(June 20, 2018) The United States, under Trump and likely for the foreseeable future, is on a dominate-the-world-totally (and space) trajectory. This is a consequence of the economic situation where imperialism (as the highest stage of capitalism) is now confronted with intensifying contradictions, whose symptoms are the various crisis on the imperial periphery of Southern Europe and the two temporary collapses since 1997. The capitalists at the center of contemporary imperialism, in the USA, need to achieve the most intense monopoly conditions for themselves possible. This requires maximum political dominance worldwide, both vis-a-vis the 3rd world, including the large 3rd world countries as well as the other imperialist countries (the EU, Japan, Australia, New Zealand) and also Russia.
The economic crisis, while having many aspects and symptoms, flows from the system entering a worsening period in the declining rate of profits, even while there are short term ups and downs. All costs of production that can be suppressed, must be suppressed. This means extending direct access to primary resources, including energy, with no or minimum middlemen; having almost pay-as-you like access to cheap labour anywhere; subsidized research, directly or through tax cuts, to enable enhanced robotization, especially in imperialist home countries and also cheap money. The latter is more complicated as US debt is unlikely to decrease in any way. Escalating war budgets (and now there will be a Space Force), increased temporary social welfare spending, and tax cuts will ensure rising debt. All these needs, will in turn require, greater political as well as economic dominance. Competition among monopoly capital (e.g. US vs EU) will increase, and become increasingly political. The economic development ceiling on the advance of the larger and more independent Third World and former socialist countries will need to be both commercially and politically enforced.
In addition, 75 years as the primary capitalist superpower has created a ruling class consciousness whose arrogance and narcissism knows no bounds. In the US, its history as a white settler country provides the ideological and cultural resources to allow the pre-fascist Right to negate the democratic and progressive aspects of its revolutionary history. This is made easier by the fact that liberal America, whose representation is dominated by the Democratic Party establishment, also has minimal affinity with both US’s early revolutionary history and the radicalism of the 60s. The US revolutionary democratic tradition has, as yet, no mass political vehicle. Growth in left-oriented democratic organisations such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and increased activity by grass-roots activist coalitions are positive signs – as are the growth of cadre organisations such as the Party of Socialism and Liberation and the International Socialist Organisation. But these are not yet at the stage of being mass political vehicles or movements. The big campaign supporting Bernie Sanders serious social democratic politics is also an important positive sign. It too has not congealed into a stable or clear political movement.
Trying to follow U.S. politics from afar, it would appear that the full-blooded and unapologetic defense of the forceful separation of children from their (undocumented) parents as they cross the border into the US has opened a full-scale ideological offensive by the Right, bringing to a head what has been building up. Both the majority of pro-Trump propagandists, many appearing on FOX Television among other places, and Trump himself have escalated their agitation in defense of this policy. Trump’s twits have begun to refer to migrants “infesting” American society. Some propagandists are claiming that the separated children appearing on TV news, are child actors. The “other” are being depicted either as part of an infestation or fake, or both. There seems to be a united response by the Right, including within the Republican Party, in this escalated campaign.
They appear to be playing for a “We win, you LOSE” outcome. If they can get away without compromising on this policy, it will result – and that is no doubt the calculation – in a very big boost to open white supremacist propaganda and agitation.
Again, from afar, the Democratic Party leadership appears not to be serious about defeating this offensive.
Resistance appears to be coming only from those to the Left of the Democrats.
Some greater international co-ordination among the Left, where that is possible, will be needed. The US Left will need international solidarity, alongside the 3rd world progressive movements and states (such as Venezuela and Cuba) that will come under attack from the United States. US aggression against other sovereign countries, most of which will be other capitalist countries, will need to be opposed, for the sake of the welfare and survival of their populations. Identifiable progressive movements everywhere will need to be mutually supportive.
Globalisation is some ways has always been a misdrection: nothing of any use was ever globalised, i.e. spread around the globe. The only thing whose spread was intensified and extended globally were the tentacles of exploitation, which increased the concentration of wealth back in the imperialist countries, especially the US, and within those, among its “1%”, and its apparatchiks and those segments of the working class bribed with privilege. The Left and progressive movements are not big enough to contemplate yet visualizing an organised global movement against this process of concentration. But that’s where our sights must be set, even if the immediate priority has to be facing local elites.
What is new in this situation is that progressive forces, and the mass of people, outside the United States, have a huge interest in the secular, humanist, democratic and radical section of the US people obtaining a victory over this offensive. International solidarity will need now to be a two-way interaction. Proposed demonstrations against Trump in the UK are one example of what is necessary.
What else needs to be done?
Certainly, where possible, escalation of support for national liberation resistance to US domination, as with Venezuela and Cuba, and ant-war activism against US military interventions, open or disguised, as in the Middle East. But also an escalation of reporting in countries outside the US of the activities of the US progressive movements and groups – both their resistance to domestic policies and their own solidarity with national liberation movements and against US war policies. It will be a very demoralising development for progressives and working people outside the United States to think there is no serious resistance within the United States against both its domestic anti-people policies, and its foreign policies. And given the monster that any movement in the U.S. is up against, then strengthening morale both ways will be crucial.
ADDENDUM: From afar: ideological offensive in the US – liberalism, imperialism
In my June 20 post (above) on the escalation of ideological warfare in the United States, I argued that the propaganda offensive by the Trump alliance in defense of their policy of separation of children from parents crossing into the US without documents was aimed at achieving a “we win, you lose” outcome: a decisive victory. I observed that the only resistance to this was from the left of the Democratic Party. The most recent developments need to be explained with some further elaboration of these propositions.
Trump has now signed an Executive Order instructing that children should henceforth be detained with their parents. US news reports seem to indicate also that this new EO allows for indefinite detention. Moreover, the 2,000 children already separated and detained, remain so.
This is no doubt a blow to the hope of an easy “we win, you lose” victory. Trump and co had to retreat. This was because the opposition to the family separation policy became very broad and insistent. This opposition came mostly from the left of the Democratic party, but including the liberal centre. This included churches and church leaders, liberal entertainment industry figures, liberal media commentators and even businesses, such as the airlines that refused to transport children separated from their parents. Individual members of the Democratic Party, and even a few Republicans, and Republican celebrities such as Laura Bush, also opposed this policy.
The content of this opposition was rejection of the inhuman immorality of forcibly separating children, including babies, from parents, keeping the children in cages, telling parents they would never see the children again and so on. A democratic congressmen, like Joe Kennedy Jr, made an emotional appeal on the floor of congress, making an even more emotional reference to the taking of babies from parents.
This kind of opposition, on the whole, only aimed for a very narrow kind of ideological victory. By narrowing the focus, the breadth of the opposition was able to expand. However, it left Trump and co still free to rail against infesting migrants, against “people from the Middle East”, as well as Mexico, that, he and others claimed, were faking their parenthood and even engaging in child trafficking. There has been no relaxation at all of the campaign to deepen the legitimacy of racist, xenophobic and white supremacist agitation and ideology.
The Democratic Party, having pursued the same policy in the past but without making it a propaganda centre-piece, is neither able or willing to confront the Trump and co offensive head on. The ideological offensive from the Right continues unabated aiming for the eventual “we win. you lose” decisive victory, still without opposition from the Democrats, the main resourced “alternative” from within the current electoral spectrum. So far anyway. Perhaps the November elections will reveal advances by the Sanders milieu in the Democrats?
This right-wing, white supremacist offensive by a significant section of the US capitalist – a very sizable section if we include those who maybe embarrassed by Trump but actually like what he is doing – is very much a part of the imperialist mentality of this class, formed by decades of social being as a global exploiter and oppressor. Trump’s statements reveal this in the most unashamed way. Migrants come from shit-hole countries; they are animals; they are an infestation; they come from the Middle East, and Africa and Latin America. His, and the US’s policies, speak louder even that words. Mexico, whose population lives in poverty, is ripping of the US and this is going to stop, proclaims Trump. The US must have dominance in space – and we must remember, of course, hat the planet Earth is part of space.
The only way to legitimize US dominance and intensified imperialist exploitation of the Third World within the US and among the US population is to build a consensus that the 3rd World is made up not just of failed states, but failed peoples, failed races. White supremacist ideology is not only useful because it helps creates scapegoats to blame for the worsening economic conditions of a big section of the American people, but the propaganda around that scapegoating also creates a divide between the American people (its working class) and those of the exploited world, the 3rd – and also even those of the less successful former East European socialist countries.
Right-wing white supremacist ideology is not simply nationalist authoritarianism, but is fundamentally imperialist.
This is why solidarity with national liberation movements and governments, such as in Cuba and Venezuela, and in other parts of Latin America, is a crucial priority for progressives and anti-racists in imperialist countries, most especially America. It is also why opposition to US (and EU) military interventions and wars around the world is crucial, even when that may appear to be assisting other capitalist states. It is also why mutual support among movements for democracy and social justice within individual countries is going to become a more pressing need. And as I argued in the earlier post, it also means finding more ways of relating in solidarity with the US left which are most consistently opposing the US capitalist offensive within the US as well as US imperialist intervention outside the US will also be increasingly important.
A “we win, you lose” victory for the white supremacist, imperialist Right in the US will be a disaster for all of us. The secular, democratic and humanist traditions of past American popular resistance need to have new victories – and that come only through the growth of a dynamic democratic socialist left.