Imperialism

Philip Ferguson plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Jun 21 04:28:32 MDT 2001


Greg wrote:

>My point is that we need concepts which reveal the specific
> characteristics of our age, and imperialism is no help in this.


Actually, if you look at how Lenin defined imperialism, and what he
pinpointed as its chief characteristics, it seems clear to me that we are
very much still living in the epoch of imperialism.

I don't have the booklet to hand, but I recall that Lenin noted about five
or six key characteristics to imperialism: the export of capital, the
formation of cartels and monopolies, the division of the world into
oppressed and oppressor nations, are the three that spring to my mind
immediately.

These seem to me to be highly relevant in looking at the world today.
Indeed, is it possible to analyse global reality today *without*  the
category of imperialism as a base guide?

Back in 1994 I did an honours course on "Japan and the World Economy".  As
part of it I had to do a major research essay on Japan's take-off after WW2
and the factors involved in this.  I began the paper with an investigation
of world systems theory.  A lot of world systems theory is quite good, but
what struck me was that it was/is *inadequate* for examining what I was
examining, and when I went back and re-read Lenin's "Imperialism" I found
it went to the places that world systems theory doesn't or that world
systems theory visits but shies away from drawing out the logic of its own
insights.

If you combine Lenin's pamphlet with his 'Notebooks on Imperialism', there
is an incredibly rich resource for providing a guide for investigating the
world today.  Such anb investigation needs to take account, sure enough, of
the *real changes* that have taken place since 1916, but also of the
*continuities* and the way in which the characteristics of the epoch Lenin
identified have been played out over the last 85 years.

Cheers,
Phil

PS: I should add here that I've found the discussion between John Enyang
and Greg really interesting, and also a model for how comrades should
discuss these kinds of issues.









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