Preface for the Spanish Translation of “Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry”

 

By Michael Pröbsting, 13 March 2021

 

 

 

We are glad to present the Spanish-language translation of our book on the Great Power rivalry. This is already the third language – after Portuguese and Korean– in which this comprehensive book has been translated after its original publication in English language two years ago.

 

The publication of this book is obviously very timely because of the principal relevance of the Great Power rivalry in the current world situation. It is impossible to grasp the dynamic of the world political developments without understanding the key role of the antagonistic interests and conflicts between the imperialist Great Powers (U.S., China, EU, Russia, and Japan).

 

However, there is also another reason which makes the translation of this book such a welcoming event. The workers and popular movement in Latin America have always been dominated by various shades of petty-bourgeois and bourgeois populism as well as by Stalinism. Since the rise of Chavez, the current known as Bolivarianism has become particularly influential. As Latin America had to suffer from the domination of U.S. imperialism for more than a century, Washington has been clearly the enemy No. 1.

 

When China did rise as a new Great Power, many leftists (not only in Latin America but globally!) viewed it as a welcome counterweight against the long-time absolute hegemon. This has resulted in a positive view of the Stalinist-capitalist regime in Beijing and the outright denial of China’s imperialist character.

 

Such a development demonstrates once more the poverty of nationalism and national-centeredness. Viewing global developments from a national or regional – and not from an international – point of view can only result in a one-sided and wrong analysis. Hence, Trotsky emphasized in his writings of the theory of the Permanent Revolution that each and every class struggle must be approached not only from a national but also, and primarily, from an international point of view. For the same reason, Trotsky insisted on the necessary international character of the process of revolutionary building from the very beginning.

 

It is in such tradition that the RCIT has always explained that socialists must in all political events defend the interests of the international working class and not that of only one (or several) countries. Such an approach allowed us to recognize from early only that the ruling class in Beijing was a reactionary enemy of the workers and poor peasants in China which abolished social rights, advanced the establishment of capitalist production relations and oppressed national minorities like the Muslim Uyghurs. As we explained in our works, the regime of a Great Power which exploits and oppresses its own people can never be an ally of the proletariats’ liberation struggle!

 

While Chinese imperialism first expanded in Asia and Africa, it has also become a major foreign investor in Latin America itself in the last few years. Still, many leftists ignore this rise and continue denying the imperialist character of new Great Power in the East!

 

There is a certain interesting parallel with the 1930s since at that time various bourgeois nationalist currents in Latin America (e.g. APRA in Peru) had a very positive view of the U.S. under President Roosevelt. They saw Washington as a potential ally against the old European colonial powers and, consequently, denied the imperialist character of the U.S.. Trotsky and his supporters argued with cadres of APRA and tried to convince them of the necessity to take a consistent anti-imperialist position, i.e. to oppose all Great Powers (including the U.S.). [1]

 

Unfortunately, most forces of Latin American Trotskyism share the Stalinists’ denial of China’s imperialist character. The Argentinean PO (both factions) even fancies that capitalist restoration still has not been completed in China! Others – like the PTS/FT, PSTU/LIT and UIT – recognize its capitalist character but also categorically reject the theses of Chinese imperialism. We have dealt with their arguments in the present book and, since its publication two years ago, we have written some additional essays which discussed more recent works from Latin American Trotskyists on China. [2]

 

The current global developments make a correct assessment of the Great Power rivalry more urgent than ever. We are in a period characterized by the Third Depression, i.e. the worst economic slump of the capitalist world economy since 1929, a global anti-democratic turn towards chauvinism and state bonapartism; and the COVID-19 pandemic, the ruling classes all over the world are determined to strengthen themselves at the expense of their rivals. Against such a background, an acceleration of the rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers – in particular between the two strongest, U.S. and China – is unavoidable.

 

In such a period, socialists – in Latin America as well as globally – must not lend support to any imperialist bourgeoisie. They need to fight against imperialist domination by any Great Power – the U.S., China or others. In any political, economic, or military conflict between imperialist states, socialists must take a revolutionary defeatist position against all of these reactionary enemies. Latin America can become free only in the struggle against all imperialist powers and not in alliance with one of them!

 

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to comrade Rubén Jaramilllo who has undertaken the exhausting work of translating this comprehensive book. As always, he has approached this project with tenacity, patience, and a high degree of professionalism!

 

 

 



[1] See e.g. Leon Trotsky: Ignorance Is Not a Revolutionary Instrument (1939), in: Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1938-39, pp. 182-190; see also Leon Trotsky: Latin American Problems: A Transcript (1938), in: Writings of Leon Trotsky, Supplement (1934-40), pp. 782-794

[2] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: How is it possible that some Marxists still Doubt that China has Become Capitalist? (A Critique of the PTS/FT). An analysis of the capitalist character of China’s State-Owned Enterprises and its political consequences, 18 September 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/pts-ft-and-chinese-imperialism-2/; by the same author: Unable to See the Wood for the Trees. Eclectic empiricism and the failure of the PTS/FT to recognize the imperialist character of China, 13 August 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/pts-ft-and-chinese-imperialism/.