The following contribution was delivered to the World Anti-imperialist Platform conference in Caracas, Venezuela, on Saturday 4 March by Comrade Joti Brar on behalf of our party.
Comrades, this event takes place at a time of crucial importance for the world struggle against imperialism.
Our struggle is becoming more significant every day, as people everywhere are faced with the hard truth that they simply cannot obtain a secure supply of basic necessaries under their present economic conditions – never mind being able to achieve for themselves the peaceful enjoyment of a useful and fulfilling life.
To the esteemed delegates in this hall, I bring greetings from Britain, one of the oldest imperial powers and at one time the most powerful. In my country, a tiny class of billionaire finance capitalists still profits enormously by using the wealth accumulated over generations to carry on plundering the resources and exploiting the labour-power of the globe.
Yet in this same country, the mass of poor workers are suffering greatly from the effects of the global economic crisis – a crisis that has been exacerbated by our rulers’ aggressive economic and military warfare, and by their refusal to put in place any measures to help those who are bearing the brunt of a crisis that was not of their making.
Of course, we know that the burden of this crisis is falling most heavily on the poorest around the world, just as it is falling most heavily onto the poorest workers within British society. Still, both inside Britain and across the world, the same message is making itself felt more plainly every day: this system does not care about you; it cannot help you; something must be done.
Standing in Caracas today, we are reminded of the long history of oppression – and resistance – of the peoples on your continent.
We remember the crimes of colonisers from Spain, Portugal and Holland, who were replaced in their turn by the equally criminal and even more ruthless modern imperialists – the finance capitalists of Britain and the USA.
In much of the world, the USA rose to the position of public enemy number one only after two world wars had fatally weakened the powers of old Europe. Even then, it was some time before many newly-liberated nations understood that the old empires had been replaced by a new one; before they detected the dagger behind the back of the gangster whose hand appeared to be stretched out in friendship.
In this part of the world, the story is a different one. Here, life long ago revealed the fascistic face that hides beneath the democracy-loving mask of Uncle Sam. Two centuries ago, US president James Monroe set out his famous doctrine for the Americas, claiming for his masters the sole right to loot and control the resources and politics of every part of the western hemisphere.
From assassinations to mysterious illnesses and plane crashes; from the buying or overturning of elections to the control of media, judicial and military institutions; from outright invasions and occupations to the funding of vicious mercenaries and proxies to drown popular movements in blood; from the direct overthrow of popular governments to their slow strangulation by economic blockade, the USA has made it clear that for as long as it has the power to prevail, the masses of this continent will be allowed no peace but the peace of the grave.
And to what end was all this directed? Did some higher human purpose justify these relentless assaults, this seemingly endless trail of suffering? No. It was only to secure and boost the profits of US monopolies: of the United Fruit Company, of Texaco, of Chevron, of Monsanto, of Pfizer.
For such an end, there is no human cost the imperialists consider to be too great. Understanding this simple truth is the key to understanding our own tasks. We must give up on the idea of persuading or reforming our oppressors. It cannot be done.
Karl Marx long ago explained that in the present economic system, the capitalist becomes the personification of his capital, and acts relentlessly and solely in its interests. He cannot be appealed to on the basis of humane or rational logic.
And what is it that his capital desires? Only to expand. To be given an opportunity to exploit labour-power in order to make a profit and grow. Today, when the hoards of accumulated capital have become unimaginably vast, the need to keep finding new avenues for their reinvestment is driving the owners of those capital funds into a frenzy.
And all the while, the rulers of our world are getting richer at the expense of the rest of humanity. Their joy is built upon our misery, and they have created a huge machinery for the division and suppression of the people in order to maintain their privilege and power.
Their economic system and their machinery of suppression must be destroyed.
As a British socialist, I represent that part of the British working class that is already striving for liberation and socialism; which has understood this message and is doing what it can to help the rest of our class understand it too.
And, as socialists living at the heart of the imperialist world, in the belly of the beast, we remember the words of the great Lenin, that master of revolutionary theory and practice, whose Bolshevik party was the first to show humanity that the workers could be organised into a truly independent force, that the imperialists could be defeated, and that a new world could be built.
Lenin taught us that, in the struggle against our imperialist rulers, we must unite with the hundreds of millions of oppressed peoples around the world who are struggling against the same enemy. He repeatedly stressed that no one who claims the title of socialist can fail in this duty. And the Russian revolution gave us the proof that our struggle will be victorious if we succeed in this aim, and will be doomed to defeat if we do not.
Friends, we do not support one another’s struggles out of feelings of sympathy or charity. We do not strive to unite out of humanitarianism, although we feel our common humanity very deeply. We unite with one another because we must; because we face the same enemy and must fight together if we are fighting to win and not merely making heroic but futile gestures in order to salve our consciences.
Comrades, just as the October Revolution showed workers everywhere that another world is possible, the collapse of the Soviet Union set back the cause of human liberation by 30 years and more.
Who can forget that the global capitalist economy was in dire trouble in the 1980s? And who can forget that the imperialists were saved from their troubles by the unprecedented orgy of looting that followed the collapse of the USSR and the European people’s democracies? That they pillaged and grew fat on the wealth stolen from the proud peoples of the former socialist republics?
Who can forget the jubilation with which the USA declared itself to be the world’s only superpower and set out on a mission to stamp out every last shred of sovereignty and independence in the globe?
To the extent that the newly-emboldened rulers of the USA were able to launch their project for a ‘new American century’, it was as a result of the terrible blow that had been inflicted on the forces of socialism and anti-imperialist liberation. With supreme arrogance, the imperialists embarked on a carnival of destruction, starting in Yugoslavia and spreading out across Asia and Africa.
The death toll for all humanity following the loss of the USSR has not been computed, but when we consider all the dire consequences, from liberation struggles crushed and countries destroyed to the catastrophic fall in life expectancies and birth rates, there is no doubt it has been immense. And to this must be added the destruction of hard-won infrastructure, industry and agriculture, of whole economies razed to the ground and whole countries poisoned by chemical and nuclear weapons.
To the extent that the imperialists failed in their mission to wipe out all centres of resistance to their domination, it was as a result of the legacy of October, which gave a signal to the peoples of the world that the time when colonial overlords would be tolerated was over. And the world has never been the same since.
Given that the USA and its allies could not beat the resistance in Afghanistan, where the technological level was so low and the poverty levels so high, it seems like insanity for the imperialists to be targeting Russia and China as they are currently doing – countries with the economic and technical strength to stand up for themselves and their allies. But the desperate need to find some way out of their economic crisis impels the monopoly financiers to drive towards war all the same.
Clearly, they hope that if they can set enough fires on the borders of Russia and China; can create enough proxy forces to drag them into endless conflict, they will be able to wear their opponents down before facing them openly; will be able to create unrest amongst the Russian and Chinese populations, and thus prepare the ground for regime change from within and without.
What is it ultimately that the imperialists want? They want free access to the wealth of the world, with no resistance from the peoples on or under whose lands this wealth resides. They want to destroy every government and movement that tries to defend its people against this piracy.
In particular, they want to destroy the sovereignty and independence of Russia and China, break them into pieces, loot their wealth and exploit their labour forces.
They want a repeat of the carnival they enjoyed after the fall of the USSR.
Such an outcome would once again set back the cause of socialism and liberation by 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years. Comrades, the world’s impoverished masses cannot be asked to endure such another torment!
That is why we say that this struggle we face now has reached a critical stage, and that it concerns the entire world. We must all of us recognise that there is one struggle and one enemy; that our fight is your fight and that your fight is ours.
The members of my party take great hope from all the signs that the world’s anti-imperialist forces are coming together in a way that has not been seen for 70 years. We take great hope from the initiative that has seen the forming of the World Anti-imperialist Platform, whose aim is to help forge that unity of purpose and action we so desperately need.
We welcome the role of the Platform in vigorously countering the imperialist war propaganda machine, which seeks to demonise the leadership of every country it targets, and to confuse and demoralise the working masses by turning our hatred of imperialism into a weapon against us. The branding of Russia, China and even Brazil and Venezuela as ‘imperialist’ countries is a major part of the psychological and ideological warfare that our enemies are waging, and it must be exposed and opposed.
If we can truly unite our activities around this central programme; if we can really come together to maximise our actions to disrupt and defeat the aggressive and criminal Nato imperialist bloc, then our victory is assured.