The future lies in the hands of the billions of people who the machine of monopoly capitalism has exploited, discarded, and incarcerated. They make up by far the majority of the globe, and history’s direction is increasingly in their favor. China is economically defeating U.S. imperialism, while Russia is militarily defeating it. Class struggle around the globe is intensifying, getting us closer to a new wave of revolutions across the peripheral countries. The day is coming when the conditions become right for the U.S. empire’s internal colonies, and the broader American working class, to successfully rise up. By the internal colonies, I mean the impoverished black, indigenous, and brown communities that are being subjected to a cruel police and carceral state within the USA. By the American working class, I mean the nearly two-thirds of Americans who are now living paycheck to paycheck. The conditions of these groups, as well as their size, come to more resemble those of the underclass in the poorer countries as imperialism contracts.
There’s such great potential among these peoples to shape history because they represent the next stage in civilization’s development. The last stage was capitalism, which has been a zombie of a system for two centuries. It could only survive beyond its peak in the 19th century by expanding its parasitism, and parasitism isn’t a sustainable foundation for a social order. A parasitic economy’s robustness withers, as predicted by the tendency of the rate of profit to fall which Marx explained. When the economy’s geopolitical power structure inevitably breaks down, it’s cut off from the extractive sources it needs to survive. The ideas that rationalize the extractive order can only be internalized by a tiny minority of the global population, which is why Mao concluded that over 90 percent of the globe will ultimately rise up against imperialism.
The remaining less than ten percent are those whose material interest primarily lies in maintaining the robbery of the Global South. During this era in which imperialism has become “rotten-ripe,” as Lenin described it, and vulnerable to being defeated by the globe’s forces for revolution, the goal of this minority is to obstruct the effort to liberate the rest of humanity. There are members of the imperialism-invested minority in the exploited countries, comprised of the local bourgeoisie known as the compradors. The core and comprador capitalists work together to defend their interests by any means necessary, whether color revolution activities that co-opt organic protest movements in regime change target countries; disseminating black propaganda designed to fool the peoples of these countries into losing faith in their governments; or outright terrorism, which is perpetrated both by pro-imperialist saboteurs, and by imperialist comprador regimes that seek to intimidate their people into submission.
Those involved in these activities are vile, but they wouldn’t be inhabiting the roles that they inhabit if not for the nature of our modern global socioeconomic system. To understand why the exploitation of the Global South can’t end under capitalism, no matter what reforms come to the system, I had to learn the history of capitalism. When capitalism replaced feudalism, its unprecedented ability to produce goods created a crisis of overproduction. This crisis made it so that as Michael Parenti said, there can be no such thing as capitalism in one country. To prevent itself from collapsing, capital needs to perpetually expand into new markets. So the first countries where capitalism emerged, those being the western European ones, exported their excess goods to the lands that they could grab up and divide amongst themselves. A dichotomy of “core” and “peripheral” countries was created, with the core ones building wealth at the expense of the peripheral ones. In the 19th century, when capitalism reached its highest point (that being its monopoly stage), the nature of this exploitation switched from the exporting of goods to the exporting of capital.
Because capital had cultivated these conditions, in which the lands that had been colonized could continue to be exploited via corporate ventures even if these lands were officially “independent,” a mandate emerged for converting the subjugated countries into countries that resisted the influence of monopoly capitalism. This mandate was fulfilled by Leninism. The Bolsheviks turned czarist Russia and the countries it imperialized into socialist republics, their project acting as the model for what numerous peripheral countries would do to free themselves in the following decades. The recourse from those invested in imperialism was to invent a new set of rhetorical attacks against the idea of revolution.
Prior to the Russian revolution, it was sufficient for them to engage in the “moral sanction,” the “solemn completion,” and the “universal ground for consolation and justification” of the old social order, as Marx wrote about the ideological impacts of religion. When the workers began to form their own states, the partisans of civilization’s outdated developmental stage shifted to the narrative that these proletarian states were despotic.
The religiously invested among these reactionaries still put forth the original ideas designed to discredit social progress, as described by Lenin: “those who live by the labour of others are taught, by religion, to practise charity while on earth, thus offering them a very cheap way of justifying their entire existence as exploiters, and selling them, at a moderate price, tickets to well-being in heaven. Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.” But in this new era of intensified class conflict, it was necessary to also construct myths about the arbiters of social progress being brutal tyrants. Communism was a threat to this fantasy the ruling class had invented, in which the people could be saved from their conditions by spiritual means. Even as the communists fed, housed, educated, and medically treated the people in ways not previously possible, they were portrayed as the villains, because they were interfering with what was seen as god’s plan. The idea that god’s plan is to keep the people in sub-par conditions, entirely for the material benefit of the ruling class, somehow wasn’t seen as suspicious by this narrative’s adherents.
These absurdities in anti-communist rhetoric could only be distracted from with the most dramatic and hyperbolic stories imaginable. Anti-communism’s great propaganda tactic throughout the last century has been to fabricate accounts of atrocities supposedly committed by communist countries, such as the “Holodomor,” the Tiananmen Square “massacre,” and most recently the Uyghur “genocide.” Out of these lies can come the smaller lies, such as that socialist states have lacked democratic processes, that the biggest among them have been perpetrators of imperialism, and that their political-economic systems have been reducible to the liberal term “state capitalism.” The latter idea is especially promoted by the westerners who prefer to consider themselves socialists or leftists, but who don’t want to give up the notion that history’s successful revolutions have been fundamentally negative developments.
Among those who aggressively promote these myths, rather than passively believe them simply due to not being exposed to any other accounts of history, the core incentive is to maintain the existing social order. This is true both for the right and left anti-communists, who are overwhelmingly concentrated in the imperialist countries. These two types of anti-communists have formed their ideas due to a failure to properly confront the contradictions in their own lives. To be living in the center of imperialism, and make self-superior judgments about the peoples resisting imperial violence, there has to be a lack of self-awareness in regards to the place one inhabits relative to the rest of the globe.
Within the lifetime of the average U.S. citizen, their government has perpetrated or assisted in multiple genocides. The most notable among them being the ones carried out by Israel against the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia against the Yemenis, and fascist Ukraine against the Russian speakers. Washington has also waged dozens of wars for economic domination, and installed dozens of despotic regimes to maintain its exploitation of the periphery’s proletariat.
This context is disregarded by the anti-communists, who repeat what’s said about these countries by xenophobic pundits, paid defectors, intelligence officials, and NGOs. The telling part is that the caliber of vilification depends on how substantially a given country defies imperialism’s interests. If you defend China, you’ll be decried as a genocide denier, because the PRC has become the biggest threat to U.S. hegemony. But if you defend Vietnam, you won’t see that kind of backlash, because Vietnam’s government has decided to work within Washington’s “rules-based” international order. A government becoming a target for demonization within our dominant cultural worldview is always precipitated by that government defying Washington’s geopolitical designs, yet this pattern doesn’t make anti-communists suspect that a certain agenda may be at work.
The same applies to non-communist countries that are defying U.S. hegemony. Two decades ago, Russia was seen as a friend to the United States, and was therefore portrayed as the good guy. Then as soon as Putin saw it as in his interests to act against Washington, the perception of Russia reverted to the one from the Soviet era. Russia was again a villain. The important thing is that what the imperialists do gets perceived as righteous—even if they do something like install a fascist junta in Ukraine—while whatever a U.S. rival does gets perceived as malign. Even if that thing is rescuing Ukraine’s people from a regime that seeks to commit ethnic cleansing. In our dominant political culture, it’s unthinkable to consider that Washington may be the one in the wrong in any international situation.
A culture that thinks and acts like this is by necessity an insular one. It’s not capable of, or willing to, understand the perspectives of the rest of the planet, which has either been subjected to imperialism’s evils in the past or is still being subjected to it today. Just as the average American is only still wary of communism due to the CIA’s propaganda, the U.S. empire is only still around due to the CIA’s covert warfare. All of Latin America would have gone socialist during the 20th century if not for Washington’s counterrevolutionary coups, and the equivalent is true for Asia and Africa.
The lands the imperialists still control, both in the peripheries and in the core, make up one giant dictatorship of capital. This dictatorship is increasingly fragile, capable of being brought down by a combination of internal failure and work by the liberation movement’s members. The ones who take power after the empire’s defeat will be the proletarians, from both the periphery and the core. This is the great comfort of today’s workers as they navigate an ever bleaker socioeconomic landscape.
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