Against Imperialism : For A Glorious Socialist Future

The Fascist Project of Empire-Building

In March 1999, the cover of the New York Times magazine displayed a giant clenched fist painted in the stars and stripes of the US flag above the words: ‘What The World Needs Now: For globalization to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is’. The cover story by Thomas Friedman, author of pro-globalisation bestseller The Lexus and the Olive Tree, urged the United States to embrace its role as enforcer of the capitalist global order: ‘… the hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. … The hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.’ This was not a lone voice; many people like Martin Wolfe, Robert Kaplan and others began to stress the need for a ‘new imperialism’. Evidently, on the eve of a new century and a presidential change-over, America was preparing for the big leap in world domination — frantically searching for excuses and scapegoats, which would soon be discovered in 9/11 and Saddam’s fabled WMDs. To see the new development in proper perspective, let us note that from the time of its founding in 1776 with 13 British colonies on the east coast, US expansionism has passed through four stages: continental expansion (toward the west coast of the continent;...

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Imperialism : Original Features // Rule of monopolies

Imperialism : Original Features Imperialism is a term that was first popularised by bourgeois economists and then taken over by Marxist theoreticians. Drawing on works like Imperialism (1902) by JA Hobson, a bourgeois social reformist and pacifist, Austrian Marxist Rudolf Hilferding’s Finance Capital (1910) and Russian Marxist NI Bukharin’s Imperialism and the World Economy (1915), Lenin produced the celebrated Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (April 1917). “… Imperialism is the eve of the social revolution of the proletariat”, he observed, on the basis of a thorough study of “the economic essence of imperialism”. The world’s first proletarian socialist revolution took place within six months after the pamphlet was published. So far as basics are concerned Lenin’s Imperialism remains the best aid to understanding the original or defining features of imperialism. Let us now take note of the most important characteristics, which continue from Lenin’s time into our own (the following quotes are from this pamphlet, unless otherwise mentioned). Rule of monopolies “If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism, we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.” A special stage in the historical evolution of capitalism – the monopoly stage following that of (so-called) perfect competition investigated by Marx and Engels – this is how Lenin contextualises his specialised study in the general framework of Marxian critique of capitalism....

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New role of banks // Finance capital and financial oligarchy // Export of capital // Speculation overshadowing production

New role of banks “As banking develops and becomes concentrated in a small number of establishments, the banks grow from modest middlemen into powerful monopolies having at their command almost the whole of the money capital of all the capitalists and small businessmen and also the larger part of the means of production and sources of raw materials in any one country and in a number of countries. This transformation of numerous modest middlemen into a handful of monopolists is one of the fundamental processes in the growth of capitalism into capitalist imperialism; …” Banks now take up radically new functions, e.g., that of the stock exchange – managing the issue, sale and repurchase of shares and bonds. “The result is, on the one hand, the ever-growing … coalescence of bank and industrial capital and, on the other hand, the growth of the banks into institutions of a truly ‘universal character’.” Finance capital and financial oligarchy “The concentration of production; the monopolies arising therefrom; the merging or coalescence of the banks with industry — such is the history of the rise of finance capital and such is the content of that concept. Finance capital, concentrated in a few hands and exercising a virtual monopoly, exacts enormous and ever-increasing profits from the floating of companies, issue of stock, state loans, etc., strengthens the domination of the financial oligarchy and levies...

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Inter-imperialist struggle for colonies and spheres of influence

By the beginning of the 20th century, big capitalist powers like France, Britain etc. had already carved up the less and least developed parts of the globe amongst themselves as colonies, semi-colonies (such as pre-revolutionary China, different parts of which were colonised by Japan, USA, Britain etc.) and spheres of influence, putting on the agenda a struggle for their redivision. Simultaneously, the emerging “trusts and cartels” (the initial forms of MNCs) began to spread their operations in different parts of the world — to carve up the world economically – and to fight amongst themselves on this score. Lenin described these as important features of imperialism and added : “… finance capital and its foreign policy, which is the struggle of the great powers for the economic and political division of the world, give rise to a number of transitional forms of state dependence. … Diverse forms of dependent countries which, politically, are formally independent, but in fact, are enmeshed in the net of financial and diplomatic dependence, are typical of this epoch …” In the world today, we find many such dependencies, though not colonies as such (with few transitional exceptions like Iraq). Powers like the US, Japan, UK and France continue to hold their respective spheres of influence in the shape of trade and investment blocs – the dollar, yen and euro zones and regional trade bodies....

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Imperialism and War

Written during the last phase of WW-I, Imperialism gives a simple yet theoretically profound analysis of why wars are inevitable under imperialism. Development of capitalism was (and remains) very uneven, so some of the capitalist great powers (like Germany in the early 20th century) experienced more rapid development than others (Great Britain, for example) and naturally, aspired after bigger shares in the world’s resources, markets, territories. But since the “territorial division of the world was already completed” (in the form of monopolisation of colonies, spheres of influence etc.), redivision was only possible by means of war. Thus wars between big powers – or among groups of them – originate from a basic compulsion of capitalism at its monopoly stage, not from bad motives of bad statesmen. Alliances among imperialist states, he observed, “prepare the ground for wars, and in their turn grow out of wars; the one conditions the other, producing alternating forms of peaceful and non-peaceful struggle on one and the same basis of imperialist connections and relations within world economics and world politics.” This is exactly how the world situation developed up to the Second World War, and the formulation remains relevant as a long-term perspective. But that war brought about certain basic and long-term changes in forms of political domination /hegemony and in the international balance of forces. And consequently, in the rules of the imperialist...

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Globalisation: The Latest Phase of Imperialism

Globalisation is a euphemism for the global offensive of capital in crisis on the working people in rich as well poor nations. Viewed in another context, it is the economic, political and, as it recently turned out, military offensive of imperialism (notably the G-7 countries) led by US imperialism on what is called (no longer very aptly, for there is no second world) the third world. If we were to divide the historical stage of imperialism, which has completed a hundred years of existence, into a few distinct phases (i.e., sub-stages), we might call globalisation its latest phase. But is not globalisation an old, inbuilt tendency of capital? Yes it is. We all remember the ever-bright and highly insightful portrayal of the globalising impulse of capital in the Communist Manifesto. In fact this impulse has manifested itself over the centuries in three distinct but overlapping “waves”: The first, of mercantile capital on its trading and colonising spree starting from the fag end of the 15th and continuing upto early 20lh century; The second, of industrial capital since the industrial revolution in late 18lh century, aimed principally at controlling/capturing sources of raw materials and markets for industrial products; The third, of finance capital (which emerged at the juncture of the 19th and 20lh centuries, as the monopolistic coalescence of industrial capital and bank capital) based on the electronics revolution of...

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Imperialism and the US Empire

When imperialism is defined as the highest stage of capitalism — as decaying, parasitic, monopoly capitalism dominated by finance capital — all countries which have reached that stage are to be reckoned as imperialist: Japan, Canada, Switzerland, UK and the like. All these states exploit the global south as well as the working people at home; many possess, and occasionally use, their enormous military prowess. But among them there is one country which has earned the outrageous distinction of being the world people’s enemy number one. The first wave of global extension of capitalism was led by maritime and mercantile powers like Spain, Holland, England; the second wave by England to start with, (for that was the birth place of the industrial revolution); the third by the USA, the forerunner in the latest Scientific and Technological Revolution and by far the biggest economic (and also military) power. It is only natural that like Spain and England in earlier periods, today the USA aspires after continuous expansion of its sphere of influence — after building a world empire. But the most crucial difference is that, as Eric Hobsbawm pointed out in a recent article in Guardian, all other empires knew that they were not the only ones — they had to reckon with real and potential challengers. Not so Washington. After the collapse of the other superpower, it thinks and...

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Achilles’ Heel

On the morrow of WW-II, the US enjoyed an absolute supremacy, a monopoly of sorts, in all domains of the world economy. Not so now, although it remains the number one far ahead of the second and the third (Europe and Japan respectively):  In 1950 the United States supplied half the world’s gross product, against 21 per cent at present. Sixty per cent of the world’s manufacturing production in 1950 came from the United States, 25 per cent in 1999. The U.S. share of exports of commercial services, the fastest growing part of the world economy, stood at 24 per cent in 2001, while the European Union (EU) had 23 per cent — 40 per cent if intra-EU exports were counted.  Non-US companies dominated major industries in 2002, accounting for nine of the ten largest electronics and electrical equipment manufacturers; eight of the ten largest motor vehicle makers and electric and gas utilities; seven of the ten largest petroleum refiners; six of ten telecommunications companies; five of ten pharmaceutical firms; four of six chemical producers; four of seven airlines. Of the twenty-five largest banks in the world, nineteen were non-U.S. banks, although the two largest were Citigroup and Bank of America.  Of the top one hundred corporations in the world in 2000 ranked by foreign-held assets, twenty-three were American. Together, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and...

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The Emerging People’s Front

Apart from those who are valiantly fighting an incomparably superior military power in Afghanistan and Iraq, we see basically there kinds of forces ranged against the empire. First, the world-wide anti-American/anti-Bush feelings that numerous recent surveys have shown to have grown to unprecedented levels in several decades. In addition to anti-establishment organisations and individuals, America’s traditional allies and admirers also have vehemently criticised the Bush push for war. “American imperialism used to be a fiction of the far-left imagination,” wrote the English journalist Madeleine Bunting early this year, “now it is an uncomfortable fact of life.”[1] More recently, on 26 December Financial Times of UK carried an article which described America’s unilateral, isolationist stance as the Achilles’ Heel. Even friendly governments and ruling circles have expressed their disgruntlement — through their intellectual representatives if not officially. Considered as a whole, such international opposition combines within itself both inter-imperialist contradictions and the world people’s anger against their enemy number one. Compared to this rather amorphous opposition, a second and more potent force is the internal resistance from American civil society. To be frank, part of this emanates from narrow political self interests (on the part of Democratic Party leadership, for instance) while some amounts to no more than pious wishes. But there is also a strong streak of persistent opposition, particularly against war mongering and attacks on democratic rights and...

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Globalisation and Imperialism

— Dipankar Bhattacharya Key Features of the Present Round of Globalisation Indeed it is capitalism’s inherent tendency to go global. The early mercantile expeditions and colonial conquests played a key role in the development of capitalism in the metropolitan countries, and in a different way, in the colonies as well. Marx and Engels were categorical in their recognition of the expansionary thrust of capital. In the classic words of the Manifesto, “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” “The historic task of bourgeois society”, wrote Marx a decade later, “is the establishment of the world market, at least in its basic outlines, and a mode of production that rests on its basis.” Certain features that we currently associate with the drive towards globalisation have indeed been even more pronounced during certain previous phases of capitalist development. Inter-country and even inter-continent migration of labour, if only in the form of indentured labour under colonial framework, was probably more widespread in the nineteenth century. The trade-GDP ratio for many countries was also higher at the turn of the previous century than it is today. Indeed, it can be argued that the world economy was globalising at quite a high speed before the First World War intervened. Yet it will...

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On the Developments in Soviet Russia

— Vinod Mishra The last bastion of communism in Europe has crumbled. Desperate last-ditch attempts to save it through a coup d’etat have only hastened its doom. There was a time when the spectre of communism haunted Europe and now the spectre of Europe is haunting communism everywhere. Will the demise of communism in Europe affect the future of communism in Asia too? How long can China withstand the capitalist onslaught? How does it all affect the Indian communist movement? These and many other questions are haunting the minds of communists and Marxist academicians of our country and are becoming major questions of public debate. Let us start with an analysis of the events in the Soviet Union. The setback for socialism in the country of the first successful proletarian revolution, in the country of great Lenin, is indeed a most shocking event for communists. For weak-hearted communists it may well provide grounds for dejection and desertion. But for the Marxist-Leninists it only reveals the protracted and highly complex nature of class struggle in the international arena — the struggle between socialism and capitalism. There is no use blaming American designs or individuals like Gorbachev and Yeltsin. The essential point is that while capitalism overcame the setbacks after the Second World War and renewed itself, the socialist system at a certain stage of its development began failing to deliver...

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“Marxism needs a work comparable to Das Kapital …”

— Vinod Mishra [Interview by Kalpana Wilson of South Asia Solidarity Group taken in March 1994.] Can you explain how you see the current so-called crisis of socialism which has followed the collapse of the Soviet Union ? I essentially think that socialism itself is not a complete or stable system. Socialism is meant to be a transitory system, between capitalism and communism. So it is a very specific phenomenon. It does have certain features of communism — the society which is to be established — and it retains certain features of capitalism in the sense that what Marx calls ‘the principle of distribution’ remains essentially the same — to each according to his work. For example, in a socialist system, say there is a factory which is supposed to be representing ownership by people. A worker there, on the one hand, has the feeling that he is part of the people, so in a sense he is the owner of the factory as well. On the other hand, because he receives according to his work, he feels that he is a wage worker. So this duality operates in the worker’s consciousness. As far as ownership is concerned, on the one hand, it is ownership by the whole people; on the other hand, this ownership is managed through state ownership, (because the state still exists in a socialist society)...

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Marxism Will Have To Be Defended Through Its Enrichment

— Vinod Mishra A few words about the international communist movement. The collapse of the Soviet bloc and the far-reaching changes in China have drastically changed the scenario of the international communist movement. The old division between pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese parties, a legacy of the Great Debate of the ’60s, has become irrelevant. The Soviet collapse, however, has brought about a reorganisation of communist parties and communist platforms in Russia as well as in several East European countries. These parties are reassessing their past, particularly the harmful effects of revisionism. On the other hand, several ML parties the world over which emerged during the stormy days of 1968-70 and sustained themselves have also been analysing the ultra-left deviations they had suffered from. This has created a favourable situation for the parties belonging to both the streams coming closer. This typical phenomenon was reflected in the recent international seminar held under the auspices of the Workers’ Party of Belgium where more than 50 parties and groups belonging to both the erstwhile streams as well as ‘independent’ streams participated. Our Party too was represented there and extended its cooperation to such a coming together. We think that reducing the concept of the unity of the International communist movement to simply the unity of ML parties who uphold Mao’s Thought, and that too a particular interpretation of it, is too sectarian an...

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Certain Ideological Resolutions

[Adopted by the Fifth All India Party Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Kolkata, December 1992] 1. The CPI(ML) firmly upholds the banner of the Great October Revolution of 1917 led by Comrade Lenin in Russia. This was not only the first successful proletarian revolution in the world, it also brought about a new awakening in Asia. Though after 75 years the revolution is defeated, its historic significance can never be obliterated. 2. The CPI(ML) reaffirms the crucial role played by Comrade Stalin in building socialism in Soviet Union and in defending the Soviet Union against fascist aggression. Stalin, however, had a lot of metaphysics in his approach and this was the main source of his grievous mistakes. During his period, inner party democracy as well as socialist democracy in society suffered from gross distortions. 3. The CPI(ML) stands by the struggle conducted against modern revisionism by Mao Zedong and the CPC in the Great Debate of early 1960s. Comrade Mao’s theses regarding the existence of class struggle in socialist society and its reflection within the communist party; the danger of capitalist restoration and the as yet undecided nature of the struggle between socialism and capitalism have been borne out by history. Mao’s thought thus developed in negation of both Stalinist metaphysics and Khruschevite revisionism and put Marxism Leninism back on the rails once again. Mao’s struggle...

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The World since Seattle and September 11 : A War to Defeat, A World to Win

[The following is the text of the keynote address delivered by Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya at the inaugural session of the Second Asia-Pacific International Solidarity Conference held in Sydney from 29 March to 1 April, 2002] American political scientists who are fond of designing new theories of world order at the slightest possible provocation have understandably been quite busy over the last few years. The unfolding post-Cold War world however continues to surprise and refute them and defy even the best of bourgeois trajectories of analysis. Ironically, while bourgeois thinkers and propagandists prefer to dismiss Marxist analyses of the contemporary world as idle exercises in conspiracy theory, every Seattle and September 11 sends them back to the mother of all excuses: ‘intelligence failure’! Seattle of course did not happen overnight. The signal from Chiapas came early in the 1990s. It was quite evident that the working people and revolutionary and progressive forces the world over had a more ambitious and active agenda than merely lamenting and analysing why the Soviet Union had finally collapsed. Even before the World Trade Organisation was formally launched, the Uruguay Round negotiations of the GATT had been greeted with bitter protests in large parts of the developing world. Powerful militant demonstrations of tens of thousands of people against the neo-liberal dictates of the IMF, World Bank and WTO were being routinely reported from almost all...

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LIBERATION - Central Organ of CPI(ML) October 2017

LIBERATION - Central Organ of CPI(ML) October 2017 -Cover 1