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.
As ever more of the population experiences hunger, joblessness, homelessness, lack of water, lack of affordable healthcare amid a pandemic, and lack of access to electricity, the potential is emerging for revolutionary consciousness to grow. This is prompting the U.S. national-security state to wage counterinsurgency in a preemptive sense. Social-media micro-targeting tactics are being used by the country's intelligence centers to carefully manipulate public sentiments. The CIA is using 2013's legalization of covert government messaging within U.S. media to make Americans more inundated with war propaganda than ever before. Social-media companies are carrying out a perpetual tightening of censorship against anti-imperialists, Palestinians who speak out against their nation's occupation, and advocates of African and indigenous liberation in the U.S. The biggest networks are integrating intelligence assets into their programming, creating a revolving door between the spy agencies and our news sources. All so that they can propagate narratives like "communist China is persecuting the Uyghurs," or "Black Lives Matter is being co-opted by Russian propagandists," or "Iranian disinformation is behind the idea that the U.S. hasn't handled the virus well." Absurd diversions that are designed to stop people from developing a revolutionary consciousness.
According to the Pentagon, this intensification of information warfare against the U.S. population has everything to do with the climatic, economic, and health crises that the country is experiencing. In a 2017 report, the Pentagon declared that U.S. global influence is rapidly in decline, and that this necessitates increased censorship, surveillance, and propaganda warfare within U.S. borders. This clampdown on the flow of information, facilitated by a surveillance capitalism that can use algorithms and micro-targeting to fine tune its psychological operations against each individual, is explained by the report to be necessary because there's a worldwide trend of destabilization. One that will imperil U.S. imperialism should U.S. imperialism fail to socially control its internal residents:
To date, U.S. strategists have been fixated on this trend in the greater Middle East. However, the same forces at work there are similarly eroding the reach and authority of governments worldwide... it would be unwise not to recognize that they will mutate, metastasize, and manifest differently over time... The United States and its population are increasingly exposed to substantial harm and an erosion of security from individuals and small groups of motivated actors, leveraging the confluence of hyperconnectivity, fear, and increased vulnerability to sow disorder and uncertainty. This intensely disorienting and dislocating form of resistance to authority arrives via physical, virtual, and psychological violence and can create effects that appear substantially out of proportion to the origin and physical size or scale of the proximate hazard or threat.
The climate crisis, the spread of misery due to neoliberalism's war against the poor and working class, the U.S. government's globally unparalleled failure to address Covid-19, and the intensification of the colonial military occupation of colonized communities through increasing police militarization are all making these forces of dissension more likely to proliferate. The capitalist state is looking at the conditions that the system has created, and concluding that the population under these conditions is a dangerous force that needs to be psychologically policed in order for it not to rebel.
This isn't the only way these military strategists are worried. A 2019 Pentagon report, which contemplates the potential for a U.S. power grid collapse within "the next 20 years" due to how poorly our country's electrical infrastructure is maintained under neoliberal privatization, reveals a deeper instability within the U.S. national-security apparatus:
Defense of the homeland requires reliable access to power generation capabilities to protect critical infrastructure areas, maintain sovereign security, and provide aid to the nation's population when needed. Department of Defense installations are 99 percent reliant on the U.S. power grid for electrical power generation due to the decommissioning of autonomous power generation capability for budgetary cost-saving measures over the last two decades. While generators would allow continued operations for a time, a long-term outage of the power grid would rapidly erode the ability to perform numerous missions as resources were diverted toward humanitarian assistance/ disaster response operations in the homeland.
It's increasingly clear that the report was correct to expect such a scenario. While the DOD has this year taken up a plan to adapt to global warming "across a variety of fronts, from increasing energy resilience and security to reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions," the U.S. military and the corporations it serves are going to collectively remain the world's largest sources of carbon footprint. Imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism are incompatible with the goal of sufficiently reducing pollution. And the consequences for imperialism are going to be made all the worse by this reality, despite whatever ways the military embraces green technology.
As Kyri Baker, an engineering professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, has assessed following the power-grid strains from this last month's West Coast heatwaves: "I would probably give our power grid maybe a C minus. It's like this perfect storm of extreme temperatures, more electricity consumption, and aging infrastructure." This severe deficiency in our electrical-distribution system, created by companies like Pacific Gas & Electric (which has been so bad at maintaining my area's power grid that it's had to shut off the power during fire seasons to avoid lawsuits), can't be solved by Biden's climate plan. Biden, who won't even implement the watered-down neoliberal Green New Deal that his party's left flank has proposed, can't stop the private sector from continuing to be negligent on conservation any more than PG&E can be reined in. Nor will he stop the bombings, drone strikes, and expanding global occupations that make the U.S. military fixed to its role as the world's largest polluting entity. Dysfunction is how late-stage capitalism is designed to operate.
As this plunges tens of millions of more U.S. residents into sustained blackouts during our generation, the armed forces will be weakened along with our communities--not just because of loss of electricity, but because of the submersion of numerous military bases that sea-level rise is going to bring about. The collapse of the dollar that Chinese experts are predicting will be just the first of the catastrophes that's going to diminish the U.S. military's capacities.
In this environment of self-inflicted destabilization for the capitalist state, where the military gets overwhelmed by economic and environmental factors while local law enforcement no doubt experiences similar obstacles towards functioning normally, the information war will be more important than ever. The capitalist state will only be able to survive, and to implement its plans for having corporations exploit the country's crises, by socially engineering the masses.
This will entail the covert promotion of counterrevolutionary narratives among the impoverished people who feel the brunt of these crises. This will entail the cutting off of internet and cell-phone access to the communities that the military plans to occupy. This will entail the tracking and targeting of journalists who seek to expose the many atrocities the armed forces are already planning to commit within U.S. borders to try to retain control. This will entail the sending of human intelligence assets into the destabilized or occupied zones, and the intensive digital monitoring of the population, so that the military can anticipate potential resistance maneuvers.
Will this be enough to prevent revolution? It depends on how well we bypass their surveillance and propaganda warfare.