The Changing Face of Empire: Peter Gelderloos Reflects on 2018

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On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, once again we are joined by long time anarchist author, organizer, and theorist, Peter Gelderloos. In this discussion, we look back over the past year, talk about Peter’s recent essay on CrimethInc., and discuss the possible future direction of autonomous social movements.

Like CrimethInc’s idea of the State as a “hot potato,” Gelderloos contends that the current terrain of crisis, growing antagonisms, and rising populisms, is generating a potentially very disruptive and chaotic time for State power – which in turn creates danger for the rest of us, along with new contradictions and crises that revolutionaries can potentially intervene within. As Gelderloos wrote in Diagnostic of the Future:

At the level of specific nation-states, the central ground that allowed for a broad social consensus for many decades has all but eroded. There are growing movements on the right to reformulate the social contract—and, at the farthest fringes, to do away with democracy entirely—while the left is preparing a groundswell to renew democracy and smooth out its contradictions by renewing the dream of universal inclusion and equality. Both of these movements suggest that democracy as it currently exists cannot continue.

Meanwhile, the global financial crisis of 2008 has not been resolved, but simply staved off through the massive privatization of public resources and the creation of new, even larger financial bubbles to temporarily absorb excess capital. Capitalism desperately needs a new territory to which to expand. Whatever strategy capitalists adopt will need to offer an exponential growth in profitable investment opportunities and a solution to the mass unemployment that could afflict more than half the global labor force as Artificial Intelligence and robotization renders them redundant.

These two crises are intimately connected. Capitalists will support the governmental models that protect their interests, whereas only the State can open new territories for capital accumulation and quell the resistance that always arises.

Looking back at 2018, we discuss the Trump administration’s continuing policy of “economic nationalism,” trade war, and protectionism, as well as what the future holds for both Trump and Trumpism. We also touch on the continued role of far-Right in US politics, the potential for world war, as well as the growing danger of climate change. Finally, we end with a look towards the future and a discussion on some of they key tasks in front of us as a revolutionary autonomous movement, facing down everything from techno-dystopia to climate chaos.


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