The United States, the heart of the imperialist beast, has always been the very most difficult case for those who seek to spread anti-colonial and proletarian revolutions. Being the "big house" in the plantation of global capital, every facet of its mainstream political culture is naturally assimilated into serving this capital. And its population is consequently detached from the class struggle, bombarded with propaganda that encourages false consciousness and destroys the social cohesion that would be needed for organizing towards a revolution.
But what happens when the bottom falls out from underneath the empire's economic and social systems? What about when the electrical, water, food distribution, and commercial networks break down for the masses? This is what's been happening in recent decades, as the crises of a declining U.S. imperialism have manifested through poisonings of water systems in certain communities, extreme weather events that have uprooted entire cities and then irreversibly changed them for the worse, and a general rise in unemployment and destitution.
What we're seeing now is just a hint of what U.S. military experts and scientists expect conditions in the country to become like in these next few decades. A 2019 Pentagon report observed that most of the U.S. electrical grid is unprepared to withstand the natural disasters that global warming will produce during the next twenty years alone. A study from last year found that over the next thirty years, one in two people in the U.S. will experience some negative change in their environment as a result of global warming, with the impacts being especially severe for 93 million of them. Environmental reporter Abrahm Lustgarten writes about the implications of this study, and of an additional study showing that 1 in 12 Americans will be forced to migrate to more temperate parts of the country during the next 45 years:
It will accelerate rapid, perhaps chaotic, urbanization of cities ill-equipped for the burden, testing their capacity to provide basic services and amplifying existing inequities. It will eat away at prosperity, dealing repeated economic blows to coastal, rural and Southern regions, which could in turn push entire communities to the brink of collapse. This process has already begun in rural Louisiana and coastal Georgia, where low-income and Black and Indigenous communities face environmental change on top of poor health and extreme poverty. Mobility itself, global-migration experts point out, is often a reflection of relative wealth, and as some move, many others will be left behind. Those who stay risk becoming trapped as the land and the society around them ceases to offer any more support.
As we continue to see this expansion of dire conditions--a process that these storms and the Texas state government's negligent response just rapidly accelerated--the economic basis for the country's status as being immune to revolution will disappear. The climate crisis, and the cruel neoliberal policies that it reinforces, represent a wild card in the stability of the system. Proletarian revolutions always tend to happen in the places where the chain of capital is weakest, meaning that if our crisis weakens capital here enough, the U.S. will become as vulnerable to revolution as an imperialist neo-colony like India, where a quarter of a billion just went on strike.
Capital will continue trying to find ways to fortify itself during the crisis. Private military companies, industries that thrive on deregulation and privatization, and corporations with services that they can market to a desperate population have perfected the art of crisis capitalism, where destabilization is made into just another way to make the bourgeoisie richer. And this is working so far, as shown by how U.S. billionaires have collectively grown over a trillion dollars wealthier during the pandemic by consolidating a dwindling economy into their hands while profiteering off people's desperation. But will this cycle still be able to be kept up two or three decades from now, when much of the population has entered into Third World conditions and is potentially getting mobilized towards waging a serious class war?
In the long term, it might come down to how much of the land within the U.S. remains habitable; billionaires have been preparing to retreat to luxury shelters in New Zealand and the far north for a reason. But in the immediate term, the masses in this country aren't going to accept their conditions lying down. And the national security state aims to make it so that this extreme escalation of the class contradictions don't result in a proletarian revolution, as has already happened just below the U.S. in Cuba. The Pentagon and its adjacent entities, including the far-right militias that want to fight for the preservation of capital, seek to prevent such an overthrow through sheer massive violence.
Of course, the military analysts who've been devising these crackdown plans in recent years know that they'll need to approach this violence in a strategic way. A 2016 army report says that when the military is sent in to occupy American urban areas in the coming decades, it will have to impose the tightest zones of repression imaginable; mass surveillance on the occupied population through spies and mobile-device infiltration, shutdown of the internet and cell phone access, and a targeting of online figures who have the potential to turn public opinion against the military, are all said to be necessary. So is the adoption of the same warfare tactics that Israel uses to pacify the Palestinian population, wherein soldiers navigate cities exclusively by working their way through walls within city blocks.
Failing this strategy, says the report, the army's only option for gaining access to the theorized urban guerrilla cells will be to "bulldoze the slums." Then, implies a 2016 Pentagon training video, special operations forces will be sent in to do battle within these cities. Given the special ways that Lustgarten mentioned the cities will be made at risk of getting destabilized in the coming decades, it's no wonder why military analysts have been putting so much emphasis on the need to intervene within U.S. megacities like New York and Washington D.C.
These kinds of tactics, while obviously drastic, are seen as the more favorable alternatives to the approaches towards snuffing out anti-colonial liberation groups that the U.S. government has used in the past, such as bombing entire city blocks. The military doesn't want to resort to such extreme measures, at least not unless it becomes desperate for victory over a given area. What it wants, as indicated by the army's desire for heavy censorship, repression, and surveillance within the future occupied zones, is for a rebel movement not to emerge in the first place. For the places destabilized by global warming and neoliberal social breakdown to be successfully brought under control, allowing the corporations to continue profiting off of the crisis. For the wealthy "smart cities" to keep having electricity while most of the rest of the country suffers under resource deprivation and martial law.
The hope is that this strategy, the strategy of keeping profits rising at all costs, will in turn serve to prevent the social conditions needed for revolution. Because as Stalin observed, the deciding factor behind whether or not a revolution can happen in a given country tends to be the strength or weakness of capital in that country; where capital is weakest, revolution has the most potential to happen. We'll see how successful the U.S. ruling class is at fortifying capital as our social breakdown develops. But however strong the mega-corporations remain, tens of millions of people have nonetheless been permanently forced out of the workforce and into poverty. And there's much potential for communists to help them become radicalized towards the proletarian revolutionary cause, where they'll be much needed in the great confrontation that's to come.