On the decline of the US and the escalation of permanent imperialist warfare

Creato: 20 Marzo 2021 Ultima modifica: 17 Aprile 2021
Scritto da Giorgio Paolucci Visite: 300

 From D-M-D' N°16   [IT][FR]

 

In our vocabulary,

there is one word that most of all represents a hope for the future;

this word is: Communism

(G.Greco)

This text has been automatically translated by deepl.com

Donald Trump has really tried everything to overturn the result of the presidential election. He even pushed his most ardent supporters to occupy and ransack the firedollarseat of Congress, convened to certify Joe Biden's victory, as required by the Constitution. The purpose of the raid, which was armed, seemed to be to block the work of the deputies and to kidnap the Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and to teach Vice-President Pence a lesson, Klu Klux Klan style, for not opposing the parliamentary procedure for ratifying Biden's victory, which Trump considered illegitimate because, according to him, it had been achieved by means of serious electoral fraud. The charge has never been withdrawn, despite the fact that all state and federal courts have certified that it was unfounded.

To call it a coup attempt, in the classic sense of the term, is perhaps excessive, although - according to the latest FBI investigations - there was some complicity on the part of some local police officers and executives and some MPs of the Republican Party.

In any case, it would be misleading to consider it an isolated episode, the result of Trump's disturbed personality, as if he were a would-be dictator from any banana republic and not the president of the world's leading imperialist power. It would be even more so if we did not take into account that, despite the numerous scandals that have punctuated his presidency and the borderline insane management of the pandemic (first denied and then, after being infected and cured thanks to an avant-garde therapy costing more than a million dollars, trivialised to the level of any ordinary flu), he has obtained more than 74 million votes (46.91%), a huge number by US standards. Barack Obama, for example, was re-elected with just under 66 million votes.

 The character is undoubtedly a borderline figure in many ways and, like any    conscience matured under the bark of money, devoid of any scruples or moral qualms; But precisely for this reason, while maintaining such a strong following, the narrative that describes his presidency as a simple accident on the road is somewhat flawed, so that it completely obscures what is a much more complex and contradictory reality with a myriad of fracture lines that cross both the two major parties and their social blocs of reference, as well as the States among themselves and within them, the institutions and even the police forces themselves, in other words the whole of society. We are not dealing with an accident, but with contradictions that go back further than that, which the extravagances of an unhinged president may have exacerbated but not determined.

And here it is appropriate to take a step back to return to the structural crisis that started in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s and then spread to the whole world.

The answer to the crisis

Caused - in line with Marx's crisis theory, which we will not take up here but refer to our other contributions[i] - by the fall in the average rate of profit,

led the US bourgeoisie to further strengthen what had already been the strengths of the empire following the end of the Second World War. In particular, with the 1971 denunciation of the Bretton Woods agreements. The obligation, which those agreements had laid down, to set aside one ounce of gold for every 35 dollars put into circulation was removed, as a guarantee that the dollar, now an inconvertible note, would be used as a reserve currency and a means of international payment (world money) in place of gold.

It was an authentic revolution: the US gave itself the power to print a large amount of money without producing a corresponding amount of real wealth, which was thus to some extent replaced by the production of oil and raw materials from third countries. Being able to control, directly, thanks to their enormous military power, and/or through their allies (Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc.), the oil production in the Middle East, they gave themselves the power to modify, according to the circumstances and the economic situation, the variations in the value of the whole monetary mass denominated in dollars due to the variations in the price of oil, also quoted in dollars, determined by means of some war or by imposing sanctions against some "rebel" producing country. In effect, they gave themselves the power to appropriate significant shares of the surplus value produced on a world scale by interfering in the process of shaping the price of oil, and therefore also of the dollar, to their exclusive advantage. [ii]

This was the start of the process by which, shortly afterwards, the mechanisms of parasitic appropriation of surplus value would prevail over those based on the direct production of goods (industrial production). It was then that microelectronics applied to production and management processes would sanction the definitive overtaking of the so-called "Finance Factory" by the "Industry Factory", making possible both the delocalisation of entire production cycles to countries with average labour costs much lower than those of the most capitalistically developed countries, and the deregulation and unification of financial and labour markets on a global scale.

Being able to pay them with dollars which, as world money, only a small part of which would be used by third countries to buy goods produced in the United States and the rest kept abroad to regulate international trade, it became increasingly convenient for the US to import and not produce the goods needed to satisfy domestic consumption: it was like paying them with bills of exchange with no maturity or with a much longer maturity. It was like paying them with bills of exchange with no maturity or with a very long maturity. And so, bills of exchange a go go, to import goods from abroad but also to renew those that had expired.

It seemed as if we had finally discovered that philosopher's stone, sought in vain by the ancient alchemists, capable of transforming base metals (in this case paper) into gold.

The United States thus became the undisputed regulator of the process of capitalist accumulation on a global scale, but no longer based on the greater strength of its industrial apparatus, but on the power of its military apparatus, which was necessary to impose recognition of the dollar as the only form of world money.

In this respect, the objection raised by the then president is emblematic.

Reagan said to those concerned about the continuing growth of the trade deficit and both public and private debt: "A high trade deficit and a large inflow of foreign capital are not necessarily a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength [...]. Given our growing economy, we can afford to buy the assets of those who are less solid than us'. [iii]say: 'why get your hands dirty producing goods when, thanks to our dominant position, we can get them at far lower cost if not for free from those who do not have the same strength as us? "In effect, the parasitic appropriation of surplus value was being made a systemic and no longer an occasional, or at least incidental, component in the unfolding of the process of capital accumulation.

One did not need a crystal ball to see the possible start of a process that would in time lead to the fracturing of all the internal and international economic, social and political structures as they had been consolidated since the end of the Second World War.

Deindustrialisation, the 'betrayal' of the technological revolution, 

The first to be affected was the domestic labour market. Until all of the early 1970s, the majority of the American labour force was employed in manufacturing, particularly in the metalworking sector. The working class also felt that its economic and social status was concentrated here, part of the so-called 'middle class'.

A worker at General Motors or Ford, for example, earning an hourly wage of around $37 today, could provide his family with a more than decent standard of living and allow his children to obtain a level of education (diploma or degree) that would enable them to aspire, with a good chance of success, to improve their socio-economic situation considerably. But as more and more industrial production was relocated and/or replaced by imports, many of these jobs evaporated. Initially, those that were more specifically blue collar and less skilled, and then gradually many of the more skilled.

 There was a widespread conviction among the "community" of bourgeois economists that the new, incipient technological revolution, like all those that had preceded it, would soon generate so many new, better-qualified and better-paid jobs that it would more than compensate for those that had been destroyed. As we know, at least up to now, exactly the opposite has happened: increasingly skilled jobs have been replaced, and only to a small extent, by more de-skilled and lower-paid jobs. It is precisely: "During the Reagan years, the gap between high and low incomes widened and began to weigh on the conditions of the middle classes, while the poverty index, 15-17% of the population, returned to the levels of 1965 before the Johnsonian Great Society benefits arrived". [iv] And even before Trump was elected, Walmart, the largest retail chain and in the meantime also the largest employer in the United States, was paying its workers $8.80 an hour, and what's worse, most of the jobs were temporary and without any social protection, including health care. And so if: "In 1970, the proportion of national wealth owned by middle-income households was 62%; it fell to 43% in 2014 and in the last fifteen years has fallen by 28%." [v]

For some time, the financial factory has somehow remedied this; not by creating more and better jobs, but by granting loans to anyone with even an identity card. Loans to support current consumption, but also to buy shares or a house and even to renew maturing bonds. For a while this worked, and it really seemed that real wealth flowed, in accordance with Milton Friedman's monetarist theories, from the printing of money.

An empire founded on debt

And so, as we said, debt galore: debt instead of wages; debt to finance imports and debt to pay off previously issued debt; in short, an empire built on debt. But in the meantime, as employment fell and the value of wages fell, the door to poverty opened wide for many workers.

In 2010, after George Busch Jr's two terms in office, 'The poverty rate... is 15%, the highest since 1993, or 49.7 million people: the poverty level is calculated at $23,783 a year, but 17 million have an income of less than $12,000'. In other words, with the advent of the financial and microelectronic factory, work has gone from being the main source of wealth to being synonymous with generalised poverty. On the other hand, the rich have become even richer and today: "The 1% of the super-rich have 21.8% of the income (a figure that has more than doubled since 1980) and own 33.4% of the net national wealth. Adding the number of the super rich to the number of the rich, 10% of the population own 69.8%"[vi].

In other words, the rich have become even richer at the expense of the working class and a growing part of the small and middle class.

The fact is that the appropriation of surplus value by parasitic means, in this case by means of the monopoly of world money printing, only to a very small extent, does not generate wages, so that the more it expands, the more those who live from the sale of their labour-power alone become poorer.

Now, 'In a country that bases its success [...] on the great investment that everyone makes in themselves, on the idea that with your own strength you can build an empire from nothing, on individualism as a religion... [ and in which - ed.If you fall, it's your fault [...] If you don't come first, it's your fault", [vii]it was completely unthinkable that a similar widespread impoverishment should not produce deep lacerations in the social fabric and feed the search for an "enemy" (internal and/or external, it doesn't matter) on whom to lay the blame for one's "failure". This will be the sentiment that Trump will use as leverage in his rise to the White House.

The first creaks of the empire

The empire's debt grew and its industrial output in relation to that of its competing allies fell sharply. In percentages: 'Between 1970 and 1987 [...] American production compared to that of Japan went from 495 to 188, that of Germany from 547 to 188 and that of Britain from 820 to 649. In relation to total EEC production, it has fallen from 158 to 104. The ratio of American GDP to world GDP also changed. In 1945, at the end of the war, American GDP was 50% of world GDP. By 1969 it had already fallen to 38% and in 1980 to 26%. Today it is at 22% and continues to fall".[viii] As economic relations changed in favour of competitors, the link between them and the empire weakened. Paradoxically, this link will become increasingly thinner after the US, by defeating the USSR, eliminates its most formidable enemy, but, at the same time, it is also the condition whereby, for example, the EEC countries, no longer having a formidable enemy on their borders, were able to loosen the subservient relationship that entailed US 'protection'.

With no more enemies at the door for what had become the world's largest manufacturing area, the temptation to give itself a currency that would allow it to: "buy goods and services abroad by paying with currencies instead of other goods"[ix] became an irresistible attraction. Thus began the process that would lead to the birth of the euro.

The US establishment, including the Federal Reserve, believes that it will not have a long life. On the other hand, it was the first time in history that a paper currency was given that could also function as world money without the support of a powerful nation state and an equally powerful military apparatus. No account was taken, however, of the fact that the seigniorage of the dollar not only weighed on US/EU trade but on all world trade, so that it was in the interests of most agents operating on international markets that an alternative currency to the dollar should be created, one that would offer them the possibility of choosing, from time to time, the one that best suited their interests between the two currencies acting as world money in the field.

Certainly the euro, with all its limitations, is still alive and well and, according to some financial analysts, at 37.8% against the dollar's 37.6%, it is now the most widely used currency in international trade. What really matters is that by limiting the circulation of the dollar on the international markets, it has become increasingly difficult for the US to finance its growing trade deficit and debt.

And it will be increasingly problematic to the point of forcing them, in an attempt to slow down the decline of the dollar and their imperial power, to militarily occupy first the "Crossroads of Central Asia", Afghanistan, and then Iraq. The former, to be on the border with some former Soviet republics with large reserves of natural gas; the latter, to take direct control of it as one of the world's largest oil producers and to prevent it, as Saddam Hussein had declared he would do, from quoting the price of Iraqi oil in euros instead of dollars.

While this has put a brake on the decline of the dollar, it has also led to a sharp increase in military spending, which has reinforced the growth of debt. According to a study by the Watston Institute of Brown University, the two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) cost something like 6,000 billion dollars.[x] A burden that will become even heavier in 2007 when the "subprime crisis" explodes. "Mammarella further informs us that in 2008, the first year of the crisis and Obama's first term in office, the American national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars. It rises to 16 trillion in 2012 [...] but then continues to grow and at the time of Trump's arrival [it's at -n.d.r. ] 19.9 [and arrives- n.d.r. ] in 2019 to 23 trillion" dollars. [xi]

 

The Obama presidency

 

Obama, therefore, inherits from Bush a country in the midst of the most serious crisis since 1929; militarily engaged in two wars that were not lost but not won, and heavily impoverished.

 He campaigned and won the election under the slogan "Yes, We Can!" and promised a radical change in both foreign and economic policy. (Yes, We Can!) and promised a radical turnaround in both foreign and economic policy.

In foreign policy, it announces its intention to withdraw the troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq in order to reduce the huge cost in terms of both money and human lives. In order to maintain control over them, however, it finances the establishment and training of local military forces sufficient to provide stability to friendly governments 'democratically' elected by the United States itself.

But, as the old adage goes: there is a sea between what is said and what is done, in Afghanistan the objective is immediately unattainable due to the resistance of the Taliban. From Iraq, where a government supported by the Shiite majority of the population had been installed, the American army managed to withdraw in 2011, only to return two years later, when it was about to fall under the control of the Iranian Shiite Ayatollahs and civil war broke out on its border in neighbouring Syria in which Iran and Russia supported the Syrian government forces of Bashar al-Assad and the US, France and Turkey the rebels.

 Nor will Obama have better luck with the other objective he had set himself: to stabilise the entire Middle East area by putting an end to the long-standing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of a previous Saudi proposal that envisaged: a) Israel's withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders, so that the Palestinians could establish their own independent state; b) full recognition of the Jewish state by all 22 member states of the Arab League.

Obama will not even have time to explain the plan in a speech to the students of Cairo University[xii] when he receives the firmest refusal to accept it from the entire Israeli establishment and the powerful American Jewish lobbies.

The fact is that, as Republican Senator Ron Paul said in a speech to the Senate in 2006, 'in order to induce and oblige foreign countries, through their military superiority and control over the printing of money, to produce and thus finance their own countries'[xiii], the direct exercise of force cannot be dispensed with.

delegating it to others without jeopardising its own hegemony.

As far as the economy is concerned, in order to restore competitiveness, Obama is betting heavily on the development of technologies for the production of energy from renewable sources (Green economy). He would like to increase public investment in the sector by 85%, in particular for the production of cars with energy technology from renewable sources, but due to strong opposition from the lobby of powerful oil companies and the traditional automotive sector, with the exception of stricter legislation on environmental pollution and the blocking of oil exploration on the seabed, almost everything will remain on paper. However, he managed to push through a very partial reform of the health care system (Affordable Care Act or Obama Care), thanks to which 32 million Americans, who were completely deprived of it, were able to take out health insurance with a state contribution.

Meanwhile, the national debt and the balance of trade deficit have continued their run. In the eight years of the Obama presidency, the former will increase by a staggering $9 trillion and the latter, at the end of his term in 2017, will reach a staggering $510bn, of which $327bn will be with China.

Towards the end of his term of office, there was also a certain recovery in employment after it had been literally decimated by the subprime crisis. However, these jobs are precarious, unskilled, involuntary part-time and almost always fixed-term and, what is more, poorly paid. As a result, the gap between the share of wealth owned by the richest and that of the middle class and the poorest will continue to grow. "In 1970, the proportion of national wealth owned by middle-income families was 62%; in 2004, it fell to 43% and in the last 15 years it has fallen by 28%". [xiv]

The Trump surprise 

While Obama, as we have seen before, in order to stabilise US supremacy, had staked everything on the conquest of technological supremacy in the field of renewable energies (green economy) and on the pacification of the Middle East, exerting his influence on "friendly" local governments (soft power), Trump turns everything upside down and aims to re-establish the status quo before the crisis of the early 1970s. He takes Reagan's 1980 campaign slogan "Make America Great" and adds "Again" to it. Throughout the campaign he will only repeat it, adding America First and - implicitly - Americans. Contradicting all the polls, he won the primaries and then, against all odds, won the White House. Rivers of ink have been spilled on the man and his personality: he is not a saint and does not even hide it, indeed he boasts of it: "I do play with the bankrupcy law", he says in an interview with the weekly Newsweek. In short, he is not exactly what you would call a gentleman.

But he knows Americans and he is a good communicator. He knows that for the average American, losing his job, becoming impoverished, even before its economic consequences, weighs devastatingly on his pride: he is a looser, a 'loser' which, in America, by definition the 'land of opportunity', is 'one of the cruellest insults'.[xv] And, like the perfect barker that he is, he absolves him of his 'guilt' by attributing it to the other: to the external enemy, the invader and/or the immigrant who steals your job, and even to the poor man who is poor because of him and who lives on public subsidies. And in line with this, he begins by declaring war on the foreigner who has enriched himself at the expense of the United States and on the entire political establishment in Washington that would have allowed it. "The oath I take today," he says in the inaugural address of his presidency on 20 January 2017, "is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. For many decades, we have enriched foreign industries to the detriment of American industries; we have subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing our military system to be impoverished; we have defended the borders of other nations while refusing to defend our own; and we have spent trillions abroad while America's infrastructure ended in ruin and disrepair. We have enriched other countries while our own country's wealth, strength, and security disappeared over the horizon. [...] We who have gathered here today are about to impose a new order that will be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every courtroom of power. From now on a new vision of things will govern our land. From now on, the slogan will be: America First!". [xvi]

It is all false but, as is often the case with serial liars, having repeated the same story a thousand times, he must have finally convinced himself that it was the truth. What is certain is that, promising to wreak havoc, he dug up the hatchet and set off against everything and everyone. First of all, it blocks the entry into the United States of citizens from Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, even if they have a regular residence or work permit or are seeking asylum for political or humanitarian reasons. The measure itself is of little practical relevance but serves to show his voters and America's "enemies" how determined he is to keep his promises and strengthen his electorate. Then he removes most of the environmental pollution legislation passed by Obama, withdraws from the Paris climate accords (COP 21) and gives the green light to the so-called "shale revolution" to produce oil and gas by fracking with the aim of gaining complete energy autonomy, being able to export a large part of it and by this means halting and reversing the decline of the empire.

He lashes out at the euro and the European Union, accusing them of manipulating the single currency, like China manipulates the yuan, to the detriment of the dollar. It threatens to withdraw from NATO if the European member states do not increase their contributions by 30% and, to top it all off, threatens a "carnage" if they refuse to import American gas (freedom gas) to replace Russian gas. [xvii]

It pulls out of the nuclear deal with Iran and intensifies sanctions against it to block its oil exports. It does the same with Venezuela and Cuba, which supports it.  

While waiting for the construction of the wall along the border with Mexico to be completed, he launches measures of rare ferocity against illegal immigration.

Finally, he inaugurated the policy of tariffs against China and the European Union, with the aim of putting an end to the enrichment "of foreign industries to the detriment of American industries" in order to bring back the jobs lost through relocation and create millions of new ones.

In short: as he had promised in the election campaign, America and Americans first and foremost, forcing at gunpoint and all manner of economic blackmail 'enemy' foreigners to replenish the empire's coffers as if forty years had passed in vain. As if the coffers of others were a St. Patrick's well and not, in their turn, countries exhausted by the now epoch-making crisis of capitalism; as if there were no euro to counter the dominance of the dollar and as if the oil market had remained the same as it was forty years ago and had not instead triggered a downward trend in its price due to the massive entry of new producers (Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, etc.) and the reduction in demand due to the growing use of natural gas and energy from renewable sources.

Above all, as if there were no China, which, thanks to the bestial exploitation of its workforce, [xviii]had gone from being the great reservoir of cheap labour that it was at the time of Reagan to becoming the world's greatest industrial power, capable of competing on an equal footing and from every commercial, technological and scientific point of view with everyone, including the United States.

China

In less than twenty years," says G. Mammarella, "China has built 4.2 million km of roads, 113,000 of which are motorways, thousands of high-speed railways (not even one in the United States), a railway line that reaches as far as Tibet... From 193 dollars per capita in 1980, it has risen to the current 10,000.According to the World Bank, between 1981 and 2004, it managed to lift half a billion Chinese out of poverty and... in 2014 it took first place with a GDP/PPP (Gross Domestic Product/Purchasing Power Parity) of 27.80 trillion dollars... China's records do not end here; they can be found in all fields: scientific research, especially engineering and computer science, the number of university graduates ( 4 times higher than in the US)... and according to the Academy of Arts and Science in 2019 it has overtaken the US in research and development spending." [xix]

Since 2013, it has been building the so-called 'Belt and Road', the New Silk Road, a road and rail network combined with a sea route across the Indian Ocean which, once completed, will link it to Europe via Central Asia, the Middle East and Russia, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. More than one trillion dollars are expected to be invested in the more than 60 countries it will pass through. In addition, China National Petroleum has signed a contract with Iran for the development of the South Pars offshore gas field in the Persian Gulf, the largest natural gas reserve in the world. In 2014, another contract was signed with Russia for the construction of a pipeline from Siberia to eastern China, 2200 km long, to supply 38 billion cubic metres of gas per year for 30 years. In fact, with these two agreements, China has greatly reduced its dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf, which is strictly controlled by the US Navy.

In view of all this, it was therefore entirely predictable that the imposition of import duties on Chinese and/or European goods was very likely to turn out to be a sort of political and economic boomerang. Frightened by Trump's blackmailing policy, many European countries, such as Germany, Holland (11% of its exports go to China) and Italy itself, for which exports are a fundamental component of GDP, have moved closer and closer to China, signing various trade agreements with it. Japan has done the same. And just on 20 January, while Biden was taking office at the White House, China and the European Union, after seven years of negotiations, announced that they had reached a very detailed agreement (Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, CAI) which provides, among other things, for the reciprocal opening of investments by both countries in their respective markets, including, albeit with some restrictions, financial investments. And this after only a few months earlier, China together with Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand announced that they had reached an agreement for the establishment of the largest free trade and investment area in the world (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships - RCEP).

The repercussions of the import duty policy on the US economy itself were no less severe. "Spending by foreign investors who decided to set their sights on the US to buy new companies, stocks or real estate or to expand their presence in the US market fell by a dramatic 37.7% between 2018 and 2019. Not only that, if we scratch beneath the surface of the trade balance figures, we find that exports have also fallen for the first time since 2016 (-1.3%) and that the drop in imports has not been followed by an expansion of the national production and manufacturing system, with the sole exception of the oil sector, with respect to which the United States has become more self-sufficient in a year in which, among other things, demand fell and the price of the barrel collapsed. In fact, as the government's Bureau of Statistics data show, net of oil trade, the US trade deficit actually increased in the first three years of the Trump presidency, as did the deficit to

the rest of the world, excluding China, which grew between 2018 and 2019 by $52.32 billion'[xx] .

While China has not suffered any major setbacks, the duties it has imposed on imports of agricultural products from the United States in retaliation have literally wiped out a number of American farmers in rural states that voted massively for Trump in 2016. Up until the end of 2017, China accounted for 60% of the US soya export market (the US is the world's leading soya producer, ed.), a turnover of more than $14 billion. With the advent of Trump's tariffs, these numbers plummeted to zero in November 2018. [xxi] And, confides one farmer to Giovanna Pancheri, who interviews him, China: '... For us, soya is irreplaceable, but we are not irreplaceable for them. My Chinese customers have simply looked a little further south, they have gone to Brazil, where in recent years farmers have grown rich on our ashes'.[xxii] And this is not only true for soya, but for all FMCGs. "In January 2020, nearly 17% of all goods imported into the United States found themselves with some new form of barrier to entry, contributing, according to the Congressional Budget Office, to a 0.5% reduction in gross domestic product and an equal increase in consumer prices. A real, very high, disguised tax that, in 2020, cost each American family an average of 1,277 dollars", [xxiii]thus adding poverty to poverty in a country that counts something like 100 million poor people; where, as in San Francisco, a graduate with an income of 80 thousand dollars may find himself, due to the high cost of living and in particular rents, at risk of poverty. This is because, over the last few decades, the gap in the distribution of wealth has widened not only between the minority of ultra-billionaires and the rest of the population, but also between the various states: those that are predominantly agricultural and/or manufacturing have become poorer. On the other hand, California, with its Silicon Valley, where most of the giants of microelectronics and information technology (Intel, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) as well as the major web giants (Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are based, has become much richer. But even here there are big differences between a minority of the super-rich and highly qualified technicians and the rest of the population. As a result, the demand for housing by the rich has grown, and more and more of them have moved there, and rents have skyrocketed (between 2010 and 2020 they rose by more than 70 per cent), so that many residents, like our graduate with an income of $80,000 a year, have found themselves "enjoying" the mild climate of the San Francisco Bay Area by sleeping under the stars or in a caravan in the car park of some supermarket.

In short, whichever way you look at it, the 'war' to make America first again has failed. The manufacturing companies that were supposed to go back in have stayed where they were, and the few that remained have done so by replacing large numbers of workers with ever more advanced machines. But what is worse is that the very (former) middle class that had voted en masse for Trump in the hope that he would turn their fortunes around has found itself even poorer, thanks in part to the tax reform strongly advocated by Trump, which has left taxes on lower and lower-middle incomes substantially unchanged and has reduced those on the profits of large corporations from 35% to 21% and those on incomes of $500,000 or more from 39.6% to 37%. If we add to all this the partial counter-reform in health care, thanks to which 13 million Americans have found themselves without any health care, it is easy to explain how, in the country of glittering skyscrapers and of Zuckerberg who founded a company specialising in space tourism for the infamous 1% of the American population, third-world forms of poverty can spread. Giovanni Pancheri, who has travelled the length and breadth of the country during the Trump presidency, says: "The poverty that I have seen travelling around the USA I have never seen in any other western country. It is a poverty that changes bodies, that you can see in rotten, black teeth, in swollen bellies supported by bony legs in the countryside, or in the unmoderate obesity of the urban suburbs, in the wrinkles that dig into young-eyed faces, in the skeletal arms marked by the bruises of too many needles. Mind you, the bodies I am telling you about are not only those of the homeless, but also of people like Vanessa who have had or still have a job, with modest homes, with a car that in the most extreme cases is also their home. In this tangle of plagues, addictions and illnesses lies the measure of the conditions

a person's economic situation. This happens when health care becomes a commodity, a source of profit to be exploited like oil or coal. [xxiv]

In such a context, it was inevitable that frustration and anger would mount up beyond measure and that the fracture in the social fabric would become a chasm. A gulf has now been dug not only between the tiny minority of the richest and the vast majority of the population, but also between the poorest and the poorest; between first-generation immigrants and second- or third-generation immigrants; between the suburbs and the inner cities; between those who have only a roof over their heads and those who have only a pavement to live under, and so on. It is therefore not surprising that Trump, having succeeded in channelling so much social frustration, so much hatred against 'politics' assumed in an entirely abstract way, has been able to entertain the idea of being able to use it to force the confirmation of his presidency.

Biden inherits a country that is weakened internationally and deeply divided internally, including between the different components of the bourgeoisie itself. Companies with a national dimension, being more exposed to international competition, advocate protectionist policies and are pro-Raphaelite, as opposed to those that derive most of their profits from their investments abroad. According to Forbes "there are at least 500 American companies that have investments abroad equal to or greater than those in the United States. Among them is Microsoft, which has 97% of its capital abroad, Jhonson & Jhonson 98.6%, Cisco System 95.7%, Pepsi Co. 96.9%, Qualcomm 96.9%, and the United States is the largest. [xxv]And then the big investment funds, the so-called platform capitalism, the military-industrial complex which includes among its ranks companies such as Loched Martin, Boeing, Northorop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, i.e.: "By far the largest producers and exporters of weapons in the world... [with a turnover of hundreds of billions each year]".[xxvi] And last but not least - as Marx would say - the Federal Reserve. It is called upon to finance the world's largest debt ever recorded in the entire history of the United States. Already in 2019 it amounted to a stratospheric 23 trillion dollars, to which must be added more than one hundred billion dollars to cope with the devastating effects of the pandemic and to alleviate in some way the deep social rifts caused by growing poverty. If the proportion of this debt circulating abroad "without maturity" were to be reduced even further than it has already been in recent years, this would open up a chasm in the public accounts of such dimensions that state bankruptcy cannot be ruled out.

On balance, then, the US cannot in any way reduce or renounce its international projection. Without globalisation, America as such would simply cease to exist.

Containing the Chinese advance is therefore a matter of vital importance.

It is easy, therefore, to foresee that Biden too will leverage his country's military might to prevent its disintegration. The tones and forms of diplomatic approach may change, but his foreign policy cannot fail to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor. In this regard, Manlio Dinucci writes, summarising and extrapolating from an article written by Biden himself for the magazine "Foreign Affaires" - March/April 2020, and which then formed the 2020 platform of the Democratic Party:" The first step will be to strengthen NATO...To that end, Biden will make "the necessary investments" for the United States to maintain "the most powerful military force in the world" and at the same time ensure that "our NATO allies increase their defense spending"...The second step will be to convene, in the first year of his presidency, " A Global Summit for Democracy"; it will be attended by "the nations of the free world...at the forefront of defending democracy.” The Summit will decide on "collective action against global threats". First of all "to counter Russian aggression by keeping the Alliance's military capabilities sharp and imposing costs on Russia for its violations of international norms"; at the same time "to build a united front against offensive actions and human rights violations by China, which is extending its global power"". [xxvii]

One has to ask, though, does it suit Europe? The defence of democracy, the violation of human rights? Is Saudi Arabia, to which the US sells truckloads of weapons, much better off than China and Russia when it comes to democracy and human rights? Not to mention Bolsonaro's Brazil, Israel, which has been illegally occupying Palestinian territories for over 50 years, or Al Sisi's Egypt, to which the US has just recently sold 168 tactical missiles worth $197 million. They claim to be the beacon of democracy, but then they have built an electoral system with so many constraints that, in fact, more than 40% of the black population and those with an income of less than $20,000 a year are prevented from going to the polls and voting. If this is the pulpit from which the sermon comes, it is very hard to believe in such nobility of spirit. If, as the Romans used to say, 'pecunia non olet' is called a dollar, why should it be called a euro?

 In short: Trump or Biden, if it's not soup, it's wet bread. It is that the United States could do with a weak European Union, even better if divided, with each country having its own currency. And the call for a common source is in fact an authentic "aut aut": either with us or against us, counting on the fact that, when faced with the obligation to choose, some EU countries, especially some of those in the so-called "Visegrad bloc", will emulate Great Britain. But can the European Union really renounce the immense Chinese market, precisely when it is with China that it does most of its trade, without inflicting a heavy economic and financial blow on itself? And when, because of the acceleration of the crisis caused by the pandemic, many companies risk closure and millions of workers may be laid off? For the time being, apart from the official declarations, the EU has given the answer, on 20 January, by signing the investment agreement with China.

It is that the situation is such that no one can concede anything to the other without having to bear serious consequences. That goes for the United States and it goes for the European Union. But also for China. Don't forget that it, too, has to deal with a steadily growing public debt (7.3% higher in 2020 than in 2019). There are still pockets of extreme poverty in rural areas, and it can in no way afford a significant reduction in the assets of its trade balance, which constitutes the most substantial part of its GDP, without seriously compromising the stability of its economic-productive system. Of course, among all these players in the field, it is the EU, which is in many ways an unfinished business, that is in danger of breaking up: much depends on how, over time, the current system of international alliances will recombine under the blows of the crisis.

One thing is certain, however: the pandemic has so aggravated the permanent imperialist war that holds the world prisoner, hitherto fought almost always by "proxy", that the direct involvement of the major imperialist powers has become inevitable and the risk, given the enormous destructive power of modern weapons, conventional and otherwise, of turning into the greatest catastrophe in the history of mankind, much more concrete. And all this, for the sole sake of capitalist preservation. Therefore, considered from a class point of view it is the war of the bourgeoisie against the world proletariat, i.e. against the vast majority of humanity, against life. And as such it confirms that the capitalist mode of production admits nothing but its destruction.

No other alternative is given that does not involve the barbarism of the entire society. But, as a poem by P. Paolo Pasolini says: "...there is no despair without a little hope". And as our unforgettable comrade Gianfranco Greco used to say: "In our vocabulary there is a word that more than any other represents hope for the future; this word is: Communism".

[i]               On this subject, see: K. Marx - Capital - book three - chapters 3 and following, as well as the volume we have published: The Crisis of Capitalism - The Wall Street Crash and various contributions that can be consulted in the "Economic Issues" section in the "Economic Issues" section our website www.istitutoonoratodamen,it and specifically: The law of the fall in the average rate of profit - http://www.istitutoonoratodamen.it/joomla34/index.php/questionieconomiche/162-cadutasaggio.

[ii]      For further information on this subject see: G. Paolucci - Il saliscendi del prezzo del petrolio ovvero il dominio del virtuale sul reale - http://www.istitutoonoratodamen.it/joomla34/index.php/questionieconomiche/190-petrolioreale.

[iii]     Quote taken from: Giovanna Pancheri - La Rinascita Americana - Ed. Sem - page 23

[iv]    G. Mammarella - Dove va l'America - Il Mulino- pag.12.

[v]     Ib. p. 43

[vi]    G. Mammarella - op. cit. - pp. 42 - 43.

[vii]   G. Pancheri -op. cit. - pp. 24 -25.

[viii]  G. Mammarella - op. cit. pp. 19-20.

[ix]    Marcello De Cecco - La Repubblica - Affari & Finanza of 4.05.1998.

[x]     See G. Mammarella - op. cit. p. 40.

[xi]    Op. cit. p. 42.

[xii]   The full speech can be read at: https://www.peacelink.it/gdp/a/29630.html

[xiii]  Quoted from: Paolo Conti and Elido Fazi -:Euroil- Fazi Editore - pag.35.

[xiv]  G. Mammarella - op. cit. p. 43

[xv]   G. Pancheri - op. cit. p. 6.

[xvi]  Ib.

[xvii]         In spite of American threats to release the more expensive and much more polluting gas (freedom gas), not a single cubic metre has yet crossed the ocean. For more on this issue see: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan, Libya - see also: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan, Libya.

        http://www.istitutoonoratodamen.it/joomla34/index.php/internazionale/58-asia/509-al-capone

[xviii]        on this see: Xu Lizhi - Feed for the machines - http://www.istitutoonoratodamen.it/joomla34/index.php/libro-di-poesie-xu-lizhi/373-mangimemacchine.

[xix]  G. Mammarella - op. cit. p. 84.

[xx]   G. Pancheri -op. cit. - p. 23

[xxi]  Ib. p.22

[xxii] Ib.

[xxiii]        Ib.

[xxiv]        G. Pancheri - op.cit.

[xxv] G. Mammarella - op, cit. p. 118

[xxvi]        Ib. p. 16.

[xxvii]       M. Dinucci - Joe Biden's foreign policy - il Manifesto, 10/11/2020.