In the core of imperialism the United States, there's a layer of separation that conceals the horrific realities of continuously expanding global poverty, growing resource scarcity amid environmental collapse, and profit-motivated wars. The luxuries of the settler bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy prevent them from having to face the structural violence which lies just beyond the little enclaves that they inhabit. But what about when this illusion of paradise gets shattered? When the contradictions of capital and empire""however much the enclave's inhabitants deny that they exist""make the rising instability of the outside world start to spill over into the supposed zones of safety?
A world cut in two
When this breaking of colonialism's invisible barrier occurs, when the areas of bourgeois decadence are confronted with the raw anger of the colonized and the forces of class conflict become impossible to ignore, these centers of empire and capital react with overwhelming repressive brutality. With a wholesale abandonment of the pretense that America is supposed to uphold "freedom" and "human rights." As colonialism's unseen underclass makes itself more and more seen, with Africans responding to the intensifying police brutality against their communities by recently carrying out the largest protests in U.S. history, the settlers are intensifying their reaction.
The paranoid conspiracy theories about Black Lives Matter being the work of "outside agitators," or of a shadowy subversion plot by the U.S. empire's designated bogeyman China, are how the reactionary settlers rationalize their desire for the liberation movement to be crushed. In contrast to how Frantz Fanon described the rational alertness of someone who's targeted by colonialism (in Wretched of the Earth he wrote that "when the native hears a speech about Western culture he pulls out his knife""or at least he makes sure it is within reach."), the alertness of the settler is inverse in its irrationality.
When the patriotic settler hears a speech about police brutality he pulls out his rifle""or at least makes sure that it's within reach. Which explains the protest shootings over this last year by white supremacist vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse, whose unhinged desire to "protect property" finds articulation in the counterrevolutionary war that capital and empire are determined to wage. The world's most powerful mercenary armies, surveillance tech firms, and spy agencies, along with the U.S. police and military, share the right-wing vigilante's mentality of crushing the growing revolt. The mercenary companies in particular are eager to harness the paranoia of the settlers by offering random trigger-enthusiastic civilians an opportunity to maim and kill colonized peoples for extravagant pay.
In the era of U.S. imperial decline, this effort towards counterrevolution correlates with the "imperial boomerang" effect, where an empire's projects of violence abroad are brought into that empire's borders. The settler-colonial state of "Israel" and the neo-colonial settler states within Latin America have long been used as the prime laboratories for U.S. imperialism's policing, counterinsurgency efforts against liberation movements, propaganda, and surveillance. So these instruments of colonial warfare are increasingly being applied to the counterinsurgency against the empire's internal uprisings. And the environment of social division between the settlers and the colonized that this counterrevolutionary war is taking shape in reflects Fanon's descriptions of what anti-colonial warfare always looks like:
The colonial world is a world cut in two. The dividing line, the frontiers are shown by barracks and police stations. In the colonies it is the policeman and the soldier who are the official, instituted go-betweens, the spokesmen of the settler and his rule of oppression"The naked truth of decolonization evokes for us the searing bullets and bloodstained knives which emanate from it. For if the last shall be first, this will only come to pass after a murderous and decisive struggle between the two protagonists. That affirmed intention to place the last at the head of things, and to make them climb at a pace (too quickly, some say) the well-known steps which characterize an organized society, can only triumph if we use all means to turn the scale, including, of course, that of violence.
Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd was murdered, is a microcosm of this escalation in the tensions between oppressor and oppressed. Despite being one of the highest-income cities in the country, the city has African and Native people who are concentrated within the poorest neighborhoods; for example, the Phillips community in southern Minneapolis is 70.7% nonwhite compared to the overall Twin Cities nonwhite population of 36.4%, and around 53% of its residents make less than the poverty income of $35,000 a year compared to the one-fourth of Minnesotans who fall below this socioeconomic divider.
Since the start of the neoliberal era, this racialized inequality has been multiplying; following 1980, the number of neighborhoods in the Twin Cities with concentrated poverty has doubled. Since the function of neoliberalism's policies of privatization, austerity, wage stagnation, and regressive taxation has been to keep profits up amid the U.S. empire's decline, this increase in colonialism's economic divide has been indispensable to the preservation of colonialism. So when the black Minneapolis residents who've bore the brunt of this engineered poverty expansion have proportionately responded by rioting and looting, they've unsurprisingly gotten no sympathy from the reactionary media, law enforcement, right-wing politicians, or many settlers.
The prosperous sections of the Twin Cities are equivalent to the wealthy parts of Israel, where thriving metropolises hide the fact that they're built on stolen land by partitioning themselves off from the egregious conditions of the area's colonized communities. This is further shown by how Minnesota's White Earth Reservation, which was formed when Natives in the state's northern part were forcibly displaced by European settlement, has more than twice the poverty rate of the state of Minnesota""and yet this disparity can be ignored within the colonial enclave, at least for now.
Over this last generation, the divide between the two worlds has been enforced within the Twin Cities by invisible barriers, like the area's prevalence of hostile architecture which deters the poor from sleeping in public or the area's growing network of public police spy cameras. Now that Derek Chauvin's crime has set off a new, more intense stage for U.S. imperialism's internal repressive war, the sinister nature of these trends is exposing itself.
Keeping the world this way
As the African population of the Twin Cities has made itself impossible to ignore throughout this last year or so, the reactionary paranoia of the local settlers has fused with the iron heel of capital and the imperial boomerang to bring twisted new forms of colonial terrorism to the area. In the last several months this has gone beyond the curfews, or the shooting of paint rounds at Minneapolis residents simply for sitting on their front porches.
Mercenaries, a traditional fixture of dying empires and an increasingly integral part of Washington's forever wars, have been taking on a policing role within Minneapolis that's unprecedented throughout the rest of the country. And the way they've begun policing Minneapolis is reminiscent of the atrocities that mercenaries have been committing in occupied Palestine and neo-colonial Latin America, where repression and counterinsurgency have become privatized.
Last month, U.S. Marshall officers killed a black Minneapolis man named Winston Smith""who had reportedly just posted a video where he talked about revolution. When residents protested the killing, which the police claim was provoked by Smith but which still hasn't had its video documentation released to the public, the government sent in mercenaries to counter the demonstrators. The social movement journalism outlet Unicorn Riot has reported about who these mercenaries are and how they've treated the community, basing their statements off of testimonies at a public event this week from locals. What they've found is chilling:
We are hearing about how the paramilitary private security people have attacked people in Uptown Minneapolis"A private security company with 'international mercenary' personnel that worked in Iraq and Libya""are treating Minneapolis residents like insurgents, per speaker who was harassed by them"The supervisor of the mercenaries in Uptown attacked local person Link when they asked for information about who is working there"Three people have been harassed and at least one person has traumatic brain injury inflicted by mercenaries with excessive force in Uptown Minneapolis"Hearing about violence by both police and private security personnel in Minneapolis"Witness describes being grabbed by a mercenary"[mercenary] Nathan Seabrook declared Minneapolis is a "shithole", comparing it to places he worked as a paramilitary mercenary like Libya on a podcast"The mercenaries appear to be operating a 'shadow fusion center' identifying and profiling protesters"MPD strategy may be "hiring people by proxy" to clamp down on protests; MPD has been "getting worse" since federal DOJ presence intensified in Minneapolis"The mercenaries are dangerous because they have no de-escalation strategy or relationship with the community"the private mercenary forces forced everyone out with five minutes notice in pre-dawn hours"mercenaries go behind people to prevent them from walking back to the public easement"Chemical weapons that would be impermissible in a theatre of war have been used on protesters in the Twin Cities
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).