Reply re Russian imperialism

Thu Aug 1 19:36:30 MDT 1996

Dear Comrades,

To take up some of the points raised in reply to my brief piece on Russian

Some comrades concede that Russia looted eastern Europe immediately after the
war but claim this was not imperialist. How can you have systematic
non-imperialist looting. This form of looting clearly is a primitive form of
imperialism parallel to the Roman Empire or early British imperialism in India
and Ireland. How was what the Russians did qualitatively different to what the
British did in India.

Later on its true the Russians stopped looting EEurope, but it remained tightly
under their military control. The statistics are fairly unclear as to whether
Russia made a profit out of EEurope in the 60s and 70s. But this does not mean
that they weren't subject to imperialist domination. Russian aid
to rebuild industry in EEurope was akin to US Marshall Aid to shore up
western Europe againt the Russian "threat" ie the aid reflected strategic
imperialist interests.

Also there is the question of the cheap oil which Russia supplied to curry
favour not just in E>Europe but around the world. One of the reasons the oil
could be supplied cheaply is that it did not come from the imperial Russian
heartlands of the empire but mainly from non-Russian areas.

No one has denied that the standard of living in the Russian heartlands around
Moscow etc was much higher than in Asiatic Russia. One response was that this
reflected the differences between town and country. But there are major
non0-Russian cities where amenities housing, transport, wages etc are much
lower than in the Moscow area. Moscow was debilerated built up as it was where
the ruling class was centred.

Just think of Baku in the heart of the oil region. Living standards there were
nothing living in Moscow. The oil and mineral wealth were drained off.
Similarly it was in the non_russian areas that pollution is worst and where the
nuclear testing took place. (This is akin to present day Chinese imperialism in
Tibet and other non-Chinese areas - they don't test the bombs in Chinese

Furthermore whether or not the Russains made a profit out of all the areas it
dominated is not the main point. My own little Australia did not make did not a
profit out of New Guinea and its other island colonies for decades. It needed
them for strategic/military outposts (and with the hope of making future
profits). Similarly the US subsidised Israel and South Korea. Actually the US
lost money on Vietnam too.

Somebody asked whether I thought the export of capital was a good thing.
Hardly. Though one of the problems of Africa today is that it is starved of

Mick Armstrong

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