Now that Biden has again committed to arming Ukraine, even after Russia’s Bakhmut victory has shown it to be impossible for Ukraine to prevail, America’s working class is confronted with a brutal reality. The reality that their government is willing to sacrifice their future for the sake of keeping the war machine running, and now has done this to its greatest degree so far. The significance of Washington’s Ukraine proxy war on class politics is unprecedented in the history of imperial wars. At no other point has it been this apparent that our leaders invest so much in the military not to protect the country’s people, but to generate profits for the business elites who truly control our government. Never before has an American war been this materially costly to the people in a way that’s so clearly traceable to the war effort, and for the sake of a military campaign that’s so obviously lacking in justification.
As soon as one learns the context behind Russia’s actions—that the U.S. installed a fascist coup regime in Ukraine, that this regime’s menacing racism prompted the country’s easterners to break away, and that the regime then shelled the easterners for exercising their sovereignty right—the fraudulence of Washington’s claim to be “countering Russian aggression” is undeniable. Russia is not the aggressor, it’s only taking away the tools that the actual aggressor Ukraine has for continuing to harm the Donbass Russian speakers. The perpetual cycle where the Ukrainian armed forces get revealed to either be collaborating with Nazis, or themselves wearing Nazi symbols, has created a wider awareness of the conflict’s true nature. As has Seymour Hersh’s report on how the U.S. orchestrated the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline. It’s these kinds of revelations, shocking to those who’ve only so far been exposed to the imperialist media’s accounts of events, that lead more to find the truth: the Ukraine aid isn’t about protecting anyone. It’s all about advancing corporate interests.
By extension, the sanctions which have done so much damage to America’s own economy, and the neglect of domestic social spending that makes the vast military investments possible, are causing harm towards the U.S. proletariat for completely indefensible reasons. Working people are nothing but disposable tools for the imperialists, subjected to austerity because this is what’s needed to feed the profit machine. This applies to workers all around the globe, with the ones in the neo-colonies punished the most severely simply for existing within their class stratum. “During the second year of the pandemic (2021), 13 of the 15 IMF loan programmes required the countries that had taken loans from them to impose taxes on food and fuel and cut vital public services in order to service their debts,” writes Vijay Prashad about the relationship between global austerity and the new cold war. “The following year, China announced that it would waive 23 interest-free loans that it had given to 17 African countries. This decision reflects a long-term trend in China’s loan management, as the country is estimated to have forgiven between $45 million and $610 million in lending to the continent over the last two decades.”
This difference between how a socialist anti-imperialist government like China operates, and the extractive imbalance that comes from Washington’s model of acting, also exists in how these powers use their technological tools. In China, industry and high tech have been used to assist in an unprecedented anti-poverty project. In the USA, technologies like AI are only being used to further class exploitation, and drive more workers to the economy’s margins. Lenin wrote that “The possibility of reducing the cost of production and increasing profits by introducing technical improvements operates in the direction of change. But the tendency to stagnation and decay, which is characteristic of monopoly, continues to operate.” Because of this process of decline that’s fundamental to capitalism, the proletarians inevitably get sacrificed to keep profits up.
The liberal myth that’s used to rationalize the Biden administration’s policies says this technology will save the people from our crises, bringing prosperity to a declining society. This is a lie that’s obvious to everyone who continues to experience deteriorating living standards, however much technology advances. With the productive instruments that capitalism gave us, we gained the logistical ability to let every person on earth live in abundance. Then with automation, and now AI, we’ve gained the ability to not just make these people be prosperous, but also do so with either greatly reduced or nonexistent work hours. Yet these outcomes still haven’t materialized, and for many decades the capitalist world has instead been going backwards in terms of living conditions. In most places outside of China and Vietnam, where poverty has mainly been getting reduced for the last half-century, the amount of poor people has been overall increasing in both the core and peripheral countries.
This is because until those productive tools capitalism created are taken out of the control of the bourgeoisie, they won’t be used to their full capacities for materially bettering humanity. And as we’ve learned, they’ll instead be used to make even more people destitute. The same goes for the technologies that can be used to protect the environment. China has shown that these technologies—especially atomic energy after its recent innovations in safety—can be used to bring down emissions. But such successes will never be replicated under bourgeois rule.
Under our system in the core of imperialism, where capitalism’s central purpose is to wage war, these technologies are used not to better human beings but to destroy human beings. Nuclear is being used to send Ukraine depleted uranium, which will render the same lands and people Washington is supposedly trying to “defend” damaged in the long term. The Pentagon has been working with big tech both to use its AI tools for war, and to silence online voices that counter imperialism’s narratives. With American militarism, policing, surveillance, and censorship, the technologies that should be used for improving our lives are used to assist the machine. This is what liberalism is really about. It’s not a shield against a foreign “authoritarian” threat, it’s where the true threat towards freedom can be found. This has gotten clearer with the RESTRICT act, which would codify the fraudulent “foreign interference” criminal standard that the DOJ has applied to anti-imperialists.
The only way to reverse our social decline, and make today’s productive tools fulfill their full potential for developing society, is by overthrowing the capitalist state and creating a workers state. It’s also the only way to bring peace between our society, and Russia, China, and Washington’s other target countries. We must use the hypocrisies in liberalism which the Ukraine war has exposed to build the movement that represents this goal.
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