Re: [OPE] The Financial Times says the Left haven't got a clue

From: Dave Zachariah (
Date: Fri Mar 28 2008 - 09:28:56 EDT

Hi Paul,

I agree that territorial states --- which are surplus appropriators --- 
in conjunction with the expansionist drive for capital accumulation by 
firms results in a tendency toward inter-state conflicts. If one 
considers the capitalist world economy as an abstract system then this 
is one of its inherent tendencies. My objection is against simplistic 
claims about 'wars being necessary for the system'. The *actual* wars 
that occur in this context cannot be deduced from such general 
tendencies, they can only be predicted from more proximate factors.

The expansionist drives of the Axis powers can certainly be 
characterized as attempts to create empires. But WWII cannot simply be 
reduced to a war of imperialist rivals. It was importantly a war between 
fascist and anti-fascist political forces, and the latter were composed 
of both supporters and enemies of imperialism.

Similarly, I don't think the Cold War policies of Western powers cannot 
be reduced to a matter of need for raw materials and expansion of 
capital accumulation, i.e. the classical capitalist form of imperialism. 
They originated from the fact that there were two incompatible modes of 
production: the ruling classes in the West feared that if Communist 
movements would spread the existence of privately-owned capital would be 
under threat.

//Dave Z

paul bullock wrote:
> Dave,
> I wasn't prescribing an 'answer'... I asked a question. Nevertheless 
> there seems to me no doubt that ww1 and ww2 were inter imperialist 
> wars... for germany and japan their own accumulation of capital 
> required huge new markets and opportunities for investment.... they 
> saw only one way out.. war.. the extension of diplomacy by other means..
> You mistakenly infer a automatic and mechanical  form of explanation 
> from my question. In the case of Cambodia, no one can forget the 
> statement that the USA would bomb it back to the Stoneage for its 
> essentially passive role in Vietnamese logistical operations in its 
> national liberation struggle. Why was US imperialism commiting 
> genocide in SE Asia? Did that 'system' not see the raw materials ( 
> vide Eisenhowers famous comments on Vietnam) , and future territoral 
> operations for its accumulation  of capital, as essential? Clearly the 
> general shape of conflicts is formed , if not always directly 
> specified , by  each of the imperialist powers forcing themselves 
> forward at the expense of weaker nations and where necessary other 
> imperialist states....
> ... or should i take refuge in theories of accident, lunatic 
> politicians, communications failure, the essentially aggressive nature 
> of homo sapiens, and other tripe, for  millions of deaths over huge 
> territories?
> Paul Bullock.
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dave Zachariah" <>
> To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
> Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2008 12:22 PM
> Subject: Re: [OPE] The Financial Times says the Left haven't got a clue
>> paul bullock wrote:
>>> why do you think that inter imperialist conflicts including war are 
>>> not 'necessary' for the system? What other explanations do you have 
>>> for  all the wars of the 20th Century.... types of 'unecessary' causes?
>> and Jerry wrote:
>>> My point was that a World War is not necessary for the resolution of 
>>> the
>>> _current_ economic crisis.
>> To say that imperialist wars are 'necessary' for the resolution of 
>> capitalist economic crises is an extreme form of functionalism. I 
>> think that the causal mechanisms that it postulates have little 
>> evidence. I cannot see any meaningful way to say that World Wars I 
>> and II were necessary for capitalist economies. WWI in particular was 
>> a result of imperialist rivalries for sure, but it is quite a leap to 
>> say it was 'necessary for the system'.
>> I agree with Jerry that *all* the wars of the 20th century were 
>> certainly not imperialist. In that case the Vietnamese invasion of 
>> Cambodia that ended the genocidal Khmer Rogue regime would have been 
>> an 'imperialist policy', something I find ridiculous.
>> //Dave Z
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