A Brief Outline of Imperialism and the Current World Situation
What is imperialism? Imperialism is capitalism that has developed to a point where it is no longer based on free competition among small industrial producers, but where competition has been completely erased internally due to the formation of industrial monopolies which have merged and become subordinated to the monopolies of the big banks. We have another word for imperialism- we call it finance monopoly capitalism. It’s also fascism.
Imperialism has another character. Because free competition inside national barriers has been destroyed due to monopolization, profits cannot be sustained, and the big companies must expand outside of the country, to the underdeveloped world, where there is no industry. The big companies and the banks work together to seize land filled with resources and raw materials, they build factories, mines, and farms, and they employ the local populations for very cheap- dollars a day- to work in very dangerous conditions.
The economies of these countries, which are in Afrika, Latin Amerika, and much of Asia- what is commonly referred to as the Third World- are restructured by huge international financial institutions and made to export the finished products or the raw materials to the bigger, richer countries, such as the United States. The big companies then sell these products at greatly inflated prices to the market and make a killing. We call this process unequal exchange, and we call the exorbitant amount of money made super-profits. When the people of these countries attempt to institute land reforms, nationalize their resources so that the profits go to their own countries and not the foreign companies, or rebel to oust these companies from their lands, imperialism uses the military forces to invade, occupy, or overthrow their governments and control them by force.
This is the basic Communist analysis of world imperialism. We recognize that there are multiple imperialist countries in the world, such as many European nations, Russia, and China. But the greatest and most oppressive imperialist nation of them all is the United States. Therefore, we say that the principle contradiction of the world today lies between the imperialism of the US and its allies, and the colonized world.
Imperialism is a development of capitalism, but it has its roots in traditional European colonialism. In fact, without colonialism, it’s hard to imagine capitalism emerging as quickly as it did. From the 1400s to the 1800s, Europe invaded and occupied Africa and the Americas. It kidnapped its people for slave labor, it indiscriminately murdered and tortured them, and it stole its valuable resources. This colonialism created a massive amount of wealth for the new capitalist class, which at the time was in direct competition with the existing systems of feudalism. The bourgeoisie, the owners of the big finance monopolies of today, were once a small and weak class. They possessed only small means of production. Small shops, merchant ships, and farms. It was the theft of land from the indigenous people of the Americas, and their genocide, which when combined with African enslavement, created such a tremendous amount of wealth and power for the bourgeoisie that it was able to decisively overthrow the old monarchies and create new technologies for greater production, leading to the development of industry.
In the 1900s, after industry and finance had consolidated itself into monopolies, it then launched a second, greater wave of colonialism- it developed into imperialism. The European powers and the US fought tooth and nail for control over the old colonies of the Third World. Both world wars were fundamentally fought over the dividing up and seizure over land and resources- capitalist competition on an international scale. The US had subordinated or wiped out its European competition, and in the 1940s and 50s, there was a huge economic boom. But then the Soviet Union emerged as a second economic superpower, and they fought each other for decades in what we call the Cold War over those same resources, this time using rebel armies, terrorists, and subordinated governments to achieve their aims. After the US emerged victorious in 1991, another economic boom occurred.
Nearly thirty years later, US imperialism is once again threatened by the emergence of new imperialist countries. China is a strong contender for the lands conquered by the US, and Russia is close behind. Further, even smaller countries, such as those in Europe, are attempting to struggle for control over more resources, after having been subordinated to the US for so long. A new crisis of world imperialism is emerging, and we stand on the brink of another world war, one which could destroy life on Earth as we know it. This is due not only to competing imperialist countries dividing up the world for profit and power, but also because of the resurgence of national liberation movements. These movements are efforts led by the poor and oppressed masses of the Third World who are fighting to reclaim their land and labor from the imperialists.
We thus recognize imperialism as “fascism abroad.” The imperialists are fascists- they are violently attempting to subordinate the masses of Afrika, Latin Amerika, the Middle East, and much of Asia. The imperialist governments are doing this for the wealth and power of private industry and finance. Finance monopoly capital is therefore a marriage between private capital and the State. One could not exist without the other. This marriage is supported and upheld through the consent of the settler labor class- a large majority of the “white working class” which experiences material benefit at the expense of this super-exploitation and fascist oppression abroad. We shall explain this relationship later. First, we must explain and recognize how there is an internal fascism, a fascism that oppresses and exploits the masses of black and brown people inside the US imperialist center, in similar ways to how the Third World is occupied, oppressed, and subjugated to the rule of finance monopoly capital abroad.
The Inner Colonies and National Liberation
We recognize that there are certain populations within the United States who are colonized, and as a result of their unique historical conditions, experience a principle contradiction with US imperialism- national oppression. We say that Amerika is a “prison house of Nations.” We can name three such main groups of internal nations:
The First Nations.
These are the remnants of the indigenous peoples of North Amerika, who, contrary to popular belief, had formed confederations before they were forcefully removed from their land and murdered by the millions. We recognize the genocide and displacement of the American Indians as the first great crime of European settler-colonialism, and it’s a crime that continues to this day. The population and legally-recognized land-ownership of the First Nations has been almost entirely wiped out by centuries of concentrated efforts by the US government to take control over their land. This massive theft of land is the material basis by which the US has been able to become the number one imperialist superpower.
The First Nations constitute many internally displaced nations, but they can be categorized as one for the purposes of analyzing imperialism because of their common conditions and treatment by the US government and the big landowners which continuously seize control over their lands. The US achieved this domination by breaking Treaties, spreading disease, and massacring whole villages. Those who resisted were murdered. The children of the indigenous people were subjected to the Amerikan education system and have had their cultural identity and knowledge stripped from them to further control their territory. They are, per capita, the most likely to be murdered by police, and their treatment by the National Guard during the recent struggle against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline highlights the continuation of this centuries-old military occupation and violent oppression.
The question of Indigenous Liberation is one that requires centralized focus by the Revolutionary Left. It is a question that has been on the backburner for far too long. So-called revolutionaries have only given it lip-service, and liberals have only shed crocodile tears over the conditions of American Indians- but little has been done to aid in their liberation.
The Chicano and Latino Nations.
Alongside the genocide and theft of land from the American Indian, another kind of indigenous nation was occupied and oppressed- the Chicano and Latino nations. This is representative of a geographic area: Southwest Amerika, and Latin Amerika. These nations were brutally colonized and occupied primarily by the Spanish until the 1800s, when the US replaced them as the main colonizer.
They suffered slavery, genocide, and displacement- but unlike the North Amerikan indigenous nations, remain as the majority of the population of these areas. However, they are still made violently subservient to US imperialism, and much of their culture and language has been erased or assimilated into that of the Spanish. The people of Latin Amerika have had a unique oppressive relationship with the US. The US has violently and intensively exploited the natural resources of their countries, and almost single-handedly controls their economies for the purposes of single export. In the latter half of the 20th century, they valiantly attempted to seize control over their own resources in a series of national liberation movements, but many of them were defeated by the imperialists. The CIA in particular paid a critical role in providing arms, finances, and training to right-wing paramilitaries which overthrew governments pursuing land reforms, or formed death squads to hunt down communist revolutionaries and murder or torture them.
The list of crimes that the US has committed against Latin Amerika is lengthy and will not be discussed in full here. We encourage the reader to learn more about these atrocities, as they are being repeated today in places like Honduras and Venezuela.
The US, in establishing its Western territory in the 1800s, seized a great amount of land which belonged to the Chicano Nation. The mass migration from Latin Amerika today is a direct result of decades of economic oppression enforced on their countries, and the Southern border serves as a military means to protect the power of the US. It cuts right through the heart of the Chicano Nation and separates an entire people. It is a form of displacement and control. It is a fascist imposition, and this can be reflected in the current violence being enforced upon migrants and their families by the US State.
Fighting for the self-determination of these nations and the abolition of the border is also of utmost importance! The violence of the fascist state can be seen clearly in its camps for migrants; its use of the DHS to raid the homes, communities, and workplaces of migrants and their families; and the extremely exploitative slave-like conditions enforced upon migrant workers in the industries of construction, agriculture, and food service. These are all important avenues of struggle for proletarian revolution and national liberation, and a mostly neglected one by the Left.
The New Afrikan Nation.
The Black Colony is a geographically dispersed nation. In the final analysis, the Black Nation is the vanguard which will lead the defeat of US imperialism. The Black proletariat is the most revolutionary and tends to have the most advanced class consciousness in contemporary times. This is due to their historical conditions. Africa was first colonized (and continues to be colonized), and millions of their young people were kidnapped and brought to Amerika as slaves. How many Africans were murdered during the period of enslavement and initial colonization? There is no definitive answer, but a popular estimation is around 100 million. Not only were Africans killed on their own continent by invading European armies, but they died in transport under horrendous conditions. Upon arrival to the “New World,” they were routinely murdered and tortured by their slave owners. The most intensified violence was experienced in the South and in the Caribbean. Slaves who attempted to run away were hunted down by patrols of armed whites. African women were routinely raped. The unique condition of African slavery that made it distinct from all other forms of slavery in the past was that the African slave and their children were considered to be nothing more than property- not even deserving of the rights of human beings, but literally viewed as a tool for the purposes of production. This great terror inflicted upon black people created a massive amount of wealth for the early Amerikan economy, which it then used to become a great superpower.
The list of crimes under the period of enslavement, and African colonization, is also too great to detail in full here. But their oppression continued even after slavery, under various deliberate, state-sanctioned and state-led programs. Sharecropping saw a return to slave conditions and plantations for many decades. Segregation ensured that black people were not able to develop their communities economically or access the same opportunities as white people, and when they did succeed, they were often killed, beaten, or their whole neighborhoods were burned down by white lynch mobs. After segregation under Jim Crow ended, it continued under other means. Employment and housing discrimination ensure that black people are never able to move beyond their neighborhoods, and economic development is kept to an extreme low, with the only good job and educational opportunities existing on the outside. Further, the period of mass incarceration and the war on drugs ensures that black communities are kept poor, and that young black people are fed directly into the prison system. Police today are a direct descendant of slave patrols during the 1800s. They are a colonizing, military force which seeks to use violence to uphold capitalist property rights and ensure a constant supply of free labor is available through the prison system, itself a monstrosity of human rights violations and a massive source of profit for the US finance monopoly class. Young black people are also murdered and assaulted by the police with no consequences. Drugs and weapons are often planted after a police action has been made, body cams are turned off, and police reports are fabricated to justify any kind of murder committed by the police. The police are rightfully referred to as pigs, and they represent the principle contradiction faced by the Black Colony and imperialism.
In the US, it has been the New Afrikan nation which has been at the forefront of revolutionary struggle since the period of enslavement. From slave revolts, to mass demonstrations, to uprisings in the ghettos, to the formation of advanced Communist Parties which were successful in arming and organizing vast sections of the black proletariat and lumpenproletariat, black people have always, by necessity, led the revolutionary movements. It is with this understanding that we acknowledge their vanguard role, and why the socialist revolution must be subordinated to their leadership. The national liberation of the Black Colony will invariably lead to the development of a new socialist society. Due to the extreme contradiction of the social character of black production and community life with the super-exploitation and violent, fascist oppression by the corporate-state alliance, black revolution and socialist revolution are inextricably linked.
The defeat of imperialism worldwide depends on the liberation of its most oppressed. Currently, the most oppressed of the proletariat inside the US is the New Afrikan nation. Its dispersal across the country means that every city has the potential to serve as a revolutionary base area for people’s war. The fascist enemy will be forced to weaken itself by spreading across the country to quell the uprisings. They will depend heavily upon the settler working class to aid them- but we must break this unity between settler and fascist!
Break White Unity with Imperialism!
An important task of the revolution is to win over a significant number- at least 30%- of the settler working class to the cause of national liberation for the inner colonies. First, it’s important to understand why we call white workers “the settler working class.” This is due chiefly to them being a beneficiary, as a group, of US imperialism. They do not benefit in the same way the imperialist bourgeoisie benefit. Instead, they are given mere crumbs of wealth and material benefit in comparison to the total amount of wealth extracted from the imperialist system. However, those crumbs make a substantial difference in living and working conditions.
During the period of enslavement, the concept of whiteness was constructed in order to win over Euro-settlers to the cause of colonialism. By giving a slight increase in wages and living conditions, the bourgeoisie could convince white workers that they had more in common with them than with the black or brown worker or slave. White people just had to help oppress the slave and agree not to make any trouble for the landowning class. This effectively stopped fraternization between Irish indentured servants and African slaves and allowed for the process of Europeans who had been traditionally considered “lesser” to assimilate into the ranks of white society.
When white people eventually did start making trouble in the labor unions during the early 1900s, this tactic was used once again, and white workers started demanding rights for themselves at the expense of rights for black workers. The bourgeoisie were able to concede to the demands of white workers precisely because of imperialism- which produced such great profits that they could afford to pay off white workers in order to keep them from rebelling.
After WW2, this continued at an even greater level, alongside the intensification of US imperialism abroad. The “middle class” began to rise as a significant force. Today, over 70% of white families own a home and property. This is directly a result of these concessions paying off. From the 1940s to the 1960s, the middle class was a tremendous force in society, and its high standard of living was guaranteed by imperialism. But when imperialism began to weaken significantly, so too did the middle class. It weakened because of the awakening of national liberation movements abroad and at home in the 1960s-80s. It wouldn’t be revived until the 1990s, and only for a short time.
We understand that the social basis of fascism lies in the petite-bourgeoisie. In our analysis, the settler working class has the same aspirations and class stand as the petite-bourgeoisie, precisely because of imperialism. Although we also recognize a small portion of the settler working class which is poor, property-less, and lumpenized. However, because US imperialism is again weakening due to greater competition and a resurgence of national liberation movements, these “middle class” concessions are again being threatened. The settler working class desires to hold on to these concessions. They don’t want to lose their material benefits, because that’s the only reality they understand. So, many of them are willing to fight and even die for the imperialists. The emergence of fascism as a popular ideology among the white petite-bourgeoisie is due chiefly to their high standard of living being threatened by the weakening of US imperialism. White proletarians who are won over by this ideology are class traitors in the worst sense. The same applies for the police and military- they are once again forced to intensify their oppression of the colonized world for the sake of finance monopoly capital. The most active participants of these institutions are the lower strata of the settler working class, because they hope to achieve the “middle class” lifestyle. Thus, we can plainly see the material basis for fascism and the reason why the settler working class has not been able to make or lead revolution in the US. If they were to lead a revolution, it would most likely replicate existing imperialist and chauvinist structures, and the exploitation and oppression of the Third World and all colonized peoples would continue. This is due to their superior position in the system, and the real material advantages of it.
We recognize that the fighters of fascism will mostly come from the settler working class, especially during the revolutionary period. That is why it is so important to break white unity with imperialism! If we can win over a number of white people to the cause of liberation, or even if we are able to make them sympathetic to it, then it would significantly reduce the practical strength of imperialism. The number of casualties in a revolutionary war would be reduced greatly, and victory would be more readily assured.
From among the settler working class, we can see the lowest and poorest strata will be the easiest to win over, because they experience very few of the material benefits, and do struggle daily to survive. They can be won over because their commonality with the colonized proletariat is the easiest to see. The main challenge is in breaking their national chauvinist ideas. This can be accomplished through organizing them based upon their immediate contradictions and linking them together with the black national liberation movement, so they can see for themselves the commonality of their struggles. Ideas come from material conditions, and education without correct implementation of practice will accomplish little.
The middle strata of the settler working class is the petite-bourgeoisie, the trade unionists, the white-collar professionals, and the college-educated. They have a good standard of life, and so those who are sympathetic to the struggles of black people tend to be liberal, and support reforms. Those who are conservative tend to be against taxes and “big government.” They tend to have racist and chauvinist ideas about black people because they cannot fathom how poverty could exist on such a large scale without attributing it to some kind of racial flaw- this ideology was described earlier. The construction of whiteness as superior to blackness is a justification for colonialism, and accepting it as true is a trade-off for the material concessions made. The middle strata is where the greatest number of fascists derive from. They are the political leaders, and conduct daily propaganda and agitation among the lower strata, usually the white people they employ or work with, to win them over to the cause of fascism and white nationalism.
The amount of people that can be won over from this strata are few. Small business owners who are struggling against property taxes, trade unionists who are losing their benefits, and college-educated liberals who support reforms can be utilized to a certain extent. For instance, they have resources they can give to the various mass organizations. They may also possess certain skills that they would be willing to use or teach in a volunteer capacity. Doctors, mechanics, engineers, carpenters, plumbers, and computer specialists can all be organized to teach their skills to the masses, through revolutionary-led mass organizations. These people are likely to help because they want to feel good about themselves. By coming into contact with mass-based struggles, and seeing first-hand the devastation wrought by imperialism, they may even accept political education and become proletarianized, joining the revolutionary movement. This is not very likely- but it is still possible, and the goal of organizing any strata should be to achieve this goal. Our FTP organizations have already won the support of some from the middle-strata.
By recruiting poor white workers into the ranks of revolutionary fighters, and by utilizing the skills and resources of middle strata white workers and petite-bourgeoisie for the benefit of our mass organizations, we can achieve a significant rupture of unity on a practical level between the settler working class and imperialism. But a third group of white people will probably serve as the most important, in terms of education, manpower, and capacity to develop revolutionary consciousness: the youth.
The white youth cannot be neglected in efforts to break unity with imperialism. If they come from the middle strata, they likely have access to resources and education which can be utilized by the mass organizations. If they come from the lower strata, their imperialist education can be easily overcome due to their existence in poverty. White youth have not had enough time to be fully brainwashed by the system. They experience certain contradictions which bar their access to all the benefits of imperialism. They are seen as property by their parents, and are thus more inclined to rebellion. The key is to channel and harness this natural inclination for rebellion and redirect it to revolution and liberation. If these youth can be proletarianized and engaged in the struggle, they can become dedicated revolutionaries, fighting on the side of the oppressed. If enough white youth are engaged in this struggle, then it puts a further pressure on imperialism- where are they going to get their next generation of fascist fighters from?
When dealing with any of these groups of the settler working class, white revolutionaries should be taking up the brunt of this work. Because of national chauvinist ideas, white people are more likely to be won over by other white people. Under the leadership of a vanguard comprised of the colonized proletariat, a strategy can be devised which will win over white workers to the material needs of national liberation.
- National Liberation and Socialist Revolution through People’s War
Only People’s War, carried out and led by a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist vanguard Party, is capable of defeating imperialism, winning national liberation, and building socialism. This effort is multi-national, but is led by the colonized nations, in particular, the Black Nation. This is due chiefly to the character of national oppression being the principle contradiction under the world system of imperialism. The destruction of imperialism and the winning of national liberation will be simultaneous to the development of socialism. After the defeat of US imperialism, we will likely exist under a confederation of socialist republics under the leadership of the formerly colonized proletariat. During this stage, the settler working class can become thoroughly proletarianized, and can join the ranks of the international proletariat in building communism and waging relentless struggle against the bourgeoisie.
The construction of revolutionary base areas must occur in the cities. In the countryside, base areas must be created around centers of agriculture, where migrant farmworkers experience intense exploitation. Poor white workers must be won over to join and support this war against imperialism. Land-based struggle is the key to weakening imperialism and building a material basis great enough to mobilize the masses of colonized people against it. New organs of political power will give representation and political leadership to poor and oppressed people, who, under imperialism, have never experienced it. Socialist revolution and proletarian consciousness can only be developed through national liberation! The contradictions between imperialism and the colonized nations are a more heightened and advanced form of class struggle. National Liberation is the spark, socialist revolution will be the fire!