marxism and imperialism

Norman Feltes bignoise at yorku.ca
Mon Jan 23 15:05:38 MST 1995


On Jan 22, 12:09pm, Jon Beasley-Murray wrote:
> Subject: marxism and imperialism
> Things have been quiet here lately...
>
> I thought I'd try to make use of the collective resources of this list to
> ask a few questions about marxism and imperialism, the world
> market, globalization postcoloniality... whatever.  This hasn't come up
> much as a topic for discussion here.  Rakesh posted a whole number of
> sources to the postcolonial list, but as I had to leave that list, I
> don't know if you received much feedback.
>
> As a way of getting into the topic, I've just read Anthony Brewer's
> _Marxist Theories of Imperialism: A Critical Survey_, and I have a couple
> of questions as a result:
>
> i.  Brewer seems to think that no argument from underconsumption holds up
> in any way, shape or form.  This seems to be going too far, especially as
> so much of the discourse of multinational expansion is about the search
> for new markets.
>
> ii.  Brewer also seems to want to knock dependency theories on the
> head--in the terms of the dichotomy he himself presents, he seems more
> sympathetic to a "classical marxist" position of potential globalization
> of capitalism, rather than the "development of underdevelopment" as a
> permanent and necessary part of a capitalist world system.  Maybe because
> my own focus is on Latin America, and thus at least in part the Spanish
> empire there, I find this assurance harder to take.
>
> iii.  Most astonishingly, although he mentions political determinants to
> a fair degree, Brewer makes almost no mention at all of cultural factors
> in imperialism, let alone in neo-imperialism or postcolonialism.  I find
> it amazing that he can think of communication technology etc. only in
> terms of the transfer of commodities or capital, rather than itself
> commodified and with its own specific effect (Hollywood, rock music etc.).
>
> Any thoughts?
>-- End of excerpt from Jon Beasley-Murray
  No econnomist (or speller), I would like to add to Jon's request my own
related one (I think). I have just read _Post-Fordism: A Reader_, ed. Ash
Amin, Blackwells, 1994 and it seems to me that that debate too  is an
important context for the things he suggest we discuss. How are
post-colonialism and post-fordism overdetermined? "Globalism" might satisfy
the Toronto Globe and Mail but it doesn't get us very far. I would like very
much like to hear comments if anyone is interested.
     Norm Feltes

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