The liberal so-called opposition to Trump has recently honed in on one of the articles in the new budgetary proposal for the state department in 2019 which includes, among other things, the further slashing of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its related institutions. According to the current president of the NED, Carl Gershman, the proposed cuts would “[send] a signal far and wide that the United States is turning its back on supporting brave people who share our values,” marking a definitive end to one of amerika’s largest remaining “soft-power” institutions. The proposed cut would continue the downward trend in the institution’s funding, which will have fallen from 170 million dollars in 2017 to 67 million in 2019 if the proposal is accepted—a 60% reduction.
This has the democratic party uncharacteristically worried. Even some republicans are concerned by the proposal, as it would mark a new qualitative leap in the disarmament of amerikan hegemonic influence throughout the world. Despite using the legacy of his presidency as a political boogeyman for their own purposes, the democrats will move to defend an institution established by Ronald Reagan as a way to advance the fight against world socialism. On one hand this is a position built on liberal contrarianism—they support it because Trump, at least for now, opposes it. On a deeper level it represents a division between the established neoliberal logic of imperialism, and the capricious policy of the Trump regime. It is, as of yet, unclear whether or not this demand will resonate with a liberal base, but the centers of legitimacy among the opposition are already attempting to rally what influence they have to preserve these institutions.
Despite the instinctual defense of imperial glory, most amerikans are unsurprisingly disinterested in the defense of state organs like NED, so this debate will likely be attempted far above their heads, and their support will be rallied, in technocratic fashion, to support a platform that ultimately seeks the return of these organs. This is something that we must rally an internal opposition against. This should not be rationalized as a defense of Trump’s policy; we stand firmly in the camp of the opposition, as we do with every imperial administration. Rather, we must remember that whatever political proximity we may inhabit to the liberal opposition we must use to push back against its technocratic and pro-imperialist slant. We cannot count on proximity alone to benefit us while we deliver victories to our enemies, and in situations like this clear lines of demarcation must be drawn.
Gutting the NED and its related institutions is by no means an anti-imperialist policy, rather, it is only an affirmation that the capricious imperialism of the Trump era is carried out by other means. The general lack of analysts and qualified staff has produced an erratic and often irrational foreign policy, bouncing between seemingly antithetical positions; factionalism has overtaken many of those imperialist projects inherited from the Obama era. Our response to the shrinking amerikan hegemonic and military involvement and control should be toward the transformation of the external struggle to an internal one, and a fundamental opposition to the core of amerikan capitalism-imperialism. Unlike the democrats and their grassroots satellites, demanding that the Trump regime become more competent imperialists, we demand what we always have: the immediate, unconditional and complete cessation of the total imperialist program. This includes both military and “soft-power” projects.
This is not a march toward isolationism, but a push to transform struggle in this country from one carried out in the context of imperialist factionalism, to one fundamentally in opposition to capitalism-imperialism itself. So while, for now, we may find common cause with the liberal opposition in terms of our opposition to the fascist far-right and the Trump regime, we must all the while develop networks, build institutions and perfect practices toward real revolution, not just a change in leadership. This means initiating intense ideological agitation among those within the liberal opposition. They show little concern, on average, for the fate of amerikan soft-power institutions like the NED, and yet they are mobilized under the legal umbrella of politicians and government blocs that make this their primary demand. Even despite an instinctual defense of empire, these are issues far outside the concerns of the grassroots element.
We must expose the hollow and technocratic leadership of the current liberal opposition, and build an anti-imperialist current within all relevant struggles. If Trump wishes to gut the NED, let him. If he wishes to withdraw from international “free trade” agreements, let him. The greatness of amerikan empire is not our concern, and we must not allow the leaders of the liberal opposition to shape our movement into one for the restoration of that so-called greatness. Our tasks are the immediate and unconditional end to all imperialist conflicts and the overthrow of the imperialist united $tates government, not simply this administration. We should not isolate ourselves from the rest of the opposition, however liquidation within it is no more preferable an outcome. We must make our presence felt, and disrupt attempts to further consolidate an unquestionable neoliberal leadership over the opposition to the regime and far-right currents.