The contradictions of U.S. imperialism
Published Dec 2, 2008 6:59 PM
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
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
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
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
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
But now both the capitalist economy and two brutal U.S. imperialist wars have
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,
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
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.
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