Friends of Socialist China co-editor Keith Bennett spoke at the Global Conference on Multipolarity, held online on Saturday April 29. The conference, which was jointly convened by organizations from China, Türkiye, Russia, Brazil and elsewhere, and coordinated from Moscow, was addressed by more than 120 speakers from over 60 countries.
Addressing the theme of neo-colonialism, Keith said that the founding of the People’s Republic of China was among the great historic events which made the persistence of the old colonial empires untenable.
The collapse of the Soviet Union temporarily gave colonialism and imperialism a new lease of life, but a number of factors had served to make the moment of imperialist triumphalism a fleeting one. In particular, the People’s Republic of China, far from changing its class character, had deepened its socialist orientation and has continued its steady rise, remaining on course to overtake the United States as the world’s single largest economy, a change unseen in well over a century. Keith recalled that President Xi Jinping first said in 2017 that socialism with Chinese characteristics, “offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.”
We reproduce below the text and video of Keith’s speech.
Dear Friends and Comrades
First, I would like to thank Nova Resistência of Brazil, the New International Order Initiative of Türkiye, the International Eurasian Movement of Russia, the Thinker’s Forum of China, and the International Russophile Movement for organizing today’s Global Multipolarity Conference and for inviting me to share some thoughts on the sub-theme of the Struggle Against Neo-Colonialism in a Multipolar World.
The themes you have chosen for today’s deliberations are the central questions of contemporary global politics. Indeed, I would argue, they are among the most vital issues facing humanity for centuries.
What is most significant about the present conjuncture is that the conditions are maturing for the final resolution of this historical problem, through the creation of a truly multipolar, or pluripolar, world, with independence as its foundation and at its core.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, the great African-American scholar and revolutionary, Dr. WEB DuBois said that the defining issue of that coming century would be what he termed the ‘colour line’. He spoke just a few short years after the European colonial powers had met in Berlin to carve the continent of Africa between themselves like so many slices of cake.
What DuBois was referring to was the struggle of the oppressed nations and peoples for their liberation – a struggle that characterized the twentieth century. The 1917 revolution that led to the creation of the Soviet Union was the first great turning point in the anti-colonial struggle. For the first time, a great world power emerged that was unequivocally committed to the struggle and the freedom of the colonial peoples.
When the imperialist powers again plunged the world into a war for the redivision of the colonies, it was the Soviet Union and its Red Army that played the decisive role in what became an anti-fascist battle for democracy.
Arising from the historic defeat of fascism was the victory of the Chinese revolution, which had a profound impact on the global balance of forces.
The founding of the People’s Republic of China, the independence of India, the revolutions in Korea and Vietnam, and the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference in the Indonesian city of Bandung, were among the most important factors in creating a new reality, in which the persistence of the old colonial empires, in the form they had taken hitherto, became increasingly untenable.
Even amidst its tragic and bitter divisions, the existence of the socialist camp was the greatest mainstay and support for the wave of anti-colonialism that swept through Africa and Asia, the Caribbean and the South Pacific, and even in Europe, as the struggle of the Irish people, among others, demonstrates. Whilst formal decolonization remains to be completed, hundreds of millions of people won their national independence and embarked on the struggle to build a new society.
However, that struggle has proven to be no less arduous than that to win formal independence. As far back as 1897, the greatest Irish socialist James Connolly had warned:
“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country.”
Just as Lenin had defined imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism, so it fell to Ghana’s first president Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to define neo-colonialism as the highest stage of imperialism.
And just as it was the existence of the socialist camp that provided the greatest support to the cause of national independence and the building of a new society, so it was the collapse of the Soviet Union, in particular, that constituted the greatest setback, temporarily giving colonialism and imperialism a new lease of life.
Far from the ‘peace dividend’ we were promised, the ‘new world order’ and then the supposed ‘rules based international order’, ushered in a new period of colonial wars, in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, Syria and Somalia, among others, wreaking havoc, destruction and misery in those countries and much farther afield.
Three factors, in particular, have, however, served to make the moment of imperialist triumphalism a fleeting one:
- The People’s Republic of China, far from changing its class character, has deepened its socialist orientation and has continued its steady rise, remaining on course to overtake the United States as the world’s single largest economy, a change unseen in well over a century. As President Xi Jinping first said in 2017, socialism with Chinese characteristics, “offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.”
- Under the leadership of President Putin, Russia has regained its dignity and self-respect and is once more a powerful and dependable ally of the Global South.
- Starting with the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, and with the great example of socialist Cuba to follow, Latin America, considered by the United States to be its hereditary backyard for centuries, has advanced to the forefront of the global struggle for independence and social progress. The return of President Lula in Brazil has also served to greatly expedite that process.
One might say that today, on a state level, the anti-colonial forces have never been stronger and more cohesive. And it is precisely for this reason that imperialism has responded with a ‘new cold war’ targeted on Russia and China in particular. Indeed, imperialism no longer makes any pretense with regard to the fact that it is openly at war with Russia.
Viewed in this light, it becomes clear that Russia’s current Special Military Operation represents a historic counterattack against the global colonial forces represented, in particular, by the US-led NATO alliance. And this, in turn, explains, for example, the outpouring of support for Russia in such long downtrodden countries as Mali, Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic, even if it leaves most of the western left in a state of impotence and incoherence.
Today, once again, the multinational people of Russia stand on the frontlines of the struggle for civilization and against barbarism. I have no doubt that, as in 1945, they will prevail.
And I conclude with this observation of VI Lenin, from his 1923 article, ‘Better Fewer But Better’:
“In the last analysis, the outcome of the struggle will be determined by the fact that Russia, India, China, etc., account for the overwhelming majority of the population of the globe. And during the past few years it is this majority that has been drawn into the struggle for emancipation with extraordinary rapidity, so that in this respect there cannot be the slightest doubt what the final outcome of the world struggle will be. In this sense, the complete victory of socialism is fully and absolutely assured.”