The argument I’m making is a structural one; an argument about what the nature of modern capitalist power looks like in the USA. After examining the systems of control that our ruling elites use to maintain the subordination of the working class; to keep an effective labor movement from emerging; I’ve concluded that we won’t be able to defeat the capitalist state until we’ve sufficiently combated NATO’s dominance over our cultural discourse, as well as sufficiently handicapped Washington’s broader war machine.
What does “sufficiently” mean? It doesn’t mean we won’t be able to have revolution in the imperial center until U.S. imperialism is made totally nonexistent, that would require cutting off the country’s access to all its sources of neo-colonial superprofits. Such a complete imperial defeat won’t realistically happen until we’ve smashed the bourgeois state in the USA, and established socialism. Does this mean that we can treat the international struggle as a secondary issue, and expect for this struggle to be won after we’ve neglected it? It does not. Acting lax on either the domestic or international struggles will bring our defeat. We need to take both of them as seriously as the conditions require us to; which at our present stage means recognizing we can’t reach the decisive revolutionary moment at home, until we’ve done enough to weaken the empire globally.
“Sufficiently” instead means us taking away the empire’s ability to dominate the narrative; to exert enough control over the mass consciousness for its war operations to remain viable. When we bring that much success to the anti-imperialist project, we still won’t yet be able to make the neo-colonial exploitation stop; but we’ll have done something indispensable in the effort to bring about that revolutionary scenario. We’ll have simultaneously made Washington unable to carry out the global violence required to keep U.S. capital strong; and made the Democratic Party unable to continue dominating organizing spaces.
These two defining events in the story of the American oligarchy’s defeat will be made possible when we’ve irrevocably shifted the people’s consciousness towards anti-imperialism. We don’t have to convince the materially comfortable liberals, or the radical liberals and ultra-leftists who’ve come to aggressively oppose the anti-NATO movement; those in these ideological elements have become the primary assets of imperialism’s narrative control machine for a reason, and they both represent a minority anyway. Those who can be persuaded to the anti-imperialist perspective represent a majority of Americans; a majority whose members are largely unnoticed, since so many of them are apoliticals and lack strong views on global affairs. The rest of them are either liberals and leftists who aren’t invested in the opportunism that infects their ideological circles; or more commonly the types of conservatives who aren’t obsessed with the culture war, and are therefore compatible with a serious project to end empire.
The more of those within this majority who we turn against NATO, the harder it gets for the empire to continue its schemes. U.S. imperialism’s strategists recognize that they can’t keep waging their Global War of Terror, as well as their new cold war, without prevailing within the narrative war.
A 2020 NATO-funded study was carried out to try to give the empire a greater advantage in cognitive warfare, which is now considered a crucial category of war alongside air, land, sea, and cyber. Break the empire’s control over the people’s minds, and its war operations will become handicapped. These strategists know that even if they were to disregard the will of the people; and carry on with the wars despite domestic sentiment being against this; then social equilibrium in the core would end, and the wars would be ended essentially by force.
When I say such a blatant act of defiance against popular sentiment by the government would destabilize our society, I’m going by what the Pentagon’s analysts have implied; their recommendations for maintaining the power structure amid capitalism’s decline have included intensified efforts to police mass consciousness. These shows of fear by our ruling institutions prove we have the ability to sabotage the war machine, simply through the power of rhetoric and information.
When we create this crisis for the war machine, we’ll have taken away both the economic and political means for our ruling class to use Imperialism to delay revolution. My argument’s economic aspect is intuitive: when the wars can no longer be waged, the military-industrial complex gets crippled, along with all the other facets of American capital that depend on militarism to remain strong. This would represent a weakening of the bourgeois dictatorship’s control; not so much, though, as would the political aspect of this crisis. My argument’s political part is based in how the Democratic Party has been able to dilute radical sentiments by keeping pro-imperialist views normalized within organizing spaces; and in how if we make these views no longer seen as acceptable in these circles, the reformists and opportunists will lose their influence.
Essential to achieving this is acting vocal about supporting actions which advance multipolarity, like Russia’s special operation or China’s Belt and Road Initiative; as well as building a united front against NATO. For somebody whose ideological upbringing has been within leftist spaces, the latter can be even harder to accept than the former; because these spaces instill their members with paranoia about how every anti-imperialist who’s not on the left is a fascist. This is an unserious way of looking at our conditions, and a way of evading responsibility for the left’s failures. The reality is that due to the left’s own refusal to act principled on anti-imperialism, essentially the entire anti-NATO movement isn’t what these insular left circles would consider acceptable to work with.
Which makes sense, as it’s these same circles that view the anti-imperialist cause with a fundamental suspicion; this is especially true in the post-Russiagate era, where the hysterically anti-Russian sentiments the Democratic Party’s base has been trained to embrace have become seen as essential for “left” orgs to accommodate. The culture of gatekeeping within these spaces makes it seen as a violation for anybody to be too transgressive in their opposition towards U.S. hegemony; this is how the Democrats maintain an insidious influence over the organizing outlets that are supposed to represent working class interests.
What does it matter that these “left” orgs and circles predominantly don’t share a consistently anti-imperialist agenda? Not only is this lack of principles chauvinist, assisting in imperialism’s crimes by incentivizing refusal to help seriously fight the empire; it’s also conducive to a practice that only lets an org gain the support of a niche. The purpose of disavowing both NATO and Russia is to appease the liberals, the only group of Americans who are obstinately in support of waging war on Russia; therefore an org that adopts this stance has shown its goal is not to win the people. Its goal is to win the “privileged minority” that Lenin warned about pandering to. Opportunism and revolutionary politics are not compatible; a working class movement can only succeed when it has its priorities in order.
The closer we come to ending NATO’s narrative dominance, the more backlash we’ll get from the corporate media, from the legal system, and from the actors within the “left” spaces who seek to sabotage the anti-imperialist cause. This is the cost we must take on to make victory for our liberation struggle possible, and to get the boot off the back of U.S. imperialism’s global victims.
By Rainer Shea