by Ajamu Baraka, published on Black Agenda Report, December 16, 2020
It is critical that the Black left understand U.S./European imperialism as a race project, and organize accordingly.
“The Black internationalist stance must be seen as fundamental to our movement building work.”
The ascendancy of neoliberal forces to the executive branch of the U.S. state represents a development that potentially will be even a more dangerous period of aggression from the U.S. white supremacist settler state and its white supremacist colonial European allies.
Why is this so? The primary agenda of the right-wing neoliberal forces represented by the Biden Administration is to reassert U.S. global leadership by reconsolidating a common U.S.-European capitalist program of domination that was disrupted with the “America first” positions of the Trump Administration.
The Biden Administration is animated by the belief that the objective logic of overall Western hegemony is tied to finding a way for more effective collaboration around a common imperialist agenda. This belief is shared by Angela Merkel of Germany, and despite some contrary public declarations from French President Macron on issue of European independence, Macron sees an effective Western alliance as critical, even if it is under U.S. leadership once again.
“Biden’s primary agenda is to reassert U.S. global leadership by reconsolidating a common U.S.-European capitalist program of domination.”
The racialist character of these appeals is obvious to those of us who operate from a critical anti-colonialist frame that centers race and violence as the essential elements of the rise of the Pan-European white supremacist colonial/capitalist patriarchal project. The commitment to continued white colonial/capitalist global hegemonic dominance is clear. Biden’s objective to revive a U.S. hegemonic role over the Western project of collective domination must be seen as a race project.
Trump’s plan from the beginning of his administration was to complete the Obama pivot to Asia, but those efforts were undermined by the domestic political obstacles he faced in just trying to gain full control of the Executive Branch. And while Trump was eventually successful in winning over elements of the U.S. and European ruling classes to a more aggressive stance against China, his short-sighted, erratic “America first” policies and his inability to consolidate effective power over the U.S. state were a destabilizing force for the continued hegemony of the Western colonial/capitalist project.
The U.S.-EU unity project with its NATO military wing in the service of collective imperialism and under U.S. leadership is the neoliberal corrective strategy to Trump.
Biden’s Intersectional Imperialism is Exposed
Obama represented the last stage of what Gramsci called a passive revolution where an oppressive state mitigates the influence of antagonistic groups through “gradual but continuous absorption.”
The U.S.-EU race and class project of unity adopted by the Biden Administration will face serious political and economic challenges. The clumsy attempt to utilize Obama’s soft power ideological mystifications in the present circumstances of capitalist crisis together with a deep legitimation crisis will result in abject failure by the Biden administration on both the global and domestic levels.
First among the challenges facing the incoming administration is the competing economic interests among Western capitalists. The abrogation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) with Iran by the Trump Administration and the reimposition of sanctions that required economic disengagement from Iran by many European firms, was a major fissure in the Atlanta alliance.
The lost revenues by European firms as a result of economic disengagement with Iran and the efforts to undermine the Russian NORD stream two pipeline that alienated significant elements of German capital are just two of the issues that will weigh on the trust factor in U.S. political leadership going forward.
Moreover, there are two interrelated contradictions of this unity strategy that the Northern neoliberal capitalist class must confront but will be unable to resolve: first, the impact of the capitalist crisis exacerbated by COVID that has unleashed forces disruptive to the capitalist order from both the left and the right. And secondly, the attempt by the left and social democratic movements and nations to develop, however tentatively, from the obviously failed neoliberal capitalist model.
The U.S.-EU Unity Process Requires a Countervailing Peoples Unity Process
The strategic challenge for the left in Northern countries is countering these efforts with a coherent anti-capitalist, internationalist, anti-imperialist, anti-white supremacist and pro-socialist popular movements and structures.
But in the U.S. and Europe, that is easier said than done. Along with the ideological and organizational fragmentation of the left, one of the main issues that undermines the ability for the left to cohere in the U.S. and Europe is the cultural and ideological influences of white supremacist ideology.
The inability to reject the fiction of a “Europe” and its civilizational superiority has thoroughly corrupted the worldviews and politics of Western leftism. In the face of the U.S/EU/NATO attacks and subversion on Syria, Libya to Venezuela and Bolivia, instead of anti-imperialist solidarity, the left engaged in torturous abstract “discussions” around the merits and mistakes made by these various Southern nations, not recognizing the arrogant white supremacist positionality of that approach.
Anti-imperialist marginalization is reflective of the shift in the consciousness not only of the public in various Western nations but of the putative left as well. Even among Black liberationist forces in the U.S., who have traditionally had internationalism and anti-imperialism at the center of their worldviews and politics, a strange U.S.-centrism has emerged. This tendency along with an ironic embryonic racial chauvinism that elevates a distinctive “African American” construction of so-called global anti-blackness as an intractable ontological phenomenon, has created serious ideological and political challenges for anti-imperialist coalitional work.
“Even among Black liberationist forces in the U.S., a strange U.S.-centrism has emerged.”
Yet, those challenges must be met by African/Black left and left forces in general. It is impossible for forces in the U.S. and Europe to avoid their unique responsibilities — situated at the center of the colonial empires — to the peoples of the world who have the knee of collective imperialism on their necks.
Bringing this discussion closer to the territory referred to as the United States, anti-imperialism, and the struggle against U.S. chauvinism among the left must be taken up as an area of struggle. For African/Black revolutionaries, and indeed for the working and laboring classes, our gaze must extend beyond our local and national realities. Not because those realities are unimportant but because we are unable to understand local realities without understanding the full constellation of class, race and material forces that shape those structural realities nationally and locally.
Mobilizing our forces to confront and defeat the Pan-European project is not a call to abstractionism. The organizational challenge is to answer the question of how does local work, that is, building a real, concrete internationalism, look.
It is not enough to position ourselves in solidarity with the victims of U.S. imperialism. The base-building work that we engage in must reflect that mutual connection with the colonized.
“We are unable to understand local realities without understanding the full constellation of class, race and material forces.”
That is why the Black internationalist stance is not some exotic addition to radical organizing but must be seen as fundamental to our movement building work. Understanding that we are immersed in a system of exploitation and oppression that is global, even though it has local manifestations, is critical for us to effectively address that perennial task of determining “what must be done” to advance our forces.
Confronting that question of what is to be done has become even more crucial today amid the irreversible decline of the capitalist order. And while we commit to building a mass movement of the exploited and oppressed, we must take account of some troubling developments over the last four years.
The unveiling of the left patriots who were concerned with “our democracy” and who enthusiastically propagated the talking points of neoliberalism while remaining silent on U.S. imperialism, and entered the intra-bourgeois class struggle as junior partners to the neoliberal right, revealed once again that if the left is not prepared to defeat whiteness and the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination, it will join as the tail to the neoliberal right in the cross-class white supremacist fascist project.
Our survival demands that we remain “woke” to that possibility and plan accordingly.
Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. Baraka serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership body of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC). He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. He was recently awarded the US Peace Memorial 2019 Peace Prize and the Serena Shim award for uncompromised integrity in journalism.