Empire on Lenin - Part 3

Donal donaloc at peterquinn.com
Tue Dec 11 08:46:34 MST 2001


"CB:  Isn't exporting capital exactly what made capital international ?
Export of
capital means the export of capitalist relations of production to the
colonies. "

G> First...one way of looking at things as "more-of-the-same". This is not
rhetorical, persistence is a very strong element in history and much that
goes on is in essence
more-of-the-same. The slow change from old-style colonialism to
neo-colonialism does
not in-itself suggest any great change in the nature of Imperialism, but on
the other
hand it is not difficult to see why neo-colonialism should grow out-of old
style
colonialism and why the reverse process does not happen.<

I think that the key factor in determining the development of
neo-colonialism was the threat of revolution. Now that's considered
relatively unimportant, things will start to spread out again. No
theoretician could honestly say he would predict the rise of neo-colonialism
without reference to concrete historical analysis.

>At what point is there a qualitative change? Capital has internationalisied
itself
through exporting, no-doubt some exporting of capital takes place but the
international capital is dominant and behaves very differently. First it is
not tied
to currency (at least not in the fixed sense that capital exporting was),
this is
significant as currency is tied directly to the state, in a sense
significant capital
exportation without state infrastructure is impossible to imagine -
dependant on state
to state accords, old-style and neo-colonial subordination. All Imperial
states
protected this "trade" by banning significant private currency transfers or
simulated
currencies like gold, and all of this is understandable in terms of a close
link
between national financial capital and the doings of the homeland state.<

This point is the crux of your argument. However, no pure international
space exists for capital, nor would capital want such a space to exist.
Capital kept in shares or futures is still associated with the national
interests of those shares, hence the destabilising effects of vast pension
fund holders. Capital has lead feet, just as it did in Lenin's time. To try
to obscure the national identities and entanglements of capital by
mentioning Credit Capital is self-contradictory. To the extent that this
latter form of enticement is still connected to national interests (of the
neo-colonial state as opposed to the 'multinational' enterprise), it is
impossible. To the extent that that capital has been lost by the national
interest it is now property of the multinational and entangled in the web of
its interests. This much is clear.

G > The other aspect depends on dominance, capital exportation still takes
place, national
financial capital still exists and no-one can ignore the fact that Imperial
agendas
still exist and are acted on. But is this the dominant form of capital? We
can
substitute it national financial capital with international capital, and see
many ties
between it and particular and powerful states, but can we also see this as a
necessary
condition?

The dominance of the US makes us liable to make inaccurate approximations.
When things are going up for all, I guess most will be content to take their
place in the imperial hierarchy. When we enter a depression, well, the dogs
might start to scrap. Your conception of International Capital is the
primary focus of this argument. I don't fully see how you can even talk of
such a thing, I think it is a fetishisation of imperialist transactions; it
doesn't represent something fundamental. Given that such a pure substance
doesn't exist, your arguments fall flat.

G> To continue to support the more-of-the-same viewpoint we unavoidably have
to
mislead ouselves into reading more importance into persistence of older
forms then
exist in reality. In this sense we recreate a similar problem which
confronted Lenin,
where the bulk of the more militant movement reduced aspects of Imperialism
to
variations of classic capitalism, which given historical persistence there
would
be plenty of "evidence" to support this. On the other hand the more
compromised
elements of the movement (Kautsky etc), better attuned to the possiblities
that
capital made available, jumped on to the emergant character of the then
contemporary developments.

Alternatively, if we dump the 'more-of-the-same' viewpoint we have to
imagine we live in a world with forms which only exist in our head, we in
the colonial world have to imagine that we live in a world without
inter-imperialist rivalries, which we could potentially exploit. Indeed, we
do face a similar problem as confronted Lenin, that some Marxists mistakenly
think that Imperialism will (has) somehow right(ed) itself and
transmogrify(ied) into an all embracing Global Trust system.

>What we find is that in bourgeois and semi-bourgeois circles the idea of
Imperialism
being negated is not rare, the additions made within the conservative
theoretical approach have increasing made Imperialism less historically
precise and reduced it to a series of truisms, lastly there will be a
significant political rift between the Marxists and the working class,
leading to the class becoming defacto captives of the bourgeoisie.

Negri-Hardt comes from this perspective, hence their lies about Lenin
agreeing with Kautsky's theory. Imperialism is very real where I come from,
I think most of us on this list who live in third world countries could
attest to this fact too. It's just become more formalised, nothing really
fundamentally new. This theory of a new post-Imperialism sounds like
petty-bourgeois pseudo-science to me (no offence meant to yourself). If we
are to continue this (valuable) discussion we need to analyse what your
'international capital' represents and whether it is fundamentally different
to what existed in Lenin's time. I don't think that you have done that. One
paragraph on Credit Capital, and I think even that this was a non-runner.
Yes, we must revisit even our best theories but let's do it on the basis of
fact. The real danger in this discussion is that it can be used as a defence
of the sort of anti-globalisation-national chauvinist tie ups we have seen
in some of the main imperial centres where the US gets identified as
Imperialist and then all the other imperialists get off the agenda, aka, The
McDonaldisation of protest.

G> Now nothing in particular leads us to the idea that we are looking at a
qualitatively
different stage of development. History always appears continuous, an
accretation of
small changes on what is already established, persistence of older forms has
to be
assumed, qualitative leaps are thereby always hidden.

This is incredible. You ask us to reject the continued validity of Lenin's
model of imperialism and then state poverty of evidence of qualitative
change. Surely this would be a minimum for such a move?

G> International capital did arise out of capital export, capitalistic
relations were
thus fostered in the "colonies" it was the destiny of Imperialism to
transpire to a
higher phase of development - what that development is remains an open
question (which
of course I have my own views on what that might be), what cannot be done is
to run the development backwards, it can be forced within the concept of
Imperialism but not
without doing fatal harm to the concept itself (as a historical and
dialectical idea).

What more harm can be done to a theory which is rejected as wrong? Surely
the reason why Lenin wrote Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism was
because he thought Capitalism couldn't develop further. If he was wrong then
the whole theory needs to be re-evaluated. His dialectic needs a
thorough-going re-appraisal (even as it applied 85 years ago). True, the
dialectic was since complicated by the Russian Revolution and the spread of
class-consciousness, but now as these fade into the immediate distance the
validity of his analysis remains sound.

G> Lenin confronted (and overcame) the tendency to see Imperialism,
monopolies, finance
capital as just more-of-the-same developments of private classic capitalism,
he
pinpointed the socialisation of capital as the primary force behind the
changes (it
remains so), and gave shape to a powerful concept - in short he found that
the new
developments could not be run backwards into the old conceptualisations
without doing
them harm, so from within the old conceptualisations he drew out the seeds
of their
negation and demonstrated that capital had remained the same animal but had
changed
its spots.

How couldn't he? The rise of empires was the defining characteristic of the
late 19th Century and accelerated rapidly after the 1890s. This needed a new
description and he found it in the spread of finance capital. There was a
qualitative change in colonial relations, not a few new ways of stealing
money off colonial nations.

G> I have not a formula which can make the distinction between capital
export
and international capital clear in any theoretical sense though others I am
sure could
supply it if the problem was squarely set.

And yet you reject Lenin's theory of Imperialism on this basis?

G>I think there is one serious question which can be posed: Is Imperialism
the NECESSARY expression of the highest form of capital?

I think Lenin avoided answering that one, so will I. Moreover, it's a waste
of time, we live in an imperialist reality. I am going to get some quotes
from the man himself as I want to make sure the lie of Empire is recognised,
and it's meaning understood.

I believe your arguments have become more defensible over the last few days.
It is really with your earlier posts, I had greatest difficulty. Indeed,
there is much to be said to revisit Lenin with an open mind. I would suggest
that we reject the Kauskian model entirely as it operates in a never-never
land - a perfect one-world trust - I assume you reject this notion out of
hand, certainly on the basis of your last emails you do. Therefore, we can
start from Lenin and if we find something new has arisen then we should get
going on some new theory. I had raised this very issue as something I would
like to discuss in detail on this list, but got no responses about a month
or two ago. Now, Let us begin to revisit the applicability of Lenin's
conception of Imperialism to the modern era, we all seem well-enough versed.
The difficult bit starts now with the need for hard analysis of
'international capital'. Is there anyone else out there who will help this
effort?

Is mise,

Domhnall.



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