With the introduction of the RESTRICT bill, the element of the ruling elite that’s most committed to advancing imperialism has made its intentions clear: to criminalize anti-imperialist activities and sentiments, starting with efforts to build solidarity with anti-imperialist countries. Should it pass, it will make the organizers I know whose job is to cultivate relationships with foreign communist parties targets for criminal charges, and will potentially even make me a target should the act’s standards become loose enough. The point of RESTRICT’s banning the use of communications technologies from Washington’s adversaries is to create a loophole for prosecuting this kind of international organizing outreach work. Which creates the precedent for also going after those who merely speak out against the State Department’s narratives.
The latter project won’t even require anti-imperialist speech to be made officially against the law. Anyone who’s studied the history of the U.S. government’s censorship knows that to maintain the liberal illusion of a free society, our ruling class suppresses dissenting voices by charging them not with saying the wrong things, but with violating whatever existing laws the government spuriously claims they’ve broken. When Scott Ritter debunked the Iraq WMD hoax, the FBI charged him with a sex crime against a minor, even though he was on a site that had an of-age limit and the “minor” he had talked to was a sting agent. When the African People’s Socialist Party challenged the Ukraine psyop, the feds raided them last year based on a fabricated narrative about them being agents for Russian interference. RESTRICT, which warns against not just using foreign communications outlets but also collaborating with foreign governments to influence elections, is designed to act as a means for the feds to more easily accuse anti-imperialists of doing illegal things.
If this act passes, things like the framing of Ritter will be able to be done to people who engage in far more wide-ranging (and more productive) activities than going on porn sites. And things like the APSP raid will bring long-term damage towards the targeted organizations, letting the feds actually incarcerate the members like they’ve incarcerated many revolutionary organizers over the decades. Except now they won’t have to frame these organizers for murder, like they’ve usually done in those previous cases. They’ll only have to establish (truthfully or not) that the accused have been in contact with individuals from the “enemy” countries.
It’s an expansion of repressive power that will only grow as the ruling class escalates its war on dissent. And the denial from liberal “face-checkers” of the notion that RESTRICT will give it access to our home devices isn’t technically a lie, but it is a red herring, because we’ve known since the Vault 7 leaks that the feds hack into devices. The Patriot Act gave the government that ability prior to when smart mobile devices existed, with this new bill being a project to utilize that surveillance power for its maximum policing potential. RESTRICT is America’s Enabling Act. It’s the power grab that our ruling liberal fascists are trying to force through as part of their campaign to exploit a crisis. Except this crisis is not one singular traumatic event, like the Reichstag fire or 9/11, but rather a longer-term era of disaster that our government has been manufacturing for many years. It started with Obama’s pivot to Asia, which restarted the Cold War and led Washington to carry out a series of anti-Russian maneuvers with the ultimate goal of weakening China.
It’s involved everything from Washington’s Euromaidan coup, to the uproar over a Chinese “spy balloon,” to the propagation of the idea that Russia is waging a “war of aggression.” (This war was in fact a justified response to a U.S.-backed Donbass genocide.) Through hundreds of provocations and false flags, the imperialists have engineered a situation where the risk of nuclear war is greater than it’s ever been, and the Americans who’ve been fully swayed by the war propaganda blame this situation on the countries Washington has aggressed against. The campaign to pass RESTRICT depends on rallying support from this most chauvinistic, paranoid, and xenophobic element of the public.
RESTRICT, and whatever repressive measures that may come in place of it should it not pass, have a pivotal purpose within the class war: to replace COINTELPRO with open repression as the state’s primary means for combating revolutionary politics. One impulse is to be frightened of this bill and the growing anti-democratic governmental impulses behind it, but the reality is that since the start of this year alone, certain factors have been shifting in ways that place the class struggle in an increasingly advantageous situation. The state is reacting to this by preparing to abandon COINTELPRO as its main tool for frustrating the class struggle, since the standard movement-wrecking tactics are failing to neutralize the uprising our rulers are faced with. As soon as the revolutionary organizations grow too strong, and anti-imperialism gains too much influence over the popular consciousness, the state will have to embrace RESTRICT or some other version of it as its new biggest weapon in the class war.
RESTRICT wasn’t introduced in response to this year’s rise of a mass resistance towards the Ukraine proxy war, but it was introduced in response to the emergence of the conditions that made this powerful new anti-imperialist movement possible. The unprecedented reach that social media gave to those who seek to expose imperialism; the decline of U.S. hegemony and the subsequent rise in global support for China’s BRI; the rise in revolutionary consciousness that came when the 2008 crisis fully discredited the ruling class ideology; all of these developments were being talked about by the U.S. national security state years prior to when Russia’s special operation began. When Russia finally decided to take the actions necessary for making Washington lose the geopolitical chess game within Eurasia, and the psyop Washington created to try to counteract this failed, the state knew the time had come to intensify its censorship. The main censorship method is switching from pressuring the tech companies into suppressing anti-imperialist content, to attacking anti-imperialists through the police state itself.
Which of course was always something the imperial state did, but now it’s going to become vastly more prevalent. Prevalent to the extent that it was during World War I, when those speaking out against the war were jailed. Because today there’s no draft, and Washington sees proxy and informational wars as more economical options than direct invasions, the difference is that today’s repression against anti-imperialists focuses on the act of challenging imperialism’s psyops. During World War I, these psyops weren’t so important for the state to defend, as countering imperialism’s false accounts of world events wasn’t as important for the anti-imperialists. It was an inter-imperialist war, competition over the globe’s colonial holdings was the motive behind the state’s going to war, and everyone knew this. The antiwar activists only needed to argue that this goal of defending colonialism was not in the primary interests of the American people, who had the right to refuse to fight for the rich man’s interests. But today, our narrative battle is more complex. The new cold war is not an inter-imperialist conflict, as Russia, China, and Iran all lack an imperialist role or intent. The main goal of the empire’s modern psyops is to convince us that these countries are imperialist, and that they’re consequently carrying out transgressions against Taiwan, Ukraine, and other geopolitical focal points.
The main task of anti-imperialists is therefore to counter this narrative, a task which is essential for effectively countering the idea that imperialist wars are in the material interests of the American people. The better we do this, the more we diminish the power of the state’s controlled opposition within organizing spaces, which is the imperialism-compatible “radical” element known as the New Left. The New Left is obsessed with defending the notion that Washington’s modern adversaries are imperialist, because the prevalence of that notion is what maintains the New Left’s status. This status is one where these leftists act as the state’s designated gatekeepers of radical politics, casting out anyone who goes against the State Department’s narratives. For the last half-century, since the state successfully destroyed the Black Panther Party, these imperialism-compatible leftists have been the primary tool for holding back revolution. They’ve been able to co-opt and diffuse every spontaneous uprising, diverting developing radicals towards opportunistic projects which maintain the Democratic Party’s monopoly over activist circles.
But with the profound damage the Ukraine proxy war has caused towards the people’s living standards in a time of converging crises, and the mass resistance against NATO this has provoked, we have an opening to end the New Left’s dominance. We can make communism mainstream again by kicking the phony radicals out of our liberation movements, rallying the majority of the population that’s now living paycheck to paycheck, and bringing many libertarian-leaning or apolitical individuals into the communist movement. The decisive moment will be when we shift the balance of power within our spaces from the New Left to the actual revolutionaries, which depends on rejecting the advice of the reformists and the opportunists. They claim the class struggle can only succeed if it prioritizes winning over liberals above all others, but this idea can’t make the struggle defeat the state. It can only truncate the struggle, having it endlessly keep fighting from a place of self-imposed limitation. The New Left wants the movement to remain insular, because that’s what keeps it powerless to truly threaten capitalism.
The prospect of the workers movement gaining that level of theoretical intelligence and independence from the Democrats alarms the state. So the state is working to intensify its attacks against the movement, trying to reintroduce the early 20th century’s repressive campaigns in a version that’s fitting of the new cold war. Should we soon have to start organizing and educating via underground operations, the advantage we’ll have is that the state’s repression will be out in the open, creating a more apparent need to rebel. We’ll have lost the freedoms we had in the struggle’s previous stage, but this cost will be what we were always willing to take on by becoming revolutionaries. As soon as we became successful enough, the state was going to meet us with retribution. If we keep fighting through this coming dark time, we’ll be doing so during a stage much closer to victory.
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