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As imperialism's spoils dry up, the imperial center & its "left" further embrace fantasy

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The core imperialist countries are being confronted with the reality that when you build an entire civilization off of theft from other civilizations, your society can't sustain itself. It goes straight from its rise, made possible by parasitic extraction and the destruction of numerous cultures, to collapse, where the global structure it depends on falls apart and the core descends into chaos. The main reason the U.S. became the most powerful empire in history was because of World War II, which wiped out tens of millions of lives and in the process created a power vacuum where Washington had no capitalist competitors. Then China, Korea, and Vietnam beat back the empire's counterrevolutionary aggressions, starting off a spiral of decline that has only been accelerating.

A self-defeating society

To compensate for the economic damage from the great humiliation that the Vietnamese dealt to Washington, and from the fraying of Washington's postwar oil-extraction arrangement, the empire adopted neoliberalism. This was sold as the way to revive the imperial center's prosperity after its inhabitants began to sense that their extractive benefits were drying up. But it was a way to engineer the collapse of society, destroying healthcare, infrastructure, utilities, social welfare, workers' rights, corporate regulations, and other facets of a functioning state, while maintaining the illusion that there's such a thing as democracy under capitalism. The people of the core suffered, their living standards plummeting as many of their jobs were relocated to the neo-colonies, while the neo-colonies suffered even more.

The global poverty reductions that liberal "optimists" like Steven Pinker talk about have come not from some hidden success within the neoliberal plundering of the world's working class. They've come primarily from China, which has carried out the largest anti-poverty operation in history, and increasingly from Vietnam as well. These socialist states, along with the three other ones (as well as socialist-led countries like Venezuela and Bolivia), are who've been making true civilizational progress. The capitalist world has been regressing, allowing inequality to reach astronomical levels, imposing further austerity onto the peoples of both the exploited and exploiting countries, and finding itself outpaced by the socialist world as a consequence.

As China and Vietnam have demonstrated their development prowess, the smaller socialist states have shown us social progress that Americans can only dream of. At the same time that the U.S. is threatening to take away what few rights it has for women and LGBT people, Cuba just passed a law that recognizes a family not on the criteria of blood relation, but merely on whether its members take on the contributing roles of a family. Marxism-Leninism is leading the world by example on how to respect people's rights. The imperial center sticks out as a shame upon the world, eliciting disgust and horror for its cruel abortion policies, militarized police brutality against black people, mass shootings by men who've been brought up in imperialism's violent social conditioning, and inhumane detention centers for the southern indigenous peoples it's forced to flee through imperialist coups.

The United States, and the other decaying colonial powers, are societies that make themselves ever more sick. They've built their entire economic foundations on the exploitation of the formerly colonized world, and now that the imperialist spoils are drying up due to U.S. hegemonic decline and the shrinking rate of profit, they're descending deeper into denial. Those with a major stake in maintaining imperialism will never take responsibility for the incalculable evils that they've benefited from. They'll more fanatically believe their own propaganda, and blame the rest of the world for not supporting their desperate efforts towards more war.

We see this in how intensely the DPRK gets demonized by the imperialists and their ideological servants. The DPRK has shown an example of a society that can build up its living standards through its people's own labor, rather than through exploiting colonies. As punishment, it's portrayed as one of the world's most evil regimes, even though it's in every sense opposed to the tyrannical ideology of the empire that threatens it. The DPRK, China, Cuba, and ultimately Vietnam and Laos when they become more powerful, must be demonized. With the imperial center's decay on display for the world to see, and the socialist countries progressing at astonishing rates, socialism's superiority can never be acknowledged. Fantasies about spectacular communist evils must be pumped out constantly, soothing an empire that's sold out its industrial capabilities and descending into failed-state status.

Now that Washington has brought Ukraine into an unwinnable war by carrying out a fascist anti-Russian coup, and fomenting neo-Nazi terrorism so Russia can be provoked, the imperialists and their lackeys are doubling down on these hubristic fantasies. We're seeing imperial center columnists denouncing the Global South as immoral for supporting Russia, expecting the masses whom imperialism has enslaved and slaughtered to embrace Washington's absurd propaganda. A material analysis, which exploited peoples are inclined to embrace, says that Russia is not a rising imperialist power but a semi-peripheral country. One that has been beating back Washington's proxies in Syria and Ukraine. But the empire's propagandists will never take their perspective seriously, because according to the imperialist ideology, these are the people who should be bending to our will.

The benefactors of imperialism, including those on the "left," refuse to take direction from colonized and exploited peoples. Not when these peoples liberate themselves and build civilizations that far outpace those of the decaying capitalist regimes. Not when these peoples voice support for Russia's defending the world from Washington's destruction. This is because whatever project for change that the imperial center's "left" envisions inevitably includes the ongoing exploitation of the Global South.

"Socialists" who do the CIA's work

The Democratic Socialists of America, the country's largest "socialist" organization by far, has only gotten so big because the oligarchy has allowed it to. In every sense, right down to its founding, it's a manifestation of the "compatible left" that the empire has manufactured. As The Internationalist has written about the DSA's founders:

This tradition has often, and accurately, been described as "State Department socialism." Those unfamiliar with the left may think the term is a polemical excess or empty epithet. Not at all. In fact, intimate ties to the Department of State are only the beginning of the intertwining of the official social democrats with the agencies of U.S. imperialism... In the 1950s, SP leader Norman Thomas headed the U.S. affiliate of one of the most notorious CIA fronts of all time: the Congress for Cultural Freedom. He also campaigned in support of the genocidal U.S. war on Korea waged by Democrat Harry Truman. Michael Harrington joined Thomas' youth group in 1952 and the SP in 1960. In 1961, Thomas brain-truster and Harrington mentor Max Shachtman supported Democrat Kennedy's Bay of Pigs invasion... In 1967, major media revelations led to a flood of details on how "Norman Thomas, the personification of social democracy in the United States," had long "maintained ready access to top officials within the CIA," among them not only his "trusted friend, Allen Dulles," but also Cord Meyer of the "International Operations Division, the department handling the distribution of covert funding to front groups."

Central to this social-democratic alliance with the CIA was a campaign to exclude communists from organizing, and to attack "apologists for the Viet Cong." Judging by the conduct of the DSA and the rest of the U.S. "democratic socialist" coalition since then, this alliance has only deepened. DSA, Jacobin, and Haymarket have funded platforms for regime change operatives, who've promoted Washington's recent coup attempts throughout Latin America. The "Socialist International" has endorsed the coup effort of the U.S. puppet Juan Guaidà , and has repeated the Trump White House's lies about Venezuela's Chavistas perpetrating electoral fraud. Social-democrat pundits such as David Pakman have promoted apologia for the violent 2019 U.S. coup in Bolivia, using the typical dishonest rhetoric about "nuance." This rhetoric is predicated upon uncritical acceptance of every narrative Washington directs towards its targeted leaders, not on any serious analysis.

Naturally, this has extended to the Ukraine coup, which these propagandists portray as having been a democratic revolution against a "Putin puppet"--which is to say a leader who didn't comply with Washington's agenda for immediate hybrid-warfare escalations against Russia. The historical context, both recent and long-term, is totally ignored by this narrative, which depends on a chauvinistic view of Russia as an innately bad actor that must be subdued by the West. The compatible left hasn't considered that Ukraine's regime, in direct collaboration with the neo-Nazi militias the CIA backs, has been committing ethnic cleansing against the Russian-speaking peoples of the Donbass. That Kiev has carried out collective punishment against the Donbass peoples in retaliation for fighting for their self-determination, shelling Donbass urban areas indiscriminately and forcing its people to put together mass graves for the casualty victims. That Russia was a victim of a Nazi invasion just a few generations ago, perpetrated by the numerous U.S. capitalists who provided industry for Hitler's war machine. Russia's seeking to prevent history from repeating itself is what's seen as the outrage, as a crime on par with the Holocaust.

Of course social democracy supports these narratives, as social democracy is a tool of the same CIA that's behind the Ukrainian Nazis. And social democracy's stance on Ukraine does not come from naivete, but from an ideological overlap with Nazism. As Jay Tharappel has written, the "anti-Stalinist" crusade, which is now being revived to absurdly analogise the right opportunist Putin with Stalin, is based in racism. Tharappel assesses that this racism is directed both against Russians, and against all other peoples who seek to determine their fates free from the grip of colonial domination:

Racism is not just a tool of capital to divide labour (which is the dominant definition of the term among first-world Left); it is also an ideological weapon employed primarily by empires to shape how their citizens think about other nations in accordance with their geopolitical strategy. To understand what this means, just watch the late Edward Said talk about Orientalism, or 'Reel Bad Arabs', a documentary based on a book by the late Lebanese American writer Jack Shaheen, both of which argue that the negative portrayal of Arabs in Hollywood is motivated by geopolitical interests. To uncritically assume therefore that Anti-Stalinism is unrelated to the anti-Soviet/Russian foreign policy of the United States and its allies over the past century is simply naà ve. Two years ago, the United States vetoed a United Nations resolution tabled by Russia, condemning Nazism.

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution. Donate to me on Patreon here:

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