The anti-Americanist Left

20 03 2023

Re-reading Stephen Velychenko’s 2014 piece on the “Strange Case of Foreign Pro-Kremlin Radical Leftists,” I’m struck by the continuing relevance of his characterization. The following makes for a completely appropriate description of the part of today’s Left that could be considered both Russophilic and Ukrainophobic (I’ve added some punctuation for readability):

Since 1991, pro-Kremlin leftists have been either been silent on or supportive of regimes in China, North Africa, Syria, North Korea, Zimbabwe, the Congo, fundamentalist Islamists, and Arab Baathists. Now Putin’s government, and pro-Russian neo-Nazi and fascist parties can be added to the list. Activists, workers, indigenous minorities and groups or persons with grievances against, opposed to or miserable due to the above listed governments or groups are ignored or condemned. Alongside the Russophilism, neo-Soviet sympathies, material interest, delusion and ignorance that can account for this double standard among pro-Kremlin leftists, is the anti-Americanism that has overshadowed anti-imperialism in their thinking. [. . .]

Anti-Americanism is a set of beliefs that classifies imperialism as a singular, specific[ally] American rather than global phenomenon, that discounts or ignores competition between imperialists and intra-capitalist rivalries. Anti-Americanism bears little relation to Lenin’s concept of rival imperialist ruling classes divided within and engaged in an unending struggle with one another that dominated classes groups and nations might exploit. Instead, anti-Americanists restrict “imperialism” to the objectives of a corporate-controlled US government that supposedly dominates a bloc without fundamental intra ruling-class differences. Such a perspective leads believers to see the world as a stage for a duel between a capitalist USA and NATO on one side, and capitalist Russia on the other — with possible allies like India, Brazil, and China. On this manichaen stage, Ukraine must remain Russian so the US does not get stronger. Middle or working class Ukrainians who see benefit in the EU, the massive support for the Maidan, a long tradition of Ukrainian anti-colonialism, and the possibility of future support from Ukrainian leftists in the fight against neoliberal capitalism within the EU, have no place on this stage. Nor does the possibility that Ukrainians might prefer the EU to the Russian variant of neoliberal capitalism because experience has shown them the latter is more destructive and rapacious than the former. [. . .]

Such anti-Americanism has little in common with Marx or Trotsky. It has much in common with people who have nothing to do with socialism or marxism like Carl Schmitt, Aleksandr Glaziev, Vladimir Putin and Aleksander Dugin.

The only point which I’m not sure of is whether this part of the Left even considers Russia to be capitalist, at least by their definition of capitalism as necessarily imperialist (and imperialism as necessarily American).



One response

19 04 2023
Michael Dawson

Kagarlitsky seems to have pretty decent and realistic things to say about this invasion, though. Admittedly, his take on Maidan was awful.

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