Rage Against the War Machine: an answer to a decade of pro-NATO lies about Ukraine

Above: Washington’s 2014 Euromaidan coup in Ukraine

On February 19 in Washington DC, the multi-tendency organization Rage Against the War Machine will hold a demonstration. The organization’s demands, which obviously are going to apply beyond the next couple of weeks, consist (in my own words) of the following:

-The end to funding for Ukraine’s war effort, which Washington knew from the start was doomed to fail and truly acts to advance the genocidal goals of the coup regime in Kiev.

-The negotiation of peace, which Russia has offered plenty of times on the precondition that Washington cease enabling the ethnic cleansing goals of its puppet state.

-An end to the inflation that the war is causing, or more accurately that corporations are using the war as an excuse to carry out through price gouging.

-Disband NATO, which is nothing more than a modern facilitator of the wars the original colonial powers continue to wage.

-Have the USA adopt a no-use first policy on nuclear weapons, neutralizing the threat from the only country in this conflict that’s truly responsible for heightening the risk of nuclear war.

-Greatly reduce the Pentagon budget, which from a Marxist-Leninist perspective is a reformist goal but which is worth bringing up simply to expose America’s unparalleled military excesses.

-Abolish the CIA and the military-industrial complex, which would entail the end of the U.S. empire itself.

-Abolish war and imperialism, which is where Leninism’s analysis can be useful; our society can only stop being imperialist when we build socialism, and have our economy be built off the labor of its own workers rather than rely on neo-colonial extraction.

-Restore the civil liberties that have been taken away throughout the War on Terror. This can be used as a helpful factor in additional liberation efforts, like the prison abolition movement and the anti-police movement.

-Free Julian Assange, whose incarceration has represented another attack on freedom of expression by setting the precedent for prosecuting journalists who expose U.S. war crimes.

As I described, the promotion of these ten points has the potential to act as a catalyst for victories not just in the anti-imperialist movement, but in the anti-racist and anti-fascist movements. The class, environmental, and LGBT liberation movements will benefit as well, simply because the weakening of the war machine and the empire’s internal repressive state will weaken the mechanisms for carrying out structural violence. All of these causes represent the broader category of class struggle, as the victory of the class struggle is what will put the proletariat in power and enable us to dismantle capitalism’s unjust policies. 

Even if the demands of RAWM aren’t met, the consciousness shift it will create is going to make the empire’s war machinations less practicable, rendering the imperial structure less able to economically sustain itself. The U.S. dollar, which has already only been able to avoid collapsing during the pandemic through unprecedented money printing, will unravel. And the pace of class struggle will accelerate as the American imperial state’s economic foundations give way. What follows will be the overthrow of the imperial state, automatically rendering all of the demands met.

That’s the calculus a communist should come to on the question of whether they ought to support Rage Against the War Machine. Increasingly, there’s a campaign by radical liberals to discredit RAWM by portraying its impacts as amounting to a different outcome than what’s actually the case. Their claim is that it’s helping reactionary politics because its speakers and financial contributors include right-wing libertarians, and others not part of the left. Yet when I hear this argument, I can’t help think of Lenin’s description of “left-wing” communists: communists who do things like refuse to work with reactionary trade unions out of a misplaced sense of principle, refusing to see that their working with these entities is not going to strengthen reactionary politics but rather strengthen revolutionary politics.

RAWM is an equivalent to the reactionary trade unions Lenin referred to because RAWM represents an opportunity to bring anti-imperialism to the people. To expand our repudiations of the Ukraine psyop beyond our own spaces, and create a genuine threat towards the empire’s narrative control. With how much potential it has to change the narrative, I start to see why these radlibs are trying so hard to stop its momentum, to discourage those on the left from supporting it. Because we all know these radlibs aren’t aren’t making these “critiques” from a place of concerned anti-imperialism. They couldn’t care less about anti-imperialism, or their hatred of RAWM wouldn’t overlap with their desire to defend the lies behind the Ukraine psyop.

Lenin’s working with those trade unions didn’t prevent the Bolshevik revolution and the formation of the Soviet Union. Our working with RAWM will not prevent victory for the workers of America. It isn’t the Libertarian Party, the reformist People’s Party, or the Maupinite Center for Political Innovation that will gain the people’s support during the coming months and years, even though these organizations are helping RAWM. These forces are all fundamentally limited in their potential, whether by having pro-bourgeois politics, by simply focusing on a narrow range of issues, or by being tied to the discredited sex pest Caleb Maupin. The political program that will gain the people’s support during a time of working class suffering, widely visible state violence, and climatic and health crises is the program that proves itself capable of addressing the people’s needs. Which these entities, along with the less credible RAWM participants like Jackson Hinkle, won’t do.

Is it good that an individualist social conservative political clown like Hinkle is involved in this? It’s not, but that’s not the point. It shows how much serious Marxists need to intensify our anti-imperialist practice. The fact that rightists are ahead of us on anti-imperialism is pathetic, and RAWM is an opportunity for us to prove ourselves capable of contributing to the anti-NATO movement. This is what the communist American Student Union is doing by aiding RAWM. Telling from the ASU’s program of explicitly working class politics, and from how the ASU is the socialist organization on RAWM’s sponsors list that hasn’t become politically radioactive like CPI, ASU is the entity on this list that will ultimately gain the most from RAWM’s impacts. 

Unlike the CPI, ASU has credibility. And unlike the Libertarian, reformist, or single-issue entities on the sponsors list, its constitution includes revolutionary statements like “We reject and oppose tongue, pen, and action: fascism, capitalism, and imperialism.” These key factors of trustworthiness and proletarian class interests are what already make it the winner in the competition for relevance that all of these entities are engaged in outside their momentary coalition.

The Marxist-Leninist movement that ASU represents will be the one which prevails because it’s the movement that’s genuinely invested in the people’s interests. If the right opportunists think they can use RAWM to bring about an overall positive outcome for their cause, the joke is on them. They’re in the end helping the class struggle. RAWM is weakening the empire that keeps capital in power, and providing communists with an opportunity to show our commitment to anti-imperialist ideals while bringing millions more towards our ideas. Not because RAWM will in itself include Marxist polemics, but because it will bring attention to the anti-imperialist ideas that can make the people receptive to such polemics.


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