[OPE-L:4768] Re: Imperialism

From: glevy@pratt.edu
Date: Fri Jan 12 2001 - 23:18:05 EST

This is a belated response to Paul C's 12/15 post. 

Previously I asked:

> > You seem to assume (see below) that military rivalry is a _sine qua non_
> for inter-imperialist rivalry. What is the basis for the assertion that
> military rivalry is a *necessary* rather than a *contingent* feature of
> inter-imperialist rivalries? > > -------------

Paul responded:
> This is related to the history of the question in marxism. The debate
> on imperialism in the 2nd international was in the context of militarism
> and the drive to war. Ditto in 3rd.

This is correct, but it doesn't address the question I asked above.

> If it is peaceful, then it is not the imperialism that Lenin was
> fighting but the sort of super imperialism hypothesised by
> Kautsky.

The question at issue here is not whether imperialism is or can be "peaceful" (whatever that means). Rather, the issue is whether military might is a necessary and defining chacacteristic of an imperialist nation. If that were the case, then Japan and Germany (among other nations) would clearly not be imperialist.

> These revolutions (in 1918-19, JL)were casued by the first world 
> war. 
> Point at a single revolution in a capitalist country that has
> not been the result of war.
> Even serious social reforms often require the stimulus of war.

Why must revolutionary political action by the working-class require the "stimulus of war"?  Can't workers be motivated by non-defensive and non-catastrophic aspirations? 

Wasn't that one of the lessons of May-June, 1968 in France?
>   > > The end of imperialist wars was the saving of capitalism
> >  > How so? >
> It removed the source of revolutionary tension.

There was "revolutionary tension" in the 1930's. Yet, that wasn't a consequence of war.

> > > I would define imperialism either now or in the past as a process
> > > by which an economically politically and militarilly advanced state
> > > conquers other less developed territories with a view to > economically
> > > exploiting them.

This is a pretty "standard" definition of imperialism (perhaps even Schumpeter might have agreed with it). Yet, is it a sufficient definition from a Marxist perspective?

Previously I asked:

> >
> > If that is your definition, could it be said that the US is the *only*
> imperialist power? Of course, the UK and France have a military ... but it
> is questionable how "advanced" those military institutions are at the
> current time. > A question a little closer to your home: is the UK an
> imperialist power in relation to Northern Ireland? -----------------

Paul responded:

> The US is arguably an imperialist power, but even it is restrained from
> openly colonising territories by itself. Certainly there is no other power
> that is a serious military rival to the US.


> Whether that will continue to
> be the case I dont know. 

Agreed again.

>Watch the ongoing debate about the formation of a
> military arm of the EU. France clearly wants this independent of the US.
> Britain, does not as it has historically relied upon alliances with the US.
> Issue in northern ireland is not an imperialist one any longer, though
> it was such 200 years ago. 

So the relationship of Britain to Ireland hasn't been imperialist for the last 200 years ??? !!!

> It is now a border dispute between two advanced
> capitalist countries.

While it is true that there has been economic growth in Northern Ireland in the last few years (stimulated by the growth in information technology sectors), this doesn't mean that it is now an advanced capitalist nation. Do others agree with Paul that N. Ireland is now an advanced capitalist nation? What other nations have in recent years become "advanced"? Is this a consequence, from your perspective, of the erosion of imperialism?

In solidarity, Jerry

PS1: I got a new computer and on-line connection today and will finally be able to post from my home again (something I haven't been able to do since June). I look forward to participating more frequently again in list discussions.
PS2: OPE-Ler Patrick Mason was on the PBS (television) Newshour last night. 


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