Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry


The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan

A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), January 2019


BOOK Defeatism in Imperialist States_WEB
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List of Tables


List of Figures








Part 1: Features of Imperialism in the 21st Century



I. The Historic Crisis of Capitalism



II. Global Offensive of the Capitalists against the Working Class



III. Capitalism and the Increasing Relevance of Migration



IV. The Marxist Criteria for an Imperialist Great Power


Main Characteristics of an Imperialist respectively a Semi-Colonial State


Is a Transition from Being One Type of State to Another Possible?


“Sub-Imperialism” – A Useful Category?



V. The Emergence of China and Russia as New Great Powers


Production and Trade


Monopolies and Billionaires


Capital Export and Military Spending



VI. The Acceleration of Inter-Imperialist Rivalry and the Global Trade War


At the Onset of a New Cold War


Tianxia – China’s Ideological Challenge


Protectionism and Militarism


The Imperialist Drive for Control of the South


Rivalry between U.S. and China as the Main Axis of Inner-Imperialist Contradictions



VII. Imperialist Great Powers: Some Historical Comparisons


Excurse: The Law of Uneven and Combined Development


Some Historical Examples about the Unevenness of the Great Powers before 1939


Globalization and Great Power Rivalry in the Period before World War One


The “Fat” and the “Lean” Cows




Part 2: Modern Revisionist Theories of Great Power Rivalry in Today’s World



VIII. Revisionist Whitewashing: Stalinist and Bolivarian Admirers of Beijing’s “Socialism”


Is China a Unique Case of Capitalist Miracle?


Russian Stalinists: Failure to Understand Imperialism in their own Country


The Ultra-Stalinist CPGB-ML: “Anti -Imperialist” Russia and China?



IX. Revisionist Whitewashing: Russia and China are neither Capitalist nor Great Powers (PO/CRFI)


Capitalism is still not restored in Russia and China?


Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and its Stalinophile Falsification


Russia’s and China’s Capital Export: Myth and Reality


On the Character of China’s Foreign Investments


State-Owned Corporations in China and Russia: Not Capitalist?


The Role of Migration



X. Revisionist Whitewashing: China and Russia are Semi-Colonies rather than Great Powers (LIT / UIT / FT)


LIT: Is China Comparable with Brazil, India or Mexico?


UIT: China is Super-Exploited by Imperialism?


FT: Russia and China can not become Imperialist before a Major War?



XI. Revisionist Whitewashing: When the Category “Imperialism” has no Meaning (CWI / IMT / IST)


CWI: “Forgetting” about Russia’s or China’s Imperialist Character?


IMT: A purely formal Recognition of Russia and China as Great Powers


SWP: Theoretical Indifference




Part 3: The Program of Revolutionary Defeatism against All Great Powers



XII. Is World War III Inevitable? (Critical Notes on Michael Roberts)


Population Growth and Long Upswings


What are the Conditions for Long Upswings?


An Element of Kautskyanism



XIII. The Proletariat as an International Class


Internationalism and National Liberation


On Aristocratism and the Labor Aristocracy



XIV. The Internationalist Character of the Struggle against Imperialist War and the Social-Patriotic Nature of the Stalinist Theory of “Socialism in One Country”



XV. The Meaning of the Dictum “War is the Continuation of Politics by Other Means



XVI. Revolutionary Defeatism as a Combined Strategy


The Contradictory Nature of Imperialism as the Objective Basis for Anti-Imperialism


The Marxist Classics on the Combined Strategy



XVII. The Relationship between War and Revolution


“Small” and “Large” Imperialist Wars


World War III and Revolution – A Contradiction in Itself?



XVIII. Revolutionary Defeatism in Conflicts between Imperialist States: The Marxist Classics


Marx and Engels in the Pre-Imperialist Epoch


The Bolsheviks and the Russian-Japanese War 1904/05


The Full Elaboration of Lenin’s Defaitist Program in World War One 1914-17


Bolshevik Agitation against the War in Russia


Trotsky continues the Revolutionary Struggle against Imperialist War



XIX. Revolutionary Defeatism in Conflicts between Imperialist States: Programmatic Components (1)


For Working Class Independence – No Support for Any Great Power!


The Struggle against Chauvinism


Changes in Conditions and its Consequences


The Moral Crisis in the Western Imperialist Countries



XX. Revolutionary Defeatism in Conflicts between Imperialist States: Programmatic Components (2)


The Issue of Sanctions of one Great Power against Another


Global Trade War and Internationalist Tactics


Wars between Great Powers respectively their Proxies


Siding with the “Lesser” (Imperialist) Evil?


The Poverty of Pacifism


The Slogan of Disarmament


International Courts of Arbitration and United Nations



XXI. Revolutionary Defeatism in Conflicts between Imperialist States and Oppressed Peoples


Imperialist Wars and Occupations of Semi-Colonial Countries


Imperialist Non-Military Aggressions against Semi-Colonial Countries


Oppression of National Minorities


Tactics of Mass Struggle


On Complex War Scenarios



XXII. Revolutionary Defeatism and the Struggle for Full Equality of Migrants




Part 4: The Failure of the Left in the Struggle against Imperialism



XXIII. The Left Facing Great Power Rivalry: Pro-Western Social-Imperialists


General Introductory Remarks


The Party of the European Left (PEL)


Islamophobia is the new Anti-Semitism of the 21st century


The Japanese Communist Party


JCP: Advisor for an Alternative Strategy for Japanese Imperialism



XXIV. The Left Facing Great Power Rivalry: Pro-Eastern Social-Imperialists (Stalinists)


The Stalinist Alliance around the “International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties”


Defending the Sovereign Rights of Greece”: The Stalinist KKE as an Example of Bourgeois Social-Chauvinism


Stalinism and Counterrevolution in Syria


Russian Social-Imperialism: The KPRF, the RKRP and the OKP


Stalinists Cheer Serbian Chauvinism against Kosovo Albanians


The Ultra-Stalinist CPGB-ML: Loyal Cheerleaders of Russian and Chinese Imperialism


Excurse: Some Observations on the “Pacifist” and the “Belligerent” Social-Imperialists



XXV. The Left Facing Great Power Rivalry: Pro-Eastern Social-Imperialists (Non-Stalinists)


Boris Kagarlitsky and Rabkor: Great Russian “Marxists” ready to fight for Moscow’s Interests “with Blood and Iron”


The Pro-Russian/Chinese Pseudo-Trotskyists (PO/CRFI)


The Spartacist sects and their defense of the Chinese “Deformed Workers State”



XXVI. On Inverted Social-Imperialism and the “Anti-Imperialist” Appeal of Russia and China


What are the reasons for the misplaced “anti-imperialist” Appeal of Russia and China?


Inverted Social-Imperialism as a Variation of Class-Collaboration


What will Inverted Social-Imperialists do in Case of a Major War?



XXVII. The Left Facing Great Power Rivalry: Deniers of Russia’s and China’s Imperialist Character without Drawing Conclusions



XXVIII. The Left Facing Great Power Rivalry: Eclectic Social-Pacifists


CWI/IMT: Refusal to Defend Semi-Colonial Countries against Imperialism


IMT Russia: No Support for “Chechen Separatism”


Did Lenin “correct” his Program of Revolutionary Defeatism?


The Russian Socialist Movement: Confused Eclecticists




Part 5: The Task of Organizing the Anti-Imperialist Struggle



XXVIX. Building the Revolutionary World Party in the Age of Great Power Rivalry


Changes in the Conditions to Build a Revolutionary World Party


Orientation to the New Militant Layers of the Working Class and Youth


Reformism and Centrism as Obstacles



Appendix: Theses on Revolutionary Defeatism in Imperialist States







About the Author