The invasion of the Capitol – Letter to St.

Sculpture José Resende / Avenida Paulista, São Paulo / photo: A.Saggese


Reflections on the possible consequences of the “American problem”.

"The world is too much'with us, late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers” (William Wordsworth).

S., dear,

Yesterday v. raised the most pressing question: and now, after the invasion of the Capitol, what next?

I have the impression that the coverage of events by news agencies like the AP provides a clue, however fragile, as to the course that, if adopted by the Biden administration and the Republicans, will ideally lead to the recomposition of the frayed social and political fabric of the United States. USA. This hypothesis, however, seems to me more like an outbreak of angelic optimism. Let there be men and women of good will so that the country can escape the other path it has been following for decades with impressive coherence on the road that leads to the abyss. I take it for granted, despite having read so many articles about it, that Americans will not, at least for another decade, risk re-enacting the horrors of the civil war. But it is also visible that many of the precursor signs discernible today point to a new fact: the civil war has returned, as a specter and for the time being in the register of the imaginary, at least circling the USA.

Internal peace, after the destruction of the South, the 'epic of Reconstruction' and the domination of the 'robber barons', seemed assured. Relatively assured, in fact, because there was still the western frontier, to be violently exploited, and because the US was starting, in the last quarter of the 19th century, its decided imperial metamorphosis, the projection of power to the 'space beyond the borders' , process initially symbolized, since 1823, by the Monroe doctrine. When it was launched, it was perhaps more like a letter of intent than a firm intention to stop the actions of the main European powers in Latin America and the Caribbean. There was still no strength for that, especially naval strength, but it was a start, a strategic north to be pursued by those from the North.

From 1865 onwards this drive grew, the western frontier was completely explored, conquered, annexed, occupied by people from the East and by European immigrants. This is how the bioceanic imperial republic was born, an idea and practice affirmed as a permanent vocation, even in the midst of great internal discussions. The passage from the 19th to the 20th century marks the time when the USA became a great power, for Europe no doubt, although the Europeans, who knows, felt somewhat surprised. USA on the one hand, Japan on the other, turn-of-the-century surprises. At the end of the first world war, what was indubitable became clamorous. And less than 30 years later, the conclusion of the second global war marks the moment of absolute triumph, only very imperfectly repeated, that is, in a much more ambiguous way, with the fall of the wall and the dissolution of the USSR.

But the 21st century, ah, the 21st century, pure surprise. For the US, these first 20 years have been passing almost as an illustration of a Hegelian 'dialectical turnaround'. What seemed to Fukuyama the end of history as the definitive consecration of liberal democracy intertwined with beneficent capitalism, and what seemed to Huntington, the other great ideologue of the time, as the indispensable 'replacement' of the Cold War by the conflict between civilizations, all of this it was little and came to nothing. Worse than having nothing, infinite wars and the resulting human and financial bloodletting assume their role as inescapable factors in the process of exhaustion of the USA as the New Jerusalem that controls the world. Last year I read a very interesting book by journalist Tom Engelhardt, whose title is premonitory: A Nation Unmade by War.

But it is necessary to qualify what I call 'coming to nothing'. In fact, we are following an 'American Tragedy' that promises to go far beyond nothing, even because so much has been created. The process, in its complexity, led to the domain of unproductive capital and also gave unimaginable strength to products and organizations based on science and technology that Silicon Valley provided. It resulted in the strengthening of increasingly sophisticated controls, meticulously applied to the surveillance and punishment of post-modernity. It resulted in the creation of conditions of massive conformism, via the planetary corporate media, a set of instruments and people who submit without ceasing, since the show cannot stop, most of those who live anesthetized in the parallel reality of the society of the spectacle. It resulted in the will to power materialized in the permanent overcoming of all armaments, the greatest task of the industrial-military complex. The combination of industry, science and technology with logic, passions and gigantic military, economic and geopolitical interests generated a machine that was always hungry for resources that were always generously provided by the two parties of order, the republican and the democrat. It resulted in what the US is today, a country in manifest decay, including institutional. At the same time, however, it strengthened one of its basic facets. On a planetary scale, the US is the most militarily powerful country, far removed from Russia, which appears in second place. “Ergo', as infinite wars indicate, the USA has become the most dangerous of the great nuclear powers.

The planet, after all totally 'occupied' by capitalism in its many variants, from American to European, from Russian to Chinese, from x to y. The planetary borders, exhausted. From now on, only space remains, already transformed into the object of another colonization project not yet clearly delineated, something that is not even known if it is viable or possible in the still undetermined future. Meanwhile, rapid militarization of outer space. The Space Force, Trump's signature on that project.

Also within the imperial republic, the equation is complicated, the historical construction is strained. Everyday reality has been marked, for more than half a century, by the uninterrupted brutal concentration of income, wealth, power, 'status'. Excessive concentration of everything that the old classical sociology denounces in prose and verse as a highly destabilizing dynamic, especially if 'hubris' predominates in it. Dangerous to the point of insanity, the construction of this Babel, especially since the process is in itself its own multiplier, and therefore cannot recognize any limits. Not even worrying about it, save in rhetoric.

Therefore, and it seems to me that it is, what is also manufactured, using the most advanced technologies, as Caetano would say, is the strange key that, when opening the golden door of the world of 1% wealth, lets you enter the home, in the dome, in the capitol, the looming shadow of far greater conflicts.

What comes from afar, the explosive mixture of racism with exploitation of (almost) the entire political-economic body formed by citizens, is, especially in the course of the last decades, creating, in the sudden appearance, what emerges as a surprise and nightmare, despite the fact that the concoction was generated long before Trump's neo-fascism began to function as a qualitative leap. The real of history, which is articulated in the complex relationship between the surface of circumstantial events and the depth of long-term structures, begins to bear new and bitter fruits. Variants of this same process, it is important to remember, produced other strange fruits in the Deep South, forever denounced by Billie Holiday.

So, S., returning to your question, I speculate: what lies ahead, both for the USA, actor and stellar victim of the play, and for the astonished 'rest of the world', are the threats that a sphinx in internal crisis- external generates for itself and for the entire planet. Sphinx whose questions, as a matter of fact, are more than reasonably deciphered.

The internal equation proves to be less and less able to produce a solution that prevails as a 'correction of course', despite what international news agencies and local sepoys say. Biden and Kamala, also thanks to the double Democratic victory in Georgia, now have the minimum conditions to act as the last faithful firefighters, representing the great interests of the “establishment”, the select group of those who believe viable, in a totally polarized country, the successful negotiation of a pact reminiscent of Roosevelt in spirit. Two are indispensable to tango, as we know, and we'll have to wait for up to two more years to find out if it's possible to put out the big fire with old hoses, little water and lots of gentlemen's agreements.

On the other hand, neoliberalism also turns out to be a dead end, because an exhausted experiment, The logical alternative, going back to Roosevelt, Keynes, Welfare State, social democracy or something like that, a debate that generates more heat than light. Meanwhile, the US is 'running on empty', the beans and the dream no longer dialogue, the country finds itself facing both of the impossible: it is not possible to continue with neoliberalism, even warmed up, nor is it feasible to return 'to halcyon days' '.

As proposals, innovative solutions do exist. But they still do not have, so far, popular appeal on the minimally demanded scale to create, even if partially, the impulse that eventually leads to another society, to a new type of solidarity. The left presents itself, yes, somewhat strengthened. But it remains far from stealing the show and defining the plot. There doesn't seem to be such a thing as a well-structured third alternative, a proposal that convinces the electorate and the popular classes, a force that constrains the big corporate interests. Change, even if limited, depends on this left that is rebuilding itself, that is just beginning to take shape, that launches itself in search of a rupture that, although smaller, can open up other horizons in terms of reforming capitalism in the US. Seen with sober eyes, this left remains apparently condemned to be a supporting actor, at the limit running the risk that the lucidity that permeates the project is diluted in a set of pious votes.

Hence, in my perspective, S., the US internal-external situation involves three moments: the dramatic, illustrated by the insurgency of the 7th; the tragic, which could be installed in the immediate future, that is, in the period that extends until the next intermediate elections, if the result allows the republicans to recover the majority of the senate and expand even more their presence in the Chamber; and the third moment, that which, at the limit of what is thinkable, can emerge only in the most extended, generational time.

Without a medium-term solution to the 'American problem', the long term threatens to bring with it something that could be the historic decline of the United States without return, as occurred with Portugal, Spain, France, Holland and the United Kingdom, if we only think in the so-called western trajectory. This flow, depending on the successive conjunctures and its interaction with the structural dynamics, may end up temporally proving to be not so extended after all.

I know I speculate, S., but who knows if, despite this, we can continue to dialogue, each one of us wanting to refine his own vision of what may eventually be arriving in Brazil today, so unhappy, as a result of the crisis in which they are punctuated the current US drama, the lack of operational perspectives of global capitalism and the 'no way out' situation in which we, too, seem to be immersed. In the immediate term, what draws the most attention is something that was even slightly unimaginable: the imperial republic became bananas, thereby exponentially increasing all the resulting risks of aggravating the general crisis. Another 20s crisis?

*Tadeu Valadares is a retired ambassador.



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