As certain as color
Passes from the petal
Irrevocable as flesh
The gazing eye falls through the world
Ono No Komachi
1: CONSPIRACY THEORIES CAN BE THEMSELVES THE QUESTION
Ever since World Trade came crashing down, conspiracy theories have been like the favorite beverage of men’s protest politics. Wilder the better. Major problems exist with being obsessed about these possible conspiracies, however. We see grainy photos “proving” that the Pentagon was never hit at all (and guesses that the United Airlines passengers were probably flown to a remote desert base in Area 51 to be executed secretly by the c.i.a.). The whole of 9/11 was supposedly manufactured u.s. government propaganda, all the better for the falling real bodies. All prearranged behind the scenes by the f.b.i., c.i.a., Mossad, Jewish Wall Street, Saudi intelligence and the Bush royal family working together with perhaps a dash or two of Arab dupes. Iraq itself was invaded by most of the u.s. army straining to pretend that it can still win wars only so that W. and Cheney could personally guzzle their oilfields. And so on and on. These dirty-sexy imaginary politics are, of course, only fitting for a crazed neo-capitalist world. Where the supposed “liberator” men have become as deranged as the imperialist men.
Any of this could be true as far as it goes. After all, now even the Washington Post is asking why the head of Pakistani military intelligence once sent $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, the supposed leader of the 9/11 suicide hijackers?
And the Wall Street Journal revealed that Saddam requested in late 2002 that $30 million of the UN-administered “Oil For Food” funds be used for NATO-standard military gasmasks! Was that to be with or without pepperoni? An amazing request that was approved without any publicity by both the Bush regime and UN officials. Why would an invading u.s. empire shouting about the threat of chemical-biological weapons want to help equip its supposed enemy to use them–unless they slyly wanted to encourage “Sad Damn” to use poison gas on GIs? Are you confused enough now? There is enough raw material in the daily machinations of global capitalism for a thousand conspiracy theories.
If you believe in any of these conspiracies theories you certainly aren’t alone. A recent Zogby public opinion poll showed that 49% of New Yorkers believed that u.s. agencies “consciously” aided the 9/11 attack. Similar opinion poll figures pop up in Germany. And certainly in the Muslim world there’s near 100% belief in 9/11 as a greater u.s.- Jewish conspiracy. Life in capitalist society makes a belief in conspiracies only rational, since we know that there are multiple layers of secret and illicit decision-making all around us reaching high up to the thrones of power. From the drug dealers paying off the police to the mafia garbage removal contracts to the Enronization of natural gas prices by the Bush clubhouse to those never-solved assassinations of so many trade unionists and journalists in the Southern Hemisphere to… It runs on without end, since by its basic soiled nature capitalism=conspiracy.
But there are several big problems with being obsessed with these political fantasies. Or believing that conspiracy theories are politics.
2: LEFTOVER ANTI-IMPERIALISM DOESN’T GET SYSTEM BREAKDOWN
These conspiracy theories all conjure up and build towards a picture of a vast u.s. imperial power, omnipotent almost beyond imagining, a brilliantly evil empire like in Star Wars capable of reshaping and turning inside out the entire world. But what we (and our sisters and brothers in the rest of the world) live with every day instead is a so-called u.s. empire that is increasingly thugaz with guns in hollywood sets and poses. A poser empire, whose elected emperor is not a gatecrasher but an accurate representation of a euro-settler people whose bullying frontier ways only cover for fear and confusion about their collapsing future.
An elected emperor who is a known coward but who loves to dress up in military uniforms and police jackets he never earned and make speeches at military bases and aircraft carriers surrounded by obedient buff white soldiers. Yes, still a nation that is very violent & very large but also terminally clumsy almost beyond belief; that once had great industrial resources but is so rapidly wasting away that even its mighty huffing-and-puffing techno-wars against tiny nations can only be done by maxing out on its Masterscard.
For example, we now know that the f.b.i. had agents and informers all over the “Oceans 19” Arab men who later made their mark as the Al Qaeda teams that hijacked the airliners and crashed World Trade. Was this f.b.i. disinterest before 9/11 really a covert encouragement or even manipulation? Maybe, but the same f.b.i. also ignored obvious clues and let its wacko agent Robert Hanssen betray all its intelligence secrets and double-agents to Moscow for years (on the known facts, you could even argue that if there is a gigantic shocking superduperconspiracy it is that the Russian KGB secretly took over the f.b.i. and c.i.a. years ago and everything American is really Russian–oh, but then the Russian empire has self-destructed, too). Maybe historical obsolescence by the dinosaur imperialist State and that entire stage of capitalist civilization is a bigger factor than we want to believe.
Their superduperconspiracies real or imagined are not even the big deal anymore. What is overriding everything is the material rearrangement of the entire human world, and the class change that flows out of that being dominant over all. Step by step, we need to go into this new world disorder–to unfold the order emerging within it.
Destructive power now exists everywhere, after all, on all levels. That’s why W. had to secretly fly into Baghdad on turkeys day 2003 with his jet’s lights off and maintaining radio silence–for a handjob of a media visit that never got further than the airfield hanger itself–because the mr. mighty of this mighty empire has to zig-zag in fear of any 19 year-old unemployed former Iraqi army private with an old Russian missile. You can catch the wave, but not by standing on the shore.
While the u.s. empire has since its birth sent arrogant military expeditions into other lands & continents, the “natives” have seldom been able to retaliate before. ((To be sure, Cherokee warriors angry at the sell-out treaty signed by bogus “chiefs” slipped into u.s. president Andrew Jackson’s inaugural party at the Whitest House – and assassinated a pro-u.s. “chief” (thus starting the whole agency of Whitest House security, which hadn’t existed among the white settlers before then). After World War I, Pancho Villa’s Army of the North led cross-border raids into the Southwest, and in the 1950s Puerto Rican Nationalist Party activists shot up the u.s. congress and the VP’s home to protest the murderous wave of u.s. political repression in Puerto Rico. While the anti-u.s. resistance of the oppressed has always spilled into Smallville, 9/11 marks a qualitatively changed level of war.)) So when those real “Oceans 19” with a budget of only thousands and some boxcutters brought down the World Trade, killing thousands of affluent euro-settler men (80% of those killed were upper-middle class white men), and blew out part of the Pentagon itself, it set off a worldwide shockwave. Fuck Bush, Chaney & Rummy, this was real shock & awe.
It was a smack so devastating that many couldn’t really believe that it was the lowly “sand niggers” (as the GI guards at Guantanamo so charmingly refer the Muslims there) that had stuck a cap up Captain America’s ass. To this day millions of confused people of color are convinced that only the white man is sophisticated enough to have pulled off this fantastic scheme. Confused conspiracy theories “proving” that the c.i.a. or the International Jewish Conspiracy staged it all are mostly just pathetic, showing how a slave-like inner awe of White Power and feelings of inferiority still infects many nationalists of color (and “Socialists” for that matter). But that sure isn’t what Osama and his boys are feeling, because they are the wave.
On the ocean’s edge old refuse and different dead things drift closer and closer on the tide to be washed up together side by side on the shore. Similarly, dead white left propaganda and Black cultural nationalist propaganda on the u.s. empire are coming together now, washing up and decaying together in the backwash of world events. Their’s are only scare tactics, in which the overreaching dying u.s. empire is pictured as the world’s boogey-man, as everyone’s greatest threat. “American Empire, Not ‘If’ But ‘What Kind?’” is a typical headline in the liberal Jewish N.Y. Times. Noam Chomsky, White America’s favorite anarchist, titles his new book, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest For Global Domination. Or the same dead ideas recycled and dyed black in cultural nationalism, like the well-meaning Frontline hip-hop zine editorial which warns of Jewish domination of the media in 9/11, and says: “we must overstand the objectives and goals of those in power to control your mind, body and soul… a so-called ‘conscious Black man or woman’ is not necessarily keyed in on the European objective – White Supremacy. This beast wants to control this planet and everything in it.” (yawn – been there, done that).
These kind of stances are just flickering late night movie reruns of faded 20th century events and ideas. European capitalists actually took over title to the entire planet and its planetary population (including – as my comrade Butch always says – not only all humans but every animal and plant down to the last seal and tree and stalk of grain) in the Berlin imperialist conference around 1895 or so. But as rising Asian billionaires can happily testify, Whitey is definitely losing it double-time. In this real new world order, militarily victorious Vietnamese “Communism” is begging for more Nike sweatshops. Post-colonial Ethiopians and Eritreans with their own tanks and artillery aplenty slaughtered way more more of their own people in one year’s little Black-on-Black border shoving match than the u.s. military killed in Iraq and Afghanistan put together. The post-liberation Black “socialist” men’s gerontocracies in South Africa and Zimbabwe are killing more women and children with their deliberate AIDS plague right now than the u.s. empire did in eleven years of invasion in Vietnam. Many more killings than Hitler did Jews. Remember that funny Black cultural nationalist line from the 1980s that Africans are the supposed “Sun people”, genetically predispositioned to be more humane and civilized than those admittedly nasty “Ice people” from Northern Europe? Clowns don’t always make you laugh.
Speaking of which, right now the Hindu ultra-religious fascists of India’s JBP Party (who openly styled themselves after the Nazis) have become international pariahs for mass slaughtering untold thousands of Indian Muslims, but have found a timely new diplomatic ally in… the Zionist Sharon regime in Israel, which loves anything anti-Muslim… which has itself been applauded as Allah’s chosen true owners of Palestine by none other than our own Minister Louis Farrakhan. Why aren’t the superduperconspiracy addicts shouting about this?
It’s all less like a c.i.a. conspiracy and more like a capitalist interracial circle jerk. So today’s biggest Black Muslim politician is in reality going along with the slaughter of Muslims, while Jews going on and on about the Holocaust (they soon will accomplish the once-impossible, making the Holocaust a boring subject) are backing other peoples’ fascist pogroms and schemes for genocide. Simple-minded politics can definitely get a person’s ass killed in this world. Compared to the rush of real, those obsessive 9/11 conspiracy theories are timid entertainments at best. Even if one or another part of these theories are true – and patriarchal capitalism is a gigantic conspiracy by its very nature – they can be used in a misleading way because they aren’t about the main thing coming down the road.
3: YESTERDAY’S WORLD EMPIRE NOT EXPANDING BUT CRASHING
Televised pictures of u.s. soldiers repossessing bad boy Saddam’s unused scuds & empty palaces. Gloating white men in suits speaking publicly of ruling the first true world empire since the daze of imperial rome. One that will nakedly command the known world by force, caring nothing for the wants or views or laws of others. Yet the slanting light that now shades Washington is not dawn but twilight. For we are living in the age of the decline and fall of the bubble empire. And the final ending of amerikkka as we’ve known it, beyond good or evil. This war may or may not be downstream by the time you read this, but it’s useful to break down the inner development of how the world is changing for us all and by us all.
We can use imperialism’s wars itself as our depth gauge of their historic decline. Two generations ago the u.s. empire fought a great world war 2 against other industrial capitalist powers. A brutal, bloody, fighting toe-to-toe war of near-equals in which millions of soldiers crisscrossed oceans and borders, leaving well over 60 million dead bodies as their rotting residue. In one single European battle alone, in one week in a forgotten Luxembourg forest, 33,000 white GIs died in combat (with another 10,000 dying from exposure and disease). And it doesn’t mean a thing now.
Then one generation ago the u.s.empire threw a 500,000 man expeditionary force that was the heart of the u.s. military into a protracted, eleven-year war to stop Communist-led national liberation movements in three Southeast Asian countries. To their white surprise, they lost big time and 58,000 GIs and Marines and sailors and airmen lost their lives as well (though to be sure they each got an engraved line on that spiffy black wall in Washington – ’cause in America there’s always a prize in every box of crackerjacks). And it doesn’t mean a thing now.
Today, in contrast, the u.s. bubble empire, with its heavy-technology storm troopers, struts and preens itself in decadent ecstasy whenever they can recapture any small, poverty-stricken Third-World capitalist neo-colony (often done in a fake war, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, with cooperating bribed warlords and generals). Hollywood invasions of Haiti, Afghanistan, Panama, tiny Philippine islands or dysfunctional oil field dictatorships mark the true level of their beat power now. But if a few hundred or a few thousand of its mercenary techno-legion GIs get whacked, then the whole society is weeping and wailing. Privileged amerikkka is too soft to slug it out anymore. We might say that the u.s. empire is less like a great military power in the old sense and more like a superbly-armed private mafia for a gated suburb. Its power is very dangerous on a tactical level – like a SWAT team blowing down your front door will really put some concern on your mind – but strategically it is more and more dysfunctional and immobilized.
To be the lone “Superpower” left is not necessarily to be supeduper nor even to be on the rise. What is rising instead is the new stage of capitalist production & distribution – -what everyone simply calls Globalization.
4: ANTI-WAR & THE NATURE OF THE WAR
The Anti-War movement doesn’t understand, but these are completely different wars than in the 1960s or 1970s. Now we have neo-colonial wars. Not wars of good vs. evil, not wars of oppressed vs. oppressor. And certainly not liberation wars. They are wars within the capitalist world hierarchy, between the bloated metropolis and its own vicious neo-colonial subordinates. If the manager and the foreman in your factory lose it and started shooting at each other you’d want to get yourself & the other workers out of harm’s way. But, basically, as Dr. Phil always says, “We don’t have a dog in this a fight!” If they killed each other off without harming anyone else, that would be too fine to be true – as Habde Selassie said joyfully about the 1980s British empire-Argentine military junta war, “Let the blood flow!” The political problem with the still-confused anti-war activists right now is that they keep wanting to side with the foreman. Groan. ‘Cause we’re seeing lots of fights now where both sides are the capitalistic enemy, even though one side are “natives”.
Imperial storm troopers must descend on neo-colonial nations one after another. This isn’t a sign of success but of growing failure, of system breakdown. Their own barely launched neo-colonial states, many hardly older than your local used car lot (like, i’m older personally than the nation of Pakistan or the Republic of Iraq – or the Israeli Fourth Reich, for that matter), are crumbling. Often these nations have lost much of their artificial inner cohesion. As the hundreds of millions of dispossessed without real jobs or agricultural land keep rising, as capitalist exploitation screws tighter and tighter on the very poorest, as capitalism itself forcibly breaks up all the old ways of life while State parasitism is protected with death squads and torture chambers, social upheaval can no longer be contained within limits or borders. To be able to control any square mile of territory you want anywhere in the world – by crushing weight of military hardware – but to control less and less outside of that, is not victory.
Globalized capitalism is also pirates with fast boats and AK-47s increasingly attacking freighters and oil tankers at sea (thousands of ships have been captured in the last decade, quiet as it’s kept) & Brazilian cities where one-third of the regularly employed men are security guards. Pakistan’s pro-Western military regime admits that its own intelligence and security agency cannot be trusted because it is infiltrated by islamic fascist sympathizers. Nor can they rely on their corrupt and ineffectual police. So the hunt for Al-Qaeda and Taliban cells in Pakistan is being led by f.b.i. agents, who are emerging as the main secret police in Third World nation after nation. This is beautiful, a capitalist recall even better than Ford & Firestone having to admit their murderous rip-off & eat their bogus SUV tires. The u.s. empire is having to recall their own neo-colonial states. Underline that.
Because America has a global presence and is everywhere, it can also be attacked anywhere from Kenya to Columbia to Afghanistan, and can no longer actually be defended. Just as with the importation of labor and mass travel no enemy can be kept outside the national walls. Not Central Asians out of Moscow nor anyone at all out of New York City. That’s why “airport security” is such an elaborate pantomime, like the changing of the guard at buckingham palace or the appearance of Democratic presidential candidates at the NAACP convention it’s just for the show.
The white middle-class Antiwar movement that sprang up spontaneously here was both new and very familiar, bad politics and all. Many thousands of all ages came into dissenting political commitment for the first time. One sixteen-year old who was arrested by police in the mass illegal blockage & occupation of Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive highway during rush hour said after getting out, “This is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me!” We were laughing, but we really understood that – it’s one thing to hear about history but a whole different experience to be breaking rules and making a little history yourself. That in a white movement just born, without the years of shock & awe that the old Anti-Vietnam War movement went through, without Black revolutionary teaching (today’s Black cultural nationalism is just the empty box without the cereal), stale liberal politics are only to be expected. No need for us to go into any details or indictments.
No, the political problem isn’t with new antiwar activists starting their cycle of reinventing the training wheel, it is with the shallow discount anti-imperialism that prevails. The antiwar slogan “No Blood For Oil” has been so useful because it points the finger at selfish capitalistic motives in a broad cartoon way that folks from many different viewpoints can feel comfortable with. Like “Make Peace Not War” or “One Man One Vote” or “Have It Your Way”. But being catchy & convenient didn’t make any of it true.
This is an example of how an essentially misleading idea first crafted by the capitalist Right was happily swallowed by the white liberal-marxist-anarchist crowd (there’s as much or as little difference between these three brands of the same thing as between coke, pepsi and rc), without them noticing what was up. This is an idea planted by the capitalists themselves, so it can hardly be a bold expose on our part to use it in propaganda. It was the Bush Administration and the captive u.s. media in the buildup to the first Gulf War who kept broadcasting how much control of the world’s oil was at stake. As Bush 41 said, he wasn’t going to let 25% of the petroleum needed by “civilization” left under the control of some “little dictator” (unlike the Kuwaiti dictatorship or the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria?). Ever since, it’s all been wars for oil according to the unthinking left of the metropolis.
If you could believe that the u.s. once invaded Vietnam because they wanted to own more white rice or the c.i.a. invaded the Bay of Pigs because they wanted more sugar, then this petromania is the vulgar materialist conspiracy theory made for you! White Anti-war activists don’t really understand what the words “capitalist world system” mean, or that Iraq has always been an integrated part of it (Arabs never created Iraq, which was constructed as a pseudo-nation by the British Empire after WWI). So long as oil was a commodity, it belonged to world capitalism not to Saddam Hussein. Was Saddam going to eat the oil with his morning cornflakes? Or refuse to sell it so he could not equip his regime with porn videos and tanks and palaces and mercedes? Not a minute went by that Saddam and his vicious little dictatorship (which was just an approved local ghetto franchise for world capitalism) weren’t cheerfully selling the Western petroleum corporations all the oil they could. What else were they going to do with it? If outright occupation of Baghdad was so essential to imperialist control of oil, why didn’t the Bush dynasty bother to do it in 1991? Duh.
It isn’t that there is any lack of good people, sincere and intelligent, in the opposition to the u.s. war machine. It’s that these are movements that by their very nature now are bankrupt & corrupted. Like the old social-democratic parties of Western Europe, which were born in militant working class struggle from the bottom against autocratic regimes, but which by the start of World War I had become an institutionalized safety valve despite their massive base.
5: IMPERIALISM ITSELF BEING MORPHED
Certainly, the Whitest House would love it if all the world’s petroleum was totally owned by u.s. corporations, or if all the world’s computers were all made in Silicon Valley. Or all the world’s cars all made in Detroit. And Texaco or IBM would love it, too, that’s the must-keep-moving-to-breathe nature of shark-like capitalist competition. But they aren’t making their actual plans based on that unreal fantasy. Nor are Halliburton or Wall Street depending on any fantasy world oil monopoly. Because Globalization is erasing the duplication of national economies, Britain, for example, no longer owns its own auto industry at all but has its factories owned by Ford, Honda, GM, Toyota, BMW and Volkswagon – and now China’s Shanghai Automobile corporation. On the other hand, two of the three largest world petroleum corporations are British. National economies are no longer symmetrical and parallel, as they were in the bygone 20th century daze of national imperialisms, before Globalization.
Oil in international capitalist discourse right now is like their metaphor standing for all key globalized commodities (just as nuclear weapons were once their illusory symbol for military supremacy). While petroleum is important economically, it is no more so than soybeans or rare industrial metals or migratory labor or narcotics or many other major commodities which capitalist civilization can’t do without and which the ruling class therefore needs to control. Oil is certainly much less important a commodity than women. White liberal/leftists and Black cultural nationalists together (and they have so much in common politically) have been shouting their tired cliches about how the world conflict was over oil, but, as Butch Lee said recently, “What is starting to emerge is a world war 4 over who shall own women. If you haven’t understood that, your daughters will.”
The Iraq wars don’t begin with oil, they begin in Globalization. Iraq was invaded and Saddam’s local franchise was overthrown not for oil (and certainly not because of any threat that they posed to Saks Fifth Avenue). It was conquered just so that the Bush regime could do it. Not p.r. campaigns to justify a war – as radicals unthinkingly echo liberals in saying – but a war that is the p.r. campaign. As an advertisement to the Third World that the u.s. empire was still able to destroy any nation-state that opposed it (and, not least of all, to project Bush 43 as the macho-macho man swinging his khaki-painted thang for the elections). As N.Y.Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman said in his column titled “Because We Could”:
“The ‘real reason’ for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Muslim world… Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could…” (emphasis in original).
Two things are going on here. The first is that as Globalization developed it has morphed the nature of world conflict. We know that the distance between the formerly all-powerful imperialist powers and the Third World, between high-tech societies and low-tech societies, has broken down. Just as the distance between military and civilian has dissolved (in WWI 90% of the casualties were soldiers, in the latest wars 90% of the casualties are civilians, mostly women & children). And if imperialism has made technology and migrating multiethnic populations and modern warfare ever-present in global life, then how can you prevent any ex-soldier from driving towards Oklahoma City with a truckload of ammonium nitrate fertilizer? Or a group of educated, multilingual Arab men from boarding a large jetliner in Boston.
So it’s no surprise that the Noriegas and Saddams and Osamas of this new stage of capitalism were wanting to be big business themselves. The neo-colonies want to become players in their own right. In 1990 Saddam was given private permission by the Bush 41 regime to go for the Northernmost oil fields in Kuwait, which were in disputed territory. Saddam greedily overreached his playpen, and that was destabilizing to the u.s. empire’s Middle Eastern back yard. The Iraq wars have never been about owning some oil directly (since imperialism owns it all, directly and indirectly) but about starting surgical restructuring to bring the entire region and all its population under refurbished & tighter u.s. imperial occupation and closer imperial administration. In doing so, the u.s. empire would, of course, try to tap into Iraqi oil revenues as much as they can. That’s not a secret. No different than the IRS and my paycheck, only on a global scale.
The second thing that is going down is that Globalization is erasing the economic foundations for the old imperialist national empires. That’s why there’s only one stumbling military “Superpower” left. It says enough that half the military expenditures for the entire world are by the u.s. military.
Some comrades have been heavily pointing out that this empire thing is not new to America. That the u.s. was always an empire from day one. Always invading, colonizing, always occupying other peoples and nations. But we have to be careful that even with this valuable insight we don’t get misled by the past, that an old truth doesn’t accidentally obscure our vision of the new situation. The old white euro-settler society that was America is being ruthlessly torn down & remade, still stubbornly rooted in its stolen lands but no longer dominant on a world scale or even necessarily in North America. Like every other capitalist power, America is contributing its DNA to a world capitalism of a new type. We need to explore what the declining u.s. empire is evolving towards, and where the firing line is.
The old national imperialisms of the 20th century Great Powers – Britain, France, Germany, the u.s., Russia and Japan — were profit-making machines for their ruling classes. Each jealously held various territories, home nations, colonies and neo-colonies, which were both captive markets for its industries and exclusive suppliers of raw materials. Since the entire globe and all of its inhabitants were divided up among the imperialist nations, the desperate need to gain markets and raw materials from rival nations forced the capitalist world into two unprecedented World Wars with each other. This arrangement of national imperialist competition was world economics and world politics for most of the century. But that’s no longer true on the ground. That’s why the gigantic river of federal funny money pouring into the largely useless u.s. military can only be financed by equally gigantic loans from abroad.
Imperialist war no longer pays for itself. One-third of Treasury bond borrowing in 2003 to finance the Bush imperial deficit is from… China! So the Beijing “Communist” regime and its surging capitalist class are the primary financial backers of the u.s. empire’s strategy of endless war? Do you notice any problems in this situation? Picture some men in a big barrel about to go over Niagara Falls.
6: NATIONAL RIVALRIES REMAIN BUT ARE SWALLOWED INTO NEW WORLD ORDER
Right now one of Bush 43’s accusations against North Korea’s Stalinist monarchy is that it has made transgressive exporting of souped-up versions of Scud missiles a major business (this trade, according to Western intelligence officials, earned $560 million in 2003, over 3% percent of North Korea’s total GNP). Less publicized is that North Korea’s silent partner in its missile business is the capitalist government of Egypt, the u.s. empire’s largest neo-colonial “ally” in the Arab world. The Egyptian military regime provided North Korea with its first Scuds to take apart & reverse-engineer, lent technical help and is its partner in the advanced arms venture. The “friend” (the Egyptian regime is the 2nd largest recipient of u.s. foreign aid) and the “enemy” (the North Korean regime is rogue state no.1, & is under constant threat of u.s. attack) aren’t world’s apart but working together on the same side.
Even pinning down a real national enemy in the old Pearl Harbor sense is difficult (except in Washington’s made-for-tv phony wars), since with Globalization the u.s.empire and its capitalist rivals and enemies interpenetrate each other and develop within each other. While the Republican Party rightwing is screaming about China as the main threat to evaporating u.s. military hegemony over the Pacific, major defense contractors like Boeing and Hughes are also becoming key aerospace contractors in and for the new capitalist China. In that role these two giant corporations “accidentally” gave their Chinese selves the technology of the advanced u.s. ICBMs, so that the Chinese military could leap into a new generation of nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (both corporations just agreed to pay fines in the many millions of dollars to settle federal charges on this little boo-boo which was kept out of the TV News and front-page headlines).
The Chinese and u.s. empires are rivals but also increasingly partners, like the u.s. and France or Putin’s Great Russia and the reunified Germany. For that matter, president Bush’s younger brother Neil has joined Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Chinese “Communist” president Jiang Zemin, on the board of Jiang’s new Grace semiconductor corporation in China, uniting a new generation of u.s. and Chinese capitalist dynasties. Just as General Motors has asked China’s Shanghai Automobile Corporation to be its partner in taking over South Korea’s large Daewoo auto corporation. As that small possum peering out of the swamp observed, “We have met the enemy, and they is us.”
7: NOW “ANARCHO-CAPITALISM” & FASCISM AS A WORLD PLAYER
Is the imperialism which was formerly national in form, collapsing/consolidating into one global super-state or super-empire, as Tony Negri posits in his work Empire? (And as the Bush regime wishes). The former Italian theorist of autonomia (now a Roman Catholic advocate of bourgeois democracy) sees a simpler, starker, more class conscious world in which every little mass struggle must visibly be against one final world capitalist state.This sounds nifty, and some aspects of it are obviously true, but it’s way too simplistic and vaguely optimistic. Many are drawn to this idea of global super-state because unconsciously it reinvokes the familar only on a larger scale. But things aren’t that stable. Not one unified world empire but for the next period “anarcho-capitalism” as a new order of disorder. Not one world mega-nation but many more small states, semi-autonomous areas and many, many more armies and para-military mafias
Globalization is taking a crow bar to the old capitalist class structure, that’s for sure. The relationship between big capital – world banks and transnational corporations – and their former home nations and former subject classes is splintering. The growth in the economy is in these transnational corporations, who are constantly churning and shifting economic relationships – bankrupting many smaller capitalists and farmers and entire local economies. So smaller local bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie are now trying to recapture their “abandoned” regions and neo-colonies, and are starting “anti-imperialist” campaigns and wars of morphed nationalism against global imperialism. These struggles — which everywhere attract mass support from the dispossessed male classes — can range politically from neo-fascist and clerical fascist to the authoritarian left, but are usually far right. These are intra-capitalist wars of local capitalist insurgencies trying to win back control of “their” nations from the Great Powers.
So the u.s. empire is actually being attacked in a series of conflicts by popular clerical-fascist movements in the former Third World, as at the same time a growing neo-fascism is being “normalized” within the Western bourgeois democracies. Two expressions of the same trend.
You can see this legitimation of pro-fascist sentiment once lightly camouflaged in the u.s. anti-war activities, where joint demonstrations with far right Muslim groups who advocate the enslavement of women and genocide against ethnic minorities is common – and where anyone who questions allying with islamic clerical fascism is attacked as “racist”.
This unexpected “normalization” and mass acceptance of different types of neo-fascism is the most significant political development in current world politics.
8: “THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIFETIME”
It’s a symptom of the left’s own system failure that we have not let ourselves understand even the largest elephants of political phenomena.
Like the 2004 elections. We saw two main lines. Many were pulled in by the sincere desperation of many “progressives”, into the electoral war to oust the Bush regime, into “Anybody But Bush” or “Vote or Die” grassroots campaigns for Mr. Ketchuphead. If this most openly evil and warmongering and “fascist” administration couldn’t be thrown out, many believed, then what hope was there for any humane future? Giving this election a strong drama of Armageddon. Others took the more radical line that Bush & Kerry were two similar heads to one imperialist monster. That supporting Kerry was just a well-meaning but futile detour, a waste of “the working class” time and energy. Both these sincere opposite positions contain trace elements of truth but are untrue, especially for revolutionaries. Moreover, although opposite in outward form both positions come from the same viewpoint. Radicals still view the 2004 elections from the standpoint of civilians, as though their left were a “Consumers Report” for better political shopping.
The 2004 election was an important victory for revolutionaries here, the most important in many years (all the sweeter because in our very weak state we can only get the fruit that falls from the tree). It is axiomatic in war that success depends in large part on using the mistakes and incompetence of the enemy. While civilians may wish for the “best” capitalist government, we revolutionaries need incompetence in the seats of power – and the Bush royal family has raised hubris and incompetence to an art form. It is a sign, actually, of system failure, like Czar Nick in Russia lurching suicidally into World War I.
Bush and Mr. Ketchuphead are obviously far from the same, no matter what left rhetoric may say. The Gores and Kerrys are state managers, can more or less manage or mangle the sinking welfare state, but they can’t build mass popular movements to save their lives (or as Maureen Dowd once wittily remarked, why be for Gore “who can’t even win when he’s won?” ). While Bush & the his far right crew can successfully ride the white euro-settler majority despite shooting the bottom out of the u.s. national boat, but couldn’t manage a hot dog stand. If revolutionaries here could actually choose the general staff of our opposition, we couldn’t dream up a better choice from our point of view. Ah, more years of stupid adventures, trampling over the loyal middle-classes & mismanaged takeovers – it’s political bliss (reminds me of the flip of that old Black Muslim song, “Black Man’s heaven is a white man’s hell”).
Actually, neither the Clinton nor Bush factions of the u.s. ruling class are nationalists in the old sense. They both use populism, nationalism & chauvinism as political tools, but both camps have effectively abandoned the old “America”. Both have global political frameworks in mind to match the globalization of the transnational corporations. But while the Clinton faction are “Globalists”, using trade and covert action to fuse nations and regions – as in NAFTA and the WTO – the Bush faction has been truly bold in trying to force the global economy into one world empire by imposing a defacto world army and a single world ideology of their own (despite the frontier front, this type of empire more closely resembles the old Ottoman empire in approach than traditional u.s. imperialism). While the old u.s.a. is being drained of resources for this attempted world occupation – like a disposable battery – by rulers who obviously care nothing even about their own commercial airlines or industries or national parks or health systems. Since they believe that successful people of the transcontinental capitalist class should live in a privatized strata of their own high above nations or national infrastructures (as Chaney amusingly commented, he sympathizes with the frustrations of lesser businessmen using commercial airlines although he never uses them himself).
To make it plain: Earlier stages of u.s. imperialism economically enriched the father country. After World War I and World War II, for instance, u.s. share of world industry & world markets sharply rose. Starting with Vietnam this changed. This new attempt at a global state may be headquartered in Washington and draw on u.s. national resources, but its conflicts no longer bring new wealth home to the increasingly precarious, debt-ridden home society.
Maybe most important of all, the elections marked the return of the dead white men and their loyal women, the settler majority. They are being permitted to take their now shrunken white nation back. The limited time of racial-class concessions and maneuvers needed by the ruling class – and enforced on an unwilling white majority by the State — to subdue and coopt and dissolve the Black Revolution of the 1960s, is over.
This is the “post-civil rights” era, where “White America” step by step returns to a version of its normal hateful settler self. But the contradiction here is, this is happening in a world capitalist context where such societies are officially disapproved of and even banned. Like ethnic genocidal Greater Serbia, “White America” is trying to adjust, just as it did in inventing Segregation in the lynching years after the late 19th century Black Reconstruction experiment. And at long last, a sophisticated final solution to their “Black problem” is now running after 400 years. But discussions about this have been sharply censored on all sides and among all “Races”.
i started these notes right after the u.s. tanks rolled unopposed into Baghdad, and everyone was talking about an overpowering new world empire. It seemed important then to correct the eagerness to get drawn offside and then to tell lies & claim easy victories. After a few pages, though, i stopped because so many basic questions were being pulled to the surface. Then came months of using my spare time to gather materials and start outlines for a significantly larger paper on the split in the u.s. ruling class over Globalization, as well as the Bush regime’s radical vision of world empire different from the historic u.s. imperialism. The plan was to discuss how opposing ruling class factions dealt with insurgency & opposition, and internal conflicts about the changing role of the u.s. military establishment. However, it became apparent that in my very limited time such an ambitious paper would never happen. So, instead, i decided to quickly jot down some notes, however inadequate, just to share ideas and questions (things like the transformation of the u.s. state or the social basis of conspiracy theories were excluded due to lack of time). i apologize for the rough and incomplete nature of these notes.
This is a very different time for Maoists. The struggles of the oppressed have never stopped for one heartbeat, of course, despite the collapse of the world left or the conversion to capitalism of the anti-colonial leadership of color. “Necessity knows no laws.” As the most developed form of communism in the 20th century, Maoist parties and struggles born from Maoism span the divide between old & new. The NPA in the Philippines, “Shining Path” in Peru and the new guerrilla army/party in Nepal are major national liberation insurgencies ostensibly from the example of the Chinese Communist Party during its 1930-40s guerrilla years. As is the fragmented Naxialbarite movement in the West Bengal area of India. But many old guerrilla insurgencies have gradually become mired in intractable scenarios as the world political-military situation has changed around them. And, perhaps as a consequence, questions have gradually arisen about the class politics of their wars.
Old forms of revolutionary struggle, however valid in their day, are being replaced by new forms arising from the changing class awareness. The most influential new examples of insurgencies of the oppressed both come from Maoist party roots, the Zapatistas in Chiapas and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Neither is anything like a traditional Maoist M-L party, obviously. But both are creatively rooted in the basic Maoist principle that the oppressed have the right to take the struggle & society itself directly into their own hands (as opposed to Stalinist papal hierarchies or social-democratic legalistic reform movements). Lenin’s strategic advice holds true: When there is a political problem we can’t solve, we solve it by going deeper, further down into the classes of the oppressed. Everywhere in the periphery we see new “horizontal struggles” break out, as in the unemployed workers movement in Argentina who are tired of being “represented” and sold out. Everywhere the oppressed are erasing borders and slowly remaking nations as surely as the capitalists are.
It is in the Global South, in the tumultuous neo-colonial periphery of the Third World, where the new revolutionary experiments are being born. Where the strategic offensives will break out. Everywhere both the far right and the left are testing out power boundaries, building semi-autonomous zones of their own. None of this is in any final form, as the transition into a dramatically different world is under way. For Maoists, Yenan is far behind us now, and yet still lies ahead of us.