The End of the US Empire
By Anastasia Gómez
The US Empire is in a full descent and vertiginous freefall. Once the most powerful empire on earth, it now has no money, its industries are failing, it has a chronic high unemployment rate and it can no longer afford the multimillion dollar governmental subsidies to its agricultural and industrial companies that they depend on.
The wealth disparity between the poor and the rich is the largest it has ever been. Domestic production has been visibly reduced because of the transfer of capital and technology to other countries. The external US debt exceeds 10 trillion dollars. “Made in China” merchandise packs the shelves of all its stores, as it does in every country of the world.
Similarly, we see the former 4-star general of the world, with its mighty military forces and superiority mired in two wars for the last decade in the Middle East with no workable exit strategy in sight. The hands of the USA are tied limiting its intervention in the uprisings of the masses in North Africa. Even its capability to intervene in its own backyard is questioned by the ability displayed by Brazil’s leadership of the UN forces, including US troops, in Haiti. We can see that its military and technological power is insufficient for fighting asymmetrical wars and that it can no longer accumulate the material gains of wars, such as oil.
The US Empire has an increasing difficulty making its voice heard and getting its proposals implemented in international organizations like the G8 or in the G20. At each conference of these and similar groups it becomes more difficult for the US to push forward, in a unilateral manner, its political and economic priorities, such as the regulation of international prices or the establishment of commercial trade treaties. This is the case in South American, where the power and influence of Brazil has up to this point not allowed the extension of trade deals like NAFTA or the Free Trade of the Americas Act to countries in the region.
The US is currently led by a president who is incapable of resolving the financial problems that haunt the country and who is continuing the politics of Bush and the Republicans before him. Until now, the steps Obama has taken to control the crisis have been timid, insignificant and have had little impact. His policies are very different from those implemented during the 30s New Deal in terms of the development of industrial and agricultural production, investment in employment, trade deals and distribution of social benefits. For decades the US has been fundamentally focused on enlarging the gains of financial capital. Without achieving this, the unity and support of the ruling class cannot be certain.
At the same time the sectors of society that carried Obama to the presidency have become disillusioned by his delivery. The “hope” and enthusiastic support have disappeared. We can see how the previous illusions in the promises Obama made, within the sectors of the masses that carried him to the presidency, have been lost, constantly lowering his credibility and enthusiastic support.
An increasingly frustrated, unhappy and noisy petite bourgeoisie is organizing to recover the “large imperialist power” through ultra right organizations like the Tea Party. The previous bipartisan solutions are insufficient to solve the current problems of this empire.
WHY IS IT FALLING?
The empire is falling because its ruling class, seeking to increase profits, has inflicted on itself a mortal blow. It is falling, because during the past four decades the country lost millions of jobs as businesses relocated their centers of production to other interior geographical areas and countries with lower costs of production and more relaxed environmental standards. At the same time the rulers initiated a process of world economic re-structuring that is now demanding that they pay for their choices.
The United States has experienced serious economic and political crises in the past; however, today things are different. The relocation of its production centers has triggered the rapid development of those countries that are rising today as the main competitors to the US: China, India and Brazil. Today, nations that not too long ago were orbiting around US and European imperialism have begun to revolve around the new giants, developing new relationships of economic interdependence and political subjugation. Something similar happened after World War II when the US invested in Germany and Japan to ensure US influence over the markets of these two countries. The US did this under the guise of reconstruction and in just three decades both countries became main US competitors.
That is to say: the natural drive of the bourgeoisie in its search for supremacy and maximum profits is what leads it to its destruction. This historic premise has been understood perfectly since the origin of the Communist Manifesto, but today this premise will determine the fate of the largest bourgeoisie empire that the world has ever known. The displacement of the centers of production produced greater profits for the bourgeoisie, but at the same time caused the loss of jobs and of productivity within the empire. Its domestic market is collapsing under the burden of its debt and the destruction of the planet has been hastened by relocating factories to areas with less stringent environmental regulations.
We have seen many empires throughout history go through stages of creation, development, decline and decay all in correspondence with predetermined historical laws. The specter of imperial disintegration has devastated various geographical, political and economic formations such as multinational, colonial and imperial structures throughout history. It has been economic crisis, political fragmentation, monumental historical events and above all acute class struggle, which have finished off these empires.
The fall of the US Empire places us today in the context of a world capitalist system that is in mortal agony. It is a global system of exploitation that is historically exhausted and cannot guarantee our survival or the survival of the planet and must use all of its strength chaotically struggling not to disappear. These forces create brutal super exploitation in the new key areas of the world economy and restrict the existing gains of workers in order to prepare for increasingly undemocratic controlling regimes.
EMPIRES DO NOT FALL BY THEMSELVES
Despite the situation we have described and the underlying reasons as to why we believe in the future we will see the death of US imperialism, the accumulated wealth in this country over its many years of domination is vast. It will take some time for the existing infrastructure to reach the level of deterioration seen in “third world” countries or former colonies. Yet in a short time it will reach the level of its European counterparts.
The same infrastructure in the hands of the workers would shake the world. However, since the 1990’s we have not seen large mobilizations of large sectors of the labor movement. The struggles we have seen have been defensive, isolated and rarely combined with political analysis and action. The percentage of labor that is unionized has been falling for years. The existing worker’s organizations are completely useless, especially because of their reliance on the state through their relationship with the Democratic Party. No independent labor unions currently exist.
Since the crisis of 2008, all labor contract negotiations have resulted only in the reduction of employee benefits because of the fear of more layoffs. The response of workers and the US masses that are still benefiting from the privileges of living in the empire have been minimal (with notable and promising exceptions like the workers in Wisconsin recently). Workers have been brainwashed into accepting the blows inflected by their employers and the loss of their benefits, one after another, all in the interest of job preservation.
Latino workers, especially Mexicans, in the United States will definitely play an important role in the direction of the future. In fact, it has been these workers who have been most receptive to unionization and the unions with the highest membership of these workers have for several decades been the most militant. However the decisive struggles of Latino workers, as seen in their continued protests, especially in the impressive national strike of 2006, are most successful outside of these unions, through collective organizations in the community or through the potential creation of alternative trade unions that are independent and truly combative.
In historical terms, these workers, who number in the millions, could be one of the weapons that inflict fatal blows on US imperialism. This is because, despite their massive struggles for integration, for political and human rights, imperialism is unable in this time of total decay and crisis to absorb them or concede to their demands. This situation may leave them no other option than reclaiming the stolen Mexican territories and building a national liberation movement.
The deeply imbedded ideology of US imperialism, of fierce individualism, has taken root in the American people, and a relentless struggle will be necessary to get rid of this ideology in order to enable full participation and solidarity among workers. The possibilities for workers in this country are enormous, while simultaneously, the consequences of not acting and waiting for everything to fall will be fatal.
Fatal, because if workers don’t take up the struggle, the frustrations of the petit bourgeoisie and other sectors outside of the production process will increase and promote movements of a fascist character. Groups like the Tea Party are growing and gaining threatening power in national politics. They have the potential to create crises like that produced by domestic terrorist attacks associated with right-wing groups such as the 1995 federal building bombing in Oklahoma City.
There are huge possibilities precisely because the vast infrastructure of this country, in terms of technology, industry and natural resources, would give US workers an unprecedented basis for social transformation that could nourish a revolutionary process towards socialism. For this to happen, a relentless ideological struggle is necessary for workers to gain control of this infrastructure and not drown in the whirlpool created by the current owners of this empire.