A Worldwide Anti-Imperialist Left: Why it is Needed, and What it Must Do

By Alan Freeman and Radhika Desai May 09, 2023

Capital organises globally yet workers do not. As the US-led NATO powers escalate the Ukraine conflict into a new world war, this imbalance is becoming intolerable.

This paper presents the case for a worldwide anti-imperialist Left, representing ordinary people committed to a just and peaceful multipolar world order. This will serve both the national interest of every country, and the general interest of humanity.

We base our case on an historical assessment of the last such organization, the Communist International or Comintern for short, founded in 1919 and dissolved in 1943, and its two predecessors, the International Working Men’s Association or ‘First International’, founded in 1864 and dissolved in 1872, and the Second or “Socialist” International, founded in 1889 and dissolved in 1914.

The Comintern, the third attempt at a single world organisation of the working class, was as much a child of the world-historic 1917 revolution as the Soviet Union. Many Russians, including President Vladimir Putin, are reconsidering the wisdom of dissolving the USSR; it is time to also reassess the decision to abandon the project of an international organisation of propertyless people.Our case is controversial because in the West, those parties that identify as “Left,” headed by the allegedly left-leaning US Democratic Party, almost unanimously endorse the US-led proxy war on Russia.

Further confusion arises because many governments of the Right, such as India, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, actively oppose sanctions, promote alternative trading relations to those hitherto imposed by the USA, and insist that Russia’s legitimate security concerns be given due consideration.

This has led many in the nationalist wing of Russian politics to conclude that the interests of their country require alliances with the parties of the Western Right–notably the Trumpist Republican Party. Conversely the Western “Left” parties justify their support for NATO’s war aims as necessary to defeat Right wing forces, with whom they lump the current Russian government.

The entire paper may be read and downloaded here.


Dr. Radhika Desai is a Professor at the Department of Political Studies, and Director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group at University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. She has proposed a new historical materialist approach to understanding world affairs and geopolitical economy based on the materiality of nations. Some of her recent books include Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire (2013), Karl Polanyi and Twenty First Century Capitalism (2020) Revolutions (2020) and Japan’s Secular Stagnation (2022). Her articles and book chapters appear in international scholarly journals and edited volumes. With Alan Freeman, she co-edits the Geopolitical Economy book series with Manchester University Press and the Future of Capitalism book series with Pluto Press. Her latest book is Capitalism, Coronavirus and War: A Geopolitical Economy, which will appear in November and will be open access.

Dr. Alan Freeman is a former principal economist with the Greater London Authority and is now a research affiliate of the University of Manitoba. With Radhika Desai, he is co-director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group. He is also co-editor of the Future of World Capitalism book series with Pluto Books, and the Geopolitical Economy book series with Manchester University Press He is a committee member of the Association for Heterodox Economics (www.hetecon.net) and a vice-chair of the World Association for Political Economy. He is a board member of Video Pool Winnipeg and the Christopher Freeman Trust, and a former board member of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

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