By Rainer Shea – Sep 16, 2021
The idea that the United States represents an actual nation is a myth designed to comfort us in the face of the horrifying reality we on this continent are living out. This is a reality where an entire landmass has been illegally annexed, and put under an occupation which continues throughout the vast majority of Native territory. A reality where this occupation is used to perpetuate a matrix of inhumane detention centers and militarized police state subjugation of this continent’s African population, as well as against the brown indigenous peoples from south of the arbitrarily imposed border. And where the white settlers are kept in a bubble that tells them this situation—and its societally unsustainable implications—is fundamentally just.
This is the message which is conveyed by the narrative that the U.S. has a claim to nationhood, and that its borders therefore have a right to exist. There’s a difference between a nation, and a place that’s merely held together by state enforcement. Within a nation, the people are held together by common history and values. The U.S. has never qualified for this description, and it never will. Like “Canada,” the “United States” is a fictitious construct designed to give the appearance of legitimacy to an illegal, for-profit occupation.
The people of a nation would have to be able to unify behind a common set of cultural commitments regardless of whether there’s a state apparatus behind these commitments. And if the state within what’s currently called the U.S. were to disappear—which now doesn’t feel as far-fetched as it did just a decade ago—“Americans” would not manage to band together in harmony, like the members of the indigenous and African nations have in the face of colonialism’s destruction of their civilizations.
Despite the continuous drillings of U.S. jingoism into the public’s minds, in practice this stateless “American” population would merely splinter into rivaling camps. This is because ours is a society utterly divided by colonialism, a reality which in an anarchic environment would put the benefactors and victims of colonialism even further at odds.
The climate crisis and global U.S. imperial collapse are going to bring this chaos to fruition. And the wealthy white landowners will use fascist militias to grasp onto their colonial holdings, hunting down the colonized peoples they view as threats to their makeshift feudal lordships. While the colonized, cut off from essential resources and relegated to the lowest-lying parts of the growing slum zones, will be forced to band together to resist this contracted new form of colonialism.
The white proletarians, to the extent that they’ll be a relevant factor in the next several decades of this continent’s revolutionary struggle, will be faced with a choice between reaction and post-colonial transcendence. They can either join the fight of the colonized—who will make up the revolution’s vanguard by virtue of being statistically more proletarian than whites—or retreat deeper into the sickness of “American” patriotism.
This decision point isn’t a far-off hypothetical, it’s getting closer by the day. With the neoliberal failure to sustain a reliable pandemic eviction moratorium, around three million people in the U.S. have become at risk of being homeless by the end of this year. What’s an important detail to note about this crisis—and what further solidifies the poisonous divide between settler and colonized proletarians—is the fact that the colonized are being impacted by it disproportionately. Black neighborhoods experiencehigher eviction rates than neighborhoods where less than 1% of residents are black, with the equivalent applying to brown and Native communities. Whites may be getting hurt by this eviction wave too, but they’re getting hurt the least out of all the ethnic groups. And it’s this relative advantage they have—however measly it is—that’s used to try to keep the settlers believing in the myth of U.S. legitimacy.
It’s a myth because the “U.S.” not only fails to meet the criteria for nationhood, but is in effect nothing more than a terrorist organization. The idea of us being “Americans” is the product of a violent, terroristic campaign to force the illusion of a cohesive national identity. It parallels the “nation-building” that the U.S. empire has carried out in places like Ukraine, where a fascist regime has been in power since 2014. Directly installed by the Obama administration, this regime has been tasked with carrying forth NATO’s campaign to wage proxy warfare against Russia, which for the explicit Nazi glorifiers in Ukraine’s government has entailed ethnic cleansing. Ukraine’s ethnic Russian population, along with Jews and Romas, have been targeted by the neo-Nazi militias that the regime has enabled.
The military’s actions in the proxy war have been part of this genocide, along with the fanatical anti-communism of the regime; the banning of communist organizing, the institutional pushing of a narrative which glorifies Ukraine’s World War II Nazi collaborators as the country’s “founding fathers,” the government’s promotion of the Nazi-created “Holodomor” hoax, and the criminalization of the act of challenging this heroic characterization of the “founding fathers” are instrumental in the nation-building effort.
Ukrainian society is inextricably tied in with Russian culture and heritage, since Ukraine is itself a historical part of Russia and the Soviet Union. But this doesn’t fit with the narrative of NATO, or of the racial nationalists NATO has assigned to run the country. So the Russian identity must be purged from the country by any means necessary—including genocide—and the genocide that Ukraine’s Nazi collaborators helped perpetrate must be erased from the discourse under threat of arrest.
Through all this deception and brutality, the Ukrainian nationalists have gotten people to believe in a unifying story, which is something a nation needs to exist. But as much as their myth of “heroic” resistance to Russia and communism gets repeated by regime authorities and NATO propagandists, it can’t make the “nation” they’re building any less lacking in material cohesiveness. Ukraine has become a failed state for a reason; the severe corruption, extreme neoliberal shock policies, and gargantuan investment in war that the regime has carried out under this banner of “nationhood” have driven the country to economic collapse, especially amid the pandemic. Then the fascist militias have swooped into the destabilized areas to kill with impunity, trying to keep together their Russian-free “nation” through pure violence and terrorism.
Is it any surprise that the U.S. has been undergoing a similar process? Following its deep embrace of neoliberal policies and costly investment in the military, the “nation” has effectively been in a depression since 2008. Since this decline in living standards accelerated with last year’s pandemic economic crash, the U.S. has experienced an explosion in right-wing vigilante violence, with militia members storming the Capitol and white supremacists shooting Black Lives Matter protesters. The U.S. isn’t as much of a failed state as Ukraine, but its profound lack of functioning social services—to the effect that 1 in 500 of its people have died from the abysmally managed pandemic—is driving it into collapse.
When this collapse gets severe enough, the country’s white supremacist paramilitaries will be able to kill with impunity, in the style of the fascist militias under U.S.-backed regimes like Ukraine and Colombia. These white supremacists—the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers, the countless lone wolf fascist gun stockpilers—have taken on a prepper mindset and lifestyle because they know colonialism is collapsing. And when it does, they want to be ready to “defend America,” which will mean perpetrating unaccountable violence against the colonized.
When this moment comes, when U.S. settler-colonialism unmasks itself amid its time of desperation, the myth of the American “nation” will lose its perceived legitimacy. The settler state, long devolved into nothing more than a kleptocracy that relates to the population only through the blunt language of force, will no longer command the respect of the masses. It will have failed them in their time of crisis, like how Ukraine’s regime has failed the people of Donbas amid the severe social costs of the war. And the ones who most aggressively push Americanism will be the white supremacist terrorist groups. Our conditions will be crying out for the proletariat to unite, and to usher in a post-colonial era where the colonized nations have gained full self-determination, and to build workers democracy.
Featured image: File image.