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War propaganda is how the ruling class hopes to prevent revolution amid capitalism's collapse

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Crises don't necessarily break capitalism, because crises have always been an integral part of how capitalism functions. The capitalist ruling class has so far been able to retain its control over most of the globe by continuously reinventing the system, such as through enacting concessions to the working class when labor struggles increase, leaning into the war industry, or sacrificing the lives or wellbeing of entire populations should they become a liability to profits. But in recent decades, the trend throughout the capitalist world has been a decrease in profits, even amid the unprecedented austerity measures, prison-industrial complex buildup, and war economy expansions of the neoliberal era.

This has been the reality that the capitalist class has been having to face in most countries, with Russia for now being a partial exception: overall shrinking rates of profit, which the ruling class has reacted to by enacting more policies to redistribute wealth upward, which has created poverty that the the world's economies have responded to by becoming even more deficient, and so on until we've gotten to the dire place where we are now. And the technocrats behind Washington-led neoliberalism intend to continue perpetuating the cycle, with the IMF currently enacting further austerity, privatization, and wage reductions in 81 countries in response to this year's pandemic and global depression. The incoming administration also intends to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would further reduce workers' rights and environmental protections while letting multinational corporations act with even more impunity.

For the United States and its closest allies, the impacts of this capitalist implosion are the most severe, because Washington's global influence has been rapidly waning and the U.S. intends to further economically isolate itself from rising powers like Russia and China. The U.S. plutocracy has nonetheless been collectively gaining hundreds of billions of dollars this year through their various mechanisms towards exploiting the crisis, and these elites plan to perpetuate their profit machine through expanding the role of the tech sector. This "fourth industrial revolution," as corporate propagandists are calling it, will be tied in with a strengthening of the military-industrial complex. More austerity and privatization will also be needed, as exemplified by the recent policy to make water be traded as a commodity on Wall Street.

But to stop capitalism's mounting contradictions from interfering with this project to keep profits up, to stop the masses from organizing into a movement towards overthrowing the capitalist state and replacing it with a proletarian dictatorship, the ruling class must control the consciousness of the masses. Convincing the masses that their living conditions are adequate wouldn't be possible, though there are efforts to portray the unemployment rate as far lower than it actually is, to portray the climate crisis as less serious than it's proving itself to be, and to downplay or conceal the severity of the pandemic. The main social engineering campaign that's being carried out in response to this crisis is one which makes people perpetually focused on manufactured enemies, and which therefore makes them too distracted and confused to embrace revolutionary socialism.

This campaign is like the perpetual anti-Russian hysteria of the Cold War, except it's enhanced by the public opinion influence tools of social media and it's focused not just on Russia but on a vast array of demonized countries. The primary target is constantly switching; in the last year alone it's gone from Iran, to China, to Venezuela, to the DPRK, to Russia, to China again, to Russia, China, and Iran at the same time, to Venezuela again, and to Russia at the present moment. In the last several years, there have been points when Syria and Bolivia have also become the main subjects of U.S. disinformation. Endlessly, the same points of rhetoric are recycled, from claims of hacking to charges of human rights abuses to narratives about stolen elections to (ironically) accusations about Washington-style neo-colonialism.

When surveying it all from this perspective, one would think that it gets too overwhelming and repetitive for the followers of the pro-American ideology to keep taking it seriously. But the state's propagandists are using this increasing frequency and intensity of the war propaganda stories to sell a larger, overarching narrative, one that can remain forever compelling to someone who's been absorbed into the patriotic mindset. This is the narrative that the United States and the "democratic values" that it represents are coming under siege from malign actors, that the forces of darkness are closing in to try to destroy the great civilization which the U.S. empire has created.

From Russians who are "hacking our minds" to Chinese communists who are "stealing our intellectual property" to Chavistas who are engaging in plots of "narco-terrorism" against the U.S., these mythologized threats abound and multiply. As the refugee crisis has been getting worse, immigrants have been added to this list, with the right stoking fears of a criminal "invasion" from the southern border and of Middle Eastern war migrants coming to commit terrorism. This type of paranoia is perhaps even more present in Europe, which throughout the last decade has been experiencing the brunt of terrorist attacks as compared to the U.S.

In these countries, a growing siege mentality is leading to the incremental creation of a fortress Europe. France aims to pass a bill that would make it illegal to expose police brutality, and the U.K. is in the process of passing a bill that would allow state-sanctioned murder and rape by police. If passed, these bills will go hand in hand with the expansions of mass surveillance and police impunity that the pandemic has created within the U.S. and its allied powers. They'll also help fortify the goals of NATO 2030, the project that aims to expand NATO membership into New Zealand, Australia, south Korea, and Japan within the next decade while expanding NATO's jurisdiction more towards the internal policies of its member states. The goal of these repressive measures and consolidations of imperial power is to ensure that the core imperialist countries won't be lost to revolution and destabilization, like much of the rest of the world is likely to be in the coming decades.

The trend of the imperialist policies that we keep seeing is one of isolation, one of making the people within the centers of global capital more cut off from the realities outside the propaganda bubble. This is why the Sinophobic propaganda of the U.S. is being replicated within imperial partners like Australia, and even within the heavily U.S.-exploited country of India. Everywhere that the empire's grip remains strong, the empire's great enemy must be intensely demonized, because the consciousness of the masses within these countries needs to be diverted towards the ideology of the 21st century cold war. The demonization of marginalized groups is also part of it, with India's ruling party escalating a climate of fear and persecution towards Muslims which in many ways mirrors the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the imperialist countries.

This project requires not just propaganda but tightening censorship, another attribute that places like India and Australia share with the U.S. and that's reinforced by the ever-encroaching global police state. It all serves the long-term goal of preventing the spread of revolutionary ideas. If the masses don't become sufficiently conscious, their growing anger will continue to be diverted towards objectives that don't involve overthrowing the capitalist state, making them indefinitely continue to be subjected to greater austerity and exploitation.

A big part of this is depriving the masses of standards of comparison for their living conditions, by which I mean making them unaware that the people within many of the enemy countries are living far better lives than they are. The imperialist media can't acknowledge that the DPRK has had virtually no contact with Covid-19, it can only obfuscate this fact by introducing vague rumors about the DPRK's government hiding Covid-19 cases. It can't acknowledge that the socialist countries of China and Vietnam have economically grown in the last year in contrast to the rapid economic shrinkage of the U.S. All it can do is portray the pandemic response efforts of these countries as "authoritarian" while constantly piling on manufactured communist atrocity stories. It can't give Cuba credit for succeeding at fighting the pandemic, it can only claim (similarly to what's been the case for the propaganda campaigns against the Asian socialist countries) that Cuba handled it well at the cost of having a "despotic" government.

Under the worldview that's promoted through these narratives, a desirable alternative to our necro-capitalist paradigm can't exist. Even when the empire's rivals defeat a virus that's so far killed 300 thousand people within the U.S., it's supposedly all at the expense of a vague communist tyranny. One which is implied to be so terrible that even living in the current United States is unquestionably better than the lives which these communist countries have provided for their people.

So the average person within this zone of firm imperial control is stuck in a position of enforced ignorance, where sophisticated psychological operations are used to instill perpetual war fever within them while the few journalists who oppose the war narratives are marginalized and censored. Such has roughly been the case during all the past moments in the history of imperialist warfare, but now is the moment when the 21st century's technological advances are combining with unprecedented capitalist crises to make this war propaganda effort more insidious than ever. Not even during the last century's cold war was it officially legal for the United States to subject its citizens to covert government propaganda. Since the ban on this practice was repealed in 2013-the year when the U.S. was preparing to expand the new cold war into a proxy conflict in Ukraine-this secretive type of propaganda has been normalized truly to the fullest extent that the state can manage.

All evidence shows that these efforts to police thought via the internet will increase in the coming years, with the incoming administration's head of media-related policies advocating for the government to use propaganda against its own population and for the country to rethink the First Amendment. In the longer term, the U.S. military has plans for shutting off the internet during future scenarios where the army needs to domestically intervene, for countering online journalists who could threaten the military's dominance over the narrative in such scenarios, and for making those within destabilized zones only able to access military propaganda.

The aim of these measures is to stop the vast majority of people from becoming politically knowledgeable enough to oppose the state's war narratives, and therefore to ever be able to contribute to a revolution. The dual weapons of propaganda and censorship are being used to keep the masses in the dark about the tools they could use to fight against the existing system, which will only grow more necro-political as time passes. But there are some who the state hasn't been able to prevent from gaining a revolutionary consciousness, and who've gained the knowledge to not believe the war narratives. We'll pose a threat to the power structure for as long as we exist.

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution. Donate to me on Patreon here:

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