The multibillion-dollar extravaganza of our electoral Circus Maximus is part of the smokescreen that covers the ongoing devastation of globalization, deindustrialization, trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, endless war, climate change and the intrusion into every corner of our lives by the security and surveillance state. Our democracy is dead. Clinton and Donald Trump do not have the power or the interest to revive it. They kneel before the war machine, which consumes trillions of dollars to wage futile wars and bankroll a bloated military. To defy the fortress state is political suicide. Politicians are courtiers to Wall Street. The candidates mouth the clichés of justice, improvements in income equality and democratic choice, but it is a cynical game. Once it is over, the victors will go to Washington to work with the lobbyists and financial elites to carry out the real business of ruling.
To neoliberals, everyone and everything are disposable. The failed states that have risen up across the Middle East, Africa, the Caucasus and Asia in the wake of the Cold War herald a neoliberal world driven by violence, corruption, greed and desperation. The drug traffickers, smugglers, pirates, kidnappers, jihadists, criminal gangs and militias that roam huge swaths of territory where central authority has vanished are the real faces of globalization. These nihilists define Islamic State just as they define the corporate state. Corruption may be more naked and cruder in Afghanistan or Iraq, but it has its parallel in the for-sale politicians and political parties that dominate the United States and Europe. The common good—the building of community and solidarity—has been replaced through decades of corporate indoctrination with the callous call to amass all you can for yourself and leave the stranger bleeding on the side of the road.
The failed states of Iraq, Syria and Libya, a direct result of globalization, have their counterparts in Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Memphis, Baltimore, Atlanta, Milwaukee and the south side of Chicago. They are our versions of Mogadishu, complete with lawlessness, senseless killings, armed gangs, widespread hunger, fear, a population retreating into the numbing embrace of opiates, crippling poverty, dysfunctional state institutions, the growth of private security companies that protect the elites, and indiscriminate police violence that creates reigns of terror aimed at the poor. The more the global corporate forces extract from us in the name of austerity and the maximization of profit, the more parts of the U.S. will descend into domestic versions of the failed states overseas. The same system exists here and abroad. And it has the same result here and abroad. It may appear first in Somalia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Libya, but it will soon come to characterize much of America. The proliferation of weapons will do to our society what it has done to every other failed state where there has been unchecked access to arsenals—hand power to those with a penchant for violence.
A form of fascism has already taken hold in two nations on the edges of the European Union, Hungary and Poland. Far-right parties, reacting to the flood of more than a million migrants that descended on Europe last year, are gaining ground in France, Austria, Sweden, Germany and Greece. Nationalism, buttressed by a deification of the military, will be used to compensate for individual powerlessness and a loss of national identity. Dissent in the U.S. will become “anti-American,” a form of treason. Enemies at home will be vilified along with enemies abroad. And this will lead to even more warfare in the Middle East. The far-right political parties in Eastern Europe flirt rhetorically with military conflict with Russia. And because of its membership in NATO, the United States would be obligated to enter any hostilities.
Voting for Hillary Clinton will not halt this slide into the apocalypse. It will only accelerate it. Donald Trump may vanish from the political landscape, but someone even more venal, and probably more intelligent, will take his place. Our job is to dismantle the machinery that is pushing toward the cliff. And this means sustained and massive civil disobedience.