Capitalism Keeps Us Pacified As It Drags Us Ever Closer To Doom, by Rainer Shea

Rise up, capitalism IS the crisis

Image by staticgirl via Flickr

by Rainer Shea
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rainer Shea: Anti-Imperialist Journalist
March 18, 2021

Within today’s capitalist world, particularly the core imperialist countries, the system is held together by a type of cultural hegemony which fits our increasingly grim conditions. This cultural hegemony goes deeper than the set of myths and propaganda narratives that the imperialist media spins to justify the U.S./NATO empire’s perpetual war operations, or the free market fundamentalist dogma that our ruling class uses to justify its cruel neoliberal economic designs. These ideological constructs remain dominant in our culture because for the average person in our society, no cohesive alternative cultural narratives are detectable. It’s due to our lack of culture and guiding ideology that the hypocritical, dishonest ideologies which our ruling class has manufactured are allowed to go unchallenged.

The centers of imperial power maintain this widespread ignorance and nihilism by cutting the masses off from knowledge about the societies which are developing outside the confines of our own hyper-exploitative socioeconomic paradigm. The socialist workers democracies in China, north Korea, and Cuba are vilified by our media as oppressive “dictatorships.” The leaps that they and the two other Marxist-Leninist countries Vietnam and Laos are making towards increased living standards and reduced greenhouse gas emissions get omitted from the imperialist portrayals of these countries. These and all of Washington’s other geopolitical rivals are painted as unambiguously evil, while the many actual dictatorships and genocidal regimes that Washington supports have their crimes sanitized.

As part of the empire’s reaction to the recent decline of U.S. global hegemony, this dynamic of separation from anything outside our system is being fortified-whether through tightening online censorship against journalists who question imperialist narratives, bans on any foreign members of communist parties from immigrating to the U.S., or literal walls that consist of increasingly militarized barriers and intensive digital border surveillance apparatuses. The goal is to isolate us from the socialist world so thoroughly that we can’t become aware of how much better our lives could be under a different system.

In this shrunken reality, where the residents of the core imperialist countries are detached from information that extends outside of what the empire wants them to be exposed to, the people nonetheless experience the growing horrors of our conditions under late-stage capitalism. We see how the government is refusing to implement a living wage despite the people’s rapidly growing poverty. We see how our leaders are cheating many of us out of stimulus money based on arbitrary loopholes like debt that we owe. We see how tens of millions within the U.S. alone have become permanently unemployed this last year as big tech companies have consolidated the job market into their cynically exploitative industry. We see how the deregulation of the power grid to serve corporate interests has left communities extremely vulnerable to electricity outages, as was just shown during the Texas storms.

We see how our corrupt leaders, who are deep in the pockets of Big Pharma and the healthcare industry, are showering insurance companies with taxpayer money instead of implementing a universal healthcare system amid the pandemic. We see how well over half a million people in the U.S. have so far died from Covid-19 due to the deadly austerity that our country’s exceptional militarism has produced. We see how billionaires have collectively grown over a trillion dollars richer in this last year while millions of lower class families have come to experience eviction, lack of food access, and inability to pay bills. We see how the latest stimulus, which is advertised to “cut child poverty in half,” will provide the poorest families with only temporary benefits that will ultimately do nothing to bring down our society’s ever-rising inequality. But most still remain demobilized in the face of this, simply because they’re deprived of the ideological tools and organizing mechanisms needed to wage class struggle.

It’s this cutting off of the information required for class consciousness, combined with the ways living under this system forces you to detach from political or intellectual pursuits so you can focus on your immediate survival needs, that reinforces our systematic lack of culture. The gaping holes in our educational resources and artistic centers, widened by half a century of austerity, are filled in by the vapid nihilism of consumer culture. Corporations exploit our growing insecurity and loneliness by selling us supposed quick fixes for our spiritual sickness. They try to get us to attach our personal identities to their brands, to admire them for the charity work that they’re doing even though they’re the reason why this miserable system continues to exist.

And because of the negative cultural space that this system creates, because of our society’s lack of a real ideological mold, we passively accept these manufactured cultural vestiges despite subconsciously knowing how hollow they are. We go on, enduring the daily pains of living under a social order that seeks to squeeze us to death and that views us as disposable, because we’re conditioned to know nothing else. Even if we’re aware that this social order is driving our planet towards ecological and climatic destruction, and that we’re going to suffer and potentially die because of this while the rich retreat to their fortified luxury enclaves, we conduct ourselves as if this is unavoidable. Because of the paralysis and confusion that occurs when we start to try to consider how capitalism and imperialism can be defeated, we often treat the already unfolding reality of climate collapse as something to laugh about, similarly to how people have often made jokes about nuclear war to cope with the prospect of atomic annihilation.

When you recognize this nihilistic attitude towards our capitalist crises that we’ve internalized, you see the incredible urgency of snapping out of it, of finding a way to throw down the system that drags us closer towards hell by the day. It doesn’t matter how much we try to psychologically distance ourselves from our necro-political reality, whether through digital distractions, retreats into reactionary ideologies, or ironic humor. The necro-politics are still right in front of our faces as proletarians and poor people. And they’re still going to get more oppressive as our economic and environmental breakdowns accelerate.

The logical conclusion of our current politics is a Blade Runner world, where most of humanity and nature has been sacrificed to the destructive appetite of capital while the remaining people live under a dystopian police state. The U.S. military has even admitted as such in one fairly recent document, anticipating that the coming decades will bring such deteriorated conditions for the majority of people that the army will need to be sent in to occupy the increasingly unstable “feral cities.” The document also names the wealthy metropolitan areas as “smart cities,” fleshing out a near future where the bourgeoisie live in high-tech bubbles while the rest of the country grows ever more militarized, impoverished, and kept in line through the kinds of mass pacification tactics Israel uses against the occupied Palestinians.

We can remain paralyzed, we can remain in the mentality of nihilistic detachment, or we can take up the tasks necessary for defeating the forces of capital. We must study the Marxist-Leninist systems of the nations which have broken free from bourgeois control, and figure out how we can each contribute to bringing proletarian revolution where we live. The best way to start is by reading the theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, and applying their analyses to your own conditions. If we use these resources to gain a coherent ideology, the system’s pacifying tactics will no longer work on us.


Rainer uses the written word to deconstruct establishment propaganda and to promote meaningful political action. His articles can also be found at Revolution Dispatch.

If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here. Follow Rainer on Twitter, Youtube and Medium.

From the archives:

On Plastic Potato Heads, Seuss and the Machine of Manufactured Outrage, by Kenn Orphan

How the U.S. is Able to Dictate to the Rest of the World, by Pete Dolack

US’ Futile Containment of China, by Finian Cunningham

The Ruling Class Wants Us To Accept War As Never-ending, by Rainer Shea

A Blizzard. A Power Outage. A Failure of the Heart. by Rivera Sun

Chris Hedges: Biden Admin-Redux: Deep State, Empire and Censorship

Total Shutdown of Dissent is U.S. Censorship’s Endgame, by Rainer Shea

William Robinson: The Global Police State, Capitalism and 21st Century Fascism

10 thoughts on “Capitalism Keeps Us Pacified As It Drags Us Ever Closer To Doom, by Rainer Shea

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  8. Good, but what do we do next? I’m a slow reader, and I cannot believe that the next step is to read all the books of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. Can you pick out the most important ideas, and write something short?

      • I have listened to a lot of Wolff. And yes, he’s a start — but only a start, I think. He points out many of the wrongs of capitalism in clearer prose than any other economist I know of, but he doesn’t really point us toward a revolution — i.e., telling us how to END capitalism.

        And I think Wolff puts too much emphasis on worker-owned co-ops. Those are a useful transition step, but far from a panacea. Worker-owned co-ops are internally socialist but externally capitalist, if they are embedded within a capitalist economy. Thus they solve a few of the problems of capitalism, but they perpetuate many of the other, and worst, problems of capitalism.

        I’m still looking for the next step. I thought maybe Bob Avakian (Revolutionary Communist Party USA), but he is awfully long-winded; I don’t know if he EVER gets to the point. The little bit that I’ve understood from his message sounds good to me, but it’s too little. — I’d say something similar about Peter Joseph and Rainer Shea. They use too many $100 words and sentences; I wish they could learn to speak and write in the vernacular (like Richard Wolff).

        Rainer likes Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and Workers World Party. I like those too, but I don’t see them making any progress. I think what we need right now is to spread a brief, simple, revolutionary message, showing how capitalism is unreformable and must be ended. Some how we must preach that message, and not just to the choir. I tried to do that myself (see for instance https://leftymathprof.wordpress.com/primer/ or https://leftymathprof.wordpress.com/necessary/), but none of my leaflets or videos have ever gone viral. I still think that’s what is needed, but evidently someone will have to do it better than I have done.

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