Analogous to how Lenin said that “the last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope,” it’s becoming apparent that the global system of geopolitics which the capitalists set up is the instrument which will be used to defeat them. When the bourgeoisie developed their socioeconomic order into imperialism, and consequently gave geopolitics the power which it now has, they gave imperialism’s enemies the tools to subdue imperialism. And by extension, to render capitalism unable to function.
With the emergence of New Imperialism, wherein export of capital became the primary tool of imperialism, the bourgeoisie reached an unprecedented level of power. But they also became vulnerable to defeat on the grand geopolitical chessboard that this new stage in capital’s evolution would end up creating. When capitalism entered into its phase of the domination by monopoly capital, imperialism—capitalism’s tool for surviving its own crisis of overproduction by expanding into new markets—naturally took on the character of exporting capital to the peripheral countries, rather than raw materials as had previously been the case. When capital became imperialism’s principal export, the core imperialist countries were able to carry out their market expansions not through direct colonial rule, but through neo-colonialism, where the core exports capital to the periphery. Therefore, the core could suddenly access the peripheral markets merely by rendering the governments of the exploited countries subservient to imperialism. The exploited countries could now be “independent” on the surface, while still fulfilling the role within imperialism that a colony has. New Imperialism had led to neo-colonialism.
This new dynamic allowed for imperialism to disguise itself, for the bourgeoisie of the core countries to continue their exploitation of the peripheries while making it appear to the uneducated observer like they weren’t exploiting anyone. The colonies were “independent” now, imperialism was supposedly a thing of the past. If the formerly colonized countries remained poor, that must be their own fault, because with “independence” they had supposedly gained the opportunity to build wealth on their own. But that wasn’t true, because with the way the imperialists had set up this new order, the former colonies weren’t actually independent. Whenever they tried to assert their economic self-determination, to control their own resources and provide their workers with wages above slave levels, the imperialists would step in to subdue them. The same is still the case. So the only way the exploited countries could do what the imperialists claimed they could now do, and build up their economies, was by fighting for their political autonomy. And after they won their autonomy, the only way they could avoid collapsing within a global market system that the imperialists still controlled was by playing the geopolitical game the imperialists had set up.
These were the historical factors which led to our current situation, where geopolitics is an instrumental part of the global class struggle. Whatever contradictions exist within the countries which oppose the U.S. bloc, it’s crucial for today’s communists to defend them from all false narratives the imperialists put forth about these countries, including that the biggest anti-imperialist powers Russia, China, and Iran are “imperialist” themselves. As far as communists within the core imperialist countries and the remaining neo-colonies are concerned, the role these and the other anti-imperialist countries play in the class struggle is one of weakening the capital of the U.S. bloc. And if the capital of this bloc is sufficiently weakened, it will lose its capacity to exploit the peripheral countries (a process already underway), and its ability to fortify the capitalist states within the core imperialist countries from revolution. Because as Stalin observed in The Foundations of Leninism, the weaker capital is in a given country, the more ripe it is for its capitalist state to be overthrown.
With the decline of U.S. hegemony, and the new cold war effort that this has prompted Washington to wage throughout the last decade or so, geopolitics is a more potent tool for the class struggle than ever. Because now geopolitics has the potential to deal the final blow to imperialism. But in a technical sense, geopolitics has been acting as a foil to imperialism for over a century now, starting with the coming of the Bolsheviks to power within Russia in 1917. When a feudal imperialist country was transformed into an anti-imperialist country, and became an active threat to the core imperialist countries, the ideological struggle within class politics entered into a new phase. One that includes geopolitics, and the debate over whether imperialist war propaganda is true, as necessary parts of the education required for attaining class consciousness.
When the imperialists began producing propaganda designed to demonize the Soviet Union, later using Nazi disinformation agents like Goebbels, traitors to the revolutionary cause like Trotsky or Khrushchev, and literary red-bashers like Orwell or Solzhenitsyn for spinning additional myths about communist human rights abuses, they found a receptive audience among the leftists and “communists” with an ideological interest in discrediting existing socialism. Prior to when the Bolsheviks created the first workers state, the anarchists and the left’s other anti-Marxists attacked those who represent the theory of Marx and Engels merely by insinuating that communism might bring “authoritarianism.” That authority is a tool which can be used for any purpose, and that it could serve as a net positive if wielded by a state with proletarian class character, were ignored by this analysis. The anarchists were set on sabotaging whatever workers state the communists tried to build. When imperialism was confronted with a series of states which worked against its interests, and therefore began creating propaganda narratives to portray these states as “authoritarian” tyrannies, the anarchists, the Trotskyists, the social democrats, and the other anti-“Stalinist” strains were eager to repeat this propaganda.
So is the case today, more than ever now that a new cold war prompts the CIA to intensify its cultivation of left-wing anti-communism. And with the last century’s developments in communist schisms, the modern era has the additional sectarian strain of Maoism, which attacks today’s socialist states not primarily for being “authoritarian” but for being “state capitalist.” When it comes to the DPRK, the socialist country that’s currently most advanced in evolving towards communism, their claim is that the country can’t be truly socialist because its guiding Juche ideology is supposedly “anti-Marxist.” These analyses ignore that the market utilizations of China, Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos are modern versions of Lenin’s New Economic Policy (therefore meaning those countries can still be dictatorships of the proletariat), and that there’s substantial evidence for Juche being fundamentally informed by Marxism-Leninism. This determination that certain factions within the left and the communist movement have to portray existing socialism as “not real socialism” is not productive. It creates an obsession with discrediting the anti-imperialist countries over real or perceived contradictions, when the discussion ought to be primarily framed in terms of how these countries are helping weaken capital within the core.
When we frame things in these terms, we’re able to take on the right mindset for not uncritically accepting imperialism’s propaganda about these countries, which is designed to subdue the Russo-Chinese bloc and therefore reverse the weakening of capital. It’s in our class interests to only say negative things about anti-imperialist governments, current or past, after we’ve carefully verified that these things are based in fact. It’s important to point out former socialism’s faults so that we can learn from its mistakes, or to point out how Russia’s capitalist post-Soviet state has ravaged the country’s living standards. Hakim, one of my favorite Marxist-Leninist YouTubers, has respectively done both in the videos linked within the last sentence. What he hasn’t done is say that we need to support Ukraine in the present conflict, or that the people throughout the neo-colonies who are rallying in support of Russia’s Operation Z are wrong for doing so.
These claims would be based in an incorrect argument (that Russia’s actions are unprovoked) which comes from imperialist propaganda, rather than in a correct argument (that Russia’s current state is fundamentally opposed to the interests of its own working class). And it would weaken the factually based parts of his argument, rendering them selective pieces of truth that are used to make lies appear convincing. This use of some truths to sell lies is the standard form of imperialist propaganda, like when the propagandists use the fact that Milosevic was corrupt to claim that the CIA didn’t carry out any false flags against the Serbs, or when they use the fact that Syria’s government is in need of reforms to claim that Assad is guilty of the chemical attacks he’s been accused of.
Imperialism’s cognitive warfare works by exploiting the reality that the modern world is complex and filled with nuances, and encouraging us to be too intellectually overwhelmed to question the lies imperialism constantly spews. To say “every government is bad” without any consideration of the different filters with which our media portrays certain governments, and how it’s in imperialism’s interests to make those governments appear vastly more flawed than they actually are.
During the new cold war, in which the U.S. bloc is continuously struggling to regain the upper hand when it comes to territorial, cultural, and economic control, the foremost lie we’re being sold is that Washington’s biggest geopolitical rivals are imperialist as well. In reality, Russia, China, and Iran are semi-peripheral countries, ones that are fulfilling the task the imperialists said the peripheral countries are capable of following the dawn of New Imperialism. This is the task of building up their economic strength enough that they don’t have to rely upon imperialism’s predatory loans and extractive foreign investments. With their help, growing numbers of other countries are doing the same, from Ethiopia to Venezuela to Vietnam to the DPRK. They’re constructing a new order, one in which billions of people aren’t locked into poverty by a minority of parasite countries that wield a mafioso-style leverage over the global economy. When this order becomes defined well enough, the core countries will lose the extractive economic base their capital needs to remain strong, and the proletariat throughout the core will be better able to carry out revolutions of their own.—————————————————————————
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