The Empire in Decline: Domestic Instability, Foreign Unity

Nicholas Ayala

BY NICHOLAS AYALA

Right now, the political situation in the United States is at a decisive crossroads. The mainstream political parties are losing their legitimacy as the general population finds both unfavorable. Divisions within both Democrat and Republican parties are coming to the forefront. Most U.S. people fear the threat from each other far more than an economic crisis or foreign threats. Failed coups and color revolutions, coupled with increased isolation, have steadily worn out the empire. The increased concentration of capital into ultra-rich capitalists’ hands in the midst of an economic crisis alongside the stagnation of profits and falling living conditions has exaggerated domestic instability. U.S. imperialism has failed to keep up with these rapid developments.

The Democratic Party faces a split into two different factions: the moderate neoliberals like Joe Biden and the progressive liberals. There lies further division among the progressives, as some believe that social democratic reforms can be accomplished through the Democratic Party and the electoral process. In contrast, others have become disillusioned with progressive politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, and seek to create an independent social democratic party to run in elections.

On the U.S. right, similar divisions are taking shape. The Republican Party is facing a civil war within its own ranks. Much of this ideology’s sentiments, explicit fascism and white supremacy, have long existed in U.S. political discourse, but now we see it emboldened. Donald Trump has successfully managed to win and maintain a notable fraction in the Republican party. Even at his lowest approval rating, a week after the Capitol riots, he maintained a solid 34 percent approval, a number which has been consistent for his four years in office. While this may seem low, it is in fact quite good in comparison to previous Republican presidents. George W. Bush had his lowest approval rating at 25 percent, while his father’s lowest was 29 percent. In fact, we would have to go all the way back to Ronald Reagan to find a Republican president who’s lowest approval rating rivaled that of Trump’s.

Because of the political chaos, new alliances have formed. During the 2020 presidential elections, a group called the Lincoln Project was founded by Republicans who sought to ally with moderate Democrats to defeat Trump and elect Biden. However, the Lincoln Project ads turned out to take a far more hawkish position on foreign policy than Trump, ramping up U.S. militarism and imperialism.

In a similar vein, progressive liberals have sought to build an alliance with the “populist” right to defeat establishment politicians. This alliance between progressives and the far right is dangerous. However, the ultimate goal is not to address imperialism, but to win benefits for the imperial population first and foremost. One example of this was seen very explicitly last month.

Ro Khanna, considered a progressive Democrat, appeared on Laura Ingraham’s show to talk about Trump’s decision to remove half of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan. While Ingraham and Khanna were praised by progressives for spreading an anti-war message in the interview, moderates attacked Khana for appearing on Ingraham’s show. What was missed by both moderates and progressives, however, was that the segment was very much pro-war and pro-U.S. imperialism. Halfway through the interview, Khanna made “clear that he was for the strikes in Afghanistan” under the Trump administration, to which Ingraham agreed. A week after the interview, a U.S. study found that civilians killed by drone strikes under Trump had increased by 330 percent in Afghanistan. So what do we really learn from this interview? It’s not a matter of being anti-war, but being against U.S. soldiers’ loss of life. There was no mention of the high toll that Afghanis had to pay or the destruction of an entire culture and society. Rather, the agreement that the far-right and progressives were able to make was that so long as U.S. lives were not lost, war and imperialism are okay.

There was not a single mention of this abhorrent agreement between Khanna and Ingraham by progressives. Instead, they tried to pass off the interview as a step towards anti-war solidarity. This does not even touch upon the rampant Sinophobia throughout the entire interview, which Khanna was most concerned about. He argued that the U.S. should be investing more in tech and infrastructure, not for the sake of the people, but so that China does not get an advantage over the United States. The far-right-progressive alliance’s dangerous potential is that it leaves no room for a true anti-imperialist position and will leave behind true socialist goals and opt for social imperialism.

Despite the instability and chaos at home, all the rhetoric around unity has truly brought together all sides of the U.S. political spectrum to defend continuing imperialist ventures abroad.

The political chaos and instability in the United States have caused domestic division within the country and the main two political parties. Amongst this division new alliances are formed which are touted as being for the people because they overcome the long-existing partisanship that has divided Republicans and Democrats. In reality, any new political formations in the U.S. will continue the imperialist attacks abroad, while enacting some moderate reforms at home. Whether between centrists or the far-right and social democrats, each alliance represents a different section of bourgeois interests in the capitalist-imperialist empire.

However, in the midst of shifting alliances and ongoing chaos, the empire is weakened and noticeably declined. Failure to even do the bare minimum to care for its own citizens in the midst of a pandemic highlights this reality. In the midst of these crises, we as anti-imperialists can take advantage of the chaos to grow our movement.

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