Throughout these last two decades, as Washington has reacted to the great imperialist blowback incident 9/11 by waging perpetual wars with reckless abandon, it's been confronted with the ways that imperial hubris tends to undermine an empire's influence. The Iraq invasion proved extremely costly, both in terms of resources and for U.S. diplomatic interests; this immense crime destroyed much of Washington's perceived credibility, helping pave the way for the rise of Iran in southwest Asia and the rise of China globally. And the Afghanistan war has failed to subdue the Taliban because of the brutality against civilians and immense corruption that Washington's occupation has brought to the country; the Taliban is able to maintain support from the local populations by pointing out how the alternative is to live under imperialist control.
These self-defeating consequences of Washington's recent wars, which have also applied to things like the U.S. military's murderous drone program or the cruel U.S. sanctions against numerous countries, foreshadow what the U.S. government's weaknesses will be when the wars inevitably come into the country's borders. The U.S. military has expressed many times over this last five decade that it expects deteriorating living standards and climatic crises to produce internal unrest, and that it will need to respond to these lower class revolts with occupations of U.S. cities and other counterinsurgency measures from Washington's wars abroad.
This reality of the U.S. empire intending to target rebels in its borders with the most extreme of its warfare tactics abroad is something we must take seriously as members of the anti-colonial proletarian revolutionary movement. This is objectively cause for great concern and great defensive preparation. But at the same time, it's a sign that the enemy we're up against in the fight for this continent's liberation from colonial occupation and bourgeois rule has crucial weaknesses. Weaknesses which ironically stem from how far it's willing to take its acts of brutality; if Washington's shameless transgressions in Afghanistan have destroyed its own potential for winning the hearts and minds of the Afghani people, irrevocably costing the empire strategic ground, the same will happen in the U.S. when our military starts bombing neighborhoods or massacring civilians.
Our situation comes back to what Mao wrote about how reactionaries are "paper tigers." When he stated this, he didn't mean that the reactionaries shouldn't be taken seriously. Only that they shouldn't be viewed as invincible. He explained this in these statements that came after his "paper tigers" quote:
We have developed a concept over a long period for the struggle against the enemy, namely, strategically we should despise all our enemies, but tactically we should take them all seriously. In other words, with regard to the whole we must despise the enemy, but with regard to each specific problem we must take him seriously. If we do not despise him with regard to the whole, we shall commit opportunist errors. Marx and Engels were but two individuals, and yet in those early days they already declared that capitalism would be overthrown throughout the world. But with regard to specific problems and specific enemies, if we do not take them seriously, we shall commit adventurist errors. In war, battles can only be fought one by one and the enemy forces can only be destroyed one part at a time.
This is the approach we revolutionaries in the U.S. must use to overcome the violent backlash that we'll be met with in the coming decades. It's clear that the empire's contradictions are going to produce an anti-colonial proletarian insurgency within our generation; sociologists have lately been predicting that such a domestic revolt is coming due to how dire conditions are growing for the country's poorest and most disenfranchised communities. The question is whether or not the movement for decolonial, Marxist-Leninist revolution manages to not be crushed by the counterrevolutionary terror campaign from the police, the military, and their adjacent paramilitaries.
We can do this by despising the enemy strategically (which is to say by not believing that the enemy's modern military technologies render an overthrow of the state impossible), while taking the enemy seriously in regards to tactics (which is to say by acting with as much caution as possible in the face of this great strength). The latter must be done by cultivating a strong security culture within our cadres, by making our cadre members commit to militancy training, and by doing so while not neglecting the task which will make all of this work pay off: the winning over of the local masses surrounding our cadres to our cause of anti-colonial proletarian revolution.
A security culture can be created by studying red flag behaviors for potential movement saboteurs; one can find lists of such traits, which include emotional manipulation of an organization's members, the stoking of unnecessary divisions within a group, and the promotions of defaming claims about those within an organization. Under our surveillance state, it's also important for party members to get VPNs and encrypted emails. Militancy culture can be cultivated by routine group trips to the gun range, martial arts training among members, and the mandatory reading of literature like The Art of War and Che's Guerrilla Warfare. Diligent exercise routines are crucial as well. But these measures won't get us very far unless we also do mass work, where we organize aid for our communities, engage in tenant organizing, and otherwise establish connections with the masses. As Maoexplained about the goal of this kind of mass work:
Everybody must be mobilized to share the responsibility, to speak up, to encourage other people, and to criticize other people. Everyone has a pair of eyes and a mouth and he must be allowed to see and speak up. Democracy means allowing the masses to manage their own affairs. Here are two ways: one is to depend on a few individuals and the other is to mobilize the masses to manage affairs. Our politics is mass politics". An active leader followed by inactive masses will not do.
If we build this base of support within our communities, during the moment of revolutionary crisis we'll be able to seize territory away from the control of the settler-colonial state and the bourgeoisie. This is the reward that the guerrillas in Colombia are currently getting for their efforts, which have included not just the creation of a well-trained revolutionary army but the construction of their organization in a way which makes them in tune with the interests of the surrounding masses. As the journalist Oliver Dodd reported this year about Segunda Marquetalia, the organization that's carrying out this anti-colonial insurgency:
Although the group was only re-established on August 29, 2019, Segunda Marquetalia already has a significant base of civilian support in the communities I visited. I watched their troops pass through villages unhindered and saw their members work openly, interacting with the civilians in the streets, even holding public meetings, seemingly unafraid that their presence could be reported to the Colombian military. A local woman living in a farm within a Farc stronghold, who did not see herself as a socialist or political activist, told me, "The community here prefers the Farc [Segunda Marquetalia] to the police and military. They are always around to help immediately when asked. They are part of us and support us with basic needs in a difficult situation. They also help us to organise the community here."
If we take this lesson from Segunda Marquetalia and engage in mass work""rather than making our cadres into elitist groups of gatekeepers who look down upon the masses""while incorporating security culture and militancy culture, we'll make the U.S. empire's failures abroad afflict the empire at home. Only when we've made sure to not underestimate our enemy, to take our enemy seriously in tactical terms, can we take advantage of the ways that our enemy is strategically weak.
U.S. imperialism, whose hubris in warfare strategies renders it unable to subdue far weaker armies like the Taliban, is on the verge of experiencing great strain for its armed forces due to climatic and economic crises. Due to these things, we should despise the empire strategically, using its growing weaknesses as motivation for the tactical moves we'll need to make for ensuring its defeat.