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[U.S. Imperialism] [Russia] [USSR] [China] [Principal Contradiction] [Economics] [ULK Issue 78]
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Book Review: Arms & Empire

[Arms & Empire(1980) by Richard Krooth is a MIM must read. MIM(Prisons) just developed a study guide to go along with this book. The below is the intro to the study guide with some key quotes from the book.]

Introduction to the study pack

The Maoist Internationalist Movement (originally named the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement) was founded at a time when inter-imperialist conflict between the camp led by the United $tates and that led by the social-imperialist USSR posed a threat to the world. In one of the founding documents, written in 1983, comrades saw the combination of liberation struggles in the Third World and this inter-imperialist conflict as a hotbed for communist revolutions.(1)

MIM founders saw the success of communist revolution as an absolute necessity to prevent a new inter-imperialist war, that would likely lead to nuclear war. As such, they recognized that a revolutionary situation could arise within the United $tates in a matter of years, despite having a budding skepticism of the interests of most in our country in communist revolution.

For most of MIM’s existence now we have not been in the situation described above. By 1991 the “Cold War” was over with the dissolution of the Soviet imperialist bloc. For a solid 3 decades we lived under a “unipolar world”, where U.$. dominated organizations and alliances ruled the world (NATO, World Bank, IMF, etc).

For many years now (in 2022) China has been the rising imperialist power, mostly independent of the U.$.-dominated institutions, though deeply integrated with the U.$. economically. As the contradictions heighten in the U.$.-China economic system, they also heighten in the capitalist system overall. The post-USSR era brought a sacking of the wealth of the former Soviet states by cleptocratic capitalists. This aligned with the capitalist development of China, and the return of exploitative relations dominating over 1 billion people who became the primary producers for consumers in the United $tates and around the world. These processes of wealth extraction were the life-blood for global capitalism for those 3 decades of inter-imperialist peace. But, capitalism must keep expanding, and there is not much more room to expand. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a series of collapses in the international system of distribution that prioritized profitability over resiliency.

Earlier this year, Russia invaded Ukraine, in what many fear is the first hot war of what will be an escalating inter-imperialist war. Though to date, it has not yet exceeded in scale the U.$./USSR conflicts of the Cold War. It has brought with it massive trade barriers. The Amerikans have rallied the world to isolate Russia with great success, yet differences in interests have also arisen. This will force many realignments in the coming months and years. The battle for markets, using tariffs and embargoes and currency manipulations, will only escalate. This makes Arms & Empire such a relevant read today.

In 1997, MIM passed a resolution stating:

“For MIM’s purposes, World War III began immediately after World War II ended in 1945. World War III continues today. It is a war between the imperialists and the oppressed nations. By defining World War III as post-World War II, MIM does not mean to say that imperialists did not wage war on the oppressed nations prior to 1945, only that the post-1945 period has specific characteristics (such as: 1. the leading roles of the U.S. and, for a time, the USSR and 2. the predominance of neocolonialism) which separate this period from the pre-1945 periods.”(2)

We can say that world war is inherent to imperialism. As Lenin defined it, imperialism is when the world has been completely divided up by competing monopolist powers, making the export of finance capital the dominant aspect of the economy, and finance capitalists become the shapers of the world. This competition translates to economic and military warfare, both of which result in large numbers of unnecessary humyn deaths. Imperialism kills millions. When warfare between the imperialists can be minimized for a period, the warfare is aimed primarily at the oppressed nations who are resisting the imperialists trying to control and exploit them.

On the eve of World War I, the revisionist Kautsky proposed a theory of ultra-imperialism to supercede imperialism, where the imperialists can ban together to manage the world internationally. Today, there are many bad Marxists who unknowingly promote this metaphysical view of world imperialism where the imperialist forces of NATO and the U.$. are an invincible unbreakable force, and that the best thing the communists can hope for is a counter-balance to U.$. hegemony while tailing other independent imperialists such as Russia or China. While also unknowingly parroting neo-Kautskyism, these revisionist Marxists also unite with the bourgeois Liberals on the world view of a post-Soviet world. The bourgeois liberals had their own theories of “the end of history” after the collapse of the Soviet Union that envisioned the current order to have proven itself as the stable state in which we would remain. In this book, Richard Krooth concisely points out why these fantasies can never come true. The internal contradictions of capitalism and imperialism, brilliantly exposed by Marx and Lenin, translate to antagonistic contradictions among the imperialists that cannot be resolved by synthesis but only by one aspect of that contradiction overtaking the other via warfare. This remains true despite brief periods of relative peace between the imperialists that must also coincide with periods of prosperity and great opportunity for the imperialists. And has MIM has pointed out, even in times of prosperity, the different interests of the labor aristocracy can damper the plans of imperialist unity.(3)

Today, the labor aristocracy is talking about their inability to consume products not made by them in their movement to increased wages, decreased worktimes, etc. However, they seem to be able to consume products not made by them pretty well. Cars, phones, food, etc. are mostly produced by the Third World proletariat, and the main gripe comes with things they don’t own rather than things they don’t produce: rent for example.

As we enter a period of heightened inter-imperialist conflict, we echo the sentiments of MIM’s founders. We are not for war, but we recognize that war by the proletariat to overthrow imperialism is necessary to stop war. As military and economic warfare expands among imperialists and between imperialists and the oppressed nations, opportunities for successful revolutions to put the proletariat in state power increases. This is the solution to war. We aim to destroy imperialism, because imperialism is destroying the planet.

Notes:
1. Manifesto on the International Situation and Revolution (first few pages)
2. Resolution on World War III (1997 MIM Congress)
3. Social-democratic gravy train opposes European Union (2005 MIM Congress)
4. also see: “Ukraine: Imperialism in Crisis” in Under Lock & Key 77 for broad discussion of economic and military warfare against Russia in 2022.

Key summary quotes from book

End of the Introduction:

“For we will see that empire was systemic and competitive; that competition and nationalism then powered the changeover from one system of empire to another; that, consequently, the mercantile colonial system was replaced by a system of free trade with the coming of industrialism; that free trade was thereafter replaced by a return to colonial empires with the rise of monopolization in the leading nations; that war between the Powers resolved little in the fight for world domination; and that a new growth of monopolies led to strengthened colonial spheres of influence and renewed warfare.”

Explanation of the Great Depression (top of p.119):

“The U.S. had long since closed down free trade into America, stopping Germany and other European countries from exporting to American shores to pay their debts. This secured the U.S. dollar for a while, making it the hardest currency in the world, pushing up its value vis-a-vis other currencies, but also making it inaccessible to nations that otherwise would have purchased from America. When other nations could not obtain dollars by exports to the U.S., obviously they could import nothing at all. And so U.S. exports tended to fall and had to be replaced with bilateral trade agreements. Up went U.S. unemployment when markets fell away and bilateral trade could not replace them. Then down came the dollar, the U.S. devaluing in 1933 in an attempt to stimulate the exports again. But, alas, it was too late. The depression was on, production was down, America was spreading crisis to Europe!”

Lead up to WWII (p.129-30):

“Within European nations especially, the road to war was laid out in stages – the first for counterrevolution, the second for capitalist resurgence, and the third for crises and the rise of antagonistic governments seeking to take what all others held in trade, investments, colonies and profits. In the first period (1917-23) we can discern how civilian bands of reactionaries had used force and violence against the agrarian or socialist”revolutions“… The reactionaries demanded”law and order," eventually leading to “counter-revolutions.” Yet the incipient fascist movements did not themselves assume government power, for the marketplace was being re-established and did not require a fascistic state.

"The second period (1924-29) had no use for a fascist government either. The powers of capitalist production were expanding, the market fetters were destroyed, and al the important nations save Great Britain were on the economic upgrade. While the United States enjoyed legendary prosperity and the Continent was doing almost as well, Hitler’s putsch was a footnote in political economy. France evacuated the Ruhr, the Reichsmark was restored by U.S. loans, the Dawes Plan took politics out of reparations, Locarno was in the offing for peace, and Germany was initiating seven fat years. The gold standard ruled from Moscow to Lisbon by the close of 1926; buyers could now pay for their imports, restoring the capitalist marketplace to its full capacity.

"Then came the Great Crash of 1929, the market economy turning down, general economic crisis forcing nations to be sellers but not buyers in the world. The continuing deadlock of market dealings demanded changes in the political way in which economic solutions were planned. The Italian trusts chose fascism as a way out of their economic malaise. The German cartels demanded continental markets and colonies, not by marketplace dealings - for they were shut out of the markets and colonies of the other Powers - but by military conquest. Hitler, their puppet, demanded no more than they asked, Germany taking the lead in totalitarianizng Europe. And with Japan in the Asian wing, the Axis Pact aligned fascist power over five continents.

“Thereby the material conditions of society – monopoly ownership, overproduction, market struggle, political bankruptcy, and military occupation – had ended the marketplace system. The monopolists and cartelists needed fascism to build themselves strong for a military confrontation which, they believed, would award them with more raw materials, more markets, more profits and more power. The liberal business interests, then opting for increasing national competitiveness, also blocked any move towards allowing the social means of production to provide for popular need, instead of their private profit. The fascists, combining jingoism and planned speed-ups for the working population, now displayed a tawdry alternative to the free marketplace. And the monopolists then brought them into power in hopes that their accumulation of private gain would continue undiminished. World War II inexorably followed, not only because leaders willed it, but also because the solutions to economic and political crises required it.”

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[Ukraine] [Russia] [U.S. Imperialism] [Fascism] [ULK Issue 77]
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Ukraine: Imperialism in Crisis

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, MIM(Prisons) has not published any analysis of the war, nor have we participated in any organizing around the war. Our position is that our movement should be looking to counter and prevent Amerikan war-mongering against Russia, or any other country.

Unfortunately, most opposition to the Russian invasion in the United $tates is being led by the State Department and is fanning Amerikan support for war with Russia and promoting the overthrow of Russian President Vladimir Putin. As we go to press, things have continued to heat up and the threat of inter-imperialist war seems greater than it’s been in decades.

Imperialists are stealing from other imperialists. The U.$. Treasury Department has already seized $1 billion worth of boats and planes and hundreds of millions of dollars in bank accounts. The House of Representatives passed a bill to liquidate these assets and use them to rebuild Ukraine. In addition, the U.$. imperialist bloc has frozen $600 billion of Russia’s central bank foreign reserve fund, which they are also considering using to rebuild Ukraine.(1) They are taking the stolen wealth of other imperialists and using it to rebuild Ukraine to serve U.$. imperialism instead of Russia. This greatly adds to the original military threat Russia had felt from NATO encircling them, making the escalation to all-out inter-imperialist war more likely.

The U.$/IMF/World Bank will of course sink their teeth deeper into Ukraine through loans, which have already begun during the war period. As they do to oppressed nations around the world, these loans become means by which they control their policies and structure their economies as neo-colonies. Perhaps they will even use assets stolen from Russia to loan to Ukraine.

As this issue of Under Lock & Key reaches ours subscribers, we will be approaching the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany (May 8-9). In the Russian-allied Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples’ Republics they are restoring statues of V.I. Lenin and hanging red flags as they prepare to celebrate, while the Azov neo-Nazis threatened to attack victory parades.(2) The memories of World War II run deep. While there is no socialist camp engaged in the current war, we can see how the crisis is pushing people to look for answers. In addition to being morally abhorrent, the fascists cannot address the contradictions of capitalism that are playing out today. It is only a new economy that is driven by universal humyn need and not profit that can solve the problems of war, environmental destruction and economic booms and busts that capitalism brings.

What sort of sanctions is Russia under? What will the effect be?

Russia was banned from SWIFT, a component of the global payments processing system. Many other sanctions have been placed on the Russian economy, including obstacles to outside investment and bans on the sale of anything that could conceivably have a military use (which is a lot of stuff). Oil and gas, as of this writing, are still being bought from Russia by most European countries, but this might change soon even though Europe has no other reliable supply of natural gas to rely on currently. Germany, for example, ships weapons to Ukraine that are used against Russian troops and pays Russia for its natural gas at the same time.

The effects of the sanctions aren’t clear yet. If Russia loses access to the European market for its oil and gas its export earnings will collapse. China cannot replace the lost demand, and sanctions will play havoc on Russian industry’s supply chains.

What will the effects of the war be on the Ukrainian economy?

One of the major battles, around the town of Mariupol in the southeast, is unfolding in Azovstal, an enormous Soviet-era steel mill. The complex has mostly been destroyed. This serves as a symbol of what the rest of Ukraine will look like once all this is over. Following the war there are likely to be fewer and worse jobs, a large refugee population abroad, environmental devastation and a radical polarization of Ukrainian society. There is talk of forgiving some of Ukraine’s foreign debt, and maybe there will be aid for reconstruction, but the rest of the world’s charity is not likely to make up for what’s being lost now, and its also likely to come with strings attached.

Are there Nazis in Ukraine?

Yes. The Azov battalion, which is based in southeast Ukraine and has been fighting Russian separatists in the Donbass region since 2014, is a far-right military formation with white supremacist leadership and ideals. They’re responsible for numerous attacks on Roma encampments, LGBT people and leftists in Ukraine since their founding, as well as attacks on civilians and war crimes during the battles against separatists in the east. Many of their leaders, including founder Andriy Biletsky, used to openly promote race war against “untermenschen”[define?] and Jewish people, but have dialed back such talk in public in recent years.

Their logo features the Wolfsangel and the Sonnenrad, both indisputable Nazi SS symbols, and the constant appearance of these logos in sympathetic coverage of the Ukrainian military has been a PR headache for the government. The Azov battalion is just one part of a larger fascist Azov movement coming from the Western part of Ukraine. U.$. news media has helpfully downplayed the significance of an openly fascist, highly armed and well-organized formation at the heart of Ukrainian politics by claiming that the symbols and years of fascist rhetoric and actions either don’t mean anything or are in the organization’s past. The limited presence of explicit far-right figures in the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, belies their ability to organize outside parliament and the impunity with which they do so.

The popularity of Stepan Bandera is another aspect of fascism in Ukraine. Bandera was the head of the Organization of Ukranian Nationalists, and worked with the Nazis during their occupation of Ukraine, including participating in the Holocaust and in ethnic cleansing in southeastern Poland. He is admired by the far right and those influenced by them, but not by the rest of the country – the Rada refused to award him the title of Hero of Ukraine when this was proposed in 2019. So it’s wrong to say that Ukraine is a Neo-Nazi dictatorship, just as it’s wrong to say that fascists have no influence and are not a serious issue in Ukranian society. Of course, Putin has his own fascists and couldn’t care less about Nazi rhetoric among his own forces, so he can’t use that as a pretext for an invasion.

Are war crimes being committed in Ukraine?

The biggest war crime is starting one, so Russia is undoubtedly guilty on that score. In addition, indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas in Ukraine by Russia has led to probably thousands of casualties so far, though confirmed counts are much lower. During early April, when Russian forces retreated from the area surrounding Kiev, Ukranian forces reoccupying the town of Bucha found hundreds of bodies of civilians on the streets. The brutality of the invading forces is clear.

The Ukranian side has also engaged in war crimes, like the kneecapping of prisoners of war. That happened on video, so who knows what’s going on when phones aren’t pulled out. War is hell.

Are there diplomatic efforts to stop the war underway?

Ukraine and Russia started talking almost immediately, and the demands have shifted with the battle. When it looked like Russia was about to capture Kiev immediately in the early days of the war, Russia’s demands were significant. But now that Russia has withdrawn from the area around Kiev and suffered significant casualties, things are different. The discoveries in Bucha as well as the radicalizing effect of war in general, might make negotiations break down completely in the future.

The key issues in the talks are Ukraine’s diplomatic relationship with the EU and NATO, and territory in Ukraine. Russia wants Ukraine to stay out of NATO, and wants its territorial acquisitions, including Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and the Crimean peninsula in the south, to be confirmed.

Does Putin support the Soviet Union and its recreation?

The Soviet Union was formed on a voluntary basis by independent nations. Most of those who joined the Soviet Union had been part of the Russian Empire in the past. As an imperialist, Putin may be aspiring to something closer to the Russian Empire. However, stated motivations for the invasion of Ukraine are immediate concerns about defending Russia from NATO.

In a recent speech Putin denounced Lenin and the Bolsheviks for the creation of Ukraine, because Lenin recognized the right of all nations to secede. In ULK 36 we wrote about the emblematic image of the toppling of the statue of Lenin in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in 2013. This was done by supporters of the right-wing populist party of Svodoba.

Both sides of the current war in Ukraine are openly and virulently opposed to Bolshevism and the ideas of Lenin and Stalin.

Should we support sanctions as a way to peacefully pressure Russia to stop the war?

The sanctions being implemented by the U.$.-led imperialist bloc are not peaceful as they come along with large military support being sent into Ukraine to prolong the war and the fighting.

Sanctions are economic warfare. They can be a softer way to pressure other powers than military conflict, but given time they can also have more damaging effects.

In a few days the U.$. imperialists achieved more than the movement to boycott, sanction and divest from I$rael has achieved in years. The illegal occupation of Palestine and daily oppression of the Palestinian people does not get the support of many of the multinational corporations and organizations that jumped to ban Russia or pull their operations from Russia.

As the sanctioning of Russia happened more quickly and successfully, it is that much more dangerous. The increase in economic boundaries between imperialist camps marks the shift from a stage of relative peace between imperialist powers to one of more violent competition. Tariffs, sanctions, market control, dividing up of the world’s colonies, resources and markets, were what led up to the first and second inter-imperialist wars.

Supporting sanctions on Russia right now is further isolating an imperialist power and increasing the chances of military escalation between the imperialists, which increases the chance of nuclear war. None of this is in the interests of humynity as a whole.

Is siding with the Amerikans and against the Russians the profitable option for the capitalists?

For the last century the United $tates has led the most prosperous path for international finance capital. As a result many of the big names are loyal to the Amerikans. But there are also many exceptions, companies who are not volunteering to stop business in Russia. And others who are looking to capitalize on others leaving. One financial company made a bold statement saying that if they were to ban a country from their services for invading a sovereign people, they’d start with banning the Amerikans.(3)

Different capitalists are going to have different interests, and their interests are going to conflict with those of their competitors. While the big finance capitalists benefit from and support stability, other capitalist interests will fund and fuel escalating conflict between the imperialist camps. Meanwhile, weapons manufacturers always benefit from militarism and are very powerful and influential in imperialist circles of power. The mutual interests that created the military-industrial complex has posed a great threat to the world since WWII.

What is a multipolar world, and is it a good thing?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United $tates of Amerika has been the sole dominant superpower in the world. Before then, countries who opposed U.$. interests could find support from the other imperialist pole of the Soviet Union.

Since WWII, Europe has been subsumed by Amerikan imperialism. If you look at a map of those imposing sanctions on Russia today it is occupied Turtle Island (the United $tates and Klanada), Western Europe, Australia and Japan. This has been the alliance of imperialist powers that has dominated the world, operating under U.$. military and economic leadership, for 70 years.

China left the socialist path in 1976, and has continued to rise as an economic superpower since then. When the Soviet Union took the capitalist path it led to collapse 35 years later as the bourgeoisie was divided, carving out their own fiefdoms from which to extract wealth. China’s new bourgeoisie however has remained united in a plan to exploit its own proletariat, and is now seen as the biggest threat to U.$. dominance almost 50 years after taking the capitalist road. Of course, the people of China and the former Soviet Union were the losers in both cases.

China and Russia remain politically separate from the U.$.-dominated imperialist pole, despite China’s deep integration with the U.$. economy. Their socialist past is one reason for this separation. Together Russia and China control most of the Eurasian land mass, and as neighbors have shared interests in promoting trade in the region. The media has been buzzing about the new Russia/China pole as the geopolitics of the invasion of Ukraine play out. Some dissident media outlets cheer this prospect as a counterbalance to U.$./European imperialism, or what is often referred to as “Western” imperialism.

We look at the invasion of Ukraine with the outlook of “it’s terrible, but it’s fine.” An invasion by an imperialist country is always terrible, with Ukrainians and Russian soldiers dying and 100,000s of Ukrainians being displaced. Communists should never aid an imperialist invasion.

Ultimately, it is imperialist conflict that creates space for the proletariat to organize, and to play the imperialists against each other in order to win victories for the people. In that sense, the increase in disorder in the world “is fine.” It is the inevitable result of the contradictions within the capitalist system. These conflicts will come sooner or later, we cannot prevent them in the short term, but we can seize the opportunities they create to put an end to this system to prevent chaos in the long-term.

Prior to WWI, Britain was the leading imperialist power, and maintained its dominance in part by keeping continental Europe divided. Today the Amerikans play the leading role, but are working with the British to prevent closer relations between Germany and Russia. This has been their strategy since the 1930s when the imperialists feared Germany would join the socialist camp.

In recent years, the United $tates has been threatening sanctions to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would pipe natural gas directly from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. Germany is already Russia’s biggest gas customer, and Nord Stream 2 would strengthen that relationship. The Amerikans oppose this as they see this tying German and Russian interests closer. In recent negotiations around sanctions against Russia, Germany proved reluctant but ultimately joined the NATO consensus to impose them. Germany even gave in on shipping arms to Ukraine after refusing at first.

Among the imperialists there are disagreements about this. Henry Kissinger famously opposed NATO inclusion of Ukraine, promoting a policy of integrating Russia into the U.$.-led sphere. Kissinger warned of the consequences of trying to break the back of Russia.

Nord Stream 2 provides an alternate route to transport gas to Germany than the other primary route through Ukraine.

Petro Dollars and Reserve Currencies

Following WWII, the U.$. was the least damaged imperialist power and was booming from the wartime economy. Profits were high, exploitation of the Third World was transferring wealth to the rising U.$. empire that financed the rebuilding of Europe. This allowed Europe to be built in the way the Amerikans saw fit. One thing this allowed for was they positioned the dollar to become the global reserve currency, or the currency that other countries held and conducted international trade in. Oil was set to trade exclusively in exchange for the “petro dollar.”

This arrangement has allowed the U.$. to have a growing trade deficit for decades without the value of their currency dropping. When Third World countries have trouble paying their debts, their currencies can become worthless overnight. A replacement of the U.$. dollar as the global reserve currency makes the United $tates more economically vulnerable.

“According to the IMF, the share of reserves held in U.S. dollars by central banks has dropped by 12 percentage points since the turn of the century, from 71 percent in 1999 to 59 percent in 2021. But this fall has been matched by a rise in the share of what the IMF calls ‘non-traditional reserve currencies’, defined as currencies other than the ‘big four’ of the US dollar, euro, Japanese yen and British pound sterling, namely such as the Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, Chinese renminbi, Korean won, Singapore dollar, and Swedish krona.”(4)

Currently Russia is saying ‘unfriendly countries’ must begin to pay them for gas in Russian rubles. Hungary, which is part of the European Union, but also friendly with Russia has already agreed to pay with rubles. But the European Union(E.U.) has said the deal was to pay in euros and dollars and they would not change. This is an effort by Russia to stabilize their currency using their vast gas trade with Europe to force others to buy rubles. While the value of the ruble initially dropped about 50% after invading Ukraine, it has since recovered close to pre-war levels.

Poland, Germany and Bulgaria have refused to pay Russia for natural gas in rubles instead of euros as they are demanding. On 27 April 2022, Russia halted natural gas flows to Poland and Bulgaria after their deadline for paying in rubles was not met. About 40% of Europe’s gas consumption is supplied by Russia. The region is talking about tightening up its consumption. While good for the planet, this will lead to a further constriction of the economy, applying more pressure to the imperialists who must always expand their markets to circulate more capital. However, it is reported that some undisclosed purchasers are going ahead and buying with rubles, despite it being a violation of EU sanctions.(5)

Would joining the European Union benefit Ukranians economically?

As we discussed in ULK 36, GDP in Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union was 1/3 what it was just before. Though the Soviet Union had already been operating a capitalist economy for 35 years at that time, the complete opening up of the region to the West, the complete Liberalization of policies, and the resultant chaos and uncertainty led to a precipitous drop in material wealth in the country.

Leading up to and following the 2014 coup in Ukraine, the GDP fell and had not recovered pre-coup highs before the current war.(6) The coup installed a U.$.-backed, EU/NATO friendly government that introduced International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans to the country, which are used around the world to extract wealth from the exploited countries to the finance capitalists. As we predicted in ULK 37 these IMF loans contributed to decreasing wealth in Ukraine.

Before 2014, the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine in the East and South were much more productive and prosperous. People in those regions have lost significant income. Meanwhile, the rest of the country that was somewhat ignored by Russian imperialism, has not seen material improvements by cozying up to the West.(7)

To join the E.U. is a logical option for many in Ukraine who see the wealth in those countries and the incomes they can earn migrating to even the eastern E.U.. Yet the spoils of imperialism are limited, and experience in the last 8 years in Ukraine show the limitations of this option.

Ukraine and Russia remain largely proletarian countries, with material interests opposed to imperialism. While there does not appear to be a strong anti-imperialist current in Ukraine at this time, this can change quickly as this crisis has brought much disruption and displacement in the country.

Notes: 1. Fatima Hussein and Michael Balsamo, 29 April 2022, The US Wants to Sell Oligarchs’ Assets to Help Ukraine. It Just Needs This Law First, NBC4 New York.
2. Dmitryi Kovalevich, 27 April 2022, April update: Proxy war in Ukraine is for Western loans
3. “Kraken crypto CEO bashes US, won’t freeze Russian accounts,” NY Post, March 3rd 2022.
4.“The end of dollar dominance?”
5.Huileng Tan, 28 April 2022, The EU warns natural-gas companies not to pay Russia in rubles after the country cut supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, Business Insider.
6.https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD?locations=UA
7. “Class contradictions and the war in Ukraine”

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[Russia] [Asia] [ULK Issue 76]
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KAZAKHSTAN: Spike in Oil Prices Spark Mass Uprising

On 2 January 2022, mass protests raged across the cities of Kazakhstan in response to the sharp spike in oil prices. 3,000 Russian paratroopers were called into the country to quell the uprising,(1) and 5,800 people were detained during the unrest with 164 people reported to have been killed.(2)

A Single Spark in Zhanaozen

One day before the uprising, the Kazakh government started off the new year with a lifting of the government enforced fuel price cap. This action doubled the fuel price of 60 tenge to an average of 120 tenge per litre (approx. U$D $1.06 per gallon). With the average monthly income of a minimum wage proletarian being less than the equivalent of $100 a month, the rebellious consequences of an overnight doubling of fuel prices – in a country with oil production as its major industry – isn’t surprising.(3)

The beginnings of the uprising started in the city of Zhanaozen located in the western part of the country bordering the Caspian Sea. Protestors blocked the roads, demanding stabilization of gas prices and prevention of fuel shortages. Two Akims (the title of local leaders in provincial, district, or municipal government of Kazakhstan) were called by the demonstrators: Akim Nogaev and Akim Ibagarov – neither were brought forth. Instead, acting leader of the city of Zhanaozen Akim Baijanov advised the crowd of protestors to write a complaint letter to the city administration.

Encampments of tents and protestors numbering in the 100s popped up in other cities of the country. Most of these encampments were staged on the respective city’s center squares. The crowds of encampment expanded to 1000s, and the demands chanted shifted from stabilization of gas prices towards fair elections of local leaders. By 4 January 2022, the biggest city and former capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty, had 1,000 protestors in the centre of the city. Police tactics of stun grenades and tear gas were used against the demonstrators, and the president declared a state of emergency. The country faced a mass internet outage; the mayor’s office of Almaty was stormed and set ablaze; and locations of firearms were seized by protestors.

On the 6th of January, dozens of protestors alongside 12 Almaty police officers were reported to be killed with one officer who was found beheaded.(4) Mass “looting” and burning of government buildings occurred with 2,298 people having been arrested for partaking in the protest. On the same morning, 3,000 Russian troops were sent from Moscow after president Tokayev of Kazakhstan made a “formal” request of assistance.(5) At this point in the uprising the police and the army of Kazakhstan were given “shoot to kill” orders. (6) After days of gunfire and burning, the Interior Ministry of Kazakhstan has claimed 175 million Euros in property damage; 160 people dead; and 5,000 arrested.(7)

Soviet Revisionism’s Legacy in Kazakhstan

Approximately 100 years before the masses were on the streets rebelling against a corrupt and despotic bourgeois dictatorship, Kazakhstan was facing immense amounts of transformation as the nation – like many of the colonial or semi-colonial nations at the time – were entering the world of modern capitalism-imperialism. In the early 1900s, Kazakhstan faced settler-colonialism and imperialist rule by the czarist government. During the 19th century to the first third of the 20th century, Kazakhstan was settling around 400,000 Russians. Resentment against colonial rule, and competition of land with foreign settlers in a semi-feudal country resulted in various revolts.

Three years after the czarist government fell and Russia became the first proletarian dictatorship on a country-wide scale; Kazakhstan came under socialist rule in 1920. Through the war against fascism, Kazakhstan saw industrialization but mostly still stayed an agricultural economy. After the war, with Stalin’s death in 1953 and the restoration of capitalism in the USSR by Khrushchev, Kazakhstan also enters a new period in history.

The “virgin lands campaign” by Khrushchev would transform Kazakhstan into a major grain producer for the Soviet Union. Transformation of smaller and weaker nations under the control of the Soviet social-imperialism into monolithic agricultural hubs for Russia was often the fate of recently liberated countries. Cuba, for example, became the major sugar producer for the USSR. With further bureaucratization of the republic’s government into the hands of the social-imperialists of Moscow, Kazakhs became a minority in Kazakhstan by 1959 making up only 30% of the country.

With further weakening of the revisionist Soviet state, the bureaucratic state-capitalist government of Kazakhstan would declare independence on 16 December 1991. It was the last Soviet republic to declare independence. Ten days later, the USSR itself would no longer exist and turned into the Russian Federation. The revisionist bureaucrats governing Kazakhstan would become the leaders of the new and liberalized economy. The Kazakh masses would enter a new period of industrial exploitation.

In 2011, proletarian workers of the oil fields in Zhanaozen (the same city which sparked the uprising this January of 2022) would form a strike for better wages and working conditions. The state oil company fired 1,000 of these workers and the strike was declared illegal by the local courts. The protest went on with furthering of demands such as independent political parties formed by workers free from the government – similar to our own work of building independent institutions within U.$. prisons. On the 16th of January, the police opened fire at protestors, killing 11.

Revisionist Geopolitics vs Internationalism

With the quelling of January 2022, Russian president Vladimir Putin described the new year’s event as a “foreign backed terrorist uprising.”(8) The president of China, Xi Jinping, expressed that “China opposes external forces triggering unrest in Kazakhstan.”(9) With the social-imperialist Chinese “Communist” Party and the imperialist Russian Federation being the great hope of revisionists and social-chauvinists around the world; many revisionists express this sentiment that all mass uprisings in the Third World against Russian or Chinese friendly governments are a ploy from external forces.

When it was socialist, China called for a relentless criticism of revisionism and for rebellion against reactionaries. Since 1976, the Chinese Communist Party has promoted unprincipled peace and “stability” indicating how much the colors have turned in the former socialist republic. As Maoists, we recognize that internal contradictions are always the impetus of change as external contradictions are the basis of how that change and movement is played out. Even if the first stone cast in Kazakhstan was from the hands of a covert CIA spy – or an “Islamic radical” as Kazakhstan’s government would state – the fact that there was a prairie fire for a single spark to start in the first place reveals much in regards to the objective conditions of Kazakhstan’s political economy and the subjective forces of the masses of Kazakhstan. Unless the revisionists claim that every single protestor was a non-Kazakh foreign spy, this claim is idealist and metaphysical. A real internationalist political line would be the recognition of the people of Kazakhstan as friends against world imperialism and part of the world’s people. Our line in the imperialist countries must also be able to combat the militarism and meddling of our respective imperialist governments.

Notes 1. Walker, Bisenov, “Russian paratroopers arrive in Kazakhstan as unrest continues,” The Guardian, January 6, 2022.
2. Heintz, “Kazakhstan says 164 killed in last week’s protests,” AP News, January 9, 2022.
3. Kantchev, “Kazakhstan’s Elite Got Richer on Natural Resources. Then Came the Unrest.” Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2022.
4. Walker, “Dozens of protesters and police dead amid Kazakhstan unrest.” The Guardian, January 6, 2022.
5. “Moscow-led bloc to send ‘peacekeeping forces’ to protest-hit Kazakhstan.” France 24, January 5, 2022.
6. “Kazakhstani president issues ‘shoot to kill’ order to quell protests” The Hill, January 7th, 2022.
7. “Kazakhstan: More than 160 killed, 5,000 arrested during riots,” Al Jazeera, January 9th, 2022.
8. Vaal, “Putin claims victory in defending Kazakhstan from revolt,” Reuters, January 10th, 2022.
9.“China opposes external forces triggering unrest in Kazakhstan, says Xi Jinping.” Asian News International, January 7th, 2022.

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[United Front] [Russia] [Organizing] [Spanish] [ULK Issue 57]
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El Enemigo de Mi Enemigo

Con respecto a la pregunta de las alianzas del frente unido con grupos nacionalistas blancos, hay sus pros y sus contras al trabajar con otros grupos. Ya voy escribiendo a MIM(Prisiones) por unos años y disfruto leer el ULK. Soy prácticamente mi propia armada con un solo hombre. No les pido a otras personas que hagan cosas que yo no haría por mismo.

Me encuentro en una Penitenciaría Federal en Tuscon, Arizona. Este es un pabellón para agresores sexuales, desertores de pandillas, Custodia Preventiva. No me encuentro aquí por elección propia. Soy un agresor sexual registrado por exposición indebida en un bar. Incluso aún cuando se retiraron los cargos, me obligaron a registrarme y ahora me encuentro todavía peleando el caso en el estado. Me encuentro en una prisión federal por cargos que no se relacionan con el cargo estatal. Este pabellón no tiene las mismas políticas que otros pabellones tienen. Sí tenemos políticas, pero no al extremo. El salón chow se encuentra divido por razas, pero te puedes sentar donde se te dé la gana. Lo que estoy tratando de decir es que, yo podría dejar este pabellón e ir probablemente a un pabellón activo, y que me asesinen por ser un agresor sexual registrado, aún cuando se retiraron los cargos. Esa es la política. Ahora, hay un montón de agresores sexuales y homosexuales, ratas y desertores. Todos tienen una razón para estar aquí. He estado en pabellones activos y muchas veces, en realidad la mayoría de veces, una persona pone su vida en riesgo por alguien que no es más que una mierda o un drogadicto. Ya no uso drogas y no me drogo en prisión.

Crecí en el oeste, desde Montana a Arizona, en el corazón de la nación Aria, un ejecutor de la Hermandad Aria con el viejo refrán, si no es blanco no está bien. Fui un niño ciego pero un buen soldado. A los 41 años soy ahora mi propio hombre. Nunca he abandonado a mis hermanos pero ya no peleo más esa batalla de odio. Hay sus pros y sus contras al trabajar con otros grupos.

Tengo una pregunta: ¿No hay Maoístas que sean agresores sexuales o soplones? ¿Los Maoístas escogen trabajar con otros grupos o intentan convertir a otros grupos al maoísmo? Es algo diferente el trabajar con un grupo distinto para lograr la misma meta. Soy un individuo en un grupo y mis metas como individuo no son siempre las mismas que las del grupo. Mi meta es la libertad de un gobierno opresivo y corrupto, y no importa si es EUA o Rusia, opresión es opresión, corrupción es corrupción y esto debería detenerse. Todos pertenecemos a grupos diferentes, incluso a los grupos que sienten la necesidad de oprimir a otros.

El enemigo de mi enemigo es mi aliado. ¡El Frente Unido por la Paz!

Esto no se trata más de política o a qué grupo pertenece una persona. Yo soy un Hermano Ario independiente y apoyo al Ministerio Internacionalista Maoista de Prisiones y a la lucha de personas encarceladas. (No me gusta usar la palabra preso o convicto o cualquier otra palabra para prisionero que se usa para tomar el poder personal de una persona. Estas palabras hacen que las personas se sientan sin poder, sin esperanza, y eso no es verdad). Somos personas, humanos. Tenemos familias, amigos, al igual que el resto de personas.


MIM(Prisiones) responde: Esta es una carta interesante sobre los frentes unidos porque viene de alguien que representa a dos de los grupos con quienes, a menudo nos dicen, nunca deberíamos aliarnos, lo cual levanta preguntas de la otra parte. Primero, con respecto a la pregunta de agresores sexuales, este escritor demuestra porqué el confiar en la etiqueta estatal de “agresor sexual” es tan malo como confiar en la etiqueta estatal de “criminal”. Debemos decidir por nosotros mismos cuales individuos son aliados y cuales son enemigos.

Sobre la pregunta de nacionalistas blancos y aliados, este escritor todavía se encuentra en su grupo pero al parecer, tiene desacuerdos considerables con ellos si apoyan a ULK y MIM (Prisiones). Este es un ejemplo excelente de unir a todos los que se puedan unir contra el sistema de injusticia criminal. Sabemos que la hermandad Aria se encuentra básicamente en oposición a la liberación de naciones oprimidas. Al igual que el Partido Comunista de China sabía que el Kuomindang se encontraba esencialmente en oposición al comunismo. Pero en China antes de que la revolución fuera un éxito, hubo la oportunidad de construir una alianza contra el imperialismo Japonés, la contradicción principal en su momento. Y nosotros tenemos una oportunidad parecida de construir una alianza contra el sistema de injusticia criminal dentro de las prisiones. Ciertamente, que a una escala menor que la del frente unido en China, nuestro enemigo común en las prisiones ofrece la oportunidad de alianzas con grupos que serán nuestros enemigos, en otras batallas. Además es posible que ganemos algunos de estos tipos de estos grupos que, como este escritor, piensan que “la opresión es opresión…y debería detenerse”.

Este camarada menciona Rusia, tal vez como un ejemplo aleatorio. Pero hablando de Rusia y la opresión, es algo que se está convirtiendo en un asunto delicado en los Estados Unidos actualmente. Este fervor anti Rusia, como siempre, se encuentra ligado al nacionalismo americano. Se usa para atacar el régimen actual de Trump de forma que amenace al mundo con un inter imperialismo e incluso una guerra nuclear. Rusia fue alguna vez parte de la Unión Soviética, que bajo Lenin y Stalin fue socialista. Pero después de que murió Stalin en 1952, el país adoptó rápidamente el capitalismo estatal. Y el capitalismo es un sistema que crece con la opresión y corrupción. Pero el renacimiento anti Rusia en los EE UU no se debería confundir con anti imperialismo, sino más bien es nacionalismo que se mueve alrededor del poder imperialista más grande y peligroso en el mundo – los E$tados Unido$.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Russia] [ULK Issue 55]
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The Enemy of my Enemy

Regarding the question of united front alliances with white nationalist groups, there are pros and cons to working with other groups. I have been writing to MIM(Prisons) for a few years now and enjoy reading ULK. I am pretty much my own one-man army. I do not ask others to do things I will not do myself.

I am in a Federal Penitentiary in Tuscon, Arizona. This is a sex offender, gang drop out, Protective Custody yard. I am not here by choice. I am a registered sex offender for indecent exposure in a bar. Even though charges were dropped I was forced to register and now I am still fighting that case in the state. I am in Federal prison for charges that were unrelated to the state charge. This yard does not have politics that other yards have. We still have politics, but not to the extreme. The chow hall is racially segregated but a man can sit wherever he wants. The point I'm trying to get at is I could leave this yard and go back to an active yard most likely and get killed for being a registered sex offender even though the charges were dropped. That's politics. Now there is a lot of sex offenders and homosexuals, rats, and dropouts. Everyone is here for a reason. I have been on active yards and a lot of times, in fact most of the time, a person is putting his life on the line for someone who is just a piece of shit or a dope fiend. I no longer use dope and do not use dope in prison.

I grew up in the west from Montana to Arizona in the heart of the Aryan nation, an enforcer for the Aryan Brotherhood with the old saying if it ain't white it ain't right. I was a blind kid but a good soldier. At 41 years old I am now my own man. I have never left my brothers but I no longer fight that fight of hatred. There are pros and cons to working with other groups.

I have a question: are there no Maoists who are sex offenders or snitches? Do the Maoists choose to work with other groups or try to convert other groups to Maoism? It is one thing to work with a different group to achieve the same goal. I am an individual in a group and my goals as an individual are not always the same goals as the group. My goal is freedom from an oppressive corrupt government and it does not matter whether it is the USA or Russia, oppression is oppression, corruptness is corruptness and this should be stopped. We all belong to different groups, even the groups that feel the need to oppress others.

The enemy of my enemy is my ally. United Front for Peace!

This is no longer about politics or what group a person belongs to. I am an independent Aryan Brother and I support the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons and the struggle of incarcerated people. (I do not like to use the word inmate or convict or any other word for prisoner that is used to take a person's personal power. These words make people feel powerless, hopeless, and this is not true.) We are people, humans. We have families, friends, just like everyone else.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting letter about united fronts because it comes from someone representing two of the groups that we are often told to never ally with, and ey raises questions from the other side. First on the question of sex offenders, this writer demonstrates why trusting the state's label of "sex offender" is as bad as trusting the state's label of "criminal." We must decide for ourselves which individuals are allies and which are enemies.

On the question of white nationalists and allies, this writer still runs with eir group but apparently has significant disagreements with them if ey also supports ULK and MIM(Prisons). This is an excellent example of uniting all who can be united against the criminal injustice system. We know that the Aryan Brotherhood is fundamentally opposed to the liberation of oppressed nations. Just as the Communist Party of China knew that the Kuomindang was fundamentally opposed to communism. But in China before the revolution was successful, there was an opportunity to build an alliance against Japanese imperialism, the principal contradiction at the time. And we have a similar opportunity to build an alliance against the criminal injustice system within prisons. While certainly a smaller scale than the united front in China, our common enemy in prisons offers the opportunity for alliances with groups that will, in other battles, be our enemy. And it's also possible we will win over some folks from these groups who, like this writer, believe that "oppression is oppression...and this should be stopped."

This comrade mentions Russia, perhaps as a random example. But talking about Russia and oppression is becoming a hot-button topic in the United $tates today. This anti-Russia fervor is, as always, tied up with Amerikan nationalism. It is being used to attack the current Trump regime in a way that threatens the world with inter-imperialist and even nuclear war. Russia was once part of the Soviet Union, which under Lenin and Stalin was socialist. But after Stalin died in 1952 the country moved quickly to take up state capitalism. And capitalism is a system that thrives on oppression and corruption. But the anti-Russia revival in the United $tates should not be mistaken for anti-imperialism, rather it is nationalist rallying for the biggest most dangerous imperialist power in the world — the United $nakes.

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[Ukraine] [U.S. Imperialism] [Middle East] [Russia] [ULK Issue 40]
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Amerikans Cheer as U.$. Militarism Threatens Amerikan Lives

Warmongering propaganda is at high levels in the United $tates, as it seems no positive lessons were taken from September 11, 2001. It took about a decade for Amerikans to lose interest in the U.$. occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. This contributed to almost two-thirds of Amerikans opposing Obama's push to invade Syria less than a year ago. Yet already, about two-thirds of the population now agrees with Obama that they would rather control the government in Syria than keep Amerikan journalists' heads attached to their bodies.

Militarism is driven by an economic system that is built around arms production and requires war to keep up demand. Arms shipments have increased recently to I$rael, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq where the U.$. has resumed bombing campaigns that are destroying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American military equipment now in the hands of the Islamic State. Every strike made by either side in that war is a boon to Amerikan business.

Meanwhile, Russia has been clear that they will not let Ukraine join NATO. The United $tates and Russia are the two biggest nuclear powers in the world. Yet Obama is pushing to have Ukraine join NATO, and Amerikan anti-Russian sentiment is on the rise in support of him. Open conflict with Russia would greatly increase the already unacceptable risk of nuclear catostrophe due to militarism.

The last 15 years have proven that U.$. militarism cannot be stopped by the Amerikan anti-war movement. Rather, revolutionaries in the United $tates must focus on pushing the national liberation struggles of the internal semi-colonies in solidarity with the Third World. Campaigns like the one in support of Palestine by California prisoners are good for building anti-militarism in the United $tates.

Currently the media and Western politicians are promoting the line that the Islamic State is the biggest threat to peace globally. They are way off the mark. That role has long remained in the hands of the United $tates and its military industrial complex.

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[Russia] [U.S. Imperialism] [Europe] [Ukraine] [ULK Issue 37]
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Russia Seizes Crimea in Inter-Imperialist Battle

ukraine crimea black sea region
In November 2013, the elected government of Ukraine caused a stir for rejecting a deal with the European Union citing the overly burdensome terms of the aid package offered by the U.$.-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since we last reported on Ukraine (see ULK 36), opposition forces with Western support have implemented a regime change, ousting president Viktor Yanukovich from the country. This put a deal with the IMF back on the table. Ukrainians once again face the prospect of more wealth being sucked from their country via imperialist loans and imposed economic policies.

While opposition to the oligarchy that has ruled Ukraine has united the Western imperialists with Ukrainian fascist parties, austerity measures imposed by the IMF will threaten this alliance shortly. The new offer from the IMF will require hiking energy prices that have been subsidized by the state, one of the deal breakers cited by Yanukovich in November.

The regime change was a loss for Russian economic interests. In response, on 27 February 2014, Russian forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula, a majority Russian region of the current Ukraine state. On 6 March 2014 Crimea's regional assembly voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The next day leaders of the Russian Parliament said they would support this move. The decision calls for a referendum for the people of Crimea to vote on this, scheduled for 16 March.(1)

The New York Times has made much of the battle over the right to self-determination in recent strife between the United $tates and the Russian Federation. Struggles in the Black Sea region in recent decades have been primarily inter-imperialist battles, and there is no principle behind the imperialists' actions except for their economic interests to have access to more markets, natural resources and people to exploit. Meanwhile, the proletariat's interest is defined by putting an end to this exploitation. Therefore we support the side that most threatens the control and penetration of the imperialists over the oppressed nations.

The Amerikans are saying the Russian invasion of Crimea is totally different from their meddling in Libya, Venezuela, Syria, Iran... just to name a few. But this is all posturing and a question of tactics, and the United $tates often is able to use more subtle tactics because of its greater power. In all cases it is the continuation of imperialist war to maintain profits.

While the situation in Crimea is still unresolved and potentially volatile as we write this, Russian officials have been quoted recognizing Kiev has gone pro-West. At the same time, Russia is talking with the IMF to get in on the Ukraine bail out.(2)

The IMF was part of the Bretton Woods project, which was organized by the imperialist countries after World War II in an attempt to prevent the protectionism and trade barriers that led to the economic crisis in the capitalist core, and drove them to war in both WWI and WWII. Many sanctions and trade barriers are being threatened in the current conflict. But, if Russia is allowed to export some finance capital to Ukraine as part of the imperialist plan for the country, and Russia gets to keep Crimea under its sphere of influence, then a hot war between Russia and the West will likely be averted.

The IMF is basically run by the United $tates, which has 16.75% of the votes. Meanwhile the U.$.-led imperialist camp (U.$., Japan, Germany, France, U.K., Italy and Canada) has 43.74% of votes. Russia has only 2.39%.(3) In addition to the IMF loans, the United $tates has talked of unilateral aid, as long as Ukraine "takes the reforms it needs."(4) So Russia will see a significant loss in its economic interests in the Ukraine overall, but will likely see a small piece of the pie as serving its interests better than an all out war with the United $tates.

The framework developed at Bretton Woods has been a relatively effective solution to one of the inherent contradictions of the imperialist economic system. However, it does not eliminate inter-imperialist rivalry, it just manages it. While a war on North Amerikan or Western European soils is being avoided at all costs, it is not out of the question. It will certainly come before socialism can reach those lands. War is inherent to imperialism. And it is our position that World War III has been an ongoing low-intensity war against the Third World by the imperialists since the end of WWII.(5) In recent decades this war has been primarily waged by the United $tates. While inter-imperialist war has been secondary in this period, the struggle between different imperialist interests is an antagonistic contradiction that cannot be resolved without ending imperialism. As such conflicts heat up, those in the imperialist countries will be reminded that imperialism does not serve their interests when it comes to the threat of annhilation in war. These conflicts also create breathing room for the oppressed nations to develop their own political interests independent of imperialism. The key to the survival of the humyn species is to develop such movements before the imperialists kill us all.

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