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.
This pandemic is being used as a tool in the U.S. settler-colonial empire’s battle against the colonized populations. This weaponization of the outbreak is coming at the same time when rapidly increasing global inequality is heightening capitalism’s contradictions, and when the oppressed nationalities that for so long have lived under the boot of U.S. capitalism are in turn intensifying their fights for liberation.
As I see the United States become ravaged by globally unsurpassed amounts of pandemic deaths, along with unemployment, rising mental illness, growing hunger, and evictions, I keep thinking back to one of the books that I read during my politically formative teenage years: Addicted to War by Joel Andreas. In its updated 2002 version, it observed how war was draining the country’s resources, with the U.S. having been set to spend an unprecedented $396 billion on the military during the fiscal year of 2003. “Since 1948 the U.S. has spent more than $15 trillion to build up its military might,” it says. “Just how much is $15,000,000,000,000 worth? It adds up to more than the cumulative monetary value of all man-made wealth in the U.S.”
Whenever I hear about an instance of imperialist online censorship, or a short-term plan by a ruling class technocrat to further the erosion of free speech, I wonder: what’s the endgame of this? How far do these oligarchs plan to take their campaign to control the flow of information and suppress dissent? Because the destabilizing events the U.S. empire has undergone during the last year is small compared to what the climate’s meltdown will ultimately do to the capitalist world; as professor Jem Bendel concluded in his 2018 paper Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy, at this point in the deterioration of the climate we need to view “collapse as inevitable, catastrophe as probable and extinction as possible.”
Why is the global capitalist class refusing to give up neoliberalism, even as neoliberalism creates growing dissension among the lower classes and rising risk of proletarian revolution? Because in a paradigm where profits have overall been declining since the 1970s, neoliberalism serves as the way for the rich to push the costs of capitalism’s crises onto the backs of the poor. Neoliberalism was implemented because the 20th century model of social welfare states had become incompatible with the capitalist goal of endless growth.
Liberalism, particularly the type of liberalism from after World War II, has advertised itself as the only alternative to chaos and barbarism. As Henry Kissinger said in order to rationalize helping the side of the liberal geopolitical bloc:
In 1937, the storyteller H.P. Lovecraft wrote this about the direction that capitalism was taking:
“Capitalism is dying from internal as well as external causes, and its own leaders and beneficiaries are less and less able to kid themselves…The only avenue of survival for plutocracy is a military and emotional fascism whereby millions of persons will be withdrawn from the industrial arena and placed on a dole or in concentration camps with high sounding patriotic names. That or socialism—take your choice. In the long run it won’t be the New Deal but the mere facts of existence which will be recognized as the real and inevitable slayer of Hooverism.”
As this year’s economic crisis has developed, the U.S.-centered corporatocracy has desperately been trying to maintain the illusion of growth, or at the least the illusion that the current contraction is sure to end and things will return to normal. But as unemployment claims in the U.S. have continued to rise, and factors like the cold war with China have thrown the NATO countries into further economic chaos, it’s become clear that the stock market has been overly optimistic about a coming recovery. Market Watch wrote last month that “The rebound will be much more gradual than the V-shaped pattern investors are betting on.”
The Iraq invasion was a prelude to our current war run-up, the war run-up that the United States would experience when its global imperial hegemony came under threat during the 2020s. Like was the case in 2003, the empire’s propaganda machine has inculcated its narratives into the minds of a solid majority of the public. Like was the case in 2003, the main target of the empire’s violent rage is merely a scapegoat for the crises that the U.S. has been experiencing. The difference is that in 2020, America’s cultural psychosis is being directed towards preparing for a war far larger than the Iraq War, a war so destructive and costly that it could end up breaking U.S. hegemony for good.
If the capitalist ruling class get their way, the revolts that the U.S. and the other parts of the neoliberal world have been experiencing this last year will be only a blip in the march towards corporate domination. Their goal is to use militarism—both within the imperial core’s borders and abroad—to indefinitely keep the power structure reinforced.
Consumerism, and the capitalist mentality more broadly, are equivalent to nihilism. They strip the human experience of meaning beyond what serves the market. When a culture revolves around this monetary and commercialist view of the world, it ceases to bring true fulfillment.
As Washington’s global influence rapidly diminishes, I’m picking up on a trend in how the U.S. imperialists operate: sporadically attempting to snatch up resources from other countries in desperate efforts at regaining what the empire has lost. This contrasts with the way that the U.S.-centered corporatocracy very smoothly exploited other countries when the empire was at its peak around the mid-20th century. In many cases, it was as easy and concealable as pressuring a poor country into becoming part of the corporatocracy’s business circle through some aggressive business deals.
The high-tech sector, along with the U.S. national security state that it partners with, have lately been pushing the idea of upgrading society into a futuristic technological structure that makes life far more convenient. Last year the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, an organization created in 2018 to further the partnership between U.S. intelligence agencies and tech plutocrats, articulated this vision in a document. It called for a near future where the country’s “legacy systems” are replaced with a new paradigm of infrastructure, one that allows for self-driving cars, total home delivery in alternative to retail, and home appliances that can connect to an “internet of things.”
The paradigm of capitalism and colonialism has naturally produced a long series of backlashes from those who haven’t benefited from these systems. The first time that the resistance efforts took an entire nationwide territory from these forces of oppression was during the first series of successful anti-colonial revolutions. Starting with overthrows like the 1804 Haitian liberation from the French empire, a period in history started which can be called the First Wave of anti-colonial and anti-capitalist revolutions.