The following text was presented by Michela Martinazzi, a member of the Central Committee of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization at the International Assembly Against Imperialism in Solidarity with Palestine organized by Workers World Party.
Comrades and friends,
On behalf of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, let’s start by thanking the organizers of this important event – Workers World Party – for bringing us together at a truly critical juncture in world history. By sharing views and analyses of the world as it actually is, we can learn from each other, and, from those insights, make plans to challenge the existing order of things.
We are certain this International Assembly against Imperialism in Solidarity with Palestine will be a great success. The old world is exploding, something new is coming into being.
The great revolution that is underway in Palestine is nothing short of amazing. In the face of genocide, the Palestinian people are waging a fight that has the potential to end the Zionist project and limit the influence of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. Israel has always existed on stolen land and borrowed time. The clock is ticking.
Holding this Assembly on the 100th anniversary of the passing of the outstanding revolutionary V.I. Lenin was a good choice. This U.S. working class has a proud history that we sometimes lose sight of. For many years following Lenin’s death, revolutionaries held huge memorial meetings right here in New York City to mourn his passing and recommit to the revolutionary cause. For example, on January 21, 1937, more than 20,000 communists assembled in Madison Square Garden for that very purpose.
Lenin and imperialism
Lenin above all else was a revolutionary, who applied Marxism to the world around him and saw that competitive capitalism was giving way to monopoly capitalism. And this monopoly capitalism is what is referred to as imperialism. The two things are synonymous.
For today’s purposes, there isn’t time to recap Lenin’s great work, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. If there is anyone in hearing range who has not read it, get yourself a copy and do so. You won’t regret it. If you have done so, there is no harm in going over it again – odds are you will get something out of it.
Lenin drew a number of extremely important conclusions from the reality that capitalism had entered its imperialist stage, and I am going to focus on a few of them.
First, noting the world had been divided up amongst a handful of great powers, Lenin pointed out that wars to redivide the world were inevitable. He stressed that the only way to end imperialist wars was by ending imperialism and replacing it with socialism.
Lenin also appreciated the vital role that the majority of humanity in the colonies and semi-colonies would exercise, and that the contradiction between imperialism and oppressed peoples of the world would occupy a vital place in the era of monopoly capitalism.
In his important 1913 article Backward Europe and Advanced Asia, Lenin contrasts the broad progressive national democratic movement in China with the monopoly capitalist rulers of Europe. Of China, he said “Hundreds of millions of people are awakening to life, light and freedom”, and of Europe’s rulers Lenin stated, “Advanced Europe is commanded by a bourgeoisie which supports everything that is backward.”
Lenin knew what all socialists and communists needed to realize as well, and, quite honestly, it is pretty likely everyone here today gets this – any movement of the oppressed that weakens imperialism is a good thing. It deserves our support and solidarity. It is like the question posed in the old labor song, “Which Side Are You On?”
Every setback for Wall Street is an advance for Main Street. Working and oppressed people in the U.S. have a common cause with all who are oppressed by imperialism. Every ship turned around by Yemen helps those of us who are fighting to end exploitation here in the U.S. – we have the same enemy. Do we want strong enemies? No, we want weak and defeated ones. By the same token, every blow that we are able to inflict on the class enemy aids those suffering under imperialism’s yoke.
Palestine and the decline of U.S. imperialism
The decline of U.S. imperialism is accelerating. The people of Palestine are showing the way. All of us need to learn from their will to sacrifice and determination to win.
Lenin stressed that imperialism was capitalism that is moribund; it is dying. And we can see the symptoms all around them, including their political representatives. I invite you to join us at the Republican National Convention, July 15 in Milwaukee, and at the Democratic National Convention, August 19, in Chicago to confront them.
Marx talked about the vampire-like nature of capitalism. Let’s build unity. The many against the few. The people of the world can and will unite. Together we will put a stake in the heart of imperialism.
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