What happens when a country’s internal peace becomes impossible? When the interests of the different peoples within its borders grow so far removed from each other that the disadvantaged group must either fight or lose everything? Best case scenario for the oppressors, the oppressed section merely needs to wage a sustained campaign of civil disobedience in order to rectify the situation, like when Bolivia’s indigenous people rose up against their white supremacist coup regime and forced through new elections. But if the oppressors refuse to play by even the basic rules of democratic governance, and respond to the liberation movement’s requests with nothing more than violence, then they’ll provoke another level of resistance. A backlash so aggressive that it leads not to reform but to revolution, and the oppressors become liquidated as a social force.
When the U.S. empire installed a government within Kiev that was committed to fulfilling the anti-Russian ethnic cleansing goals of Stepan Bandera, then the Russian speakers of the Donbass fought to liberate themselves from this threat, Russia was prompted to embrace a set of goals within Ukraine. Goals that were required for ensuring the safety of these communities which Kiev menaced. After the special operation began, Russia phrased these objectives as: “unconditional consideration for Russia’s legitimate interests in the sphere of security, including recognition of Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, achieving the objectives of the Ukrainian state’s demilitarization and denazification, and ensuring its neutral status.” As China works towards hosting peace talks, it’s apparent that Russia has won this war, simply by having successfully demilitarized Ukraine and thereby taken away its long-term tools for harming the Donbass. Ukraine’s efforts to defend Bakhmut and retake Crimea are absurd, even the Biden administration knows this.
When those who provoked this conflict are finally forced to bend to reality, Ukraine will be spent as a force for imperialist destabilization efforts. The Banderites will lack the ability to keep shelling the Donbass, and the imperial powers will retreat into themselves after losing the wider economic war. In the longer term, when a new Russian workers revolution becomes more likely, both the formerly Kiev-controlled parts of Ukraine and the country’s remaining Kiev-controlled section will be able to restore their socialist systems. Because by that point, U.S. hegemony will be fully gone, empowering the communists within Ukraine who got terrorized into hiding.
This process of defeat for Banderism that we’re now witnessing is the inevitable product of Banderism’s foundational ideas. This is an ideology that, upon its formation during the country’s Nazi collaborationist era, was created with the implicit acceptance that a civil war would be entailed in its rise to power. This is because its goal is to murder, terrorize, or forcibly relocate the entire Russian-speaking segment of Ukrainian society. Such a project was of course going to be met with resistance. The Soviet Union and its legacy have even preemptively given these communities the military and cultural basis for waging such an anti-fascist war. The Donbass separatists have been able to utilize the old weapons of the USSR; fight while displaying the USSR’s symbols and iconography; and tap into a social base that’s unified by their historical memory of World War II, and sense of Russian nationhood.
Within our generation, the equivalent type of conflict could happen in America. Such is the conclusion that can be taken away from the analysis by University of Alberta terrorism and criminology researcher Temitope Oriola, who’s said that “To avoid violence, the country needs urgent reforms [in the] criminal justice system.” Oriola observes how a domestic insurgency could come from a black community that’s been driven to desperation by intensifying poverty and state violence, and such a civil conflict could indeed initially arise from these particularly subjugated parts of society. But this insurgency, and its adjacent popular struggles that utilize different tools than arms, has the potential to gain a broader base than black people. Because with work by the communist movement, it could act as the catalyst for a proletarian revolution, an uprising that’s participated in by workers of all colors.
Should this breakdown of the country’s peace come—and I feel anyone paying attention on some level knows it’s coming, since neither party will make the concessions needed for keeping the peace—it will be America’s Ukraine moment. The moment when the contradictions that are innate to the United States produce a crisis too big for our ruling class to get under control. The elites, and those who defend their imperial project, will be the ones to blame when the underclass decides to break away from the social contract. They’re the ones that have put our society on the route towards breakdown. We communists are only seeking to build a just social order in the face of this chaos.
The way to do this in America is different from the way to do it in France, where the people are more inclined to riot. Americans tried to revolt several years ago, then the police waged war against them while the state’s subtler counterinsurgency tools co-opted the struggle. For our liberation movements to succeed, they must inoculate themselves against these efforts to assimilate them into reformism, while building up their means to resist the state’s violence. (And, when the conditions are right, to take example from Russia’s decision of actively working to take away the tools of one’s enemy.) When the people have the education and organizational strength to no longer be vulnerable to the counterinsurgency’s tactics, they’ll be in the right place to mobilize on a scale that threatens the state’s existence. The revolt will not be a spontaneous affair, disorganized and easily able to be diverted towards anti-revolutionary activities. It will be a serious campaign towards workers revolution, guided by a leadership that knows proletarian revolutionary theory and is working to spread this knowledge to the rest of the people.
I make this comparison between Ukraine and America not because I believe workers revolution is guaranteed upon the arrival of America’s “Ukraine moment,” but because I recognize this moment as an opportunity for Marxists to advance our cause. The revolution will only happen if we put in the work needed to make it happen. At this moment, a crucial part of that work is educating the people about the nature of the anti-imperialist struggle during the age of the new cold war. A task which requires the advancement of a certain ideological conflict within the country’s left.
There are those who claim to be on the side of revolution, but whose distorted type of radicalization has led them to vociferously promote NATO’s narratives about global affairs. They claim that Russia and China are imperialist powers, an idea which all their other imperialism-compatible ideas are outgrowths of. These are the actors who sided with NATO’s view of Assad when Syria was the primary foreign policy divider on the left, or whose notion of how to analyze world affairs makes their ideas at least adjacent to those of the pro-NATO leftists. Their shared trait is a fundamental lack of principles when it comes to anti-imperialism. A willingness to direct excessive and inaccurate criticisms towards Washington’s geopolitical targets, whether because they’re trying to appease Democrats or because their ultra-leftism has simply blinded them to how to recognize imperialism’s psyops.
Combating this imperialism-compatible element of the left is at this stage a strategically vital step towards revolution. As when our organizing spaces have been sufficiently taken back from the influence of these actors, the class struggle will no longer be obstructed by their efforts to fuse radicalism with pro-imperialism. This victory will then make possible an escalation in the class struggle, where the state is forced to use counterinsurgency measures more direct than cultivating a controlled opposition. The time will come when utilizing physical skills replaces education as our most urgent task. That’s the ultimate lesson Marxists in the imperial center can take from Z: when the oppressors don’t stop their provocations, the situation will naturally grow more extreme. It’s up to us how to respond to this development.