The trend among these last three U.S. presidential administrations has been one of steady increases in war, repression, and unfreedom. Bush began the War on Terror, passed the Patriot Act, and expanded the powers of the executive branch to unprecedented levels. Obama continued and expanded Bush's wars through drone strikes, carried out an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, and completed the construction of the digital surveillance state while keeping Guantanamo in operation. Trump carried out bombings and drone strikes even more frequently than Obama did, built upon the militarization of the police that the previous two administrations had carried out, and used Gestapo-style tactics to detain protesters.
And this is just what's happened since 9/11. These necro-political trends were built upon mass incarceration, erosion of liberties, deregulation, privatization, wage cuts, regressive taxation, austerity, and corporate trade deals that had been increasingly afflicting the imperial core for decades up to that point. The implementation of these neoliberal economic policies has of course been happening at a quicker rate than ever in these last two decades, with the economic crashes in 2008 and 2020 creating opportunities for the plutocrats to further redistribute wealth upward. In the last year alone, U.S. billionaires have collectively gained $1 trillion while tens of millions in the U.S. have gone into long-term unemployment.
Looking at the incredible consistency at which the United States has grown more repressive, become more engaged in wars, and undergone a decline in living standards in these last several decades, I keep wondering: at what point will these trends reach a breaking point? When will the level of necro-politics within the U.S. ease up or begin to reverse in some way? When will we experience relief?
Then I realize that from a macro-perspective on the history of capitalism, the descent into worse conditions that my society has been experiencing is really just the inevitable consequence of U.S. imperialism's sins abroad coming to afflict the U.S. at home. The inhabitants of U.S.-installed dictatorships, the people have been subjected to genocide at the hands of U.S. troops, and the Third World victims of imperialist exploitation have for generations been undergoing injustices worse than what we in the U.S. have been getting a taste of.
And within the U.S., many parts of the population have always been subjected to the kinds of state violence and enforced poverty that have been becoming harder for white people to ignore in recent decades; slavery, colonial genocide, Jim Crow, Japenese concentration camps, racial terrorism, the racial wealth gap, the killings of indigenous resistance supporters at Wounded Knee, and the brutal repression of the Puerto Rican liberation movement were all present before more U.S. whites began feeling the economic pinch from late-stage capitalism in the 70s.
So what's been happening in the U.S. these last couple generations isn't something historically exceptional, but rather a loss of the relative benefits that the settler masses in the core of global imperialism enjoyed during the first few decades after World War II. The declining rate of profits has forced the capitalist class to foist the costs of the system's crises onto the backs of the lower classes, which in the U.S. have included the (former) middle class. The intensification of war and the fortification of the repressive state that the country has been experiencing are additional consequences of the decline of U.S. imperialism.
In the longer term, these trends are part of a process where the U.S. is converted from the epicenter of global capitalist wealth to just another vassal state for the plutocrats, one far less wealthy and influential than it was during the 20th century. When the climate crisis destabilizes much of the globe, the world's wealthiest people will move to places like New Zealand and the Arctic, where it will be relatively safe to escape to shelters. When things get to that point, the U.S. will be no exception to the global climate refugee crises, pandemics, impoverishment, social breakdown, and violence that so many places will be experiencing. Given that the U.S. is already the country most impacted by Covid-19, it will likely be doing worse than many of the other most chaotic countries.
For now, the U.S. remains a country in denial about where it's headed and what it's already been reduced to. Even as the country has reached 389 thousand Covid-19 deaths, the most chauvinistic and reactionary members of the mainstream political spectrum continue to dismiss pandemic safety measures and downplay the seriousness of the health crisis. The Biden team seems convinced that it can make the American empire great again, plotting cold war escalations that will ultimately be self-destructive and leaning onto the narrative that a technological "Great Reset" will reinvigorate American capitalism. The political establishment is responding to this last year's economic crash not with $2000 stimulus checks, but with greater censorship and a planned expansion of the surveillance state.
The majority of the country is conscious that the system is breaking down; people can come to no other conclusion given the conditions they've been thrust into. What's keeping them from mobilizing towards revolution, what's maintaining the state's control even amid all of this chaos, is the myopia that the masses have been made to have about the nature of their situation. Political discourse within the imperial core has been so filled with war propaganda, and with McCarthyist demonizations of the political camps which want a revolution, that people's common instinct is to retreat into reactionary thinking. The recent campaign to vilify China has fortified this anti-intellectual impulse, pushing all U.S. political factions (aside from the principled Marxist-Leninists) further to the right.
This is a society that's stuck in ignorance and paranoia, and that therefore won't be able to break out of the self-destructive cycle which late-stage capitalism has put it into until we revolutionaries do something to rapidly shift things. The goal of the liberal technocrats who are about to come to power is to acclimate the population to endless austerity and war, with there being no plan to save the masses from humanitarian catastrophe after the system reaches a far more dire state.
Our hope lies in the commitment from those within the revolutionary cadres. If they reliably fight U.S. imperialist narratives, apply a careful analysis of the country's conditions to the actions that they take, and prepare themselves for the chaotic era to come, the future won't be dominated by the forces of reaction.