There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down…
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
-For What It Is Worth, Buffalo Springfield
Many people are hesitant about supporting the drastically militant revolutionary actions that me and my fellow Marxist-Leninists advocate for. Do we really need to arm our communities? To work to overthrow the United States government? To build a strong socialist state in its place? But when you look at the realities of our political situation, at the very least it becomes clear why the people in my camp want to do such things.
I oppose the authority of the United States government because as long as we’re living under it, we’ll continue to move towards a point where our country mutates into a horrifying dystopian caricature of itself. Behind America’s daily political theater, a transition is slowly being made towards a point where the country becomes highly unstable due to climate collapse and continually declining living standards, and where this instability is remedied through the imposition of military rule.
One of the early hints of this came with the military and police response to 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. Harvey and other climate change hurricanes are rapidly speeding up the militarization of American society, with the military investing increasing amounts of its resources in providing aid to the regions which have been impacted by the storms. The ominous side to this trend was articulated in this part from an account of Hurricane Harvey by Charles Abelard, who experienced the disaster and its aftermath:
As the Texas National Guard, National Guard units from other states, the US Coast Guard, the US Navy, Army, and other military forces have come into the city on their humanitarian mission, it has been an opportunity to (a) display their fearsome-looking (although nonlethal) hardware, (b) show the flag, so to speak, building street credibility and good will among the people they help, (c) provide an authoritarian backdrop for local law enforcement’s press conferences, and (d) underscore that their purpose, not only in Houston but throughout the world, is to be a “force for good” as they carry out their imperialist atrocities elsewhere while saving voters’ lives here.
Sinister hints of “looting” and “disorder” have been dropped by the local police without much, if any, supporting evidence being given.
This describes the early stages of the takeover. As crises like Harvey appear, law enforcement and the military are using them to boost their own public image by carrying out these kinds of PR campaigns-as well as by exacerbating the general mentality of fear through hyperbolic exaggerations of the extent of the crises. We’re seeing another version of this in the Trump administration’s effort to create public support for ICE and the detention of migrants, which exploits the refugee crises that have been created in part by climate change. In both cases the authorities have taken a destabilizing event that’s the result of climate change, and added an extra aspect of alarm to the situation; those police claims about “disorder” during Harvey resemble Trump’s warnings about how the migrant caravan is an “invasion” which will bring in criminals and terrorists.
When the people in power make these attempts to get us to fear exaggerated outbreaks of crime or terrorism, the groups who they blame for the disorder are invariably the most poor and vulnerable facets of the population. By scapegoating the climate change refugees, the xenophobic right has distracted many people from the forces of corporate pillage that are actually ruining society. The anti-immigrant campaign has also manufactured support for the militarization of the border, the proliferation of aggressive and violent police tactics from ICE, and new precedents for the mass detention and torture of poor people-including poor children. All of this has a profit motive too; private prisons and security companies are seeing a boost as the White House expands the network of migrant detention camps and armed immigration enforcement units.
This state-sanctioned violence against refugees is going to increasingly also be applied to American poor and working class people overall. The rise in extreme weather events, floods, fires, and droughts, as well as the expansion of poverty and inequality that will continue for as long as neoliberalism exists, is going to put most of the population in a similar situation to the one of these migrants. The government will treat us the same way it’s now treating the early victims of this climate change-created authoritarian corporate takeover.
Police will become even more militarized and intent on controlling poor neighborhoods. It will become more likely for the president to use his or her power to send in the army as a domestic police force, as Trump has already technically started doing by using troops to police the border. Civil liberties will continue to be stripped away, and those who engage in dissent will become increasingly in danger. The corporate state will use the climate crisis both to create excuses for further dismantling social services, and for the expansion of surveillance capitalism, private security forces, and for-profit prisons. Ethno-nationalists and the Christian right will keep taking away the rights of women, Muslims, gay and trans people, and racial minorities. The rich, who are already building fortified hideaways to escape to in the event of climate collapse, will be the only ones with privacy and safety.
Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to hide the reality of the climate crisis, there are officials in the Pentagon who recognize it as a dire and growing threat. But given the nature of the government they’re involved in, they and the other security leaders are inevitably going to impose more and more brutal control over the population while the environmental damage and inequality that’s causing this destabilization goes unaddressed.
The language that military strategists have been using to describe their planned approaches to future social unrest highlights this fact. In 2016, the United States Army War College published a document titled “Military Contingencies In Megacities and Sub-Megacities.” The agenda that it outlined was one of total war within metropolitan areas around the world, apparently including within the United States. The report begins by saying that “the United States will find itself at some point in the not-too-distant future engaged in military contingencies in large cities,” and that despite the large civilian casualties that the report acknowledges these conflicts will entail, such invasions of large cities will be “as challenging as they are inescapable.”
In the unstable future that the report’s authors anticipate, civilians will “no longer be mere bystanders able to be circumvented or avoided, but an integral component of the battlefield.” In other words, the impoverishment and displacement of much of the world’s population will make the victims of our crises into enemy combatants according to the U.S. military. The authors describe these class-based confrontations as “contemporary Stalingrads,” where military intervention will be needed in the poverty-ridden “fragile” or “feral” cities while peace will be allowed for the wealthy “smart” cities. Indeed, at one point the report portrays targeting poor and working class districts as the only rational option:
Megacities and dense urban areas also contain numerous slums or ‘sheet metal forests,’ which are very different from ‘concrete canyons’ [i.e., commercial centers]…These areas can provide significant concealment to the adversaries and even become strong operational bases. Apart from moving the population out and bulldozing the slum, there is very little that can be done.
The report suggests that these conflicts will happen in foreign cities like Seoul, where it says the outbreak of war would be “unlikely [but] by no means inconceivable.” But the fact that the U.S. military is discussing the near-future initiation of such interventions shows that America could soon start to carry out invasions of its own homeland. After all, the president does have the authority to mobilize the military for domestic policing. And cities in America will become just as unstable as ones in south Korea.
In fact, in the coming decades Americans themselves may become more vulnerable to invasion from their government than foreigners will be. Chris Hedges has predicted that after the U.S. undergoes the economic crises and subsequent military contractions that the country is expected to experience in the coming years, “the U.S. empire will be so diminished its threats will be, at least to those outside its borders, largely meaningless.”
We’re headed for a version of the end to the American empire that’s envisioned in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In Atwood’s 1985 novel, a series of environmental crises due to pollution causes the rise of a totalitarian government. The novel describes how the atmosphere of panic gives the state the ability to put the country under military rule, impose a theocratic patriarchal caste system where women have lost their rights, and forcibly relocate millions of nonwhites. As we enter into an era that very much resembles this scenario, it’s now clear that the main flaw in Atwood’s speculation was that it didn’t anticipate how corporate power would be the facilitator of the transition into this kind of society.
It’s also clear that if we’re going to find safety in the coming years, we’ll have to establish sovereign power structures, ones which are equipped with the weapons to defend themselves. This is what revolutionaries have done in past operations to free themselves from violent capitalist oppression, from the case of Russia’s Bolsheviks when under siege to the case of the North Vietnamese communists when the U.S. attacked them. And as our own government gets ready to wage war against us, we now need to do the same.
There are left-wing organizations in this country which are working to help with this goal of arming people to defend from state violence, such as the Socialist Rifle Association, the John Brown Club, and numerous local anti-fascist action groups. The goal of these groups is not to instigate violence, but to make society’s most vulnerable people able to defend themselves when they come under attack. Women, LGBT people, the undocumented, people of color, Jews, and others are already under immediate threat from armed fascist vigilantes, and in the long term the government could become just as big of a threat. So naturally, many of those in the targeted groups are working to get the tools to keep themselves safe; as a slogan from the LGBT gun group Armed Equality says, “Armed equality is real equality.”
However, we should use arms as a last resort to defend ourselves. We can overwhelm the government through nonviolent actions of civil disobedience, such as street blockades, labor strikes, and breaking unjust laws. And if the American socialist movement is able to build a sufficient military program, the government won’t be able to stamp out the resistance when it decides to turn its guns on us. As long as we work to arm our communities, build the institutions for anti-capitalist revolt, and carry out sustained insurrectionary actions, we’ll be able to defeat our tyrannical government and create a dictatorship of the proletariat in the model of Marxist-Leninism.
When the military talks about creating “contemporary Stalingrads,” it prefers to ignore that the communists won the original Battle of Stalingrad.
— — — — — — — — — — — - — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here: