top of page

Woke Imperialism: the Tactic Liberals are Using to try to Delay Revolution in the Imperial Center

Rainer Shea

Nov 20, 2022

Democratic Party infiltrators are at this moment the biggest threat to the communist movement in the USA. Conversely, the pro-NATO psyop is the largest propaganda operation happening at present. The great priority of our ruling class as of now is to maintain imperial hegemony, which they’re trying to do by using Ukraine as a cudgel to destabilize Eurasia. They’re sacrificing the U.S. economy’s stability, as well as the stability of Europe’s, in order to make their geopolitical ploy in Ukraine pay off.

It’s getting increasingly apparent that such a payoff for the empire won’t come. After exhausting Ukraine’s forces to the point where Kiev is having to draft men up to their sixties, Russia has so far only used around a fourth of its potential mobilization capacity, and it’s only now transitioning into a full-on war campaign. As the costs of this futile effort mount, the ultra-nationalist faction of the U.S. ruling class will likely win the midterms, brought to victory by Biden’s prioritization of geopolitical games over the people’s economic wellbeing. “Woke” imperialism, where liberals market Washington’s global violence as a social justice mission, has created a political vacuum, soon to be filled by America’s fascist movement.

As a consequence, the LGBT community, racially marginalized groups, and the other targets of this reactionary force will come under greater threat. Liberals have shown themselves incapable of combating the rising far right. The goal of the Democrat infiltrators within leftist and communist spaces is to keep woke imperialism dominant within the opposition to the GOP, even after woke imperialism has so thoroughly lost credibility.

These actors seek to serve as an obstacle for anti-imperialists, perpetuating a culture within the left that passively goes along with every facet of the Democratic Party’s foreign policy agenda. They regurgitate each shallow argument about current affairs that their funders in the ruling class provide for them, upholding the cultural hegemony which keeps imperialism in motion. One organization that plays this left imperialist role is NDN Collective, the group that’s sought to establish itself as the default face of the Land Back concept within the eyes of the public.

The fact that they’ve received $12 million from Jeff Bazos isn’t in itself the reason why they advance a pro-imperialist agenda. It’s because their ideas are not based in a revolutionary analysis, much less the type of analysis which recognizes how Russia’s operation is a justified response to Washington’s using Ukraine as a proxy terrorism weapon. Without this perspective, an organization naturally takes on the pro-imperialist stance in regards to Ukraine and other foreign policy issues. This is the case even if that org recognizes the U.S. as an imperialist power, as NDN does in its statement on Ukraine:

The crisis started by the Russian government has the potential to impact the entire world – and while the US government has already been quick to get involved, we must be wary of their imperialist tactics. At this moment, it is critical that we stand in solidarity with Russians and Ukrainians who are protesting the moves towards war. The future of humanity depends on our ability to divest from the fossil fuel industry, and nothing is a greater threat to our environment than increased militarization. As the war machine ramps up, there will be direct impacts on Indigenous people from the Ukrainian region and globally. They will extract resources from our lands and recruit our young people to risk their lives for a fight rooted in greed, pride, and colonization. We need to center ourselves in the truth that the US is not the hero – that only the people have the answers we need to build a safe and peaceful world.

What makes liberal infiltrators like them a threat to our movement is that their arguments are insidious. They decry imperialism as a concept and say to be wary of U.S. imperialist tactics, which are the bare minimum for leftists who haven’t yet been ideologically trained in Marxism and geopolitics. At the same time, they blame the crises that U.S. imperialism has caused—in this case through a 2014 fascist coup in Ukraine—on the same countries imperialism seeks to destabilize. One can repudiate the idea that the U.S. is a hero while taking a pro-imperialist stance. All they need to do is reinforce the lies imperialism needs in order to exact its violence.

To sell these lies, the Collective frames what it’s saying in the rhetoric of decolonial liberation and environmentalism. It emphasizes the ways this conflict is harming the planet and America’s indigenous communities, again making the ideologically untrained leftist more inclined to trust what this organization is saying. But you don’t have to be studied in Ukraine to see NDN is a force for bourgeois co-optation. You simply have to have the bare minimum of intellectual honesty about what it means when a nonprofit organization receives corporate funding. The radical group Indigenous Action wrote this last year about NDN, and about the other parts of the nonprofit-industrial complex that claim to represent hope for the liberation movements:

The overall strategy of the NPIC is colonial, upholds unjust power relationships, and capitalism. Groups like NDN Collective are prime examples of the problems with the NPIC. They have co-opted the term “collective,” which is a radical non-hierarchical practice, but are structured with a president and CEO. They purchase and maintain private property as a “land back” campaign that is not a radically anti-colonial action to build Indigenous autonomy, but a capitalist strategy.Their CEO is paid more than $200,000 a year and their annual operating budget is more than $10 million dollars. They recently received more than $10 million dollars from extreme capitalist and working class exploiter Jeff Bezos. The NDN Collective organizes with the idea of “Decolonizing Wealth,” which is really just a marketing strategy to commodify and cash-in on Indigenous struggles.

Organizations like NDN are the U.S. empire’s domestic equivalents of the NGOs that get sent across the globe to advance counterrevolutionary schemes under the guise of social justice and “humanitarianism.” They exist to drown out the revolutionary organizations in the competition over organizing platforms, making themselves the more easily visible groups to the casual observer. This effort depends on their bourgeois funding, as their rhetoric and analyses are shallow compared to that of revolutionaries and therefore less able to gain an audience on their own merits.

They seek to absorb and redirect popular discontent, particularly discontent from within the U.S. empire’s internal colonies. This is because the internal colonies are what pose an existential threat to the U.S. empire. It’s with their guidance that the class struggle in this country can act as a genuine class struggle, a struggle which liberates the peoples who are currently ensnared by the prison house of nations which is the USA. Without a vision to dismantle settler-colonial land relations, to restore full sovereignty to the occupied nations, the continent’s proletariat will remain divided. Restorative justice for the nations whose land and labor were stolen to create the U.S. empire is indispensable for freeing the working class as a whole, because colonialism and capitalism are inextricably intertwined.

The first phase in the bourgeoisie’s effort to thwart such a revolution is a campaign to co-opt the liberation movements. They both poison these movements with corporate grifting schemes disguised as sources for help, and divert these movements towards embracing the Democratic Party as the thing which will address their needs. The latter tactic has particularly been applied to the black liberation struggle, as described by Black Agenda Report in its analysis on how the capitalist settler state manages the “substance” of discontent within the African diaspora: “Attempts to outright suppress this substance only further stoke the flames of rebellion. Conversely, supporting its unfettered spread is State suicide. So, whether it's suppressed or supported, explosion is imminent. As a result, Black Rage cannot be entirely controlled, only managed. To manage Black Rage, it must be laundered like the Blood Money that birthed it. To launder Black Rage into the market, its potency must be defanged. The social capital it produces, the clarion call by the Black masses for a free and equitable world, must be snatched and funneled into the hands of the State; ‘cleaned’ of the original people and conditions that manufactured its existence but still recognizable enough to appear untraced.”

The next phase is a campaign of racial terror, as we’ve seen happen in cycles dozens of times throughout U.S. history. The liberals who are exploiting the struggles of colonized peoples to sell imperialist agendas hold no commitments to actually aiding these struggles. Biden could have reversed the continued flow of military equipment to police, but he’s remained complacent these last two years, instead focusing on the buildup to and execution of another proxy war. When the Democratic Party’s hypocrisy allows reactionaries to regain control, these liberals will blame the black community; they already have been scapegoating them in a preemptive sense. The more the country declines, the more the internal colonies will be sacrificed in favor of imperialism’s military adventures and further neoliberal austerity. And the more brutal our police state will be in waging war against these communities, who are being harmed the most by the economic and climatic crises.

This betrayal by America’s liberal leaders will spark a revolt that the empire can’t contain. So for as long as possible, the empire’s liberal wing seeks to pretend to be on the side of these movements, selling reformist faux-solutions and using decolonial rhetoric as another imperialist marketing tool. But at some point, this game won’t be able to be played any longer, and the struggle will escalate.

This article was originally published on Rainer Shea's Substack.

If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here.

bottom of page