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Reviving ‘Neither Washington Nor Moscow’

In an era of escalating global tensions and the rise of new geopolitical powers, the debate over the alignment of socialist movements has become increasingly pressing. The slogan “neither Washington nor Moscow” is more relevant than ever. This article argues that adopting this stance is crucial for preserving Marxist principles and resisting the phenomenon of campism, where socialist movements align uncritically with one global power against another. By embracing this slogan, we can safeguard the integrity of our struggle.

A Call to Reject Campism and Embrace True Internationalism

As global tensions escalate and new geopolitical powers rise, the debate over the alignment of socialist movements has become more pressing. In this contemporary context, the slogan “neither Washington nor Moscow” is more relevant than ever. This article argues that adopting this stance is crucial for preserving Marxist principles and resisting the phenomenon of campism, where socialist movements align uncritically with one global power against another. By embracing this slogan, we can safeguard the integrity of our struggle.

“By embracing the slogan ‘neither Washington nor Moscow,’ we safeguard the integrity of our struggle and resist the phenomenon of campism.”

The Historical Context of ‘Neither Washington Nor Moscow’

During the Cold War, immense pressure forced socialist movements to choose between the capitalist West, led by the United States, and the communist East, led by the Soviet Union. The slogan “neither Washington nor Moscow” emerged from those who saw the flaws and imperialist tendencies in both camps. These groups, which included Trotskyists, democratic socialists, and other left wing factions, advocated for a third path. They sought to build socialism based on true internationalism, workers’ democracy, and human rights, rejecting both American (Western) capitalism and Soviet authoritarianism.

The essence of this slogan was a commitment to independent, principled socialism, free from the domination and ideological constraints of the two superpowers. It advocated for an approach that prioritised the self-determination of nations and the emancipation of the working class, free of the strategic interests of either the U.S. or the USSR.

Defining Campism and Its Dangers

Campism, the tendency of socialist movements to side with one global power against another, poses a significant threat to the integrity of Marxist principles. It often leads to uncritical support for states that, despite opposing Western hegemony, engage in their own forms of oppression and imperialism. This binary thinking undermines the universal struggle against capitalism and authoritarianism, reducing it to a simplistic battle between rival imperialisms.

“Campism undermines the universal struggle against capitalism and authoritarianism, reducing it to a simplistic battle between rival imperialisms.”

For example, during the Cold War, some socialist movements aligned with the Soviet Union, overlooking its repressive domestic policies and its own imperialist actions in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Similarly, today, there is a tendency among some left groups to view powers like China and Russia (and lesser powers such as Iran and Syria) as allies in the struggle against Western imperialism. However, this overlooks the capitalist exploitation and authoritarian practices within these countries, which are antithetical to Marxist values.

The Relevance of the Slogan Today

  1. Rejecting Geopolitical Dualism: Today’s world is marked by the rise of China and the resurgence of Russian influence. Socialist movements must resist the temptation to view these powers as natural allies against Western imperialism. Instead, we must critically assess all global actors based on their adherence to socialist principles. Just as we critique American imperialism, we must also oppose Chinese and Russian policies that oppress workers, stifle dissent, and exploit resources.
  2. Maintaining Ideological Integrity: Embracing the slogan “neither Washington nor Moscow” helps maintain the ideological purity of Marxist movements. It ensures that we do not compromise our principles by aligning with regimes that, despite opposing Western powers, violate human rights and perpetuate capitalist exploitation. This stance demands a consistent application of our critique of imperialism and authoritarianism, regardless of the source.
  3. Promoting True Internationalism: By rejecting campism, we advocate for a truly internationalist approach that supports workers’ struggles and democratic movements worldwide, regardless of their alignment with any major power. This includes supporting the fight for trade union rights in China, standing with political dissidents in Russia, and opposing U.S. military interventions abroad. True internationalism requires solidarity with the oppressed everywhere, not selective outrage based on geopolitical convenience.

“True internationalism requires solidarity with the oppressed everywhere, not selective outrage based on geopolitical convenience.”

Practical Applications

  1. Critical Analysis of Global Powers

We should regularly publish analyses critiquing the actions of all major powers, not just those traditionally viewed as imperialist. For example, consider the role of multinational corporations in exploiting labour and resources globally. Companies like Apple and Shein have been criticised for their labour practices in countries like China and Vietnam, where workers face poor working conditions and low wages. By exposing these practices, we can highlight the global nature of capitalist exploitation.

Similarly, we should critique environmental policies that contribute to climate change and ecological destruction. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) led by China, while promoting development, has also led to environmental degradation and debt dependency in many participating countries. China and India contribute to fast fashion, a fairly recent phenomena which significantly contributes to waste and environmental damage, with vast amounts of clothing ending up in landfills (with the flow from rich consumers to Africa which as become a textile dumping ground) and synthetic fibers polluting water bodies. The rapid production cycles of fast fashion lead to excessive resource consumption and high carbon emissions, exacerbating climate change. Additionally, the industry often exploits workers, subjecting them to poor working conditions, low wages, and lack of labour rights, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and inequality. Highlighting these issues ensures a balanced critique that recognises the multifaceted impacts of capitalism and the major global powers.

  1. Support for Grassroots Movements

Emphasise solidarity with grassroots movements and worker struggles globally, regardless of their geopolitical context. For instance, the labour strikes in China, such as those by delivery drivers and factory workers, are essential to highlight. These workers face oppressive conditions and state repression, yet their struggles often go unnoticed in Western media.

In Iran, recent labour strikes and protests against economic hardship, woman’s rights and political repression demonstrate the need for international solidarity. By supporting these movements, we show that our commitment to workers’ rights transcends national boundaries.

Additionally, indigenous activists in South America fighting against deforestation and for land rights need our support. These movements challenge both local and international capitalist interests that threaten their way of life and the environment. By amplifying their voices, we emphasise the interconnectedness of global struggles against exploitation.

A pertinent example today is the fight against Russian imperialism in Ukraine. The invasion and subsequent conflict have brought significant suffering to the Ukrainian people, who are fighting for their sovereignty and self-determination. Solidarity with Ukraine’s resistance against Russian aggression is crucial. This also involves supporting Ukrainian workers and grassroots movements striving for peace, democracy, and social justice, while also critiquing Western powers’ geopolitical manipulations. We must uphold the principle of international solidarity and reject the idea that we must choose sides in a conflict driven by rival imperialisms by standing with those resisting imperialism.

“We must uphold the principle of international solidarity and reject the idea that we must choose sides in a conflict driven by rival imperialisms by standing with those resisting imperialism.”

  1. Building Independent Institutions

The Global South has consistently demonstrated solidarity with Palestine, advocating for its rights and sovereignty. This solidarity is increasingly evident through the creation and support of international institutions and alliances that operate independently of dominant global powers. A notable example is South Africa’s recent move to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC), exemplifying the proactive stance countries in the Global South are taking to support Palestine.

South Africa’s decision to refer Israel to the ICC for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Palestinian territories marks a significant step in holding powerful states accountable. This move underscores the commitment of Global South countries to international justice and the rule of law, challenging the impunity often afforded to dominant powers. Beyond legal action, South Africa has utilised its diplomatic channels to rally support for Palestine within the African Union (AU) and other international forums. By spearheading resolutions that condemn Israeli actions and support Palestinian self-determination, South Africa exemplifies how diplomatic efforts can amplify the Palestinian cause on a global scale.

Countries in the Global South can build on this momentum by forming stronger regional alliances. For instance, African, Asian, and Latin American countries can continue to collectively advocate for Palestine at the United Nations and other international platforms, ensuring that Palestinian issues remain a focal point in global discourse. Establishing legal networks and institutions within the Global South can further support initiatives like South Africa’s ICC referral. These networks can provide legal expertise, resources, and support for cases involving human rights violations in Palestine, ensuring a coordinated and robust response.

Economic and humanitarian aid from Global South countries also plays a crucial role in supporting Palestine. Increasing this aid can reduce Palestine’s dependency on support from dominant powers and provide much-needed resources for infrastructure, education, and healthcare, as well as direct assistance to Palestinian refugees. Additionally, promoting cultural and educational exchanges between Palestine and other Global South countries can foster mutual understanding and solidarity. These programs can highlight shared histories of colonisation and resistance, strengthening the collective resolve to support Palestine.

Focusing on broader issues like climate change, economic inequality, and peacebuilding from a socialist perspective also aligns with the goals of the Global South. While the Paris Agreement represented a step forward, recent disapointments with COP demonstrate it requires more robust mechanisms for accountability and support for developing countries. By advocating for stronger international cooperation on climate justice, independent institutions can ensure that they represent the interests of the Global South. This approach not only addresses environmental concerns but also promotes a fairer distribution of resources and responsibilities.

Similarly, initiatives like the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) play a crucial role in defending workers’ rights worldwide. Supporting and strengthening such organisations can create a more united and powerful global trade union movement that challenges capitalist exploitation on an international scale. This solidarity among workers can contribute to a more equitable global economic system, benefiting Palestine and other countries in the Global South.

Creating independent human rights organisations within the Global South ensures that the rights of the oppressed are continuously advocated for and protected. These organisations can document violations, provide legal assistance, and lobby for international support. Similarly, establishing conflict resolution bodies that operate independently of dominant powers can offer unbiased mediation and support for peace initiatives. These bodies can work towards solutions that prioritise the rights and sovereignty of the global South. Developing economic institutions that focus on equitable development can also help build a resilient world economy, independent of the IMF and WTO. These institutions can facilitate trade agreements, provide development aid, and support economic initiatives that benefit all people.

By taking decisive actions, such as South Africa’s ICC referral, and by strengthening alliances and institutions within the Global South, countries can significantly enhance their solidarity with each other. This approach not only supports Palestinian rights and sovereignty but also contributes to a more just and balanced international system.

Campism in the UK Left: The Stop the War Coalition and Morning Star Newspaper

The Stop the War Coalition and the Morning Star newspaper, both prominent voices within the UK left, have often fallen into the trap of campism. This tendency has compromised their ability to offer a nuanced and principled critique of global powers.

The Stop the War Coalition, known for its opposition to Western military interventions, has been criticised for its failure to adequately address the imperialist actions of non-Western powers. For instance, while rightly condemning U.S. and NATO interventions in the Middle East, the Coalition has been less vocal about Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine and Syria. This selective outrage undermines the Coalition’s credibility and suggests a binary view of geopolitics that fails to hold all imperialist actions to the same standard.

Similarly, the Morning Star newspaper has exhibited a tendency to support regimes that oppose Western hegemony, often downplaying or ignoring their repressive and exploitative practices. For example, its coverage of Russia and China frequently highlights these countries’ opposition to Western policies while neglecting to critically examine their domestic and foreign policies. This approach can lead to an implicit endorsement of authoritarian regimes, betraying the principles of international solidarity and human rights.

By falling into the binary thinking of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” both the Stop the War Coalition and the Morning Star risk aligning themselves with powers that are antithetical to the values they claim to uphold. This campist mentality not only weakens their moral authority but also alienates potential allies who are critical of all forms of imperialism.

To truly embrace the slogan “neither Washington nor Moscow,” these organisations must adopt a more consistent and principled stance. This means condemning imperialist actions by any power, supporting grassroots movements regardless of their geopolitical context, and promoting a vision of socialism that prioritises human rights, democracy, and social justice.

Conclusion

Reviving the slogan “neither Washington nor Moscow” is crucial for contemporary Marxist movements. It serves as a bulwark against campism, ensuring that our commitment to socialism and internationalism remains uncompromised. By rejecting the false dichotomy of current geopolitical alignments, we can build a more just and equitable world grounded in true Marxist principles.

“Our struggle is not against a single imperialist power but against all forms of exploitation and oppression, reaffirming our commitment to a world where the working class is free, democratic, and empowered.”

Our struggle is not against a single imperialist power but against all forms of exploitation and oppression. In this spirit, we must stand in solidarity with the oppressed everywhere, regardless of their geopolitical context. By embracing the slogan “neither Washington nor Moscow,” we reaffirm our commitment to a world where the working class is free, democratic, and empowered. This is the essence of Marxist internationalism, and it is a vision worth fighting for.


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