subservience and vassalage

Image: Valeria Podes


Is it possible to build a true national and popular sovereignty that makes real and non-limited development possible without incorporating anti-imperialism as an axis of articulation?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeu's visit to Brazil and the current government's attitude of subservience and vassalage were nothing new, they just confirmed the historic submission of neoliberal governments and the Armed Forces. However, in general, why does this fact seem to have had no great repercussions? Why haven't we seen a scathing anti-imperialist attitude?

Anti-imperialism today is something restricted to certain sectors of the left and, in general, something far from occupying centrality in the struggle for the construction of a sovereign country, as well as in the popular imagination. It is necessary to understand the origins of this. Let's go back to 1916. It is in that year that Lenin writes Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism, still today the best-finished interpretation of the real movement through which capital accumulation had passed in the late XNUMXth century and the first decades of the XNUMXth century. From then on – and confirmed by the victory of the Soviet revolution – the anti-imperialist struggle came to play a central role in the strategies that led to the revolutionary processes that marked the XNUMXth century, on all continents. Obviously, many revolutionary developments did not come only from theoretical understanding, but it was he who allowed the innumerable historical contradictions of peoples in struggle to have a common thread.

The imbrication between capitalist monopolies and the organization of States that supported them was an evident aspect, as well as the use of military force by these States so that such monopolies could advance across the planet. This was the scene of the First World War (1914-1918), which was renewed on a more violent scale during the Second World War (1939 – 1945). Therefore, being anti-imperialist was not only an ideological choice but a condition sine qua non to make the fights viable and, after their victories, open space for higher development proposals than those allowed until then. Let us remember Cuba, Vietnam, Algeria, Angola and China, among others, and what they all had in common: the inseparable relationship between anti-imperialism, (re)construction of national sovereignty and the development of productive forces that were oriented to the needs of the working classes. The paths they have followed since then do not fit in this space but, even if occasional or longer-term alliances were made, it was under anti-imperialism that such development plans were oriented. Anti-imperialism was not just a theoretical consequence, but a concrete one in all countries of dependent capitalism, colonies or semi-colonies.

What characterizes a country of dependent capitalism is its subaltern position in the international division of labor – its inability to be high in the terms of trade and in the technological matrix, which led – and still leads – to an eternal renewal of “development plans” , always atrophied, unfinished or interrupted. As much as they have advanced in many sectors, as in the case of Brazil and other countries that reached a considerable degree of industrialization, even so, the process of capitalist accumulation under the imperialist stage has made the real construction of a national development unfeasible and, in the days current trends, causing regressions in these advances. Take Brazil as an example and the “synchrony” of the various coups d'état that, historically, took place precisely at times when the country sought a greater degree of autonomy and regional and international cooperation, even without proposing effective ruptures with imperialism. However, the development of the productive forces within these limits has clouded a more forceful anti-imperialist perspective and this stems from a number of issues.

First, due to the various defeats of the socialist camp in recent decades and their theoretical, political and organizational impacts that led to the abandonment of the very horizon of the transformation of the capitalist order. If there is no revolution to be made, there is also no reason to challenge imperialism. However, due to the degree of violence and barbarism that this has brought to the XNUMXst century, the debate has been resuming its centrality, which is essential for the reconstruction of the socialist strategy. Secondly, the unilateral emphasis of some interpretations that imperialism is reduced to military force, mainly from the United States and that, therefore, there are no conditions to overcome a force of such magnitude. In fact, the aspect of the military strength of imperialism and the role of the “military-industrial complex” in the process of capital accumulation are fundamental for its understanding, but insufficient, as they integrate something more powerful, which even allows trillions to be spent annually on guns and bombs. And if only this aspect is taken into account, we can find ourselves facing discouragement and fear, which paralyze us in front of the planetary war machine. A third interpretation places greater weight on the power of multinationals and the strength of their capital around the world that disorganize – and reorganize – national economies and on a global scale. However, they sideline the role of the States and their intertwining with these capitals, as they are the ones who impose reforms that remove social rights, promote repressions, change legislation in favor of these capitals. However, for the most part, we find in these analyzes important contributions to the understanding of imperialism.

Therefore, beyond an allegory of the left, anti-imperialism presupposes an interpretation of imperialism that translates the dynamics of capitalist accumulation today, with the predominance of financialization. If we start from Lenin's premise, that imperialism is capitalism itself – in its highest stage of capital's control over humanity – we understand that all spheres: military, economic, state, political and ideological make up the totality of this phenomenon. That at certain times some manifest themselves more than others is part of the historical dynamic.

With that in mind, we ask: is it possible to build a true national and popular sovereignty that makes real and non-limited development possible without incorporating anti-imperialism as an axis of articulation? Historically, we have seen that it is not. This resumption requires a set of actions that go through the ideological and cultural, economic and political struggle, as well as the construction of international struggles. Therefore, all support against any and all imperialist interference in Brazil and in any part of the world is necessary for us to move forward. It is necessary that anti-imperialism be part of mass political education. But a profound critique is also needed against any illusion of national development that meets popular needs without breaking with imperialism.

*Anderson Barreto Moreira Professor of History and member of FRONT – Institute of Contemporary Studies


See this link for all articles