The most powerful wing of our capitalist ruling class—that being the one based within finance capital, which has come to primarily invest itself in the Democratic Party—is in danger of losing its ability to neutralize opposition towards its pro-NATO policy model. This threat towards the liberal order has been present for many years now, and a big reason why the liberal order remains intact despite that is how weak the communist movement has for so long been; the primary recent internal challenges to NATO have come from right-wing populists like Trump, who finance capital was able to pressure into adopting pro-NATO policies. It did this by fabricating a scandal about Russia having conspired with the Trump campaign to interfere in the 2016 election; then using continuous media attacks to get the Trump White House to try to prove itself as being sufficiently pro-war.
The important part was to keep up the “Trump is Putin’s puppet” narrative even after Trump had already shown himself to be a more recklessly anti-Russian president than Obama. That made sure he wouldn’t adopt a more independent foreign policy model, and destabilize the empire. This process of assimilating an outsider into the neocon establishment proved easier than Trump’s antiwar supporters had wanted to believe it would be; it’s now clear that Trump is a traditional conservative who uses the Bonapartist strategy of setting up small capital against big capital.
Finance capital was able to maintain liberalism’s dominance through 2020 by policing the primaries; it used the intelligence agencies to interfere in the election, putting out politically motivated statements about Sanders supposedly having been aided by Russia. This was a continuation of a series of psyops that these agencies had already been carrying out, psyops that had the goal of preparing the people for a failed election. They were warning of alleged cyber threats from Russia, China, and Iran, simultaneously associating all counter-hegemonic voices with foreign schemes and shifting blame away from our dysfunctional electoral system. The narrative managers are of course now doing the same thing in anticipation of the 2024 election, but now their task is more urgent; now if they don’t sufficiently propagate the idea that foreign powers are behind all illiberal political forces, NATO could be destroyed.
This great new risk is the cost of finance capital’s decision to have the U.S. start backing Ukraine even more solidly after Biden’s inauguration; because the Kiev fascist regime was enabled to intensify its attacks against the Russian-speakers in the east, Russia was forced to intervene. And naturally, the Biden administration has refused all of Russia’s offerings for peace talks since then, making NATO’s power at the same time greater and more brittle. All the strength that NATO has gained due to the Ukraine conflict can only last as long as each of its most important members stay committed to an ever-more absurd and destructive endeavor.
The primary goal behind Washington’s instigating the Ukraine conflict wasn’t to make money for arms contractors; it was to subdue China by destabilizing Russia, the PRC’s great strategic ally. Now that Russia’s economy has continued to grow amid the sanctions; and the Russian-Chinese partnership has been strengthened following BRI progress which Russia’s actions have aided; it’s undeniable that the war has harmed the U.S. empire more than helped it. For this reason, the smaller, industrial side of American capital increasingly wants the USA to abandon Ukraine.
The neocon commentators are articulating anxiety that the Republicans will come to forsake NATO should they get back into power; which, as we saw with the Trump presidency, is an outcome that finance capital can avoid via a psyop designed to manipulate the executive branch’s decisions. The obvious way the intelligence agencies and the Democrats will try to do this is by putting forth assertions about Russia interfering in the 2024 election. Where they could go further this time, though, is by also using these interference claims as a pretext for repressing anti-liberal forces to an extent we haven’t yet witnessed.
We could see a false flag designed to justify an unprecedented campaign of raids and indictments, directed at the individuals and organizations which represent a threat towards the empire’s war operations. This could potentially involve the passage of the RESTRICT act, which is only dormant for the moment and simply needs more perceived justification to be able to get through. But that may have to involve targeting the civil libertarian senators, which would be a complicated project; so the state could attempt to bypass implementing RESTRICT in its project to crush dissent.
The state can already indict anybody on foreign interference charges at any time, Uhuru’s persecution has shown this. The only reason the DOJ hasn’t so far indicted more anti-imperialist groups is because the DOJ relies on being viewed as acting consistently with liberalism’s stated principles. What it’s missing is a narrative that can make it look to most like everyone who’s seriously challenging imperialism is an enemy of “freedom” “democracy,” being used by “fascist” Russia to destroy our precious bourgeois institutions.
Russiagate got many Americans to embrace this paranoid mindset, where everyone who opposes imperialism’s narratives is seen as an agent of an enemy abroad. But it still only did this to the minds of a minority of them; it’s exclusively the liberals who’ve come to have derangement when it comes to Russia, and therefore who can accept the idea that the entire anti-imperialist movement must be suppressed in order to “save our democracy.” And that’s the big obstacle which finance capital is being confronted with: it can’t inculcate its anti-Russian worldview among a majority of Americans. At most it can get a majority to accept particular anti-Russian psyops, but only for a moment, as we’ve seen with the recent surveys showing most Americans now dislike the idea of sending more aid to Ukraine. It can’t turn most of the people, especially the workers, towards the same mindset as the materially comfortable liberals.
This limit upon the power of finance capital’s psyops is going to become apparent whenever the next “foreign interference” false flag happens. The side of industrial capital is willing even to defend communists from accusations of Russian conspiracy, as we’ve seen with Tucker Carlson’s speaking out against the Uhuru indictments. This shared interest between Marxists and many right-leaning people in countering finance capital’s most important schemes is why plenty of former libertarians, and even Trump voters, have been coming to Marxism.
Purely in terms of the narrative resistance against liberal fascist repression, that anti-liberal ideological overlap represents an advantage for revolutionaries; it’s unrealistic that most of the country will uncritically believe the stories which finance capital uses to justify the next wave of repression. Too many Americans across the ideological spectrum have at least a proto-class consciousness that lets them notice the warning signs for a false flag, especially when that false flag exists specifically as a pretext for destroying democratic freedoms.
Given this reality that a majority of the people share an interest in stopping liberal fascism and its assaults upon free assembly; and are capable of recognizing this shared interest; finance capital has one option: carry out an anti-popular psyop. A psyop designed to justify pushing all anti-liberal forces out from our discourse, organizing spaces, and government, whether through censorship, gangstalking harassment, or legal persecution; then portray this coup as acceptable by demonizing all anti-liberal politics (even communist politics) as “fascist.” We don’t need an anti-trans fascist like DeSantis to become president in order for “it” to happen here; we only need our existing liberal paradigm to go unchallenged, and carry out a purge of dissenting voices under the guise of “fighting fascism.”
This “accuse your enemies of that which you’re guilty” strategy has always defined the war against the anti-imperialist movement, but it can only intensify as our capitalist crisis intensifies. The only way finance capital can hope to save NATO is by accelerating the process of deplatformings, cancellations, and repression which has already been occurring throughout the new cold war. And the only way it can gain a sufficient narrative pretext for this unprecedented assault is by successfully marketing the narrative that each person or group who it targets is nothing more than a reactionary who deserves to be destroyed.
As Marxists, we need to resist these psyops by discerning when this “reactionary” label gets directed at someone who’s actually one of our fellow Marxists; as well as when the state’s attacking people we don’t like is going to be used as a precedent for the state to attack us. On principle, we should never support censorship or prosecution of someone on the basis of their challenging imperialism, or other activities which are clearly protected under the First Amendment. And we should recognize that those outside the “left” niche can absolutely be brought towards Marxism, or at least worked with on resisting U.S. hegemony. When we prioritize anti-imperialism, which is at this stage the most impactful issue within the class struggle, we maximize the extent to which we can advance the class struggle.
By Rainer Shea
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