WSM and "Capitalist Globalisation and Imperialism"

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Leo
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Dec 23 2006 20:36
WSM and "Capitalist Globalisation and Imperialism"

When I was looking at this thread, I saw that an article of the WSM called "Capitalist Globalisation and Imperialism" was posted. (http://www.wsm.ie/story/825) I saw some deep problems with the economical analysis as well as the political analysis presented by the WSM, but I didn't want to distort the original topic about Platformism so I'm starting this thread. The text by the WSM starts with this sentence: "Imperialism is the ability of countries to globally and locally dictate trade relations with other countries. This means the term can only be usefully applied to a few countries, in particular those composing the permanent members of the UN security council and the G8."

Which is the crux of the entire text and it is unfortunately bullshit. First of all, I have to say that this definition contradicts itself. Much more than a "few countries" can dictate at least local trade relations with other countries. All that is needed to dictate trade relationships of a country is having something they depend on. So US dictates Venezuelan trade relationships to some extent for example, but Venezuela also dictates US trade relationships to some extent. Or Brazil and Argentine would dictate the trade relationships of each other or Morocco and Egypt. In fact it isn't even necessary to be a "country" in order to dictate trade relationships. Even within the borders of a "country", the central superstructure dictates trade relationships on internal autonomous superstructures and of course those autonomous superstructures dictates trade relationships with each other. All that is necessary is having mass capital. Mass capital is created by accumulation, and capital is accumulated by the exploitation of the surplus value and the surplus value is created by the investment on (or exploitation of) variable capital (labor power) and constant capital (raw materials + means of production). In the bottom line it boils down to having authority over a certain area and over a certain mass of population. Therefore every socio-political superstructure has to be imperialist if it has a capitalist infrastructure. Now, hopefully there is no doubt that the entire infrastructure of the world is the capitalist system. So imperialism is the natural political framework of every socio-political superstructure (every nation-state) of the capitalist infrastructures (national bourgeoisies). Therefore not only countries belonging to the G8, UN Security Council and whatever are imperialist but all nation-states are.

The second point is that it is very weak to explain imperialism by showing the ability of countries to globally and locally dictate trade relations with other countries. In fact it is imperialism that describes and defines the ability of countries to globally and locally dictate trade relations with other countries. This ability is a side effect of imperialism rather than being the main purpose or the definition. Imperialism is an unchangeable part of capitalism, every "country" has imperialist ambitions but more importantly every country use their imperialist ambitions to deal with the internal problems, such as dealing with their reserve army of labor for example.

Finally, the political and practical implications of this analysis comes to a point where the world is divided into two: "oppressed nations" and "imperialist nations". Or to put it simpler, "good nations" and "evil nations". Although the WSM says that they don't support the nationalism or joining forces with the "progressive" bourgeoisie, what they say that they don't support is the only implication of their understanding of imperialism and anti-imperialist struggle, and in fact while praising the Zapatistas, the WSM does in fact support a nationalist "progressive" bourgeoisie that aims to line the working class behind the national flag they (literally) wave, as the Zapatista program is merely social-democratic, and openly focused on creating the greater "Mexican" imperialism instead of the "Yankee" one... So initially not only their analysis comes to dividing the workers to ones from "oppressed nations" and "imperialist nations" and therefore rejecting internationalism, it also denies the workers from the "oppressed nations" the chance to organize independently from their exploiters as all they are supposed to do is to oppose the "big and real(!)" imperialists. This understanding of imperialism is fundamentally not different from the Maoist conception of imperialism, of course both has little ideological apologies, and polishes but the practical applications are identical. Might I kindly suggest the WSM to label itself Anarcho-Maoist?

Leo
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Dec 24 2006 09:16
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Spot on Leo, this has been summed up by some people as "underdog nationalism", Joe Black has replied to this by suggesting it is a product of unrecognised "Big nation nationalism".

I'm really interested to see how I'm gonna be accused with "unrecognised Big nation nationalism".

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This might get me shot but I think it's better to scrap the term imperialism and that Negri's concept of Empire is somewhat more furitful, even if his particular articulation is flawed.

Negri has, as you say, problems. The bigger problem in Negri's problems is that mystical concept of "the multitude" which is simply a more intellectual term for "people". His concept of Empire is interesting, but I do think that without "multitudes" and post-modernism it becomes nothing more than some sort of an empty concept. I like Luxemburg's analysis plus the analysis ICC and the IBRP makes.

nastyned
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Dec 24 2006 14:08

I thought the Aufheben stuff on the zapatistas was a bit confused, but it did have lots of interesting info.

Leo
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Dec 24 2006 16:44
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Well yes at best his "multitude" is just a false reworking of the "proletariat" and at worst it is nothing more than the "people". I'm not seeing the problem of postmodernism in his work, I think that's really just an empty insult.

I think that the most visible expression of Negri's post modernism is the concept of "multitude". The term refers to the population of the world who according to Negri are increasingly networked and as such have the potential of overthrowing "Empire" and establishing genuine democracy. He admits that the term is opposed to "related figures of political subjectivity such as class".

Leo
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Dec 24 2006 17:34
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I don't see what that's got to do with post modernism

Postmodern left -whatever that means- rejects class and says "the revolutionary object is everyone (who protests)". That's exactly what Antonio Negri is doing. Far from being an insult, postmodernism is a label that Negri willingly accepts as far as I know.

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I mean don;t we hold the same position about the internationalism of the proletariat, that it is connected through common interest, and this increasingly becomes more explicit with the intensification of globalisation.

Well, we do but I'm not sure if Negri does. Here, "autonomists" are very much supportive of the Zapatista National Liberation Army. I would imagine that Negri also would have sympathies - I don't know. Yet, again, no for Negri doesn't care about the working class really, or working class internationalism. He seems to be more into the concept of multitudes.

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Dec 27 2006 14:14
Leo Uilleann wrote:
The text by the WSM starts with this sentence: "Imperialism is the ability of countries to globally and locally dictate trade relations with other countries. This means the term can only be usefully applied to a few countries, in particular those composing the permanent members of the UN security council and the G8."

Which is the crux of the entire text and it is unfortunately bullshit.

I'm glad you decided to be rude from start to finish in this 'critique' of yours Leo because it removes any obligation of me to be nice in return.

When I was doing my final school exams many years ago I had a big problem. I had to study Irish language in every year of school and at that time in order to get a number of jobs or to get into college you had to pass Irish. I had paid no attention in Irish class for over a decade and so wouldn't appear to have had much of a chance.

So I broke my problem down into this. calculation. If I could scrape together enough marks to hit 40% I would pass and so I realised the main thing to do was to be able to write a good essay, worth around 40% of the total marks. Of course not really understanding the language at all how was I to do this? By leaning off a stock essay and then on the day of the exam scanning the essay titles for one I thought I understood, tacking on a opening line that included the essay title and then reproducing my stock essay. It turned out this (and discovering my oral examiner was a Workers Party member) were sufficent to scrap me through.

Your 'reply' to our position paper reminds me of that essay. It's not clear that you have read, never mind understood the paper at all. Instead you found a paragraph you thought you recognised and then reproduced a standard ultra left essay based on the assumptions you created from that paragraph. Never mind that your assumptions are actually contradicted by other sections of the paper you claim to be replying to.

So I'm tempted to simply tell you to piss off and stop being so lazy, given the insults you open and close with I think that would be fair enough. But as you accidentally touch on a couple of points of interest that others may hold I'll also tackle these.

Leo Uilleann wrote:
So US dictates Venezuelan trade relationships to some extent for example, but Venezuela also dictates US trade relationships to some extent.

Dear of dear. This to me is the clearest example of the bankruptcy of the 'imperilism is everywhere so it doesn't really exist position'.

Imperialism is not simply an economic relationship, it is a military economic relationship. Two market traders will each try and dictate the terms of trade to the other, that indeed is part and parcel of capital. But in todays world there are few powers that can enforce their trade terms across thousands of miles through military might and the threat of military might. The US and Venezula are not equal in that respect. I'm pretty sure it is the US that invaded Iraq and the US that invaded Afghanistan. It is the US that dreams about the invasion of Iran. That Chavez in not lining up his tanks on the Iranian border is not down to an unlucky throw of the dice but because even if they wanted to the Venezulan military do not have that kind of power. That kind of power in turn does not drop from the sky but it a product of the US economy, in part a product of the military domination of the past.

Venezula was a particularly poor country to pick as an example seeing as quite recently the US was supportive of a coup there. Beyond this in the last decades from El Salvador right down to Chile we have see that the US is willing to use covert and over military power to place limits on the sort of economic decisions that can be made by the local ruling classes of those countries. If the reverse has happened I am unaware of it although I believe at least one US president (Reagan) shared your fantasies of Nicaragua being able to militarly bully the USA.

Up to the period before this Iraq war the thesis that imperialism had faded into a decentred globalisation was becoming quite popular. But that theory was argued, as here, by assertion rather than evidence. Negri's 'Empire' was the most popular example, this aspect of it is among that reviewed at http://struggle.ws/andrew/empirereview.html so I'll refer readers to that review for counter examples (and it is pre Iraq war).

The emperical evidence for the 'Empire' claim was always quite weak even before the events in the buildup to the Iraq war swept it away. Even on the simplest level the HQ's of the top 1000 corporations far from being decentred are concentrated in 7 nations (around 85% are in a G7 country) and the small percentage outside of this are concentrated in a few of the smaller but economically powerful nations like Sweden.

Leo Uilleann wrote:
and in fact while praising the Zapatistas, the WSM does in fact support a nationalist "progressive" bourgeoisie

Again the uselessness of an analysis incapable of distinguishing between the Ba'athist party and the Zapatistas. Having spent a little time in Chiapas I find the idea of the Zapatistas as ' bourgeoisie' more than a little hilarous. If the bourgeoisie were overwhelmingly composed of subsistance farmers working 14 hours a day to eek out a living on the edge of starvation I think the working class would have little to worry about.

That aside this provides an example of two things
1. An ideological straight jacket so rigid as to compel its left communist wearer to apply labels to things that can only seem bizare to the casual onlooker.
2. The major failure of this straight jacket - an inability to critically evaluate less then perfect movements. Our actual writings on the Zapatistas as opposed to whatever Leo has dreamed up in his head include a rather detailed critique of their politics.

In fact the following from one such article might almost have been written with Leo in mind

RBR10 wrote:
How meaningful is it (for the EZLN) to talk of "our leaders are destroying our nation" because "they are only concerned with the well being of capitalists" when this is the natural order of capitalism, not just in Mexico now but throughout the world and throughout the history of the capitalist period. There have always been those on the left - including James Connolly in Ireland - who tried to redefine the nation so as to exclude the capitalist class. But are such semantic word games not simply building on sand - and facilitating the creation of a future 'history' where radical movements can be drained of their meaning by draping them in the national flag?

None of these criticisms are new but they will provide the excuse needed for those council communists and others who have sat on their hands for the last 12 years waiting for the Zapatista rebellion to turn authoritarian to sit on their hands for the next dozen. The challenge of the Zapatista movement for anarchists has been how to have real solidarity with a movement that contains such ambiguities. And how to learn what there is to learn - and tell others - without becoming unthinking cheer leaders.

http://struggle.ws/wsm/rbr/rbr10/zapatistas.html

Anyone interested in anarchist writings about the EZLN should check out http://struggle.ws/mexico/anarchist.html you'll find a good bit of critique there right from 1994 onwards but also a lot of 'this is a positive example'.

Leo Uilleann wrote:
Might I kindly suggest the WSM to label itself Anarcho-Maoist?

Yeah and you should call yourself a dogmatic and lazy cunt - if anything it seems to fit better.

More seriously, what an empty politics it is that can only lump ideas into one of a tiny number of boxes dating from the middle of the last century. I'de be rather surprised if more than 10% of our membership have read anything by mao so he'd hardly be a formative influence on our positions.

Leo
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Dec 27 2006 15:39
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I'm glad you decided to be rude from start to finish in this 'critique' of yours Leo because it removes any obligation of me to be nice in return.

Yes, that was exactly my intention.

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Dear of dear. This to me is the clearest example of the bankruptcy of the 'imperilism is everywhere so it doesn't really exist position'.

If you manage to equate "every nation-state is imperialist" with "imperialism doesn't exist" then, I'm sorry but you fucked up already.

Quote:
Imperialism is not simply an economic relationship, it is a military economic relationship. Two market traders will each try and dictate the terms of trade to the other, that indeed is part and parcel of capital. But in todays world there are few powers that can enforce their trade terms across thousands of miles through military might and the threat of military might.

Not really. Almost all nation states have military power and technology that would enable them to annihilate other countries across thousands of miles. True, perhaps Venezuela North Korea or Cuba can indeed not completely destroy the USA, but they sure can cause a very big amount of damage which the USA can not be prepared to take. Heck, even Hezbollah managed to throw a launch several rockets to Israel.

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The US and Venezula are not equal in that respect.

Obviously not. Yes there is an hierarchy between imperialists, but this doesn't change their nature - they all want the same thing and they are all expressions of the national bourgeoisie.

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I'm pretty sure it is the US that invaded Iraq and the US that invaded Afghanistan.

Yes, it did, and should we support the Al-Qaeda or other Islamic fundamentalists because they are against the US? Because they are for national "liberation" of the "peoples" oppressed under the evil Americans? Do you think those people who you don't bring yourself to call imperialists are actually "good hearted"? No, they are, by their nature, an expression of the national bourgeoisie, if it was them ruling nothing would be better.

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Venezula was a particularly poor country to pick as an example seeing as quite recently the US was supportive of a coup there.

Only in words - Chavez is actually following very "neo-liberal" policies along with his "anti-imperialist Christian social democrat nationalist etc." rhetoric. Oil companies are pleased with him - thousands of workers he sacked are of course not happy but that's another story.

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Beyond this in the last decades from El Salvador right down to Chile we have see that the US is willing to use covert and over military power to place limits on the sort of economic decisions that can be made by the local ruling classes of those countries.

Well, those clashes in the last decades were definitely imperialist conflicts of the cold war, with bourgeois factions opposing each other - one backed by the USSR, one backed by the US. Funny, you bring this up - weren't you supposed to be against the USSR? Or did you just forgot about them? Which imperialist would you pick during the USSR invasion of Afghanistan?

Quote:
The emperical evidence for the 'Empire' claim was always quite weak even before the events in the buildup to the Iraq war swept it away. Even on the simplest level the HQ's of the top 1000 corporations far from being decentred are concentrated in 7 nations (around 85% are in a G7 country) and the small percentage outside of this are concentrated in a few of the smaller but economically powerful nations like Sweden.

You don't know much about how those "top" corporations work in what you call "the third world" obviously. Well, here's how things work: they go, they have a big name and they make deals with local firms to sell local products or imported products under their big name. So in that 85% there is not just the capitalists of those seven countries - there is the capitalists of the entire world. Or do you suggest that there is capitalism only where your
bourgeoisie is?

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Again the uselessness of an analysis incapable of distinguishing between the Ba'athist party and the Zapatistas. Having spent a little time in Chiapas I find the idea of the Zapatistas as ' bourgeoisie' more than a little hilarous.

I'm sure you enjoyed waving their national flag and singing their national anthem with them - ah, good old left-nationalism! Nothing bourgeois about it! Of course, when you read their programme, their declarations etc. and when you see stuff like "Today, we repeat: OUR STRUGGLE IS NATIONAL", "We call on all social and political forces of the country, to all honest Mexicans, to all of those who struggle for the democratisation of the national reality, to form a NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT", or when you see them demanding “...a full and coordinated defence of national sovereignty, through intransigent opposition to the privatisation of electrical energy, oil, water and natural resources.” Why care when there is a nasty nationalist movement that only cares about creating their own power as long as they are a "movement" you know? A "movement"!!! Oh come on!!

Anyway, if we're playing a fun game of posting links, here's something written by communists in Mexico:

http://en.internationalism.org/inter/127_zapatistas.htm

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I'de be rather surprised if more than 10% of our membership have read anything by mao so he'd hardly be a formative influence on our positions.

Haha, you don't have to read Mao to be a Maoist.

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Yeah and you should call yourself a dogmatic and lazy cunt - if anything it seems to fit better.

Oh, did I offend you now my little Anarcho-Maoist?

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Dec 27 2006 15:58

Dear Leo - you are a dogmatic idiot. Your 'reply' confirms this in numerous ways.

1. You deciding for no reason that I can see that I support Chavez (I don't)
2. You deciding for no reason that I can see that I support Al Quaeda (I don't)
3. The idea that Venezula could militarly 'cause a very big amount of damage to the USA'. This is very bizarre as far as I'm aware Venezula doesn't have a single weapons system even capable of reaching the USA! Or maybe Dr No has some base there I'm unaware of.
4. And best of all the idea that you don't need to have read mao to be a maoist?

Comic stuff - this conversation is over. You can't hold a political discussion without someone who mistakes their desires for reality.

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Dec 27 2006 16:11
revol68 wrote:
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you are a dogmatic idiot.

oh yeah Joe, no flaming remember. tut tut.

Well he did call me a maoist and that is a hell of a lot worse. Anyway its an accurate description of his reply - you need to be pretty heavy on the dogma to believe in a Venezualan military strike on the USA. I was being sarcastic with the Nicaraguan reference!

As to the maoism - well perhaps you can be part of a maoist organisation and illiterate but you are still being taught the thoughts of the chairman by others who have read them. There haven't been any active maoists (save one lone nut) in Ireland for over a decade so its a silly flame again exposing the authors dogmatism once more.

Leo
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Dec 27 2006 16:27
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You deciding for no reason that I can see that I support

I'm not saying that you do, I'm saying that's the direction you are heading.

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The idea that Venezula could militarly 'cause a very big amount of damage to the USA'.

Venezuelan army has Frigates, conventional submarines, fighter aircrafts, surveillance aircrafts, bomber aircrafts, patrol boats, military helicopters, battle tanks, howitzers and rocket launchers. Yes, they are capable of causing damage - damage US wouldn't want and by damage, I, of course, mean losing money. Of course this doesn't mean it is going to happen, in fact it's not going to happen.

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And best of all the idea that you don't need to have read mao to be a maoist?

That was a joke, perhaps you would have to read Mao to understand that joke.

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this conversation is over.

Well, from the top all you did was to dodge the points where you couldn't bring yourself to answer and reply to points only you thought you had a point. Now you are dodging the entire discussion, which is of course not really surprising but anyway...

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Dec 27 2006 20:23
revol68 wrote:
Also I think Leo's point about Venezuala wasn't about a military attack on the US, but how it can use it's oil to bolster opponents of the states and generally undermine US interests, the point being that every country is imperialist to it's own limits and within it's own means.

Nope that would have been a smart route to retreat down but even after you pointed it out he was dumb enough to argue the military route (see above). Yup any day now Chavez will be rolling his tanks into Texas.

Leo
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Dec 27 2006 20:55
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Nope that would have been a smart route to retreat down

That would not be a retreat because that was my initial point. You brought the military topic, I followed.

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but even after you pointed it out he was dumb enough to argue the military route (see above). Yup any day now Chavez will be rolling his tanks into Texas.

I said that it was technically possible to do a military attack, and I also said that it wasn't going to happen (see above), obviously you lack the ability to read, and if you think a kamikaze attack of an entire nation-state would not be "problem" for the evil manifestation of Satan, then you also lack the ability to think.

Moh Kohn
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Dec 28 2006 00:33

I don't think you can neatly divide countries into "imperialist" and "subject", but certain distinctions can be drawn if necessary.

Some countries are Great Powers with global force projection either military or economic- the US, Russia, China, various European countries. Some are regional powers- Iran, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, blah blah. Some are economic and military nonentities.

Historically, you can talk about colonisers and colonised- eg India was colonised by Britain. Of course the sections of the Indian ruling class that backed the Brits did benefit from this. A local Indian prince bordering a tribe not under British protection would be able to wage war against them if he so chose*. Two key factors made India a colonised country under the Raj- 1) Britain had political/military control and 2) The triangular trade in cotton (India sells cotton to Britain, Britain sells cotton goods to India). 2, which is a clear example of a coloniser shaping trade relations, was only possible because of 1.

So what do we make of Nigeria? Nigeria produces oil, yet sells so much to foreign oil companies that it has to import oil too. That's triangular trade. On the other hand, it's not occupied by anyone. Instead, various intelligence agencies work to maintain a "friendly" government. This strategy for maintaining favourable trade relations is strikingly similar to the British Empire's "Arab Façade" of the years between the wars, which was a step away from the old direct-rule colonialism.

As to who should be supported, that is indeed a complex question. Personally, I favour anything that's good for people. Anyone who can't distinguish between Sukarno and Suharto is blind to human suffering. Nonetheless, I wouldn't call myself a "supporter" of Sukarno, he was just better than Suharto for ordinary Indonesians. Independent nationalists, whilst imperfect, tend to be better for their people than foreign-imposed strongmen. This should be obvious.

Naturally, both should be overthrown in favour of democratic communism.

Does anyone seriously disagree with this position?

*I'm not aware of a specific example of this happening. I'd be very surprised, however, if it never did.

----

PS, the US would detect the Venezuelan air force / navy long before they were in range, and could crush them effortlessly. Missiles could cause some damage, I don't know how many Venezuela has or their guidance capabilities though, and a non-precision missile is pretty worthless except as a terror weapon.

The economic and military consequences for the US of a Venezuelan "suicide attack" would be negligible- defenders have a big advantage. The strongest possible Venezuelan suicide attack on the US would be non-military, and simply involve blowing up their own oil rigs.

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Dec 29 2006 08:24
Moh Kohn wrote:
As to who should be supported, that is indeed a complex question. Personally, I favour anything that's good for people. Anyone who can't distinguish between Sukarno and Suharto is blind to human suffering. Nonetheless, I wouldn't call myself a "supporter" of Sukarno, he was just better than Suharto for ordinary Indonesians. Independent nationalists, whilst imperfect, tend to be better for their people than foreign-imposed strongmen. This should be obvious.

I don't think this is obvious at all. Sukarno might have been better than Suharto, but would you say that Khomeini turned out to be better than the Shah? Would you rather live in North Korea or South Korea? Did the people in Cambodia prosper after Pol Pot liberated them from US imperialism? I could make a long list of such anti-imperialist heroes of the left. There is simply no reason to claim that "independent nationalists" are "better for their people" than their "pro-imperialist" counterparts.

ernie
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Dec 29 2006 13:16

I fully agree with felix concerning Moh Kohn post.
In relation to the question of Venezuelan imperialism. The imperialist nature of the Venezuelan national capital is not dependent whether it can attack the US or not, but upon its need to do all it can to increase its influence at the diplomatic, military, cultural and economic level. The Venezuelan bourgeoisie has not choice about this. The only choice it has is whether this policy is best carried out in opposition to the US or as an ally of the US.
chavez is certainly not going to roll into Huston atop a tank, but he has certainly got ambitions for making Venezuela a leading power in Latin America and to do all he can to undermine US influence.
JoeBlack2's conception of imperialism leaves one incapable of understanding the accelerating imperialist chaos engulfing the world. If imperialism is only a few large countries, does that mean that the ruling class in Ethiopia are not carrying out their own imperialist policy in Somalia? They are certainly an ally of the US, but does that mean that the ruling class their do not have their own ambitions? What about the involvement of all the countries surrounding the Congo in the war there, are they not fulfilling their own imperialist ambitions?
Leo is correct to say that we have to see that all countries are imperialist, otherwise you end up being forced into the typical Leftist argument of having to see imperialist and non-imperialist powers. Which in the end boils down to supporting the lesser evil.

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Dec 29 2006 13:24
ernie wrote:
JoeBlack2's conception of imperialism leaves one incapable of understanding the accelerating imperialist chaos engulfing the world. If imperialism is only a few large countries, does that mean that the ruling class in Ethiopia are not carrying out their own imperialist policy in Somalia? They are certainly an ally of the US, but does that mean that the ruling class their do not have their own ambitions?

God you are the laziest dogmatists that I have ever come across. All you do in the above comment is reveal that you haven't actually read the position paper you are supposed to be commenting on!
http://www.wsm.ie/story/825)

ernie
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Dec 29 2006 13:35

Joe I did not claim to be commenting upon the text but upon what you have said on this thread. If that makes me a dogmatist so be it.
That being said it would be interesting to know your response to the questions I pose.

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Dec 29 2006 20:57
ernie wrote:
Joe I did not claim to be commenting upon the text but upon what you have said on this thread.

Tough - my understanding of imperialism is that contained in the text.

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Dec 29 2006 23:54

Joe - Would you really defend the idea that Venezuela is "non-imperialist" in relation to Latin America?

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Dec 30 2006 13:54
OliverTwister wrote:
Joe - Would you really defend the idea that Venezuela is "non-imperialist" in relation to Latin America?

Oliver would you really defend the idea that General Motors is not exploitative in relation to Canada?

(Or in other words could people please stop imagining positions I don't hold and then ask me to argue them. I don't belive I have made any comment whatsoever on Venezula and its relationship to the rest of Latin America. People are fencing with their own ghosts and assumptions and not with anything we have written)

I'm willing to treat serious questions based on the actual text of the position paper seriously but frankly I'm astounded at the poor quality of 'responses' so far.

Moh Kohn
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Dec 30 2006 20:45

Fair enough on Pol Pot etc. I was wrong. Independent nationalism does seem to have been an improvement where it has come about in Latin America, from what I can see. There doesn't seem to be much difference between nationalists and imperial clients in Arab countries. East Asia is hit-and-miss, there have been nasty killers of both types.

On the Venezuela imperialist question, the first point of the position paper does say:
"1. Imperialism is the ability of countries to globally and locally dictate trade relations with other countries. This means the term can only be usefully applied to a few countries, in particular those composing the permanent members of the UN security council and the G8."

Which implies that Venezuela probably isn't seen as imperialist by the WSM. However, it also says

"5. The countries that are not themselves imperialist show a continuous spectrum of forms from those which are absolute colonies of one power to those that although ultimately answerable to the imperialists are for the most part independent junior parts of world capitalism and may have considerable local power. Today almost all the national governments of the world are promoting neo liberalism as it also provides benefits to the local ruling class, even though this is at a cost to their population."

With the definition of imperialist given, ie a power that can dictate trade relations, Venezuela isn't imperialist. Sure they have power through their oil reserves, but they couldn't get away with the sort of thing Russia has been doing lately in "negotiations" with Georgia and Belarus.

I think this position does lack nuance. There's no reason that a country like Venezuela couldn't find themselves in a local imperialist position over a smaller country.

An example from history- central (Anglish/Scots-speaking) Scotland's relation to its Gaelic-speaking periphery could be characterised as imperialist, but Scotland's relationship to England or France (depending on the period) was usually as a client state.