By Rainer Shea – May 8, 2021
The narrative managers of U.S. imperialism don’t want us to think about the mounting evidence that an alternative to our current socio-political system exists. They don’t want us to think about how over 800 Chinese million people have been lifted out of poverty in the last generation due due to China’s socialist workers democracy, or about the successes that the five Marxist-Leninist countries have had in fighting Covid-19 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or how a multi-polar world order is emerging which is diminishing the deadly reach of the U.S. empire, or how a new wave of socialist revolutions has the potential to sweep the globe in the next several decades.
All they want us to think about are their fabricated reasons for why the system should continue, for why it’s pointless to try to rebel against the forces of capital and empire. War propaganda is central to this rationalization of our bleak neoliberal paradigm, both because war economically holds the imperialist order together and because believing in the necessity of endless war solidifies a belief in the necessity of this order’s continuation. When official sources feed you endless reasons for why malign foreign actors are supposedly meeting the imperialist bloc with perpetual “aggression,” you come to believe that perpetual war and its cruel byproducts are simply facts of life, unquestionable in their mundaneness. If enemies are always at work, the wars have to go on, along with the austerity and law enforcement militarization that these wars are creating for our society.
Russophobia as an ideological support system for pro-war ideas
Such is the message of hopelessness and nihilism that’s being propagated by pro-war propaganda factories like the Atlantic Council, which in February published a piece titled “Putin forever: Ukraine faces the prospect of endless imperial aggression.” The piece’s narratives had the purpose of ideologically preparing citizens of the imperialist bloc for the escalations that NATO was about to carry out within its anti-Russian proxy war in Ukraine.
The Atlantic Council’s implied message is that we should accept the increased consignments of arms Biden has been sending to Ukraine’s fascist regime, as well as Washington’s recent escalations of the proxy war by pressuring the regime to attack the independent republics of Donbass, because of an all-encompassing threat which Putin supposedly poses. This effort to paint a picture of a great, looming monster in the image of the Russian bear was apparent in the piece’s revival of Cold War anti-communist demagoguery:
Putin’s imperial ideology is not simply the revival of 200-year-old doctrines. His brand of imperialism is hybrid in nature, incorporating elements from both the Soviet and Tsarist eras. During his first year in power, Putin made his revanchist intentions clear by reinstating the Soviet national anthem. This set the tone for further efforts to rehabilitate the Communist period and draw a line under the soul-searching of the early post-Soviet years. Putin has since taken veneration of the Red Army victory over Nazi Germany to new heights and made it the basis of modern Russian national identity, while gently ushering Stalin himself back into polite society as an example of severe but successful Russian leadership.
Every part of their narrative turns reality on its head, seeks to lead the masses away from a geopolitical and class consciousness which could lead to popular support for proletarian revolution. As Steven Argue assessed in 2015, charges of modern Russian “imperialism” are nothing more than deflections for Washington’s actual imperialist crimes throughout this new cold war:
Examples of supposed Russian imperialism do not stand up to scrutiny. Ukraine, for instance, was one of Russia’s close allies before the U.S. and EU sponsored a coup that overthrew their elected government a year ago. This is a country with a long and close relationship with Russia. If we were to find an example of Russian imperialism, it would be in Ukraine. Yet at the time of the imperialist sponsored coup, Russian Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Ukraine was extremely low…The capitalist government of Russia has many problems, and needs to be overthrown in a proletarian revolution that brings back the socialist planned economy and brings workers democracy. Yet, Russia’s support for the sovereignty of South Ossetia, Ukraine, Crimea, and Syria from the religious fanatics, genocidal maniacs, and extreme nationalists sponsored by the imperialist governments of the U.S. and E.U. are relatively minor actions by a weak capitalist country (Russia), against the real imperialist powers of the United States and European Union.
These atrocities that NATO is facilitating within Ukraine as part of Washington’s campaign to drive a proxy war dagger into Russia are swept aside by the emotionally driven manipulations of this cold war’s propagandists. The Atlantic Council has to invoke Stalin’s name and imply that he was some kind of moral equivalent to Hitler, because “Stalin,” like “Soviet” or “Russia,” is one of the trigger words which have been ingrained into the psyches of those within the imperialist bloc. As Stephen Lendman wrote this week:
According to Russia in Global Affairs editor Glenn Diesen, “the Western public is trained to respond to propaganda, and even the word ‘Russia’ is intended to trigger resentment and distrust that renders facts irrelevant.” He quoted Joseph Goebbels once saying that “a lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.” The power of repetition works as intended, especially when endlessly reported by media press agents for power. On Monday in London, Russophobe Blinken falsely accused Moscow of “act(ing) recklessly (and) aggressively” — a US/NATO/Israeli specialty, not how Russia operates. The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed NATO official’s Big Lie, falsely claiming “Russia’s military presence remains higher than it was before (its nonexistent) escalation (sic).” A Ukrainian official defied reality by falsely accusing nonbelligerent Moscow of a “threat” it doesn’t pose. No Russian Federation “aggression” exists, none now or earlier — in stark contrast to US/NATO/Israeli forever wars on invented enemies.
When it comes to China, the propaganda campaign is centered around a more fundamental aspect of the cultural narratives which rationalize our system’s continuation. Onto China, the imperialists don’t just project America’s belligerent foreign policy — they project America’s fascistic internal political and economic system.
Sinophobia as a central part of pro-capitalist cultural hegemony
To justify their hybrid war against China — which is what their hybrid war against Russia ultimately stems from due to China being Washington’s bigger rival and Russia acting as China’s ally — the imperialists portray China’s socialist system as sinister. By continuously putting forth the narrative that the PRC is an “imperialist” power with a tyrannical political system, the bourgeois propagandists are able to keep the American people in a state of hopelessness, where the biggest example of an alternative to our neoliberal hell is viewed as equivalent to or even worse than the system we live under.
It’s by absorbing this misguided view of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics that Americans are able to accept every absurd lie the media tells about China, from “there’s a genocide against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang” to “Xi Jinping is an all-powerful dictator” to “there are sweathshops in Wuhan” to “China covered up the virus” to “Covid started in a Wuhan lab” to “China is carrying out neo-colonialism in Africa” to “China’s social credit system is like something out of dystopian fiction.” One way they create this basis for believing Sinophobic nonsense is by claiming that China isn’t socialist at all, but rather a capitalist plutocracy masquerading as socialism. When Americans have only ever known a political system that’s defined by hypocrisy and empty sloganeering, they’re inclined to accept such a claim.
This is not an ideological, Cold War struggle. China is not pursuing Marxist theory, although its domestic policies certainly have nothing to recommend them. Xi is not only crushing Uighurs and other non-Han minorities, but also extinguishing religious freedom and crushing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. American minds do not take kindly to “civil-military fusion,” or “social credit scores,” whereby Beijing measures the worthiness of its own citizens. This is not Communism at work, but authoritarianism, pure and simple. Misreading it as Marxism 2.0 will impede strategic clarity, not enhance it.
See how Bolton immediately pivots from claiming that China isn’t Marxist to going through all the standard lies about how China is “crushing” its minorities and engaging in “authoritarianism?” Something is deeply off about this kind of rhetoric, which we also often see promoted by the “libertarian” leftists who seek to discredit China as a successful socialist experiment through claiming that “China is capitalist” and repeating CIA propaganda about “Uyghur concentration camps.” And this offness is apparent to anyone who’s studied deeply into Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory.
Firstly, despite what manipulators like Bolton say, China is as much of a workers state as it was under Mao. As Carlos Martinez of Invent the Future wrote in 2018:
In a socialist society, the state must serve the interests of the working class and its allies; it must protect working class power, defend it from the inevitable attacks from capital, and build a better life for people. Such a state can certainly incorporate market mechanisms, as long as these operate under the guidance of the state and introduce some benefit for working people, and as long as capital is not allowed to become politically dominant…The Communist Party of China (CPC) conceptualises the capitalist elements of its economy as being at the service of socialist development. ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ leverages the market to stimulate production, attract investment, encourage technical development, support peaceful coexistence with the capitalist world, and thereby raise the living standards of the Chinese people and pave the road for a higher stage of socialism, built on advanced technology. Market socialism can reasonably be considered a pragmatic and entirely Marxist answer to the exceedingly difficult problem of building socialism in a large, underdeveloped country under constant threat from a hegemonic US imperialism.
Since then, the PRC has totally eliminated extreme poverty, a feat that the country’s communist party accomplished last year amid a pandemic and global depression which had pushed tens of millions into extreme poverty within the capitalist world. China has also gone through with a green new deal that’s set it on track to make its carbon emissions peak by 2025 — five years earlier than the date that Xi Jinping has pledged to the UN. China also has lower emissions per capita than all of the G7 member countries, in comparison to the U.S. with its ongoing global lead in per capita emissions. In other words, China only has a third of the per capita emissions that the U.S. has, despite having a population several times bigger.
Nonetheless, the agents of the Sinophobic narrative machine continue to paint China’s government as a moral equivalent to Washington, and therefore the communist theory that China’s government represents as something to be discarded. The other day, Greta Thunberg tweeted that “Yes, China is still categorized as a developing nation by WTO, they manufacture a lot of our products and so on. But that’s of course no excuse for ruining future and present living conditions. We can’t solve the climate crisis unless China drastically changes course.”
It’s no surprise that Thunberg’s rise in the climate activism scene has been facilitated by Extinction Rebellion, a group that isn’t even anti-capitalist and that’s tasked with defusing genuinely radical environmental movements. Thunberg’s reinforcement of the perception that China deserves some kind of special condemnation for its environmental policies, despite being leagues ahead of the capitalist world in climate action, further serves to blunt the development of the masses towards revolutionary consciousness.
As Andre Vltchek observed last year, the Western media’s efforts to paint China as “capitalist” are ultimately purposed with destroying hope itself. When the people are told that China is just another capitalist-imperialist power, or that China’s neighboring socialist power the DPRK is nothing more than an oppressive dictatorship, they’ll accept capitalism, empire, environmental destruction, systemic racism, and the violent police state as inescapable facets of civilization. Or they’ll gravitate to anti-Marxist factions of the left that spend their time vilifying China to try to discredit the “authoritarian” communists. Sinophobia fosters an endless exercise in political nihilism, which Vltchek says comes from the numbness Americans have developed when it comes to being lied to:
People are used to lies. They are obedient, brainwashed. And they like it when other, non-Western nations are smeared, especially when they are accused of the same crimes which Europe and the United States have been committing for centuries. It makes them feel less guilty. They can then say: ‘The entire world is disgusting. We are all equally terrible!’ Perhaps, after these propaganda assaults, there is no more hope left. But at least, in the West, there is no rush to shed those complexes of superiority, and to get rid of the privileges. AND so, ‘China is capitalist!’
Don’t accept this false view of the world. Learn to see through all of the war propaganda that’s constantly thrown your way, and study the proletarian revolutionary theory which can liberate us from the U.S. empire’s internal rule.
Featured image: File Photo