The Challenge of the Campists: Anti-American Left in the Face of Russian Aggression

The Challenge of the Campists: Anti-American Left in the Face of Russian Aggression

In recent years, a segment of the global Left has viewed the U.S. government as a major source of problems in the world. This perspective, called “campism,” divides the world into an evil U.S. imperialist camp and its purportedly benign opponents. Campists either ignored or blamed brutal actions of countries at odds with the United States on the U.S. government and its allies.

However, this position did not gain widespread popularity. In the United States, progressives in Congress condemned Russia’s invasion and annexation of Ukraine, and left-wing activists formed a Ukraine Solidarity Network to support Ukraine. When campists held a national rally in Washington, DC in 2023 to whitewash Russian aggression, it drew a small turnout.

Apologists for Russia’s behavior faced difficulties globally as well. Opinion polls showed widespread international hostility towards Putin and his government. The UN General Assembly quickly condemned Russia’s military invasion, and later the annexation, with a large majority of nations voting against it.

In response to these challenges, the campists promoted the idea of a multipolar world order, replacing the unipolar dominance of the United States. They argued that as the U.S. had frequently meddled in or invaded weaker nations, other countries should be allowed to do the same. This support for “multipolarity” often pointed towards the rise of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), which formed a loose geopolitical bloc that excluded the United States and its NATO partners.

However, the governments of BRICS nations, aside from Russia, did not fully support Russia’s assault on Ukraine. They refused to vote in favor of the Russian invasion at the UN General Assembly, refrained from selling arms to Russia, and criticized Putin’s threats of nuclear war. Public opinion in BRICS countries also frequently criticized Russia’s actions, with low approval ratings for Russia and support for Ukraine.

In the end, the illusions of the campists had their limits, as their support for Russian aggression did not align with the views of governments or public opinion in BRICS countries.