Monday, 3 October 2022 — Investigating Imperialism
What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.
— Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?”, The National Interest, No.16 (Summer 1989)
Hmmm… so much for predictions.
The Russians have surely put the cat amongst the pigeons and put paid to “the end of history” nonsense, big time! All our traditional yardsticks, the way we evaluate events and ideas in this post-Soviet space, have we to jettison them all because of Russia’s ‘Special Military Operation’ (SMO) in the Ukraine? Even the much-vaunted contest between left and right, a contest all of us have grown up within, has been cut adrift from its moorings, but these alone don’t identify the key elements of the transition to a neoliberal planet, however brief its reign may be. But of course, it’s not just the Russian SMO, it’s the entire trajectory of events since the US’s regime change operation that overthrew the Soviet Union in 1989, that have been leading up to this denouement. What is depressing, is that so few in the West recognise it for what it is, and of course this is intimately connected to what has happened to politics in the West. Or rather the disappearance of politics, which in its way, explains in part, why the left has been rendered impotent. If you like the SMO is a wakeup call as it signals a new epoch in the making for both left and right to chew on. So far however, the left has shown that it’s not up to the task.
And of course, underneath it all, propelling it along, like some demented, out-of-control train, is the capitalist system, hidden yet in plain sight and desperate to hold on to ill-gotten gains, even if it risks the ending of humanity.
My second irony and it’s not (yet) about left and right, events have overtaken both the left and the right and found both wanting. And this is not the first time by any means, that this has happened. But what makes this time different is that unless the crisis is dealt with correctly and promptly, it’ll probably be the last time we have the luxury of decision-making about anything. The irony lies in the fact that whilst the left, in all its various iterations, seems content to count the number of capitalists there are on the head of a pin, can’t seem to figure out what the SMO is all about or indeed what the ‘Pandemic’ was really all about. This is first and foremost about the crisis of capitalism, perhaps the final crisis.
Most of the Western left faces a real quandary over Russia’s SMO but not so our compañeros in the Global South. They’re all pretty much of one mind about the real objectives of the Collective West as it is now known or, to give it its ‘classical’ name, “Imperialism” and events, not just in the Ukraine but the entire neocolonial project since the 1960s, headed by the US and executed by NATO. Why is this? What is it about the politics of the Left in the West that leaves them so confused and so easily misled about events and their causes? Does it not call into question as to what their true intentions are, especially when it comes to their relationships with the Global South. Or perhaps, they are simply clueless about things but I don’t buy this. I can say this from my own, direct experience of working with solidarity groups connected to Central America and Southern Africa. I call it (generously) the ‘We know best’ syndrome. Left or right, we are always telling everybody else, not only what to do but how to do it. Lenin was more direct; he called it ‘social imperialism’ where imperialist views are masked by socialist rhetoric.
The Western left has a kind of schizophrenia about Russia/Soviet Union but of two types: type 1 are those, with whatever provisos they had, who supported the Soviet Union and 20th century socialism; type 2 are those who never supported the Soviet Union, they considered that the Russian Communist Party had sold out, reneged on its principles, had a abandoned the Revolution or never had that as an objective in the first place. Russia’s Special Military Operation has either confirmed these longstanding views of Russia – whether the socialist or capitalist version – that Russia is an imperialist state bent on conquering the planet. Or, that Russia has legitimate concerns over where USNATO’s march East is going to end up and after having its security concerns ignored by the ‘Collective West’, it acted, quite rightly in my view, to defend its legitimate national interests.
Why shouldn’t it be Putin who leads the challenge to Western hegemony? Wasn’t it the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdal Nasser who challenged the hegemony of the European imperialists, France and England but he was, like Putin a nationalist, a patriot if you like, not a Communist (he locked them up). Thus there is no contradiction between Putin’s politics and his right to defend his homeland.
Multi-polarity, which importantly, didn’t originate in the West or with the left. No wonder the Western left is confused but then the Left never did have a sense of irony. And isn’t it ironic that the first, viable challenge to 500 years of Western hegemony should come from an anti-communist and deeply religious government. I mean it’s wild! All the old relationships have disappeared overnight! All of a sudden, Russia has rediscovered its Mojo but in an entirely new setting, a setting that nobody in the West saw coming. And as if to reinforce this new reality, we now see the reinvention of the Non-Aligned Movement but now including Russia and China and it’s called Multi-polarity. Who wudda thunk it?
It proves that the last century’s sparring between the West and the rest never ended with the end of the Soviet Union but instead of being a triumphalist West celebrating the end of history, it finds itself being that end.
Isn’t it also ironic that Russia should once more be the liberator of Europe (by default), though of course, to most it doesn’t seem like that right now because most of Europe has no idea what’s really going on, the censorship, the rewriting of history, is now virtually complete. A handful of US Marines won WWII and the Russians had the winter to defeat the Nazis, at least, in a nutshell, that’s how the ‘Collective West’ projects the past.
We have been imprisoned inside a bubble, a fantasy, the invention of the servants of capital, where everything is reversed; good is bad, day is night, right is wrong.
So, what exactly is going on? Why has Russia, a capitalist country, found itself the enemy of the ‘Collective West’ which seems intent on destroying the Russian Federation? Before, that is to say, when the Soviet Union existed, the rationale for confrontation and war was those evil, Godless communists, out to destroy the God-fearing Democrats of the West. So what’s the excuse now? It would appear that the only reason the Collective West can offer, is that they’re Russian, no other justification is needed after 100 years of rabid, racist Russophobia. What is it they call Russians in the Collective West? White Niggers, which says it all. Yet of course, whether capitalist or communist, Russia is a competitor and it possesses vast natural resources, probably the most educated population on the planet and of course vast markets for US products. This is what it’s really all about and it always has been.
So, is this the ‘next step’ in the evolution of our global civilisation? What is it, this ‘multi-polarity’? Well it’s not (yet) about socialism, it’s as Lenin so succinctly put it over 120 years ago; it’s about Imperialism (versus the Planet), the highest, or perhaps the last stage of capitalism. Yet of course, ultimately, it has to be about socialism or it’s as we see, right now, it’s Barbarism and planetary death. And 87% of the planet have realised this, that’s what multi-polarity is all about. What is it Putin calls us in the Collective West? The Golden Billion, that for five hundred years has sucked the planet dry; it’s earth, it’s water, it’s air, it’s plants, it’s animals, even it’s insects and of course its populations. Nothing is sacred to Capital.
Collectively, that is, Russia and China and the Global South, now have the economic and military power to challenge the hegemony of the USA. So I think it’s no exaggeration to say that this is a ‘do or die’ moment, literally for us all. Multi-polarity is our tipping point. It’s Multi-polarity’s historic mission to repair the planet’s ecology.
5 thoughts on “Living In the Age of Ironies By William Bowles”
Thanks! Now what is needed is for the Empire of Lies to be defeated by the 87% of the globe who would like cooperation! peace! Putin is a godsend for us!
This is impressive. You manage to look the truth in the face without being depressing (like Meszaros is sometimes).
But I don’t think Russia is capitalist. Capitalism as a mode of production has run its course and is dying. US hegemonic imperialist capitalism is dead (reduced to living off its wars, outright theft of other countries’ assets, and war-coerced debt and imperial rent. After the coup, Putin and his cohorts of “nationalistic” (as opposed to exiled “comprador”) oligarchs were shocked into learning that they couldn’t be legitimate capitalists, because there was no legitimate capitalism to join. They staggered about with a bundle of money in a daze as their country was looted and people died….Nevertheless, these “nationalists” came to power because they saw that staying in power meant re-nationalizing what was left of Russia’s core industries and providing some public services.
Putin doesn’t like communism or even socialism and appeals to religion, patriotism, and national culture, and has been forced by circumstance to behave socialistically. The irony couldn’t have escaped him and his cohorts, that while western capitalism was dying in the West, it appeared to be viable (profitable) only in socialist countries, particularly China. But in China the revolutionary Communist Party is still revolutionary and still in power.
I agree with you assessment of Putin. But in a transitional role.
Agreed that Putin is a transitional but key figure as the world refocuses on the central issue of our time, the coming climate catastrophe. Led by China with Russia guarding the henhouse, this is the final confrontation between capital and global labour, excluding the labour aristocracy of the Golden Billion who are trapped in the maze of debt and consumption, in thrall to the baubles the Imperialist heartland ‘offers’ them. This reality is made clear by the populations of the EU who’d rather freeze than revolt, addicted as they are to the cheap energy that was supplied by Russia. The final ‘great leveller’? The ruling classes are, of course mesmerised by their own illusions of immortality, figuring that their wealth will enable them to ‘ride out the coming storm’ aka Hurricane Ian? They fled, the poor got flattened. This is the time of the final reckoning, who knows what the outcome will be? I keep thinking about the Israeli fascist Harari of WEF infamy who coined the the phrase, ‘the 2 billion Useless Eaters’. This is where it’s at.
For those interested, I recommend spending one hour on a video from a year ago by Alexander Mercouris called “Furious Putin slams EU policies for creating gas crisis”.
It is uncannily close to the present situation, but explains right from the year 2000 after the tragic position the West had put Russia in in the 1990s how Putin spoiled the plans to take over all the exploitation of oil and gas development in Russia. No wonder they remain furious!!!
Putin frustrated the Empire’s plans, they hate him. Putin needed the time to prepare for the coming conflict with the ‘Collective West’. They’ll never forgive him.