Especially within the U.S., capitalism is being confronted with its own innate tendencies towards unintentional self-sabotage. These tendencies take several forms, all of which are made more destabilizing by America's role as the more of global imperialism; empire comes with baggage, and now we're seeing the consequences of this baggage through the slow-motion social breakdown that this country is undergoing.
There's the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, whose cause was described by Marx as follows: "since the aggregate mass of living labour operating the means of production decreases in relation to the value of these means of production, it follows that the unpaid labour and the portion of value in which it is expressed must decline as compared to the value of the advanced total capital." In the last half-century, this dynamic of capitalism's nature making labor produce diminishing returns has resulted in a worldwide bourgeois reaction called neoliberalism, the system that's designed to drastically redistribute proletarian wealth to the rich.
Because of how much neoliberalism has driven down living standards, the capitalist world now finds itself in a depression that no amount of money printing can bring it out of. This is especially true for the U.S., which has embraced neoliberal austerity, privatization, and regressive tax rates more than any of the other imperialist countries have. Unemployment, deindustrialization, and a decrease in the amount of people who can pay the bourgeoisie for goods and services have all worked to shrink the number of U.S. millionaires, while consolidating wealth and the job market into the hands of the largest monopolies.
There's capitalism's destruction of the environment, about which Marx observed that "all progress in capitalistic agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the labourer, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time, is a progress towards ruining the lasting sources of that fertility. The more a country starts its development on the foundation of modern industry, like the United States, for example, the more rapid is this process of destruction. Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth--the soil and the labourer." In the 21st century, the climate crisis--an extension of the older problem of soil degradation--has confronted the system with a growing host of destabilizing factors, producing millions of climate migrants each year and creating infrastructure breakdowns like last month's polar-vortex storm blackouts in Texas.
In the U.S., 1 in 12 people are expected to migrate north within the next 45 years due to climate influences alone, which as environmental reporter Abrahm Lustgarten has said will "increase poverty and widen the gulf between the rich and the poor. 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." As this growth of destabilized zones continues, capital will continue to be forced to retreat into the shrinking enclaves of safety.
Then to make these processes even more destructive, there's U.S. imperialism's rampant militarism, which is making our society ever more top-heavy in terms of arms equipment. It's long been true that if the U.S. spent all of its military budget on healthcare, the 200 million Americans with either wildly expensive private health insurance or no health insurance at all would be medically covered for free. Similar realities apply to the homelessness epidemic, and to the millions of U.S. families who regularly go hungry; what our government spends on waging global imperialist violence, it could very effectively spend on solving the humanitarian crisis among its own population. And as this humanitarian crisis drastically grows during the Covid-19 era, with evictions, lack of healthcare access, and food insecurity newly afflicting millions of additional people, the extremely bloated nature of our military budget becomes more destructive by the day.
Where's this all leading? Not towards the happy outcome that the billionaire-owned media says is about to come, where Biden's stimulus "cuts child poverty in half" and the tech companies facilitate a "Great Reset" that brings us out of our public-health crisis. Biden's relief package doesn't even offer lasting benefits to the poorest people, despite being praised by pro-Biden commentators as being "in rejection of austerity." Our bout with austerity hasn't come to an end, it's only begun. The system is going to keep cutting us off from the resources we'll need to survive the climate crisis--it's how the capitalist class can maintain positive profits at a stage when the system is eating itself at an increasingly rapid rate.
In this environment of systemically enforced scarcity, the system can only keep up profits by monetizing the rot. By selling the masses price-gouged essential goods, by mining and selling data garnered from an encroaching surveillance capitalism, by employing private mercenaries amid growing global conflict, and by treating increasingly precious resources like drinking water as commodities (which Wall Street recently began doing by adopting water as another thing to be bet on via futures trading). As Washington's imperial hegemony vanishes and capitalism grows anemic, global markets are turning inwards, along with the worst types of imperialist violence.
In the dire state that capital is entering into, where business can increasingly only be sustained through looting the people and through profiting off of bloodshed, the U.S. empire's national security state is going to take on the same role that the CIA or the military have long taken on in places like Gaza. Even more than it has so far, it's going to transform into a blunt instrument of terror, designed to keep the masses in line through flippant violence and dictatorial control. This will be the kind of political nightmare that was hinted at in Max Blumenthal's 2011 analysis of how U.S. law enforcement has become "Israelified":
Among the most prominent Israeli government figure to have influenced the practices of American law enforcement officials is Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel's Shin Bet internal security service and current member of Knesset who recently introduced legislation widely criticized as anti-democratic. During the Second Intifada, Dichter ordered several bombings on densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, including one on the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza that resulted in the death of 15 innocent people, including 8 children, and 150 injuries... it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much they will inform police repression of future examples of street protest. What can be said for certain is that the Israelification of American law enforcement has intensified police fear and hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just "crimiterrorists."
Under the guidance of experts in colonial oppression like Dichter, America's dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is going to imprison journalists and political dissidents within the ICE detention centers. It's going to target random bystanders within rebellion zones just to strike fear among the rebels. It's going to bomb entire blocks just to smoke out class and anti-colonial liberation fighters. It's going to use drones to assassinate American citizens who are merely suspected of committing crimes. It's going to lock people up without right to a trial and torture them. It's going to carry out mass surveillance against the population, whether through spies within politically strategic areas or through intensive digital monitoring. It's going to use covert CIA propaganda with the aim of confusing, misinforming, and dividing the masses. It's going to restrict people's freedom of movement so that they'll be less likely to participate in class uprisings.
Of course, the U.S. government has already done every single one of these things. But amid the heightened class tensions that are coming, these tactics are going to be utilized to the extreme, along with planned new warfare approaches like invading U.S. cities and cutting off the internet in certain parts of the country. They might even employ the same warfare tactic that they're now using against the people in Yemen: impose blockades against the targeted population so that the morale among the empire's enemies is weakened.
When capital's withering brings about a domestic revolt from the masses who've had enough of the endless austerity paradigm, this is what the masses will be met with: open war by the U.S. government against its own population. This is the dire reality that we'll need to be prepared for. Because if we push on with the revolt in spite of the government's reign of terror, the reign of terror will ultimately serve to turn even more people towards the side of revolutionary socialism. And like how neoliberalism's implementation has served to inflame further class conflict, these domestic-warfare measures will ultimately serve to weaken capital despite their intention being to preserve capital.