The United States is not a failed state — just ask any American capitalist. But we desperately need something better for everyone else.
In an interview with Salon, economist Richard D. Wolff compared America to “a patient who has had a really bad cancer or a heart attack, and is now kept alive with tubes and chemicals and all the rest of it. He is not dead, but is in deep trouble.”
The United States is not a failed state — just ask any American capitalist. But we desperately need something better for everyone else.American Capitalism Is Working — That’s the Problem
Tom Engelhardt even suggested in the Nation that we might need a new term for the contradiction that is America. The United States may be rich and powerful, he argued, but it “is also afloat in a sea of autocratic, climate-changing, economic, military, and police carnage that should qualify it as distinctly third world as well.” Perhaps “fourth world,” to capture the fact that we are “potentially the most powerful, wealthiest failed state on the planet.”
Americans are right to be furious at the Trump administration’s ineptitude and willingness to dump the costs of the coronavirus pandemic onto working people. But despite its obvious failures, the United States is not a failed state — and why this distinction matters goes beyond semantics. Diagnosis shapes response. If we’re going to get ourselves out of this mess, we need a clearer picture of what is broken and how to begin fixing it.