Imperialism

Why socialists can not support the USA in Iraq (part 3)

Capitulators of today and yesterday

An example from the history of the USSR will also shed some Marxist light on the question of the attitude Marxists take when alien, anti-working class forces, are, or seem to be, doing work we want done, and would like to be strong enough to do ourselves, in our way.

In the mid 1920s, Trotsky and the Left Opposition, then the United Opposition (with Zinoviev), advocated a programme of industrialisation for the USSR. Their opponents, the Stalinists and the Bukharinites, scoffed at such an idea.

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Why socialists can not support the USA in Iraq (part 2)

Not a penny for this system!

Amost instructive misunderstanding occurred when one of the New Blairites took issue with an editorial preface to some texts from Lenin and Luxemburg in Solidarity (3/52, 27 May 2004). The preface said:

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Why socialists can not support the USA in Iraq (part 1)

By Sean Matgamna

[This is an edited and reworked version of an article by Sean Matgamna which first appeared in Solidarity 3/63 to 3/65. That can be found on this site: part 1; part 2; part 3. It was a reply to Don’t think twice, it’s alright, published in Solidarity no 3/62. More on the Iraq page of this website.]

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Self-determination and democracy in Iraq

By Barry Finger

The demand for national liberation, for the right of self-determination of a people, is understood by socialists to be a demand for radical, consistent democracy.
This at once separates us from those who, such as the Buchananite paleocons, place the inviolability of the national principle above all other considerations and who may consistently oppose imperial interventions on that basis.

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Is Iraq another Vietnam?

Chris Reynolds answers some questions

How is Iraq today different from Vietnam in the late 1960s?

In Iraq there are workers’, unemployed, and women’s movements which oppose both the US and other occupation forces and the Islamist and neo-Ba’thist militias which fight them. Socialists’ main duty is solidarity with those workers’, unemployed, and women’s movements.

There was no “third force” like that in Vietnam?

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Solidarity with Iraqi workers

At the end of 2004 and beginning of 2005 there was a strike wave in Iraq, which affected many sectors of industry. The fledgling labour movement is beginning to raise its head.
But it is still organisationally weak. It faces many dangers, both from the US/UK occupation which keeps Saddam’s labour laws on the books, and from the Islamist and neo-Ba’thist “resistance” gangs, which have killed and kidnapped trade unionists.

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The looting freedom

Pat Longman reviews “The freedom” by Christian Parenti, The New Press

This book makes real for the reader the total chaos, brutality, madness, violence and corruption that is US-occupied Iraq.

Parenti observes how the young US soldiers, “the grunts”, are completely bewildered by their role, and ignorant of Iraqi culture, language and politics. They have a seething hostility to their superiors. There are tensions between the multi-ethnic working-class ranks and the army of “freshly minted MBAs” and “self deluding zealots” holed up in the safer “Green Zone”.

Pat Longman reviews "The freedom" by Christian Parenti.

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Aid and imperialism

While articles in Solidarity 64 and 65 on the politics behind tsunami aid and recovery have addressed general issues concerning the stinginess of western governments to give, and the inept and corrupt agencies on the ground in affected areas, a number of key political issues have escaped attention.

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Balls on imperialism

Letter to Weekly Worker, from Paul Hampton, AWL

John Ball’s uncritical summary of The Politics of Empire (Weekly Worker December 16) rehashes some “anti-imperialist” conventional wisdom but misses the flaws of the book – its distortion of reality and its terrible political conclusions.

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Debate & discussion: Don’t think twice, it’s alright

A reply to Sean Matgamna’s “Reactionary Anti-Imperialism”

Sean Matgamna’s article (“Reactionary Anti-Imperialism” [Solidarity 3/60]) was a useful brick to throw at reactionary anti-imperialists but was dishonest on three counts.

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Opposing both evils

Some people argue that we must support the US/UK occupation of Iraq, despite everything, because the US/UK forces offer the only realistic way of defeating the Islamists there. Similar arguments were used, for example, during the Korean War of 1950-3, to claim that socialists should back the USA’s war there because it was the only realistic option for defeating Stalinism. This reply by the American Marxist Max Shachtman to the argument about Korea remains relevant, in its essentials, to the arguments about Iraq today.

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Amendments on imperialism and on Stalinism (English)

Amendments on imperialism and on Stalinism, from Paul Hampton

2. Imperialism

During the nineteenth century the capitalist mode of production spread across the globe. British capitalists and their state promoted capitalist relations through trade and military rivalry with other European powers, through the establishment of formal colonial rule over territories and by informal control over politically independent states such as Argentina.

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Lorimer's dystopia

An outdated dystopia

Review of Imperialism in the 21st century, by Doug Lorimer. Resistance Books, 2002, $4.95.

According to Doug Lorimer, the Cold War of 1947-1989 was a conflict between "the world's chief imperialist power", the USA, and countervailing forces.

Those countervailing forces he describes negatively as "an enormous wave of political rebellion and social insurgency" or "anti-imperialist rebellions", but positively as "the mass resistance of the Soviet workers and peasants and local worker-peasant movements under Stalinist leadership", "the Soviet workers and peasants in uniform", or "sections of the working class that were attracted to the Soviet alternative to capitalism".

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Imperialism: A Guide for the Movement

edited by Farah Reza (SWP)

"There is not, nor can there be, such a thing as a 'negative' Social-Democratic slogan that serves only to 'sharpen proletarian consciousness against imperialism'. A negative slogan unconnected with a definite positive solution will not 'sharpen', but dull consciousness, for such a slogan is a hollow phrase, mere shouting, meaningless declamation" -Lenin, 1916.

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Empire of Capital

Empire of Capital by Ellen Meiksins Wood (Verso)

"Imperialism", wrote J A Hobson a century ago, "is the word on everybody's lips". A century later, when capitalism is again in the ascendant, and the US has fought three wars in five years, the word is once more on everybody's lips.

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RDG on imperialism

Introduction

Below are sections from the RDG's 1995-6 programme which address the question of imperialism. We felt it might be useful as part of this discussion on imperialism to bring this forward, not only to let AWL comrades see our views, but because we will be needing a redraft soon and your observations or criticisms should be helpful.

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"Ultra-imperialism": a debate

"Ultra-imperialism": a debate from Workers' Liberty Australia no.31

As usual, a leading WL spokesperson has put their finger on something very significant, something much of the Left has missed. And again, as usual, WL takes it too far and onesidedly, leading to the article missing what's correct in the reaction of the rest of the Left. In the meantime, uncharacteristically, WL passes up the opportunity to get really stuck into the contradictions in the Cliffite position.

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Engels on the Mexican-American war; week 1 of "Imperialism"

Engels on the Mexican-American war

This short excerpt from an article by Engels in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung of February 1849 is significant not because every phrase in it can be taken as a model - it is an aside in the heat of polemic - but because it illustrates very vividly how far Marx and Engels were from wanting to stop or restrict the spread of capitalism across the world.
In 1846-8 the USA fought a war with Mexico over Texas (where North American settlers had won independence from Mexico in 1835), California (then under Mexican rule), and the area in between (now called New Mexico, and then also under Mexican rule). The war ended with Texas, New Mexico and California being added to the USA; and California, with the gold rush, did indeed develop capitalistically at a prodigious pace in the following years.

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Kautsky on imperialism: week 2 of "Imperialism" course

Karl Kautsky: from "Socialism and Colonial Policy", reprinted in Workers' Liberty 2/3 (this passage: pp.102-109).

VI. NEW STYLE EXPLOITATION COLONIES

Up to this time exploitation colonies were regarded as suppliers of capital, which was extracted from them in the most varied ways. Today, however, the productive power of large-scale industry and the exploitation of the working class has so enormously developed in the capitalist countries that it supplies colossal surpluses - surplus value - a large part of which is again used as new, additional accumulated capital.

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Globalisation. For week 6 of "Marxism and Imperialism"

From Workers' Liberty 2/3. TODAY, WORLD markets - not just markets in goods and services, but, as important, credit markets - create vast and increasing inequalities. They convey the choicest fruits of the world's labour to the billionaires in the global centres of finance. They are regulated by the IMF, the WTO, the World Bank - international institutions dominated by the ruling classes centred in those "global cities".

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Course outline: Marxism and Imperialism

Week 1. Marx
In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels presented the spreading-out of industrial capitalism across the world as a revolutionary, civilising process.
"The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world-market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood... By the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, [it] draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation..." The strand remained in Marx's and Engels' thought until their last days.
But they qualified it and rounded it out with others:
- The role of brute force, plunder and slave-trade in launching metropolitan capitalist development ("primitive accumulation");
- The fact that free trade created inequalities between nations as well as between classes (Marx frequently called England "the despot of the world market");
- The progressive role of national liberation struggles (for them, most importantly, Ireland and Poland).

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Hilferding: for week 3

Rudolf Hilferding: excerpt from NEW PALGRAVE: MARXISM, 1990 pp. 201-202

Hilferding published his major work, Das Finanzkapital, in 1910; it was immediately hailed by such diverse figures as Kautsky (1911), Lenin (1916) and Bukharin (1917), as a path-breaking development of Marxist economic analysis.

Hilferding published his major work, Das Finanzkapital, in 1910; it was immediately hailed by such diverse figures as Kautsky (1911), Lenin (1916) and Bukharin (1917), as a path-breaking development of Marxist economic analysis.

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Rosa Luxemburg 2: for week 3

From "The Junius Pamphlet" (1916)

...international occurrences that Marx did not live to see, in the imperialist development of the last twenty-five years.


The growth of capitalism, spreading out rapidly over a reconstituted Europe after the war period of the sixties and seventies, particularly after the long period of depression that followed the inflation and the panic of the year 1873, reaching an unnatural zenith in the prosperity of the nineties opened up a new period of storm and danger among the nations of Europe. They were competing in their expansion toward the non-capitalist countries and zones of the world. As early as the eighties a strong tendency toward colonial expansion became apparent. England secured control of Egypt and created for itself, in South Africa, a powerful colonial empire, France took possession of Tunis in North Africa and Tonkin in East Asia; Italy gained a foothold in Abyssinia; Russia accomplished its conquests in Central Asia and pushed forward into Manchuria; Germany won its first colonies in Africa and in the South Sea, and the United States joined the circle when it procured the Philippines with "interests" in Eastern Asia. Ibis period of feverish conquests has brought on, beginning with the Chinese-Japanese War in 1895, a practically uninterrupted chain of bloody wars, reaching its height in the Great Chinese Invasion, and closing with the Russo-Japanese War of 1904.

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Dependency theory: for week 5

Adapted from an article in Workers' Liberty 28

'Dependency theory'

'Dependency' theory dates back to Paul Baran's book The Political Economy of Growth (New York, 1957). Third World countries were underdeveloped, argued Baran, mainly because of parasitism within the Third World countries and a drain of surplus to the advanced countries. The answer was for those forces seeking development in Third World countries to follow the model provided by the USSR - expropriate the parasitic old property-owning classes, centralise resources in the hands of the state, cut down economic relations with the rest of the world to a minimum.

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Background: Imperialism yesterday and today 9

From Workers' Liberty 63

Imperialism yesterday and today 9

Development? Whose, and who pays?

South Korea represented the showcase of capitalism in the Third World. Cuba still calls itself communist. Nasser proclaimed Egypt's policy as a third way between capitalism and communism. Yet many factors were common to all three models: the overwhelming role of the state in development; a very high rate of investment; a gearing of resources to education and health; and radical land reform. Colonialism imposed an alien state power on Third World countries; drained their wealth away to the metropolis, with minimal local investment in education and welfare or even in industry; and collaborated with archaic economic structures in the countryside.

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