Re: [OPE] fascism / opposing imperialist militaryinterventioninLibya

From: Jurriaan Bendien <>
Date: Thu Mar 31 2011 - 08:23:24 EDT

Well that's great, Dave - we do agree about something! And the advantage is, that by taking this perspective, we are not laughed out of court by the historians of imperialism!

It is perhaps of interest that the French/English terms for "imperial, imperialist and imperialism" were already known to some extent in pre-capitalist Europe, and more specifically became popularly used from the time of the Napoleonic wars onwards. The Latin root "imperium" refers back to the Roman expression "a sphere of command", a primarily military expression which was distinct from "Regnum" (the authority to govern or rule in a particular sphere).

In the first instance, "imperium" meant "a command or issue of a decree", but the term also referred to "the right to command" and "supreme command". The "Imperator" in the Roman Republic was in fact originally a magistrate or other juridical authority in his capacity to issue commands in his jurisdiction (he had the right to rule cases, to arrest or subpoena, and administer punishments in a given area, and could be overruled only by a higher magistrate), but later the term was also applied, in the Roman empire, to military commanders, and eventually it was used as a title of the hereditary emperor. Similarly, after the fall of the Roman empire, the feudal monarchs in the Byzantine empire and later in Western Europe gained the Latin title of "imperator".

What is significant about all this is, that the root meaning of imperialism has from the first usage (approximately two and a half millenia ago) been understood as being inextricably tied to STATE POWER, to the ability to wield supreme power on the basis of (a legally or theologically defined) authority, with the aid of (military or armed) force.

Marxist-Leninists deny this history, because they think doctrinally that this would be a wrong "Kautskyist" interpretation, and imperialism is supposed to be "rooted in monopoly capital". However they fail to explain credibly how that works, and that aside they mistake the real difference between Lenin and Kautsky on this issue. So Marxism-Leninism is really an intellectual deformity in that sense (Lenin himself rejected the term "Leninism").

Obviously state power has an economic basis (it is grounded ultimately in its ability to collect taxes and tributes, which in turn depends on the size, wealth and prosperity of the population within the territory it controls). But point is, the "imperium" is in the first instance specifically a domain of supreme state power. This began to change somewhat only when corporations such as the East India Companies became more or less a "law unto themselves". But even then, these corporations (just like state-sanctioned privateers) still required a legal authorization from the sovereign in order to operate, and thus, technically, these business organizations were still subordinated to the sovereign.


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Received on Thu Mar 31 08:24:26 2011

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