|The logo of the Pan-American People’s Liberation Party|
Envision a future where the territory now called the United States, along with the other countries in the hemisphere that exist as a result of colonialism, have been converted into a great swath of nations which are once again controlled by the indigenous tribes. Imagine a scenario where U.S. imperialism is defeated once and for all through the abolishment of the U.S. itself, which was created through the imperialist theft of indigenous land and the subsequent slaughter of most of the region’s indigenous people.
It can feel challenging to imagine this coming about, because colonial occupation has been the reality throughout the vast majority of the hemisphere for centuries. Yet in instances like Haiti’s anti-slavery and anti-colonial revolution of 1804, or Cuba’s socialist revolution against a U.S.-backed dictatorship, or the restoration of indigenous rule during Evo Morales’ 14-year socialist presidency, cracks in the wall of colonial and capitalist control have appeared. By examining the pre-colonial past, the history of anti-colonial resistance so far, and the present conditions surrounding colonialism and capitalism, I can construct a picture of what an anti-colonial revolution in this hemisphere will look like.
The great civilization that the First Nations were building-and that they should be able to resume building
The pre-colonial nations in the continents now called North and South America were not the sparsely populated, “primitive” societies that colonialist lore portrays them as. There were as many as 112 million Natives in the pre-contact Americas, with around 90% having been killed by disease, violence, and biological warfare in the following centuries. Many of their nations ran on democracy, and far from all being isolated to their own territories, the inhabitants of these nations passed around resources throughout vast distances around the continent. They had made many technological advancements that the Europeans hadn’t. And rather than having all lived in tepees as media portrayals suggest, the different indigenous societies had a diverse range of housing.
It’s necessary for me to dispel the settler narratives about who the continent’s indigenous people were back then, because American culture’s ingrained disdain for these societies prevents popular support for decolonization. Our society, particularly the country’s communist movement, must recognize that returning sovereignty to all of the indigenous nations is a feasible and necessary way to rectify the injustices against colonized peoples.
By “colonized peoples,” I mean not just the indigenous people but the black people. These groups have experienced centuries of genocide as a result of the project to make the continent into a hub for imperialist power and capitalist profits, and an anti-colonial revolution will necessarily include an effort towards restorative justice for both of them.
Therefore, the governmental structure that exists in North America after such a revolution will need to consist of the following aspects:
-The abolition of colonial states; the European-created governments occupying indigenous nations must be disbanded.
-The creation of the modern equivalent of the indigenous confederacy that the leader Tecumseh tried to create; after the colonial governments are abolished, their militaries should be seized and put under control of a democratic indigenous confederacy which consists of all the First Nations.
-The creation of an African Autonomous Oblast, where African descendants receive reparations for slavery and an independent African nation. (This territory would be formed after the appropriate cooperation between the First Nations.)
-A First Nations Citizenship program for non-natives, one where settlers who either don’t want to be part of the First Nations or aren’t eligible for First Nations citizenship are deported to their ancestral homelands. In other words, a removal of the white supremacists who pose a threat of committing violent acts.
-Abolition of all colonial prisons, the creation of a restorative justice system for criminal recidivism, and a re-education campaign where the colonial textbooks are replaced with factual accounts of the indigenous genocide.
-Continental universal healthcare, housing, food, and education, along with a full employment program that conducts ecological restoration, sustainable agriculture, and the building of a renewable energy system. This will only come after the seizure of the means of production from the capitalist class all throughout the former American colonies (which will happen in time as the autonomous First Nations develop towards socialism).
The post-revolutionary arrangement within South America would for the most part be the same, so long as this revolution is also oriented around anti-colonialism.
What the anti-colonial and class struggles within the hemisphere have been able to accomplish so far
Colonialism and imperialism still haven’t been thrown off throughout the vast majority of the Pan-American hemisphere because capitalism has developed along with these systems, and capitalism has created vast mechanisms for keeping the colonial power structures in place. The white settlers in the bourgeois class and the relatively privileged proletariat have lacked the economic incentive to overthrow the capitalist and colonialist systems, because they’ve stood to benefit from the continued subjugation of the colonized. And since these privileged groups have naturally always been the ones with the most ability to participate in capitalist electoral politics, the social contract has sustained itself.
These settlers have attained their control through means of violence against the populations which have stood in the way of capitalism and settler-colonialism. Slavery, forced transfers, mass killings, and campaigns of terror have served this purpose from the start, keeping the African and indigenous peoples from stopping the success of settler-colonialism in the hemisphere. In the last century or so, eugenics against the colonized peoples has also been part of this. The proliferation of police forces throughout the capitalist world, along with the rise of global U.S. imperialism, have perpetuated the control of the U.S. empire both internally and externally.
Aside from repressing the colonized peoples and the proletariat throughout the imperial core, much of these engines for imperialist violence have been used for preventing revolutions in Washington’s foreign colonies. As capitalism has developed, they’ve also served to re-colonize decolonized lands through economic means; the financial entrapment of Latin American countries to large corporations and the International Monetary Fund has involved death squads, brutal repression of people who’ve rebelled, and violent coups against leaders who’ve worked against the financial interests of the empire. In this way, the past decolonizations of various lands have become mainly symbolic victories for anti-colonialism, because the capitalists have nonetheless retaken control over these lands.
This spread of neo-colonialism has correlated with the last century’s vast campaign to stop the spread of socialism throughout Latin America. There have been at least 56 U.S. interventions in Latin America, and the U.S. has interfered in the elections of the vast majority of Latin American countries since World War II. The only socialist Latin American countries that still exist are Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela, with Bolivia having been socialist-controlled last year before Morales was overthrown in the latest U.S. coup.
Despite imperialism for the most part holding back Latin America’s development towards socialism so far, the hemisphere’s existing socialist countries demonstrate that this situation has the potential to change. As Nelson Mandela said, socialist Cuba and its aid for the anti-colonial movement in South Africa “destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor.” It showed that when a nation arms itself well after breaking away from imperial control, it can avoid being reconquered and spread the revolution to other countries. Venezuela’s Chavista government, with its three-million-strong people’s militia, is following in this example.
These keys for breaking away from imperial control-a popular movement, a socialist revolution, and a project to create a strong national defense against imperialism-are being increasingly pursued by those who would lead the hemispheric revolution that I’ve described.
The obstacles that the current Pan-American revolutionaries must overcome
The immediate priorities of the Pan-American socialist and anti-colonial revolutionaries are to save all the current regime change target countries from being overthrown by the imperialists, to further the rising anti-capitalist and anti-colonial popular movements throughout Latin America, and to protect indigenous people from the escalating abuses that the colonial governments are carrying out. The latter cause mainly pertains to the indigenous migrant concentration camps of the United States, to the Canadian government’s use of police and paramilitaries to force through a pipeline within tribal land, and to the Bolsonaro government’s campaign to enact genocide against Brazil’s uncontacted tribes for the purpose of advancing business.
In addition to these crimes by the hemisphere’s three biggest colonial governments, Bolivia’s U.S.-installed fascist regime has been enacting violence against indigenous people for defending their democracy. Similar horrors have occurred as U.S.-backed Latin American regimes like Chile have responded to the last year’s anti-neoliberal protests by committing widespread atrocities. We’re experiencing an intensification of warfare from the imperialists, one that’s happening in reaction to the surge of immigration, the decline of American power worldwide, and the recent rise of revolutionary mobilization from the have-nots.
In these respects, the system is getting more vulnerable, especially as economic collapse now envelops the United States. Amid this great 21st century crisis of capitalism, where the bourgeoisie are suddenly experiencing falling profit rates while the living standards of the masses are quickly in decline, we can advance the next goal of our movement: rallying poor and working people towards trying to overthrow their capitalist governments.
Perhaps the next Cuba-esque socialist revolution will happen in Bolivia, where many of the country’s disenfranchised indigenous proletarians have been demonstrating and gathering in militias since last year’s coup. Given how Bolivia’s fascist government has been working to rig the currently delayed upcoming election, the revolutionaries will only be able to realistically win by building up institutions like the Marxist-Leninist Maoist Communist Party of Bolivia, all while sustaining a civil disobedience movement and a potential armed struggle amid violent state repression.
The more the class conflict develops around the globe, the clearer it becomes that Bolivia’s situation of dictatorship and violent struggle is going to be the future in many places. Fascism is rising around the capitalist world, from India to Brazil to the United States. The pretenses of democracy are being dropped, and militarized policing, eroded civil liberties, and unfettered corporate pillage are becoming more normalized. To get an idea of where many capitalist countries are headed, look at Honduras, where society has been highly militarized and a right-wing regime has held on through rigged elections since the imperialist coup in 2009.
Electoral politics isn’t how we’ll win. Our task will depend on raising support for anti-colonial and socialist revolution, building the communist parties that can facilitate a revolution, and mobilizing the movement’s members towards strikes, blockades, demonstrations, and efforts to defend from state violence. This was roughly how Cuba’s revolutionaries defeated the country’s Batista dictatorship, and it’s how we’ll throw down the remaining tyrannical regimes in the hemisphere.
The world we’ll be able to build after the United States is overthrown
The struggle for complete Pan-American liberation will be long, and will be especially difficult to win within the imperial core. But those in the U.S. can take comfort from Che Guevara’s words: “I envy you. You North Americans are very lucky. You are fighting the most important fight of all — you live in the belly of the beast.”
Every step we take to weaken the authority of the U.S. government, as well as every step we take to weaken Washington’s control over its proxy states, renders all the imperialists and settler-colonialists of the world less able to operate. The military powers and covert operations networks of the imperialist NATO alliance are concentrated in the United States. Israel’s settler-colonial project wouldn’t likely be able to survive for long without support from Washington, Saudi Arabia wouldn’t be able to continue its genocide against the Yemeni people without U.S. aid, and NATO would be rendered largely ineffectual if the U.S. were to leave it.
The U.S. has also long been the center for global capitalist economic power, meaning that if the U.S. or the countries that it economically depends upon are turned socialist, it will destroy the power balance which Michael Parenti describes in his book Dirty Truths: “A socialist Cuba or a socialist North Korea, as such, are not a threat to the survival of world capitalism. The danger is not socialism in any one country but a socialism that might spread to many countries. Multinational corporations, as their name implies, need the entire world, or a very large part of it, to exploit and to invest and expand in. There can be no such thing as ‘capitalism in one country.’”
If a socialist anti-colonial revolution were to happen in the U.S., the capitalist oligarchs would lose much of their wealth and most of their former economic leverage, even if they were to all successfully move their assets out of the country. The remaining capitalist powers would survive only through intense internal repression and militarism, and the collapse of their economic systems amid climate change and the decline of corporate profits would motivate their people to work towards revolution. Palestine would be decolonized amid the defeat of Israel. The collapse of Western economic dominance would leave all of the African and South American countries that have suffered under neo-colonialism freer to pursue their own destinies. The extinction of imperialism itself would be in sight, to be replaced by a paradigm where socialism dominates the globe.
Most immediately, such a revolution would rectify the injustice that’s led to all of the evils committed by U.S. imperialism: the colonization of the region’s indigenous lands and the creation of the United States of America. In this future, the land would collectively no longer be called the “United States,” nor “America.” It would predominantly take on the name that many indigenous people still use for it: Turtle Island.
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