Essays on acts of US imperialism, from the 1953 Iran coup to the 2019 ouster of Evo Morales Washington Bullets is written in the best traditions of Marxist journalism and history-writing. It is a book of fluent and readable stories, full of detail about US imperialism, but never letting the minutiae obscure the larger political point. It is a book that could easily have been a song of despair--a lament of lost causes; it is, after all, a roll call of butchers and assassins; of plots against people's movements and governments; of the assassinations of socialists, Marxists, communists all over the Third World by the country where liberty is a statue. Despite all this, Washington Bullets is a book about possibilities, about hope, about genuine heroes. One such is Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso--also assassinated--who said: 'You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from nonconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future.' Washington Bullets is a book infused with this madness, the madness that dares to invent the future.
Prashad illustrates the philosophical deadzone of enlightenment and democracy that is colonialism in a way that is compelling and brutal in its depiction of imperialist governments. However, the anti-imperialist frame softens and weakens as imperialist powers
For example, Prashad devotes an entire chapter to Brazil's lawfare coup and the rise of the far right government of Jair Bolsonaro as though it is performed by US government agencies rather than an endogenous fascist movement. It is always the imperialist, never the local bourgeoisie, that threaten popular movements. Lenin and then Stalin made ideological concessions of convenience a hundred years ago, and anti-imperialist intellectual development arrested there: The only way to destroy capitalism is to undermine imperialism, the only way to undermine imperialism is national liberation, and the only path towards liberation is the national bourgeoisie in control of a nation state. A lingering side effect of this is that any attempt to alleviate suffering outside of a national bourgeois is denounced, whether by a workers movement attempting to destroy capitalism, or NGOs inside a national territory, are branded a threat to anti-imperialism, and by association, capitalist. The former isn't mentioned in the book, but the latter is, for sure.