Following the latest act of criminal escalation by u.$. imperialism, with more than 100 cruise missiles fired into Syria as a “warning” to the Assad government, the accelerated demise of the forces holding shut the floodgates of inter-imperialist war is evermore apparent. The political machinery of imperialism alone threatens us with the next world war for redivision, and yet that is not all. The whole neoliberal establishment is aware of the stagnation and decadence that has plagued western economies throughout the so-called recovery, and the myriad ways the next crisis could be developing. For instance, recent piece by NPR suggests, citing information provided from the first evictions database, that we are currently in the middle of a housing crisis. If this is true, then it has obviously not yet metastasized into a general crisis, but is accompanied by a general stagnation that threatens economic collapse at every moment. Whatever the cause may be, the looming threat of the next great crisis makes the threat of world war all the more real, a reality we must acknowledge and prepare for.
The strike itself appears, according to reports from those on the ground, to have been rather ineffective. More than 100 missiles were reportedly fired, although intelligence on precisely how many and what kind is still in short supply, with 71 having been intercepted by Syrian air defenses, most of which was supplied by Russia. Even so, the strike represents yet another blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty, justified through fabrication and imperialist arrogance on the part of the united $tates and its partners. Although it did not produce a wider confrontation with Syrian and Russian forces, it marks yet another seismic step toward catastrophe, and no one is yet equipped to discern how many such steps the world can endure. More tit-for-tat responses are to be expected, with debate in the UN over the exact legality of the criminal attacks. Naturally we can expect little will be done, as the imperialist goliaths are always outside the reach of symbolic atlanticist institutions such as the UN. More evidence of a moribund international order incapable of coming to terms with modern multipolarity and capricious imperialism.
Meanwhile in the united $tates and europe, many continue to justify the strikes on the grounds of Syrian “crimes against humanity” and their alleged chemical weapons production facilities and use. Even those nominally in support of peace have backhandedly endorsed mobilization on the grounds that “we must do something” to fight the alleged crimes of the Assad government. Disturbingly enough, most are not even nominally in support of peace, with a nearly complete bipartisan consensus built on opposition to Russian hegemony and neoconservative strategies of redivision in the middle east. One might have thought this was behind us, with reflections on the Iraq war proving potent enough a disuasion from this type of adventure, but one would be sorely mistaken. The drive toward war seems almost psychological at this point, gripping all levels of imperialist society on both sides of the Atlantic. Taken with all the varying shades of opinion, openness to war is near unanimous, with mass propaganda taking on an unmistakably liberal hue. The last great gasp of western neoliberal unity may yet choke us all.
Analyzing the current position of the left, and more specifically the revolutionary left, we find another series of troubling tendencies. Among the worst are appeals to a nebulous third party, not defined by concrete political movements and institutions, but simply known as “The People”, proper noun. “The People” are, in the minds of those who weaponize them, a powerful political actor struggling outside the existing paradigm, normally with identical beliefs and goals to whoever is conjuring them. Thankfully, appeals to “The People” are at this point self-discrediting, as few have the patience for such imaginary games. The people, the real people, and their politics exist in concrete institutions, parties, and blocs, currently struggling for power. It is these groups which actually pursue and hold power, and to whom the loyalty of physical people is given. Abstract, conveniently constructed blocs do not exist to the ongoing physical struggles for power. This tendency exists entirely to legitimize non-action, to obscure material analysis, and to mystify and demobilize what little anti-imperialism remains in the western left.
Even when dealing solely with the existing political blocs, a second, more widely held and equally opportunist tendency emerges. The failure to see ourselves as independent political actors, and to therefore understand our struggle separately, with its own distinct responsibilities. In lieu of any actual capacity for international mobilization and material support, most have assumed the roles of “involved spectators” who offer nominal “support” for this or that existing political bloc, conflating symbolic acts of support with genuine solidarity. Further, they have assumed distorted objectives based on the realities of those they support, rather than the material conditions of our own struggle. The results are oftimes pedantic arguments over personally preferred outcomes in the Syrian conflict that rarely, if ever, attempt to place the western communist movement as independent actors within it, and correctly identify its enemies: namely, our own imperialist governments.
Of course there are those in the Syrian conflict with whom we share a great deal of convictions, and whose enemies and ours are—at least at times—the same. However, at this time no organization in the united $tates has the capacity to enter any direct or effective alliance with those forces fighting abroad. To say otherwise is opportunistic and fraudulent. They have their objectives and we have our own. That does not mean there is never overlap, but to define our political enemies on the basis of those we support is nonsensical, and forfeits the political responsibility we have to make real analyses of our own conditions and to make revolution. It is clear that, especially for amerikan communists, the primary enemy is and will always be, until it’s final defeat, u.$. imperialism. It is not imperialism-in-general, it is not the “dictator Assad” nor is it the enemies of Assad. That means, for us, our current task in the Syrian conflict, as it is in all other imperialist and inter-imperialist conflicts, is the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the united $tates from all hostilities both directly and indirectly.
This is not intended to promote insularity in the communist movement, to shut ourselves off from the world outside and focus only on our “national” interests. On the contrary, we must rigorously pursue an internationalist world outlook through our own revolutionary struggle. We should, on one hand, seek to understand the whole world and its contradictions through a dialectical materialist lens, and on the other, to correctly identify our own immediate position in relation to those contradictions. For now, the only enemy we have that we can act directly upon is u.$. imperialism, or, in the case of others throughout europe, their own imperialist governments. Our primary goal at this stage, as it was identified by Lenin, is the transformation of the current external, reactionary struggle carried on against the world by amerikan imperialism, into an internal, revolutionary struggle. We have noted this numerous times before at Anti-Imperialism, but it cannot be overstated, especially now as we appear to be barreling toward yet another global crisis and a possible world war.
When we fail to put the defeat of u.$. imperialism at the head of our current objectives, and to correctly identify our own material conditions in that struggle, what is put in its place is a confused and false-internationalist political line. The positions of many communists regarding the Islamic State (IS) were evidence of this, especially during the siege of Kobane, where it was difficult to tell exactly where many people stood on the u.$. intervention in Syria. The resulting positions were eclectic, both blaming the united $tates for the IS and chastising them for not being more involved in supporting the Kurdish militants under the YPG. On the other hand, there were others which saw the u.$. aid to Kurdish fighters as evidence that Assad was the only true option, and of course while giving nothing to the war effort, quickly made the SAA their mascot. Yet they, too, were unable to rationalize, except through vague conspiracies, the reasoning behind logistical support given by the Pentagon to Assad during this time as well. Through the many confusing turns in this conflict, the priority became less the withdrawal of amerikan involvement, and more its correction.
Rather than understanding themselves as capable political actors in a struggle fundamentally against u.$. imperialism, many communists elected mascots in the more mature movements taking place elsewhere and neglected their own roles. Some of the more genuine among them went to fight or reconstruct, and became active participants in the Syrian conflict, but a vast majority did not. The conflict as of now exists more as a fixation than a real area of struggle for the western communist movement, and this is something we must get over. The presence of the united $tates does not accelerate the peace process, it only escalates tensions toward more war. Our emphasis must be on demobilization and the defeat of our own imperialist powers. Russian imperialism, though extant, is not of equal measure to us at this point, nor has it ever been. Forcing an amerikan departure from the conflict is not support for the victory of Russian hegemony or the expansion of Turkish ambitions in Afrin. Rather, it is the acceptance of our own responsibility in the world struggle against imperialism.
It is clear that the imperialists are careening toward a wider conflict with each other. They may not exactly want it, but they do not know how to stop it. The politico-economic machinery of imperialism produces the conditions of war, and it necessitates redivision where too great a monopoly has been consolidated or too tenuous an equilibrium is achieved. Ultimately the Syrian conflict will end one way or another, but this will not prevent the metastasis of further war. That can only be achieved through the disarmament and demobilization of the imperialist war machine. So far our nominal “support” has done little to achieve peace in Syria or disarm the imperialists, and despite all that could be done the scope of what has been done is still small. We must change this. The anti-war movement remains in shambles and continues to dissolve, fewer and fewer actions take place despite greater and greater escalation, more and more conflicts. It is clear there is a great deal of ground to make up. So let’s act accordingly.
Down with u.$. Imperialism!
Victory to the Third World!
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