Mao’s prediction about how over ninety percent of the world will ultimately rise up against imperialism is getting closer to being realized. And in reaction, imperialism’s propaganda echo chamber is putting forth a worldview indicative of a siege mentality. It’s painting a picture of a rising evil, embodied by the pro-Chinese bloc, that the “democracies” are valiantly fighting to protect the world from.
A fruitless effort to maintain hegemony
We’re fed narratives of Chinese “debt traps” and Russian “aggression,” when in reality these countries are making practical responses to the conditions which U.S. imperialism has cultivated. Washington has driven the formerly colonized world into ever-deepening impoverishment, prompting China to provide the poor countries with development projects that improve their conditions. Washington has carried out new cold war maneuvers which have made Ukraine into a belligerent fascist menace, prompting Russia to intervene. The multipolar order’s initial task is to clean up the mess that the U.S.-led order made.
Russia, China, and Iran, the primary villains in imperialist propaganda’s narrative, are not imperialist, but semi-peripheral. They have no material incentive to wage aggressive war against Washington, like would be the case if they were core countries waging inter-imperialist warfare. Their growth in influence is due to the ways in which U.S. imperialism has been undermining itself. It’s been doing this by engineering a vast increase in global inequality throughout the last half-century, facilitated by neoliberalism, that’s prompting the peripheral countries to seek independence from imperial control out of practical necessity.
This effort towards self-determination is for now mainly taking the form of their joining with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is helping improve their living standards while diminishing the reach of U.S. capital. But increasingly, it’s also taking the form of internal political changes made by the class struggles within these countries. Despite what socialists from the anti-Chinese strains claim, these two facets of modern anti-imperialism—economic entanglements with China and worker struggles—are not mutually antagonistic, because China is not an imperialist force which seeks to crush the proletarian movements of these countries. They’re mutually reinforcing. By giving these countries an alternative option to U.S. neo-colonial rule, China is by default weakening U.S. capital, which weakens imperialism. And which therefore gives these countries more freedom to carry out the pro-worker policies Washington seeks to prevent them from implementing.
The increasing decrepitude of U.S. imperialism’s hand, helped by the multipolar path China is building, has helped cause many of Washington’s recent destabilization or coup plots to fail. In Venezuela, Bolivia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Iran, Syria, Ethiopia, and many other places, Washington has been employing its many different weapons, and failing to carry out its goals. It’s still causing grievous harm through its sanctions, but these sanctions are ultimately ineffectual. They’re an admission of defeat, a spiteful and constantly growing campaign of violence from a declining empire which can’t regain Pax Americana. As are the meddling operations that Washington is carrying out in growing parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America; their purpose is to try to deprive China of stable states to do BRI deals with, a goal that can’t provide Washington with stable neo-colonies for itself.
It’s destruction that only serves to shrink the range of global stability, not to grow the range of stable capitalist states which are willing to serve U.S. capital. If Washington were to succeed at driving a peripheral country into collapse, then constructing a new government for it, this government would still be faced with a ravaged economy, and have no choice but to turn to China for help. It’s not like nation-building will work; Washington had to learn that the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington can’t construct new neo-colonies out of destabilized countries when the masses are militantly opposed to neo-colonial rule. Hence the unexpected catastrophe Washington faced in Iraq, where it became overwhelmed by anti-imperialist insurgents after toppling Hussein.
Should a state remain in place after a successful destabilization attempt, that state will itself become at risk of falling out of the U.S. sphere of influence, prompting more imperialist efforts to foment chaos. Predictably, Iraq is now drifting closer into Iran’s orbit of influence, and still has a U.S. military presence within its borders essentially against its own will. Washington’s Afghanistan puppet state fell to the Taliban last year, theoretically opening the country up for future BRI projects. And in Ukraine, where Washington has been carrying out a nation-building project since the 2014 coup by backing an ultra-nationalist, brutally racist Kiev regime, the facade of a stable new pro-U.S. “nation” is coming undone. The Kiev regime’s crimes against the Russian speakers in Donbass have provoked a separatist war that will in all likelihood prove successful due to Russia’s military aid for the independent Donbass republics. Kiev will be left with greatly diminished territory, and presiding over a failed state that can only maintain the illusion of power by vastly intensifying repression. The proxy war Kiev was tasked with carrying out won’t even achieve its intended goal of destabilizing Russia.
A similar dynamic of failed nation-building is playing out in Sri Lanka. The imperialists drove the country into collapse through intensifying neo-colonial exploitation during the pandemic, and during the global economic crisis the Ukraine conflict has caused. Then when the country’s people rose up, the imperialists hijacked the class struggle by backing petty-bourgeois liberal protest leaders, who promoted Washington’s propaganda about the economic crisis being caused by Chinese loans. Though the old, China-friendly government has been overthrown, the new government must contend with the reality of the situation. This being that according to analysts who aren’t cold war ideologues, Sri Lanka can’t survive its ongoing turmoil without China’s assistance.
And if the new government carries out the additional liberalization measures that the CIA-backed protest leaders have called for, inequality will grow even more, provoking the masses into another uprising. What will the imperialists do then? Or if the new government does the practical thing and reaches out to China? Try to repeat the whole process by overthrowing this government as well? It’s a cycle that never ends.
Imperialists seek to bring back Cold War era’s neo-colonial dictatorships
Such is the kind of futile situation the imperialists face within growing amounts of the countries they seek to keep as neo-colonies. There’s no way for them to overcome the increasingly severe material reality, which is that the people they’ve exploited for so long are getting pushed to the breaking point. As the world draws closer towards another wave of revolutions, it becomes increasingly apparent that these masses within the peripheries won’t accept any arrangement in which neo-colonialism is allowed to continue.
Washington can try to portray itself as the lesser evil by painting China as “neo-colonialist,” but the people within BRI countries overall reject this propaganda, as they reject the propaganda about Russia’s actions in Ukraine being “imperialist.” Washington has already caused the overwhelming majority of the world to turn against it, at least in terms of popular sentiment. It’s only a matter of time before all the decaying neo-colonial regimes are either forced by their people to stop acting as neo-colonies, or get overthrown by proletarian revolutions.
If this sounds overly optimistic, the imperialists themselves have admitted that they can no longer maintain control over the neo-colonies as long as the masses within these neo-colonies are allowed to wield political power. Phillip Linderman, a retired U.S. diplomat whose work focused on Latin America, has written in reaction to the recent leftist presidential victory within Colombia: “Washington’s ambitious nation-building is a foolhardy strategy when our enemies can gain the keys to the kingdom through the ballot box.”
Linderman’s thesis is a bitter reiteration of that lesson Washington got taught by the War on Terror, and that it will soon get taught again by Ukraine: nation-building isn’t a viable option when Washington has lost its credibility among the local masses. As he argues, this has been shown in Colombia by the persistence of the FARC guerrilla movement, which has continued to find mass support for its rebel activities despite the extreme counterrevolutionary violence exacted by Washington’s Plan Colombia. Because Colombia has remained enough of a democracy for a progressive-leaning candidate to win the presidency, the anti-imperialist mass sentiment which has fueled the FARC’s resilience has unseated Colombia’s fascist Uribismo faction.
The new president, Gustavo Petro, isn’t a radical but more of a centrist. Yet the imperialists still have good reason to be worried, because his administration could open up the possibility for pro-worker reforms that the masses mandate. Such a scenario is happening in Chile, where the moderate new president Gabriel Boric has been getting successfully pressured by the masses—and by the influential communists within Chile’s government—to abide by a growing series of pro-worker policies. If Lula wins in Brazil this year, the equivalent could happen there as well. It’s not these kinds of moderate-leaning political personalities that represent a threat to neo-colonialism, so much as the work of the actual radicals, who can hope to achieve substantial gains under progressive governments.
Linderman observes this—or rather a ghoulish imperialist distortion of this—and decides that to keep control of the peripheries, Washington must utterly clamp down on the progressive elements within these countries. That the remaining neo-colonies must be turned into the same kinds of vile dictatorships which tortured, murdered, imprisoned, and disappeared hundreds of thousands at Washington’s behest during the Cold War. That’s the only conclusion which can be gleaned from his explicit call to abandon any semblance of democracy within these countries so that the left can be shut out of electoral politics. Should the imperialists do this—and they’re already in the process of carrying it out—they’ll be met with vastly expanded global guerrilla warfare efforts, ones that neo-colonialism won’t be able to survive.
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