Since the beginning of colonialism, there’s existed a category of middle class people who’ve shared certain economic and social interests with the capitalist class. These interests consist of the wealth, security, and opportunities that one receives while benefiting from imperialism. And since these benefits are shared both by the property-owning class, much of the working class, and even some of the poor within the core imperialist countries, the rich have been able to keep most of the people in these countries opposed to socialist revolution.
The global economic crash that we’ve entered into is going to be more disastrous for capitalism than was the case for the Great Depression. This is because now, the system has no way to stabilize itself amid the widespread impoverishment and loss of profits that will ensue. After the Great Depression, the United States and the other core imperialist countries moved towards welfare statism, neutralizing the class conflict that had been arising amid the crisis. But no such fix will come during this even greater shock to the system.
During this last week’s Democratic presidential primary contests, all of the familiar types of oligarchic electoral manipulations appeared. Voter suppression plagued the elections, with the GOP’s actions in Texas having led to many young people being forced to wait hours in voting booth lines. Mirroring the statistically impossible vote count discrepancies that happened in Clinton’s favor throughout the 2016 primaries, in Massachusetts the discrepancies between the vote count and exit poll for Biden and Sanders was 8.2%, which is double the 4% margin of error for exit poll discrepancies. The sudden decisions by Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg to drop out, as well as Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to drop out before Super Tuesday despite having been hopelessly behind, worked to shift the voting demographic advantage away from Sanders and towards the DNC favorite Biden.
Haruki Murakami said that “Everyone, deep in their hearts, is waiting for the end of the world to come.” It’s with this self-awareness of my attraction to the apocalypse that I confront the converging crises of our era. These crises point towards an outcome that’s not as dire as the literal end of the world, but that still conjures the sense of fascinated suspense which Murakami described.
When liberal politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders say that we can solve inequality by taxing the rich, they’re trying to make it seem like the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is a legislative dispute instead of a class war. They’re proposing that the interests of the ruling oligarchs can be reconciled with our interests, and that all this will take is a rearrangement of the tax system.
Five years ago, an investigation from InsideClimate News confirmed what one might have intuitively suspected: that the leaders of Exxon Mobil were well aware of the science of global warming before it became a public issue. The investigation showed that as far back as the 1970s, Exxon had engaged in research that determined carbon dioxide was heating up the planet, corroborating observations about the effects of fossil fuels on the climate that scientists had been making since the 1890s.
Updated: Feb. 28, 2020
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.