Are Global Popular Uprisings Caused by “Foreign Conspiracies”?


How the ruling classes around the world try to smear the mass revolts


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 2 November 2019,




The capitalist world order is rocked by a series of global mass protests and popular uprising. From Chile and Ecuador, Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria, to Catalunya and Hong Kong – to name only the most explosive ones – the workers, youth and oppressed are rising up on nearly all continents. Add to this the looming intifada in Kashmir after Modi transformed the region into a huge concentration camp as well as the continuing liberation wars of the Syrian people against the Assad dictatorship and its Russian backers as well as of the Yemini people against the Saudi invasion.


As we have elaborated in a series of essays, articles and statements, the general background for this wave of popular upsurges is the global decay of capitalism. This decline provokes the ruling classes, on one hand, to increasingly attack the living conditions of the working masses with austerity packages and, on the other hand, to increasingly turn to authoritarian ways of rule which results in numerous attacks on democratic and national rights. [1]


It lies in the nature of things that the ruling classes in East and West try to discredit, weaken and eventually smash the popular uprisings by any means necessary. One of their favorite methods is to smear such mass protests as “instigated“ and “directed” by “foreign forces”. Let us give a few examples.


As we reported already in a recent article, Xie Feng, China’s top diplomat in Hong Kong, made a very telling statement about the popular uprising in region. [2] Not only did he smear the mass protests as a “virus worse than SARS” (a devastating virus which caused 299 deaths in Hong Kong in 2003) which is threatening to “plunge civilisation as a whole would into calamity”. Xie also repeated the claims of the regime in Beijing that “black hands” and “foreign forces” were behind the mass movement which fights for democratic rights since 9 June. [3]


However, it is not only China’s ruling class which denounces the popular uprising in its country as a “foreign conspiracy”. The capitalist theocratic regime of Iran makes the same claims about the mass protests in Iraq and Lebanon.


Soon after the beginning of the mass protests in Iraq, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "enemies" were trying to drive a wedge between Tehran and Baghdad: "#Iran and #Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together... Enemies seek to sow discord but they've failed & their conspiracy won't be effective." [4] In the same spirit, Iranian media accuse the “foreign enemy” behind the popular upsurge. Tasnim News Agency, a media close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps – the regime’s Praetorian Guard –, said that “a few thousand protesters in a country the size of Iraq is natural.” It wrote that despite millions of Iraqis from different political sides voting in the election that brought Adel Abdul Mahdi to power as prime minister, the United States and its allies seek to “collapse the Iraqi political system.” [5]


We see a very similar development in Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who provides since years thousands of shock troops in order to defend the bloody dictatorship of Assad against the Syrian Revolution, violently denounces the popular uprising in his country. In order to support his case, he spreads the theory about “foreign conspiracies”. In a recent speech, Nasrallah said that unspecified foreign powers were exploiting the protests to undermine his group, warning that such actions could plunge the country back into civil war. [6]


We see the same theories of “foreign conspiracy” spread by Western imperialist and reactionary forces. The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) – an institution dominated by U.S. imperialism and right-wing governments in Latin America – issued a statement in which it claims that the Castro-Chavista governments of Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba are behind the popular uprising in Ecuador. “The recent currents of destabilization of the political systems of the hemisphere have their origins in the strategy of the Bolivarian and Cuban dictatorships, which seek to reposition themselves once again, not through a process of re-institutionalization and re-democratization, but through their old methodology of exporting polarization and bad practices, to essentially finance, support and promote political and social conflict. (…) The strategy of destabilization of democracy through the financing of political and social movements has distorted political dynamics in the Americas. For years, the Venezuelan dictatorship, with the support of the Cuban dictatorship, institutionalized sophisticated co-optation, repression, destabilization and media propaganda structures in the region. (…) The crisis in Ecuador is an expression of the distortions that the Venezuelan and Cuban dictatorships have installed in the political systems of the hemisphere. However, what recent events have also shown is that the intentional and systematic strategy of the two dictatorships to destabilize democracies is no longer as effective as in the past.” [7]


Reactionary propagandists in the service of Trump, Bolsonaro & Co. are repeating the same smear about the mass revolts in Chile and other countries. Manuel Suarez Mier, a right-wing Mexican economist of the notorious “Chicago School”, claims in a recent article with the title “Latin America is on fire: Who’s to blame?” that the Bolivarian governments are behind the wave of mass protests. “Throughout Latin America, several countries are aflame with violent protests. The protests are all for different reasons. But there are common denominators: unprecedented violence and well-organized actions designed to disrupt life and cause as much damage as possible. If successful, the protests could remove the democratically-elected governments of moderate centrist leaders. Perú, Ecuador, Colombia (to a lesser extent) and, most recently, Chile (with exceptional fury) have endured violent protests challenging government policies that reduced subsidies to products and services. These four countries are all critical of Venezuela and its dictator, Nicolás Maduro, and have called for his removal. Maduro has responded with a vow to harm them in any way possible.” [8]


Following the same line of dumb conspiracy theories, the White House said in a statement that U.S. President Donald Trump “denounced foreign efforts to undermine Chilean institutions, democracy, or society.” And two days ago, the U.S. State Department claimed that it had seen indications of Russian “influence” on recent mass protests in Chile. A senior State Department official said there were “clear indications” people were taking advantage of the unrest in Chile and “skewing it through the use and abuse of social media, trolling. (…) We have seen indications of Russian activity supporting this negative course of the debate.” [9]


It is a well-known method of the ruling classes to smear popular revolts as “foreign conspiracy” which has been deployed many times in the history of class societies riven with explosive tensions between the oppressors and the oppressed. It was already in the times of the Roman Empire that uprisings of the oppressed were linked to “foreign conspiracies”. Cicero became famous when he speculated about such a “foreign conspiracy” at the time of the Great Slave Uprising led by Spartacus in 73-71 BCE. Likewise did the Western powers and the social democrats denounce the Russian Revolution in 1917 led by Lenin and Trotsky as a conspiracy financed by the “German Kaiser”. In recent years, the Stalinists and Bolivarians have shamefully smeared the popular uprisings in Libya and Syria in 2011 as a CIA-led coup. [10]


The Greek KKE – a party which plays an important role in international Stalinism – denounced the Syrian Revolution as an “imperialist conspiracy”: “It should be noted that the KKE from the very first moment, in 2011, denounced the intervention that has very serious consequences for the people of Syria and also for the people of the wider region. When bourgeois and opportunist parties celebrated the so-called “Arab Spring”, our party exposed the organized efforts to fund and arm the so-called Syrian opposition by the imperialist powers. [11]


We note in passing that various Stalinists and semi-Stalinists are repeating the same lies today about the mass revolt in Hong Kong.


Now, it is certainly true – as the RCIT has pointed out repeatedly – that world politics is characterized since a number of years by accelerating rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers (U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan) as well as between regional powers. [12] Hence, while the rulers are worried about popular uprisings in their zone of influences, they look with favour upon domestic problems in the zones of influences of their rivals. This is why Russia Today and TeleSur report enthusiastically about mass protests in Chile and France … but not about Hong Kong. And for very similar reasons there is an extensive and favourable coverage of the revolt in Hong Kong on Fox News … but not of those in Chile and Ecuador.


So, yes, there are certainly attempts of “foreign forces” to intervene in one form or another in protest movements in their rival’s zone of influences. However, and this is the whole point, mass popular uprisings are neither caused not led by “foreign powers”. Big mass movements are primarily a result of the class contradictions in the countries itself, of the misery and social inequality, of the unbearable living conditions under corrupt and authoritarian regimes.


Hence, it is not surprising that smart representatives of the ruling classes understand the necessity to unity and jointly smash the global wave of popular uprisings. As we demonstrated in a recent article, the Stalinist-capitalist regime in China has already directly appealed to their imperialist colleagues in the West to jointly defend “the rule of law and multilateral global trade order” against the “virus” of mass unrests. [13] An important element to legitimize the brutal suppression the protests is smearing them as “foreign conspiracies”.


We conclude by emphasizing that it is an urgent duty of revolutionaries around the world to counter these reactionary smearing campaigns and to build international solidarity between the popular uprisings in all corners of the world. There exist already spontaneous attempts in this direction as one could see in the support expressed by Hong Kong demonstrators for their brothers and sisters in Catalunya (and vice versa). [14] We saw the same at the demonstrations in Idlib – the last bastion of the Syrian Revolution – where people raised the flags of Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt to show their support for the popular uprisings in these countries. And at the same time, demonstrators in Lebanon stated their support for the Syrian revolutionaries fighting against the Assad tyranny. [15]


We consider it as particularly important to build an international revolutionary organization which supports all liberation struggles in East and West and which fights against all imperialist Great Powers and all reactionary regimes. We don’t choose between Washington and Beijing, between Brussels and Moscow or between Tokyo and Seoul. We stand with the workers and oppressed all over the world against the ruling classes! The RCIT calls all revolutionaries to unite with us on such a program!




[1] It would exceed the limits of this little article to list all relevant works of the RCIT on the various struggles which have been taking place around the world in the past few months. We limit ourselves to a few references:

For the general background see the following essay by Michael Pröbsting: Are We Nearing a New “68 Moment”? A massive upsurge of global class struggle in the midst of a dramatic shift in the world situation, 22 October 2019,; Another Great Recession of the Capitalist World Economy Has Begun. The economic crisis is an important factor in the current dramatic shift in the world situation, 19 October 2019,; The Gang Leaders of Western Counterrevolution Are Faltering. Some observations on an interesting historic moment in the world situation, 25 September 2019,

For a series of articles and statements on the struggles in the respective countries we refer readers to the regional sections on our website (go to

[2] Michael Pröbsting: Beijing: Global Popular Uprising “Worse Than SARS”. Leading Chinese diplomat hysterically denounces the mass protests in Hong Kong and around the world, 25 October 2019,

[3] Kimmy Chung: Hong Kong protests: ‘virus of violence’ deadlier than Sars and is spreading overseas, says China’s top diplomat in city, Xie Feng, South China Morning Post, 24 Oct, 2019,

[4] Khamenei: 'Enemies seek to sow discord' between Iran and Iraq, 7 October, 2019

[5] Quoted in: Iranian officials growing concerned about Iraqi protests, October 7, 2019

[6] Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Joseph Krauss: Protests in Iraq and Lebanon pose a challenge to Iran, 2019-10-30

[8] Manuel Suarez Mier: Latin America is on fire: Who’s to blame? 2019-10-30

[9] David Brunnstrom, Dave Sherwood: U.S. warns Russian trolls stoking conflict in Chile, October 31, 2019 /

[10] See on this e.g. these essays by Michael Pröbsting: Syria and Great Power Rivalry: The Failure of the „Left“. The bleeding Syrian Revolution and the recent Escalation of Inter-Imperialist Rivalry between the US and Russia – A Marxist Critique of Social Democracy, Stalinism and Centrism, 21 April 2018,; 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, Autumn 2012, The RCIT has published a number of booklets, statements, and articles on the ongoing Syrian Revolution that can be accessed on a special sub-section of this website:

[11] Elisseos Vagenas: The Military-Political Equation in Syria, (Extensive excerpts from the article published in “Kommounistiki Epitheorisi”, the political-theoretical journal of the CC of the KKE, issue 1 of 2016),

[12] See e.g. our articles on the Global Trade War which are collected in a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website:; for an extensive study of the Great Power rivalry see e.g. our book by Michael Pröbsting: 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, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019. The book can be read online or downloaded for free here: For the RCIT’s analysis of China and Russia as imperialist Great Powers we refer readers to the literature mentioned in the special sub-section on our website:

[13] See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Global Popular Uprisings: Beijing Calls West to Jointly Defend “the Rule of Law”. Central organ of the ruling Stalinist party reiterates the regime’s counter-revolutionary position, 30 October 2019,

[14] See e.g. John Geddie, Jessie Pang: Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters rally for Catalan separatists, October 24, 2019 /; Holmes Chan: ‘Fight against oppression’: Hong Kong and Catalan protesters hold parallel solidarity rallies, 25 October 2019

[15] See e.g. Ghalia Alwani: Lebanon protests also bring Syrians, Palestinians out onto the streets, October 24, 2019