Haymarket Books
Books for changing the world
Democracy, Counter-Revolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism

A defence of democracy at national and international levels, and critique of attacks on it in the name of "anti-imperialism."

Using an analysis of imperialism and case studies of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Bosnia, Russia and Ukraine, Global Democracy and the Crisis of Anti-Imperialism shows that the purported anti-imperialism of many self-professed socialists amounts to explicit or implicit support for totalitarianism, fascism, Islamist theocracy and imperialism. The analysis shows that the Russian revolution was followed by a counter-revolution, and resulted in state capitalism and the revival of Russian imperialism under cover of the Soviet Union. Thus the Cold War was actually a prolonged period of inter-imperialist rivalry between the United States and Russia. A large section of socialists who call themselves anti-imperialists oppose only Western imperialism and the despots it supports, not Russian imperialism and despots like Bashar al-Assad who are supported by it. As Russia has moved further and further to the right under Putin, they have effectively defected to the far right. They and other socialists also mistakenly believe that political democracy is organically connected to capitalism and therefore need not be defended, whereas, on the contrary, democracy is only established by mass struggles, and is an indispensable resource in the fight against exploitation and oppression. Finally, these socialists fail to understand that without internationalism, it is impossible to defeat global capitalism and its neoliberal policies. All the case studies in this book represent attempts to carry out democratic revolutions, which are supported by genuine socialist internationalists but opposed by pseudo-anti-imperialists. The book ends by suggesting steps that can be taken to promote democracy and end mass slaughter.

  • "Too many so-called leftists support regimes that oppose freedom of expression and association; that imprison, torture and kill dissidents; that obstruct free elections; and that promote inequality, sexism, racism, nationalism and religious bigotry. These "leftists" do so in the name of "progress." In her timely and very important book Rohini Hensman eloquently unmasks such "pseudo-anti-imperialists" who believe that the enemies of the West are always our friends and therefore deserve our solidarity. Against such anti-democratic attitudes she argues powerfully for a principled and enduring struggle against any form of authoritarianism and inequality in civil society, whether West, East, North or South. I hope that her work will be widely read and discussed."—Marcel van der Linden, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam

    "In this highly stimulating work, Rohini Hensman shares her views on a vast number of issues lying at the heart of left-wing politics, from historical to contemporary. Brushing off all sorts of dogmatic beliefs, she does not shy away from thinking out of the box, guided only by her uncompromising dedication to the values of human rights and democracy."—Gilbert Achcar, author of Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism