Beyond “Strangelove”: America and Nuclear War

Trump, at this writing, is torn between Romney and Giuliani for Secretary of State, quite modest in differences over foreign policy and nuclear war, as alternatives go. Probably Giuliani, the more brash and outspoken of the two. But it doesn’t matter; either one is capable, as is Trump, of an end-of-times scenario when circumstances, to each, seem appropriate. The circumstances? A cumulative build-up of fear, suspicion, ideologically rigid self-righteousness, when loss of honor (aka, no longer belief in capitalist global ascendance, and domestically, a class-arranged hierarchical nation of working-people’s subordination) replaces the will for legitimated world dominance on unilateral lines.

The problem is, the international system is perpetually evolving and does not stand still. America has shown the way to the militarization of hegemony, and the genie cannot be restored to the bottle. Conquest is in the air; America’s future seemingly depends on it. I say “seemingly,” because what can arrest its lethality, comprehensive democratization of the social order, has no place in the US political economy (and perhaps never did) and its future planning.
From Clinton to Clinton, Obama to Trump, and why not go back (?), Kennedy to Reagan, Bush to Bush, America has had one unrelieved record of antiradicalism and counterrevolution, the two together reciprocally defined and operational, so that the boundaries of decision-making have left us, as with so much else, like the parched land of narrow desert bereft of human feeling and the affirmation of life itself.

Dr. Strangelove was thought an exaggeration in 1962, when it was released. Now it can be seen as a gross underestimation of the condensed hatreds boiling up, ostensibly, exclusively, from the working class, but actually characterizing America (which the bipartisan triumph of Reaction demonstrates by the recent election). Trump exposed the plebeian fascism of workers, Clinton, the more fully developed form for her supporters, with radicals now neutralized and worse, as an unstable numerically diminishing third force, sidetracked by cultural politics because taking on the combined power of business and the military appeared infeasible or somehow wrong. Old Left? New Left? Both swallowed up in the vortex of unremitting capitalism, its outer layer of public relations peeled away, only to reveal a totalitarian mindset of grubby aspirations for wealth, status, power, thinly disguised as individualism but intentionally fooling no-one.

To choose between Romney and Giuliani (or some general or admiral standing in the wings), like choosing between Clinton and Trump, makes a mockery of human choosing—an important part of freedom. Choice is denied away as too dangerous for running a social organization, and with it, rule of law, because in real or potential conflict with the security, identity, structural-ideological privilege, and accustomation, of upper groups who now rule un-self-consciously as mere entitlement, in the way, as they see it, of how the System was intended to be. On this, they may be right; capitalism was never intended for equitable wealth-distribution, unless as so defined by its elites. Why even pretend to justice and fairness when the facts speak otherwise? Inequality is the dynamic factor in the individual’s capital-accumulation process, and society’s war-making proclivities. It is what makes the sun rise and set for the vast majority of people in America today, whether demarcated by a white working class without a college degree, or a black community vulnerable to police brutality. Inequality is inscribed in the very process of Americanization: Learn to bend the knee to one’s betters, memorize the traits and social values which lessen the anxieties of those in a class-position above you. Provide cannon-fodder which enables the System to realize its self-defined potential, whether aggression, suzerainty, market penetration.

The present alignment of parties, with little hope of internal or external nourishment, draws a curtain around structural-economic prospects of systemic transcendence. Is that grounds for pessimism, much less paralysis? Emphatically, resoundingly NOT. When a society has its back to the wall, as I believe America has, this is no time for retreat; for now there is nothing to lose. Internment camps may lie just around the corner for all of us—undocumented immigrants already having been served notice. (And of course, whatever happens to one segment of the population can happen to others.) Trump may not be Hitler, Clinton may not be Ilsa Koch, but they both, on occasion, give a good imitation of the genuine article. Whether coming events instill fear in those who are targeted, here insinuation, targeted defamation (rather than, as practiced abroad, targeted assassination), or simply career and other forms of discrimination, the dissenter finds himself/herself under moral obligation to offer resistance: Americanization, at its finest.

More articles by:

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography