The Depravity of the Armchair Communists
Posted by Keith-264 on May 23, 2022, 5:42 am
May 22, 2022
By Kahlil Wall-Johnson for the Saker Blog
The inter-imperialist camp, as it has been called, has dedicated itself to painting the Ukraine conflict strictly in terms of inter-imperialist struggle. In their dedication to this interpretation, they have committed to a series of surprisingly extravagant claims, some of which I intend to gather here and hold up to the light. However, it is this camp’s total lack of scruples, specifically when it comes to their sources, that has compelled me to object. Having said this, I find it necessary to reassure the reader that what follows is not (unlike the pieces being critiqued) a rant on how we ought to interpret Lenin’s Imperialism, or even really an attempt to engage with theory. Nor is it a detailed comparison of the role of the US and Russia in the world-system. There is no need to repeat the many articles which have rebutted these claims and contrasted the specific nature of US imperialism to Chinese or Russian foreign policy and trade. Rather, what I am trying to scrape at here is their lazy and offensive attitude towards their sources; an attitude that is repeatedly criticized by the very authors they cite!
Interestingly, it is these individuals’ familiarity with many of the contours of US imperialism that has provided them with a premade template to project onto Russia’s behavior. This has led them to defend certain claims, which at times, even surpass those of the US corporate media. As teaser of what is to come, the figures of whom we are speaking write that “Ukranians are not oppressing Russians” and that “when Putin likens this behavior to genocide, he takes a page from the execrable Adrian Zenz” while going on to speak of “a Russian empire of lies,” and its plagiarism of the US “doctrine of humanitarian interventionism.”
Let us begin with a recent piece titled “‘Is Russia an imperialist country?’— That’s not the right question to ask?’ by a certain Greg Godels. The only potential merit that should be granted the author is that of almost taking a look at the idea of multipolarity through a historical perspective. There is a point to be made. Multipolarity is indeed an abstract concept; without a concrete analysis of the emerging poles, it is not necessarily desirable, nor, as he argues, anti-imperialist in the Leninist sense. Then there is also the problem of the extent to which the world can even reach, or stabilize at, a point of mutually independent sovereign states or empires. This could lead to the subsequent question of whether multipolarity —a potentially ambiguous buzzword, enjoyed principally in foreign policy documents and by foreign correspondents— is even an adequate tool through which to understand economic, military and political history. There is potential here for a rich debate. In fact, it has certainly already begun to take place. Unfortunately, after pointing out the abstract character of the principle at hand, Godels drifts further away from any potential concrete analysis to declare that, since multipolarity isn’t inherently anti-imperialist or anti-capitalist, today’s emerging world isn’t either and, most importantly, doesn’t deserve any support. What makes him think that multipolarity is being supported as an abstract principle, universally valid throughout history? Why assume we are not taking stock of actuality?
Laying claim to what Lenin would be saying of the present, Godels and others assume the all too familiar this-is-what-you-need-to-know-about-Ukraine tone. The Bolshevik leader is quoted relentlessly, leaving us no doubt as to whether or not they have read him. When not busy copy and pasting, their writing is completely devoid of the concrete analysis, so beloved by Lenin, which might back their inter-imperialist reading of the war in Ukraine. These pieces range from directly labeling Russia as an imperialist power, to more diffuse readings of Lenin in which Imperialism is presented as a project in which all capitalist states participate, regardless of their position in the hierarchy of national economies, and less as a trait circumscribed to certain powers. Regardless of the path chosen, at the end of the day Russia, and China, are irrevocably implicated in the imperialist project and any opportunities or potential that we might expect to be perceived by a self-described marxist-leninist in the weakening of the US empire, are dismissed on the grounds that the immanent multipolar world, of which Russia is often cast as the sole representative, is tainted by capitalism, or “enmeshed” in imperialism. In fact, these disciples of Lenin explicitly argue against the decline of the US empire representing an opportunity at all, reserving their support for a metaphysical parallel dimension in which they run simulations of a “radical change” pure enough for their ideals. Ctd....
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