Ray O. Light
Newsletter Number 44
The Economic Motives for the Bush-led U.S. Imperialist War at Home and Abroad and the Need for Proletarian Revolution
Marxism-Leninism teaches that at the heart of monopoly capitalist and imperialist political economy, the "engine" that drives the world’s current socio-economic system, is the dialectical relationship between imperialist politics and imperialist economics, with economics as the driving force, as the primary aspect, of the relationship. From the standpoint of the international working class, the world’s proletariat, this explanation takes the mystery out of imperialist war. This Newsletter seeks to explain, in light of scientific socialism, the objective economic causes for the blatant imperialist aggression and state terror perpetrated by the main bulwark of world capitalism in the first years of the twenty-first century, U.S. imperialism, spearheaded by its chief political representative, George W. Bush.
The newsletter is based on the presentation by the leader of the Ray O. Light Group that set the political context for recent Ray O. Light-sponsored conferences held on the theme "Broadening and Deepening Resistance to the Bush-led U.S. Imperialist War at Home and Abroad". Hopefully, it will serve as a sound basis for the formulation of some correct tactical and strategic goals for defeating the Bush-led U.S. imperialist war of terror and marching on to a socialist world that will eliminate both class and national oppression from the face of the earth.
This presentation seeks to establish that "the Bush-led U.S. Imperialist War at Home and Abroad" is not about some misguided or greedy individual but precisely that what we are up against, our chief adversary, our enemy, is a system, a political-economic system. Indeed, this is no academic discussion about "economics". Those who find themselves in agreement will, we believe, draw the inevitable conclusion that there is an urgent need for proletarian revolution.
The great Filipino revolutionary, Jose Maria Sison, once made a remarkable observation in an informal setting. He said: "opportunism is the illusion that the struggle is easier than it actually is" ― a very profound concept. We hope this presentation helps to convince the honest working class fighter that the struggle is more difficult than the opportunists lead us to believe; yet, at the same time, in this irreconcilable class struggle, the proletariat can and will win.
The Bush-led U.S. Imperialist War at Home and Abroad
Many of us see clearly that there is bilateral collaboration in the so-called "war on terror" between the Democrats and Republicans as loyal representatives of U.S. imperialism. It is not Bush’s war, as an individual, but it is a war in which Bush has become the hated symbol of U.S. imperialism. U.S. imperialism has waged this war in the first place against the Afghani and Iraqi people and then against the oppressed peoples in Colombia, in the Philippines and elsewhere and finally within the "belly of the beast" itself, against the workers and oppressed nationalities within this U.S. multi-national state.
Working class people, particularly in the USA but even elsewhere in the world, may not see through a maze of Madison Avenue style rhetoric about "patriotism", or "self-defense", or "defending our country against terrorism", especially in this time of mass media conglomerates in TV, magazines, etc. But working people live from paycheck to paycheck and we understand all too well the power of the "almighty dollar" in our own lives.
The Bush-led U.S. Imperialist War of Terror Around the World
With this as our starting point, let us simply lay out the huge economic oil and natural gas stake of U.S. imperialism in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and then connect that to the struggle between the euro and the dollar for supremacy in the world capitalist system.
First, let’s examine the economic motives in relation to the war in Afghanistan: U.S. imperialism helped install and backed the Taliban regime (against the Soviet and then Russian-backed Northern Alliance) until late 1998. Then the Taliban gave the contract for a massive oil/natural gas pipeline to connect the rich fields in the former Soviet Central Asian Republics to the Arabian Sea, gateway to the Indian subcontinent, not to the U.S. oil company Unocal, but to the Bridas Company of Argentina. Only then did the U.S. government’s attitude toward the Taliban "cool off". Ironically, the U.S. and its global alliance, in their invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001 ― when they could not get any Afghani to call them into Afghanistan, couldn’t get anyone to say come please help us ― utilized the warlords of the Northern Alliance, their former foes, as their small native base of Afghani support against the Taliban regime, their former friends! (This dramatic fact underscores the truth that imperialist economics drives imperialist politics rather than vice-versa.) Indeed, the main qualification for President Karzai, installed by the U.S. imperialist-led "coalition" as Afghani head of state after their invasion, and who remains in that position some five years later, was that he was a former employee of Unocal! This is economics as the driving force in the most acute political struggle of our time.
Secondly, let’s look at Iraq: In early 1982 the Reagan administration began giving military aid and intelligence information to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Reagan and U.S. imperialism backed Iraq in its war with Iran, and, at the same time, through the settler state of Israel, supplied arms to Iran! As former assistant Secretary of State Roger Hilsman has exposed: "…its real policy was to try to make sure that neither side won a clear victory by arming both." (p.33, George Bush and Saddam Hussein, 1992) In other words, its aim was to cripple both Iraq and Iran so they would be vulnerable to imperialist domination and/or invasion. Beyond this, U.S. imperialism was using the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq to stop the Iranian revolution from spreading and at the same time strengthening the role within Iran of the reactionary Shi’ite clerics vis-à-vis the revolutionized Iranian oil field workers. For the inspiring example of these militant workers was threatening to spread the expropriation and nationalization of giant foreign imperialist oil companies by workers throughout the Middle East. Saddam was clearly a valuable tool of U.S. imperialism back then.
In recent years, however, the Saddam Hussein regime has had a much different character in relation to U.S. imperialism. According to Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s March 2003 article, "Obviously Oil", Saddam Hussein had refused to give big U.S. and British oil companies leases on massive Iraqi oil fields. (Remember that in the entire world Iraq is second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of the vastness of its oil reserves.) Even worse from the standpoint of U.S. imperialism, the French, Russian and Chinese governments had secured those leases from Saddam’s government and Germany had massive and lucrative Iraqi infrastructure contracts.
Even before the 2003 U.S./British military invasion had begun, U.S. media had leaked the fact that in the post Saddam U.S. military occupation under U.S. General Tommy Franks the plans were already in place for the allocation of Iraq’s massive oil fields almost exclusively to U.S. companies. The U.S. military was seizing them for the U.S. oil companies and to take them away from the French, the Russians, and the Chinese. When the U.S. imperialists ran into trouble from the earliest days of the occupation, they turned to their partner-rivals for help. But France, Germany, Russia and China refused to help, because Bush and U.S. imperialism would not cut them back in on the imperialist booty it had just cut them out of. Economics clearly served as the driving force in this ultimate political struggle of state violence, of imperialist war.
One key reason why Bush would not make a deal on Iraqi oil with the partner-rivals of U.S. imperialism is because of the struggle between the euro and the dollar for supremacy in the world. Saddam had raised the idea with French and German imperialism et al of conducting the global oil business in euros rather than dollars.
Starting in the very first months of Bush’s presidency, months before 9/11/01, the world economic crisis had finally begun to impact the U.S. economy with large job losses. Such a drastic shift in the power of the euro vis-à-vis the dollar in the midst of this crisis would have been a powerful, perhaps even a fatal, blow to U.S. economic hegemony in the world! In defense of U.S. economic hegemony Saddam had to be stopped and Iraq’s oil wealth seized.
Such was the economic foundation for the most acute expression of politics in the modern world, the hot war that has been taking place against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Bush-led U.S. Imperialist War at Home
In the home base of the U.S. Empire, this war effort was bolstered by such an important lackey of U.S. imperialism as American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President John Sweeney, the acknowledged leader of the organized section of the U.S. working class. Immediately after September 11th, Sweeney gave his uncritical blessing to George W Bush. He told Bush: "the workers of this country will stand 100% behind you, commander in chief, sir". What happened? The capitalists of the United States in relation to the working class here immediately used the opportunity to step all over us. It is in the nature of the economic system that that war being carried out abroad would be inflicted on us at home. And the history of the U.S. is replete with this kind of attacks on the workers at home once the ruling class has perpetrated a "hot war" abroad. They wrap the flag around themselves and strengthen the capitalist state at home. The capitalists did not hesitate to seize this golden opportunity to use their strengthened position to intensify their exploitation of the workers within the U.S. multinational state.*
* The Bush-led U.S. imperialist perpetual war of terror has also served to swell the number of immigrant workers in the USA. The intensification of the contradiction between the oppressed peoples and U.S. imperialism led to greater immigration to the U.S. in this period. And the increased repression of immigrants (and citizens of the USA) has decreased the number of undocumented immigrants returning to their home countries across the border. Thus, the number of undocumented immigrants in the USA has increased. They are super-exploited here as well as at home.
Here, too, as in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the peoples are not taking repression lying down and there has been some real resistance from undocumented workers on a massive scale. The Sensenbrenner bill in the U.S. House of Representatives which went so far as to claim it would "criminalize" all undocumented workers and their friends, was itself the product of the strengthening of the position of the imperialists due to the so-called "war on terror". But U.S. imperialism went too far, too fast in that situation and sparked the mass struggle for immigrant rights in the USA, culminating in mass May Day demonstrations in the Spring of 2006. However, in its insatiable drive for maximum profits, U.S. imperialism has continued its efforts to beat down the immigrants, and the past year has seen an increase in U.S. immigration raids and deportations, oftentimes forcing situations of child abandonment. Increased repression has led to a weakening of the immigrant rights movement, but the spark of resistance is still widespread among this super-exploited sector of the U.S. working class.
One remarkable set of statistics, compiled by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston at the end of 2006, revealed that the top five Wall Street firms (Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley) were expected to award an estimated $36 billion to $44 billion worth of Christmas 2006 bonuses to their 173,00 employees, an average of between $200,000 and $250,000, with most of it concentrated on the top one thousand or so highest-paid managers. Andrew Sum, the center’s director, compared these bonuses with the wage increases of the 93 million production and non-supervisory U.S. workers (exclusive of farm workers) over a six year period, 2000 to 2006, encompassing much of the same period as Bush’s "war on terror". The combined pay raises of all the workers for the entire six year period came to less than half the combined bonuses of the big five Wall Street firms for that one year!! And labor productivity had risen an impressive eighteen per cent over the same period. Mr. Sum was startled by the fact that what he considered the once strong link between productivity gains and wage increases had been severed! We understand that it reflects in dollars and cents the fact that the Bush-led U.S. imperialist war on the working people abroad strengthened our monopoly capitalist enemy vis-à-vis the working class here at home. So we have been experiencing the Bush-led war on working people at home.
With the AFL-CIO leading the working class in the United States on a course of great nation chauvinism and unity with "our own" imperialists against our best friends around the world, it is little wonder that the union leadership has been completely unable and unwilling to defend even the short-term economic interests of the U.S. working class against capital.
It was in this grim setting for the U.S. working class that, in the summer of 2005, on the fiftieth anniversary of the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the AFL-CIO was split up. Six large unions, representing about 40% of the entire AFL-CIO, formed the Change to Win Coalition (CTW) allegedly so that they could more effectively organize the unorganized millions of U.S. workers.
Those who claimed to want to rebuild the labor movement within the newly formed CTW coalition as well as those who remained in the AFL-CIO flunked an early test. In August 2005, less than one month after the AFL-CIO "split", 4,400 mechanics, represented by Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), went on strike against Northwest Airlines, refusing to accept massive concessions and job reductions as so many other airline unions had done. Like PATCO a quarter of a century ago, AMFA, an association built on the raiding of other unions, was a pariah in the organized labor movement. Just as with PATCO, if other airline unions had honored the Northwest mechanics picket lines, the strike could have been won. Instead, the strike was lost, and the U.S. monopoly capitalist class was the victor. Unions in both the AFL-CIO and the CTW Coalition represent airline workers. Both consciously refused to stand in solidarity with the mechanics and both share responsibility for the labor setbacks that have occurred since.
Since 2005, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andy Stern, the most imaginative of the "new" CTW leaders, in the name of trying to enlarge SEIU’s membership base, has made unprecedented "sweetheart" agreements both with Walmart and with the largest corporations in the California nursing home industry over the heads of his own membership and staff. This is a bad omen concerning the future of U.S. organized labor as we know it.
Meanwhile, the monopolist owned and controlled mass media seeks to keep the U.S. working class disarmed with the big lie that there is no connection between economics and politics. In relation to such an important issue as the war in the Middle East, there is hardly a word about the connection between Texas oilmen such as the Bushes and Middle East oil. They paint a picture making it appear that the political decision to wage war on the Arab people has had nothing to do with oil and its crucial role in the current world economy. The multi-billion dollar war contracts Halliburton has obtained, which rescued this giant corporation from imminent collapse under the pressure of multi-billion dollar asbestos lawsuits, and Halliburton’s strong connection to its recent CEO, Vice President Cheney, have received no media attention at all. The media has made only the briefest mention of the neo-conservatives and their Project for the New American Century (PNAC) that plotted the take-over of Iraq long before 9/11 and even before George W. Bush got to the White House.
The fact that the Bushites have been leading the U.S. government and misled the country into launching this unprovoked war has not motivated the mass media to investigate and expose the economic plans of the "neo-cons" and the impact of these plans on the political activities of the U.S. government, including, first and foremost, the war.
The U.S. monopoly capitalist dominated mass media’s effort is to conceal the connection between imperialist politics and economics. For example, incredibly, the mass media has thus far failed to even mention the fact that, at the time of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the bin Laden family and the Bush family (as well as a who’s who of George H. W. Bush’s senior cabinet officers) were business partners in the huge corporation called the Carlyle Group!* Likewise, the huge contract that George W. Bush signed with the Dubai Ports World Company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates to operate six of the largest ports in the USA, which Bush’s own "mass base" of chauvinistic white Christians forced him to renege on, did not move the monopoly controlled mass media to delve into the mysterious world of Dubai Ports World. Nor is the fact that Halliburton has now moved its headquarters from Houston, Texas to Dubai sufficient to get the media on the trail. This is truly a bought and kept mass media, capable only of spouting the company line of U.S. imperialism.
* Indeed, the massive Carlyle Group also encompasses the Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) in which most of the top U.S. labor leaders in the AFL-CIO were embroiled in their own insider trading scandal during this same period! Talk about being in bed with management, the top AFL-CIO labor leaders have been invested in the same huge corporation of the Carlyle group and getting their piece of the action by basically illegal means. No wonder Sweeney has been so loyal to Bush.
Along with everything else, they maintain the fiction that U.S. politics and economics operate on separate tracks. For example, both the Democratic and Republican Parties are bought and paid for by the biggest banking and corporate chieftains. Monopoly capital backs both candidates in major elections, ensuring their continued control over their political puppets and domination over us. This is why we have almost unceasing talk about election law reform every time there is an election. It is so clear that the economic rulers of the country are in control of the major political parties that there has to be this safety valve of "debate", the possibility for "reform of the elections" – "let’s try to take the money out of politics", etc.
The fact is that bourgeois media, religion, culture, and higher education all preach and teach and promote the separation of economics from politics.
Marx, on the contrary, teaches their interconnection!
"Just as Darwin discovered the law of evolution in organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of evolution in human history: he discovered the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat and drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, religion, art, etc., and that therefore the production of the immediate material means of subsistence and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, the art and even the religious ideas of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which these things must therefore be explained, instead of vice-versa as had hitherto been the case." (Engels, Speech at the Graveside of Karl Marx, 1883)
"Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, … no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking. Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life." (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845)
"The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life processes in general." (Marx, Excerpt from Preface to the Critique of Political Economy, 1859)
The unprecedented breadth and depth of the unending series of scandals that have enmeshed the Bush Regime throughout the period of his war on terror, as well as the Bush-led U.S. imperialist war of terror itself, are indications of the systemic contradiction between the collectivized means of global production on the one hand, and the private ownership and control and the coercive nature that characterizes the backward monopoly capitalist and imperialist relations of production.
This long list includes: the financial scandal involving Kenneth Lay, the biggest backer of Bush’s first presidential election, who pillaged the retirement pensions of his Enron employees; Enron’s role in crafting with Vice President Cheney the Bush Regime’s energy policy and Cheney’s unprecedented refusal to turn over the minutes of those meetings to the General Accounting Office; Cheney’s Halliburton Corporation connection and the no-bid multi-billion dollar Iraqi war and reconstruction contracts, followed by the fraudulent billing of these war contracts, adding more billions of loot to Halliburton from the public coffers; Bush’s open contempt for the U.S. Congress, evidenced by his many "signing statements" attached to newly enacted laws, indicating his unwillingness to abide by them; the decision not to stand for re-election by Texas Republican Whip Tom DeLay due to exposed influence peddling, including the conviction of Republican bagman Jack Abramoff; the resignation and conviction of Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff "Scooter" Libby for "outing" key CIA operative Valerie Plame in retaliation for (her husband) former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson’s exposure of the Big Lie Bush-Cheney justification for launching the war on Iraq; the recent resignation of several top aides of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his own current job jeopardy due to blatant and illegal White House political interference manifested in the firing of eight federal attorneys, either for prosecuting key Republicans or for not prosecuting big Democrats; the resignation of the Surgeon General of the United States and the military general in charge of the famous Walter Reed Hospital, now infamous for the scandalous conditions that seriously injured U.S. soldiers have experienced there, which has underscored the fact that Cheney and Commander in Chief Bush view "their own" U.S. military troops as mere cannon fodder; Bush-Cheney cover-ups of oil company price gouging and record oil company profits ― taking full advantage of the destruction of oil production capacity both during the war in Iraq and in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath; the Bush government’s illegal appropriation of private telephone company and banking records of most of the U.S. population; the pedophilia of Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley which led to his resignation from Congress and the decision of Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who covered up Foley’s crimes, not to seek a Republican leadership position in the new Democratic Party-controlled House; the startling forced resignation from a Colorado Christian mega-church of Reverend Haggard, a national leader of the Christian evangelical movement’s support for Bush and the Republican Party; the current "cloud" over Bush intimate Paul Wolfowitz’ job as head of the World Bank for creating a "cushy" job for his girlfriend in the Bush White House; the continuing assault on U.S. civil liberties through the extension of the USA PATRIOT Act; the continuing use of and justification of torture including at the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison complex; the debacle of a Bush government deal handing over management of six of the most important U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirate-owned Dubai Ports World at a time of Bush-created anti-Arab hysteria as well as the spectacle of Arab emirs allowing their business crony, George W. Bush, to renege on the deal when it became public knowledge; the recent announcement that Cheney’s Halliburton Corporation is moving its headquarters to Dubai.
The scope of these scandals demonstrates that the extent of the problem is not simply the individual or isolated corruption of Enron and Ken Lay or Tom Delay or even Cheney and Halliburton. Regime change is not enough. System change is required.
Opportunism as a Valuable Servant of U.S. Imperialism
Ninety years ago, Lenin made the following critical observation exposing the most important social democratic leader in the world, the famous German Marxist Karl Kautsky. "Kautsky detaches the politics of imperialism from its economics, speaks of annexations as being a policy ‘preferred’ by finance capital, and opposes to it another bourgeois policy which, he alleges, is possible on this very basis of finance capital". Lenin continued, "According to his [Kautsky’s] argument, monopolies in economics are compatible with non-monopolistic, non-violent, non-annexationist methods in politics…" This is Lenin’s conclusion about Kautsky’s position: "The result is a slurring-over and a blunting of the most profound contradictions of the latest stage of capitalism, instead of an exposure of their depth; the result is bourgeois reformism instead of Marxism." (Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism) In opposition to Kautsky’s approach that you can have non- monopolist, non-violent politics accompanying this monopoly capitalist and imperialist system, Lenin is saying that imperialist war is not something they can choose at all; it is something that the system is constantly driving forward.
In the U.S. before the Bush-led open war on the peoples of the world in 2001, there was perhaps a twenty-year period when you could hardly find a "leftist" in the U.S. that even uttered the word "imperialism". Now we are back to where people are using the word, but oftentimes opportunists use it in an unscientific way, merely to convey that something is bad or evil, "it’s imperialistic", etc. What we mean by it, in light of Lenin’s teachings, is that it is a system, not a choice. That is why at the very moment when Bush declared war on the people of Afghanistan our forces, though small, were able to get up in union conventions and elsewhere and warn our working class brothers and sisters that the labor movement in this country couldn’t defend its own workers here in the USA against our monopoly capitalist adversary while supporting the same adversary in its attack on the working people in Afghanistan.
Opportunist forces in this period, just as in Lenin’s time, conceal the connection between capitalist economics and capitalist politics. They focus either solely on the economic or on the political aspect of the monopoly capitalist and imperialist system of political economy, thus trivializing the depth of the problem in dealing with this powerful enemy.
In the summer of 2003, the U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) leadership, who are connected to the corrupt bureaucrats at the top of the AFL-CIO hierarchy, tried to liquidate the political struggle among organized workers in both the USA and Iraq with their "Economic Fact Book ― Profile of U.S. Corporations Awarded Contracts in U.S./British Occupied Iraq". The data collected in their fact book was very valuable. However, based on the lie that Bush and U.S. imperialism had conquered Iraq and that political-military liberation struggle was now futile, the USLAW leadership attempted to get the Iraqi workers to function on the most narrow economic lines, as if they were conservative trade unionists representing relatively privileged workers in an unoccupied imperialist country instead of representing almost enslaved workers in an oppressed nation under imperialist military occupation! "Forget about the U.S. military occupation and deal as business unionists with the U.S. businesses implanted there", said USLAW. (See our September 2003 Newsletter entitled, "Revolutionary Workers Organization is Key", Document #16, The Bush-led Global Imperialist War.)
At the same time this USLAW approach downplayed the responsibility of U.S. workers to their Iraqi brothers and sisters limiting it to support for narrow economic struggle rather than proletarian international solidarity with Iraqi proletarian-led resistance and liberation struggle, the struggle for political power to free their country of U.S. imperialist occupation and plunder. So here was the USLAW leadership focusing entirely on economics and saying forget about politics and especially forget about the struggle for political power, the struggle for state power in your own occupied land. This represented open social-chauvinism on the part of USLAW. They represented the privileged strata of the workers in the oppressor country whose government and army are occupying Iraq, giving the message to the workers in Iraq and their organizations to forget about the U.S. occupation and just focus on economics. Just concentrate on negotiating a better contract for your immediate members. This is "economism" in the most narrow sense of the term. It is why the thesis of this presentation is that the adversary is not capitalist politics; it is not capitalist economics. It is the monopoly capitalist and imperialist political-economic system. The economic aspect drives the political but they are totally integrated, and, if we understand them that way, then we can wage the necessary struggle to win proletarian power in the USA, in Iraq, and around the world.
Similarly, the petty bourgeois radical environmental movement focuses attention on the economics destroying the earth ― land, sea and air ― but is largely silent on the political power which maintains the economic system’s direction toward ecological disaster and humanity’s self-destruction.
Hurricane Katrina, when we examine the roots of that tragic situation, is really a classic example of the fact that the monopoly capitalist political-economic system is our principal enemy. The capitalists who were reaping maximum profits out of that area were unwilling to devote any of their profits to strengthening the infrastructure in the interests of the people. The political leadership at the city, state, and especially the federal government level functioned as faithful servants of the monopoly capitalist ruling class. Those were the key conditions in that situation where all nature’s defenses protecting New Orleans from the huge catastrophic drive of heated hurricane water from the Gulf, as well as the man-made levees protecting the city from Lake Pontchartrain were eroded due to man-made, profit driven, commercial and sea traffic concerns of the monopoly capitalists. With regard to the levees, which were the decisive force in this tragedy, no money was devoted to upgrading these levees and other engineering and construction tasks to the level that would make New Orleans safe for the city’s predominantly Afro-American people.
The Katrina disaster is a very useful example that the nature of this system is one of monopoly capitalist political economy ― the intertwining of the two, with economics, in the form of maximum monopoly capitalist private profit, driving the politics.
The current anti-globalization movement (of which the environmental movement is a key component) is largely composed of professional reformers in imperialist-funded non-governmental organizations or NGO’s. The World Social Forum (WSF) and its offshoots around the globe actively promote the illusion that economic development is separate and apart from global politics and war. And in fact those who advocate the revolutionary seizure of state power by any means necessary, a political-military path to resolving the problems of imperialist dominated global economy, are officially excluded from participation in the WSF.
In contrast to the anti-globalization movement, the petty bourgeois radical anti-war movement in the U.S. emphasizes the destructive and terrorist character of war, focusing on the political leadership of the U.S. and other imperialist and oppressed countries in such a way as to bury the crucial fact that such wars are the inevitable product of the capitalist economic system, especially in its last, dying stage of monopoly capitalism and imperialism, and that they are carried out with specific economic objectives in mind. (Please recall the specific economic motives enumerated with regard to the U.S. imperialist war in Afghanistan and Iraq at the beginning of this piece.)
Many of the petty bourgeois pacifist forces in the U.S. anti-war movement are only against U.S. involvement in Iraq. They are not opposed to U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan, U.S. military presence in Colombia, the Philippines, former Soviet Georgia, Turkmenistan, and so on. Many of them believe that substituting Democratic Party representatives of the same monopoly capitalist ruling class for their Republican Party representatives will resolve the problems of war and peace.*
* Many of these same pacifists deny the interconnection of violence at home with violence abroad. In this regard, Michael Moore points out in his film, "Bowling for Columbine" (dealing with one of the most horrific of the contemporary high school massacres that has taken place in the USA) that the tragedy occurred in the Colorado city where the largest munitions manufacturer in the world, Lockheed-Martin, has its main plant! Talk about the impact of the war abroad on the war at home ― this is a tragic and dramatic example of it.
In conclusion: Social Democracy, in its various shades and hues, teaches that we can "reform" the capitalist system, even at this late date, in its last, dying stage of imperialism. This petty bourgeois reformism supports the bourgeois illusion that bourgeois politics and bourgeois economics in the period of monopoly capitalism and imperialism can be separated from each other. For, if it is merely wrong political policy, then we can change the war policy to a peace policy by changing the political leadership ―perhaps from Republicans to Democrats― or from Republicans and Democrats to Social Democrats, or Labor Party or Green Party candidates, without changing the system. And on the other side of it, if it is merely wrong economic policy, then we can provide alternative, safer methods for carrying out social production that will persuade the economic rulers to safeguard the environment for our children and grandchildren.
Anarchism teaches almost the same thing. It is the other side of the coin from reformism. The anarchists share with the social democrats the view that bourgeois economics and bourgeois politics are separate arenas of struggle, and that the road to freedom, justice, and peace is not a difficult one. The petty bourgeois anarchists believe they can change (even destroy and replace) "the system" while retaining their individualist ways. They see collectivism in any form as the enemy and refuse to place themselves under the "factory discipline" of the revolutionary collective, the Leninist Party. Thus, anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-environmentalists, like social democratic reformers, are no real threat to the system in the long run.*
* The rise of anarchist tendencies in recent years, while a serious challenge for Marxism-Leninism, has its positive aspect. To a large extent, this ultra-left tendency has arisen in response to decades of right reformist and revisionist domination of the international Marxist-Leninist movement, a rightist tendency that has served as a valuable class collaborationist tool in the world domination by imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism. At least some of these young anarchists now being produced spontaneously in the anti-globalization and anti-war movements have a "stomach" for the fight. And, if someone has a stomach for the fight, through the education of experience and struggle, especially through participation in the national and class struggles of the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples against imperialism, they have the possibility to develop revolutionary patience, maturity and discipline to go with that fighting spirit.
On the surface it appears that anarchists and reformists are on opposite sides; in reality they share the illusion and promote the illusion that the struggle is easier than it actually is. They both seriously underestimate the struggle. Both represent forms of opportunism, as comrade Sison defined it.
Linking the struggle against imperialist politics to the struggle against imperialist economics will help honest proletarian forces to understand the ruthless and systemic nature of our imperialist enemy and the formidable revolutionary tasks required to vanquish this enemy. One important task for proletarian revolutionaries around the world, in opposition to the anarchists and social democrats, is to help link the global anti-imperialist war movement with the global anti-imperialist globalization movement. Important tasks within the USA are to struggle for an anti-imperialist immigrant rights movement, and an anti-imperialist Afro-American liberation movement mobilized around Katrina survivors (upholding the right of the Afro-American people to self-determination in their Black Belt homeland), as well as an anti-imperialist globalization movement and an anti-imperialist war movement, linking all of these movements with the struggle of the Iraqi resistance against U.S.-led imperialism.
Our conclusion: to successfully combat the Bush-led U.S. imperialist war at home and abroad over the long run, the political-economic system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism which drives this war must be defeated. To accomplish this urgent and noble task, proletarian revolution is necessary.
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