New Imperialism (Biel's book)

Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxx.xxxxxx at
Mon Sep 9 12:03:19 MDT 2002

Biel's thesis about the "possibility" of ultra-imperialism sounds
interesting, though I have not gone through the book yet.

Regarding the issue of imperialism, what about Michael Hudson's book on
_Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire_ (1968)?.
Rather than seeing ultra-imperialism in terms of the "resolution" of
conflicts among capitalist powers, Hudson sees super-imperialism as a "new"
wave of US hegemony/imperialism and the economic strategy fostered by the
American empire near the end of BW. I have not finished the book yet, so I
have to wait to see if Hudson deals with the "limits" of this new
imperialist strategy.

>From what I see, the concept of ultra-imperialism (ie., capitalism resolving
its conflicts via globalizing--as understood by Kautsky) has a tendency to
obscure power relations in the world system, while ignoring the question of
"who is still the imperial power?' in international political economy. It is
an apologetic and reified conception of global capitalism. It is also
unrealistic, considering the fact that globalization did not come from
nowhere; it was a product of imperial state policy, particulary the US &

On the other hand, Biel's use of ultra-imperialism looks totally different
and implies an anti-imperialistic stance --unlike Kautsky and Hart& Negri

I also think that this discussion "ultimately" depends on which historical
cases we are looking at and how we are conceptualizing those cases. At some
point, we will see elements of ultra-imperialism among capitalist powers; at
other points we will see elements of inter-imperialist conflict. In other
cases, we will see plain US unilateralism and conceding allies (ie, Nixon's
de jure suspension of gold convertibility). The real issue is to decide
1)what the real areas of conflict are 2)how those cases are dealt with and
3) to whose benefit. For example, one can interpret, during the 1960s, the
American resistence to French proposals for rising the price of gold in
terms of inter-imperialism. One can "also" say that the management of this
conflict was totally in favor of the US when Americans (gaining the support
of UK & Germany) defeated the French by finally abandoning the attempt to
prevent the market price of gold from rising above the official price (at
the Two Tier Agreement of 1968).

It looks like Hudson's book is rather an indirect response to those
(Wallerstein, Gilpin, Krasner, Keohane, etc.) who have expressed concerns
about the "decline" of US hegemony since the end of Bretton Woods. He means
that the US did not decline in real terms; it has rather gained a new form
of power. And trying to understand the current global order in terms of the
"end" of US hegemony is undialectical and politically misleading..

>From this perspective, it looks to me, Biel's books has some similarities
with Hudson's book in terms of trying to understand the dynamics of
imperialism rather than obscuring them. I don't know, though, whether Biel
deals with US hegemonic crisis in depth.

Xxxx A. Xxxxxx
Ph.D Candidate, ABD
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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