It's said that we are the architects of our own demise. When someone is operating off of a fundamentally wrongheaded view of humanity and the world, there's going to be blowback towards them. So is the case for U.S. imperialism, whose overly confident actions throughout the last half-century or so have chipped away at its own global influence in ways that recently became more apparent than ever.
Actually, this self-sabotaging nature of U.S. imperialism was apparent even when the empire was at its strategic height, and when its internal cultural hegemony was strongest. In 1958, Mao said that:
Imperialism will not last long because it always does evil things. It persists in grooming and supporting reactionaries in all countries who are against the people, it has forcibly seized many colonies and semi-colonies and many military bases, and it threatens the peace with atomic war. Thus, forced by imperialism to do so, more than 90 per cent of the people of the world are rising or will rise in struggle against it. Yet, imperialism is still alive, still running amuck in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In the West imperialism is still oppressing the people at home. This situation must change. It is the task of the people of the whole world to put an end to the aggression and oppression perpetrated by imperialism, and chiefly by U.S. imperialism.
History is proving Mao right. As Washington has engaged in cold war buildup against China throughout the last decade, the Pentagon, in its delusional hubris, has viewed Vietnam as a viable location to place its missile sites. The Pentagon has ignored Vietnam's consistent policy of being equidistant between the U.S. and China, seeking to recruit Vietnam as an anti-Chinese military ally in a desperate attempt to gain a greater strategic foothold within southeast Asia. This failure to gain Vietnam as an ally is entirely Washington's own fault. Not only has Washington carried out a genocide against Vietnam's people within living memory, but it's shown time and time again through its alliances with groups like the Kurdish fighters and leaders like Saddam Hussein that when you choose to work with Washington, Washington will eventually betray you. The imperialists have revealed themselves to not be trustworthy, and have lost a potential strategic advantage over China as a consequence.
Washington's consistently evil behavior has also recently cost it the respect of the Chinese masses, and therefore any political leverage that Washington might have otherwise been able to wield within China. Through its slanderous charge about China committing a "genocide" against the Uyghurs, and its sanctions on Xinjiang which drive down the province's living standards while disregarding the interests of the Uyghurs who it supposedly seeks to help, the U.S. has become resented among many of the Chinese people who used to regard it with warmth and friendliness. As China's Global Times wrote last week: "US' political influence on Chinese society has almost been completely lost"The Western unity that the US has brought about through Xinjiang issue is far less than the unity it has created within China." That being a unity where the Chinese agree that Washington is a bad actor, one which isn't deserving of having its advice being taken as good faith.
Washington's aggressions against China and Russia during the past decade have further diminished its influence over Eurasia. Faced with Washington's attempts at military encirclement, disinformation warfare, and sanctions, both countries have been increasingly partnering up in the last several years, now to the extent where Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi said this January that "in developing China-Russia cooperation, we see no limit, no forbidden zone and no ceiling as to how far this cooperation can go." This puts the imperialists in a far worse strategic position than they were during most of the Cold War, since back then China and Russia were pitted against each other. Now the anti-U.S. alliance is unified, with even Vietnam and China willing to leave their bitter Cold War-era conflicts behind for the sake of not playing into Washington's attempts to stoke further tensions within the region.
So is the nature of how all empires fall: by creating a world order that can't be sustained, however big the empire's reach becomes. History has shown that empires are innately fragile, and always begin to unravel at points they don't expect before reacting rashly and accelerating their own demise. Last month, Chris Hedges observed about the imperial collapses that have preceded this one:
Our decades-long military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, are called "micro-militarism." The Athenians engaged in micro-militarism during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) when they invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. The defeat triggered successful revolts throughout the Athenian empire. The Roman empire, which at its height lasted for two centuries, created a military machine that, like the Pentagon, was a state within a state. Rome's military rulers, led by Augustus, snuffed out the remnants of Rome's anemic democracy and ushered in a period of despotism that saw the empire disintegrate under the weight of extravagant military expenditures and corruption. The British empire, after the suicidal military folly of World War I, was terminated in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Britain was forced to withdraw in humiliation, empowering Arab nationalist leaders such as Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser and dooming British rule over its few remaining colonies. None of these empires recovered.
The "neither Beijing nor Washington" camp in the U.S. left has been trying to make the case that China and Russia represent a new imperialist bloc, one that will simply replace the waning U.S./NATO imperialist bloc. This narrative not only ignores how China and Russia don't fit the criteria for being imperialist powers, but obfuscates the true nature of the historical development we're witnessing with the U.S. empire's fall. This imperial collapse is different from all past ones, because we've reached a point where the global movement for anti-imperialism and proletarian revolution"--"-fortified by the Communist Party of China"--"-has become too powerful for the old cycle of fresh imperialist hegemons replacing the fallen ones.
When Washington becomes vastly diminished as a world power, its partnered imperialist powers won't be able to fill the power vacuum, because capitalism is in a state of unprecedented collapse where climatic and economic disasters are going to destabilize much of the capitalist world in the coming decades. Amid this instability, the only functional states that remain will be in the socialist and anti-imperialist countries, in a series of fascist countries which are desperately fighting for their self-preservation, and in the remaining imperialist neo-colonies which have managed to not descend into failed states.
The socialist countries will survive using the means for managing disasters that they've pioneered throughout this last year's pandemic, utilizing the efficient mass crisis mobilization, strong social safety nets, and non-profit based medicine systems which have proven so beneficial for countries like China and Cuba in the face of Covid-19. The fascist countries will endanger their own stability by further driving down the living standards of their people, by failing to respond to future natural disasters like they've failed to respond to Covid-19, and by pursuing reckless conflicts that could end with them imploding like Nazi Germany did. The masses of the exploited nations will do what's in their best interests, either fighting to overthrow their neo-colonial governments, seeking aid from the provenly generous China, or working to establish workers' democracies in the ruins of their recently collapsed governments. In other words, they won't do what the imperialists will want.
Indeed, around 90 percent of the world's people, including the oppressed and exploited individuals within the core imperialist countries, will ultimately rebel against the imperialists. The remaining 10 percent will be the bourgeoisie, the labor aristocrats, and the reactionary nationalists of the core imperialist countries, who can't support their system on their own.