“American exceptionalism is rooted in the fairy-tale belief of racial superiority, of which American exceptionalism is a national and imperial expression.”
Last weekend’s convening of the G7 marked another embarrassing moment for the US imperialist orbit in the age of Trump. A “war of words” (as BBC called it) emerged between arch-racist Donald Trump and Canadian President and neo-liberal racist Justin Trudeau. Trump promised to enact tariffs on Canadian and European imports, reaffirming his campaign promise to get “tough” on trade. He also refused to endorse the joint communique produced by the other six largest capitalist nations on the planet during the meeting. A photo went viral of Trump and Angela Merklethat perfectly encapsulated the public relations disaster that was this year’s G7 gathering. The photo was a snapshot into the crumbling legitimacy of the G7 countries and their inability to find solutions to a systemic crisis that they themselves have created.
The joint communique of the G7 may have been without the endorsement of the US president, but it did not deviate from US imperial policy regarding Russia. After hundreds of empty and predictable words about job growth, investment, and women’s empowerment, the statement condemned Russia for its “destabilizing behavior”and reaffirmed faulty claims that Russian intelligence poisoned the recovering Sergei Skripal in the UK. The G7’s harsh and provocative words toward Russia were in part a response to Trump’s suggestion that Russia be allowed to rejoin the G7 club of capitalist war-mongers. After all, Trump reminded, Russia was a member of the club just four years ago.
“The meeting in China contrasted mightily from the turmoil of the imperialist-bloc’s G7 summit.”
As the imperialist countries bickered about global trade and war with Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping led the convening of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in China. The summit contrasted mightily from the turmoil of the imperialist-bloc’s G7 summit.China welcomed the addition of Pakistan and India into the organization as full members. Discussions of “open” and “mutual” global trade arrangements characterized the summit as participating nations planned development projects geared toward strengthening the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese-led Belt and Road initiative. According to the People’s Daily, trade agreements between Russia and China for this year alone are projected to be worth 100 billion USD.
Growing cooperation between Russia and China is a sign that China’s planned economy is on the rise. This is something that US imperialism cannot accept. US imperialism depends on the projection that it is theforce for good in the world. US imperialism enforces projections of superiority and exceptionalism through the imposition of a regime of parasitic finance and endless war on any nation that dares challenge its hegemony. Ideologically, projections of exceptionalism can be heard repeatedly from the empire’s corporate media apparatus.
“China’s planned economy exposes the ways in which American exceptionalism is nothing more than fake news.”
Black Agenda contributor and supporter Roberto Sirvent and I take on these projections in our upcoming book titled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: The Fake News of US Empire.We argue that the US empire’s incessant need to indoctrinate its inhabitants with feelings of pride in the American nation is a product of its white supremacist and capitalist roots. These roots can be traced back to the US settler state’s genocide of indigenous people and the enslavement of Africans. We then follow the development of US capitalism and imperialism to their more modern manifestations in our discussion of “free speech,” the Black Lives Matter movement, and the politics of inclusion that led to the election of Barack Obama.
What I realized while writing this book is that the rise of China challenges the ideology of American exceptionalism on terms that are out of the empire’s grasp. In other words, China’s planned economy is not only structurally antagonistic to the US empire’s profit-driven mode of development, but also exposes the ways in which American exceptionalism is nothing more than fake news. A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO)has found that newborns in China can now expect to live more healthy years than newborns in the US. This number captures the fact that while China’s planned economy is on the rise, US imperialism is on the decline. China has exposed the unexceptional condition of US imperialism for all to see.
“While China’s planned economy is on the rise, US imperialism is on the decline.”
Our book adds to China’s contribution in exposing American exceptionalism for what it is: an ideology that promotes empire, capitalism, and white supremacy at the expense of the oppressed and the downtrodden. While our book doesn’t have a chapter that centers on China, the market socialist nation provides a helpful guide in deconstructing the “fake news” of American exceptionalism throughout the book. Dozens of nations in the Global South are looking to China for economic development after suffering decades, if not centuries, of US and Western-imposed poverty and underdevelopment. China’s market socialist economy grows at a rate of seven percent per yearwhile the US capitalist economy is lucky when it grows at a rate of two percent. China provides billions of dollars of infrastructure development to Asia, Africa, and Latin America while the US offers little more than trillions of dollars of predatory financial schemes and military occupation. These critical differences between the US and China explain why many economists view China’s economy as larger than the US in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) and predict that China will surpass the US capitalist economy entirely by 2030.
“China provides billions of dollars of infrastructure development to Asia, Africa, and Latin America while the US offers little more than trillions of dollars of predatory financial schemes and military occupation.”
However, the “fake news” of American exceptionalism becomes even more apparent when one compares the domestic conditions of both nations. US imperialism leads the world in prisons population and healthcare expenditure while China leads the world in poverty reduction and has extended its healthcare system to cover 1.3 billion of its inhabitants.Roughly 30 million people in Chinalive below the national poverty line in a nation of 1.4 billion while over 45 million people in the US live under the national poverty line in a nation of 300 million. While China has been planning its socialist economy to eradicate poverty all together, US imperialism has followed the anarchy of capitalist production to its inevitable conclusions of austerity and privatization. In other words, Chinese socialism has something to offer the planet, while US imperialism has nothing to offer unless your name is Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Jeff Bezos.
US imperialism is on the decline and so too are the living standards of most Americans. Yet most people in the US are searching for change within the confines of the American imperial project without an understanding that a fundamental aspect of American exceptionalism is white supremacy. White supremacy is not rooted in science. It is rooted in the fairy-tale belief of racial superiority, of which American exceptionalism is a national and imperial expression. There never has been a period when one could consider the US an exceptional nation for anyone but the rich. The “otherization” and dehumanization of Black people, indigenous people, poor people, and people abroad has been universalized in the nationalistic values represented in the American flag.
“While China has been planning its socialist economy to eradicate poverty all together, US imperialism has followed the anarchy of capitalist production to its inevitable conclusions of austerity and privatization.”
These values of American exceptionalism have always applied exclusively to the slave master, the property owner, and the wealthy capitalist with dire consequences for oppressed people living under the regimes of white supremacy and imperialism. It is no different today. However, what is different today is that the system supported by American exceptionalism is in decline. China is a reminder that the world does not have to decline with the US imperialism. It can seek another path of development, one that doesn’t come with the same economic, environmental, and military risks that ultimately lead to planetary annihilation.
This year’s G-7 and the China-led SCO demonstrate the diametrically opposed trajectories of China and the United States. Put simply, US imperialism is divided, hobbled, and without options for growth and development that benefit anyone but the rich and wealthy. China, on the other hand, is unified around the common goal of ending poverty and backwardness both on the mainland and the world. We can expect that US imperialism will not allow this trend to continue unabated without attempting to further escalate its constant threats of war with China. We should thus celebrate the disintegration of the G7, support China’s planned economy and its global initiatives, and look for ways to build solidarity with the People’s Republic. This will strengthen our efforts to expose American exceptionalism as “fake news” and develop “real news” and real alternatives to the parasitic system of imperialism.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the forthcoming book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: The Fake News of US Empire (Skyhorse Publishing). He can be reached at [email protected]