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A New Anti-Imperialist Internationalism for the Twenty-First Century

The massive new issue of Viewpoint Magazine focuses on imperialism, interrogating how it has changed since the twentieth century, and asking how radical anti-imperialist movements should change along with it. In the editorial for the issue, the Viewpoint editors argue that imperialism has grown more diffuse (but no less powerful) than it was in the age of Great Powers, and that combatting it today will require a similarly dispersed and heterogenous proletarian internationalism. Read an excerpt from the editorial below, or the full text here.

Today, it is necessary to re-situate the concept and question of imperialism. We agree with Lenin when we recognize that no revolution, even a national one, is possible without grasping the effects of imperialism on any local articulation of the working class. And we further agree that, of course, no national revolution would be sufficient for the goal of communism. In short, we see imperialism as both an obstacle to and enemy of internationalism and we in turn view internationalism as a position to be composed in working class struggle itself. Thus, at the risk of simplifying our approach, we propose that to examine imperialism today is to bring it into the realm of class composition. This can involve no disavowal of the complicated history of Marxism and popular struggle with regard to imperialism, nor a simple repetition of any one of its moments. In our sixth issue of Viewpoint, we instead seek out the possibility of an encounter, bringing together historical accounts, artefacts of struggle, and theoretical interventions past and present. Thus we neither “endorse” all of the positions represented here nor reject those that might be absent from this issue, which is a situated engagement with the problem of opposing imperialism from within American empire; we are proud to offer these contributions as material for the long-term work of thinking and struggling against imperialism in the 21st century.

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The “complicated” history of Marxism-Leninism is the triumphant but also tragic history of how the first experiment in revolutionary workers states - the Soviet Union - won in October 1917, won the civil war and war of intervention by 14 capitalist armies, saw off factionalising after Lenin’s death, industrialised, collectivised the peasantry, smashed Nazism, aided the rebellions of the colonies - but still managed to drift so far from Leninist understanding in its Stalin-Brezhnev leadership that its socialism was liquidated by the market-obsessed Western dupe Gorbachev in 1987-91.
This poisoned all socialist ideology at this point and worsened all anti-communism after decades of insane Cold War-mongering by the West and blockheaded Stalinist popular frontism that pandered to bourgeois social-democratic parties.
The Trotskyist movement’s hatred for the workers states and support for all the CIA’s anti-communist movements, such as Solidarity in Poland, or the Charter movement in Czechoslovakia or the attempted Hungarian counter-revolution of 1956, follow directly from Leon Trotsky’s own villainous subjective hatred for the Soviet state and Moscow leadership, where he repeatedly declared that the Soviet leadership were “more savage than the Nazis” (See Trotsky’s “Revolution Betrayed” and “Stalin - Hitler’s Quartermaster”).
No wonder that, given this oaf once worked with Lenin and headed the Red Army - building a completely undeserved reputation for his abilities, that the Marxist-Leninist ideological track record has become “complicated”!
HOWEVER it is imperialist warmongering crisis due to world capitalism’s overproduction of surplus capital that dominates all world events and points the way towards a sweeping resurgence of revolution and revolutionary politics.
What is starting to galvanize the planet is the decline of the US Empire and its efforts under Bush-Obama-Trump to warmonger its way into staying top dog of the imperialist world - but constantly FAILING, despite all the blitzing and drone strikes. Trump is also worsening the international trade war in commodities - but such “Make America Great” again tub-thumping will only ever be met by trade war retaliation. As world trade drops, millions more people will lose their jobs.
The other decaying imperialist powers of the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan etc are also in worse and worse trouble. They will all go down together, like rats in a trap.
More and more, the need is for groups and parties that declare for Marxism-Leninism to hold conferences where all these issues can be thrashed out in as comradely a way as possible, including finding comrades willing to break from the anti-Sovietism of Trotskyism and the popular frontist blockheaded tail-ending of bourgeois parliamentarianism of the museum-Stalinists. Maybe even some anarchists can get over their nonsensical anti-leadership stances.
As for internationalism, it is summed up by Lenin as: “The best form of solidarity is to fight for the revolution in your own country, and for the revolutionary line in all [capitalist] countries without exception.”
Furthermore, Lenin says again and again, against Trotskyism’s anarchistic anti-Soviet state nonsense: “Only he [or she] is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested.”
And, as I am writing this, more news comes in of US stock market crashes, highlighting how the system is weakened, crisis-ridden and explosively unstable.
Human civilisation needs a bigger debate than ever before, and e-flux conversations is doing a good job in facilitating the outbreak of that debate. The converse needs to be more direct, rooted in Marxism and the true history of events and purposeful, rather than academic.
I hope more people will join in. See for a thorough Marxist-Leninist analysis of world events.