Re: [OPE] fascism / opposing imperialist military interventioninLibya

From: Jurriaan Bendien <>
Date: Wed Mar 23 2011 - 06:36:30 EDT


I don't think it makes much sense to call all nations "imperialist".
Imperialism presupposes that there are dominant countries or peoples and
dominated (imperialized or colonized) countries or peoples, whether the
domination is military, economic, political, social, cultural etc.
Imperialism is the characteristic of a state power which extends its control
over foreign territories or foreign peoples.

Obviously, the ability to assert domination depends in good part on economic
and financial power. Without British industry and European finance, and
without the ability to levy substantial taxes, the British armed forces
would never have been able to conquer an empire which, at its zenith,
included a quarter (!) of the world's population.

There is certainly competition between the interests of different states,
but that does not make those interests intrinsically always imperialist. The
imperial relationship requires precisely that an imperialist nation is able
to impose its will over another nation, in line with its imperial
requirements. If there is a "power hierarchy of nations" this means that,
generally, the most powerful nations can dominate the less powerful nations.
That is exactly the reason for uneven development, where the dominated
country develops only in line with the requirements of the dominating
country or countries.

The United States government, itself a product of the fight against British
imperialism, has always denied that it is "imperialist" since it has not (or
with very rare exceptions) aimed colonize foreign territories and assimilate
them governmentally to the US system. But imperialism does not depend on any
particular legal construction, it is simply the de facto domination of one
country or people by another, and thus, it is quite feasible for an
"imperialism without colonies" to exist, in various gradations. "Who owns
the state" is obviously very important to competing businesses, but as a
general issue, it is not critical for business operations as such so long as
an adequate infrastructure is maintained to do business in.

Imperialism is as old as the history of state formation (say about 5,000
years) and even precedes it, since clans, tribes and chiefdoms conquered
other clans, tribes and chiefdoms. Specific to capitalist imperialism is
just that imperialist policy begins to revolve around the requirements of
capital accumulation - the business competition for costs, markets and
profits, and that this imperialism is mediated by the world market. The
capitalist mode of production is intrinsically imperialist, since it
involves continual market expansion into previously non-commercialized areas
through competition.

As countries become more and more integrated in the world market and world
economy, and MNCs grow in size and influence, a "nationally based"
imperialism seems to decline - it is no longer so clear that business policy
is "nationally oriented". Nevertheless most MNCs are still mainly nationally
owned, and international business policy still depends on state and
political enforcement. In reality, "multilateral imperialism" in this sense
has existed for hundreds of years. It is merely that the size and weight of
MNCs in the world economy has grown very large, which alters the power
relationship between MNCs and national state authorities.


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Received on Wed Mar 23 06:38:15 2011

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