Mao Zedong once famously said: “All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful.” (Selected Works, Vol IV, p100)
Confronted by the military and economic might of the major imperialist powers, it can often be hard to appreciate the profound truth of these words. In the weeks since our last issue, however, proof has been flowing in from all quarters of the globe.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, commander of the British forces in Iraq, has openly said that imperialism’s objectives in Iraq are unachievable and that the presence of his troops in that country is counterproductive. Both the British and the US regimes are having effectively to admit defeat. This defeat has been brought about by the Iraqi people who, despite the infinite inferiority in weaponry and wealth, nevertheless are the ones who are really powerful and cannot be defeated.
The position of imperialist forces in Afghanistan has also become untenable as British soldiers cower under siege from men in plastic sandals whom they cannot defeat. The imperialists in Afghanistan admit that such fierce fighting has not been witnessed by them since the Korean War.
In Nepal, after 10 years of people’s war, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has been able to force the government to come to terms with it and sign an agreement that heralds an end to the Nepalese feudal elite who sold their country to imperialism. This is in spite of the massive support from Britain and the US that was afforded to the Nepalese monarchy and its huge army. But the hearts and minds of the majority of the Nepalese people were with the guerrillas, and it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful.
There was a time when it was supposed that imperialism could always impose any government it wished on any country that held elections, by use of its enormous wealth to promote its puppet candidates – but in country after country we are seeing that this is no longer true.
In spite of everything they could do to prevent it, Joseph Kabila, the nationalist president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has triumphed in the second and final round of the elections in that country, vowing to use the Congo’s vast natural wealth for the benefit of the Congolese people rather than to allow it to be spirited away by imperialist corporations.
In Ecuador, elections have been won by Rafael Correa, a supporter of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, who is in turn certain to win the 3 December Venezuelan elections.
In Nicaragua, the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, has become President.
In Mexico, the people elected Lopez Obrador, another Chávez supporter, but the election was stolen by blatant fraud. The result is that the fraudulent government is not being allowed to function.
In Lebanon, the people have come out onto the streets in their hundreds of thousands to get rid of the puppet regime of Siniora.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a country the size of Wales, but whose government has the unwavering support of its people and of oppressed people all over the world, has for decades been defying the imperialist powers who want to force it to change its regime. Yet for all their roaring and thundering, the imperialists are powerless to suppress the DPRK.
Nevertheless, imperialism will not disappear of itself. The people do have to organise to overthrow it and to replace the capitalist system with a socialist one. It is a struggle in which many sacrifices have to be made. However, the events of recent weeks cannot fail to prove that imperialism is fundamentally weak; that the sacrifices needed to topple it will not be in vain because the struggle is bound to succeed.