The Rage Against the War Machine coalition’s next event, set for August 6, will undoubtedly be met with a concerted effort by the anti-NATO movement’s enemies to discredit it. Telling from the reactions to the coalition’s last rally, the foremost argument these actors will put forth is that its ideas should be discarded because of the types of people who are involved in it. Largely because of the failure of Ukraine’s counter-offensive following its defeat in Bakhmut, the State Department’s narrative about Ukraine has become even less able to be defended over the last year; so this dishonest rhetorical tactic of attacking a speaker’s character, rather than trying to refute their ideas, is what NATO’s lackeys have to rely on.
When the new cold war propaganda leader Rachel Maddow attacked the last RAWM rally, her points largely mirrored the ones that sectarian leftists have put forth to try to dissuade communists from joining an anti-NATO united front. These points being that because the event includes organizations and individuals which are considered untouchable within the insular “left” spaces, the event (and its anti-imperialist ideas by extension) should be discarded. Maddow used this to support another assertion about the anti-NATO movement’s participants: that they represent an insignificant part of the country’s population.
By making this argument, Maddow showed the flaw in these kinds of bourgeois attempts to belittle and marginalize the movements which threaten our ruling institutions: that the members of bourgeois media orgs, academia, and political bodies fundamentally lack knowledge about how revolutionary movements work.
That we can only expect anti-NATO rallies to number in the thousands at this stage in the anti-imperialist movement’s development does not mean the movement can only gain support from a niche. This is like saying the Bolsheviks had no chance of winning because they were a small party; or the Communist Party of China had no chance of winning because a century ago it was numbered in the dozens; or Castro’s cadre could be ignored because its circle of participants was similarly tiny when it started its operations. If we were to find any bourgeois commentators saying such things about these organizations during the years leading up to their victories, it would be a delightful source of historical irony. Overconfident guardians of extinct governmental systems are not just funny, they give us perspective about exactly how easy it can be for power dynamics to become reversed.
Why has Maddow taken this gamble with her own repudiation in the view of posterity by claiming that the anti-imperialist movement can be dismissed? Because within the bourgeois media’s insulated social circle, it looks like there’s no way the anti-NATO cause could ever connect with a majority of the people. From the vantage point of the liberal elites, any ideas that challenge their pro-hegemonic orthodoxy can only be embraced by cranks who are susceptible to conspiracy theories. Which isn’t a demographic big enough to be able to seriously threaten the centers of power, as we’ve seen from January 6th and the successful re-solidification of liberal centrist politics which followed it. The bourgeois libs view the anti-NATO effort as of the same nature as Qanon: concerning enough to warrant media coverage warning Americans against it, yet not powerful enough to end the liberal paradigm’s stability.
That’s where the bourgeois hubris of actors like Maddow is revealed; the foolish thing they do is genuinely believe their own propaganda, and assume that the arguments of the anti-NATO activists are just as lacking in factual basis as the arguments of the Q fanatics. The reality is that the anti-imperialists are not only correct to assess our government’s “humanitarian” military operations as fraudulent in nature; their goal of dismantling the war machine is in the material interests of the majority of Americans.
It’s in the interests of most people in this country to make it so our government no longer takes our money to spend on blowing apart bodies; to make it so our ability to afford necessities is no longer being taken away by the inflation crisis the war machine is exacerbating; to make it so our right to decide governmental affairs is no longer impeded by an arms industry which controls our government; to make it so our society cooperates with the rising superpowers in Eurasia, instead of waging a self-detrimental war against them; to end the threat of nuclear war; to abolish the federal agencies that surveil and police us to protect the war machine; to end the poverty draft; to cease the censorship, persecution, and systematic marginalization of those who speak out against our ruling institutions.
There’s a reason why all of these goals are shared by both communists and libertarians, who primarily make up the RAWM coalition: even though most of the people involved in counter-hegemonic politics haven’t come to Marxism so far, they’ve largely decided to defy the two-party system because neither Democrats nor Republicans want to challenge the war machine. Which, in our situation where the weight of the American imperial project has placed such severe strain upon a growing amount of our society, is the absolute minimum when it comes to representing the people’s interests.
That’s why the anti-imperialist movement has the potential to persuade and mobilize most of the people in this country, however small it is at the present stage: fighting the U.S. empire is the most urgent task in the mission to improve the people’s conditions. It’s an instrumental part of any story which ends with our society escaping the economically strangled, militarized, and increasingly unfree paradigm that imperialism has brought to it.
The job of us Marxists is to show those who get exposed to RAWM’s platform why establishing workers democracy is the way to achieve this goal. The libertarians share our desire to abolish the three-letter agencies, end the war on whistleblowers, disband NATO, stop the sanctions, and otherwise do away with the policies reinforcing U.S. hegemony, and that’s why we’re partnering with them. What we have to make clear to the people is that these goals, as well as the domestic economic policies which can end poverty in our society, are only realizable through the abolition of bourgeois rule. Until we’ve overthrown the capitalist state, and replaced it with a proletarian state, a system that works in the interests of the people won’t be reachable.
When it comes to the policies that will be in place under such a system, I’m not even necessarily talking about expanding the welfare state; socialist countries like China have been able to fight poverty by cultivating the conditions necessary for economic growth, not by putting the bandage of welfare policies upon a poverty wound that can’t be healed without a more fundamental change to the social system. The DPRK has been able to progress so far beyond the capitalist order that it’s abolished taxation, which shows that communists aren’t simply Democrats who want more social spending.
We don’t seek to reform the existing socioeconomic model. We seem to implement a model that transcends the one the imperialist Democratic Party oversees; that makes it possible for workers to fully enrich themselves through their own labor, rather than have any of this labor go towards enriching an exploiting minority. That’s the end goal of every communist party, including the ruling party of China, where a bourgeoisie still exists; communists can’t expect to resolve every contradiction overnight, we have to prioritize the contradictions that are most relevant at the present stage.
For communists in today’s USA, the most pressing contradiction is our pro-NATO cultural hegemony, which maintains Washington’s economic and military hegemony. The way for us to resolve this contradiction is by building a united front with the others who share our opposition to these things, so that we can rally the people and defeat the capitalist state. That’s how we’ll be able to make the three-letter agencies extinct; end our government’s external and internal imperialist extraction; and change our military’s function from fighting for empire to defending the revolution’s interests. Then we can implement the policies necessary for re-industrializing our economy, which international capital has hollowed out, and lifting up our society’s living standards.
By Rainer Shea