Imperialism and revolution
Pacifism and neutrality, in the struggle of an oppressed country against imperialism, do not serve the interests of workers
On March 6, the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) celebrated the 101th anniversary of its founding at a large rally in Lisbon. The event had as its most widespread word of order the following claim, regarding the military operation of Russia in Ukraine: “Peace yes, war no!”.
In the same week, the party participated in a demonstration that demanded “Stop the war, give peace a chance.” Pedro Guerreiro, a member of the PCP Central Committee, said that “it is not a war that serves the interests of the Ukrainian people, it does not serve the interests of the Russian people, it does not serve the interests of the peoples of Europe.”
This pacifist position of the CPC, contrary to what it might be claimed, it is not progressive, democratic and much less revolutionary. It is in fact counterrevolutionary and pro-imperialist ─ similar to the position adopted by a portion of the Brazilian left, such as the Worker’s Party (PT) or the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), which did not stand directly against Russia as did the Socialist and Liberty Party (PSOL), the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), the United Workers Socialist Party (PSTU) and Popular Unity (UP) but which, in the end, serves the policy of aggression projected by imperialism.
The main target of this “war” is Russia and, as the CPC leaders know, this is not a conflict between Russians and Ukrainians, but between Russians and NATO. The “war” was unleashed by Russia, therefore, it is a war against imperialism. Russia is a country outside the club of imperialist countries (i.e., fully developed capitalism), it is a country of backward capitalism ─ therefore, a country oppressed by imperialism.
The “war”, which PCP repudiates, is a “war” of a country oppressed by imperialism against this imperialism ─ which oppresses not only Russia, but the other countries of Eastern Europe and the whole world. A communist cannot adopt a neutral position in such a situation. They must unconditionally support the oppressed country against imperialism. Neutrality, pacifism, serves ─ contrary to what CFP members think ─ not against NATO and the Russia’s imaginary imperialism, but to the real imperialism and against Russia.
Ultimately, Russia is wagering a national liberation war (of the Russians, Ukrainians and other eastern European peoples) against imperialism, represented by NATO. How, then, does it not serve Russian’s, Ukrainian’s and all-European’s peoples? In fact, it serves the interests of people from all over the world!
Marxism is not a doctrine based on the Gospel, but rather on class struggle. And it is not because Russian action is promoted by the bourgeoisie of that country that it should be condemned. On the contrary: imperialist oppression of Russia, which is an oppression on both Russian proletariat and Russian bourgeoisie itself, forced Putin to defend the interests of the Russian people as a whole to curb this oppression. As Leon Trotsky said: “the bourgeoisie of the backward countries is, at the same time, a semi-oppressive and semi-oppressed class, semi-exploitative and semi-exploited, because while oppressing and exploiting the proletariat of their country, it is oppressed and exploited by the imperialist bourgeoisie.” The current struggle in Ukraine is against oppression and exploitation by imperialism, which unifies the interests of both Russian bourgeoisie and proletariat. In this sense, because it represents a struggle of the peoples of the world against imperialism, we can consider that it is a struggle of all the national bourgeoisie of the backward countries and the international proletariat (be it from late countries or from imperialist countries).
Nor is it valid to affirm that “workers are the main victims of war, so it is for their own interests the defence of peaceful times”, made in the Avante! by Ângelo Alves, member of the Political Committee of the CPC. Following this reasoning, workers also should not have stood up against imperialism in the wars of national liberation in Algeria, Syria or Afghanistan — all of them conduct not by the working class, but by the national bourgeoisie of these countries, but supported by the workers as a decisive force for their victory. If the armed struggle would have been replaced by a “process of dialogue with a view to a political solution to the conflict,” as the CPC suggested for the Ukraine conflict, this “political solution”, presented by CPC, would be more beneficial to imperialism and the Russian bourgeoisie than to workers across Europe and the world. The national liberation war, in turn, is the real “political solution” for workers, because ─ as we are already seeing with the enormous crisis in the structures of the imperialist regime generated by Russia’s actions ─ strongly destabilizes and weakens the system of imperialist domination worldwide.
If the countries in Africa and Asia had replaced the armed struggle between the 1940s and 1960s with a “process of dialogue” with the colonial powers, the imperialist regime would have preserved itself exactly as it was, and not weakened — as it eventually did, leading to the independence of dozens of nations.
That was a revolutionary process, and if it had happened as the PCP wants to happen in Ukraine, it would have been aborted and imperialism, rather than weakening, would have been strengthened, maintaining full control over the colonies then.
It is clear that Russian action in Ukraine has shaken the global imperialist regime, as the Taliban had already done in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is a highly progressive event and therefore favours the international working class, for it is a blow against its main enemy: imperialism. Beside to weakening imperialism by deepening the system crisis, Russia’s action encourages other oppressed countries to rise up against imperialism and follow its example. China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua and many others feel motivated to break the chains of imperialist oppression. Russian settled an example not only to the national bourgeoisie of these countries, but mainly their proletariat. This was seen after the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, when the Arab people celebrated the liberation of the country ─ and we should not doubt that Russia’s own action against NATO in Ukraine was decisively motivated by the events in Afghanistan.
Finally, revolutionaries around the world must understand that the main beneficiary of this whole situation is the working class. The decay of the imperialism is not only the decay of the imperialist bourgeoisie, but also of the national bourgeoisie of the late countries, since, although it is oppressed and exploited by the imperialist bourgeoisie, it also depends on this same imperialist bourgeoisie to survive. While oppressing the bourgeoisie of the backward countries, the imperialist bourgeoisie sustains it to contain and oppress the working class of these countries. The bourgeoisie of oppressed countries, therefore, is a weak social class. Although in many cases the upper class is leading the fight for national liberation, they are unable to bring this fight to an utmost consequence. This fight can only be completed by the working class itself. And if, on the one hand, the crisis of imperialism weakens the bourgeoisie as a whole, on the other it tends to set the working class in motion. In a scenario like these, this movement will have revolutionary characteristics.
By: Eduardo Vasco
Published: 14 th/03/22 – 00:20
Edition nº 6678 – Monday – 14/03/2022