The concrete reality of the world-system is changing at an impressive speed, at a time when nothing seems stable and change is the dominant aspect. Alliances that have remained intact for almost a century are tending to fade away to make room for new types of ties.
The entry of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates into the BRICS, as well as Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to these two countries, show the extent of the changes underway in a very short time. The entire international architecture that emerged from World War II is being dismantled by the new power relations that are emerging and now accelerating exponentially.
In 2022 we published with Decio Machado the book States for Dispossession, with the intention of understanding the transformation of welfare states into extractivist neoliberal states, promoters of accumulation by dispossession/fourth world war against the peoples.
Barely a year after its publication, I must say that it is very likely that we have fallen short, because accumulation is drifting into open warfare that targets entire peoples for displacement or simply annihilation.
William Robinson’s analysis of the “global police state” and “militarized accumulation” does not invalidate “states for dispossession” but it does provide a necessary twist. He argues that the majority of humanity simply cannot survive, which does not mean a crisis for capital, but an opportunity to militarize the planet to contain the starving peoples (https://goo.su/0uyji).
In an interview quoted in the newspaper El Salto, as a result of the presentation of his book Iron Fist: The global police state, he argues: “We are facing a global popular revolt driven by the “surplus humanity” (for capital), a growing sector that already includes 3 billion people. To contain them, wars, sophisticated systems of repression and control, border walls, wars against drugs and migrants, and against peoples are generated, to the point that “any social conflict becomes an opportunity to accumulate capital.”
Robinson explains that capital replaces formal workers with temporary or undocumented migrants who are no longer exploited, but surplus humanity. This is a crucial point that explains both Israel’s war in Palestine as well as European and U.S. policy on migrants.
A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that “3 million illegal entries into the United States” are recorded annually, representing one third of all immigrants to the United States, 80 percent of them coming from South America, including Mexico (https://goo.su/zwpFx).
Therefore, during the three years of the Biden administration, 9 million people entered the United States illegally, for a total of almost 30 million migrants. This year, half a million people have crossed the Darien Gap (on the border between Panama and Colombia) (https://goo.su/h0ty). It used to be considered an impassable region because of its combination of jungle and swamps, hence the name “tapón.”
Faced with the economic, social, climatic and political collapse experienced by thousands of communities around the world, the response from above is to militarize borders to “create fortresses around the areas where the privileged strata live,” as Robinson argues.
Capital is out of control, a role played by nation-states until globalization. There is no longer a government capable of restraining capital, as the failure of Trump and Biden to re-industrialize the United States shows. The working class and many professions in that country tend to be replaced by migrants, which is causing racism and profound political destabilization.
We must understand that the logic of genocide does not stem from the wickedness of this or that ruler, or of a particular state, but from the very existence of capitalism, which has caused almost half of humanity to become a “surplus population”, starving, migrating, dying from state or parastatal repressions and also rebelling.
In the short term, everything indicates that capitalism has the capacity to sustain itself through violence and wars. No one can stop it because Russia and China are part of the same capitalist/war logic against the peoples.
Will we have in the coming years the capacity to reflect collectively, as the Zapatista bases have done, on the paths to take to continue resisting while we create the new?
Original text published in La Jornada on December 15th, 2023. https://www.jornada.com.mx/noticia/2023/12/15/opinion/estados-para-el-genocidio-8736
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.