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

Date: Sun Jan 17 2010 - 13:19:30 EST

>> One nation doesn't have to (directly) dominate the economy of another
> Ok, so dominating a country is not a necessary condition for
> imperialism. But it is sufficient to belong to an 'imperialist bloc'. I
> take it to be necessary for the bloc to dominate countries. The concept
> of an imperialist bloc with the structure of the European Union is an
> anomaly in the orthodox model which either predicts or postulates
> inter-imperialist rivalry that could not explain the formation of such a
> union to begin with.
Hi Dave Z:
I don't think it's an anomaly exactly. After all, there were imperialist blocs that led to the two world wars. Where there is inter-imperialist rivalries historically there also tend simultaneously to be inter-imperialist alliances. There rivalries and alliances tend to shift over time.
Btw, I wouldn't exactly say I adhered to an 'orthodox' theory of imperialism. I'm all for critically examining Lenin's perspective (as I am for critically examining all thought) but I strongly resist at least two claims which are sometimes made by opponents of the "orthodox" theory:
1. the claim that imperialism is trans-historical. While this has some truth to it, I think the point should be to comprehend what is special about imperialism under late capitalism rather than to think of it as a consequence of a process that extends across modes of production.
2. the claim that 'globalization' or whatever you want to call it somehow refutes the existence of imperialism. Globalization. like the kind of conditions which existed at the time that Lenin wrote _ITHSOC_, is indeed a consequence of the internationalization of capital. So, I don't quite see the dichotomy which Cyrus is talking about. Capital changes its 'regime' (as the regulationists might say) or its tactics (in ways noted by Paul B recently) but that doesn't alter the fact that what we're talking about IS imperialism.

> I might have put the question wrongly. I meant to ask:
> 1. Can you list the key countries that dominate India?
First and foremost, the US and the UK.

> 2. Which of these are imperialist?

> Yes, I think this question is a fundamental problem for the orthodox
> theory of imperialism. It seems to be rooted in an 'instrumentalist'
> theory of the state that might have seemed plausible up to the early
> 20th century. But since then it simply doesn't hold up. I think Ralph
> Miliband and especially Fred Block made some very significant advances
> in the Marxist theory of the state. Block's theory has been advocated by
> Vivek Chibber recently.
Well, the state and its relation to capital is a BIG question. I agree that there are problems with some "classical" formulations. These trace back, imo, to Marx or at least to simplistic conceptions of that relation by early Marxists. I am somewhat torn between two contrary traditions: the autonomist tradition which emphasizes the intimate connection between capital and the state and the value-form perspective explained by Reuten-Williams. What I like about the latter is that it attempts to systematically examine the role of the state within a larger theory of capitalism. Much of what Marxists have to say about the state is relatively disconnected from their critique of political economy. This has its origins, in part, both in the political struggles in the First International and in Marx's inability to write the Book on The State and how Marxists then seized hold of what was an incomplete theory. But, as I say, this is a big question.

> I have little doubt that some of them
> are the recipients of bribes proper. But you'd have a pretty weak
> instrumentalist theory of the state if it relied on such an unstable
> mechanism to explain imperialism.
It certainly doesn't by itself explain imperialism. Bribery is a tactic which can be replaced with other tactics which are more desirable or expedient from the perspective of individual imperialist nations. For such nations, it's usually the pragmatic criterion of 'what works'.
> 3. Can you identify which sections of the working class in the advanced
> countries are bought off like this in order to support imperialism?
As a historical matter - and this is well documented - the AFL-CIO leadership has supported US State Department pro-imperialist and anti-communist policies, especially in Latin America. There has also been a historical connection between social democratic parties and imperialism whereby these parties often supported the imperial ambitions of 'their' states.

> Ok, so the entire population of Sweden is said to 'share the benefits of
> imperialism'.
No, I don't think the entire population of any imperialist nation shares the benefits of imperialism. But, some class fragments can and do. This is a issue which has to be looked at historically and empirically and not taken for granted one way or the other.
In solidarity, Jerry _______________________________________________
ope mailing list
Received on Sun Jan 17 13:21:51 2010

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Jan 31 2010 - 00:00:02 EST