American Decline

Some Reflections on the Condition of US Politics

Being an anarchist, I have a natural morbid curiosity about the functioning of statecraft. I follow politics in the same way someone might drive very slowly past the scene of some horrific accident so as not to miss the sight of even one mangled limb. But perhaps even more interesting than politics itself is the political reaction of relatively small but loud sectors of the general public. Political junkies are a minority of the US population, about 15-20% by some estimations. Most people fortunately seem to know better. And there are probably more sports junkies and soap opera junkies than political junkies, which is a good thing.

For those of us who (hopefully) strive for a genuinely anti-system stance, it is helpful to understand the mythology and misperceptions that guide so many mainstream political junkies, even so-called “radicals.” The first misconception is that the government of the United States is just another government of just another country, as opposed to its true role as the mother country in a global capitalist empire. The US power elites are the senior partners in the empire, with other supposed “major powers” being either junior partners (UK, France, Germany, Japan) or rebellious provinces (Russia, China). And so-called “rogue states” (Iran, Syria, DPRK) are merely rebel insurgencies or glorified gangs. Americans are primarily cloud minders who do not understand that anyone in the US who is middle class or above in income or living standards is part of the global 1%.

This is reflected in US domestic politics. The most recent election pitted what were essentially two moderate Republicans against each other, with these representing two center-right political parties, both of them on the right end of the center-right. The 1984 election in El Salvador was roughly analogous to the 2020 US election. The ARENA Party (whose platform is very similar to that of the US Republicans) was the ruling party and functioned as a front for the military dictatorship and Salvadoran oligarchy (the so-called “Fourteen Families”). There was another faux populist-nationalist party (like the Trumpists) that was aligned with ARENA on every substantive issue. The faux opposition was the center-right Christian Democrats, another front for the oligarchy that used moderate social democratic rhetoric about token reforms (like the US Democrats) but who were often absurdly accused of “socialism” by their opponents. There were also a number of smaller non-competitive parties that got about 1% of the vote (like the US Greens, Libertarians, etc.). The left-wing opposition represented by the FMLN (which included everything from centrist-liberals to Marxists) was barred from participating (the same way the Democrats rigged the primaries to block mildly reformist candidates like Sanders, Yang, Gabbard, Williamson, Ojeda, etc).

The reality is that the US is a state of unprecedented wealth, military power, and technology but with a Third World political system and class system.

The tribal civil war between the Red Tribe and Blue Tribe is one that takes place largely within the middle class, primarily the upper-middle-class (and therefore within the global 1%).  The “culture war” is not about capitalism vs socialism, much less fascism vs communism, rich vs. poor, or even race. The Red/Blue conflict takes place predominantly though not exclusively within the white middle class. It is essentially a quasi-religious conflict (like the Shia and Sunni in Iraq) representing two distinct religious traditions in historic US culture. The Blue Tribers are the descendants of puritan heresies like Unitarianism, “progressive Christianity,” and the “social gospel” and/or anticlerical traditions like the deistic rationalism of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine. The Red Tribers are the descendants of the traditional American civil religion (see Robert Bellah) and the low church Protestantism associated with the series of “Great Awakenings” that have taken place in US history.

The principal dividing line in all of this is not “race, class, and gender” but education. The Blue Tribers are primarily graduates of universities and graduate schools (i.e. modern seminaries), concentrated in the institutions and occupations most closely associated with managerial liberalism, and who have been brainwashed with managerial liberalism’s faux “social justice” or “progressive” ideology. The Red Tribers tend to have less formal education or be concentrated in occupations like skilled labor and conventional business, which are outside of the “ideas industries” like education, law, media, technology,  and who have been brainwashed with all the other kinds of nonsense (flag-worship, cop-worship, military-worship, Horatio Alger economic mythology, Christian Zionism/dispensationalism, “prosperity gospel,” etc.).

The left/right “extremist” groups that have emerged in recent times like the Proud Boys, Boogaloos, Patriot Prayer, Antifa, “anarcho”-Maoists, campus SJWs, are merely parody/court jester versions of the Red and Blue Tribes. At their most “extreme” these groups are rookie league gangsters who have may 0.5% of the sophistication and intensity of actual gangsters. For instance, the Charlottesville debacle in 2017 was really just a very amateurish gang fight on a slow Saturday afternoon resulting in only three casualties (a pathetic performance by the standards of even minor league organized crime, genuine terrorist, or rebel insurgent groups).

Suffice to say that virtually the entire conventional political spectrum in the USA, from far-left to far-right and everything in between, is comprised of babbling idiots. Even the wave of uprisings that have taken place this year has been comparatively mild (very much so) by world-historical standards. With the honorable exception of the actual lumpenproletarian insurgence that occurred during the initial waves of rioting (which involved direct expropriation of ruling class resources and assaults on state outposts), the “insurrections” amounted to brawls between rogue cops, conventional middle-class protestors, exaggerated sports rioters, opportunistic Marxist-wannabes, and far-left/far-right court jesters, which the ruling class found to be so non-threatening the military-industrial complex vetoed Trump’s wishes to send out the regular armed forces in response, and instead only allowed him to use the DHS as glorified rent-a-pigs. The entire wave of riots probably generated less than a few dozen casualties. Once again, extraordinarily light by world-historical standards.

A vast range of economic, technological, cultural, demographic, generational, and political changes have taken place in the USA over the past few decades, and the impact of these is now becoming increasingly obvious. Instead of being the kind of genteel, middle-class society Americans were during the period between the end of World War Two and the end of the Cold War, American society is becoming “normalized” once again, and with “normal” levels of social stratification, social conflict, violence, corruption, institutional incompetence, and clown show/freak show leaders, which is the way things work in most countries, and the way it was in most societies throughout history. Nothing new under the sun.

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