The one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen countless emotional news segments and heartstring-plucking articles, wall-to-wall social media posts, and public demonstrations decrying the evils of Vladimir Putin throughout the western world.
For what’s probably the first “anti-war” protest of most of their lives, American liberals gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC over the weekend to bravely condemn the leader of a foreign government thousands of miles away. There they were joined by empire managers like the virulent warmonger Samantha Power, who spoke at the rally opposing Russian warmongering at the capital of the most warlike nation on the planet.
For the last year, mainstream westerners have been using this war to act out their fantasies of being courageous up-punching anti-imperialists, fighting powerful bloodthirsty tyrants in defense of the needful, all while living directly under the thumb of the most tyrannical regime in the world. They mindlessly regurgitate the propaganda of the most powerful empire that has ever existed, parrot the same lines that are already being said all day long by all the most powerful institutions in the western world, all in service of the hegemonic agendas of the largest and most murderous power structure on earth, while pretending to be standing in opposition to the powerful.
The way the war in Ukraine allows mainstream liberals to play-act as rebellious anti-imperialists is a good illustration of how the empire gives people the illusion of fighting the power without their ever opposing the empire.
We saw this same trend take place in the US throughout the Trump administration, where mainstream liberals branded themselves “The Resistance” like they were socialist revolutionaries or insurgents opposing Hitler in Nazi-occupied France. In reality Trump’s presidency had little actual impact on the comforts of their lives, because beneath all the narratives Trump was a fairly normal US president whose most heinous crimes were all of the customary variety we see in all US presidents — including his predecessor and his successor. Democrats just spent four years LARPing as brave revolutionaries, and then he left office and the game ended.
In exactly the same way, Trump’s presidency allowed right wingers to pretend they were part of a movement against the establishment, despite Trump never actually challenging the establishment in any meaningful way. They believed he was fighting the Deep State even after he imprisoned Assange. They believed he was “ending the wars” even as he ramped up aggressions against Russia which helped bring us to where we are today, killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions, vetoed attempts to save Yemen from U.S.-backed genocide, worked to foment civil war in Iran using starvation sanctions and CIA ops with the stated goal of effecting regime change, occupied Syrian oil fields with the goal of preventing Syria’s reconstruction, greatly increased the number of troops in the Middle East and elsewhere, greatly increased the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration killing record numbers of civilians, and reduced military accountability for those airstrikes. They believed he was draining the swamp after packing his cabinet with establishment swamp monsters.