[OPE-L:6710] developing a foundation for a theory of imperialism

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Mon Mar 11 2002 - 08:47:54 EST

Re Alfredo's [6709]:

> My apologies for the misunderstanding. What I meant to say was that the foundation of a theory of imperialism *must* be an economic theory of this process - not that it should be a purely economic theory. <

OK,  thanks for the clarification.  

Let us discuss how, a bit more concretely, the "foundation"
of a theory of imperialism would be built. 

I think that we (but not necessarily everyone on the list) would 
agree that the foundation is developed at its most abstract
level from a comprehension of the value and capital forms.

(this presumes that imperialism is a *necessary* consequence
of the accumulation of capital rather than merely a conjuncture
and historical contingency.)

The building of that foundation requires:

a)  a critique of the existing literature (bourgeois, heterodox,
Marxian -- not necessarily in that order) on trade and imperialism.

b) a review of the empirical data and literature (here I am 
thinking more of the historical experience of imperialism
rather than merely statistical datum);

c) [putting aside for now the question of what Mike L calls the
"one-sidedness" of the presentation of wage-labour in _Capital_],
the systematic development of the state-form.  This is a
necessary state in the development of the theory in that its
comprehension is presumed -- and serves the basis for --
an understanding of foreign trade and world markets.  Yet, this
task also presumes a critique of existing literature on the state
and a grasp of the empirical concrete re the state.

[Reuten-Williams (1989) attempt to do c) (and indeed include
a literature review as part of Parts 4-5), but the basis for *their*
foundation for a Marxian theory of the state is laid in the starting
point of self-production (and then sociation, dissociation, and
association).  This is, of course, a highly controversial part of
their work.  I  think, though, that a Marxian theory of the state
could be developed even without agreement on that as the most
abstract starting point of the theory. Otherwise, we would fall into
a kind of infinite regression trap!]

a-c are, of course, no simple tasks.  Yet, if there is agreement
that they are important (on both theoretical and political grounds)
perhaps we could collectively try to think through them together. 
That would presume a rather long-lasting and far-encompassing
thread though!

In solidarity, Jerry

Reference:  Geert Reuten and Michael Williams _Value-Form and 
the State: The tendencies of accumulation and the determination
of economic policy in capitalist society_,  NY, Routledge, 1989

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