“Nothing is going to be the same again”
In the aftermath of the collapse of the imperialist towers located in the heart of the US, the sophistry of “nothing is going to be the same again” became the motto and catchphrase of the ultimate servants of imperialism and the so-called liberals who claim to oppose the imperialists.
To tell the truth, since then, there have been quite a lot of changes that lead credence to this claim.
On the one hand, the USA and its cronies, using these suicide attacks as a pretext, started to destroy many parts of the world, thereby jump-starting and subsequently accelerating the process of imperialist world-division rivalry. The attacks on Afghanistan and particularly Iraq when the United States ignored and bypassed the UN decisions, have indeed proved that “nothing is going to be the same again” in the post-WWII world order. From this angle, post-9/11 geopolitical developments seem to validate the claim that “nothing is going to be the same again.” True, the world is not accustomed to the way realpolitik has unfolded since 9/11.
Is it Only the USA’s Attitude that Change?
On the other hand, rivals of American imperialism who have historically attempted to restrain it through the United Nations and other diplomatic channels comprehended after the outbreak of the Iraq war, although not immediately after 9/11, that those old means are not longer effective in keeping the US military ambitions in check. Those who previously advocated peace and diplomacy started to emphasize increasing armament and militarization, in their own countries, and sought to convince and recruit supporters in other countries.
Of particular importance is the French case. French imperialists followed the dual policy of applauding and even providing organizational assistance to anti-war demonstrations against US imperialism on the one hand, and using the Iraq operation as a pretext to intervene in Africa with bombs and tanks on the other. In other words, the French initiated their own imperialist war under the smog of anti-war demonstrations. And it is not only France. Other rivals of American imperialism have also launched a propaganda campaign that considers armament and militarism understandable and necessary. In a closely related development, imperialists’ servant economists and accountants quickly understood that a new age has dawned which prioritizes armament and militarization, and thus followed drawing up of suitable tax policies and government expenditure plans. The propaganda machines of the media started to warm up the masses in accordance with the needs of this new age.
In sum, there are enough changes in the world scenario to ostensibly support the idea that “nothing is going to be the same again.”
Status Quo Changes
And it would not therefore be wrong to argue that the Iraqi invasion undertaken by the US and Allied forces in violation of international associations and agreements, which they used to subscribe to, constitutes a sharp turning point. However, unless one identifies exactly what the change entails and which direction it is headed, one either doesn’t understand the change at all, or fails to learn anything of significance.
The main point to be emphasized is this: what is changing and what will be changed is the balance of imperialist powers established after WWII. This process has not started too recently-the balance has been under strain for a long time. The first important casualty of this turbulent earthquake was the front of the USSR and its satellite counterparts. The collapse of the USSR created a shockwave almost as big as the earthquake itself, such that many thought the collapse was the main cause of the earthquake. However, dissolution of the USSR and its counterparts is not the reason for intensified inter-imperialist rivalry- but the first major consequence and symptom of this struggle.
How Was the -Now Changing, Status Quo Created?
When the USSR entered WWII on one of the fronts of imperialist camps, it absolutely betrayed the independent foundations it was built upon. Indeed, the makeshift and artificial existence of the USSR was itself premised on the balance of power established after WWII. For this reason, the USSR was one of the leading upholders of the post-WWII world order and status quo. However, when the balance of this order was disturbed, the existence of the USSR came under threat, and in the process leading to the Gulf War of 1991, the so-called socialist system resulted in further erosion. The USSR survived this earthquake at the costs of reduction in size and loss of power, and a change of name.
Thereupon, the USSR, East European states and many others which are dependent on the existence of these states in one way or another (such as Yugoslavia, Albania or China) entered a period of disintegration or turning upside down. Cuba, Vietnam and Korea, which were also shaped after the Second World War, cannot escape the whirl either. Likewise, many trends which shaped their political existence in the context of the post-WWII status quo (especially the so-called communist parties of Europe or guerilla movements of different scales all around the world) are quitting the scene of history or radically losing their powers and capabilities.
It is only by looking at this particular picture that one can understand what is really changing and what is not going to be the same again. The post-WWII international order and balance of power is being undermined by the very same powers that created this order.
The slogan that “nothing is going to be the same again” signals this change in the status quo, and it should be understood as the desperate scream of those who owe their existence to this particular status quo. These people, in order to find themselves a place in the new order that is under the process of creation, also employ a discourse of change and become the leaders of those who rush to change. Thus “nothing is going to be the same again” is a life buoy of the need for changing previous attitudes and ideas.
To be sure, this sophistry is a cry of those who wake up from their sleep while dreaming of the impossible. It is also certain that realizing their delusions will not help the dreamers transform the world into something else. Nevertheless, these people are accustomed to being frequently disappointed, but cherishing the same illusions with a few modifications.
Dreams of Peace Setback as the Foundations of Peace and Stability Shakes
Not too long ago, when imperialists launched the First Gulf War, there were many who thought that “nothing is going to be the same again.” What was more important then was that the USSR and its satellites were formally quitting the scene of history. The former group’s chorus was joined by those fascinated the globalization.
Some interpreted the situation as the emergence of a uni-polar world. Some preferred the aforementioned line in order to diffuse the pessimism stemming from the “dissolution or collapse of the socialist system”. Even back then, some confused ones (Trotskyites, supporters of ALP and ex-Maoists) initially thought that those developments were advantageous events, and subscribed to the discourse.
Many of these, however, after they shed their confusions and delusions, realized that the earthquake which shook the USSR and its satellites was also shaking them. They abandoned their naïve optimism and called the development by apt names such as “collapse of real socialism” -since they could not say that this was the “collapse of the socialist system”- and identified the events as problems that were spreading to their own existence.
The consensus was that in a so-called uni-polar world, the dynamics of war would slow down, possible wars could be prevented through diplomatic means, and the movement towards world peace would accelerate. The First Gulf War was not enough to open their eyes, they did not realize the absurdity of thinking about the end of wars while watching war scenes on their TV screens. Many even claimed that the collapse of the USSR would provide opportunities of peaceful exchange as if the sole reason for armament and militarization had been the USSR. The same groups had previously argued that the USSR was necessary to protect world peace.
However, previously, same groups were trying to sell the argument that in order to protect world peace, one needs the existence of the USSR.
Of course, from the First Gulf War to the latest attacks to Iraq, many got bored from these dreams. They were previously claiming and dreaming that in a so-called “uni-polar world”, the dynamics of war would slow down and moment of peace would accelerate. The last Iraqi war showed that it is also necessary to make some modifications in these illusionary scenarios.
Of course, between the First Gulf War and the latest Iraq War, many have been disillusioned, and in particular the Iraq war has driven home the necessity of at least modifying some of their illusions.
Those who comprehended that imperialism, especially the USA, will not give up militarism with the disappearance of the “pretext” of the USSR, started to emphasize the necessity of creating a new ‘pole’ to counterbalance the USA. But the world was uni-polar only in their imaginary claims. On the contrary, two imperialist camps were preparing for a serious fight. And thus those arguing for a new pole, whether consciously or not, joined the already existing anti-US pole. They countered the militarist attacks of the USA by strengthening the hands of America’s rivals. They dreamt of preventing the war by initiating a global anti-American anti-war campaign. And they did this under the motto of “nothing is going to be the same again”.
Is This Sophistry Something New?
What dream were these people chasing previously (before the First Gulf War)? Were they not talking about preventing American aggressiveness and the resultant wars with a world peace centered in the USSR? What is there today that “did not exist formerly”? Back then, the world peace movement was based on the balance between the US and USSR, and the latter formed the center of the peace movement. Today, behind the global peace movement, which is marketed as the solution to the imperialist war madness, there stand a group of rival imperialist powers not yet capable of starting a war against the US. There might be two more differences: Formerly, the fact that the USSR supported the pacifist movement made many nationalist revolutionary movements suspicious. Today, these movements see no problem with following and hedging their hopes on movements led by imperialist rivals of the USSR.
The essence of the problem lies elsewhere. The main problem is the ideological blinders obstructing the vision of so-called Marxists. Behind their contemporary blindness lies the effect of a very old demagogy. Before the Second World War, many of those who donned the cloak of communism and internationalism believed that the fundamental world-historical contradiction was between “imperialism” and the “socialist system.” The propaganda stemming from the imperialist centers strengthened these ideas. This notion lay at the center of their discourse about the bipolar world or East-West contradiction, and this same idea is the source of their current (and historical) confusion.
Is a Uni-polar world possible?
The world did not become uni-polar or multi-polar after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. It ceased to be either right after capital emerged on the world stage as the main protagonist and mover and shaker of the world economy. Since then, the world has only ever been bipolar, and will stay that way until the class struggle has reached its final conclusion. The two poles of this struggle – the laboring masses and the capitalists- have been polarized for all eternity by the main contradiction of the capitalist productive relations. In real life terms, one of these poles is being supported by the hierarchical world economy which is itself being continuously replenished by imperialism. The other pole consists of the proletarian class that becomes a political subject in world history to the extent that it rebels against the bourgeoisie classes to become the dominant class, and the oppressed masses who rebel against the imperialist forces for self-determination. The capitalist-imperialist pole cannot halt the increasing the polarization of society until it repudiates its existence as a separate pole. The ability of the proletarian, anti imperialist pole to reach its full potential and mass, is historically contingent on it destroying the other pole.
Since the dawn of the capitalist era, world history has primarily been about the fundamental contradiction between these two poles. In other words, in modern times defined by capitalist domination, the engine of history has been class struggles.
After the first imperialist world, the Communist International was formed, and it maintained equal distance from all the imperialist powers; no matter how they fared in the war. It confronted the bourgeois states, too preoccupied with reallocating the land of fallen bourgeois powers to oppose the will of the oppressed masses and the proletariat. The USSR itself, to the extent that it supported and helped spread the demands of the Communist International, provided the world stage with a much needed revolutionary dynamic for a certain time, until it decided to substitute the just cause and honest demands of the Communist International with interests of its own state. After this betrayal of the Communist International it became the lackey of the imperialist forces, and also their accomplice.
If only things could return back to the way they were the last century
Communists define what is new and old, not by the capricious and ever-changing nature of current affairs, but by the unique historical framework on which they pride themselves. For us, the old signifies the period when the November Revolution took place and the Communist International was founded. These two momentous events ushered in the era of proletarian revolutions and the national independence movements. The fact that these events happened a long time ago should not make us forget that in communist time they were the clearest precursors to the most radiant future, which heralds the future emancipation of mankind. Alas, in terms of the balance of powers in the world system, the times when the oppressed masses and the proletarian classes held the initiative worldwide are now in the distant past. Nonetheless, these historical shifts of power and initiative should not blind us to the fact that the ultimate behemoth on the stage of world history today, as in the past, is capitalism. This is why a communist merely shrugs his head and goes about his business when he hears laments that times have changed and they cannot be changed back again even in the gloomiest and most pessimistic undertones. For he knows that his mortal enemy imperialism has always held the position of power, and times in that sense have not changed much from what they were.
Of course, this recognition does not contradict or overlook the inner struggles between the capitalist forces, or the opportunist actions of some of these forces who want to preserve the status-quo. In essence, these struggles definitely create well-defined divisions in capitalist world rule, delineating time periods when different capitalist forces held absolute power over the world system. However, all these periods share the same underlying reality- the reality of the class rule of the bourgeoisie. Once there is a movement that is defined as an anomaly in this framework, the words ‘new’ and ‘old’ will gain a newly found taste and meaning in comparison to the capitalist time frame.
If, when coining the word “old,” we allude to a time when the proletarian class was bereft of the revolutionary impulse and leadership, we give a whole new meaning to the expression “times are changing”. Communists, when they use this expression with the necessary consciousness in their minds and the necessary hope in their hearts mean to say, “now it is time for us to change the world’ and this word then signifies a much needed revolutionary initiative and hope on the world stage. If this happens, the liberal and the lackeys of capitalism, two groups who say that times have changed with totally different connotations, will understand that the end of their rule is near, and will cry in fear and in distress, “Oh my god! It is just like the old century.” Then the revolutionaries, confident of their historical right and their ultimate victory will counter, “your end is near. We shall deal with you more thoroughly than the Bolsheviks, and develop the revolution more than they ever did.” It is only after this point that the expression “times they have changed” will have a distinct meaning. Mankind has continuously sought, and still seeks, freedom from the clutches of capitalism and imperialism and cry, “I am free.” It is this continuous struggle that at times leads men to support the demagogues who promise them such a release. It is the duty of the communist to unmask the demagogues, and awaken the forces lying dormant in the proletarian classes.