Today’s “central threat” is, according to the US secretary of state, …

Mike Pompeo

In today’s tumultuous world, the US faces many threats. It’s, sometimes, terrorism. It’s, to an important part of the state machine, climate crisis. Mr. Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has now identified the central threat. He has also suggested steps. Mr. Pompeo’s assertion and suggestion tell something about the Empire: hiding from facts or fooling self.

Mr. Pompeo was taking part in a conference in London on January 30, 2020. Mr. Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, was present in the meeting. Mr. Pompeo said in the conference: “The Chinese Communist Party presents the central threat of our times.” An admission of self-incapability, it’s!

At the same time, the US secretary of state suggested: In areas, in the WTO, in infrastructure, in technology, in ensuring military capabilities, “we have to collectively ensure, the West, ensure that the next century is governed by […] Western democratic principles.”

But, the next century will find more crumbling down of the so-called Western democratic principles, which is, in real sense, principles formulated to secure interests of the bourgeoisie – the leading exploiters in today’s world.

The condition of the system dominating the world, imperialism, the area the system likes to concentrate in, and the line of contradiction it likes to move along come clear if other statements are considered.

Mr. Mark Esper, the US secretary of defense, recently referred the Indo-Pacific as US’ “priority theater”. To challenge China’s maritime power, Mr. Esper suggested more US bases in the Pacific region.

The US National Defense Strategy 2018 identifies China as “predatory” and “strategic competitor”.

Other US leaders/senior officials have also identified China as priority area of concern or challenge of this generation.

The orbit of confrontation is visible. It’ll define or impact a lot of incidents in regions, sub-regions and countries near and far away from China, in deals – from trade/market access and investment to military/so-called defense agreements and pacts, and in domestic politics – from agitations to alliances, internal and external, from conspiracies to elections, from civil disturbances to interferences.

There’s competition in the system. And, there’s contradiction within the system. It can’t escape the contradiction. Contradictions in life, real or in fairy tales, are inescapable although a group of ideologies doesn’t discuss contradictions in this world despite their endless wrestling with contradictions from the beginning to ever-lasting end. Ignoring contradictions is living with lies in a world of deception.

In the same way, imperialism is constantly encountering contradictions although its theoreticians and faithful servants don’t consideration contradiction while they sell ideas and plans. The same thing has happened in the case of Mr. Pompeo’s assertion. He has failed to take into account contradictions the imperialist system faces/is facing. Therefore, he targets the Communist Party of China as “the central threat”.

But, Mr. Pompeo misses the actual threat; and that actual threat is the central threat. The threat is from within the system. The “system of imperialism as a whole,” writes Paul Sweezy in his The Theory of Capitalist Development, “rises up against itself two types of opponent and […] its expansion enhances their potential power of opposition.” Sweezy adds, there are “factors which will ultimately set the limits of imperialism and prepare the way for its downfall as a system of world economy.” And, according to Sweezy, “[t]he first opposition force arises, […] from the internal development of the imperialist countries. Class lines are drawn even more tightly and class conflict grows in intensity. [….] [T]he first limit to imperialism is the result of the interaction of its national and international aspects. The crucial opposition force originates within the imperialist nations […]”

Therefore, the central threat the Empire, and the world imperialist system faces is itself – imperialism, its economy, in its home. The monopoly finance capital has made its position more vulnerable, has made its condition more precarious. Today its external steps and measures, many of which are indecisive, hastily drawn, or inconclusively debated in the camp, is the reflection. The factional and sub-factional fight of the ruling classes in the Empire, which is now going on, is another reflection of the intensity of inner-contradiction.

The recent “solemn” show with SOTU – the State of the Union address by the US President – is one of the reflections.

A few days back in February, Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up each page of the address as she stood behind the president after he concluded his annual SOTU address. A few hours later Pelosi told a House Democrats’ meeting: “He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech.”

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said leaving the meeting: “She said that he disgraced the House of Representatives by using it as a backdrop for a reality show.”

And, before Trump started the speech, the president snubbed Pelosi by refusing to shake her hand.

And, Democrats hissed and booed.

The entire episode was caught in TV cameras.

A Speaker of the House was telling that a President “shredded the truth”, and the Speaker was shredding pages of a Presidential address, and a president refused to shake a Speaker’s hand! How many Third World country’s legislative assemblies have witnessed such incidents? Millions of people viewed Trump’s SOTU address in front of the Congress. Was that – the tearing of and the handshake snub – a drama? Was that a reality show? Was that a graceful gesture? [Citizens in countries are aware that the empire’s officials instruct “democracy” in many countries, and groups of anti-imperialists remain mum with the empire’s “democratic” acts – interferences for “democracy” in countries! And, a few scholars chide Third World countries! They don’t like to learn from developments in the Empire!]

Pelosi’s top assistants forwarded an explanation. “A shredder wasn’t available, so she did what she needed to do,” House Democratic Caucus chairperson Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

An empire was lacking a paper shredder!

“When someone won’t even shake the hand of the speaker of the House, it tells you where their priorities lie,” said Democratic Caucus vice-chair Katherine Clark (D-Mass.).

The narrative above is one part of the reality the Empire is passing through.

There’s another part, much harsh, of the reality.

In 2018, Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on poverty, said in a report that the US has the highest rates of infant mortality and income inequality among developed countries. The US is fast becoming a champion of inequality, said the report.

The US has a homeless population of 500,000. Nearly 41 million people live in poverty in the US, and 18.5 million of those in extreme poverty. Children account for one in three US citizens in poverty.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez testified on February 5, 2020 before a House committee about the number of US citizens living in poverty. “We cannot go another year with kids not getting food that they need, losing parents because they can’t afford healthcare,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “This is a moral wrong, and for children to lose their parents because they can’t afford insulin or chemotherapy in what we proudly call the richest country in the world, is a moral injustice and a moral outrage.”

Is there any way to deny this reality? Does not this reality intensify contradiction within a society?

The impact of monopoly finance capital in economy and politics is another story, which the mainstream tries to overlook. But, the “amazing” capital has its “fanciful” way of work in economy and politics despite all denials.

With this state of economy and politics, with this home of contradictions, how far can an Empire go, and whom can it target?

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka.




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