Social Imperialism [DMS]
M. Junaid Alam
junaidalam at msalam.net
Tue Sep 30 19:20:07 MDT 2003
I do not know how you have the time to post four, five times a day, but
pitiful college student that I am, I will not be able to keep up in
volume or pace. Let me address briefly for now a couple things.
"Before I reproduce the article on imperialism, I want to take serious
exception to your characterization of workers in the US as having two
cars and a house on the cape."
That is fine, but that characterization does not exist. I said "a large
section of the non-capitalist class", so more specifically the
intermediate layer bridging between working masses and capitalists, ie.
mid-level managers and professionals.
You point out that Walmart is the biggest employer. Very good. But it
still employs less than 1% of America's workforce, or around there, I am
willing to bet.
I have heard this apocalyptic talk all the time: "things are getting
worse" and the person goes on to cite one or two examples here and there
and moralistically invokes at the end just as you did:
"The women killed in the fire at the chicken processing plant in North
Carolina didn't have two cars and a home in Cape Hatteras. They had
locked fire exits. So check yourself, when you start talking about
So the fact they had locked fire exits means the masses of America are
not materially privileged? Hell, at least they _have_ fire exits.
"But let's continue, about the wealth and privilege of US workers, real
wages declined in the period 1973-1993, and the upturn in the 90s
amounts to a CAGR of about 1%. The increase in the work force in the
United States (indeed, all over the world) is totally accounted for in
the growing participation of women in the labor force, and for the most
part, these women work in lower paying positions, in service industries,
health care, financial services, where they are paid below the level of
men, and below level of manufacturing workers."
What does this prove? The post-WWII economic boom is over. The decline
of real wages, or really the fact that they have not increased, does not
make our workers un-privileged in relative comparison to workers elsewhere.
Again, you are taking the provincial view: you never even address any of
the broader historical issues I raised about colonialism and imperialism
historically; you don't even speak in terms of living standards,
environment, consumption, or security, never mind historically, or
outside the directly economic sphere.
You mention the working of women:
"In the manufacturing areas of food processing and textiles/fabric in
the US, the bulk of the labor force is women working in oppressive
conditions, for sub-standard wages."
You speak again pejoratively and relatively but relatively in reference
to what? The labor force of a lot of places has _been_ women for a long
time, in slash and burn agriculture and migratory field work and
latifundism and textiles and cotton for centuries. The wages for that in
Mozambique, Venezuela, and Pakistan are a hell of a lot more
"sub-standard" and "oppressive" than in America or Europe for whites.
Now, the entire problem with all these so-called critiques of Lenin is
that the blokes forgot to read the title and introduction:
IMPERIALISM, THE HIGHEST STAGE OF CAPITALISM
A Popular Outline
The pamphlet here presented to the reader was written in the spring
of 1916, in Zurich. In the conditions in which I was obliged to work
there I naturally suffered somewhat from a shortage of French and
English literature and from a serious dearth of Russian literature.
However, I made use of the principal English work on imperialism, the
book by J. A. Hobson, with all the care that, in my opinion, that work
This pamphlet was written with an eye to the tsarist censorship.
Hence, I was not only forced to confine myself strictly to an
exclusively theoretical, particularly economic analysis of facts, but to
formulate the few necessary observations on politics with extreme
caution, by hints, in an allegorical language -- in that accursed
Aesopian language -- to which tsarism compelled all revolutionaries to
have recourse whenever they took up their pens to write a "legal" work.
It is painful, in these days of liberty, to reread these passages
of the pamphlet, which have been distorted, cramped, compressed in an
iron vise on account of the censor. About the fact that imperialism is
the eve of the socialist revolution; that social-chauvinism (Socialism
in words, chauvinism in deeds) is the utter betrayal of Socialism,
complete desertion to the side of the bourgeoisie; that this split in
the working-class movement is bound up with the objective conditions of
imperialism, etc., I had to speak in a "slavish" tongue, and I must
refer the reader who is interested in the subject to the articles I
wrote abroad in 1914-17, a new edition of which is soon to appear.
Special attention should be drawn to a passage on pages 119-20. In
order to show the reader, in a guise acceptable to the censors, how
shamelessly the capitalists and the social-chauvinists who have deserted
to their side (and whom Kautsky opposes with so much inconsistency) lie
on the question of annexations; in order to show how shamelessly they
screen the annexations of their capitalists, I was forced to quote as an
example -- Japan! The careful reader will easily substitute Russia for
Japan, and Finland, Poland, Courland, the Ukraine, Khiva, Bokhara,
Estonia or other regions peopled by non-Great Russians, for Korea. I
trust that this pamphlet will help the reader to under stand the
fundamental economic question, viz., the question of the economic
essence of imperialism, for unless this is studied, it will be
impossible to understand and appraise modern war and modern politics.
April 26, 1917
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