US Strategy for Great Power Competition: More Graft and Hope for Wonder Weapons

There are two souls at least, at war with each other in the american ruling classes breast, even if nearly nobody fully recognizes that war even amongst those opposing the system, the first soul that of the capitalist war profiteer and merchant of death, who at least pretends to stand somehow above conflict itself and has no real interest in winning any of them, only in making obscene amounts of money from the slaughter.

It is this “soul” that is primarily responsible for the deterioration of the american industrial system and of all that which allowed the US to actually successfully wage war itself on a huge scale many decades ago.

It has been dominant for so long that even within the “elite” many have kinda forgotten that it ever was different, so thoroughly that they didn’t even realize that the actual base of american hard power was crumbling under their very nose, eagerly falling themselves for the propaganda of market magic and the superior private entrepreneurial spirit that would give them an unsurpassable advantage over the rest of the world.

These are also the people who were quite eager to turn China into the factory of the world, fully confident that eventually in the not far off future China too would inevitably be ruled by an unpatriotic, globalist billionaire class very similar to their US and Western counterparts who would be fellow shareholders in that global hypercapitalist, technocratic corporate “Utopia” with a hyperclass at the top not bound by any country or culture, only by billionaire class “solidarity”, with nation states, including the US, being embedded in, controlled and ideally ultimately replaced by unelected, faceless transnational bureaucracies responsible to nobody but the billionaire hyperclass.

These people still wield vast power and many of them have successfully adjusted to the beginning of the rise to dominance of the other “soul” and the new era of militant (predatory, elite, anti people) nationalism, even if they don’t really believe in it but calculate that it is only a passing phase and something they can use to eliminate everyone standing in the way of liberal, post national, privatised corporate globalism, something they eventually can discard to return to their true ideal.

The other soul is that of the hardpower obsessed, wouldbe world conquering warlord who very much wants to wage total war to achieve total victory and cares about the economy only insofar as it provides the instruments for the projection of hard power and can perhaps itself be used as another weapon of war to besiege, starve, subdue and destroy the enemy, beyond that their understanding of it is usually shallow at best and especially the more clever ones don’t like what they saw when circumstances over the last two years forced them to aquaint themselves with the reality of it in some more depth.

Despite lipservice to the ideals of soul number one that were culturally dominant for so long, soul number two really doesn’t care about any of them and about the last thing it would ever want would be for the US Government to be embedded in and controlled by transnational bureaucracies or even worse to wither away.

Those embodying this “soul” are more likely to see foreign oligarchs more as either enemies or temporarily useful idiots and tools but not anything like true partners.

Their interests are primarily of a military and political nature, not an economic one, power and dominance, not wealth, is what they live for.

Their guiding star is less the billionaire class, even the “native” american one, but the global dominance of the United States Government.

They are allied with the billionaire class of course, find themselves or found themselves for the last couple decades largely in a position subservient to the billionaire class, being dependent on them and needing to placate them and to play along with their zany, ridiculous schemes, but I think it would be a grave mistake to overly identity them with the billionaires and their interests or treat them as merely an appendage of the big capitalists.

It is much more of an alliance of convenience and the carriers of the second soul which include many of the Neocons and the permanent career bureaucrats of the government agencies and closely adjacent private but government funded organisations making up the actual state part of the Deep State, a huge and very powerful part of the overall system with ideas and plans of their own, that part with the most ability to use copious amounts of deadly violence, intimidation, espionage and blackmail, able to flout the law even more openly than any other section of the elites and indeed one that is in the ascendence and has seen a major resurgence for years now, these carriers probably have plenty of contempt for the homegrown billionaires and their poodles too, blaming them (correctly) for weakening the United States and it’s,government, depriving it of vital state capacity without which there can be no Empire and making America’s enemies stronger.

Both souls are deluded, psychopathic and completely depraved, murderous, full of callous contempt for the lower classes, everyone they consider to be weak and vulnerable, are hierarchy obsessed social darwinists even though their criteria for who constitutes the real elite are not the same and both want world domination even though both have different indeed mutually contradictory and incompatible ideas of who and what the ideal vehicle of world domination will be.

At the same time there are not only partially shared ideals and worldviews and goals, there is also plenty of overlap in means and methods and they both have rubbing off on each other, consciously or not, over the many decades of their partnership.

Still there are also huge and ultimately irreconcilable differences, even though a lot of influential people that belong primarily into one camp or the other nonetheless have a foot in both and are likely deluded and try with some success to delude others into thinking that there is no such conflict, even the less smart neocons are likely still mostly blind to or in denial about it even while the smarter ones see pretty clearly.

Concerning the perennial fascism discussion, on the question if it makes sense to compare the dominant and ever more openly authoritarian system in the US and throughout the collective west to fascism or not, the avatars of the second soul, the neocons and their Washington Blob fellow travelers, are definitely in many ways VERY close to being classical fascists.

They very much eternally aspire to ensure unlimited, centralized power for the US federal government and it’s executive arm, not only to promote some economic agenda but as a prime agenda in and off itself.

They want to ensure that that absolute power extends to the entire world and wherever they can get away with it (and arguably they get away with it increasingly often) they have no scruples or hesitation subordinating even powerful interests to the political objectives of Washington rather than the other way round.

They don’t care if weaponizing the dollar and the international financial system might potentially hurt some very rich people.

They don’t care if plenty of wealthy business people actually would prefer continuing to do business with China.

They openly speak about the need to restore state capacity and industrial planning.

If they could they would adopt a more russian or even chinese industrial model, at least for war production, in a heartbeat.

This is impossible for both political and plenty of non political reasons and the billionaires controlling the MIC are so powerful and entrenched that the deep state fascists haven’t been able to make a dent into their position for now, though personally I think it might be that Sullivan and co would like to use Eric Schmidt and the war venture capitalists to at first undermine and disrupt the positions of the entrenched “defense” giants somewhat in hopes of eventually being able to put them on a tighter leash, making them subservient to government diktat, so that they will ultimately be re-structured to produce on demand what the Pentagon actually needs to wage and win large scale wars.

If such a project has ANY chance of succeeding in the near or midterm future I of course cannot say, but I do expect something of that kind from the neocons and their Blob friends and if anyone can do it, can break the stranglehold of neoliberalism, it ironically will almost certainly be the neocons.

I do think that time ultimately works in their favor though.

I think the grand dream of the WEF associated liberal globalist billionaires, the avatars of the long dominant first american soul is dead, that global capitalism as we knew it is truly unsustainable and well into it’s terminal crisis for all the reasons so often discussed on this blog and behind countless of the links it provides us with daily.

In this era, even if quite possible it will not last long as eventually all of our technological civilisation comes crashing down in flames, I really think we will see (arguably are already seeing) a powerful and quite dramatic resurgemce of The State, in (especially in the West) it’s most hideous and brutal tyrannical and murderous form, not just even in the relations to the non western world but domestically and with power increasingly migrating back into government and away from the private sector.

And with it all the powerhungry sociopaths who for decades went corporate and who increasingly will find working for the state more attractive once more.

Many naturally never left and there was never a dearth of sociopaths in the public sector, especially everything even remotely related to “security” and “intelligence”.

By the way, short digression towards the end of an already ridiculously overlong comment, the not so good old CIA is of course one of THE central agencies of the Deep State (ha) but was historically especially closely aligned with the billionaire class and their primarily economic and class based over national interests, unsurprisingly seeing how it originated as an agency by and for Wallstreet lawyers and bankers and also heavily recruiting within that millieu.

I found myself thinking that the CIA perhaps in more recent decades was brought more fully in line with the rest of the Deep State proper and the neocons in part because there was something of a military takeover of the CIA, with particularly neocon aligned military men serving as the firm’s directors and the agency generally recruiting more from inside the military.

And of course the MIC as a whole is in many ways even in it’s corrupt, inefficient neoliberal form already naturally more aligned with the political goals and preferred methods of the neocons than other, more civilian sections of big capital might have been by inclination alone.

Anyway, if/when we move slowly but surely into a post neoliberal and certainly post free trade, post globalisation, eventually post capitalist world, not because anyone in power wanted that but out of sheer necessity, states everywhere will increasingly take comnand over everything, including the economy again, because that will be the only way to keep something remotely resembling the system we have now, at least on the surface level, going for some more time.

It’s governments, not for profit corporations who will be better equipped to deal with the realities of shrinking and/or collapsing economies, collapsing ecosystems, climate catastrophy, shrinking populations, technological regress, etc.

They’ll at first be all there is, at least until people seriously start to think up and build some post collapse communities or what have you.

But the state model as such has proven incredibly resilient for many thousands of years now, coming roaring back from innumerable total collapses, putting Dracula and Freddy Krueger to shame with it’s ability to rise from the grave.

There is a lot of crowing about the oh so fabulous resilience of capitalism or even neoliberalism itsef, but it’s less than nothing compared to the state, that can work and organise both societies and effective, lethal mass violence on almost every level of technology, on wildly different levels of societal and economic complexity, comparable with a wide variety of radically different economic systems.

Capitalism and it’s corporations need incomparably more specific and rare and brittle preconditions for their emergence and perpetuation.

The vast Inca Empire didn’t even need the wheel, an alphabet or almost any kind of metalwork.

Let’s see modern corporate capitalism work with that.

Anyway, the point is not the return of something resembling the Inca Empire, though in the long run that might very well happen, it’s that states probably will keep a hollowed out, zombified, ugly, rotting husk of our technological civilisation going for a while, by necessity ever more violent and repressive to keep it together at all, with a sort of quasi capitalist/corporate veneer, even though the actual corporations will long have ceased to be profitable, even though most more than regional trade will have atrophied and under the facade the system will also by necessity, not any sort of inclination or conviction, have become more “communistic” in the worst possible sense, defacto probably propped up by some sort of true slavery.

At least I suspect we will see something like that in much of the world, of course not everywhere.

I think we might well be in the early stages of developing into such a society.

And the neocons and their ilk might be both a symptom and in a way partial drivers of such a development.

The resurgence of interstate warfare will probably stay with us for the forseeable future, even far past the final end of capitalism as we knew it sadly, but of course it also preceded modern capitalism by millenia, even as techlevels decline.

Though at least the ability to project power over vast distances with shrink quickly and states will be increasingly restricted once more to wage war in their immediate or at least relatively close neighbourhood, as they have been for most of history.

That is, at least if the neocons or their medium term future ideological descendents don’t cause some extinction level event, because they certainly will make the most out of the time window where global powerprojection yet remains a possibility even if more and more difficult, and it well could be the recognition that very soon world domination will be out of reach for everyone, forever, rendering everything they lived and strove for completely irrelevant, that could finally push them over the edge to destroy the world out of pure spite.

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Conor Gallagher