Keeping The Focus on Imperialism
Nothing brings out the difference between liberals and the left like US foreign policy. Part of it, of course, is because foreign policy is somewhat removed from people’s day to day lives – somewhat. But, the other reason is that it’s much easier to deceive and win people’s acquiescence by arousing their nationalism, by demonizing others and by instilling in people the sense that they’re better than those living overseas. This strategy makes people rally behind their ruling class, against others, especially during times of real or manufactured conflicts. It’s easier to identify with those who speak your language, dress in familiar ways and make us feel that we are better than others. This mindset is implanted into young children in schools and stays with them, all their lives and is made maximum use by the ruling class.
On the other hand, demonization of the poor and making the poor hate the poor isn’t as easy. This disparity between domestic vs. foreign attitudes translates into much less resistance to Empire’s anti-poor policies overseas than to those at home.
Another part has to do with the fact, that to some extent, the plunder and impoverishment of people subjected to imperialist rule overseas serves to keep the working class at home somewhat better off, in comparison, which in turn, makes it harder to build a strong and viable resistance, especially with a Democrat in office. Ironically, and cleverly, the repression of working people of many countries, which is done with the help of the empire, is used as proof that this nation is better than them, since there isn’t as much repression here, as there is in many of those other nations.
It’s easy to ignore the plight of other peoples and rally around Democrats who want to take back from the poor to give to the rich, less than their Republican counterparts. It’s also easy to get all excited about an adversary nation’a decision to send troops to its neighbor, and join the empire in condemning the leader of that nation, even while the empire’s troops are still in other countries. Liberal commentators go along with the empire’s changing of the subject and put their focus on Putin, instead of talking about what the Empire doesn’t want to talk about, such as the genocide taking place in Palestine, thanks to US aid and support, or its provocations and aggression at Russia’s borders, pushing the world towards nuclear war, or the endless violent regime change they pursue, or the drone attacks, assassinations, renditions, ever expanding military bases, indefinite detention of innocent men at Guantanamo, stirring unrest in Venezuela and threatening Iran, to name just a few. They choose instead to scream about Russia’s troops in Ukraine when not a single person has been hurt by those troops.
Some among the US left also make the error of joining the empire’s choir and singing the tune written and directed by them. In order to show that they are fair and just and condemn injustice anywhere they see it, they repeat the empire’s words, calling Putin a dictator and a gulag, condemning his action, in the strongest way possible, which, incidentally, was in reaction to US provocations and intervention. However, to show that they don’t support military intervention by US and NATO, they end their commentary by saying “NATO and US hands off Ukraine”, as if all the interventions and provocations that were committed by the empire prior to the Russian intervention do not matter and are to be ignored. When the left says that they agree with the empire’s contention that he’s a dictator and a gulag and his intervention is outrageous and unacceptable, or in the case of Syria, that Assad is a brutal murderer, who’s massacring innocent people – as was done about Gaddafi and Saddam before him – it then becomes illogical and weak, at best, to demand “hands off”, because then, the empire comes back with: “we can’t sit idly by and let this atrocity go on; we have the moral responsibility to stop this injustice”. They thus take the high moral ground against the left, and make them look weak, indifferent to an atrocity they themselves admit, contradictory and not willing to match their words with their actions. I’m not saying we should not protest against other nations’ unjust and wrong actions. What I’m saying is let’s not fall into their trap and join them in their propaganda when and where they choose and on their dictated terms, in order to win approval for their intervention and achieve their imperial objectives. Once we join them in singing their song, our “hands off” slogans will sound hollow and contradictory.
I say, we need to learn a thing or two from the empire. I don’t mean let’s be conniving, deceptive and lying gangsters and criminals and commit assassinations, terror and massacres to enrich ourselves. What I mean is let’s be organized, smart, focused and dedicated to exposing and defeating them, as they’re focused on defeating people everywhere. Being focused does not mean not protesting any other injustice or atrocity, but, to connect the dots that lead us to the empire, to keep in mind the large picture of an imperialist dominated world and to keep our main focus where it belongs. The difficulties involved with raising consciousness about foreign affairs notwithstanding, it is the responsibility of the US left to oppose the empire’s foreign policy, specifically because of the role the US plays in the world. We must take this responsibility with the utmost seriousness, clear and unwavering focus and dedication.