War and Lenin in the 21st century, part 1
The U.S. is funding a proxy war against Russia — Congress has approved $113 billion for Ukraine — seizing Ukraine’s assets in the process.
The U.S. is spending $2.5 billion per month just on weaponry in Ukraine, which is seven times what was spent on weaponry in Afghanistan at its height, according to Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko speaking on NPR August 17.
The Obama administration helped overthrow Ukraine’s elected president in February 2014 and installed a far-right regime loyal to Washington. At the time, Joe Biden was the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine. He visited the country more than half a dozen times from 2014 to 2016.
Beginning in 2014, Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. Hunter was paid “as much as $50,000 per month,” according to the New York Times. Burisma was under investigation by a Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, for corruption. NPR reported in 2018:
“At an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018, Biden said that on one of his many trips to Ukraine, he told the country’s leaders that they had to get rid of the prosecutor if they wanted $1 billion in U.S. aid.”
On Aug. 11, 2023, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss as special counsel to lead an investigation into Hunter Biden.
Donald Trump says this shows Joe Biden committed corruption in Ukraine. Trump wants to dig up dirt on Biden for political purposes, but he is not and has never been against corruption. Corruption is Trump’s mode of operating.
Trump used his position as president to enrich himself and his family personally. For example, he stayed at his own hotels while on official business, which cost millions (much more than $50,000 a month). He also used his office to promote his own businesses, such as his Trump Organization.
In addition, Trump engaged in a more general, broader pattern of corruption. For example, he has been accused of making deals with foreign governments that benefited him personally, and he used his power as president to silence any complaints.
U.S. finance capital takes over
Meanwhile, U.S.-based finance capital really has taken Ukraine’s assets. “Your money is not charity, it’s an investment.” That’s what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his address to the U.S. Congress while visiting Washington on Dec. 21, 2022.
John Parker reported in Struggle-La Lucha:
The trajectory of the latest vampiric deals of the foreign investors was set in November when Zelensky signed over even more of his country’s sovereignty to a U.S. firm that will help broker the deals of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and independent foreign investors.
BlackRock Financial Markets Advisory and the Ukrainian Ministry of Economy signed a memorandum of understanding in November. According to President Zelensky’s official website: “In accordance with the preliminary agreements struck earlier this year between the Head of State and Larry Fink, the BlackRock team has been working for several months on a project to advise the Ukrainian government on how to structure the country’s reconstruction funds.
A report on the takeover of Ukraine’s agricultural land by the Oakland Institute published in 2023 says:
The war in Ukraine has been at the center stage of foreign policy and media reports since February 2022. Little attention, however, has been given to a major issue, which is at the core of the conflict – who controls the agricultural land in the country known as the “breadbasket of Europe?” …
“War and Theft: The Takeover of Ukraine’s Agricultural Land” exposes the financial interests and the dynamics at play leading to further concentration of land and finance.
The total amount of land controlled by oligarchs, corrupt individuals, and large agribusinesses is over nine million hectares — exceeding 28% of Ukraine’s arable land. The largest landholders are a mix of Ukrainian oligarchs and foreign interests — mostly European and North American …
Several agribusinesses, still largely controlled by oligarchs, have opened up to Western banks and investment funds — including prominent ones such as Kopernik, BNP, or Vanguard — who now control part of their shares. Most of the large landholders are substantially indebted to Western funds and institutions, notably the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank.
Western financing to Ukraine in recent years has been tied to a drastic structural adjustment program that has required austerity and privatization measures, including the creation of a land market for the sale of agricultural land. President Zelensky put the land reform into law in 2020 against the will of the vast majority of the population who feared it would exacerbate corruption and reinforce control by powerful interests in the agricultural sector. Findings of the report concur with these concerns. While large landholders are securing massive financing from Western financial institutions, Ukrainian farmers — essential for ensuring domestic food supply — receive virtually no support. With the land market in place, amidst high economic stress and war, this difference of treatment will lead to more land consolidation by large agribusinesses.
The report also sounds the alarm that Ukraine’s crippling debt is being used as a leverage by the financial institutions to drive post-war reconstruction towards further privatization and liberalization reforms in several sectors, including agriculture.
This is imperialism
Few would dispute that the war in Ukraine is an imperialist war, but the term is often distorted or misapplied.
Lenin’s book “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” is one of the most well-known and influential works on imperialism. It has been translated into many languages and read by millions of people around the world.
In it, Lenin sought to explain the economic roots of World War I and the roots of the split in the international labor and socialist movement, what was then called the Second International.
The Second International was shattered by the outbreak of the 1914 imperialist war. The international socialist movement had pledged to oppose imperialist wars and to oppose their own capitalists. But when the war erupted, many parties in the Second International failed to do that and supported their own capitalists’ imperialist war efforts.
The subtitle for Lenin’s “Imperialism” is “A Popular Outline.” It wasn’t intended to be a scholarly work. It was meant for a broad audience, the anti-war movement of the time who wanted to understand the war and how to stop it.
The war split the Second International into three factions: the pro-war social democratic parties in the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria), the pro-war parties of the Triple Entente (France, Britain, Russia, the United States, Italy, and Japan) and the Zimmerwald movement made up of various anti-war pacifist or revolutionary socialist parties.
In the Zimmerwald movement, the pacifists wanted to restore the Second International, something that never happened. The revolutionary socialists wanted to build a new Third International. That happened.
Lenin’s book is still a fundamental source for understanding imperialism, capitalism, and war.
In “Socialism and War,” Lenin wrote: “Capitalism has developed concentration to such a degree that whole branches of industry have been seized by syndicates, trusts, and associations of capitalist billionaires, and almost the entire globe has been divided up among the ‘lords of capital,’ either in the form of colonies or by enmeshing other countries in thousands of threads of financial exploitation. Free trade and competition have been superseded by the striving for monopoly, for the seizure of territory for the investment of capital, for the export of raw materials from them, and so forth. From the liberator of nations that capitalism was in the struggle against feudalism, imperialist capitalism has become the greatest oppressor of nations. Formerly progressive, capitalism has become reactionary; it has developed the forces of production to such a degree that mankind is faced with the alternative of going over to Socialism or of suffering years and even decades of armed struggle between the ‘great powers’ for the artificial preservation of capitalism by means of colonies, monopolies, privileges and national oppression of every kind.”
War and Lenin in the 21st century
- Part 1: U.S. funds war, takes over Ukraine assets
- Part 2: Five key features of imperialism
- Part 3: NATO, the imperialist war machine
- Part 4: Imperialism and the new Cold War
- Part 5: Low-wage workers of the world, unite!
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