FRSO Fifth Congress:
Since 2004, the international situation has continued to develop in a way that is extremely favorable for the world’s peoples to make gains. In fact, the imperialist centers have been dealt heavy setbacks. On a general level we can say that the four basic contradictions are sharpening–between imperialism and the peoples of the oppressed nations, between the imperialist powers, between the working class and the capitalists, and between socialism and capitalism–and that this intensification of the basic contradictions exists in the context of the long-term decline of U.S. imperialism. (1)
The principal contradiction in the world today is between the peoples of the third world (2) and imperialism. The U.S. is the preeminent imperialist power in the world today and as such it is the main danger to the world’s peoples.
While these general trends are longstanding, it is in fact the particular and concrete manifestations of these contradictions that we need to grasp in order to determine our strategy and tactics for the period ahead. To be specific, the U.S. led “war on terror,” which in fact is a war to maintain and expand its empire, is facing a defeat of historic proportions as the movements for national liberation rapidly expand, particularly in the Middle East and Latin America. (3)
The implications of this are profound; we are entering a new phase in the overall decline of U.S. imperialism. To give a brief historical overview: the setbacks in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as well as the confusion and collapse of number of important organizations in the national liberation movements, created a situation in the early 1990s where the U.S. appeared more powerful than it in fact was. This situation also gave rise to a certain amount of pessimism among progressive and revolutionary forces.
Things have changed qualitatively. In Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, national democratic movements are picking up steam. There has been a steady growth of the Marxist-Leninist movement on a world scale. The socialist countries have survived a period of great challenges. It is now a possibility that the roster of countries where the working class holds political power will grow.
We believe in working class internationalism and take to heart the dictum “working and oppressed peoples of the world unite.” Because the U.S. ruling class exploits and oppresses us here at home, we share a common enemy with all who live under, or are threatened by, Wall Street’s empire. Any victory by those who are resisting the empire is a positive development for people of the U.S. and brings us closer to our day of emancipation.
Bush Wages War on World
The events of September 11, 2001, served as a pretext to launch a new drive for world domination. While this has been a central objective of U.S. imperialism since the end of WWII, compared to the previous 25 years of U.S. intervention abroad, the offensive launched after September 11 represented something new in terms of its scope and intensity.
Since the end of the war on Vietnam, Kampuchea, and Laos in 1975, U.S. imperialists have made every effort to avoid large-scale direct military occupations. They opted to have others fight their battles and relied on air power, including cruise missile attacks, to create an overwhelming force against a much weaker opponent.
After the Cold War, the Pentagon launched a “transformation process,” where military planners aimed for the ability to bring the hammer down anywhere, using the advantages of mobility, advanced technology, intelligence, and highly trained troops. They did not practically plan for big wars that involved U.S troops on the ground, for long periods of time, subduing entire peoples.(4)
The current imperialist offensive is also distinguished by its attempt to criminalize the national liberation movements and the countries which have retained their independence from imperialism. (5)
The continuing occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq represent an important qualitative shift in imperialist strategy. As we stated in the 2004 Main Political Report:
“The overall problem the U.S. faces is that it is attempting to use force to expand and consolidate its empire at a juncture in history when conditions for success are growing less favorable. In the Third World the U.S. is unable to handle even one Iraq, much less 2, 3 or many. Coupled with rising inter-imperialist rivalry and growing economic instability on a world scale, Washington will find that those who dream of empire will wake up living a nightmare.”
The U.S. attack on Afghanistan confused many. Progressive forces should understand the resistance to occupation in Afghanistan is the just struggle for national independence on the part of the Afghan people.
Bush proclaimed the imperialist offensive to be a “war on terror.” In fact it is a war of terror against the world’s peoples. At the time of its declaration, this war represented the leading edge of reaction, in a context where the ruling class as whole was growing more reactionary and dangerous. The setbacks that Washington has met with in Iraq have been central to breaking that right-wing motion.
The battle between the Iraqi resistance and U.S. imperialism is the key front in the contradiction between the peoples of the Third World and imperialism.
U.S. imperialism is facing defeat in Iraq. The Iraq resistance has made it impossible for the U.S. to establish a stable puppet government, and the occupiers themselves are unable to effectively govern the country. While the U.S. government and their British accomplices have not yet been defeated, their position will certainly not improve over time. In the words of Mao, they have lifted a rock only to drop it on their own feet.
The Iraqi people hate the occupation and are waging a war of resistance to bring it to an end. We do not agree with those who say the main thing going on in Iraq is a sectarian “civil war.” This serves to obscure the national democratic content of the movement to resist the occupation in Iraq. We view the resistance as a patriotic movement that includes a variety of forces to fight for national liberation and freedom from foreign occupation.
The occupation is crumbling. To maintain what little hold they have, the imperialists will undoubtedly escalate the war on Iraq. In the long term, these efforts will be in vain. The U.S. will be forced to leave Iraq in defeat. The longer the occupation continues, the greater that defeat will be.
The significance of this unfolding defeat cannot be overstated. It is now the largest single issue in domestic politics, and in the international context it has greatly weakened the ability of the U.S. to intervene militarily against other countries. It is inspiring progressive and revolutionary forces around the world. The longer the occupation continues, the greater the danger to U.S. puppet regimes across the Middle East–regimes that are hated by the peoples they rule over.
U.S. imperialism is contending with another empire centered in Europe. Talk in Washington of an “old Europe” means that the U.S. is contending with a new Europe. The expanding economic integration of the European Union, particularly in the form of a common monetary policy (the European Central Bank) and a currency union (the Euro) signify a march towards a “United States of Europe.” While it is impossible to say how the unitary political institutions of Europe will develop, at this time it is possible to identify several factors that will accelerate or pull back the tendency towards a united Europe, as well as some likely near term developments.
Externally, polices undertaken by the United States will be the principal factor governing European integration. Particularly in the spheres of politics and military policy, it can be said that the more unilateral the actions of the U.S., the greater the push will be for European unity.
Internally, there are the issues that unite the European rulers, like the rise of a common currency, which opens the road to there being second world currency with Europe emerging as a greater center of world capital flows. That said, there are conditions that could well undermine European integration, such as economic crises and the limits the European Union has placed on deficit spending.
There is also the issue of Anglo imperialism, which essentially has an inside/outside strategy towards the rest of Europe. For the moment, British imperialism has attached itself to the United States, but as a member of the E.U. it has a say in the political policies of the E.U. council and a voice in European military affairs.
In terms of practical results to expect in the next period, there will be sharp divisions over foreign policy, especially in regards to the Middle East. NATO will be less important – although the U.S. will try to maintain it as a means, in part, to curb the development of an independent European military power, and because it serves as a vehicle for collusion, as is now taking place in Afghanistan.
The divisions will also sharpen in a host of multilateral institutions, such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.
While the contradiction between the U.S. and Europe has its own dynamics, at its core is a struggle of rivals to re-divide the world for their respective benefit. Given the setbacks the U.S. has met with in the Middle East and elsewhere, we can expect that those in the U.S. ruling class who favor a more “multi-lateral” approach of “let’s get together and share the spoils” will make their voices heard.
There is another important imperialist center – Japan. Playing a role similar to Britain, it has for the time being attached itself to U.S. imperialism. In part, this is due to relative economic weakness. There are also some shared strategic objectives with the U.S. such as weakening China and destroying socialist Korea.
Common Trends in Imperialist Countries
In the imperialist centers, there are a number of common trends. The monopoly bourgeoisie continues to exploit and oppress Third World countries. Tied to this are attacks on immigrants and immigrants’ rights within the imperialist countries, while neo-fascist political groups and movements have mushroomed to become a menacing force against oppressed nationalities.
Governments are busy slashing their social safety nets, while increasing funding for police and spending exorbitant amounts on the military. Even Japan is building up its small military.
In the imperialist countries, big business is moving away from the policy of purchasing social peace. Corporations are downsizing and laying-off workers, relocating to the Third World, imposing impossible conditions on workers and trying to bust unions. None of this is without resistance. The international working class is reawakening and again feeling its strength. For those willing to grasp them, opportunities exist to push struggle to higher levels.
The Former Soviet Union
For the people of the former Soviet Union, the collapse of socialism has been a disaster. Gorbachev opened the door not to “reformed socialism,” but to plunder by native gangsters and their foreign sponsors. Mobsters and parasites wield the political and economic power. The collective wealth produced by the Soviet people was stolen in the largest privatization in history. The result: nothing but misery for workers and farmers. Millions of workers go unpaid, lost their pensions and have been robbed of their life savings. Throughout the former Soviet Union, life expectancy is declining.
The destruction of the USSR paved the way for a great scramble among the imperialists to loot the land, labor and resources of one-sixth of the globe. Of particular importance are moves to seize energy resources in the Caspian basin and central Asia.
The results of the counter-revolution in the Soviet Union, as well as the socialist counties of Eastern Europe, such as Albania, Poland and Yugoslavia, are vivid examples of a simple truth -- capitalism is a failed system that cannot meet the political, economic or social aspirations of the vast majority of people.
The construction of a Marxist-Leninist movement and new Communist Parties that fight for the re-establishment of the USSR is an extremely positive development. In the face of heavy repression, they are standing firm in the struggle for socialism. We owe them our support and solidarity.
The Third World
Imperialism means national oppression. Third world countries face famine, poverty, war, epidemics, environmental destruction, restructuring, and dismantlement. On a world scale, the main form of national oppression today is neocolonialism. Recognizing this fact, it should be stated that one of the particular features of the current offensive of U.S. imperialism has been the reversion to the earlier form of direct colonial rule in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Objectively, the countries of the third world are at the center of the revolutionary process.
Africa is the poorest continent. It was conquered, divided, and stripped of great amounts of its natural resources by imperialism. Now Africa faces an AIDS crisis affecting tens of millions, while Western drug corporations plot how to make more profits. In past decades, Africans waged many victorious national liberation struggles. Unfortunately, comprador forces allied with neocolonialism seized power in a number of countries, thus reaping the fruit of many of these heroic struggles.
With the aim of grabbing resources, land and labor of the African peoples, the United States is utilizing domestic proxies, direct intervention, regional “security” agreements and military assistance programs. About 15% of the oil coming to the U.S. is from sub-Saharan Africa. This amount could well go up another 10% over the next decade, particularly as more fields producing low-sulfur oil are opened up. Africa has huge mineral reserves, including copper, bauxite, and uranium. The U.S. is moving to strengthen its control of key shipping and communications lines -- for example those that pass by the Horn of Africa.
In 2007, the United Stated formed a military command to focus on Africa. Along with its proxy, Ethiopia, a war is being waged on the people of Somalia. We support the patriotic people of Somalia who are fighting to end the U.S.-sponsored occupation of their homeland.
Sudan is another target of U.S. intervention, where Washington is interfering in the internal affairs of that country, and cynically using the turbulence in the Darfur region to weaken a government it opposes.
Nearly every region of the continent has been ravaged by war. In general, the basis for these conflicts can be found in the legacy of colonialism, and the ongoing maneuvers of the western powers, especially the U.S., France and Britain. We are opposed to western ilitary intervention under any guise, including that of “peace keeping.”
Asia is a focal point of the four major contradictions in the world. Thus, of anywhere in the world, Marxism is the most alive in Asia today. There are more communists here than in the rest of the world combined. There are huge mass movements of communists in India and Bangladesh numbering in the tens of millions.
In the Philippines, the Communist Party of the Philippines holds substantial liberated areas and is leading the masses of people in a national democratic revolution with a socialist orientation. Locked in a direct confrontation with the U.S. and its puppets, advances in the revolutionary process here are of real importance for Asia as a whole. The Philippines were the first big base of operations for the U.S. empire in Asia, the point from where the U.S. projected its power. Victories won by the revolutionary movement in the Philippines affect the balance of forces in the region as a whole.
The people’s war in Nepal has brought the struggle of the Nepalese people to a new plane. There are also more socialist countries in Asia than anywhere else. China, Vietnam, Korea all espouse Marxism-Leninism and see themselves on the road to communism. Taken as whole, Asia is a weak link in the chain of imperialism.
Note should be made of U.S. efforts to provoke a second Korean war. While the strength of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and the patriotic movements in the south of the peninsula constrain the U.S., ongoing provocations, such as the fabrication of a “nuclear crisis” and war preparations (troop redeployments, deployment of advanced weapons, agreements with other countries to seize north Korean shipping vessels) constitute serious danger to peace on the Korean Peninsula.
In a similar vein, we understand that when the Pentagon speaks of a “regional competitor” in Asia, it means the People’s Republic of China. We support the efforts of the Chinese people to achieve reunification with the Taiwan province and oppose U.S. efforts to threaten China with “missile defense,” a system of military bases aimed at encirclement and subversion.
Finally, the growing struggle of Afghani people to win national independence and liberate their country from U.S. and NATO control has made real strides forward.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Latin America and the Caribbean have long suffered under the yoke of U.S. imperialism. Since the Monroe Doctrine, U.S. rulers have viewed this region as their own backyard. Neocolonialism is the main form of national oppression in Latin America today, and the U.S. does not hesitate to use political and military means to dominate the peoples of Latin America.
The exploitation and expropriation of wealth is the fundamental objective of imperialism. Economic instruments of imperialism include neocolonial structural adjustment projects, privatization and the massive debt foisted upon most developing nations and administered by U.S.-dominated multi-lateral financial institutions (WTO/IMF/WB).
In Latin America, the policies of looting and theft are codified in international, bilateral and trilateral free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, AFTA and others. Agriculture, public health, social services, public education, workers’ rights and the environment all come under heavy fire from these agreements. In the end, thousands are left impoverished and unemployed, while U.S. companies laugh all the way to the bank - tax-free. Imperialist domination further impoverishes the peasantry and pushes small farmers off the land.
The contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations is intensifying across Latin America, where the great masses of people are unable to live in the old way and the rulers are unable to rule in the old way. Colombia is at the leading edge of this process, where armed revolution is meeting armed counter-revolution on the battlefield. The war in Colombia is of vital importance to the imperialists - around 1,000 U.S current and former military personnel are engaged in combat there. A victory for Colombia’s national liberation movement will be an incredible blow to U.S. imperialism.
Moreover, a profound revolutionary process is taking place in the northern cone of South America, which includes the progressive and patriotic government of Hugo Chavez, the powerful movement for land reform in Brazil and the moves to nationalize energy resources in Bolivia. The elections of social-democratic or left-leaning governments in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina, amount to a rejection of the U.S and reflect the dissatisfaction of the masses of people.
Progressive forces in the U.S. have a special responsibility to support the progressive and revolutionary forces in Mexico. The great rebellion at Oaxaca is sign of things to come. The southwest part of the United States--Aztlan--was formerly Northern Mexico. A distinct, Chicano nation has developed in this region, and there is a relationship between what takes place in Mexico and the developments in the Southwest. One indication of this is the inspiration many Chicano youth take from the uprising in Chiapas. Revolutionary struggle in Mexico weakens U.S imperialism, and will contribute to shaping the Chicano national movement (and other movements as well).
Finally, note must be made of socialist Cuba – which is a beacon of liberation to people through out the hemisphere.
The peoples of the Middle East are standing up to imperialism, Zionism and reaction of all kinds. Because of the region’s strategic importance to western imperialism, developments here can lead to a shift in the balance of forces on a world scale.
The ongoing efforts of the Iraqi national liberation movement to win freedom from the U.S.-led occupation are of vital importance for the Iraqi people, the people of the Middle East and the world’s people.
The powerful and determined struggle of the Palestinian people has swept away repeated attempts to impose solutions that come up short of complete liberation. We support the Palestinian people in their fight to regain their homeland, including the right of return, and to create a democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.
We call for an end to all U.S. aid to Israel. Israel is a creation of U.S. and British imperialism – it is a dagger that the U.S. wields against the Arab peoples. The 2006 defeat of Israel by the Lebanese resistance demonstrated the underlying weakness of the Zionist state and the power of the Arab peoples.
Whatever weakens Israel or U.S. support for Israel strengthens the hand of the people of Palestine, the Arab peoples and ultimately the world’s peoples.
Over the past decade, there has been a steady radicalization of the masses of Arab peoples. With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of governments in the Middle East are western dominated and hated by the people they rule. The protracted uprising in Palestine will further destabilize the puppet governments that are unable and unwilling to confront Israel.
In evaluating the situation in the Middle East, Iran is of increasing importance. U.S. threats of war against Iran must be taken seriously, even as the U.S. military is stretched to its limits in Iraq and Afghanistan. While isolated provocations from the U.S. and its allies will continue. Threats of aggression against Iran won't end so long as the country is a barrier to U.S. imperial objectives in Iraq and the Middle East.
Increasing political, economic and military strength, especially compared to its besieged neighbors, allows Iran to be relatively independent of U.S. domination. We uphold Iran's right to develop its nuclear capacity, against the will of the U.S. Moreover, while the role of Iran in Iraq is complicated, and we cannot support any policies that undermine the unity of the patriotic Iraqi national resistance; nonetheless Iran makes it objectively more difficult for the U.S. to unilaterally control the situation in Iraq and stabilize its illegal occupation.
Should the U.S. widen its war on the people of the Middle East, whether by attacking Iran or any other enemies of imperialism, the U.S. anti-war movement will need to orient itself towards whatever the principle contradiction is at that time, focusing on the battlefront that most strongly serves to weaken U.S. imperialism.
China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Korea are countries where the proletariat has established power. These countries are an important factor in the world revolutionary process. Whatever strengths or weakness the respective socialist countries have, we count ourselves in the ranks of those who hold that actual existing socialism is a good thing.
A quick compare and contrast demonstrates that socialism has been extremely positive for the Third World. Those countries that overthrew imperialism and its local servants, established New Democracy, and transitioned to socialism under the leadership of the working class and its Party have improved the lives of their own people and inspired millions more.
For example, Cuba’s infant mortality rate is equal to that of the U.S. and ranks far above that of Mexico or El Salvador. In Democratic Korea, 100% of people have access to safe drinking water while in Burma only 68% do. On issues of equality, heath care, education, culture, housing, and food the people of the socialist countries fare better.
In the cases of Korea and Vietnam, the mass destruction of U.S. wars attempted to send those nations “back to the Stone Age.” However, due to the victories against U.S. imperialism, they have fared well compared with similar Asian nations.
However, socialist countries also face major contradictions, from external and internal sources, including those stemming from market reforms and the opening of the economies to the world market. In spite of this, the socialist countries have demonstrated in practice the bright future in store for humanity.
(1) In the 2004 Main Political Report it is noted, “Since the early 1970’s U.S. imperialism has been in a period of relative decline. The rise of the national liberation movements, the strengthening of other imperialist powers in Japan and Europe, the breakup of the financial arrangements reached at Breton Woods and the defeat in Vietnam, represented the early end of what some publicists for the bourgeois, promised would be the ‘American Century.’”
(2) The third world is a reference to the countries that are not at the stage of monopoly capitalism and that are oppressed by imperialism. Their economies are dominated by one or the other imperialist centers and semi-feudal relations of production tend to predominate in their rural areas.
(3) The national liberation movements are also advancing in Asia and Africa. Latin America and the Middle East are singled out because of the size and scope of the challenge to U.S. imperialism, and the impact on our practical work.
(4) The general U.S approach to fighting insurgencies in Third World was (and in some cases still is) to deploy military advisors and armaments, while using local puppets, death squads and counterrevolutionary gangs to do the bulk of the fighting.
(5) In our 2004 Main Political Report we noted: “Standing reality on its head, the war criminals in the White House and the Pentagon are intensifying their campaign to criminalize the national liberation movements. Specifically, they have branded a host of progressive and revolutionary organizations as terrorists, including the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (along with the Islamist resistance organizations in Palestine).” Combating the idea that the anti-imperialist movements and organizations are some sort of criminal conspiracy is one of our tasks in the anti-intervention movement and it is one of the reasons we have campaigned for the release of FARC leader Ricardo Palmera.
FRSO 5th Congress