[News] The Country Where Liberty Is a Statue

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 14 13:21:41 EST 2021

Country Where Liberty Is a Statue: The Second Newsletter (2021)
Vijay Prashad - January 14, 2021

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

On 6 January, the world witnessed an interesting spectacle, an assortment
of what appeared to be characters from fantasy television shows taking
possession of the US Capitol, where the legislature sits. Despite spending
more than $1 trillion on its military, intelligence services, and police,
the United States government found itself overrun by a horde of Donald
Trump’s supporters. They came without any precise programme and were not
able to elicit a serious revolt around the country. What they showed clearly
is that there is a serious divide in the United States, which weakens the
ability of the US elites to exercise their domination over the world.

Around the world, people gaped at the bizarre pageant of Trump’s army
running riot in the chambers of the body that calls itself the ‘world’s
oldest democracy’. With precision, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa
sent out a tweet
<https://twitter.com/edmnangagwa/status/1347176848694931457> that tied the
US economic sanctions against his country to the chaos in Washington, DC.
The events at the Capitol, he wrote on 7 January, ‘showed that the US has
no moral right to punish another nation under the guise of upholding
democracy. These sanctions must end’. The government of Venezuela offered
its concern about the ‘political polarisation and the spiral of violence’
and explained that the United States now experiences ‘what it has generated
in other countries with its policies of aggression’.

President Mnangagwa’s use of the term ‘moral right’ has echoed across the
world: how can a society that faces such a severe challenge to its own
political institutions feel that it has the right to ‘promote’ democracy in
other countries, using the various instruments of hybrid war?

The United States – like other capitalist democracies – has struggled with
insurmountable challenges to its economy and society, with high rates of
wealth inequality crushed by large-scale precarity and income deflation.
Between 1990 and 2020, US billionaires saw their wealth
<https://ips-dc.org/billionaire-bonanza-2020/> increase by 1,130%, while
median wealth in the US increased by only 5.37% (this increase was even
more marked during the pandemic). Exits from this social and economic
crisis are simply not available to the US ruling class, which seems not to
care about the great dilemmas of its own population and of the world. An
example of this is the meagre income support provided during the pandemic,
while the government hastens to protect the value of the wealth of the
small minority that holds an obscene share of national wealth and income.

Rather than seek a solution to the economic and social crisis – which it
cannot solve – the US ruling class projects its problem as one of political
legitimacy. There is now a false sense that the main problem in the United
States is posed by Donald Trump and his rag-tag army; but Trump is merely
the symptom of the problem, not its cause. The constituency that he has
assembled will remain intact and will continue to flourish as long as the
social and economic crisis spirals further out of control. Large swathes of
the US elite have rallied around Joe Biden, hoping that he – as a
representative of stability – will be able to maintain order and restore
the legitimacy of the United States. Their view is that the US is currently
facing a crisis of political legitimacy and not a socio-economic crisis for
which they have no answers.

The January dossier <https://www.thetricontinental.org/dossier-36-twilight/>
from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, *Twilight: The Erosion
of US Control and the Multipolar Future, *broaches the question of the
decline of US authority. Since the US war on Iraq (2003) and the credit
crisis (2010), there has been the anticipation of the decline of the power
of the United States and its project. At the same time, the United States
continues to exert immense power through its military superiority, its
control over large sections of the financial and trade system (the
Dollar-Wall Street Complex), and its command over information networks.
Since the late 1940s, the United States has declared that anything ‘less
than preponderant power would be to opt for defeat’. This political aim has
been repeated in each National Security Strategy of the United States
government. The socio-economic crisis over the past two decades has
weakened US authority, but it has not eroded US power. This is why our
dossier is titled *Twilight*: we are in the midst of a process of the
whittling down of US authority, but not of the loss of US power.

During the last two decades, China has developed its scientific and
technological prowess, which has resulted in rapid advances for China’s
development. Over the past few years, Chinese scientists have published
more peer-reviewed papers than scientists from elsewhere and Chinese
scientists and firms have registered more patents than scientists and firms
from elsewhere. As a consequence of these intellectual developments,
China’s firms have made key technological breakthroughs, such as in solar
power, robotics, and telecommunications. A high savings rate by the
population has enabled the Chinese state and private Chinese capital to
make considerable investments in manufacturing; this has propelled China’s
high-tech industries, which have seriously threatened Silicon Valley firms.
It is this challenge, we argue in this dossier, that has provoked the US
ruling class to instigate a dangerous confrontation against China; Obama’s
‘pivot to Asia’ and Trump’s ‘trade war
have both had a military component, which includes the deployment of
tactical nuclear warheads into the waters around Asia.

[image: The War in Eurasia]

Rather than tackle the great social and economic challenges within the US,
its ruling class has taken refuge in anti-Chinese rhetoric. Why is the
employment situation so bad in the United States, the people ask? Because
of China, say the elites – whether those who support Trump or those who
look back nostalgically to Obama. Why did COVID-19 create such havoc in the
United States, which continues to have the highest death toll in the world?
Because of China, says Trump. Biden, in a softer way, makes similar noises.
The general orientation of the US ruling class is to blame China for every
problem within the United States, to make China’s rise the excuse for any
failure in the United States.

Trump used the Obama-era Quad (Australia, India, Japan, and the United
States) against China, while Biden promises to build a wider ‘coalition of
democracies’ (the Quad plus Europe) against China. Regardless of which
fragment of the US ruling class governs the country, these leaders will
seek to shift all responsibility for their failures onto China. This is a
cynical and dangerous strategy because – as we point out in the dossier –
the US elites well know that China’s economic development poses a serious
challenge to the US, but that China does not have any military or any
significant political ambitions to dominate the world. The US ruling class,
however, is willing to risk a cataclysmic war to protect its preponderant

[image: TBT: Ricardo Silva Soto]

In 1972, when the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile came
under murderous pressure from the United States, the poet Nicanor Parra

United States: the country where
liberty is a statue.

A year later, the US government told General Augusto Pinochet to leave the
barracks, overthrow Allende’s government, and inaugurate a dictatorship
that would last for 17 years. Three years before the coup took place, the
CIA’s director of plans wrote
<https://monthlyreview.org/product/washington-bullets/>, ‘It is firm and
continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. It is imperative
that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the
[United States government] and [the] American hand be well hidden’. This
policy of making sure that the ‘American hand be well hidden’ is part of
the hybrid war techniques, which we outline in the dossier.

Brave women and men fought and died to overthrow the Pinochet dictatorship.
Amongst them were people like Ricardo Silva Soto, a young man who liked to
play football and enjoyed his studies at the Faculty of Chemical Sciences
and Pharmacy at the University of Chile. He joined the Communist Party of
Chile’s Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (FPMR), which operated against the
tentacles of the dictatorship. In June 1987, Silva Soto and others were
killed in cold blood in Operation Albania. The Chilean Human Rights
Commission and Vicaría de la Solidaridad found that no bullets had been
fired from inside their safe house at 582 Pedro Donoso Street in Santiago;
the bullets were fired at close range at the militants. In Recoleta, there
is a people’s pharmacy named for Silva Soto. It was opened in 2015 by the
mayor Daniel Jadue, who is now a candidate for the Chilean presidency. The
creation of this pharmacy led to the establishment of the Chilean
Association of Popular Pharmacies (ACHIFARP) and to the opening in 94
municipalities across Chile of such establishments, which have played a key
role in the fight against COVID-19. Ricardo Silva Soto was killed to stop
the world from breathing; his name now sits atop a process that helps the
world survive.

The global reaction to the events of 6 January shows that the authority of
the United States is greatly dented. Biden will use any method – including
hybrid war – to revive this authority. But it is unlikely to succeed.
Parra’s poem was written in 1972 with bitter irony; today, due to the
worldwide interest in Black Lives Matter and the public appearance of the
white supremacist Trump-supporting hordes, Parra’s statement is seen to be
a description of reality.

The US has considerable resources to reassert its authority. The struggles
ahead – in the name of people like Ricardo Silva Soto – will be difficult
and perilous. But – for the sake of humanity – these struggles are


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