USA: Hate And Fury
Above photo: Redfish.
The streets of the US are burning. Demonstrations by armed Trump supporters pressing for the opening of the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic have been replaced by protests for the umpteenth police murder of an African American citizen, in this case George Floyd. The reaction is reminiscent of the days of hate and fury that broke out in Los Angeles in 1992 after the acquittal of the police officers who had beaten Rodney King a year earlier. Just two examples of the many that could be used, both recent and old, that demonstrates that American democracy has great difficulties applying within the country what it demands from other countries outside its borders, those that they declare war on for their alleged violation of human rights.
But we know that these demands and blackmails are only an excuse to hide and excuse imperialism, that is, the international expansion of an increasingly oligopolistic capitalism. An excuse so repeated and worn out that we might think that everyone realizes the lies it hides, like those who get to watch the magician who repeats a bad trick while revealing its deception. The USA told us that it went to Afghanistan to free the Afghans from the Taliban and, incidentally, avenge the attacks of September 11, 2001; the USA invaded Iraq in the name of democracy; the USA blockaded Cuba under the defense of the “free world”; or, in more recent times, the US sanctions and threats against Bolivarian Venezuela for electing a president that they allege to be a “narco-dictator” that violates the human rights of the people. The examples could go on because the list of countries invaded, bombed, or looted by the US in its “democratic crusade” covers practically the entire globe.
It is noteworthy that, in all cases, the discourse on the liberation of people around the world and the defense of a model of liberal democracy, inseparable from capitalism, has been at the center of its justification. It is especially so in these moments that the US faces at home, once again, the rejection it finds when its troops are deployed in those countries that it says it is going to liberate. Outside, few believe the saving will come from the US Government (whatever this may be), but what is unique is that American society, especially the younger generations, no longer believe in its political establishment and, less and less, in its economic system. The majority of this new generation who supported Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and his defense of some socialist ideals, or the surveys that show that among young Democrats there is a more positive vision of socialism than of capitalism, are just two examples.
Donald Trump came to the Presidency trying to present himself as an outsider, but after almost four years in the White House and despite his clashes with the Deep State, no one can deny that Trump is an integral part of the “American establishment.” He did not come to destroy the democracy made in USA or capitalism, but to save them, in his own way. Only the clueless, those who don’t know the history of the United States or the naive that may believe that American democracy went into crisis because of Trump. He is not the problem but the expression of a sick system that, in search of its salvation, can accelerate its implosion. The USA has been facing a hegemonic decline, that is, a progressive collapse as an empire, for decades. This is a fact recognized by the American establishment itself. Trump himself and his Make America Great Again campaign were an acknowledgment of America’s loss of centrality in the world economy. With the management of the coronavirus, the USA has shown to the world that it has lost not only economic but also moral leadership.
When Trump decides to put the economy before human lives in the midst of the pandemic, he does not go against the system but represents the capital interests on how to face the crisis. Furthermore, by assuming at the outset the inevitability of a certain number of pandemic victims, it showed how the workforce is substitutable and economic freedoms must be above any human consideration, a whole paragon of capitalist values from the White House is nothing new. The coronavirus has shown that the freedom of health corporations that profit from health comes before the right to universal public health; that the freedom of the enrichment of the insurers comes before the lives of the people and the medical criteria; that “free market” speculation should not be interfered with by state action and thus a long etcetera of capitalistic principles that Trump openly defends. The fact that a disproportionate number of those killed by COVID-19 are African-American or Hispanic should not surprise us, therefore, in a country that, behind the talk of freedom, hides bleeding inequalities linked to the paradoxical lack of freedom to choose where one is born. This “freedom” puts you in one place or another in the class structure and in the case of American society, translates into a social hierarchy still very determined by racial origin.
It should not be forgotten that structural racism is inseparable from the very origin of the United States as a country of settlers that devastated the Native American population and, subsequently, made use of slave labor of those of African origin to cement its incipient development. To become a power, in addition to applying a rather questionable liberalism from the outside, the United States for decades has been taking advantage of a migrant labor force that it uses conveniently, both in the worst tasks and in the most outstanding ones (recruiting the best talent from around the world). But, in addition, it atrociously exploits and treats its black citizens in the most humiliating way because the divide and rule serves capitalism. Replacing Trump by voting for Joe Biden, as happened before with Barack Obama, will not solve racism or inequality in American society. It also won’t stop the class war against the poor, whether they are Americans or foreigners. Whoever rules, the military-industrial complex will continue to command.
The hope is that, as in other historical moments, many things are moving among the grassroots of American society, even if we do not pay attention to them if they are not expressed with fire, hate or fury. Today, events such as the murder of Floyd are the spark that ignites social and political discontent that comes from afar but has also been exacerbated by the pandemic. The highly indebted American university youth, with no prospects for a future job, like millions who could not even get into debt to study, are protesting these days on the streets of dozens of cities in the country. The nightmare of the ruling class, the union of the struggle for black rights with the struggle of the white (and non-white) working class, according to Howard Zinn, may end up being a reality. The coming recession will exacerbate the brutal impact the coronavirus is already having on the labor market, which may increase discontent. In any self-respecting democracy, it has to find a way to express itself, but the criminalization of social protests, or the demonization of the anti-fascist movement in the context of global reemergence of the extreme right, does not help to find a solution in the current framework of the existing liberal democracy. Only time will tell if this combination of economic, political, health crisis and racial protests can help accelerate events. It will also say whether the system is going to allow the accumulated hatred and fury to be channeled into a political project of real transformation or if is going to continue preventing it, even betting on arsonists who add fuel to the fire. Whatever they do, their own survival is at stake.