The U.S. empire’s proxy war in Ukraine, along with its disastrous impacts on our economy, our freedom of speech, and our political climate, won’t end whenever Kiev is finally forced to surrender. In a broad sense, it will continue for as long as Washington remains determined to crush China, and by extension important Chinese strategic allies like Russia. The new normal of global hybrid warfare waged by the U.S. imperialists against rising superpowers, where everything gets framed by our government’s propaganda as a struggle against a demonized enemy bloc, will continue for a generation. Keeping this warfare perpetual is Washington’s only option during the current stage in its decline as a global hegemon. The irony is that this determination to keep the great-power competition going may be what finally causes the U.S. empire to implode.
Our ruling class, in its desperation to regain U.S. control over an increasingly multipolar world, has committed the country to ever-increasing degrees of inflation. This has come on top of decades of austerity, wage stagnation, and other consequences of neoliberalism, multiplying the hardships of the masses. Many families are becoming less able to feed their children, and working people are being made even less able to navigate the pandemic. With declining living standards comes an unraveling of the social stability that capitalism depends on to survive. For the last year or so, a trend has emerged called the Great Resignation, where many have been choosing not to fill the millions of open job positions due to how bad pay and workplace conditions have gotten. Strikes have been exploding, and union membership has been growing. In reaction, the bourgeoisie have decided to sacrifice some of their profits to avoid letting the unions be normalized, with Starbucks closing many of its locations due to them having recently unionized.
It’s a downward spiral for the existing social order, one that has the potential to rouse the masses towards organizing for their liberation. The equivalent is happening in the other imperialist countries, which Washington now largely sees as worth sacrificing to advance its cold war maneuvers. Europe is being hit by the blowback from the Russia sanctions harder than these sanctions are hurting Russia, with Germany heading towards implosion after fully joining Washington’s win-at-all-costs Ukraine proxy war effort. The imperialists see all of Eurasia as a grand chessboard, on which they’ll be able to prevail through destabilizing first Russia and then China.
Because of the pivotal role Eurasia plays within global trade, this will restore Pax Americana, or so they hope. In reality, the sanctions are failing to destroy Russia’s ruble, and have ultimately placed the U.S. dollar closer towards becoming obsolete as the global reserve currency. This chess move of the imperialists has failed, and they’re beginning to experience the grave costs of it.
As the economist Michael Hudson has written, the imperialists view this reality as a setback, not as a sign that they should give up on their obsessive mission to reverse transition towards multipolarity. This is because with the imperialist bloc now experiencing an irreparable breakdown, crushing the Chinese-led bloc is the U.S. empire’s only hope for not going the way of the Romans or the Ottomans:
The West, in its U.S. neoliberal iteration, seems to be repeating the pattern of Rome’s decline and fall. Concentrating wealth in the hands of the One Percent has always been the trajectory of Western civilization. It is a result of classical antiquity having taken a wrong track when Greece and Rome allowed the inexorable growth of debt, leading to the expropriation of much of the citizenry and reducing it to bondage to a land-owning creditor oligarchy. That is the dynamic built into the DNA of what is called the West and its “security of contracts” without any government oversight in the public interest. By stripping away prosperity at home, this dynamic requires a constant reaching out to extract an economic affluence (literally a “flowing in”) at the expense of colonies or debtor countries. The United States through its New Cold War is aiming at securing precisely such economic tribute from other countries. The coming conflict may last for perhaps twenty years and will determine what kind of political and economic system the world will have. At issue is more than just U.S. hegemony and its dollarized control of international finance and money creation. Politically at issue is the idea of “democracy” that has become a euphemism for an aggressive financial oligarchy seeking to impose itself globally by predatory financial, economic and political control backed by military force.
By the time this decades-long process of cold war rivalry reaches completion, America’s other intertwining risk factors for collapse (global warming, future pandemics, accelerating economic decline, civil conflict outbreaks, etc) will likely have rendered the country a failed state to the same extent that Ukraine is. Then the U.S. empire will be left without the extractive economic foundations required to let it keep functioning, and the ruling class will have to employ its apocalyptic emergency plans. In the last decade, the country’s elites have been building doomsday bunkers and setting aside self-sustaining rural compounds. They’re preparing for the logical conclusion of the socioeconomic system that they benefit from. When capitalism, and its extension of imperialism, become no longer able to make them profits, they aim to escape the perilous conditions they’ve cultivated. They’ve chosen to set our society on the path to ruin.
What will these even more extreme conditions look like? Like public services breaking down to the point of being largely nonexistent, and living standards declining so much that the U.S. masses live like the populations within the countries exploited by imperialism. When the imperialists can no longer bribe the citizens of the core countries to any capacity, and when they can’t engage in outward extractive expansion due to having lost the geopolitical struggle, their machine will be utterly broken. And revolution will have become a practical necessity from the perspective of the masses, who have been driven into destitution by imperialism’s neoliberalized measures for maintaining the machine.
To try to keep control amid the unraveling of their socioeconomic system, the ruling class is manufacturing crises which it hopes will keep profits up. The engineered collapse of a functioning state via neoliberal reforms, the cultivation of the deregulated conditions which led to the 2008 crash, the mismanagement of the pandemic, and mutually destructive war efforts like the one in Ukraine have all been motivated by this bourgeois drive to compensate for declining capitalist gains. The rate of U.S. inflation since the 1973 economic crisis tells us the motives behind all of Washington’s military operations during this time, and behind all of the era’s hyper-capitalist shock policies. The more capitalism’s overarching crises intensify, the more of these shocks the ruling class will apply, until the system’s faculties cease working altogether.
Should the ruling class lose this geopolitical chess game—and there’s overwhelming evidence that they will lose it—they hope to prevent an effective class revolt by rendering society too chaotic for effective labor organizing to occur. When they’ve retreated to their techno-feudal fortresses, and their law enforcement and military apparatuses have weakened or broken down, the only way they’ll be able to still hold off revolution is through proxy destabilization methods. They’ll employ fascist militias, recruited from the ranks of the police departments, to try to terrorize the masses into submission. They’ll use criminal enterprises and low-level gangs, strengthened by the shrinking of the job market and the lumpenproletarianization of the workers, to carve out proxy military governments. Ones which function through drug or human trafficking markets, like the criminal organizations do in post-NATO invasion Libya.
This is what the core of imperialism could look like in its final stage of decay, and we’re already not too far off from such a vision. The organization, education, and arming of the proletariat, as well as the proletarianization of the lumpen through jobs programs, are what a communist party will need to carry out to overcome this chaotic cycle. We must give the proletariat, and those who’ve been pushed out of the proletariat, the resources to join in on a working class revolution.
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