“I bid good-bye to the old century, may it rest in peace as it has lived in war. Of the new century I prophesy nothing except that it will see the decline of the British Empire. Other worse empires will rise perhaps in its place, but I shall not live to see the day. (…)” —Wilfred S. Blunt, 31/12/1900
The year we are leaving behind is not the end of a century (or even a decade for that matter) though it certainly is the end of a qualitatively new epoch in the history of world imperialism. Time Magazine has decided that what is most important, looking back, is the death of a whole generation of celebrities and household names. Their concern is with the actors, artists and reactionary supreme court justices who have taken their permanent retirement this year. Even devoting an entire issue to “who was lost” which of course is principally about such celebrities. Though who and what has been the real victims of 2016, and further, how will we memorialize them?
What Time Magazine forgets is that while the west is mourning their dead and dying idols, the world is finally open to the possibility of an end to unilateral amerikan supremacy and feel-good imperial “internationalism” which everyone had expected would last forever following the so-called “end of history.” It is clear to us now that it is not, that everywhere we look amerika is being turned back by force and the imperial successes of the 21st century are proving more and more to be only momentary. It can be seen, just as in Wilfred Blunt’s prophesy for the 20th century, that amerika and the interests of the decaying western bloc will not—as they had hoped—last forever. The inevitable death of western hopes for a new international ideology is being drowned in far-right national revivalism on one hand, and cooked by the international resistance of peoples who refuse to remain at its mercy. It is not the end we had hoped for, however we know that it is not yet over. It is important that we take a critical look at the situation we are faced with, so that we can have a productive hand in shaping its outcome.
The Empire’s Decline
It would be too early to say that the united $tates or western europe is on the brink geo-strategic collapse, however if the events of the last year are any indication, the future will continue to withhold victories for the western imperialists. In Syria we have seen final victory over the imperialist-backed forces in Aleppo, a move which has now put a victorious peace in reach of the Syrian government—who the west has tried so desperately for half a decade to overthrow. The massive efforts thrown into the possible overthrow of Assad’s government by the imperial west was impressive, however nothing stuck. They were constantly obstructed by the opposing imperialist blocs in their attempts to leverage international support to sabotage the Syrian government’s war efforts and seal the fate of the country; the no-fly zone was never approved and the UNSC fundamentally disagreed on how the situation would be handled, managing to keep NATO’s hands tied on what they could do to further assist their proxies in the country.
Lesser known are the situations in countries like Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, where—like everywhere else in the Third World—the imperialists have sown untold carnage and destruction. In Yemen, it is being reported that most of the country now sits on the edge of starvation, amid Saudi airstrikes and a NATO-enforced stranglehold on the country’s economy. Children were murdered during prayer on Eid, and the drone-strikes which have peppered the country over the past decade from the united $tates have driven up the demand for tiny coffins. However the Houthi revolutionary government remains strong and has, in kind, sank both Saudi and Emirati warships and made the imperialists pay a heavy price for their defiance of Yemeni sovereignty.
The rumored release of the former Libyan leader’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, has exposed the deep insecurities of the fragmented government. The country has been, since the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi by the “National Transition Council,” thrown into a state of total disarray, in which the youth are forced to begin writing their last wills before leaving their homes for work or school. The whole country has been rocked by an ongoing civil war which refuses to end, with fighting ongoing between the various leftovers of the puppet regime and the angry masses of people who have suffered after the so-called “revolution.” However, the imperialist grip, loose as it was from the very beginning, is being pried open by Libyans striving to be independent once again.
And in Afghanistan, where the imperialists have waged an already 16 year-long war on the sovereignty of the Afghan people, the Taliban and their allies are making headway in their war against the imperialist puppets in Kabul. The great imperialist investment in Afghanistan has failed to pay off, first in the 90’s when the Taliban government refused to become the u.$. client state that they had wanted, and now again in the unwinnable war to contain the Afghan desires for freedom. The so-called “war on terror” has been nothing more than a genocidal world war against Muslims, and a losing war at that.
In Turkey, we can see the most fragile link in the NATO bloc, which is now existentially threatened by both internal threats from the Kurdish independence forces and Communists, and externally from pressure exerted by Russia and their allies. Though where is the rest of NATO while this happens? In amerika, even the Obama administration has shown very little concern for the situation in Turkey, but the incoming Trump administration has shown real distrust and hostility toward the Turkish government, despite being their so-called “allies” inNATO. The stress exerted here is a test of the actual viability of NATO’s cohesion, in the face of a growing movement against neoliberalism. A movement which has produced fractures even within their own folds, and as the tensions rise between Turkey and Russia—especially following the assassination of the Russian ambassador by a Turkish police officer—the incredibly unstable position of Turkey (and NATO, if it continues to ignore the situation) will only get worse.
Rise of Fascism
The defeats of the imperialists have not been isolated only to their far-flung neo-colonies and imperialist warfare abroad, but have sunk in back home with a deepening crisis of identity, and the prospect of a truly devastating economic crisis in the future, which is feeding into a growing far-right movement. Not only was there the historic upset in the amerikan presidential election, which propelled Donald Trump into the leadership of the entire western imperialist bloc, but as well we saw the first european union member successfully vote to leave the union—yet another historic electoral upset. Meanwhile, in austria the electorate only narrowly avoided selecting their own far-right leader from the so-called “freedom party” and the “alternative for germany” party—founded only a few years ago—has now swept the provincial elections in Sachsen-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (the home province of german chancellor Angela Merkel). And the less that is said of the FN’s growing chances of gaining the French presidency the better. However we should not fixate on these particular electoral battles in search of a strategy to “beat” the fascists. The elections only act as a barometer for the increasingly open political conflict which is being fought to bring an end to the rosy dream of “imperialist diversity” and a “multicultural globalized capitalism.”
The forces we are dealing with are the social equivalent of tectonic forces; they are the product of an entire ideological world-system coming into conflict with massive shifts in material conditions. Chronic political and economic crisis, apocalyptic environmental conditions, and multipolarity contributing to general increase in the intensity of inter-imperialist conflict. Countering the conditions this situation is developing out of requires not only the left’s self-empowerment, but power, won through intense struggle and strategic unity among the revolutionary forces. There was never anything to be gained in choosing a side between the vast liberal hopes for an integrated multicultural empire on one hand, and the far-right movements for its disintegration on the other. If we ask ourselves why this is happening now, it is simple to see that western imperialism is not just in crisis, but is struggling to stay afloat as all its projects collapse in front of it. They are feeling the burn of military and political defeat all over the world where they had hoped their intervention would help to save the dream of imperial internationalism. They are trapped in a profound crisis, and every hand points toward its further deepening as time goes on.
The New Year’s Resolution
Everywhere we turn, the west’s influence and unity is being thrown into question, the rise of the opposing imperialist blocs and the proliferation of people’s struggles (both communist and noncommunist) will continue to eat away at the world monopoly that western neoliberalism has had. Though this is not necessarily for the better, and there is a direct relationship between this crisis of western imperialism and the rise of the far-right; we must remain concentrated on moving forward on a new path, rather than stagnating or reversing, in the face of the next era of world imperialism. Despite being a bit late, there is still time to go ahead on our “New Year’s Resolution” for this year, but first we need to remind ourselves where we have failed so far.
We must correct the major problem of unity in the world movement against imperialism, and stop aligning with the west in any inter-imperial conflict; we must remember what revolutionary defeatism really means. We must stop ignoring the material basis for the proliferation of fascist politics in the first world, and drop the tired and overused excuse that the white “working class” has been duped into supporting fascists by “false consciousness” and a “bad economy.” They know precisely what it is they do and they mean to do it. We must stop promoting the notion that the labor aristocracy and settler nations must be brought over to the revolutionary camp in great numbers for revolution to be possible. International unity between the oppressed classes and nations in the first world should be first built on a foundation of unity with the struggles in the Third World, who wield a power much stronger than any opportunistic arrangement with the oppressors ever could. Simply put: there will be no compromise with the political interests of the oppressor classes or nations to achieve liberation. Finally, we must dedicate ourselves to the mission of making international revolutionary unity possible, and building a practical united front against imperialism, as well as “populist” fascism—western imperialism in decay.
We are seeing the birth of a new era, and the very real possibility of amerika and europe’s great decline. Let us snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and come out of this worldwide turmoil ahead of the game.