6 June 2021 — See You in 2020
The imperialists understand well how far asymmetrical, unconventional warfare tactics can go towards undermining a state. Until China’s deradicalization program put a stop to the terrorist attacks in Xinjiang several years ago, Washington dedicated decades to often successfully fomenting acts of Uyghur separatist violence within northwestern China with the hope of Balkanizing the country. Parallel terrorist attacks have since been facilitated by the imperialists in Hong Kong, where the National Endowment for Democracy has funded anti-communist rioters who’ve beat up PRC supporters, lit people on fire, and killed an old man with a brick.
There are many other instances of the imperialists utilizing these kinds of tactics to try to subdue disobedient governments, a more successful example of which occurred in Bolivia two years ago when the CIA incited reactionaries to a campaign of vandalism and violence which created a police revolt and led to a fascist coup. What so often stops these destabilization campaigns from being effective (the Bolivia coup has since been reversed, and a Uyghur breakaway state within China has yet to materialize) is that imperialism’s interests are divorced from the interests of the masses within the countries they seek to conquer.
Imperialist-incited violence seeks to expand the paradigm of neoliberal austerity and exploitation, which goes against what the masses want and is therefore often defeated by the democratic will of the masses. It was the power of China’s proletarian democracy that ended the Uyghur terrorism campaign, and it was the Bolivian proletariat’s forcing through a new election that made the coup regime have to leave.
The imperialists ignore the requirement for unconventional warfare to be successful that Che Guevara described:
Those who advocate guerrilla warfare are often accused of forgetting mass struggle, almost as if guerrilla warfare and mass struggle were opposed to each other. We reject this implication. Guerrilla warfare is a people’s war, a mass struggle. To try to carry out this type of war without the support of the population is to court inevitable disaster. The guerrillas are the fighting vanguard of the people, stationed in a specified place in a certain area, armed and prepared to carry out a series of warlike actions for the one possible strategic end — the seizure of power. They have the support of the worker and peasant masses of the region and of the whole territory in which they operate. Without these prerequisites no guerrilla warfare is possible.
It’s this reality about the factors that necessarily surround an unconventional war’s success which serve as the foil for the imperialists, and which serve as the savior for the forces of class struggle. Unlike the imperialists, the leaders of the revolutionary socialist organizations — at least the competent ones — are not detached from the masses. Their goals are exactly the same as what will materially benefit the masses, namely the establishment of proletarian democracy and the equitable policies which stem from this. They don’t appeal to the masses using deception like the imperialists do. It’s this fundamental difference between the irregular warfare of the revolutionary socialists and the irregular warfare of the imperialists that’s bringing Colombia closer towards revolution.
The outbreak of irregular warfare we’ve seen in Colombia so far is low-level in terms of guerrilla tactics, and not necessarily armed with anything more powerful than Molotov cocktails. Yet protesters have sacked around 60 police stations, which means they’ve chipped away at the neo-colonial government’s first line of defense; these stations are effectively miniature military bases, given how militarized Colombia’s police are. This has turned the situation in the favor of the protest movement, with many Colombian dissidents who were initially fleeing to Argentina now returning to Colombia.
For now, this is the caliber of warfare that can realistically be carried out by the Colombian masses. The FARC and the ELN have had their forces and territory greatly diminished by the government’s counterinsurgency, forcing them to stay away from attempting to take on a central role within the uprising. Aside from some renewed fighting from FARC members, armed class struggle isn’t ramping up at the moment. It’s not like this revolt is about to bring the overthrow of the capitalist state itself, that would require a restoration of the former strength of the guerrilla forces and a far larger weakening of the state’s armed forces.
Recently the FARC put out a statement encouraging the members of the police and the military to defect from their posts, arguing that shooting their fellow citizens won’t make them exempt from the government’s neoliberal policies. But until the class struggle develops towards such a stage, it’s more likely that these protests will bring about something similar to Argentina’s political unrest of 2001, where the very worst impacts of neoliberalism were driven out by a revolt which achieved reforms.
Despite these obstacles to revolution, the mere presence of this uprising exposes a fundamental weakness in imperialism’s model of state terrorism, parallel to the weakness in its model of insurrectionary terrorism. This is that imperialism’s tactics for suppressing revolts reinforce the anti-proletarian policies which will ultimately drive the masses to revolt even harder than before.
It’s because of the successes of “Plan Colombia,” where Washington aggressively backed Colombian counterinsurgency efforts against armed Marxists, that the masses are now having to seek out their own means of class empowerment independently from the guerrillas. Especially in the age of neoliberalism, where the exploitation of the global poor is being heightened to a historically unprecedented degree, when a neo-colonial regime destroys a guerrilla army it will only have an even greater revolt to look forward to. The imperialists are playing whack-a-mole.
Plan Colombia’s model has been hailed as the solution to anti-imperialist insurgencies from Mexico to Afghanistan, but if this is the asterisk underneath all of its much-praised victories, how useful of a tool is it really? Like Israel’s model for suppressing the Palestinian resistance — which is what partly spawned Plan Colombia given Israel’s exporting of military technologies and training to Colombian repressive forces — this model can only delay the victory of the masses. It’s highly unlikely that Israel will survive to 100 given the ever-mounting pressure on the Zionist state, which has multiplied in the last month with the crumbling of Israel’s “peace-seeking” narrative that the horrific Gaza siege has created. And as the shocking human rights abuses from Colombian police have brought international condemnation upon Colombia, it’s becoming clear that this other settler-colonial state will meet the same fate.
When it does, the downfall of neo-colonialism in Colombia will follow the same pattern described in The Second Declaration of Havana, which was written over half a century ago:
The armies are set up and equipped for conventional warfare. They are the force whereby the power of the exploiting classes is maintained. When they are confronted with the irregular warfare of peasants based on their own home-grounds, they become absolutely powerless; they lose 10 men for every revolutionary fighter who falls. Demoralization among them mounts rapidly when they are beset by an invisible and invincible army which provides them no chance to display their military academy tactics and their fanfare of war, of which they boast so much to repress the city workers and students. The initial struggle of small fighting units is constantly nurtured by new forces; the mass movement begins to grow bold, the old order bit by bit breaks up into a thousand pieces and that is when the working class and the urban masses decide the battle.
As Colombia’s mass movement begins to grow bold, and as the guerrilla leaders seek to break up the old order by agitating for armed forces defections, the forces of irregular warfare within the country can take comfort in this principle that the Declaration then describes: “What is it that from the very beginning of the fight makes those units invincible, regardless of the number, strength and resources of their enemies? It is the people’s support, and they can count on an ever-increasing mass support.”
The imperialists don’t have the equivalent kind of support. All they have is a machine of global armed occupations and paramilitarism that depends on the bourgeoisie, who represent a small minority and therefore lack the strength in numbers which the anti-imperialists have.