By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
This is the full version of an article already published here
If we look at what is happening in US-Russian and US-Chinese relations, in the wider Middle East, the former Soviet republics or Latin America, or the world economy and social uprisings from the USA to the Lebanon and from Bolivia to France, the current international situation bears several similarities to what happened in the years 1914, 1929 and 1939, that is, to the years when the two world wars broke out and the great economic crisis of 1929 erupted.
All the factors which led in the past to world wars, revolutions and totalitarian movements, like Nazism and huge reform projects, like the New Deal or the post-war European welfare state, are here. But they are operating in a fundamentally altered world. The Coronavirus crisis is maybe only the first of a series of more and more important disasters affecting all humanity, predicted by various scientists long ago, as a result of both the technologies developed and of the radical change in Man’s relation with nature.
We are leaving the world we know, without having solved most of its problems and contradictions, only to enter the historical era when the very existence of life on earth will be decided, probably in a matter of decades (the next decade will be more decisive, and what will follow will be the most dramatic). This reality is so enormous and so fearful that it is provoking denial or escape from both logic and freedom, among both a large part of public opinion and among the decision-makers themselves. (In the past, Erich Fromm gave us a superb description of those factors leading to the rise of Nazism in Germany, with his book “Escape from Freedom”; now we can see the same psychological mechanisms in action in Trump’s USA or in Bolsonaro’s Brazil).
It is exercising huge pressures on Logos (Logic, Reason, Science), on the capacity of human beings to love, on the fundamental human drive for freedom and even for collective survival, that is, on the main intellectual, emotional and moral capacities humanity disposes of to defend itself from the appearing threats and the ultimate danger. I don’t believe in humanity, recently said Ellon Musk, one of the most powerful people on Earth, in an argument with Gates.
In fact, only the existence of nuclear weapons has prevented, up to now, the outbreak of a world war in the form of WWI and II. But we are, without the shadow of a doubt, already living in the environment of a “low-intensity”, “slow motion” world war and also in the environment of two or three new Cold Wars (against Russia, China and Islam, in particular Iran). Since 2008 we have also been living in the environment of an economic crisis which is different in form, but still as deep as the 1873 and 1929 crises were, and now accelerated by the Coronavirus.
Unfortunately, we are still unable to fully grasp the situation, because we are afraid of the consequences we will need to draw from it. Subconsciously and emotionally, at least, we prefer to live in the much better situation which prevailed, in many parts of the world, after WWII.
This war situation is taking the traditional form of nation-to-nation conflicts, but it is also encompassing parts of society and, more and more, the fundamentals of human civilisation and nature itself in a direct way, never seen in human history.
A Crisis from the Past
In the present situation we can easily discern in action, all the fundamental factors, inherent in capitalism, which led, in the past, to the deep economic crises of 1873 and 1929 and then to Imperialism and War (in particular WWI and II and the Cold War).
In the past, such crises also provoked sharp divisions inside the dominant Western capitalist powers. WWI (and the subsequent Russian Revolution) was their result. The 1929 crisis also provoked sharply different answers. The US went to the New Deal, Germany to Nazism, France to the Popular Front, the whole situation leading to the creation of two camps inside the capitalist West: “democratic imperialism” (Churchill, Roosevelt) vs. “totalitarian imperialism” (Hitler, Mussolini). WWII, as far as the West itself was concerned, was not only a war between nations, but also a war between different alternatives and methods to fulfill the goal of world capitalist domination.
The crisis now confronting the still dominant system of Western capitalism is very deep and is threatening, subsequently, objectively if not subjectively, the domination of the holders of capital on humanity (this is what capitalism means). This danger is not reflected today so much in the rise of revolutionary movements, as happened after WWI, which provoked the Russian Revolution, or WWII which provoked the Chinese one, the national liberation struggles elsewhere and led to the establishment of the European welfare state, now being dismantled. It is not reflected because there are not the revolutionary political subjects of the past, like the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks or the Chinese Communists, for example. It is reflected mainly, for the time being, in the rise of alternative power centres, especially China but also other nations, in the revival of Russia, and in the resistance of Iran and its allies in the Middle East.
The depth of this crisis also explains the depth and the intensity of the divisions now affecting western capitalism and the very centre of imperial power: Trump vs. Biden, Huntington’s followers vs. Fukuyama, neoliberal “globalizers” vs. Neocons, Netanyahu vs. Soros. Those differences have no bearing on the strategic goal (preserving the power of Western financial capitalism in order to preserve the power of holders of capital). On this everybody agrees. The differences, as happened already during the ‘30s, have to do more with the methods, the strategies and the ideologies to attain this goal.
To use another analogy, the Empire and its “counter-revolution” has produced its “Bolsheviks” (Trump, Thiel, Pompeo, Bannon, Netanyahu etc.) and its “Mensheviks” (Obama, Merkel, Fukuyama, Soros etc.)
The project of a war against Iran, central to the Neocon imperialist project, is one of the best examples, because here the differences of the two camps are reflected in the clearest possible way. We have no sympathy for George Soros or Zbigniew Brzezinski and in particular their fanatic anti-Russian stand. But more important than condemning one or another politician is to understand in depth what is at stake in every situation. Soros and Brzezinski were (and Soros remains) staunch opponents of Iraq and projected Iran wars, while Netanyahu is one of their main architects. Obama signed a peace agreement with Iran; Trump abolished it.
The campaign against Soros during the last years is not due to his liberal ideas, his financial speculation or his hostility towards Russia. It is due to his opposition to the Iran war and has exploited in depth the general and justified suspicion towards this person and his activities and his anti-Russian stand.
The “Bolsheviks” of the Empire are not, and cannot be, more friendly than Soros towards Russia. They cannot accept the very existence of such a huge entity equipped with nuclear arms, advanced technology and a considerable degree of independence. But they possess a far larger capacity to hide their real intentions than Soros. This is not a coincidence. It reflects the more complete character of their rupture with the rationalism characterising traditional capitalism as we knew it. They don’t need to give birth to a new, even reactionary model. Their strategy is chaos and destruction of all order.
A Crisis from the Future
If there are many similarities with crises humans have confronted in the past, there is also an enormous difference: the old and known crises and war mechanisms are now operating in a radically different environment, which is putting at stake the very survival not only of human civilisation, as in the past, but the very survival of Mankind, if not of life on earth.
This reality is so enormous in its consequences that many people deny it completely or, even if they accept it intellectually, do not allow it to affect their decisions and actions. As T.S. Eliot wrote, humanity cannot afford two much reality. Albert Jacquard put it in another way, when he stated that the main difficulty in grasping reality lies in the limitations of our own imagination.
Now we do not even need any imagination. The hard facts are here, the general intuitions and theories have become algebraic equations and are now tending towards becoming arithmetical ones.
Since 1945, humanity has developed productive forces and technologies that can destroy life on the planet, but can also provide the material, technological basis of a totalitarianism without precedent in human history.
We are confronted with the danger of a nuclear disaster and the certainty of a climatic one (unless very radical measures are adopted to reverse the situation within the next ten years). To this we can add the profound disruption of Man’s relationship with nature, overwhelming urbanisation, the recourse to industrial, intensive and chemically or genetically modified agriculture, and the massive pollution of the environment and of the human body and mind. They make dangerous experiments with DNA, without any efficient control. The Internet giants are increasing every passing day their ability to widely monitor, manipulate and fool people; and all that under the threatening shadow of the Beast of Artificial Intelligence.
New technologies, accumulated knowledge and new productive forces are mostly in the hands of small groups of private oligopolies or monopolies, which control the very future of life on Earth, without any real democratic, social or international control. They are controlled by small groups of people, whose action is determined – and it cannot be otherwise in the present context – by their eternal drive for accumulation of profits and extension of their control and domination over all spheres of life. The power of those groups of people is growing inside the corpus of humanity, in the same way that cancer cells grow inside the human body, finally devouring it. Those groups of interests hold in their greedy and irresponsible hands the future of life on Earth.
In short, Mankind has begun a series of unprecedented experiments, capable of ending our life as a species within the current century, and of doing that before the usual human mechanism of learning by error has the time and the margins to correct the course of events.
This is why we need to take decisive action, to find a way to fundamentally alter our social and international system and our culture and psychology. To find it, it is no more a question of ideological or political preferences. It is a question of life or death for humanity. We cannot be sure of the origin of the coronavirus, but what we can be certain of, is that it provides us with a very mild first taste of the Hell we are preparing.
In an environment of domination (and deep decline at the same time) of the civilisation of money and finance, the new technologies and productive forces developed after 1945 are being used in a way that endangers natural and biological capital, exacerbates the economic crisis and social inequalities, both within states and on a global scale, and are threatening the very survival of humanity.
In theory, the new productive forces and technologies are enabling Man to pass from the realm of need to the realm of freedom. It is now possible to satisfy most of the reasonable needs of the present and even of a quite larger human population, something that did not happen in the past. But this would presuppose the replacement of capitalist relations of production and distribution and a radical change in the sphere of civilisation. Not only is such a thing not on the horizon today, but it is not even being put forward as a credible proposal, as an alternative vision, by any strong political force (or state).
The Realm of Ideas
As for the consciousness of Mankind, it does not seem to have made much progress since the 20th century; indeed, quite the opposite. This is particularly disturbing because the main factor which has contained world (Western) capitalism, imperialism and war has always been the opposition of the most conscious intellectuals and of the large popular masses in around the globe including the main capitalist countries (and, also, of the states born out of their revolts, like the USSR, China or the new states born out of national liberation struggles). The opposition of US and French citizens to the imperialist policies of their nations contributed a lot to the US and French defeats in Vietnam and Algeria and to the non-use of nuclear arms against Korea, China, the USSR or Vietnam. It has also delegitimised the Iraq War.
We do not have now better political thought and better tools, than during the 20th century, to tackle either economic crises or geopolitical rivalries. One huge advantage of capitalism was that it fuelled contradictions of all sorts, thus creating proper conditions for searching the truth, which lies in contradiction (Jean Jaurès). The totalitarian evolution of this system is also destroying this property.
Ideology is following and provoking mutations in material realities. Neoliberalism has destroyed every tool developed, after 1929, to control and contain the destructive activities of the financial sector (which is, in reality, more and more, the real centre of world power). Under Trump, humanity is also destroying the last remnants of arms control and, even more important, the ideology behind it.
The damage in the field of consciousness is very deep. And this field still remains the most important in human activities, because ideas dominating people tend to acquire material power (something which did not go unnoticed by the main theoreticians of war and proven true in most military conflicts, from the Napoleonic until the Iraq war).
No longer believing in the future, progress or love, many people around the globe are turning more and more to fundamental, traditional identities, such as nation, religion and family, associated with adherence to a larger group, able to provide real or imagined safety. Those identities are often very useful and even indispensable for defensive purposes, but can also have destructive consequences in some cases; at any rate, they remain of limited use in tackling the huge long- term challenges.
Nationalists often disregard the social aspect, only to discover that without tackling the social issue and defending the people it is impossible to defend their nation. They tend also to enter easily into conflicts with other nations. As for post-modern “leftists”, they tend to dismiss completely any reference to their nation, characterising this very notion as “retrograde” or even “reactionary”. But it is impossible to make politics if you quit the main level where politics is still possible to some extent, namely your nation. Besides, a progressive person cannot be indifferent to the fate of his nation, especially as it is only at this level that people have the possibility to exercise some influence on decisions and where they have a social security system. Post-modern leftists also have replaced the fight for socialism with the fight for “human rights”, understood not in a social context, but in the way Neoliberalism understands them, driven from the “ideal” of an individual without any social or moral references.
Both nationalists and post-modern leftists usually concentrate on their agendas, but there is no problem which can be addressed, without taking into account the pressure of western capitalism and imperialism on the world. To resist in an efficient way presupposes in the long run the creation of an international alliance or federation of forces struggling to fulfill another vision of the world.
Another tendency consists in pushing people to put in doubt the greater tools Man has ever developed in order to survive and become free, that is Logos, Logic, Rationalism, Science (the fact they were distorted and used to enslave and destroy people in some cases is not a reason to negate them en masse and deny their usefulness).
The paranoid situation now prevailing in the United States, the irrational conspiracy theories (which prevent people from understanding and fighting the very much existing real conspiracies), the great confusion about even the fundamental facts, is the most disturbing indication of a frightening future threatening all humanity, as the USA remains, in many aspects, one of the main “laboratories of the world”.
The shadow of the Soviet collapse
Mankind still lives largely under the state of the deep and catalytic effect of the Soviet collapse. This was largely self-inflicted, since it did not come as a result of a foreign invasion or war, but because of the accession of a large part of the Soviet elite to the West and capitalism, and the complete inability of the others to defend the regime, as they were administrators, not politicians (open politics were forbidden in the USSR, which did not abolish them, but simply send them “underground”). Of course this “suicide” would have been impossible if the USSR had not been facing deep underlying problems. Still, as far as we speak of human history, most crises can lead to a multitude of possible outcomes, dependent on the forces and the personalities present. The “objective” factors define the range of the possible outcomes, but not which one will be chosen by History.
Regardless of what one might think of the Soviet regime as it developed, the Soviet “experiment” was the most important attempt in human history to create a social organisation as an alternative to capitalism through the lower, popular and Plebian classes themselves, in synergy with pioneering intellectuals, who combined the experience of the astonishing “golden age” of intellectual Russia (1825-1932), with the experience of eighty years of European worker and socialist movements and the spirit of devotion to the ideas characterising the most remarkable representatives of the Russian intelligentsia (the world has recognised the intellectual and moral merits of those intellectuals and their special role in history by having the “international language” adopt the russian word “intelligentsia”).
This experiment began, regardless of the course it took afterwards, as a conscious effort to make Man the subject of his history and society the owner of its economy. Thus, its collapse was felt as the end of Hope and “Utopia” itself.
Only now, a few decades later, we see the first emergence of forces beginning to advance the idea of the replacement of capitalism as a strategic goal. In one way or another, it has happened with Chavez in Venezuela, with Corbyn in Britain (in spite of his compromises contributing to his defeat), and with of the Yellow Vests movement in France. It is also happening among US youth, a large part of which has supported Sanders.
Living in the very heart of capitalism, the always dominant system, many young Americans are gaining a much clearer awareness of what this system really is and they have none of the illusions their parents still want to keep. This is why, although they may not have read a single socialist newspaper or book in their lives, they respond repeatedly to opinion polls, during recent years, saying they are in favour of Socialism (and this is happening in probably the most anti -Socialist and anti-Communist country in the world). But, of course, they have to deal with a system that has used many decades of “unquestionability” to control political, journalistic and academic staff in an unprecedented way (usually by buying everybody) and has persecuted most independent intellectuals, thus destroying the very conditions permitting the elaboration of credible alternatives. That is why Youth was often forced to resort to representatives of an older age (Sanders, Corbyn) to express their opposition. It could not find convenient younger porte-paroles.
As the situation gets radicalised, the lack of satisfactory political bearers of a progressive vision is creating a void which the forces of the sui generis Far Right of our times are filling, especially after the SYRIZA fiasco in Greece, in 2015, which has been a tremendous blow to the idea of a left, progressive alternative worldwide.
From the ideal of progress to the “ideal” of destruction
During the Cold War, both the capitalist and the “socialist” camp defined their aspirations in terms of human good and progress. Today this concept, basic to human endeavor from the Renaissance onwards, seems to have been abandoned. “We all know that the next generations will live worse than the current ones,” said Barroso, then President of the European Commission and now a senior cadre of Goldman Sachs, without anyone blaming him for such an amazing statement. Why to live worse, when our world as a whole is getting richer and with more and more efficient technologies?
As for President Trump, his main proposal is to answer to the despair created by the social decline, not by tackling the roots of economic stagnation or social inequality, but by launching war against everybody, inside or outside America. His message is even more persuasive as it corresponds to the archetypes of the often merciless and violent American who beats everybody to ensure success. Trump’s message contains also huge amounts of truth used to substantiate his lies. Presenting himself as the opponent of the rotten establishment, he is able to rally around him forces which are “against the system”. The Democrats and the main stream establishment is attacking him every day, but in a way that is often helping him instead of making harm to him.
An efficient way to stop him in the present conditions would be to counter-oppose a real, progressive radicalism, like the one professed by Sanders, to his pseudo-radicalism, but this is the last thing the Democrats and the establishment would like to do, as it would harm their own interests. The capitalist class in the United States is unable or unwilling to address the present crisis, in a way satisfactory for the large masses of the people, it does not seem capable of producing the equivalent of a Roosevelt, this is why it is increasing the chances of Trump, if large masses, realizing the danger he represents for them, are not mobilized to beat him. Neoliberal capitalists and what still deserves to be called Left are unable to propose a coherent counter-vision, thus helping the rise of Alt – Right in US and of the nationalist hard Right in France, the same way Nazis were able to conquer power in Weimar’s Germany.
War is the main answer to world problems proposed by the forces controlling Trump. War against China, war against Iran, against the South and the East in general, war even against America’s allies but also within American cities, war against Climate and against Culture. In fact, also a war against Russia, if we judge Trump and his allies, not by the misleading impressions he wants to create (like Hitler did until he finally attacked Russia), but by what his administration is accomplishing. This is the only solid criterion, all other talk is, at best, wishful thinking. To be hostile to the main stream US establishment or to Biden should not lead to be blind to what Trump is really doing and what he represents. This can be a literally mortal illusion.
The post-Cold War world
In order to better understand why Trump, or Johnson, or Modi, or Bolsonaro, or Netanyahu have appeared, to what deeper needs of the system they correspond, we should take into account the whole historical context developing after the “end” of the Cold War, but also after the end of the first “unipolar” moment of the new, post-Cold War world. We need to answer to the question why modern day Capitalism and Imperialism need such figures and their policies, but also to the question what are the conditions that made their appearance possible.
Our era, the era after 1989-91, is characterized by the vertical rise of the “Empire of Money”, of the global financial capital, in particular of those who control it, an Empire that sometimes seems more powerful than the American one. We have not fully grasped the consequences of this fact. We are still reasoning in terms of nations and their conflicts, but if nations remain largely the field of politics, they seem less and less their subject. How to explain for instance the enormous influence of a country like Israel to the policy of the US superpower, if you don’t take into account its special links with the Empire of Finance and the latter’s influence in America? It makes some time more sense, from a strategic point of view, to examine divisions in the West from the point of view of the antagonism between the Globalizers and the Neocon “internationals”, than as conflicts between US and Germany for instance.
The rising superpower of the Finance seeks to create the conditions for the eternal domination of Finance over Man. That is the real meaning behind Fukuyama’s “End of History”, the reversal of the results all human struggles for freedom and of Protagoras’s saying that man is the measure of all. In this sense, both Neoliberal Globalizers and Neocon, “Trumpian” radicals tend inexorably to totalitarianism, even if the first camp retains still some references to the democratic principles of traditional western Capitalism (devoid of course of much of their content) and, also, a rudimentary link with Reason and Rationalism.
Money which is the creature of Man becomes his master, as it tends now to regulate and control all spheres of the living. In its effort to prevail globally and create the Homo Economicus it needs, people without any reference or morality, this new Empire wants to destroy or better hijack all traditional institutions and all traditional strong identities, including nations, states , peoples, traditional ideologies and religions, all kinds of powerful identities, even gender, despite its biological determination. Capitalism is nowadays transiting from Neoliberalism to the “Capitalism of Catastrophe” evolving into a kind of “Neo-feudalism” of Money.
As far as “Globalization” is concerned, there is no more confusing term. We believe we should understand it as the attempt to impose capitalist relations of production and distribution and the corresponding culture to the whole planet, after the collapse of the so-called “socialist bloc”.
This is a central, strategic goal of the western capitalist system corresponding to fundamental, organic factors related to its very functioning and even survival and this is why it is uniting in reality all factions inside Western capitalism, in spite of differences over the methods to achieve it.
But since 2008, the dominant system is facing some very threatening challenges to its domination
- It is less and less accepted by citizens of the main developed western countries. There is an enormous demand for radical and credible solutions.
- Externally, the globalization project has failed to provoke a Chinese perestroika, that is to overthrow the political (monopoly of the CP) and the economic (planned economy) regime of China. As Samir Amin stated two years ago, speaking to Chinese professors and students, this country can hardly be called socialist, but it remains non – capitalist. It has, up to now, refused to succumb to the dictatorship of the world Financial Capital (the “financial globalization”). China is one of the very few countries in the world which was able, in spite of huge concessions to foreign capital, to dominate on its relation with it, to use it and not to be used by it, in final analysis
- Russia (a military superpower) did not remain the vassal state it became under Yeltsin and the Russian Federation was not dislocated, as Brzezinski and others were hoping
- The Neocon project for the Middle East failed to produce the desired results and put the Empire in front of a serious dilemma: compromise with Iran (Obama, US deep state) or war even with use of tactical nuclear weapons and various risks associated (Trump, Neocons).
Trump and his allies appeared to give their answer to those problems
- To channel the confused feeling of revolt and hate of the establishment to directions which ultimately will help US capitalism survive and dominate, much as Hitler did in the past. He wants to use democracy in order to destroy it (Thiel, of the Bilderberg group, has been quite clear on that. As for Bannon, he is not a kind of revolutionary born out of social struggles, he was working in Goldman Sachs).
- To create the political – ideological conditions appropriate for Cold (or even Hot) wars against China, Russia and Islam, in particular Iran
- To submit European allies to his power
- To rewrite the rules of “globalization” in a way more favorable to US interests. In extremis he could try to decouple China from globalization, the way the “socialist bloc” was decoupled from world economy during the Cold War, but we are not sure if this is possible or if it will be helpful for western capitalism
- To try to destroy the relationship between Russia and China, by pretending to be a friend of Russia
- To reinvigorate the neocon war by launching, if possible, a war against Iran and help realize the project of a greater Israel (Jerusalem, Golan etc.)
Many people will find such a project very dangerous. Still what increases its chances is the fact the traditional neoliberal elites and the Left are unable to provide with a coherent and credible alternative of their own.
Historical roots of present day divisions
An extremist, totalitarian tendency existed always not only in Germany, but also inside the British and US establishment. This tendency was pushing, in the last stage of WWII, for a reversal of alliances, in order to fight a WWIII against the USSR. Later, the same tendency wanted to go to war with the USSR as soon as possible, during the Cold War and they were trying even to falsify data used by the US administration to overblow the soviet “danger” in order to go to war (The Committee for the Present Danger). They repeated the same method of falsification, with quite a success before the Iraq War.
The same tendency organized the persecution of all progressive Americans, who would be an obstacle to war, with the McCarthy campaign. By the way, the attorney Roy Cohn played a great role in this campaign. Among other things he did, he persuaded Ethel Rozenberg’s sister to testify against her in the case which led to her execution as a soviet spy. Roy Cohn was the first lawyer and a kind of mentor for Donald Trump.
The power of the extremists inside the system was again reflected to the fact that only two people, President Kennedy himself and his brother have opposed the idea of launching nuclear war against the USSR, during the most decisive meeting of the Cuban Missile Crisis. They were both assassinated later and the same fate was reserved not only to Malcolm X, but also to Martin Luther King.
Kissinger also fulfilled many of the extremists goals, especially with his coup in Chile. While he was also trying to persuade the Soviets he was really interested in stability and arms control, he organized their encirclement.
Ideologically, this tendency was represented during the Cold War by Samuel Huntington, who once stated that the generalization of democracy is impossible, because of the natural limits of the planet, by the review Commentary, by Odet Yinon, who is professing the end of Humanism and by many others, describing in 1982, what is happening now in the Middle East, in his famous essay (An Israeli strategy for the ‘80s).
Out of this tradition are born the right wing pseudo-opponents of globalization. This tendency has never been convinced that the “happy globalization”, the attractiveness of the Western example and the automatic operation of capitalism are sufficient to ensure its eternal victory. They always believed that the imposition of Western Capitalism’s domination over the Earth, on which they agree with globalizers, presupposes a very large dose of military violence and coercion. Their preferred instrument is war, not economy and ideas.
While the opposite tendency dismisses nations and religions, this one wants to use them in the context of “Divide and Conquer” and the “Strategy of Chaos” and “Confusion”, which we see so vividly today.
As early as 1993, Huntington opposed the “War of Civilizations” to Fukuyama’s “End of History.” You can easily discern there a system for the domination of Finance over all other human groups, which are put in a clear hierarchy and they preserve the imperial power by fighting one against the other.
In the early 1990s, the Jeremiah and Wolfowitz reports described a “proactive” strategy for the United States to maintain world hegemony, a goal that is also the stated goal of the Plan for an American Century, which, along with Yinon’s article and Naomi Klein’s book on the Chaos Strategy, is of fundamental importance to understand the world.
In the 1990s, a group led by Richard Pearl and funded by Netanyahu drafted the plans for the Iraqi and the other Middle East wars. Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, both formidable objects to war, were assassinated.
This tendency, because it is a minority and because its program is provoking sharp reactions, is using systematically methods of “coups”, deception and “entryism” to achieve its goals. They manage to falsify elections in Florida and take power (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld). Then they unfolded their agenda, using 9/11 (which they probably did not prevent while they could) to launch the “war on terror,” that is, on Islam and to invade Iraq. This invasion is, first, a sub-chapter of Huntington’s Civilization War, second an exercise of imperial power, indirectly but clearly directed also at Russia, China and Europe, and third the realization of a very basic Israeli goal under Netanyahu that is to overthrow and destroy any regime/country in the Arab-Muslim world that could threaten Israeli omnipotence in the Middle East. As we are transiting from neoliberal to the capitalism of catastrophe (Greece), so here we are transiting from the imperialism of conquest to that of catastrophe (Iraq). Both tendencies constitute a very strong indication of the inherent difficulty of the global system to deal with its crisis, without causing ever greater disasters.
Iraq was the first dish, but the neo-conservative plan was to overthrow in 2-3 years all the regimes in the Middle East up to Iran, and even in North Korea. Just as the intervention and dismembering of Yugoslavia was the ‘general test’ for the wars in the Middle East to come, so the later are the ‘general test’ for what will follow in various other regions around the globe, as for example the former USSR.
The invasion of Iraq by the Americans (and their British, Australian and Polish allies) was not the walk the “conservatives” promised, either because they really believed it or because they wanted to facilitate entry into the Middle East and beyond. . The country was occupied, but the occupying forces met fierce resistance from the Sunni population in particular, the occupation could never be sufficiently stabilized, while the invasion remained completely delegitimized in world public opinion.
As a result of this situation, the neocon project for the conquest/distraction of all the Middle East came to a standstill. The Empire has faced the dilemma of proceeding on a much broader scale, in order to achieve the implementation of the neoconservative program to go into a fold, expecting better days.
The escalation would be a war against Iran using tactical nuclear weapons. It was proposed, but it met with strong opposition from the American deep state, the military and the secret services, and it could not be carried out.
The Obama alternative and its final failure
Obama’s election represents the forces opposing the Neocon war project inside the US and Western establishment. But the new President does not or cannot come to a full conflict with the Lobby and the Neocons. Hillary, his Secretary of State, is completely allied on their positions, while the assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland is herself a representative of the Neocons. We see here the reflection of the continuous increase of the influence of extremists in all the US state and administration apparatus, even independently of the Presidents. With Obama in Washington and Sarkozy in Paris, the Neocons make Paris and London the main centers of their plans. They will use France and Britain to begin the attack on Libya, while Hillary will be able to overcome the initial objections of Obama, who will express publicly his regret for the Libya campaign, before leaving the White House. In Egypt, Neocons will also be able to impose their line, by helping Sissi overthrow Morsi and they are most probably behind the coup against Erdogan in Turkey, in 2016.
But, despite everything, Obama manages to cancel the two main neocon attacks during his staying in power. He will avoid repeating the Iraq campaign in Syria, in 2013, as he was pressed to do by the Neocons. And, instead of launching the war against Iran, which was the main neocon project, he will sign what amounts, in reality, to a peace agreement with this country.
There is a more general conclusion to be drawn by what Obama did not manage to do. Despite the President’s “brilliance,” global capitalism in the age of globalization does not seem to have the ability – or the will – to make the concessions needed to support the alternative to the neo-conservative coercive program. The moderate “political Islam” that Obama has sought to support, as an alternative to the “war of civilizations” in the Middle East, has no way of being funded in the context of neoliberal “globalization.” Only Turkey has achieved something, but its relative success remains fragile and if it succeeded, it did so by skillfully playing various anti-Western cards. The difficulty for Westerners is structural. If the invasions do not solve the problem of Western domination, so do the elections, the successes of Hamas and Morsi proving that.
Obama was not only unable to provide a foreign alternative to Neocons, he was also unable to complete the most indispensable social reform in his own country, the generalization of the health care and also to curtail the power of Finance, directly responsible for the 2008 crisis.
Capitalism, Russia and China
We are facing here, probably, a kind of organic inability of capitalism, even if we prefer to avoid such “final” conclusions. But there are also other indications, pointing to the same direction.
One is the fact the EU and the IMF have imposed in Greece, in order to save it, a program which provoked the biggest economic and social disaster after WWII.
A second, and maybe the most important of all, is provided by the colossal social catastrophe in the former USSR, as a result of the introduction of capitalism, a catastrophe unprecedented in the history of the industrial age, at least during peaceful times and even comparable with war periods. If capitalism failed to raise the level of the USSR, but instead destroyed it, that is of a country with a highly educated population and a high scientific, technological and industrial base, what is the chance that this system will solve Africa’s problems? Yeltsin’s colossal failure, endangering even the unity of the Russian Federation, would eventually force a team of the Russian state itself under Putin to begin action to stop the disintegration.
A third and also a very significant indication is provided by China. By making massive investments there, the West, on the one hand, sought to make super profits, and on the other hand, hoped that the inflow of foreign capital would undermine the economic (planned economy) and the political regime (the power of the CP) provoking a Chinese “perestroika”. This did not happen. Despite large concessions to foreign capital and capitalism, China did not join the “financial globalization”, that is, the world dictatorship system of financial capital, and did not abandon the CCP’s political monopoly. The regime was not overthrown. By inserting foreign capital inside a planned (much via market mechanisms) it was able to realize a formidable economic rise and become, objectively, one of the most serious challenges to the domination of Western Capitalism on the planet. Nowadays, most productive investments around the world are coming from China!
Thus, after the failures of the Neoconservatives during the first phase of the wars against Iraq, we have seen also the failure of the more classical neoliberal elites to face the problems of the system, such as the entry into the great economic crisis that began in 2008 and continues, the rise of China, the return of Russia and others. Western capitalism does not seem to have the margins (or the disposition) to make concessions to the citizens of western countries, or to find an adequate answer to the external challenges to its domination (like China or the Russian Armed Forces).
A New Deal needs to be Green but also Global. The other way out is War and the nuclear arms make it much more difficult. Capitalism seems in an impasse. If not overthrown, it may try to survive by abolishing democracy and by putting the survival of humanity at risk. Many leftists do not share such an idea. Sometimes they believe to capitalism more than capitalists themselves!
The Empire is counterattacking
Faced with such challenges, a section of the system itself again resorts to the services of its extremist tendency, which returns to power with Trump, under the influence of people such as Thiel (of the Bilderberg), Bannon, Pompeo etc. By analogy, the German Capital was forced in the past, to tolerate and resort to the services of the “intruders “, of “parvenus” to the system, like the National Socialists of Adolf Hitler
Despite significant differences with Nazism, Trump’s experience performs the same historical function. He uses the discomfort of the masses from the system to put them finally at his service. Germans wanted a Revolution in the ‘30s, but they were afraid of doing it themselves, so they entrusted Hitler to do it in their place, writes Wilhelm Reich.
The outspoken and outrageous behavior of the President contributes significantly to the destruction of the very meaning of meaning, of all social, international and moral conventions, to the attempt to destroy Logos itself, a key tool of Man in the struggle for his Freedom, and to introduce the strategies based on Chaos and Confusion. Trump has made a huge contribution to the destruction of any rational and moral rules of American society and the “international community,” a destruction that is necessary if one is to transform humanity into herds of wild animals capable of turning anywhere with the skillful use of inferior functions of consciousness, instincts and the unconscious, but also the never imagined in the past new possibilities of manipulation through the Internet.
Of course, we must trace Trump’s real aspirations, or rather those that directing him and pushing him, in practice, not in his rhetoric. The first thing the supposedly anti-systemic president did when he took over the presidency was to give to Goldman Sachs’ people the most direct exercise of American economic governance. Then he tested the nuclear threat against Russia, with the two bombings of Syria, despite the presence of Russian troops there. He has also tested China’s reactions by threatening North Korea with complete extinction. He familiarized world public opinion with the unthinkable possibility of nuclear war. He destroyed the nuclear weapons control structure and undermined any binding international rules and any international framework for cooperation. He surrendered completely and in a way that no US President has done much of the US foreign policy to Netanyahu! He has withdrawn from the Iran deal and is actively preparing for war with that country, which would have already broken out, and almost broke out, if it was not stopped by the reaction of the American deep state, a reaction that also stopped his intention to use the army to suppress protests in American cities.
He is supposedly a friend of Russia and many consider he came with, in his mind or the mind of forces manipulating him, to break Russia’s partnership with China, which poses insurmountable obstacles to the global domination of Western Capital. However, his administration escalated the military encirclement of Russia. He worked even with Israel to reach a Serbia-Kosovo agreement that excludes Russia and China from the Balkans and he tried to use Turkey against Russia in Libya and Syria. Under his presidency, the United States has increased 25 times the military assistance to Azerbaijan, fighting now against Armenians, undermining Russia’s role in the ex-USSR. All that Trump is not a friend of Russia, but of course it does not prove that his ultimate goal is not to destroy the Russian-Chinese partnership. We can now state with quite a degree of high probability that, behind the Reagan’s intensification of the Cold War, was hidden probably the aim of providing Soviet reformers with the arguments they needed to begin the dismantling of the USSR and, in particular, the Soviet Armed Forces.
In various circles around, Trump remains still popular because he is perceived as an opponent of globalization. We explained before why this is a chimera. Trump is not against it and could not be as the core of globalization is nothing else than the generalization of capitalist relations of production and distribution on the planet. Nor is it possible to fight against globalization, aiming at a “good”, “national capitalism” which is, in our time, a greater utopia than “socialism in a single country” and “National Socialism” represented in their time.
What Trump wants and does is to introduce an element of violence and coercion in “globalization”, not to abolish it, but to replace it with a much worse system, in which it will work, but only to the extent that it works in favor of the US interests. He wants to solve the problems of the viability of capitalism with more violence against China, against the masses, against Iran, against the environment and against human civilization. This is the real project of Trump and his political allies internationally (Johnson, Bolsonaro, Monti, etc.). If they prevail, they will significantly increase the chance of a global catastrophe.
The chances of them prevailing increase as they face bankrupt neoliberal elites, such as those now rallying behind Biden, elites who have almost nothing to offer their country and the world and who have done everything to stop the democratic and socialist challenge of Sanders, more interested in defeating than him, than in preventing Trump to get power.
It is true that these neoliberal elites are more conservative and less dangerous than the extremist current around Trump, which could wreak havoc and possibly irreversible damage to humanity if it continues to dominate US power. His climatic policy alone is able to destroy or harm seriously the very conditions for human survival.
But we should keep in mind that it is the policy of the neoliberal elites themselves, that breeds and fuels the far-right, near-fascist extremism of Trump and his allies internationally.
The need of an alternative
Only the timely formation of national and international political subjects, bearers of a new model, in the South, East and West, who will be able to unite the struggle for the social, democratic, ecological needs of humanity, starting from the partial resistances that are developing to unite them into a kind of a new “International” around a new vision of humanity for the 21th Century could, in prospect, win over the enormous, existential threats hanging upon humanity.
We need a new vision which, taking into account all passed experiences, from Ancient Athens to Socialism and May 1968, both their achievements and their failures, will become a positive proposal for a new chapter in Human History.
Many will probably say that such goals are utopian and absolutely unrealistic. Maybe. But it seems to us it is much more “utopian” and unrealistic to expect human species to survive this century with its present social, international and cultural fabric.