by Danny Haiphong
The fantastically-timed new Census figures showing large income advances, based on recently altered measuring sticks, cannot mask the deep crisis afflicting capitalism and its political parties: the Republicans and Democrats. The decaying economic order produces gross inequalities, mass insecurity, extinction-threatening wars and climate instability, and deepening moral turpitude within the ruling circles. It’s called system meltdown.
System Meltdown: How US Imperialism is Whitewashing Crisis on Multiple Fronts
by Danny Haiphong
“The Democratic Party is sitting on a mountain of lies so big that not even Donald Trump can scare the US electorate into huddling under Clinton's nasty tent.”
It is a busy time for US imperialism. The so-called US-led coalition of imperialist states against ISIS bombed the Syrian army in Deir ez-Zor on September 17th, killing 62 Syrian soldiers and injuring 100 more. A new census report released just prior to the bombing indicated that median income rose by 5.2 percent in the year of 2014-2015, although few people in the US could endorse the gains. And the two-party corporate duopoly saw its crisis of legitimacy worsen, as Hillary Clinton's failing health and a new string of leaked emails has further damaged the image of the Democratic Party nominee. All of these developments signal a system meltdown that the ruling class is desperately trying to cover up.
First, the US-led coalition bombing of the Syrian army in the city of Deir ez-Zor exposed the true character of the five-plus year war on Syria. Immediately after the strikes, ISIS launched an offensive to take the city. This led Russia and Syria to conclude that the US-led coalition was indeed working with ISIS. Of course, the US and its allies that make up the coalition have been funding, arming, and giving air cover to jihadist militants of various stripes since the war began in 2011. But the imperial coalition's targeted bombing of Syrian soldiers is the first of its kind, compelling Russia to call an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the same day.
“The Democratic Party, in concert with the entire imperialist system, is experiencing a crisis so great that not even Obama appears to be able to save it.”
Unlike past provocations, however, the US imperialist state was forced to concede regret for what it labeled an "accident." This was no accident. Each and every US war maneuver in Syria since 2011 has been conducted with the goal to destabilize the Syrian government. Samantha Power made this clear when, in response to the bombing, she blamed Russia's support for the Syrian government as the main culprit of the incident. US imperialism and its allies have been unable to accept that the Syrian army, with help from Russia and China, has made deep advances into jihadist-held territories. In fact, reports from Deir ez-Zor prior to the bombing revealed an imminent victory for the Syrian army over ISIS.
The intervention of Russia in defense of the Syrian government has severely weakened the prospect of regime change. This is why the US has whitewashed the bombing as an "accident." Hillary Clinton, the preferred candidate of the regime change architects, is having troubles of her own. A new string of leaked emails from Republican war-hawk Colin Powell reveal that Clinton has harbored ill feelings of President Obama since the beginning of their political relationship. The emails caught Clinton calling Obama "that man" on numerous occasions. Even worse, Clinton's health has begun to fail directly after her declaration that over half of Trump supporters could be placed in a "basket of deplorables." This label, however true, has found little traction coming from a candidate whose political record could be called far worse things than deplorable.
“Finance capital takes everything while producing nothing and this has only exacerbated the impact of capitalism's periodic cycles of overproduction.”
Clinton's own deplorable character has hurt the Democratic Party's continued viability as the "lesser-evil" wing of the duopoly beast. The Democratic Party, in concert with the entire imperialist system, is experiencing a crisis so great that not even Obama appears to be able to save it. With Clinton now having to explain her disdain for Obama to her own supporters, President Obama himself has worked overtime to rescue the Democratic Party. Obama recently threatened Black voters into supporting Clinton at the Congressional Black Caucus lest they insult the first Black President's legacy. Furthermore, Obama has enthusiastically promoted the income gains reported by the Census Bureau as proof that the US is in the process of recovery from capitalist crisis.
But Obama's efforts have come from a position of weakness, not strength. That's because the Democratic Party is sitting on a mountain of lies so big that not even Donald Trump can scare the US electorate into huddling under Clinton's nasty tent. The claim that the capitalist crisis is on the mend is a complete farce. Not only have census questions on income been altered beginning in 2013 to broaden the assets counted, but also the fall in gas prices from 2014-2015 explain much of the cited gains. There has been little mention of how income has once again dipped for the vast majority of workers in 2016 or that earnings for workers are still below 1999 numbers.
The truth is that US imperialism's capitalist base is incapable of recovery. US imperialism entered a period of stagnation in the 1970s that has yet to end. The decline was precipitated by the affects of technological advances and capital monopolization. These core tenants of capitalism have produced conditions where the value of labor has either been replaced by technology or sped up by it. Without labor, there is no capitalist profit. And the labor participation rate is at an all time low. Corporations have become heavily indebted to finance capital in the process. But finance capital takes everything while producing nothing and this has only exacerbated the impact of capitalism's periodic cycles of overproduction.
“Black Americans have yet to regain what little wealth they possessed prior to the 2008 crisis.”
Working class and poor people have felt the brunt of the crisis. The majority of people in the US cannot afford a 500 dollar emergency. Job creation has been relatively stagnant and any new infusion of jobs into the capitalist economy has come from the low-wage sector. Black Americans and oppressed nationalities have lost their homes in record number. Black Americans have yet to regain what little wealth they possessed prior to the 2008 crisis.
What we are witnessing is a system meltdown, an intractable crisis that is rooted in the logic of imperialism's capitalist base. The crisis has reverberated throughout the system's many vile appendages such as war and the US electoral duopoly charade. Imperialism's response has been simple but ineffective. Its rulers have sought to whitewash every manifestation of crisis and paint a rosy reality for the masses. However, it appears that each day more and more people are coming to realize the depth of imperialism's lies.
The meltdown itself has no pause button. The ruling system must be replaced by another. It must be replaced with a system where social ownership over property is instituted and the oppressed hold state power. The ruling class will not lay down power peacefully. US imperialism is only capable of digging its own grave. Only an organized revolutionary movement can bury it.
Danny Haiphong is an Asian activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be reached at [email protected]