Reposted from Medium
Here’s a tiny question: is it just a cosmic coincidence that three of the world’s most significant countries — China, India, and America — are all beginning to have various stages of political destabilization and authoritarian collapse? Os there is something more to it? I think it has everything to do with this.
America’s just run a titanic, historic experiment in global capitalism. One that’s failed catastrophically. Nobody, though, really seems to have noticed yet. It should be teaching us a crucial and vital lesson. That America’s model of global megacapitalism — in which India and China were the two most crucial linchpins — failed, because capitalism implodes inevitably into fascism. It should be showing us that we need to think much more clearly about our societies, if we want a future again.
Here was the theory. Following America’s lead, countries like India and China could get rich. All they had to do was trade with America — become parts of its global capitalist economy. And as a result, wealth would bring with it democracy. More capitalism — more freedom, more equality, more democracy.
Here’s the reality. None of that ended up being true. China and India didn’t end up more democratic and equal as they became more capitalist. They became less democratic and equal — to the point that they are now verging on authoritarian-fascist societies. Just like America is.
(And these three countries, my friends, also have three of the world’s biggest militaries. What do you think portends for the future? As their societies and futures come undone? Let’s start with now.)
Let’s start with India. There, a kind of hypernationalist fervor has taken hold, based on religious chauvinism. The idea of a secular, liberal India is dying — and the idea of India as a cleansed land of the pure is ascendant. “Hindu nationalism”, some call it. Let us speak more plainly. India is having a kind of theofascist collapse. The Promised Land, which belongs only to the pure — and they rule it absolutely. None of this is theoretical in the slightest. Journalists are harassed and intimidated, dissidents are jailed, the norms of culture and society have shifted rapidly, the tone and message of public discourse has altered radically. How can a secular democracy coexist with the norms of authoritarian-fascism? Obviously, it can’t.
Then there’s China. There, a kind of strange technologically enabled authoritarianism has risen. Technology is used to crack down on people, to stifle dissent, not just to surveil, but to enforce. Want to use that train? Want to enter that mall? You’d better have a good Social Credit Score. But that’s hardly. A million people are reported to have been detained in China’s “re-education camps.” The internet, of course, is watched carefully, and censored. We might call all this techno-fascism.
(Then, of course, there’s America. Camps, raids, Gestapos…Jews warning en masse of rising fascism…a media and thinking class utterly oblivious to it…a political opposition that appeases instead of opposes…hence, supremacist massacres, abuses of power, hate, dehumanization, and violations of basic rights are now everyday realities Americans simply shrug impotently at.)
Wait…wasn’t capitalism supposed to bring freedom and democracy with it? Isn’t that whate every American thinker, economist, pundit, politician argued? Isn’t it why America bombed half the world for capitalism’s sake? So…what happened?
Here’s what’s really happening. Capitalism’s imploding into fascism. And now it’s going global. The global economy America built is falling like dominoes. Bang, bang, bang.
It’s not a coincidence that China and India are imploding into different kinds of authoritarian-fascism shortly after America did. It is a relationship. China and India were the linchpins of America’s model of global capitalism. They are the two countries that bought into it most heavily after America.And now, my friends, they are paying the price: they are collapsing right along with it.
Let me explain how. It’s very straightforward. You don’t need to be an economist to understand it.
The capitalist global economy that America built was premised on a very simple idea. The American “consumer” was at the heart of the system. He or she receives the lowest price possible — by any means necessary. That’s all people need to live, not healthcare, retirement, education, and so forth — including the ones making the stuff cheap for the American consumer. Along the way, profits are mega-maximized for capitalists, too, because they pay people a pittance, and build huge monopolies. And with greater profits — don’t ask how, because American economists and pundits have never explained — comes more freedom and democracy.
You can see, perhaps, already, how poorly thought out this system was.
In this system, China was the key supplier of material goods, and India the key supplier of services. Walmart was nothing in the 80s, and then in the 90s and 00s, it grew to prominence and power, largely by becoming a Chinese trading outpost, cramming giant warehouses with ultra cheap Chinese goods. America’s technology and finance industries grew wealthy, too, by “outsourcing” programming and whatnot to India.
Now, there were three Big Problems with America’s model of global capitalism, meaning American consumers bought stuff made cheap by Chinese and Indians.
First, this system depended on exploiting people. Not Americans — Indians and Chinese. They were able to make things much more cheaply precisely because they didn’t have the rights and protections of people in advanced countries. So Chinese teenagers made iPhones living in company dorms — making a tiny, tiny fraction of what those iPhones were worth, while Apple piled up billions, then became the world’s first trillion dollar company. Indians and Chinese were exploited in classic terms: never paid a fair share, their rights stunted and eroded. How could democracy ever emerge from that? Wouldn’t the result just be inequality and despair and rage?
Second, this system wasn’t self sustaining. The point was to give “the American consumer” ultra cheap stuff, by exploiting half the world or so. But then who was then going to give him or her a job? If Chinese and Indians were making all the stuff Americans consumed…then what exactly would Americans do? How would American incomes ever rise again? They could hardly make the stuff Chinese and Indians consumed…because those people were still too poor to afford much.
The result was that the American economy had a hidden collapse, an invisible depression. Decent jobs dried. Entire industries vanished. As a consequence, the middle class shrunk to a minority for the first time ever in the history of a rich country. Today, the only growing jobs in the American economy are being neo-servants to the super rich: their butlers, chauffeurs, maids, cleaners, nannies, barbers.
Is all this beginning to make a little sense yet? Let me put more sharply.
The result of America’s model of global capitalism was grimly predictable, to anyone who thinks clearly about capitalism. Capital’s share of income would rise — while labour’s share of income would peak, stagnate, and then fall. And that’s exactly what happened — because that’s what capitalism does. In America’s labour’s share of income peaked in the 1970s. In China and India, it peaked in the 00s, and has been falling ever since.
What would happen, though, when labour’s share of income stagnated and fell long enough, while capital’s share skyrocketed? What kind of social discontents and upheavals would that ignite? Nobody in the thinking class asked. They were too busy gazing adoringly at the new religion they’d created, reciting its articles of faith. Meanwhile, the reality was this.
America’s model of global capitalism was rewarding capitalists far, far more than the average prole — whom it was leaving exploited, politically, economically, and socially, leaving their societies ever less democratic, sophisticated, bereft of public goods, hollowed out culturally, status competition and envy and resentment ascendant.
But capitalists are a tiny number of people in society. As a result, a new class of mega-rich emerged. The Chinese tourists whose families owned entire state industries, that would be seen shopping in Barney’s or Harrods…places largely empty of Americans or Brits. The Indian tycoons who built entire skyscrapers to live in — having owned the “outsourcing” platforms that made the American economy go. And so forth. This tiny new class of ultra-rich were in fact the winners of America’s model of global capitalism. But everyone else, more or less, wasn’t winning nearly enough to call this global economy a success. China and India got their own Kardashians and Trumps — while never improving very much, really, on any measure of human rights, democracy, the rule of law, equality, or freedom.
So. Three Big Problems. One, exploitation of India and China’s poor. Two, impoverishment and implosion of the American middle class. Three, the emergence of a class of ultra-rich, who took the lion’s share gains from the other two. You could put the results like this: India and China traded capitalism for democracy. Just like America did. Contrary to the theory, capitalism didn’t bring democracy with it — it eroded and corroded it. It’s norms, values, rules, codes, incentives, structures.
Now, it’s important to note that it didn’t have to be this way. India and China could, for example, have joined the EU’s sphere of influence, trading with it, culturally linking with it, following its lead. They chose to become mini-Americas, to join America’s global economic system, to become the engines of America’s stock market growth and so forth, instead. Their choice — a fatal and ruinous one. They chose to become capitalist societies instead of social democracies. But capitalism implodes. Hence, India and China at this juncture in history.
American economists and pundits and politicians have never been the sharpest tools in the shed — so even when these problems were pointed out, they were dismissed. The first problem — Chinese and Indians being exploited to make stuff artificially cheaply for Americans — was imagined away as “the growth of the Asian and Chinese middle class.” It’s true that middle classes grew — but in a misshapen, bent kind of way. Not into true middle classes — a social entity with protections, rights, security, stability, safety. But into entities of despair, rage, and frustration. No matter how much richer those new “middle classes” got, they could never afford to keep up with the cost of living, which was pushed ever higher. These were fake middle classes, counterfeits of the real thing.
What happens when people are exploited? Well, sooner or later, they rebel against their failed systems. They search for a source of strength and pride. They begin to blame anyone different for their problems — never quite being able to make ends meet, anxiety, despair, insecurity, the fears of being left behind of never being rich enough to feel safe. And that’s exactly what happened. An aggressive techno-fascism rose in China. A chauvinist theofascism is rising in India. And in America, of course, fascism has already built camps and tortures little kids in them, while Americans watch, sullen, silent, defeated.
And yet these three events are far from disconnected. It’s not a coincidence that the linchpins of the global economy America built, America’s most significant economic partners, are facing political destabilization and authoritarian upheaval — just like America is. It’s a relationship. Capitalism implodes into fascism, by way of inequality, despair, greed, precarity — as labour’s share of income stagnates, but capital’s skyrockets. A society turns to hate and violence to expel the rage which has come to consume it. All the classic ills of capitalism emerged in all three of these societies — and those classic ills, from economic inequality to financial speculation to psychological narcissism to structural insecurity to socioeconomic precarity — implode into fascism.
Let me say it again, because it matters that we all understand it right about now. Capitalism implodes into fascism, as capital’s share of incomes skyrockets, but labour’s stagnates and falls. “Capital” is a tiny number of people — but labour is everyone else. No society can persist or endure when just a tiny few are growing unimaginably rich — and everyone else is forever struggling. Fascisms and authoritarians rise in the vacuum left behind. rises But that’s what America’s model of global capitalism was always going to lead to.
This is the true end of American empire. And it is going to be an ugly and violent thing. You see, here’s a disturbing fact: these three countries also have the largest militaries in the world. But there’s not room for three fascisms in one world. There’s only room for one. And so these now competing fascisms are destined to collide — and probably explode.
And that is the most damning indictment of America’s failed model of global capitalism yet. Because at this precise moment, the world needs to come together, to solve problems like climate change and mass extinction. But it is being driven further apart — by the fascisms that capitalism has imploded into, as America’s model of global prosperity falls apart.
It was destined to fail. Prosperity based on predation and exploitation never lasts. It always ends in greed, despair, violence, and ruin. Will the 21st century world finally learn the lesson of the collapse of America’s empire, which is taking China and India with it? You, my friend, are the judge of that.