Roger Waters, a former member of Pink Floyd, is becoming popular among the Stalinist left and the mainstream self-hating liberal left. This article will reflect a comprehensive investigative journey into his political activism of anti-imperialism by addressing the western imperialist camp, Russia imperialist camp, China imperialist camp, and the possibilities of Marxist anti-imperialist solutions.
Becoming a woke left
The political activism of Roger Water started in 2006 at his performance in Tel Aviv, where he saw the Israeli West Bank barrier restricting his Palestinian supporters. He subsequently moved that Tel Aviv concert to Neve Shalom and has spoken out about the barrier. Since then, Waters declared his support for the boycott, divestment, and sanction movement (BDS) against Israel.
In 2015, Waters published an open letter in Salon criticising Bon Jovi for performing in Tel Aviv. He also urged Radiohead to cancel a 2017 concert there, signing a letter with 50 others. In 2017, he was a co-signatory to an open letter to Nick Cave asking him to cancel concerts in Tel Aviv.
It should be clarified that Israel needs to be criticised for its apartheid. Most of the legit progressive socialists are for the Palestinian cause. Here, there are some apparent regressive left segments who are supporting Islamists such as Hamas and so on. There are also some secular progressive socialists who are aligned with Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), the progressive secular political parties that are respected by the progressive elements of the organic Palestinian population.
However, when it comes to Marxist analysis, it's important to analyse the situation from the lens of anti-imperialism, class struggle, and the national question.
Regarding imperialism in Israel-Palestine war, the western imperialism is apparent. However, the imperialism or interventionism of the neighbouring states should not be ignored. Moreover, the Zionism of the Israeli government, the political Islam of Hamas and other regressive religious fundamentalist groups should not be ignored. Also, all of these are nurtured by the imperialism and the colonialism to an extent.
Speaking of class struggle, the working class from both the Israeli community and the Palestinian community are equally important. However, it is apparent that the Israeli working class is a bit more progressive than the Palestinian working class, given the socio-economic conditions of the two states.
The western government stakeholders (including the centre-left self-claiming progressives) who are acting in a hypocritical way when it comes to the crimes of the Israel state are the responsible ones. So, if a person from the western world is really interested in helping the Palestinian cause, instead of spending all the energies on debating about the question of a single state or two-state solution, let that question be discussed by the organic Palestinian and Israeli progressive comrades. The western left should focus on how to eliminate the imperialist powers and the western establishment that are reinforcing Israel's apartheid against the Palestinian community. The enemy is within.
When it comes to the solidarity question in organising against capitalism, it's important to note that the segregation between the two communities is too tremendous. This hatred has been consumed and fuelled by several factors since decades. So, such kinds of hatred should not be reinforced anymore. Otherwise, the working-class solidarity between the Israeli working class and the Palestinian working class will never happen. Without the working-class solidarity, either a single secular democratic socialist state or a two-secular democratic socialist state solution will not be possible.
Free Assange Campaign
Roger Waters led the movement to release Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in 2019. In 2019, Waters spoke at a rally outside London's Home Office calling for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and dedicated a performance of "Wish You Were Here" to him. The following year, he spoke at a rally in support of Assange outside Parliament in London.
The useful idiot of Putin
Roger Waters became featured by some of the Pro-Russia media outlets such as "The International Magz", "RT" and so on. Waters told an RT interviewer a week before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 that talk of an attack was "bullshit" and western propaganda to demonise Russia. Apparently, he was the one claiming the bullshit, which turned out to be false a week later. In his open letter to Putin, Roger Waters mentioned that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine took him completely by surprise and it was a heinous war of aggression, provoked or not. Given his previous short-sighted remarks, it’s apparent that the invasion was a surprise for him.
Moreover, Waters said Biden is "fuelling the fire in the Ukraine, for a start—that is a huge crime". His accusation against Biden is somewhat true. Besides, Roger Waters has sent an open letter to Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, advising her and her husband to "choose an alternative way" in order to "end the bloodshed" in that country. In the letter, he presented views close to Russian propaganda: that the West should not support Ukraine with weapons; that Ukraine should surrender; and that the West, led by the USA, is interested in prolonging the war.
The revolutionary defeatism should be encouraged for Russia, not for Ukraine. Lenin applied revolutionary defeatism to defend the political values that the working class achieved from the October Revolution. In our political time, the working class in Ukraine had fought hard for decades for the political values of LGBTQ+ inclusiveness, feminism and so on. Under Putin’s authoritarian regime, all of these results of the previous political struggles will be erased overnight. It’s the opposite of what Lenin had faced in the history. Several political values of life-long struggles of Ukrainian working class will be destroyed if the Ukrainian working class decided to practice revolutionary defeatism. Apparently, if Lenin is still alive, he would not endorse such kind of reactionary naïve conclusion. Lenin is not a prophet whose actions should be followed without contexts. Lenin practiced the revolutionary defeatism to defend the political values that the working class managed to win from the previous revolutions. Here, revolutionary socialists and communists should be intelligent enough to see the reasons why Lenin practised revolutionary defeatism. Else, there will be no differences between the reactionary Stalinist/Maoist red fascists and the revolutionary socialists as well as the communists.
Here, let me quote Slavoj Zizek, a popular left philosopher, in his own words: "The least we owe Ukraine is full support, and to do this we need a stronger NATO." Apparently, it can be concluded that Slavoj Zizek is pro-NATO on this issue.
To benchmark, Taras Bilous, a Ukrainian socialist, should be quoted in his own words: "Instead of looking for a new balance between the two imperialisms, the Left has to struggle for a democratisation of the international security order."
Supporting NATO imperialist camp to protect the progressive values are what social democrats do. Advocating for the third camp international working-class solidarity is what most communists are doing. There are some socialists who synthesised these two options.
So, we have three choices so far. The lesser evil choice for most social democrats is to support NATO imperialist camp that can protect liberal progressive values. Here, most Marxists and anarchits tend to be a third camp anti-imperialist which call for the working-class solidarity of all stakeholder countries. However, it's also important not to ignore the interests of the Ukranian minority groups such as LGBTQ+ and women. The last option is what most Stalinists are doing these days: supporting the imperialist powers of Russia and China, meanwhile self-claiming to be anti-imperialist.
Here, Europe stands for the politically correct liberal establishment and the Kremlin, as well as China, symbolise the alt-right collectivist totalitarian regimes. However, it is apparent that neither of the parties really wants to stand up for the exploited or has any interest in working-class solidarity. Western or NATO represents postmodern individualist values that lead to capitalist liberation of LGBT, feminism, anti-patriarchy, and individuals in this political era. However, Putin’s Russia represents a collectivist totalitarian regime where freedom of expression and dissidence are considered dangerous and persecuted. Most of the progressive values of recognizing the human rights of women, LGBTQ+ and dissent individuals are not present in Putin’s regime.
Similarly, Putin is supporting and aiding the Myanmar military junta as well. However, the western left still fails to push their governments to send military aids towards the Myanmar revolutionaries. As a Burmese socialist who was born and raised under the military regime, I can confirm that western democracy is at least better than the totalitarian regimes. Here, let me repeat what Chen Duxiu, a Chinese Trotskyist leader wrote about the democracy and authoritarian regimes. According to the Chen Duxiu’s analysis, it can be interpreted that the state-capitalist authoritarian republics are better than feudalism. The popular democracy is better than the Bureaucratic collectivism. As a Marxist himself, he never failed to acknowledge that the workers’ democracy is better than the popular democracy and all the other different systems.
So, when it comes to the Ukraine issue, I believe Slavoj Zizek's pro-NATO warmongering imperialist stance should be debated. Besides, the third campism of most western far-left tendencies should be respectfully discussed. Nevertheless, supporting the two imperial camps of China and Russia while self-claiming "anti-imperialism" is too hypocritical and reactionary even to be treated with respect.
Working Class Solidarity
Here, let me quote Taras Bilous again for his outstanding message to the Russian working class "hurry up and overthrow the Putin regime. It is in your interests as well as ours". Similar to comrade Taras Bilous, I believe in internationalism of seeking for working class solidarity beyond the nationalities for the working-class interests. Currently, the Ukrainian working-class interests are to liberate themselves from the Russian colonialism. On the other hand, the Russian working-class interests are to liberate themselves from the Putin's regime. A bit far to the left, there is a significant chance that both working class societies might stand up together in solidarity for those who are exploited under capitalist system and the establishment in their respective countries.
Spreading Pro-CPC propaganda
In August 2022, when China was accused of encircling Taiwan by an interviewer, Waters said: "They're not encircling Taiwan – Taiwan is part of China. And that's been absolutely accepted by the whole of the international community since 1948". To dispute his claim, let me quote an article from China Worker, a mainland China Marxist group which is affiliated with International Socialist Alternative. The article stated, "In Taiwan, support for formal independence has reached a record level of 54 percent in recent polls, with less than one in six favouring unification with China." Here, we must quote Lenin's "The Right of Nations to Self-Determination". In his book, Lenin stated, "Repudiation of the right to self-determination or to secession inevitably means, in practice, support for the privileges of the dominant nation."
Again, pro-CCP imperialists such as Roger Waters deserve no respect since he has decided to side with the capitalist Chinese Communist Party by denying the voices of the organic Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese working class.
To summarize, Roger Waters, a pro-CPC propagandist and Putin's useful idiot, is reactionary at core, spreading the liberal woke left's imaginary analysis to real world issues while being hailed by red fascists and the woke left. Such people exhibit all the characteristics of a self-hating western reactionary anti-imperialist politics and are only hostile to western imperialism. British-Syrian author and anarchist activist Leila Al-Shami gave it a stronger name: the "anti-imperialism of idiots". There is a saying in Burmese, "the big-hearted person with a small brain." That would suit Roger Waters and those pro-fascists privileged woke left who are praising him for his politics.