Social Imperialism [DMS, Huato]
M. Junaid Alam
junaidalam at msalam.net
Tue Sep 30 17:11:20 MDT 2003
"2. I never stated that the wealth of the advanced countries is
unrelated to the conditions in the less developed areas. On the
contrary, I have consistenly argued for the totality of capital, the
interlocking of advanced and the forced under-development of global
capitalism. It is the precise nature of that relation that requires
careful examination and something more than just the parroting of
phrases clipped out of somebody's interpretation of somebody elses
In this paragraph you both obfuscate the point and then reveal your
position on it by doing so: no one is talking about whether capital is
"interlocked" or whether it has "totality": that is obvious. Any two
persons can agree by looking at a man with an axe that the two are
"connected": the difference lies in whether they are connected at the
blade or the handle.
And so the issue is: has the West benefited in its historical relations
with the periphery, economically and politically? I believe it has. You
dismiss this in a convoluted fashion by saying I am "parroting phrases
clipped out of sombody's interpretation of sombody else's analysis".
Actually it is an idea propounded by several centuries of radicals and
revolutionaries operating under a variety of conditions in myriad
circumstances. The names Che, Malcolm, Fanon, Lenin, Walter Rodney, and
Basil Davidson come to mind.
You note Lenin examined one period, namely the one he lived in, and ask
if I have conducted a similar examination of the 1992-2002 period. Does
the totality of history operate decade by decade? I suppose it would
need to if imperialism died and then revived itself every 10 years; yes
it has changed names, modes, subteleties, methods, but it is still
there. Again, any empirical analysis can be made to say anything when
stripped of an analytical framework. You illustrate your inability to do
this immediately when you declare the non-existence of Lenin's rentier
state by juxtaposing it with modern finance capital.
Part Four of your response reads like a lot of mumbo jumbo. You state
generalities about accumulation. Fine. Still: What social layer do most
professionals, pundits, bankers, managers, and yuppies fall into? The
worker on the factory floor or cubicle does not see the CEO or
capitalist millionaires hovering above him barking orders: he sees the
manager. There are a lot of those types, a lot of them quite useless
actually, as people familiar with managers know. What props them up? How
do they get around in their SUVs and heat their homes? How do they
access clean water, or go on vacation abroad?
Like Huato you look at things from the most narrow and provincial point
of view; Huato says:
"The non-Marxist but respected economic historian Paul Bairoch -- in his
book "Economics and World History: Myths and Paradoxes" (1995) --
summarizes the analysis of an array of data and historical information
that he carefully collected and validated throughout his professional
life to conclude that:
"[V]ery often the fact that the Third World lost much more than it
gained from the colonial or neo-colonial period is seen as a proof that
the West benefited greatly. The realities are much more subtle."
"As a general rule, countries that had very few economic ties with the
Third World fared better than the large colonial powers."
Large colonial powers such as England did not "fare" well? That's an
interesting notion. This sounds as silly as my Political Science class
concerning "Democratic Peace Theory", especially since it is not clear
what criteria are required to fare better. I mean the Spanish didn't
fare too well after their Armada got the wind knocked out of it, but so
It is necessary also to speak of potential. In 1884 Africa was carved up
along hopelessly implosive lines: how did Europe benefit from carving
out a cripplied continent, not simply for raw materials, but as a
settler enclave in Rhodesia, Algeria, S. Africa, and as a place where
one billion people couldn't compete with it on any real level? Europe
got rid of its undesirables in the 19th century as they shipped off to
Argentina to replace and exterminate the natives on fertile land in the
Pompas. The British Balfour Declaration and later the 1947 Partition
worked out nicely for Europe: get rid of the continent's Jews (always
'troublemakers') while playing it up as an act of sympathy. This in turn
totally demented and distorted the dynamics of the Arab world - how far
were _they_ set back? What if there was no Israel? Would the Arab world
be riddled with dictators and internally decaying states? Would the '91
war have been a genuine liberation movement of Arabs to gain back
control of their oil from American control?
When examining the question of Western colonialism and imperialism, a
lot more than surplus value directly gleaned from production or trade
figures is required. The question involves that of sovereignties, level
playing fields, spheres of influence, economic leverage, nationalisms -
everything is involved.
If the overall well-being, stability, and wealth of the West did not and
does not depend upon economic, political, and military pressures and
oppression of the periphery, then what has been the purpose of countless
wars and interventions and disruption of the latter's governments or
rebel movements? Why has this mostly enjoyed widespread support among
For instance, in the war in Iraq, if it was going well, would have what
overall effect? Defense industry as always will make off quite
handsomely. Same with sectors of construction - and security - and
technology. It's all American contractors, from MCI to Brown & Root. But
since the war is not going so well, some of this is true, and some of it
isn't. That only makes the present situation more damning.
For why do 68% of Americans think Hussein is behind 9-11 under these
circumstances? I think you have to be incredibly stupid to think that on
the merits of the facts, corporate media or no corporate media. But the
public is not stupid. No, it is much, much easier to understand this
phenomenon, in the following terms: when you _know_ you are complicit in
something, finding any available rational is soothing. If you admit the
realities of the situation, you admit your own role in it, and the whole
subconscious white nationalism embedded in the American ethos comes
unravelling faster than a roll of toilet paper at a chili burger joint.
And finally for point number 5 of yours, hell I like "ritual"
denunciations of imperialism. I think all Americans should gather 'round
a bonfire every Sunday night and dance in a big circle denouncing
imperialism as a great cathartic experience. Sounds like a good idea to me.
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