It has been a little over 10 years since the formation of the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement as an independent organization, and the creation of Anti-Imperialism as its official media organ. Since then, the global political landscape has changed radically through the deepening crisis in capitalism-imperialism and rising political currents. It would have been hard to imagine in early 2007 that so much would happen so quickly, and that, eventually, world history would awake from the torpor of the end of history in such a manner as to affirm and reinvigorate Marxism and anti-imperialism.
Since the crisis of 2008-09, we witnessed the rise of a visible-but-obedient left, interjecting Richard Wolff-style vagaries about capitalism’s collapse and staging altogether fruitless, petty bourgeois campaigns without leadership and without impact. The militancy that increasingly characterized the anti-war movement in the u.$. and britain saw a final gasp at the GOP convention of 2008, but all but disappeared in the Obama era, replaced by “concerned citizens” and attempts by the old activist circles to rekindle the same vigor they saw under Bush, that would not be seen again until the Trump era, save for G20 summits and World Bank conferences.
Then came the Occupy movement, that petered out almost as quickly as it appeared, representing an attempt (mostly unconscious) to align the rage of the politically active petty bourgeoisie in the advanced countries with a Negriist, autonomist practice so enticing to the petty bourgeois. The aim of which, ultimately, was conservative in its scope. The demands of the Occupy movement being limited almost entirely to the humanization of capitalism, restoring the standard of living to its pre-crisis condition. Virtually nothing is remembered of this moment in the life of the core-nation left, apart from the reminiscences by folk-singer types and as the basis for autopsies of political movements. Needless to say, police regarded these outbursts as little more than disturbances of traffic and sanitation.
Only in 2013, in the wake of the acquittal of white supremacist killer George Zimmerman, had an avenue opened that frightened the u.$. ruling class in a way that sleeping in bank lobbies could not—mass action by oppressed nationalities, led and inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, took shape. BLM has largely petered out as well, or at least met its practical limits, falling victim to splits, democrat cooptation, practice revolving around public space, etc. But BLM, more than most of the happenings of the Bush and Obama eras, made it clear to those paying attention that what scared the u.$. government, law enforcement, and mass reaction in white amerika was not occupying buildings and parks, but righteous fury of the oppressed nationalities making an organized stand for their dignity and survival.
Our current high tide of fascist mass reaction saw its genesis in what whites saw on television—black people standing up to police, to the criminal injustice system, and to liberal calls for non-violence. Whites were largely shaken out of their torpor of color-blindness that had served them well since Reagan, and the average white worker began to consider himself within the paradigm of national identity. This qualitative change has been borne out by the fact that Trump won whites on the dual promise to smash neoliberalism and discipline the bodies of non-whites, with plainly violent overtures, insults and innuendo. Trump was stoking white supremacy, but he was also filling a demand for it among the mass reaction of the oppressor nation, especially among its working class and petty bourgeoisie. It was in these conditions that virtually unheard-of political fringe-groups became the locomotive engine of political struggle on the side of the settlers almost overnight.
We have learned from the last 10 years what it is that the imperialists—and their mass base of reactionaries—fear most, and it is the movement of the oppressed nations and defeat by Third World peoples in the field. Police armed with dogs and helicopters and tanks do not come to a sleep-in in Times Square, but they do show up to crush native warriors and sympathizers blocking a pipeline, or refusing to stand-down in Ferguson at the governor’s order. It is not the verizon workers’ strike which causes economic earthquakes in the core, but literal planes crashing into their centers of commerce. It is in the territory of the conscious and stirring Third World (whether within or without amerika’s colonial boundaries) that the bourgeois financiers, imperial bureaucrats and neoliberal rockstars dare not set foot; although any “tumult” in zuccotti park is bound to resonate among bleeding hearts.
For our part, RAIM has always maintained that this would be the logical result of conscious political action by both oppressed nations and the mass reaction. We preempted the victory of Trump and the violence at Charlottesville through the lens of anti-imperialism, by the dictates of parasitic imperialist political economy, and the contours of white supremacy and internal colonialism. When the liberals and the obedient left offered non-violence, Negri, privilege theory and movementism, we offered an analysis of white supremacy that unapologetically unmasked the mass base of the liberals and social-imperialists for including in their opportunistic definition of the “masses” great swaths of the enemy. And by no means have we worked alone in this endeavor, aided by a broader Third-Worldist tendency that we have shaped, and been shaped by.
Our role has not merely been oppositional, but transformative. Where was the talk of oppressed nationalities, of mass reaction, of the reactionary white working classes, of parasitism and settler colonialism? It was there, to be sure—Anti-Imperialism did not appear out of a vacuum—but this discourse was ignored if not mocked by the comfortable First-Worldist left. Today, due in no small part to the role of the broader Third-Worldist bloc, even the social-imperialists must seriously grapple with these issues in order to be taken seriously. We have many facts in our favor: the undeniably radical contour of political reality, unassailable victories on the front of political economy (especially in the work of Cope, Kerswell, Smith, Ness and Amin), the denial of assimilationism by oppressed national movements that has confounded chauvinists, and the undeniable make-up of the mass reaction as a cross-section of the oppressor-nation.
We can in no way take credit for all of the change in discourse, but merely our humble part in it. We owe much to national movements, such as Uhuru; to the vast and nourishing corpus of indigenist thought, as well as the growing field of settler-colonial studies.
Counseled by the legacy of Amilcar Cabral, we claim no easy victories, and will tell no romantic lies, carving for ourselves a place outsized for our practice and impact. Though it is true that our work has had tremendous impact relative to our numbers and efforts, we are well aware that our practice lacks the necessary force we had forfeited through a misunderstanding of unity and struggle in the broader movement against fascism and imperialism. This is something we ought to correct—we must correct—to better weld together a mass movement from the foundations we have laid over the past decade, with those comrades and organizations with whom we have had the pleasure of working. Success and failure have created a great body of theoretical work, and indeed have transformed that into consistent practice.
But neither can we remain in the past. Our tasks change with the political terrain. The coming struggle will be one for survival for the left, whether it is ready for it or not, and the slow death of amerikan imperialism will bring out the worst in the mass reaction, the national bourgeois forces, the left and the neoliberal ruling class who struggle, piecemeal, against them all. We are aware, as marxists, that there are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen. In the coming weeks and years we will be vindicated, and we will be defeated, and we will be victorious, but only concrete political work will determine whether we survive—all of us—the coming fascist high-tide.
As we said back in 2016:
Creativity—the ability to recognize, absorb and synthesize new developments in the political terrain and strategize around them toward final victory—is the real living, scientific core of Marxism. Now, long after the victory of capitalist restoration in Asia and Europe, the left is free from the shackles of great power rivalries, but it is also more divided than ever. It is not equipped in the least to defend itself against the allure of opportunism and the populist violence of the labor aristocracy and the settler masses, let alone to channel the popular rage of those strategic ulcers in the belly of the beast—Black/New Afrikan, Xicanx, and Indigenous resistance, as well as sizable numbers (but by no means approaching a majority) of workers and students of the oppressor nation uninterested in bribery—to form a true revolutionary nucleus that can raise the struggle against internal colonization and imperialism to a new level. Will we, the communist left, remain a tiny, atomized minority, able only to coordinate disruptions to this or that outrage and perhaps exhort ourselves to the occasional meaningful act of internationalist solidarity, until the day imperialism’s global tentacles are cut? Then we must organize and prepare for that. Or will multipolarity, internal unrest, imperialist war, world crisis, and upheavals in the periphery open up a qualitatively new window of opportunity for us? Then we must prepare and organize for that, too.