8th Feb, 2018
Issue 6: Imperialism - Viewpoint Magazine
Internationalism against Imperialism | Viewpoint Magazine
If imperialism today is irreducible to any single phenomenon, then this is because it appears at once both ubiquitous and dispersed. How then to account today for the history that has amplified imperialism while making it all the more difficult to define?
STRATEGIES AND SOLIDARITIES
The Radical Anti-imperialist Consciousness of Bolivian Tin Miners in the Early 20th-Century | Guillermo Delgado-P.
With the ascendance of Evo Morales to the presidency of Bolivia, the government disinterred “anti-imperialist” sentiments to challenge the overbearing influence of the United States on Bolivian politics. This renewed anti-imperialist discourse draws from layers of localized history accreted during Bolivia’s long status as a peripheral country entangled in the workings of the world system. My intention here is not to focus on the re-emergence of this politics today, but to re-assess the origins and conditions of anti-imperialist consciousness among workers the 20th-century Bolivian Andes.
While much of the work on imperialism has focused on distinguishing between different types of imperialism over time or between empire and imperialism, putting aside these considerations and focusing on various cases in Cuban history allows us to see certain slippages between the categories of imperialism, empire, and anti-imperialism. This history illustrates the complex workings of imperialism, which exercises direct control over a country’s economic, social and political spheres, but also over its ideologies, laws and domestic struggles, and often in the context of multiple imperialisms.
The New Left and the Army: Let’s Bridge the Gap! (1968) | The Movement, Vietnam GI, and Derek Seidman
During the U.S. war on Vietnam, an extraordinary phenomenon arose within the military’s ranks: the widespread production, circulation, and readership of an underground antiwar press for, and often by, rank-and-file GIs.
Transnational Solidarity on the Gay and Lesbian Left: An Interview With Emily Hobson | Emily Hobson and Aaron Lecklider
What I focus on is how queer radicals didn’t just work to win acceptance, but actually changed the meanings of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle to incorporate sexual liberation – precisely because capitalism and colonialism depend on rigid sexual regulation.
From Charonne to Vitry (1981) | Étienne Balibar
But let’s return again to Charonne. I find it very revealing of the Party’s attitude which, both today and yesterday, glorifies the fallen comrades but never recalls why the demonstration was held in the first place. One hears only of an abstract and mythic anticolonial struggle. Many of us can bear witness with lucid memories: if there was a February 8, 1962 and before it a December 19, 1961, these united demonstrations in which everyone’s divisions and sectarianisms were put aside, it is only because the terrible event of October 17, 1961 happened, of which the Party never speaks, nor anyone else for that matter.
Thomas Sankara and the Revolutionary Birth of Burkina Faso | Mamadou Diallo
The Sankarist Revolution was the peak of a series of revolts, the breakdown of an inept cycle, and the beginning of a historical sequence that would see Upper Volta become Burkina Faso and, to deal with its critical situation, “dare to invent the future.”
A United Front Against Debt (1987) | Thomas Sankara
Debt is neo-colonialism, in which colonizers have transformed themselves into “technical assistants.” We should rather say “technical assassins.”
For the indigenous population of the Americas, 1492 signifies the closure of self-determined history and the beginning of near demographic annihilation. From the vantage point of Spanish and Portuguese rulers, the same moment signals the ascent of far-reaching feudal empires and the concomitant rewards of extraordinary geographic preponderance.
The state of bankruptcy under imperial rule interrogated by Hora de los hornos allows us to consider what Randy Martin diagnosed as the “financialization of daily life” together with what the Situationists called the “colonization of everyday life” within capitalism, while surpassing each of these theses by insisting that quotidian violence is inseparable from imperialism as a historical and cultural process.
Surplus Alongside Excess: Uno Kōzō, Imperialism, and the Theory of Crisis | Gavin Walker and Ken Kawashima
Uno Kōzō’s Theory of Crisis provides us with not only a way to think about Marx’s Capital as a theoretical structure, but also the conditions of possibility for a renewal of politics in the face of our current situation. Paradoxically, the theoretical eternality of the laws and norms constituting capitalist society is precisely what allows us to grasp the historicity and finitude of the capitalist mode of production itself. And while the necessity of crisis does not simply lead to the necessity of collapse of the system, it does allow us to think otherwise about the necessity of capitalism itself.
Frantz Fanon and the Problems of Independence (1963) | Nguyen Nghe
Much of The Wretched of the Earth, if not all of it, had been thrown onto paper as a rough draft. Certainly, if the author were still alive, the end of the Algerian War, as well as the events that followed the armistice, would have allowed him to correct some of the ideas and complete some of the book’s more affirmative arguments. Unfortunately, Fanon has left us, but the book remains. The respect he is due cannot excuse us from criticizing the theses advanced in his work without asking: if Frantz Fanon were still alive, what would he teach us in light of the Algerian experience?
The Name of Algeria: French Philosophy and the Subject of Decolonization | Alberto Toscano
A hypothetical “Algerian history of French philosophy” elicits a variegated but in many ways opaque picture. Arguably, it is only the generation that came of political age in the late 1950s and early 1960s – the generation of Balibar and Rancière – that, with considerable delay, incorporated the questions raised by the decolonization of France and Algeria into their thinking, but when they did so it was not in terms of the problematic of revolutionary anti-colonial violence, but in terms of the antinomies of citizenship.
Selections from Theoretical Preliminaries to the Study of the Impact of Social Thought on the National Liberation Movement (1973) | Mahdi Amel and Brahim El Guabli
I have defined the colonial mode of production as a historical form that is distinct from the capitalist mode of production. It is specifically the form of capitalism that is connected in structural dependency with imperialism in its historical formation and current development.
Old and New Questions in the Theory of Imperialism (1975) | Luciano Ferrari Bravo
The renewal of Leninism generally ends up being performed mechanistically, and this proves more and more to be a fruitless operation. Instead it is a matter of returning to Lenin by way of Marx. Today, renewing Leninist analysis in the political sense requires us to find in Marx, in his method before even in the contents of his discourse, the correct way of posing the question: what determines capital – as a political-material relation, as a relation of force – in its configuration and its international dynamics?
Problems of Dependent Determination and Primordial Form (1982) | René Zavaleta Mercado
In this work we want to consider the question of the construction of politics in relation to the tension between authoritarian forms and democratic movements, considered in their points of origin. According to a certain Latin American irredentism, there are no national histories. What would usually be categorized as such are only repercussions in this territory of the history of the core countries. Dependency would permanently beget dependency. What is important is to define, however, is the degree of self-determination that a national history can have, the conditions in which a self-determining process is produced.
CONCEPTUALIZING IMPERIALISM TODAY
The Specificity of Imperialism | Salar Mohandesi
A strong socialist movement in this country is impossible without a firm and unwavering commitment to overthrowing imperialism in all its forms. To do that, however, we need a clearer idea of exactly what we are up against.
As I see it, the recent developments which might pose a challenge to how we understand current imperialism, are precisely those that define its contemporary existence as a world order structured by the systematic exploitation of incipiently-capitalist economies by the core capitalist states.
European Union as Class Project and Imperialist Strategy | Spyros Sakellaropoulos and Panagiotis Sotiris
European Integration is a process traversed by class antagonisms, and particular class relations of force can explain both its history and its particular institutional configuration. Yet its particular economic, institutional, and monetary architectures represent material obstacles to the actual coordination of the struggles of the subaltern classes all over Europe, struggles that are necessarily uneven because of the different temporalities of social antagonism in different social formations. This what makes a strategy of rupture and exit the necessary condition for social change but also for the possibility of creating new forms of coordination and cooperation between movements.
Possessive Nationalism: Race, Class, and the Lifeworlds of Property | Brenna Bhandar
The current political moment, when grasped through the property logics discussed above, requires us to consider how ideologies of ownership, including expectations to secure privileges and entitlements are enwrapped within xenophobic, racist, and gendered discourses of sovereignty and nationalism. National brands derive their power from a propertied lifeworld in which individuals and communities make emotional investments in the fantasies of a return to a more simple, secure time of plenitude.
How Empire Operates: An Interview with Laleh Khalili | Laleh Khalili
Imperialism as a dispositif includes many elements. But in the last instance, the United States has never been hesitant about the use of force where it has seen its broader interests – and the interests of capital – endangered.
Notes on Libya | Max Ajl
The point is not to debate whether or not Libya was a socialist state. Much more interesting is understanding what were its strengths and what were its weaknesses.
Decolonizing Tunisia’s Border Violence: Moving Beyond Imperial Structures and Imaginaries | Corinna Mullin and Brahim Rouabah
What if rather than starting from Tunisia’s “border problem,” analysis instead started from problematizing the very concern with “border violence” itself? How can a longue durée approach to Tunisia’s borders help us understand not only the nature but also the kinds of work Tunisia’s borders do in terms of producing certain political and socio-economic realities?
The Enemy at Home: U.S. Imperialism in Syria | Patrick Higgins
We cannot meaningfully oppose U.S. imperialism anywhere if we compromise or make the slightest peace with it in Syria. How does the destruction in Syria fit into broader historical patterns? How do we situate the war on Syria into the histories of U.S. imperialism, the Arab world (including Palestine), and the relationship between the two? It is only by positing those questions that we can develop the theoretical grounding necessary to build the movements and establish the alliances required to defeat the U.S. war machine in Syria and elsewhere.
The New Debt Colonies | Jerome Roos
In the wake of the global financial crisis, methods of financial subjugation have been applied on a massive scale in the capitalist heartland itself. The result has not just been a new wave of “accumulation by dispossession,” but in some cases also the effective abolition of national sovereignty.
We must understand this crisis as an outcome of the ways this region is woven into the global economy. The oil and war economies, the destruction and waste side of capital accumulation, are the main channels by which the region is articulated with the global market. Waste and militarism are principal elements in an accumulation regime that produces value by consuming not only the value of labor-power, but also the value inherent in human lives.
ARTICULATION AND MODES OF PRODUCTION
Deportation as Outsourcing in El Salvador’s Call Center Industry | Hilary Goodfriend
In this cycle of migration, deportation, and outsourcing, then, the enterprise of deportation takes on a more sinister tone, as open coercion is combined with precarious forms of wage labor. It offers a singular example of the cynical and cruel efficiency of global neoliberal capitalism. The rise of the call center industry in countries like Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador signals the reimagining of mass deportation as outsourcing, in which not only are jobs offshored, but so are the workers that fill them, whose years of living and working in the United States have made them uniquely qualified for the work.
Forms of Unfree Labor: Primitive Accumulation, Prehistory, or History of Capitalism? | Yann Moulier Boutang
We propose to show two things: on the one hand, it shall be argued that so-called “primitive” accumulation of capital takes place in a continuous, or ongoing manner; on the other hand, in order to accurately identify the contemporary role of forms of unfree labor, it is necessary to take the same approach as found in my previous work on the constitution of historical wage-labor.
At the same time that J. A. Hobson was writing Imperialism: A Study (1902), Liang Qichao, a major turn-of-the-century Chinese intellectual and journalist, wrote a magisterial essay on what he called “the new rules for destroying countries” [mieguo xinfa]. As Liang makes clear, conceptualizing modern Chinese history as dialectically part of modern global history not only helps generate new questions of and in theories of imperialism and modernity, it also helps generate new questions about Chinese history and the history of global revolutions.
Today, the field of inquiry called “postcolonial studies” appears to be in a crisis of self-legitimation. This crisis concerns not the “success” of postcolonial studies as a disciplinary formation in the production of knowledge, but rather the foundational assumptions and political directions implied by the emergence of this disciplinary formation.
The U.S. military in post-WWII Okinawa was not only interested in expropriating public and private lands in order to transform Okinawa into its keystone of the Pacific. It was also interested in allowing base enclosures to perform the constant ideological work of normalizing capitalist social relations in the islands. In other words, there was an articulation that complicates our understanding of how imperialist power operates; an articulation between military force and the restructuring of social life on a broad scale, namely through the redrawing of property relations.
IMPERIALISM AND THE COMINTERN
The Communist International and Imperialism | Ian Birchall
The new Soviet state needed allies – either socialism would extend its victory, or exploitation and oppression would continue and new wars would break out. It was with this perspective that the Comintern was founded in 1919, with the object of encouraging world revolution. And with the Baku Congress of September 1920, the Bolsheviks made a symbolic declaration of their opposition to imperialism and attempted to lay the foundations for an organizational expression of this opposition.
Revolution Decentered: Two Studies on Lenin | Matthieu Renault
Through the two studies that follow, we will begin to explore Lenin’s itinerary of a decolonization of the revolution, covering the question of national self-determination and struggles for independence prior to 1917 as well as the imperative to decolonize the Russian Empire after 1917, starting with the case of the Muslim colonies of Central Asia.
From its birth in 1892 onwards, the Polish Socialist Party developed a strategy of merging working-class and anti-imperial struggle, presaging an orientation championed by the early Communist International and socialist activists across Asia, Africa, and Latin America throughout the 20th century.
“Why We Appear”: The Brief Revival of The Anti-Imperialist Review | Fredrik Petersson
The LAI’s theoretical organ The Anti-Imperialist Review and its editorial history represent a constituent source of militant reportage on global anti-imperialism between the two World Wars, as well as a rigorous effort to construct a conceptual framework within which the international communist movement could politically analyze how these phenomena were articulated within the broader international relations of force. The dead-ends and contradictory ideological and political shifts that the LAI had to navigate also point to the insurmountable problems of the anti-imperialist practice of Comintern-linked organizations.
Why We Appear (1931) | League Against Imperialism
In the last few years the struggle of the oppressed masses in the colonial and semi-colonial countries has gained enormously in extent and intensity. National oppression in Europe exerted by imperialism through the instrument of the Versailles Treaty is giving rise to acute political problems. The “League Against Imperialism,” which has been in existence for more than four years as the international organisation uniting all anti-imperialist forces, is faced with the need for extending and intensifying its activities to a corresponding degree.
The Negro Worker surveyed the geographies of colonialism and imperialism through the labor regimes which marked the uneven development of global capitalism, and in doing so also plotted the different trajectories and strategies of anti-colonial struggles.
Three Texts from The Negro Worker on the U.S. South | Gilbert Lewis, George Padmore, and Isaiah Hawkins
The bourbon capitalists of the South have been able to maintain their semi-feudal sway over the millions of brutally oppressed and bitterly exploited Negro and white toilers solely because of their ability to keep these workers unorganised and divided. About this the Southern ruling class has no illusions. It knows that these workers and especially the Negro workers, when organised under the militant leadership of the Communist Party and the revolutionary trade unions can be but a battering ram for the smashing of the entire capitalist system, breeder of all forms of economic, social and political inequalities.
Appeal to Negro Seamen and Dockers (1932) | The Negro Worker
The International of Seamen and Harbour Workers (ISH) greets you and appeals to you to organize within the ranks of the revolutionary water transport proletariat to fight against the terrible exploitation and robbery imposed upon you by the capitalists, the shipowners, the lighterage companies, as well as their white and black agents – the headmen, the stevedore-bosses, the foremen and managers.
“World Black Revolution” was a critical exegesis, literally a reimagining, of the primary tenets of Marxist thought dating back to the 1848 publication of the Communist Manifesto. Its authors, members of a small cadre of trained black revolutionaries, sought to demonstrate that every major premise of western Marxist historiography and Communist history had failed to address what W.E.B. Du Bois called “the color line.” Thus, the World Black Revolution, elevated to the level of a strategic concept, aspired to define Black Power as an epochal stage and interpretation of world history, a new hermeneutic for a revised historical totality.
The World Black Revolution (1966) | Revolutionary Action Movement
All over Africa, Asia, South, Afro and Central America a revolution is haunting and sweeping.
The Angolan Question (1976) | Walter Rodney
It was immediately obvious that there was a startling coincidence – a startling convergence – between the positions of certain individuals who call themselves progressive, revolutionaries, and who in fact regarded themselves as the essence of revolution – yet their positions converged with that of U.S. imperialism. And this amazing historical convergence needs to be understood.