Georgia on my Mind: Notes from the Margins of Empire

What is unfolding in the US state of Georgia and in Washington DC are indeed historic events. I am beyond pleased that it appears that the proto-fascist Trump has once again lost. But, as we can see unfolding in the capitol right now, I don’t see him leaving office without sowing, or at least trying to sow, maximum chaos and damage.

He has already attempted an actual coup several times, even though the US corporate media would never characterize it as such. And he is still refusing to accept a Biden victory, holding maskless rallies with his feckless fans. Trump still has some rather frightening tricks in his bag. A strike on Iran? Calling on police or his white supremacist fans to become violent? None of this is beyond his capacity. Some of it is already happening. And any of it should make a sane person nervous.

If the military establishment feels the need to voice their opinion on a presidential election, which they have recently, you know it has to do with a coup or the attempt of one. Their job is to protect American economic interests, aka the coffers and trading status of the ruling class. And a coup, or the hint of one, in the world’s most powerful empire would be bad for business. So it is unlikely any coup attempt will succeed. In any case, the damage to confidence in the American imperial brand will have been done. In many cases, it has already been done.

And even with the Democrats taking the presidency and the senate, we should not expect any massive shift to the left. Over 70 million Americans voted for Trump, almost half of the voting public. In fact, Trump received more votes than in 2016, which is astonishing given his atrocious record of 357,000+ deaths from Covid 19. And we should remember that the Democratic establishment is still staunchly neoliberal capitalist, with a penchant for war.

Schumer, Pelosi and Biden all have long histories of aligning with Republicans on hawkish militarism and foreign policy, and blocking progressive reforms. And the Democrats will not have a super majority in the senate. Indeed, progressives have their work cut out for them, because centrist, corporate Democrats, along with their Republican colleagues, will throw up every barrier to economic change, and halts on an ever expanding American militarism, they can.

To be sure, the world is a different place than it was four years ago. It is vastly different than it was just a year ago, largely thanks to the global pandemic. But also due to mass movements that have taken place around the planet, from Minneapolis to Beirut to Santiago. And if there is any lesson to learn about pandemic politics, it is that the US imperial hegemony is irredeemably corrupt and incapable of leading in any way that is beneficial to humanity and the living earth, and this is true no matter which ruling class political party is at its helm.

In short, if this empire cannot even muster up the most meager provisions for its own struggling populace, including financial support and universal healthcare in the midst of a global pandemic, there can be no hope that it will do anything useful for them, or the rest of us, as we face the looming shocks of catastrophic climate change, economic collapse, ecological devastation, and the ever present threat of nuclear war. Its first and only priority was, is and will always be, the welfare of the wealthiest at any cost.

I hope the best for progressives in the US, because they will likely have to fight even harder against a tide of apathy that generally comes with liberal governments. I hope the best for my American leftist comrades, who must now traverse a neoliberal landscape where they will likely be chided for any dissenting stance they might take.

But I am more hopeful about the world on the margins of the American Empire, even those parts which lie within its artificially imposed borders. Not in the empty, self-serving platitudes of politicians, or the policy platforms written by and for multi-billion dollar conglomerates, or toxic nationalism either, but in solidarity with each other, where it counts.

Kenn Orphan  January 2021

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