Any person who is acquainted with Marxism ought to have some knowledge of Lenin’s line of taking advantage of inter-imperialist divisions.
Lenin taught that imperialists are bound to collide with each other in their quest for acquiring new markets, new resources, new slaves. Each capitalist empire seeks to expand. But since there is only a finite amount of markets, resources and slaves on Planet Earth it follows these empires are bound to compete with each other and, hence, collide with each other. Thus, contrary to what „New World Order” conspiracy theories love to preach, there is never such a thing as a world capitalist government, only COLLIDING would-be world governments, i.e. capitalists empires that AIM for world dominance and establishing world governments but which are always opposed by other capitalist empires that also aim for world dominance and establishing world governments.
So imperialists are always conflicting with each other. Imperialist powers and superpowers aggregate to form imperialist blocs which fight other imperialist blocs for absolute world dominance. Back in Lenin’s time it was the British-French imperialist bloc, which also included Imperial Russia and from 1917 on the United States, as well as Italy from 1915 on, and Japan, fighting the German-led bloc, which also included Austro-Hungary, a second-rate imperialist, and the Ottoman Empire, a third rate imperialist. Back in Stalin’s time it was the British and American imperialist bloc fighting the German, Italian and Japanese imperialist bloc for the same thing, and nowadays it’s the Western imperialist bloc led by the United States fighting the Eastern imperialist bloc led by Russia and China over, well, exactly the same thing.
Lenin also taught that under certain circumstances Communist revolutionaries can take advantage of these inter-imperialist rivalries. Imperialists hate each other so they can’t unite to crush Communism. This makes sense and is born out by historical facts. Back in 1917 German and Russian imperialists could not unite with each other in order to crush Russian Bolshevism. Germany and Russia could have joined forces to prevent Lenin from crossing through Germany into Russia in 1917. United by a strong hatred of all things revolutionary, Russian imperialism could have teamed up with German imperialism to thwart Lenin in his plans to return to Russia. Except this didn’t at all happen. Rather, the opposite of that happened: German imperialists were more interesting in getting rid of their imperialist rival, so they tacitly allowed Lenin to cross through Germany and return to Russia in order to make revolution against Russian imperialism and get Russia out of the imperialist war.
So it’s already become common-sense in our movement to regard inter-imperialist rivalries as something that we can sometimes take advantage of. The fact powerful capitalist empires exist doesn’t mean these empires are all-mighty. True, they are much more powerful than Communists but they can’t unite against Communists because they hate each other much more than they hate Communists.
Quite crystal-clear and reassuring, isn’t it.
Except to some it’s not so clear. And I’m not talking about those who reject this concept. I’m talking of people who call themselves Communists and agree with the Leninist concept of taking advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries but don’t know what to make of it. They agree that we should take advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries but have no clear idea as to HOW we should take advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries. And some are to be found who MISINTERPRET this Leninist concept, who MISHANDLE this very simple Leninist line, by turning it from a weapon of the Revolution to a weapon of imperialists AGAINST the Revolution! This is why having a good grasp of the Leninist concept of taking advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries is to Communists a thing of utmost importance.
Lenin used the concept as a weapon against all imperialists. He never meant to strengthen some imperialists at the expense of others. He, for instance, never welcomed the rise of the German imperialism, before and during the First World War, as a „counterweight” to the overall dominance of British imperialism. Lenin was for the Revolution and against all imperialists. Lenin was for Revolution and for Liberation. He was a Giant who tirelessly worked for the Liberation of Humankind from the chains of all exploitation. But phony Leninists, who hide behind Lenin in order to better attack Lenin, who waive Lenin’s portrait in order to oppose Lenin’s portrait and ideas, stand things on their heads and use a good tactic for bad purposes, they attempt to use good means in order to attain bad ends.
The misappropriation of this sound Leninist concept came especially to the fore during and after Putin’s imperialist annexation of Crimeea in 2014.
If you live in a country occupied by NATO imperialism then what business do you have to attack Putin’s annexation of Crimeea? Haven’t you heard of Lenin’s line to focus on your „own” imperialism, haven’t you heard of Lenin’s line to focus on the imperialism closer to your home? Haven’t you heard of Lenin’s and other internationalists’ line that „the main enemy is at home”? Moreover, haven’t you not heard of Lenin’s line to take advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries? What business do you have condemning the annexation of Crimeea? Shouldn’t you actually UNITE with Putin against the imperialism that oppresses your country, i.e. NATO imperialism?
This twisted line of reasoning came from people who didn’t even deny the existence of Russian imperialism, as Zyuganovites do. It came from people who recognized the reality of Russian imperialism but who deliberately DISTORTED Lenin’s healthy line of focusing on one’s own imperialism and taking advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries in order to justify not Antiimperialism but IMPERIALISM. They took a healthy thing in order to turn it into a thing of sickness.
So we have a duty to clarify things. What did Lenin really stand for? What is the Leninist concept of focusing on your own imperialism and taking advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries REALLY about?
Lenin’s line of focusing on your own imperialism is very simple. It means from the viewpoint of your own country, from the standpoint of your own revolutionary movement, the main enemy is the imperialism closer to your home. It is the enemy closer to your home that is the main enemy. If you unite with your own imperialism (in the case of imperialist countries) or with the imperialism closer to your home (in the case of oppressed countries) against the foreign imperialism or the imperialism from far away, then the cause of Revolution in YOUR country loses big. This is what it means to stand things on their head. If you take phony patriotism for real patriotism, defeat is bound to happen. Had Lenin decided to support the imperialism of his „own” „Mother Russia” against the rival German imperialism, the cause of the Russian Revolution would have been buried. Supporting his own imperialism was what Plekhanov did in 1914 and we all know Plekhanov went down in History as a traitor of Russian workers. But Lenin took the opposite stance. As early as the early days of the war in 1914 Lenin boldly stepped forth and proclaimed the truth, unconfortable to ears accustomed to phony patriotic phrases as it was, that from the perspective of the broad masses of Russian workers and peasants, the defeat of Russian imperialism was the lesser evil BY FAR!
The lesser evil BY FAR! But Zyuganovite traitors support the Russian imperialism of their own country, they support it in Syria, they support it in Ukraine, they call for the VICTORY of Russian imperialism, not for its defeat! And yet some „comrades” and „friends” call on us not to attack these traitors, not to attack the Russian imperialism they support, they call on us to turn a blind eye to the enemies of Leninism, to the enemies of Revolution, allegedly in the name of… Leninism! To go against Leninism, in the name of Leninism, that’s what they would have us do!
But, of course, we can’t go against Leninism, we can’t go against Lenin, we can’t go against the Truth Lenin embodies!
They want us to stop calling treason by its name, but Lenin DID call treason by its name!
They would have us believe Lenin turned a blind eye to the treason of some and only blasted the treason of others, they would have us believe Lenin only attacked SOME social traitors while condoning others, but Lenin attacked ALL social traitors and never condoned ANY!
For this is what Lenin had to say about GERMAN social-chauvinists, about social-chauvinists from the OPPOSITE camp, as early as 1914:
„2. The conduct of the leaders of the German Social-Democrat Party, the strongest and the most influential in the Second International, a party which has voted for war credits and repeated the bourgeois-chauvinist phrases of the Prusssian Junkers and the bourgeoisie, is a sheer BETRAYAL of Socialism”, see https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/aug/x01.htm.
So, far from turning a blind eye to the misconduct of social traitors in the opposite camp, he openly called their actions a BETRAYAL of Socialism!
But did he only condemn the German social-traitors in general, using general terms, or did he also condemn them in HARSH terms?
Truth is he also condemned them in the HARSHEST possible terms! Check this out, from 1914 too:
„Is it not treachery to Social Democracy when we see German Socialists’ amazing change of front (after Germany’s declaration of war); the false phrases about a war of liberation against Tsarism; forgetfulness of German imperialism, forgetfulness of the RAPE OF SERBIA; the bourgeois interests involved in the war against Britain, etc., etc.?”, see https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/aug/x02.htm.
So phony Leninists of today speak of turning a blind eye to the crimes of imperialism from the opposite imperialist camp to that in which Romania is included, but Lenin did NOT turn a blind eye to the crimes of imperialism from the opposite camp to that in which Russia was included! Phony Leninists of today say we, Communists from a certain imperialist camp, should turn a blind eye to what the opposite imperialist camp did in Crimeea, but Lenin, who was from a certain imperialist camp, called the actions of the opposite camp a CRIME, a crime against Humanity, he spoke of those imperialists who were opposite to his commiting a RAPE against a non-imperialist country!
Lenin always focused on combatting his „own” imperialism but he NEVER TURNED A BLIND EYE to the crimes of the rival imperialists! That’s what GENUINE Leninism is all about, that’s what GENUINE Antiimperialist is all about: focus on opposing your „own” imperialism but WITHOUT TURNING A BLIND EYE to the crimes of rival imperialists! For Lenin had a duty to the proletariat of the whole world, not just to the proletariat of his own imperialist country or his own imperialist bloc! His main duty was to the proletariat of his own imperialist country, which certainly benefitted from his unflinching opposition to his „own” imperialism, but the duty to the proletariat of the world, to the proletariat of the rival imperialist country and bloc, was ALSO a duty, it was ALSO a sacred duty!
The same specific criticism of German imperialism and German social chauvinism, which wasn’t limited to general terms but also included SPECIFIC counts, was a distinguishing feature of Lenin’s writing throughout the imperialist war. It wasn’t confined to 1914, it continued throughout the war, getting at times very harsh. As a matter of fact, some of Lenin’s most brilliant lines against social-chauvinism are actually directed at German social-chauvinists, and they’re from 1916. Have a listen, folks:
„The German chauvinists… speak at great length and very eagerly, for example, about the independence for the peoples oppressed by Britain. It is not only the social-chauvinists of Germany, i.e. Socialists in words, chauvinists indeed, but the whole bourgeois press of Germany that is trumpeting, with all its might, about the shameful, brutal and reactionary, etc., fashion in which Britain rules his colonies. The German papers write about the liberation movement in India with great gusto, malicious glee, delight and rapture… But this general, theoretical, question automatically arises: what is at the root of the falsehood of such arguments; how can the hypocrisy of the German imperialists be exposed without unerring certainty?… The falsehood of the German chauvinists has its roots in their shouting, their sympathy for the independence of the peoples oppressed by Britain, their enemy in the war and modestly, sometimes much too modestly, keeping silent about the independence of the peoples oppressed by THEIR OWN nation”, see https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/may/31.htm.
So that is what the Leninist line of focusing on one’s „own” imperialism is all about: do one, but do the other as well, focus on the fight against your „own” imperialism but WITHOUT NEGLECTING the fight against rival imperialism, out of a duty for the proletariat of the whole world. Lenin was a staunch internationalist and a fighter against imperialist hypocrisy of UNFLINCHING RESOLVE, that’s who Lenin was, so do not try to portray Great Lenin with phony brushes, and do not attempt to attack Lenin’s disciples, people who keep true to Lenin’s path, for your cheap trick are bound to fall to pieces! Our criticism of Putin’s imperialist annexation of Crimeea was as legitimate as Lenin’s uncompromising criticism of Lenin’s imperialism throughout the First World War prior to the October Revolution. It was a thoroughly Leninist criticism, for we follow Lenin and you are following a monstrous distortion of Lenin and Leninism, you are following imperialism, imperialist lies and imperialist deceit!
The same can be said of Lenin during his journey through Germany in 1917. We dare you to produce any evidence that Lenin supported the line of German imperialism in the early days of 1917, before he returned to Russia. We dare you but you will not produce it, because facts are on OUR side, not yours! Lenin merely took advantage of German imperialists’ hatred for Russian imperialism and their desire to take their Russian rival out, to get it out of the imperialist war. It was out of a desire to get Russia out of the imperialist war that German imperialists allowed Lenin to journey through Germany on his way back to Russia! To the dismay of pro-Russians who want us to take the line of Russian imperialism in 2016 in order to get some help from Putin against NATO, THAT’S ALL THAT IT WAS! There was no alliance between Lenin and German imperialism in early 1917 the same way there was no alliance between them in the three years leading up to that, only a TECHNICAL AGREEMENT. Romanian Communists of 2016 are not at all opposed to technical agreements with Russian imperialists against NATO imperialists. But, like Lenin, our great Teacher and role model, we will NOT support the line of Russian imperialism. Like Lenin, we focus on fighting NATO imperialism which is closer to our home and oppresses us the most, but we will NOT support the line of the Russian imperialism which rivals with NATO imperialism for world dominance. Like Lenin, we are not opposed to cutting minor, tactical, deals with Russian imperialism, but, like Lenin in 1917, we WILL NOT support the line of Russian imperialism, we will NOT support Putin’s imperialist annexation of Crimeea, we will NOT support Putin’s criminal bombing of the Syrian people which is being carried out in the name of fighting ISIS.
And our justification for that is even stronger than it was in Lenin’s time. It’s the same justification but it’s even stronger. For today, the Communist Movement in Russia is much stronger than in our country. Back in Lenin’s time, the revolutionary movement was about as strong in Russia as it was in Russia’s rival, Germany. Back in Lenin’s time, a Revolution was as likely in Germany as it was in Russia, so if Lenin had supported the line of German imperialism and the German social-chauvinism associated with that, he would have risked one defeat of the proletariat at the cost of one victory for the proletariat. The victory of the world proletariat would have been sacrificed in one country for the sake of its victory in another country, at virtually the same odds for victory and defeat. But in OUR time, the victory of the proletariat is far more likely in Russia than in our country. In our time the victory of the proletariat is far more likely to take place in an imperialist country that is RIVAL to the imperialist bloc oppressing our country. The Communist Movement is much stronger numerically in Russia than it is in Romania. Were it not that it has treacherous leaders at its helm, the Russian Communists could win a huge victory in a matter of months, if not weeks! The Russian Communist Movement has GIGANTIC PROSPECTS ahead, prospects that our depleted Communist Movement can only dream of! So why the hell sacrifice these truly extraordinary prospects for the sake of Revolution over here? Why sacrifice the prospects of a truly large Communist Movement for the sake of speedying up the advance of a very SMALL Communist Movement? Makes no sense whatsoever! So even from the standpoint of speedying up a revolutionary process the betrayal of a very large Revolutionary Movement for the sake of aiding a very small Communist Movement MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER!
It is nost just for the sake of supporting a Revolutionary Movement abroad, but for the sake of supporting a TRULY LARGE Revolutionary Movement that we are strictly FORBIDDEN from taking the line of Russian imperialism right now! To take the line of Russian imperialism on Ukraine and Syria would mean to undermine a large Revolutionary Movement for the sake of supporting a small Revolutionary Movement. But to oppose the line of Russian imperialism on Ukraine and Syria is to aid a large Revolutionary Movement, is to speed up the growth not just of a Revolutionary Movement IN GENERAL, but of a VERY LARGE Revolutionary Movement, that could accomplish in years what we in Romania could only accomplish in decades! To oppose the line of Russian imperialism on Ukraine and Syria is to help a large, very large, Revolutionary Movement, take over not just a country in general but a HUGE country, the largest country in the world in terms of area covered! To oppose the line of Russian imperialism on Ukraine and Syria is to help the cause nor just of a Revolution in general, but of a NEW OCTOBER REVOLUTION, is to help the cause not just of a single revolutionary event but of a GIGANTIC revolutionary event, that would assume THE SAME HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE AS THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION DID 100 YEARS AGO!
Aren’t these truly amazing prospects? Of course they are! Does the firm opposition to Russian imperialism pays? Of course it does! It pays something like 1000 to 1, as a matter of fact!
To oppose the line of Russian imperialism on Syria and Ukraine is cause for all Communists in the world to embrace, it’s a cause for all Humanity!
It should also be noted that the whole concept of taking advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries takes on a new meaning once the Revolution gains control of one country. Once a proletarian state, a Socialist state emerge, things change at world scale. The World Revolution gains a base. The World Revolution gains something of enormous proportion, something that could aid Revolution in different countries the way Revolutionary Movements without state power in their hands could not. Strong as it was, the Russian Revolutionary Movement before the October Revolution could not aid the Revolutionary Movement in Mongolia, Romania, Hungary, Germany, the way it did AFTER the victory of the October Revolution. Why? Because it had no state power in its hands. State power is for any Revolutionary Movement a weapon of gigantic, hell, TITANIC, proportions! It’s so powerful a weapon that the concept of taking advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries begins to change it meaning. What was strictly forbidden before becomes allowed afterwards. It is because of this that Lenin began to consider changing his mind on German imperialism in 1918, as shown in his letter to American workers. Lenin DID change his mind on taking advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries, but he only did it when the whole context changed radically. To be more precise, he started considering an alliance, a real alliance, not a technical agreement but an alliance, with German imperialism only AFTER the working class took power in HIS country. Stalin had the same thing in mind in 1941, when he DID enter an alliance with some imperialists against others, an alliance with British and American imperialists against German imperialists who had invaded the BASE OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION. And this alliance involved supporting the line of British and American imperialism, not because Stalin betrayed Lenin, as silly Trotskyists who called on US workers to go on strike while America was aiding the Soviet Union did, but because he DREW on Lenin’s tactics, more precisely on his 1918 letter to American workers in which he openly considered allying with German imperialism against British and French imperialism. Back in 1914 Lenin could NOT support the line of German imperialism, because of the fact the World Revolution had not yet gained a base of its own, armed with STATE POWER, and thus he could not afford to betray the German Revolution for the sake of the Russian Revolution. Nor could he support the line of German imperialism in 1916 or early 1917, for that matter. But once the Russian working class had gained STATE POWER, once the World Revolution had gained a BASE of its own, armed with STATE POWER, Lenin began to reconsider his tactics, and began considering a real alliance with German imperialism against British and French imperialism. Case in which the workers of the world might have been required to also support the line of German imperialism, as they certainly would be required during Stalin’s alliance with Roosevelt and Churchill in World War Two. We, in Romania, could find ourselves in the same situation with regard to Russian imperialism or any other imperialism, for that matter, if these imperialism really entered a REAL alliance with a base of the World Revolution. But such a base, of course, does not exist today. Russia supporting Cuba or North Korea is NOT an alliance with the base of the World Revolution since, of course, these countries are both on the Revisionist and capitalist road. Nor is America’s alliance with Vietnam an alliance with the base of World Revolution since, of course, Vietnam has long gone the same treacherous road.