To understand the nature of pro-imperialist psyops in the era after the Ukraine war’s start, we need to understand what these psyops are about defending: monopoly capital. The context behind every attack against an anti-imperialist country; attempt to discredit a person or org that’s helping the anti-imperialist cause; or act of state persecution towards these voices of dissent; is a situation where the economic basis for the power of our ruling class is being perpetually weakened. The Ukraine proxy war was supposed to give monopoly capital new strength by destroying the Eurasian powers that threaten it, but this backfired. So now those tasked with advancing the psyops need to try to maintain NATO’s control over the narrative, even as NATO and the capital it protects grow ever more unstable.
Trying to prevent revolutionary solidarity as the need for revolution grows ever greater
The society that these psyops are directed at is embroiled in a series of ever-worsening crises. The disappearance of economic opportunities; the rise in rent prices, evictions, and homelessness; public health catastrophes; the proliferation of increasingly deadly drugs; the growing frequency of mass shootings and other public acts of violence; an intensifying climate crisis that the government neglects responding to in favor of funding wars; it’s not a tolerable way for us to live. And things have been made this way as a consequence of the capitalist ruling class having been able to hold on to power for this long.
The job of the psyop agents is to destroy any efforts at building a force that can genuinely threaten the ruling class, and they’ll employ any idea that’s useful towards achieving this sabotage of our social movements. With the recent rise in socially progressive thinking, the primary ideas they use for this anti-revolutionary project now come not from the right, but from the left; and as the class conflict escalates, this translates to fascism taking on a liberal form. A form where the forces of serious opposition towards capital get persecuted by a state which claims to represent progress and inclusion.
That’s why we see the Biden White House put up LGBT flags, even though it absolutely won’t end the prejudicial economic system and discriminatory carceral state that keep trans folks as second class citizens: the liberal class wants progressive-minded people to feel dependent on it, and therefore able to be manipulated into voting blue or promoting Democrat psyops. Cultivating this sense of dependency can be as easy as displaying symbols of “support” for justice, however shallow these displays are.
This kind of manipulation is also possible under a Republican administration, where liberals aren’t in control of the executive wing; as we saw during Trump’s term, the “left” wing of the ruling class can get liberals to support governmental wings like the intelligence agencies by using these agencies against the Republican president. The essential ingredient was the “Russiagate” psyop, which we’re seeing the narrative managers prepare to bring back for the 2024 election.
Essential for this war against the genuine sources of opposition is creating ideas and orgs that represent a fake opposition; that give developing radicals something to join which exists in alternative to truly counter-hegemonic ideas and organizing outlets. The biggest sources of this controlled opposition are BreadTube, with its superficially “socialist” aesthetics and innate hostility towards anti-imperialism; the types of “socialist” groups that are allowed to thrive on state-controlled online platforms like Reddit, which only accommodate “left” communities when they do things like denounce Russia’s special operation; and “left” orgs like DSA and CPUSA, which are only able to be so widely visible because they work to funnel leftists into the Democratic Party.
If you want to not be targeted by the liberal fascist state, or by the toxic “left” communities it cultivates, you need to either concede to key parts of Democrat foreign policy orthodoxy; or spend more time attacking anti-imperialists than combating imperialist psyops. Monopoly capital will be grateful for your service to it, and will make sure you see some form of reward. This is the incentive that the imperialism-compatible parts of the left have for helping the empire.
When large amounts of leftists can be directed towards these faux-socialist online communities, these individuals can be turned into weapons against the anti-imperialist cause on a mass scale. The mob mentality that a big online circle creates is enough to give a BreadTuber like Keffals—the streamer who renounced Marxism a few years ago for opportunistic monetary reasons—the ability to do things like attack Black revolutionaries while keeping their audience on their side. When Keffals recently responded to Caleb Maupin’s talking about the FBI raid on Uhuru by calling Uhuru a “cult,” Keffals didn’t need to make any more of an effort than that to convince her audience not to be in solidarity with the org.
The types who consume Keffals streams already have an ideological and social incentive not to seriously investigate the rumors about Uhuru being a cult, and many of them are already deep enough into pro-imperialist ideology that they prejudicially hold that view of all orgs like it. They have no reason to care that Uhuru is being persecuted by the state in retaliation for its resisting the Ukraine psyop; the only thing they have a reason to care about in this instance is lambasting Maupin, which means objecting to everything he says even when it’s undeniably correct.
This recent moment, where a “leftist” streamer sided with the FBI’s efforts to destroy a Black communist org on the basis of its anti-imperialist practice, represented a broader mentality which the psyop agents are trying to propagate. They want to dissuade as many people as possible from acting in solidarity with liberal fascism’s targets, promoting whatever smears and innuendos they can think of in order to marginalize revolutionary actors. For this reason, it’s best for a radical who’s still trying to figure out their political practice to stay away from social media.
The psyop agents have created entire rabbit holes designed to convince impressionable individuals to oppose anti-imperialists, with social media being the gateway to these rabbit holes. Social media is the main tool these actors use to try to manage the discourse; to turn individuals who could otherwise become authentic threats, into themselves becoming agents for this narrative campaign against anti-imperialists. Because when somebody has been successfully fooled by these anti-solidarity psyops, they’re going to emulate the rhetorical habits of the psyop agents at every opportunity. This is why we’ve seen entire “left” communities uniformly denounce Rage Against the War Machine, and all the groups or individuals that are so much as adjacent to RAWM’s organizing coalition.
Pro-imperialist “left” streamers like Keffals and Vaush are useful tools for normalizing such anti-solidarity sentiments, but they’re not capable of preventing the emergence of a vanguard. They can’t police the discourse within the Marxist spaces themselves, they can only get large numbers of people to become hostile towards Marxism. Keffals has a widespread reputation as a fascist who, despite being trans and therefore part of a disadvantaged group, attacks nonwhites and people with disabilities in order to lift themselves up within the social hierarchy. And Vaush has similarly bad optics, being correctly seen as an intellectually dishonest debate bro who takes pro-pedophilia stances. No serious person who considers themself a Marxist takes guidance from them.
There are plenty of Marxists, however, who are susceptible to the types of anti-solidarity, infantile, and otherwise imperialism-compatible arguments that get specifically directed towards the minority of leftists who call themselves Marxists. It’s these types who have the most immediate potential to become part of a vanguard, and who are therefore worthwhile psyop targets despite their being small compared to the broader “left” communities.
Anti-solidarity psyops under a “Marxist” guise
The psyops designed to prevent anti-imperialist solidarity among serious Marxists are more sophisticated than streamer drama; instead, these psyops looks like sectarian polemics against the “bad” kinds of anti-imperialists. They looks like polemics that are made to resemble sound theory, employing common Marxist words like “opportunist” and “chauvinist,” while weaponizing these words against all attempts at building a diverse anti-imperialist coalition. An example of this is when the Communist Workers Platform USA—an ultra-left splinter group which broke off from the Party of Communists USA—wrote a denunciation of PCUSA and CPI based on the idea that these orgs are “opportunist” for supporting Russia’s “imperialist” military operation.
For Marxists who’ve been ideologically trained to resist these anti-solidarity psyops, this denunciation is immediately recognizable as lacking in validity. That the CWP opposes Russia’s action in Ukraine is enough to make it clear that those behind the polemic are speaking in bad faith. Because when someone has traveled in Marxist circles long enough to have already learned vital pieces of context about the conflict—like that Ukraine is a fascist state which is committing a genocide against Russian speakers—they can only oppose Russia’s intervention for opportunistic reasons.
When someone is aware that the threat of Ukrainian Banderite fascism exists; and that therefore Russia’s action was the only practical way to save the Donbass communities the Banderites sought to destroy; they have no excuse for still opposing Russia’s action. They’re being driven by something more sinister than ignorance, or even willful ignorance: knowing complicity in injustice, where they oppose any effective efforts to combat the deadly policies that their government is advancing. In this case, these deadly policies have been Washington’s projects to install a fascist coup regime in Kiev, then try to use that regime to ethnically cleanse the Russian people within the Donbass.
Given this undeniable mandate for Russian intervention in Ukraine, and the rigorous education that PCUSA provides its members on topics like the Donbass, the splitters can’t have adopted the “Russia is imperialist” narrative simply out of doing their own research. Someone who’s received PCUSA’s level of education would easily be able to reject such an obviously anti-materialist notion about modern Russia’s global role. The splitters came to this conclusion at least partly out of a desire to get a reward for doing so, whether that reward is financial or social. Only somebody morally bankrupt enough to do these things would decide to become a volunteer for liberal fascism’s war against anti-imperialists.
It’s a similar story to that of Keffals. Keffals was an active communist for long enough to have been able to learn why state persecution of revolutionaries is always bad; yet she’s still choosing not to be in solidarity with Uhuru. I know Keffals understands Marxist ideas better than she pretends to, because back when she was a member of Canada’s communist party, she was working directly in proximity to me. She was talking with me and helping me with my work for a time, meaning she had internalized the same information that had led me to become pro-China. If someone has been this deep into Marxist-Leninist theory, then abandoned that theory, their motives for doing so are highly suspect; one doesn’t simply unlearn dialectics, that’s a type of knowledge which stays with you for life.
To suddenly no longer be a Marxist-Leninist, you need to make a conscious and active choice to become a traitor to the global class struggle. Somebody who four years ago was showing they had learned to reject things like the “Uyghur genocide” psyop can’t now be accepting things like the “Uhuru is a cult” psyop out of pure naivete; there’s too much of an intelligence gap for this to be plausible.
When I say the “cult” perception of Uhuru is a psyop, I’m referring to only one small part of a broader, concerted effort to smear all counter-hegemonic groups as cults. There’s a reason why platforms like Netflix have been putting so much focus on cults, and it’s not just about sensationalism: the ruling class wants to make us so paranoid about cults that we’re willing to believe that descriptor applies to any group the propagandists refer to as such. When Keffals was involved in the pro-China communist element, our detractors (most vocally the anarchists) would attack our movement as a cult; when Keffals became successfully persuaded by this pressure to give up on the anti-imperialist cause, it became easy for her to rationalize targeting communists with that same smear.
There are the kinds of wrongdoers who can be put in the “they know not what they do” category, then there are the kinds who know exactly what they’re doing; as they’re the kinds who’ve in the past fought for the right side, and therefore can recognize what a dishonorable action looks like. It’s these kinds of knowing betrayers of the revolutionary cause who are the most direct threat towards the project at building a vanguard. A traitor who’s operated in proximity to revolutionary circles is capable of bringing those within these circles into their destructive project, deceiving well-intentioned people into aiding evil. Trotsky did this when he used his credibility as a former Bolshevik leader to rally many global communists towards sabotaging the Soviet Union, and promoting the bourgeois slanders of Stalin.
Such is the corrupt character of the political actors who are trying to convince us that all of the pro-Russian communist orgs and individuals are enemies of the socialist cause, and need to be shunned. Someone doesn’t necessarily have to be convinced to oppose Russia itself in order to adopt this mentality; they only need to be persuaded to view anyone who substantially advances the pro-Russian stance as somebody they must oppose.
Those with an interest in defending monopoly capital try do this with individual anti-imperialist commentators, like Maupin and me; they try to do this with pro-Russian orgs, like Uhuru and PCUSA; they try to do this with the kinds of anti-imperialist formations that encompass multiple countries, like when CWP attacked the World Anti-Imperialist Platform in another part of its polemic. It’s because I realized this sinister motive behind the bulk of the “criticisms” we see towards Maupin, and towards his org CPI, that I decided I was wrong for having previously acted hostile towards him. If the agents of monopoly capital are showing themselves to profoundly care about getting us to obsessively hate a certain person, we should be suspicious of much of what we hear about that person.
Choosing to stop contributing to an anti-solidarity psyop doesn’t mean becoming uncritical towards everyone who supports Russia and China; it only means making sure that you don’t say anything about them which objectively helps liberal fascism. Principled criticism assists the revolutionary cause by getting the cause’s contributors to become better; unprincipled criticism only helps the enemy. Before you articulate any criticism of an anti-imperialist, you need to make absolutely sure that it’s backed up by the facts, and that you’ll be saying it in an appropriate setting. The psyop agents don’t want us to care about facts or strategic thinking, all they want us to do is help them undermine counter-hegemonic voices. Which far too many in our spaces are glad to do.
It’s this lack of mindfulness, this disregard for what strategically advances the fight against U.S. hegemony, that infects the types of Marxists who promote anti-solidarity psyops. The way the psyop agents convince Marxists to reject solidarity with Uhuru is by leading these Marxists to view CPI as untouchable; see that Uhuru has collaborated with CPI; and conclude that we shouldn’t prioritize support for Uhuru. The types of Marxists who’ve internalized this idea may not believe the Russiagate psyop, or even vote blue, but they still operate within a framework of understanding that’s fundamentally the same as the one the liberals do.
They share the liberal perception that nurturing the anti-imperialist impulses of the workers necessarily means empowering reactionary politics; a notion which comes from a reflexive fear of destabilizing our liberal cultural hegemony in any meaningful way. It’s based within the idea that the people are fundamentally reactionary, and that therefore to build an anti-imperialist movement outside the insular “left” circles is automatically a betrayal of oppressed minorities.
Because CPI and the other communist groups in the RAWM coalition aren’t part of the “left” as these insular leftists define it, they reject all of these groups; they even scorn the ones with explicit socially progressive stances, like PCUSA. The irony is that in their attempt to be principled on social and racial justice, these “left” Marxists have in effect abandoned valuable anti-racist allies like Uhuru. Which isn’t even officially part of RAWM, but has still come to be seen by these leftists as suspect due to its association with CPI.
If the only thing you have to say about Uhuru is “but they work with CPI,” you’re helping the state. Somebody can not share parts of Maupin and CPI’s ideology, even important parts of it, while treating Uhuru with the respect it deserves. The same applies to CPI itself, which like PCUSA is having an objectively progressive role in the class conflict due to its substantial projects at raising class consciousness.
There’s a reason why anti-imperialists, apart from the less principled “anti-imperialists” who are tied to PSL’s sectarian Democrat tailist project, are increasingly treating CPI as a platform for their ideas: if this org is willing to platform a variety of counter-hegemonic voices; and is sticking to its pro-Russian stance amid growing state intimidation of those who share that stance; it’s worth partnering with. The people in Uhuru have been able to recognize this strategic reality, even though Uhuru is opposed to CPI’s patriotic socialist stance. Despite Uhuru’s being based within an African anti-colonial ideology that’s not compatible with patriotic socialism, it’s nonetheless been glad to collaborate with CPI.
This is because Uhuru’s members recognize the practical need for a unified front against NATO, unlike the PSL-adjacent actors who use anti-colonialism as a rationale for rejecting this unity. PSL and its ANSWER organizers justified their decision to attack RAWM on the basis of supposed anti-racism, which shows how orgs like PSL mirror the Democratic Party; they use the Democrat tactic of claiming to be the sole authorities on social justice, then smearing anyone who challenges them as a reactionary.
Whereas CPUSA and PSL use the Democratic Party’s social media psyops to their own advantage, attacking anybody who deviates from their anti-Russia, anti-solidarity stance as a “patsoc,” Uhuru doesn’t base its thinking on what the most vocal “left” voices on social media say. It bases its thinking on what the conditions mandate it to do. It’s a massive red flag when you see an ostensibly “communist” org be dissuaded from working with someone; or from sharing an essential anti-imperialist position like support for Russia; because of pressures from social media left gatekeepers.
The only reason an org would listen to these gatekeepers is if that org’s goal is not to defeat the state, but to maintain access to an audience within the insular “left” niche. Uhuru isn’t concerned with whether this niche approves of it, because it’s instead interested in winning the broad masses of the people. These psyops directed at Marxist online spaces are, at present, mainly focused on cultivating an environment of polarization, one which makes effective anti-imperialist organizing impossible. The psyop agents want to divide the movement between the “good” people, and the “patsocs.” That Uhuru’s members were able to reject this anti-solidarity psyop, and do so earlier than when I rejected it, shows I need to further take example from them as I continue with my own movement work.
If we don’t give due respect to Uhuru, or to the other anti-imperialists who are being targeted, we’ll in effect be aiding the state. That’s the strategic reality of our situation, and we need to make our practice consistent with this reality. If somebody considers themselves to be a Marxist-Leninist or an anti-imperialist; yet chooses division and unprincipled criticisms over this strategically necessary path; then how, in the end, are they any better than Keffals?
By Rainer Shea
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