World Perspectives 2017: III. The Great Power Rivalry and Its Consequences for World Politics


1.                   Trump’s victory also represents a watershed in the rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers. As we have stated in our pamphlet on the outcome of the US presidential election, the rise of this politician with a protectionist and unilateralist platform calling for an end of “unlimited humanitarian interventions around the globe” – in contrast to Hilary Clinton who stood for a continuation of Obama’s foreign policy – was an implicit recognition of the US’s inability to continue its role as the “world’s policeman.” At the same time, Trumpism expresses the will of the ruling class to reverse this trend. Both of these factors are expressed in Trump’s key campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again” (instead of “Keep America Great”).


2.                   Trump’s victory is not a development that comes out of the blue, but is only the logical result of global developments of recent years. Contrary to nearly all self-proclaimed “Marxists,” the RCIT has emphasized for a number of years that one of the most important changes in world politics in recent history has been the emergence of new imperialist powers – China and Russia – in parallel to the decline of the US as the absolute hegemonic power. [1] Even the bourgeois-liberal ideologists who used to praise globalization as the way to integrate the world (as if it were a benefit for everyone) are increasingly forced to admit that the world is moving towards Great Power rivalry reminiscent to the period before World War I. [2] In our opinion, it is impossible to build the new Revolutionary World Party without a clear understanding of the imperialist nature of all Great Powers, and the importance of the rivalry between them as a driving force of the world political situation.


3.                   Let us briefly note a few key statistics which demonstrate the change in the relation of forces on the economic level. America’s share of global industrial production declined rapidly in a relatively short period – from close to 30% in the early years of the 21st century to less than 20% by 2015. During the same period, China’s share increased from about 10% to 28%. [3] Similarly, the US’s share in Global Fixed Capital Investment declined from 20% (2003) to 13% (2013), while China’s share grew from 16% to 31%. [4]


4.                   Another reflection of the change in the relation of forces is the ranking of the largest capitalist monopolies. A comparison of the Forbes Global 2000 list shows that, in 2003, the US was home to 776 (38.8%). But, by 2016, this share had declined by nearly one third to 540 (27%). On the other hand, China was hardly represented at all in the list for 2003. However, by 2016 China had 249 corporations on this list – more than any other imperialist power with the exception of the US. [5] The same dynamic appears in another list of the largest capitalist monopolies – the so-called Fortune Global 500. In 2001, 197 corporations among the Fortune Global 500 had their headquarters in the US, while there were only 12 in China. However, by 2016 this had dramatically changed: While the US was still leading the list with 134 corporations, China was already closely behind, ranking second with 103 corporations. In other words, while the US share among the world’s largest monopolies had declined from 39.4% (2001) to 26.8% (2016), China’s share grew during the same period from 2.4% to 20.6%! (See Table 1)




Table 1. US and China: Their Share among the World’s 500 Largest Corporations, 2001 and 2016 (Fortune Global 500 List)[6]


USA                                                       China


Number                 Share                     Number                 Share


2001                                       197                         39.4%                    12                           2.4%


2016                                       134                         26.8%                    103                         20.6%




5.                   Another manifestation of China’s rise is that last year it overtook the US as the home of the largest number of billionaires. According to the latest issue of the Hurun Global Rich List, out of 2,188 billionaires 568 are living in China (without Hong Kong and Macao) and “only” 535 in the US. The Hurun Report also announced sensationally that “Beijing Replaces New York To Become The Billionaire Capital Of The World For First Time”. [7] The Forbes Billionaire List gives slightly different numbers but here, too, China ranks as a leading country, second only to the US. According to Forbes “the US has 540 billionaires, more than any other country in the world. It's followed by mainland China with 251 (Hong Kong has another 69) and Germany with 120. Russia has 77. [8]

 6.                   Finally, we can also confirm China’s rise as an imperialist power relative to its rivals when we examine its massive increase in capital export. As Table 2 shows, China’s capital export (without the figures for Hong Kong) grew dramatically by 3,800% during the past 15 years, and has come close to reaching the volume of capital export of Japan!




  Table 2.             Foreign Direct Investment Stock of Great Imperialist Powers, 1990, 2000, 2015 (Millions of $US) [9]


  Country                             FDI inward stock                                                              FDI outward stock


                   1990                       2000                       2015                      1990                       2000                       2015


  USA                    539,601                 2,783,235              5,587,969                 731,762                 2,694,014              5,982,787


  Japan                 9,850                      50,322                   170,698                  201,441                 278,442                 1,226,554


  Britain               203,905                 63,134                   1,457,408                  229,307                 923,367                 1,538,133


  Germany          111,231                 271,613                 1,121,288                   151,581                 541,866                 1,812,469


  France                97,814                   390,953                 772,030                   112,441                 925,925                 1,314,158


  China                 20,691                   193,348                 1,220,903                    4,455                   27,768                 1,010,202


  Russia               -                               32,204                   258,402                     -                         20,141                   251,979




7.                   Naturally, as we have noted many times, none of this changes the fact that China is still a new, emerging and hence backward imperialist power. And Russia, while being a strong military power, is economically much weaker than China. This is reflected, among others ways, by the substantially lower labor productivity of these two countries compared with the old imperialist powers like the US, Western Europe or Japan. However, the sheer size of the Chinese economy and Russia’s political and military power enable both these states to join the club of the world’s leading imperialist Great Powers. Those who refuse to characterize China and Russia as imperialistic due to their economic backwardness, ignore the concrete history of imperialism and the conclusions which Marxists drew from it. As we have elaborated in detail in other studies, it has been a constant feature in the epoch of imperialism, which started at the turn of the 20th century, that there are imperialist Great Powers of different types – from the strongest, most modern and dynamic ones (like Britain, the US or Germany) to weaker and more backward ones (like Russia, Japan, Italy or Austria-Hungary). [10] The dialectical thinking of Marxists enabled them to understand that such unevenness is a natural characteristic of the imperialist epoch and, hence, it is only logical that different types of Great Powers are fighting for their share of the loot. Thus, Lenin and Trotsky not only characterized states like Britain, the US or Germany as imperialistic, but also Russia, Japan, Italy and Austria-Hungary.


8.                   The economic changes of the past decade or two have naturally also had consequences in the political and military spheres. For example, among other things, this is reflected in China and Russia’s position as leading exporters of weapons as well as nuclear powers. Here, too, the US remains No. 1, but Russia and China are ranked right behind it and in front of all other imperialist powers (with the exception of France with regard to nuclear weapons; see Tables 3 and 4)




Table 3. The World’s 10 Top Exporters of Weapons, 2011–15 [11]


Exporter                               Global Share (%)


1. USA                                   33%


2. Russia                              25%


3. China                                5.9%


4. France                               5.6%


5. Germany                         4.7%


6. UK                                     4.5%


7. Spain                                                3.5%


8. Italy                                   2.7%


9. Ukraine                            2.6%


10. Netherlands                 2.0%




Table 4. World Nuclear Forces, 2015 [12]


Country                                Deployed Warheads                          Other Warheads                                Total Inventory


USA                                       1,930                                                      2,500                                                      7,000


Russia                                   1,790                                                      2,800                                                      7,290


France                                   280                                                         10                                                           300


China                                                                                                                                                              260


UK                                          120                                                                                                                      215




9.                   While the US is still the strongest power, its political and military hegemony are declining and are being challenged more and more by China and Russia. This becomes clear with China’s persistent implementation of its OBOR strategy (One Belt, One Road) which deepens the country’ economic ties with the rest of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The turning away of the Philippines from the US – a long-time ally of American imperialism in Asia – under its new President Rodrigo Duterte, and his increasing orientation towards Beijing is only the latest setback for Washington. Thus, it is only logical that tensions between China and other Great Powers like the US and Japan are increasing in East Asia as the latter try to retain their traditional hegemonic position.


10.                Similarly, since 2014, we have witnessed an escalation of the conflict between the US and the EU on the one hand and Russia on the other over the Ukraine. Russia’s increasing strength as an imperialist power has been clearly demonstrated in this conflict as the Western powers have failed to drive Russia out of the Crimea or out of the Donbass region, despite economic sanctions and massive diplomatic pressure by the West. Quite the opposite, a growing number of politicians both in the US as well as in the EU have called for an end to the sanctions.


11.                As stated above, Trump’s victory marks a certain retreat from a “globalist” agenda, as is demonstrated by his intention to withdraw from the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) – Obama’s main project to defend US hegemony in Asia against China. [13] However, at the same time, the new US administration will try to selectively retain and advance the influence of the American Empire. Trump’s confrontational attitude towards China – even before his inauguration – is a clear indication of things to come. It’s not difficult to imagine the consequences of such a policy: the provoking of a chain reaction encouraging other Great Powers to speed up the creation of trade blocks, which they themselves dominate, as a means of protection against their rivals. The result of all this will be a significant disruption of world trade and the entire global economy, and may escalate into major trade wars between the US and China.


12.                While it is possible that, in the near future, Trump will advocate selective collaboration with Putin so that US and Russian imperialism can join forces in liquidating the Syrian Revolution, the naïve hopes of the pro-Putinist left that Trump may prove to be a “dove” – as opposed to the “warmonger” Hillary Clinton – are completely misplaced. Sooner or later, major confrontations between the US and its rivals will become inevitable, because the decline of the capitalist world economy and the accelerating global order will lead to clashes between the Great Powers as they all struggle to increase their share of the world’s wealth at the expense of their rivals.


13.                Finally, we want to draw attention to another major ideological consequence of Trump’s victory and the US recognition of its failure to maintain its hegemonic position: the end of the ideological superiority of the US as the champion of “democracy” and “human rights.” As we have pointed out elsewhere, until now the US – as a result of its being the strongest economic, political and military power – could play the role of global ideological leadership as a “defender of human rights” and the advocate of “democracy.” With the Trump administration, such pretenses will come to an end. Nobody will see this gang of “the Bad, the Mad and the Sad” who will call the shots in Washington as the polar star of “enlightenment”! In other words, we think that the US’s decline as the leading imperialist power is also reflected in its loss of ideological hegemony – something which it had a virtual monopoly on for many decades.


14.                In summary, the past few years have fully confirmed the RCIT’s analysis of China and Russia’s status as emerging imperialist powers and, hence, of the accelerating rivalry between Great Powers as a key factor in the understanding the dynamics of the present world situation. From this follows the only possible conclusion: that the workers’ movement must fight against all Great Powers – both the old as well as the new, emerging ones. The workers of the world must lend no support, whether direct or indirect, to any imperialist state – neither in times of peace nor in times of war. Therefore, the following statement of the Fourth International formulated 80 years ago remains fully valid today: “The struggle against war, properly understood and executed, presupposes the uncompromising hostility of the proletariat and its organizations, always and everywhere, toward its own and every other imperialist bourgeoisie. [14]




The Social-Imperialist Lackeys of the Western and Eastern Great Powers




15.                It is all the more astonishing, as well as very characteristic, that most so-called “Marxist” organizations fail to understand this fundamental issue. Naturally, in many cases, this is not a “theoretical mistake” but rather the unavoidable consequence of the bourgeois character of the bureaucracy dominating these parties. In the case of various reformist mass parties, this has clearly material reasons, seeing how the bureaucracy is linked directly or indirectly with the state machinery of one or several imperialist powers. In Europe, numerous left social democrats and ex-Stalinists (united in the Party of the European Left) are fully integrated in the imperialist state apparatus. In France, the PCF has a strategic alliance with the governing “Socialist” Party of Hollande; in Germany the Linkspartei is part of several regional governments, and hopes to join the next coalition government; and in Greece, SYRIZA, in power since January 2015, is loyally implementing the austerity dictates of the EU. As we have seen in the past two decades, these Western “Socialist” and “Communist” parties are perfectly capable of combining devout praises of “peace” and “socialism” with practical support for the current EU sanctions against Russia (on the backdrop of the crisis in the Ukraine), as well as backing NATO’s imperialist wars against Serbia and Afghanistan (PCF in 1999 and 2001) and the West’s military aggression since 2013 in Syria, Iraq and Mali.


16.                On the other hand, there are those Stalinist parties which effectively operate as pro-Eastern social-imperialists. These parties regularly come together– the last time was the recently held “18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties” held on 28-30 October 2016 in Hanoi. A brief overview of the participants which, at the end of the meeting, agreed on a number of resolutions in which, among other things, they expressed their solidarity for the “socialist” regimes of Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, and their opposition to NATO. [15] At this conference, China’s ruling Communist Party met with other Stalinist parties which have similarly demonstrated their loyalty to the further implementation of capitalism for years. From India, two “Communist” parties were present (the CPI and the CPI[M]), which have participated in state or the federal of governments for decades. The same is true for the Brazilian PCdoB. In a number of other cases, the conference hosted Stalinist parties which have for decades held power at the head of dictatorships from whence they administered the restoration of capitalism (China, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba). The South African CP also participated in recent conference in Saigon, a party which has been part of the popular-front government successfully defending the power of (mostly white) monopoly capitalists for more than two decades. From Russia, attending the conference was a “Communist” Party like the KPRF, which, while formally in the opposition, in fact has numerous ties with Putin’s state apparatus and effectively supports his policies.


17.                In short, what we see then are a vast array of social democratic or Stalinist parties which either overtly or covertly support one or several imperialist Great Powers. In the 1930, Trotsky characterized the Stalinist degenerated “Communist International“, as well as the social democratic parties as a social-patriotic parties which have become instruments of imperialism. The ex-communist International, following in the footsteps of the Social Democracy, has transformed itself from an instrument of the emancipation of the workers and the exploited into an instrument of ‘democratic’ imperialism. [16] This is even truer today. In fact, all these reformist parties are either pro-Western or pro-Eastern social-imperialist parties and, in some cases, such parties even try to serve both masters. We hardly need explain that any struggle against the imperialist powers is impossible without an intransigent struggle against all such social-imperialist lackeys of the Great Powers, wherever they may be around the world.




Centrist Confusion




18.                The situation is not much better with the “professional confusionists of centrism” (Trotsky). While they are usually not integrated into the bourgeois state apparatus, they adapt to the bureaucracy of reformist mass parties in the hope of gathering any of the remaining crumbs of bread. In general, one can say that – after years and years of open rivalry between the Great Powers – most self-proclaimed “Trotskyist” organizations (e.g., the comrades of the PTS/FT) have proven to be utterly incapable of achieving a clear, class-based characterization of Russia and China, and have thus studiously avoided declaring either of these powers as “imperialist.” Some fools, like the sects of the Spartacist tradition, still spread the myth that China and Vietnam are “deformed workers states,” while in fact by doing so they have only demonstrated their own adherence to a deformed caricature of Marxism. Others explicitly reject the characterization of Russia and/or China, as “imperialist” (like the Morenoite UIT and Alan Woods IMT).


19.                The result of such confusion is the failure of all these organizations to take a clear stand on the issue of Great Power rivalry or – if they have taken a clear stand – they have chose to support one of the imperialist camps. If China and Russia are not imperialist powers – as most self-proclaimed “Trotskyist” organizations believe – they can only be semi-colonial countries or “deformed workers states.” The result of such a conclusion can only be their giving support to these powers in any confrontation with the US, the EU or Japan. Or, in other words, they are forced to become social-imperialists. Some may sincerely believe that they are acting as “anti-imperialists” if they lend support not to “their” imperialist bourgeoisie, but to that which is in conflict with their own ruling class. Nothing could possibly be a worse tragic-comic mockery of Marxism! From such a grotesque point of view, the German social democrats and Stalinists supporting the US, Britain and France against Hitler should be seen as having acted as “anti-imperialists.” Similarly, such praise should also be given the Stalinists in Britain and France who attacked their governments for not accepting Hitler’s “peace offers” in 1939-41 during the period of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. As a matter of fact, history knows many cases of reformist and even outright bourgeois forces (e.g., the Vichy collaborationists in France in 1940-45) aligning themselves with a foreign power which is in conflict with their “own” imperialist bourgeoisie. No, as we have explained in past documents, these Stalinists, social democrats and centrists are nothing but “inverted social-imperialists”!


20.                Lenin and the Communist International unambiguously condemned all forms of social-imperialism – irrespective of whether they support their “own” or another bourgeoisie: „Social-chauvinism is advocacy of the idea of “defence of the fatherland” in the present war. This idea logically leads to the abandonment of the class struggle during the war, to voting for war credits, etc. In fact, the social-chauvinists are pursuing an anti-proletarian bourgeois policy, for they are actually championing, not “defence of the fatherland” in the sense of combating foreign oppression, but the “right” of one or other of the “Great” Powers to plunder colonies and to oppress other nations. The social-chauvinists reiterate the bourgeois deception of the people that the war is being waged to protect the freedom and existence of nations, thereby taking sides with the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. Among the social-chauvinists are those who justify and varnish the governments and bourgeoisie of one of the belligerent groups of powers, as well as those who, like Kautsky, argue that the socialists of all the belligerent powers are equally entitled to “defend the fatherland”. Social- chauvinism, which is, in effect, defence of the privileges, the advantages, the right to pillage and plunder, of one’s “own” (or any) imperialist bourgeoisie, is the utter betrayal of all socialist convictions and of the decision of the Basle International Socialist Congress. [17]


21.                Similarly, Trotsky denounced these inverted social-imperialists just as mercilessly as he condemned the “normal” social-imperialists: “The Italian, German, Austrian, and now the Spanish socialist parties too are not directly bound by the discipline of national imperialism which rejected their services with a kick. They were cast into an illegality counter to their traditions and their best intentions. Because of this, naturally, they have not in the slightest degree become revolutionary. They do not of course so much as think of preparing the socialist revolution. But their patriotism is temporarily turned inside out. They stubbornly dream that the armed force of the “democracies” will overthrow their national fascist regime and enable them to reestablish themselves in their former posts, editorial offices, parliaments, leading bodies of the trade unions and to reopen their bank accounts. [18]


22.                It is true that some organizations honestly do want to avoid such social-imperialist conclusions. But as, until now, they have been unable to arrive at a clear class characterization of China and Russia, their only way out of this dilemma is simply to avoid the issue and to remain silent on the question of whether revolutionaries should take a revolutionary defeatist or defensist position in the case of conflicts between the US, EU, Japan, Russia and China. But this is hardly a revolutionary attitude – neither in the field of theory or of practice! Trotsky emphasized that military conflicts and wars are among the most important questions for any revolutionary organization. Ambiguity and confusion on this issue can only have devastating consequences and must be combated by all revolutionaries: “The problem of war, next to the problem of revolution, is the touchstone of a revolutionary party. Here no kind of equivocation is permissible. The principled decision is clear beforehand: defensism and defeatism are as incompatible as fire and, water. It is necessary to say this first of all. This truth must be taught the members of the party. [19]


23.                We emphasize that the new Revolutionary World Party can only be built on the basis of a political struggle against all those forces which side with one or another camp of the imperialist Great Powers. In the times of Lenin and Trotsky, socialist internationalism was irreconcilable with direct or indirect support for imperialist powers. This must be also be a fundamental programmatic principle for the future revolutionary International!




Imperialist Wars against Oppressed Peoples




24.                The new historical phase will see an acceleration of imperialist wars in the South. True, Trump has promised to avoid costly wars of occupation like the one in Iraq from 2003. But only fools can conclude from this that the Trump era might have any shade of “pacifism”! In fact, he has already announced his intention to increase the budget for the Pentagon. He has also appointed several retired generals for top positions in the military and security administration who are all known as extremely aggressive militarists. In our pamphlet on Trump’s victory, we have described these figures more in detail. The past period was already characterized by a number of wars waged by US imperialism in the Middle East. The Obama administration has pursued a systematic campaign of assassination against various Islamist organizations in Syria that played a key role in the struggle against the Assad regime. [20] The entire outlook of Trump himself, as well as his militarist clique of Islamophobic warriors, can only mean that US imperialism will accelerate its aggression in the region. We need only recall the words of General Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, who fantasizes about a “multi-generational world war against Islam.


25.                This acceleration of US military aggression is in addition to the devastating war already which is waged by Russian imperialism in support of Assad’s annihilation war against the Syrian people. As the Great Powers conspire together it is difficult to assess the detailed consequences of their so-called “War against ISIS” which in fact is an imperialist war against the Syrian and Iraqi people. However there are a few indications which demonstrate the devastating dimensions of their imperialist aggression. Recently the Pentagon announced “that some 50,000 Islamic State fighters have been killed since the United States started battling the group more than two years ago”. A senior US military official called this a "conservative estimate." The official, who spoke to Pentagon reporters on condition of anonymity, said “the figure showed how the United States was effectively combating the group with US-led coalition airpower and limited US troop deployments in support of local forces. [21] In this context it is interesting to remember that in September, 2014 the CIA corrected its estimation of the numbers of Daesh fighters in Iraq and Syria from about 20,000 to 31,500 fighters on the ground, much higher than a previous estimate of 10,000. [22] Given the fact that Daesh obviously still has many thousands – more likely, tens of thousands – fighters which are still retaining substantial territory under their control, this can only mean two things: either that Daesh is much more popular and, hence, has many more fighters than the CIA believed or – more likely – that the American imperialists and their local lackeys have indiscriminately slaughtered tens of thousands of people – among them many fighters from other Islamist organizations as well as civilians. As the Russian imperialists – together with their Iranian and Hezbollah mercenaries – are doing the same, we see an indication of the monstrous and barbaric dimensions of the Great Powers’ wars in the Middle East.


26.                In addition to their reactionary war against the Syrian people, we can assume that the Great Powers will also wage wars to intensify their intervention in other countries. Naturally, the slogan of the “The War on Terror” or – in the words of General Flynn “The War against Islam” – creates a justification for military operations throughout wide areas of the globe, from Western and Central Africa to Somalia, the entire Middle East and up to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Another target which Trump has already publicly attacked is Iran, and has announced his plans to rescind the nuclear deal with that country. This reflects the desire of one wing of US imperialism, which advocates the closest possible alliance with Israel in waging a purely military confrontation in the Middle East. Unsurprisingly, Netanyahu and the Zionist Right have been rejoicing over Trump’s victory – irrespective of anti-Semitic tendencies among sections of Trump’s supporters. [23] While it is conceivable that Trump will not openly wage war against Iran – not least because the latter it has the backing of Russia and China – it may encourage, or not actively discourage, Israel from attacking against Teheran. Obviously, such aggression would provoke major tensions and unrest in the Middle East and beyond.


27.                For the same reason there is a real danger that Trump’s victory – as well as Israel’s improved relations with the Putin regime – will encourage the Zionist state to attempt once again to defeat Hamas in Gaza, something which it has failed to do three times in the past decade. In other words, the Netanyahu government may try to use the changed world political situation in order to initiate wars – be they against the Palestinian people in Gaza, against Hezbollah in Lebanon or, as already said, Iran. Any of these might  provoke major political explosions around the globe, but in any case will ensure that Israel becomes more isolated and hated than ever before.




Reformist and Centrist Cowardice in Face of the Imperialist Aggression




28.                While the Islamophobic petty-bourgeois left turns a blind eye to this imperialist aggression, revolutionaries insist that these wars waged by Washington and Moscow are wars intended to liquidate legitimate resistance movements – usually under the leadership of various Islamist forces – fighting against dictatorships and imperialist occupation. We have already seen this in the shameful support which numerous Stalinists and centrists (e.g., Alan Woods’ IMT) lends to Assad and his Russian backers in the Syrian civil war. [24]


29.                It is, therefore, of paramount importance that authentic revolutionaries take clear and unambiguous stands in these conflicts. Lenin’s Third and Trotsky’s Fourth International had clear principles on this issue. The Communist International in 1920 called the active support of the national liberation struggle as the duty of every revolutionary in the imperialist states: “A particularly explicit and clear attitude on the question of the colonies and the oppressed peoples is necessary for the parties in those countries where the bourgeoisie possess colonies and oppress other nations. Every party which wishes to join the Communist International is obliged to expose the tricks and dodges of ‘its’ imperialists in the colonies, to support every colonial liberation movement not merely in words but in deeds, to demand the expulsion of their own imperialists from these colonies, to inculcate among the workers of their country a genuinely fraternal attitude to the working people of the colonies and the oppressed nations, and to carry on systematic agitation among the troops of their country against any oppression of the colonial peoples. [25] In a speech at the Fourth Congress of the Comintern in 1922, Trotsky stated: “Every colonial movement, which weakens the capitalist rule in the metropolises, is progressive, because it makes the revolutionary tasks of the proletariat easier to achieve. [26] Later, the Fourth International repeated this principle in a resolution: The struggle against war and its social source, capitalism, presupposes direct, active, unequivocal support to the oppressed colonial peoples in their struggles and wars against imperialism. A ‘neutral’ position is tantamount to support of imperialism.” [27]


30.                However, as a matter of fact, numerous reformists and centrists have accumulated a shameful record of failing to support oppressed peoples against the Great Powers. As already noted above, the French PCF was even part of a government which waged wars in the Middle East. The pro-Russian supporters of Putin’s war crimes in Syria are hardly better. So are the centrists. As we have demonstrated in various documents, these social-imperialist positions are not sudden turns, but rather a continuation of a long tradition. [28] Groups like the British-dominated CWI/IMT tendency (they were united in a single organization until their spilt in 1992) lent indirect support to British imperialism when it waged war against Argentina in 1982. Since 2001, the CWI has explicitly refused to give any support to Islamist-led resistance movements against the US/NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Neither do CWI or IMT support Hamas in its military confrontation against Israel.


31.                The new Revolutionary World Party can only be built on the basis of an intransigent struggle against any vacillations of reformism and centrism on the issue of imperialist wars against oppressed peoples. How shall the new International win the trust of the popular masses who are suffering under the yoke of imperialism if it does not wage a political war against such forces which combine “socialist” phrases with direct or indirect support for the Great Powers’ military aggression?!


[1] See e.g., Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, 2013,; 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,; RCIT: Escalation of Inner-Imperialist Rivalry Marks the Opening of a New Phase of World Politics. Theses on Recent Major Developments in the World Situation Adopted by the RCIT’s International Executive Committee, April 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism (English-language Journal of the RCIT) No. 22,; RCIT: Aggravation of Contradictions, Deepening of Crisis of Leadership. Theses on Recent Major Developments in the World Situation Adopted by the RCIT’s International Executive Committee, 9.9.2013, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 15,; RCIT: The World Situation and the Tasks of the Bolshevik-Communists. Theses of the International Executive Committee of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, March 2013, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 8,; Michael Pröbsting: China‘s transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4,; Michael Pröbsting: No to chauvinist war-mongering by Japanese and Chinese imperialism! Chinese and Japanese workers: Your main enemy is at home! Stop the conflict on the Senkaku/Diaoyu-islands in the East China Sea! 23.9.2012,in: Revolutionary Communism No. 6,; 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,; Michael Pröbsting: Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 21,; Michael Pröbsting: Russia and China as Great Imperialist Powers. A Summary of the RCIT’s Analysis, 28 March 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 22,; Michael Pröbsting: More on Russia and China as Great Imperialist Powers. A Reply to Chris Slee (Socialist Alliance, Australia) and Walter Daum (LRP, USA), 11 April 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 22,; Michael Pröbsting: The Uprising in East Ukraine and Russian Imperialism. An Analysis of Recent Developments in the Ukrainian Civil War and their Consequences for Revolutionary Tactics, 22.October 2014,

[2] See e.g. John Sawers: We are returning to a world of great-power rivalry, October 19, 2016, Financial Times,; William J. Burnsm, Michèle A. Flournoy, Nancy E. Lindborg: U.S. Leadership and the Challenge of State Fragility, Fragility Study Group, September 2016; Judah Grunstein: Fragile States and Great Power Rivalry Are Back. Is the U.S. Ready? World Politics Review, Sept. 21, 2016,; Kaitlin Lavinder: Great Power Rivalry Is Here to Stay, Say National Security Leaders, September 21, 2016,; Sumantra Maitra: It's not a Cold War – it's a great power rivalry, Russia Direct, 09.03.2016,; International Crisis Group: Seizing the Moment: From Early Warning to Early Action, Special Report N°2, 22 June 2016

[3] Credit Suisse: China In Pictures: Under Pressure, September 9, 2015, p. 7

[4] OECD: Economic Outlook, Volume 2015/1, p. 210. However, one should note that these figures most likely are exaggerated since they are calculated in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) and not in exchange value. Nevertheless, they reflect the real shift which has taken place.

[5] Forbes: The Global 2000, 7.3.2003, and Forbes: The World’s Biggest Public Companies,

[6] Fortune 500 List,; David Shambaugh: Are China’s multinational Corporations really multinational?; in: EAST ASIA FORUM QUARTERLY, Vol.4 No.2 April–June 2012, p. 7; Chinese companies push out Japan on Fortune Global 500 list, By Agence France-Presse, July 9, 2012,

[7] Hurun Global Rich List 2016,; see also Michael Pröbsting: China’s “Socialist“ Billionaires, 16.11.2015,

[8] Forbes 2016 World's Billionaires: Meet The Richest People On The Planet, 01.03.2016,

[9] UNCTAD: World Investment Report 2014, pp. 209-212 and UNCTAD: World Investment Report 2016, pp. 200-203 (The figures for China do not include those for Hong Kong which is listed in the UNCTAD statistics separately.)

[10] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power

[11] SIPRI Yearbook 2016 (Summary), p. 20

[12] SIPRI Yearbook 2016 (Summary), p. 23

[13] Tom LoBianco: Donald Trump outlines policy plan for first 100 days, CNN, November 22, 2016,

[14] Resolution on the Antiwar Congress of the London Bureau (1936), in: Documents of the Fourth International, New York 1973, p. 99

[15] See various documents of the 18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties at

[16] Leon Trotsky: The Problem of the new International (1938), in: Trotsky Writings 1938-39, p. 81

[17] G. Zinoviev / V. I. Lenin: Socialism and War (1915) ; in: LCW Vol. 21, pp. 306-307 (our emphasis)

[18] Leon Trotsky: Progressive Paralysis. The Second International on the Eve of the New War (1939), in: Writings 1939-40, p. 37

[19] Leon Trotsky: Defeatism vs. Defensism (1937), in: Trotsky Writings 1937-38, p. 86

[21] Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani: US estimates 50,000 Islamic State fighters killed so far: US official, Dec 8, 2016

[22] Al Jazeera: CIA triples number of Islamic State fighters. Islamic State in Iraq and Syria now have about 20,000 to 31,500 members on the ground, US intelligence agency says, 12 Sep 2014,

[23] See on this e.g., Yossi Schwartz: Israel Loves Donald Trump who Loves Israel but Dislikes Jews, RCIT, 20.11.2016,

[24] See, e.g., the statement adopted at the “18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties”: For an end to war, terror and human catastrophe in Syria, or the IMT’s servile pro-Russian position expressed in Alan Woods’ article: Syria: Aleppo, Mosul, and imperialist hypocrisy, 21 October 2016,

[25] Communist International: Conditions of Admission to the Communist International, approved by the Second Comintern Congress (1920); in: The Communist International 1919-1943. Documents. Selected and edited by Jane Degras, Volume I 1919-1922, p. 170

[26] Leon Trotsky: Auszug aus einer Rede zur französischen Frage auf dem IV. Weltkongreß der Kommunistischen Internationale (1922); reprinted in: Jakob Moneta: Die Kolonialpolitik der französischen KP, Hannover 1968, p. 22 (our translation)

[27] Resolution on the Antiwar Congress of the London Bureau (1936), in: Documents of the Fourth International, New York 1973, p. 99

[28] See Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South, Chapter 13