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The contradictions of U.S. imperialism

Published Dec 2, 2008 6:59 PM

Sara Flounders
WW photo: G. Dunkel

Let’s take a look at some of the contradictions of U.S. imperialism, a system in decline and serious decay. There is a crisis of all capitalist institutions. We do not even know levels of disease and rot in the system based on decades of gargantuan subsidies that the huge U.S. military budget represents.

The U.S. ruling class is desperately trying to assert itself and reverse its fortunes. But every effort confirms their weakness and deepens the crisis. They no longer have the economic clout to back up their global position.

What is the approach for revolutionary forces right here in center of this unraveling system? Revolutionary defeatism.

We are for the defeat of this class of pirates, robbers, looters and all the cynical mercenaries who work for them. A victory of resistance forces anywhere in the world strengthens workers as a class on a global scale, including here in the imperialist center. We are not interested in saving capitalism. We are for its overturn.

At the outbreak of World War I, the Russian revolutionary Lenin argued that the workers could not win or gain in any imperialist war. Their true enemies are the imperialist leaders who send the workers and peasants into battle. What this means in essence is standing up to the capitalist class.

Lenin differentiated the communist position from the pacifists, who condemn all wars equally. He defined as just wars the wars waged by an oppressed class against the oppressor class and wars of national liberation by oppressed countries.

We cannot accept the call from all too many liberal imperialists to get out of Iraq and into Afghanistan. We reject all calls for U.N. or NATO intervention in Sudan, Congo, Georgia. There are no good or humanitarian imperialist wars.

Sam Marcy, the founder of Workers World Party, revived this whole debate in a wonderful book entitled “Bolsheviks and War: Lessons for Today’s Anti-War Movement.”

Today the U.S. is at war with the world

The more we link war, the military budget—which is a bailout of the biggest corporations in the country—and the bailout of the banks to mobilizations against the cutbacks the workers are facing, the more we help to develop class consciousness.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world, with great productive capacity, but it is a country with a military budget so bloated, so all-consuming that every possible social program has already been cut to the bone. Life expectancy, infant mortality, health and living standards in the U.S. rank behind those in every industrialized country, and are falling faster and faster.

Worldwide, the gap between the super rich, the owners of the giant corporations, and the billions who are living hand to mouth is larger than at any time in history. Two hundred billionaires own more wealth than 2 billion of the world’s population.

This class can only survive by accumulating still greater wealth, resulting in greater poverty. They have no solutions except endless war. They have nothing positive to contribute.

It is an impossible situation and an explosive contradiction, impossible to resolve.

But now both the capitalist economy and two brutal U.S. imperialist wars have crashed.

U.S. imperialism can’t extricate itself from the wars, can’t just walk away and give up its control of such vital regions. But it can’t stay. The ruling class’s military machine is being just ground down.

There are huge, unexpected crises ahead for U.S. imperialism, as unexpected and as uncontrollable as the economic crisis.

Consider: They did not foresee the possibility of resistance in Afghanistan. They turned the war over to their NATO allies, stationed troops in a few military bases and bought off some warlords.

There was no reconstruction. They just issued a few press releases promising the liberation of women and the building of schools—and then went on to the next war.

This week a major U.S. supply convoy, with layers of helicopter and satellite reconnaissance overhead, was hijacked in the Khyber Pass while still in Pakistan. The Khyber Pass is NATO’s jugular vein–75 percent of all supplies come through this torturously narrow 30-mile mountain road.

Seven years ago U.S. forces seized Afghanistan without one U.S. casualty. Now they have lost control of whole parts of Pakistan, an unstable country of 170 million people, and have trouble supplying their forces in Afghanistan. Their only response is to drop more bombs and fire more missiles.

Consider Iraq: Today more than one-third of the Iraqi population is dead, injured, disabled, imprisoned, internally displaced or refugees. That is the great victory of the “surge.”

Anti-occupation sentiment among Iraqis is stronger than ever, while the conditions of life are beyond desperate.

These were the opening wars for U.S. global reconquest.

Think of terms used just five years ago. “New World Order,” “New American Century,” “Shock and Awe” and the bragging about “Mission Accomplished.” Remember the whole criminal plan for total U.S. world domination through the use of force? Remember the “Axis of Evil” hit list?

But they can’t take Iraq back to a colonial age.

This is the same problem that Israel has with the heroic Palestinian struggle. Despite ceasefires, Israeli tanks and helicopters have bombarded Gaza again and again. Yet the Palestinian fighters have built hundreds of tunnels and blasted through the border wall.

Over the summer there were huge strikes in South Korea that shut down industry, shipping and the ports. Even at protests against imported U.S. beef, millions raised the political demand for U.S. troops out now.

The U.S. has more than 700 bases, and is on the prowl for more in Africa and South Asia. But from the Philippines to Poland and the Czech Republic to Ecuador the demands are “U.S. bases out.”

Now every capitalist competitor is no longer willing to accept the desperate and jarring maneuvers of U.S. policy. The European imperialist allies have withdrawn troops from Iraq, are pulling back in Afghanistan and refused to back up the U.S. in Georgia.

The newly emerging Russian capitalist class imagined that they would be partners with U.S imperialism in the long-term exploitation of the giant, once-socially-owned industries.

But as they watched the former republics of the USSR turned into pawns and military bases arrayed against them, finally they asserted themselves in Georgia this summer. This was another big set- back for the U.S.

But militarism is a stimulant. It has run its course, yet the U.S. economy cannot live without it. It is an addiction that is pulling the capitalist economy down.

What is needed is for workers to become conscious as a class of the cost of endless militarism, of the need for solidarity and of the need to develop an awareness of their own collective power for their own survival.