Hammer, Sickle and Four logo
The Internationalist
September 2021

Revolutionary Perspectives vs. Bourgeois Reaction “At Home” and Abroad

Biden Escalates Anti-China War Plans

U.S. president Joe Biden with Australian premier Scott Morrison (left) and British prime minister Boris Johnson, announcing deal to provide Australia with nuclear submarines, whose only purpose would be to attack China. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The following is an excerpt, edited for publication, from a report to a recent meeting of the Internationalist Group/U.S.

The repercussions of the stunning defeat of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan have reverberated around the world. The image of staffers being airlifted from the U.S. embassy inevitably recalled the imperialists’ precipitous departure from Saigon in April 1975, although, as we have said, the situation is different. While both were imperialist defeats, Vietnam was a victory for the workers of the world, whereas the new rulers in Kabul are reactionary enemies of working people and the oppressed, women and national minorities first and foremost. We fought against the imperialist invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, calling for defeat of the imperialists, but we did not give any political support to the Islamic fundamentalists.

That image was quickly followed by the indescribable chaos of thousands who had been associated in some degree or other with the occupiers swarming to the Kabul airport, desperate to get out. Then there were the images of some of them falling to their deaths from the wheels of U.S. aircraft as these took off with their cargo of collaborators. And now we have confirmation that the retaliatory U.S. drone strike killed a longtime employee of a U.S. aid group and murdered nine other civilians, including seven children. The image of the imperialist monster fleeing with its tail between its legs will have a lasting impact. The myth of the military invincibility of U.S. imperialism was punctured and exploded in front of everyone’s eyes.

It is well known that the United States has a bloated military machine. There are by one count 750 significant U.S. military bases scattered across the globe, and hundreds more smaller facilities. There are close to 200,000 U.S. military personnel stationed outside the U.S., and that figure doesn’t even include the hundreds of thousands of “contractors” – or more accurately, mercenaries – working for the Pentagon, both U.S. citizens and lots of others: Colombian army vets, Nepalese Gurkhas and others. This monstrous military apparatus is bloated, but not exactly hypertrophied, because it does serve a function, of enabling the U.S. to act as global gendarme, the cops of the world, extending from Latin America to Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and what they are now calling the Indo-Pacific theater. As in theater of war.

U.S. military bases and installations outside the United States, 2015.  (Map by David Devine / Politico)

This globe-spanning military machine is not just a leftover from the anti-Soviet Cold War, although the people running it these days are superannuated Cold Warriors. The U.S. has actually expanded its reach since George Bush the First proclaimed a unipolar, U.S.-dominated New World Order in 1990-91. As we have pointed out on a number of occasions, the vast reach of the U.S. military reflects the economic hollowing out of the United States, which has exported much of its manufacturing base to lower-wage countries, from Mexico to Bangladesh, China and elsewhere. So as U.S. capitalism putrefies, its imperialist rulers have had to emphasize military might far more. A little like the Roman Empire in its terminal decay – obviously in a very different world. But even this globe-spanning military machine is not enough to police everywhere at once, so they need to intimidate the rest of the planet into submission. So for the U.S. military, the ignominious flight from Afghanistan by the U.S. is an absolute disaster.

The Pentagon brass, which tacitly backed Joe Biden against Donald Trump’s bid to stay in office, opposed the total withdrawal from Afghanistan and will no doubt hold it against the Democrat in the White House. But meanwhile, Biden is charging ahead, this time by financing a fleet of nuclear submarines for Australia. This would make Australia only the second country to share U.S. nuclear technology (the other is the not-so United Kingdom). The White House has proclaimed a new tripartite alliance – or perhaps an Axis, like Germany, Japan and Italy in World War II – called AUKUS. I think you pronounce it something like ostrich. This greatly annoyed Emmanuel Macron, the would-be Jupiter-like president of France, but also the U.S.’ imperialist allies in Europe generally. Although they had joined in the occupation of Afghanistan, Biden didn’t consult them at all about the sudden pullout. And now he is gearing up for war with China, when his NATO “allies” want none of it. They would prefer “engagement” with China, not a shooting war.

Virginia class attack submarine to be provided to Australia under deal with U.S. Although the subs are said to be armed with cruise missiles, they can carry W76-2 low-yield (“tactical”) nuclear arms, a “first-strike” weapon for “regional deterrence.” Likely target: Chinese military installations in the South China Sea. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

For a shooting war is exactly what those nuclear subs signify. We have warned in every one of our recent newspapers that the U.S. is gearing up for large-scale military conflict with the Chinese bureaucratically deformed workers state. It’s literally happening before our eyes, and this is another proof. The conventional submarines France was building, before the contract was pulled out from under them by Biden, were not “obsolete,” as the U.S. is now claiming. They were state of the art, but they were primarily to patrol Australia’s coasts and maybe Indonesia and the Straits of Malacca, through which something like 60% of all world trade and all world petroleum production pass every year. But the nuclear subs have one purpose only, and that is to attack China. They will be armed with cruise missiles, of course, but there’s nothing to stop them from carrying smaller nuclear weapons. Maybe they’ll call them tactical but they would still be nukes.1

This is an announcement of a coming U.S. war on China. In that conflict, and in the lead-up to it, the League for Fourth International uniquely calls to defend China against imperialism and counterrevolution. The opportunist left, almost unanimously, is lined up with imperialism against China – as they were against the Soviet Union over Afghanistan and then Poland – and is actively pushing counterrevolution, as in their backing of the anti-Communist Hong Kong rioters.

The Australia submarine deal will also have a major impact in Europe, whose rulers have slowly come to the realization that the U.S. actually wants to start a war with China. There is considerable hesitation and opposition to this, so that Macron and others are pushing now, and have been pushing for some time, for Europe to develop its own military capacity. It’s unclear how far they will get with that, but there will be pressure in that direction and it could also have an effect on their relations with Russia.

We’ve noted before that there is a very interesting match between the capacities of now-capitalist Russia, a regional power with nuclear weaponry, and Europe, which is economically strong but militarily weak. So it is conceivable that there would be moves to break to a degree with the U.S. and have a less contentious relation with Russia. If that were ever to happen, the German Social Democrats would probably play a key role. As of now, that is only speculation looking towards the future. But one important thing, that all military strategists keep in mind, when you look at the situation in the world, or at a particular point, you don’t only look at the declared intentions, but above all you take into account the capabilities.

Domestically we have a sharply polarized bourgeois political scene, which has not become less contentious since the advent of the Biden administration with its election program of supposed politeness, “we’re all going to get together,” reconciliation, and so on. In fact, the Trump forces have kept up their efforts to keep the Republican base mobilized. This is reflected in two recent developments. The first is the campaign against “Critical Race Theory,” which of course has nothing to do with that theory. It’s a drive to prevent any kind of education, or even discussion in the schools, about the racism that is built into American capitalism, and which is reflected year after year in the pervasive police murders and the double and triple oppression of the African American population, the Latino population, Native Americans, immigrants and others. They want to outlaw any discussion of this.

Click on image to go to articles.

We’ve recently published several articles about this which originally appeared on the Class Struggle Education Workers website and are now on the Internationalist web site, where we take a very different position from much of the left. They have basically bought into the politics of the so-called “1619 Project,” which sees the origin of racism in generalized white supremacy rather than racist American capitalism. What’s interesting is the way that these anti-“CRT” laws have been written. They empower individuals to go after school districts, or schools or even individual teachers, and to launch a localized witch hunt at any time. The purpose of this, which was openly discussed, is to keep the issue before the electorate’s eyes right up to the 2022 election.

The second development is that now Texas has passed a draconian law against abortion. It practically eliminates all abortions, because after six weeks [since the last menstrual period] it will be illegal to provide an abortion. That is when many women first discover that they are pregnant, so in practice, the effect is to outlaw all abortions. The authors of this bill have also argued, in a “friend of court” brief, that the Supreme Court should overturn the Roe v. Wade decision which declared abortion constitutional on the grounds of a woman’s right to privacy. This led to the establishment of abortion clinics throughout the country. Now the Texas law has essentially legalized bounty hunters, so that any individual can go after abortion doctors, nurses, Uber drivers, whatever – and get a $10,000 bounty, plus court costs. Again, the intent is to keep that base mobilized.

So there’s likely to be the kind of mobilizations that took place from 2017 on right up to the 2020 elections, and the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, with far-right forces – the so-called “alt-right,” and fascistic and outright fascist forces – acting as the cutting edge of a mobilization of the hard right wing supporting Trump. Quite possibly this could escalate. It would not be surprising if there are attempted murders of abortion providers, as has happened on a number of occasions in the past. It’s also possible that there would be confrontations at demonstrations. So that scenario is likely to continue, and we have to be very aware of and prepared for that. Our perspective is for mass workers mobilization, independent of the Democratic Party, against the threat of fascist and fascistic forces.

Thousands of mainly Haitian immigrants being held in terrible conditions under the international bridge at Del Rio, Texas. Biden's response was to launch biggest mass deportation in decades, sending them back to devastated Haiti. But where are the protests? (Photo: Andress Latif / Reuters)

On top of that, we’re now seeing spectacular scenes reflecting the decay of U.S. capitalism and the total submission of the left to the Democratic Party. In the last few days we have the grotesque scene of 9.000 immigrants [later surging to over 15,000] being held under the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, with a total of 22 port-a-johns. The Border Patrol is not only torturing them, exposed to the elements, when the temperature has been ranging to 99° and up, but this is a health emergency waiting to explode.

The new issue of Revolution, the paper of the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth, has a front-page article on how the experience of the last year and a half – a deadly pandemic (over 650,000 have died in the U.S.), rampant police murder, a looming eviction crisis – showed that capitalism can’t even provide the basic needs of the population. So many young people are saying that this experience “really opened my eyes,” and the headline draws the conclusion: “Why We Need a Socialist Revolution.” That would seem sort of obvious for socialists, but not so. In the U.S., protests have been called off about everything: whether it’s over fascists in the streets, or police murder, deportations, U.S. military actions. Absolutely nothing, no protests of any size, whereas in 2018 and 2020 the streets were full day after day, night after night. Those were election years, and while the protesters were sincerely protesting the locking up of immigrant kids in cages or the racist police murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, the agenda of many of the protest organizers was to elect Democrats.

The Internationalist Group, the RIY, and the class-struggle labor and immigrant groups fraternally allied with us were the only tendency out there in the streets fighting against this attempt to channel this justified outrage into the Democratic Party, and fighting to bring workers power to bear. We were the only ones exposing the fraud of “defund the police,” and who were calling to “set them free, let them stay,” about immigrants, notably from Haiti. Now the Biden administration is responding to the emergency at the border by organizing to fly these desperate people back to the disaster of Haiti today where there are no public services, much of the country destroyed by the latest earthquake, followed by a hurricane, the streets controlled by gangs. Biden is carrying out deportations and expulsions (almost 600,000 in his first six months) at an even higher rate than Trump, using Trump’s anti-immigrant laws (Title 42).2 Yet there is no mass protest against that – another proof that the entire opportunist left is effectively an adjunct of the Democratic Party. It’s not just the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America).

As for the DSA, everyone is well aware of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunt at the Met Gala the other night, which was very telling. She goes in with her gown (the train is carried by an assistant) with the message on it, “Tax the Rich.” As an article on the Internationalist web site explains, this is not at all a radical demand, it’s the demand of a section of the Democratic Party. In any case, it isn’t any kind of protest against capitalism at all, it’s just AOC hobnobbing with the “one percent.” Yet with all these major catastrophes in the world, what passes for a protest by “the left” is this stunt.

The situation cries out for revolutionary leadership. So there are three countries in the world where there are significant numbers of people claiming to be Trotskyists. One is Brazil, where the government of Jair Bolsonaro has been threatening military action. First this was directed against the Congress, trying to intimidate it into voting a constitutional amendment, and then that was followed up by threats against the Supreme Court – all of this pointing to a “self-coup” [such as carried out by Peru’s then-president Alberto Fujimori in 1990]. Bolsonaro has pulled back to a degree, after mobilizing several hundred thousand supporters on September 7, but the threat is still there, with a government that is already chock full of generals.

But what is the left doing? The opportunist left has only one mode in Brazil, which is to try to push the PT [Workers Party] to the left. Except the Workers Party is assiduously trying to form a coalition with the traditional conservatives to support Lula [former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva] in the next elections. It is not the least bit interested in being pushed to the left, and as a result the entire political spectrum to the left of the PT, which is mostly pseudo-Trotskyists, is essentially paralyzed. They are just going through the motions waiting for the 2022 elections in a situation where you have an active mobilization potentially for what could really be a coup d’état.

Then in France, the pseudo-Trotskyist left is essentially tailing the anti-vaxxers. So there’s a very authoritarian government, a president who thinks he is Jupiter riding rough-shod over the population, which is experiencing considerable economic hardship because of the pandemic and the lockdowns. What the left is doing is not presenting a class program but tailing after protests sparked by the right-wing populists of the Yellow Vests against a vaccination mandate.

Finally, in Argentina there were primary elections. The Peronist government lost a lot of support, with most of the discontent picked up by the right wing, but the coalition of left-wing parties, the FIT-U [Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores – Unidad], an electoral cartel of groups claiming to be Trotskyists, won a million votes and together with other pseudo-Trotskyists got about 1.6 million votes. It was a significant vote, but in a situation where the population is facing an economic crisis the likes of which have not been seen since 2001, where the minimum wage is one of the lowest in Latin America ($82 a month, lower even than Bolivia), with considerable unemployment, the left is only mobilizing electorally.

So in each of these countries, in Brazil, France and Argentina, you have up to perhaps 10,000 people who consider themselves Trotskyists. Yet these different tendencies are mainly engaged in impotent electoral activities, or tailing after other very alien class forces. The PSTU in Brazil is a blatant example of what we call “State Department socialism,” supporting everything that U.S. imperialism backs, from Syria and Egypt to now in Cuba. And, of course, most of the left is supporting, to one degree or another, the U.S.-backed protests led by anti-communists in Cuba. As the psuedo-Trotskyists tail after whatever is popular, our fight to lead struggles on the basis of genuine Trotskyism is key to building a world party of socialist revolution. ■