By Rainer Shea – Mar 8, 2021
America’s rightist pundits continue to spin justifications for the current socioeconomic system, insisting that universal healthcare and a higher minimums wage aren’t necessary because people can be lifted up by their own enterprising spirits. In the wake of January’s Capital Hill chaos, America’s leaders of intelligence, law enforcement, and armed forces continue to implicitly assure us that the existing state will remain stable for the rest of our lives, despite disruptions like the Texas storms.
Yet these assertions that the system is permanent, that business as usual can undoubtedly continue through endless fortifications of austerity and police repression, work on a logic that’s inherently absurd. How much sense does it make that capitalism is going to be made more stable by further cutting off social services, lowering wages, and reducing workers benefits? If the national security state is cracking down ever more tightly through ongoing police militarization, tightened censorship via invasive “cyber-security” measures, a militarized border, and expanding ICE detention powers, isn’t it a reaction growing to threats to the system’s survival?
Of course this is the case. While politicians and pundits are still papering over the system’s rot, military analysts have been repeatedly acknowledging the fact that numerous factors endanger the near-term existence of the state and its aligned capitalist interests. In the last several years, the U.S. Army War College has articulated that the military needs to prepare for “contemporary Stalingrads” within U.S. cities to maintain stability amid social breakdown, the Pentagon has outlined an “unavoidable” dystopian future where rising unemployment and climate collapse threaten to destabilize the country’s largest urban areas, and another Pentagon analysis has concluded that most of the country’s electrical grid won’t be able to withstand the disasters climate change will bring in these next two decades.
These crises are going to be compounded by climate-driven mass migration, both from outside and within U.S. borders. And the capitalist state’s solution is merely an extension of the neoliberal austerity model that the bourgeoisie has embraced throughout the last half-century: neglect the ever-growing parts of the population which are viewed by the system as expendable. We’re seeing this with the forcing of the poor and desperate southern border migrants into inhumane detention centers, we’re seeing this with the killing of a $15 minimum wage at a time when tens of millions have just been driven into poverty, and we’ll keep seeing more extreme versions of this as the necro-political trends of late-stage capitalism continue during the dire years to come.
Corporations can find countless ways to profit from this dire situation-tech companies and the private prison industry have already found an entire additional market outlet in the migrant camps-but at what cost to the system’s social stability? How can a socioeconomic order that’s perpetually pushing more people into destitution, wage slavery, and endangerment from state violence sustain itself?
The answer that the U.S. military analysts have found is: “by waging war against the parts of the population with revolutionary potential.” This means not just putting impoverished communities under military occupation through a heavily armed police force, putting in numerous militarized guards throughout the black community’s schools, and sending in the army to directly occupy and police disaster zones (which one of the military reports I’ve mentioned says is going to happen). It means strangulating these disfavored communities through deprivation of economic vitality, educational resources, and public health. A recent scientific prediction about climate migration within the country, which saysthat many U.S. urban areas are going to be strained towards collapse by the influxes of refugees, predicts so because the ruling class has already set up the system to fail in these ways.
The ruling class feels so confident in creating this catastrophe because of how strong the capitalist state’s coercive forces are. If the U.S. has by far the largest military in the world, and U.S. police have already become highly militarized, and the Israeli security forces have been exporting their infamously effective repressive training methods to U.S. law enforcement, how can these designs of engineered crisis backfire? What means will the underclass have to fight back against the state, and by extension the corporations which aim to profit from the social ills the country is going to be subjected to?
It’s not hard to see the flaw in this logic. The more dysfunctional the economy grows, and the more our society becomes destabilized by natural disasters, the more the capitalist power structure becomes top-heavy. Top-heavy both in terms of wealth (U.S. billionaires have collectively grown well over a trillion dollars richer in this last year while tens of millions have lost their jobs), and more importantly in terms of the tools the state has for preventing revolution. In this rotting society, the state increasingly has to rely on physical force to control the population, since the ruling class ideology of neoliberalism became discredited in the public’s mind at least as long ago as 2008 and is now more popularly reviled than ever. Lacking the cultural support of the masses, capital has to resort to violence more and more to survive.
Faced with these conditions, capital’s defenders are embracing a line of reasoning whose logical conclusion is extermination-whether of political radicals, colonized peoples, or the poor in general. This is what the American far-right’s glorification of Pinochet is about: a desire, made intuitive by their violently anti-leftwing ideology, to kill off everyone deemed to be a threat to the continuation of capitalism and colonialism. The system, by its nature, is bringing these desires closer to realization through increasing state violence and social murder. And far-right militias like the Three Percenters and the Boogaloo Boys are preparing, through survivalist hoarding and secretive paramilitary training, to fill their anticipated roles as the vigilantes who will kill off disfavored ethnic groups and potential revolutionaries during the chaotic period which they know is coming.
They and the national security state that backs them hope to enact a reign of terror and mass killings, where the petty-bourgeois militia members retain their guarded rural land while the millionaires and billionaires escape to safety in luxury fortified doomsday shelters. Under this future, it’s hoped that the extremely militarized and surveilled border will keep the colonial territorial holdings intact, and that any internal rebels are easily smoked out by a U.S. army which is far more prepared for battles.
But does this vision for a post-collapse America really sound likely? How would our society be able to undergo this much upheaval, and then have the holders of wealth and colonial land come out of the chaos with as much power as they have now? The answer that Pinochet’s American admirers have is “by having everyone who threatens the system killed off.” And assuming that this country’s class conscious individuals fail to prepare to defend themselves from state and vigilante violence, fail to build organizations which could carve out spheres of influence after the collapse, and fail to reach out to their local populations and get them on the side of a potential revolution, this will prove to be true. But this story is not a foregone conclusion.
Featured image: File Photo