The world today is characterized by a struggle of unprecedented proportions. On every continent, the forces of progress are locked in conflict with reaction. The basic contradictions are sharpening. The factors leading to new wars and revolutions are growing.
As communists, we understand that changes in the balance of forces on a world level will have a concrete impact on our efforts to build a revolutionary movement in the United States. Living in the center of a vast empire – that has its political capital in Washington D.C. and financial capital on Wall Street – there is a dialectical relationship involving: the efforts of the peoples of the Third World to achieve national liberation and independence, and inter-imperialist rivalry on the one hand, and the overall political climate in this country on the other.
For example, shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, our organization stated that the so-called "war on terrorism" was the leading edge of reaction. Life has confirmed that analysis. The imprisonment and detention of thousands of immigrants (mainly Arab and Muslims), moves by the Bush administration to curtail democratic rights, attacks on labor (the utilization of "national security" justifications to employ Taft-Hartley against the West Coast dock strike) are a few of the many manifestations of this.
Imperialism – capitalism in its monopoly stage – means war and oppression. Under the false banners of "democracy" and "prosperity" we see that the export of capital amounts to the export of exploitation and poverty. In the regions dominated by imperialism more than a billion people suffer from hunger. Peasants and farmers, who grow food, cannot afford to feed their families. More than 100 million people have been made into refugees or forced to emigrate from their native lands. Death squads are used against workers who are struggling to make ends meet. National freedom and self-determination are trampled upon by imperialist powers, particularly the U.S.
Advances in the forces of production, in the fields of electronics, computerization, the information sciences, etc. – which could conceivably bring a better standard of living to the World’s peoples – are used by the monopoly capitalists as a vehicle to spread capitalist relations and prop up semi-feudal property relations in the Third World. The growth of the productive forces at the service of those who care only about getting the highest rate of profit lays the basis for new and greater crisis.
The main instruments of this process of imperialist globalization are the export of capital in the form of direct foreign investments, leveraged control of foreign financial markets, U.S. dominated multi-lateral financial institutions (WTO/IMF/WB) and military means.
At the forefront of the process of imperialist globalization stands the United States, with the blocks of European imperialist powers and Japan trailing behind. In a world where the basic contradictions are intensifying – including the contradiction between socialized production vs. private appropriation, which inevitably leads towards crisis – all of the imperialist powers have found it necessary to attack their domestic social safety nets and workers' rights, while strengthening their respective military machines.
We do not view the process of imperialist globalization as an ongoing integration of competing blocks of capital; rather the contradictions between imperialist blocks are sharpening – particularly between those countries at the core of the European Union (Germany, France) and the United States.
That said, there are two vital points we need to grasp concerning the current period.
The main contradiction on a world scale remains between imperialism on the one hand and the oppressed nations on the other. Given that, the offensive launched by the U.S. since September 11, 2001 represents a major shift in the role played by the U.S. and it would be an over-simplification in this period to simply talk about imperialism in general. The fact is the U.S. is making a dramatic bid for global domination. It is the U.S. that is playing the principal role in the contradictions between itself and its imperialist rivals and also between itself and the Third World. It is these two contradictions that are determining the overall development of the international situation.
The second point is that the analysis put forward by Mao – that U.S. imperialism is a paper tiger – is still correct. The roots of Bush's war on the world do not lie in some sort of newfound strength or vitality. Rather, the offensive is a sign of underlying weakness, an inability to consolidate and expand the empire by economic and political means – which has led to a turn towards other methods, i.e. war and military force.
As the United States is the principal oppressor of the world's peoples, our organization has a special responsibility to uphold proletarian internationalism. On every continent, there are patriotic and progressive movements that want to break out of the orbit of imperialism. As a practical matter, the main criteria we use for assessing any movement, party, or government is whether or not its policies and actions tend to weaken the imperialists.
U.S. Decline and the Hunt for a "New World Order"
Since the early 1970's U.S. imperialism has been in a period of relative decline. The rise of the national liberation movements, the strengthening of other imperialist powers in Japan and Europe, the breakup of the financial arrangements reached at Breton Woods and the defeat in Vietnam represented the early end of what some publicists for the bourgeoisie promised would be the "American Century."
However, the fall of the socialist countries (Soviet Union and Eastern Europe) and the accompanying demoralization and disintegration that hit many of the national liberation movements, not only masked that decline, it created a situation where one actor appeared larger than life because others had left the stage. Practically speaking, since the beginning of the 1990's the absence of much of the socialist camp means the U.S. lacked a counterweight that could effectively challenge it on a world level. At the same time this new context dictated the scramble to create a "new world order."
The creation of this "new world order" proved elusive for the Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations. In the context of growing inter-imperialist rivalry, both administrations sought what was essentially a multi-lateral approach to the problem of imperialist domination. An illustration of this is the U.S./NATO war to destroy the patriotic government of Yugoslavia. While Germany encouraged and aided reactionaries in Croatia and Slovenia to declare independence, thus triggering the first round of fighting, it fell to the United States operating through NATO to finish the job of destroying the patriotic government headed by Slobodan Milosevic. While each of the imperialist powers were motivated by their own interests (including attempts to make gains at the expense of their partners in crime), they were bound together by an identity of interests – the drive of western powers to seize the resources of the east.
While the imperialist centers colluded and contended throughout the 1990's, the world was changing – the national liberation movements picked up steam, the strength of Europe grew and there was a worldwide crisis of overproduction (beginning in Asia in 1997 and hitting the U.S. in 2001). All this converged to create the perfect storm. After stealing the election of 2000, the Bush administration arrived in Washington with an agenda of increased rivalry with the other imperialist powers and a clique of reactionaries that were committed to reviving the dream of a "New American Century."
Dreams of Global Domination
The events of September 11 served as a pretext for the U.S. to launch what amounts to a world war with the aim of global domination. While one can correctly argue that this has been a central aim of U.S. imperialism since the end of World War II, the current drive exists within the aforementioned context – the search for stability under U.S. hegemony – while locked in a downward spiral of declining power and prestige.
September 11 created the political space for U.S. imperialism to play its hoped-for trump card – its military strength. While it is wrong to overestimate what the U.S. can do with its military power, by any measure it is formidable. Advances in science and technology are quickly applied to new weapons systems. The U.S. has bases that extend across the world. Its troops are numerous, well trained and well armed. And the U.S has a host of puppet armies (Israel, Colombia, etc) under its command.
We have now entered a period of large scale, continuous warfare on the part of the U.S. Cities in Iraq and Afghanistan are occupied and patriotic national resistance is growing. U.S. policy makers are seriously contemplating a war on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. U.S. troops are fighting in the jungles of Colombia and the Philippines. Military assistance is sent to Nepal to block the advance of the people's war led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). A coup has been attempted against the progressive government of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and the governments of Iran and Syria are threatened. In Palestine, there is no difference of substance between the policies of the Bush administration and those of the war criminal Ariel Sharon.
Standing reality on its head, the war criminals in the White House and the Pentagon are intensifying their campaign to criminalize the national liberation movements. Specifically, they have branded a host of progressive and revolutionary organizations as terrorists, including the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (along with the Islamist resistance organizations in Palestine).
The dramatic wave of military interventions is accompanied by changes in National Security Doctrine, for example the doctrine of "preemptive strikes," and a new openness to the use of nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon wants the capability to bring down the hammer of U.S. military force at any time, anywhere. We are in a period that represents the culmination of a long-term shift in war planning. Before the fall of the USSR, plans for a large-scale war on the plains of Europe were a central feature of U.S. military policy. Clearly, this is not the case today. The main targets of the U.S. are in the third world and military planning has to address that fact.
For the last decade the Pentagon has been working to carry out a "transformation process" of the U.S. armed forces. This process has been accelerated over the past two years. The stated aim of this process is to move from a "threat based" model to a "capabilities based model." The goal is to create military forces that are far more mobile, that utilize more technology (sensors, precision guided munitions, real time battle field information systems) and greater intelligence capacity with a higher level of troop training.
The overall problem the U.S. faces is that it is attempting to use force to expand and consolidate its empire at a juncture in history when conditions for success are growing less favorable. In the Third World, the U.S. is unable to handle even one Iraq, much less 2, 3 or many. Coupled with the rising inter-imperialist rivalry and growing economic instability on a world scale, Washington will find that those who dream of empire will wake up living a nightmare.
The heroic resistance of the Iraqi people illustrates the critical underlying trend in the world today: that countries want independence, nations want liberation and that people need revolution. When the U.S. occupied Baghdad, Defense Secretary Rumsfield talked about a "handful of dead enders." As casualties mount and aircraft come down, generals now talk about a well-organized, "sophisticated" resistance and the problem of "classic guerrilla warfare." The Iraqi resistance demonstrates that one does not have to accept the imperial dictum that "there is no alternative." The determination shown by the Iraqi people has locked U.S policy toward Iraq in a sort of permanent crisis, where the shape and form of the puppet regime are constantly called into question. It has made the other imperial powers hesitate about coming in to share the spoils. It is an inspiration to others, in the Middle East and around the world.
Talk in Washington of an "old Europe" means that the U.S. is contending with a new Europe. The expanding economic integration of the European Union, particularly in the form of a common monetary policy (the European Central Bank) and a currency union (the Euro) signify a march towards a united states of Europe. While it is not clear at this time how the unitary political institutions of Europe will develop, it is possible to identify several factors that will accelerate or pull back the tendency towards a united Europe, as well as some likely near term developments.
Externally, policies undertaken by the United States will be the principal factor governing European integration. Particularly in the spheres of politics and military policy, it can be said that the more unilateral the actions of the U.S., the greater the push will be for European unity.
Internally, there are the issues that unite the euro rulers, like the rise of a common European currency, which opens the road to there being another world currency with Europe emerging as a greater center of world capital flows. That said, there are conditions that could well undermine European integration, such as economic crisis and the limits the European Union has placed on deficit spending. The main trend is that in the context of the decline of U.S. imperialism as an economic power, European imperialism is rising.
There is also the issue of Anglo imperialism, which essentially has an inside/outside strategy towards the rest of Europe. For the moment, British imperialism has attached itself to the United States, but as a member of the EU it has a say in the political polices of the EU council and a voice in European military affaires.
In terms of practical results to expect in the next period, there will be sharp divisions over foreign policy, especially in regards to Middle East. NATO will be less important – although the U.S. will try to maintain it as a means to, in part, curb the development of independent European military power. And the divisions will sharpen in a host of multilateral institutions, such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.
There is another center for imperialism developing in East Asia. Japan is the single largest economy, but has been stagnant for more than 10 years. Politically, Japan has been closely aligned with U.S. since WWII, and is supporting U.S. occupation in Iraq and sending troops. At the same time, East Asia is the fastest growing economic region in the world, and there are some signs of desire for more economic independence from the U.S.
Common Trends in Imperialist Countries
In the imperialist centers, there are a number of common trends. They continue to exploit and oppress Third World countries. Tied to this are attacks on immigrants and immigrants' rights within the imperialist countries and at the same time neo-fascist political groups and movements have mushroomed to become a menacing force against oppressed nationalities.
Governments are busy slashing their social safety nets, while increasing funding for police and spending exorbitant amounts on the military. Even Japan is building up its small military.
Big business in the imperialist countries is moving away from the policy of purchasing social peace. Corporations are downsizing and laying off workers, relocating to the Third World, imposing impossible conditions on workers and trying to bust unions. None of this is without resistance. The international working class is reawakening and again feeling its strength. Opportunities exist for those willing to grasp them and push struggle to higher levels.
In all of the imperialist centers, the masses of people are in motion. For example, in the period leading up to the U.S. war to occupy Iraq, tens of millions took to the streets. In many of the European countries, this was a powerful factor in limiting the options of the respective governments.
The Former Soviet Union
For the people of the former Soviet Union, the collapse of socialism has been a disaster. Gorbachev opened the door not to "reformed socialism," but to plunder by native gangsters and their foreign sponsors. Mobsters and parasites wield the political and economic power. The collective wealth produced by the Soviet people was stolen in the largest privatization in history. The result: nothing but misery for workers and farmers. Millions of workers go unpaid, lost their pensions and have been robbed of their life savings. Throughout the former Soviet Union the life expectancy is declining.
The destruction of the USSR paved the way for a great scramble among the imperialists – European (particularly German) and the U.S. – to loot the land, labor and resources of one sixth of the globe. Of particular importance are moves to seize energy resources in the Caspian basin and central Asia.
The results of the counter-revolution in the Soviet Union, as well as the socialist countries of Eastern Europe, such as Albania, Poland and Yugoslavia, are vivid examples of a simple truth – capitalism is a failed system that cannot meet the political, economic or social aspirations of the vast majority of people.
The construction of a Marxist-Leninist movement and of new Communist Parties that fight for the re-establishment of the USSR is an extremely positive development. In the face of heavy repression, they are standing firm in the struggle for socialism. We owe them our support and solidarity.
The Third World
Imperialism means national oppression. Third World countries face famine, poverty, war, epidemics, environmental destruction, restructuring and dismantlement. On a world scale, the main form of national oppression today is neocolonialism. Recognizing this fact, it should be stated that one of the particular features of the current offensive of U.S. imperialism has been the reversion to the earlier form of direct, colonial rule in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Objectively, the countries of the Third World are at the center of the revolutionary process.
Africa is the poorest continent. It was conquered, divided and stripped of great amounts of natural resources by imperialism. Now Africa faces an AIDS crisis affecting tens of millions, while western drug corporations plot how to make more profits. In past decades, Africans waged many victorious national liberation struggles. Unfortunately, comprador forces allied with neocolonialism seized power, thus reaping the fruit of many of these heroic struggles.
With the aim of grabbing resources, land and labor of the African peoples, the United States is stepping up its ability to intervene through the use of proxies, direct intervention, regional "security" agreements and military assistance programs. About 15% of the oil coming to the U.S. is from sub-Saharan Africa. This amount could well go up another 10% over the next decade, particularly as more fields producing low-sulfur oil are opened up. Africa has huge mineral reserves, including copper, bauxite and uranium. The U.S. is moving to strengthen its control of key shipping and communications lines – for example those that pass by the Horn of Africa.
Nearly every region of the continent has been ravaged by war. In general, the basis for these conflicts can be found in the legacy of colonialism and the ongoing maneuvers of the western powers, especially the U.S., France and Britain. We are opposed to western military intervention be it in the Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo or Liberia, under any guise, including that of "peace keeping."
There are many rays of hope in Africa. Of special importance is the great movement for land reform in Zimbabwe, the determined resistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo to imperialism and struggles led by the communist and anti-imperialist parties.
Asia is a focal point of the four major contradictions in the world. Thus, of anywhere in the world, Marxism is the most alive in Asia today. There are more communists here than in the rest of the world combined. There are huge mass movements of communists in India and Bangladesh numbering in the tens of millions.
In the Philippines, the CPP holds substantial liberated areas, and is leading the masses of people in a national democratic revolution with a socialist orientation. Locked in a direct confrontation with the U.S. and its puppets, advances in the revolutionary process here are of real importance for Asia as a whole. The Philippines were the first big base of operations for the U.S. Empire in Asia, the point from where the U.S. projected its power. Victories won by the revolutionary movement in the Philippines affect the balance of forces in the region as a whole.
The people's war in Nepal is winning. There are also more socialist countries in Asia than anywhere else. China, Vietnam, Korea all espouse Marxism-Leninism and see themselves on the road to communism. Taken as whole, Asia is a weak link in the chain of imperialism.
Note should be made of U.S. efforts to provoke a second Korean war. While the strength of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and the patriotic movements in the south of the peninsula constrain the U.S., ongoing provocations, such as creating a "nuclear crisis," and war preparations (troop redeployments, introducing advanced weapons, agreements with other countries to seize Korean shipping vessels) constitute a serious danger to peace on the Korean Peninsula.
In a similar vein, we understand that when the Pentagon speaks of a "regional competitor" in Asia, it means People's Republic of China. We support the efforts of the Chinese people to achieve reunification with the Taiwan province and oppose U.S. efforts to threaten China with "missile defense," a system of military bases aimed at encirclement and subversion.
Finally, the growing struggle of Afghani people to win national independence is sure to grow in the years ahead.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Latin America and Caribbean have long suffered under the yoke of U.S. imperialism, and there is a dialectical relationship between development of the struggle there and here. Revolutionaries in this country have a special responsibility to support those who are fighting to free themselves from the U.S. Empire.
There is a profound revolutionary process taking place in the northern part of South America, which includes the mass movements and people's war in Peru, the progressive and patriotic government of Hugo Chavez and the powerful movement for land reform in Brazil. The revolution in Colombia is the leading edge of this process.
The war in Colombia is of vital importance. U.S military personnel are already engaged in combat there. A victory for Colombia's national liberation movement will be an incredible blow to U.S. imperialism. As an organization, we must do everything we can to end U.S intervention and support the Colombian revolution.
We also have a special responsibility to support the progressive and revolutionary forces in Mexico. The southwest part of the United States – Aztlan – was formerly Northern Mexico. A distinct, Chicano nation has developed in this region, and there is a relationship between what takes place in Mexico and the developments in the Southwest. One indication of this is the inspiration many Chicano youth take from the uprising in Chiapas. The basic point here is that revolutionary struggle in Mexico weakens U.S. imperialism and will contribute to shaping the Chicano National Movement (and other movements as well).
Finally, we support socialist Cuba – which is a beacon of liberation to people throughout the hemisphere.
The peoples of the Middle East are standing up to Imperialism, Zionism and reaction of all kinds. Because of the region's strategic importance to western imperialism, developments here can lead to a shift in the balance of forces on a world scale.
The ongoing efforts of the Iraqi national liberation movement to win freedom from the U.S.-led occupation are of vital importance for the Iraqi people, the people of the Middle East and the world's people.
In addition to securing the world's second largest oil reserve, Washington hoped the occupation of Iraq would strengthen its domination of the entire region and improve its position to contend with the European powers. Instead, events have demonstrated that Washington underestimated the depth and breadth of the Iraqi resistance. Setbacks and defeats in Iraq will be a factor in the political fate of any administration in the White House, Republican or Democrat.
The powerful and determined struggle of the Palestinian people has swept away repeated attempts to impose solutions that come up short of complete liberation. We support the Palestinian people in their fight to regain their homeland and to create a democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital, including the right of return for all refugees.
We call for an end to all U.S. aid to Israel. Israel is a creation of U.S. and British imperialism – it is a dagger that the U.S. wields against the Arab peoples. Whatever weakens Israel or U.S. support for Israel strengthens the hand of the people of Palestine, the Arab peoples and ultimately the world's peoples.
This second uprising of the Palestinian people and the Iraqi resistance are the front lines of the battle between the peoples of the Middle East and western imperialism.
Over the past decade, there has been a steady radicalization of the masses of Arab peoples. With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of governments in the Middle East are western-dominated and hated by the people they rule. This protracted uprising in Palestine will further destabilize the puppet governments that are unable and unwilling to confront Israel.
Those countries where the proletariat has established power are an important factor in the world revolutionary process. Whatever strengths or weakness the respective socialist countries might have, we count ourselves in the ranks of those who hold that actual existing socialism is a good thing.
A quick compare and contrast demonstrates that socialism has been extremely positive for the Third World. Those countries that overthrew imperialism and its local servants, established New Democracy and transitioned to socialism under the leadership of the working class and its Party have done much better than their suffering neighbors. For example, Cuba's infant mortality rate is equal to that of the U.S. and ranks far above that of Mexico or El Salvador. In Democratic Korea, 100% of people have access to safe drinking water while in Burma only 68% do. On issues of equality, heath care, education, culture, housing and food the people of the socialist countries fare better.
In the cases of Korea and Vietnam, the mass destruction of U.S. wars attempted to send those nations "back to the Stone Age." However, due to the victories against U.S. imperialism, they have fared well compared with similar Asian nations.
However, socialist countries also face major contradictions, from external and internal sources, including those stemming from market reforms and the opening of the economies to the world market. In spite of this, the socialist countries have demonstrated in practice the bright future in store for humanity.