We have seen that US imperialism was developed as a policy that sought control of economies and markets of the world without seeking direct political and administrative control, as occurred with the European colonial empires. US imperialism was a central force in the transition from a colonial to a neocolonial world-system. It utilized a variety of strategies, including military interventions, but as it developed, its primary focus was on economic, financial and ideological penetration, with military intervention available as a constant threat, but applied only when necessary. The neocolonial world-system reached its zenith in the period 1945 to 1967. However, since 1968, the United States has suffered an erosion of its productive and commercial capacities, such that it can no longer maintain its hegemony through economic and commercial means, and it must increasingly rely upon military intervention and war. Since 2001, the United States has been leading the global powers to a transition from the neocolonial world-system under US hegemony to a US-controlled world-empire, a global dictatorship that dominates by military rather than economic means (see “The unsustainability of US imperialism” 4/26/2016).
A militarized world-empire would represent a return to a form of domination similar to the European colonial empires, in that it increasingly would violate in blatant forms the principle of the sovereignty of nations. And it also would represent a new form of fascism, inasmuch as it would involve the attainment of economic goals by military means, and it increasingly would disrespect citizenship rights in all regions.
Inasmuch as a global military dictatorship would necessarily involve emphasis on arms production and would lead to sustained conflicts in the world, it possibly could lead to total breakdown of the existing, but too limited, international efforts in response to common human problems, such as global warming, environmental deterioration, war, terrorism, disease, crime, and uncontrolled international migration. It thus would increase the possibility for disintegration, fragmentation and chaos, with regional military dictatorships and local fascist gangs, and it also would increase the possibility for human extinction.
Within the United States, the turn to global military dictatorship would deepen the historic contradiction between the claimed values of democracy and actual political practice. And it would lead to a further erosion of the protection of social and economic rights of the people, a process that has been underway since 1980.
Standing against the two possibilities of global fascism and chaos, there is the long-standing effort of the peoples and movements of the Third World to construct a just, democratic and sustainable world-system. This process has attained its most advanced expression in Latin America and the Caribbean, and it is most fully represented by the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador as well as regional associations such as ALBA and CELAC. The Third World quest for a more just and democratic world-system also is represented by the Non-Aligned Movement, which in the twenty-first century has retaken the radical Third World agenda of national liberation of the 1960s and 1970s. The quest of the peoples of the world for a just, democratic and sustainable world-system represents that only reasonable option for humanity.
The people of the United States have an interest in learning from the examples of the Third World popular movements and developing a popular coalition that seeks to take power and govern in accordance with universal human values, the needs of the people and the interests of humanity. Although such a revolutionary popular coalition confronts enormous obstacles, it would not be without precedent in the United States; to the contrary, revolutionary movements in defense of popular sectors have emerged at various times in the history of the United States, with its most recent expression being the period of 1955 to 1972.