by Rainer Shea
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rainer Shea: Anti-Imperialist Journalist
April 27, 2021
Escalation has consequences. When a government pushes its people too far, a revolt is going to happen that the government may not be able to contain. We’ve seen this in the last year, when the latest series of murders by police following the coming of a new Great Depression resulted in the largest protest movement in U.S. history. And U.S. military experts understand that over these next several decades of ongoing living standards deterioration within the capitalist world, further unrest will come about should the government take its repressive efforts too far; a 2016 Pentagon training video implies that when the U.S. Army gets sent in to suppress internal revolts, it will need to err on the side of caution if it wants to avoid killing civilians and consequently destroying the state’s perceived legitimacy.
But if these technocrats within the U.S. National Security State are so evidently concerned about the blowback from excessive repression, if the strategists of the capitalist settler-colonial project recognize the risks in escalating the class war, why is the U.S. government at the same time doing everything it can to make such escalations more likely? Why has the Biden administration been greatly accelerating the flow of military equipment to police departments when it’s known that more militarized police tend to commit more acts of violence? Why this conscious effort to make the types of racial murders we’ve lately been seeing even more frequent, and therefore to provoke even more Black Lives Matter uprisings?
The U.S. state is putting itself in this kind of jeopardy, is making its law enforcement even more trigger-ready rather than more inclined towards restraint, because militarization and terror are the only tools that it knows how to use. The U.S. exists because of bloodshed exacted against Africans and Natives — the two groups that are still most frequently killed by U.S. police — so its default action when faced with the contradictions within its own system is to intensify this violence. And during the 21st century, where U.S. imperialism is spiraling into irrecoverable decline, the only pattern that the state can follow in is ratcheting up the violence of its police state. There can be no de-escalation, only an increase in the levels of brutality.
The state sees an increase in violence as its only means for self-preservation because violence is without a doubt going to be how the U.S. gets abolished and the subjugation of the oppressed nations gets ended. As Frantz Fanon wrote,
“National liberation, national renaissance, the restoration of nationhood to the people, commonwealth: whatever may be the headings used or the new formulas introduced, decolonization is always a violent phenomenon. At whatever level we study it — relationships between individuals, new names for sports clubs, the human admixture at cocktail parties, in the police, on the directing boards of national or private banks — decolonization is quite simply the replacing of a certain ‘species’ of men by another ‘species’ of men.”
The growing militarization of U.S. police that we’ve seen since the inception of Washington’s “War on Terror” (which has allowed excess military equipment to be funneled to police departments) is the state’s pre-emptive response to this reality. As is the U.S. police state’s integration of Zionist colonial policing methods, where Israeli repressive forces have been directly training American police and U.S. domestic security has gotten “Israelified.” Israel’s high-tech innovations in waging colonial war and carrying out colonial repression must be imported into the core of the empire, because the intensive anti-colonial struggle which surrounds Israel is imminently going to come to the U.S. The conflict that U.S. imperialism has brought to Palestine will inevitably appear within U.S. imperialism’s own borders.
What are the factors that are bringing America’s tensions towards such a heightened state? They’re the bleak symptoms of the U.S. empire’s effort throughout this last half-century to compensate for its declining profits by implementing neoliberalism: shrinking of the social safety net, wage stagnation amid inflation, a deeply privatized and wildly costly healthcare system that leaves the poor in peril during crises like Covid-19, growing corporate monopolies that degrade the country’s democratic process and erode workers rights, growing masses of unemployed, hungry, and homeless citizens.
These are the costs of the bourgeoisie’s decision to compensate for the empire’s ailments by foisting the costs of this crisis onto the people. In the neoliberal paradigm they’ve designed, society can only keep getting ever more unequal, and the country can therefore only become ever more of a tinderbox for social upheaval.
As neoliberalism makes colonized peoples poorer, and even makes increasing numbers of white settlers share in the growing misery, the state’s only recourse is violence. There isn’t going to be a repeat of the New Deal, capitalism and imperialism have reached too severe a stage in their crises to be able to afford bringing back the 20th century’s welfare state paradigm. For as long as the United States continues to exist, those within its borders only have to look forward to ever growing poverty and ever more brutal policing tactics.
Since the colonized are both the ones most impacted by the neoliberal drive to economically deprive the population, and have obviously been the very most exploited by colonialism since colonialism’s inception, they’re the first on the chopping block for police state repression. On a broader scale, they’re also the largest victims of social murder, the type of systemic violence where poverty leads to people dying.
The fact that indigenous, brown, and black people have experienced the highest rates of death from the pandemic shows this more dramatically than the numerous other examples of how the colonized can disproportionately die due to their especially high rates of poverty. And it’s not like the settler-colonial state is doing this to the colonized unconsciously; last year, the U.S. Treasury withheld $679 million in pandemic relief from the tribes. A comparable example of negligent or even malicious harm can be found in the U.S. government’s recent treatment of the black community, with the Biden administration surely being aware of the potential for increased anti-black violence that funneling more arms to the police will bring.
These atrocities make sense; in its time of crisis, the U.S. empire is intensifying its colonial genocide as a means for staving off revolution, because an organized and powerful movement among the colonized would pose the greatest possible danger to the settler state’s continued existence. The empire is tightening its de facto military occupation of impoverished black communities while letting social murder proliferate among the colonized population in general, both within U.S. borders and in Washington’s external neo-colonies. Until that anti-colonial socialist revolutionary movement is built, and poor people of all colors unite behind it, the empire will continue to be able to wage war against its captives with impunity.
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:
How America’s Descent Into A Failed State Will Happen, by Rainer Shea
How the Pandemic Laid Bare the Cruelty of Capitalism, by Kenn Orphan
Chris Hedges and William Robinson: The Emergence Of The Global Police State
Capitalism Keeps Us Pacified As It Drags Us Ever Closer To Doom, by Rainer Shea
The U.S. Moves Closer Towards Revolutionary Crisis, by Rainer Shea
Chris Hedges: The Nature of Resistance, White Supremacy and The Rise of a New Black Militancy
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Thank you for another fine article, Mr. Shea.
It seems to me the state is seeking to incite violent responses from its traditional ethnic underclass, and from its more recently destroyed and distraught working class settlers as well. Looking upstream from the flow of military weapons and training into the domestic police force, we see a state military that has been exclusively engaged against lightly armed insurgents arising in trampled populations for two decades, excepting only the smackdowns of risibly outclassed Afghan and Iraqi state forces. If the 20-year development of weapons and tactics for insurgent control was not intentional preparation for anticipated domestic action, it was strikingly fortuitous, as are the parallel chronologies of the massive expansion of the incarceration gulag, and the corporate media’s exquisitely engineered binary split in the political circus act. If I were a cartoonist, I would picture the state piling dry wood all around us, soaking it in oil, and handing us a box of matches with which to defy it.
You are of course correct in asserting that violence is all the state knows. I suggest that coercion by violence and by threat of violence is all the state is, or ever was. As financial predation extracts surplus through debt, as religion was traditionally the arm extracting surplus through psychological indoctrination, so the state is the arm of predation that extracts surplus production by force.
As you almost suggest, replacing the actors in this machinery of predation has been the point of all previous revolutions, and their guarantee of failure. Change operators as often as we may, the bulldozer will still be a bulldozer. We may rejoice for a time when its power is turned against its former owners, but it will still do and be only what a bulldozer is and does. Nor will the cooperative vision of a vanguard ever successfully be transmuted into the will of a people by the seizure and co-opting of the same old levers of power that have been used to enslave us since agriculture gave us a surplus our predators could steal.
We are the means of production. We are the machinery moved by the levers of politics, finance, and organized psychological delusion. We pass along the warm and fragrant loaves we bake, and receive with gratitude our dribble of dry crumbs in return. It is precisely this hardwired human impulse to cooperate that makes state power possible. It is precisely this cooperative impulse, and nothing else, that makes our predators tremble in contemplation of their precarious position.
It is understanding that is revolutionary, my friend. Violence is reactionary. Violence is the state’s game, and the people always lose.
It will take understanding for a people, as a people, to refuse the kennel, the food dish, and the chain. The development of that understanding will constitute the first revolution worthy of the term, and the first with any hope of building a benevolent and equitable society.
Thank you for your excellent commentary, hodgicus.