With the Ukraine proxy war’s failure, the elites can only respond by intensifying their war on working people

When you learn that the present Ukraine situation started with an operation to loot the country in the same ways the IMF loots other places, everything about it makes sense. After Ukraine’s government rejected the deal the EU crafted, which centered a program of even more severe neoliberal austerity than the country already had, the imperialist regime change network was activated. The U.S. encouraged the violent insurrectionary efforts by the Ukrainians who saw to benefit from increased exploitation of the working class, those being the petty bourgeoisie and the oligarchs who’ve allied with the country’s fascist movement. The empire’s agents carried out false flag rooftop shootings designed to exacerbate the unrest, then maneuvered to install the most anti-Russian new leader they could find. Even though the coup regime and its successor the Zelensky administration have fulfilled the EU’s wishes for further anti-working class policies, it was clear the foremost goal of the U.S. was to geopolitically counter Russia. This was evidenced by how Washington defied even the EU during its process of selecting a replacement president.

This is a hierarchy of priorities within the imperialist sphere, born from how America has more brute force than Europe does and can therefore impose its will upon the latter. It’s so far made for a tenuous, but basically functional, relationship between the two throughout the new cold war. Europe, most notably Germany under its social fascist government, has gone along with the sanctions and helped with the military buildup. This is because even though U.S. officials revealed how cynical and backstabbing the game of empire is by saying “fuck the EU” during the Ukraine coup, the interests of the two align enough that the Europeans haven’t (yet) overall become antagonistic towards Washington’s cold war goals. The war against Russia and China, even though it’s harmed European capital by cutting the continent off from valuable trading partners, has also involved an American-led conquest of Ukraine. One where Europe’s elites can share in the project to loot the country. This parasitic effort was intensified last year, when the imperial powers took advantage of the war to implement even more neoliberal reforms within Ukraine.

This is the dynamic that the new cold war depends on: imperial players cooperating in militarization and economic destruction based on a shared goal—that goal being the defeat of the international working class—even though these players are becoming ever more uneasy amid increasingly chaotic circumstances. It’s no surprise that this alliance, unlike the strengthening relationship between China and its friends, keeps showing itself to be unstable. The first country to seriously see relationship problems with the U.S. has naturally been Ukraine, the country Washington was aiming to sacrifice all along. When the U.S. has quite obviously sabotaged the Nord Stream pipeline, then gotten its media psyop agents to try to cover for this by blaming the explosion on a “pro-Ukrainian group,” diplomacy with Kiev has begun to get harder. And the Ukrainian fascist regime’s unhinged military ambitions, those being the defense of locations not even strategically crucial and the effort to take back Crimea, have irritated Washington when both countries are running low on spare resources for the conflict. The U.S. empire thought that perpetuating an unwinnable war in Ukraine would be useful for weakening Russia. But now that even the IMF is predicting Russia’s economy will grow amid the sanctions, Kiev’s Hitleresque military delusions are getting easier to recognize as wasteful and absurd.

Faced with this geopolitical failure, where the empire hoped investing in Ukraine would pay off with a destabilized Eurasia but now sees what a pointless sacrifice this has been, our ruling class can only respond by expanding its war against the target it can still effectively fight: the proletariat. Or at least this adversary can as of now be expected not to fight back for the most part. In France, the government’s raising the retirement age to 64 has created a paradigm of unrest that will no doubt be perpetual until this evil gets undone, like what’s been happening in Peru since December’s neoliberal State Department coup. These revolts will continue to spread, and with the work of the communists will translate into greater organizing strength and revolutionary education. Because the elites have destroyed the economies of America and Europe, and can’t give up the free market model without sacrificing profits, they can only continue the cruel policies that are making proletarian revolution a practical necessity. To stop the people from reaching revolution, the elites must intensify their censorship and repression as well.

This is a repeat of history, one where the patterns from the past have naturally grown more severe in their impacts as our capitalist crisis has progressed. As Yanis Varoufakis described in Adults in the Room: My battle with the European and American deep establishment, when he sought to negotiate his country Greece out of being destroyed by the IMF, the reaction he got from the elites was indicative of a power structure that’s incapable of change. And that therefore can only interpret even respectful requests for change as threats. Varoufakis wrote about his project in 2012: “None of this will be easy. The networks will respond violently, as they are already doing. They will turn more authoritarian, more closed, more fragmented. They will become increasingly preoccupied with their own ‘security’ and monopoly of information, less trusting of common people.”

It’s no surprise that a couple years later, this escalation of the class war would bring a scenario where another European country got forcibly turned into a giant U.S. military base, all with the blessing of European elites who were hungering for another nearby country to economically gobble up. The Ukraine coup was an extension of the parallel takeover that these actors were carrying out in Greece, because its process was merely a more outwardly violent version of how they overrode the will of the Greek proletariat: through a series of strong-arming deals, where all opposed to the agenda of the dominating bullies got shoved aside. The difference was that whereas in Greece, the consequences were merely social murder, Ukraine has also been taken over by a brutally racist government that’s ethnically cleansed Russian speakers and provoked a war in the process.

Varoufakis dispels the idea that stories like Greece’s destruction are the products of conspiracies where the guilty parties have decided every step of the scheme from within sinister boardrooms. After talking with the most powerful financial figures in America and Europe, he instead described the process as one where those inside the power centers are incentivized by the system they operate within to do what’s best for the system. This apathy and complacency extends to the benefactors of the financial bubbles that these systems create, as demonstrated by the scene from The Big Short where two naive young investors bet against the global economy, and then obnoxiously celebrate their strategic victory without (initially) thinking about how many people were going to suffer and die from unemployment. 

When it comes to stories like Ukraine’s coup, and the subsequent march towards war, there’s evidence that the truth is closer to an image of scheming villains. A government needs to be acting with directness and deliberation to be able to overthrow another government, then install a new one that will advance its geopolitical goals. We know this because entire agencies have been created for the purpose of facilitating these types of plots, agencies that orchestrate false flag attacks and fabricate atrocity accounts in the hopes of influencing the course of history.

This more clearly conspiratorial nature of imperialism’s war maneuvers makes exposing them easier than it is to expose imperialism’s financial maneuvers, which themselves aren’t hard to stir popular outrage against when the people know what’s economically strangling them. When the U.S. military covered up war crimes, WikiLeaks was able to expose this, as it was able to expose the plot by U.S.-adjacent forensic institutions to cover up evidence disproving claims that Assad had done a chemical attack. We’ll have to see if WikiLeaks reveals an equivalent kind of damning detail about the orchestration of the Ukraine proxy war, but Seymour Hersh has already done that with his Nord Stream investigation, and anyone paying close attention knows Washington is in the wrong anyway. The role the resistors of the war machine have taken on is one of outsiders who’ve accepted forever being outsiders, and not being allowed into the power centers. They’ve rejected the reformist route, which provides only an illusion of power, and taken the challenging but necessary path of working to destroy the existing order.

The role of rebels from inside the system, like disillusioned military personnel or the intelligence whistleblowers, is to use their insights to combat the power structure. Varoufakis describes this process as one of gaining awareness about how we can be complicit in the system’s mechanics: “First, we need to acquire a readiness to recognize that we may very well, each of us, already be a node in the network; an ignorant de facto conspirator. Secondly, and this is the genius of Wikileaks, if we can get inside the network, like Theseus entering the labyrinth, and disrupt the information flow; if we can put the fear of uncontrollable information leaking in the mind of as many of its members as possible, then the unaccountable, malfunctioning networks of power will collapse under their own weight and irrelevance. Thirdly, by resisting any tendency to substitute old closed networks with new ones.” By closed networks, Varoufakis means undemocratic networks, institutions that are controlled by unaccountable leaders.

As militarism furthers our living standards crisis, where over a third of people are now finding it difficult to pay their bills, the self-reinforcing logic that guides the reformists is showing itself to be incompatible with the people’s material interests. There’s no way a program that’s based in reform can bring peace, end poverty, or alleviate the climate crisis. We won’t defeat the ruling institutions by giving up our principles for the sake of gaining access to the platforms, spaces, and relationships that entities like the Democratic Party can offer us. Like the IMF, they provide “benefits” in order to reduce their partners to a status of servitude. The sacrifices that come with eternally alienating oneself from the dominant entities are worthwhile if one’s priority is to bring change. That’s why I openly share the stance on Russia’s Operation Z put forth by the Korean Workers Party, which says that as anti-imperialists, Korea’s communists are in solidarity with the Russian war against fascism and U.S. hegemony.

This conflict has been helping expose who supports a revolutionary strategy or a reformist strategy, and opening discussions about what constitutes either of these things. These differences in priorities are apparent both among communist parties that aren’t yet in power (with support for Z being a defining issue of dispute), and among communist parties that are in power. Whereas the PRC has been pressured to go in a more revolutionary direction by Washington’s provocations against it, and the DPRK has taken an even more radical stance than China by outwardly backing Z, socialist Vietnam has embraced as neutral a stance it can take by supporting the idea of a “rules-based” international order. 

This order is centered around the UN, which Russia and China have lately been using to block U.S. invasion plans, but it’s still based around a concept of “international law” that was crafted by liberals to rig the game for the imperialists. It’s how the International Criminal Court has been able to charge Putin with war crimes based on the spurious claims the empire’s propagandists have made about the war’s events. By taking on a passive role within today’s geopolitical conflict, Vietnam has been able to avoid coming under siege from Washington’s military maneuvers and sanctions, and hasn’t become a target for Washington’s atrocity propaganda. Yet with respect for the achievements of Vietnam’s revolution, I still have to ask: what costs could its decision to be inoffensive towards the empire come with?

My job as an inhabitant of the imperial center is not to try to fix everything in the world, but to take advantage of the unique type of ability I have to frustrate the U.S. government’s war operations. The imperialists depend on a social base within the core that supports their wars, that’s why in the social media age the imperialists have become obsessed with censoring anti-imperialist content. The better we combat the empire’s psyops, the less functional the war machine will become, and the more imperialism’s global extractive reach will diminish. Thereby, the more vulnerable the imperial state will be to overthrow. The elites will do everything they can to stop me and the others in my movement, but that’s the target we have to place on ourselves to become active agents in history.


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