Category Archives: Anti-war

The Lethality of Washington’s Global Monroe Doctrine

LeRoy Clarke (Trinidad and Tobago), Now, 1970.

This past week, as part of its policy to dominate the American hemisphere, the United States government organised the 9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. US President Joe Biden made it clear early on that three countries in the hemisphere (Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) would not be invited to the event, claiming that they are not democracies. At the same time, Biden was reportedly planning an upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia – a self-described theocracy. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s exclusionary stance, and so Mexico, Bolivia, and Honduras refused to come to the event. As it turned out, the summit was a fiasco.

Down the road, over a hundred organisations hosted a People’s Summit for Democracy, where thousands of people from across the hemisphere gathered to celebrate the actual democratic spirit which emerges from the struggles of peasants and workers, students and feminists, and all the people who are excluded from the gaze of the powerful. At this gathering, the presidents of Cuba and Venezuela joined in online to celebrate this festival of democracy and to condemn the weaponisation of democratic ideals by the United States and its allies.

Next year, 2023, will be the bicentennial of the Monroe Doctrine, when the US asserted its hegemony over the American hemisphere. The malign spirit of the Monroe Doctrine not only continues but has now been extended by the US government into a kind of Global Monroe Doctrine. In order to assert this preposterous claim on the entire planet, the United States has pursued a policy to ‘weaken’ what it sees as ‘near peer rivals’, namely China and Russia.

Philip Guston (Canada), Blackboard, 1969.

In July, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research – along with Monthly Review and No Cold War – will produce a booklet on the reckless military escalation by the US government against those whom it sees as its adversaries – mainly China and Russia. This booklet will include essays by John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review, Deborah Veneziale, a journalist based in Italy, and John Ross, a member of the No Cold War collective. In the vein of that booklet, which will be announced in this newsletter, No Cold War has also produced briefing no. 3, Is the United States Preparing for War with Russia and China?, on Washington’s sabre-rattling and alarming march toward nuclear primacy.

The war in Ukraine demonstrates a qualitative escalation of the United States’ willingness to use military force. In recent decades, the US launched wars on developing countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Serbia. In these campaigns, the US knew it enjoyed overwhelming military superiority and that there was no risk of a nuclear retaliation. However, in threatening to bring Ukraine into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the US was prepared to risk crossing what it knew to be the ‘red lines’ of the nuclear armed state of Russia. This raises two questions: why has the US undertaken this escalation, and how far is the US now prepared to go in the use of military force against not only the Global South but major powers such as China or Russia?

Using Military Force to Compensate for Economic Decline

The answer to ‘why’ is clear: the US has lost in peaceful economic competition to developing countries in general and China in particular. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2016 China overtook the US as the world’s largest economy. As of 2021, China accounted for 19% of the global economy, compared to the US at 16%. This gap is only growing wider, and, by 2027, the IMF projects that China’s economy will outsize the US by nearly 30%. However, the US has maintained unrivalled global military supremacy – its military expenditure is larger than the next nine highest spending countries combined. Seeking to maintain unipolar global dominance, the US is increasingly substituting peaceful economic competition with military force.

Ikeda Manabu (Japan), Meltdown, 2013.

A good starting point to understand this strategic shift in US policy is the speech given by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on 26 May 2022. In it, Blinken openly admitted that the US does not seek military equality with other states, but military supremacy, particularly with respect to China: ‘President Biden has instructed the Department of Defense to hold China as its pacing challenge, to ensure that our military stays ahead’. However, with nuclear armed states such as China or Russia, military supremacy necessitates achieving nuclear supremacy – an escalation above and beyond the current war in Ukraine.

The Pursuit of Nuclear Primacy

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the US has systematically withdrawn from key treaties limiting the threat of use of nuclear weapons: in 2002, the US unilaterally exited  from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; in 2019, the US abandoned the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty; and, in 2020, the US withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty. Abandoning these treaties strengthened the US’ ability to seek nuclear supremacy.

Natalia Goncharova (Russia), Angels Throwing Stones on the City, 1911.

The ultimate aim of this US policy is to acquire ‘first strike’ capacity against Russia and China – the ability to inflict damage with a first use of nuclear weapons against Russia or China to the extent that it effectively prevents retaliation. As John Bellamy Foster has noted in a comprehensive study of this US nuclear build up, even in the case of Russia – which possesses the world’s most advanced non-US nuclear arsenal – this would ‘deny Moscow a viable second-strike option, effectively eliminating its nuclear deterrent altogether, through “decapitation”’. In reality, the fallout and threat of nuclear winter from such a strike would threaten the entire world.

This policy of nuclear primacy has long been pursued by certain circles within Washington. In 2006, it was argued in the leading US foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs that ‘It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike’.  Contrary to these hopes, the US has not yet been able to achieve a first strike capacity, but this is due to development of hypersonic missiles and other weapons by Russia and China – not a change in US policy.

From its attacks on Global South countries to its increased willingness to go to war with a great power such as Russia to attempting to gain first strike nuclear capacity, the logic behind the escalation of US militarism is clear: the United States is increasingly employing military force to compensate for its economic decline. In this extremely dangerous period, it is vital for humanity that all progressive forces unite to meet this great threat.

Shefa Salem (Libya), KASKA, Dance of War, 2020.

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Global South remained gripped by a never-ending debt crisis, the United States bombed Iraq despite entreaties from the Iraqi government for a negotiated agreement. During that bombing, the Libyan writer Ahmad Ibrahim al-Faqih penned a lyrical poem, ‘Nafaq Tudiuhu Imra Wahida’ (‘A Tunnel Lit by a Woman’), in which he sang, ‘A time has passed, and another time has not come and will never come’. Gloom defined the moment.

Today, we are in very dangerous times. And yet, the despondency of al-Faqih does not define our sensibility. The mood has altered. There is a belief in a world beyond imperialism, a mood that is not only evident in countries such as Cuba and China, but equally in India and Japan, as well as amongst the hard-working people who would like our collective attention to be focused on the actual dilemmas of humanity and not on the ugliness of war and domination.

The post The Lethality of Washington’s Global Monroe Doctrine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Imperialism Cannot Solve Our Problems

In learning more about the Poor People’s Campaign Moral March on Washington set for June 18th, I came across this statement by Bishop William Barber, the campaign’s national co-chair:

Republicans say poverty is just a personal failure. And Democrats too often talk about the working class and those trying to make it into the middle class but refuse to talk expressly about poverty. Our debates are locked in struggles around and about trickle-down concepts of neoliberalism, and middle-class considerations.

He concluded that the country’s refusal to address poverty is “the basic moral contradiction” of our time.

I have to admit that I initially bristled at the idea of a “moral contradiction” because, as a non-religious person, that language sometimes raises red flags for me. But I began to think about how Marxists talk about the concept of contradiction.

What is a contradiction? All social phenomena contain contradictions. Contradictions aren’t simply accidents but essential features of what those objects are. For example, the U.S. is a society that describes itself as free and touts its wealth but is plagued by the poison of white supremacy and male supremacy. The constitutional system grants due process, but cops kill and beat thousands of people each year. It has 142 million people living in dire poverty or one paycheck, one health crisis, or one disaster away from financial desperation. More than 52 million workers earn less than $15 per hour and often can’t meet their basic needs.

U.S. leaders and capitalists brag about advanced technology, such as medical technology and knowledge. Still, they couldn’t prevent the loss of 1 million lives from COVID or 100,000 opioid overdose deaths, or 46,000 deaths from guns. We wring our hands while little change takes place. We wonder why we never see these things coming and constantly react only after so many people have been harmed.

Political leaders boast about an advanced educational system but cannot provide it free or at a reasonable cost to the mass of working-class people. Decades-long debt peonage is the best choice we have. As illiteracy grows and workers score poorly on tests that measure competence with mathematics and language, politicians cut school and university budgets.

These are essential contradictions that define the U.S. as a social formation. They aren’t just bad choices made by an otherwise just society.

This reality shapes how I read Barber’s comments. “Moral contradiction” causes one of the major political parties to demand the state control women’s bodies by banning safe abortions claiming the human rights of unborn fetuses. But then, the next day, it votes as a bloc against immediate steps to remedy a baby formula shortage. A baby formula shortage! They will demand pregnant women register themselves to track births and punish abortions but refuse to consider gun registration. The Republicans and fascists built a morally bankrupt political platform. But the moral contradictions of the capitalist market economy, which they cherish even above life itself, are central pillars of the whole system. Abortion, gun violence, and baby formula are just the most recent plain examples.

Contradictions

Why do we care about contradictions like this? Social systems change and develop based on how social and class forces address these contradictions and turn a system into a new substance. Many capitalists and their sympathizers see contradictions as mere inconsistencies or glitches. Reformers want to fix these glitches and bring our “values” back into alignment with our actions. Or, they want to mend these problems by creating philanthropic or socially innovative programs that help out the poor but leave the system intact.

Billionaires and fascists have different ideas about resolving contradictions. Think of Elon Musk’s recent embrace of the Republican Party and its fascist platform. He is mad that the government continues to investigate his suspicious financial activities, and he is afraid unions will weaken his absolute power in his companies. He wants state power that he can personally bend to his will to help him get over his emotional problems. He wants more power to resolve contradictions through coercion and legal force.

Imperialism uses war to resolve contradictions. Consider the U.S. government’s drive to perpetuate or expand the war in Ukraine. It manufactures images of Russian human rights abuses—some of which are undoubtedly true. But the U.S. record of torture, mass killings, destroying civilians, racist mass incarceration, assassinations, political interventions, and hybrid wars on a global scale, in just the past two decades, embarrass even people like Henry Kissinger, among the vilest of abusers. George W. Bush’s recent verbal slip wasn’t just a gaffe.

Though immoral, these aren’t simply moral inconsistencies. They are contradictions that comprise the structure of U.S. capitalism and its political system. Its capitalist class, on the whole, believes that it must maintain these structural forms of power if the U.S. is to keep its hegemonic position in the imperialist world system. In simple terms, these contradictions make the U.S. what it is as a country. This structure drives us from war crisis to economic crisis to health crisis and back all the way around again. So far, our only means of psychological survival has been self-induced amnesia. Forgetting, like self-medication, eases the pain of this moral contradiction, which I believe most of us feel very deeply.

Barber’s terminology about moral contradiction is essential. And amnesia is no longer a practical solution. However, working-class power transformed into social power could be the basis for an answer.

Imperialist world system

In the present world system, five fundamental contradictions are interconnected and reveal moral bankruptcy, logical inconsistencies, and anti-human tendencies that make capitalism what it is:

  • a world imperialist system that denies to most humans their national aspirations
  • worldwide poverty that denies human dignity on a scale of billions
  • deepening rates of exploitation that spark frequent crises of overproduction
  • global socialization of labor vs. the anarchy of national systems that rely on the capitalist market economy
  • excess capitalist production without rational planning for the survival of humanity and the planet.

What is a world system? World system is not a conspiratorial term, nor does it refer to “globalism” or the “deep state” or any mystifying right-wing concepts about evil hordes of racial others dominating the U.S. or Europeans. Those racist and anti-Semitic theories drive right-wing capitalist agendas and fascist violence.

The world system names the dominant form of global integration of countries into the capitalist-imperialist system in a particular period. For example, the European slave-trade-based capitalist development, led by Spain and Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Dutch in the 17th century, and Great Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, formed a world system based on markets in human beings as a financial basis for market and industrial capitalist development. It created a settler-colonial-slavery complex, which also drove Indigenous genocide in the Americas. It made modern capitalism possible. (Gerald Horne’s The Dawning of the Apocalypse, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism, The Counterrevolution of 1776, Negro Comrades of the Crown, and Confronting Black Jacobins can be read sequentially as a study of this world system. Joseph Inikori’s Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England is also an informative study of one aspect of that system.)

These kinds of global interactions gave capitalism a racial characteristic it still relies on to maintain its capacity to accumulate surplus value and recirculate it as new capital.

By the end of the 19th century, this slavery-settler system transitioned to an imperialist-colonial system. It kept critical features of the former, as settler features persisted in Southern Africa until 1994. And Canada, the U.S., and Australia continue to deny land and sovereignty to the Indigenous people who hold rightful claims. European powers, sometimes with agreement among themselves but always in fierce long-term competition, strove to conquer and dominate the entire earth.

That system collapsed during the Great Depression and subsequent global war. Fascism—the most extreme form of capitalism and imperialism—pitted Europeans against one another in unprecedented ways. Within two decades, the colonialism system followed suit.

After this unprecedented collapse of the world system, the U.S. managed to rise to the top of the heap. The debts incurred by the imperialist powers and the U.S.’s skillful management of the shift to dollarized neo-colonial control of former European colonies enabled this transition. (W. Alphaeus Hunton’s Decision in Africa and Walter Rodney’s How Europe Under Developed Africa are essential for this history of U.S./European colonialism and neo-colonialism in African countries.)

Essentially, the U.S. recreated and managed a world system that expropriated vast tons of raw resources from the colonized world to fuel its own and Europe’s redevelopment after World War II. The collapse of the colonial regimes through national liberation struggles aided by the socialist countries prompted a transition to the domination of finance capital in the neoliberal regime of structural adjustments, privatization, forced labor, and hybrid war.

That new regime successfully produced wealth and power for U.S. capitalists that one commentator characterized as the “end of history.” Meanwhile, vast billions of the human population suffered from extreme poverty, hunger, lack of health resources, rapid environmental change, disease, war, and conflict.

The end of “the end of history” came after a series of financialization crises from the late 1990s to the 2007 housing collapse, which ruined the bliss of everlasting capitalist success. The failure to conquer Iraq and Afghanistan, which sucked trillions out of the U.S. economy, further signaled U.S. decline.

Unlike the 1930s, when the U.S. political system responded to manage the contradictions through “Keynesian” economic theory and New Deal social democracy, the present system blunders along with handouts to the banks, tax cuts for billionaires, and more austerity. Today, we are at the end of 60 years of declining rates of growth that pale in comparison to China’s 8%-9% rates of growth each year for the past 40 years.

The U.S. political class frequently admits that it can’t afford the record hundreds of billions pumped into military spending and a universal health system each year. It can’t afford to buy new missile systems and quality schools and universities. It can’t provide a meaningful safety net and ensure record profits and wealth accumulation for millionaires and billionaires with low tax rates.

Even as globalization generates the socialization of labor on a world scale, the anarchy of capitalist market economies within national frames produced new internal contradictions in those ruling-class agendas. (I am indebted to Cheng Enfu’s China’s Economic Dialectic for the phrasing of this contradiction.)

This contradiction between the needs of the empire and the interests of national economic and political systems is evident in the conflict over Ukraine. Consider how deeply and violently the U.S. ruling class split over the Russia-Europe contest. Trump was willing to dump Europe for an alignment with Russia, while much of the U.S. capitalist maintains corporate ties to Western Europe. We have yet to understand how much this conflict has altered and shaped U.S. domestic politics. (And the impending internal conflict over links to China has only been kicked down the road.)

Over here

The U.S. capitalist class aspires to maintain its dominance of the imperialist world system. But this means they have to carefully manage an increasingly expensive military, intelligence apparatus, local police, and border patrol system. The institutions operate strictly for the purpose of global and domestic repression of dissent. These are the only spending priorities for which a nearly unanimous Washington consensus exists.

At the same time, however, capitalists discovered that their goal of endless higher profits had been little more than accounting schemes and fantasy for some decades. Corporate policies drove record profits with higher prices, lower wages, and benefit cuts, all aided by a significantly weakened labor movement since the 1980s. Further, accounting tricks like stock buy-backs and debt schemes made bubbles and fantasy wealth a mainstay of Wall Street chicanery.

The capitalist class’s drive to manage the top spot in the imperialist system propels deepening exploitation worldwide, and in the U.S. Initially, globalization of production made the prices of imported goods seem like a boon. But then, the loss of manufacturing jobs meant a weakened labor movement, lower pay, and more frequent cycles of simply not being able to buy things. In some communities, whole neighborhoods became ghost towns. City services vanished overnight. Workers found they needed more than one job to survive. Consumption levels dropped, producing new levels of poverty combined with new demands for higher exploitation rates.

Racist mass incarceration became a mechanism for resolving some aspects of that crisis simply by cultivating and exploiting racism to punish Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and immigrant people with imprisonments, criminalization, and mass deportations. Euro-American racial solidarity seemed to be an appropriate alternative to multi-racial working-class solidarity.

Today, the performance of racial reforms (that aren’t reforms) and openly fascistic racist doctrine (great replacement dogmas, ravings about critical race theory, book burnings, and xenophobia) stand in for actual resolutions to deepening exploitation. Philanthropy and the non-profit industrial complex take the place of systemic solutions to poverty.

The anti-war movements (2002-2008), Occupy Wall Street (2011), #BlackLivesMatter (2014-2020), and worker uprising (2020-2022) have lain bare the crisis of the political system. They have uplifted specific analyses of different aspects of these five main contradictions.

Imperialist double jeopardy

Withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan signaled the severe jeopardy of U.S. dominance of the imperialist world system. In contrast to the past, it appears unable to assert its agenda for Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the South Pacific, or even Latin America, which it had long proclaimed its “backyard.” De-dollarization combined with new military blocs appear to be steps toward sovereignty for some countries.

Will this produce a new, competing imperialist system? Will this unique situation solidify into two new geopolitical and economic blocs? Are we simply witnessing a deadly realignment of imperialist forces? Yes, to each is possible—unless we bring forward internationalist, working-class revolutionary solutions.

The U.S. intervention in Eastern Europe, specifically in Ukraine, from 2014 to the present, has centered on promoting a proxy military conflict with Russia. State Department officials recently admitted to this. However, like its invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the results have been mixed for U.S. imperialism. It feels compelled to continue with this dangerous and deadly strategy, unfortunately.

While the most violent part of that conflict is still in its early stages, many ruling class commentators may already be crying “uncle.” The New York Times recently opined that a negotiated settlement that concedes territory inhabited by Russian-language speakers to Russia might be necessary. Further, to provide promised energy resources to European allies, the U.S. was compelled to walk back its de-humanizing sanctions regime against Cuba and Venezuela.

On the gain side, the U.S.-Europe faction has drawn more “neutral” Sweden and Finland into its orbit and extracted billions in new contracts for U.S.-based weapons makers from Germany, the U.K., and other countries. But even these gains are fraught with localized contradictions as NATO isn’t an ideologically unified bloc, and its actors hold competing and contradictory interests.

On the loss side, Russia controls vast amounts of natural gas and petroleum desperately needed in Eastern Europe. Their military power has proven to be far more robust than expected. Their restraint in this war (relative to U.S. “shock and awe” and Abu Ghraib/Guantanamo Bay-level atrocities) has proven disappointing to Western human rights watchers who regularly side with U.S. government interests.

The petroleum element of this war produces an internal domestic problem for the U.S. government. Rationed resources have driven up prices, even as oil companies look to deepen their already sizeable profits on gas-guzzling U.S. consumers. High prices are another form of deepening exploitation of workers and provoke political instability. The fascists are already exploiting this instability.

Meanwhile, the Western media and political establishments have soft-pedaled fascist movements that the U.S. has funded and used to spark international conflicts along the Ukraine-Russia border since 2014. Like a page out of the Cold War playbook, the U.S. government has supported extremists painted as “freedom fighters.” Those choices have never ended well for U.S. imperialism, even if it allows them to accomplish short-term goals. Think of the various U.S.-funded drug cartels in Central America (like Noriega’s in Panama), the mujahideen in Central Asia, the “contras” in Nicaragua, and the militarists in Chile, Indonesia, and South Korea.

End of humanity?

While the imperialist world system leaders plotted a Ukraine-Russia war, cried crocodile tears about “blonde, blue-eyed” refugees, and pumped billions of dollars into Ukraine to keep the war going. A United Nations call for immediate, urgent global attention to human-caused climate change went almost unheeded.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated in April 2022 that if the world continues on its present course, humans can expect new levels of suffering due to “unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms, widespread water shortages, and the extinction of a million species of plants and animals.” He referred to a report by the International Panel on Climate Change that showed swift and deep action is needed within the next couple of years to turn back the worst effects of the changing climate.

Few within the U.S. political class seem concerned, let alone capable of leveraging the sorts of emissions reductions needed to protect human life. Indeed, maintaining world system dominance appears to be their only operating concern.

What do we do with these contradictions? They show us that imperialism cannot cure itself. Imperialism cannot deliver human rights and dignity to the people it regularly exploits and oppresses. Capitalism cannot end racism or stop mass killers motivated by racist theories. It cannot suspend its need for racist super-exploitation or its exploitation and destruction of natural resources, like the air we breathe, water, and soil in which we plant crops.

We have no time to celebrate the failure of capitalism to solve the problems it has created.

The working class, especially its socialist and communist parties, can fight for more prominent organizations, clearer analysis, and class leadership. The socialization of labor on a global scale creates unprecedented levels of working-class power. It is the one lever with which we can move the immovable force of ruling class power and resolve the major contradictions of the present to change this world into something new. When working-class power becomes the supreme power in the world system, we have the means to win peace, avoid climate disasters, reduce exploitation, uplift the national aspirations of the world’s peoples, and bring our values into line with our actions.

The post Imperialism Cannot Solve Our Problems first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Peace Question and Imperialism

The war in Ukraine is a propaganda war, with all of the belligerents, sponsors, and their allies churning out — through an abjectly subservient media — masses of lies and disinformation. In this regard, they resemble other wars, but with an added dose of shamelessness.

For that reason, it is difficult to discern how the war is being conducted or who has the military advantage at any time. Like all modern wars, atrocity stories abound and losses are wildly exaggerated.

But what separates this war from wars in the recent and not-so-recent past is the near-absence of an organized anti-war movement. It is more than a curious oddity that there are few actions in the streets or campaigns of influence or resistance to stop the mayhem of this brutal war. Sure, there are generic appeals to cut military budgets or oppose war philosophically, but little action to stop this particular war. In spite of the so-called “fog” of war, everyone knows that soldiers and civilians alike are dying in significant numbers, that bodies are ripped apart, homes destroyed, and people dislodged from their homes. No amount of “fog” can hide this.

Of course, there are a few prominent voices — Pope Francis, even Henry Kissinger — who have called for a cessation of fighting and negotiations. And Communists and trade unionists in Italy, Greece, and Turkey have blocked NATO weapons shipments, staged demonstrations, and picketed embassies.

But in most cities, states, and countries, there are few actions directed against the war in Ukraine. And most surprisingly, the leftists in Europe and the Americas, usually leading the way against war, are largely silent. They haven’t even minimally demanded that their own countries stay out of this war.

Instead, they have tacitly or openly sided with one belligerent or another. I have written and spoken on different occasions against taking sides in the conflict. Moreover, I have sought to place the war in the context of classical imperialism and suggested that the left’s support of either belligerent or its sponsors is misplaced, akin to the collapse of left opposition at the beginning of World War I. In that case, the left succumbed to narrow nationalist appeals. In this case, the left is succumbing to a muddled concept of imperialism and anti-imperialism.

Rather than repeat the argument, it might be useful to look at how and why leftists justify their support for one side or the other and refrain from adding their voice to the cause of peace in Ukraine.

It is easy to dismiss those who uncritically support Ukraine.
Apart from the rabid nationalists of the “Glory to Ukraine” crowd, who welcome the conflict and hope to draw the Western capitalist countries into a crusade against Russia, there are those who simplistically see the war as a naked aggression with no back story. From ignorance of the post-Soviet Ukrainian history of corruption, reaction, Western meddling and aggression, or from willful collaboration with US and NATO intrigue, these new Cold Warriors seek a Russian defeat and have no interest in an immediate peaceful settlement or concern about the mayhem.

Against them are the more measured comrades who, remembering the Cold War standoff between the US and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies, conflate today’s Russia with the Soviet Union. They recognize how the Soviet Union constituted a pole of resistance that countered and sometimes reversed the Cold War imperialist alliance’s designs on the world. US imperialism, the dominant imperialist power at the time, was effectively checked by the Soviet Union from 1945 until the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. These anti-imperialists see Russia, in its war on Ukraine, as a similar emerging pole against US imperialism and see Russia’s invasion as an expression of a break-up of the absolute military and economic US dominance of the world established after the departure of the Soviet Union. For them, a multipolar world is in birth.

There are shards of truth in this view, but Russia is not the Soviet Union. It does not share its ideology; rather, its motives replace Soviet internationalism with an aspiring great power nationalism. While it exploits cracks in US global hegemony, it does not offer an alternative vision or unconditional assistance to the victims of capitalism and imperialism. In that regard, Russia is no Cuba, either.

Russia’s foreign policy is capitalist opportunism: friends with Turkey or Israel one moment, in conflict the next moment. Russia aligns with Saudi Arabia when it’s economically profitable, while fighting Saudi proxies in Syria. There are no consistent principles guiding it. Nor can there be for a country that rejected socialism for capitalism. Those who see Russian foreign policy and alliances as progressive are very selective in their examples.

Russia’s leaders readily embrace the capitalist ethos and reject the Soviet project, though they appeal, when needed, to Soviet symbols and traditions when useful.

It may be true that the Russian invasion ultimately will achieve the goals sought by its ruling class. And it may be true that these gains will come at the expense of US imperialism and its ruling class, but how does that move us any closer to a world of peace and social justice? The rivalries remain, the goals of the respective ruling classes remain uncertain and unstable, despite their claims of peace-loving and democracy-seeking; and the danger of conflict remains high or even higher.

There are others who envision the war — insofar as Russia is challenging US power — as a blow for those on the bottom of what we might envision as the imperialist “pyramid” — the developing countries. Jenny Clegg, for example, writing in the Morning Star, sees the development of “competitors” to US dominance as establishing the first steps toward a multipolar world. She correctly notes that multipolarity “is not a policy but an emerging objective trend…”

Further, she sees unequal exchange between the highly developed countries and the developing countries as the principal contradiction — the contradiction defining imperialism and anti-imperialism.

While this center-periphery distinction was popular and influential among independent Western “Marxists” in the era when the working classes in the center — the West — were generally tamed by social democratic opportunism, it was neither particularly insightful nor of continued relevance. Marx went to great lengths to show that exchange, under capitalist relations of production, was not generally unequal — values exchange for values. But those same relations of production always produce and reproduce inequality. The locus of inequality — capitalist exploitation — is embedded in the capitalist system, not in the thievery of unequal exchange.

As Lenin elaborated, uneven development is a feature of relations between people, social institutions, firms in the same industry, between industries, and between countries, and even continents. It is not unequal exchange that accounts for the uneven development, but differences in the pace of development, cultural and social practices, political and other institutions, and most importantly, especially in the epoch of imperialism, the stunting effects of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and their legacy.

In the last half-century, technological developments have freed capitalists to move, access, and service the material productive forces — factories, transportation networks, resources — in order to gain access to formerly inaccessible labor markets, cheapening labor in general. At the same time, this development created rising living standards in some developing countries, while lowering them in some advanced capitalist countries.

Consequently, some capitalist countries — like India, Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia — have become powerful rivals to the late-twentieth-century great powers.

The concept of “unequal” exchange as an explanation for the inequality between developed and developing countries (and for the difference between imperialism and anti-imperialism) fails because it implies that should exchanges become equal, that same inequality between states would evaporate. Even more importantly, it suggests that equal exchange — and not an end of capitalism — would signal the demise of imperialism.

To understand imperialism as a conflict between advancing and lagging development based upon the unequal terms of economic activity — a kind of organized thievery — is to misunderstand the nature of exploitation under capitalism. Intense competition between players — big and small — for markets, resources, labor, and capital are the essence of capitalism and imperialism. There is no sharp line between this competition and war.

Clegg wants us to believe that in a multipolar world, with US power diminished, establishing equal exchange will bring forth a period of civil, well-behaved, respectful competition. She insists that this contrast with today’s dangerous world is captured by the distinction between competition and rivalry, a distinction that I think few will find satisfying. In an aside, she explains: “competition is not the same as rivalry — think competing in a race as opposed to deliberately tripping over your rival in that race.” To think that sporting competition doesn’t evolve commonly into no-holds-barred conflict and into violence is surely out of touch with the history of both sports and international politics in the twentieth century.

From the reliance on the now intellectually fashionable and prominent rational choice or game theory to the behavior of capitalist enterprises, from the constant haggling over borders, sea lanes and territorial waters to establishment of military and economic alliances, there is little evidence that capitalist countries are striving for a fair economic playing field with fixed, transparent, and respected rules. “Win-win” is not part of the capitalist vocabulary.

Clegg writes of “the old — US hegemonic power” as having “been in relative decline” and the “new — a more equal distribution of wealth and power” as developing, albeit slowly. While one might happily concede that aspects of US power and influence have been challenged and dampened, while one might add that the US shows many signs of economic, political, and social decline, it does not follow, nor is it likely, that any “new distribution of wealth and power” will be more equitable or just. And most importantly, even if wealth and power were more equitably distributed between countries, there is little reason to believe it would be more equitably distributed within those countries. Clegg’s multipolarity can make no such promises to the working classes.

Finally, there are those on the left who have carried on a lifelong struggle against US imperialism and can only see an enemy of our enemy as our friend. There are few people on the righteous left now alive who can remember a time when the US was not the leading great power and the anchor for the capitalist alliance against socialism, socialism as a legitimate political current, as a rival to global capitalism, and as a pole rallying the forces of anti-imperialism.

Therefore, it is hard to envision the world not benefitting from the defanging of US imperialism, from its fall as a great power. No great power in our time has caused more deadly mischief. But that surely displays a weak understanding of capitalism and its stages of development.

There were nationalist leaders in various countries under the boot of British imperialism in the interwar period who welcomed the rise of Hitler and Tojo, greeting them as possible saviors from hundreds of years of suppression by the British Empire, the leading imperialist of the time.

Subhas Chandra Bose, for example, an Indian nationalist leader who was once president of the Indian National Congress, was so deeply committed to overthrowing British rule in India that he actively and unapologetically collaborated with the Nazis and Japanese in World War II. This myopia is an extreme version of the blinders worn by many anti-imperialists who fail to understand the logic of imperialism and its unbreakable link to capitalism.

Chandra Bose demonstrates the hollowness of narrow nationalism and obsessive self-regard over viewing the world through the lens of class and class solidarity.

The struggle against US imperialism, like the struggle against its predecessor, the British Empire, will ultimately be resolved at home when the people finally refuse to continue paying the price for their rulers’ grand designs. Of course, those oppressed by imperialism play an equally important role, that of resisters; though imperialism like rust, never sleeps. It is an imperative, a demand made by capitalist accumulation — if it is defeated in one place, it will surely find another place to satisfy its lust. This dynamic only finally ends when our world finds socialism. The wishful thinking of a benign capitalism with all participants peacefully on an even playing field is just that — a wishful thought.

Multipolarity — a notion first discussed by bourgeois academics looking for tools to understand the dynamics of global relations — has been adopted by a segment of the anti-imperialist left. While it assuredly describes an actual trend emerging, as Jenny Clegg acknowledges, it has often been presented as an anti-imperialist stage shifting the world balance of forces in the direction of a better world.

I have argued that this is a retreat from classical imperialism as understood by VI Lenin and his followers. In the context of an unstable world in ideological disorder and suffering untold crises, there are no guarantees that the poles that emerge or challenge the post-Cold War super-pole are a step forward or a step back simply because they are alternative poles. Undoubtedly, any resistance that weakens the asymmetry of power that the US holds should be welcome. But we should not presume that every opponent will become a force for stability, justice, and peace. Knowing what we know about the history of capitalism from its first expansionist era accumulating involuntary human capital to exploit the riches of the new world should chasten our expectations about new rivals to US imperialism.

With the fall of the Soviet Union as a backdrop and the uncertainty left in its wake, we should be cautious about anointing any new candidates for the role of arch-rival not only to US imperialism, but to all imperialism as well as its genesis, capitalism.

While the left futilely disputes the victim and the victimizer, working people are dying unnecessarily, suffering horrific wounds, homelessness, and despair — all the products of modern war. Working class lives should not be proxies in ideological debates. Events will decide who has the correct understanding of imperialism, but history will not be kind to those who failed, in the meantime, to oppose the war and to seek a peaceful solution.

The post The Peace Question and Imperialism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why is Everything Broken?

Begin then with a fracture, a cesura, a rent; opening a crack in this fallen world, a shaft of light.

— Norman O. Brown, Love’s Body

Being sick for the past few weeks has had its advantages.  It has forced me to take a break from writing since I could not concentrate enough to do so.  It has gifted me with a deeper sympathy for the vast numbers of the seriously ill around the world, those suffering souls without succor except for desperate prayers for relief.  And it has allowed thoughts to think me as I relinquished all efforts at control for a few miserable weeks of “doing nothing” except napping, reading short paragraphs in books, watching some sports and a documentary, and being receptive to the light coming through the cracks in my consciousness.

I suppose you could say that my temporary illness forced me, as José Ortega Y Gasset described it, virtually and provisionally to withdraw myself from the world and take a stand inside myself – “or, to use a magnificent word which exists only in Spanish, that man can ensimismarse (‘be inside himself’).”

But as I learned, being “inside myself” doesn’t mean the outside world doesn’t come visiting, both in its present and past manifestations.  When you are sick, you feel most vulnerable; this sense of frailty breaks you open to strange and familiar thoughts, feelings, dreams and memories that you must catch on the fly, pin with words if you are quick enough.  I’ve pinned some over these weeks as they came to me through the cracks.

“Broken flesh, broken mind, broken speech,” wrote Norman Brown when he argued for aphoristic truth as opposed to methods or systematic form.  These days the feeling that everything is broken is the norm, that madness reigns, that truth is being strangled and all we have are lies and more lies. Carefully constructed arguments fall on deaf ears as dissociation of the personality, post-modern attention-disorder, gender confusion, and corporate/intelligence mass media propaganda techniques are used daily to sow confusion.  In simple colloquial language, people are badly fucked up.

Much of the world is suffering from megrims.  Bob Dylan puts it simply:

Broken lines, broken strings
Broken threads, broken springs
Broken idols, broken heads
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain’t no use jiving
Ain’t no use joking
Everything is broken.

Who can disagree?  Everyone’s mind seems to be at the end of its tether.

Why?  There are obvious answers, and while so many are true, they are insufficient, for they usually scratch the surface of a worldwide crisis that has been developing for at least a century and a half.  That crisis is spiritual.  Many can feel it rumbling beneath the surface of world events. It’s a rumbling in the bowels. It’s unspoken. It’s something very dark, sinister, and satanic. It seems to be a form of systemic evil almost with a will of its own that is sweeping the world.

For many decades I have studied, written, and taught in an effort to grasp the essence of what has been happening in our world.  My tools have been philosophy, theology, literature, art, and sociology – all the disciplines really, including a careful study of popular culture.  It was always a personal quest, for my “career” has been my vocation.

Being trained in the classics from high school through college, and then the scientific method and textual analysis, I adhered for the most part to logical analyses in the classical style.  Such an approach, while possessed of a certain elegance and balance, has serious limitations since it suggests the world follows a neat Aristotelian logic and that there is a method to the world’s madness that is easy to capture in logical argumentation.  Romanticism and existentialism, to name two reactions to such thinking, arose in opposition.  Each offered a needed corrective to the reductive, materialist nature of a scientific method that became deified while dismissing God, freedom, and the spiritual as leftover superstitions from olden times.

But I have no sustained argument to offer here, just some scraps I gathered while enduring weeks in the doldrums.  I sense these bits of seemingly digressive little flashes in the dark were telling me something about what I have been trying to understand for many years: the grasp the demonic has on our world today.

It is easy to dismiss the use of such a word, for it sounds hyperbolic, and it easily plays into the ridiculous themes of popular Hollywood and tabloid entertainment, which have also become staples of the formerly “serious” media as well.  It’s all entertainment now, life the movie, the unreality of endless propaganda, sick, sordid, and what can only be termed “The Weirdness,” a term my friend the writer and playwright Joe Green has suggested to me.  I think it would be a serious mistake to dismiss the demonic nature of the forces at work in our world today.

  • Like Rip Van Winkle, I awoke one recent day, a few weeks after I wrote my last article before I got sick, to see that the corporate media/intelligence narrative on the war in Ukraine had taken an abrupt turn. I had written on May 13, 2022 that certain leftists were parroting the official U.S. propaganda that Russia was losing its battle with the Ukrainian forces.  Noam Chomsky had claimed the U.S. media were doing a good job reporting Russian war crimes in Ukraine and Chris Hedges had said that Russia had suffered “nine weeks of humiliating military failures.”  Now The New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. – mirabile dictu – have suddenly changed their tune and the Russians are winning after all.  Who was asleep?  Or was it sleep that prompted such obviously false reporting?  For the Russians were clearly winning from the start.  Yet we can be assured the authoritative voices will continue to flip the switch and play mind games, for shock and confusion are keys to effective propaganda, and American exceptionalism with its divine mission, its manifest destiny, is to demonically try to destroy Russia.
  • The slogan that I learned when I was a Marine before becoming a conscientious objector came to me when I was feverish. “My rifle is my life.” I never thought so, but I did recall how when I was ten-years-old my cousin killed his brother with a rifle, and how I heard the news on the radio while talking with my father.  The New York Times reported: “A 9-year-old boy was fatally wounded last night by his brother, 7, while the two were playing with a rifle in a neighbor’s apartment in the northeast Bronx….[the rifle] “was secreted in a bedroom” [under the bed] and was loaded.
  • Report: Don McLean cancels his singing performance at the National Riffle Association’s convention following the Uvalde school shooting. What an act of moral courage!  Ah, Don, “Now I understand/What you tried to say to me/And how you suffered for your sanity/And how you tried to set them free/They would not listen, they did not know how/Perhaps they’ll listen now”  Let’s hope not to you.
  • Watched the new documentary about George Carlin – “George Carlin’s American Dream.” I have always had a soft spot for George, a fellow New Yorker with a Catholic upbringing, and a good-hearted guy who generously offered to help me years ago when I was fired from a teaching position for ostensibly playing a recording of his seven words that you can never say on television.  The real reasons for my firing were that I was organizing a teacher’s union and had brought well-known anti-war activists to speak at the school.  But what struck me in this interesting documentary was George’s facile dismissal of God – “the God bullshit,” as he put it.  Funny, of course, and correct in certain ways, it was also jejune in significant ways and threw God out with the bathwater.  It was something I had not previously noticed about his routine, but this time around it hit me as unworthy of his scathing critiques of American life.  It got laughs at the expense of deeper and important truths and probably has had deleterious effects on generations who have been beguiled and besotted by how George’s God critique consonantly fits with the shallow arguments of the new atheists.  George was overreacting to the ignorance of his superficial religious training and not distinguishing God from institutional religion.
  • Half-awake on the couch one day, I somehow remembered that when I was teaching at another school and involved in anti-war activities, a fellow teacher stopped me on a staircase on a late Friday afternoon when no one was around and tried to get me to join Army Intelligence. “You are exactly the type we could use,” he said, “since you are so outspoken in your anti-war positions.”  I will spare you my reply, which involved words you once could never say on TV.  But the encounter taught me an early lesson about distinguishing friend from foe; how treachery is real, and evil often wears a smiley face. The man who approached me was the head of social studies curricula for the Roman Catholic Brooklyn Diocese of New York.
  • Al Capone, while speaking to Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. in 1931: “People respect nothing nowadays….It is undermining the country. Virtue, honor, truth, and the law have all vanished from our life.”
  • I also read this from Literature and the Gods by Roberto Calasso: “… all the mythologies now pass a largely indolent life in a no-man’s-land haunted by gods and vagrant simulacra, by ghosts and Gypsy caravans in constant movement. They learn only to tell their stories again …. Yet it is precisely this ability that is so obviously lacking in the world around us. Behind the trembling curtains of what passes for ‘reality,’ the voices throng. If no one listens, they steal the costume of the first person they can grab and burst onto the stage in ways that can be devastating.  Violence is the expedient of what has been refused an audience.”
  • Lying in bed after a feverish night early on in my sickness, I looked up at the ceiling where a fly was buzzing. I remembered how years ago, when my father was in the hospital after a terrible car accident in which he smashed his head, he told me he was seeing monkeys all over the ceiling of the hospital room.  Later, when I was out of bed, I heard the news reports about monkeypox and thought I was also hallucinating.  I started laughing, a sardonic laughter brought to a feverish pitch after more than two years of Covid propaganda.  These are the same people who hope to create a transhuman future – mechanical monkeys.
  • On a table lay the third volume of a trilogy of books – Sinister Forces – by Peter Levenda. I opened it to a bookmarked page.  Anyone who has read these books with a half-way open mind will be shocked by the amount of documented history they contain, history so bizarre and disturbing that reading them is not advisable before bedtime.  Sinister forces that run through American history, indeed, but Levenda presents his material in a most reasonable and fair-minded way.  I read these paragraphs:

The historical model I am proposing in these volumes should be obvious by now. By tracing the darker elements of the American experience from the earliest days of the Adena and Hopewell cultures through the discovery by Columbus, the English settlers in Massachusetts and the Salem witchcraft episode, the rise of Joseph Smith, Jr. and the Mormons via ceremonial magic and Freemasonry, up to the twentieth century and the support of Nazism by American financiers and politicians before, during, and after World War II, and the UFO phenomenon coming on the heels of that war, we can see the outline of a political ectoplasm taking shape in this historical séance: politics as a continuation of religion by other means. The ancillary events of the Charles Manson murders, the serial killer phenomenon, Jonestown, and the assassinations of Jack Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Marilyn Monroe are all the result of the demonic possession of the American psyche, like the obscenities spat out by little Regan [The Exorcist], tied to her bed and shrieking at the exorcists. It is said that demonic possession is a way of testing us, and making us aware of the real conflict taking place within us every day….

The more I looked, however, the more I found men with bizarre beliefs and involved in questionable, occult practices at the highest levels of the American government, and buried deep within government agencies. I also discovered that occultism was embraced by the American military and intelligence establishments as a weapon to be used in the Cold War; and as they did so, they unleashed forces upon the American populace that cannot be called back….

One inevitably was forced back to the CIA and the mind-control experiments that began in the late 1940s and extended nearly to the present day [no, to the present day]. Coincidence piled upon coincidence, indicating the existence of a powerful, subliminal force working at the level of chaos – at the quantum level – and struggling to manifest itself in our reality, our consciousness, our political agenda.

If that all sounds too bizarre for words, unbelievable really, I suggest that one read these books, for if only a minority of Levenda’s claims are true, we are in the grip of evil forces so depraved that fiction writers couldn’t imagine such reality.

As I finish these notes, I am sitting outside on a small porch, watching the rain subside.  The sun has just emerged.  It is 5:30 P.M. and across the driveway and a lawn of grass, eight foxes have come through the bushes.  The parents watch as the six kits jump and scamper around the ground level porch of a cottage that is unoccupied.  The foxes have a den under the porch, and every day for a few months we have been privileged to watch them perform their antics in the mornings and evenings. Cute would be an appropriate word for the kits, especially when they were smaller.  But they are growing fast and suddenly one sees and seizes a squirrel and worries it to death by shaking it in its mouth.  Soon they are ripping it to pieces.  Cute has turned deadly.  But as the aforementioned Ortega Y Gasset says, while people can be inside themselves, “The animal is pure alteraciόn. It cannot be within itself.”  This is because it has no self, “no chez soi, where it can withdraw and rest.”  Foxes always live in pure exteriority, unlike me, who is sitting here with a small glass of wine and thinking about them and the various thoughts that have come to me over these past few weeks.

Before I came outside, I read this from a powerful new article by Naomi Wolf – “Dear Friends, Sorry to Announce a Genocide” – “It is a time of demons sauntering around in human spaces, though they look human enough themselves, smug in their Italian suits on panels at the World Economic Forum.”

In this piece she writes about what is in the 55,000 internal Pfizer documents which the FDA had asked a court to keep under wraps for 75 years, but which a court has released as a result of outside pressure.  These documents reveal evil so depraved that words would fail her if not for her moral conscience and her growing awareness – that I share – that we are dealing with a phenomenon that demands an analysis that is theological, not sociological.  She writes:

Knowing as I now do, that Pfizer and the FDA knew that babies were dying and mothers’ milk discoloring by just looking at their own internal records; knowing as I do that they did not alert anyone let alone stop what they were doing, and that to this day Pfizer, the FDA and other demonic “public health” entities are pushing to MRNA-vaccinate more and more pregnant women; now that they are about to force this on women in Africa and other lower income nations who are not seeking the MRNA vaccines, per Pfizer CEO Bourla this past week at the WEF, and knowing that Pfizer is pushing and may even receive a US EUA for babies to five year olds — I must conclude that we are looking into an abyss of evil not seen since 1945.

So I don’t know about you, but I must switch gears with this kind of unspeakable knowledge to another kind of discourse.

That discourse is religious, for Naomi has realized that our world is in satanic hands, and that only a recognition of that fact offers a way out.  That those who wield weapons both medical and military can only be defeated by those who realize that a key part of the killers’ propaganda has been a long campaign to convince people, not only that God does not exist, but that Satan doesn’t either.  This, while they assume the mantle of the evil one.

She says:

This time could really be the last time; these monsters in the labs, on the transnational panels, are so very skillful; and so powerful; and their dark work is so extensive.

If God is there — again — after all the times that we have tried his patience — and who indeed knows? – will we reach out a hand to him in return, will we take hold in the last moment out of this abyss, and simply find a way somehow to walk alongside him?

We will, but only if we also recognize the deeper forces informing our hidden history and haunting our present days.  Sometimes an illness can crack you open to being receptive to shafts of light that can lead the way.  Yet to do so we must go deep into very dark places.  And since everyone and everything seems broken now – let’s say everyone is just sick in some way – maybe courage is what we need, the simple courage to open ourselves to the voices of the hungry ghosts that haunt this country.  Norman O. Brown referred to them and our stage set this way:

Ancestral voices prophesying war; ancestral spirits in the danse macabre or war dance; Valhalla, ghostly warriors who kill each other and are reborn to fight again. All warfare is ghostly, every army an exercitus feralis (army of ghosts), every soldier a living corpse.

The U.S.A. and its allies are waging war on many fronts.  It is a form of total war – cold, hot, medical, military, mind-control, spiritual, etc. – that demands a total response from us.  None of us is completely innocent; we are all part of the deep evil that is happening all around us.  But if we listen carefully, we might hear God asking for our help.  For we need each other.

I watch in horror as the cute foxes kill their prey.  I must remind myself that that is their nature.  As for my fellow humans, I know that it isn’t nature that drives them to kill, maim, hurt, lie, etc.

Everything is truly broken, and I’m not joking.

But someone is laughing.

It’s not God.

The post Why is Everything Broken? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Price of “Selective Inattention”

Humanity’s great Achilles’ heel, the flaw that may well determine our fate, was summed up in a couple of lines in the classic Simon & Garfunkel song, ‘The Boxer’:

Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.

Women, too! Erich Fromm discussed this remarkable phenomenon of ‘selective inattention’: man’s capacity for ‘not observing what he does not want to observe; hence, that he may be sincere in denying a knowledge which he would have, if he wanted only to have it’. (Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusion, Abacus, 1989, p.94)

A key influence shaping the ‘selective inattention’ of corporate journalism was described by Lord Halifax:

A Man that should call every thing by its right Name, would hardly pass the Streets without being knock’d down as a common Enemy. (Lord Halifax, The Complete Works of George Savile Marquess of Halifax, Digital Library of India, 1912, p.246)

For example, the truth of the 2003 conquest of Iraq was so criminal, so brutal, so shameful, that a journalist who ‘should call everything by its right Name’ certainly risked being ‘knock’d down’ from his or her salaried perch. So what was the truth?

General John Abizaid, former commander of CENTCOM with responsibility for Iraq, commented:’Of course it’s about oil, it’s very much about oil, and we can’t really deny that.’

In 2007, US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, said: ‘People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.’

This has always been pretty much obvious, but corporate journalists have never seriously discussed it, just as they have never discussed who eventually got their hands on Iraqi oil. You wouldn’t guess from the blanket silence that any casual reader can Google ‘BP and Iraq’ and immediately find this:

In 2009, bp became the first international oil company to return to Iraq after a period of 35 ‎years…

Today, bp, PetroChina and BOC are working in partnership to develop Rumaila, the ‎second-largest producing field in the world, estimated to have around 17 billion barrels of ‎recoverable oil remaining.‎

Or that anyone can Google ‘Exxon and Iraq’ and find this:

In January 2010, ExxonMobil Iraq Limited (EMIL), an affiliate of Exxon Mobil Corporation, signed an agreement with the South Oil Company of the Iraq Ministry of Oil to rehabilitate and redevelop the West Qurna I field in southern Iraq…

In October 2011, ExxonMobil signed six Production Sharing Contracts covering more than 848,000 acres in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

This week, while South Asia’s unprecedented heat wave ‘leaves a billion people in danger of related health problems’, the BBC and other media reported:

BP’s profits for the first three months of this year have more than doubled after oil and gas prices soared.

The energy giant reported an underlying profit of $6.2bn (£4.9bn) compared to $2.6bn in the same period last year – ahead of expectations.

Journalists are not stupid: they know they cannot call the lie-driven, mass-murdering, Iraq oil grab ‘by its right Name’. Instead, ‘a man hears what he wants to hear’ – ‘this’ career-friendly topic is ‘important’, ‘that’ career-hostile topic is… simply ignored. They select and avoid themes and emphases in a way that protects their salaries, security, prospects, careers. Thus, even on truly momentous issues like the destruction and robbery of Iraq at the cost of one million lives, all journalists, facing the same pressures, fall silent, everywhere.

Consider, also, the war in Ukraine. The overwhelming impression given by essentially all US-UK state-corporate media is that this is an almost biblical battle between Good and Evil, between David and Goliath, with Zelensky in a career-defining role as Che Guevara, complete with green combat T-shirt and fatigues. Zelensky (or Zelenskiy, or Zelenskyy) is presented as a latter-day saint to such an extent that journalists initially appeared terrified that they might misspell his name and be subject to politically corrective ‘cancellation’.

For fear of being lumped in with the ‘common Enemy’, almost no journalist is willing to offer the far more plausible assertion that this is, in fact, a battle between Goliath and Super Goliath; with the impoverished, powerless civilian population of Ukraine – exactly the kind of people traditionally viewed as ‘unpeople’ by the billionaire Western elites who stole the oil from Iraq’s ‘unpeople’ – being ruthlessly sacrificed by both sides in a classically inhuman Great Power struggle.

Journalists know that this cannot be discussed. The West has simply invested too many billions to control Ukrainian ‘democracy’, sent too many weapons ($20 billion more on the way); and, having defied the US in Syria, Putin is far too bitter an enemy. And so the typical editor and journalist believes, or claims to believe, what best suits them and their careers, and ‘disregards the rest’.

Not, it has to be said, without clear signs of self-awareness and embarrassment.

David Aaronovitch of The Times, for example, has had comparatively little to say about Ukraine. He knows that if he noisily condemns Russia’s war of aggression, critics will politely ask how Russia’s crime is worse than the US-UK wars of aggression he eagerly supported. He knows he has no answer. On the other hand, he has to say something. But what? In his column in The Times, Aaronovitch commented recently:

But ordinary people also invest, albeit more gently, in official lies. If you want to have a quiet life and not be complicit in crime, you square the circle by denying the criminality and backing the leader.

Astonishing comments for anyone who has read Aaronovitch over the last 30 years. But even this was topped by his critique of Russian media:

A genuinely independent media, uncontrolled and uncontrollable by government or politicians, operating to high standards of evidence and promoting debate, is a primary guarantee of our democracy.

Without it we are all – bar the bravest of us – in danger of becoming accomplices.

Wonderful sentiments. And published in Murdoch’s flagship viewspaper, The Times; the press equivalent of writing from an address that ends ‘Mount Doom, The Black Land of Mordor, Middle Earth’.

In the Guardian, Adam Tooze, professor of history at Columbia University, argues that the US position is:

If Russia has chosen to smash itself on the rock of Ukraine, if Ukraine is willing to fight, so be it.

And yet Tooze writes of US ‘aid’ to Ukraine: ‘The sums of money being contemplated in Washington are enormous – a total of $47bn, the equivalent of one third of Ukraine’s prewar GDP.’

Given this vast level of superpower investment, does anyone seriously believe that Ukraine has a choice on whether to keep fighting or not?

Learning to Say ‘Welcome’ in Ukrainian

On March 21, children’s author and poet Michael Rosen tweeted an appeal, short and sweet, to his readers:

We are learning how to say

welcome

in Ukrainian.

Could we learn to say it in

some other languages too?

In reality, it is not so much that we have been ‘learning’ to welcome Ukrainians. Rather, we have been taught, trained, all but commanded to care for them by a mega-tsunami of openly biased state-corporate propaganda rooted, not in sentiment, not in love, but in Great Power politics.

According to the authoritative Tyndall Report, in March, the evening news programmes of the three dominant US television networks devoted more coverage to the war in Ukraine than in any other month during all wars, including those in which the US military was directly engaged, since the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq:

Combined, the three networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — devoted 562 minutes to the first full month of the war in Ukraine. That was more time than in the first month of the U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989 (240 mins), its intervention in Somalia in 1992 (423 mins), and even the first month of its invasion of Afghanistan in November 2001 (306 minutes), according to a commentary published Thursday by Andrew Tyndall, who has monitored and coded the three networks’ nightly news each weekday since 1988.

Tyndall observed:

Astonishingly, the two peak months of coverage of the [2003] Iraq war each saw less saturated coverage than last month in Ukraine (414 minutes in March of 2003 and 455 minutes in April). The only three months of war coverage in the last 35 years that have been more intensive than last month were Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 (1,208 minutes) and his subsequent removal in January and February 1991 (1,177 and 1,033 minutes respectively). (Our emphasis)

In March, these three broadcasters devoted about a third more time to foreign news than they have in recent years ‘when international news coverage has fallen to all-time lows’. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has, thus, ‘overturned all normal patterns of journalistic response’. Other stories received minimal attention: North Korean missile tests, the China East airliner crash, U.S.-China talks (which also focused on Ukraine), and Venezuela’s release of two US oil executives.

It is quite wrong to call this coverage ‘news’. As Glenn Greenwald tweeted:

The vast majority of claims and beliefs about Ukraine come from one of two sources:

1) corporate media using the anonymous “US officials said” framework to disseminate unverified claims;

2) think tank “scholars” funded by Western governments.

A tragicomic element is added by the fact that the same commentators unwilling to call the Ukraine war ‘by its right Name’ also have a track record of not calling the West’s record of war ‘by its right Name’.

The picture illustrating this media alert indicates a prime example: The Economist magazine supported US-UK wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya with gung-ho covers such as: ‘The case for war’ and ‘WHY WAR WOULD BE JUSTIFIED’. But in response to Russia’s war of aggression, The Economist’s stark, text-free cover depicted the Ukrainian flag dripping with blood.

Apparently inspired by Chaplin’s heart-rending anti-war speech in The Great Dictator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California and star of the film Jingle All the Way, reached out to the Russian people:

The strength and the heart of the Russian people have always inspired me. That is why I hope that you will let me tell you the truth about the war in Ukraine.

‘Arnie’ pleaded with Russians to open their eyes and hearts, to see the propaganda for what it so clearly was:

This is an illegal war. Your lives, your limbs, your futures have been sacrificed for a senseless war condemned by the entire world.

In 2003, the same Gandhian peace activist visited US troops in Iraq to celebrate their invasion, commenting:

Congratulations for saying “hasta la vista, baby” to Saddam Hussein. I play the Terminator, but you guys are the true terminators.

True enough, the invasion eventually terminated more than one million Iraqi lives.

In 2004, as mass death engulfed Iraq, Schwarzenegger visited Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, telling US troops:

Do you know how they translate “Ramstein” in the English language? It means, “We’re gonna kick some ass”.

Before being suspended from Twitter for Thought Crimes (as determined by a corporate ethical arbiter worth $44bn), former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter noted:

The assistant division commander of 1st Marine Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, John Kelly, expresses shock at Russia’s “unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”, noting that anyone who violates international law in such a manner is “a thug”.

In similar vein, Fox News host Harris Faulkner turned sagely to former US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and commented with regard to Putin: ‘When you invade a sovereign nation, that is a war crime.’

Rice nodded in solemn agreement. She, of course, had played a leading role in the US invasion of sovereign Iraq – one of history’s greatest war crimes, a classic war of aggression.

Unlimited examples of such surreal hypocrisy abound. In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley fulminated: ‘A large and despotic power is hurling its military might at a smaller, democratic neighbour.’

Rawnsley continued:

The barbaric battering of Ukraine is the savage expression of a global contest for the soul of our planet. It is a struggle between the democracies and an axis of autocracies led by China and Russia who seek to impose their authoritarian systems not only on their own populations, but on people beyond their borders.

In the corner defending the ‘soul of our planet’, then, ‘the democracies’: the great, imperial US Rogue State and the vassal states that do its bidding (‘the international community’), the UK among them. Nothing at all has changed in the century and more since Mark Twain observed:

I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched and dishonoured from pirate-raids in Kiao-Chou, Manchuria, South Africa and the Philippines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her the soap and a towel, but hide the looking-glass.’ (Quoted, Norman Solomon, ‘The Twain That Most Americans Never Meet,’ ZNet Commentary, 19 November 1999)

In 2011, Rawnsley responded to Nato’s overthrow of the Libyan government:

Libyans now have a chance to take the path of freedom, peace and prosperity, a chance they would have been denied were we to have walked on by when Muammar Gaddafi was planning his rivers of blood. Britain and her allies broadly got it right in Libya.

In reality, this was a clear example of powers ‘large and despotic’ imposing their ‘authoritarian systems… on people beyond their borders’. The threatened ‘rivers of blood’ were all fake. On 9 September 2016, even a UK foreign affairs committee reported:

‘the proposition that Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence’.

Libya currently produces around 1.2 million barrels of oil per day. Its main export markets are in southern Europe and China. In 2011, Real News interviewed Kevin G. Hall, the national economics correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, who had studied WikiLeaked material on Libya. Hall said:

‘As a matter of fact, we went through 251,000 [leaked] documents… Of those, a full 10 percent of them, a full 10 percent of those documents, reference in some way, shape, or form oil.’ (‘WikiLeaks reveals US wanted to keep Russia out of Libyan oil,’ The Real News, 11 May 2011)

Hall concluded:

‘It is all about oil.’

In August 2020, Middle East correspondent, Bethan McKernan, wrote in the Guardian under the title, ‘Gaddafi’s prophecy comes true as foreign powers battle for Libya’s oil’.

McKernan noted that, in August 2011, two months before his murder, Gaddafi had delivered a speech calling on his supporters to defend the country from foreign invaders:

‘There is a conspiracy to control Libyan oil and to control Libyan land, to colonise Libya once again.’

Nine years on, McKernan commented, ‘Gaddafi’s proclamation is not far from the truth’ – ‘a constellation of emboldened regional powers has descended on Libya’, a ‘potential showdown over control of Libya’s oil wealth is looming’. At stake: ‘the largest oil reserves in the entire African continent. The majority of the country’s oilfields are in the Sirte basin, worth billions of dollars a year’.

This was a vanishingly rare ‘mainstream’ reference to the fate of Libyan oil.

In 2018, Frank Baker, UK Ambassador to Libya, penned an article titled: ‘Libya: UK leads the way as Libya re-opens for business’. Baker commented of a Libyan British Business Council [LBBC] event:

‘The LBBC event – themed, “Building Bridges Together” – brought together over 60 representatives of the UK oil and gas industry to meet more than 120 of their Libyan business counterparts. I am delighted to hear some of the leading British oil companies are gradually resuming their work in Libya to support the NOC’s [the Libyan National Oil Company] goal of increasing oil production to 2 million barrels a day by 2020… In 2017, trade between the UK and Libya more than doubled (up 138%).’

Also in 2018, Bloomberg reported:

‘In another sign the sector is stabilizing, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc have agreed to annual deals to buy Libyan crude.’

Last November, Reuters reported that ‘Shell eyes return to Libya with oil, gas, solar investments’. This week, as the planet burns, the BBC supplied more happy news:

‘Energy giant Shell has reported its highest ever quarterly profits as oil and gas prices surge around the world.

‘Shell made $9.13bn (£7.3bn) in the first three months of the year, nearly triple its $3.2bn profit it announced for the same period last year.’

In the Guardian, Simon Tisdall observed:

‘In terms of democratic norms and human rights, the full or partial subjugation of Ukraine would spell disaster for the international rules-based order – and a triumph for autocrats everywhere.’

Compare with Tisdall on the invasion of Iraq. In 2005, two years into the bloody occupation, he was bursting with optimism:

‘Groundbreaking elections in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Palestine and Iraq, extolled in President Bush’s “dawn of freedom” inaugural address, have encouraged western hopes that democratic values are gaining universal acceptance.’ (Tisdall, ‘Bush’s democratic bandwagon hits a roadblock in Harare,’ The Guardian, February 16, 2005)

Tisdall later commented on Nato’s subjugation of Libya:

‘The Arab spring had claimed another infamous scalp. The risky western intervention had worked. And Libya was liberated at last.’

In 2018 Tisdall wrote:

‘It’s time for Britain and its allies to take concerted, sustained military action to curb Bashar al-Assad’s ability to murder Syria’s citizens at will.’

What did that mean?

‘It means destroying Assad’s combat planes, bombers, helicopters and ground facilities from the air. It means challenging Assad’s and Russia’s control of Syrian airspace. It means taking out Iranian military bases and batteries in Syria if they are used to prosecute the war.’

Sentiments surely being echoed now, word-for-word, by Tisdall’s Russian equivalents as they call for an escalation of Putin’s ‘disaster for the international rules-based order’.

Although Britain is not technically at war – certainly no one is bombing Britain or attacking UK armed forces – ‘man of the people’ and staunch Nato supporter, Paul Mason, was initially incandescent with rage that Russian media had not been censored:

‘Right now RT is telling blatant lies about Ukrainian fascists using Mariupol residents as human shields… with no evidence and over a looped generic shot of conflict damage. Why is it still on the air @ofcom? Why is it still on @YouTube?’

Mason’s wishes soon came to pass. Quite what the danger is, we don’t know: the British war effort cannot be undermined by Russian propaganda for the simple reason that ‘we’ are not at war.

Of course, Mason would never say anything comparable of the BBC, the Guardian, The Times, or the Telegraph. But why not? After all, who told us that Saddam had lethal weapons of mass destruction, that they could be fired within 45 mins, that Gaddafi was planning a massacre in Benghazi and ordering Viagra-fuelled mass rape?

In 2017, Mason wrote:

‘David Cameron was right to take military action to stop Gaddafi massacring his own people during the Libyan uprising of 2011: the action was sanctioned by the UN, proportionate, had no chance of escalating into an occupation.’

As we have seen, this was fake news.

With Russian tennis players – including a favourite for the men’s singles title – banned from competing at Wimbledon, we wonder if the All England Lawn Tennis Club will be cancelling the trophy won by Scotsman Andy Murray in 2013, shortly after Britain wrecked Libya in the process of liberating its oil. To his credit, Murray has refused to support the Wimbledon ban, but should he be allowed to play, given Britain’s criminal role in Saudi Arabia’s devastation of famine-stricken Yemen?

In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland implored his readers:

‘This, then, is the choice. Do we want to live in the world described by Zelenskiy, where democratic states are protected by an international system of rules, however flawed and inconsistent that system might be? Or do we want to live in Putin’s world, governed by the law of the jungle and where the only right is might?’

Freedland emoted:

‘We think we know which side we’re on. We want to stand with those bleary-eyed children, clutching their colouring books as they bed down in a Kyiv subway station. We tell ourselves we stand with them and against Putin and his war of aggression.’

In 2011, writing from the dark heart of the same lawless jungle he affects to deplore, Freedland was more upbeat:

‘Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong – Not to respond to Gaddafi’s chilling threats would leave us morally culpable, but action in Libya is fraught with danger’

Alas, there was no ‘international system of rules’ to protect the Libyan people from the catastrophe inflicted by Nato and the oil-hungry corporations it was serving. Freedland continued:

‘The grimmer prospect is that Putin understands something about the 21st century few of us want to face: that this is an age of impunity, especially for those who have a vast and deadly arsenal but no shame.’

Remembering the Nuremberg tribunals, and being himself one of the beneficiaries in this ‘age of impunity’, we can only say: You said it, Jonathan!

Lindsay Hilsum, Channel 4’s international news editor, tweeted a comment from Rossiya 1, Russia’s most popular TV channel:

‘Today Russia has begun a special military operation aimed at protecting people who for the last eight years have been subjected to abuse and genocide by the regime in Kyiv.’

Hilsum’s horrified comment:

‘The false Russian narrative that Russian-speakers in Ukraine were being persecuted. This is what Russians are being told.’

We tried to imagine Hilsum reality-checking the false narratives supplied by Freedland, Mason and Rawnsley above:

‘The false NATO narrative that civilians in Benghazi faced a massacre. This is what Britons are being told.’

Repeatedly deploying graphic emoticons to indicate his copious vomiting, ‘eco columnist’ at the Russian oligarch-owned Independent, Donnachadh McCarthy, commented:

‘Insightful that both @medialens on left and @Nigel_Farage on right, both oppose E European democracies from freely choosing collective security, kow-towing 2 Putin. 😥🤮

‘So easy from their privileged safe beds on western fringe of Europe.’

Beds? We replied:

‘The priority of the US-UK-NATO countries that attacked Iraq, Libya and Syria, taking their oil – and that respond with “Blah, blah, blah” to climate change – is profit, not democracy, not collective security, and not even human survival.’

Conclusion – ‘We’re Going To Lose Everything’

The Independent recently reported that NASA climate scientist, Peter Kalmus, was among a group of scientists arrested after they chained themselves to a JPMorgan Chase building in Los Angeles in protest at the bank’s financing of fossil fuels.

A video contained dramatic footage of Kalmus breaking down in tears as he pleaded with the world to listen. He commented:

‘We’re going to lose everything. And we’re not joking, we’re not lying, we’re not exaggerating.’

Civil disobedience is essential, Kalmus said, because if someone casually mentions that ‘the house is on fire’ before returning to their coffee, ‘they’ll think you’re joking, they won’t take you seriously’.

But that is the whole problem for anyone relying on corporate newspapers like the Independent – they read that ‘the house is on fire’ and then turn to an advert for coffee, or for long-haul flights, or to the latest news from the Kardashians. Corporate journalism is all about encouraging us to believe what powerful interests want us to believe – that ‘normal’ is still normal – while it ‘disregards the rest’.

Journalists are all about believing whatever gets them what they want – everything is compromised; almost no-one speaks honestly and openly from the heart. Corporate means plastic, filtered, denuded of human honesty, integrity and truth. Everything is for sale. Souls are bought and sold like social media companies selling ‘free speech’.

And readers barely even read that ‘the house is on fire’. The Independent’s ‘cautious’ (but actually insanely reckless) summary of Kalmus’s position is indicative:

‘Dr Kalmus says that he wants the public to understand the climate crisis is an emergency caused primarily by burning fossil fuels – and that he wants leaders to stop claiming to listen to scientists, and actually do so.’

In 2022, with the world on the absolute brink of disaster, this does not in any way capture the truth of what Kalmus is trying to communicate. As the article itself acknowledges, Kalmus is saying: ‘We’re going to lose everything’.

But why would we expect an appropriate level of alarm and outrage from journalists who have been selected for their ‘selective inattention’, for their willingness not ‘to call everything by its right Name’?

The truth is that billionaire-owned, profit-maximising, advert-dependent corporate media are an integral part of the corporate pathology that is leading to disaster. Corporate journalists know full-well that the system of which they are a part has deep investments in endless profits, endless growth, and has much to lose from an overly-alarmed population.

On Twitter, Kalmus tweeted a photograph of a tiny comment buried in an unidentified ‘mainstream’ newspaper. The comment:

‘Earth on track to be “unlivable”

‘Global warming will pass tipping point

‘Unless greenhouse gas emissions fall fast,

‘a report says. WORLD, A3’

Kalmus’s despairing response:

‘Earth on track to be unlivable. Story, page 3.

‘You can’t make this up’

You can’t make it up, but the relegation of the end of the world to page 3 of a corporate newspaper does sum it up.

People puzzled that we have been bizarrely hammering away at what they perceive as a niche issue for two decades, will soon be waking up to the price – literally unimaginable – of allowing the corporate control of ‘news’ to go unchallenged.

The post The Price of “Selective Inattention” first appeared on Dissident Voice.

May Day 2022: Oppose Imperialist Militarism

Today is May 1, 2022 — May Day.

It’s workers’ day, working people’s day, working people’s international solidarity day. All divisive, sectarian, supremacist ideology and politics is opposed by the working people all around the world. On this day, this position is reiterated by the working people.

Today, this task – oppose divisive, sectarian, supremacist politics – is much urgent, much immediate, as imperialism is making onslaught in many forms, in direct and indirect ways, in concealed methods and forms, in lands after lands. Imperialism is today pushing one part of the people to oppose other parts. Imperialism is carrying out its nefarious act with nice slogans telling about its freedom and its democracy, slogans that hide class struggle, the struggle between the exploited and the exploiters. Imperialism is doing this dirty work by hiding the struggle between labor and capital.

But, the working people can’t be hoodwinked, can’t be confused, can’t be made pawn to capital; the working people can’t be pulled to the camp of capital; and today, imperialism, as the highest form, the most dangerous form of capital, can’t be ally of the working classes in no country. With long experience, expertise, enormous resources, command over natural and social sciences and over technology, owning the most powerful political-military-diplomatic-propaganda machine, having worldwide networks in many forms, imperialism today stands as the most dangerous class-force against all the peoples, all the working people of the world.

Today’s May Day, therefore, is the day to raise this slogan: Down with imperialism, oppose imperialism, oppose imperialist political-geopolitical-war machinations and acts, its war plans and wars in all forms: direct invasion and aggression, proxy war, subversion, psychological-ideological-political acts.

Opposing imperialism by the working class is an imperative, as this is the leading and most powerful class-force (i) defending the exploitative world order, and the exploitative political-economic systems in countries, (ii) subjugating and destructing life and ecological systems on the entire planet, (iii) backing exploiting-reactionary classes all over the world, (iv) expropriating all resources-all the commons that peoples own in continents and oceans, (v) waging wars in many forms, wasting resources by waging imperialist wars while peoples in lands pass deprived life, and pay for imperialism’s wars. Imperialism is the leading and guiding global political force opposing the working classes, and subjugating and slaughtering the working classes in different forms including the wars imperialism organizes in lands. Imperialism is the leading and guiding political force that organizes, backs and carries on conspiracies, provocations and activities against all political struggles the working peoples in lands organize for emancipation.

So, on this May Day, one of the slogans is: Down with imperialism, oppose all imperialist wars and machinations.

Today, with the background of imperialist war in Ukraine, war-residues and encumbrances over Europe and countries across oceans, with possibilities of expanding of fire-spewing war to countries in Europe, even spreading to some other continents, opposing imperialism, opposing imperialist war-armaments activities is one of the immediate and urgent tasks of the working people all over the world, as a dark cloud of continents-wide imperialist war is spreading its wings. The war-cloud is getting dense and darker, as imperialists are making full-throttled war preparation, which began much earlier than the Russian forces stepped into Ukraine, as imperialist legislative documents show.

Already peoples in countries have begun making payment for the on-going imperialist war in Ukraine. Now, the people of Europe are making the most of this payment. The war-payment by peoples is widening gradually. Imperialism is socializing the war-cost – putting the burden of war on entire societies. Report by The New York Times “Governments tighten grip on global food stocks, sending prices higher” (April 30, 2022), and the World Bank’s April Commodity Markets Outlook report are only two among a number of international reports on the issue released over the last few weeks that tell the looming precarious situation. The WB warns: Global energy prices are projected to rise dramatically, culminating in the biggest price jump in commodities in nearly half a century. Global energy prices that already have seen a dramatic surge due to the pandemic lockdowns in China and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, are expected to surge by 50.5% in 2022. Indermit Gill, the WB’s Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions, said in a statement accompanying the report: “This amounts to the largest commodity shock we’ve experienced since the 1970s. As was the case then, the shock is being aggravated by a surge in restrictions in trade of food, fuel and fertilizers. A recent estimate by the Food and Agricultural Organization has found: The Ukraine crisis would push up to 12 million people into hunger worldwideThis is in part because, as the FAO estimates, one‑third of Ukraine’s crops and agricultural land may not be harvested or cultivated this year, which will lead to a loss of one fifth of Ukraine’s wheat supply. Future harvests are in jeopardy also, as next season’s crop is unlikely to be planted amidst war-conditions. Simultaneously, sanctions on Russia, the world’s largest producer of wheat, have further reduced global supplies.

The question is: Who has imposed this war in Ukraine? Who has organized this war? Who is fuelling this war by supplying arms to the Ukraine proxy soldiers? Who is organizing trainings in other countries for the Ukraine foot soldiers? Since when was this war organized? No plan for such a war can be organized overnight.

On the opposite, the war industry is making profit. Armaments of billions of dollars have already been spent, and billions of dollars are in the pipeline. The war is now a daily business of the imperialist powers. The Frontier (Kolkata, India) comment “Arms Merchants’ Boon Day” is a small part of the full info on arms business backed by the Ukraine War: “Arms merchants are super-happy with a boon day while a NATO proxy – the ruling regime in Kiev – is playing a bloody game of war in Ukraine.” Lockheed Martin’s stock prices surged 25% since beginning of 2022, and Raytheon’s 17%. Alessandro Profumo, Chief Executive of Italian defence group Leonardo, said in March its free cash flow would be more than double this year compared with 2021. Profumo expects NATO countries to ramp up military spending to reach 2% of GDP over time. This means increased profit.

Sanctions, now being used without precedent in the world history, by the imperialist camp are taking its toll from the peoples in countries the warring imperialist capitals control. It’s the people that will pay most, pay first in this sanction-war, which is itself a nullifying act of the market mechanism that the dominating capitals propagate, utter as its hymn.

The on-going imperialist fire-spewing war in Europe is being expanded gradually, and it’s apprehended that it’ll be expanded – geographically, and in terms of intensity, which means a more bloody war, a more destructive war, which is people are going to pay with more blood and life, livelihood. The New York Times report “Fears are mounting that Ukraine War will spill across borders” (April 28, 2022) is not a single report expressing this hunch of spill over of the war. A few more analyses having similar dread are there also. The NYT report said: “Now, the fear in Washington and European capitals is that the conflict may soon escalate into a wider war — spreading to neighboring states, to cyberspace and to NATO countries suddenly facing a Russian cutoff of gas. Over the long term, such an expansion could evolve into a more direct conflict between Washington and Moscow reminiscent of the Cold War, as each seeks to sap the other’s power.”

In ultimate analysis, it’s the working classes, it’s the labor that makes the payment, as only labor produces surplus value, and that value is appropriated first from labor.

Here, today, on this May Day, the working people’s slogan is: No to imperialist war; oppose all war activities, oppose all war allocations, oppose all sanctions, oppose all propaganda war.

Imperialism’s war venture is pushing behind the working peoples’ fundamental questions of wage, democratic rights, access to info., participation in all areas of planning and decision-making. There are attempts to organize imperialist war-jingoism.

The questions of wage, democratic rights, access to info., participation in all areas of planning and decision-making are political questions; and political questions are to be resolved with political struggles, not with adventurism, anarchism and terrorism. It shouldn’t be forgotten that adventurism, anarchism and terrorism are ultimately capitals’ ally, serve capital, serve powers of exploiting class dominance. Today’s May Day reminds the working classes to organize these political struggles for rights and wages.

This May Day reminds not to forget class struggle. The working classes have to intensify class struggle, and sharpen tools of class struggle, wherever possible – organize strikes, stoppages, mobilizations, publicity and press, discussions. Intensifying class struggle with the gathering cloud of continents-wide imperialist war in the background is a difficult and complex task; but, there’s no scope to forget and ignore this task; there’s no scope to ignore the dominating warring classes cheating and blooding peoples in countries.

Immortal martyrs of May, martyrs from the ranks of the working classes, martyrs from the people’s camp remain alive forever with these struggles against capital, against imperialist capital, against exploitation.

The post May Day 2022: Oppose Imperialist Militarism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

I Cannot Live on Tomorrow’s Bread

Takashi Murakami (Japan), Tan Tan Bo Puking – a.k.a. Gero Tan, 2002.

On April 19, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its annual World Economic Outlook, which forecasted a severe slowdown in global growth along with soaring prices.‘For 2022, inflation is projected at 5.7 percent in advanced economies and 8.7 percent in emerging market and developing economies – 1.8 and 2.8 percentage points higher than projected in … January’, the report noted. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva offered a sobering reflection on the data: ‘Inflation is reaching the highest levels seen in decades. Sharply higher prices for food and fertilizers put pressure on households worldwide – especially for the poorest. And we know that food crises can unleash social unrest’.

What is the root cause of this extraordinary wave of inflation? US President Joe Biden blamed Russia’s war in Ukraine: ‘What people don’t know is that 70 percent of the increase in inflation was the consequence of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s price hike because of the impact of oil prices’. However, even The Wall Street Journal editorial board noted that ‘this isn’t Putin’s inflation’. Georgieva of the IMF has tried to walk a middle ground, saying that ‘Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a crisis on top of a crisis’. Her view mirrored that of the World Economic Outlook, which pointed out that ‘the crisis unfold[ed] while the global economy was on a mending path but had not yet fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic’.

Beauford Delaney (USA), Exchange Place, 1943.

The No Cold War platform, with whom Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research has a close working relationship, has produced a very important intervention into this debate. Briefing no. 2, The United States Has Destabilised the World Economy, which appears below, makes the case that a governing factor in the current inflation crisis is the outsized impact of the United States on the global economy; here, US military spending, the scale of the United States in global consumption, the role of the Wall Street-Dollar-IMF regime, and other factors play a key role. We hope you find briefing no. 2 useful and circulate it widely.

The International Monetary Fund has announced that the global economy is entering a major slowdown, downgrading the growth prospects of 143 countries. At the same time, inflation rates have reached historic levels. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people are falling into poverty, particularly in the Global South. Oxfam has sounded the alarm that we are ‘witnessing the most profound collapse of humanity into extreme poverty and suffering in memory’. What is producing this immense human suffering?

An Economic Crisis ‘Made in Washington’

On 13 April, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claimed that this global economic deterioration was due to the Russian war in Ukraine. This is factually incorrect. Although the conflict has worsened the situation, the key driver which has destabilised the world economy is the massive inflationary wave that had already built up in the United States and has now begun to crest on the world. Prior to the war in Ukraine, US inflation had already tripled in recent years from 2.5% (January 2020) to 7.5% (January 2022) before accelerating further to 8.5% (March 2022) after the war broke out.

‘This isn’t Putin’s inflation’, the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted. ‘This inflation was made in Washington’.

The US consumer market absorbs a fifth of the world’s goods and services; as the demand for these goods outstrips the global supply, the tendency for US inflation to spread around the world is very high. The average Commodity Research Bureau Index, a general indicator of global commodity markets, has risen astronomically: as of 25 April, year-to-year prices have soared for oil (60%), palm oil (60%), coffee (56%), wheat (45%), natural gas (139%), and coal (253%). These price increases have sent shock waves through the global economy.

This instability is inseparably connected to US economic policy. Since 2020, the United States has increased its budget by $2.8 trillion. To finance this budgetary expansion, the US government increased borrowing to 27% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and the Federal Reserve Bank increased the money supply (the quantity of money issued) by 27% year-on-year. Both of these increases are the highest in US peacetime history.

These huge US economic packages were generated to put cash in the hands of consumers. The US government focused on the economy’s demand side by putting money into circulation for consumption, but it did not increase spending on the economy’s supply side by putting money into investment. From 2019–21, 98% of US GDP growth was in consumption, while only 2% was in net investment. With a large increase in demand by consumers and almost no increase in supply, a huge inflationary wave grew in the United States.

Carmen Lomas Garza (USA), Tamalada, 1990.

Investing in Guns or People?

Inflation in the United States, which has global implications, is a by-product of its economic priorities. For the past half-century, US governments have not used the country’s social wealth to make substantial social investments in areas such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure, nor have they invested in the manufacturing sector to increase supply. Instead, to manage inflation the government has chosen to push an agenda which cuts demand. These cuts in demand have already lowered living standards; for instance, real wages in the United States have fallen by 2.7% in the past year.

Instead of making social investments to prevent such economic downturns, the US government has prioritised its military, which receives a budget increase every year. In 2022, the Biden administration proposed a military budget of $813 billion, a 9.2% increase over the military budget in 2021 – larger than the next eleven highest spending countries combined. To justify this massive expenditure, the Biden administration, like the Trump administration before it, has invoked the need to ‘combat threats’ posed by China and Russia.

A reduction in US military spending would free up government funds to invest in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and manufacturing. However, this would necessitate a shift in US foreign policy, which does not appear to be on the horizon. Until that time, the people of the United States and other countries will have to sustain the costs of Washington’s new Cold War.

Joseph Bertiers (Kenya), The Bar, 2020.

Against the shallow assessment that global inflation is caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine and the Western sanctions on Russia, No Cold War’s briefing no. 2 points its finger at the root of the crisis: the distortions produced by US military spending and by the Wall Street-Dollar-IMF regime gripping the world economy.

In December 2021, the IMF’s Georgieva said that Europe’s governments must not allow economic recovery to be endangered by the ‘suffocating force of austerity’. This is part of the West’s astonishing double-standards: at the same time, the IMF has enforced harsh austerity measures on the countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As Oxfam notes in a new analysis, during the pandemic’s second year (from March 2021 to March 2022), the IMF approved 23 loans to 22 countries in the Global South – all of which either encouraged or required austerity measures. For example, the IMF’s $2.3 billion loan agreement with Kenya required a four-year public sector pay freeze alongside higher taxes on gas and food, all while 63 percent of Kenyan households experience multidimensional poverty, according to a report by the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).

The austerity policies that impact the vast mass of the populations in these countries must be reversed. We need less money spent on war and more money spent to solve what Frantz Fanon called the obstinate facts of human life, such as hunger, illiteracy, and indignity.

Langston Hughes’s poetry focused on the impact of these ‘obstinate facts’ on the lives of people in the United States, people who fought against a life built on wages that equalled ‘two bits minus two’. In 1962, the United States spent $49 billion on its military ($431 billion in 2022 dollars); in 2022, as noted in briefing no. 2, the US government proposes to spend $813 billion on its military, larger than the military spending of the next eleven countries combined.

There is immense social wealth available to us, but it is spent on the parts of human life that are most destructive rather than productive. In 1962, as the US military budget began to balloon, Langston Hughes wrote:

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.
I live here, too.
I want my freedom
Just as you.

We need to advance to the goal of human emancipation now. Not tomorrow, but now.

The post I Cannot Live on Tomorrow’s Bread first appeared on Dissident Voice.

War in Ukraine: Provocations, Belligerents and Their Objectives, Spurious Arguments, Outcomes, Our Task

Since Russia’s military operation commenced on Feb 24, the socialist left has been divided in its response to the armed conflict in Ukraine.  On one side are those who align with the US, NATO, and their client state in Kyiv in denouncing Russia as the only real villain.  On the opposing side are those who recognize the conflict as the outcome of the West’s new cold war against Russia and the post-coup regime in Ukraine as a willing pawn of the West in that new cold war.  There are also many who condemn both: Russia for its February 24 action and the US and NATO for their provocations against Russia’s national security concerns.

Purpose herein.  This critique neither endorses nor condemns Russia’s action.  It does, however, take issue with arguments proffered by those leftists who have evaded, or failed to ascertain, the relevant facts and context of the event.  In fact, much of the liberal left has responded by joining the US and its NATO allies in portraying the Kyiv regime as an innocent victim of “unjustified” or even “unprovoked” Russian aggression.  Actually, the key fact is that the war in Ukraine would not have occurred but for the machinations and provocations by Western imperialism using the Kyiv regime as a pawn against Russia which (with China) had become an obstacle to Western imperialism’s pursuit of total domination of the world.

Unprovoked?  Some of the evaded facts. 

The US and NATO violated their promise that NATO would not expand into central and eastern Europe, promise given in 1990 in order to obtain needed Soviet consent to the reunification of Germany.

The US placed nuclear-capable missiles (capable of striking Moscow, St Peterburg, et cetera) in Poland and Romania (planned from 2008, installed in 2018).  Not a provocation?  Do we remember how the US pushed the world to the brink of nuclear apocalypse when the USSR placed such missiles in Cuba after the US had placed similar missiles in Turkey?

NATO has repeatedly conducted war games, practicing for war against Russia, in the Baltic states on Russia’s border.

The US and NATO consistently responded to the past 25 years of Russian protests (of the foregoing NATO threats to Russian national security) with an arrogant intransigence; continued diplomacy was clearly not a viable means for obtaining redress.

The US, especially through its National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has been funding and training anti-Russia pro-West political organizations in Ukraine (also in Belarus) since the collapse of the USSR.  It funds and trains pro-Western media and civil society organizations in scores of countries (including Russia itself).  NED was created in 1983 to replace the CIA as the principal US agency for surreptitiously promoting regime-change in countries (including democracies) which refuse to comply with US dictates.

The US incited and abetted the 2014 coup which, spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi militias, ousted the democratically elected government of Ukraine because said government had chosen to keep Ukraine neutral between Russia and the West.

The post-coup regime (far from innocent) has consistently pursued anti-Russia policies:

The US had been arming and training Ukrainian military forces, including the neo-Nazi Azov regiment, for military operations against the Donbas rebels.

There clearly was a great deal of provocation: by the US, by NATO, and by the post-coup regime in Ukraine.

The belligerents and their objectives.  To reduce this war to a case of evil Putin-Russia preying upon innocent Ukraine is simplistic to the point of ridiculous.  The current war is not simply between Russia and Ukraine.  The US and NATO, with their economic siege (draconian sanctions) against Russia and their supplying of huge amounts of lethal arms to Kyiv, are very much belligerents even though not putting their own soldiers into the fight.  The belligerents’ objectives.

  • The US-NATO objective (since the 2014 coup) has been to weaken Russia, to strip it of its limited sphere of influence, and to effectuate a regime change to replace Putin with someone who will be submissive to Western imperial dictates.
  • The post-coup Kyiv regime wanted and wants to impose ethnic Ukrainian dominance throughout the country, to eliminate Russian influence, to impose its absolute rule over predominantly-minority regions seeking autonomy or independence, and to integrate Ukraine into the West both economically and militarily.
  • Russia has been striving: to prevent the presence of hostile military bases (including nuclear-capable missiles) in neighboring Ukraine, and to protect the rights of ethnic Russians and Russia-friendly political factions in Crimea and Ukraine.

International law? The Russophobe part of the left is condemning Russia for its alleged “violations of international law” and “of the UN Charter.”  This oversimplifies and worse.

Firstly, it evades the fact that the Kyiv regime, with US encouragement and deliveries of ever more-lethal arms, remained intransigent in response to appeals by Russia and the breakaway Donbas Republics to resolve the Donbas conflict peacefully.  Kyiv was refusing to even talk to the leaders of said Republics and was evidently intent upon crushing them through brute military force.  Moreover, it was the coup regime in Kyiv which first resorted to violence when (in 2014) it sent armed forces, including neo-Nazi militias, to crush Donbas resistance to said coup.  Russia insists that its military action against Ukraine is, at least in part, a response to Kyiv’s aggression in Donbas, and, in fact, it was the Kyiv regime which first resorted to armed force.  Thus, Russia makes its case that its military action in Donbas was a justified response to Kyiv’s continued military aggression against the breakaway Donbas Republics, and therefore allowed under the UN Charter.  As for Russia’s invasion of the rest of Ukraine, Putin regards Kyiv’s collaboration with NATO’s increasing moves to threaten Russian national security as providing his justification; and, although some may regard that as an implausible stretch, it is not a clear-cut case of all right versus all wrong.

Secondly, in their legalistic diatribes against Russia, the US-NATO-aligned leftists generally say not one word regarding the repeated and massive violations of the UN Charter and of international law whenever said laws have stood in the way of the unjust aggressions by their own imperialist states:

  • arming violent reactionary insurgencies (such as the Mujahidin in Afghanistan and the Contras in Nicaragua) in resistant countries;
  • murderous economic sieges (Cuba, Iraq, Venezuela, Iran, …);
  • threatening war games (Baltic states, south Korea);
  • inciting and abetting coups, even against democratically-elected governments (Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and dozens more);
  • assassinations and attempts (Lumumba, Castro, Qasim, Allende, Gaddafi, …);
  • interference in many other countries’ elections (beginning with Italy in 1948);
  • devastating murderous military interventions on the side of repressive reactionary regimes in other countries’ civil wars (China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, …);
  • regime-change military invasions (Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Libya, …).

Many of those racist imperial interventions (scores of them since 1945) have left several tens of millions impoverished, displaced, injured, or dead.

Finally, none of those victims of Western imperial violations of international law were able to have it enforced against their oppressors.  In fact, the US and its major allies routinely violate the Charter and international law; and, given the lack of any authority with the power to enforce said law against them, they (its major violators) are never held accountable.  Nevertheless, our Russophobe leftists are now echoing the US-NATO one-sided application and misapplication of international law in order to justify their backing for the West’s new cold war against Russia.  They may argue that US crimes are a separate case and therefore irrelevant.  That is wrong because that argument is, in effect, calling for the worst outlaw in a lawless world to enforce the law against a lesser alleged offender notwithstanding that it is doing so solely in furtherance of its own crime.  This is giving de facto allegiance to the worst criminal gang in the world.

“Imperial Russia”?  Our Russophobe leftists make much of Putin’s Russia as an “autocratic,” “anti-democratic,” “imperialist” state.  Certainly, Putin’s ideology is highly reactionary; and there is much to fault in Russia’s domestic policies.  As for Russian imperialism, although striving to preserve its limited sphere of influence; it is primarily defensive.  It pales to insignificance in comparison with Western imperialism which dominates and oppresses most of the world and is led by the world’s only current superpower.  Moreover, Russia’s grievances against US-NATO imperialism and against the post-coup regime in Ukraine are real and valid.  Making an issue of Russia’s deficiencies, while evading that reality, is simply an irrelevant pretext embraced by those in need of an excuse for aligning with Biden, Stoltenberg, and the Kyiv regime against Putin’s Russia.

The national question?  Some Russophobe “Marxists” allege that Russia is violating the Leninist principle that nations such as Ukraine have the right to self-determination and separate existence as an independent nation-state.  Certainly, Putin’s statement, challenging the legitimacy of Ukraine as a country separate from Russia and expressing his romantic notion of a grandiose east Slavic nation, must be condemned.  However, substituting Putin’s fantasies for his actual deeds, and evident intentions, in order to justify siding with Western imperialism is both illogical and deceitful.  The relevant facts.

Firstly, Putin has clearly acknowledged the impossibility of resurrecting the Soviet Union.  He has evidenced no intent to deprive Ukraine of its existence as a separate independent country as long as it does not become a threat to Russian security; and he persisted for nearly 8 years in seeking Ukraine’s implementation of autonomy within Ukraine for the Donbas regions (as Kyiv had agreed to do in the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements) even though popular sentiment in said regions was for unification with Russia.  Nothing, that Russia did, prevented Kyiv from implementing the promised autonomy.

Secondly, these “Leninists” echo the US and NATO by branding Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its assistance to the breakaway Donbas regions as “violations of Ukrainian national sovereignty.”  So doing necessitates a gross oversimplification and misapplication of the national question as applied here.  These “Leninists,” like the US and NATO, insist upon the right of Ukrainians to have an independent country separate from Russia; but (contrary to Lenin) they deny the self-determination rights of smaller ethnic populations to even have autonomy within regions wherein they predominate.

Moreover, some of these “Leninists” try to justify their one-sided application of national rights by questioning whether the peoples of Crimea and Donbas actually wanted independence from, or autonomy within, Ukraine.  They have evidently rushed to judgment without bothering to ascertain the relevant factual evidence.

  • 1954.  Khrushchev orchestrated the decision (of dubious legality) to transfer Crimea from the Russian Soviet Republic to the Ukrainian SSR without the consent or approval of the people of Crimea.
  • 1991.  At the breakup of the USSR, Crimea’s elected leaders attempted to obtain recognition of Crimea as an independent Republic separate from Ukraine.
  • 1992.  After disputes between Kyiv and Crimea over the scope of Crimea’s autonomy, Kyiv agreed to a compromise recognition of Crimea as an Autonomist Republic within Ukraine.
  • 1995.  Kyiv abolished the Constitution of Crimea, abolished its office of President, made the elected Crimean parliament’s choice of its Prime Minister subject to veto by Kyiv, and imposed other severe limits upon its authority (largely negating its autonomy).
  • 2008.  Polling by the Ukrainian Center for Economic and Political Studies (not an agent of Moscow) found that 64% of Crimeans would like Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
  • 2009—11.  The UN Development Programme (not an agent of Moscow) conducted periodic opinion polls in Crimea.  Each time, at least 65% of Crimeans favored Crimea leaving Ukraine and joining Russia.
  • Crimea’s break with Ukraine was a direct popular response to the US-backed 2014 coup in Kyiv.  Although Russia’s authorized military forces already based in Crimea assisted local forces in effectuating the independence referendum and the subsequent secession and reunion with Russia, those actions were welcomed by a huge majority of Crimeans most of whom were already so inclined.  Moreover, given the history of past denials of their self-determination rights by both Moscow (1954) and Kyiv (after breakup of the USSR); the people of Crimea had more than ample justification for seceding and reuniting with Russia.  Lenin, insisting that socialists are “the most consistent enemies of oppression,” would have agreed.

Our Russophobe “Leninists” have joined the US and NATO in insisting upon national rights for Ukrainians but denying such rights for the peoples of Crimea and Donbas.

Trap?  Some genuinely anti-imperialist analysts believe that the US, with its intransigence regarding Russian security concerns, deliberately set a trap for Russia; and there is precedent for that proposition.  Jimmy Carter (beginning in 1979) armed the reactionary Mujahidin insurgency against the Soviet-allied revolutionary government in Afghanistan: in order to provoke Soviet military intervention in defense of that government, and (as his national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski has stated) draw the USSR into a Vietnam-like quagmire.  A 2019 report titled “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia” by the US-military-funded think tank, Rand Corporation, proposed that the US goal should be “to undermine Russia just as it did the Soviet Union in the cold war.”  Until there is access to the internal communications of Biden’s national security team, we cannot say with certainty that they intended to trap Russia into a self-destructive war in Ukraine.  However, there was apparent advocacy for that policy within the US foreign-policy establishment.  That aside, our Russophobe “socialists” refuse to even acknowledge the clear fact that the US and NATO were acting to isolate and weaken Russia.  Why?  Because, with their distaste for Putin’s Russia, these “socialists” evidently share that objective.  Thus, they have all-too-willingly fallen into the trap of misdirected “anti-imperialism.”  So, when should anti-imperialists target Russia?  How about when, and if, Russia makes truly unprovoked attacks upon an independent country which is not allied with, or a pawn of, a hostile scheming Western imperialism.

Should imperial-state foreign military action ever be supported?  To insist upon opposing such military interventions, regardless of context, is dogmatic and wrong.  In exceptional events, socialists have appropriately supported such interventions.  Example: US and British empires against Nazi Germany (1939—45).  A recent case where it may be argued that such support was justified is US military assistance to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) Caliphate which was subjecting people in Syria and Iraq to horrendous persecutions pursuant to its medievalist perversion of Islam.  The US left was mostly silent with respect to US action in that event.  Had socialists expressed conditional support for that US military intervention (as I believe they should have), they would have been obligated at the same time to explain: (1) that the US was acting for its own interest and would otherwise not have cared about the victims of IS oppression, and (2) that the US would likely become a treacherous ally (as indeed it did in 2019 when it abandoned the SDF to attack by NATO ally Turkey).  The SDF is a popular revolutionary organization fighting for social justice.  The Kyiv regime is a repressive chauvinistic state and a willing pawn of US-NATO imperialism in the latter’s new cold war against Russia.  Huge difference.

Domestic politics.  Socialists, whatever their views of the war in Ukraine, are rightly concerned about the rise of bigoted reactionary political factions in the US and many other countries.  However, it is wrong to portray the capital-serving centrist-dominated supposedly “center-left” political parties as saviors of progress and “democracy”.  Those parties are thoroughgoing supporters of the imperialist military alliances and policies to which their governments are committed.  In fact, centrists have no progressive principles which they will not jettison whenever it becomes politically expedient to do so.  Actually, the increased influence of bigoted reaction and the electoral weakness of the center-left parties is a result of the latter’s subservience to capital and of their consequent failure, for the past 4 decades, to use their capacity, when in power, to improve conditions for most of their base working-class constituencies.  With growing homelessness, increasing inequality, declining labor unions, decreased job security, mushrooming debt bondage, and ever more disruptions of lives by climate disasters; conditions have actually worsened for much of that constituency.  Consequently, there is an increased tendency for many potential supporters to stay home on election day.

In the US, many liberal-reformist “socialists” give their allegiance to the Democrats despite the latter’s” longstanding betrayal of their working-class electoral base.  Although it is appropriate to tactically ally with centrist Democrat politicians when they actually fight for social justice and to support their election at the federal level in 2022 and 2024 in hope of reversing Trump-Republican attacks on voting and other democratic rights; it is necessary at the same time to educate the people as to the perfidy and betrayals of social justice by said Democrats.  Failure to so educate is: to tail after the agents of capital, and to perpetuate existing ignorance and prejudices within the populace.  Sadly, many liberal “socialists” downplay Democrat betrayals domestically, and they almost completely avoid challenging the Democrats’ allegiance to US hegemony over the world and the consequent imperial crimes in US foreign policies (especially when under Democrat Presidents).  Biden promised to end Trump’s new sanctions against Cuba; he has not.  He has also continued the economic sieges against Venezuela and other countries resisting US dictates.  He promised a non-racist and more humane policy on migrants; but he then summarily deported some 20,000 Haitians to hellish conditions in Haiti, and he now welcomes white European refugees from Ukraine.  Also, there are Biden’s past flip-flops on school bussing and tough-on-crime legislation as he pandered to racial prejudices among his voters.  For more on Democrat betrayals of social justice, see here.  Hence: temporary limited tactical alliances, yes; allegiance, no.

Those “socialists”, who give their allegiance to the Democratic Party, can only give lip-service to anti-imperialism.  So, when Democrats are in control, they mostly remain silent with respect to US imperial crimes against peoples in foreign lands.  They even become willfully blind to some of said crimes, as they ask people to vote for said Democrats (nearly all of whom subscribe to US interventionism based upon the notion of the US being the world’s “indispensable nation” and champion of “freedom” and “democracy”).

Outcomes.  While the US and NATO send ever increased and ever more lethal weapons which serve to prolong the horrors of this war, it is Ukrainian and Russian (not NATO-country) fighters and civilians who suffer and die.  This despite the reality that Russia’s peace terms (neutrality and no hostile bases in Ukraine plus respect for the self-determination rights of Donbas and Crimea), both before and since its invasion, are entirely reasonable.  Regardless of who prevails, both Russia and Ukraine will have paid a huge price.  Meanwhile, transnational capital, especially in the arms industry and fossil fuel companies, will reap increased profits.  If Russia obtains its objectives, that will weaken a defeated Western imperialism.  If Russia is ultimately compelled to give up in defeat and humiliation: the US hold over Europe will be solidified, Western imperialism will be greatly emboldened to intensify its new cold against China, and it will have a freer hand as it perpetrates its crimes against other resistant countries.  Yet, our Russophobe leftists refuse to oppose more arms to Ukraine.

Principal contradiction.  Portside (a very moderately left-leaning online publication) published a solidly anti-imperialist analysis of the Ukraine war by the US Peace Council (USPC), subsequently indicating that it did so in order to present an alternative viewpoint with which Portside did not agree.  Shortly thereafter, Portside published 11 comments in response to the USPC statement, all but one opposing the USPC analysis, several in very condemnatory words.  Two of those joined a number of other Russophobe leftist commentators in denouncing the anti-imperialist analysis as the “anti-imperialism of fools” or “idiots”.  A third, namely prominent “Marxist” (Carl Davidson), commented that the principal contradiction in this conflict is “the Russian invasion of a sovereign nation and Ukraine’s defense of their sovereignty”.  Evidently, Russophobe “socialists” such as Davidson have decided that the contradiction between Western imperialism and its victims throughout most of the world is no longer the principal one for anti-imperialists.  Being in sync with the US and NATO in this Ukraine conflict, they have become social patriots.  A social patriot is any avowed socialist who supports and whitewashes the predatory imperial aggressions of his/her own imperialist state against another state and justifies so doing by branding the opposing state as the sole villain.

Our task.  We may consider Russia’s Ukraine response to be an inappropriate excess or imprudent or both, and we may fault Russian methods in its military operations; but we have no capacity to influence Russia’s decisions.  Our job, as anti-imperialists in the West, is to condemn and vigorously oppose US-NATO imperialism (including arms to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia) as well as the mainstream media’s grossly one-sided and extremely deceptive portrayals.  It is not to tail after the misinformed public and the Democrat politicians (who are all too eager to support: the bipartisan imperialistic foreign policy consensus, the massive military spending, and the cold wars against the peoples of countries which resist US dictates).  We should recognize that said Democrats (with very few exceptions) readily jettison their anti-racist and other progressive pretensions whenever it becomes politically expedient to do so.  “Anti-imperialists,” who evade the reality of the Ukraine War being the result of Western imperial machinations and provocations so as to simplistically blame it solely upon Putin’s Russia (while exonerating the US, NATO, and the Kyiv regime), become social patriots serving the real imperialist enemy of peoples throughout the world.  We must avoid shifting our focus onto the faults (real and imagined) of Russia; we must persist in supporting the fight against that real enemy, even though we will be defamed as “Putin apologists,” “fools,” and “idiots.”

Image credit: Marxist-Leninism Today

The post War in Ukraine: Provocations, Belligerents and Their Objectives, Spurious Arguments, Outcomes, Our Task first appeared on Dissident Voice.

We Do Not Want a Divided Planet; We Want a World Without Walls

Ever Fonseca (Cuba), Homenaje a la paz (‘Homage to Peace’), 1970.

While the United States began its illegal war against Iraq in 2003, Cuba’s President Fidel Castro spoke in Buenos Aires, Argentina. ‘Our country does not drop bombs on other peoples’, he said, ‘nor does it send thousands of planes to bomb cities … Our country’s tens of thousands of scientists and doctors have been educated on the idea of saving lives’. Cuba had an army, yes, but not an army for war; Castro called it ‘an army of white coats’. Most recently, Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade of medical practitioners have selflessly worked around the world to help stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Castro reminds us that there are two ways to be alive in this world. We can live in a war-filled world awash with weapons and confounded by intimidation, a world that continuously prepares for combat. Or, we can live in a world of teachers and doctors, scientists and social workers, storytellers and singers. We can put our confidence in people who help us create a better world than the one we live in today, this wretched world of war and profit, where ugliness threatens to overwhelm us.

The surface of our skin beats with the fear that a new iron curtain will descend, that there is pressure to box in China and Russia, to divide the world into camps. But that is impossible, because – as noted in last week’s newsletter – we live in a knot of contradictions and not in a clean cut world of certainties. Even close allies of the US, such as Australia, Germany, Japan, and India, cannot break their economic and political ties with Russia and China. Doing so would plunge them into a recession, bringing the kind of economic chaos that war and sanctions have already brought to Honduras, Pakistan, Peru, and Sri Lanka. In those countries – already battered by the International Monetary Fund by the greed of the elites and by foreign embassies – rising fuel prices have transformed an economic crisis into a political crisis.

Sergey Grinevich (Belarus), Tank, 2013.

Wars either end with the destruction of a country’s political institutions and its social capacity or they end with ceasefires and negotiations. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) war on Libya in 2011 ended with the country stumbling along with the smell of cordite in the air and a broken social order. The fate of Libya should not be repeated anywhere, certainly not in Ukraine. Yet it is a fate ordained for the people of Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen, who have been suffocated by wars egged on by the West – wars armed by the West and that have been profitable for the West.

When contemporary Russia emerged from the fall of the USSR, Boris Yeltsin led a coup against the Russian parliament, tanks blazing. Those currently in power in Russia operate in light of these violent beginnings and the experiences of other war-stricken nations. They will not allow themselves to suffer the fate of Libya or Yemen or Afghanistan. Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are ongoing in Belarus’ Homyel Voblasts (or Gomel Region), but trust must be strengthened before a ceasefire can become a real possibility. Any ceasefire should not only apply to the war inside Ukraine – which is imperative – but should also include halting the broader US-imposed pressure campaign on all of Eurasia.

Svetlana Rumak (Russia) Endless Green Fields, 2017.

What is that pressure campaign and why bother talking about it now? Shouldn’t we only say Russia out of Ukraine? Such a slogan, while correct, does not address the deeper problems that provoked this war in the first place.

When the USSR collapsed, Western countries wielded their resources and power through Boris Yeltsin (1991–1999) and then Vladimir Putin (from 1999). First, the West impoverished the Russian people by destroying the country’s social net and allowing elite Russians to devour the country’s social wealth. Then, they drew the new Russian billionaires into investing in Western-driven globalisation (including English football teams). The West backed Yeltsin’s bloody war in Chechnya (1994–1996) and then Putin’s war in Chechnya (1999–2000). Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (1997–2007) signed allowances for Russia to buy British weapons till his arm hurt and welcomed Putin to London in 2000, saying, ‘I want Russia and the West to work together to promote stability and peace’. In 2001, former US President George W. Bush described looking into Putin’s eyes and seeing his soul, calling him ‘straightforward and trustworthy’. In the same year, The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman encouraged readers to ‘keep rootin’ for Putin’. It was the West that helped the Russian billionaire class capture the state and ride astride Russian society.

Once the Russian government decided that integration with Europe and the US was not possible, the West began to portray Putin as diabolical. This movie keeps replaying: Saddam Hussein of Iraq was a great hero of the US and then its villain, the same with former military leader Manuel Antonio Noriega of Panama. Now the stakes are unforgivably higher, the dangers greater.

Shakir Hassan al-Said (Iraq), The Victims, 1957.

Beneath the surface of the current moment lies dynamics that we foregrounded in our tenth newsletter of this year. The US unilaterally damaged the international arms control architecture, withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (2001) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (2018) and thereby gutting the policy of deterrence. In December 2018, the US pushed its allies to prevent, by a slim margin, the United Nations General Assembly from passing a resolution to defend the INF. Putin began to talk about the need for security guarantees, not from Ukraine or even from NATO, which is a puffed-up Trojan Horse of Washington’s ambitions: Russia needed security guarantees directly from the US.

Why? Because in 2018, the US government announced a shift in foreign policy that signalled that they would increase their competition with China and Russia. NATO-led naval exercises near both countries also gave Russia cause for concern about its security. The US’s bellicosity is enshrined in its 2022 National Defence Strategy, where it asserts that the United States is ‘prepared to prevail in conflict when necessary, prioritising [China’s] challenge in the Indo-Pacific, then the Russian challenge in Europe’. The key phrase is that the US is prepared to prevail in conflict. The entire attitude of domination and of defeat is a macho attitude against humanity. The US-imposed pressure campaign around Eurasia must end.

Abel Rodríguez (Colombia), Territorio de Mito (‘Myth Territory’), 2017.

We do not want a divided world. We want a realistic world: a world of humanity that deals adequately with the climate catastrophe. A world that wants to end hunger and illiteracy. A world that wants to lift us out of despair into hope. A world with more armies of white coats and instead of armies with guns.

At Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, we amplify the lives and voices of people building a world of hope against fear, a world of love against hate. One such person is Nela Martínez Espinosa (1912–2004), the focus of the third study in our Women of Struggle, Women in Struggle series. Nela, as we call her, was a leading figure in the Communist Party of Ecuador and a builder of institutions that infused the masses with confidence. These organisations included anti-fascist fronts and women’s federations, support for the rights of indigenous Ecuadorians, and platforms defending the Cuban Revolution. In 1944, during the Glorious May Revolution, Nela briefly led the government. Throughout her life, she worked tirelessly to build the basis for a better world.

In 2000, as president of the Women’s Continental Front for Peace and against Intervention, Nela fought against the creation of a US military base in the city of Manta. ‘Colonisation returns’, Nela said. ‘How will we escape this colonisation? How can we justify ourselves in the face of our cowardice?’

That last question hangs over us. We do not want to live in a divided world. We must act to prevent the iron curtain from descending. We must fight against our fear. We must fight for a world without walls.

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Head to Your Local Gas Station or Supermarket to End the US Proxy War in Ukraine

“Harris Tells Americans They Will Have to Pay More for Gas To Punish Russia,” proclaimed the New York Times headline recently.   So spoke no less an authority on economics than the Vice President of the United States. Harris was on a visit to Poland to reassure a nervous NATO member and to egg on the war in Ukraine at the cost of ever more Ukrainian and Russian lives and higher inflation in the US and the world.

Inflation, Already Bad, Will be Worsened by the War in Ukraine.

The Times’s report on Harris’s declaration, however, concluded with this sobering reminder:

The sanctions could also complicate the political situation back in the U.S., where Americans have for months grappled with growing inflation, which has driven down the approval ratings of the Biden presidency.

The Consumer Price Index rose by 7.9 percent through February, the fastest pace of inflation in 40 years. The average price for a gallon of gas was $4.32 on Thursday, according to AAA. Economists say because of those record gas prices, inflation is expected to climb even more.

To be clear, the extraordinary 7.9% inflation increase predates the crisis in Ukraine although Joe Biden has attempted to blame it all on the thoroughly demonized Putin. But unless cause can come after effect, Joe has a tough argument to make there. However, it is clear that the war and the sanctions that go with it are accelerating inflation. And it is also clear from every poll that inflation (and the pandemic) are very much on the minds of Americans. Political analysts tell us that the 2022 Congressional elections and probably the 2024 elections will turn in large part on the issue of inflation.

A grassroots approach to stopping the war in Ukraine.

It is clear that the public is very likely to oppose US sanctions on Russia and US involvement in Ukraine IF either proves to drive up gas prices, food prices and other items in an accelerated inflationary spiral.

Our strategy should be to link the inflation with prolonging a war in a far-away land which has little to do with US security and risks a nuclear confrontation with Russia.

We should have rallies opposing ALL US involvement in Ukraine by tying them to gas prices, food prices, rents and other items.

Let us have demonstrations, not at the US Congress and not at military bases, but at gas stations and supermarkets.  Especially highly visible gas stations; there is surely one near you.

Let us hold up placards with a simple message:

Biden’s arms to Ukraine = Longer War.

Longer War = Higher Gas Prices.
Ukraine is not our biz.

Come Home, America.

Ukraine as US proxy war against Russia to be fought to the last Ukrainian.

The war in Ukraine is a US war with Russia, with Ukraine as a US proxy.  So we in the US can stop it by getting one of the parties, the US, to end its involvement.  That is the right and moral responsibility of those in the US.  And it is the action that we as citizens are best positioned to do.  The effective action.

If, in the face of facts, one believes that this is not a US proxy war but a war between the US and Ukraine, then it is none of our business.  But the course of action is the same. We should still call for an end to sending weapons, materiel and “advisors” to Ukraine and its environs. We should stay out it and avoid foreign entanglements in European disputes – the very thing that the Founders warned us about. That course is anti-interventionism as opposed to pursuing imperial or dubious ideological agendas.

The best way to stop escalation of the war is to take the offensive.

The Biden administration is getting a lot of credit for refusing to be part of a no-fly zone and turning thumbs down on US troops on the ground in Ukraine.  But as time goes by, pressure is building for escalation.  At a recent press briefing we saw a number of reporters from the White House press core badgering Jen Psaki and inquiringly petulantly why the President has not done more. And on top of that we have Biden embarrassing himself by making statements contrary to his own policy – either out of confusion or as a way of telling people what the real policy is. Dangerous escalation is waiting just around the corner.

The best way to stop this vehicle from going forward is to apply the brakes, put it in reverse and leave the question of escalation in the rearview mirror. Let us make de-escalation not escalation the question of the day. Let us push escalation off the table altogether.

Let’s go out to our local gas station or supermarket to stop the war in its tracks and not only avoid escalation but save countless lives. As I finish here, I just heard Max Blumenthal on the Jimmy Dore show suggest something along the same lines, signage at gas stations linking the war and inflation. Let’s try it.

No weapons to Ukraine. No sanctions on the world. End the war and stop the inflation.

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