Re: [OPE] fascism / opposing imperialist militaryinterventioninLibya

From: Paula <>
Date: Thu Mar 31 2011 - 17:57:12 EDT

Jurriaan wrote:

“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 ... 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 ... 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’”.

It’s true that there are many doctrinaires among Marxist-Leninists (but also, among non-Marxist-Leninists) so you won’t find me defending all of their views, which in any case vary from person to person and from one year to the next. I will only here speak of the theory of imperialism as formulated by Lenin and Bukharin. These authors by no means ignored the history of empires stretching back thousands of years, the central role of state power in maintaining them, etc. All of this was, and is, widely known and accepted, and completely uncontroversial. Sure, there was once a Roman empire, there was once an Inca empire, and such empires could only exist thanks to state power.

If Jurriaan wants to use the word '”imperialism” in this sense, fine, but this was not what Lenin and Bukharin were talking about. They never argued that the Roman empire didn’t exist, or that it was rooted in monopoly capital – either of these two claims would be plainly absurd. They used the term “imperialism” in a completely different sense, referring to a specific historical phase of capitalism – and neither empires nor colonies are essential to it. It can be a confusing usage of the term, admittedly, but it wasn’t Lenin and Bukharin who introduced it – as far as I know it was the non-Marxist Hobson. His 1902 book ‘Imperialism’ was highly influential, and it was from it that Lenin and others borrowed the term, continuing the debate he had started. I suggest Jurriaan and others read what Lenin and Bukharin actually wrote, otherwise they are just fighting straw men.

Luckily now it’s all available online:


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Received on Thu Mar 31 17:59:47 2011

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