Does 'imperialism' exist?

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redyred
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Oct 30 2004 14:49
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
Is this a useful concept for anarchists? Many lefties see any defeat for 'imperialism' as being objectively a good thing. I think this can lead to them supporting Taliban, Milosevic, etc and forgetting that oppression comes from local issues of class and control just as much as it does from the 'imperial' powers.

Being against imperialism doesn't mean you support the defending regime.

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Basically. the concept of 'imperialism' is un-anarchist because it leads us to support smaller elites, or ignore the damage they do, in favour of just concentrating on the USA, etc.

Being against imperialism doesn't mean you support the defending regime.

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Personally I thinkthe concept of 'imperialism' is pure Leninism, and comes from lenin's immediate political needs during the USSR's war against France and Britain in 1918-24, during which any defeat for the imperial powers was good for the USSR -- and thus the working class, of course -- and so the Bolsheviks championed nationalists in Asia, Africa, etc.

Being against imperialism doesn't mean you support the defending regime.

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Similarly, during the Cold War the USSR supported local nationalisms in order to oppose US hegemony.

Being against imperialism doesn't mean you support the defending regime.

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A bollocks theory and not useful today. What do you think?

It's class.

nastyned
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Oct 30 2004 15:21

Imperialism undoubtedly exists, and I'm against it.

The problem is the leftist ideology of 'anti-imperialism', which as you say leads to bollocks like supporting the taliban. Certainly whenever people start going on about imperialism i think it sets alarm bells ringing that you're about to hear some leninist nonsense.

We should support working class struggles in all countries against all rulers.

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cantdocartwheels
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Oct 30 2004 16:39

Imperialism generally breeds a form of mercantilism and leaves feudal structures in place that weaken the working class.

The taliban are a product of 2-3 centuries of imperialist interference in afghanistan that has kept afghanistan in near feudal conditions.

Imperialism continuess to create monsters like the taliban and milosevic, so to say we should pretend imperialism doesn't exist in order to point out how shit the taliban are is pretty pointless.

Its all about CLASS and the economic and power structures and therefore the class structure of imperialism are very different to what they would be in a non-occupied capitalist state.

john

ps and lenin made a point of writing about imperilaism at that time because of all the 'socialists' who supported WW1.

The main branch of support for this was that it was german militarism which supposedly caused the war (thats what kropotkin argued when he supported the war) , yet lenin made the point of showing how all the allied powers were probly far worse imperialists and militarists than germany.

At least that was the main political aim of ''Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism'', combined with paying more attention to the fact that russia itself had a cruel empire, which the bolsheviks promised to give self determination to, although of course they went back on that promise as soon as they got in power.

pps http://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/leys-colin/neocolonialism.htm

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 31 2004 13:15
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Its all about CLASS and the economic and power structures and therefore the class structure of imperialism are very different to what they would be in a non-occupied capitalist state.

What's so great about the position of the toilers within a smaller capitalist state? Why is it always better? Sometimes a big empire can be much more slack about enforcing its authority than a tighter national ruling class.

I am all for supporting grassroots resistance to foreign occupation -- as redy and ned mention -- but by saying that a 'non-occupied capitalist state' is better aren't you givingtacit support for the anti-working class resistance that is builoding such a state?

steve999000
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Oct 31 2004 23:07

why is class so important? i thought anarchists were supposed to be against all political power?

thousands of young men make up the mass movement that is islam. they no doubt support many extremist views, they are NOT anarchists, and history is NOT a teleological path leading to liberation.

no doubt these local demagogues will continue for a few thousand more years. their ideas are certainly much much older than anarchism, and offer greater reward to converts (ie immortality)

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Nov 1 2004 01:32
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Its all about CLASS and the economic and power structures and therefore the class structure of imperialism are very different to what they would be in a non-occupied capitalist state.

What's so great about the position of the toilers within a smaller capitalist state? Why is it always better? Sometimes a big empire can be much more slack about enforcing its authority than a tighter national ruling class.

I am all for supporting grassroots resistance to foreign occupation -- as redy and ned mention -- but by saying that a 'non-occupied capitalist state' is better aren't you givingtacit support for the anti-working class resistance that is builoding such a state?

ok ok, i posted this before but it fits here aswell....

Your misunderstanding what the word support means. I support the slogan victory to the resistance. This means i think that it would be an improvement if the resistance shoudl drive out the imperilaists and that the coailition were forced to withdraw troops and cease combat operations by reistance and internal disruption.

That is all the ''support'' i can realistically give.

The islamic state is a capitalist state, iran is a capitalist state. Iraq is not strctly a capitalist state, imeprialism leaves more feudal structures in place. If you are unable to grasp even the most simple class concepts this is a hopeless arguement.

Capitalism creates a surplus exploted by the bourgeoisie. In a single capitalist state a section of this surplus goes into refoms (because the working class are a major threat) and keeping the reproduction rate of the working class stable, and general urban and industrial development (new factories, new housing and so on). SO while capitalism exploits the working class, it creates the conditions for its overthrow by strengthening the industrial base of the proletariat.

Under imperialism the capital flows out of that region (iraq) into another (the US, western europe), largely down the oil pipeline in this case. Iraq industrial development is kept at a low level and restruicted to uindustries which benefit the occupying power under the basic merc antilist perations of imperialism. Population growth is lower due to the lack of urban development. The iraqi working class is unarmed as weapons production is and faces a foreign army which will not mutiny.Therefore the imperialist power has no real need to offer reforms or legitmise itself, because the working class is weak and revolt would be bloody and hopeless.

The standard of living is lower therefore under imperialism, the level of eductaion is lower, and feudal structures remain in place. The strength of the islamists is partly a PRODUCT of imperialism, in that it relies for its base of ''volunteers'' on unemployed undereducated poverty stricken youths from ruined districts of cities like basra and fallujah.

john

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Nov 1 2004 10:59

So you 'support' the development of a capitalist ruling class in Iraq? That seems a strange position for an anarchist, if that's what you call yourself. Why not just restrict yourself to supporting the grassroots organisations? Whether the imperial armies are driven out or not, these groups will still need to face the class enemy, local or not. Would you advise them not to attack local Iraqi ruling class institutions -- because they are the lesser evil?

It seems that you're trusting to an economic shchema to guide your actions, while I think that we need to be more immediate in our analysis.

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Nov 1 2004 14:53
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
Whether the imperial armies are driven out or not, these groups will still need to face the class enemy, local or not. Would you advise them not to attack local Iraqi ruling class institutions -- because they are the lesser evil?

And again for the primmos at the back

''Your misunderstanding what the word support means. I support the slogan victory to the resistance. This means i think that it would be an improvement if the resistance shoudl drive out the imperilaists and that the coailition were forced to withdraw troops and cease combat operations by reistance and internal disruption.

That is all the ''support'' i can realistically give.''

What the iraqi left does is up to them, its none of my fucking businesss what there strategy is.

john

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Nov 1 2004 15:10

Do both of you think, then, that cross-class anti-imperialist fronts should be set up to drive out the foreign oppressors?

If they should be set up in Iraq, then why not in the UK? Do you think that a cross-class movement like STWC or RESPECT is 'objectively' good for the working class, to the extent that it opposes imperialism?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Nov 1 2004 17:19

The concept of 'anti-imperialism' is also rooted in nationalism, since it assumes that there is something unnatural about one 'country' exploiting the resources of another 'country'. All nations were created through an imperialist process that involved the homogenisation of an area under a particular local elite, and that involved the explotation of wage differences creaming off of surplus, etc. Look at how industrial Italy dominated south, agrarian Italy.

Was the struggle by the US southern states anti-imperialist? Would the southern USA workers and slaves have been better off exploited by their local ruling class?

An anti-imperial analysis seems to get in the way of a class analysis too much -- especially since a useful class analysis should be rooted in immediate experiece and struggle, not worked out using an economist's slide-rule.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Nov 1 2004 17:32

Oh Revol.

Sometimes your nasty talking gets me hot, but them I remember that you're no good for me and will only mess up my kharma for the next life. eek

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Nov 1 2004 21:05
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:

Was the struggle by the US southern states anti-imperialist? Would the southern USA workers and slaves have been better off exploited by their local ruling class?

.

that isn't imperialism, that was the completion of the bourgeois revolution

A state is a self contained organisation for the legitmisation of the use of force by a ruling class. Therefore each state contains the means to defend its interests, wepaons factories and so on, and the means to reproduce its work force.

A colony does not contain those things thanks to mercantilism and foreign armed control.

john

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Nov 1 2004 21:41
revol68 wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Surely the slogan 'victory to the resistance' is simply a blanket statement expressing the hope that 'coalition' troops are eventually forced to withdraw from iraq by any means neccessary.

Sure the mehdi army is shit, but with an iraqi based ruling class, or even a ruling class closely affiliated to neighbouring iran, capital will be concentrated in iraqi cities and not pumped into the US and UK down the oil pipelines thus enabling the strengthening of the iraqi working class.

Surely thats fairly basic anti-imperialist rhetoric.

While you recognise the fact that the majority of the iraqi national liberation movements are thouroughly bourgeois, you cannot dictate the character of a national liberation movement from within the imperialist nation. How can you effectively challenge imperialism if you yourself are dictating how the iraqis should be behaving.

john

ps personally i think the disruption of oil supply in the US and the UK would be a bloody good thing in the long run

read that jack

I point out that i dislike islamicism but i point out that while you can criticise the islamicists, you cannot dictate to and physically force a national liberation movement to assume a certain character.

The main unions and groups like the WCIP shoudl get our international recognition and support. But in order to eeefectively argue against imperiaism you do have to look at the mateiral reality, the iraqi working clas si weak, the chances of a proletarain revolution are pretty much zero because ther presence of a big fat 100% loyal US armoured divsion on the edge of every city might just present logistical problems.

So you have to say that while you'd prefer it if the iraqi left were influential, you admiy that the islamicists are likely to be the dominant force in many areas of iraq if the coalition pulled out in the next year or so.

Most people in this country think the mehdi army is shit, people rightly despise islamicists. So why the fuck shoudl i publish a ten page rant on hwshit they are, when other people will do that anyway.

I will criticise them at some length, although i won't go around screaming that they're ''sabvages'' (and why should i do that here, its an anarchist board, who the fuck is going to support islamiscists here), but i will attack my own ruling class first and demonstrate how the islamicists are a product of imperialism.

Most people now don't support the actual war, but you talk to the averge guy on the street he'll say something along the lines of, ''well we're there now, if we pull out there'll be chaos''. And so ou have to say that while a socialist iraq would be preferable, even an islamicist iraq would be preferable to an imeprialist one. Which is why yu unconditionally support thwe withdrawal of coalition troops.

On another note

I mean sure you saying ''cantdosodomyitsagainstthewordofallah'' on the other thread is just a lame joke, but given the fuss you made when someone accused you of homophobia, its a bit silly to go implying the same thing about other people isn't it.

Its not the end of the world, it just annoys me is all.

Its not liek either of us is actually going to convice the other person about the validity of our arguements, and its not as if it really fucking matters anyway unless you liek to pretend that what a couple of lousy anarchists say on a message board about the exact way in which a troops out demand should eb formulated is really important to the world, this is just a good forum debate.

john

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Nov 8 2004 00:25

haha now i have some free time......i'm going to waste it on a pointless arguement

revol68 wrote:
sorry cantdocartwheels but ur understanding of imperialism is incredibly one dimensional and not to mention completely outdated, a prime example of this is ur blanket assertion that imperialism maintains feudal structures and so needs to be destroyed before the working class of the colonialised nation can enter the class struggle.

Perhaps u would like to turn ur attention to Saudi Arabia, South Korea or Japan??

South Korea: Before the 1980's korea was hporrifically underdeveloped. After the war and the later failed rebellions and revolutions S korea has eventually modernised somewaht since the 80's. But its still massively underdeveloped and its ruling class are still under the thumb of the US.

Saudi Arabia-Isn't under really under foreign imperial control in the same way as south korea, although i can guess there is some arguiement that its locked into impeiral hegemony. However, looking at urban development in Saudi arabia you can see its horrifcally low, so i don't really see what your arguiement is here.

Japan-Was an imperialist power before 1945. And therefore had undergone an advanced stage of capitalist development. Its resulting high population density and proximity to the USSR meant that had Japan been subjected to the same treatment as indonesia or vietnam there would have been an extremely strong resistance backed by soviet arms and US forces would have been dragged into urban guerilla warfare, which is exactly what they didn't want. So tactically they used japan as a buffer against the eastern bloc.

I mean they pretty much did the same thing with west germany, another occupied capitalist power. They compromised and gave those territories autnomy because of the cold war military situation. After which the ruling classes of Germany and Japan have gained complete control over the surplus in their respective nations.

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Capitalism requires much more than iraq's oil money to keep functioning, it requires markets. It is not enough to just move in and rule a country, explit its natural resources, britain learnt that lesson decades ago.

Yes they need markets, but for what? Its pretty crude analysis not to draw the lines between different types of commodities. What do imperialist powers export to a colony?

Luxury goods, weapons, induistrial equipment to keep the few industries an imperialist power needs to access key resources in its territories or aid in there control. eg oil drilling equipment

Why would a capitalist make 10,000 brand new ovens to sell to people in the jakartan slums, when he can sell 1000 to buyers in the west at ten times the price.

Look at the fucking world, see what goods are exported where and to who. Its not simply a simplistic case of markets for crying out loud.

(No doubt next time you''ll be pointing out how many railway lines the imperialists built roll eyes wink )

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Imperialism has historically uprooted the feudal structures and in many places acted as a catalyst for the development of industry, for example US policy was instrumental in backing Saddam and his policies of brutal industrialisation and the builidng of a modern infastrcuture in Iraq, likewise US is pushing for the greater industrialisation of Eygpt.

The reason the US took Iraq of the list of nations that sponsor terorism back in 1980 was in order to support saddam in pursueing a war against iran which absolutely crippled the iraqi economy. Any compromise with saddams industrialisation and control of oil reserves was made because Iran was pereceived to be a greater threat.

I completely fail to see how US impeirialism ever helped iraq.

Imperialism is not a catalyst for the development of industry. Certain regions of the world (africa, south america, east asia) are clearly poorer than others and less developed (or whatever fancy marxist or liberal terms are in vogue this week to describe 24 million starving to death every year), and this was clearly caused by the old colonial structures and exacerbated by the newer imperialist military and financial structures.

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Beisdes these academic points lets look at the actual events on the ground in Iraq.

The islamists are actively targetting woman rights groups, secularists and trade unionists, despite the composition of their bases being made up of the unemployed and poor they are objectively anti working class organistations, (in much the same way fascist groups are).

yes we know.. roll eyes

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We should be without a doubt calling for the immediate withdrwal of Coalition forces, exactly for the reason that the longer they stay the greater the grip the islamists will exert over Iraq, the Islamists are feeding off the brutality of the coalition forces. Whilst the troops remain and the islamists are the only ones capable of mounting effective armed resistance the furhter the iraqi working class will be pushed under the islamist jackboot.

That was my point, as long as the troops remain, the islamists are the only ones capable of arming iraqis. The Imperialists aren't going to be driven out just by us wankers marching up and down trfalgar square every couple of months. Its horible but the only way the imperilaist are going tomlose, or that people in the west are going to fight imperilaism harder, is if there is an actual war. A couple of miraqisd waiving placards on a picket line then running away from the tanks and going back to starve doesn't count. Sorry to sound bl;unt but thats the reality of the situation. You need a war to force the imperialists out.

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Does calling for the immediate withdrwal of the coalition troops mean we should support the islamist militias?? Fuck no!!Do we remain silent whilst islamist scum torture women, homosexuals and blah blah blah

point out to me where i said ''don't ever criticise the islamists'' please. i must have missed that one

Of course yopu criticise the islamists, but you still say victory to the resistance.

The majoroity of the millions of islamists in iraq don't support the ismaists in order to carry

Some 15 year old fucking kid with an RPG is running through the rubble of fallujah and fighting for his fucking life against a US armoured division, and your just going to say ''oh he's an ''islamist'' ie your lumped in term for everyone of the muslim faith who resists starvation and the black watch battalion that shot down members of their family.

Claiming that the islamists and the US military machine are exactly the same is just fucking stupid, if thats what your line is then fortget this whole debate because thats clearly utter bollocks.

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At present the remains of the orgainsed working class, and womens groups are under brutal assault from the US military machine and the lumpen scum that fill the ranks of the fundamentalist groups, they are calling for international solidarity but all the fucking wanky left can do isturn away and pretend it doesn't see it, just keep banging on about the US imperialists whilst remaining uncritical of islamic thugs.

Lets have some fucking guts and make a principled call for the withdrawal of coalition troops, at the same time we should not hesitate from critisicing and highlighting the crimes of the islamists, whilst offering our support and solidarity to those froces (no matter how small) in Iraq that resist both US imperialism and the Islamists and their Iranian backers!!

Since when does the slogan 'Victory to the Resistance' interfere with that. I'm not a member of the fucking SWP so don't heap all that bollocks about ''what the left did next'' on me, i have offered nothing but support for the iraqi workers movement. I'm not the one doing mental leninist bollocks like no-platforming unions at the ESF. I support a full and active dialogue with the iraqi left and full support and solidarity for them.

And yes of course we should openly criticise the islamists, allthough i suspect you'll find your ground work is already done, as 99.9% of the UK population already know that groups like the mehdi army are murdering fundamentalist bastards. However we should offer them critical support.

So you say that while you support their struggle for independence from evil impeirlaists because of x,y and z , you criticise them for A, B and C because they are bourgeois bastards and you would hope that before or more realistically after the coalition troops leave the iraqi working class represented by F, G and H will be better able to annihalate the iraqi ruling class.

That is what the slogan 'victory to the resistance' is supposed to represent.

I know you are a lot more experienced and cleverer than me, and no doubt cna go on and on about how my rhetoiric is ''tired and old'' all day, but i still consider your viewpoint utterly flawed on this issue.

You seem to be paying no attention to the malthusian nature of international capital in your analysis of imperialism. Its not like the bourgeois WTO actually want population growth and mass markets for consumer goods in third world countries!! If anything those are the two things they specifically don't want.

john

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Nov 9 2004 08:50

Another more recent article i just read:

http://www.wpiraq.net/english/2004/wcpi-islamicterrorizm71104.htm

though the language may irritate some regulars on this board because it uses some "activisty wanky guilt tripping" language wink

bigdave
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Nov 9 2004 16:06

I know I'm dodging the handbags here but it seems to me "imperialism" is not much to do with countries but the rich. They are the ones who need to expand markets and hoard more cash - they just work through countries.

An gonnae no use the word "terrorist" without quote marks?

redyred
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Nov 9 2004 22:04

Oh bigdave, you're so huge.

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Nov 10 2004 03:43
revol68 wrote:
nah ur eurocentric because the underlying theme was that iran could'nt be imperialist cos imperialism is restrcited to "white" "advanced" nations.

aye and ur definition of Imperialism is one dimensional and narrow, based upon the objectivist theories of the 2nd international and even then ur presenting it in a awfully crude manner. I suspect however that ur reluctance to accept the existance of Iranian imperialism is more to do with being a pedantic fuckwit wishing to keep some honour. grin

Iran is not a superpower, don't be ridiculous. America, russia, the UK, or china could all conceivably flatten iran in less than a week. And there is no doubt in my mind that the option of war with iran or a CIA backed coup is set on the agenda of the imperilaist powers in the next few years.

Of course the Iranian bourgeoisie will interfere in iraq, a strong block of mddle eastern states represents their interests. Were Iraq ever to become a US client state again Iran would be at war again like it was in the 80's.

I'm not saying that iranian intervention isn't a bad thing, and no doubt i would go on a long hysterical rant about how shit islamic fundamentalism if i didn't think most people in the UK already know that its shit.

But it isn't stricly imperiialsm and it is qualitively different to US/UK imperialism in terms of its physical and economic effects and its global impact.

john

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Nov 10 2004 06:11
revol68 wrote:
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and for ur eurocentric information Iran is something of a middle eastern super power.

notice something of a middle eastern superpower that implies relativity ie compared to alot of other middle eastern states. im not daft enough to assert its an actual superpower or that its up their with Israel or even Eygpt (tho im not certain on that).

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Of course the Iranian bourgeoisie will interfere in iraq, a strong block of mddle eastern states represents their interests

and this is not imperialism how???

Because the economy of iraq clearly wouldn't be subjected to the same forms of mercantlist domination, largely because they share a common border. And because the working class can easily be united, so a compromise between theocracy and the liberal bourgeois state would probably be reached in the same way it has in iran, with competing groups of the ruling class vying for dominance. When the threat of US imperilaism is not preent its going to take a little bit more than crude and bloodthirsty islamic fundamentalism to control the proletariat in the region.

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anyway all this is trivial, surely the more important point is ur assertion that the victory of any national bourgeois (no matter how reactionary) would be good for the interests of the iraqi working class,

It clearly would and i've stated my position on this already. Imperialism is NEVER a catalyst for industrial development and by its very nature it always strengthens the most reactionary elements of the national bourgeoisie whether they are on the side of imperialism or opposed to it.

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that the islamists are the only group capable of ousting the occupational forces and that we can't put conditions upon the nature of the resistnace no matter how anti working class they are.

I never said they werte the only group capable of doing it. I said that in many regions (Unless your going to pretend that we should treat every region of iraq the same, which would be a bit ridiculous) of iraq the islamists are currently the force likley to oust the coalition. In order for the coalition to be forced out they need to be losing ground militarily.

I've said that about 20 times on this and other posts, you know my position.

In a few regions the workers movement is possibly string enough to do it, but it seems unlikely to me, and in many regions of iraq the left is fucking tiny and theres no point lieing and pretending theres an iminent proletarian revolution in iraq, because that simply isn't the case, thw working class is at its strongest in iraq since 1991, but its still weak.

john

ps the reason i don't write a ten page hysterical rant criticising the islamists on here is because the right wing media are doing that for me.

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Nov 11 2004 00:53
Jack wrote:
Imperialist forces being driven out of such a country thus leaves the working class of the occupied country opposing their own ruling class, rather than the far more economically powerful and vicious imperialist power, weakens the imperialist ruling class at home, and reduces the threat these nations hold against the development of non-capitalist regimes. This is objectivly a GOOD thing for the international working class.

I've had this argument with Trots before - the bit I've emphasized is so ridiculous it's unreal! So the iraqi working class are more able to be likely to defeat a native bourgeoisie than the US Army?

Maybe true - but "Imperialist" interests are not going to sit by while libertarian communism is created - they'll invade again anyway regardless of who was in power before.