[OPE-L:6666] Re: Imperialism

From: glevy@pop-b.pratt.edu
Date: Thu Mar 07 2002 - 15:22:56 EST

Re Alfredo's [6662]:

> We have recently had an exchange about *imperialism*. I think it raised
> several important issues, but the topic deserves careful study, for both
> theoretical and empirical reasons (it can be argued that we are entering a
> new period of imperialism, for example). My point is this: we (and lots of
> people on the “left”, including NGO activists, anti-capitalist
> demonstrators, anarchists, and so on) tend to believe that there is
> something out there called “imperialism”. The question is
> – what is it? My contention is: the meaning and significance of
> *modern* imperialism (as distinct from traditional, colonial imperialism)
> is far from clear. Two issues are especially important: 1. The nature and
> process of international domination that *defines* imperialism. 2. The
> structures and processes of international exploitation. How is it that one
> *country* exploits another, and who benefits and how? *NOTE* that Marxists
> have a theory of surplus value, ie, exploitation in production based on
> *class*, but imperialism is different, it presumes exploitation of
> *countries*. Conflation is unacceptable. Any ideas? 

Good questions, Alfredo!

I don't know that it is the case that one country exploits others. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that one *state* contributes to the exploitation and oppression of workers and peasants in other countries?

Who benefits? The ruling class of the imperialist nation, right? How? Well, that's a bit more complicated. We could talk about the role of transnational corporations in modern imperialism (which frequently require state protection), we could talk about markets in the imperialised nations, we could talk about raw materials  that become elements of constant circulating capital and commodities that go into the reproduction of labour-power, we could talk about the international migration of labour power, we could talk about the economic benefits of war, and, of course, there is the issue raised by David Y concerning the so-called "aristocracy of labor" in the imperialist nations. Sounds like a lot of important stuff to discuss.

In solidarity, Jerry

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