Our ruling class hopes that the recent developments in Palestine; wherein the fake colonial country of “Israel” is trying to crush a liberation effort; will dissuade the majority of Americans from joining the rising anti-imperialist movement. It at first looks like the way most of the American people have reacted to these events represents a regression in their anti-imperialist consciousness, compared to their recent rejection of the Ukraine psyop; most people in this country have been shown to sympathize more with Israel, at least initially. And that’s consistent with the anti-Arab, anti-Islam biases which imperialist propaganda has made dominant for decades, and which allowed the empire to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.
The elites want to view this wave of pro-Israel sentiment as confirmation that nothing has changed since September 11, 2001, when jingoism and pro-war attitudes were perhaps at their highest in U.S. history. They want to believe the American people of today are of the same nature that they were a generation ago, and will be of that nature a generation from now. This is not how history works; nothing can remain the same, everything is in a constant process of change.
This pro-Israel reaction from most Americans has happened in the context of other events, events which make these Americans more likely to come to the pro-Palestine stance should we provide them with the educational resources for doing so. Since 9/11, we’ve seen the discrediting of the ruling class ideology with the 2008 crisis; the further exposing of our social dysfunction with the mis-management of the pandemic; wars that have continued for a full generation, and caused most Americans to stop supporting Ukraine only a year-and-a-half after February 2022. Biden’s Ukraine scam has exacerbated inflation, bringing the people to a living standards crisis that doesn’t stop getting worse; and now our government is telling us that funding another war is more important than investing in the development of our own economy.
Should we do the work required for bringing the people to a complete anti-imperialist consciousness; and let them turn their recent disillusionment over Ukraine into an expanded awareness about the global crimes of their government; the proxy war on Palestine is going to turn into as much of a narrative loss for the empire as the proxy war on Russia has. We can do this by connecting with the people on the primary source of their present alienation from the social system under which they live: the destruction of their living standards by austerity and imperialist war.
To identify such a source of conflict within class society; and leverage it towards bringing about progress; is to apply the knowledge about history’s fluid nature. Bukharin explained this historical dynamic as such:
The basis of all things is…the law of change, the law of constant motion. Two philosophers particularly (the ancient Heraclitus and the modern Hegel, as we have already seen) formulated this law of change, but they did not stop there. They also set up the question of the manner in which the process operates. The answer they discovered was that changes are produced by constant internal contradictions, internal struggle. Thus, Heraclitus declared: “Conflict is the mother of all happenings,” while Hegel said: “Contradiction is the power that moves things.”
There is no doubt of the correctness of this law. A moment’s thought will convince the reader. For, if there were no conflict, no clash of forces, the world would be in a condition of unchanging, stable equilibrium, i.e., complete and absolute permanence, a state of rest precluding all motion. Such a state of rest would be conceivable only in a system whose component parts and forces would be so related as not to permit of the introduction of any conflicts, as to preclude all mutual interaction, all disturbances. As we already know that all things change, all things are “in flux”, it is certain that such an absolute state of rest cannot possibly exist. We must therefore reject a condition in which there is no “contradiction between opposing and colliding forces”, no disturbance of equilibrium, but only an absolute immutability.
Our job as Marxists is to find where the interests of the people conflict with those of the imperial state, then give the people the ideological and political training to assert their interests. The mandate for us to do this shows the difference between the compatible left, and the element that seeks to build a relationship with the people: only the latter truly applies the lessons that come from studying the Hegelian dialectic. The element I’m talking about, represented by the Marxist organizers who will put on a convention with other anti-imperialist tendencies on December 2nd, is the one that’s capable of effectively responding to the crimes of Zionism and imperialism. It’s the element whose understanding of what class struggle means is based not within movementism—where an org seeks to organize for its own sake—but within the same majoritarian mode of practice which let early 20th century American communism thrive.
As one of the December 2nd convention’s leaders Caleb Maupin has concluded, the insular model of today’s dominant “left” orgs was pioneered by World Workers Party, the soft-Trotskyist formation which produced today’s main source of compatible leftism the PSL:
Learning nothing from the disastrous fall of the USSR, WWP focused on “building the movement” and embracing the pessimistic, drug infested, sex obsessed middle class trend that dominates leftist spaces in the United States even more in the 1990s. WWP was ahead of its time in a way, with the kind of cancel culture, bitter punitive atmosphere and identity politics obsession that is now typical in almost any “socialist” environment first being unleashed inside the Manhattan loft of the International Action Center…Brian Becker’s skills as a protest stage manager came in handy in 2002-2004 during the height of protests against the Iraq War. Seeing an opportunity the ANSWER (Act Now Stop War End Racism) coalition was formed and began reserving protest permits. With enough money coming in and a layer of cadre loyal to him and the ANSWER coalition rather than the party overall, the Becker family led more than half of WWP to walk away and form the Party for Socialism and Liberation in 2004.
The pro-Palestine events that orgs like PSL hold aren’t able to reach those outside the particular circles which these orgs exclusively seek to appeal to. These orgs can’t copy the rhetoric and aesthetics of the Democratic Party, and expect to have their protests about Palestine or any other issue effect the thinking of anyone outside that niche space. The model these orgs have adopted makes them unable to present communism in a way that differentiates communism from the brand the Democrats put forth.
Tailing liberalism is not how to build a base within the broad masses; it’s how to provide a niche segment of liberal activists with an outlet for continuing their existing practice, except in a way that feels more radical. Reading Marxist theory isn’t going to lead to anything useful if those studying the theory are instructed to avoid truly applying this theory; if they’re told to avoid deviating from the safe, liberal-friendly ideology that’s become the default within American socialism.
The moment has appeared for us to bring the majority of Americans into the socialist, anti-imperialist cause. There are tens of millions of workers who’ve become alienated from bourgeois politics, and who are looking for an avenue to assert their material interest in proletarian revolution. The left opportunists are going to manage to assimilate some of these workers into their project for tailing the Democratic Party, but most of the others are going to remain detached from politics altogether; that is, unless the principled Marxists can connect with them. If we take advantage of this moment, we’ll at the least be able to gain enough momentum to outmaneuver the reactionaries, and build workers democracy in the place of the empire.
By Rainer Shea
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