Why I’m Pro-Russia & Pro-Rage Against the War Machine: Anti-Imperialists Can’t Win With Idealism
Rainer Shea, Orinoco Tribune, May 15, 2023 —
When somebody rejects all of the practical paths towards fighting imperialism and class exploitation, on the basis that they feel we should be taking a purer path, then you had better make sure this other path is viable. If it’s not viable, and they’re saying this simply to complain rather than to offer a serious alternative, then you shouldn’t even entertain them. Because what’s the point of validating somebody who has nothing constructive to say? Unless an option is practicable, it’s not worth bringing up.
So is the case for the ways that Marxists who hold on to ultra-left ideas are proposing how we should struggle for justice during the era of the new cold war. They say that it’s not ideal for one capitalist state to be fighting another capitalist state, as is happening in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and therefore we shouldn’t pick sides in this conflict. A meme within these idealistic left communities is that this war ought to simply be a war between the workers, and the capitalist ruling classes on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides. The problem is that’s not the war the conditions have presented us with. The war in front of us is one where Russia’s capitalist state has been pressured by the country’s anti-imperialist elements to fight for the liberation of the Donbass people from a fascist state, which would by now have invaded and ethnically cleansed the region if not for Russia’s intervention. On a broader scale, this is a war between a semi-peripheral country that has a right to sovereignty and pursuit of national self-interest, and an imperialist power that seeks to subjugate that country. With the effect of Russia’s intervention being an acceleration of the U.S. empire’s decline, as more Belt and Road Initiative expansions have been created by this attack on U.S. hegemony.
The progression towards worldwide workers victory isn’t helped by declaring that both sides in the conflict are bad. Russia’s contradictions aren’t the primary issue. The primary contradiction is U.S. hegemony, which Washington seeks to defend by cultivating a new genocide threat within eastern Ukraine. Operation Z – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – was the only practical way to get rid of this threat and speed up U.S. imperial decline, which brings global proletarian revolution closer. The job in the imperial center is to sabotage our government’s narrative management operation, which keeps the war machine running. As the anti-Russian psyops get discredited, the empire loses the control over mass consciousness necessary for continuing its war against Russia, and the anti-imperialist side is helped. Thereby, the workers movement gets advanced.
Multipolarity is not the end goal for communists, it’s only an indispensable step towards completing the transition to global socialism. To try to impede the narrative effort to bring multipolarity by pointing out Russia’s contradictions is the opposite of helpful. It’s what the ruling class wants those on the left to do, as it makes the left into something compatible with imperialism.
What I’ve also had to learn is that the contradictions of the USA’s internal anti-imperialist movement, like the contradictions of U.S. imperialism’s enemies, are a secondary issue. It would be foolish of me at this stage to put much focus on pointing out the things that are wrong with individuals and organizations which challenge imperialism’s psyops. It would only make me feel self-righteous, at the expense of hindering the anti-imperialist struggle. What the purity-obsessed leftists and Marxists do is ignore this reality about the consequences of creating needless antagonisms within the anti-imperialist front.
Building a multi-tendency anti-imperialist coalition is the only way to break the Democratic Party’s stifling influence over the antiwar movement. As long as the movement is dominated by organizations that tail the Democrats, and that therefore make sure to denounce Russia whenever they denounce NATO, the war machine won’t be disrupted. To become truly offensive towards the ruling class, we’ll need to build an antiwar movement that’s independent from the Democrats. And we can’t do this without forming bonds between the communist movement and the other ideological elements that are anti-NATO.
To adopt a practice where we isolate ourselves from these elements and expect to be able to build a sufficiently strong anti-imperialist movement while shunning many of the most conscious parts of the people, would be to willingly fail. It’s the same idea that Lenin lambasted in Should Revolutionaries Work in Reactionary Trade Unions:
We cannot but regard as equally ridiculous and childish nonsense the pompous, very learned, and frightfully revolutionary disquisitions of the German Lefts to the effect that Communists cannot and should not work in reactionary trade unions, that it is permissible to turn down such work, that it is necessary to withdraw from the trade unions and create a brand-new and immaculate “Workers’ Union” invented by very pleasant (and, probably, for the most part very youthful) Communists, etc. Capitalism inevitably leaves socialism the legacy of the old trade and craft distinctions among the workers, distinctions evolved in the course of centuries; on the other hand, trade unions, which only very slowly, in the course of years and years, can and will develop into broader industrial unions with less of craft union about them (embracing entire industries not only crafts, trades, and occupations). They later proceed through these industrial unions to eliminate the division of labor among people, to educate and school people, give them all-round development and an all-round training, so that they are able to do everything. Communism is advancing and must advance towards that goal, and will reach it, but only after many years. To attempt in practice, today, to anticipate this future result of a fully developed, fully stabilised and constituted, fully comprehensive and mature communism would be like trying to teach higher mathematics to a child of four.
Why is this applicable to the question of working with antiwar organizing forces like the libertarians? Because in an era where leftists have been successfully brought towards the anti-Russia stance in vast proportions, it’s not the left that’s most compatible with anti-imperialism. The element that’s most compatible are the types of non-leftists who’ve come to see anti-imperialism as the foremost priority, rather than become assimilated into the culture wars like many other conservatives have. And that element is largely made up of libertarians.
They’re the ones that have been willing to partner with the pro-Russian communist organizations, even though the libertarians don’t exactly share our pro-Z stance. They don’t have to share all of our ideas, because they know that defeating NATO is what’s most important. They’ve ironically proven themselves to be better for the movement than the types of socialists who also support Z. As well as the types of socialists who say they’re pro-China and pro-Russia, while continuing to act sectarian against RAWM (Rage Against the War Machine). The Trotskyists, radical liberals, and Democrat tailists who share the “neither NATO nor Russia” stance have attacked the pro-Russia communists for working with the Libertarian Party. (I’m referring to the attacks on Rage Against the War Machine from the Trotskyist World Socialist Website, from Black Agenda Report, and from the ANSWER organizers who shared BAR’s content about RAWM.) They’ve attacked RAWM for the same reason they lack the correct geopolitical analysis.
Why have the anti-Russia socialists attacked us, while the libertarians have worked with us, even though the libertarians are the ones who fundamentally oppose us on economics? Because western Marxists have a purity fetish. This is the conclusion come to by Carlos Garrido, author of The Purity Fetish and the Crisis of Western Marxism. In his critique that’s adjacent to the book, Garrido observes how these types of Marxists render themselves ineffectual:
“Western Marxists ignore the necessity of the process. They expect socialism, as a qualitatively new stage of human history, to exist immediately in the pure form they conceived of in their minds. They expect a child to act like a grown up and find themselves angered when the child is unable to recite Shakespeare and solve algebraic equations. They forget to contextualize whatever deficiencies they might observe within the embryonic stage the global movement towards socialism is in. They forget the world is still dominated by capitalist imperialism and expect the pockets of socialist resistance to be purely cleansed from the corrupting influence of the old world. They forget, as Marx noted in his Critique of the Gotha Program, that socialist society exists `as it emerges from capitalist society which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birth marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.’ Where is Hegel, in concrete analysis, for these Western Marxists? The answer is simple, he is dead. But Hegel does not die without a revenge, they too are dead in the eyes of Hegel. Their anti-dialectical lens of interpreting the material world in general, and the struggle for socialism in specific, leaves them in the lifeless position Hegel called Dogmatism.”
To that extent, the problem takes care of itself. These sectarians who’ve sided against China, Russia, Rage Against the War Machine, or all three have made themselves unable to be the defining forces in the class struggle. Their role is to obstruct the struggle’s progress by acting as assets for the Democratic Party’s discourse manipulation, which is a thankless job. The BRI’s dismantling of the neo-colonial order, Russia’s successful demilitarization of Ukrainian fascism, RAWM’s permanent and now expanding organizing coalition; these developments can’t be taken advantage of by those who adhere to dogmatism. It’s through embracing the dialectical path that we can make progress in advancing the class struggle.