Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

How should western leftists respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

This is a pretty balanced discussion. The core questions Lyons asks are good. This is similar to my own view of the international system. There is an overarching global ruling class that Hardt and Negri referred to as the “Empire.” The US is the senior partner in the global ruling class. Russia is a junior partner that represents a rebellious province within global capitalism. While America is the primary imperialist power, Russia is “counter-imperialist” (preferring an imperialism of its own, even when it conflicts with the interests of the senior imperialists) and not “anti-imperialist” as the “tankies” claim.  Although we are no longer in the unipolar world of the 90s that was described by Hardt and Negri. American hegemony, while still very far-reaching, is also in a state of decline, which is why we see the US outsourcing various imperial functions to client states like Turkey, Israel, and the Gulf States or the present Indo-Pacific alliance the US is trying to build in Asia.  China is also increasingly powerful (although I suspect both Sinophiles and Sinophobes overestimate China’s strength). Europe has economic parity with North America, and the Ukraine situation is motivating Europe to become more assertive as well.

“How should western leftists respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? How do we best oppose imperialist aggression and systemic violence in a situation that defies simple narratives? How do we navigate between Kremlin-inspired propaganda and anti-Russian hysteria, or between the “anti-imperialist” and “anti-Nazi” pretensions of a right-wing authoritarian capitalist aggressor and the “pro-democracy” claims of critics who routinely support brutal repression and mass murder?”

The money quote:

Pirani describes Russia’s role in global capitalism as both subordinate and imperialist:

“In terms of its relationship with the large Western states, and its position in the world economy—principally as a supplier of raw materials—Russia is very definitely in a subordinate position. But in relation to Ukraine and other countries around it such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Georgia, and states in the Caucasus, it definitely acts as an imperialist power.”

Because of inequities baked into the international economy, Pirani argues, Russia’s dependence on commodities exports has fostered a “rent-seeking, parasitic form of capitalism” that in many ways has more in common with countries of the Global South than industrialized countries.”

By Matthew Lyons, Three-Way Fight



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