Accumulation Crisis and Global Police State

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19/01/2022 by socialistfight

By William I. Robinson,

A war with China would bankrupt major US corporations like Apple, Dell, Walmart and GAP and a great many more. In 2018 Foxconn Technology Group, the Taiwanese company that manufactures hardware for Apple, Dell, HP, Nokia and Sony held rallies at all of its factories to raise morale on the theme, “Treasure Your Life, Love Your Family, Care for Each Other”. There have been regular suicides at these factories, 10 years ago a New Your Times article described Apple as perpetuating barbaric, inhumane work conditions. Things have not improved; the suicide nets are still there.

Will Robinson is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is the author of the above and numerous other books on the topic of globalization. He sums up his theme in the following extract:

Global police state refers to three interrelated developments. First are the ever more omnipresent systems of mass social control, repression, and warfare promoted by the ruling groups to contain the real and the potential rebellion of the global working class and surplus humanity. Second is how the global economy is itself based more and more on the development and deployment of these systems of warfare, social control, and repression simply as a means of making profit and continuing to accumulate capital in the face of stagnation – what I term militarized accumulation, or accumulation by repression – and that now goes well beyond military Keynesianism.

And third is the increasing move towards political systems that can be characterized as 21st century fascism, or even in a broader sense, as totalitarian. Digitalization makes possible the creation of a global police state. The mounting crisis appears to cement the emerging digital economy with the global police state. There is a triangulation of far-right, authoritarian, and neo-fascist forces in civil society, reactionary political power in the state, and transnational corporate capital, especially speculative finance capital, the military–industrial–security complex, and the extractive industries – all three interwoven with high-tech or digital capital.

Greg Wilpert Interview

Greg Wilpert interviewed Robertson soon after publication in March 21, 2018 in which he describes the project of the US, the global imperialist hegemon and its allies. Here he explains that US and Chinese capital are completely interwoven, hence the fact that Donald Trumps sanctions hurt US corporations more than China:

Greg Wilpert
Um, actually, I just wanted to touch on another contradiction that occurs to me when you mentioned the idea that part of 21st-century fascism is precisely, of course, or any kind of fascism, is the scapegoating of various others. And one of the big scapegoats, of course, for Trump, especially in this pandemic, has been China, accusing China of bringing the virus and so on, and then, of course, heightening tensions with China more generally.

And this seems to be not just Trump. It seems to be that the military-industrial complex in the United States is actually kind of on board with the demonization of China, and as a matter of fact, Biden has even promised to be just as tough or tougher against Xi than Trump. And so this kind of begs the question then. Well, you know, if this military-industrial complex is global, why wage war against another sector of its own class, so to speak? What’s going on here?

William Robinson
Right, well, even if we didn’t have the threat of fascism, the contradictions of capitalism, the inequality, the incredible levels of inequality and so forth, means that you need to somehow externalize the tensions, the political and social tensions, the anxiety we were speaking about. You need to externalize it. And so one way, of course, is scapegoating communities such as immigrants, and the other is through an external enemy. I mean, that was the key role in the Cold War of the so-called communist threat.

So China and Russia, at least for the Democrats, both China and Russia now are a mechanism. The aggression, the hostility with China and with Russia is a mechanism for externalizing these tensions that are internal to the political system of the United States, and to each country, its internal to global capitalism and its own contradictions. So that’s part of the same phenomenon. You have stakeholder communities such as immigrants, and then you have externalising this through geopolitical tensions.

But here’s the thing. Those geopolitical tensions become extremely dangerous because they take on a life of their own. They absolutely take on a life of their own. But you do have a contradiction between transnational capital that wants to freely accumulate both in the United States and in China and in Russia and anywhere in the global economy without any impediments to its movement and its profit making all around the world. And you have the leading transnational corporations are thoroughly invested in China, they’re thoroughly interlocked with some leading Chinese private, and many of the state firms as well in China.

So China is integrated into global capitalism. It’s interlocked in that integration with U.S. based, European based, and so forth, transnational capital. So you don’t really have an economic contradiction between capitalist groups, the big giant capitalist groups coming from different parts of the global economy. But you have this political contradiction, and this political tension, and the role of fanning the flames of war with China and Russia being an externalization of tensions, politically internal with global capitalism.

So that’s the thing. We have this disjuncture between an economic reality, and a political reality, reality of political crisis, and that can’t be resolved in any easy way.

And I am very fearful also, remember that wars, I’m not talking about so-called little wars, like not little for the people that suffer them, but Yemen, Syria, but big wars like the US and China, the U.S. or Europe and Russia, the role that wars have historically played in responding to the crisis of legitimacy of capitalism, and to sublimating all of these tensions of capitalist crisis towards war, and jingoism, and nationalism. And in this age of 21st-century weaponry, any major war would signal the end of humanity. ▲

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