Imperialist ideology, which NATO’s narrative managers are now using to sell their proxy war in Ukraine, can’t be defeated by trying to debunk each individual lie that imperialism’s propagandists put forth. Facts on their own don’t change minds, because when someone has a preexisting framework of understanding, they’re going to interpret reality through that framework, regardless of what the facts say. This is where we get the phenomenon of ideological partisans rationalizing their stances when confronted with empirical evidence against their convictions. The way to shatter the cognitive control that NATO’s propagandists seek to maintain over the population is by shattering the ideological foundations which lead the population to view imperialism’s lies as believable.
These foundations consist of social chauvinism. Of the view that the so-called “western” countries represent the aspirational model for “free” societies, and that this model should be exported to the societies which aren’t “free.” Free market fundamentalists extend this argument to economic terms, claiming that Washington’s intensely privatized and anti-worker socioeconomic system should be replicated across the entire globe (as well as be made even more extreme throughout the peripheral countries). But the “left” in this country, which claims to oppose capitalism or at least capitalism’s neoliberal form, is as pro-imperialist as these rightist corporate missionaries. That’s to say the elements of the “left” which are given aid by the ruling institutions, due to their being imperialism-compatible.
The argument that both “leftists” and rightists make to rationalize the U.S. empire’s violence is one based upon this skewed notion of what “freedom” is, and of which international actors best uphold it. To the chauvinist, the actions their own country takes are necessarily in service of the greater good, and in direct response to what “bad actors” have done. NATO is nothing more than a “defensive alliance,” even though it’s carried out numerous acts of aggression against countries from Yugoslavia to Libya. When confronted with the ways in which NATO has worked to effectively murder these two countries, imperialism’s partisans insist that those interventions were justified. They call Gaddafi’s demise the inevitable outcome of an uprising that was supposedly entirely organic, and they call Yugoslavia’s demise the inevitable outcome of actions by the Serbs which supposedly couldn’t have produced anything other than disunity among Yugoslavia’s internal nations. They disregard the hoaxes about Libyan war crimes that led up to the bombing of Libya, and the series of false flags targeted at Serbia, to paint a picture of a NATO that can do no wrong.
When NATO wages unprovoked wars against countries, they say, it’s only fulfilling its duty as a “humanitarian” accountability force. The chaos and societal regression that’s befallen Libya and Yugoslavia since the oustings of their old anti-imperialist governments has been merely the cost of “freedom,” like the peoples of these places would wish for catastrophic upheavals to befall them in order to meet some “freedom” quota. As far as capitalist interests are concerned, these upheavals are good things anyway; the campaign to break up Yugoslavia was always about opening the land up to foreign capital, and Libya’s present civil war is preferable to Libya’s old anti-imperialist form.
Therefore when NATO is prolonging the conflict in Ukraine by supplying weapons to a loose cannon, fascist-influenced Kiev regime, it couldn’t be more innocent. It’s only trying to protect Ukraine from Russia’s war against western “freedom.”
Because Russia and the U.S. are both bourgeois states with interests based in capital, you can’t accuse Russia’s intentions in Ukraine of being any more malicious than those of the USA’s are. Whatever cynical motives you can find from Russia’s government in Ukraine, you can find at least as cynical motives from the United States. And there’s more evidence that the profit motive drives Washington’s involvement in Ukraine than is the case for Moscow, since Washington has facilitated neoliberal shock policies within the country whereas Russia had to be partly pressured by its communist party into intervening. But to the chauvinist, such disparities between the moral standings of the U.S. and its adversaries are meaningless. Whatever evidence exists that shows Washington to truly be the least morally defensible actor in every international situation, countries like Russia are still essentialized as representing “autocracy,” in contrast to the “freedom” of the “west.”
Look beyond the myths the propagandists have constructed about what the nature and role of the richest countries are, and you see a brutal reality. One in which the USA and its adjacent powers are in effect the largest terrorist organizations on the planet, engaged in constant genocidal violence across multiple warfare fronts so that they can maintain the criminal extractive networks which keep their profits up. These networks were built during the era of colonization, which hasn’t ended but has merely been converted into a new form. The colonizing powers have adapted their parasitic operations by trapping these countries into servitude towards corporations from the imperialist countries. They used predatory loans that terminally indebted countries which, after their independence, were struggling from the effects of centuries of colonial plunder. These countries have seen their destitution intensify since the formation of this new imperial structure during the mid-20th century, after which the imperialists imposed neoliberalism onto them.
The material basis for the lifestyles of those calling Russia’s Operation Z a colonial war is itself one that’s directly tied to the continuation of colonial theft. This factor is absolutely relevant to the validity of the opinions that those in the imperialist countries have on matters such as international conflicts. Because especially for the petty bourgeois imperialist benefactors who tend to focus on international affairs the most, the way they view the world is influenced by a desire to maintain their globally parasitic lifestyles.
This influence comes through in how despite the USA having committed multiple genocides within the lifetime of even a young American, these “freedom” lovers will only think about war when it provides them with an opportunity to vilify a country challenging neo-colonialism. And in how the war in question was not even a product of rival imperialist ambitions by Russia (which lacks the socioeconomic relationship with the Global South required for being an imperialist power), but a war which was entirely provoked by the U.S. puppet regime in Ukraine.
What truly motivates these actors is not “freedom.” It’s the rational thing for them to be motivated by under the present system: continuing imperialism. If freedom were their concern, they would be dedicating their lives to aiding the movements for liberating U.S. imperialism’s internal colonies, which are subjugated by mass incarceration, militarized police, and settler-colonial land occupation; for liberating U.S. workers, who are subjugated by suppressed wages, lack of workplace rights, and lack of guarantees for healthcare or parental leave; for liberating the neo-colonies from exploitation, and the sanctioned countries from Washington’s inhumane economic warfare campaigns. To become true allies of liberation, they would need to forsake their investment in the benefits imperialism provides them, and become class traitors in favor of the global proletariat.
Which is possible for them to do. Many of Marxism’s greatest contributors have had bourgeois backgrounds, because what determines one’s worthiness of being a revolutionary is not their social status. It’s how they view the system in which we live. So I always have hope that the revolutionary effort can gain allies from individuals of any social strata, yet I’m realistic. I know that benefiting from injustice incentivizes one to support injustice, and that therefore the effort to defeat imperialism will primarily come from the bulk of the world’s population rather than from the top. The proletarian movement in the core must ally with the proletarian movement worldwide, as ours is the same struggle: to end the rule of the exploiters who keep us in poverty, and who use wars to keep their capital machine running.
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