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Imperialism

Imperialism, Globalization and War

Africa: Imperialism Goes Naked

The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, moving from its home, where it assumes respectable form, to the colonies, where it goes naked (Karl Marx, “The Future Results of British Rule in India,” New York Daily Tribune, January 22, 1853).… | more |

Marx’s statement is telling and relevant. Capitalism has always acted as a global system, working across or between nation states. The ever-present imperative to produce profit has pushed capital from its historic heartlands in northern Europe to all societies. But as Marx implies, the process of expansion has not been a homogenizing one: the bourgeoisie has double standards, or perhaps multiple standards, as it negotiates its presence in a wide variety of locations. The standards that most would define as minimally acceptable (social democracy) have been a product of specific historical and material conditions: a result of the emergence of institutionally robust and interventionist states and the political demands of working classes. But, these historical conditions are part of the same conditions that produced very different states and economies in sub-Saharan Africa: the colonial states arising from the scramble for colonies of the late 1880s are themselves part of the same capitalism which produced the bourgeois civilization that Marx ironically attributes to late Victorian England. The hypocrisy is that civilization in Europe, plus plunder, primitive accumulation, and famine in the colonial world were part of the same overarching liberal ideals… | more |

Latin America & Underdevelopment

On NBC Television News, last Friday night, pictures were shown of American refugees who had fled from Panama following the rioting there. One woman, relating the frightening experience of her husband, said: “His car was overturned, rocks were thrown at him, and he barely made it into the Canal Zone.”… | more |

September 2003, Volume 55, Number 4

September 2003, Volume 55, Number 4

» Notes from the Editors

It took only a few months following the official ending of the Iraq War for U.S. imperial designs to unravel almost completely. The Bush administration is now under fire from the intelligence community, the media, and the political elites for having lied its way into the war with its claims regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. More damaging still to administration plans, occupying troops and their Iraqi collaborators are being killed on an almost daily basis in what is now taking on the appearance of a classic guerrilla war. This would be impossible without the support offered to the insurgents by substantial sections of the Iraqi population. Consequently, the United States is being compelled to maintain larger numbers of forces than anticipated in Iraq (often by extending the duration in which military units remain in the country) and the projected term of U.S. military occupation is being drawn out… | more |

July-August 2003, Volume 55, Number 3

July-August 2003, Volume 55, Number 3

» Notes from the Editors

The articles on imperialism in this special issue were all written in honor of Harry Magdoff’s ninetieth birthday. Most of them grew out of papers presented at the “Imperialism Today” conference organized to celebrate Harry’s life and work, held in Burlington, Vermont on May 3, 2003. The conference was from our perspective an enormous success. Penetrating analyses of the current imperial moment were presented, challenging questions came from the floor, and there were good discussions and good cheer all around—despite the grim turn of world events that needed to be confronted. In the reception at the end of the day U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont), spoke of Harry’s achievement. As the conference participants gathered around he declared that… | more |

The New Age of Imperialism

Imperialism is meant to serve the needs of a ruling class much more than a nation. It has nothing to do with democracy. Perhaps for that reason it has often been characterized as a parasitic phenomenon-even by critics as astute as John Hobson in his 1902 classic, Imperialism: A Study. And from there it is unfortunately all too easy to slide into the crude notion that imperialist expansion is simply a product of powerful groups of individuals who have hijacked a nation’s foreign policy to serve their own narrow ends… | more |

U.S. Weakness and the Struggle for Hegemony

I am going to start with two things with which I think nearly all MR readers will probably agree. One, imperialism is an integral part of the capitalist world-economy. It is not a special phenomenon. It has always been there. It always will be there as long as we have a capitalist world-economy. Two, we are experiencing at the moment a particularly aggressive and egregious form of imperialism, which is now even ready to claim that it is being imperialist… | more |

The New Geopolitics

The war in Iraq has reconfigured the global geopolitical landscape in many ways, some of which may not be apparent for years or even decades to come. It has certainly altered the U.S. relationship with Europe and the Middle East. But its impact goes well beyond this. More than anything else, the war reveals that the new central pivot of world competition is the south-central area of Eurasia… | more |

The Grid of History: Cowboys and Indians

At the onset of the U.S. military invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd emotionally queried: “What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomacy when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?” … | more |

Homeland Imperialism: Fear and Resistance

The creation and cultivation of fear is one of the pillars of empire both abroad and within the imperial “homeland.” And that fear is always accompanied by the threat of discipline, punishment, and violence. Every state uses violence to enforce its power against its enemies, but we must recognize that a major change has occurred. September 11, 2001 gave a green light for a full blown, and bipartisan, agenda of repression at home, as well as for the expanded imperial project abroad… | more |

Militarism and the Coming Wars

It is not for the first time in history that militarism weighs on the consciousness of the people as a nightmare. To go into detail would take far too long. However, here it should be enough to go back in history only as far as the nineteenth century when militarism, as a major instrument of policy making, came into its own, with the unfolding of modern imperialism on a global scale, in contrast to its earlier—much more limited—varieties. By the last third of the nineteenth century the British and French Empires were not the only prominent rulers of vast territories. The United States, too, made its heavy imprint by directly or indirectly taking over the former colonies of the Spanish Empire in Latin America, adding to them the bloody repression of a great liberation struggle in the Philippines and installing themselves as rulers in that area in a way which still persists in one form or another. Nor should we forget the calamities caused by “Iron Chancellor” Bismarck’s imperialist ambitions and their aggravated pursuit later on by his successors, resulting in the eruption of the First World War and its deeply antagonistic aftermath, bringing with it Hitler’s Nazi revanchism and thereby very clearly foreshadowing the Second World War itself… | more |

After Neoliberalism?

What comes after neoliberalism? To answer that question we must ask a more fundamental question: What do neoliberalism and neoconservatism have in common with the antiglobalization and antiwar movements? The answer is that all ostensibly share a focus on redefining democracy in the contemporary world system. “Spreading democracy” is the rallying cry of both the Washington Consensus and the Bush Doctrine. The “Washington Consensus” is the claim that global neoliberalism and core finance capital’s economic control of the periphery and the entire world by means of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only realistic alternative to misery and disaster. The “Bush Doctrine” is the bald neoconservative justification of U.S. global military domination and preemptive war—as part of a renewed attempt to make the world safe for democracy. For the antiglobalization and antiwar movements these establishment doctrines, insofar as they profess to be “spreading democracy,” are nothing but window dressing for the global dictatorship of the U.S. and core corporate governing elites. While focusing their attack on the institutions that enforce this dictatorship, these movements also strive to create an alternative, a genuine participatory democracy… | more |

Imperialism Today

Imperialism Today

On Saturday, May 3rd, 2003 Monthly Review and the University of Vermont co-sponsored “Imperialism Today,” a one-day conference in honor of Harry Magdoff. Invited speakers were asked to discuss the context and workings of the current U.S. global hegemony, the means by which control is exercised over resources and the global periphery, the maintenance of (and challenges to) ideological hegemony, and the prospects for anti-imperialism.… | more |

May 2003, Volume 55, Number 1

May 2003, Volume 55, Number 1

» Notes from the Editors

On May 3 MR will be hosting its “Imperialism Today” conference in Burlington, Vermont in honor of Harry Magdoff’s ninetieth birthday. Harry officially became an editor of Monthly Review thirty-four years ago this month in May 1969, when he joined Paul Sweezy as co-editor following the death of Leo Huberman in 1968. In the period since then he has edited 408 monthly issues of the magazine (counting the summer issues as double issues). MR would not be what it is today without Harry’s imprint on each and every one of these issues. During the last thirty-six of these we have shared this role with Harry. What this has driven home to us is Harry’s exceptional warmth as a human being, his brilliance as a political-economic analyst, his unlimited patience as a teacher and writer determined to communicate in plain terms, his openness to new radical vistas, and above all his personal integrity and courage, which, as with Marx, allows him to elude the traps of ideology and dispense with all fashions, acting according to the motto: “Go on your way, and let the people talk” (a variation on a line from Dante used by Marx at the end of the preface to the first edition of Capital)… | more |

Imperial America and War

On November 11, 2000, Richard Haass—a member of the National Security Council and special assistant to the president under the elder Bush, soon to be appointed director of policy planning in the state department of newly elected President George W. Bush—delivered a paper in Atlanta entitled “Imperial America.” For the United States to succeed at its objective of global preeminence, he declared, it would be necessary for Americans to “re-conceive their role from a traditional nation-state to an imperial power.” Haass eschewed the term “imperialist” in describing America’s role, preferring “imperial,” since the former connoted “exploitation, normally for commercial ends,” and “territorial control.” Nevertheless, the intent was perfectly clear: … | more |

Imperial Ambition

David Barsamian: What are the regional implications of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq?… | more |

Noam Chomsky: I think not only the region but the world in general perceives it correctly as a kind of an easy test case to try to establish a norm for use of military force, which was declared in general terms last September. Last September, the National Security Strategy of the United States of America was issued. It presented a somewhat novel and unusually extreme doctrine on the use of force in the world. And it’s hard not to notice that the drumbeat for war in Iraq coincided with that. It also coincided with the onset of the congressional campaign. All these are tied together… | more |

Behind the War on Iraq

Three themes stand out in Iraq’s history over the last century, in the light of the present U.S. plans to invade and occupy that country. First, the attempt by imperialist powers to dominate Iraq in order to grab its vast oil wealth. In this regard there is hardly a dividing line between oil corporations and their home governments, with the governments undertaking to promote, secure, and militarily protect their oil corporations. Second, the attempt by each imperialist power to exclude others from the prize. Third, the vibrancy of nationalist opposition among the people of Iraq and indeed the entire region to these designs of imperialism. This is manifested at times in mass upsurges and at other times in popular pressure on whomever is in power to demand better terms from the oil companies or even to expropriate them. The following account is limited to Iraq, and it provides only the barest sketch… | more |

April 2003, Volume 54, Number 11

April 2003, Volume 54, Number 11

» Notes from the Editors

Truth and conscience, and with them art, are the first casualties of any war. The impending U.S. invasion of Iraq has already provided us with two major examples of this. The first of these was the cancellation by First Lady Laura Bush of a White House Symposium on “Poetry and the American Voice” scheduled for early February 2003, once it was discovered that some of the invited poets were voicing opposition to Bush administration plans for an invasion of Iraq and might use the occasion to address the conscience of the country on the war. (Upon receiving the White House invitation, as explained in this issue, Sam Hamill, founding editor and co-founder of Copper Canyon Press, issued a call for the establishment of Poets Against the War. His call was answered by thousands of poets, including many of the country’s leading literary figures, who offered their antiwar poems. Some of this poetry protesting the impending war is printed for the first time in this issue of MR.)… | more |

Beyond the Drumbeat: Iraq, Preventative War, ‘Old Europe’

The letter of support, signed by the leaders of eight European countries last January, for the Bush administration’s inexorable push for war with Iraq was both singularly ideological and shortsighted. The list of values that the signatories claim to share with the United States is altogether unexceptionable: “democracy, individual freedom, human rights, and the rule of law.” But there is a crying omission: free-market capitalism. This omission is all the more striking since there is no fathoming the infamous terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 without bearing in mind that its main target was the World Trade Center, a prominent symbol and hub of globalizing capitalism… | more |

Diana Johnstone on the Balkan Wars

Diana Johnstone’s Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (Monthly Review Press, 2002) is essential reading for anybody who wants to understand the causes, effects, and rights-and-wrongs of the Balkan wars of the past dozen years. The book should be priority reading for leftists, many of whom have been carried along by a NATO-power party line and propaganda barrage, believing that this was one case where Western intervention was well-intentioned and had beneficial results. An inference from this misconception, by “cruise missile leftists” and others, is that imperialism can be constructive and its power projections must be evaluated on their merits, case by case. But that the Western intervention in the Balkans constitutes a valid special case is false; the conventional and obvious truths on the Balkan wars that sustain such a view disintegrate on close inspection … | more |

February 2003, Volume 54, Number 09

February 2003, Volume 54, Number 09

» Notes from the Editors

On December 19, 2002 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the 12,000 page document that Iraq delivered to the United Nations on December 7, listing its secret weapons programs together with any dual use agents that could be used in proscribed weapons systems, contained significant omissions. It thus constituted, in the view of the Bush administration, a further “material breach” in Iraq’s obligations under current U.N. resolutions. All of this was meant to add to Washington’s case for waging a war on Iraq, ostensibly in order to “disarm” it… | more |