When you compare socialist countries like China, Cuba, Vietnam, and the DPRK with neoliberal countries like the United States and Britain, a particular factor stands out in how their developments have differed: the socialist countries have vastly more social cohesion than their counterparts do. By this, I mean they have a lack of serious political polarization and a relatively small amount of ethnic or class divides. In these countries, most people think favorably of the governing parties, racial and religious violence aren’t sanctioned by the state, and strong social safety nets and firm checks on private business keep inequality from becoming too pronounced. These places aren’t perfect, but they lack the deep rottenness that pervades neoliberal societies.
Lenin said that “Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor.” Never has this been more apparent than in today’s United States.
After facilitating the atrocities of the Pinochet dictatorship and helping introduce neoliberal policies around the world, Milton Friedman wrote in an essay from 1982 that “Only a crisis–actual or perceived–produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”
The class struggle in the United States is in limbo. So many Americans are struggling amid declining living standards and are angry at the system, yet they aren’t rebelling like the people in France, Chile, and other deteriorated neoliberal countries have recently been doing. Where are the mass protests? Where are the general strikes? Understanding why an American class revolt still hasn’t manifested is key to understanding how it can be brought about.
When America next experiences an economic downturn, it won’t be like the relatively small recessions that the country used to regularly undergo before the 2008 crash. It will be a collapse of such magnitude that the global economy won’t ever be able to recover, like it eventually did after the Great Depression. It will likely be the end of the growth period of capitalism, and the beginning of an unprecedented contraction that leaves civilization dramatically changed.
Being anti-war does not equate to being anti-imperialist. Being anti-imperialist means supporting the only justifiable type of war, which is class war, while consistently opposing the wars that serve the capitalist class.
When the imperialists carry out reckless actions like the recent assassination of a top Iranian military official, aren’t they at least partly conscious of the ways this endangers their power structure? Don’t they see that the more resources the American war machine consumes and the worse proletarian living conditions become as a result, the greater the likelihood becomes that a revolution will happen? Don’t they see the obvious and growing signs of the U.S. empire’s collapse? Don’t they see that the more the neoliberal order exacerbates climate change and destabilizes the economy, the more the bourgeois power structure comes under threat?
In her 2017 book No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics And Winning The World We Need, Naomi Klein wrote in reference to her experiences in post-invasion Iraq that:
“There have been times in my reporting from disaster zones when I have had the unsettling feeling that I was seeing not just a crisis in the here and now, but a glimpse of our collective future-a preview of where the road we are all on is headed unless we somehow grab the wheel and swerve.”
Ten years ago, Americans were beginning to confront the reality that their nation was irrevocably in decline. The economy had entered into a downward spiral, the country had been in a nine-years-long war, and democratic rights were disappearing. Given the history of collapsing empires, it’s unsurprising that all of these trends have continued since then. And the geopolitical and cultural dynamics that have developed throughout the 2010s aren’t surprising either.
The power structure that now dominates the globe is a logical extension of the project for colonizing Africa, Oceania, and the Americas that the European imperialist powers began over five centuries ago. From the start of this project, it’s been a constant rule for those in the colonizing powers that one’s society is at war with a weaker enemy. The indigenous people, who have been portrayed as not capable of running things, have had to be brought under the colonial boot according to the ideology of imperial conquest. And in accordance with the global rise of capitalism that colonialism precipitated, the same dynamic of subjugation has existed between the poor and the rich.
The United States, like the other parts of the world that have been ravaged by rampant economic inequality and corporate despotism, is headed for a social breakdown. This gets more apparent every time wealth disparity is shown to be at a decades-high level, every time the military budget is expanded billions of dollars to fight endless wars, every time the country’s militarized police shoots an innocent person. Ten or twenty years from now, our society’s current form will have taken on an extreme version of itself: no real freedoms, basically no semblance of democracy, and conditions for the majority of people that are in or approaching squalor.
When it comes to Mexico, one can at this point easily spot the signs of a brewing U.S. regime change operation. Since Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected last year, he’s been thoroughly vilified by the U.S. media. After Brazil’s fascist president Jair Bolsonaro was elected, the Financial Times’ John Paul Rathbone even argued that Obrador is a greater threat to liberal democracy than Bolsonaro. Such views of Obrador have come from claims that he’s an authoritarian, or “too strong” as the Washington Post recently put it.
The capitalist class doesn’t hate communism out of concern for mass murder. The accounts of the mass deaths that communism has supposedly caused are exaggerated or fabricated, and capitalist governments have caused hundreds of times more deaths than can be attributed to communist ones. Anti-communism isn’t about human rights, at least not human rights as a socialist would define them. Capitalists and imperialists vilify countries like China because they don’t like that these countries have challenged the “rights” to exploit and oppress.
The forces of fascism are trying to convince us of a deadly lie: that it’s desirable, natural, or inevitable for great amounts of poor and nonwhite people to die off because of climate change. This lie enters the discourse in many forms, both obvious and not. But every time it appears, it has to be countered with the declaration that we must not write off any lives as disposable or doomed; we must work to save as many people as possible throughout the coming catastrophe.
The power shutoffs and unprecedented fires that California has experienced in the last month are going to develop into something more deeply damaging than you might think. This is just the beginning of a long process that will force Californians-and all others in the capitalist world-to confront the unsustainability of how they’ve been living.