The U.S. settler-colonial project is losing its perceived credibility for a reason. A Gallup survey has shown that 38% of Americans are now extremely patriotic—an unprecedented low for this sentiment—because the “United States” is revealing its true nature. This is one of an operation for capital extraction masquerading as an actual nation, where settlers from a rogue former British colony have hidden their imperialist intentions under the shallow propaganda of a vacuous brand. The image of the United States as the paragon of “freedom” is totally hypocritical, and this contradiction is now endangering the future of the settler state.
Of course the U.S. is collapsing. It’s a civilization that’s not built on its own merits. At every level, it’s built on theft from other civilizations. The colonizers have stolen a continent from the Natives, stolen trillions of dollars of uncompensated labor earnings from the Africans, and stolen trillions of more dollars of extracted wealth from the countries exploited by global U.S. imperialism. Plus there’s been the wealth gained by the cheap labor from Chinese immigrants, and that’s still being extracted through the labor from undocumented workers. The colonizers have taken all of this, yet their economic and social structures are still imploding in on themselves. This is due to the boomerang effect which comes from building a society off of the things other peoples own and create. When all your “nation” has done to make itself the supposed greatest culture in the world is take from other cultures, it lacks a foundation, and at some point it falls apart.
This is what we’re seeing within every facet of our society. We can’t get the bare minimum of protective pandemic measures from our government. We can’t feed our children. We can’t pay for basic services due to inflation and wage stagnation. We can’t facilitate the democratic mechanisms necessary for preventing attacks on women’s rights from a zealous minority. Our legal system lets murderers like Kyle Rittenhouse get away with their crimes, while criminalizing ten-year-olds for trying to get abortions. The country is utterly dysfunctional and corrupt, only still able to avoid complete collapse because of its leaning into extractive measures like undocumented labor, prison slave labor, and the drying up spoils from neo-colonialism.
For the last half-century, not just in the U.S. but throughout the rest of the capitalist world, our socioeconomic system has been in such a state of decline that the ruling class has decided to enact neoliberal policies. Which is to say policies that engineer a controlled collapse of society, destroying public services and workers rights so that the bourgeoisie can continue to see positive profits. The capitalist model, and the imperialist order which grew out of it, have proven so unsustainable that our government has decided to progressively abandon prioritizing the material needs of its own people.
In this pathetic scenario for the U.S. empire, where it’s deliberately turned the imperial center into a failed state just to keep the decrepit machine of capital running, settler-colonialism can only survive through increasing amounts of brute force. Like neoliberalism, this isn’t a sustainable strategy for holding onto power, but merely a reaction from a ruling group which fears losing its status. As Frantz Fanon wrote, “Colonialism is not a thinking machine, nor a body endowed with reasoning faculties. It is violence in its natural state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence.” Like how capital’s only possible response to its decline has been to siphon ever more wealth upwards, colonialism can only respond to the present conditions by intensifying its violence. Thus the predominant nature of fascism in modern America, which takes on an empty-headed propaganda approach where the only focus is on waging war against the designated enemies. Not on any concrete policy goals.
In practice, of course, fascism does have policy goals, as we’re seeing with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the censorship of “anti-American” books within school districts, the erosion of LGBT rights, and the other things the reactionaries have been doing. But these are only means to an end, that being the continuation of the colonial occupation which maintains settlerism’s parasitic existence. Repression of women, minorities, and free speech are instrumental towards preserving the existing social order, as much as fascism’s propaganda is. They all serve to advance the deeper goal, which is to cultivate a counterrevolutionary terror campaign.
America’s fascists are seeking to replicate the activities of Ukraine’s fascists. The end outcome of this country’s reactionary trend is the kind of dystopia Ukraine has found itself in following the 2014 U.S. coup, where a failed state has allowed for neo-Nazi militias to fill the power vacuums. The beatings of communists, pogroms, attacks against the LGBT community, and other vigilante crimes that the Ukrainian fascists have been committing are enabled by the collapse of the country’s functioning governmental structure. This has let capital bring Ukrainian society even further away from the restoration of socialism, despite capital’s contradictions multiplying in the form of neoliberal shock policies and economically destructive corruption. By employing its fighting wing in the form of these fascist battalions, the Ukrainian ruling class has solidified its control, even as the state’s reach has deteriorated and class inequalities have exploded.
The fact that this fascist terror campaign is directly supported by Washington, with the U.S. sending weapons to Azov and the CIA breeding the Nazi terror, reinforces the potential for Ukraine’s fascist model to be brought to America. U.S. white supremacists are traveling to Ukraine to gain combat experience, which they intend to use for the future terrorist attacks they’ll commit against their target groups here. This alarming reality is acknowledged even by analysts who don’t necessarily share my view that Russia’s actions within Ukraine are justified. Scholar Barbara Walter has assessed about the impact that Ukraine’s ultra-nationalism is having on the U.S. political climate:
There are people who say I am being an alarmist and that somehow I am making a second American civil war more likely by talking about it. The reality is that we know that violent extremists on the far right have been growing significantly, especially since 2008. You can read what their plans are. You can see that many of them are stockpiling weapons and going through maneuvers and training for war. These right-wing groups were sending some of their members to Ukraine, prior to the Russian invasion, to gain combat experience. We know that these right-wing extremists are actively recruiting from former members of the military because they want individuals with combat experience. What these right-wing extremists want more than anything else is for the rest of the American people to ignore them, because that way they can grow their numbers, get more training, and when they’re ready to act they’ll have the element of surprise on their side.
Walter’s conclusion is that when the fascist paramilitaries strike, they’ll begin waging a long war of sustained insurgency, where they keep up a steady stream of terrorist attacks. I don’t believe this insurgency will be in opposition to the state, other than the parts of the state that the fascists seek to purge of opposition. Fundamentally, the state is on the same side as these militias, because they both want to stop colonized peoples and the wider proletariat from gaining power. Their war will take on the same nature as the war that Ukrainian fascists have been waging against the people of Donbass, who are fighting for their self-determination from Kiev’s ethnic cleansing agenda.
Like the Donbass peoples, the colonized nations here will in time rise up against the state which has oppressed them, and struggle for the end of the U.S. colonial occupation. And like Azov, the fascist militias here will be used by the ruling class to try to crush the liberation effort. We must not ignore them. We must prepare for the violence that they’ll meet us with.
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