“Uncountable are the editorials in every American and European newspaper and magazine of note adding to this vocabulary of gigantism and apocalypse, each use of which is plainly designed not to edify but to inflame the reader’s indignant passion as a member of the “West,” and what we need to do. Churchillian rhetoric is used inappropriately by self-appointed combatants in the West’s, and especially America’s, war against its haters, despoilers, destroyers, with scant attention to complex histories that defy such reductiveness and have seeped from one territory into another, in the process overriding the boundaries that are supposed to separate us all into divided armed camps.” — Edward Said, 2001
The world that late-stage capitalism is creating is one where the only stable states—or things that resemble states—will be the fortified high-tech enclaves that the super-rich create in the wake of a collapsed civilization. In the scenarios that some futurists have been anticipating, by the end of this century the only places with reliable electricity are going to be the walled off communities of these elites, guarded by those seeking to be rewarded with food and housing and sustained by a neo-feudal network of farming.
Last year, when the Bolivian people fought back against brutal repression to force out the coup regime that the U.S. empire installed in 2019, the imperialists quietly went into panic mode. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looked visibly discouraged at the news that the Movement for Socialism (MAS) Party’s Luis Arce was to become the country’s president. Just a year after Washington had used its terrorists to force out the previous MAS president Evo Morales, the indigenous proletarian movement had reversed the counterrevolution.
Covid-19’s unparalleled U.S. death number, this last year’s irreversible unemployment of tens of millions of U.S. residents, the proliferation of fires throughout the last decade, the extreme heat within much of the country that’s forced many to evacuate, and the other destabilizing factors in the core of global imperialism come in the context of an intensifying class war. A class war that the CIA, the corporate media, the police state, and the other instruments of counterrevolutionary warfare in U.S. borders are intent to keep their pulse on as the conditions of the masses slip ever deeper into chaos.
It’s an open secret among U.S. military experts, corporate elites, and DC insiders that in the coming decades, the country is going to be faced with a war which causes unprecedented destabilization for the American empire—both externally and internally. This is to say it’s quite likely that the military is going to have to fight a potential World War II-level series of conflicts abroad, and a class-based confrontation within U.S. borders which matches or surpasses the Civil War.
Modern imperialism, like the socioeconomic system it’s based upon, is a house of cards. Capitalism, the socioeconomic system that it depends on to continue functioning, wouldn’t be able to go on if its range of market control were to shrink too much. This is because capitalism’s natural tendency towards growth inevitably creates for it a crisis of overproduction, which can only be alleviated by perpetually expanding its market control. As Michael Parenti observed, there can be socialism in one country, but there can’t be capitalism in one country.
The story of the climate’s deterioration is intertwined with the story of class conflict, with the battle between the revolutionaries and the counterrevolutionaries. Much to the chagrin of U.S. national security technocrats, factors show that the instability and destruction from the climate collapse is most likely going to harm the strategic interests of the counterrevolutionaries far more than those of the revolutionaries.
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.
This essay comes with a caveat: that the process of descent into a failed state has already been very much at play. And for a long time, too. At least since the 2008 economic crash, the core of global imperialism has been transitioning into the kind of instability which its military has inflicted upon nations like Libya and Yugoslavia. And during this last year in particular, the collapse has been accelerating.
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 ruling class of the U.S./NATO empire justifies the heinous actions of its military forces, the brutality of its internal police states, and the cruelty towards the poor of its neoliberal economic deprivation by claiming that everything it does is necessary to combat some grand evil. Whether this evil is Islam, or communism, or the very presence of opposition to Washington’s war narratives, the threat is portrayed as being so all-encompassing and enormous that it should solely occupy our political concerns.
In The Foundations of Leninism, Stalin concluded that “the chain of the imperialist front must, as a rule, break where the links are weaker and, at all events, not necessarily where capitalism is more developed, where there is such and such a percentage of proletarians and such and such a percentage of peasants, and so on.” In other words, the potential for proletarian revolution is increased more by the weakening of capital in a given country than by any other aspect of the material conditions.
Something feels bizarre about living in the current era, the era in which the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just concluded that we’re metaphorically 100 seconds away from the extinction of humanity. This strange feeling has been present for a while now, going back to when the Bulletin’s “Doomsday Clock” reached 2 minutes to midnight in January of 2018 for the first time since 1953.
There are two different versions of the great-power competition that Washington is waging against Russia and China. One is the version portrayed by the U.S. political and media establishment, which acts like Washington’s modern rival superpowers are eventually going to be subdued like the Soviet Union was. The other is the reality of the conflict, where Russia and China are strengthening their military alliance unlike was the case after the Sino-Soviet split, Russia is assured to win the proxy war with Washington’s puppet state Ukraine, and China has already arguably ended U.S. military primacy in the Indo-Pacific while making the Belt and Road Initiative’s success assured.
Welcome to the latest stage in the process of reaction that’s occurring within the U.S. ruling class amid Washington’s imperial decline. This is the stage where after Trump’s personality cult has escalated a petty political dispute into violence, the liberal technocrats who will soon have control over the White House are escalating their war against dissent.