Fanon, Cesaire, and Genet talked about Naziism as a kind of colonialism come home to its internal areas. The first 2 also discussed the fortress as metaphor. I think it’s interesting how the reactionary, paleocon, alt rite, petro authoritarian etc fit into this
Latour argues that climate denialism is premised on the fact that those who do so know it’s real, and that what they’re doing is setting up a situation for a mad dash to collect the spoils when the world burns.
Others have pointed out how much of this, combined with rising right wing movements, is setting the basis for exterminationism (in more than one place the necessary conditions are basically there), & tho it is often mis used, the worry of one day ecofascism taking hold is real
I know it’s cringe to cite this, but Matt from Chapo (someone who, inside his 1 wheelhouse can be insightful) was talking about the response to empire in the context of conspiracy & anti war, & how a portion of the right wants expansive empire to end, & instead retrench
He contrasted this with the paths the social democracies in Europe took, where they ceased their expansionism, but then quietly maintained their remaining imperial & colonial tendrils to fund their meager welfare states.
Christian Parenti, the vastly more perceptive son of Michael, wrote a book called ‘Tropic of Chaos’ about climate militarization, and how discourse about, say, collapse & mass movements of people is used as pre text to cause those to happen through militarization
This is, by the way, why groups like Extinction Rebellion talking about ‘mass immigration’ & social breakdown (i forget their exact words) are so dangerous, as are liberal/free market environmentalist, ecomodernist & Malthusian discussions of population.
The coherence of this with the pestilential & criminal language, the way Trump, and other fascists, discuss their sacrifice populations, is truly spine chilling. Whether from the US/Can/UK to Israel to India to Japan to Brazil (interesting that 4 of these are chief exttactivists)
What’s also interesting is how astute some thinkers—like Mike Davis, Christian Parenti, Wendy Brown, Fred Moten, Jackie Wang and to an extent David Harvey & Naomi Klein, have been.
I also think of Reece Jones, Anna Tsing, Traci Voyles, Rob Nixon, Harvey Molotch, James Scott, Al McCoy, Frank Wilderson, S Federici, A Malm, J Moore, J.B. Foster, T Mitchell, P Shulman, G Gonzales, T Morton & others who have provided deep insights & theories on aspects of this
I should have included Al McCoy in the first of these last 2 tweets, bc his ‘in the shadow of American empire’ is very perceptive on the key issues at hand here.
And to cite, in cringe manner, another podcast of relevance, there’s the War Nerd whose stuff on the geopolitics of the Persian Gulf, esp in light of recent asymmetric drone usage against oil, are spot on.!
Also Didier Fassin, Lois Wacquant, Philippe Bourgois, J & J Comaroff, Angela Davis, K Williams, P Gelderloos have provided excellent work on policing, surveillance, the carceral state, and its relationship to primitive accumulation, sacrifice zones, biopolitics & extraction
Suffice it to say, I do not know if they would use those terms but yeah. Finally there’s the work of a motley group of G Agamben, O Patterson, J Sexton, S Hartman, (I’ve mentioned Moten & Wilderson), G Horne, as well as E Baptist, S Beckert, M Ruef, DR Berry & C Rosenthal
I’d also add Julia Hell who I just read, and, at the risk of alienating some non arbitrary segment of my followers, Tiqqun, Crimethinc, Guy Standing, G Dauve, A Grubabcic, Ruivenkamp & Hilton, the Endnotes Collective, Commune Mag, who have made many similar insights.
I couldn’t complete my discussion without C Trumbers article on land, as well as those who focus on land/ecology in econ (Gaffney, Daly, Hahnel) & those who theorize power, capital & value in relevant manners (Postone, Nitzan & Bichler, M Dupont, and others)
This isn’t meant as just a list for no reason—for those familiar with these authors it’s meant as a sketch of what i want to say, while otherwise it’s meant as a kind of loose citation & suggestion for further reading.
But basically, altho there are several distinct threads,what we are seeing is the collaboration of certain elements of left (unwittingly largely), w liberal Malthusians, reactionaries, petrocapitalists, and others to turn the US into fortress America & the world as sacrifice zone
Indeed, the behavior of some states—US, UK, Canada, Australia, India, Brazil, etc—seems primarily explicable as an attempt to their countries into giant fortresses, and the rest of the world into sacrifice zones (with internal sacrifice zones & people as well)
Expansive empire, based on air or sea, seems to be in its twilight (tho many have said so before and I’m fully willing to eat shit on it—I’m no Nostradamus), albeit for different reasons. Intensive empire however is growing.
The air empire thesis I get from McCoy, whose predictions have been pretty robust, and also implicitly from those like Pape, the COIN lit & so on. Basically it’s a very difficult model to maintain.
At the end of the day, short of nuclear strike, which, prior to recently was less thinkable, air power can’t really control Pops. What it does is terrorize, murder, destroy, humiliate, enrage, and take revenge. It can work as threat against a state or military, but
Where the state & military are weak (or, conversely strongly enough to resist), or where the opposed side is more akin to insurgency, insurrection, terrorism, riots, criminal orgs, or collapsed factions, there’s no much it can do.
The way to think about this is that terrorism (meant tactically not morally), insurgency, ‘failed states’ , criminal orgs, are the kind that do not depend on official power, and are often born in low tech, already destroyed infrastructural situations
Their decentralized diffuse nature among the population means there’s few concentrated targets (and that attacks will only earn sympathy for the org), and since the infrastucture ks destroyed already, bombing schools, factories, bridges, kills & destroys but does not defeat
The world has basically bifurcated into 4 or 5 types of states relative to this—those allied to the empires (or the empires themselves), states too powerful to fight head on, states characterized by the collapse/insurgency, middle powers & extracticist hubs
The gulf states wouldn’t win (tho it could be stale mate), a prolonged military engagement with the western client states (Turkey, Israel, etc) let alone against the imperial armies themselves, so they leverage their political capital & fossil capital.
My categories overlap, by the way, just to be clear. Norway is a middle power, allied to empire, and a petrostate. iraq was a purposefully destroyed state & a petrostate. Nigeria & Indonesia are middle powers, extractive but are mixed in their alliances.
Yeah, nvm, just throw out my typology, lol. It’s fine as an impressionistic label, but I’ve already decided it obfuscates way too much. lmao—this is the YNC thot process in action.
But anyway, as McCoy points out in the case of the axial Eurasian Powers, and as others have for Russia & Iran, etc, the US’ simply could not, short of nuclear confrontation, win that war with AirPower, but a conventional one would be nigh but impossible.
The US increasingly develops more expensive, more murderous, more precise technology, and yet is thwarted by low tech drones & fighters. And it’s air strikes & terror campaigns collapse states but create new orgs ranging from left wing guerillas (good) to Daeshs (bad)
Somehow, the fact that the US surveillance, natsec, intelligence, special ops teams, and Air Force apparatus, can terrifyingly locate & kill basically anyone or any physical institution in under 2 hours, doesn’t guarantee its hegemony forever.
So, depending on so called soft power (punditry, academia, media, entertainment, culture, information), on infrastructure/ICT/high tech (technology, finance, high tech, internet infrastructure, logistical dominance, surveillance), and legal & extra legal means
(Such as diplomacy, alliances, shared bases, global orgs such as IMF/World Bank, Natsec, law enforcement, intelligence, wet works. Etc) and Air Power, nuclear threat, and tactical/special ops style shit (as well as mercenaries & contractors) may not be enough
It is geographically isolated & defined such that it will never be invaded, it is hard to bomb, and no foreign army could fully control it, but that’s hardly a basis for empire.
In conventional terms—population, natural resources, infrastructure, industrial output, trade dominance, technology, weaponry, troops, naval supremacy, army supremacy, territory, economy, etc—the US is nominally the ‘best’ or in the top ten
But note that we’re declining relatively—other countries blow the US out of the water in territory, geography, population, etc—it’s absolute GDP is no longer 1, & it’s resource, industry, infrastructure, & state capacity declines relatively & absolutely by the year.
Never mind that the navy knows that in any real battle with a naval enemy, especially in Eurasia, that its forward operating bases could be obliterated before the full naval forward command even gets there in sufficient numbers (let alone putting army troops on the ground)
Some counties are fortresses in other senses—China, Russia, somewhat India, Iran, arguably DPRK, much of Central Asia, to which naval & ground troop access is stymied by distance, size, geography & military power.
In effect, the power of the conventional US military largely depends on it never having to be fully deployed. In the Americas it’s obviously different, and that’s why US hegemony in Central, South & Caribbean America has been so persistent (albeit with many fissures)
Even among hawks,reactionaries & neolibs, excepting the most bellicose neocons & generals, the US is, on top of this, simply unwilling, politically, culturally, practically,& economically, to deploy ground troops in sufficient numbers to do true COIN occupation & control
As such, the bulk of our military & naval bases around the world, are, in many ways, a deterrent, a way to force alliance (countries with them are at risk), a place to store missiles & planes, logistical hubs, ops bases for intelligence/wetwork/surveillance, & refueling stations
The premise here is that militarily speaking, the use of the air force, joint operations of special ops teams (JSOC, Marines, etc), intelligence, surveillance, espionage/interference, indiscriminate bombing, psych warfare, & diplomacy will suffice .
The other main hope is that it never comes to that, inasmuch as the use of financial power, economic centrality, trade/industry etc, technoscience, sanctions, protectionism, diplomatic ties, control over key infrastructure esp ICT, & use of multilateral orgs will suffice.
As I said, industrial output, raw material extraction, and trade dominance have been waning for years, and,slowly but surely, dominance in technology, science, culture, entertainment, media & information has been slowing, Alternative multi-lateral orgs compete w the US'
Control over information, ICT, space/aerospace, and Infrastructure can only do so much, and that is also being eroded by EU, India, China, Russia, etc. Surveillance & digital control can't substitute for human intelligence or bodies on the ground.
The US' combined use of economic power, finance global diplomatic power, trade, intervention, espionage, overthrow, wet works, threat of actual attack & so on, still works in many cases; coups still happen. But, then look at Russia, Iran, DPRK, Cuba & Venezuela.
These places are becoming or already have become, slowly but surely, in a sense, protected from these policies. Sanctions on Iran have been there so long that they have an economy that is no longer paralyzed by sanctions, ditto Russia, Cuba, etc.
Finally, the network of air power, joint ops, special ops, diplomacy, logistics, infrastructure, ICT, intelligence, surveillance, soft power, etc, depends on:
1. alliances
2. infrastructure
3. financial
4. nominal full spectrum dominance
5. growing economy
6. domestic stability
And, even more so,depends on it being an unbroken chain, surrounding the whole world. Unless the US military & intelligence forces have the capacity to drop bombs or special ops teams anywhere in the world very quickly, the whole thing starts to erode.
Our alliances will hold as long as the rest does, and in some cases, long after, but they're not unconditional or immortal. Our infrastructural & info dominance is declining & being undercut. The economies growth potential has been slowing for years
Domestic stability is deteriorating, though, it's not necessarily doing it in a manner detrimental to empire, as the main cause of it is white supremacist & reactionary groups, on the side of empire, as well as the state policies of dispossession, carcerality & so on.
US Full Spectrum dominance is more nominal than real, as I said (well, it's certainly real in terms of money, technology, etc, but take a look at this list--while some are allies or ones of expedience, many of these are actively opposed to US interests in geopolitics.
This doesn't mean, by the way, that they don't cooperate with it, or that they're opposed for the sake of goodness. Many are opposed for obvious reasons--self defense--but others are competing for its power generally.
The US had been, for a while, forming an alliance chain with Japan, ROK, the Philippines, Australia, NZ, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, & central Asian post-Soviet states, literally surrounding China.
Obama was a genius tier liberal imperialist, which is what Trumpians either don't understand or understand, but realize that the jig is up, and want to keep what spoils they have wo risking them. Thus his Asia Pivot, Iran deal & Cuba detente were v clearly attempts at triage
With Trumps alienation of many of these, the US stupid imperial brinksmanship Russia, the recent trade war, the nixing of the TPP, the alienation of Philippines & others, and reticence about NATO has, helped speed the end of US empire (we can hope)
This is what they all write about in Foreign Affairs, the Economist, etc., and it's why the US officer corp is primarily democrats (top level starred people & the grunts are GOP), bc Democrats are the party of expansion & maintenance of empire through neoliberal means
But--and, by the way, these follow basically the exact predicted path of Al McCoy (just as the US does Mike Davis'), look at this--MacKinder is alive & well
On some level, these claims and platforms are clearly just opportunistic drivel, but, on the other, they are genuine, inasmuch as China clearly doesn't have an interest in the type of hegemony the US had, and instead just wants regional dominance in Eurasia.
As a legacy of Sino-Soviet split and due to & for many years after the collapse of the USSR, Russia & the Central Asian Republics relations with the PRC were fraught. But the first pipeline of note between them began in 2009 & finished in 2012.
A new one began in 2018--if the Silk/Belt initiatives go through, then roads, railroad track, energy grids, oil pipelines, industrial infrastructure, military bases, economic/cultural/trade ties will proliferate through the region to completion.…
To the extent that this occurs, the PRC (& also, Russia, tho they both have diff. goals), will have 'one', and, if not defeated US empire hegemony, signed its death warrant, as it will have removed US capacities in the largest geographic & population centers of the world.
The petrodollar, the dominance of US finance, and the dominance in finance & oil/extractivism of many US allies (Canada for both, Mexico, the UK, the Gulf States, NATO, Western Europe, Australia(both), & less so Japan, ROK, Taiwan, & Singapore, are all tied together.
US Military secures petro access, and petro access secures the power of the US military & US dollar, US dollar & twin deficits fund the military, and allow for the petrodollar & financial control, financial control & petro dollar allow twin deficits & so it goes.
But between ASEAN & BRIICs to other such things, as well as rising financial hubs in China, Hong Kong, & elsewhere, the petro resources of Russia, Central Asian republics, Iran, Venezuela, & the resource wealth China's edging in on in Africa this is all threatened.
Now, let's be clear, when I talk about decline & death, I'm speaking on the order of decades, not years, and I imagine somewhere around 2050 things will really start to come to fruition.
What's more, if places like Russia, India but especially PRC continue to make good on their space programs, and in the latter 2, their support for tech, quantum computing, alternative ICT infrastructure, technoscience, and so on then, one can see what's coming
for example, as ludicrous as it sounds, the potential of a military moon base, would, basically immediately end US Air, & communication, dominance as well as erode logistical & infrastructural, and the whole jig is up.
If Trump isn't a fluke, and trade wars, withdraws from treaties, isolationism, withdrawal from NATO, etc continue, then diplomatic, trade, intelligence, financial & similar dominance erodes.
If the US finally fulfills, at great human cost, the Neocon desire to invade Iran, and destroy it, short of using a nuclear first strike, the US military will be humiliated (in an incredibly satisfying way, I might add), and petro production & dominance would be forever damaged.
As recent intelligent use of drones to disable Saudi production proved effective, and given that Iran may have already tried this technique on, iirc, an emirati oil port, and given the fixed location of oil infrastructure, the nature of sea shipping & Iran's air/misslecapacity
shows, the potential for damaging the global petro system is massive. and, even more importantly, it shows the hybrid of my two main oppositions--states too big to be taken head on, & small decentralized insurgents resilient wrt use of US air terrorism.
Now, while the defeat of US empire, and especially of financial, & petro-extractive dominance is good in and of itself, nothing guarantees the replacement will be 'better'--this isn't a trite lib neocon defense of US empire--US empire needs to go ether way.
But, anyway, to the effect that military, political, economic & other planners are aware of these things, and I know for a fact that for most of it, at least certain parts of it do, the fortress America concept comes back. And despite my rambling I think 1 can see where im going
Namely, as the potential for the erosion of the US costly, non-traditional, Air power/terror/special ops/soft power/financial/diplomatic/surveillance empire continues to grow, and given coming crises of many different orders, it's not hard to imagine what's to come.
We have nine planetary boundaries--Ozone, biosphere integrity, chemical pollution, climate change, ocean acidification, freshwater/hydrological, land use change, aerosols, nitrogen phosphorus overflow--most either surpassed or on the way to being so.
On top of that, due to rapid urbanization, slum creation, agriculture moving ever closer to cities, warming tropical diseases, antibiotic resistant bacteria, enforced global poverty, anti-vax stuff, declining public health/infrastructure, & globalization
the risk of serious pandemics, either on massive deadly orders, or, just recurring medium sized, but, in aggregate, traumatic & horrible. is yet another issue.
What people don't understand is that while population affects the absolute level of resource use, and, in the case of disease, civil unrest, & social dislocation, the rate, the Malthusian, eugenics, liberal/market environmental & ecomodernist concerns with them are still off
The reason is that the carceral, eugenic, fascist, Malthusian, wastelanding, and similar approaches to population worsen all the underlying issues at hand, vastly exaggerate outcomes, and are an excuse for dispossession, mass exile, encampment & exterminationism.
The other point is that population growth shrinks as equality, sexual/gender//reproductive freedom/justice increase, literacy increases, 'development' increases, and patriarchy declines. Thus population control is merely a pretext.
The language of mass movements of people, and so on, means to locate the social dislocation involved in the quantity & *type* of person involved, it's intrinsically racist. In reality, the social dislocation is the cause of the migrations & the effects are tragic beyond belief.
Because the world economy, ecology, cultural system, and so on is basically globalized, there is literally no economic, ecological or cultural (obviously there's no moral, equity or justice ones) reason to oppose migration to the Global North--it's just racism & capitalism
When I say no reason to oppose it, I mean the migration itself whatever the cause. What SHOULD be opposed are its causes--drug war, war on terror, US/EU imperialism & colonialism, ecological disaster, and the like.
What's more, by refusing to allow it to happen, by whipping up hysteria, and by creating mass groups of encamped stateless persons, and strict, militarized borders, one creates the problems that are supposedly the fault of population growth & mass movement.
Another way to think about this is that the policies & rhetoric justified by worries about population & migration ARE THE VERY POLICIES THAT CREATE MILLIONS OF DISPOSSESSED MARGINALIZED AND EXPLOITABLE PERSONS, AS WELL AS ASSURES THEIR DESTITUTION.
Climate militarism, like brinksmanship, and nuclear issues are self-fulfilling prophecies.
This brings me to my last set of oncomng disasters:
1. Financial/economic/trade cycles will continue, and, perhaps, worsen
2. Inequality is rising or changing shape across national, class & income/wealth lines
3. Right wing fascists are on the rise, w/e their guise
4. Global military tensions grow, and the US & other states continue to create mass failed states
5. literal walls & fortresses are being built on borders, but also in the form of prisons, sea walls, military infrastructure, and so on
6. Resource depletion will continue, both in terms of using up stocks & depleting resource sinks, as ecosystems services deteriorate, and EROEI & other ROIs decline. Even if we won't run out of many, prices will continue to rise
7. Can lead to a process whereby powers try to pre emptively acquire necessary extracted resources, thus worsening the process and bringing it about sooner
8. Land use, speculation, and so on, as well as waste, congestion, high costs of scra, etc continue
9. The world population is aging, which, in an efficient & rational world, would not be a problem, but for states & capitalism it is
10. Empires are now realizing they have to accommodate the stateless persons they created as well as the enemies they've done so with
11. Nuclear annihilation continues to be a threat, and, indeed argues Daniel Ellsberg, is worse today thn before
12. Privatization, austerity, financialization, enclosure, stratification, & decline in public goods/services continue apace, even if slower in some instances
13. Global economics growth slows, undercutting compacts. This is both true for the nominal GDP amounts, but also for '''real''' growth (labor/land saving productivity growth, new goods/services, better quality, and so on). Throughput growth however does not slowdown!
14. Rents, from finance, monopoly, land, externalities, and so on, continue to grow as portions of economy, directlyundercutting, most obviously wage earners, lumpen, dependents, those on social insurance, and 'consumers', but also differentially across the capitalist sector
15. Debt bubbles seemingly will always grow worse, and the worry of correlted bubbles in other markets worsens
16. Surveillance, techn,marketing, info war, disinfo, & so on pervade our every day life, & globally, social ties/orgs decrease, whilealienation& individualism grow
17. Infrastructures continue to either deteriorate or centralize--this means that in the cases from quotidian extrreme weather events to near-0 likelihood events like an asteroid or w/e, the damage from these events & resulting 'natural disasters' will continue to grow
18. Bureaucratization, professionalism, finance, bullshit jobs, transaction costs, Baumolian cost disease, marketing and so on continue to grow as a proportion of both private & public & directly worsen many of the above things.
20. And, perhaps least worrisome to me, but nonetheless worth mentioning is run away technology of some or an other kind--from automation/robotization/mechanization, AI/machine learning, military weaponry, biological weapons & so on
As these collide with the climate events and other factors I mention, the already existing processes of large extractivists & petronations retrenching to build fortresses buttressed on the exclusion, dispossession & control of those they deem valid for that
As the world comes to resemble a mix of oil rigs, dead infrastructure, sprawling American suburbs, empty ghost cities, purposefully made slums & refugee camps, and so on, as borders, prison, police, surveillance & militarism intensify
As military, diplomatic & other tensions grow, and, perhaps, the full spectrum dominance, and across the board power of the US is eroded (mostly likely in Eurasia, if something like a highly improbable full China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, etc alliance emerges)
This will only get worse--the retrenchment of empire into a fortress means the direction of imperialism & colonialism back home (or, in the cases where they already exist, such as the Anglo countries, India, etc, their intensification), there's a lot to worry about
We all know the weakest, most victimized, most villainzed, and most marginalized will be the first and most intensely to suffer under this, and, what's worse, is, Fortress Empires all directly worsen the causes & consequences being described here.
annnndddd anyway, that's that--I know this is perhaps my most 'time for some game theory thread', so just no I am being HIGHLY SPECULATIVE AND IMPRESSIONISTIC, DRAWING ON FOREIGN POLICY/POLITICAL ECON/GEOPOLITICS LIT AS WELL ECOLOGICAL & RADICAL LEFT THEORY
I am not Nostradamus. I do not know what direction the world could take. In truth, US empire could last until the last drop of oil has been sucked from the now cooking Earth. But I was just thinking of alternate scenarios based on different competing hypothess.
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