What the Flag Officers 4 America Letter Gets Wrong

Coming on the heels of an April 21 letter addressed to French president Emmanuel Macron, signed by round a 1,000 servicemen, including some 20 retired generals, blaming “fanatic partisans” for creating divisions between communities, warning that Islamists are taking over whole parts of the nation’s territory, and that civil war is brewing, is a similar-in-spirit “Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals,”penned by prominent US military leaders. During the 2020 election an “Open Letter from Senior Military Leaders,” signed by more than three hundred retired US Generals and Admirals, warned: “With the Democrat Party welcoming Socialists and Marxists, our historic way of life is at stake.” Their new letter laments: “Unfortunately, that statement’s truth was quickly revealed, beginning with the election process itself.”

There is a lot in the letter to applaud, especially the call for patriots to get engaged in local politics and run for local office, including their school boards. This is the spirit of democratic-republicanism, civic nationalism, and populist politics, the norms and values that made the United States the greatest nation in world history, a nation that abolished the millennia-long abomination of slavery, emancipated women from patriarchal controls, and defeated attempts by fascists and communists to enslave the world. Americans have to stand up against the elitism and technocracy that robs our citizens of our individual freedom and degrades the ethics of republican democracy, the integrity of the nation-state, and the primacy of the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights or we will lose this country. We stand at the edge of a precipice.

However, there is a monumental, and frankly embarrassing error in the letter in identifying the character of the moment that might make it more difficulty to reclaim our country from the technocratic elite. The United States is not facing a socialist or Marxist threat. That’s not what progressivism, the Democratic Party, Black Lives Matters, Antifa, and the lot of them, this menagerie of neoliberal centrists and New Left hacks and ideologues, represent. Critical race theory, the cause célèbre, is not Marxist. Quite the contrary.

A true Marxist would never put race at the center of any analysis. For a Marxist, racism, like religion, is a psychological wage, an alienating ideology consoling some while marginalizing others, a strategy to divide the proletarian, to set worker against worker by teaching him to focus on what is superficially different—skin color, hair styles, etc.—instead of what is essentially common: his location relative to the means of production, i.e., his social class, and his intrinsic comradeship with humanity, i.e., his species-being. A true Marxist would never advocate restructuring society along racial lines, for this would only intensity man’s estrangement from man and from the historic mission of the working class: the win the world for the people. Indeed, Marxists could be described as “antiracist” except that we all know what the antiracism of the moment really represents: anti-white prejudice. The same is true for the New Left’s embrace of Islam. Anybody who knows anything about Marx knows that such an embrace immediate marks the embracer as reactionary. Clerical fascism is a species of fascism.

No, the threat America, the Westphalian system (the interstate system), and Western civilization—with all its Enlightenment values of civil rights, equal treatment, human rights (humanism), individualism, liberalism, and secularism—is facing today is the totalitarian menace of transnational corporatism, the thugs of world finance, and the specter of global neofeudalism.

The admirals and generals’ confusion comes from two sources. The first, which I sketched above, is the false belief, present on much of the left and the right, that the aping of neo-Marxish-sounding rhetoric by Antifa and Black Lives Matters is an admission of the Marxist character and socialist intent of its advocates. Neo-Marxism of the critical theory/postmodernist synthesis variety, from which all of this nihilistic and reactionary sentiment and philosophical hocus-pocus hails, moves too far from the materialist conception of history to properly be classified as a species of Marxist thinking. Whatever is camouflage, it’s a different animal.

But ideas aside, think about the concrete situation: Antifa and BLM enjoy the financial and moral support of corporate power, progressive ideologues, and the Democratic Party. These elites are institutionalizing critical race theory logic and norms across American institutions. This is happening across the trans-Atlantic system. This is not a socialist tendency but an aggressive all-levels movement of a capitalist class fraction, namely the transnationalist fraction of corporate power. So you can spot it, the characteristics of this fraction are corporate governance, state monopoly capitalism, and progressive policymakers emphasizing deference to selected elites, and regulatory and technocratic control. This is no conspiracy. I am merely describing the situation.

The second is the erroneous characterization of the People’s Republic of China as a communist or socialist entity. Thinkers on the political right, loath to criticize capitalism, and not grasping the myriad forms the capitalist mode of production takes, see the Chinese Communist Party as embodying the socialist threat to the capitalist world system and its bourgeoisie values. To be sure, the CCP is a threat to both, but not in the way the political right thinks.

The CCP, working in tandem with the transnational corporate powers of the West, a fact since the 1970s, means to dismantle liberal capitalism with its captains of industry and stand in its stead a new aristocracy that will transition the capitalist world system from one founded in competitive markets in interstate commerce to one based on managed denationalized populations, transforming citizens of nations into serfs of global estates. An instance of bureaucratic collectivism rooted in the superexploitation of human labor, the PRC is not communist but state monopoly capitalist. The PRC model is authoritarian and illiberal—indeed, totalitarian—representing more than any system in history the nightmare world Orwell presents in his haunting Nineteen Eighty-Four—with techniques of Huxley’s Brave New World tacked on for better management. This is the model the transnationalists wish to impose upon the world.

In the end, this intervention by US admirals and generals may serve some positive function in the sense that, even if those who oppose antidemocratic and illiberal developments on the imaginary ground of mistaken notions, nonetheless manifest resistance on the concrete grounds of effective action. But there is a risk here: the anticommunist right itself possesses reactionary tendencies. There are among their ranks, however much their presence is exaggerated by centrists and leftists as a delegitimizing function, white nationalists. But much more troubling than racists are those Christianists who do not have the finer points of Christianity in mind—the finer points of the sanctity of the individual, his right to personal sovereignty, and respect for his born independence from any particular religion or any particular religion at all. These finer points are not cosmetic. They are the reason Western civilization is worth saving.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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