[OPE-L:2149] Re: Re: imperialism, wars and revolutions

From: Jurriaan Bendien (djjb99@worldonline.nl)
Date: Fri Jan 14 2000 - 08:41:50 EST

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>>From the middle of the century though, the principal contradiction ceased to
>be inter-imperialist and became socialist/imperialist and then from about
>60s became socialist/capitalist with the dissolution of the empires.

The fact that "empires" have by and large been formally dissolved does not
necessarily imply the end of imperialism, in the sense of the domination of
one nation by another, the power hierarchy of nations, or rivalry and the
defence of "spheres of influence" in geopolitics. It merely changes the
ballgame. The substantive point is that the whole mode of functioning of
the international capitalist economy, world trade and international capital
movements has changed a lot (some, like our party economist Robert Went,
would call this diplomatically "globalisation"). Actually, in many ways the
dependence of poor countries on rich countries has increased, hence
increasing the domination by rich countries over poor countries, braking or
blocking their development (the supply of technology, qualified labour
power, capital; cultural domination etc.; note that around a dozen
countries or so these days experience an absolute decline in real domestic
product). If that isn't imperialism, I don't know what is. There is a sense
in which, due to the uneven development of world capitalism, the relative
and absolute dependence of many poor countries on richer countries is now
so great that it becomes dificult to see how they would be helped by an
(internal) revolution. There is more direct intervention by the dominant
countries into the internal affairs of other countries now than there has
ever been before (justified theoretically with reference to "human rights"
a la Blair). Indeed an argument could be made that, as the national
liberation movements have faltered, the imperialist policy of the dominant
power has become more aggressive (see Frank Furedi, The new ideology of
imperialism, Pluto Press; cf. Iraq, Kosovo etc.). The real weakness of
Marxist theory lies in the inadequate theorising, in terms of the Marx's
theory of value, the functioning of the international capitalist economy
and the functioning of foreign trade. At the turn of the 20th century,
imperialism referred to the foreign policy of the bourgeois state, which
some socialists indeed regarded as a beneficial civilising influence
("socialist imperialism" or "social imperialism" - similar to Blairism).
Lenin's (and Bukharin's) substantive point was that underlying this policy
was development of capitalism on a world scale itself, that imperialist
policy wasn't "contingent" but "necessary" and not "progressive". However
this "necessity" has been insufficiently theorised. What makes the debate
more difficult is that imperialism is not simply a political or economic
phenomenon but also a cultural phenomenon as I mentioned in a previous post.

In soldarity


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