Imperialism

Philip Ferguson plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Jun 21 22:22:52 MDT 2001


Greg writes:
>In reply to Phil - the currency of Lenin's Imperialism
>
>Phil the broad characteristics Lenin outlined are not only true (in general
>terms) of today but also Imperial Rome which is a sure sign that to
>generalise to this degree is to loose the particular essence of the stage
>of Imperialism in the final development of private capitalism - which is
>the context of his writing.


Greg,
they didn't have capital in Imperial Rome, much less the export of capital.
Nor did they have the division of the world into oppressed and oppressor
nations.  Indeed, they didn't have nations and nation-states.  Nor did they
have trusts, cartels etc.

Lenin's 'Imperialism' is *historically specific* to a stage of capitalism.
That's one of the key things which sets it apart from bourgeois theories of
imperialism, which treat this as an ahistorical or transhistorical category
so that any rampaging around in another country is labelled "imperialism".

I'm sorry, Greg, but I cannot see how you can argue that we are now living
in an era of 'bourgeois socialism'.  In fact, the whole neo-liberal crusade
of the 80s and 90s took things in the opposite direction.  We have a
capitalism that is more *capitalist* than ever, rather than a capitalism
which looks a bit like some kind of socialism.  I would think this is
especially the case in countries like Australia and New Zealand where the
'bourgeois socialists' of the Labour Party dismantled large chunks of the
welfare state (especially in NZ) and smashed the working class.  In NZ our
'bourgeois socialists' commodified everything they could get their paws on.

In NZ, the 'new rioght' offensive proved incapable of restoring dynamism to
the economy, and the ruling class have resorted to what we at 'revolution'
have called 'caring capitalism'.  But the term is as ironic as real; this
is not a return to the old capitalist welfare state even, but to employers
adopting the view that 'social capital' is important.  The exhaustion of
the new right here, the collapse of the working class as a political force,
the social fragmentation attendant upon the economic reforms, and the
failure of new right policies to lift the economy, have led the smart
elements of the bourgeoisie to search for a new 'big idea'.  But embracing
the concept of 'social capital' tends to be a way of *not implementing
bourgeois socialism*, a la a welfare state capitalism, rather than a return
to full-blooded Keynesianism.

Cheers,
Phil










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