What’s the point of imperialist war when it can no longer do what it was supposed to do? That being let capital continue expanding into new markets. With the terminal decline of U.S. hegemony, this growth has become impossible to maintain. The decisive factor in this coming of a limitation on imperialism’s extractive range has been the turning of Eurasia away from Washington’s influence. Iran has broken free, the ongoing color revolution attempts within the country not posing a realistic threat towards its anti-imperialist project. China has broken free, its period of acting as a low-wage manufacturing hub for the U.S. having given it the productive forces needed for self-sufficiency. Russia has broken free after its decade of being a U.S. client state following the Soviet collapse, and has completed this decoupling throughout the last couple years.
Washington’s hope has been that the decoupling would bring Russia to collapse, which would then make Eurasia’s other half vulnerable to being subdued. This hope has proven unrealistic, not just because of Russia’s economic resiliency but because of the ways China and the Global South have also grown stronger. With the BRICs countries surpassing the G7 countries in their long-term economic vitality, sanctions have become less able to do damage. Dollar decline is the next step in the transition towards a world where Washington can no longer destroy countries through economic warfare. And the range at which it’s extended this warfare is the reason why the dollar is being shifted away from. When you sanction too much of the world, the sanctions start to lose their potency, because the targeted countries get incentivized to build alternative economic networks. Networks that are all the bigger for how many countries have been attacked.
Some of the most important implications of this cycle are described by Lenin’s Parasitism and the Decay of Capitalism:
The distinctive feature of the present situation is the prevalence of such economic and political conditions that are bound to increase the irreconcilability between opportunism and the general and vital interests of the working-class movement: imperialism has grown from an embryo into the predominant system; capitalist monopolies occupy first place in economics and politics; the division of the world has been completed; on the other hand, instead of the undivided monopoly of Great Britain, we see a few imperialist powers contending for the right to share in this monopoly, and this struggle is characteristic of the whole period of the early twentieth century. Opportunism cannot now be completely triumphant in the working-class movement of one country for decades as it was in Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century; but in a number of countries it has grown ripe, overripe, and rotten, and has become completely merged with bourgeois policy in the form of “social-chauvinism.”
This means the ideological forces within the left and the labor movement that are invested in opportunism, in defending the neo-colonial extractive order and American militarism, represent the way that imperialism’s propaganda can still have use. This is by maintaining the rule of the empire’s capitalist class, even though this class is no longer able to expand its market share. The purpose of war propaganda today is to give the opportunists the narrative tools they need to hold back the class struggle. To maintain an environment where the serious revolutionaries, who by necessity are principled in their anti-imperialism, are gatekept from the workers struggle.
This is why combating U.S. hegemony has to be the foremost priority of communists, and of communists in imperialism’s core most of all. The ideas that NATO’s narrative managers are putting forth have the function of holding back workers victory in the core. These ideas do this by keeping the representatives of socialism, or of what they claim to be “socialism,” fundamentally compatible with the imperialist order. The anti-China, anti-Russia, and otherwise liberal-informed foreign policy perspectives are cancer to the workers struggle. They represent a social-chauvinist stance, where the proletarians in the core disregard the fight to end their government’s crimes against the formerly colonized world.
Opposing the BRI, or opposing Operation Z, mean opposing the only practical ways for defeating imperialism that exist at this stage. We’re not going to be able to end imperialism via revolution within the core until we’ve built the movement necessary for defeating the state. Which we won’t be able to do as long as the workers struggle is dominated by imperialist-compatible elements. And these actions to fight U.S. hegemony by Washington’s rivals are making revolution in the core more reachable, weakening the American capital that keeps our bourgeois state so strong. U.S. hegemony is the strongest link in the chain of capitalist control in the core, therefore it’s what we must focus on above all else.
This means recognizing that the contradictions within the anti-NATO movement, like the contradictions within Washington’s rival countries, are secondary. To act like these issues are more important than fighting U.S. hegemony is to be imperialism-compatible. We see this in how the types of leftists or “communists” who are allowed access to bourgeois platforms, don’t get seriously targeted by the feds, and are accepted into the insular “left” online spaces share a certain trait: their practice is not primarily focused on combating imperialism’s psyops. At most they posture as anti-imperialist to be edgy, while not being willing to take the big risks. Risks like endorsing Russia’s anti-fascist operation, or supporting an ideologically broad anti-imperialist coalition. More often, their focus is on attacking those who do these things.
I’ve argued that imperialism’s propaganda impedes the progress towards revolution in the core by convincing the people that communism means tyranny, as implied within the atrocity propaganda against China and the DPRK. This is still true, but with Russia’s Ukraine intervention and the American left’s chauvinistic reaction towards it, I now see I have to expand on that point. I’ve become convinced that the threat imperialism’s narratives pose towards the class struggle is even more serious and insidious, because these narratives can even sway communists who are pro-China and pro-DPRK towards an empire-compatible stance. They only need to be persuaded to break from the DPRK’s pro-Russia view of the Ukraine conflict, and come to share the liberal view that Russia should be condemned for countering U.S. hegemony. Thereby the divisions in the anti-imperialist movement are perpetuated both domestically and globally, many of those who could have become effective revolutionaries are assimilated into a fundamentally liberal camp, and the Democratic Party’s dominance over our social movements is reinforced.
There’s a reason why ten years ago, after Obama began his pivot to Asia that started the new cold war, the government repealed a law that had banned the use of propaganda on U.S. citizens. In all areas, from international relations to class politics to the ideological battles within the socialist movement, conflict is escalating. The crisis of our socioeconomic order is forcing our ruling institutions to fight for their survival, which so far has mainly meant discourse manipulation efforts. Increasingly, as the mass backlash to the Ukraine war and its inflation produce an anti-NATO movement, it’s shifting towards direct repression. This spring’s indictments of black communists for “Russian interference” in retaliation for their combating the Ukraine psyop is preparation for the RESTRICT act, which could still pass within time.
The liberal fascists behind this anti-democratic campaign are doing this because they see how our movement is coming to pose more of a threat towards the Democratic Party’s dominance. Once this change in the power balance gets profound enough, the only thing keeping the liberal order stable amid its global decline will go away. That thing being the ability of the liberals to define mass consciousness.