Sunday, November 28, 2021

Zionism & imperialism feed off of the vile conditions they create

Palestinians under apartheid

This year, Israel came under unprecedented international scrutiny when it launched a campaign to bomb Gazan civilian centers, including prominent buildings within the city, in response to rocket attacks from Hamas. Defenders of Israel’s actions cited the fact that the Hamas attacks put Israeli civilians in danger in addition to military targets, implying that this means Israel is merely responding proportionately (or what it sees as proportionately) to terrorism which can only be ended with force. Such is the perspective on modern conflict put forth by Samuel Huntington, who argued for a “Clash of Civilizations” theory where every facet of what’s considered “Western civilization”—which by a broad definition includes Israel—must defend from the provocations of Islamic fanatics who are impossible to reconcile or reason with. 

But can this conflict truly be explained by religious extremism on one side? If not, what are the conditions that have led Hamas and its aligned entities to wage war? And can their impacts truly be alleviated by the extreme responses that Israel carries out against Palestinians, and that the U.S. military carries out against global Muslims? These are the questions that prompt Huntington’s narrative to be countered by the theories of Edward Said, who’s strongly repudiated his claims about the relationship between the “West” and the Islamic world. 

In his 1993 article The Clash of Civilizations? The next pattern of conflict, Huntington painted a picture of a world after the Cold War which was already certain to fall back into instability. Huntington wasn’t the only thinker from that moment to expect this, but he differed from others in that he placed central emphasis on the role of cultural differences in creating such tensions. He wrote that “the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.” His reasoning was that the global socioeconomic divisions which had been behind Washington’s competition with the Soviet bloc, and which had caused the socialist revolutions that created this bloc, no longer mattered. “Those divisions are no longer relevant,” he concluded. “It is far more meaningful now to group countries not in terms of their political or economic systems or in terms of their level of economic development but rather in terms of their culture and civilization.”

Edward Said repudiates these assertions in his article The Clash of Ignorance, where he deconstructs the central assumption behind Huntington’s analysis—namely, that civilizations are not fluid and intertwined things, but utterly separate entities. If this narrative were true, it would give some credibility to Huntington’s claim about global inequalities no longer factoring into conflict, because societies would indeed be motivated to fight not for socioeconomic reasons but for the sake of intercultural rivalry. But Said summarizes why this view doesn’t account for the basic realities of anthropology and sociology: “Huntington is an ideologist, someone who wants to make ‘civilizations’ and ‘identities’ into what they are not: shut-down, sealed-off entities that have been purged of the myriad currents and countercurrents that animate human history, and that over centuries have made it possible for that history not only to contain wars of religion and imperial conquest but also to be one of exchange, cross-fertilization and sharing.”

The logical conclusion of this type of simplistic thinking on cultures comes out in the way that Israel, and the imperialist powers which support Israel, wage war. In Israel’s case, this reductive mentality can be traced to the country’s founding ideology of Zionism. As Mujtaba Razvi assesses in Interrelationship between Zionism, Imperialism and Racism: “Zionism’s first claim was that it intended to take upon itself the onerous message of ‘civilizing and modernizing’ Palestine. Such a claim dove-tailed perfectly with the 19th century racist orientation of European capitalism which sought a cultural justification through the claim that it was ‘colonizing backward nations’ with the purpose of ‘civilizing’ and ‘preparing’ them for self rule.”

In his work Orientalism, Said describes the narrative about history that the imperialist powers—and by extension the Zionist settler-colonial project—uses to justify this belief. He writes that in the “European imagination,” Europe is “….depicted as victorious over Asia, that hostile ‘other’ world beyond the seas. To Asia are given the feelings of emptiness, loss, and disaster that seem thereafter to reward Oriental challenges to the West; and also, that lament that in some glorious past Asia fated better, was itself victorious over Europe.

This story that Orientalists tell themselves couldn’t fit better with Huntington’s assertions about the world being able to be neatly divided between different civilizations, and about those civilizations being fated for rivalries where certain ones must win out against others. It also fits with Huntington’s claim about socioeconomics now being irrelevant to why conflict happens; when your central concept of history is that it’s defined by stronger cultures winning out over weaker ones, you can easily conclude that factors like capital, profit, and inequality aren’t as important as culture in producing conflict. That the Cold War was an exceptional blip in history where socioeconomics was momentarily relevant.

This special emphasis on culture when it comes to conflict, stemming from the belief that certain cultures are inferior, is instrumental in Israel’s atrocities against Arabs. In their study Participation in Atrocities Among Israeli Soldiers During the First Intifada: A Qualitative Analysis, Yoel Elizur and Nuphar Yishay-Krien describe the thought processes of the Israeli Defense Force members who had participated in the brutality: “Soldiers who engaged in brutal behaviors dehumanized and demonized Palestinians by calling them ‘animals,’ ‘filthy,’ ‘primitive,’ and ‘people who do not care for their children.’” For context, the researchers also interviewed many IDF soldiers who didn’t articulate these kinds of sentiments. But the fact that blatant anti-Arab racism is shown by this study to be typical within the IDF, as well as a correlating factor with violence, shows ethno-centric beliefs to be a motivating factor behind Israeli war crimes. And even those types of milder soldiers who the study identifies as “The Incorruptible,” despite lacking consciously hateful attitudes and wanting to condemn any malpractice they see from their peers, are described by the researchers as acting with complicity and being in the minority: “they were isolated within the company, afraid to endanger themselves by breaking rank, and and intimidated by local commanders who supported brutality.”

What’s notable about this case in regards to socioeconomics and inequality is that the soldiers had served within two mechanized infantry groups stationed in Gaza refugee camps throughout the uprising. These conditions among the people who the soldiers were committing atrocities against are significant because despite Huntington’s claims to the contrary, the economic divide between the “Western” and “Oriental” sides clearly factored in to why violence occurred. The sentiments from the soldiers about how the Arabs were dirty, backwards, and neglectful towards their children all pertain to the poverty of the locals. The deprivation of the Arab communities—itself a product of Israel’s blockade, displacement, and apartheid against Palestine—reinforces the prejudice which motivates the occupiers to perpetuate further violence against the occupied. 

This dynamic where dire conditions get created by the policies of the imperialist powers and their partnered state of Israel, then these conditions get exploited to dehumanize the victims, is reflected by the narratives that have gone along with the “War on Terror.” These narratives paint Muslims and Arabs as representing an innately lower civilization, one which needs to be aggressively kept separate from “Western” civilization. As Beydoun Khaled writes in War on Terror, War on Muslims, “the war on terror was expeditiously crafting a new binary-driven script. You are ‘either with us or against us,’ President Bush stated emphatically nine days after the 9/11 terror attacks, speaking explicitly to foreign nations, but also explicitly to Muslims in the United States and abroad.”

This demand is put upon Muslims living in the “Western” countries because for the overlapping ideologies of imperialism, Zionism, and Orientalism, everything is framed as a struggle between “our” civilization and “their” civilization—with “their” civilization often not even being acknowledged as being part of the “civilized world.” And to be accepted into the “civilized world,” Muslims need to aggressively show that they stand by the United States and its actions. Otherwise, they’ll be accused of standing with “terrorism.”

This comes back to the idea that the “War on Terror,” and its miniature version within Israel’s war against Hamas, are struggles of self-defense against fanatics who will only stop attacking when they’re wiped from existence. But if Hamas and similar jihadist groups are fighting to liberate their homelands from occupation, economic blockade, and a paradigm of military aggression (all of which are happening not just in Palestine but throughout numerous other places in the region), can they even be called terrorist groups? Writes K. M. Sajad Ibrahim in The Question of Terrorism: Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Middle East Peace Process, a group can fall out of the “terrorism” classification even if it can be considered “extremist”: “The role of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the present-day context assumes the nature of a national liberation movement, which stands for the liberation of their homeland from Israel and the Zionists. So it is not correct to treat all extremist groups as terrorists.”

Further evidence against Hamas being a terrorist organization is the fact that those Israeli civilian deaths Israel’s defenders focus on don’t occur due to an intentional strategy by Hamas. In 2014, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal clarified that “We do not target civilians, and we try most of the time to aim at military targets and Israeli bases. But we admit that we have a problem. We do not have sophisticated weapons. We do not have the weapons available to our enemy so aiming is difficult. Not only does the violence from Hamas only exist due to Palestine’s popular desire for defense from an occupier, but Israeli civilians are only endangered by this violence because Palestine is deprived of the weapons which would make this defense more precise. When the defenders of Israel’s actions have pointed to the impacts of the Hamas attacks on civilians, they’ve engaged in another example of the “West” creating precarious situations, and using this precarity to justify further atrocities.

What form the basis for the views on terrorism adjacent to Huntington’s philosophy are a binary concept of what civilization is, and a disregard for the context behind the actions of groups like Hamas. This Orientalist interpretive framework portrays the “West” as being a cohesive force which stands diametrically opposed to Islamic civilization, which is seen as inferior or even as not a real civilization at all. Whereas the framework put forth by Said, and by ideologically adjacent academics like Sajad Ibrahim, aims for a  nuanced and empathetic view towards Muslims and Arabs. This view factors in the ways that the imperialist powers and their partner Israel have oppressed and attacked Muslims and Arabs, seeing this violence as at the root cause of why terrorism (or what’s subjectively deemed to be “terrorism”) occurs. Using this framework, it becomes apparent that the extreme backlash that Israel and Washington carry out is not going to make jihadist attacks less likely, because these responses don’t address the conditions driving the conflict. If anything, they bring more attacks upon the “West” by giving Muslims and Arabs more reasons to retaliate.


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Friday, November 26, 2021

The growing U.S. military & intelligence worries of civil war

This is part three in a series on U.S. collapse and the potential for civil war. Read part one for how I think propaganda factors into this instability, and part two for the role that I think neoliberalism has.

In 1895, Cecil Rhodes admitted that the exploitation of the colonized is the only thing stopping the imperialist countries from undergoing revolution:

I was in the East End of London (a working-class quarter) yesterday and attended a meeting of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for ‘bread! bread!’ and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism.... My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced in the factories and mines. The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists.

With the decline of the U.S. empire, this nightmare scenario for the bourgeoisie edges ever closer. This is the future that the imperialists are growing desperate to prevent, and that they were already worrying about over a century ago as evidenced by Rhodes’ statement. 

Beneath all of the rhetoric about China and Russia posing an “existential threat” to Washington, the U.S. empire’s military intelligence operatives see such an outcome as inevitable. Our government is preparing for an imperialist war turned inward, tasked with crushing the kind of lower class rebellion Rhodes warned about. To catch on to this, one only needs to read between the lines of the recent language that these operatives have been putting forth, and assess the conditions in which their plans are being laid.

U.S. military prepares for countering irregular warfare—with ulterior motives

This August, West Point’s Modern War Institute published a “status check” on the U.S. Army’s “preparation for the next war.” In response to the pivot in resource investment that the U.S. military has been making amid the Afghanistan pullout, where Washington is shifting its focus from counterinsurgency operations to military buildup against China, it expresses anxiety over Washington’s ability to navigate the modern warfare domains:

Despite the Army’s strategic, operational, and tactical pivot, the transition from two decades of counterinsurgency operations is daunting. To be sure, there is still work to be done. Not only does the service need to prepare for a form of conflict radically different from recent wars, but change must also be rapid enough to keep pace with the changing character of warfare—and the growing capabilities of our potential adversaries. Great power competitors like China and Russia are undertaking efforts to modernize their militaries for increasingly complex battlefields. They are engaging in irregular tactics using proxy forces, seeking advantage in the information environment and cyber domain, and advancing technologies for contested environments like dense urban terrain.

This sounds innocuous enough. Of course the U.S. military is concerned about keeping up with the combat advancements of its adversaries. But in this and other parts of West Point’s statements, there are subtle affirmations of the ideas the U.S. military has been expressing in recent years about the wars being at risk of coming home.

For instance, after describing the advancements in sensory and robotics technologies that U.S. forces have been attaining, West Point concludes:

These technologies are designed to increase the speed, lethality, and all-domain superiority of Army formations. A critical element of Army efforts is focusing on tasks only the Army can perform in combat. While all services are experiencing similar transitions and developing technologies at a fervent pace, Army leaders know that dominating ground combat and influencing populations are areas specifically relevant to the Army, and vital to succeeding in future conflicts.

This is the kind of language that’s been prevalent within the most provocative recent Washington/NATO military documents. The ones which articulate the growing paranoia of the imperialists. What are they paranoid about? That sometime in the next several decades, capital will weaken to the point where the conditions in the imperial center become far more dire than they are even now, and that this will prompt revolts which force the imperialists to apply these counterinsurgency tactics within their own borders. Thus the ongoing concern over countering irregular warfare.

One of these documents is the 2020 NATO-sponsored report on cognitive warfare, which warns of “an embedded fifth column, where everyone, unbeknownst to him or her, is behaving according to the plans of one of our competitors.” The narrative pushed by this document and other military/intelligence sources is that Russia, China, and Iran are destabilizing the country by exposing its people to propaganda, thus justifying the U.S. war machine’s classification of these countries as existential threats. It’s a transparent attempt to destroy the perceived credibility of anti-imperialist information sources by portraying them as tools for subversive foreign “disinformation.” 

But why has this narrative emerged at this moment? And why has West Point been echoing the report’s sentiments about how influencing populations will be particularly vital in future conflicts? Because military experts have expressed in other statements throughout recent years that they see an internal uprising as an inevitable consequence of the rise of U.S. inequality.

Reports from leadup to pandemic era warned of civil war & a need for domestic military intervention

The two most revealing of these statements came out in 2016, the year when the narrative about “Russian interference” was embraced by the media and when Big Tech stepped up its censorship following Trump’s victory. These were preemptive attempts to maintain ideological dominance over the population in anticipation of the civil war scenario the military was now openly considering. 

A Pentagon training video warned of an “unavoidable” dystopian future where the military would need to adapt to combat within the impoverished megacities that were expected to define the next generation of war, clearly showing U.S. urban areas as examples of the places where these conflicts could arise. A report from the U.S. Army War College listed several U.S. cities as potential spots for the “contemporary Stalingrads” that the military would need to fight, with mass radicalization from growing inequality being described as the catalyzing factor for this new series of counterinsurgency wars. 

The Intercept’s Nick Turse commented on the wildly catastrophic nature of what the Pentagon video was implying:

As the film unfolds, we’re bombarded with an apocalyptic list of ills endemic to this new urban environment: “criminal networks,” “substandard infrastructure,” “religious and ethnic tensions,” “impoverishment, slums,” “open landfills, over-burdened sewers,” and a “growing mass of unemployed.” The list, as long as it is grim, accompanies photos of garbage-choked streets, masked rock throwers, and riot cops battling protesters in the developing world. “Growth will magnify the increasing separation between rich and poor,” the narrator warns as the scene shifts to New York City. Looking down from a high vantage point on Third Avenue, we’re left to ponder if the Army will one day find itself defending the lunchtime crowd dining on $57 “NY Cut Sirloin” steaks at (the plainly visible) Smith and Wollensky.

It’s no wonder why a few months later, the War College would come out with a report worrying about “a surplus of unemployed males with little to do but join gangs or engage in crime as a source of income,” and how “these young men would provide a pool of potential recruits for those opposing the United States.” A growing mindset within military circles was that the country’s own people could turn against the government.

Then in 2018, the U.S. military expanded upon these speculations. A Pentagon training exercise was created which envisioned an uprising by America’s young people, who the report said are motivated by the country’s growing inequality and by having lived their whole lives in an era of perpetual war. States the training document:

Both the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Great Recession greatly influenced the attitudes of this generation in the United states, and resulted in a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity among Gen Z. Although Millennials experienced these events during their coming of age, Gen Z lived through them as part of their childhood, affecting their realism and world view … many found themselves stuck with excessive college debt when they discovered employment options did not meet their expectations. Gen Z are often described as seeking independence and opportunity but are also among the least likely to believe there is such a thing as the “American Dream,” and that the “system is rigged” against them.

The nature of the rebellion the exercise imagines is relatively mild: an operation to redistribute wealth by digitally siphoning funds from corporations. It’s described as “intended to reflect a plausible depiction of major trends and influences in the world regions.” Such a real-life Mr Robot scenario is indeed possible. But it would be far from the most drastic type of revolt that’s going to come from the U.S. empire’s growing internal contradictions. And the fact that the U.S. military has come to explicitly recognize these contradictions, and acknowledge them as potential sources for domestic upheaval, shows how severe they’ve become. 

Military intelligence researchers appear to agree with the conclusion of the sociologist Temitope Oriola, who witnessed 2020’s unprecedentedly massive U.S. protests against the police state and declared that the country is “at risk of an armed anti-police insurgency.” It seems no one can objectively look at the current conditions in this country, where an increasingly impoverished and disproportionately nonwhite underclass is being targeted by an ever-deadlier militarized police state, without expecting a guerrilla uprising to emerge in the coming decades.

“Wargaming through the idea of a civil war”

Washington’s pivot away from counterinsurgencies, which is absurdly being presented as an “end to the endless wars” despite the simultaneous military buildup against China, is only temporary. Military experts continue to put such emphasis on countering irregular warfare tactics, and have grown obsessed with winning hearts and minds within U.S. borders, because they’re quietly preparing to fight off an internal revolt. A revolt that according to Oriola will begin among the country’s most oppressed populations—such as the African nation—and could then easily pick up traction.

The militarization of U.S. police throughout the last two decades, and the correlating incorporation of Israeli repressive tactics into U.S. law enforcement training, are the first parts of this counterinsurgency’s military aspect. Biden is doing nothing to stop these institutionalized inflammations of risks for police violence; after the flow of military equipment accelerated during this year’s first quarter, Biden has declined to take action against police militarization and recently signeda bill for more resources to go to the police. This passivity towards the turning wheels of systemic brutality has a purpose: to leave the state better prepared for when the insurgency starts.

More importantly, domestic unrest is becoming seen as the number one threat to the U.S. by intelligence analysts. No longer as the theoretical possibility that those military reports seemed to portray it, but as the foremost concern of those worried for the continued existence of the United States. After the Capitol Hill riot, former FBI assistant for counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi said in response to the question “The FBI will be wargaming through the idea of a civil war, will they?” that:

The FBI is already well versed in domestic terrorism and in fact the FBI director Chris Ray has testified multiple times before Congress that this is the number one threat facing America. He even went far enough to say that there is a sub-group within the domestic terrorism threat that is hated based, ethnic-based hate that is fuelling the violence in America. So we have to have a national discussion about things like whether we want to pass a domestic terrorism law that looks a lot like the international terrorism law.

This evidently wasn’t the opinion of just one man; he was able to cite an FBI director who’s made the case for this point. And it’s noticeable how he didn’t in any way push back against the suggestion that civil war is what the FBI is “wargaming” for. In a post-January 6th world, there’s more credibility for the paranoid ideas articulated in 2017 by former FBI agent Chris Watts, who gave this speech to the Senate:

Civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words. America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America….Stopping the false information artillery barrage landing on social media users comes only when those outlets distributing bogus stories are silenced—silence the guns and the barrage will end….our country remains stalled in observation, halted by deliberation and with each day more divided by manipulative forces coming from afar.

Cultivating paramilitarism to prepare for when the anti-colonial insurgency begins

What Watts got wrong—perhaps deliberately—is that the country’s growing instability is the result of foreign interference in any significant way. These tensions are appearing because of the U.S. empire’s growing internal contradictions, and because of the ways the U.S. empire’s internally directed psyops are inflaming ethnic conflict and violence. QAnon and the anti-Asian hate crime wave have been exacerbated by the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies. The racial mass shootings and right-wing militia attacks we’ve seen this year are symptoms of the importing of Washington’s foreign destabilization propaganda tactics.

For now, it’s mainly these reactionary militias that pose a risk of civil war. But ultimately, they’ll be fighting on the side of the state against the biggest long-term threat to the United States: a decolonial proletarian movement. Anti-colonialists are, after all, the political camp that most wants the U.S. to cease existing due to its settler-colonial nature. Oriola speculates that this movement will begin resisting with arms by attacking the “sites and symbols of law enforcement,” and that this will transform into a guerrilla effort which can’t be put down merely with the assassination of insurgency leaders; he expects the dire conditions driving the rebellion will make it resilient and able to pick up replacement members, like the insurgencies that Washington has been fighting abroad.

On the one hand, the country’s growing reactionary violence is putting the state in a weaker position for when the anti-colonial insurgency starts; the U.S. is coming under greater risk of Balkanization, and losing credibility as a “democratic” country in the eyes of the world. On the other, it’s giving the Biden administration more excuses to crack down on civil liberties in anticipation of the national and class uprising, and giving Big Tech more excuses to censor social movements using the “extremist” label. Ultimately, the state will use the right-wing paramilitaries to counter the anti-colonialists, like how paramilitaries have been utilized by U.S.-backed regimes such as Colombia.

The first step towards this is to classify the anti-colonialists as belonging under the “extremist” umbrella. Regarding the Not Fucking Around Coalition—an armed African nationalist group that’s been rapidly growing since the George Floyd protests—Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood has equated the neo-Nazis with the militant anti-racists:

I think that this is a grave crisis that's facing America right now, because any extremist militia group, I don't care whether they're white, Black or Hispanic, whatever they are, they are a danger to society and they are a danger to democracy. As goofy and as squirrely as their ideas are, their ideas are no more squirrely (than) the Aryan Nation or the skinheads or the neo-Nazis. They are just as dangerous….[hatred for rule of law is] the commonality between these extremist groups.

Despite this posturing that law enforcement officials like him make of being opposed to white supremacist militias, white nationalists are inextricably tied in with U.S. police departments—as well as with the FBI, which is ominously leading the charge in preparing the U.S. for a civil war. When the insurgency Oriola talks about starts, law enforcement will partner with these militias to try to put it down. And the military will be behind them, importing Washington’s foreign counterinsurgency tactics. On paper, this sounds like a sure way to crush the revolt. But if Washington’s counterinsurgencies have failed abroad, they could fail at home.


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, November 23, 2021

Neoliberal misery & its destabilizing consequences

National Guard on watch in response to this year’s Capitol Hill riot

National Guard on watch in response to this year’s Capitol Hill riot

This article is part two in a series on American collapse and the potential for a U.S. civil war. Read part one for a detailed explanation of the ideas I’ll mention here about the U.S. empire’s internal cognitive warfare.

The imperialists are the architects of their own demise. Through reacting to the decline of U.S. hegemony by domestically applying Washington’s tactics abroad—highly militarized policing, exploitative policies, covert CIA propaganda, clampdowns on journalism, paramilitarism—the imperialists are ultimately accelerating this unraveling. This is because when these and other imperialist tactics are used abroad, they have the effect of making the places they target more unstable.

Importing the Yugoslavia model for counterrevolution 

To see the socioeconomic consequences of imperialist interventions both abroad and at home, take the impacts of Washington’s meddling within and bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. As Michael Parenti assesses:

The U.S. goal has been to transform the Yugoslav nation into a Third-World region, a cluster of weak right- wing principalities with the following characteristics: incapable of charting an independent course of self-development; a shattered economy and natural resources completely accessible to multinational corporate exploitation, including the enormous mineral wealth in Kosovo; an impoverished, but literate and skilled population forced to work at subsistence wages, constituting a cheap labor pool that will help depress wages in western Europe and elsewhere; dismantled petroleum, engineering, mining, fertilizer, and automobile industries, and various light industries, that offer no further competition with existing Western producers.

The imperialists were able to do this by socially engineering Yugoslavians to not be in a position to resist the destruction of their livelihoods. The CIA manufactured ethnic tensions throughout the Balkans, staging false flags that got blamed on the Serbs and outright fabricating alleged Serbian atrocities. Even after the socialist Serbian leader Milosevic got exonerated on his bogus war crimes charges in 2016, Washington’s propagandists have continued to insist upon his guilt, and portray his allegations of Serbophobia as a Serbian nationalist propaganda tactic. The Serbs have needed to be scapegoated, because without a scapegoat, the empire would have to fess up to its crimes against Yugoslavia’s people.

The empire is now doing the equivalent to those within its own borders. The CIA and its puppeted media outlets have scapegoated the Russians, and even more the Chinese. They’ve blamed destabilizing events within the U.S., like Trump’s election, racial tensions, Covid-19, and January 6th, on these enemies. They’ve cultivated an atmosphere of casual liberal xenophobia towards Russians, and created an explosion in hate crimes against Asians. And it’s all served to shore up the empire’s narrative control over its own citizenry; if Americans are blaming foreigners and minorities, they won’t scrutinize their own government, or the increasingly necro-political policies it’s imposing upon us in reaction to its global loss in influence.

But as with everything the imperialists do, this internally applied Yugoslavia treatment comes at a cost: it replicates the dire and chaotic conditions of imperialism’s targeted countries in the core of the empire, where things are supposed to be relatively prosperous and peaceful. As Cecil Rhodes admitted, imperialism helps the bourgeoisie prevent the lower classes in the imperialist countries from rising up by foisting the worst miseries of capitalism onto those within the countries imperialism exploits. The social contract in a place like the United States depends on the people feeling like the benefits of living under an imperialist regime outweigh the drawbacks. 

Proletarian revolution is best able to happen in the places where capital is weakest, thus why history’s socialist revolutions have so far almost all been outside the core imperialist countries. What happens when even the core countries economically contract to the point of having severely weak capital? When they buckle under the weight of their own mounting contradictions? When—most importantly—this leads to the masses within those countries to lose the relative benefits which the imperialists have used to bribe them into complacency?

Doubling down on neoliberal shock policies

This is the stage we’re getting towards due to the ever-more-severe corporate pillage that this internal counterrevolutionary propaganda campaign is enabling. The recent strike wave has provided only so much balance against the ruling oligarchy; despite narratives to the contrary, neoliberalism holds on, because neoliberalism and its agenda of upward wealth redistribution are the only ways to keep profits up at this stage in capitalism’s crisis. The extreme inequality that our ruling class continues to exacerbate is a reaction to capital’s weakening; the maintenance of the lifestyles of the elites depend upon an ever-greater sacrifice of the people the elites see as disposable. Which is a rapidly growing section of the population. 

This waning of capital, and the increasingly extreme lengths the ruling class takes to compensate for it, are apparent in the current labor shortage. The appalling failure of wages to keep up with inflation has led to a “Great Resignation,” where millions are refusing to work not out of laziness, but because they don’t see being outrageously exploited as worthwhile. Now the bourgeoisie are considering sending in the National Guard to fill these empty employment roles. Capital has grown so deficient that it’s on the verge of resorting to militarized scabs.

This is a more severe version of the engineered collapse that’s occurring throughout the other imperialist countries. Political economist Ricardo Tranjan recently assessed the implications for Canada of this doubling down on the neoliberal model:

As the dust of the 2021 election settled, it became clear that this 40-year nightmare is not over. With the exception of the $10-a-day child care—a feat that can be credited to a generation of devoted advocates—little has changed. Justin Trudeau rolled back CERB instead of making the long-due changes to unemployment insurance permanent. His party’s platform mentions a new insurance program for the self-employed that leaves out precarious workers. In the housing file, the Liberals continue to focus on making mortgages more accessible and providing loans to private developers. To address the climate crisis, the winning party is promising more of the same inadequately funded, incremental approach that hasn’t worked so far. The proposed corporate tax increase targets banks and insurance companies, leaving out all other industries. The earlier promise to implement a national pharmacare plan fell off the map, perhaps because it requires upsetting the pharmaceutical industrial complex.

The situation is even worse in the United States, because the U.S. lacks internationally common features like universal healthcare and paid parental leave. With the masses still broadly demobilized, and increasingly fragmented by a pandemic environment that’s been exploited by the high-tech sector, the ruling class is emboldened to keep accelerating neoliberalism’s rise in inequality. Monopolies like BlackRock are unprecedentedly expanding their reach at the same time that average workers are getting shut out of society by rising living costs. U.S. billionaires have seen their wealth collectively increase by $2.1 trillion since the pandemic’s start, while over 1 in 3 adults in the country now have difficulty paying for their household expenses.

During the last two years, 15 percent of U.S. households with children have come to be classified as food insecure, with statistics indicating many parents have had to sacrifice their own nutrition to shield their kids from the impacts of the shortage. U.S. evictions are rising following the moratorium’s expiration, confirming the fears about what would come from the government’s neglect of people’s right to housing. A year ago, two-thirds of Americans feared they wouldn’t be able to pay for health insurance in the coming twelve months, a mass anxiety which is now getting vindicated by 2021’s Covid-19 deaths surpassing last year’s toll. 

What’s also led to the globally unsurpassed U.S. pandemic death number is the fact that the U.S. is especially deficient in its social safety net, even compared to all the other imperialist countries. When people can’t take time off from work without immediately coming under threat of destitution, effective quarantines are impossible. All of these crises are being exacerbated by the Biden administration, despite its promises to raise living standards; any policies that don’t radically deviate from the neoliberal model are neoliberal shock policies by default, ones that allow dysfunction and misery to be compounded.

In growing chaos like this, crises such as the supply chain disruptions and the climate-related natural disasters get amplified in their humanitarian costs. As do the destabilizing effects of the cognitive warfare that the U.S. empire is increasingly waging against its own people.

Pouring gasoline onto a social tinderbox

I’m not making an “economic anxiety” argument to explain why bigotry against Asians and other minorities has been on the rise in recent years. People don’t become racist simply because they get poorer. But adverse events throughout imperial decline, economic deprivation being one among many, can make people more susceptible to paranoid rhetoric. Rhetoric that the intelligence centers and their media lackeys are eager to promote.

Eric Levitz of New York Magazine has described the ways uncertain times increase the potential for delusional beliefs:

The tendency toward conspiracism is deeply rooted in the human psyche. It manifests across time and geography and is likely a product of evolutionary pressures. On an emotional level, human beings tend to find the idea of being threatened by forces beyond their comprehension or control much more upsetting than being threatened by an intelligible enemy. Social psychologists have found that when fearful people contemplate potential misfortunes, they tend to feel helpless and pessimistic, but when angry people contemplate the same, they feel a sense of optimism and control. And one simple way to transmute fear into anger is to perceive an evil agent behind whatever development is causing you uncertainty and disquiet. (Confronted with apocalyptic wildfires of uncertain origin last week, many conservatives in the Pacific Northwest attributed the conflagration to “antifa” rather than to complex and amoral climactic forces.)

Is it any wonder why Canada is one of the countries where QAnon has been picking up the most traction, given the extent to which Canada has been following Washington’s example of accelerating the neoliberal assault on the masses? Illness begets illness. Miserable conditions beget hate and ignorance, especially when a concerted campaign is being waged to make public sentiments head in such a dark direction.

Indeed, there’s ample evidence that U.S. intelligence has been taking advantage of this growing psychological vulnerability of the masses to sow conspiracy thinking. This year, a Reuters investigation supposedly found that the very first Twitter account to use the term “QAnon” had “retweeted obscure Russian officials.” This is a red flag that QAnon is a modern version of the FBI’s COINTELPRO; in accordance with the numerous anti-Russian hoaxes that have been produced by U.S. intelligence throughout the new cold war, these supposedly Russian sources could have been FBI disinformation agents who were seeking to carry out a psychological operation, and then pin it on a U.S. rival. The FBI may have lit the flame behind the QAnon movement, and the numerous outbreaks of violence this movement has produced.

If this sounds far-fetched, look at the extent to which intelligence operatives have manipulated public opinion surrounding the pandemic, to the effect of inflaming tremendous violence. 

Going against numerous warnings from scientists to not believe the “Wuhan lab leak” theory without far more substantial evidence, the liberal side of the U.S. media has been joining the rightists in promoting this conspiracy. As Alan Macleod of MintPressnews has assessed, the intelligence sources behind this narrative show all the red flags for being new versions of the Iraq WMD hoax propagators. So much that “The lab leak theory bears a striking resemblance to the WMD hoax of 2002, not only in the fact that one of its key players is literally the same journalist using potentially the same anonymous sources, but also in the bipartisan political and media support it enjoys.” Elaborates Macleod:

If anything, The Wall Street Journal article [that argues for the conspiracy] is more suspect, given that it is based on nothing but anonymous state officials who refuse to share the evidence or go on the record. National security state operatives are among the least trustworthy sources it is possible to encounter, journalistically speaking, as it is part of their job to plant false information in order to alter public discourse. The only group less deserving of blind faith than natsec officials would be anonymous natsec officials. Yet many of the biggest and most embarrassing media blunders in recent years have been based on dodgy data from shadowy spooks feeding dubious intelligence to credulous dupes in the press….Even worse, The Wall Street Journal article’s lead author is Michael R. Gordon, the reporter infamous for co-authorship of a notorious 2002 New York Times article claiming Saddam Hussein was seeking to build weapons of mass destruction, a piece widely credited as a keystone of the push to invade Iraq the following year. For that article, Gordon also relied upon anonymous state officials.

Russiagate. QAnon. The Wuhan lab leak. All of these conspiracy-fueled hoaxes from the last several years have shared the signs of being intelligence psyops, ones designed to either advance the CIA’s recent meddling in U.S. elections or advance the war buildup against Russia and China. And all of them serve the broader goal of sabotaging the development of class consciousness among the masses, of filling people’s heads with divisive and paranoid nonsense so that they won’t unite against the empire.

The imperialists are trying to make the best of their situation of unprecedentedly contracting capital. They’ve engineered a deterioration of conditions in this country on par with what they’ve done to places like Yugoslavia, then taken advantage of the consequential social ills by subjecting the people to strategic lies. The lab leak lie is perhaps the most destructive one they’ve put out so far; by creating a hoax about China being to blame for the virus, the U.S. ruling class has exploited the massive pandemic deaths that have come about from neoliberalism. This has led to an ongoing increase in hate crimes against Asians, with these crimes sometimes taking the form of mass shootings.

At the same time, QAnon has been motivating its followers to engage in more militia activity and weapons gathering. What will happen when these factors that our government’s propaganda is exacerbating—violent bigotry, paramilitarism, and reactionary vigilantism—combine during the coming years? At what point will capital’s contraction become severe enough for these militias to act as a counterrevolutionary terror force, sanctioned by the state and empowered by the state’s disinformation? What other sorts of extreme measures will the U.S. ruling class be taking by that point?


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