I’ve been writing for a while about how you can’t run an empire with a neoliberal economy, but the contradictions can be overwhelming. As the late Mark Fisher wrote about neoliberalism –“It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”.
People think our rulers have some grand conspiracy to create a dystopia where they can force us all to do as they wish, not realizing that we’re already in a soft-dystopia. What we have right now is not democracy. It is oligarchical tyranny: the rule of the few over the many.
The problem with this arrangement is that our feral elite have been running our country terribly. They have operated the economy for the 1% repeatedly, have completely monetized climate change and ecological collapse, have made the middle and working classes poor and the rich richer. As Caitlin Johnstone writes–“So many emerging technologies would be cause for celebration if our rulers weren’t so damn evil and our systems weren’t so damn oppressive. In a healthy society we’d be celebrating automation and AI giving us more and more abundance and free time; instead we’re terrified of police robots and technocratic dystopia.”
If that’s not bad enough, Jeff Bezos, who more and more resembles a Bond villain, wants to ship humans off of earth to live in floating cylinders in space.
So we have that to look forward to.
Thankfully the world is going through a momentous transition period as economists Michael Hudson and Radhika Desai detail in a must read discourse on the end of neoliberalism and the emerging multipolar world. The upshot is that the geopolitical consequences over the last year have been enormous, even transformational. This ongoing global transition is as much economic as political, with the reigning neoliberal international institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank now facing a severe financial challenge from their newly established counterparts aligned with China.
Soon after the outbreak of the Ukraine War, the eminent historian Alfred McCoy argued that we were witnessing the geopolitical birth of a new world order, one built around a Russia-China alliance that would dominate the Eurasian landmass.
One of the first things the geniuses who manage the US national-security-state did was to block and eventually confiscate Russia’s 300 billion dollars-worth of foreign reserves in banks in the US and Europe. That sent a shock wave across currency markets all around the world. Biden and Yellen had weaponized the US’s own national currency, which hitherto had been an untouchable step in international relations for nations that were not actually at war. Since World War II one of the central pillars of global American dominance has been the status of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency and our associated control over the international banking system. Until recently we always presented our role as neutral and administrative, but we have increasingly begun weaponizing that power, using our position to punish those states we disliked, and this is naturally forcing other countries to seek alternatives.
For instance, Saudi Arabia—the linchpin of the petrodollar system—is openly agreeing not to sell its oil exclusively in US dollars. It signals an imminent and enormous change for anyone holding US dollars. The implications are enormous, as the WSJ states. “The Saudi move could chip away at the supremacy of the US dollar in the international financial system, which Washington has relied on for decades to print Treasury bills it uses to finance its budget deficit.”
Instead of endless warfare and chaos, Russia and China are engaging in diplomacy. All these diplomatic moves in such a short time are almost dizzying. They were opened up by China’s masterful initiative with Iran and Saudi Arabia helping bring the war in Yemen to a close. Meanwhile, Russia has brought Syria and Turkey into negotiations. All of these actions are designed to bring stability and peace to the region which the developing nations there desperately need if they are to move forward. And that development can help the economies of the world.
Of course, the neocons are not amused with this outbreak of peace and reconciliation. It’s divide and rule, bitches! In fact, you might be among those who have noticed that the people in authority in our country appear insane. But maybe that’s going to turn out to be a good thing because they’re also the gang that can’t shoot straight. It’s almost comical in that neocon blunders have now produced an entirely different correlation of forces, one so unfavorable to our own country that any armed conflict has become much less likely.
In essence, the neocons have pursued a policy of forcing China and Russia into a new multi-lateral power center, effectively challenging American hegemony. I pretty sure that that’s not what they were going for. Meanwhile, it’s causing a lot of angst across the whole sweep of national security, political and media elite as the outlines of this transformation become apparent.
Many American find the end of empire to be a cause for concern but their patriotism is misplaced. Instead of democracy and freedom, US foreign policy, in practice, has meant the neocon strategy of maintaining U.S. global hegemony through aggressive projections of military and sanctions power. Permanent war is government policy with military bases, CIA and special forces all over the world but they hardly make Americans safer. The empire doesn’t work for average Americans. It works for Wall Street. Like Michael Hudson states repeatedly–every economy is planned, it just depends on who gets to plan it. Same with the American empire. Is it we the people, through our elected representatives? Or is it Wall Street?
I’m pretty sure you know the answer.
It’s a similar dynamic with the corporate media. Their real mission, that we can deduce from their behavior, is that they too work for Wall Street. They don’t work to inform you. They serve to obfuscate and propagandize, and lately to police discourse on the revelations from the Discord leaks, even acting as the actual police in pursuit of the leaker. Even worse, the corporate media’s non-stop rah, rah patriotic bullshit is a major reason why Americans are so misinformed about the American empire.
I stated at the outset that there are contradictions inherent with the US empire running neoliberalism as its economic operating system but neoliberalism and the US empire are so intertwined that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. The upshot is that the end of neoliberalism will mean the end of empire and vice versa.