Pro-Russian communists predicate our position upon an analytical framework of primary vs secondary contradictions. We recognize that if a country is acting to help resolve the primary contradiction in a given situation, that country’s internal contradictions are not the main thing we should take into consideration. If U.S. hegemony is the foremost contradiction in the world today, we should support any actions that weaken U.S. hegemony. And if Russia lacks the relationship to the peripheral countries that it would need to have in order to be an imperialist power, we should support it in the present conflict.
This reasoning is made stronger by how Russia also lacks the traits which would make it a fascist state; there’s a difference between a bourgeois state and a fascist one. And if anything, Russia is a more progressive state than most other bourgeois states are; this is both because it’s decided to help counter U.S. hegemony, and because its communist party has far more influence than the communist parties of most other countries do.
I came to these conclusions last year, when the Ukraine conflict prompted me to make my anti-imperialist analysis more concrete. What took me longer to realize is that this analytical framework, in which we must prioritize the primary contradiction above the secondary contradictions, needs to also be applied to how we organize. I’ve learned that just like how the Russian state’s capitalist character shouldn’t dissuade us from supporting its acts of defiance against U.S. imperialism, whatever contradictions that exist within the USA’s anti-imperialist movement shouldn’t dissuade us from doing what’s necessary to advance this movement.
How to figure out what “necessary” means in this context? You can figure it out by paying attention to which kinds of antiwar actions provoke backlash from our ruling institutions. The antiwar actions that PSL’s ANSWER puts on don’t cause the PSL to get smeared by the corporate media; don’t cause its members to get indicted for “Russian interference”; don’t invite attacks from the elements of the “left” that are obstinately anti-Russian. This is because ANSWER’s strategy is ultimately nonthreatening towards the war machine.
There are many reasons for this. The PSL, and the smaller orgs that share its ideological orientation, have denounced Russia’s action in Ukraine; the PSL only holds antiwar rallies when it feels optically safe to do so, as shown by how its most recent one was put together in response to the Rage Against the War Machine event; these few antiwar rallies are small, as the org only desires to gain enough support to be able to continue engaging in movementism. And the organizers of these events use them as opportunities to attack the pro-Russian orgs, as we saw when ANSWER’s public outreach people attempted to censure RAWM.
In contrast, the orgs that have approached the antiwar movement in a principled rather than opportunistic fashion are becoming enemies of the state. Last year, the African People’s Socialist Party was raided in retaliation for its efforts to combat the Ukraine psyop. This was followed by a DOJ indictment of many of its members. For another example, the PCUSA has been targeted with COINTELPRO tactics; last year its original website was hacked into, and then replaced by a libelous document. The individuals who did this had also previously infiltrated the org, showing that they’ve at the least become learned in the movement sabotage tricks which federal agents employ. Why would a party as small as PCUSA be getting attacked in such a way, unless its pro-Russian stance has helped make it be seen as a genuine threat?
These types of groups would be a lot safer if they had taken PSL’s path, and decided to pander to liberal sensibilities on foreign affairs. But they haven’t taken that path, because they know that going against those sensibilities is a profoundly anti-opportunist thing to do.
It’s because of this willingness to take risks, to do the right thing amidst overwhelming opposition, that PCUSA has also decided to join RAWM. And predictably, this has caused it to further be targeted by those who are invested in defending U.S. hegemony. Rachel Maddow, the pundit who most fanatically promoted the neo-McCarthyist “Russiagate” psyop, made a segment whose entire purpose was to belittle and mock RAWM’s February rally. When Maddow showed a clip of the PCUSA’s Alex Dillard, this had the unintentional effect of making Maddow clearly look like the fool. Dillard was holding a sign saying “Biden is the Nord Stream bomber,” and for Maddow to have shown this while not providing a counter-argument to the statement revealed Maddow’s dishonesty.
This is what the sectarians on the left who attack the RAWM coalition for not being ideologically pure don’t take into account: that this coalition has been proving itself to be a powerful narrative weapon against NATO. It’s getting NATO’s propagandists to undermine themselves, forcing them to respond to the anti-imperialist movement and thereby making this movement’s perspectives more visible. Not that these sectarians even see this as a good thing, since their goals in essence align with the goals of empire agents like Maddow.
When RAWM puts together its next event, scheduled for the sixth of August, we’ll no doubt see a repeat of this dynamic. We’ll again see the actors who oppose the anti-NATO cause have to give us attention, which means more of the people will be exposed to our arguments.
As we approach this next confrontation between the hegemonic and counter-hegemonic ideological forces, the pro-hegemonic side’s “socialist” flank will use a certain argument to try to discredit the anti-NATO effort. This is the argument that the fight against U.S. hegemony should be a secondary priority for socialists, on the basis that our domestic issues are what we can actually impact. Which is an inversion of the truth; we can’t win our domestic fights until we’ve made sufficient progress within the international struggle. Anybody who argues otherwise is either naive about the nature of our situation, or intentionally trying to disrupt the class struggle.
In today’s USA, there is no class struggle; at least no meaningful kind of class struggle, the kind where the spontaneous uprisings of the workers can be translated into something revolutionary by a vanguard party. The PSL only pretends to be such a party, as do FRSO, CPUSA, and the other nominally socialist orgs that have denounced Russia’s special operation. Hope exists within the orgs that recognize how our government’s dollar and military dominance are the strongest links in the chain of U.S. capital; how the workers of the imperial center can’t gain leverage over our ruling class until we’ve helped take this global power away from it; and how we can’t end the Democratic Party’s monopoly over organizing spaces until we’ve made NATO’s psyops no longer tolerated within these spaces. If revolutionaries in the core isolate ourselves from the international struggle, we’ll lose. We have no choice but to confront NATO, whatever kinds of retaliation that doing this will bring to us.
By Rainer Shea