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Multipolarism – the new Kautskyism

Written by: Alan Jackson on 14 January 2024


(Above; Prominent leftist academics help sell multipolarity)


It is clear that U.S global hegemony is on the decline while economic formations like BRICS and Imperialist powers Russia and China are growing in global dominance. 

The U.S since the dissolution of the social-imperialist Soviet Union in 1991 has since been the most powerful economic and military power with little competition due to the destruction of its main contender, the U.S.S.R. This led to bourgeois journalists, think tanks, politicians, financiers and academia in their refusal to acknowledge Imperialism, to refer to the global relations situation and the supreme dominance of the U.S as one that was Unipolar. 

These same liberal bourgeois or modern day Kautskyites, are deducing that with the rise of contending economic powers (particularly China and Russia) we are on the road to a “Multipolar” world in which powerful states and their monopolies will keep each other in check. 
I would not bother myself writing an article against this modern day Kaustskyism if it wasn’t for the influx of self-proclaimed “Marxist-Leninists” (particularly in the Anglo sphere) that are picking this up as anti-Imperialist and genuine Marxist theory. 
Not only is this mischaracterisation erroneous and completely devoid of class analysis. The theory of Multipolarity is crippling if kept unchecked and is an exact reflection of the Ideology Lenin railed against in “Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. This was the ideology of Kautsky, of the German Social-Imperialists who acted as radical Liberals and threw internationalism in the dumpster for war credits on the eve of the First World War. If we wish to avoid revisionism and dogmatism this rhetoric must be thrown to the dustbin of history. 
Why is Multipolarity a problem in the International Communist Movement and how does it relate to Kautskyism?
To answer the question of what multipolarity is and how it relates to Kautskyism, we must first make the statement and analysis clear that both China and Russia are Imperialist Countries. This analysis has already been undertaken so I will leave some works for further reading on this below. Now that we have made clear that Russia and China are in fact Imperialist and not bastions of the Proletarian Revolution like many delusional “Marxist-Leninists” so erroneously are stating, we can address this question better. 
These revisionists have quite a large following and include but aren’t limited to Ben Norton, who claims to be a Marxist-Leninist subjectively but objectively only combats U.S Imperialism to defend Russian and Chinese Imperialism. He has also appeared on the popular ML (Marxist-Leninist) Podcast “The Deprogram”, Midwestern Marx which is an organisation and “journal” which also has a large following, and has been published by Monthly Review. He has been defending Russian and Chinese Imperialism to an equally large extent and has even gone so far recently as stating “Russia is on the path to becoming Socialist again” (1). Supporters of multipolarity include Infrared (Haz), Jakson Hinkle, Caleb Maupin and Alexandr Dougan. 
There has also been some influence in Australia with the Communist Party of Australia publishing an article by Jesus Rojas in 2021 titled “Venezuela, Russia and China: the route to a multipolar world”, and its 14th Congress in 2022 passing a resolution which included: “Most countries support the trend towards a multi-polar world and against hegemony. China’s framework of win/win diplomacy and community for a shared future are much better suited for the increasingly multipolar world.’’
There is also a rather small group called the “Eureka Collective” who also seem to follow this theory. 
This large influence world-wide has led to many aspiring Marxist-Leninists supporting Multipolarity as a genuine and viable solution promoting peace. This is ridiculous as military spending has only gone up since the rise of other imperialist states according to Al Jazeera “reaching all-time high of $2.24 trillion”(2). 
Aggression has also only gone up with war and genocide resurrecting in Palestine. Genocide is being perpetrated by the Fascist Israeli Government and Settlers; Ukraine is being invaded by Imperialist Russia and is being fuelled and fooled by the Imperialist super power the US; Yemen, Afghanistan, The Congo, Sudan, Burkina Faso and the Guyana-Venezuela territorial dispute are further examples. 
Russia and China have been sinking their Imperialist teeth into African and Asian veins with loans as harsh as the IMF with Sri Lanka forfeiting “the port and over 15,000 acres of land around it for 99 years” (3). 
It is clear the Imperialist countries will not “keep each other in check” but carry on as Imperialism always has, as a blood-starved beast that will seek out Capital where it can no matter the consequences. But, how does this relate to Kautskyism and Ultra-Imperialism? 
Marx declared that ‘History repeats itself first, as tragedy, and then as farce.’ And farcical it is watching the lows these subjective “MLs” but objective defenders of Imperialism will drop to with ridiculous statements such as listed above in order to promote and defend their ideology. 
Kautsky presented his Ultra-Imperialism by saying “Cannot the present imperialist policy be supplanted by a new, ultra-imperialist policy, which will introduce the joint exploitation of the world by internationally united finance capital in place of the mutual rivalries of national finance capitals? Such a new phase of capitalism is at any rate conceivable.” (4). 
A new Ultra-Imperialist policy now emerges and presents imperialism as a desirable set of multiple poles (multipolarity) with different aims but a common goal of achieving a peaceful environment for their ongoing exploitation and plunder.
It sounds just as ridiculous as the ultra-imperialism that Lenin opposed, writing: “From the purely economic point of view,” is “ultra-imperialism” possible, or is it ultra-nonsense?” (5) and stating: 
“Therefore, in the realities of the capitalist system, and not in the banal philistine fantasies of English parsons, or of the German “Marxist,” Kautsky, “inter-imperialist” or “ultra-imperialist” alliances, no matter what form they may assume, whether of one imperialist coalition against another, or of a general alliance embracing all the imperialist powers, are inevitably nothing more than a “truce” in periods between wars. Peaceful alliances prepare the ground for wars, and in their turn grow out of wars; the one conditions the other, producing alternating forms of peaceful and non-peaceful struggle on one and the same basis of imperialist connections and relations within world economics and world politics. But in order to pacify the workers and reconcile them with the social-chauvinists who have deserted to the side of the bourgeoisie, wise Kautsky separates one link of a single chain from another, separates the present peaceful (and ultra-imperialist, nay, ultra-ultra-imperialist) alliance of all the powers for the “pacification” of China (remember the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion) from the non-peaceful conflict of tomorrow, which will prepare the ground for another “peaceful” general alliance for the partition, say, of Turkey, on the day after tomorrow, etc., etc. Instead of showing the living connection between periods of imperialist peace and periods of imperialist war, Kautsky presents the workers with a lifeless abstraction in order to reconcile them to their lifeless leaders.” (6). 
With everything so far it is very clear that Inter-Imperialist competition only breeds war and will never become a joint productive and co-operative endeavour between the most powerful of states. 
With everything presented it is clear and obvious the appearance of Multipolarism is only a rebranded and reskinned Kautskyite Ultra-Imperialism just like Kautsky’s Ultra-Imperialism was a rebranding and reskinning of Hobson’s Super-Imperialism which proclaimed  “Christendom thus laid out in a few great federal empires, each with a retinue of uncivilised dependencies, seems to many the most legitimate development of present tendencies, and one which would offer the best hope of permanent peace on an assured basis of inter-imperialism.” (7).  
Knowing that Multipolarism is only modern day Kautskyism, we can throw this crippling theory to the dustbin of history and carry on in our revolutionary mass work. Like Lenin said “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” (8), and it is clear that Multipolarism is no revolutionary theory.
Sources – 
(4.) Kautsky - Die Neue Zeit, April 30, 1915, S. 144.
(5.) Lenin – Imperialism the Highest stage of Capitalism (Chapter 7)
(6.) Lenin – Imperialism the Highest stage of Capitalism (Chapter9)
(7.) quoted in Lenin – Imperialism the Highest stage of Capitalism (Chapter 9)
(8.) Lenin – What is to be Done?
Resources on Chinese Imperialism – 


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