One of the most common critiques of Third Worldism, usually issued by pseudo-Marxists organized into social clubs they pretend are vanguard parties, is that the political economy of Third Worldism leads to do-nothingism. One recent critic’s objections are par for the course: “The primary Third-Worldist line holds that there is no revolutionary potential for the working class in the U.S. … This line of thinking is problematic and ultimately leads to a nihilistic and defeatist outlook on the struggle as a whole… What’s left for so-called-socialists in the global-north?”
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our politics are not defeatist or passive. They are confident, optimistic, and active.
The truth is that when they are not busy promoting reaction, it is First Worldists who counsel do-nothingism. First Worldist pseudo-Marxists have functioned as adjuncts to the Democratic Party and tails of the labor aristocracy. They are petty bourgeois reformists in their class orientation and practice if not always in their rhetoric.
The political economy of Third Worldism is an accurate description of the materialist relations in the current period of imperialism, their effects on the class structure of the imperialist nations, and the dependency of the First World and its parasitic classes on the super-exploitation and oppression of the proletariat and masses of the Global South – that dependency which is imperialism’s weakest point and will prove to be its downfall. If some Third Worldist individuals and organizations have failed to draw correct lessons about practice from their analyses of the world or have been demoralized, then those are their own failures, not a falsification of Third Worldism. They should work with LOOP on correcting their mistaken ideas, including working to find answers to questions of communist practice in the Global North. In comparison, First Worldists are wrong about both theory and practice.
The chains of imperialism will be broken at their weakest link – the Third World. There is no exploited proletariat in the First World, and there is no “replacement proletariat” with material interests in the overthrow of imperialism. LOOP recognizes that revolutionary politics will not find a mass base in the First World unless conditions become radically different, and especially among the settler population in the United States. Attempts to “reform” hundreds of millions of parasites is not within the scope of revolutionary cell. Any honest appraisal of the history and present nature of class struggles in the imperialist nation shows this. Just as they do with the drain of value from the Third World by the First, the labor aristocracy’s pseudo-Marxist organizations in the main either ignore or justify settler colonialism. If a sparse few manage to condemn settlerism in words, they do nothing in practice to support decolonization, and they instead set as their political goal a socialism in one settler colony.
The complete failure of First Worldist socialist organizations demonstrate that they are not the vanguard formations they claim. They are unpopular in the extreme with those they consider “the masses” and their “mass base”: the size of these “parties” range from handfuls to under a thousand. They do not understand why they are unpopular despite their pandering to imperialist consumer parasitism, as they do not know who the proletariat is or where it is located. They do not recruit masses, but individuals.
First Worldists pretend like they are the second coming of the Bolsheviks, seeing a Leninist party of millions of settlers always about to be born, insurrection in every mild expression of dissatisfaction, and revolution every time white feet hit the street. It is very easy for them to say more work, work beyond social democracy, will be done in the future – and, of course, it is never done. Many spend their time justifying voting for Democrats. Those who accuse Third Worldists of “do-nothingism” are the chauvinist and degenerate Workers World Parties, Parties for Socialism and Liberation, and Freedom Road Socialist Organizations of the First World, who achieve nothing and work with fascists while drowning in the alphabet soup of the US left. We do not follow in the footsteps of these fools.
Taking stock of the world and recognizing the amount of work that needs to be done – anti-imperialist organization, anti-colonial activism, education, and solidarity work, including the mundane aspects of running an effective organization – is an ambitious task in itself. LOOP knows our friends will remain a fraction of the First World population. Recognizing this and basing our tactics, goals, and other aspects of political work on what our capabilities actually are will make organizations far more effective than those who spend all their time on illusions. A Third Worldist solidarity organization with a concrete practice must be built.
The fact that socialist struggle will break through in the periphery before reaching the core nations means we have a different approach than the faux-Marxists who masquerade in “parties” that are really just book clubs at best and cults at worst. There are real allies to the exploited and oppressed masses of the Global South here in the Global North. (Maybe that’s you, reading this!) The substantial resources and opportunities widely available to those in the First World, including expanded leisure time, mean that solidarity work has an very strong foundation. It is correct to do the best with what we have. The “left” here is not doing the best with what it has. Too many waste their time or support reaction. But even small groups can make significant contributions to internationalism. What is to be done? There is so much to be done!
Rome wasn’t burnt in a day and Empire isn’t defeated alone. If you want to get involved with LOOP, reach out to us. We are always looking for help with LOOP’s projects.