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

Date: Wed Jan 06 2010 - 08:39:41 EST

>> Much of the Left
>> in the advanced capitalist nations does not understand this because ... well ... they're
>> a bit soft on opposition to imperialism even if it is sometimes couched in
>> leftier-than-thou leftist language.
>> One of the reasons for the irrelevance of much of the Left is that when monumental
>> and historic class struggles are going on in the world some of them sit on the
>> sidelines and chat as if it was just a topic for conversation over a coffee table.
> Is it not precisely on an electronic list on political economy that one
> does have the luxury to reflect on the theoretical meaning and
> implications of things? Electronic lists are not the arena of political
> struggle against oppression.
Hi Dave Z:
Yes, that's an entirely legitimate use of e-mail lists. I guess you misunderstood
what I was getting at - which had nothing to do with discussions on OPE-L or
other mailing lists per se. I was referring to a segment of the Left which
is abstentionist. What Paula's praxis is or is not I have no way of knowing and
it's besides the point. I was referring to a problem on the Left, not a problem
with an individual.
> (Moreover, in a past post I showed how a
> weak conception of imperialism and labour aristocracy may lead to
> irrelevance and sectarian Left politics.)

I almost answered that post before but - after spending about 10 minutes trying
to re-locate it - I gave up. I thought your claims were particularly
weak and an example of another problem with the form of argumentation by
Marxists which has existed historically: rather than replying directly to
particular claims, it seeks to tease out the political "implications" of
a perspective. But, in doing so, it simplified and misrepresented the political
perspective or the 'other'.

> Paula is rightly hinting at some weak theoretical points in the orthodox
> formulation of imperialism. Either one has to refine the framework or
> accept that some countries that were once considered to be victims of
> imperialism are now imperialist too.
Well, it's possible, that countries which were once imperialized can become
(at least in theory) imperialist. But, I think that in the specific instances
mentioned (with the possible exception of China) that has not happened: rather
there are different forms of development within the imperialized nations.
To think that a Middle Eastern country is imperialist simply because they
are a "rentier state" or have an aggressive military is fundamentally mistaken,
imo. The problem - like so many other problems in political economy - arises
often when one tries to attach a trans-historical meaning to a concept
(in this case, imperialism) when one is referring to a social relation
specific to capitalism (in this case, set of characteristics of an epoch which is a
consequence of capitalism). No doubt, there were Empires before capitalism.
But, one should not conflate the general meaning of imperialism across history
with its specific meaning under capitalism.

> The alternative is to add the postulate that only countries in North
> America and Western Europe can be imperialist. But then one abandons the
> philosophical ground of Marxism in favour of 'Third Worldism'.

The fear by much of the Left of the bogeyman of "Third Worldism" is mis-placed.
IMO, it fails to articulate the relation between class struggles in different
parts of the world.
In solidarity, Jerry _______________________________________________
ope mailing list
Received on Wed Jan 6 08:49:30 2010

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