The problem of the revolutionary vanguards is to make this whole game clear, striking at hidden nests, connections, connivances, and plans.
Recently, though it is a manifestation of a thought process that is certainly very old, a current has emerged in American politics calling itself populist or, daringly, socialist, one that demands the reconstruction of the welfare state through a winding down of American military ventures abroad. The other face of this tendency embraces conservatism and asserts that interventions are conceived to drain American wealth and undermine national cohesion. This view in any form is pretty obviously incoherent for a number of reasons. For one, maintaining present levels of consumption requires access to global markets and Third World resources, which in turn requires a military-intelligence apparatus to ensure said access is frictionless. It’s telling, I think, that practically all mainstream “anti-war” sentiment in America revolves around Bringing the Boys Home and denouncing this intervention or that as part of a scheme to funnel Your Tax Dollars into the pockets of defense contractors. Enriching the petroleum, military, and aviation sectors certainly factors into the covert motivations for interventions, but such considerations are ancillary to the necessity of enforcing underdevelopment.
This analytical poverty also presents itself in the mainstream understanding of intelligence operations (deep politics, if you will). A steady diet of Chomsky articles and Netflix documentaries will reveal that the American state has bankrolled, planned, and covered up every imaginable brutality but will provide no investigation as to why or, worse, will gesture towards “corporate capture of American institutions” or whatever. Thus, the aim here is to devise a Marxist assessment of conspiracy and the actors that participate in it. For that, an entry point must be located.
Rather than with the conclusion of the Second World War, the international struggle against communism began with the Anglo-American deployment to Siberia and subsequent recruitment of White emigres by elements of the state and bourgeoisie, both of which resemble the defining intelligence stratagems of the middle and late twentieth century. Therefore, rather than a unique phenomenon beginning with the ascension of a particular clique following the Second World War, the training of death squads and recruitment of Nazi elements is a more sophisticated expansion of a process that previously occurred.
The cessation of overt hostilities in Europe inspires the development of two networks. Eisenhower, stimulated by the Reichsautobahnen, orders a vast grid of highways etched into the landscape not only to streamline potential military endeavors but to facilitate capital circulation. Simultaneously in Washington, America’s adolescent intelligence agencies are managing a many-layered web incorporating the wreckage of Nazi intelligence and flowing through a number of systempunkts — Gehlen’s fortress-like nerve-center in Bavaria, the Paladin Group’s nest in Albufera, Spain, and on and on. The former, though of the overworld, and the latter, though of the underworld, were united as organs of the transnational leviathan constructed to prick at and eventually demolish communism at the beck-and-call of Babylon.
It’s easy to frame the complex of operations that incorporated Nazi networks into the American state superstructure as a “corrupting” moment marking a departure from “democracy” or “the real America”, but this view is useless for developing a materialist understanding of conspiracy. It essentially replicates the idea of cultural Marxism by alleging that a fifth column has subverted an otherwise cohesive social body. Furthermore, any solution proposed within this framework will result in the reproduction of the social forces that created the problem to begin with. How does one vote out Allen Dulles?
Carl Oglesby in The Yankee and Cowboy War proposes a direct lineage between the Frontier with its inextricably genocidal character and American assaults on “revolutionary nationalism” in Asia. The absorption of Nazi elements into American power networks can be understood by identifying the Frontier and Drang nach Osten as mirror images. Hitler, beyond his well-documented adulation for Wild West stories, declared that “in the East a similar process will repeat itself for a second time as in the conquest of America.” In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, the two frontiers merge, a process represented by American troopships carrying tens of thousands of Waffen-SS units to Vietnam to butcher peasants fighting for liberation.¹
No operation is more representative of the entire structure than Air America. Known first as Civil Air Transport, it was formed by General Claire Chennault and administrator Whiting Willauer before being transferred to the Central Intelligence Agency in 1950. Willauer was subsequently appointed Ambassador to Honduras and would assist the Agency in orchestrating the assault on the popular administration of Árbenz in neighboring Guatemala.² As an Agency appendage, Air America would smuggle enormous quantities of opium to finance a counter-revolutionary guerrilla army in Laos.³ Additionally, Air America employed members of the sexually abusive and pedophilic Finders cult, which was documented as having trafficked children through Hong Kong.⁴
From capitalism’s first day we can find English aristocrats drinking, gambling, and carousing while peasants uprooted by enclosure rot in the slums. The necessity of enforcing discipline on unruly proletarians manifests firsts in night watchmen and then in a consolidated police force, whose methods are imported from the colonies. Intelligence agencies can be understood in much the same way but on an enormously larger scale. Every coup d’état and counter-insurgency that removes, with horrific consequences, an impediment to Western capital while its beneficiaries submerge themselves in grotesque pleasure is an echo of these aforementioned measures. The Phoenix Program finds in its ancestry the public hangings of eighteenth-century London.
Walter Rodney, in his seminal work How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, noted that “Secret societies arose in the area that is now Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and they permitted knowledge, power and wealth to pass into the hands of the elders and ultimately to the elders of particular lineages.” The emergence of class conflict spurred the old men who controlled land allocation and marriage to organize themselves in a conscious effort to maintain their privileged economic status. It cannot be neglected that Rodney himself was assassinated by the Guyanese government.
The lesson for communists, then, is clear: the clandestine state and the conspiracies concocted by it are outgrowths of political economy. The managers of intelligence and monopoly capital who orchestrated so many amply documented atrocities were not merely fanatics driven by a blind hatred of communism, or racism, or whatever. Those atop the heap grasped their function with absolute clarity. Though expressed in sterilized language, this understanding on occasion escapes the minds and cocktail parties of the bourgeoisie and appears in documents intended for internal circulation. Take, for example, a report commissioned by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation summarizing what must at all costs be avoided: “A serious reduction of the potential resource base and market opportunities of the West owing to the subtraction of the communist areas from the international economy and their economic transformation in ways which reduce their willingness and ability to complement the industrial economies of the West.”⁵
With this, we must now ask what is to be done, and for that we can turn to the Red Brigades.
We must not let ourselves be fooled by [the Christian Democrats’] ‘professions of democratic and anti-fascist faith’ which from time to time come from some of the leaders of this party. These professions are made because they respond to the tactical need to keep alive the dialectic between ‘fascism’ and ‘anti-fascism’ which permits the DC to collect votes, making people believe that, as opposed to the ‘fascist’ danger, ‘reformed democracy,’ that is, the imperialist State, is better. The problem of the revolutionary vanguards is to make this whole game clear, striking at hidden nests, connections, connivances, and plans.
- Crash Course: From the Good War to the Forever War, H. Bruce Franklin, p. 9
- “Impacts of U.S. Foreign Policy and Intervention on Guatemala: Mid-20th Century”, Patricia M. Plantamura, p. 84–85
- The Politics of Heroin, Alfred McCoy, p. 288–330
- “Through a glass, very darkly,” Gordon Witkin and Peter Cary, U.S. News and World Report, December 27, 1990. See also the 02/07/87 memo of USCS Special Agent Ramon J. Martinez, reproduced in McGowan (2004), p. 64
- “The Political Economy of American Foreign Policy”, report of a Study Group sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the National Planning Association, p. 39