World Perspectives 2016: Chapter IV.4. The Consistent Struggle against Imperialism, Militarization and National Oppression – A Key Issue in the Current Period and a Litmus Test for Authentic Marxists

83.          Strategists and think tanks of all Great Powers are well aware of the necessity for the Great Powers to increasingly intervene militarily in the countries of the South in order to keep the political order which allows them to super-exploit the oppressed peoples. Likewise, they understand the central importance of the rivalry between the Great Powers as a key factor in shaping the world political situation. But in contrast to them, many who consider themselves Marxists fail to grasp this crucial axis of contradiction of imperialist capitalism. It is well-known that various Stalinists and left-reformists in North America, Western Europe and Japan present the imperialist “war on terror” not as a reactionary offensive of “their” own ruling classes against the oppressed people in the semi-colonial world as well as against the migrants in their own country. Rather, they paint this reactionary war as a “defense of civilization” or “democracy” against “Islamo-Fascism” or “barbarism.” To give just a few examples, we refer to the support of the French “Communist” Party for Hollande’s three-month state of emergency (introduced in November 2015) and their abstention in the parliamentary vote on sending French military aircraft and naval vessels to war in Iraq (in January 2015); the open solidarity of leading LINKE politicians in Germany for Apartheid-Israel against the Palestinian resistance; the support of Bertinotti’s Partito della Rifondazione Comunista for Italy’s participation in the occupation of Afghanistan as well as the imperialist intervention in Lebanon in 2006 is yet another example. Similarly, the Japanese “Communist” Party defends the possession of several disputed islands by their own imperialist bourgeoisie – against the claims of South-Korea or China.


84.          Numerous centrists, who desire to get a place at the table of the reformist bureaucrats and, to achieve this, are prepared to sacrifice a few principles without turning a hair, shy away from going so far as the left-reformist. But they characterize the ongoing war as a conflict between “equally reactionary forces” (e.g., CWI, IMT, the Mandelist FI, LO/UCI, Lambertism).


85.          In the semi-colonial world we could see the Iraqi “Communist” Party supporting the US occupation after 2003 and even participating in its colonial administration. And numerous groups coming from the Stalinist and petty-bourgeois nationalist tradition supported the US-backed coup d’état of General al-Sisi in Egypt in July 2013. All these are examples of direct or indirect adaptions by “Marxist” organizations to their own bourgeoisie and to Western imperialism.


86.          The same is true for “Marxists” who adapt to the Eastern imperialist powers, China and Russia. This is most obviously the case with the Stalinist-chauvinist parties like the Russian KPFR, the Indian CPs, numerous smaller Stalinist parties and the Castro-Chavistas in Latin America. But there are also various “Trotskyists” and ex-“Trotskyists” in Western countries who support China and Russia against the US or EU (e.g., the WSWS, the WWP and the PSL in the US, the Spartacist splinters, etc.). They either claim that China is a “socialist” country, a “degenerated workers state” or a “semi-colonial” country. Whichever of these variants they choose, the consequences are the same: they support (“critically” or uncritically) imperialist China and Russia against the Great Western Powers or against oppressed people (Syria, Chechnya, East-Turkestan etc.). Hence these fake-socialists call for the support of Russia in its confrontation against NATO in the Ukrainian conflict. Likewise, they support China’s Monroe doctrine in East Asia, i.e., Beijing’s claim to exclusively rule the entire southern sea, excluding not only the US but also all the smaller, semi-colonial countries located along its periphery (e.g., Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, etc.).


87.          This follows a well-known schema developed by the patriotic social-democrats in World War I and further developed by Stalinism in the 1930s. First Bernstein & Co., later Scheidemann, David, Kautsky, Vandervelde, Huysmans, Plekhanov and Axelrod and finally the Stalinists, the Brandlerites and the German SAP – they all replaced the Marxist analysis of imperialist states of oppressed people in colonies and semi-colonies respectively (regardless of their specific physiognomies and political regimes) with opportunist, petty-bourgeois characterizations. Hence capitalist states were differentiated between “democratic” vs. “autocratic” countries, “civilized” vs. “uncivilized, backward” nations or “fascist” vs. “anti-fascist, democratic” states, etc. This was their ideological cover to become – or adapt to – social-patriots, also called social-imperialists. This means that these socialists opportunistically adapted to the imperialist bourgeoisie under the cover of “socialist” phrases. In some cases these forces also became “inverted social-imperialists,” i.e., supporting a foreign imperialist bourgeoisie against their own national bourgeoisie for opportunistic reasons (e.g., like the German social democrats, Stalinists and the Brandlerites in the 1930s until 1945 supporting Britain, France and the US after Hitler came to power). Of course, social-imperialism and inverted social-imperialism do not necessarily exclude each other but can be linked or easily adapted to one another according to the political conjuncture. [1]


88.          The RCIT and its predecessor organization have always declared war on those reformists and centrist who failed to consistently oppose US, EU and Israeli imperialism in their economic and military wars and adventures in occupation. No less so, we declare war on those reformists and centrist who fail to consistently oppose Chinese and Russian imperialism, as they try to expand their own influence at the expense of their imperialist rivals by oppressing smaller nations like the Chechens or the Uyghurs in China’s East Turkestan. The new revolutionary world party – and any pre-party organization as a step towards its creation – must apply the program of consistent revolutionary defeatism against all imperialist Great Powers. They must not support any form of economic, political or military aggression against a rivaling Great Power. In every war they must raise Liebknecht’s slogan “The main enemy is at home!


89.          We also draw a sharp distinction between a mechanistic “anti-imperialism” and a Marxist anti-imperialism. The first is an anti-internationalist deviation which can be observed in particular among certain national-centered groups. Starting from the specific national conditions in the country (or its imperialist bloc) in which they reside they automatically put a minus sign wherever the bourgeoisie of their country/bloc puts a plus. Hence, when their bourgeoisie rhetorically supports this or that democratic struggle or national liberation struggle in a country of the South, these blockhead-“anti-imperialists” automatically support the enemies of these liberation struggles. We can see this, e.g., on the issue of the Syrian Revolution where various left-wing groups choose to sympathize or even openly support Assad because the US and EU governments have rhetorically opposed him in recent years. The RCIT has always rejected such nonsense. We have pointed out that, in a world of rivaling Great Powers, it is unavoidable that one Power tries to weaken its rival by giving some kind of support to the latter’s internal enemies. However, Marxist anti-imperialism means to oppose all Great Powers equally, and not to see one of them as a “lesser evil.” Furthermore, the victory of democratic and national liberation struggles in one or several countries is a victory for the world proletariat, irrespective of whether it weakens only this or that Great Power in the short term, and not all of them. [2] We remind these confused anti-imperialists of Lenin’s advise:


Britain and France fought the Seven Years’ War for the possession of colonies. In other words, they waged an imperialist war (which is possible on the basis of slavery and primitive capitalism as well as on the basis of modern highly developed capitalism). France suffered defeat and lost some of her colonies. Several years later there began the national liberation war of the North American States against Britain alone. France and Spain, then in possession of some parts of the present United States, concluded a friendship treaty with the States in rebellion against Britain. This they did out of hostility to Britain, i.e., in their own imperialist interests. French troops fought the British on the side of the American forces. What we have here is a national liberation war in which imperialist rivalry is an auxiliary element, one that has no serious importance. This is the very opposite to what we see in the war of 1914-16 (the national element in the Austro-Serbian War is of no serious importance compared with the all-determining element of imperialist rivalry). It would be absurd, therefore, to apply the concept imperialism indiscriminately and conclude that national wars are “impossible”. A national liberation war, waged, for example, by an alliance of Persia, India and China against one or more of the imperialist powers, is both possible and probable, for it would follow from the national liberation movements in these countries. The transformation of such a war into an imperialist war between the present-day imperialist powers would depend upon very many concrete factors, the emergence of which it would be ridiculous to guarantee.[3]


90.          Likewise, the new revolutionary world party must – as we outlined in our Open Letter for Revolutionary Unity – consistently support the resistance of oppressed people against imperialist invaders. This is why the RCIT support the resistance struggle in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Mali against the imperialist forces without giving any political support to the Islamist leaderships of these forces. It is equally crucial that revolutionaries consistently defend migrants and refugees in the imperialist countries and fight for “Open Borders,” equal rights (including the right to use their native language in schools and public administration), equal wages, etc. Only armed with such a program will the new revolutionary world party – and any pre-party organization as a step towards its creation – be able to lead the workers’ vanguard in the class war against the bourgeoisie and the Great Powers in addition to their social-imperialist lackeys. [4] In short, revolutionaries must rally the class conscious workers and youth to the slogan: Down with all Great Powers (US, EU, Japan, China, and Russia)! Defeat the Imperialists and Dictators – Defend the Oppressed People (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Mali)!


[1] See on this e.g. RCIT: On the 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of World War I: The Struggle against Imperialism and War. The Marxist Understanding of Modern Imperialism and the Revolutionary Program in Light of the Increasing Rivalry between the Great Powers, Revolutionary Uprisings, and Counterrevolutionary Setbacks, 25.6.2014,; Michael Pröbsting: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, August 2014,;

[2] On this issue we refer readers e.g. to Michael Pröbsting: Liberation struggles and imperialist interference. The failure of sectarian “anti-imperialism” in the West: Some general considerations from the Marxist point of view and the example of the democratic revolution in Libya in 2011, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 5, September 2012,

[3] V. I. Lenin: The Junius Pamphlet(1916); in: LCW Vol. 22, pp. 310-311

[4] See on this also RCIT: An Open Letter to All Revolutionary Organizations and Activists. At the Outset of a New Political Phase: For the Unity of Revolutionaries in the Struggle against Advancing Counterrevolution!