The Importance of Practicing Internationalism on a Local Level

By: Brandon Sanchez

This past Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, leftist organizations from New Orleans organized an anti-war protest against NATO’s provocations of war with Russia. The Communist Party of Louisiana (CPUSA LA) organized the demonstration with the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), thus emulating what is referred to as the united front. This collective demonstration was a historic one and although various so-called “leftists” were angered by this united front, it was only invoking the words of Georgi Dimitrov that he gave at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in 1935. Dimitrov said, “The Communist International puts no conditions for unity of action except one, and at that an elementary condition acceptable to all workers, viz., that the unity of action be directed against fascism, against the offensive of capital, against the threat of war, against the class enemy. This is our condition.” As the United States and NATO provoke war by supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine while treating the working class as disposable bodies for the benefit of the capitalist class through war, this unity was created to counteract all of that.

This internationalism pushed by the Communists at the local level is just as important, as the struggles the working class faces in New Orleans are the same struggles as other working class people in Europe, Latin America and Africa encounter. Lenin identified imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism in 1917, as the growth of monopolies as capitalism became a global phenomenon through globalization. Ever since then, imperialism has affected every aspect of our lives. Whether social, cultural, political or economic, imperialism is a system which we cannot hide from; therefore, it is more imperative than ever to invoke an internationalist view on struggles since we’re all connected by the exploitation of the capitalist class.

To be internationalist in the 21st century is to follow in the footsteps of the Soviet Union, which not only helped to inspire Latin American revolutionary movements but gave them concrete support in the form of financial, military and political aid. Have we forgotten how the USSR aided Cuba during some of the worst imperialist aggression to date? Or how the USSR sent multiple shipments of military equipment to the victorious Sandinistas to support the fight against the U.S.-backed Contras? Cuba also showed the world what true internationalism is by aiding various anti-colonial struggles in Africa. Towards 1988, Cuba had more than 60,000 troops fighting the reactionary army of apartheid South Africa in Angola. Had Cuba not intervened when it did, apartheid in South Africa might not have ended when it did. The DPRK and China also demonstrated to the world what internationalism is by aiding anti-colonial movements through material support but also giving military training. Internationalism isn’t just through military support but also through giving students scholarships to study in universities, such as what the USSR did but also with what Cuba still does.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba again demonstrated that internationalism doesn’t just come from military support but through medical support as well. Nearly 40 countries across five continents have received Cuban medics during the pandemic, which stands true to the efforts of Fidel Castro to show that socialism always puts people before profits. Cuba still aids other countries despite the brutal trade embargo that has been placed on their country since 1961, which have caused devastating effects towards the development of Cuba. In September 2021, China sent 24 tons of medical supplies to help in Cuba’s drive to vaccinate its population along with using those materials to export their own homegrown vaccines, named Abdala and Soberana. As Lenin puts it, “There is one, and only one, kind of real internationalism, and that is—working whole-heartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting (by propaganda, sympathy, and material aid) this struggle, this, and only this, line, in every country without exception.” Therefore, as Marxist-Leninists, it is our duty at the local level to work towards a revolutionary movement at home while at the same time supporting other movements abroad as internationalists. Just as Claudia Jones, an important black Communist during the 1950s, connected the “local struggles of black people and women against racism and sexist oppression to international struggles against colonialism and imperialism,” it is our duty to continue this tradition. This white supremacist capitalist imperialist system hangs by a thread, thus it is now more imperative than ever to link local struggles against racism, classism and sexism to deal the final blow to this exploitative system. All in all, the local anti-war protest put together by the Communists in conjunction with other leftist organizations continues the tradition of linking local issues to an internationalist view, therefore invoking the spirit of previous Marxists such as Lenin, Fidel Castro and Claudia Jones. To end with Ernesto Che Guevara’s words, freedom “is achieved when imperialist economic domination over a people is brought to an end.”