Forwarded from Jurriaan

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Jun 3 06:45:01 MDT 2001

Dear critics,

I have no intention of saying imperialism is "progressive", even although
the colonisers may have done some undoubtedly progressive things at times,
such as building schools and hospitals, develop infrastructure or whatever
(as the Dutch did in Indonesia; this kind of thing was precisely the
"civilising influence" which Second International apologists of imperialism
 used to extoll its positive benefits). I am merely saying the real
political issue is imperialism, not globalisation as a social trend.

To oppose globalisation doesn't make sense to me, it's a bit like
protesting against gravity, you can jump up and down to protest against it,
 but that doesn't make it go away. And because no clear consensual concept
of globalisation exists anyway, it's a catch-all phrase, and so it is not
even clear often what people are protesting against. Basically the rhetoric
 about globalisation covers up the absence of any serious socialist
analysis  of the modern world economy and the modern states system. That is
to say,  the globalisation discourse is a regression from the discourse
about  imperialism.

The concept of imperialism basically refers to the domination of  some
countries or nations by others, which has political, economic and cultural
dimensions. It therefore directs us to the different modalities of that
domination and how they are constituted. Marxist theory tells us that
imperialist state policy is the necessary corrolary of capitalist economic
expansion. Globalisation theories however downplay the importance of nation
 states altogether. In fact globalisation theory can provide a convenient
rationale for "humanitarian interventions" in other countries.

Marx wouldn't have supported a "movement against globalisation" because at
best (insofar it means anything) it refers to a highly contradictory
development, containing both progressive and regressive aspects. An aspect
of globalisation is that we are able to have this discussion on the
internet between people in different countries, and that is surely
progressive ? Would you rather destroy internationalised communication and
information networks, like a Luddite, because they are an "evil of
globalisation" ? I wouldn't. I would, like Marx, recognise real progress in
 the development of the productive forces where it is being made.

The only way to resolve the discussion is to say that globalisation IS
imperialism. But if that is so, why not use the word imperialism ? The fact
 is that "imperialism" still has a radical political connotation, and
"globalisation" has no such connotation at all.



Louis Proyect
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