An empire in denial

Ben Courtice benj at connexus.net.au
Mon Mar 24 14:09:55 MST 2003


Written from webmail so I hope that the format comes out OK...

Parallels with the British empire are interesting. As I understand it, Britain began engaging in wars of conquest (most notably India)
when its colonial and commercial monopoly started to become threatened. That is, "peaceful" exploitation of colonies was no longer
sufficient; there was the threat that France (or someone else) would usurp Britain's commercial role. In this sense, the "Golden Years"
of British Empire (of Queen Victoria) could actually be seen as the degeneration of that empire. Although I don't want to exaggerate
Euro or Japanese rivalry to the US the current situation seems similar -- the US was worried about French oil contracts in Iraq, about
oil producers switching to trade in the Euro, and so on.

Some on the left (Sparts, Barnesites, Northites etc... no-one too credible that I know of) like to point to this as "the opening guns of
WW3" and such meaning that this inter-imperialist conflict will lead to war. Of course they are in conflict, but there is as yet no
evidence of an arms race (except with China... if that's significant?). It took decades between the initial threats to Britain's colonial
monopoly (and her military conquests) and the arms race when other capitalist nations had developed monoply capitalism (i.e.
imperialism).

The point is, belligerent and aggressive as they are, the Bushfeld Gang are undertaking this war, and their thousand-year-Reich
"PNAC" project, as a defensive measure (against not just rival imperialists but also the third world nations they are exploiting).
Considering that, unlike in the 1850s when Britain embarked on world conquest, there is a massive working class in both the
imperialist and oppressed nations, a socialist movement, popular national-democratic governments like Venezuela, and so on -- the
prospects for resistance to the empire are far better than in the 1850s.

Are all these points off the mark? Or too obvious to bother mentioning? I think a bit of historical perspective like this is useful to keep
our socialist activist feet on the ground. (not that it can substitute for an immediate tactical analysis).

Ben Courtice


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