Re: [OPE] Anti-imperialism and nationalism

From: Paula <>
Date: Wed Dec 09 2009 - 19:03:38 EST

Brief answers to Jerry's three questions.

1. The theory is still valid, but imperialism itself has changed in
important ways since the theory was formulated. Most significantly, almost
all the territories that were then colonies have now become independent
nations. A section of the left (the 'third-worldist' section, we might call
them) refuses to wake up to the implications of this change.

2. There are still oppressed and oppressor nations, but we need to be
careful with these categories. They aren't mutually exclusive, for example,
though the third-worldists insist that they are. Anti-imperialists of a
century ago were actually much more flexible on this, they recognized that
imperialist nations can also be oppressed - the case of Germany's WWI
invasion of Belgium, for example, was widely discussed.

3. Decolonization means that there are fewer oppressed nations and a much
smaller portion of the world's population living in them. Therefore, on a
global scale, national oppression is not the political issue it once was.
Yet each case of national oppression is obviously no less important to the
people involved. To my mind, the right to self-determination is a
fundamental democratic right. But the third-worldist left usually turns a
blind eye to the oppression perpetrated by the 'Third World' nations
themselves, and aim their anti-imperialist rhetoric only at the 'West'. This
is a form of national chauvinism, just like the anti-Americanism of the
European left.


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Received on Wed Dec 9 19:06:06 2009

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