“The leaders of the present-day, so-called, “Social-Democratic” Party of Germany are justly called “social-imperialists,” that is, socialists in words and imperialists in deeds [My Italics].” (Lenin, 1916) This are the words written by Lenin in his famous work “Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism” written more than a century ago, but still containing within its words fundamental truths that impacts the contemporary neoliberal world, in particular the term mentioned by Lenin “Social Imperialism”.
So called “Socialists” today, specially from the first world, still defend the imperial machine using leftist words and catchphrases, to the detriment of the global socialist movement, this has been happening for decades now. During the First World War, the “Social Democratic Party of Germany” defended Germany entering the Great War, using the justification of “Defense of the Fatherland” and “Defending the country against Russian Despotism” (sound familiar?) in their own words:
Now we face the inexorable fact of war. We are threatened by the terrors of enemy invasion. It is not for or against war we are deciding today; rather we must decide on the means necessary for the defense of our country. Now we must think of the millions of our fellow countrymen who are drawn into this disaster through no fault of their own. It is they who will suffer the most from the horrors of war. Our most heart-felt wishes go out to all those, irrespective of party, who have been called to arms. We also remember the mothers who must give up their sons, the women and children robbed of their providers. For them, fear for their loved ones is combined with the threat of hunger. They will soon be joined by tens of thousands of wounded and crippled soldiers. To help all of them, to improve their fate, to ease their inestimable suffering – this we consider our imperative. (Haase, 1914)
They even further add:
A victory of Russian despotism, stained with the blood of the best among its own people, would put much – indeed, everything – at stake for our nation and its future development toward liberty. We must ward off this danger; we must protect the culture and independence of our own country. (Haase, 1914)
Lenin, being a true Marxist revolutionary, was obviously angered by this chauvinistic attitude towards the imperialist war happening during his time. Lenin developed a doctrine of “War on War” in response on the chauvinistic pro-war stance, Lenin argued that the Proletariat should convert the Great War into a Civil War against the bourgeoise of their own country. Quoting Lenin:
What are the tasks of the working class with regard to this war? The answer to this question is provided in a resolution unanimously adopted by the socialists of the whole world, at the Basic International Socialist Congress of 1912. This resolution was adopted in anticipation of a war of the very kind as started in 1914. This resolution says that the war is reactionary, that it is being prepared in the interests of “capitalist profits”, that the workers consider it “a crime to shoot each other down”, that the war will lead to “a proletarian revolution”, that an example for the workers’ tactics was set by the Paris Commune of 1871, and by October-December 1905, in Russia, i.e., by a revolution. (Lenin, 1915)
When the Bolsheviks took state power and establish the first Socialist government in history, ¿what did they do in regards of the war? ¿Did they appeal to chauvinistic Russian patriotism and continue the war in the detriment of the proletariat? Obviously not. The Bolsheviks took the path of peace without annexations, they negotiated with Germany to stop the suffering of the working class of both countries.
So, it should be worrying to see that even today, so called “Socialist” are defending the NATO proxy imperialist war in Ukraine. As, Marx said, history repeats itself: “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” (Marx, 1852). The tragedy of the “Social Democratic Party of Germany” is now repeated as farce with the modern “Democratic Socialist” in America. One of the biggest spokespersons of modern “Social Imperialism” is Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a so called “Democratic Socialist” that voted and actively supports the war in Ukraine. Some people were not happy about this:
In October, Ocasio-Cortez was also heckled at a town hall meeting over the conflict in Ukraine, including by one man who accused her of “voting to start a nuclear war.” Ocasio-Cortez voted in favor of sending $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine last year. (Jaramillo & Calder, 2023)
Another one of the modern “Social imperialist” greatest hits its Bernie Sanders, which as his friend Cortez supports the imperialist war waged in Ukraine and voted in favor of the billions and billions of dollars being pumped in the cannibal war machine, in his own words:
The Russian invasion of Ukraine that the world is witnessing today is a blatant violation of international law and of basic human decency. It may well kill thousands and displace millions. It could plunge Europe into long-term economic and political instability. The United States and our allies must impose severe sanctions on Vladimir Putin and his fellow oligarchs. At a time when thousands may die as a result of his war, Putin, one of the richest people in the world, should not be allowed to enjoy the billions he stole from the Russian people. The United States must also work closely with international partners to provide humanitarian relief for the Ukrainian people. (Sanders, 2022)
¿It’s the Ukrainian War a proxy NATO war whose main objective is to push American hegemonic domination, establishing and protecting its powerful economic partners, growing its influence on Eastern Europe, and pushing the war machine’s growing private profits to the limit at the expanse of thousands of innocent lives? Don’t be silly dear! The wholesome Ukrainian superheroes are defending their fatherland against the “evils” of Russian despotism and savagery. It’s all for a good cause! As we can see the “excuses” being pushed now by the imperialist war machine have the same substance and even the same content as the ones pushed by the “Social Democratic Party of Germany” more than a century ago.
¿So, what is to be done? First of all, we need to form an antiwar movement against the imperialists, but this movement should be of a Proletariat character not a chauvinist one. Second, we need to teach the masses to not trust the modern day “Social Imperialists”, we need them to understand that the so called “Democratic Socialist” are manipulators working against the proletariat, they are just “Socialist” in words, but in deeds they are the most bloodthirsty “Imperialists”. Third, we need to learn from Lenin, we need to push for PEACE in this conflict, we already saw how easily this conflict can escalate with the Poland bombs circus show. Negotiations should be pushed between the two parties in order to avert an even bigger disaster. As socialist we need to push for the unity of the working class and defeat their reactionary enemies, even the ones dressed in red stripes.
Fidel Herrera is a marxist panamanian writer, studying political theory and the worldwide working class movement for emancipation.
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