“This is from Rev. Dearteaga’s forthcoming book, America in Danger” Then the chapter title.
Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and Anti-Americanism
The aim of this chapter is to show how certain ideological beliefs and myths that are prominent in the Left (Marxist or PM) are not true, or merely partially true, but form the bases of a interlacing world view and fuel the false self-esteem for many in the Left. That is, by adhering to these beliefs and myths, many in the Left think they are inherently “enlightened’ (woke) and wiser to those who do not share their beliefs.
Vladimir Lenin tried to take into account the fact that Marx’s predictions about a general worker’s uprising were wrong. The worker’s increasing impoverishment should have led to desperate and violent revolution and the establishment of a classless Utopia. In fact, worker’s wages and standard of living was improving in Europe and America. Lenin’s solution was the theory that Capitalism was “exporting poverty” to other countries and colonies by establishing industries overseas via its empires. Wages could rise in Industrial counties, but the poverty was disguised and exported to lesser industrialized areas. With this rationalization of Marx’s failed predictions, capitalism gained new twin brother of evil, “imperialism.” This was supposedly as destructive to humanity as capitalism. This was an enormous alibi and untruth which resulted in much harm. Today it is generally recognized that less developed countries need economic infusion via investments and factories, etc., and ironically, this is currently often supplied by the Chinese. But for most of the 20th century capital investment was suspect by the Left, and Lenin’s theory, dampened industrial expansion where it was most needed. (More on this below).
Lenin’s theory has brought much hatred, logical and moral confusion. It combined the theory of “exporting poverty” with a passionate dislike for European and American imperialism. Of course, with few exceptions, the Left never used the word imperialism to denote Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe or the Chinese genocidal incorporation of Tibet.
Now let us admit the truth that most political and military acts of imperialism are evil and sometimes horrendously so. For instance, the Belgian Congo was run as a slave plantation right up the beginning of the 20th Century. Similarly, when England’s East India Company gained control over India it was basically an enterprise of looting. But that’s only part of the story. After the English government took over the governance of the Indian subcontinent a lot of good was done in building railroads, a court system, and schools, etc.
In fact, sometimes empires are better for human freedom and the general good than the alternative. The Austro-Hungarian Empire which included Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, was a peaceful place of increasing economic development. It was an empire which respected the ethnic expressions, religions and the languages of the people it encompassed. It was broken up after World War I into more purely national groupings which in many instances did less to protect ethnic diversity and minority rights than the Empire.
America created its empire at the end of the Spanish American War by temporarily occupying Cuba and the Philippines, and permanently Puerto Rico and Guam. But the record of “American Imperialism” has shown many positive elements. American solidification of its rule in the Philippines had cruel aspects in its war against the Philippine nationalists, and that would fit the Leftist narrative of imperialism as intrinsically evil. But after the war was over the American occupation government set up on the task of preparing the Philippines for independence. It did so methodically – it imported teachers to start an educational system and created local governments and courts. A “Commonwealth” was formed which was self-governing and just short of independence. Finally, in 1946 the Philippines was given full independence. The result was that when the Philippines became an independent nation it had in place its own government, with political parties and locals as government officials already practiced in governance.
This contrasts with what happened to many British and French colonies in Africa and Asia. In the 1960s they were given independence and its leaders were often totally inexperienced in governance and unprepared for the practice of multiple parties and democratic government. They were often the military leaders of the independence movement and had no political skills or tolerance for criticism. These governments often fell into grievous dictatorship and tyrannies that enriched their own inner circle and tyrannized and impoverished the nations politically and economically.
The American record is even better regarding Puerto Rico. After the island was occupied with a practically bloodless military campaign, a similar civil process to the Philippines was begun, with civic institutions established and sustained. In 1917 the Jones Act made Puerto Ricans American citizens and local governments were established, and eventually Puerto Rico became a self-governing Commonwealth (1952) subject to the oversight and guarantees of the US constitution and courts. Since then, in various plebiscites the Puerto Ricans have chosen to maintain their Commonwealth status, but a majority has recently swung in favor of statehood. None of this indicated an evil “imperialism” of the Marxist caricature.
A personal note here: My great grand uncle was a Spanish artillery captain stationed in Puerto Rico during the American invasion. He was repatriated back to Spain after the war and continued his military career. When he retired in the 1930s as colonel, he and his wife chose to come back to Puerto Rico where they lived out their years. As a youth I met the elderly widow then in her 90s. She was grateful for the peace that the Americans brought to Puerto Rico, which contrasted to the sad history of Spain’s cruel Civil War (1936-1939). In that conflict her two sons were apprehended and summerly shot. She was also puzzled as to why Catholics in Puerto Rico were often more devoted than the Catholics she knew in Spain where Catholicism was state supported. (Hint, the competition among denominations for churchgoers leads to better churches and Christians. New sociological research points to this and also that state support of Christianity is a negative to church growth and health.)
Ironically, the “non-aligned” group of nations, dominated by 1960s newly independent states and heavily pro-Marxists in spite of their name, routinely called for the freedom of Puerto Ricans from “US imperialism.” This group, often including some of the worst tyrants and most corrupt government on earth, was in contrast with the government of Puerto Rico, which had little corruption, and no history of civil rights oppression. The major fault of Puerto Rican governments of various parties seems to have been overspending which had led to recent problems about defaulting, etc. Puerto Rico’s history and association with the United States was so positive that when France was fighting the Algerian independence movement (1954-1962) many in France advocated “The Puerto Rican option” – for Algerian to remain part of France with autonomous local government. But it was too late for that, and unfortunately Algeria lapsed into dictatorship, and later civil war after its independence.
Anti-Americanism has subsided somewhat in the last decade, especially after the fall of East European Communist states and the Soviet Union. But in the 1970s it was almost a world-wide ideology that blended Marxism and Lenin’s theory of imperialism with local nationalism. It was the staple of the Left for almost seventy years. But as boy in New York in the 1950s I ran into an earlier, non-Leftist form of Anti-Americanism through contact with my father’s Latin American business associates who visited our home in New York City.
Their complaint was Americans were materialistic and had a “Faustian” like pursuit of material things. Latin Americans, they claimed, were not like that, but rather dedicated to high culture, with an authentic Christian spirituality (i.e., not Protectant). I believed that until I visited several countries in Latin America. The key was that the Latin American upper and middle classes had servants working for them at low wages. The husband of a middle-class family did not have to hustle to get a refrigerator or washing machine for his wife because the servants would take care of going to the market every day and do the laundry by hand.
The aristocratic disdain for American materialism was a standard motif of Latin American literature. The classic of this genre was a book entitled, Ariel, by the celebrated writer José Enrique Rodó. He railed against the materialism of us North Americans and warned his audience not to be captivated by material things but to focus on culture and beauty. The most celebrated Latin American poet and writer of early 20th century, Rubén Darío, published a book of poems which included a tirade against Theodor Roosevelt’ high energy lifestyle, Cantos de vida y esperanza, los cisnes y otros poemas. It included these lines
You are the United States
you are the future invader
of the naive America that has indigenous blood
that still prays to Jesus Christ and that still speaks Spanish
Ultimately, as Latin American modernized, its people began to hustle for the TVs, refrigerators, and smart phones, just like everyone else in the world. Working hard for six days to provide for the family’s need, including a nice refrigerator and home, is not necessarily materialism. But it certainly can devolve into it if not balanced by spiritual activities such as prayer, the spiritual disciplines, etc. Conversely, focusing on cultural activities such as opera and art are not necessarily spiritual but may be sinful class bound snobbism based on others’ labor.
The aristocratic-Catholic critique of the United States melded into the newer form of anti-Americanism based on Marxism and Lenin’s theory of imperialism from about the early 1930s. Latin Americans realized they were falling behind Europe in US in industrialization and also wanted the goodies of industrialization. Marxists writing began to circulate in the universities and intellectuals and formed a radical class of students who spread in the educational and government sectors.
The mythology of Lenin’s Imperialism, that they were poor because of the “exportation of poverty” became commonplace in Latin America. Its widespread repetition has been a major factor in 20th Century politics. It was, for instance, the basis of Chavez-Madura revolution in Venezuela. That revolution is an especially potent example on how Marxism, populism and anti-Americanism united to bring a robust economy to ruin and political liberties to an end. It is very similar to the disaster that came to Myanmar in the 1970s that has garnered less press attention.
To be clear, Lenin’s theory and its popular adoption to blame the United Sates for the relative backwardness of Latin America was a gross misrepresentation of history and economics. Latin America was poor and undeveloped by reason of the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors of 15th and 16th Centuries. They intentionally established feudal, mercantile (not capitalist) societies based on the labor of Indians or imported Negro slaves. The aim was to produce enough wealth to keep the ruling class in genteel comfort with their sons employed in plantation supervision, government administration, military, law, or medicine. Manual work in the fields and mines was left to the peasants, and the necessary commercial work of importing manufactured goods was left mostly to emigres from Europe. This type of society produced a static economy with a very low standard of living for those at the bottom – the indigenous peoples. The colonial Americas were not ‘capitalists’ societies in any meaningful sense.
When the Latin Americans decided they wanted modernization there was not the human infrastructure to do it rapidly. There were little or no ‘bourgeois” that has a tradition of entrepreneurship to innovate new products and services, create or manage factories. Western Europe and America had grown out of the anti-merchant (anti-bourgeois) biases of the Ancient World and had produced a respected and powerful bourgeois to innovate and create new enterprises and develop industries by the 17th Century. For instance, the New England American colonies became the ship-building center of the English Empire. They had abundant forests resources, developed skilled labors and “bourgeois” merchants who organized the industry. Nothing similar happened in, for instance, Chile or Brazil which had similar or better forest resources.
A further example, the Chilian elites missed an opportunity for industrialization in the 19th Century when Chile had a monopoly on guano (bat poop) from which nitrogen was derived. It was sold to the world’s ammunition makers. Nitrogen was necessary for the smokeless gun powders that the newly designed canons and rifles demanded. Chile’s vast guano deposits were mined by imported Chinese coolly laborlores who mostly died in their slave-like servitude. The profits went to pay for imported French wine and furniture, opera buildings and other marks of “high culture.” It was a missed opportunity to use the enormous prophets of the guano trade create a modern manufacturing base. A similar chain of events occurred in Brazil in the era when raw rubber was in high demand. A plantation system was developed in the Amazon based on enslaved indigenous peoples. The raw rubber was sold for export and the profits went to buy luxury products, or such cultural artifacts as the fine opera building in Manaus, a small town in the center of the Amazon rubber producing basin.
Another major factor in the delay of industrialization in Latin America) has been the prevalence of corruption in government – a factor in many underdeveloped countries to this day. This issue also has origins in colonial times when gentleman administrators of the Spanish Crown were paid low wadges and had to supplement their income by ad hoc “fees for service.” There was a related spiritual factor here too in that Catholicism, until recently, was a form of “catechism Christianity” that saw the Old Testament as relatively unimportant. It is in the Old Testament where corruption, merchant or government, is strongly condemned. In this regard, the European countries most influenced by the Reformation are the ones that have the lowest incidents of corruption. They developed traditions of civil service that avoided corruption just at the time when industry and commerce were expanding, and bureaucracies were growing to manage the industrialized societies.
This may seem like more information than some readers may want. But it is important to understand history in its important details, including its tragedies and missed opportunities, rather than fall for the slander ridden CTs of Marxist-Leninist type. The US did not produce poverty in Latin America or anywhere else in the world. It is more correct to say that Latin Americans are working their way out of the poverty by (mostly) accepting free-markets and encouraging the emergence of the bourgeois as respectable businessmen and entrepreneurs. Some countries like Chile and Brazil are doing well at this now. Venezuela was doing very well also until it fell into the black hole of Marxism-populism via Hugo Chavez. Peru may now be on the same route to economic destruction.
As of late the Theory radicals seem to say that “Capitalism” is the cause of most evils, such as slavery, ecological degradation, etc. All of this is nonsense, historically ignorant, and an exercise in avoiding clear thinking that might really be helpful. Slavery, of course existed well before capitalism was developed, and was ubiquitous in the ancient world. Communist countries such as the Soviet Union and East Germany had horrible environmental records. East Germany had an industrial economy built of its awful brown coal, and the Soviet Union ruined the Ural sea by draining its water to produce cotton, on and on…
 V.I Lenin, Imperialism, The Highest State of Capitalism. (1917). Many modern editions.
It is a sad story that has embarrassed many Leftist writers and reports to silence. The story about South Africa is particularly sad as there was so much expectancy of good about the post-apartheid government, but it too has increasingly slid into corruption and nepotism. See William Shoki, “South Africa is Falling Apart,” New York Times, July 28, 2021).
 My mother recounted the story, told by her mother, of an American officer coming into Santurce, her family’s hometown, and lining up the school children for smallpox inoculations. Many people in the town of were fearful of it. But her father, a doctor, was all in support and urged cooperation.
 Leftists generally partake of the logical fallacy that the philosopher Karl R. Popper calls “methodological essentialism.” This is, that one chooses a word and ascribes to it certain characteristics, such as socialism is good and capitalism is bad, and then refuse to acknowledge that the categorization is imprecise and can have opposite examples. The Right does the same thing is assuming that socialism is evil in every instance.
Nilay Saiya, “Proof That Political Privilege Is Harmful for Christianity,” Christianity Today.
 My MA thesis dealt with Anti-Americanism of both the Left and the Right in Latin America. William L. De Arteaga, “The Historiography of Anti-American ism in Latin America.) (Gainesville: University of Florida, 1970).
 Ariel (1900) still in print in modern editions.
 Cited from the Wikipedia article on Dario.
 It is significant that the Bible directs people to work six days and reserve one of worship and rest, recognizing that earning a living is full time work that should be the duty of everyone. St. Paul commands that the all Christian should work so that they may provide for their own needs and give generously to others. (Ephesians 4:28)
 A fine study of contemporary anti-Americanism is Jean-Francois Revel’s Anti-Americanism. Trans. by Diarmid Cammell (San Ferancisco: Encounter Books, 2000) – it sadly lacks any spiritual insight into the problem. Another interesting source is an article on Norman Podhoretz—editor of the Jewish intellectual magazine Commentary from 1960 to 1995. He transited from Left to neo-conservatism largely as he considered the irrationality of anti-Americanism. See Barton Swaim’s, “The Spiritual War for America,” Wall Street Journal (Dec 10, 2010).
 The literature one the ruination of Venezuela is extensive, and even much of the Left press agrees that the Chavez-Maduro regime has been a disaster for the Venezuelan people. An article by a former Venezuelan economic minister is both detailed and devastating, claiming that Venezuela’s corrupt Marxist regime has survived largely by being colonized and exploited by Cuba: Moises Naim, “Venezuela’s Fatal Embrace of Cuba,” Wall Street Journal (Dec. 10, 2021). https://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuelas-fatal-embrace-of-cuba-11639152017
 Most Americas are unaware that the present military government of Myanmar (formerly Burma) began as a socialist-populist dictatorship which slowly turned Myanmar from a prosperous, multi-industry country and food exporter to a food deficient and poverty-stricken country, very similar to the process in Venezuela.
 In 1965-1966 I spent two summers in El Salvador a decade before the horrible civil war there broke out. There I noticed the commercial enterprises, like hardware stores, were owned and operated by German immigrants. The landed elites did not want to soil their hands in such materialist endeavors. That of course has now changed, but that attitude delayed economic growth in Latin America for much of the 19th and 20th Centuries.
 See my blog posting on this issue give a fuller explanation of this, “The Worldwide Problem of Corruption,” Pentecostal Theolog. Posted Nov. 2, 2019. https://www.pentecostaltheology.com/the-world-wide-problem-of-corruption-and-its-biblical-remedy/
 Again, a remembrance of my stay in El Salvador. I recall a conversation with a middle-class student of Christian democratic persuasion who ranted on how a US company has installed itself in El Salvador and over the course of years had taken out many times its investment. Of course. That is happening now and in welcomed in such countries as Vietnam who encourage Chinese investments. The real issue is that an industry produces a large “multiplier” effect of contractors, worker wages, suppliers, etc. that do the host economy much good. That is now more widely understood, but not so through most of the 2Oth Century.