[Marxism] Good imperialists vs. evil governments of the oppressed, round 199

Lou Paulsen loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net
Wed Apr 1 11:12:45 MDT 2009

Mr. Cloke wrote, sarcastically, as he thought:

> And therefore, had the Argentinian military dictatorship and its 
> supporting clique amongst the bourgeoisie defeated the UK armed forces 
> and re-established control over the Falklands, thus reinforcing itself 
> in power and strengthening its ability to oppress and commit mass 
> murder against the Argentine working class, petit bourgeoisie and, 
> well, lefties, academics, activists, the usual suspects, that would 
> have been a step forward in the international class struggle, would it?

Mr. Cloke apparently believes in the very popular theory that if an imperialist power suffers a military defeat at the hands of an oppressed country with a non-socialist/undemocratic government, this is bad for the oppressed workers because it strengthens that government.  Logically, it must follow that he also believes that when an imperialist power inflicts a military defeat on an oppressed country with a non-socialist/undemocratic government, this is good for the workers in the oppressed country.  It does them a favor.  It weakens the rule of the bourgeois nationalist leaders, generals, dictators, mullahs, etc.

This theory is testable, though.  There have been plenty of military victories by imperialist powers over oppressed countries.  Perhaps Mr. Cloke can give us a brief listing of the cases in which they have strengthened the workers.  My own impression has been that, even leaving aside, as Mr. Cloke is willing to do, the fact that inflicting military defeat on the oppressed country inevitably means killing and maiming the oppressed workers, both those in the military and (as imperialist war is conducted in these days) those who are not, and impoverishing the country, etc., still, looking at the "domestic politics" alone, military defeats inflicted by the imperialists are likely to leave the workers in those countries weaker and farther from power.

Well, if it is a good thing for the workers and oppressed for imperialist bullets and bombs to inflict miliitary defeats and weaken bad governments of oppressed countries, it is only a small step (perhaps a step of zero length) to saying that it is a good thing for the oppressed if the imperialists completely exterminate those governments and conquer and occupy and "liberate" the oppressed country entirely.  Why should the "favors" of the imperialists be limited to expelling the generals from some "rocks"?  If we have the interests of the Argentine workers at heart, why shouldn't the benevolent imperialists go on and expel them from Buenos Aires?*  

This is not a new discovery, of course.  I believe that in 1519 somebody must have asked sarcastically if it would have been a good thing for the Aztecs to have defeated Cortez and to have gone on with human sacrifices. In 1898 people asked sarcastically if the U.S. should just leave the oppressive Spanish imperialist government in place in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.  In 1903 someone must have asked if it would have been a good thing if the Sokoto Caliphate had defeated Lord Lugard's expedition and been free to go on with slave raids north of the Niger/Benue.  Certainly in recent years we have been taught that imperialist sanctions, blockades, destablization, war and conquest have been or would be good for the oppressed in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, and so on.  "Would it be a good thing for the Taliban to fight off the imperialists in Afghanistan and go on oppressing women?"  (Don't ask about
 the U.S. occupation government's record....!)  

In fact, it just about always looks as if the imperialists are the party of good government for the oppressed, doesn't it?  And, after all, they are the economically, technologically, and culturally advanced countries, aren't they?  And the oppressed country, not by chance, is the "backward" country on all fronts, isn't it?  So imperialist conquest must inevitably bring more "advanced" politics, social thought, social relationships, and so forth, mustn't it?*

Mr. Cloke might protest that global imperialist hegemony supplemented perhaps by an "after the imperialists, us!" slogan is not really what he had in mind, and that he wouldn't really have favored any further action beyond militarily securing the Malvinas in British hands, but on what basis can he draw the line there?  If he is not REALLY primarily interested in keeping the rocks, sheep, possible oil, etc., in English hands, and is REALLY primarily interested in helping out our class brothers and sisters in Argentina, and if weakening the generals with military defeats is so good for them, then the Malvinas are beside the point, aren't they?  Go on, imperialists, and defeat the oppressive governments in the oppressed countries and put them out of existence!*

(*Since this might be read by speakers of non-English languages from different cultures, and since humor and irony are sometimes difficult to translate or indeed even to share among speakers of the same language, I assure all readers that I am being completely sarcastic and mean entirely the opposite, and am attacking Mr. Cloke's position as well as I can.  As all revolutionary Marxists have been aware since before World War I at least, opposition to imperialist war on all fronts is the first duty of Marxists, but most particularly, without possibility of evasion, of the Marxists within those imperialist countries.  Imperialist victories and occupations are disastrous both for the masses of the oppressed countries and also for the workers of the imperialist countries whose capitalists are strengthened and kept in power.  The short answer to Mr. Cloke's question as to whether it would have been a good thing for the international class
 struggle for Britain to have been thrown out of the Malvinas - and to analogous questions about the other examples referred to above - is "Yes.")

Lou Paulsen
member, WWP

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