Notes on the Crisis of Imperialism: Toward Extinction

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Syria serves as the epicentre of a global Imperialist war. This is highlighted by Harbertson (2016), particularly in the case of the most recent offensive on Aleppo. An attempt at a cease-fire between the Syrian military & opposition forces on 12 September (Hume & Yan, 2016) was broken an alleged 300+ times by rebel groups, the US & Israel (Webb, 2016). On 17 September the US led airstrikes on Syrian soldiers fighting Islamic State (IS) at Al Tharda mountain (Mazzetti, 2016). As Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova explained: ‘We are reaching a really terrifying conclusion for the whole world: that the White House is defending Islamic State.’

Imperialism will make use of whatever instruments it can to advance its interests. The US & Britain have a clear target in Syria: Assad (Sherlock, 2016; Wintour, 2016). They will waste no more time & the mask of “humanitarianism” has been dropped to reveal a skull of death. This is further confirmed by the emergence of the White Helmets. The organisation, founded by British private security services contractor & ex-army officer James Le Mesurier, was founded in 2013 (Oberg, 2016). It has amassed a fortune, with an annual budget of $30m & a reserve of some $100m. The NGO lists Britain, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands & the US as the source of its funding. The Imperialists fund it through their aid budgets. For example, Denmark – a country that bombs both Iraq & Syria – gives the group $9m a year. It poses as a humanitarian organisation, one that seems to operate exclusively in areas of Syria held by government forces. White Helmets have been photographed bearing Al Nursa black fags (Leon, 2016). The hidden hand of Imperialism operates through these closeted mercenaries.

On 20 September the Syrian army declared a unilateral end to the cease-fire (Harbertson, 2016). This was rejected by the major Imperialists, the US leading them in their statements. This attempt to brand the Syrian army as the aggressors, with the US shrugging off its military support of IS as “targeting error”, was abandoned with an escalation in aggression between Russia & the US. Hours after the Syrian army renounced the cease-fire, an attack on an Arab Red Crescent humanitarian aid convoy in rebel held Urum Al Kubra left 20 civilians dead. The US blamed Russia, accusing them of an air strike. Russia cited the lack of any impact craters & denied any bombing. The UN said it was in no position to verify either story.

Since that date, tensions between Russia, the US & its allies have grown sharper. As a Communist in Britain, my focus is necessarily upon those manoeuvres undertaken by British Imperialism:

  • On 15 October British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson implicitly called for protests outside the Russian embassy over the situation in Aleppo. This was greeted by Russia, correctly, as a statement of intent (Dejevsky, 2016).
  • On 19 October Russian warships passed Britain on their route to the Mediterranean & Syria. The Royal Navy shadowed them & the British press presented this as an act of clear aggression (Farmer, 2016).
  • On 1 November British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that Britain & NATO would be ready to go to war with Russia by 2018 or 2019 (Glaze, 2016).

This is not an empty threat. 2016 has seen the largest accumulation of NATO forces at Russia’s borders since the 2nd world war (Pilger, 2016). The Imperialists are actively planning this confrontation, this war that could consume the earth. We cannot rule out even nuclear weapons. The tendency of Imperialism toward human extinction is clearer today than perhaps ever before.


The details discussed above are by no means comprehensive, neglecting even the consequences of Obama’s 2011 “pivot to the east” (Pilger, 2016). What information has been provided is present only as characterisation of the present period in general. In the case of Syria such a characterisation inevitably leads to a consideration of Imperialist war. The conflict of interests between Imperialists are there resolving themselves in the shattering of bones, the mutilation of bodies & executions on the streets.

Lukács (1924) highlights that both Marx & Lenin saw Socialist revolution as an actual process. In a word, the misery of the proletariat – its suffering, its hunger, its subjugation to brutality – is identifiable with a process of revolution. Revolution is a tendency of Capitalist social relations; it is already occurring. This carries with it a dual recognition. If the revolution is actual, it therefore stands that counter-revolution must also be actual. It, equally, is a tendency of Capitalist social relations. These 2 tendencies form the central contradiction of class struggle in the Capitalist & Imperialist period. Both tendencies take on a multitude of concrete forms in any given historical moment.

Counter revolution today is identifiable with the use of nuclear weapons & environmental destruction – that is, human extinction. These 2 processes are intricately linked to the process of Capital accumulation. Human extinction is today on the historical agenda. Concretely, the war in Syria serves as a realisation of counter revolution & of human extinction. It is, as Harbertson (2016) states in his article’s title, the ‘epicentre of global war’.


Dejevsky, M. (2016). Protests outside the Russian embassy – what is Boris Johnson up to now?. The Guardian. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Farmer, B. (2016). Russian warships filmed off coast of Britain as Royal Navy shadows Syria-bound vessels through English Channel. The Telegraph. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Glaze, B. (2016). Britain ‘would be ready for war against Russia in two years’. The Mirror. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Harbertson, T. (2016). Syria: Aleppo becoming epicentre of global war. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Hume, T. & Yan, H. (2016). Syria: Temporary ceasefire begins amid skepticism. [online] CNN. Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Leon, J. (2016). ISIS Disappears From Mosul on Battle’s Eve; White Helmets Exposed. [online] Shadowproof. Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Lukács, G. (1924). Lenin: A Study on the Unity of his Thought by Georg Lukacs. [online] Marxists Internet Archive. Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Mazzetti, A. (2016). U.S. Admits Airstrike in Syria, Meant to Hit ISIS, Killed Syrian Troops. [online] The New York Times. Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Oberg, J. (2016). Just How “Grey” are Syria’s “White Helmets” and their US-NATO Sponsors?. [online] Global Research. Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Pilger, J. (2016). John Pilger on his new film ‘The Coming War on China’. [online] Campaign Archive. Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Sherlock, R. (2016). Hillary Clinton will reset Syria policy against ‘murderous’ Assad regime. The Telegraph. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Webb, W. (2016). Syria Ceasefire Ends After Being Violated Over 300 Times By Militants, US, And Israel. [online] True Activist. Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Wintour, P. (2016). Boris Johnson says Assad must go if Syrians’ suffering is to end. The Guardian. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2016].

Note: Dates given are generally in Harvard format. Exceptions have been applied to this rule when considering historical texts republished online. In these instances, the original publication date is given.

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