|From 'Liquid War across Asia and Asia Pacific'|
His article first appeared in Tom Dispatch and has been widely republished in leftish sites including Counterpunch, Le Monde Diplomatique and Russia Insider, showing his political leanings. Escobar like most the official left today sees Russia and China as the champions of the oppressed masses in challenging the world imperialist domination of the US.
As we have pointed out many times there is nothing progressive about the rise of Russia and China as global powers. Those who have illusions in these states offering a more worker friendly future to that of US global dominance are dreaming. They are offering what some of us on the old left call a reactionary utopia. That is, a future state that far from meeting the hopes of workers and all oppressed people to escape the destructive decline of global capitalism, offers a future of inter imperialist wars threatening a Third World War not to mention an uncontrolled climate meltdown.
Rather than fall into this trap we urgently need an action program to unite workers and oppressed the world over to oppose and resist imperialism in all of its shapes and forms East and West, US, EU and Eurasian, and to fight for a new socialist world society.
Our program rests on the foundations of the revolutionary communist history of struggle over the past two centuries. We can summarise that history as the history of Permanent Revolution of the proletariat against the permanent counter-revolution of the bourgeoisie.
That is why for us Trotsky's Transitional Program of 1938 still serves as the best recent attempt to outline a program for the proletariat to advance its class independence against the capitalist ruling class. It condenses the lessons gained from past revolutions and counter-revolutions and allows us to make a running balance sheet of the advance of the proletariat as the only revolutionary class capable of overthrowing capitalism today.
In summary, capitalism has since the early 20th century entered into its period of decline in which capital is concentrated into the hands of ever larger monopoly firms backed by the imperialist states. The imperialist epoch represents capitalism's attempt to prolong its life by dominating the global market with rival powers super-exploiting and oppressing workers to extract by force the remaining value it can from their labour power and the limited resources of the earth.
The main contradiction therefore in the imperialist epoch is that of the workers and oppressed against the concentrated wealth and power of the imperialist ruling classes in the dominant states. A secondary contradiction is that between the national bourgeoisies that serve imperialism by oppressing the workers in the dominated states to extract maximum value from their labour power.
Completing the Permanent Revolution today is the objective of those proletarian forces that can draw on past victories to advance the struggle against the imperialist ruling classes and their national bourgeois agents. These include the revolutionary traditions of the four successive revolutionary internationals before they degenerated into Menshevism.
The bourgeois counter-revolution consists of all the attempts by the imperialist rulers and their bourgeois agents, including the bureaucratic agents inside the working class, to defeat the revolutionary gains of the Permanent Revolution by dividing and strangling the workers movements in popular fronts disarming them before the fascist counter-revolution.
The popular front with Russia and China
The most dangerous popular front that is being built today to lock workers into alliances with their class enemy is that between the BRICS, the Bolivarians, and the fake Trotskyists, who attempt to disguise this global popular front as an anti-imperialist united front. This global popular front ties workers in many countries to the national bourgeois agents of Russian and Chinese imperialism. Escobar's role in this is as a gifted journalist who presents Russia and China as part of a growing multipolar Eurasian bloc limiting the destructive role of the US bloc and justifying a global popular front.
Yet far from posing a progressive alternative to the US hegemony based on mobilising workers revolutions this global popular front is part of the counter-revolution. Russia and China are recognised by the US as new imperialist rivals to its global interests. As a result, proxy trade, diplomatic and military wars between the two rival blocs are blowing up in South Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, and Ukraine. Therefore the key question today posed for workers everywhere is that of defending with the Eurasian bloc against the US bloc, or, opposing both blocs equally.
To defend the Eurasian bloc is part of the permanent counter-revolution because it supports Sino-Russian imperialism in all conflicts with the US bloc. It disarms tens of millions of workers from forming a united anti-imperialist front to overthrow the imperialist ruling classes in the West and the East.
Let us look at those highly contested states where the US, EU and Sino-Russian interests come into conflict, notably Iran, Greece and Ukraine. The main rivalry between the two main imperialist blocs is complicated by the secondary imperialist powers caught between the two main blocs. But as Escobar describes, it is the US and the Russia and China who are the major players in the "great game" of controlling "Greater Eurasia" including Europe itself.
Iran joins the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization)
Escobar argues that the US bloc is losing the race for control of Eurasia. In the same week that it did a deal with Iran to lift sanctions in exchange for renouncing nuclear weapons, the BRICS, the SCO and the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union) were meeting in Russia for the 7th annual BRICS summit and the 15th SCO summit. At that meeting India and Pakistan joined the SCO and Iran will join as soon as its sanctions are lifted. Iran will then be a member of the SCO alongside four nuclear armed powers which are also the major economic powers in Eurasia.
More important the EEU (Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan) is creating free trade agreements with Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela) and separately with China, Iran, India and Pakistan. The BRICS bank to replace the World Bank, the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), are investing in numerous joint ventures to link Europe and Asia along new transport corridors ('new silk roads') spanning Asia and right into the heart of Europe.
In the 'great game' the EU is marginalised and torn between the two big blocs. Germany and France cannot stop the breakup of the Eurozone as the PIIGS and the recently joined EU states become increasingly divided up between the rival big powers. The PIIGS and the former Eastern European members of the Soviet bloc, Serbia, Macedonia and the Ukraine, are the main prizes in Europe, while Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Indo-China are the prizes on the Asia continent.
Greece opens the socialist revolution in Europe
We have seen how the US has been outmanoeuvred over Iran. Let us look at the cases of the other two key contested nations caught between the US and Eurasian bloc, Greece and the Ukraine. Greece is important because it signals the decline and fall of former small imperialist powers within the Eurozone and their reduction to financial colonies or semi-colonies of the rival imperialist powers. Ukraine is important because as an historically divided state between Europe and Russia, and after a period as a soviet republic between 1921 and 1991, is once more reduced to a financial colony fought over by the US, Germany and Russia.
The EU will break up in much the same way that the former Yugoslavia broke up and the Soviet Union itself broke up. Germany (like the US, Russia and China) doesn't want to bail out bankrupt states, it wants the cheap assets and labour power of new colonies. To maintain its profits it must destroy the value of capital and state assets in the PIIGS and drive down wages to starvation levels. Greece has been bankrupt for years and is now forced to sell its public assets to pay for its debts. However, it won't end there because the IMF and the BRICS bank are also involved in the scramble to strip Greece's public assets and get access to its cheap labor.
Revolutionaries must condemn Syriza which continues to make the workers pay for Germany's crisis over the dead body of the 'social Europe'. Similarly the KKE (Greek Communist Party) illusion of an independent Greece bailed out by Russia and China must be destroyed. Only a break from imperialism can revive the permanent revolution in Greece. In this situation workers have to build independent councils and militias to occupy and defend all state and major private assets from asset stripping by Germany, the US and Russia and China and defeat a fascist coup. To do this it will be necessary to smash the bourgeois state and bring a workers' government to power that can socialise imperialist and capitalist property and implement a socialist plan.
Ukraine: for an Independent Socialist Republic!
The Ukraine is currently the main flashpoint of the clash between the major imperialist blocs and heating up the trade, diplomatic and military conflicts. Ukraine has long been divided between European powers and Russia. The victory of the Russian Revolution was the catalyst for an independent Soviet Ukraine in the East while the West was occupied by the Poles. Stalin's invasion of West Ukraine in 1939 in a deal with Hitler was defended by Trotsky as it threw out the bourgeoisie and constituted a buffer for the defence of workers property in the USSR. However Stalin's 'fascist' methods of oppressing the ‘unified’ Ukraine during and after the war were not defended by Trotskyists. It was necessary for Ukraine to have a political revolution to throw out its Stalinist caste (as in the rest of the USSR) and create the conditions the workers rule in healthy workers states.
Trotsky defined the political revolution by the slogan "For an Independent Soviet Ukraine". This ultimately failed with the restoration of capitalist property in the USSR in 1991 reviving the split between West and East Ukraine in a new 'independent' bourgeois Ukraine. The oligarchs in the West who grabbed former workers property wanted to 'return' to European imperialism, the oligarchs in the East wanted to retain their ties with capitalist Russia. The Maidan coup engineered by the US in 2014 brought the pro-EU bourgeoisie to power backed by extreme right neo-fascists. Popular opposition to the coup in the East took the form of defence of a united Ukraine against the US coup and against annexation by Russia.
The Kiev regime scapegoated the East as pro-Russian separatists in the manner of the Crimea which was annexed by Russia. Yet the Russian speakers of the East wanted only to oppose the Kiev coup regime and defend their cultural and political autonomy which went back to 1921. The puppet US Kiev regime has constantly dodged this issue and blamed Russia for intervening in the war in the East in desperation to get US and EU bailouts to rescue the bankrupt economy by privatising its assets and financing a NATO bulwark against Russia.
In reality the US and EU imperialists as well as the Russians don't want to spark a wider war in the Ukraine. They want to pull Ukraine out of the Russian orbit (EEC, BRICS, SCO) and bring it firmly into the EU. Russia wants to maintain its influence over Ukraine but not at the expense of a war in which Ukrainian workers unite to overthrow the Kiev regime and destabilise Russia itself. So the war in the East is now no more than a pretext to engage in more diplomatic, trade and military manoeuvring on both sides. The fascist paramilitaries are used to attack the Donetsk and Luhansk 'republics' while Russia has its own agents keeping the lid on the workers armed defence from breaking out into a revolutionary movement in the East.
Against the Stalinophobic left that defends the Kiev regime from the legacy of Russian Stalinism, and the Stalinophile left that backs the Russian imposed leadership in the East who are for secession and annexation by Russia, we take Trotsky's position on Ukraine. We are for the workers of the East to make a united front with workers of the West against the Kiev regime and bring the war to an end. We are against the direct intervention of the US and NATO in West Ukraine and against the direct intervention of Russia in the East. We are for a united Ukraine workers socialist revolution the removes the oligarchic pro-fascist regime and puts in place a Workers and Peasants government able to build an Independent Soviet Ukraine.
Either an imperialist or a workers Eurasia!
It's clear from Escobar's very catchy enthusiasm for a BRICS bloc as an alternative to US hegemony that the greatest danger to the world's workers is to mistakenly tie their revolution to the new great powers, Russia and China. Russia and China are not 'progressive' in offering workers a peaceful, gradual transition to market socialism. They form a rising imperialist bloc that challenges the dominance of the US, not on behalf of workers, but as the successors to the US global dominance. Russia and China no less than the US and its allied powers are in a fight to the death to grab what remains of the earth's resources of land, labour and energy and to do what is necessary to extract more surplus value to return a profit on their multi-trillions of accumulated capital assets.
As we have seen in the cases of Iran, Greece and Ukraine, where these two giant imperialist blocs clash, such dependent nation states must be being fought over by the rival imperialist blocs. Despite its nuclear deal, Iran has been lost to the US. This raises the stakes for a showdown between Israel and Iran. But as Escobar says, any attacks by the Israeli/neo-con lobby on Iran will now be against the SCO. Not as Escobar's anti-imperialist security organisation of course, but as the armed forces of the Russia/China bloc (now including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, India and Pakistan). Greece will be sold off to the highest imperialist bidders unless the workers make a revolution and open the road for the rest of the Euro 'trash' to break free from their imperialist overlords. Ukraine's ongoing war in the East is a class war that can turn into a civil war across the whole of Ukraine to reclaim the Independent Socialist Ukraine and set an example to the other states torn between US, EU and Russia and China.
For Permanent Revolution against imperialism, West and East!
For a Workers Socialist Federation of Eurasia!
For a new World Party of Socialism based on the 1938 Transitional Program!