Re: [OPE] Britain--parasitic and decaying capitalism: A comment

From: <>
Date: Wed Dec 30 2009 - 06:13:35 EST

Callinicos in his appallingly written book on Imperialism and global
political economy actually denies the existence of imperialism. I am
considering writing a review but the book is so bad.
This is a comment about it that I wrote to some comrades:

'I have just read Callinicos's book on holiday - it is appalling. It is not
about imperialism but rather denying the essence of imperialism and arguing
essentially about whether their rather successful lives could be upset or
not by inter-imperialist rivalries. Okay for the present, it appears as
Europe has not the military capacity to confront the US and China has some
way to go. The book is an attack on Lenin's theory of imperialism, denies
parasitism or the super-exploitation of the underdeveloped world and says
for example that workers in the developed world are more exploited than
those in the 'Third World'. It rejects the division of the world into
oppressor and oppressed nations and believes poverty and inequality have
grown because the imperialist nations have bypassed the oppressed nations
not plundered and looted them. It is an appalling academic tract
(incomprehensible in places) with 58 pages of footnotes in a book of 227
pages of written text, with references to mainly other academics and his
jet setting mates who write for Historical Materialism. The book has
nothing about the revolutionary process developing in South America etc and
you would never guess he lives in the most parasitic capitalist country in
the world - nothing on this.'

I can see why Dave Z and others like his contribution - it is right up
their street. But the gloves have to come off. The issue is too important
for humanity to tolerate Callinicos's reactionary standpoint and allow him
to pose as some kind of revolutionary.

David Yaffe

At 11:38 30/12/2009 +0100, you wrote:
>In my view there are attempts to update the classical insights on
>imperialism in a more coherent and rigorous framework than that given in
>David Yaffe's article.
>Two examples:
> Does capitalism need a state system?
> Alex Callinicos
> "Contemporary Marxist students of international relations, like
> their mainstream counterparts, disagree over whether geopolitics has
> a future. Many believe that it has none, either because globalized
> capitalism has overcome the nation-state or because the 'informal
> empire' of the United States has overridden inter-state conflict.
> This article supports those who argue that significant economic and
> political conflicts persist among the main capitalist states. It
> does so by exploring the question of whether, in Marxist theory, the
> capitalist economic system and the international system of states
> are necessarily or contingently related. Marx's method in Capital
> offers, it is argued, a way of non-reductively incorporating the
> state system within the capitalist mode of production. This argument
> provides the basis for a partial reconciliation of Marxism and
> realism. More importantly, it offers a theoretical framework in
> which to explore the scope for inter-state conflict in the 21st
> century. "
> Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Volume 20, Issue 4
> December 2007 , pp.533-549 [Attached]
>Note that Callinicos does not deal with imperialism but capitalism and the
>state system, and the geopolitical competition that results from two
>distinct mechanisms.
>The following article uses slightly more orthodox formulations but has the
>merit of actually investigating the global relations of production:
> Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century
> Paula Cerni
> "Classical Marxism defines imperialism as the highest stage of
> capitalist development, a stage that capitalism itself cannot
> transcend. Yet imperialism, a part of human history, also has a
> history; in the last hundred years, it has neither disappeared nor
> remained unchanged. Consequently, a historical materialist theory of
> imperialism for today needs to start from an analysis of
> contemporary world economic relations."
> <>
>//Dave Z
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Received on Wed Dec 30 06:18:31 2009

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