll see that some parts of the map remain less dense. The West, just before the Rockie Mountains. It's one of those effective global deserts. People don't live there. It's very difficult to survive.

Inset from Global Population World Map from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection

That's where the Native American nations were pushed. In Oklahoma you get the Seminole Nation, Chickasaw Nation, the Muscogee Nation. In Arizona you get the Cherokee Nation, the Hopi and the Hualapai Reservations. All relatively independent nations of their own. The native American nations, as opposed to the invasive one.

The Seminole were not from the west. Nor were the Cherokee. They were pushed there, along a Trail Of Tears. They were pushed by a wave of settler-colonial violence—murder, rape, theft, and rabid racist hate. They were pushed at the end of a knife, the butt of a gun, out from under their burning homes. America was founded on a genocidal lebensraum policy that wasn't Nazi-like, it inspired the Nazis. As Hitler said in the generally unreadable Mein Kampf:

Mein Kampf contains the same logic as the the American creed of Manifest Destiny, the idea that America could conquer west, south, north. Wherever the fuck they want. They were doing people a favor.

American Progress (1872) by John Gast. "Manifest Destiny, a phrase coined in 1845, is the idea that the United States is destined—by God, its advocates believed—to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent." (literally just Googling it)

Hitler really admired the American idea, of not having distant colonies but constantly murdering your neighbors at home.

Mein Kampf by Hitler

He said this was the source of American strength. It was inspirational to him. Hitler's real mistake was not that he was a brutal, genocidal colonizer. His mistake was that he tried it on white people. Yet if you get over the racism, the underlying colonial logic is the same. Mein Kampf just says the quiet parts out loud. As Hitler said, "the plough is then the sword, and the tears of war will produce the daily bread for generations to come."

Mein Kampf by Hitler

Hitler's big idea was that Slavs were not quite white, and therefore could be colonized. For Invasive Americans, Native Americans were certainly subhuman, and thus in school we learned about colonization like there was no one there. But there were people there. There were more civilized people who were far less violent and had lived in balance with their ecosystem for thousands of years. America was colonized violently, brutally, and hard.

It's fucked up because it's the same despicable logic in Mein Kampf, but somehow a noble story in America. What I learned in school, what I saw in every movie, was that Americans were the good guys and the good guys won. What I realize now is that it's the opposite. Americans are just Nazis that won.

Far from being the freedom-loving nation that defeated the Nazis (as all the movies portrayed), America was the nation that inspired the Nazis, which just got entangled to protect other white supremacist states. As James Q. Whitman wrote in Hitler’s American Model, "many Nazis, including not least Hitler himself, took a serious interest in the racist legislation of the United States."

Hitler’s American Model

What Hitler was most covetous of was A) the racial unity of American state and B) their seemingly inexhaustible lebensraum. Living space. For other people, of course, it meant death. And so that is the great existential challenge America faces today. They ran out of lebensraum decades ago. Their racial unity has also fallen apart. Everything the country was actually founded on is coming apart.

America has run out of land, it has run out of destiny, it has run out of people to enslave. They're reduced to losing wars, selling themselves zombie companies and made-up currencies, anything to just keep the pillage going a little longer, even if they're only pillaging themselves. What does a settler-colony do when it runs out of land and ideas? It becomes unsettled. And so this map also shows the exact fault-lines of a collapsing America today.

I must note that this map leaves out the ongoing American colonization of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, their torture sites in Guantanamo Bay and all over the world. All their military bases (made by displacing people), and all the places they occupy through war or just bullying.