For the last generation, the United States and other capitalist countries have been on a steady trajectory towards despotism. With 9/11 and the resulting return to the Cold War’s atmosphere of perpetual conflict, a change appeared in the prevailing aims of the capitalist governments. Whereas capitalist societies generally assumed they could look forward to an increasingly liberal future after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the easing of war tensions, but what’s happened throughout the 21st century is a shift towards less and less freedom.
This transition would have happened to a lesser extent even if 9/11 and the War on Terror hadn’t happened, because these events are merely symptoms of a larger trend of capitalist collapse and Western imperial decline. Neoliberalism would still have driven much of the world’s proletariat into poverty, the American empire would still have continued on its path towards decline, and the climate still would have deteriorated. But the War on Terror has accelerated all of these factors in the collapse of capitalism, and in turn has made the capitalist world increasingly turn to authoritarian systems of social control.
Because the United States is the country within the global imperialist alliance that’s recently waged war more than any of the others, it’s the country where these systems are the most advanced; it has the most expansive and intrusive surveillance state in history, its police are more militarized than those of many other countries, and its intelligence agencies serve both as secret police forces and as tools
for disseminating media propaganda. Very similar situations have arisen in Britain
, and in capitalist nations from Australia
there’s been a general trend towards mass surveillance, police militarization, and eroded civil liberties.
This increase in state control has happened so much in the capitalist countries, and has been practically absent from socialist countries, because the state under capitalism is a tool for exerting social control for the benefit of the bourgeoisie. Under capitalism the police, the governmental bureaucracy, and the military exist to keep the oppressed and exploited in line. So as Western imperialism has come under threat, and the economy and the environment have deteriorated in ways that tend to impact capitalist countries most severely, these institutions have focused more and more on preventing potential social unrest.
As Lenin assessed, “fascism is capitalism in decay.” It’s what happens when the capitalist state has to respond to threats to the prevailing order. It’s also what results from the reactionary politics that arise in capitalist societies during these times of hardship. When economically struggling people lack the awareness that would otherwise make them turn to revolutionary socialism, they tend to embrace fascistic ideologies. Thus the rise of right-wing nationalists like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and Narendra Modi during times of capitalist decline.
We’re seeing a repeat of the fascist takeovers that happened during the 1920s and 30s, except now it’s on a global scale and the crises behind it are far more dire; leaders like Trump, with their policy of waging war against environmental refugees, represent the start of a trend that’s been calledclimate authoritarianism. Throughout most of the world, climate authoritarians-whether they acknowledge climate change or not-are utilizing the power of the state to maintain order for the capitalist class amid climate destabilization, all while trying to remove the undesirable parts of the population.
More and more, the places that we’re told make up the “free” world contradict the idealized vision of a “democratic” capitalist society. Even the most fascistic politicians are still claiming that they strive to uphold “liberty” and “democracy,” and that socialist countries like Venezuela and China are where tyranny can be found. But these statements are increasingly hollow. It’s in the United States where a government which holds the world’s largest prison population is now carrying out an unprecedented militarized police crackdown. It’s the U.S. and its allies that have worked to imprison Julian Assange for journalism. It’s the U.S.-tied capitalist governments in France, Chile, and elsewhere
that have sent police to kill anti-austerity protesters. It’s the core imperial nations, which supposedly care about “human rights,” that put
refugees in brutal camps and deport them back to dangerous areas.
As democratic pretenses keep being dismantled in these “free” countries, the proletariat’s tolerance for capitalism will reach a breaking point, because the tyranny of the bourgeoisie will no longer be concealed. Lenin wrote that “A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism…it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-democratic republic can shake it.” This is what social democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders recognize
; in order to prevent a proletarian revolution and preserve bourgeois power, the capitalist governments will need to maintain liberal democracy while strengthening the welfare state.
Blinded by their hubris and paranoia, the reactionaries and centrists who dominate the political establishments throughout the capitalist world are rejecting these kinds of compromises. They’re instead pushing for ever more austerity, ever more privatization and regressive taxation, ever more fossil fuel consumption, and ultimately ever more despotism. By and large, the bourgeoisie are rejecting the reforms that could ensure the survival of their system, claiming that social democracy is the same as communism and demonizing even green capitalist responses to climate change.
This is what society looks like during late-stage capitalism: the discourse grows increasingly detached from reality, liberty disappears, and life keeps getting harder for everyone but the rich.
If this is the situation that the bourgeoisie has chosen to create, our only recourse is to carry late-stage capitalism to its only logical conclusion, which is socialist revolution. The proletariat throughout the capitalist world are navigating a shell of a society, where the system has nothing to offer them besides diminishing wages and violent state repression. If communist organizers and educators provide these masses with the tools they need to overthrow the system, millions of them will join our cause. And if we’re successful in overthrowing the bourgeois state, the totalitarianism of late-stage capitalism will prove to be only a temporary horror, a period of darkness before the coming dawn.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here: