Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Militarism And Capitalism Are Being Taken To A Dystopian Conclusion

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The $1.7 trillion in worldwide military spending that was made last year is a sign that humanity has entered into a dark new era. At a time when global war deaths are much lower than they were in past centuries, this record amount of military expenditures resembles Orwell’s vision of the world’s future: where war is constant, but the deaths from war are relatively low, and where the structure of society is “as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity.”

But as society becomes more and more unstable, with the record inequality that neoliberalism has created fueling increasing social unrest, the system is being forced to crack down. The censorship, authoritarian propaganda, and weaponized law enforcement of recent years has been accompanied by another kind of reaction to the growing instability: efforts to make society as militarized and corporate-controlled as possible. This is bringing us to the logical conclusion of the militaristic, corporate capitalist system that we’ve lived under for decades.
To make up for the U.S.’ gargantuan recent expansions of the military budget-it’s now $717 billion annually-the remaining social services are being eliminated. The cuts have been ridiculously petty, like the Trump administration’s effort last year to defund the Community Development Block Grant, a program that partly funds Meals on Wheels.
Social Security and Medicare have been targeted, along with the National School Lunch Act, which provided lunch for more than 30 million poor children before Republicans stripped its benefits last year. “[I am] perhaps the first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” said billionaire education secretary Betsy DeVos as the cut was being worked through. Meanwhile, Obama’s legacy of continuing and expanding American wars has been upheld under Trump; the U.S. is currently in undeclared wars with eight countries, as the bombing campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria have increased to a record frequency of attacks in the last year.
This has been enforced by the open corporate control over society that the Trump administration has brought. Former Goldman Sachs leaders make up several White House positions, along with executives from big oil and other industries. These officials have been doing all they can to get rid of the few environmental and worker protections that existed under Obama. At the same time the FCC, lead by former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, has been working to eliminate net neutrality, allowed further media consolidation, and overseen the takeover of local American news stations by Sinclair Broadcasting.
These attacks are built on the corporate takeover that’s been going on for the last forty years, a takeover that capitalism and imperialism made possible. We’re living with the sick extreme of the system we’ve complied with for generations. This is a total transformation of society into a totalitarian military state, and it’s happening around the world.
Militarism and nationalism have returned in German politics, while countries like Turkey, Russia and China normalize military expansionism. The decline of the U.S. empire is causing America and its allies to compensate with wildly aggressive war campaigns, which has created a new cold war with Russia over a rivalry for global hegemony. Nuclear fears have been renewed, causing further fear campaigns like last month’s pamphlet drive which told Swedes how to prepare for war. Demagoguery and forced patriotism have been how the culture has changed alongside these crises, symbolized in the military parade that President Trump has set for this year’s Veterans Day.
The active shooter drills, the conversion of American police into a domestic army, and the other ominous changes we’ve seen in recent years are how the system is preparing to go into lockdown. Eliminating our freedoms and militarizing all parts of life is how the world’s leaders have decided to respond to society’s instability, and they’re not going to change their strategy. The best we can do is put all of our efforts into building a different society.

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