(OPE-L) Re: 1, 2, 3, how many imperialist powers?

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun Jun 01 2003 - 13:46:08 EDT

Re Michael E's post sent  Saturday, May 31:

> As ever, we are not on the same page. You are on the ontic page, and I am
> on the ontological page, i.e. ultimately I am interested in getting a view
> of a concept of imperialism (or whatever) adequate to the phenomenon.

Ontologically, one must view the concept of imperialism (or whatever
you want to call it) from the standpoint of its particular meaning in the
current mode of production.  That is, a comprehension of this phenomena
as it appears under capitalism requires not a comprehension of 'empire' from
a trans-historical perspective but rather the particular _form_ that it
appears under conditions of generalized commodity production and

> The trouble with all  "neo-" concepts (such as neo-liberalism) is that
> they rely on a base concept which is said to "recur", and this base
> concept is invariably itself not well  thought through.

I don't agree. Concepts such as "neo-liberalism" (or "neo-capitalism"
advanced by Ernest Mandel, who later chose to refer to the same phenomena
as "late capitalism") can be rigorously developed and explained by authors
who use "neo".

> Lenin's concept of monopoly is really that of oligopoly. But then why
> not speak of oligopoly capitalism?

Well, I suppose one could refer to "monopoly capitalism" as
"oligopoly capitalism".  I don't think that we should get too fixated by
labels.  A single phenomena can be labeled variously -- the question is
what the label means.

> What is the justification for using a
> political concept (imperialism) to capture an economic phenomenon (large
> oligopolies)?

This is where we differ.  I don't view imperialism as a "political concept"
as distinct from an economic phenomenon.

> And, as I said before, fairness has long been at the
> basis of Western conceptions of justice.

What is "fairness" within the Western conception?  Slavery, both ancient
and modern, was rationalized (with e.g. an appeal to racist ideology) as
natural, eternal, and fair.  It is a term, like "freedom", which has more
than one meaning.  E.g. capitalism gives workers the "freedom" to be
unemployed, to be homeless, to die of starvation, to not have medical
care, etc.  This is an ontological comprehension of wage-labor -- that
underlying "freedom" to work, is the necessity and compulsion of the
marketplace -- that should be on our radar screens!

In solidarity, Jerry

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