Why the troubled US Empire could quickly fall apart


Dennis Brasky
 

The United States has 4.25 percent of the world’s population yet accounts for about 20 percent of global deaths from COVID-19. A rich global superpower with a highly developed medical industry proved to be badly unprepared for and unable to cope with a viral pandemic. It now wrestles with a huge segment of its population that seems so alienated from major economic and political institutions that it risks self-destruction and demands the “right” to infect others. Refusing to accept lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates in the name of “freedom” mixes a frightening stew of ideological confusion, social division, and bitterly rising hostility within the population. The January 6 events in Washington, D.C., showed merely the tip of that iceberg.

 

Fires, floods, hurricanes, droughts: the signs of climate catastrophe—not to mention its fast-climbing costs—add to the sense of impending doom provoked by all the other signs of empire decline. Here too, the tiny minority of fossil fuel industry leaders has succeeded in blocking or delaying the social action needed to cope with the problem. Empires decline when their long habits of serving minority elites blind them to those moments when the system’s survival requires overriding those elites’ needs, at least for a while.

 

Decline provokes more hiding, and that in turn worsens decline. The downward spiral is engaged. Moreover, attempts to distract an increasingly anxious public—demonizing immigrants, scapegoating China, and engaging in culture wars—show diminishing returns. Empire decline proceeds but remains widely denied or ignored as if it did not matter. The old rituals of conventional politics, economics, and culture proceed. Only their tones have become those of deep social divisions, bitter recriminations, and overt internal hostilities proliferating across the landscape. These mystify as well as upset the many Americans who still need to deny that crises have beset U.S. capitalism and that its empire is in decline.

 

https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/11/01/why-the-troubled-u-s-empire-could-quickly-fall-apart/



Andrew Stewart
 

This reminds me of a quip from Mike Davis, the Left has successfully predicted the last 6 Depressions during the last century.
 I respect Wolff and enjoy his analysis but the major determinant of this topic is the position of the dollar as the world reserve currency. Between that and the primacy of Treasury bonds in the world economy, I cannot imagine the empire collapsing rapidly. Unless China unveils and rapidly proliferates two alternative devices within the world economy, the American hegemon will remain 


Michael Meeropol
 

I wonder if the US might be "re-running" the "long decline" of the British empire (1890s through WW II)??

Supposedly (and I'm not an expert on this), the period beginning after 1890 was one where Britain was living as a RENTIER on their capital investments overseas and not so much as the "workshop of the world" --- as they were being subjected to tremendous competition from the Germans and the Americans --- the Germans were more technologically advanced and rapidly cutting into British export markets (except, perhaps in India and other parts of the "empire") while the US was closing off its domestic market both because of tariffs but even more importantly by the rapid expansion of US manufacturing.

(there is even a view that beginning in the 1890s Britain suffered from a slow motiion "great depression" which I think is exaggerated).

Then along comes WW I and by the time that war is over, the US has supplanted Britain as the world's top creditor --- (that was how the Dawes Plan of how to keep German reparations money flowing worked -- US lent to Germany who paid the allies, etc. round and round till the depression post 1929).

The Us moved from creditor to debtor nation long ago and China has been penetrating the US market for decades (since the 1980s?) --- 

Finance has come to dominate US capitalists' profit possibilities and that plays a role in reducing competitiveness in goods production ---

So there are some parallels ....

No way to figure out how "slow" the ABSOLUTE US decline will be --- but the relative decline has been going on for quite some time ...




Vladimiro Giacche'
 

The dynamics of financialisation of USA compared with the same process that previously took place in Uk is convincingly described here: 

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/232890/the-long-twentieth-century-by-giovanni-arrighi/

(Only remark: the book was written in 1994, and  China isn’t considered…)

Inviato da iPhone

Il giorno 2 nov 2021, alle ore 16:50, Michael Meeropol <mameerop@...> ha scritto:


I wonder if the US might be "re-running" the "long decline" of the British empire (1890s through WW II)??


Roediger, David R
 

See also Julian Go's PATTERNS OF EMPIRE. freedom now, Dave

David Roediger
AMS/University of Kansas

My new book THE SINKING MIDDLE CLASS: A POLITICAL HISTORY is available for order from OR Books at https://www.orbooks.com/catalog/the-sinking-middle-class/




From: marxmail@groups.io <marxmail@groups.io> on behalf of Vladimiro Giacche' via groups.io <vladimiro.giacche@...>
Sent: Tuesday, November 2, 2021 3:45 PM
To: marxmail@groups.io <marxmail@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [marxmail] Why the troubled US Empire could quickly fall apart
 
The dynamics of financialisation of USA compared with the same process that previously took place in Uk is convincingly described here: 

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/232890/the-long-twentieth-century-by-giovanni-arrighi/

(Only remark: the book was written in 1994, and  China isn’t considered…)

Inviato da iPhone

Il giorno 2 nov 2021, alle ore 16:50, Michael Meeropol <mameerop@...> ha scritto:


I wonder if the US might be "re-running" the "long decline" of the British empire (1890s through WW II)??


Farans Kalosar
 

Maybe the ruling-class fairytale of limitless wealth from financialization is the source of the current irrationalism in US politics.  When people draw the usual Augustinian moral conclusion about the fall of America, based on the "fall of Rome" mythos, they seem to miss this. By any moral criterion, the Fall of Rome began when the first ruling-class Roman had sex with an underage slave--that is to say that Rome fell continuously from the beginning of the Republic. It was all the consequence of sin, whisch is fundamentally timeless and unhistorical.--but of course "fascist." Likewise America, which from the lofty perspective of morality. has been falling at least since the first Founding Father had sexual intercourse with a cild slave, with punishment long overdue.  Thomas Jefferson, thus was a "fascist"--just like Julius Caesar, QED.

The current political crisis in the US IMO is not, as the moralists say, one of some Manichean struggle of "good" (American "progressivism") vs.evil ("fascism"), but one of a generalized political rebellion by the right against the notion of governance ("society") itself, currently led by Trumpism.  In many ways this is the direct opposite of fascism, despite the appropriation of fascist rhetoric and symbolism by a few of the crazier Jokers. The goal is not a meticulously regimented corporatist state, but chaos, levaing the strongest jokers to carve up the spoils The mantle of the factitious "individualism" behind this can easily be transferred from one rantipole luftmencsh to another, or to a mysterious sodality of the same (QAnon)--those imbued with the nonsense have short memories, and Trump himself will be forgotten like the hula hoop when he becomes boring.

The political crisis could be upon us if and when the Republican Party of jokers and thugs achieves formal control of the entire federal government, which could easily happen after the 2022 elections--much earlier than predictable on purely economic grounds. 

An important question here in the short term is what the US could or should do--if anything--to fight back against the Jokerist political coup toward which we seem to be hurtling with sickening inevitablity.  This is associated with, but for the time being independent of, the larger question of declining hegemony.  

The one ray of hope for the working class, perhaps, is the current strike wave--which in principle could lead to the formation of a working-class party capable of fighting back against antisocial Jokerism.  At present, however, there is little indication that this is actually happening. There was a bigger strike wave in 2018 and nothing came of that politically. Why should this one be any different?

Not to disrupt the very welcome advanced economic analysis of imperial decline, but only to point out that political and economic factors can operate independently for a time, and that the long-term crisis of American hegemony may not map one to one on the dangerous political situation created by the predictable failure of the Democratic party to accomplish anything politically during the probably brief Biden interregnum.  

OK, finished.


Michael Meeropol
 



On Wed, Nov 3, 2021 at 1:44 PM Farans Kalosar <fkalosar101@...> wrote:


Not to disrupt the very welcome advanced economic analysis of imperial decline, but only to point out that political and economic factors can operate independently for a time, and that the long-term crisis of American hegemony may not map one to one on the dangerous political situation created by the predictable failure of the Democratic party to accomplish anything politically during the probably brief Biden interregnum.  

OK, finished.

MY $.02 response:   I am still not ready to concede that what will come out of Congress (soon?) will be a "predictable failure" --- we are pretty much in uncharted waters with the pandemic and the (short run) economic difficulties of the recovery --- these two bills will pump a HELLUVA lot of money into the economy --- and people will experience it pretty quickly ---

So I am not going to accept that there is an inevitable "predictable failure" -- SURE, there could be --- the corporate Democrats could blow up the whole thing --- but nothing is set in stone --- THEREFORE, fighting to make SOMETHING good happen remains "worth it":--

OK, now I'm finished!