Forwarded from Jurriaan (on Amin)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jun 1 16:38:11 MDT 2001


Jurriaan:
>Actually, when Lenin's title was translated as "Imperialism, the highest
>stage of capitalism" this doesn't quite convey what he meant. What he
>really meant (in my judgement) was more along the lines of the "newest,
>most recent, latest phase" of capitalist development. After all, he was
>trying to explain a crucial new development, new trends, which consisted
>principally of the succumbing of the Second International to the
>imperialist war drive and world war 1. Lenin was articulating a new
>conception of his epoch.

I am extremely grateful to Jurriaan for this. I am working on a study right
now of the so-called imperialism literature, the sort of material that
Ronald Chilcote and Anthony Brewer deal with in their surveys. But with an
eye toward coming up with a synthesis that addresses ecological, indigenous
and other issues that were never really part of the literature. What I am
glad to see is that my evaluation of Lenin and Jurriaan's are in harmony.
Lenin never really gave much thought to the "periphery" but to the "core"
countries in their impending war.

I can't get into it right now in any kind of detail, but I believe that
Rosa Luxemburg's approach, despite technical deficiencies in her
understanding of the accumulation of capital, still hold up quite well. She
was the first Marxist to challenge colonial capitalism. Her fight with
Bernstein is practically ripped from the pages of the MR school but without
the tendency to subsume everything in global abstractions.

In contrast, Trotsky still has many illusions about capitalism's "dynamic"
capacity for developing the colonial world. Here is a Trotsky quote that my
friend Ken McLeod challenged me with during the LM wars long ago:

'In contrast to the economic systems which preceded it, capitalism
inherently and constantly aims at economic expansion, at the penetration of
new territories, the surmounting of economic differences, the conversion of
self-sufficient provincial and national economies into a system of
financial interrelationships. Thereby it brings about their _rapprochment_
and *equalizes the economic and cultural levels of the most progressive and
the most backward countries*. Without this main process, it would be
impossible to conceive of the levelling out, first, of Europe with Great
Britain, and then, of America with Europe; *the industrialization of the
colonies, the diminishing gap between India and Great Britain* [...]
Imperialism links up incomparably more rapidly and more deeply the
individual national and continental units into a single entity, bringing
them into the closest and most vital dependence upon each other and
rendering their economic methods, social forms, and levels of development
more identical. At the same time, it attains this "goal" by such
antagonistic methods, such tiger-leaps, and such raids upon backward
countries and areas that the *unification and levelling of world economy*
which it has effected, is upset by it even more violently and convulsively
than in the preceeding epochs.'

Trotsky, 1929, _The Draft Programme of the Communist International_
(reprinted in The 3rd International After Lenin, New Park edition, 1974,
pp 15 - 16) emphases added.

At the time I read this I was more of a Trotskyist purist than I am now.
Now I would simply say that Trotsky has been proved wrong.



Louis Proyect
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