Dear all, I agree with Jerry about the need to tackle the pre-requisites for a theory of imperialism. In my view they include a theory of the state, of foreign trade and of ‘unequal exchange’, for want of a better name. Obviously historical analyses are also essential, because the actual connection between these strands of theory can be determined only empirically. This type of connection of the elements of theory makes me unconvinced by the claim that imperialism is a *necessary* stage of capitalism – *necessary* as if “unavoidable”, in the sense that the reproduction of capital (the wage relation specifically) would collapse without it. To me, it is fairly clear that it would not. I am, consequently, sceptical about the notion that imperialism is the “last” stage of capitalism – unless the definition of imperialism is so elastic as to become analytically useless. The history of the world is too long and complicated to be encompassed by simple slogans. This does not, of course, imply that I doubt the existence of imperialism, or its importance for the reproduction of capital and the accumulation of wealth in the modern world. I do think, however – and in agreement with Jerry – that marxists need to consider this issue very carefully in order to be able to offer more than empty generalisations about this important issue. At this point in time, when US imperialism has taken an exceptionally aggressive turn, it would be important for marxists to be able to offer some insights in this regard. Alfredo.
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