Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Selling A Techno-Dystopa To The Public Like It’s A Consumer Product

It was predictable that when a crisis like this one happened, and the ruling class sought to fortify their system against the rise of class consciousness while leaning on the high-tech sector for capitalist production, they would market the implementation of their new techno-dystopia to the public as if it were just another product. This is what the “Great Reset” is, as well as its accompanied Silicon Valley power grab the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”: a project to make society even more economically unequal, and heavily policed, and war-oriented under the pretext of lifting society out of its current misery.

While Joe Biden and his team of liberal technocrats, with their pro-war think tanks and their big tech ties, scheme to carry out all of the censorship and surveillance policies which the “Great Reset” will entail, they’re presenting it as the way for society to return to safety and comfort. At a World Economic Forum panel in November, Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said about the Great Reset that “we’re at the dawn of an extremely exciting time,” and that he thinks the Great Reset “will happen with greater speed and with greater intensity than a lot of people might imagine. In effect, the citizens of the United States have just done a Great Reset. We’ve done a Great Reset. And it was a record level of voting.”

The vapid nature of Kerry’s supporting argument (electing an imperialist to replace the current imperialist can’t honestly be called a “reset”) shows the emptiness of his promises. Kerry’s think tank doesn’t recommend that the U.S. government respond to the climate crisis by paying reparations, helping the poor, or shrinking the unparalleled carbon emissions machine which is the U.S. military. It recommends that the U.S. build up its military presence in the melting Arctic to prepare for war with Russia, and that it expand its military buildup against China in response to the geopolitical advantages that China has been gaining. (Ironically, China has been gaining this international favor through actually addressing the need for carbon emissions reductions.)

These imperialist technocrats aren’t going to use the Great Reset’s technological updates to enact a Green New Deal, or to wage a campaign to eliminate poverty (both of which China’s socialist government has been able to do). They’re going to use these technologies to exacerbate wealth inequality, expand the militarized U.S. police state, and further destroy the environment in pursuit of the cheap manufacturing of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s signature gadgets. And they’ll do this while carrying out a social engineering project to get the masses to accept it as an exciting new series of consumerist opportunities.

So far, public opinion data shows that the masses are easily seeing through the phony intentions of the corporations which have been pushing advertising with pandemic-related messaging. It’s obvious to everyone that these companies are just trying to manipulate our emotions. Their veneer of humanitarianism is laughable. But the U.S. propaganda machine has been able to successfully market policies before under the guise of humanitarian intentions, namely with the regime change campaigns against Syria and Venezuela-wherein imperialist agents have sold themselves as fighters for “human rights” within these countries. And the Great Reset, with its familiar undertone of “humanitarianism,” is an attempt to apply this mass persuasion tactic to the United States internally during a moment of crisis.

Look at how the tech CEOs, at the same time when they’ve been collectively gaining hundreds of billions of dollars this year, have sold their opportunistic campaigns to proliferate their products as an effort to make people’s lives easier during a difficult moment. The CEO of Google Eric Schmidt has been working with New York governor Andrew Cuomo to integrate technology into every aspect of daily life, marketing this as a way to make people’s lives more convenient during the pandemic. Bill Gates has been working with Cuomo on a plan to privatize the state’s schools, calling it a “reimagining” of the school system for a post-pandemic era. Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple have all been experiencing soaring profits as a result of this pandemic, while in their own ways presenting themselves as assets in the fight for the public’s health.

Their endgame is to turn all of the country’s wealthy metropolitan areas into “smart cities,” and to point to these shiny new little worlds as evidence that innovation has revitalized capitalism. This is in spite of how a further rise in unemployment, more engineered deterioration of social services, and potentially even a dollar crash are expected for 2021 and beyond.

In the coming years, as these companies roll out a series of appealing new conveniences-fully automated cars, the total replacement of retail with home delivery, the outsourcing of more jobs to machines, home appliances that are all connected to the internet-it will become apparent that mainly those in the upper strata will be able to enjoy the benefits from these technological advancements, or to access these fancy new lifestyles at all for that matter. The poor will be subjected to more politically hostile mass surveillance, a higher-tech militarized police state, more online censorship, and more hegemonic control over their daily lives from companies like Amazon. The marketing for this will come along with a series of claims from the state that more restrictions on freedoms are necessary to defend from supposed threats of cyberattacks and information warfare from Russia, China, and Iran. This ties in with the fact that the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s primary task is to build up the industrial base for Washington’s 2020s cold war military buildup.

It all fits the predictable patterns of necro-capitalism, as described by Marquette University’s Gerry Canavan in his 2014 essay Snowpiercer and Necrofuturism:

The ongoing creation of these kinds of “states of exception” wherein citizens are prohibited from making decisions about their own locality recalls precisely Banerjee’s theory of necrocapitalist colonialism, which confines “democratic rights” to a ritualized “political sphere” while “continuing forms of domination, exploitation, and violence” exert the real power. What necrocapitalism marks, then, may be not so much a novel feature of capitalism but rather the ongoing intensification of these technologies of suffering past the point where they are possible to deny. And things are getting worse: the need for new sources of profit (even in the post- 2008-crash world of economic turmoil and declining fossil-fuel energy sources) has meant ever-more-brutal discipline-by-death of the world’s workers. Soon, we are told, jobs for humans will vanish entirely as they are replaced by apps and robots — yet futurists like Tyler Cowen argue that this will not lead to some techno-utopia of plenty but rather an even more brutal scramble to not be left behind by the march of progress with the rest of the 99.9%.

Through the culturally ingrained logic of consumerism, the system is conditioning the public to rationalize these intensified patterns of violence. This is happening the same way they got the public to accept NAFTA, with its shipping out of a million U.S. jobs, its destruction of the environment, and its increase of economically destructive neo-colonial labor within Mexico: portray the exploitation and extractivism as inevitable in the march towards “progress.” It’s appropriate that the NAFTA story is now on its way to repeating itself throughout the 2020s, with DC think tanks pushing for Biden to implement the similarly necro-capitalist Trans-Pacific Partnership. And in a repeat of another running theme, these think tanks base their argument for reviving the TPP in the idea that China must be countered.

The smart cities, the cold war on China, the TPP-they’re all part of the product package which is being sold to us under the “Great Reset” brand. The pitch behind it is that these things will make everyone’s lives better through normalizing new technologies, making the U.S. be able to better economically compete, and proliferating jobs in the tech sector. But the fraudulence of these promises is transparent. You don’t need to become a Marxist economist to see that the benefits of the new technologies will be unequally distributed in an increasingly unequal society, that economically decoupling from China and putting even more resources into the military will hurt the U.S. economy, that the TPP will only put workers in a worse position, or that tech jobs are becoming more numerous relative to the losses of tens of millions of jobs in other areas of business.

The masses aren’t fools, they can see how capitalism is leaving them behind. But as Canavan observes, the ideological framework of the neoliberal era robs the masses of a way to coherently advocate for an alternative system:

Objecting to this state of affairs, either as it exists today or as these trends suggest it will continue to advance in the future, is assumed to be utterly pointless: necrocapitalism is not only here whether or not it is desired, the fact that it is obviously not desirable is perversely taken as the proof that necrocapitalist misery is necessary for social order and stability…things must be this necrocapitalist because, if they were not, our society would be even more necropolitical and wretched than it is now. That is: necrocapitalism’s own horrors are perpetually taken as proof of necrocapitalism’s necessity, even its own self-prophlyactic. We ingest the poison to keep ourselves from becoming even sicker.

The endless demonizations of China from the U.S. political and media class are part of this. If the cultural consensus is that China and its Marxist-Leninist governing model represent nothing but an even more brutal system of state violence and exploitation (“state capitalism,” as China’s detractors on the anti-communist left call it), then the U.S. model of necro-capitalism is implied to be the best system available. No matter that this reasoning comes from an oversimplification of China’s economic system, or that it’s buffered by increasingly outlandish and unsubstantiated Western media rumors about the events in China’s Xinjiang province; the pesky journalists who point out these things are easily pushed outside of the mainstream dialogue through censorship and media blacklistings.

In this environment of enforced political unconsciousness, where the idea of the proletariat taking power is continuously kept out of people’s minds by a heavy layer of xenophobic and anti-communist propaganda, the necro-capitalist brand that the system is selling us becomes passively accepted as our only possible path forward. The Great Reset, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and all of their thinly veiled sinister implications become as banal as Amazon, McDonald’s, or Starbucks. Our society’s necro-political trends aren’t just being marketed as if they were products, they’re being treated by the public as if they were products.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

In 2020, The Capitalist World Suffered While China Improved Its People’s Living Standards

The approach towards governance that China has been taking since the fall of the Soviet Union and the momentary triumph of global counter-revolution has been one of tactfully building up a system which can save the Chinese people from the capitalist world’s growing neoliberal hell. This has required China to open its economy up to the capitalist world for the sake of economic growth, and consequently to take China further from the dogmatically pure socialist path that the Communist Party of China’s ultra-left critics wish were present within it. But in 2020, with the rapid escalation of capitalism’s crises, we’ve seen just how crucial these moves towards economic growth have been for the country.

Without them, China’s people would now be in a far less economically stable environment amid the depression that the majority of the planet has entered into this year. All Marxists have some understanding of the reality that capitalism is doomed to eat itself, and that the profits capitalism produces will one day decline to a point where the lower classes are forced into misery to sustain the luxuries of the capitalist ruling class. So in a way, the CPC’s project over this last generation to lift over 800 million people out of poverty has been a preemptive defense of the Chinese people from the miseries that capitalism would one day produce. Communists have always known on some level that a year like 2020 would come, so in the decades before 2020 the CPC built a buffer against the worst of the inevitable chaos.

As Xinhuanet described in 2018, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era “makes clear that the principal contradiction facing Chinese society in the new era is that between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.” Since then, this contradiction has been addressed in a big way, with last month China having been able to declare after extensive investigations that the number of people living in absolute poverty has dropped to zero. This is in contrast to how throughout the capitalist world, over 100 million people have so far been pushed into poverty following the start of this year’s pandemic and economic crash.

And it seems that no matter how bad this depression gets, China will retain the ability to keep improving the living standards of its people. While assessing its future plans for development in the wake of last month’s official victory over poverty, China has settled on the approach of expanding assistance programs to its low-income population, which isn’t impoverished but is evidently still below the standard of living that the Party sees as ideal. This is again in contrast to the situation for the capitalist world-especially for the center of global imperialism the United States, where job losses are sure to further accelerate throughout 2021. More broadly, the IMF is going to increase austerity, privatization, and wage cuts within 81 countries in the coming months and years.

Also consider that Covid-19 has killed 335 thousand people in the U.S. alone so far, while China has had 4,634 Covid deaths so far. To get a greater sense of perspective, the U.S. has been getting more than 3000 Covid deaths on multiple days in this last month alone while China hasn’t gotten more than 100 cases within the span of a day since July. 2020 has shown that the material benefits which the CPC provides for its people are something which those living in the imperial core almost can’t fathom. At this point, I almost can’t imagine a reality where typically only a couple dozen people a day (or fewer) get the virus in my country. And China has created this reality for itself, despite having a population which is several times larger than that of the U.S.

This is the result of the Marxist-Leninist governing model which China is built upon. The fact that the Chinese government has approached its economic policies by looking at the contradictions which have been keeping some of its people poor, rather than by focusing on raising corporate profits while ignoring the very word “contradiction” like capitalist states do, has allowed for China to both virtually defeat the pandemic and continue to raise its people’s living standards amid a global depression.

China’s vast pandemic lockdowns from this spring may have slowed down the economy, but they were immediately followed by new growth for the country’s GDP and a historic anti-poverty victory. This is because unlike neoliberal capitalist countries like the U.S., China’s socioeconomic system is prepared to keep people protected by a robust social safety net during lockdowns, and therefore to make the recovery process from an outbreak quick and efficient. In turn, a quick economic recovery was also made possible.

So will be the case during the other, even more severe pandemics and economic shocks that will emerge throughout the era of climate collapse. The capitalist world is sinking, and the socialist world (by which I mean not just China but Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, and the DPRK, which have all dealt with this year’s crises to similar success) is turning into a refuge from the hell that late-stage capitalism is creating. And despite what the CPC’s detractors want to believe, this vast advantage that China has in overcoming the world’s disasters isn’t merely the result of some good decisions that aren’t connected to socialism. Socialism is the reason why China and these other Marxist-Leninist countries have come out of this year in such a relatively good position.

The CPC’s anarchist, Maoist, and otherwise ultra-leftist detractors in particular claim that socialism hasn’t been the driver behind the Party’s good decisions. The gripes from these groups, which vary among the differing ultra-left ideologies, largely center around the idea that the presence of the bourgeoisie within China negates the CPC’s credibility as Marxist-Leninist. But whatever contradictions this situation presents for Chinese society, the fact remains that the People’s Republic of China is as much a dictatorship of the proletariat as it was during the Mao era, complete with an electoral system where the masses can decide which decisions are made. And their decision has been to utilize markets for the purpose of economic development, which as Marx wrote is an essential part of the liberation of the people:

It is only possible to achieve real liberation in the real world by employing real means, that slavery cannot be abolished without the steam-engine and the mule and spinning-jenny, serfdom cannot be abolished without improved agriculture, and that, in general, people cannot be liberated as long as they are unable to obtain food and drink, housing and clothing in adequate quality and quantity. “Liberation” is an historical and not a mental act, and it is brought about by historical conditions, the development of industry, commerce, agriculture, the conditions of intercourse.

This point was expanded upon by Lenin, who wrote that:

Capitalism is a bane compared with socialism. Capitalism is a boon compared with medievalism, small production, and the evils of bureaucracy which spring from the dispersal of the small producers. Inasmuch as we are as yet unable to pass directly from small production to socialism, some capitalism is inevitable as the elemental product of small production and exchange; so that we must utilise capitalism (particularly by directing it into the channels of state capitalism) as the intermediary link between small production and socialism, as a means, a path, and a method of increasing the productive forces.

And some try to characterize Xi Jinping Thought as “revisionist,” or as an outright betrayal of Marxism-Leninism! The economic development that the CPC is carrying out is entirely in line with the steps towards economic growth that the founders of Marxism-Leninism recommended should be carried out by a socialist state.

This is because China continues to be a nation that’s in need of economic growth as a means for raising the living standards of its people; as the imperialist media has been eager to point out, even after last month’s victory against poverty many in China lack living conditions which the CPC would consider ideal. So China must for now continue on its path of economic expansion, until it gains the productive capacity to dismantle its Deng-era market structures and develop further towards communism in the 21st century’s second half.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

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.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Illusion That The U.S. Can’t Be Defeated By A People’s War

You look around today’s United States, and you find yourself surrounded by projections of the capitalist state’s repressive power. There are militarized police, made highly equipped after being funneled excess army equipment amid the wars of the last two decades. There’s a surveillance state that monitors everyone, all with the help of the tech companies that have deeply integrated themselves into our daily lives. There are right-wing militias that are intertwined with the state. There’s a Homeland Security department that this year used Gestapo-style tactics to detain protesters, and that’s been helped by a military that can be sent into the streets to suppress demonstrations.

As our class conflict escalates, so will the level of violence that the state is willing to use. In 1985, the U.S. government bombed an entire Philadelphia neighborhood to counter a black liberation group. At some point in the coming decades, it will likely do this again, as well as send in special operations forces to go after the centers of socialist and anti-colonial resistance. But when you look past the grand, imposing nature of the repressive institutions and the surveillance state, you begin to notice some flaws in their abilities to defend against a class uprising. And before you know it, you’ll discover proof that the government we live under isn’t any more invincible than the governments which revolutionaries like Mao and Castro defeated.

Castro himself pointed out this hidden reality about the supposedly unbeatable nature of the modern capitalist states, concluding that “They have tried to establish the myth that modern arms render the people helpless in overthrowing tyrants. Military parades and the pompous display of machines of war are used to perpetuate this myth and to create a complex of absolute impotence in the people. But no weaponry, no violence can vanquish the people once they are determined to win their rights.”

Che Guevara spoke more directly to those who live under the rule of the United States, having said to us: “I envy you. You North Americans are very lucky. You are fighting the most important fight of all—you live in the belly of the beast.” How are we to fulfill Che’s vision for the U.S. government being overthrown, and for the proletariat building its own democratic state structure on a post-colonial continent? By studying the U.S. state’s strategic weaknesses and preparing to exploit them.

Those weaknesses lie within the scary-sounding tactic that I’ve already mentioned the U.S. military plans to engage in when the class uprising begins: sending in special ops forces. In 2016, the Joint Special Operations University revealed this to be the military’s primary planned strategy for suppressing an internal uprising in a training video which admitted that “We are facing a threat that requires us to redefine doctrine and the force in radically new and different ways.” This was in response to the realities exposed by a separate U.S. Army study from that year, which bemoaned that the “U.S. Army is incapable of operating within the megacity.” This confirmed a 2014 study which observed that “the Army is currently unprepared. Although the Army has a long history of urban fighting, it has never dealt with an environment so complex and beyond the scope of its resources.”

Since the JSOU video painted a picture of a future where armed rebel forces who operate on the periphery of large cities will be subdued by military actions that hone in on selective areas, it’s clear that special ops is the strategy that the military’s analysts aim to lean on. And for understandable reasons; if the military were to carpet bomb a U.S. city, or carry out a full-scale invasion of a city, the upper classes in the city’s center would come under jeopardy and a major American economic center would be demolished. So the military wants to rectify this contradiction by employing some kind of new innovation in urban combat science to defeat the guerrillas without endangering the cities themselves. 

But as Planet of Slums author Mike Davis said in response to the JSOU’s video:

This is a fantasy, the idea that there is a special military science of megacities. It’s simply not the case. … They seem to envision large cities with slum peripheries governed by antagonistic gangs, militias, or guerrilla movements that you can somehow fight using special ops methods. In truth, that’s pretty far-fetched. … You only have to watch ‘Black Hawk Down’ and scale that up to the kind of problems you would have if you were in Karachi, for example. You can do special ops on a small-scale basis, but it’s absurd to imagine it being effective as any kind of strategy for control of a megacity.

There’s the big disadvantage that the ruling class would have in the event of a class war: an inability to keep the downtown business operations running due to the vast complications which a guerrilla insurgency would immediately produce. The rich wouldn’t be able to carry on like usual in the center of these cities while the army conveniently wipes out the insurgents within the distant urban edges. The rich would have to leave for their rural doomsday shelters or flee the country. Plus, the flow of capital would be disrupted like never before. In near future-America, where escalating climate disasters, new pandemics, economic contractions, and general imperial decline will already be wreaking havoc on the functions of U.S. imperialism, such an armed internal revolt would put great amounts of stress on the U.S. military.

This is the worst-case scenario for the U.S. ruling class, a scenario where the proletarian revolutionary organizations have gained enough resources, numbers, and tact to wage an actual people’s war. Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington DC would be the most vulnerable, since they’re all megacities. In the country’s mountainous terrain, where it’s easy for guerrilla bands to hide, additional pieces of land would quickly become likely to be taken. The country would become a patchwork of strongholds for the revolutionaries and the reactionaries, with the reactionaries coming up against unexpected strategic disadvantages that could very well result in early losses of important military resources; there are ten military bases in Washington DC, along with a nuclear weapons facility. How the tables would begin to turn if the United States were to lose control over this megacity.

The government will do all it can to prevent this outcome from being realized-from carrying out mass pre-emptive arrests of revolutionaries, to trying to massacre the first Red bases, to bulldozing and bombing the impoverished neighborhoods where guerrillas might pop up, to waging economic warfare against the marginalized groups who are likely to participate in an uprising. But all of these things are to be expected, and they’re what we need to prepare for to survive. Gather seeds and create homesteads in your area so that you won’t starve during a blockade. Attain radio-based communications equipment for a scenario where the government shuts off the internet in your area. Gather the materials you would need to camp in the wilderness for extended periods of time should you need to retreat to a place where the government can’t find you. Get all the weapons, armor, medical supplies, exercise, and martial arts training that you’ll need to match the combat abilities of the police and U.S. army personnel.

Prepare for a violent response from the state to come your way. Prepare to potentially go off the grid. Prepare for a moment where you’ll have to jump ship on the sinking Titanic of capitalism. If we reject the base assumptions of the existing system-that material possessions are crucial for personal fulfillment, that you’ll be able to get a good life through working for corporations, that what we’ve got now is the only thing that we can ever have-you’ll be able to free yourself from the complex of impotence and fight back. As Mao said: “Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things, that are decisive. The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale. Military and economic power is necessarily wielded by people.”


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:

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Big Tech, The “Great Reset,” And The Illusion That Capitalism Can Sustain Itself Through Innovation

Being the core of global imperialism, the United States has naturally created a decadent lifestyle for its most favored citizens. During the post-World War II era, those who benefited from the vast buildup of imperialist wealth were given access to many leisure activities and fancy new products, made easily available to the late 20th century’s growing managerial class. But after half a century of neoliberal economic destruction and a pandemic that’s compounded the worst depression in a century, the country’s air of luxury is an illusion that corporate propagandists are growing desperate to perpetuate.

The U.S. still receives wealth from its global neo-colonies. But for the majority of its population, this doesn’t translate to meaningful material benefits, let alone to the enormous and spectacularly outfitted homes that the upper middle class families in TV shows are overwhelmingly shown to have. The gap between how Americans are supposed to be living and how we’re actually living keeps growing, with the worst aspects of our poverty crisis being pushed ever towards the margins of mainstream consciousness. The U.S. truly is a third world country with a Gucci belt, where an illusion of a more prosperous past is subconsciously maintained.

The more that the hunger rate increases, unemployment rises, businesses close, and wages and social services get slashed, the more dramatic this dissonance becomes. We’ve gotten to a point where the metropolitan elites and their representatives in the incoming Biden administration aim to embark on an unprecedented project of technological expansion, all while child hunger has increased by fourteen times among the lower classes in the last year. One recalls this quote from Phillip Neel’s 2018 book Hinterland: America’s New Landscape of Class and Conflict:

In Nevada I could feel the Long Crisis with a terrifying intimacy, as if it was some sort of uncanny, bodily contact — like the feeling you get camped out in the swirling, galaxy-littered darkness of the open range when a reptile brushes up against your prostrate body. Except that the reptile at least shares with you some deep, serpentine connection, a lineage lost somewhere in the plummet of primeval time. The Crisis, on the other hand, is a vast creature, not contained by familiar scales of time or space. It is a social terror made of masses of machinery and animals, yet not in any way kin to these components. And what we sense of it today is merely one of its many limbs extending backward from its true body writhing somewhere just out of sight, at home in our own incomprehensible future.

With Covid-19, the future he was talking about has come. In the face of this incomprehensibility, of this unfolding late-stage capitalist nightmare that we’re conditioned not to truly acknowledge as real, the system can only respond with a campaign of denial. Our civilization can’t be in decline, say the liberal elites who have such optimism for the next four years; we must be on the verge of a great new breakthrough. New technologies are about to be normalized, ones that will make everyone’s lives better and kickstart the economy and save the planet. These are the marketing points of the “Great Reset” that tech companies and think tanks have been pushing.

At least part of this comes from a desire, amid our imperial decline, to measure up to what China has already accomplished. China just eliminated absolute poverty a month before its self-imposed deadline, it’s effectively beaten Covid-19, and it’s leading the world in the fight against global warming. It’s also pumping more than a trillion dollars into its economy to proliferate artificial intelligence, wireless networks, and other advancements. This has made it so that technologically competing with China is indeed one of the main arguments that the D.C. think tanks have been making for what they call the “fourth industrial revolution,” where the high-tech sector is heavily integrated into U.S. capitalism. They don’t just want to geopolitically strong-arm China, they want to surpass China in its uses of technology to gain internal economic growth.

What these liberal technocrats aren’t going to acknowledge is that 21st century U.S. capitalism, by its nature, can’t restore its own vitality when faced with a crisis like this one. The rate of profits has declined so much that in order for the capitalist class to keep building up their wealth, by necessity they’ll need to continue the process of neoliberal austerity. Biden’s team has as much as admitted this. An economy that’s designed to only keep widening its wealth gap won’t produce what China has created. It will produce the hellscape of an impoverished, violence-ridden dictatorship, like the one of Honduras in the aftermath of the country’s U.S.-orchestrated coup.

Since the U.S. is still an oppressor country, and will remain so until a revolution occurs within it, this descent into necro-politics will be accompanied by an ongoing veneer of imperialist decadence and luxury. The rich metropolitan areas will be outfitted with all the conveniences which Silicon Valley elites aim to proliferate-fully automated cars, artificial intelligence as a greater driver of computing, an internet of things, a total replacement of retail with home delivery-while the Hinterland continues to deteriorate. None of it will change the nature of technology under capitalism that Michael Parenti observed in Against Empire: “The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force.”

As socialist China’s success story has shown, the problem isn’t technology, the problem is capitalism. Whether a technological advancement leads to good or evil depends on the class character of the institutions that get to wield this technology. As the United States gets access to the technologies which the progenitors of the “fourth industrial revolution” are pushing for, it’s using them to make the lives of the elites more decadent while making the lives of the poor overall worse.

Whatever benefits we’ll get from the normalization of the proposed “smart cities” will also come with more intensive government surveillance which is assisted by AI, greater potential by unaccountable corporations to censor political speech, deadlier equipment for the militarized police, and-in the longer term-more ways for capitalism to destroy the environment and put us in peril. The technological innovations that capitalism plans to embrace will ultimately exacerbate rather than alleviate its contradictions.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

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.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Our Conditions Are Going To Get Far More Brutal. Will You Be Prepared To Survive Them?

In the world that late-stage capitalism is leading us towards, lower class people, especially ones who’ve set themselves up against the capitalist state and the forces of imperialism, will be fighting a war for our survival. But through this war we can find vitality. We can forge a path that goes against the ever-encroaching forces of necro-politics, instead of being complacent in the process of dehumanization and growing systemic misery.

To prepare for this fight, first look at the current situation: during the worst economic crisis in the last century, the U.S. government just begrudgingly passed a stimulus that will give people $600, half of what was given out in the previous stimulus. The government is also dealing with the looming eviction crisis by passing a stopgap measure that will only temporarily stave off the descent of millions into homelessness, all while evictions keep quietly slipping through the cracks. Water is now being traded as a commodity on Wall Street amid fears of scarcity. The next administration plans to enact more austerity, as well as to revive a trade deal that will further strip workers of rights while giving multinational corporations even more impunity. We’re sliding into a future where we’ll have to fend for ourselves during the era of climate collapse.

“The belief that we can maintain current levels of consumption, especially of animal products, capitalist expansion, imperial wars, a reliance on fossil fuels and abject subservience to unfettered corporate power, which has solidified the worst income inequality in human history, is not a form of hope but suicidal self-delusion,” writes Chris Hedges as the Biden transition continues. “We are not headed under the policies of the Biden administration and the global ruling elite for the broad sunlit uplands of a new and glorious future, but economic misery, vast climate migrations, waves of new and more virulent pandemics, of which COVID-19 is a mild precursor, along with irreversible ecological systems collapse and frightening forms of societal breakdown, authoritarianism and neofascism.”

This is the lens through which we should look while we all try to do what’s in our best interests: our society is headed inexorably towards the environment of instability and destruction that we now see in Yemen, Libya, and the other countries that the U.S. empire has destabilized. Why do you think U.S. billionaires have been building secluded doomsday shelters in recent years, and have already retreated into them to an extent during this last year of pandemic and growing unrest?

Because of its role as the core of global imperialism, and its consequential lack of public health services amid unparalleled military spending, the U.S. is prime territory for late-stage capitalist collapse. This exceptional American vulnerability to crises has been shown in the fact that the U.S. has undergone over 300 thousand pandemic deaths so far, much more than has been the case for any other country. When the crises get too big, the rich will abandon this country-or at least the vast majority of its land-and make it into another sacrifice zone.

“Across the United States, some 162 million people — nearly one in two — will most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment, namely more heat and less water,” environmental reporter Abrahm Lustgarten wrote this September, when wildfires were sweeping the west coast amid deep failures by our neoliberal infrastructure to manage the humanitarian disaster. “For 93 million of them, the changes could be particularly severe, and by 2070, our analysis suggests, if carbon emissions rise at extreme levels, at least four million Americans could find themselves living at the fringe, in places decidedly outside the ideal niche for human life. The cost of resisting the new climate reality is mounting. Florida officials have already acknowledged that defending some roadways against the sea will be unaffordable. And the nation’s federal flood-insurance program is for the first time requiring that some of its payouts be used to retreat from climate threats across the country. It will soon prove too expensive to maintain the status quo. Then what?”

Then we’ll have to claw our way towards survival, and ultimately towards defeating a state that will be doing all it can to wipe many of us off the face of the earth. Expect the ICE concentration camps to morph into far larger projects of mass imprisonment and extermination. Expect the police and military, along with their partnered militias, to enact terror campaigns against marginalized groups and people with radical political affiliations. Expect the entire internal structure of imperialism to come after you, like how Germany’s wounded imperialist regime went after the undesirables during a frantic bid to build its war machine back up.

For the United States, this reactive attempt at retaining power through militarism will run through big tech, which is incidentally the industry that’s building upon the surveillance state and carrying out increasing censorship against anti-imperialists. The “fourth industrial revolution,” as corporate propagandists are calling this embrace of technology to maintain social control, is going to largely take place throughout the Biden era; cloaked in the liberal guises of environmentalism and humanitarianism, big tech will make daily life more intensely surveilled while building up the war machine. At the same time, the online censorship campaign and the police state will be expanded by Biden’s liberal technocrats. Then when a far-right demagogue like Tom Cotton comes to power in 2024 or 2028, these systems will be used to clamp down on the population like never before.

Use this time to get physically fit and trained for combat situations. Use it to read theory and collect books from history’s authorities on proletarian struggle. Use it to form groups in your local area that consist of other Marxists, ones who you can trust to fight alongside you after things pop off. Get stocked up on the medical equipment, armor, and weapons that we’ll need to survive. Gather together the radio-based communications equipment that we’ll need to communicate should the government shut off our internet access in the event of a crisis. Gather the materials that you would need to camp in the wilderness with your group’s other members for an extended period of time. Create maps that tell you where you could escape to should the government become likely to try to detain you, and that shows where the police and military centers are in your area.

As the communist YouTuber Hakim said during the start of this year’s civil unrest and the resulting state backlash, “Arm yourselves. Establish armed wings of revolutionary organizations. Start coordinating armed actions across the country with as many organizations as you can. Remember, never terrorist activity-only military and state targets. Establish Red bases around the country, and begin building dual power. People’s war is the solution.”

The Pentagon already anticipates a near future where scenarios like these will emerge. In recent years, it’s been putting out reports that warn of nationwide power grid failures, climate-related disease outbreaks, extreme unemployment, growing slums, and refugee-producing natural disasters hitting the country within the next few decades. The diagnosis of the military technocrats behind these reports has been to invade and occupy the impacted areas, truly making America’s wars come home as the fallout from the climate crisis continues.

“Even in rich neighborhoods, abandoned houses will linger like ghosts, filling with feral cats and other refugees looking for their own higher ground,” Jeff Goodell writes in The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World. “It will have a metallic sheen and will smell bad. Kids will get strange rashes and fevers. More people will leave. Seawalls will crumble. In a few decades, low-lying neighborhoods will be knee-deep. Wooden houses will collapse into a sea of soda bottles, laundry detergent jugs, and plastic toothbrushes. Human bones, floated out of caskets, will be a common sight. Treasure hunters will kayak in, using small robotic submersibles to search for coins and jewelry. Modern office buildings and condo towers will lean as salt water corrodes the concrete foundations and eats away at the structural beams. Fish will school in the classrooms. Oysters will grow on submerged light poles. Religious leaders will blame sinners for the drowning of the city.”

These are the conditions we’re going to face. Embrace the war for your survival and liberation. Embrace the idea of sacrifice. You have the potential to become an active agent within history.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

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.