Although the Alliance for Workers Liberty has no co-group in New Zealand and is a minor player on the British far-left, we’re running the article below because the AWL ideas being critiqued in it are certainly relevant here (and probably in the rest of the imperialist world).  These ideas are, indeed, widespread among the liberal left in this country.

Sean Matgamna; founder of the tendency and self-proclaimed Zionist

by Patrick Smith

In 2013 I resigned from the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty following the publication of Sean Matgamna’s ‘Marxism and religion’ article and subsequently became a member of the CPGB. Since then I have spent some time reflecting on my experience and clarifying my ideas.In particular I have been considering social-imperialism: what it is and how it has changed over time. In that light I would like to discuss the AWL’s positions on various conflicts, its heterodox theory of imperialism and capitalist development, and why it is wrong.


Throughout history, the systematic violence and coercion that maintains the current imperialist world order has been justified by various ideas. Prior to World War I the big idea was that the imperialist nations were bringing civilisation to the uncivilised. In the late 20th century it was bringing democracy to totalitarian states. More recently it has been about preventing genocide or mass murder.

The ideas that justify imperialism are always noble. Who but an uncaring intransigent could oppose spreading civilisation and all that it brings to those unfortunate enough not to have developed it themselves? Who could oppose bringing democracy to those trampled under the heel of authoritarianism? Who could oppose the only thing capable of preventing a genocide?

It is within this context that social-imperialism occurs. These questions tend to dominate the arguments put forward by the AWL, for example – US imperialism is seen as preventing massacres or bringing stability. The AWL has developed its own theory, of course, to justify its positions, but in its day-to-day literature and slogans it is the ‘common sense’ bourgeois ideas that lurk beneath the surface.

This is not unique to the AWL. Both Ernest Belfort Bax and Eduard Bernstein accepted the thinking of the day that imperialism drew “barbarian” or “savage” peoples towards civilisation. But they differed over whether this was historically progressive and chose a side accordingly.

Bernstein thought that capitalist social relations had to be spread across the world as a precondition for socialism. He therefore did not oppose colonial conquest in circumstances where he thought the people being colonised were “incapable”, as he put it, of “civilisation” by themselves. He did, however, support the struggle against imperialism, where he felt it was interfering and holding back the development of peoples, or where progressive classes were rebelling against their suppression by reactionary classes.

Bax took the opposite view and unconditionally supported the right of indigenous peoples to resist colonial conquest. He thought that capitalism was on the verge of collapse and imperialism was an attempt to delay this. By halting capitalist expansion, he thought socialists would bring about the Zusammenbruch (collapse) and usher in an era of socialism. He thought the “barbarian” or “uncivilised” peoples should be allowed to develop on their own and saw their subjection to “the squalor of modern civilisation” as unnecessary to the achievement of socialism. To this end he actually proposed to the 1896 London Congress of the Second International that socialists ought to arm, train and drill indigenous people, so that they might defeat colonial forces.

During the debate between the two, Bernstein wrote:

Races who are hostile to or incapable of civilisation cannot claim our sympathy … We will condemn and oppose certain methods of subjugating savages. But we will not condemn the idea that savages must be subjugated and made to conform to the rules of higher civilisation.1

Those who know the AWL will recognise the logic. Here, for example, are Clive Bradley’s thoughts on Libya and Muammar Gaddafi: “We can be vigilant against whatever political steps the western powers take, but what issue of principle should make us demonstrate against [western military intervention]?”2 So he opposes and condemns certain imperialist methods, but does not think it a principle to oppose imperialism per se.

In the same article quoted above, Bernstein also wrote:

Not every rising of conquered races against their conquerors is a struggle for emancipation. Africa harbours tribes who adjudge to themselves the right of trading in slaves, and who can only be prevented from this sort of thing by the civilised nations of Europe. Their risings against the latter do not interest us – nay, will have us, in given cases, as opponents.

Again, we see an interesting parallel with the AWL. In 2004 the same Clive Bradley drafted the following motion:

The ‘resistance’ to US/UK occupation [of Iraq] is reactionary. As things stand, the occupation cannot accurately be called ‘colonial’. The conflict is more one between the globocop of the empire of capital and local mafias and gangs.

Another senior AWLer, Mark Osborn, writes: “If the US destroys the bases used by Syria’s military to massacre its own citizens, you will not find the AWL on the streets protesting. The main enemy is Assad, not America.”3 And on September 7 2011, Sacha Ismail comments: “… nothing was going to save the Libyan revolution except outside intervention.”4

In each of these quotes we find elements of Bernstein’s logic.

I will concentrate in this article on Kosova and Libya – I was an AWL member during the Libyan civil war and never opposed the organisation’s position. As for Kosova, I did not come up with a satisfactory answer when asked about it during the pre-conference period before I left.

What I want to address with these examples are two specific things. The first is the propaganda, which tends to grossly exaggerate the threat posed by whoever imperialism or Nato has in its sights. The second is the claim that intervention helps the situation, when in fact it tends to make things worse – in the case of Libya, it produced a ‘failed state’, where the violence still continues, long after the fall of Gaddafi.

I found that one of the hardest arguments to oppose is the claim that these people – Albanians in Kosova, the labour movement in Iraq, the uprising in Benghazi, and so on – these people are about to be murdered, and the only thing that might stop this is ‘humanitarian intervention’. So ‘who are we to oppose this?’ – or, more commonly, ‘Should our opposition to intervention be the main demand?’ The implication being that if you still oppose western intervention then you are a heartless monster, blinded by your “kitsch-left” anti-imperialist blinkers.


In 1999 politicians and journalists ‘knew’ exactly what the Serbs were doing in Kosova – just as they ‘knew’ Iraq possessed ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in 2003. Bill Clinton, then US president, talked of “deliberate, systematic efforts at ethnic cleansing and genocide”. US defence secretary William Cohen claimed: “We’ve now seen about 100,000 military-aged men missing … They may have been murdered.” And in March 1999, Nato began bombing Serbia to stop all this.

I cannot refer to what the AWL said prior to the bombing because it is not available online or in any of the publications I have. But I can say that the general narrative of the AWL now is that the Nato bombing campaign prevented a genocide – Kosova is often used as an example of a model “humanitarian intervention”. For example, in 2011 AWL guru Sean Matgamna writes: “… in 1999 the Nato powers undertook a police action to stop a Serbian drive to massacre and drive out the Albanian population of Kosova” – an action socialists should support, because the “Serbian regime was engaged in an attempt at genocide”.5

In 1999, at the Socialist Workers Party’s Marxism event, the AWL produced a flyer that claimed:

the Kosova Liberation Army emerged as a ramshackle rural militia for self-defence. The KLA had won mass support, but in the autumn of 1998 it was routed by Serb forces … The west became alarmed – and not because Milošević was mistreating the Kosovars, but because the Serb state was using so much terror and brutality it was threatening the stability of the whole region.

In 1999, Lucy Clement compares the Kosova war to the holocaust:

It’s 1943. We’re at a socialist meeting. For two years the Nazis have been killing Jews. They’ve organised the slaughter into a modern industry. Trains from all over Europe deliver cattle truck-loads of Jews to the death factories. British imperialism, at war with Germany, decides to do what Jewish groups have been asking for. They bomb the rail approach to Auschwitz. And more – they systematically bomb railway lines across Germany. Back to our meeting. The speaker stands up: ‘Comrades, there is one thing above all we must say tonight. Stop bombing German railways! Stop this bloody war!6

I think it is fair to say that the AWL’s narrative of events is that Serbia was engaged in a genocide against Kosova and that the Nato intervention stopped it. To the point where the Nato campaign is compared to the bombing of the train lines to Auschwitz.

However, Nato intervention actually escalated the violence and created a humanitarian crisis. Prior to the bombing the United Nations Human Rights Council reported no refugee problem. Three days into the bombing it noted that 4,000 had fled Kosova. Within weeks it was estimated that more than 350,000 had fled since the bombing began.7

In a Nato report following the war it was stated that 2,000 people had been killed on all sides prior to the bombing. British defence secretary George Robertson (later to become Nato general secretary) stated in the House of Commons that, up to mid-January 1999, “The Kosovo Liberation Army was responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Serbian authorities had been.” Finally, the House of Commons foreign affairs committee concluded: “It is likely that the Nato bombing did cause a change in the character of the assault upon the Kosovo Albanians. What had been an anti-insurgency campaign – albeit a brutal and counterproductive one – became a mass organised campaign to kill Kosovo Albanians and drive them from the country.”8

None of this is to say that nationalism, in particular Serbian nationalism, was not a problem during the break-up of Yugoslavia; nor is it to say that there was no ethnic cleansing – the worst example being the Serb massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica. But it is to say that the invocation of the holocaust and claims of genocide were used as a pretext for war – one which the AWL repeated.


In March 2011, Sean Matgamna bombarded us with a long list of rhetorical questions in an article entitled ‘Why we should not denounce intervention in Libya’. Matgamna claims that the Nato no-fly zone is “likely to … produce desirable results” and that this “limited police action has prevented, for now at least, the immediate full-scale massacre that colonel Gaddafi threatened to inflict on his opponents.”9

Then, in an article entitled ‘No illusions in west, but “anti-intervention” opposition is abandoning rebels’, Clive Bradley calls Gaddafi “bloodthirsty” and claims that intervention is “the one thing which might prevent untold slaughter, prevent Gaddafi’s immediate bloody victory”, which would be a crushing defeat for the Arab spring. He concludes that “a terrible defeat in Libya” would sap the self-confidence of the Libyan working class much more than “a temporary acceptance of western assistance”.10

In May 2011, Martyn Hudson writes an article entitled ‘Libyan rebels fight for life’. In this he claims that pro-Gaddafi militias continue to target “journalists, bloggers and paramedics” and goes on to accuse them of perpetrating “widespread rape and mass murder”. He also claims that the “pro-tyrant left” have downplayed this and branded the uprising reactionary, whereas “it is clear that the rebels form a genuine citizens’ army” who aim to create “an open civil society” with a “multi-party government”. He concludes by comparing the Transitional National Council to the Petrograd Soviet, noting that, much like the Petrograd Commune of 1919, “free Libya fights for its very existence”.11

So there are three claims here:

  • Gaddafi was about to commit mass murder or genocide against the civilian population of the east.
  • The no-fly zone imposed by Nato was a one-off “police action” intended to stop the aforementioned massacre.
  • The uprising was a coherent democratic revolution with the goal of establishing a multi-party democracy.

With regard to the first point, reports during the first seven days of the uprising claimed that Gaddafi’s forces had killed over 2,000 people in Benghazi and more than 1,000 in Tripoli. These exaggerated the figures by a factor of more than 10. The actual death toll across Libya for that entire period was 233, according to a later review by Human Rights Watch. The highest figure I have seen is 640, a quarter of which were Gaddafi’s forces.

Moreover, Gaddafi did not perpetrate a “bloodbath” in any of the cities that his forces recaptured from rebels prior to Nato intervention. For instance in Misrata 949 people were wounded and 257 people were killed out of a population of 400,000, but that was during the rebellion itself.

None of this is to prettify Gaddafi, but to establish that once again the threat of mass murder was grossly exaggerated in order to drum up support for intervention. Or, as Eddie Ford has noted, “Communists, it goes without saying, opposed the Gaddafi regime. But we reject the west’s anti-Gaddafi propaganda.”12

It is also false to claim that this was a “one-off police action” designed to prevent an immediate massacre. The purpose was clearly regime change. That is why the regime’s retreating forces were bombed and there was an attempt to assassinate Gaddafi by targeting his house.

Finally, while the uprising was directed against the authoritarian rule of Gaddafi, it was hardly coherent.

This brings us to post-Gaddafi Libya and what the AWL had to say about the situation. The motion on the Middle East proposed in Discussion Bulletin No307 (prior to the AWL conference in 2013) claims that “the overthrow of Gaddafi with the help of Nato intervention has produced a rightwing regime that nonetheless has elements of a functioning bourgeois democracy”. It goes on to claim that “There have been pogroms and repression against black Libyans and against migrants, numerous human rights violations by the government and various militias, and the country is fragmenting and could break up further. Nonetheless, the situation is qualitatively better than under Gaddafi. While advocating stark distrust of Nato, we were right not to denounce flat-out the Nato intervention, which prevented the crushing of the rebellion.”

When I asked how any of this was qualitatively better than under Gaddafi in a pre-conference meeting, Sacha Ismail pointed out that the motion says that “there have been some strikes”.

On every count the AWL has been wrong. The intervention was not ‘humanitarian’ and it did not bring any sort of stability. It escalated rather than stopped the violence, which in turn produced a failed state that has fractured along tribal lines, run by dozens of warring militias vying for control of Libya’s oil.

In both Serbia and Libya – and you can add other examples, such as Iraq and Afghanistan – imperialist intervention has made the situation worse.

There is an apocryphal story about the Caledonian chieftain, Calgacus, in Tacitus’s The Agricola. Shortly before the battle of Mons Graupius in AD83 he makes an observation about the nature of the Roman empire in a speech to his troops: “To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and, where they make a desert, they call it peace.”

While the Roman empire was a product of a different time and mode of production, I think this observation – that the Romans simply laid waste to areas and declared it a success – could be made of many of the places in which western intervention has occurred: Bosnia, Kosova, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and so on. These countries have been or were to some extent destroyed, yet the myth of imperialism as a force capable of successful regime change, nation-building or humanitarian intervention still persists. The biggest proponent of these illusions on the left being the AWL.


There is a formulation used by the AWL, which dates back to the days of Socialist Organiser, about having “no trust in Nato”. For example, as far back as 1992 Sean Matgamna writes:

There is growing demand for western intervention to bring an end to the fighting … Should socialists ‘defend Serbia’ from ‘imperialist aggression?’ If there is western military intervention it will be a police action to avert chaos on the borders of the immensely powerful European community: it will be a limited police action. As socialists and anti-imperialists, we have no confidence in the western capitalist powers: we warn against relying on Nato or US intervention. But in the name of what alternative would we denounce and condemn, and demand an immediate end to, a limited police action by the big powers?13

When AWL leaders say that they “don’t make opposition to one-off police actions [their] main demand” while still “advocating a stark distrust of Nato” and noting that the US or whoever intervenes in “their own, imperialist or capitalist interests”, we need to remember what they mean by imperialism and why they distrust it. It is their heterodox theory of imperialism that informs those statements. It also explains why they are so nonchalant about the imperialism of the west, but exhibit an hysterical, almost unhinged, opposition to Iranian, Iraqi, Russian and Chinese state actions.

In the mid- to late 90s Martin Thomas developed a theory based on a rethinking of Kautsky’s “ultra-imperialism”. There are three parts to his theory that need covering. The first is the history and development of the capitalist state and its place in the world market until the mid-20th century. The second is the development of “ultra-imperialism”. The third is the state of world affairs today and what that means for socialist strategy.

These comments are based on the article, ‘Marxism and imperialism’, which Thomas wrote in Workers’ Liberty No28 (1996) and republished with some amendments in 2001; and his introduction to Kautsky’s Socialism and colonial policy, his introduction to Kautsky’s ‘Ultra-imperialism’ and his critique of Negri and the SWP – all from Workers’ Liberty No2/3.

State and market

In his introduction to ‘Ultra-imperialism’, Thomas writes:

Some leftists have used ‘imperialism’ as a shapeless hold-all word to refer to advanced capitalism whenever they wanted to express special hostility to it, thus putting themselves in a posture of indicting advanced capitalism because it is advanced rather than for being capitalist.

I start with this to illustrate Thomas’s conception of the state, which is at any given point on one rung of the ladder of capitalist development competing with other states on the world market. This understanding of capitalist and imperialist development is largely the same as that of Lenin and the early Kautsky. The only difference being an additional stage of development – that of “ultra-imperialism”, policed by the “globocop” hyper-imperialist state, or hyper-power. In WL28 Thomas writes:

The nation-state was the first framework for capitalist development. As capitalism develops, it outgrows the nation-states, greedily takes the whole world as its arena, and becomes more closely tied up with and reliant on those states … The world economy is therefore an arena not only of competition between capitalists, but also of competition between capitalist states.

This starts with ‘old-style’ exploitation colonies that draw profit from the crude plunder of resources from the colonised country: for example, Latin America under Spanish and Portuguese rule and India in the early stages of British colonial rule.

We then see the emergence of settler colonies, or what Kautsky called “work colonies”, where the European settlers became the new working class rather than exploiting the local workforce. This sort of colonialism brought capitalist progress with it, but often led to repression and the destruction of the natives. Though Kautsky notes that this was “not an unavoidable result”.

This is then followed by a period of “the imperialism of free trade” under British hegemony. This is explained by Kautsky as being the result of the industrial revolution in Britain, causing the ascendency of industrial capital, and the liberal, free-trade policy of Manchesterism, which was advantageous to Britain.

This lasts from the beginning of the 19th century until we reach the late 1870s-early 1880s, where we see a new exploitative colonialism or “high imperialism”, which is regarded as a new phenomenon. Martin writes:

Before, imperial powers had often been content to limit themselves to plunder and only marginal trade in their colonies … earlier in the 19th century, the industrial and empire-establishing pioneer, Britain, had been able to range wide through free trade, but it was now seeing its industry fast outstripped by Germany and the USA.

This is explained as the result of national industry becoming dominated by cartels. The high-finance and industrial cartels caused the state to “drive out internationally in search of opportunities for investment, of markets for manufactured goods, and of sources of raw materials”. Colonial rule was needed to safeguard investments and supply the force necessary for capitalist development.

This produced a competitive scramble for new territories, the growth of militarism, and thus the conditions for World War I. After which the pattern of “high imperialism” continued and in some respects was intensified. The world became more sharply divided into trade blocs and empires. Germany, stripped of its colonies and some of its territory, and subjected to crippling reparations, drove for revenge against the old empires and spheres of influence, creating the conditions for World War II.


We come, then, to the final development of “ultra-imperialism” in Thomas’s theory. “It is a cousin of the ‘ultra-imperialism’ sketched by Kautsky, rather than a direct embodiment of it,” he writes. It is more a system of collaboration and negotiation keystoned by the “globocop” hyper-imperialist role of the USA than the ‘moderate’ give-and-take agreement between more-or-less equals, which Kautsky foresaw.

After World War II the world was divided into two camps: one led by the USA, the other by the USSR. In the western camp, something pretty much like Kautsky’s “ultra-imperialism” did emerge. It was constructed, after two world wars, within one “camp” of a bigger-than-ever arms race between two camps, and under the hegemony of a sort of hyper-imperialism: the USA.

Western powers avoided or limited the costs of arms-racing by hitching themselves to the US. The US was able to carry the military costs because of its economic superiority, and willing to do so in order to police a world, or half-world, of free-ish trade, in which its huge corporations and banks could prosper better than in the old world of trade blocs and rival empires.

According to the theory, the collapse of the Soviet Union brings us to the situation today where ultra-imperialism has extended to cover almost the whole globe. The situation is one in which the world is made up of politically independent bourgeois states integrated into the world market and acting to make their territory a safe and workable area for capital accumulation.

The US hyper-power acts as a “globocop” and intervenes militarily for two reasons.

The first is to maintain a smooth network of capitalist states covering the globe in order to make them safe areas for capital accumulation. Thomas writes:

Since the early 1990s, the USA has generally preferred to sustain bourgeois democracies (of a sort, and on condition, of course, that they accept the rules of the world market, which generally they do out of the self-interest of the local bourgeoisie).

Although he acknowledges that the US is perfectly happy to support dictatorships and so on if they play ball. And it also intervenes militarily when the actions of sub- or paleo-imperialist states bring them into conflict with it.

Because the world is a system of politically independent states, and not an empire of the US or a cartel of the big powers, there are also sub-imperialist powers, such as India, Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria, which maintain a regional hegemony. In addition to this there are “paleo-imperialist” states. These are states which are engaged in regional conquests of the type we saw in the period of “high imperialism”, the prefix ‘paleo’ signifying an earlier or previous form.

Not all military ventures by paleo-imperialist powers bring them into conflict with the US or Nato. Thomas notes “Indonesia in East Timor, Turkey in Cyprus and Morocco in the Western Sahara” as examples of paleo-imperialism being endorsed by the big powers. However, sometimes, as in Serbia in Kosova, or Iraq in Kuwait, the US acts against the paleo-imperialist power.

So there we have it: the world is a system of economically interdependent, but politically independent, states at various stages of capitalist development. A situation policed by the US hyper-power in the interest of creating stability, a precondition for capital accumulation.

This brings us back to the AWL’s position on “anti-imperialism”. When it says the US intervenes in humanitarian crises in its own interests, those interests are the stability of the region, which in turn is in the interests of global capital.

Thus, the occupation of Iraq was seen as bringing some level of stability, which is why the AWL refused to call for ‘troops out’. Or, as Sacha Ismail put it in 2006,

Of course, the occupation does not exist to protect the labour movement in any sense. But it is nonetheless true that, as against the ‘resistance’ and the gangsters, its rule and that of its sponsored government provide some very limited space for the labour movement to exist.14

As I have said, Martin Thomas believes that the left opposes US imperialism because it is advanced, and he goes on to add: “Paleo-imperialism does not cease to be reactionary when it comes into conflict with a bigger power, any more than a small capitalist exploiter is converted into a philanthropist by a competitive tussle with a big corporation.”

Three reasons

All of this is wrong for three reasons. The first is that it imagines that there has been a non-imperialist capitalism, where capitalism develops in one country before expanding beyond the borders of the nation-state. The second is that it conceives of the world as an anarchy of politically independent states, which differ only in military strength and levels of capitalist development. The third is that it fails to recognise that US or Nato interventions are destructive and tend to produce failed states, rather than bourgeois democracies or even any level of stability.

As Mike Macnair has pointed out, capitalism emerges as an international phenomenon and as a systematic international division of labour.

The Genoese and Venetian proto-capitalist city-states established plantation colonies in Cyprus and the Atlantic Islands, to which they exported capital for the production of sugar and naval exclaves in foreign countries in order to create a shipping and warehousing monopoly.

The Dutch republic continued these patterns and added to them the subordination of weaker feudal states, such as Poland and Russia, through the use of loans to pay for arms and infrastructure. In turn the serf labour of these countries was used to provide raw agricultural materials to Dutch cities.

British imperialism brings with it settler-colonies in North America, along with the use of naval exclaves in India and south Asia, the use of loans for arms and infrastructure in Latin America.

The point is that “high imperialism”, “the imperialism of free trade” and “semi-colonialism” are actually features of the international development of capitalism starting – almost – with the very first capitalist city-states, rather than stages of development after capitalism has reached the internal limits of the nation-state.

As capitalism develops, it needs credit money for the capitalist economy to function. In order to have credit money the state has to be able to enforce the debt. In order to avoid debtors moving themselves or their assets out of the reach of the state, it has to act in a mercantilist fashion in order to provide benefits for its capitals and prevent debt-dodging.

The demand to enable credit money on the international scale, while at the same time avoiding a world state which would make discrimination against other capitals, mercantilism and hence credit money impossible, capitalism demands the formation of a systematic hierarchy of states, headed by the hegemon. The hegemon is, in the first instance, the top military power, but this inevitably leads to its currency becoming the global reserve currency.

The material productivity of the hegemon is undermined by its status as global reserve currency because of the increased military demand on the state, but also because it tends to increase investment in financial operations relative to production. After a while the decline in domestic productivity means that this capacity can no longer support its military through the tribute it obtains from its ability to skim the surplus from international financial transactions.

After this the hegemon is driven to repeated displays of power in order to retain its status, which persists as long as the state can preserve its global strategic balance.

Not only does this understanding take into account the actual history of the international development of capitalism, but it also explains, in a way that Martin Thomas and other AWLers ignore, the apparent irrationality of America’s destructive interventions.

Take Iran, which abolished its $60 billion fuel and food subsidies programme at the request of the International Monetary Fund. Indeed it was praised by the IMF for reducing domestic fuel consumption, thereby allowing it to sell those assets abroad. Yet America imposes sanctions. Major shipping companies still refuse to send tankers there for fear of being fined; many banks refuse to deal with Tehran because doing so would mean they lose access to US markets.

If America really were engaged in making the “entire globe” a safe space for capital accumulation, it would not be imposing sanctions against one of the most IMF-compliant countries in the world.


All this convinces me that the AWL theory of “ultra-imperialism” is wrong. Yet it is that theory which drives the AWL to adopt social-imperialist positions. It accepts the propaganda about the threat of “genocide”, which features strongly in the AWL’s slogans and positions. It concludes that in general imperialist intervention is on balance progressive.

This in turn leads the AWL to reject defeatism – the need to campaign for the defeat of imperialism. On the contrary, the AWL believes that we are living through a period of “ultra-imperialism”, in which the US hyper-power is not necessarily the ‘worst option’ when it comes into conflict with “paleo-” or “sub”-imperialisms.

The result is that, in framing the debate in such a way as to support – or ‘not oppose’ – the ‘least worst’ of two capitalist options, the AWL does not approach the question from an independent working class perspective.

And, of course, by refusing to oppose imperialist intervention the AWL ends up justifying the right of the imperialists to exert political control and domination over others, who are denied the right to political independence – the antithesis of democracy.

Approaching the question from an independent working class perspective and being consistent democrats means opposing all imperialist schemes and adventures.

1. Neue Zeit October 14 1896.
2. Solidarity March 23 2011
3. Solidarity June 13 2012.
6. Workers’ Liberty June 1999.
7. See New York Times April 5 1999.
9. Solidarity March 23 2011.
10. Ibid.
11. Solidarity May 4 2011.
12. Weekly Worker August 7 2014.
13. Socialist Organiser No529.

  1. O'Shay says:

    One of the best examples of a pro-imperialist progressive argument is when you hear someone say, something like. ‘Imperialist analysis removes the agency of people’. I would find such remarks cute in their naivety if it wasn’t for their undermining of proper analysis and the damage that it causes to the left.