Anti-colonial revolution is our only route towards preventing a nightmarish dystopia
In the near future that capitalist and imperialist collapse are creating, the United States isn’t going to be able to exist anymore, at least not in its state of relatively stable “liberal democracy.” Either the land now called the “United States” will be replaced by an arrangement where the indigenous First Nations regain jurisdiction over all the land which was stolen from them, or conditions will come to resemble the type of ethnic cleansing-ridden failed state that Ukraine has become.
Why do I present such a sharp binary of outcomes? Because unless the communist parties on this continent go forward with the intent of implementing the post-colonial order I’ve described, the forces of reaction will prevail. If we stray from the path required to properly address the contradictions of colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism, we’ll fail to stop the nightmare that our ruling class aims to engineer.
Decolonization isn’t just necessary on this continent from a moral perspective; it’s necessary from a perspective of scientific socialism. As Lenin wrote in Theses on the National Question:
The article of our programme (on the self-determination of nations) cannot be interpreted to mean anything but political self-determination, i.e., the right to secede and form a separate state. This article in the Social-Democratic programme is absolutely essential to the Social-Democrats of Russia; for the sake of the basic principles of democracy in general; also because there are, within the frontiers of Russia and, what is more, in her frontier areas, a number of nations with sharply distinctive economic, social and other conditions; furthermore, these nations (like all the nations of Russia except the Great Russians) are unbelievably oppressed by the tsarist monarchy; lastly, also in view of the fact that throughout Eastern Europe (Austria and the Balkans) and in Asia — i.e., in countries bordering on Russia — the bourgeois-democratic re form of the state that has everywhere else in the world led, in varying degree, to the creation of independent national states or states with the closest, interrelated national composition, has either not been consummated or has only just begun
Without gaining their right to self-determination, the nations which are being subjugated by a given empire will remain tethered to the dictates of that empire. Without the fulfillment of that self-determination goal, imperialism’s dominance will continue, however good a job the reformists do of making the subjugated nations appear free on the surface.
Take the example of Palestine. If the communists there were to try to establish a “socialist” Israel, such a country would neither be socialist nor be truly liberated. Only after the abolition of the Zionist state will the land actually be free to develop towards proletarian democracy.
Why? Because for as long as the illegitimate settler-colonial state of “Israel” exists, the Palestinians will lack control over their land, and therefore over their means of production. The colonial occupation will still be present, depriving the Palestinian proletariat of the amount of power that they would get under decolonization. Under such an absurd arrangement, there would still be a class of Israeli settlers who exercise disproportionate control over the land, all while claiming to represent a “socialist” republic. And the exact same skewed power dynamics would apply to a “socialist” United States.
If the communist parties on this continent try to build a “socialist America” or a “socialist Canada,” they’ll be swept away by the forces of history, unable to overcome the fascist tsunami that’s already well underway within these decaying imperialist settler colonies. Due to their embroilment with colonial chauvinism, they’ll be open towards co-optation by white supremacist and pro-imperialist ideologies, and will therefore be crippled before they can even achieve the perverse colonialist “socialism” they strive towards. What would rise in the wake of this failure for the communist movement is fascism.
The warning signs of this are as apparent as the fact that by supporting the preservation of the U.S. state, the communists on this continent who oppose decolonization are in effect supporting imperialism. Because despite what these chauvinistic factions claim, the existence of the United States is in itself an act of imperialism, where an illegitimate state rules over stolen territory in the same vein as Israel.
Until this state is overthrown and replaced by a post-colonial power structure, its weakening by the hands of economic and climatic collapse will only take our society deeper into darkness. To see exactly what I mean by this, just look at what the forces of capitalist reaction have done whenever they’re desperate to prevent imperialist collapse, or simply whenever the imperialists want to subdue a nation.
In their pursuit of settler-colonial expansion amid the unraveling of the German empire, the Nazis made Poland into an effectively lawless and stateless land so as to empower Germany’s death squads throughout the country. In Gaza, the imperialist-backed Zionist state has manufactured an environment of poverty and scarcity where the empire can easily kill vast amounts of civilians, similar to the situation the imperialists have created in Yemen. In post-intervention Libya, the imperialists have made the country into a warring failed state with slave trades so that they can carve up the land for resource extraction. In Yugoslavia, the imperialists used a bombing campaign to destabilize the nation so that it could become ripe for neoliberal exploitation. And in Ukraine following the 2014 U.S.-perpetrated Nazi coup, extreme neoliberal shock therapy and anti-Russian proxy warfare have brought about a failed state where the fascist militias run rampant.
This is the model that the imperialists of all stripes use whenever they seek to subdue a population: engineer massive suffering and instability so that they can swoop in and remold the land according to their preferences. And in the face of the internal refugee crises, agricultural collapses, water shortages, unprecedented economic shockwaves, global military losses, and even worse pandemics that the U.S. will experience in these next several decades, this model is going to be applied to the U.S. population itself. It’s already being directed towards the victims of U.S. colonialism, with the country’s police militarization deepening the paradigm of effective military occupation that the increasingly impoverished African and Native communities live under.
As the ever-growing dysfunctionality of neoliberalism combines with U.S. imperial collapse and the ecological crisis, these kinds of violent designs will expand and worsen. The militarization of everyday life in this country is going to extend into a growing culture of paramilitarism, imported from the U.S. empire’s models for death squads in Latin America. The military is going to carry out invasions and occupations of major U.S. urban areas, which are planned to involve extreme censorship and surveillance within the neighborhoods surrounding the Army’s domestic battles. Governmental services will be further cut off while the state enables the right-wing militias to carry out terror.
What we in the U.S. are facing is an urgent choice between the two options we’ve always had: socialism or barbarism. And without anti-colonial revolution, socialism won’t be able to come about. Just an empty promise that compromising with the settler-colonial power structure is the “pragmatic” choice, followed by the state’s designs for massive death and destruction.
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