Today we begin the day with an alleged plot discovered by the FBI to kidnap the governor of Michigan. The radio blames Trump and portrays the governor as a champion of worker protection from the very beginning of the pandemic. The truth is just the opposite, Whitmer is responsible for condemning hundreds of auto workers to illness and death. But it doesn’t matter. The U.S. election has become a true global ideological centrifuge. The powerful Democratic machine, well rooted in the US state apparatus and its global ramifications – dating back to the early years of the Cold War – has been building up pressure in crescendo since the day of Trump’s swearing-in. Today we have Scientific American and Nature asking people to vote for Biden, arguing that the very idea of science is at stake in elections.
The apocalyptic feeling, fueled by electoral hysteria and the slaughter of the pandemic, multiplies – in a highly atomized society with an accentuated individualistic culture – fear and a sense of loneliness. The meat grinder is working at full capacity. The anxiety is transmitted to basic social relationships such as parenting and affection. We are informed, for example, that half of the United States is in a compulsive search for a partner to avoid spending the winter alone.
Europe and Iberoamerica are also under pressure. The quasi-colonial, if not completely colonial, relationship of a good part of the big press with the old American boss and especially with the Democratic Party, results in the reproduction and import of the campaign axes from the US press. In a ridiculously awkward -or shameless- moment, we were introduced to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as if she were character we owed a great deal to and whom we had known all our lives… when she has always been irrelevant and unknown outside the Anglo-Saxon world.
Ginsburg’s sudden appearance in the media is more than just an anecdote. It is part of a larger phenomenon whose main milestone has been the import and conversion into state ideology of the identities which articulated the campaign of attrition against Trump… and the apocalyptic arguments of environmentalism.But although there has been a certain adaptation to meet the ideological needs of the European bourgeoisies, like the Spanish adaptation of Anglo-Saxon feminism to redirect part of the petty-bourgeois revolt of these years, or the Greta Thunberg and the climate-strikes, in other cases, such as racialism or the ideology of white privilege, the import was directly dysfunctional. It is enough to look at France and its Republican reconquest of the neighborhoods, in direct confrontation with a Muslim Brotherhood who turned the racialist discourse into their own.
The funny thing is that the simultaneously empty and indignant tone of a Democratic campaign in final acceleration is rapidly drifting into delirium. The demand for political blackness is so scholastically racist that it can only be frightening. Not to mention the campaign to delegitimize the outcome of four years ago by blaming it on Russian intervention by athousand documentaries on all networks. Because in the end, by moving it outside the United States, what they achieve is a delegitimization of the US system itself: yes, European opinion is aligned with the Democratic Party, but less than 10% of Europeans think that the November elections will be clean.
And this is important because it occurs within the framework of an acceleration of the elaboration and extension of the framing ideologies for war. It is not only that the American and European opinion machine is being successfully deployed against China’s image outside Asia, it is that there is a deliberate attempt underway to culturally rethink the very meaning of war.
The driving force has undoubtedly been the new normality, which has been none other than the normalization of the killing of hundreds and thousands of people every day in order to keep businesses open and save investments instead of lives. If we accept that whatever supposed balance between an acceptable number of deaths by Covid and the monetary costs of a new confinement is humanitarian and sensible, what will stop them from using the same cost-benefit morality to justify war?
And so, suddenly, academic essays reinterpreting and normalizing war from an essentialist point of view are praised in newspapers like the New York Times. And with the same ease with which racialism brings back the racial classifications and categories that were condemned since the 1940s, the world’s most widely read newspaper makes its own a discourse in which:
War is so intimately linked to what it means to be human that to see it as an aberration is meaningless; it is in our bones
This is the new moral discourse, apparently not too aggressive, not too urgent… but in reality quite the opposite, since it creates the necessary framework for the concrete warmongering discourses that traditional nationalism is so keen to develop.
Let us take Greece, for instance. Greek television and radio have become something insane. The opinion makers seem, at this point, to be wannabe generals; the analysts, apostles of war. In debates, fantasies of military interventions against Turkey are discussed. In the serious press the language is a little more veiled, but there is continuous talk of existential threats and there is a consideration of armaments and military alliances. Some years ago the way a moderate sounds in today’s Greece would have caused scandal. Nowadays it’s a commonplace.
In fact, war has returned to the language of diplomacy with an ordinariness that it lacked even in the decades of the Cold War. Just this week, China and its state propaganda system pointed out to the United States its red lines and affirmed its willingness to engage in direct armed conflict if they are crossed. Even the US media did not find this to be out of character. In the end, U.S. national security advisors are publicly weighing China’s difficulties in invading Taiwan, threatening Beijing with an eventual U.S. response, and pressuring Taiwan itself to arm beyond what is needed for simple defense. The QUAD -the alliance of India, the United States, Australia and Japan- is, openly, an anti-Chinese military alliance, and also an extraordinarily active one.
And it’s not just in Asia, although it almost always involves Turkey or China. This week, the British navy declared that it was beginning to consider China a strategic military threat, and the EU presented its new Western Balkans aid fund undisguised as a tool in its game to contain China in the direct area of influence of Brussels.
And meanwhile, the daily reality of an already existing war is, as always, one of killing and terror. Columns of refugees and stories of entire villages hidden in basements while buildings are razed to the ground by drones are now a daily occurrence in Nagorno-Karabakh as they once were in Syria and Libya. The different factions of the ruling class in those countries, armed and driven by different allied powers, brought the countries into war according to a calculation similar to the one used today to weigh economy vs health in practically all corners of the globe.
The morality of capitalism has always been utilitarian; it has always subordinated human needs and lives to accumulation. The difference today is that the equilibrium, which is given at all times by economic calculation, by the needs of capital, implies sacrificing more and more lives to keep the system going. We see it in the pandemic. We see it increasingly with war. And we certainly see it in the living and working conditions that come with the so-called recovery plans. All these fronts are actually the same. In all of them the struggles of the workers represent, even in an embryonic way, the only real perspective for Humanity. And in several of them, also during war, as we have seen, the only way to stop the killing.