01/05/2022 by socialistfight
Marxism and Imperialism
The understanding of imperialism of many who claim to be left is the common standard bourgeois English dictionary one; any country who attacks or exploits its near neighbours for whatever reason is imperialist. This is the view of the very patriotic social imperialist Ukraine Solidarity Campaign and its adherents, the AWL, ACR (bogus Fourth International), LRC, RS21 and other groups and Labour MPs.
War is endemic to imperialism. So the anti-Marxist pacifist line of Stop the War only spreads illusions in imperialism itself.
We defend the understanding developed in the great Marxist classics; Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution, Results and Prospects (1906 and 1928) and Lenin’s Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916). These perspectives came together in Lenin’s April Theses of 1917 which set the Bolsheviks on course for the great world-shaking October Revolution.
These treat imperialism as a global phenomenon of the leading capitalist powers whose great finance houses, allied to their transnational corporations, seek to dominate, exploit, and rob the whole planet. The imperialist powers exploit not only their own working class but the working class in the semi colonies of the global south, bankrupting their industries and reducing these economies to suppliers of raw materials and primary products to the metropolitan markets.
The booty thus won is used to buy off an aristocracy of labour via the trade union bureaucracy, who invariably support all its foreign wars, direct or proxy. But this is always a relationship in flux, it has never been a permanent relationship between the imperialist ruling class and the working class.
When the working class in the imperialist countries defend their most oppressed and exploited they begin to push back that corrupt bureaucracy and assert the power of the rank and file. Then they begin again to really become a class FOR themselves, advancing their class consciousness both in their own lands and internationally.
For this struggle to advance rank and file organisations are needed WITHIN the existing trade unions. We reject alike the ultra-left idea that all the trade unions have become incorporated into the capitalist state (WSWS/SEP) or the union bureaucracy with bourgeois workers parties can mobilise the class for socialism (SPEW), despite the good intentions of many in the second ranks and some leftist leaders.
In Britain the Chartists (1836-48), which developed to the 1839 revolutionary uprising in Newport, Wales, was the first such mass movement from below. The women of the Bryant and May’s Match-Girls’ strike of 1888 and the mainly Irish immigrant dockers’ tanner, (sixpence an hour) strike of 1889 were the first examples that really spread internationally. They won huge support from the ranks of the trade unions and oppressed in Britain itself and across the British Empire.
There followed many similar movements in every land, all of which had the potential of advancing towards revolutionary situations with the correct leadership. Today Chris Smalls and his New York Staten Island Amazon unionisation victory is part of and inspiring an international revival with this potential.
Imperialism before WWI and WWII
Before WWI and WWII there were two roughly equal, competing imperialist power blocs which fought it out for world dominance. After WWII there was just one, the USA, and the degenerated and deformed workers states (DWS) of the USSR and Eastern Europe, joined successively by Yugoslavia, Albania, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Cuba, “really existing socialism” as they were falsely dubbed.
Following the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and China’s embrace of capitalism in 1992 now there are just two deformed workers states left, Cuba and North Korea, and without a global upsurge of the struggles of the working class and oppressed in the near future these will go too. Right now there is only one global hegemonic imperialist power, albeit in decline, the USA. The first group of its subordinate imperialisms, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, are closely integrated into the its financial and political project and may be expected to stick with her through thick and thin.
The other subordinate imperialisms, led by Germany and France, are far more conflicted and unhappy but the US brings them to heel repeatedly as we see today in the Ukraine war. Japan tends to fluctuate between China and the US, depending on which political party is in government.
Of the 193 United Nations states, the semi-colonies are divided; many of the former East European workers states strongly support the US as also do many Middle East countries, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar as also do India, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa.
The oppressed semi-colonial masses correctly identify the US as their main enemy not their own ruling classes, China or Russia. So in countries like Hungary, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and even Saudi Arabia (tyrant Mohammad bin Salman refused to take a phone call from Biden), the ruling classes are bifurcated, and clearly alarmed by the US-NATO proxy war on Russia in Ukraine.
As a “semi-oppressed, semi-oppressing” class (Trotsky) they feel threatened themselves from above and below and have shown their dilemma by abstaining in the UN vote condemning Russia. 141 countries voted in favour, 5 countries voted against; Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea and Syria. 35 countries, including China, abstained and 12 didn’t vote at all.
Unconditional but critical support
In Ukraine, we are for the defeat of the US NATO Nazi-infested puppet regime in Kiev and the victory of Russia. The Nazi Azov Battalion and Right Sector and Svoboda dominate army and society in general. In alliance with the US they scuppered the Minsk agreements, brokered by Germany and France.
As Victoria Nuland revealed during the Maidan Coup in 2014 “fuck the EU” is integral to their policy then and now. Following the 1823 Munroe Doctrine, those in the Kiev regime are “our bastards”. Zelensky is the puppet of US-Nato via the Azov Battalion.
“Unconditional but critical support” is the slogan here and when the US attacks China; “march separately but strike together!”
We have no illusions in the brutal dictatorship of Putin, nor that of the billionaire President Xi Jinping in China. Russia suppresses alike the US-sponsored colour revolutionists like Alexei Navalny, and working class strikes and political struggle, strivings for democratic rights and internationalism.
There are 1,058 Chinese dollar billionaires and 4.5 million millionaires whose wealth is built on the super exploitation of rural China’s immigrant workers in alliance with western imperialism via the hukou system. Some 300 million of these are second class citizens with no welfare or even education rights for their children, whereas the existing urban workers aristocracy of labour have far greater rights.
We defend the Cuban deformed workers state against US imperialism but we do not defend the Castroite bureaucracy as “unconscious Marxists”. They are now capitalist restorationist but faced with a popular opposition in its second layers and at the base because of the terrible conditions imposed by the US on its sister state of Haiti, only 25 miles away across the water. Cuba was as exploited by the US as Haiti was and still is before its 1959-61 revolution.
Nor do we uncritically support the North Korean deformed workers state under the Marxist-Leninist-Juche ideology of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un which consists of a repressive ‘communist’, monarchic dynasty, ridiculously.
Only another serious defeat for global imperialism, as in Vietnam and Afghanistan, will drive forward the class struggle in the imperialist countries. And this in turn will revive the working class in Ukraine, Russia and China against their own reactionary ruling classes, the secondary enemies of the working class but very dangerous ones when they begin to move in genuine class struggles. This is how to turn wars into civil war for revolution.
The recent uprising of the class in Kazakhstan was clearly and genuinely from below and so was opposed alike by Putin and US imperialism. Unlike the imperialists’ unqualified support for the colour revolutions they sponsored in Ukraine (2004 and 2014)Georgia, Moldovia, Hong Kong, Belarus, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc. Likewise US lying propaganda about Tibet, Taiwan and claims China’s repression in Xinjiang amounts to genocide.
We do not sanitise the methods of the Stalinism in putting down reactionary uprisings, nor do we deny their repression of the Uighurs, but we recognise the main enemy there also. This is the essence of Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution and practice from the 1938 Transitional Programme.
In 2020 Mike Pompeo declared the East Turkestan Islamic Movement no longer a “terrorist organisation”, the US again sponsoring neo-Nazis and Islamic fundamentalists.
Whilst defending Iran against US and Israeli threats, we do support Ayatollah Kamani against the ongoing strike waves there but seek to recreated that great mass movement that was the Iranian revolution on 1979, defeated by Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic reaction.
The massacre of the Shanghai Soviet in April 1927 shows the treachery of the national bourgeoisie. Stalin’s Comintern supported Chiang Kai-shek uncritically, facilitating the defeat, against Trotsky and the joint opposition.
US-NATO to balkanise Russia and China
The present war in the Ukraine and the coming war of US-NATO against China is aimed at balkanising both Russia and China so that the US and its subordinate imperialisms can control and super exploit their working class directly and all their natural resources; their gas, oil, titanium, rare metals etc. Neither China nor Russia can possibly hope to do that to the EU, Japan etc. much less to the USA itself. Only a catastrophic economic crisis in the US would open up the prospect of China becoming an imperialist power and then perhaps allying with Russia and the EU as an alternative imperialist power bloc roughly equal to the US and its remaining allies.
Aleksandr Dugin’s fascist Eurasian power bloc notions, which strongly influences Vladimir Putin, would extend from “from Dublin to Vladisvostok” and involve Marine le Pen and many other far rightists and fascists. Dugin takes his inspiration from the anti-modernist Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger. It seems deluded daydreaming now, but could loom into view with the demise of the global dominance of the US and its dollar. That is a radically different scenario from today; Donald Trump’s admiration for Putin is not some global takeover plan, just a repressive isolationist would-be dictator admiring an actual one.
Russia and China are not imperialist powers
Neither Russia nor China are imperialist powers, they are not integrated into the IMF and World Bank and cannot extract surplus value from the global south in that way, even if China in particular aspires to do so. The US dollar dominates the planet as the world’s trading and reserve currency. The US wars on Libya 2011, and Iraq, 1999 and 2003, were primarily to maintain the hegemony of the dollar, to ensure no alternative. France/the EU were “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”.
Sanctions against Russia may be enhancing China’s renminbi but in 2021 the US dollar commanded 58.81% of world trade, the Euro 20.64%, the Japanese yen 5.57%, the pound sterling 4.78%, The renminbi was only at 2.79%.
The US can sanction countries like Iran and the transnational corporation of other countries and fine them millions of dollars if they fail to obey the “world’s policeman”. They are not breaking any of their own domestic or international laws. Russia and China have no remotely comparable global clout.
China acts in some ways like the original colonialists in Africa, southeast Asia and Latin America; it invests to gain economic dominance and extract raw materials for its industries. But it lacks the military prowess of the old colonial powers to occupy, much less that of the US to achieve regime change today. So it cannot enforce this temporary semi-dominance, which means it is a dominance which the US can military terminate almost at will.
The US military spent $801 billion in 2021, China $293 billion and Russia $65.9 billion. The US, its NATO and other allies war spendings are greater than Russia’s and China’s combined by a factor 5.46 in 2021 according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Russia’s and China’s spending on their military and naval warships are completely defensive and all only in their near abroad. It is US lies that Russia and China are taking over the world.
Our main enemy is at home
Biden spoke for an hour with Xi, seeking his assistance. A China TV anchor summarised it is as, “can you help us to defeat your friend so we can defeat you later? ” Xi, “Duh … No!”
A defeat of Russia in Ukraine would be a defeat for the class consciousness of the working class there and in Russia; all serious Marxists know the monster that is imperialism can only be finally slain at its head. So we are not dual defeatist in this war or in the next against China, we do not call on the working class in the West to seek the defeat of the West and the working class in Russia and China to seek the defeat of their countries.
The defeat of GLOBAL imperialism, directly or by proxy, is always our goal. In the imperialist nations “the main enemy is at home” as the great German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht wrote in that famous leaflet of May 1915 during the first imperialist slaughter.
He was rallying against August 4 1914, one of the blackest days in working class history when the German Social Democrats ‘Marxists’ (SPD) voted the war credits to the Kaiser to set workers killing workers in WWI.
● Defeat the US-Nato proxy war on Russia!
● Defeat the Azov Battalion and Right Sector!
● Imperialist hands off Russia!
● Abolish NATO!
● Workers of the World Unite against global imperialism!
Leopold Trepper, the founder and leader of the Soviet “Red Orchestra” espionage network in Nazi-occupied Europe, damned:
“All those who did not rise up against the Stalinist machine … The glow of October was being extinguished in the shadows of underground chambers. The revolution had degenerated into a system of terror and horror; the ideals of socialism were ridiculed in the name of a fossilized dogma which the executioners still had the effrontery to call Marxism.
“But who did protest at the time? Who rose up to voice his outrage? The Trotskyites can lay claim to this honour. Following the example of their leader, who was rewarded for his obstinacy with the end of an ice-axe, they fought Stalinism to the death, and they were the only ones who did …
“Today, the Trotskyites have a right to accuse those who once howled along with the wolves. Let them not forget, however, that they had the enormous advantage over us (ordinary communist party members) of having a coherent political system capable of replacing Stalinism. They had something to cling to in the midst of their profound distress at seeing the revolution betrayed. They did not ‘confess,’ for they knew that their confession would serve neither the party nor socialism.”