[OPE-L:6728] Re: imperialism

From: Claus Magno Germer (cmgermer@sociais.ufpr.br)
Date: Tue Mar 12 2002 - 10:56:12 EST

Dear listmembers,

It seems that I was mistaken in taking my opinion as coincident with
Alfredo's  in [6706] and I apologize for that.

Alfredo wrote:
I agree with most of the "non-economic" aspects of imperialism raised in
recent posts. We can obviously find many such examples. The trouble with
them is that they do *not* lead to a theory of imperialism, but only to a
collection of more or less infuriating anecdotes.
In order to avoid the latter, we need a theory of international power
structures. And such a theory - with apologies to political scientists,
anthropologists and other social scientists - can *only* be an economic

Claus: I understood Alredo's stress on the need for an *economic theory* of
the *international power structures*, as meaning that the latter rests upon
a specific economic structure. Thus, as the international power structure
changes, that would result from changes in the economic structure, which in
my opinion would in this sense be *necessary* or *unavoidable*.

I think the assumption of imperialism as a specific phase of capitalist
development does not imply to assume it to be the last one (Alfredo in
[6723]). Even if Lenin's concept of imperialism as the *last* stage of
capitalist development can be reduced to a simple slogan, this does not mean
that his object of analysis (the characteristics of capitalism at the turn
of the 19th/20th centuries) does not express a definite stage of the
development of capitalism (btw, is it really the case that Lenin conceived
of imperialism as the *last* stage?).  Lenin based his concept of
imperialism as a stage of capitalist development on very concrete - and new,
in his opinion - characteristics of the capitalist economy, like the
centralization of capital and monopoly, the building up of the credit
system, the development of finance capital, and the exports of capital. In
order to better understand Alfredo's opinion, I would ask the following

1) would the characteristics outlined by Lenin be a part of an *economic
theory* of imperialism as an *international power structure*?
2) how in your opinion do the  *the pre-requisites for a theory of
imperialism ... [like - CMG] a theory of the state, of foreign trade and of
*unequal exchange** relate to the characteristics mentioned by Lenin?

regards, Claus.

Claus Germer
Departamento de Economia
Curso de Mestrado e Doutorado em
Desenvolvimento Econômico
Universidade Federal do Parana
Rua Dr. Faivre, 405 - 3º andar
80060-140 Curitiba - Parana

Tel: 55 (41) 360-5214 - Univ.
      55 (41) 254-3415 - Res. (Home)

----- Original Message -----
From: <Asfilho@aol.com>
To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2002 4:56 AM
Subject: [OPE-L:6723] imperialism

> 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 &#8216;unequal exchange&#8217;, 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
> This type of connection of the elements of theory makes me unconvinced by
the claim that imperialism is a *necessary* stage of capitalism &#8211;
*necessary* as if &#8220;unavoidable&#8221;, 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
&#8220;last&#8221; stage of capitalism &#8211; 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 &#8211; and in agreement
with Jerry &#8211; 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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