The ruling class has more class consciousness than the lower classes do. They’re the ones who have to manage the relationship between the classes, and to keep this relationship in balance so that revolution is prevented. This makes them especially equipped to engage in what Marxists call dialectics—the practice of assessing material factors and opposing social forces. With this ability, they can adapt the power structure to be able to best respond to whatever threatens their interests.
In 2014, the CIA-tied media outlet the Washington Post published an article titled “In the long run, wars make us safer and richer.” Its author Ian Morris reasoned that wars have been necessary to carry out what it called the “civilizing process,” wherein the European empires have grown through conquest and the United States has been created through the seizing of indigenous lands. Its argument was racist and biased in favor of Western capitalist interests, and this was the point. It acknowledged that the wars which brought the U.S. empire to power, and which the U.S. empire continues to wage, are good for “us”—the people in the imperial core who benefit from imperialist wars.
Consumer society has tried to legitimize itself by making people believe that it represents a sustainable way of living. For those in the First World, all the evidence that a meltdown is coming—the deterioration of the climate, the decline of the biosphere, the diminishing of available resources—has usually existed outside of immediate view. Commercialism and the mass media, which have gained an unprecedented presence in our lives through the digital revolution, have distracted us from these realities while the machine of global capital has continued to run.
The United States and the other core imperialist countries haven’t had socialist revolutions because the masses within them have been kept complacent. They’ve directly or indirectly benefited from the exploitation of colonized peoples, enjoying relative economic advantages despite their being subordinate to the capitalist class. Even as inequality has increased in the last generation or so, this has let the system keep them from taking action. They’ve been told that they need to be loyal to their country, that they can get ahead if they try, that capitalism gives them a better lifestyle than socialism would.
Since the United States became the main world power in the 1940s, opening corporations up to the countries the U.S. empire would come to exploit in the following decades, working class people in America have filled a role more disposable than had previously been the case. Labor could be easily extracted by U.S. corporations from the Third World, because capitalism was now centered around the largest empire in world history. But now the economic order is changing, and the U.S. capitalist class is needing to adapt.
At an increasingly rapid pace, the globe is experiencing the greatest geopolitical shift since the fall of the British empire. The arrangement that the U.S. carved out during the 20th century to fortify its hegemony is falling apart piece by piece, with a thorough collapse of Western imperialism and a new wave of socialist revolutions being increasingly unavoidable outcomes.
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.