Thesis Four: Global Monroe Doctrine. The United States took its 1823 Monroe Doctrine (that asserted its control over the Americas) global and proposed in this post-Soviet era that the entire world was its dominion. It began to push back against the assertion of China (Obama’s Pivot to Asia) and Russia (Russiagate and Ukraine). This New Cold War driven by the US, which includes hybrid warfare through sanctions against thirty countries such as Iran and Venezuela, has destabilised the world.
Thesis Five: Confrontations. The confrontations hastened by the New Cold War have inflamed the situation in Asia – where the Taiwan Strait remains a hot zone – and in Latin America – where the United States attempted to create a hot war in Venezuela (and attempted but failed to project its power in places such as Bolivia). The current conflict in Ukraine – which has its origins in many factors, including the demise of the Ukrainian pluri-national compact – is also over the question of European independence. The US has used ‘Global NATO’ as a Trojan horse to exercise its power over Europe and keep it subordinated to US interests even if it harms Europeans as they lose energy supply and natural gas for the food economy. Russia violated the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine, but NATO created some of the conditions which accelerated this confrontation – not for Ukraine but for its project in Europe.
Thesis Six: Terminal Crisis. Fragility is the key to understanding US power today. It has not declined dramatically, nor does it remain unscathed. There are three sources of US power that are relatively untouched:
(1) Overwhelming Military Power. The United States remains the only country in the world that is able to bomb any of the other UN member states into the stone age.
(2) The Dollar-Wall Street-IMF regime. Due to the global reliance on the dollar and to the dollar-denominated global financial system, the US can wield its sanctions as a weapon of war to weaken countries at its whim.
(3) Informational Power. No country has as decisive control over the internet, both its physical infrastructure and its near monopoly companies (such as Facebook and YouTube, which remove any content and any provider at will); no country has as much control over the shaping of world news due to the power of its wire services (Reuters and the Associated Press) as well as the major news networks (such as CNN).
There are other sources of US power that are deeply weakened, such as its political landscape, which is deeply polarised, and its inability to marshal its resources to send China and Russia back inside their borders.
People’s movements need to grow our own power, by organising the people into powerful organisations and around a programme that has the capacity to both answer the immediate problems of our time and the long-term question of how to transition to a system that can transcend the apartheids of our time: food apartheid, medical apartheid, education apartheid, and money apartheid. To transcend these apartheids leads us out of this capitalist system to socialism.
In the past week, we have lost many comrades, old and young. Amongst them, our Senior Fellow Aijaz Ahmad (1941–2022), one of the great Marxists of our time, left us at the age of 81. When Marxism was under attack after the fall of the USSR, Aijaz held the line, teaching generations of us about the necessity of Marxist theory; that theory remains necessary because it continues to be the most powerful critique of capitalism and, as long as capitalism continues to structure our lives, that critique remains boundless. For us at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, Aijaz’s mentorship was invaluable. In fact, the dossier Twilight, which helped us orient ourselves in the current conjuncture, was written after substantial discussion with Aijaz.
We also lost Ayanda Ngila (1992–2022), who was the deputy chairperson of eKhenana land occupation, part of South Africa’s militant shack dwellers movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM). Ayanda was a courageous leader of AbM who had recently been released from a second spell of being held in prison on trumped up charges. He was a kind comrade to his peers and a student and teacher at the Frantz Fanon School. When he was gunned down by his adversaries in the African National Congress, Ayanda was wearing a t-shirt with a quote from Steve Biko: ‘It’s better to die for an idea that is going to live than to live for an idea that is going to die’. On the walls of the Frantz Fanon School, the comrades at AbM painted their ideals clearly: Land, Decent Housing, Dignity, Freedom, and Socialism.
We concur. So would Aijaz.