“We are not winning”

A disillusioned balance sheet of the EU’s Foreign Minister on the West's decline in world politics

By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 12 July 2022, www.thecommunists.net


Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, has published a remarkable article on an official website of the EU. Coming back from the recent G20 summit of foreign ministers in Bali (Indonesia), he wrote a disillusioned balance sheet about his political impressions from meeting with his colleagues at this event. [1]

Unsurprisingly, Borrell outlines the well-known foreign policy line of the EU on key issues of world politics. Most importantly, he restates the necessity to support the Ukraine and to sanction Russia as the aggressor.

This is, as we have explained many times, a cover for the cynical policy of Western imperialism. The EU leaders currently support the Ukraine half-heartedly because it serves their interests in the Great Power rivalry against Russian imperialism. They had no problem to make deals with Putin when he was “only” slaughtering the Syrian and the Chechen peoples (who happen to live far away from Western Europe). Neither do these hypercritics have any problems to buy oil and gas from the absolutist monarchs of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who have killed many more people in Yemen since 2015 than Putin did in the Ukraine (until now).


The isolated West


But it is not the reiteration of the EU’s official foreign policy line which makes Borrell’s article remarkable. It is rather the astonishing admission of the massive decline of the Western powers’ influence. Here are some of the most revealing paragraphs.

The main takeaway is that in abstract terms everybody agrees on the need for multilateralism and defending principles such as territorial sovereignty and the non-use of force. However, this often looks different when it must become concrete, such as on the fallout from Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine. The hard truth is that national interests often outweigh general commitments to bigger ideals. (…)

Discussing these issues during the two sessions and my bilateral meetings gave me a better understanding where different countries stand. Indeed, in the March vote at the UN General Assembly, 140 states condemned the Russian aggression and no member of the G20, apart from the aggressor, opposed this resolution. But on how to move forward and on the consequences of the war, views differ sharply. The G7 and like-minded countries are united in condemning and sanctioning Russia and in trying to hold the regime accountable. But other countries, and we can speak here of the majority of the “Global South”, often take a different perspective.

In principle, everyone condemns the attack on a country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. But when it comes to naming the aggressor and stating who is responsible for the consequences, many are reticent for different reasons. Some are more concerned about the consequences of the war for themselves, rather than about who is responsible for these difficulties and how to end this war; others complain about “double standards” or simply want to preserve their good bilateral relationship with Russia. And many remain vague and not wanting to take sides, because this would jeopardise their geopolitical interests. The global battle of narratives is in full swing and, for now, we are not winning.

If we translate these diplomatic formulations into plain English, Borrell openly recognizes that the Western Great Powers have lost their global hegemony. This decline of the U.S. and Western European imperialism has become so obvious that the EU’s foreign minister feels compelled to admit that “the majority of the “Global South” [representing the majority of the world population, MP] often take a different perspective”, i.e. that they follow a policy in defiance to the wishes of Washington and Brussels.

The formulation “the global battle of narratives is in full swing and, for now, we are not winning” is another expression for the same fact – the end of Western hegemony. [2] In fact, as many Putinist writers have pointed out (with much exaggeration but with an element of truth), the Western imperialists feel somehow isolated in global politics. [3]


Confirmation of Marxist analysis


Such a public admission by the EU’s foreign minister is extraordinary and reflects the shock of the ruling class of the Western imperialist powers about its decline. It is a powerful confirmation of the analysis which the RCIT and other Marxists have elaborated since a number of years. This analysis can be summarized in the following theses.

1.           The decay of world capitalism has provoked a fundamental shift between the Great Powers and deep instability of global relations.

2.           It has resulted in the emergence of new imperialist powers- in particular China [4] and Russia. [5]

3.           Hence, we speak about the end of the hegemony of the Western imperialist powers.

4.           Consequently, the rivalry between Great Powers is accelerating which will inevitably lead to World War III if the international working class and oppressed peoples do not overthrow the imperialist powers before. [6]

5.           All Great Powers show an increasing appetite to intervene in semi-colonial countries – the Ukraine War is only the latest spectacular example. [7]

We shall add that Borrell’s public admission is also a powerful argument against the absurd position of numerous Stalinists and pseudo-Trotskyists who continue to deny that Russia and China are imperialist powers.

We ask our critics once more: if Russia and China would be not imperialist powers, how is it possible that the U.S. and the European Union fail to impose their will among the G-20 countries and the Global South?! And how is it possible that Russia has managed to resist the massive financial and economic pressure of Western sanctions until now and, in fact, also causes serious damage to the American, European, and Japanese economies?! Is it not evident that Russia is only able to resist this pressure, is only able to mobilize powerful allies for its interests, because it is an imperialist Great Power?!

We conclude this brief commentary by emphasizing that the task of socialists all over the world is to defend the Ukraine against the brutal invasion of Putin and, at the same time, to oppose all imperialist powers – in East as well as in West! [8]

[1] Josep Borrell: G20: difficult times for multilateralism, 10.07.2022, https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/g20-difficult-times-multilateralism_en. All quotes are from this article if not indicated otherwise.

[2] For our analysis of the relation of forces between the Great Powers since the beginning of the Ukraine War see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: World Situation: In the Midst of a Global Political Tornado. Notes on global developments characterized by the Ukraine War, inter-imperialist rivalry, global energy and food crisis as well as spontaneous mass protests, 13 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-situation-april-2022/; by the same author: Is Europe’s Ruling Class About to Declare a War Economy? On a programmatic article by an imperialist ideologist on the consequences of the Great Power rivalry, 7 July 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/is-europe-s-ruling-class-about-to-declare-a-war-economy/; G-20: Inter-Imperialist Rivalry on the Diplomatic Terrain. What do recent developments in the G-20 tell us about Russia’s imperialist character? 23 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/g-20-inter-imperialist-rivalry-on-the-diplomatic-terrain/

[3] See on this e.g. the above-mentioned pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting: World Situation: In the Midst of a Global Political Tornado; by the same author: An Unexpected Admission. A leading ideologist of Russian imperialism on the nature and the consequences of the Ukraine War, 7 July 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/lukyanov-an-unexpected-admission/.

[4] The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in China and its transformation into a Great Power. See on this e.g. the above-mentioned book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry; see also by the same author an essay published in the second edition of The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism (edited by Immanuel Ness and Zak Cope), Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2020, https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-319-91206-6_179-1; China: An Imperialist Power … Or Not Yet? A Theoretical Question with Very Practical Consequences! Continuing the Debate with Esteban Mercatante and the PTS/FT on China’s class character and consequences for the revolutionary strategy, 22 January 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-imperialist-power-or-not-yet/; China‘s transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power (2012), in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/revcom-number-4; 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/; Unable to See the Wood for the Trees (PTS/FT and China). 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/; China’s Emergence as an Imperialist Power (Article in the US journal 'New Politics'), in: “New Politics”, Summer 2014 (Vol:XV-1, Whole #: 57). See many more RCIT documents at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/.

[5] The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. See on this e.g. several pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: The Peculiar Features of Russian Imperialism. A Study of Russia’s Monopolies, Capital Export and Super-Exploitation in the Light of Marxist Theory, 10 August 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-peculiar-features-of-russian-imperialism/; by the same author: 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, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; 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, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/; Russian Imperialism and Its Monopolies, in: New Politics Vol. XVIII No. 4, Whole Number 72, Winter 2022, https://newpol.org/issue_post/russian-imperialism-and-its-monopolies/ (the same essay has been republished by International Viewpoint, 21. April 2022, https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7618); Once Again on Russian Imperialism (Reply to Critics). A rebuttal of a theory which claims that Russia is not an imperialist state but would be rather “comparable to Brazil and Iran”, 30 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/once-again-on-russian-imperialism-reply-to-critics/. See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/.

[6] The RCIT has dealt on numerous occasions with the inter-imperialist rivalry of the Great Powers. See e.g. the RCIT document: World Perspectives 2021-22: Entering a Pre-Revolutionary Global Situation, 22 August 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2021-22/; see also: RCIT: The Coming Inter-Imperialist War on Taiwan, 10 October 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-coming-inter-imperialist-war-on-taiwan/; The Meaning of the AUKUS Pact. The U.S. escalates the inter-imperialist Cold War against China and provokes the EU, 18 September 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-meaning-of-the-aukus-pact/; Russia Fires Warning Shots against UK Warship in the Black Sea. Down with Cold Warmongering! No support for any imperialist Great Power – neither UK, US nor Russia! 24 June 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/russia-fires-warning-shots-against-uk-warship-in-black-sea/; see also the following 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, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/; see also these two pamphlets by the same author: “A Really Good Quarrel”. US-China Alaska Meeting: The Inter-Imperialist Cold War Continues, 23 March 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/us-china-alaska-meeting-shows-continuation-of-inter-imperialist-cold-war/; Servants of Two Masters. Stalinism and the New Cold War between Imperialist Great Powers in East and West, 10 July 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/servants-of-two-masters-stalinism-and-new-cold-war/; for more works on this issue see these sub-pages: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/ and https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-global-trade-war/.

[7] We refer readers to a special page on our website where nearly 100 RCIT documents on the current NATO-Russia conflict and the Ukraine War are compiled: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/compilation-of-documents-on-nato-russia-conflict/. The most important documents are: RCIT Manifesto: Ukraine War: A Turning Point of World Historic Significance. Socialists must combine the revolutionary defense of the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion with the internationalist struggle against Russian as well as NATO and EU imperialism, 1 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/manifesto-ukraine-war-a-turning-point-of-world-historic-significance/; Joint Statement of Socialist Tendency (Russia) and RCIT: Defend the Ukrainian People against Putin’s Invasion! Down with Russian and NATO Imperialism! 4.6.2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/joint-statement-with-ct-russia-on-ukraine-war-4-6-2022/

[8] See e.g. RCIT: Theses on Revolutionary Defeatism in Imperialist States, 8 September 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-on-revolutionary-defeatism-in-imperialist-states/