NATO-Russia Conflict: The Anglo-Saxon ‘Marxist’ Tendency



On the IMT’s confusion about the role of Russian imperialism


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 31 January 2022,




The political strength or weakness of a Marxist organization, its historical justification or futility, is first and foremost demonstrated by its approach to the fundamental issues of the current historical period. In the present world situation these issues are the inter-imperialist Great Power rivalry, the COVID Counterrevolution and the global wave of popular uprisings which has started with the process of the Arab Revolution since 2011 and which spread to all continents by 2019.


Clarity in analysis as well as program are the preconditions for the correct policy of a Marxist organization. Unfortunately, the Britain-based IMT led by Alan Woods has neither one nor the other. Its approach to the current NATO-Russia conflict is confused and disorientating, at best. Objectively, it renders to a camouflaged version of pro-Russian social-imperialism. [1]


This becomes evident in the article which the IMT has published on the current NATO-Russia conflict. [2] The article is riddled with calling (correctly) the U.S. “imperialist”. But – despite its considerable length of more than 3,500 words – the article fails to characterize Russia a single time as “imperialist”! Instead, the IMT article limits itself to describe Moscow’s policy as aimed to “push back” NATO. The “boldest” characterization is the formulation that Putin is “defending the interests of the Russian capitalist class”. You don't say! It might be unknown to these “Marxists” but, as a matter of fact, there exists not a single government in the world which does not defend the interests of its capitalist class!


However, for Marxists it is important to recognize what is specific about Russia. In fact, Russia is not only a capitalist country – it is, in addition, also an imperialist state. As such, it is – together with the U.S., China, Western Europe, and Japan – part of the small and exclusive club of the Great Powers.


The RCIT has demonstrated Russia’s character as an imperialist power in several detailed studies. True, its strength is unevenly developed. While it is the world's eleventh-largest (by nominal GDP) resp. the sixth-largest (by PPP) state, it is one of the leading powers in military and political terms. It has the largest number of nuclear warheads – together with the U.S. – and it is the world’s second-largest arms exporter. Furthermore, Russia plays a crucial role in world politics as one of the five veto powers in the United Nations. [3]


Consequently, Russia wields important influence in the Middle East, in North, East and Central Africa, in Europe as well as in Asia. Its troops are stationed – officially or concealed – in various other countries and regions (e.g. in Kazakhstan, Eastern Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Mali, Central African Republic, etc.) As Moscow’s military intervention in Kazakhstan has demonstrated recently, Russia acts as the imperialist Gendarme of Eurasia. [4]


Hence, the conflict between NATO and Russia is a conflict between two rivalling imperialist camps. From this follows, that Marxists can not support either of it but must apply the program of revolutionary defeatism, i.e. working towards the defeat of the respective governments and the transformation of this conflict/war into a revolutionary crisis at home. [5]




Adaption to pro-Russian social-imperialism




It is characteristic for many reformist and centrist organizations that they imagine living in a world dominated by a single imperialist power (like the U.S.) or by a united imperialist camp (the myth of Kautskyanism). [6] They fail to recognize that global politics is characterized by the existence of several imperialist Great Powers (U.S., China, EU, Russia and Japan) which are increasingly engaged in rivalry. Without recognizing the imperialist nature of these different powers, it is impossible to find a correct orientation in world politics! [7]


The IMT lacks such clarity. As we did point out on other occasions, its documents on the world situation are usually riddled with pointing out the imperialist character of the U.S. But these comrades rarely, if ever, mention the imperialist nature of Russia or China.


This is no accident but results from the lack of a Marxist method. Instead, this is replaced with opportunist adaption to the worldview of Stalinism and social-imperialism. [8] The IMT’s failure to defend semi-colonial countries against imperialist attacks (e.g. Argentina against Britain in the Malvinas War in 1982) [9], the leading role of the IMT’s British mother section in the pro-Russian campaign “Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine[10], its denouncement of “Chechen Separatism”, [11] its disgraceful support for the military coup of General Sisi in Egypt in July 2013 [12] or its Islamophobic slander of the Syrian rebels as “jihadist proxies of U.S. imperialism”, [13] – these are just a few concrete examples for the IMT’s Stalinophile opportunist policy. Alan Woods’ vulgar renunciation of Lenin’s policy of defeatism also fits well in such an opportunist method. [14]


In summary, ignoring Russia’s imperialist character, refusing to name the beast by its name – this is, “at best”, confusing and disorientating. In fact, it reflects an opportunistic adaption to the policy of pro-Russian social-imperialism! A few days ago, we pointed to the example of the Argentinean “Partido Obrero” which takes an openly pro-Russian stance in the current Great Power conflict. [15] It seems that the IMT advocates a concealed version of the same shameful approach.


It might be the case that the comrades thought that since most of the IMT’s members live in Western Europe and North America, it would be their socialist task to oppose first and foremost their “own” imperialist powers. Leaving aside that such an approach is wrong and represents only the method of inverted social-patriotism, it is unworthy for an organization claiming to be international and internationalist. It would be more honest if the IMT renames itself: they should drop the word “International” and call themselves Anglo-Saxon ‘Marxist’ Tendency”.


[1] We refer readers to a special page on our website where all RCIT documents on the current NATO-Russia conflict are compiled:

[2] Jack Halinski-Fitzpatrick: Will Russia invade Ukraine? IMT, 24 January 2022,

[3] 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,; Russia and China: Neither Capitalist nor Great Powers? A Reply to the PO/CRFI and their Revisionist Whitewashing of Chinese and Russian imperialism, 28 November 2018,; The Catastrophic Failure of the Theory of “Catastrophism”. On the Marxist Theory of Capitalist Breakdown and its Misinterpretation by the Partido Obrero (Argentina) and its “Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International”, 27 May 2018,; 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,; 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, See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website:

[4] All RCIT documents on the recent popular uprising in Kazakhstan are all compiled at a special page on our website:

[5] See on this e.g. RCIT: Theses on Revolutionary Defeatism in Imperialist States, 8 September 2018,

[6] See on this e.g. our pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting: Servants of Two Masters. Stalinism and the New Cold War between Imperialist Great Powers in East and West, 10 July 2021,

[7] See on this e.g. the 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,;

[8] See e.g. the critique of our comrades in Occupied Palestine who broke with the IMT: The ISL’s Break with the IMT, August 2009, See also Yossi Schwartz: The Zionist Wars, RCIT Book, 2021,, Yossi Schwartz: Israel's War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, and

[9] See on this e.g. chapter 13 in our book by 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,

[10] See on this e.g. 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, Petr Sedov: On the Donbass Uprising in Spring 2014. A necessary correction of our assessment of the early phase of the “anti-fascist” Uprising in the Eastern Ukraine, July 2019,

[11] See on this chapter XXVIII in the above-mentioned book Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry.

[12] See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Coup d’État in Egypt and the Bankruptcy of the Left’s “Army Socialism”, August 2013,; Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: The U.S. Support for the Military Coup and the Left’s ignorance, 11.7.2013,

[13] The present IMT article on the NATO-Russia conflict literally repeats this smear. We have dealt with such slander of the Syrian rebels in various documents. See e.g. these two pamphlets 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,; Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017,

[14] See on this chapter XXVIII in the above-mentioned book Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry.

[15] Michael Pröbsting: NATO-Russia Conflict: “Trotskyists” in the Camp of Russian Imperialism. The Argentinean “Partido Obrero” calls for “national emancipation and integrity” of the Eastern Great Powers, 26 January 2022,