[OPE-L:6677] RE: Re: Imperialism

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Fri Mar 08 2002 - 11:03:19 EST

Jerry wrote (in reply to Alfredo):

>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?).

With "exploitation" reserved for "economic", and "oppression" for everything

Fair enough, but of course in "Capital" exploitation is reserved for the
process of extracting surplus value from labour-power.

Is it the case that everything in the nexus of economic wrongs which
"imperialism" denotes is reducible to exploitation in this sense?

And to the extent that it is, is it necessarily helpful to emphasise this
aspect in every concrete case -- for example, commodity cartels (coffee,
rather than oil, perhaps)?

On the other hand, characterising all these non-labour exploitation issues
simply as "oppression" seems to provide insufficient nuance. The fact that
Honduras, say, suffers from its dependence on banana exports is not quite
the same thing as having one's home seized for use as a military base (e.g.
Diego Garcia).

Hopefully (but not very much so) French (European?) nuclear tests in the
Pacific are a thing of the past.

But one should bear in mind the importance of France's *American* colony of
Guiana to the European space programme -- necessary if the EU is to preserve
independent capacity in telecommunications, as Will Hutton was pointing out
in the Observer last Sunday.

France's presence in Guiana is probably economically beneficial to the
inhabitants, in the sense that their incomes are higher than otherwise (and
they are also part of, indeed citizens of, the EU).

Nonetheless, they are placed in a dependent relationship with their colonial

One might call this oppression, but not if this word also has to bear some
economic connotation.


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