Monday, May 14, 2007

Capitalism and Imperialism

The highest and final form of Capitalism is Imperialism. Marx discussed extensively how Capitalism becomes accumulated, while the Proletariat is left to starve even though they deserve a greater part of the Capital.

In the past, conquests were mostly for Land. This was practical almost all the ages till the 20th century showed up with all its massive radicalized inventions. In the past, according to Immanuel Wallerstein, each empire had its own economy, circulating among its borders, till the International Market was implemented and empires invaded more land to increase their wealth. Land for starters has many important advantages for an expanding/gigantic empire, it is a source of raw material (be that industrial or agricultural), provides human resources, and the final touch, a geographic location to monitor other empires (or acquire a strategic location for further future enlargement of the empire).

To the Liberals, these empires were called “land-fetish”, who were obsessed about power, and power brought dictatorship on the people. Probably the most abused in the medieval era were the people of central and south Africa, who provided free labor under the title of “Slaves”. Latin America also had its share of such imperialism, due to the Spaniards mostly, and Portugal. All the countries were ruled by a dictator under their empires, while the hierarchy of society was forged in a way to suit the ruler of the nation: ie dictatorship, cheap labor, and submission. For example, Ecuador was a source of raw material/labor to a certain empire; however, after its independence, it remained as a source of raw material in return for cheap labor. Empires became adjusting their infrastructures not only for military reasons, rather also for business reasons. The British banned the Dutch ships to land at their docks, which caused the Dutch empire to weaken and henceforth the Brits expanded their own empire, which became known in its most hypocrite sense: “Common Wealth”.

This is the new form of Imperialism. The advocates of the Marxist in School in Academia argued and argued constantly that the 3rd World nations have been late to enter the world of free market, due to previous oppressions. This means they will never catch up to the 3rd world nations, no matter what they try to invest, because in the end, investments are coming from the “Northern” Sphere. They are under heavy debts, or dictatorship rulers who are usually in allegiance to the business elites of the “First World”. The primary fault that these nations are still in a backward position, including the Arab nations, is due to the fact that these nations had for centuries (and some for over a millennium) had their resources taken for free so that the First World adjusted their own infrastructures (whether for military, or business purposes). Debts on the 3rd world should be cancelled by all means since the first world owes the 3rd world for all the historic woes that passed, and for all the robbery occurring by the British Empire, Dutch, French, Spanish, or any other empire in fact.

The current form of imperialism comes in the form of business and open market. In the past, a nation would rebel, and gain its freedom, but then the business elites would return through debts and businesses to rule the nation. Actually, this form of imperialism is stronger than the previous ones, because how can a nation liberate itself from a multi-transnational corporation? Even Chavez’s rebellion is temporary since more than 85% of Venezuela’s GDP relies on the black oil. Hence slavery focal points were replaced with Sweatshops, bad economies would force people to work for cheaper wages. More importantly, the advanced nations (the US in specific) do not need massive armies to invade a country and sustain all those costs into subduing a nation. The market forces all those labor forces to work for almost for free, while they themselves become a market for what they produced (as well as others). The Transnational Corporations, whether through their presidential rulers in the States or through any other institutions (WTO, IMF, WB, others), succeed in placing a dictator to rule the people. The twin cases of Bolivia and Honduras are the perfect example. Honduras had its water privatized, while Bolivia had almost everything privatized. The Bolivar revolution is not as the US argued a dictator seeking power, rather it is the people fed up from being abused.

In the Arab states, we see dictatorship regimes, not representing their people ruling their people. Saddam Hussein was a patch-work created by the US to face Iran. Iran became an Islamic republic due to a US puppy called the Shah. Jordan’s king has been a historical imperial tool who was at first under the Brits, then under the US. Egypt also is a perfect example whereby the United States are doing everything they could to preserve Moubarak’s regime. The imperialists through the ruthless market enslave the people. Lebanon actually is a perfect example of the US using the market to control Lebanon, and how an equally reactionary movement has been carved out (because they are not getting their part of the pie). If a nation resists the free market policy to protect its domestic market, an outside coup can be engineered to take place inside, or economic sanctions can take place. Worse, the Imperialists can toy with the financial markets to ruin a nation’s economy, and spread chaos through out this nation’s land.

So all of this is called "bringing Democracy". Well I would like to quote a scholar by saying: "To accept the seperation of democracy from economics is, minimally, to fail to recognize the contestability of democracy. To treat democracy as if it operated in a vacuum ignores reality. Democracy operates within economic constraints...To allow democratic initiatives to foster ethnic strige and thereby excuse the ineptitude of foreign powers is morally reprehensible... In the words of one astute former candidate, 'it's the economy, stupid.'" (Thomas William Simon, The Injustice of Democracy)

I repeat this for another time: There is No War But Class War specially less than 7% own more than 65% of global wealth (Samir Amin).

MFL

15 comments:

lifestyle said...

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Khawwta said...

wein kinit inta lama ana kinit 3am waji3 rassi bel 3ala2at douwaliyi wel fikir rl siyassi..

MarxistFromLebanon said...

walla, I really wish I knew you then, and I wish that I know you now :D

Renegade Eye said...

In this period, even if Chavez hasn't gone beyond the confines of capitalism, it still is causing major disruption of business as usual.

Happy Arab said...

Yes marxistfromlebanon...
But do you think it helps to whine like the French do, day and night?
I don't think so.

And why in your examples you didn't mention what is happening in China, and also in India? Is Honduras a larger country than China? Have you tried to think a bit about the Chinese phenomenon?

Finally, if you want to replace capitalism by a system that works better, you have to find that system first. Western Europe honestly and decently experimented with true socialism. Yet, what they have found is that a significant proportion of the people abuse the system. And the most talented flee to better paradises.

Capitalism is surely far far far from perfect. However, the way forward is corrections in small steps. And enough whining by these leftists: come up with a sound system, novel and provocative ideas, and many people will be happy to think about them.

In other words, don't say "capitalism is bad." You should rather say "I have something better."

Capitalism is the inevitable outcome of the progress of civilizations. You cannot wipe it out with a pen stroke. What comes next will take centuries to materialize. And geniuses, not whiners.

Happy Arab said...

Oh, how about the Russian example, as well?

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Happy Arab

Obviously you are judging through your Neo-COnish instincts... in case you read my blog thoroughly, I attacked all that is wrong, that includes stalinist Russia.

Moreover, Capitalism is committing a mass global butchery and starvation. It took centuries to evolve, but as marxist I oppose its class difference and hypocracy on the workers.

ANd you sure do not sound as a "happy arab" for me :P

Anonymous said...

Hi MFL,

Your blog is wonderful. I accidentally came across it.

Hi Happy Arab,
Capitalism never allowed any system to emerge or survive. History of latin america in past few centuries, India from 1857-1947, Indonesia during 1960s, Iran in fifties, Iraq in sixties, Germany-Itali-Spain during 1920-1943 etc are examples of it. People , especially from periphery could hardly evolve into a better system due to the brutal force of capitalist forces (military always supported by leading capitalist in all countries including Nazi Germany)

Only in Russia, the brutal alliance failed to counter the revolution and restore the Czarist regime . But unfortunately the extereme severe conditions made the Russian revolutionaries end up using tactics which were in-consitent with their ideals and goals. Eventually the revolution is lost to autocracy. But Soiviet Union, despite all the brutal events happened from 1930s to 1950 , was a better society during duirng fifties and sixties.It did not have many evils of the capitalist countries.
If a non capitalist society (like Soviet Union)which had diverted to bad tactics can solve problems which capitalism failed to solve, then , for sure, an ideal movement, which depends on tactics which are always consistent with its ideals and goals, can create a non-capitalist system. The only issue is how it can be survived against brutal attacks of capitalist leaded by US implerialism.

Think about a soviet like society driven by democracy (a very late phenomena still not reached/settled in many parts of the world), ecological conservation (a new descipline of science and a movement emerged during 1960s and the power of computers.

Dave Marlow said...

I am a Leninist myself but I'm not sure your assessment of modern day capitalism was correct, at least in terms of American capitalism.

Imperialism, according to Lenin, isn't what we traditionally think of it as (one nation's dominion over another); it's monopoly capitalism. You cite good examples of its presence but I think its misguided to agree that it is "the highest stage of capitalism" or that it still plays a prevalent role in the world market.

What we see more of is the neo-liberal doctrine. Monopolies and trusts, although they still exist, have largely been suppressed due to legislation. Instead, markets are being "kept free" by governmental mandates which seek to promote national interests.

Of course neo-liberalism didn't really exist in Lenin's day and so no one can blame him for not assessing it. However, as great a work as Imperialism is, it's severely outdated, as is the Marxist analysis of imperialism.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

True, a single dominant market with its advanced financial institutions didn't exist... but Capital Accumulation has been existent in their times, and they focused on it ... since the last two decades, we have witnessed cash accumulation gathered in the hands of the few located mostly in one nation

Dave Marlow said...

I would agree for the most part, although that's the natural role for a super power. If China continues to progress in the same manner, their businesses will operate much like the U.S. currently does. National monopolies do exist, but again, this is neo-liberalism rather than imperialism.

Khawwta said...

mich hayyiin ya MFL ;)

naz said...

Hi,
I am a Marxist from India. Your discussion is interesting. I am not an expert in Marxism. My words appear novice.

Lenin is more of an inspiration now days than a guide or guru. No one can be a guide for a long period. No Marxists ever claimed so.

But Lenin should be a model for the fusion of several emerging studies into the revolutionary theory and practical action. Until mid twenties his revolutionary theory was well applicable worldwide. Lenin did not analyze imperialism thoroughly, but he was using the studies made by others. Imperialist expansion always existed in capitalism and it was an escape route by providing enormous investment opportunities across the boundaries. Marx could not place “imperialism” in the centre stage of his analysis of capitalism.

I believe capitalism of our time can only be called imperialism. The impact of imperialism is a major striking reality for revolutionary struggles in many countries in the periphery. It is true that the economic coercion is the major mechanism of capital accumulation in our time. Especially the hurricane of huge financial flows into countries in periphery and its impact on the drain of wealth from common man into the hands of the few who are well integrated with the metropolitan capitalist system, and eventually into the metropolitan countries.

But the mechanism of economic coercion is maintained thru the imperialist physical (military) forces and intervention. Military and finance, in that sense, is still prime as during the time of Lenin. Major difference is that military does not create major openings to finance, or it does not work in direct collaboration with finance, but it works as a saviour of finance when it is under threat. I am not disregarding the role of ‘ideology’ in preserving the order. Yet ideological hegemony of capitalism is threatened many occasions in the periphery and military intervention was needed.

Njaannaz.blogspot.com

Regards
Naz

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Thank you for this wonderful comment, welcome to my blog

Anonymous said...

While you have written a decent article, I completely disagree with your analysis.

First, you, along with many Marxist, believe that you can 'engineer' your way out of the social ills that plague the world. You should read 'The Road to Serfdom' by Friedrich Hayek to better understand why this nearly always fails. The Soviets were not forced to use tactics that were incompatible with their goals and ideals, their very mindset and their ideals cause them to use these methods because they are the only method possible to produce such an outcome.

You cannot have socialism without a large State, as the very definition of socialism is one in which the state is large and has control over nearly everything. What is the State? It is the sole arbiter of coercive power, or force, in society. It is the concentration of political and economic power in the hands of a few. Many Marxist reject 'the few' part. Why? Because they want to convince people that everyone will have a stake and a share in the decision making process, that everyone will hold political power. But we know what type of system leads to everyone holding political, coercive, power, anarchism. Therefore the method to ensure the State continues to exist is to give the power of decision making to a few so that things are actually done.

Now to, I want to give this emphasis, to claim capitalism is based on class struggle and the 'exploitation' of the 'workers' by the 'capitalist' is to fall into the trap that Marx set so long ago. There is no 'capitalist' and 'workers' in a capitalistic system, only traders, people who buy and sell property rights. Marx gave the free market the name Capitalism in order to defeat it more easily. By turning the free action of people into an -ism, Marx was able to make those who supported the ability to freely trade with others into proponents of a certain system over another, rather than the much more simple and direct choice of freedom or coercion. He knew that socialism, at its base, was a coercive doctrine, so he hide this behind a veil of 'everyone gets a share' and 'for the 'public' (whoever and whatever that vague term used by Marxist to describe what they want done) good'.

I could continue on, but I do not feel it deserves more explaining than has already been done or that a Marxist can not readily read about in the works of Jefferson, Paine, Friedman, Hayek, von Mises and others.

Marxist need to realize that Capitalism is not an ism, it is, at its most basic, the support of the ability for private individuals to trade with one another without the interference of government or other private individuals. It is not, as Marx so falsely claims, a ideology by which the 'capitalist' exploit the 'workers'.

Furthermore, stop comparing Fascism to capitalism, they are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. You can compare mercantilism (with a stretch) to Fascism, but fascism is nothing but an offshoot of socialism, they both glorify the state at the expense of the private individual.