History Demands: Turn Imperialist Wars into Wars Against Imperialism

“Now is the time to throw off all hesitation, open up new fronts of struggle and to launch every protest, demonstration, and anti-imperialist action – from the ballot box to the barricades – as an act to deepen the crisis of imperialism.

“Every protest against police and white civilian murder of our people, every mass mobilization to demand the end to the cruel, bloody economic war against Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Iran, Korea and Russia must be seen as our part in turning the imperialist wars into wars against imperialism!”

– Omali Yeshitela, Chair of the Black is Back Coalition.

Global dominance has been the centerpiece of U.S. policy in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union when the U.S. suddenly found itself without a counter to its global imperialist aspirations.

This drive for dominance has always been fueled by one objective – to position U.S. capitalist interests to more effectively plunder the labor and resources of the peoples and nations of the global South. In other words, it is and has always been both an imperialist and racial project.

Therefore, while the priority of the call by the Black is Back Coalition to “Turn imperialist wars into wars against imperialism ” is directed to the colonized and exploited Africans in the U.S. and globally, the silence and open support for U.S. imperialism by both parties and many segments of the liberal and radical sectors makes that call a historical demand to Western radicals.

It is Western imperialism, led by the U.S. that is responsible for the billions of human beings living in poverty, it is imperialism that degrades and destroys the earth, that makes water a commodity, food a luxury, education an impossibility and health care a distant dream. It is the rapacious greed and absolute disregard for human life by imperialism that drives the arms trade, turns human incarceration into a profitable enterprise and transforms millions into migrants and refugees because of war and economic plunder.

“The U.S. drive for global dominance is, and has always been, both an imperialist and racial project.”

Parasitic imperialist domination would be impossible without its core instrument of enforcement and control – state violence. Beginning with the European invasion of the Americas in 1492 to this very moment, previously unimaginable brutality and systematic violence was used to enslave, commit genocide, steal lands, despoil cultures and assault the earth all in the service of what became the Pan-European colonial/capitalist white supremacist patriarchal project.

That is why the notion that Trump represents some aberration is so insulting. That perspective and position reveals more about its adherents than the reality of Trump.  Because for the colonized who first encountered Western civilization at the end of a bayonet, or in the hold of a slave ship, Trump is no departure from King Leopold, the pedophile and rapist Thomas Jefferson, Cecil Rhodes, or Abraham Lincoln who while he was fighting the South was still hanging natives as part of the ongoing U.S. colonial expansion. Trump is just an embarrassment for liberals because, unlike the slick criminality of Obama, Trump is cruder with his white supremacy.

Western radicals are suffering from a similar kind of Trump and neoliberal derangement. Instead of fighting side by side with the oppressed peoples and nations who are still attempting, imperfectly, to extricate themselves from the clutches of imperialism, the imperial left subjects these attempts to a litmus test informed by their idealistic imaginings of how national liberation should look, even under Trump. And if the movement or nation in the crosshairs of imperialism is found wanting, they side, through non-opposition and silence, with U.S. imperialism in a form of cross-class white supremacist national solidarity.

“Western radicals suffer from a kind of Trump and neoliberal derangement.”

So when the Black is Back Coalition – of which the Black Alliance for Peace is a member — gathers in Washington D.C. on Saturday to march on the White House in solidarity and unified struggle against imperialism with the millions in rebellion, from Chile to Haiti, we will see how many of our allies show up.

But it doesn’t matter how many of our allies or what elements of the anti-war movement show up, we will continue to build and to organize. We are clear. Independent organizing and building a Black left unity process that is grounded in the Black working class is our primary priority. It is the base for our survival and foundation for being able to reverse the one-sided class war being waged against us by imperialism.

Imperialism can be defeated. It is on the defensive everywhere, and that is its weakness. It cannot sustain the one, two, the many body blows from multiple places. And when the working class in the U.S. stops sending its sons and daughters to the military to fight for the ruling class, it will be over, and a new day of freedom and possibility for the people of the U.S. and the world will be born.


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. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine.