[OPE-L:6673] Re: Imperialism

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Fri Mar 08 2002 - 08:50:30 EST

Re Alfredo's [6671]:

Previously I wrote:

> 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?

Alfredo responded:

>  It doesn't really matter if you say country or state.

I think it does really matter, in discussing the international process of
exploitation,  whether you say country or state.  Within a country, all
major classes exist: thus the working class is willy-nilly part of
separate countries.  The state, however, is a social institution which
is  not controlled  by the working class.  This is a vitally important
political point --  one can not hold individuals necessarily responsible
for the actions by the state of the country in which they live. On a
related note, while it is certainly the case that the 'leaders' of many
trade unions in the imperialist nations have actively supported a
international process of exploitation, this does not mean that the
working class within the imperialist nations are responsible for -- or
even have knowledge of -- that process of exploitation

> My question is *what  is
> the international process of exploitation?* If marxists are to have a
> of imperialism - indeed, if we want to use this word - we must have an
> explanation for this process.
>  However, Jerry may be using a looser ("political") definition of
> imperialism
> (sorry, I am not clear about this, Jerry). Then it would be as if the US,
> for
> example, shored up local bourgeoisies to support their extraction of
> value at home. This is likely, but *why* would the US state do this?
> for political gain, or is there an economic gain too? Note that in
> traditional marxist theories of imperialism it seems that there is a
> economic process of exploitation going on.

I would say that the international processes of economic and  political (and
military) gain are -- or at least _have been_ -- interwoven.  Indeed, I
think  that a central role for the state is essential for explaining

One example of non-economic gain: the (former, hopefully) testing of nuclear
devices in the Pacific by the US and French militaries. While this didn't
result in economic gain necessarily, I think it could surely be viewed as
international  exploitation (using the term somewhat more loosely that Marx
did in _Capital_  Volume 1: perhaps we need to have a discussion about
the distinction between exploitation and oppression?).

>  Jerry says:
>  >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,
> > 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.
>  This seems to indicate that we cannot have a single, integrated theory of
>  imperialism. This looks like the counter-tendencies to the LTRPF: a range
> of
>  processes at different levels, not necessarily connected between them.
>  is possible, but, again, traditional marxist theories of imperialism are
> not
>  like that. They indicate that there is one "general" process running in
>  background, even if other process and phenomena may be influential at
>  levels of analysis.

Well,  I was only trying to list some of the 'factors'  that would be part
of a theory of imperialism.  I realized that was not satisfactory but  I did
so in the hope that others might pick-up on one or more issues and we
could then go on to discuss this issue more concretely. There was  thereby
no presumption on my part that a single, integrated theory of imperialism
can't be developed -- although I have yet  to see what I view as a
satisfactory effort in that regard.  What author or  authors, from your
perspective,  have come closest to the mark?

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Apr 02 2002 - 00:00:05 EST