America-first racism in the US left.



President Trump is a forceful advocate for putting “America first” which means pitting Americans, especially white Americans (whom Trump encourages to regard themselves as more deserving), against peoples in other countries (whom he evidently believes should be regarded as peoples who do not matter).  Unfortunately, large parts of the US “left” have long embraced their own versions of putting “America first”.


1.  America-first racism in the center-left party.  With so much of the US left giving so much allegiance to Democrat politicians, it is necessary to begin by recognizing the racism in that party’s policies.  Since the mid-1940’s the US and its Western allies have routinely interfered in the internal affairs of vulnerable countries thereby depriving peoples all around the world of their right to decide for themselves: their economic policies, how and by whom they are to be governed, their foreign policies and relationships, and so forth.  Said interference has included invasions, orchestrating and/or abetting coups d’état, murderous economic sieges to punish the population in hopes that it will demand regime change, funding of antisocial opposition groups (including pro-Western parties in elections), arming counterrevolutionary insurgencies, etc.  Thusly the US-led Western empire acts: to compel targeted countries to comply with imperial dictates, and/or to destroy governments which resist.  With only rare exceptions, high-level politicians, Democrats no less than Republicans, have backed this policy thereby functioning as thoroughgoing imperialists and militarists.  Some relevant and illustrative facts regarding the role of governing Democrats in these cross-border racist assaults.

♦ Truman initiated the Cold War against the Soviet Union when it needed and was seeking cooperative relations and space to reconstruct after the huge losses and massive destruction left by war and Axis occupation.  Among other misdeeds: Truman’s military intervention on the side of anti-democratic forces largely led by former Nazi collaborators imposed a repressive rightwing regime in Greece; his CIA subverted the 1948 Italian election to ensure victory by the rightwing party over the opposing Socialist-Communist alliance; and a CIA-backed coup in 1949 ousted the democratically-elected government in newly-independent Syria. Moreover, it was Truman’s Justice Department which began the 1949..58 Smith Act prosecutions and imprisonments of over 100 leading members of the US Communist Party for expressing their Marxist political views – Cold War repression first approved, but eventually belatedly reversed as unconstitutional, by the Supreme Court (dominated throughout by Democrat-appointed justices).  [1]

♦ Kennedy and/or Johnson: invaded Cuba, hired Cosa Nostra gangsters to try to assassinate its Prime Minister (Castro), and used exile terrorist gangs to conduct clandestine warfare against that country.  They incited and/or abetted coups against left-leaning and anti-imperialist foreign governments (most of them popularly-elected) in: Ecuador (1961 and 1963), Iraq (1963), Dominican Republic (1963), Brazil (1964), Bolivia (1964), Indonesia (1965), Ghana (1966), and Greece (1967).  Kennedy began, and Johnson continued, the murderous US war against Vietnam with massive violations of international conventions including: use of chemical weapons (for example napalm against assumed adversaries and toxic defoliants to destroy crops and thereby depopulate the countryside); and use of torture and murder (in the Phoenix program) against tens of thousands of prisoners.  [2]

♦ Carter: initiated the US funding and arming of the reactionary antisocial Islamist insurgency against the progressive modernist Soviet-aligned government in Afghanistan, joined apartheid South Africa in backing a (failed) coup plot (1979) against the anti-imperialist President of Seychelles, imposed sanctions (1979) on Grenada in an attempt to cripple its economy and thereby oust its progressive revolutionary government, and initiated (1980) the US-backed Contra War (which Reagan later expanded) against the anti-imperialist government in Nicaragua.  [3]

♦ Bill Clinton, knowing (and/or not caring) that the pretense that Iraq still had WMD [weapons of mass destruction] was false, imposed a murderous economic siege [sanctions] which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (mostly children), hoping thereby to provoke a coup to topple its President [4].  Clinton interfered on the side of the unpopular incumbent but US-favored Boris Yeltsin in the already heavily rigged 1996 Russian Presidential election: by funding pro-Western advocacy organizations, by securing a timely IMF loan for Yeltsin to spend on popular projects, by providing expert campaign consultants, and by publicly praising Yeltsin and making veiled threats of adverse consequences should the opposition Communist candidate win.  Clinton also began the provocative eastward expansion of NATO into former Warsaw Pact countries in violation of the US commitment given to Russia in return for the needed Soviet consent to the 1990 reunification of Germany.

♦ Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton [HRC] was an outspoken advocate for the Bush-Cheney “preemptive war” against Iraq, which killed another some 700,000.  [5]

♦ HRC and John Kerry (the respective Democrat presidential candidates in 2016 and 2004), as Secretaries of State under Obama, were proponents of his new cold war against Russia and backed his policy of support for the destructive Islamist-dominated insurgency in Syria.  HRC also advocated for the US-led military invasion which resulted in humanitarian catastrophe for the people of Libya.  Kerry, who had also backed the military intervention in Libya, was a proponent of Obama’s policy of encouraging and assisting the Saudi and UAE war of mass murder (from starvation and disease as well as aerial bombing) against the people of Yemen.  [6]

♦ Obama: joined several allies in the invasion and destruction of Libya, abetted coups and coup attempts against popularly elected progressive and anti-imperialist governments in Honduras (2009) and Ecuador (2010), as well as against the duly elected neutralist government of Ukraine (2014) [⁑].  Obama also armed and abetted the US-client regime in Colombia which gave rightwing death squads free rein to murder (as reported by Human Rights Watch) over 120 labor organizers and other nonviolent progressive social activists in 2011..15 alone (and more thereafter).  Meanwhile, he imposed the first of the crippling economic sanctions and persisted in other interventions to undermine the popularly elected leftist government in Venezuela.  [6, 7]

[⁑ Note.  While popular discontent resulting from deteriorated economic conditions created fertile ground; the Ukrainian coup resulted from US and opposition-party incitement of violent regime-change street-protests, spear-headed by Ukrainian neo-Nazi gangs, against said government.  That government had offended: the US and EU by declining to align with NATO and the West, and Ukrainian chauvinists by attempting to eliminate regional and ethnic grievances thru measures such as authorizing local option for official use of Russian and other minority languages.]

♦ The FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act [HR 5515] increases already massive military spending by 18.7% over FY 2017.  Only 49 of 193 House Democrats voted against, and only 40 (barely over half) of the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus [CPC] did so.  In the Senate it passed 87 to 10 with a mere 8 of 49 Democrat caucus members voting against.  [8]

♦ The 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act [HR 3364] seeks to intensify Obama’s new cold war against Russia, as well as to impose greater hardships on the peoples of Iran and North Korea.  It was adopted 419 to 3 in the House (each of the 3 no votes being from Republicans) and 98 to 2 in the Senate (the 2 being Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul).  [9]

♦ Nearly every politician in Congress, Democrat as well as Republican, demands a policy of abetting the often-murderous Israeli persecution of the Palestinian Arabs.  The bipartisan Israel Anti-boycott Act [S 720 & HR 1697] would have criminalized advocacy by individuals for any international organization’s call to boycott Israel (for its violations of the human rights of Palestinians) or even to boycott products from its illegal settlements.  It was opposed by the ACLU as an unconstitutional violation of the 1st Amendment.  Introduced in 2017 March, by the following July: 14 (i.e. 1/3) of its 43 Senate cosponsors were Democrats, and 63 (i.e. 1/4) of its 243 House cosponsors were Democrats (including 11 members of the so-called Progressive Caucus).  [10]

Ω Democrat politicians make a show of opposing overt domestic manifestations of racism, sexism, and other bigoted abuses, because they need the votes of affected base constituencies which would not otherwise vote for them.  (Capitalists mostly go along because current half-measure and often-unenforced anti-discrimination laws have relatively little adverse impact upon capitalist opportunities and profits, while capital needs to appeal to the women, racial minorities, and other abuse victims, who make up a very large part of its customer base.)  However, all centrist and nearly all avowedly “progressive” Democrats currently in the Congress, like all US Presidents since 1945, embrace or acquiesce (along with most Republicans) to the bipartisan racist notion that the US must arrogate to itself the privilege of deciding for other countries (throughout the world) which political actors are to govern their peoples.  The official pretense for such US interventions is almost invariably to defend or advance the cause of “freedom”, “democracy”, “human rights”, and/or “vital national interests”.  The actual motive is, directly or indirectly, to ensure that transnational capital can profitably exploit the labor, natural resources, and/or markets of the targeted countries.  The overall effect on said countries has been: subjugation and perpetuated dependency; impoverishment with widespread preventable disease, illiteracy, dire privation, and related social ills; rampant corruption; often-horrendous human-rights abuses; gross violations of civil liberties with often-brutal repression of (especially leftist) dissent; and massive violence with cumulative death toll in the millions.  Democrat politicians pose as opponents of the racist and other injustices which are perpetrated in the US; but, when it comes to foreign victims, they (equally with Republicans) are perpetrators.


2.  Lip-service “anti-imperialism. “Progressive” and “socialist” individuals and organizations routinely avow a commitment to anti-militarism and anti-imperialism, but they divide into: (1) those who consistently act on that commitment, and (2) those whose anti-imperialism is inconsistent and often little more than lip service.  For at least the past three decades, the latter, more concerned over domestic reforms and/or schemes to “move US politics to the left”, have routinely called for unity (with only perfunctory, if any, reproach) behind Democrat politicians who were/are thoroughgoing militarists and imperialists.  These “leftists” disregard the essential fact of deep-rooted Democratic-Party complicity in the crimes of US imperialism against peoples outside of US borders.  For some on the “left”, as for career politicians in the Democratic Party, it seems (though they may deny it) that racist and other bigoted oppressions really matter only when the victims are Americans and/or groups with relatives and friends in the US.


3.  Inaction on crimes against humanity. How should socialists respond to terrorist quasi-states which perpetrate mass murder against innocent civilians as they seek to impose an intolerant medievalist perversion of “Islamic” rule upon every community within their reach?  (Each such quasi-state is an outlaw political entity which uses armed force: to conquer and rule communities; and to perpetrate murderous violence against its adversaries and chosen victims, namely non-adherents to its sectarian doctrines and strictures.)  This is a complex issue for reasons as follows.  Nevertheless, controversial though the following analysis will be, this issue should not be evaded or ignored.


1st.  Wars waged by capitalist states.  With the US and its allies at war against the Islamist quasi-states, anti-imperialists must answer the question: should they ever support any war waged by a capitalist state?  Many American leftists follow peace movement organizations in embracing an undifferentiated opposition to all wars (including those against Islamist quasi-states), other than in defense of one’s own country against actual foreign invasion.  They demand that the US immediately end all of its offensive foreign military operations.  Some leftists even carry this pacifist dogma to the extreme of insisting that certain past US wars, which the revolutionary left strongly supported, should have been opposed.  Examples.

♦ The US Civil War (1861..65).  Some antiwar leftists have actually insisted that the central government should not have been supported in its use of military force to end the secession of the Confederate States; but, because of the horrors of war, should instead have permitted the slave states to go their own separate way.  They excuse their willingness to accept a prolongation of slavery by propounding: the false notion that the war was not about slavery, and/or the dubious notion that slavery would “soon enough” have been phased out without the need for a bloody war.  Moreover, they are evidently oblivious to the reality that slavery itself was a brutal centuries-long war against the humanity of the enslaved.  John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, and all revolutionary abolitionists strongly and properly supported armed action against the slave power.  So too did Karl Marx who strongly supported, as revolutionary and progressive, the war of the industrial-capitalist liberal-democratic North against the slave-owning ruling class of the plantation South [11].

♦ The War against the Axis (1939..45).  Some defense-only antiwar leftists also insist that progressives should have opposed the US joining Britain and the USSR in the War against Nazi Germany and its allies.  To be clear, this was an inter-imperialist war of the Axis empires against the British and US empires to decide which alliance of empires would rule and exploit the world.  However, unlike the Great War (1914..18), it was also an anti-fascist war.  A fascist victory would have resulted in continued genocidal mass murder and the most vicious and unconstrained repression of the left while a victory of the antifascist alliance: saved the Soviet Union (which despite its faults was a progressive and anti-imperialist force in international affairs), expanded the sphere of countries outside the capitalist and imperialist orbit, strengthened the struggle against racial persecutions, and preserved the political freedoms (even though incompletely) for the left in much of the capitalist world.  Revolutionaries appropriately gave this war against the Axis their full support.

♦ Just and unjust wars.  Revolutionary socialists recognize that war is certainly an ugly horror.  Nevertheless, Marxists (Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, Lenin, et al) have always made the crucial distinction between wars which are just and progressive and those which are unjust and simply predatory.  For example, in 1870, Marx and Engels and the German Social-democratic Workers’ Party opposed the German state’s war against France when it became a war for territorial annexation; but, when, at its start, Germany acted against the power over Europe of aggressive autocratic reaction (then consisting of tsarist Russia and Second-Empire France), they supported this war.  Moreover, Marx and Engels had advocated (in 1848) for the liberal-dominated Frankfurt parliament to unite the German states and wage war against Russia, which was then the bulwark of reaction and autocracy in Europe, in order to unify and democratize Germany and to liberate and reunite and democratize Poland, necessary steps before socialist revolution would be possible.  [12]

♦ Current US wars.  For many of these defense-only peace activists, a principal argument is that “the wars” (namely those against the Islamist quasi-states) are too costly in American soldiers killed and maimed and in resources which would be better used to satisfy human and social needs here in the US.  Another argument is that the war is largely in service to war-profiteering by the “defense” industry.  While the US, at the behest of the armaments industry, certainly spends exorbitantly on its military and neglects the human and social needs of much of its populace; those excessive expenditures are primarily on super-expensive ships, planes, high-tech weapons, and new-cold-war military exercises, all of which are justifiably opposed by both peace groups and by revolutionaries.  However, the fact of high costs borne by the soldiers and by the national Treasury would apply to US military action in the US Civil War and the anti-Axis War.  The cost argument evades the relevant issue namely whether or not the war is just and progressive.  The same goes for the war-profiteering argument.  Thus, while wasteful practices certainly should be opposed, cost and profiteering are not the appropriate criteria for deciding whether to support or oppose any particular war waged by a capitalist state.  The Kuwait War (1991), the Iraq War (2002..11), the military interventions to oust the governments of Libya (2011) and of Syria (2012..17), the military intervention in the civil war in Yemen (since 2015) were/are unjustifiable imperialist wars which revolutionaries absolutely were/are obligated to oppose.  Conversely, for reasons provided below, the war against Taliban, Al Qaeda, Daesh, et al are entirely justified and should not be opposed.

Ω The first consideration in deciding whether or not a war should be supported or opposed depends upon whether or not it serves progress toward the liberation of humankind: from class oppression; or from systemic racial, sectarian religious, misogynist, and/or other bigoted persecutions; or from other systemic social injustice.  The anti-war defense-only doctrine in the US left is essentially another manifestation of left liberal America-first-ism.


2nd.  Western-alliance practice.

♦ Selective indifference.  Western inaction against perpetrators of genocidal crimes against humanity has been routine in circumstances where Western interests (the wants of transnational capital and/or geo-strategic objectives) were little affected.  Notable instances include: the Rwandan genocide and the Rohingya ethnic cleansing.  Meanwhile, most of the organized left in the US and its major allies, joined the club by silently acquiescing as their governments chose policies of inaction with respect to those massive crimes against humanity.

♦ Other motives.  When the Western powers do act against perpetrators of massive crimes against humanity; they do so, not from concern for the victims, but because of: (1) the wants of transnational capital, (2) geo-strategic imperial objectives, (3) having been compelled by popular pressure to act, and/or (4) being under violent attack by said perpetrators.


3rd.  Social pacifism.  Much of the avowedly “anti-imperialist” left has fallen into liberal “social pacifism” and is demanding that the US and its allies withdraw from all of their foreign military operations including those which are directed against Islamist quasi-state mass-murdering persecutors: the Afghan Taliban, Al Qaeda, Daesh (aka Islamic State), and their affiliates (including Al Shabab and Boko Haram).  These leftists almost invariably evade the issue of the nature of said Islamist quasi-states.  They often also ignore or distort the contradictory relationship of Western imperialism to said quasi-states.  These are issues of crucial importance.  Relevant facts.

♦ Medievalist imperialism.  Islam, like Christianity and other major world religions, is not inherently an intolerant religion.  However, just as Christendom (in its medieval past) produced its Crusades, inquisitions, religious wars, and repressive theocratic states; a similarly intolerant medievalist current has arisen and currently operates within parts of the Muslim world.  When the Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan, it: deprived women of all rights; imposed draconian sectarian strictures; and massacred by the thousands those civilians whom it regarded as heretics or apostates (especially Shia Muslims).  Al Qaeda carried out mass murder of civilians in the West (whose people it regards as worthless infidels) and against fellow Muslims, those who were Shia and those Sunni who opposed its intolerance and violent extremism.  Daesh, an offshoot of Al Qaeda: enslaved and raped infidel women, perpetrated genocidal mass murder and ethnic cleansings against non-Muslims (Yazidi, Christian, other) and against Alawi and other non-Sunni Muslims, and perpetrated mass executions of those who failed to comply with its extreme sectarian strictures or refused to convert to its perversion of Sunni Islam.  These despotic medievalists and their affiliates seek to impose upon majority Muslim communities their own versions of empire (the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate”, Daesh’s “Caliphate”, etc.).

♦ Fostering monsters.  Although Western imperialism did not create this brutally violent medievalist “jihadism”, it contributed significantly to its growth into a monstrous power.  The Western powers did so thru their practice of using intolerant sectarian Islamist groups as pawns in their regime-change operations to oust secular modernist governments which were refusing to comply with Western imperial dictates.  Examples include: Iran (1953), Indonesia (1965), Afghanistan (1979..92), Iraq (1991..2003), and Syria (2012..17).  With respect to these last three, Western imperialism has indirectly fostered monsters (Al Qaeda, Taliban, Daesh, and their affiliates) which ultimately are as ideologically and violently hostile to the West as to the kind of secular modernizing regimes against which Western imperialism has used them.

♦ Contradictory relationship.  While Western imperialism has contributed hugely to the rise of violent medievalist “jihadism”; it also finds itself attacked by it.  Consequently, it must, to some extent, fight against it.  As long as the US and its allies are willing to fight these medievalist persecutors (even though it will be for their own imperialistic motives); why should social revolutionaries object?  For those who care about social justice and recognize their obligation for solidarity with the victims; there is no valid reason, in principle, to oppose action by the Western alliance to destroy those quasi-state monsters.

♦ Pseudo-anti-imperialist and social pacifist falsifications.  Bogus “anti-imperialist” arguments for quitting the wars against the Afghan Taliban and other Islamist quasi-states include the following.

  • Some avowed “revolutionary Marxist” sects embrace the dogma that any group fighting the US must be ipso facto anti-imperialist; and they have whitewashed the Taliban as “anti-imperialist” or a “liberation movement”, which, of course, is absurd.  In fact, the Taliban is led by reactionary intolerant mullahs who: want to impose a medievalist perversion of Islam upon the people of Afghanistan, and are using murderous violence to do so.
  • Some of the “anti-imperialist” left assert that the Islamist attacks in Western countries are only in response to the unwelcome Western imperial presence and aggressions in the Muslim world.  In reality their hostility to the West is, not to class oppressions and capitalist exploitation or to imperial domination (per se), but to the influence of liberal democratic, secular, anti-patriarchal, and other progressive values which they associate with the West, values which much of the Muslim world, like much of the Western world (over a longer time frame), has willingly embraced.
  • Those same “anti-imperialists” object to the Western military action against the Afghan Taliban with the sophist assertion of Taliban innocence in the 9-11 attacks which killed nearly 3,000 American civilians.  They evade the pertinent fact that the Taliban provided the safe haven from which Al Qaeda launched that and several other attacks against the US.
  • Another argument is the half-truth that history shows that no foreign army can ever defeat an indigenous Afghan resistance; but this evades the fact that there is no reason why foreign assistance to an Afghan regime constituted and operating with a progressive popular program could succeed against an oppressive quasi-state such as the Taliban.  For example, following the withdrawal of supportive Soviet military forces, the progressive Afghan government under the leadership of Mohamed Najibullah, with Soviet supplies but no Soviet or other foreign troops, defied expectations and held its own (1989..92) against the Islamist Mujahidin while the latter continued to receive massive support from Pakistan and other hostile intervening states.  Despite its flaws, said Afghan government collapsed only when Russia (under Yeltsin) cut off its supplies thereby starving it of needed petrol and other essentials.

Whatever the rationales, the effect of such pseudo-anti-imperialism is to seek to abandon millions of victims to their mass-murdering medievalist persecutors.

♦ GWoT.  The US and its allies have been conducting the so-called “Global War on Terrorism” [GWoT] since 2001 and more informally since the first Al Qaeda attacks on the US in the 1990s.  This GWoT has been used by Western states as pretext for increased infringements of civil liberties and for increased persecutions of the Muslim minorities.  It has also been largely a failure with ultimate victory nowhere in sight.  The West has been unable to win its GWoT (in Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere), not because the general populaces side with the Islamists, but because of counterproductive policies.  These include: reliance upon, and service to, unpopular and corrupt regimes and their ruling elites; failure to address the social and economic needs of the populations; over-reliance upon high-explosive firepower (with excessive collateral injuries and deaths); reliance upon ground troops (both Western and local) who are trained for conventional warfare and territorial conquest and consequently lack sufficient capacity to win the trust and allegiance of the local population; and so on.  In order to fully and finally destroy its enemies in the GWoT, the Western alliance will need to change its approach.  The socialist critique should be directed, not against the effort, but against the malignant imperial past actions and the ineffective current practices.

♦ What to do.  Revolutionary socialist support for the Western-alliance war to destroy the violent Islamist quasi-states and end their intolerant persecutions need not, and should not, be provided uncritically.

  • Needed criticisms include: the self-serving motives listed above, the counterproductive methods listed above, and the West’s imperial regime-change policies which contributed so much to the bursting forth of the quasi-state monsters.
  • Rather than demanding abandonment of affected countries and their peoples to rule by medievalist persecutors, revolutionaries must demand that the failed policy of propping up corrupt and ineffective regimes be replaced by support for progressive alternatives which can actually gain the support of the affected populations (alternatives of the kind which Western imperialism has habitually acted to destroy).  Is it even possible for imperialist states to back such progressive alternatives?  Past history says yes; during the war against the Axis, the US and/or Britain actually provided material aid to Communist-led anti-fascist resistance forces in China, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, and other countries.
  • Many establishment politicians are already demanding that the US abandon the victims of the quasi-state monsters (especially in Afghanistan), not out of any concern for those victims, but for purely America-first cost-saving motives.  When avowed “anti-imperialist” leftists do the same, it is also a manifestation of the America-first attitude that such non-white non-Western victims of crimes against humanity do not really matter.


4.  Why is the US left so infected with America-first racism? The explanation is to be found: (1) in the historical setbacks for the revolutionary left, (2) in the deep influence of liberal ameliorative reformism on the US left, and (3) in an often unconscious racist indifference to the plight of the persecuted when they are outside of US borders and usually out of sight (due to neglect in mainstream media reporting).

1st. Historical context.  From the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s the US Communist Party [CPUSA] was often a valiant fighter for social justice as well as the vanguard of the revolutionary struggle for socialism in the US.  In the aftermath of the Anti-Axis War, Communist Parties acquired state power in several new countries, and became politically influential in several others.  With this spread of Communism, a powerful faction in the US capitalist class, gripped in fear, induced the state to impose a semi-fascist policy of Cold War repression, which decimated the vulnerable and unprepared CPUSA and reduced it to a shell that was then seen as little more than a seditious agent of the USSR.  In the mid-1950s, Khrushchev embraced Edward Bernstein’s anti-Marxist doctrine of parliamentary road to socialism in liberal “democracies”, a doctrine based on a delusional conception of the liberal “democratic” state as being potentially independent of the class antagonism [⁑].  Meanwhile, more revolutionary exemplars (in China, Cuba, and Vietnam) inspired the New Communist Movement [NCM], which then rhetorically rejected Khrushchev’s “revisionism”.  However, this NCM, infused with youthful radical idealism and only a superficial grasp of essential Marxist precepts, failed to overcome dogmatism, ultra-leftism, liberalism, and sectarianism.  Consequently, over the course of the 1980’s it collapsed.  Meanwhile, China (under Mao Zedong and continuing under Deng Xiaoping) had entered into a de facto alliance with US imperialism.  Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw pact allies.  Finally, China, Vietnam, and Cuba opened their doors to foreign private investment and joined their economies to the capitalist world market.  This history produced much confusion and disillusionment among avowedly revolutionary socialists.

[⁑ Fact-based analyses of the nature of the state and of liberal “democratic” government by Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, and Lenin produced the following conclusions.  [13]

  • As Friedrich Engels noted (1891) “the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than the monarchy”.
  • As Karl Marx observed (1871) the actual result of popular election under a liberal “democracy” was and is the electorate “deciding once in [every few] years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in [government]”.
  • As Rosa Luxemburg observed (1900) “in accordance with its form, parliamentarism serves to express, within the organization of the state, the interests of the whole society. But what parliamentarism expresses here is capitalist society, that is to say a society in which capitalist interests predominate.  In this society, the representative institutions, democratic in form, are in content the instruments of the interests of the ruling class.”
  • As Lenin noted (1918) “Bourgeois democracy, which is invaluable in educating the proletariat and training it for the struggle, is always narrow, hypocritical, spurious and false; it always remains democracy for the rich and a swindle for the poor.”

Marxists have always favored liberal “democracy” in preference to medieval autocracy and fascism, but they recognize that it is no genuine democracy.  Marxists seek genuine democracy which means: (1) effective rule by the people (the working class and its allies), (2) popular grass-roots participation in governance rather than passive dependency upon duplicitous politicians who can be held accountable only at election time, and (3) the rule of law with protections for the human rights and civil liberties of all, including minorities and dissenters.]

2nd.  From ideological dependency to reformist liberalism.  The foregoing events have left the revolutionary socialists (which, rather than performing their own fact-based analysis, had nearly always looked to successful foreign Communist Parties in Moscow, Beijing, Havana, or Tirana for guidance) demoralized and without a compass.  Those “Marxist” activists, who did not affiliate to dogmatic sects, have generally affiliated to “socialist” organizations which embrace ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism and justify it with a purported need to “unite the center and left against the right” (that is by giving allegiance to the lesser-evil Democratic Party).  With the advent of the blatantly odious Trump Presidency, they have embraced the Democrats all the more firmly and taken the position that, at all costs (even if that means backing a duplicitous neoliberal militarist imperial Democrat for commander-in-chief), Trump must be defeated in 2020.  Thus, these faux-socialists have abandoned Marx and embraced Bernstein’s reformist liberalism and (objectively) its accompanying murderous imperialism.

3rd.  Objective indifference.  For most of the US left, preoccupied with domestic politics, the obligations to fight gross oppressions against foreign victims (both those crimes perpetrated by their own government and/or those perpetrated by foreign states and quasi-states) are too easily ignored, evaded, and neglected.


5.  Policy.

♦ In order to avoid falling into objectively racist America-first-ism, the progressive and revolutionary left must: (1) consistently oppose Western imperial interventions to destroy independent states as said interventionists have done (in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and many other countries) and are attempting to do (in Syria, Yemen, and Iran as well as in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba); (2) consistently oppose US interventions to preserve subservient antisocial client regimes in other countries; (3) consistently oppose the arming and abetting of aggressions against neighboring states by the Zionist state, by the Western-allied Arab monarchies, and by other pro-Western allies; and (4) demand appropriate changes in the West’s methods of fighting the medievalist quasi-states.

 Temporary tactical alliances with Democrat politicians in pursuit of particular objectives are appropriate and necessary when it serves to increase people-power and/or reduce and constrain the powers of capital.  However, obsessing on ameliorative reforms and/or relying upon lesser-evil career politicians as saviors, while giving allegiance to the pro-capitalist pro-imperialist center-left Democratic Party, is not the way forward.  It is this myopic preoccupation with domestic reforms and/or the tailing after the social pacifist antiwar movement, which leads inevitably to the leftist versions of putting America first.  [14]


6.  Conclusions.

♦ Democrat Presidents and Congresses remain firmly ensconced in the racist bipartisan foreign policy consensus which makes US-led Western imperialism into the leading perpetrator of crimes against humanity throughout the world.

♦ Lip-service “anti-imperialism” is political malpractice.  The revolutionary left will never replace capitalism with socialism unless it educates and organizes the people in support of all struggles against social injustices including those perpetrated by their own governments; and (as more fully explained in a separate article [14]) it cannot do that unless it breaks with ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism.

♦ The revolutionary left did not historically, and should not currently, oppose every foreign war waged by their own capitalist-ruled government.  Social pacifism, which refuses to objectively evaluate the political effects of any given war, is incompatible with social-justice solidarity and with the struggle for social progress.

♦ To free itself from its racist America-first practice, the US left must overcome: the disheartening defeatism resulting from historical setbacks, the influence of liberal delusions concerning the natures of the state and of liberal “democracy”, and the temptations to sacrifice solidarity with overseas victims of crimes against humanity for the sake of reforms or “progress” in the US.


Noted sources.

[1] William Blum: Killing Hope – U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II (© 2004) ~ chapters 2 and 3.  Douglas Little: 1949-1958, Syria – Early Experiments in Covert Action @  Wikipedia: March 1949 Syrian coup d’etat (2016 Feb 20); Smith Act trials (2016 May 04); Communist Party USA (2016 May 30); McCarthyism (2016 May 21).

[2] William Blum: Killing Hope … ~ chapters 30, 25, 29, 27, 36, 31, 32, 35, 19, 20, 21.  Wikipedia: Ramadan Revolution (2016 Feb 21); Napalm (2018 Jun 04) ~ Military use, Effect on people; Agent Orange (2018 Jun 07) ~ Use in the Vietnam War, Health effects, Ecological impact; Phoenix program (2018 Jun 07).

[3] William Blum: Killing Hope … ~ chapters 53, 44, 45, 49.

[4] Wikipedia: Sanctions against Iraq (2015 Nov 14); Lead-up to the Iraq War (2015 Nov 11).

[5] On the Issues: Hillary Clinton on War & Peace (2018 Sep 08) @

[6] Wikipedia: 2009 Honduran coup d’état (2018 Oct 07); Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War (2019 May 03) ~ § 2.1 Support for the Syrian opposition # United States; US domestic reactions to the 2011 military intervention in Libya (2018 Oct 11).  Nika Knight: Saudi-led Bombing Kills 11 Civilians in Yemen, While Kerry Ignores US ‘Complicity’ (2016 Aug 26) @

[7] Wikipedia: 2010 Ecuador crisis (2018 Oct 01).  Robert Parry: Cheering a “Democratic” Coup in Ukraine (2014 Feb 26) @  Renee Parsons: Chronology of the Ukrainian Coup (2014 Mar 05) @  Medium: US Staged a Coup in Ukraine – Brief History and Facts (2017 Dec 18) @  Dan Kovalik: Death Squads Continue to Reign in Colombia (2014 May 24) @  Telesur: Tracking US Intervention in Venezuela Since 2002 (2015 Nov 18) @

[8] govtrack: H.R. 5515: John S McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 ~ House vote (2018 Jul 26) @ & Senate vote (2018 Aug 01) @

[9] govtrack: H.R. 3364: Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ~ House vote (2017 Jul 25) @ & Senate vote (2017 Jul 27) @

[10] Glenn Greenwald & Ryan Grimm: US Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel (2017 Jul 19) @  ACLU: ACLU Letter Opposing Revised Version of Israel Anti-Boycott Act (2018 Jul 10) @

[11] Karl Marx: The North American Civil War (1861 Oct 20) @

[12] Lenin: Socialism and War (1915) ~ Chapter I @  Friedrich Engels: The Frankfort Assembly Debates the Polish Question (Neue Rheinische Zeitung, No. 81, 1848 Aug 20) ~ III @  Karl Marx: Second address of the General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association on the Franco-Prussian War (1870 Sep 09) @

[13] Friedrich Engels: Introduction to ‘The Civil War in France’ (1891 Mar 18) @  Karl Marx: Civil War in France (Third Address, 1871 May 30) ~ § III (re Paris Commune) @  Rosa Luxemburg: Social Reform or Revolution (1900) ~ Part One, Chapter IV @  Lenin: The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky (1918 Oct 11) @

[14] Charles Pierce: Why ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism is failed strategy and what is the winning alternative! (2019 Feb 16) @ ~ post 7.


Author: Charles Pierce.               Date: 2019 Aug 21, latest updated 2020 Feb 15.


Charles Pierce is: a working-class retiree, a past union steward and local union officer, and currently a researcher and writer on history and politics.  Other articles by Charles Pierce can be accessed by google search at




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