It’s not controversial to make the observation that American global hegemony is tottering, or at least in a serious crisis. But it is a dangerous illusion to make such a judgment too soon. In addition to its overwhelming military arsenal, the American Empire has another asset- its overwhelming cultural hegemony. Hollywood. Silicon Valley. Google. Facebook. Netflix. The force of cultural power is so great that tens of millions of people all over the world, even people whose countries have been devastated by US bombs and military coups, are hypnotized. Many will hand over their sovereignty, their culture, their history, their dignity to be part of the consumerist amusement park that’s being offered to them on their TV and iPhone screens. This power cannot be underestimated.
What the scholar Catherine Liu describes as “virtue hoarding”- the practice of the modern American professional managerial class to loudly broadcast its enlightened views on race, gender, and sexuality to justify its privileges over the ‘backward’ lower classes is something that the American Empire is planning to do on a large scale over the entire globe. This means that the United States will justify the right to dominate the world because it is morally superior due to its ‘progressive’ cultural liberalism. The Woke Man/Woman’s Burden.
Woke identity politics is the latest legitimizing ideology of the East Coast, WASP establishment of the Ivy Leagues, which enjoys an intertwined, incestuous relationship with the national security state. It has a distinctly Calvinist morality at its center, which presupposes sin (‘privilege’’/’white supremacy’) as the natural state of humanity, unless proven otherwise. Given that prejudice concerns our most intimate and private thoughts and feelings, it is close to impossible to prove one's innocence. For all the talk of ‘systemic racism’ and other ‘systems’, it is a worldview that is concerned with cleansing the individual and controlling social behavior.
In 2020, what has been called the Great Awokening needs to be re considered in a new light. It was not a typical protest movement. Viewed in a different lens, it can be argued that the United States underwent perhaps the first internal ‘color revolution’ in its history. The playbook one has seen in Kyrgyzstan, in Lebanon, in Ukraine, in Venezuela, in Bolivia, and in Kazakhstan recently played out on America’s own streets. Color revolutions are not merely manufactured wholesale by the CIA or Western NGO’s out of whole cloth. Instead, such entities embed themselves into society, and when a crisis emerges from that society's own internal contradictions, these organizations activate and steer the unrest in the direction US dominated corporate interests wish them to go. Organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy abroad, and the Ford Foundation at home, carry out parallel functions. Thus, regime change can be accomplished with a great deal of deniability.
This is what happened in the United States in the summer of 2020. Culturally liberal capital, especially the Big Tech oligarchs of Amazon, Twitter and Microsoft, immediately lined up behind the (originally spontaneous) mass street protests around George Floyd’s killing and poured tens of millions of dollars into Black Lives Matter. The purpose was twofold: reap a massive public relations coup by being seen on the ‘right side’ of a progressive cause, but also to use the protesters as foot soldiers to counteract Trump’s popular right-wing grassroots movement and drive Trump out of office. Trump represented the old way of doing Empire- overt right-wing nationalism, undisguised contempt for weaker nations, politically incorrect, xenophobic rhetoric. His crude bigotry was embarrassing to the professional managers of American Empire and threatened to undo decades of carefully cultivated US soft power. The suave sophisticates in Silicon Valley, in the drawing rooms of Langley, Virginia, and on Wall Street needed to remedy this.
A chaotic, undisciplined street movement, lacking strong leadership or a clear direction, quickly became molded by private capital in its own image. The fatuous conceit that there can be ‘leaderless’ movements is belied by the fact that such directionless movements always wind up making cosmetic symbolic changes or become football in intra elite struggles. Thus, the Great Awokening was a ‘revolution’ of sorts, but not of a BIPOC underclass. It was instead a power grab by culturally liberal professionals doing the bidding of finance capital/Silicon Valley, against nativist lower-level elites.
Biden’s coming to office inaugurated not just a new administration, but a new way of doing Empire. The CIA came out with a slick new recruiting video promoting its inclusivity of LGBT and saying that its mission was now ‘Intersectional’. Coups would now be about deconstructing white supremacy and heteropatriarchy.
This was reflected in one of the Biden administration’s more successful regime operations in Ecuador in Feb. 2021, where the socialist candidate there was successfully sabotaged by a spoiler candidate claiming to be pro-environment and pro indigenous, while being covertly backed by oil corporations and Wall Street hedge funds.
John Gray in the New Statesman describes this phenomenon thus bluntly: “Certain American thought has always tended to a certain solipsism, a trait that has become more prominent in recent times. If Fukuyama and his neoconservative allies believed the world was yearning to be remade on an imaginary American model, the woke movement believes ‘whiteness’ accounts for all the evils of modern societies”. In other words, Woke-ism is the new neo-conservatism.
Facing a rising China and a resurgent Russia, the American ruling class needs a moralizing crusade to motivate its counter offensive against its enemies, both at home and abroad. Under the banners of Black Lives Matter, multi-colored Pride flags and trumpets announcing the correct gender pronouns, the guns of the American Empire will spread the creed of Woke Empire.
China must be opposed because it is oppressing Muslims. Cuba must have regime change because it is oppressing black people. Belarus’s government must fall because it is anti-trans. Putin must be confronted because he is a homophobe. All of these are positions that the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vox, and countless other outlets have advanced at some point or another to advance the case for attacks against ‘America’s enemies’. The West’s Eastern enemies are barbarians who must be subjugated, because they are not enlightened by the standards of American liberalism. In foreign and domestic politics alike, the grievances real and imagined of minorities are spotlighted, then weaponized as a battering ram against entire populations and entire nations which challenge the Anglo-Saxon imperialist global order.
Many on the left may acknowledge this cynical weaponization of calls for racial and gender justice on some level, but insist that it is a “co-option’ of innately noble concepts such as intersectionality and Critical Race Theory. This is, frankly, a way that people on the left can sidestep some hard questions- what about the ideology makes it so easy to ‘co-opt’ in the first place? Were these ideas actually ever revolutionary to begin with? In what material way has such discourse actually challenged power and privilege, beyond shallow rhetoric? Neither intersectionality theory nor Critical Race Theory came from working class movements. Not the Black Panthers, the Young Lords or the Young Patriots ever used these words or used them to dictate their praxis.
Neither did the Communist Party of the 1930’s or the IWW of the 1910’s. They spoke of solidarity, internationalism, pragmatic alliances of workers and the oppressed, concepts and practices which have been around for centuries.
‘Intersectionality’ is a different creature. Concepts like it arose entirely in the Ivy Leagues academia and reflect a distinctly upper-middle-class morality. The formulation of these theories was in the 1980’s, as a reaction (and a capitulation) to the Reaganite counterrevolution which smashed the labor movement. Contrary to the claims of right-wing conspiracy theorists and left-wingers alike, its links to actual Marxism are tenuous and in most cases nonexistent.
Print this article
Unfortunately, most people take this site for granted.
DONATIONS HAVE ALMOST DRIED UP...
PLEASE send what you can today!
JUST USE THE BUTTON BELOW
^3000US citizens have no real political representation.
We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.
I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.
What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.
And its multitude of minions and lackeys.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
ALL CAPTIONS AND PULL QUOTES BY THE EDITORS NOT THE AUTHORS