Social Imperialism [DMS, Huato]

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at
Tue Sep 30 18:39:05 MDT 2003

Junaid: >>And so the issue is: has the West benefited in its historical
relations with the periphery, economically and politically? I believe it

I haven't had time to follow all of this, but I did stick my oar into an
earlier similar debate, so I'll try my hand here:

This is only one of several related issues:

1. Does the west exploit the 3d world?
2. Does it use some of the fruits of this exploitation to buy off a section
(or all) of the working class in the west, creating a "labour aristocracy"?
3. Is that the explanation for reformism in the west?

My own views are:

1. Probably yes, though accounts are often partial and I've never been
clear on just how it all works in a systematic sense.
2. Highly unlikely, and the available evidence is against it. It tends to
be a conspiracy theory, because without a collective decision, what would
lead individual managements to hand out more benefits than necessary to any
of their workers? Let alone all of them. One of my posts from the earlier
debate is here:

3. If so, how do we explain reformism in the 3d world? Which in some very
important countries, Indonesia for example, or Sri Lanka, is clearly as
strong as anywhere else. It is not exactly absent even in Palestine or
Iraq. I think reformism has deeper roots than this (it's about hegemony not
just material benefits) and affects the working class as a whole. I've
tried to base this argument in a review of the Marxist classics here:

One reason this matters is precisely that we want Americans to denounce
imperialism, as you say. But if American workers have a material stake in
the survival of imperialism (because they get some of the fruits of it),
that hope loses all material basis and becomes utopian.


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