Empire on Lenin

Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Thu Dec 6 09:56:07 MST 2001

g_schofield at dingoblue.net.au 12/06/01 10:39AM >>>

Donal, I hate to suggest rescanning Lenin, but if you just note down three categories of ideas from what Lenin is saying (1) Pre-Imperial conditions that give rise to it, (2) Imperialism proper, (3) post-imperialism. I am sure you will see that 3 contains two desparate parts a) Proletarian Socialism will intervene and cut the process of imperial contradiction apart b) something like kautsky's vision arising out of the contradictioons of imperialism once they have played themselves out.

A) has not happened instead, ironically given Lenin's purpose b) has emeged (not fully but with a new set of contradictions).


CB: Greg, I agree with you that Kautsky's ultraimperialism thesis, minus its prediction of peaceful imperialism , gives some suggestions for analyzing today's imperialism. However, your "A" above, did occur to some extent in the form of the Russian Revolution , the Soviet Union and other socialist revolutions.  Most efforts to formulate what the current "globalized empire" is ignore the Soviet Union, thus anti-Sovietism , left and right, survives the SU itself in the wishfullfilled  thinking that "oh, the SU was a big "nothing".   The Soviet Union was a big something but now it has collapsed. Nonetheless, the current configuration of imperialism can only be understood as "ultraimperialism"  shaped especially in imperialism's hot and cold wars/struggles against the socialist nations and revolutions and liberation movements of the last 85 years since the Lenin-Kautsky polemic. The imperialist powers did not on their own "evolve" out of their interimperialist rivalry , but had to!
 unite to fight the world socialist revolution that Lenin promoted. However, contra Lenin's scenario, the capitalists won, substantially, though there are China, Viet Nam , Korea and Cuba still. Basically, the key change from the imperialism of Lenin's day is that the imperialist powers have united and shifted their tendencies to make war to fighting  world socialist revolution instead of among themselves. Imperialism is more centralized than in Lenin's time. Why is that so difficult to comprehend for people like Hardt and Negri, who think that a more centralized imperialism must be called something other than imperialism ? Anyway , this was a sort of "negative" dialectic. Imperialism  used the geopolitical dynamic of the first socialist revolutions to overcome them ( Shucks !!)

Neither Lenin nor Kautsky anticipated this, as their polemic was before the Russian Revolution.

Do Hardt and Negri propose a strategy for fighting the "Empire", or do they surrender to it like Kautsky ? That seems the key question to me.

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