America in the age of crisis

This article is published in two parts. Below is the second, final installation. Makandal is a member of the Uhuru Movement organizing inside colonial prisons, whose writing is recognized as a product of African Internationalist theory.

This oppressive colonial system has always been enforced by the slave master’s whip, the lyncher’s rope, the billy club and the gun of the police who maintain law and order, patrol us as an occupying army, and beat, shoot and kill us with virtual impunity as they have always done.

So, America has never been the promised land of freedom for Africans, but it has always been the land of captivity for us under colonialism. It is a land where we toiled as slaves from sun-up to sun-down for centuries and battled titanic forces to gain basic rights. It is a land where we have been dehumanized and rejected throughout this odyssey of colonialism—and yet we have never stopped fighting to be free.

Even so, despite Africans’ dark odyssey of colonialism and captivity in America, many Americans believe our ancestors being dragged here was the best thing that ever happened to us because it made it possible for us to live in this “great” country. They believe that we should be glad to be in a country in the First World that is the West’s premier democracy.

But America has never been the same for Africans as colonial subjects as it has been for the Americans as settlers and colonizers. The brutal dialectics of colonialism make us experience life and reality in America differently. America has never been a country of liberty, democracy, equality and justice for us that it has always been for them.

America is a settler colony where the Americans have enjoyed liberal democracy and the highest standard of living, general prosperity, progress and security that colonialism and parasitic capitalism have afforded them throughout the ages.

Their way of life as settlers and colonizers has revolved around preferentialism, privilege, individualism, social climbing, consumerism and mass entertainment.

They have been living off of the colonial mode of production and reaping all of the benefits of colonialism and imperialism for a long time so they have become accustomed to having the best of everything and everything being plentiful for them with embarras de richesses, so much so that they feel entitled to it.

But America isn’t the most industrialized nation in the world with the most advanced capitalist economy and economic dominance worldwide like it once was for much of the American Century.

It has become increasingly deindustrialized as American capitalism has moved most of its manufacturing industries to countries in the Third World where it can make far greater profits by exploiting cheap labor. The offshoring of America’s heavy industries eliminated all the high-paying jobs with benefits that those industries offered and that aren’t available in its new service economy.

At the same time, America has gone from being the world’s leading creditor nation to being the world’s biggest debtor nation. Through deficit spending, its foreign deficit and national debt have reached astronomical proportions, ballooning into trillions of dollars that taxpayers have to pay.

America’s leaders have slashed social spending and cut social programs in the name of deficit reduction, yet continue borrowing more and more money to finance and fund the empire’s imperial misadventures, wars, covert operations, proxy wars and interventions that only raise the deficit higher and higher while continuously giving away billions of taxpayer money to client states and repressive regimes with economic aid and dollar diplomacy.

At last count, America’s debt is a staggering $34 trillion!

As a result of this, Americans have increasingly had to adjust and adapt to deindustrialization, downsizing, downward mobility, depression, recession, lower wages, higher costs of living, higher taxes and interest rates, austerity measures, inflation, stagflation and slumpflation in America.

This has significantly changed their fortunes as settlers and caused them increasing levels of insecurity, uncertainty, anxiety and fear.

America has also become fractured as a settler-colonialist nation. The Americans have seen America changing right before their eyes as it has become more pluralistic, diverse and darker than it has ever been since the Civil Rights era.

Many believe their country is being taken over by Africans who are clamoring for more rights, power and positions in the American government and greater visibility in American society—while also being invaded by Mexicans and other Hispanics who are crossing into it from its southern border and whom they see as “dark hordes” coming to take their jobs, housing, social services, resources and opportunities.

They also feel that their culture and heritage as settlers are being assailed by the removal of the Confederate flag and Confederate statues and other colonial statues that honor leaders of the Confederacy and the Ku Klux Klan.

They just feel that America is being besieged by Africans who continue to struggle against colonialism, decry racism and protest police brutality, mass imprisonment and systemic racism even after the presidency of Barack Obama and the black-faced minstrelsy of neocolonialism that it represented.

As far as they are concerned, the American government has bent over backwards to accommodate us through integration, assimilation, enfranchisement and co-optation into its colonial system.

It has been catering to, placating and appeasing us with concessions long enough. The American settlers feel that they have been betrayed by their government and believe that it is helping Africans and other colonized and oppressed people at their expense.

The anger and resentment that all of this has caused them manifested itself in a backlash against Obama’s neocolonialist presidency that was also the culmination of a decades-long counter-revolution against the Civil Rights Movement. This led to the rise of Donald Trump in an upsurge of right-wing populism, nationalism, nativism and racism across the empire that swept him into the White House in 2016.

Trump became the “Great White Hope” to all those settlers who believed that America wasn’t as great as it used to be during the halcyon days of the American Empire and the American Century.

They believed that America lost some of its national greatness and glory and that he was going to “Make America Great Again.”

They believed that he was going to put “America First” and build a wall on the artificial, imperialist-created border with Mexico that would be America’s Hadrian’s Wall to keep out the “dark hordes.”

Along with America becoming fractured culturally as a settler-colonialist nation it has also become very polarized politically. The Democratic party and the Republican party have a duopoly on political power and the political process as establishmentarian parties so Democrats and Republicans have both grown sclerotic from too many years in power.

As the political pendulum swings back and forth with every election, control and power rotate between them and they just go on ruling the country in the interests of their class and party while serving the interests of Wall Street and big business and fighting over big government and small government and the administration and direction of the nation and empire.

The Republicans believe that Democrats do nothing but fiddle while America burns from crime, multiculturalism, diversity and illegal immigration while the Democrats believe that the Republicans only engage in obstructionism and fearmongering and escalate the “culture wars” that revolve around diversity, the removal of the Confederate flag and Confederate monuments and the renaming of military bases named after Confederate generals, militarized policing, crime and punishment, immigration, abortion, gun ownership, gay marriage, transgender identity, sports players kneeling during the American national anthem in protest against racism and injustice in America, Critical Race Theory, and Black Lives Matter.

The contention, infighting, partisanship and party politics of Democrats and Republicans have only caused political gridlock, paralysis, and dysfunction in Washington.

The fracas and factionalism of American politics have only increased since Trump’s meteoric rise to power. It came to a head when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the nation’s capitol after he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden and perpetuated the Big Lie that the election had been rigged and stolen. They attempted a coup to keep Trump in power and they sought to hang his political enemies on the gallows they had erected right on Capitol Hill.

This revolt showed the devolvement of American democracy into political turmoil and chaos. Since that revolt, the country has remained fixed in the reactionary age of Trump and Trumpism. Trump has survived the political fallout from that revolt just as he has survived all controversy, scandals, investigations, impeachment and indictments to still be a force to be reckoned with in American politics and exert his malign influence on the GOP and even run for president against Biden again in the upcoming 2024 presidential race. He is the “Teflon Don,” nothing that has been thrown at him has stuck even though he stinks of corruption.

As America’s bourgeois democracy shows itself more and more to be the plutocracy that it has always been and the Right and the Far Right continue to consolidate its power and wield greater clout and influence, what passes for the “Left” in the colonizing nation becomes all the more minuscule, marginal and meaningless in American politics. They are left to do nothing but talk about the ravages of unfettered capitalism and the austerity measures of neoliberalism; the growing gap between the rich and the poor and increasing income inequality; warnings of incipient fascism with the steady corrosion of civil rights and civil liberties; the shredding of the Bill of Rights and ever-expanding State surveillance with the ubiquity of security cameras throughout a society where Big Brother Is Always Watching.

There’s the apocalyptic scenario of ecological disaster with a pollutant-warped climate and yet they advocate bourgeois reformism. They are obsessed with Trump and his cult of personality as if stopping him or getting rid of him will make everything better in America; like he is the System in and of itself rather than just being a gangster of this system of colonial capitalism, who embodies gangsterism, rapacious capitalism, cronyism, racism, demagoguery and arrogance of power.

Amid these troubling times in America, the Americans go on living in their ivory towers in this settler-colonialist nation, clinging to the bourgeois fantasy of the American Dream even as the middle class shrinks, supporting their ruling class, colonialism, imperialism and capitalism, believing all the lies their leaders tell them about current events and world affairs. They accept the official version of things without question, believing that the millionaires and billionaires they elect as representatives really represent them and their interests as if they are going to do something for them. They believe that America’s for-profit, privatized healthcare system is better than socialized medicine and that socialism is bad. They believe that American troops serving overseas are fighting to protect their freedom at home and they support the War on Terror.

They continue to exist in the insular world of Middle America where they live an alternate reality from people in America’s ghettos, barrios and reservations. They are sheltered from the harsh realities of colonialism and imperialism, being upset by Africans resisting against colonialism, police violence, the criminal justice system and the prison system. They are frightened by mass protests against police brutality and denouncing Black Lives Matter in a country where colonialism determines and decides which lives matter and which are disposable, so they support Blue Lives Matter and rally around cops. They just go on pretending that all is fair, equal and just in American society, denying the existence of tyranny, oppression and the persistence of racism in the age of colorblindness.

All of this stems from a profound crisis of settler colonialism that has been caused by the struggle of Africans and other colonized and oppressed people in America that has made it impossible for the colonial State to rule in the same old way. They forced it to resort to the subterfuge and dissemblance of neocolonialism.

This crisis of settler colonialism at home is part of the crisis of imperialism and capitalism abroad that America has been experiencing throughout the American Century with growing resistance of the colonized and oppressed peoples of the world and the defeat of colonialism and neocolonialism by their national liberation movements. It is a myriad of crises that are interconnected, which have spurred America’s disequilibrium and decline as a settler-colonialist nation and empire. America is experiencing an existential crisis as a settler-colonialist nation that was built and sustained off of slavery, colonialism and imperialism. The Americans established democracy and achieved affluence, abundance, wealth, prosperity and progress at the expense of Africans and other subject peoples through colonization, enslavement, impoverishment and the underdevelopment of Africa and the Americas. It is the crisis of a colonizing nation that rests on a pedestal of oppression and exploitation that the settlers have lived on since its birth, which has been shaken to its foundation by our struggles for freedom, national liberation and self-determination.

From America’s bloody advent as a settler-colonialist nation it has never been a nation that stands for liberty, equality and justice for all as it claims. Though, the struggles of Africans and other colonized peoples have always sought to secure democracy, and civil rights, human rights, freedom, equality and justice for all people.

It is our struggles that brought down America’s racist-fascist regime of Jim Crow and rolled back its color line and extended civil rights and civil liberties all around which enabled all people to vote in its elections for the first time in the annals of its bourgeois democracy. Through our struggle, we forced America to become more open, inclusive and tolerant than it ever wanted to be as a settler-colonialist nation.

This is why there has been an ongoing backlash against the Civil Rights Movement and reaction against the changes it wrought in American society and a steady reversal of its gains. It accounts for the settler’s stiff resistance to desegregation and their “white flight” to suburbia with the dawn of integration in the post-Jim Crow era and the rise of neo-conservatism among them in the new age of colorblindness.

Today, America stands as the world’s oldest settler-colonialist nation. It was the very first settler-colonialist nation to emerge in the world, so it best epitomizes a settler-colonial society as a nation of European settlers who occupy the land of the Indigenous peoples whom they have replaced by exterminating most of them and relegating the rest of them to reservations. These reservations are the concentration camps of the 500-year-plus holocaust of settler colonialism and its crime of conquest, genocide, ”Indian” wars, “Indian” Removal, the Trail of Tears and the massacres at Sand Creek and Wounded Knee.

After over 400 years, settler colonialism has become so inveterate in America that it endures with its prospect of lasting forever. It has existed so long that the breakaway republic that it established on it intends to last until the end of time or the end of history.

With America’s self-perpetuating regime of settler colonialism, it endeavors to exist as a settler-colonialist nation in perpetuity. It not only ensures its continued existence through military occupation, state repression and counterinsurgency, but also by subsuming the colonized into it through Americanization, integration and co-optation. It seeks to achieve this by giving us a stake in its colonial system with jobs and careers in its government, economy, military and entertainment industry.

Rather than settle for a stake in America’s colonial system, rather than identify with America and thereby perpetuate our colonization becoming accomplices in our own subjugation, Africans and other oppressed peoples must continue to resist colonialism and seek to wrench ourselves free of colonial domination. We must fight for national liberation, self-determination and socialist democracy. To move toward the Revolution, we need to make a complete break with imperialism and capitalism.

More than any other people in America, Indigenous and African people know the truth about it as a settler-colonialist nation. We know that it is an oppressor nation because we have been systematically oppressed in it for centuries, so we should have no illusions about it being the “freest country in the world” or even a colorblind society, just as we shouldn’t be deceived or fooled by its lofty rhetoric of democracy, liberty, equality and justice.

America is a colonizing nation where liberty, democracy, equality and opportunity have been the birthright of the Americans as settlers and colonizers while Africans and other colonized people have had to struggle, fight and die for freedom just for basic rights as human beings. Our movements for civil rights, human rights, national liberation and self-determination have been undermined, disrupted, derailed and destroyed by the colonial State through counterinsurgency.

In this time of crisis and decline in America, the Americans are confronted with the same challenge they have always faced as settlers and colonizers in this settler-colonialist nation. They are challenged to break with their age-old racism, ethnocentrism and cultural imperialism and their support for colonialism, imperialism, capitalism and militarism. They are challenged to stand in solidarity with colonized and oppressed peoples and support our struggles for national liberation, independence, self-determination and socialism.

It is the only way for them to become free of the burdens of imperialism and their complicity in its horrible crimes against humanity; to rid themselves of the delusions of grandeur, megalomania, mythomania and historical amnesia. They have to stop their unity with their ruling class in its robbery and rape of the world that allows them to continue to enjoy the material benefits of imperialism.

Regardless of whether or not the Americans join the rest of us in fighting to create a new world without oppression, exploitation, poverty, misery, suffering and war wherein all people have real and meaningful self-determination and democracy, prosperity and progress, Africans and other people under their rule must continue to resist the dominance and power of a settler-colonial State that stands in the way of our liberation and development in the relentless struggle to break with the colonial-capitalist system—to move forward and achieve liberation and socialism.

It is only when settler-colonialism is extracted and rooted out from this land that all people who have been enchained by it will finally be free and a new era of human liberation and development can begin with the dawn of socialism.

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