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Antiwar or Anti-Imperialism? Why Liberals Side with NATO

By Keaten Mansfield3/9/2022
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Why does the liberal antiwar movement often side with NATO by default of their faux “neutrality”? The difference between antiwar and anti-imperialism may hold the answer.

With the Russian Federation’s decision to recognize the independence of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, the Western Left has shown their true colors and loyalties.

Self-described communists, anarchists, and social democrats have flooded Twitter and other social media platforms with NATO propaganda and Ukrainian flags, claiming Russia has launched an unprovoked invasion in a desperate and psychotic land grab.

This, of course, couldn’t be farther from the truth. Since the US-supported Euromaidan coup of 2014, the Donbas region has endured indiscriminate artillery shelling and military aggression from the Kiev regime.

With these facts in mind, we must now turn to see the response from the synthetic left.

Vaush, Hbomberguy, ContraPoints, and many other Breadtube figures have spent the last several days retweeting and sharing Twitter posts from the Ukrainian government’s account. This is not, however, a recent development. These figures and their supporters have consistently pushed the NATO narrative around the world, especially in the Middle East. No different than their support for the ‘Free’ Syrian Army or YPG of Rojava, they’ve acted as tools for US dominance and media hegemony.

The American anti-war movement, which was born out of the 1960’s hippie era opposition to the Vietnam War, had, up until now, generally taken the appropriate stances against US and NATO aggression when the situation really demanded it. The anti-war hippies mostly understood that despite their dislike of the ‘authoritarian’ Soviet Union supporting Ho Chi Mihn, opposing the actions and narrative of the US was principal.

Slogans such as “one side’s right, one side’s wrong, victory to the Viet-Cong!” rang throughout cities in the US as thousands of Americans seemingly innately understood the core principles of anti-imperialism. This sentiment, which carried through to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, has now completely betrayed their roots. It is because of this, the distinction between anti-war and anti-imperialist politics has become as clear as day.

The anti-war movement has continued to be composed primarily of the children of upper middle-class families acting on a sense of guilt for their comfortable lifestyle. The anti-imperialist camp, however, comes from over a century of Marxist theory and praxis across the world. It’s this foundational difference that has become so vitally important in the last week as tension between Russia and Ukraine have come to a head.

Mainstream Western news outlets such as CNN and BBC are working overtime to paint Russia as the aggressor in this conflict, and it has been successful. By leaving out the most vital factors in what has provoked Russia to act, it appears as an attempt to conquer Ukraine.

Figures associated with Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), Communist Party USA (CPUSA), and other ’socialist’ organizations seem to be more concerned with pushing the antiwar message instead of the anti-imperialist one. The anti-war crowd of activists view any sort of military action as unjustifiable, generally disregarding any historical or modern context to what may have provoked some sort of action.

The most recent, disgusting, and pointed example of the pro-imperialist but “antiwar” synthetic left comes from the Internet personality known as Vaush. He very recently published a video from one of his live streams detailing the importance of socialists and communists in the west to essentially support the North Atlantic Treaty organization over the forming axis of resistance, specifically Russia.

On March 1 Ralph Nader released an article to CounterPunch, a self proclaimed independent media source, stating “Putin, unable to get over the breakup of the Soviet Union, probably has imperial ambitions to dominate in Russia’s backyard.” Though Nader attempts to play a “neither Washington, nor Moscow” card (A stance beloved by Trotskyists during the Cold War), this position defaults to support for NATO’s aggression and ambition against Russia.

The popular message from those in the synthetic left is that of ‘competing imperialism.’

Often they make reference to Vladimir Lenin’s position on the First World War and the need to oppose both the Allied Powers and the Central Powers as they fight to carve up Africa. This, however, has been taken out of context entirely. Imperialism describes the specific economic mode of finance capital dominating government and economy.

Imperialism is not merely war or conflict, in fact, Lenin and his theoretical successors often suggest that Imperialism rarely involves open military conflict. Instead, it relies on the entrapment of foreign markets through loans and hegemonic economics. The Russian Federation’s actions against Ukraine, by the Marxist definition, is not and cannot be imperialism. Ergo, it is no surprise those pushing the narrative of US versus Russian imperialism are social democrats and bastardizers of Lenin’s ideology.

Despite this rhetoric coming from the liberal professional managerial class that the synthetic left seems to love so dearly, some figures in mainstream media have approached this situation with the proper analysis. Tucker Carlson has, despite his parroting of anti-China rhetoric, exposed his massive audience to an anti-imperialist message. It is the hundreds of thousands of industrial and agricultural workers that listen to Tucker Carlson that Communists must ally with, in the hopes of not only defeating the narrative of the US state department, but NATO’s global hegemony, and desired war against Russia and its people.

No different than CPUSA and the Comintern in the ‘3rd Period,’ in which communist understood the vital importance of forming a popular front with all those willing to oppose the Nazi regime in Germany, we must take the same position, as Russia works to ‘denazify’ the Ukraine. American communist must put any and all criticisms they may have of the Russian Federation on the back burner and focus on the main threat to global peace and stability, which is NATO.

Keaten Mansfield is an author, full time analyst, and organizer for the Center for Political Innovation, as well as a guest commentator for PressTV. Born in the American Heartland, much of Mansfield’s work centers around the conditions of rural workers and farmers and kindling the Christian Socialist tradition.