Anti-Imperialism – an Absolute Imperative Or “Civilization-mongers” in 1857 and 2013

03/05/2013 by socialistfight

By Gerry Downing
In 1857 Fredrick Engels wrote in defence of Chinese anti-Imperialist insurgents:
There is evidently a different spirit among the Chinese now to what they showed in the war of 1840 to ‘42.[1] They kidnap and kill every foreigner within their reach. The very coolies emigrating to foreign countries rise in mutiny, and as if by concert, on board every emigrant ship, and fight for its possession, and, rather than surrender, go down to the bottom with it, or perish in its flames…Civilization-mongers who throw hot shells on a defenceless city and add rape to murder, may call the system cowardly, barbarous, atrocious; but what matters it to the Chinese if it be only successful? Since the British treat them as barbarians, they cannot deny to them the full benefit of their barbarism. If their kidnappings, surprises, midnight massacres are what we call cowardly, the civilization-mongers should not forget that according to their own showing they could not stand against European means of destruction with their ordinary means of warfare.

In short, instead of moralizing on the horrible atrocities of the Chinese, as the chivalrous English press does, we had better recognize that this is a war pro aris et focis, (for our altars and our hearths) a popular war for the maintenance of Chinese nationality, with all its overbearing prejudice, stupidity, learned ignorance and pedantic barbarism if you like, but yet a popular war. And in a popular war the means used by the insurgent nation cannot be measured by the commonly recognized rules of regular warfare, nor by any other abstract standard, but by the degree of civilization only attained by that insurgent nation.[2]

Modern-day civilisation-mongers
And so to the modern-day civilisation-mongers. In an article on 3 November, 2010, Sean Matgamna, long-time guru of the Alliance for Workers Liberty and its predecessors, gives his opinion that it would be unprincipled for socialists to support the victims of any of the US or other Imperialist wars of aggression. The list includes Korea, Vietnam, Algeria, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Because the victims of US aggressions were led by terrible unprincipled scoundrels (we all became aware of just how shockingly bad they were immediately before and during the attacks, strangely). Notice that anti-imperialism is in quotations marks throughout the article because, of course, his opponents are bogus (“kitsch”), anti-Imperialists who do not understand what real anti-Imperialism is and he is now going to explain all this to us to put us straight. He goes further and accuses the pacifist Stop the War movement of secretly supporting the opponents of Imperialism by failing to produce sufficient pro-imperialist propaganda in lock-step with the Imperialist chauvinist mass media.

He soon tells what the problem is: In this world, the residual elements of “anti-colonialism” will be auxiliary and subordinate to working-class socialist anti-imperialism. Otherwise “anti-imperialism” becomes a siding with anything else against the dominant capitalist powers, and comes to include siding with lesser, weaker imperialisms and regional imperialisms, like Iran or Iraq.[3] Notice the clever use of language. The dominant Imperialist powers have become simply ‘capitalist powers’ and the semi-colonial victims of Imperialist aggression have become “lesser, weaker imperialisms and regional imperialisms, like Iran or Iraq”.

If we are to deal with Imperialism it would be useful to know what it is. Sean helpfully tells us what Imperialism and anti-Imperialism are: With the liquidation of old colonialism, what is imperialism? Primarily, the workings of the capitalist world market. What, now, is anti-imperialism? It is the working class anti-capitalist revolution! Against the “imperialism of free trade, and economic might, and military clout”, of the USA now, the only feasible, serious, real “anti-imperialism” is inseparable from working-class anti-capitalism.[4] Well, zero points for that answer, comrade Sean. This is how Lenin defines the term, and takes issue with the sloppy formulators:

In his controversy with the Lefts, Kautsky declared that imperialism was “merely a system of foreign policy” (namely, annexation), and that it would be wrong to describe as imperialism a definite economic stage, or level, in the development of capitalism. Kautsky is wrong. Of course, it is not proper to argue about words. You cannot prohibit the use of the “word” imperialism in this sense or any other. But if you want to conduct a discussion you must define your terms precisely.

It is fundamentally wrong, un-Marxist and unscientific, to single out “foreign policy” from policy in general, let alone counterpose foreign policy to home policy. Being a “negation” of democracy in general, imperialism is also a “negation” of democracy in the national question (i.e., national self-determination): it seeks to violate democracy.

Economically, imperialism is the highest stage in the development of capitalism, one in which production has assumed such big, immense proportions that free competition gives way to monopoly. That is the economic essence of imperialism. Monopoly manifests itself in trusts, syndicates, etc., in the omnipotence of the giant banks, in the buying up of raw material sources, etc., in the concentration of banking capital, etc. Everything hinges on economic monopoly. (our emphasis) [5]

Crumbs from the super profits
Having invented his own bogus definition of Imperialism he can then equate the oppressor with the oppressed, the whale with the minnow and take a neutral position in all Imperialist predatory wars. We must oppose Imperialism because not to do so is to adopt a chauvinist attitude and become pro-Imperialists ourselves. In opposing this view from Karl Kautsky almost a century ago this is how Lenin tackled the question:

Is the actual condition of the workers in the oppressor and in the oppressed nations the same, from the standpoint of the national question? No, it is not the same.
(1) Economically, the difference is that sections of the working class in the oppressor nations receive crumbs from the super profits the bourgeoisie of these nations obtains by extra exploitation of the workers of the oppressed nations. Besides, economic statistics show that here a larger percentage of the workers become “straw bosses” than is the case in the oppressed nations, a larger percentage rise to the labour aristocracy. That is a fact. To a certain degree the workers of the oppressor nations are partners of their own bourgeoisie in plundering the workers (and the mass of the population) of the oppressed nations.
(2) Politically, the difference is that, compared with the workers of the oppressed nations, they occupy a privileged position in many spheres of political life.
(3) Ideologically, or spiritually, the difference is that they are taught, at school and in life, disdain and contempt for the workers of the oppressed nations. This has been experienced, for example, by every Great Russian who has been brought up or who has lived among Great Russians.

Thus, all along the line there are differences in objective reality, i.e., “dualism” in the objective world that is independent of the will and consciousness of individuals. In real life the International is composed of workers divided into oppressor and oppressed nations. If its action is to be monistic, its propaganda must not be the same for both. That is how we should regard the matter in the light of real (not Dühringian) “monism”, Marxist materialism.[6]

Now we can see the real reason behind this theory. It justified the AWL’s relationship with the Labour leaders when in the party and with the left TU leaders like Bib Crow of the RMT. Like all TU bureaucrats Crow is the softest on British jobs for British workers and the AWL trots along behind him ideologically and politically because Imperialism is “not always the main enemy”. If we cannot make revolution at least the crumbs from the masters table might sustain us for a little longer,

Killer quote
But Sean has the killer quote from Lenin on why we must not support the Taliban against Imperialist attack: Imperialism is as much our ‘mortal’ enemy as is capitalism. That is so. No Marxist will forget, however, that capitalism is progressive compared with feudalism, and that imperialism is progressive compared with pre-monopoly capitalism. Hence, it is not every struggle against imperialism that we should support. We will not support a struggle of the reactionary classes against imperialism; we will not support an uprising of the reactionary classes against imperialism and capitalism. [7]

He hopes we have not taken the trouble to read the rest of the article to discover the premise on which that idea was based. And it is only a few pages back: The social revolution cannot be the united action of the proletarians of all countries for the simple reason that most of the countries and the majority of the world’s population have not even reached, or have only just reached, the capitalist stage of development. Only the advanced countries of Western Europe and North America have matured for socialism.” [8]

That was written in 1916 where Lenin still held the theory of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry and before he had written the April Theses and before Trotsky had developed his Theory of Permanent Revolution in 1928 to apply to all nations. Many nations had not economically reached capitalist stage of development in 1916 but politically the extension of communications via trade and commerce meant that they were becoming ever more globally integrated economically and this was politically reflected in their consciousness. In any case it is ridiculous to argue that in 2010 there was any nation on the planet that has not reached the capitalist stage of development. Feudalism has long vanished from the face of the earth economically even if there are many reactionary feudal and pre-feudal ideas and institutions in backward countries. As a self-proclaimed but bogus Trotskyist is Sean asking us to seek the salvation of two stage revolutions?

Matgamna blunders on:
We are against imperialism as such, on the lines sketched by the Second Congress of the Comintern? Yes, but the point is that “anti-imperialism” is not an absolute imperative, not outside of context, not outside of the concrete truths of world politics. The Comintern theses themselves made a modification, an exception, insisting on “the need to combat pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the mullahs, etc. (our emphasis)[9]

But we must insist that anti-Imperialism is an absolute imperative for all the reasons outlined by Lenin above. Take the current situation in Syria. All the arguments against supporting Assad are moral and not political. Assad is a bloody-thirsty tyrant so we must oppose him and seek his downfall. Obama is a modern westerner who is bringing civilisation to Syria so we must support him. As against this we must see the real motivations and what will be the outcome for Syria and its entire people if this bogus ‘revolution’ succeeds. A devastated land where Wall Street, the City of London and the Paris Bourse can extract their super- profits via their multi-national corporations rebuilding what they have destroyed and grabbing privatised health services and schools, etc. And the now poverty-stricken people whose living standards will have been devastated will therefore have to work for them for a pittance. That is what they did to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and everywhere the ‘civilisation-mongers’ visit to impose ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’. That is why Uncle Sam’s CIA thugs funds its proxy armies and murders and assassinates itself; to maintain the profits of Wall Street and its multi-national corporations.

Reactionary theory of sub-imperialism
In around 1982 Matgamna proposed his reactionary theory of sub-imperialism or paleo-imperialism in justification of his refusal to call for the defeat of British imperialism in its war on Argentina over the Malvinas. He subsequently pressed this justifying mantra into use over every war Imperialism waged before or since. Basically it is just a reworking of the backward reactionary libertarian workerist notion so popular among Anarchists and ‘Left Communists’ (the infantile disorder variety slated by Lenin in his famous book) that all nations are capitalist and we must be equally against them all and not take sides when one capitalist nation attacks another but declare we are against all this nonsense and for the working class and socialist revolution.

Colin Foster set out the reactionary view in Workers Liberty 2/2:
Today some ex-colonial or ex-semi-colonial countries have some military means to dominate their neighbours, but relatively little economic clout. They use the methods of the old imperialism, “paleo-imperialism”, as it might be called – Turkey in Kurdistan and Cyprus, Serbia in Kosova, Iraq in Kurdistan and Kuwait, Indonesia in East Timor, Morocco in the Western Sahara, Libya in Chad, Ethiopia in Eritrea, Argentina in the Falklands… This “paleo-imperialism” is a small-scale parody of the high imperialism of the late 19th century. It is not anti-imperialist. It is not a progressive alternative to the economic domination of the big powers. It may clash with the modern “imperialism of free trade” and with the USA as the chief policeman of that new order – or cooperate with it as a junior partner. But even when it clashes with the USA, the “paleo-imperialism” does not represent liberation or progress. It does not show a way out of underdevelopment, or towards a fairer and more equal world. Only independent working class struggle can do that. And the working class which can wage that struggle is growing in numbers, and often in organisation, all across the ex-colonial world. [10]

But Lenin’s definition of Imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism precisely makes the point that Imperialism is NOT SIMPLY colonialism and the conquest of territory and the scramble for Africa but the financial and consequent economic domination of Imperialism itself which was assisted by colonialism but was essentially based on financial, economic and ultimately military might. The post WWII change from colonialism to semi-colonialism did not change that. In fact it only brought to the fore the essence of Imperialism itself; a nation could have nominal independence and yet be even more oppressed by Imperialism in its national independence phase than in its colonial days. Lenin explains:

Finance capital has created the epoch of monopolies, and monopolies introduce everywhere monopolist principles: the utilisation of “connections” for profitable transactions takes the place of competition on the open market. The most usual thing is to stipulate that part of the loan granted shall be spent on purchases in the creditor country, particularly on orders for war materials, or for ships, etc. In the course of the last two decades (1890-1910), France has very often resorted to this method. The export of capital thus becomes a means of encouraging the export of commodities. In this connection, transactions between particularly big firms assume a form which, as Schilder “mildly” puts it, “borders on corruption”. Krupp in Germany, Schneider in France, Armstrong in Britain are instances of firms which have close connections with powerful banks and governments and which cannot easily be “ignored” when a loan is being arranged.

Thus finance capital, literally, one might say, spreads its net over all countries of the world…The capital-exporting countries have divided the world among themselves in the figurative sense of the term. But finance capital has led to the actual division of the world.[11]Shock and Awe, Iraq, May 2002What does Imperialism do?
What does Imperialism do? It exploits the semi-colonial world for its natural recourses, it destroys its native industry via its agencies in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank etc. And it sends its armies to invade those nations that refuse to obey its diktats to open up their domestic markets to its multi-national companies or to sell their primary products at the price demanded by Imperialism. Almost all struggles against Imperialism are carried out by reactionary forces which mobilise popular sentiment against foreign invasion or kick against economic oppression foisted on the semi-colonial world by the big finance houses and multi-national companies whose interests are looked after by the IMF and the World Bank. Of course they do so in defence of the profits of the native bourgeoisie but we would suggest that is preferable to the destruction of the sovereignty of nations to facilitate the super profits of the Imperialist multi-nationals. As we wrote in our document Against the theories of ultra-imperialism and sub-imperialism in 2008:

One only has to look at the Bretton Woods Intuitions (BWI); the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the International Trade Organisation (ITO successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT) to see how national governments fight the corner of their own capitalists against their rivals. The first two BWIs are more immediately under the control of US imperialism but even the ITO, although formally democratic in structure, has to bow to the pressure of the major powers; it is their agenda and their priorities that dominate. In regions like Africa and South Asia with weak state structures IMF/ITO aid programmes have ripped the heart out of their economies by their ‘structural adjustment’ programmes. In the Asian financial crisis of 1997 the IMF immediately had a structural adjustment solution which allowed in US capital in the first place to penetrate these economies. The US government negotiates at the ITO and sets up bodies like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Association between the US, Canada and Mexico), imposes tariffs on the primary products of the third world – far higher if these are processed – and subsidises its own agriculture to overcome its rivals. The EU similarly proceeds in this way, e.g. the CAP, however with continuing internal conflicts, as does China and Japan. And whilst they are destroying welfare benefits for their poorest citizens the great imperialist governments are intervening with welfare for great financial institutions, Bear Sterns and Northern Rock had to be nationalised in effect to save them… No major corporation can operate on its own on the world stage, governmental support is necessary and it must be its ‘own’ government which provides that support, negotiates international treaties and trade blocks on its behalf and be ultimately prepared to go to war against its rivals on its behalf.[12]

All this theoretical baggage has severe political consequences; in reality is a justification for capitulating to the masters of life. Notoriously Sean took exception to the slogan, “stop the slaughter in Gaza” during Israel’s 2008 slaughter of 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza: “The dominant theme (of the protest demonstration), “stop the slaughter in Gaza”, understandable in the circumstances, could not – in the complete absence of any demands that Hamas stop its war – but be for Hamas and Hamas’s rocket-war on Israel. Even the talk of “the massacre” subsumed Hamas into the general population, and was one variant of solidarising with Hamas, its rocket war, and its repressive clerical-fascist rule over the people of Gaza.”[13]

Economic and military statistics
If we look at a few economic and military statistics from the latest Forbes Lists and elsewhere we find that all these “paleo-imperialist” victims have puny economic and military might and have no multi-national companies in the world’s top 2000 at all. We have abstracted these details from Forbes 2,000 top companies which gives a good indication of the balance of global economic forces:

Of the top 2,000 firms in the world on 17 April 2013 the USA has 543, Japan 251, China 136, UK 95, France 64, South Korea 64, Canada 64, India 56, Germany 50, Switzerland 48, Hong Kong-China 46, Australia 42, Taiwan 41, Brazil 31, Italy 30, Russia 30, Spain 28, Holland 24, Sweden 23, Singapore 20, Malaysia 20, South Africa 19, Mexico 19, Saudi Arabia 17, Ireland 17, Thailand 16, United Arab Emirates 13, Belgium 11, Austria 11, Israel 10, Norway 10, Turkey 9, Philippines 9, Qatar 8, Poland 8, Luxembourg 7, Portugal 6, Kuwait 4, Channel Islands 3, Lebanon 2, Egypt 2, Peru 2, Kazakhstan 2, Jordan 1, New Zealand 1, Pakistan 1, Nigeria 1, Venezuela 1, Argentina 0, Libya 0, Iraq 0, Iran 0, Syria 0, Serbia 0.[14]

The commentary from Scott DeCarlo, of Forbes Staff makes the following comment, confirming Lenin’s analysis of Imperialism: Banks and diversified financials still dominate the list, with a combined 469 (down 9 from last year) companies, thanks in large measure to their sales and asset totals. The next three biggest industries by membership are oil & gas (124 firms), materials (122 firms) and insurance (109 firms).[15]

When the list first appeared in 2004 the US had almost 1,000 on it, but that decline, whilst real, is offset by the dominant position of the US dollar as the world’s reserve trading currency enforced by its military might and by locating company HQs abroad to take advantage of small economies with very favourable corporate tax regimes from which profits are repatriated to the US. For instance Ireland’s 17 companies apparently place it in the same league as South Africa, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, a ridiculous comparison. In reality up to half of those companies are not really Irish at all except in name. Take its top company Accenture plc (Accenture) which is “engaged in providing management consulting, technology and outsourcing services”. It is 318th on the list with a market capitalisation of $53.34 Billion.

According to Wiki:
Accenture plc is a multinational management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company headquartered in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. It is one of the world’s largest consulting firms measured by revenues and is a constituent of the Fortune Global 500 list. As of September 2012, the company had more than 257,000 employees across 120 countries. India currently is the single largest employee base for Accenture, with the headcount expected to reach 80,000 in August 2012. In the US, it has about 40,000 employees and in the Philippines 35,000. Accenture’s current clients include 94 of the Fortune Global 100 and more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500. The international company was first incorporated in Bermuda in 2001. Since September 1, 2009 the company has been incorporated in Ireland.[16]

It is a US multi-national operating a common scam to avoid taxes and using Ireland as a convenient low-tax base to penetrate the European market. It has 1,300 employees in Ireland. It held its 2013 AGM in New York and its CEO is French. That is a common phenomenon in the world, hence the need for the US to maintain its big fleet of aircraft carrier to protect the assets of these companies.

The phenomenon that De Carlo observes here is a reflection of the advantage that the privileged position of the dollar as the world’s trading currency gives it: We break our list into four regions: Asia-Pacific, (715 total members), followed by Europe, Middle East & Africa-EMEA (606), the U.S. (543) and the Americas (143). Only the U.S. grew across all four metrics from a year ago. Asia-Pacific, the biggest region, has the most members for the sixth year running.  They also lead all regions in sales growth (up 8%) and asset growth (up 15%).  The U.S. leads in profit growth (up 4%), earning an aggregate $876 billion in profits and market value growth (11%), with an aggregate value of $14.8 trillion.  U.S.-based companies are the most profitable and most valuable of all regions. The EMEA generated the most sales, a combined $13.3 trillion, and holds the most assets with $64 trillion.[17] 

It is widely believed that the wars against Iraq and Libya were at least partly because the US wanted to overthrow regimes which wanted to begin trading in new currencies that broke the dollar’s monopoly as the world’s trading currency for oil to begin with. Argentina was frequently mentioned back at the turn of the 20th century as a rising Imperialist power; Britain and then the US made sure that it never made it. The two top companies are now Chinese banks but no doubt who the super-power still is.

Here are the statistic for the top ten stock exchanges ($US billions)[18]
1. NYSE Euronext, United States/Europe, $14,085. 2. NASDAQ OMX Group, United States/Europe, $4,582. 3. Tokyo Stock Exchange, Japan $3,478. 4. London Stock Exchange, $3,396. 5. Hong Kong Sock Exchange, $2,831. 6. Shanghai Stock Exchange, $2,547. 7. TMX Group, Canada, $2,058. 8. Deutsche Börse, Germany, $1,486. 9. Australian Securities Exchange, $1,386. 10. Bombay Stock Exchange, $1,263.

The ranking of countries by Gross Domestic Product, this time the top 20: (Millions of $US),
World $70,201,920. 1. United States $14,991,300, 2. China $7,203,784, 3. Japan $5,870,357. 4. Germany $3,604,061. 5. France $2,775,518. 6. Brazil $2,476,651. 7. United Kingdom, 2,429,184. 8. Italy $2,195,937. 9. India $1,897,608. 10 Russia $1,857,770. 11 Canada $1,736,869. 12. Australia $1,515,468. 13. Spain $1,478,206. 14. Mexico $1,155,206. 15. South Korea $1,116,247. 16. Indonesia $846,834. 17. Netherlands $836,823, 18. Turkey $774,983. 19. Switzerland $660,762. 20. Saudi Arabia $597,086. [19]

And lastly the top 15 for military expenditure.
Note the US expenditure is equal to the combined total of all the other 14 on the list. ($US billions): 1. United States $682.0. 2. China $166.0. 3. Russia $90.7. 4. United Kingdom $60.8. 5. Japan $59.3. 6. France $58.9. 7. Saudi Arabia $56.7. 8. India $46.1. 9. Germany $45.8. 10. Italy $34.0. 11. Brazil $33.1. 12. South Korea $31.7. 13. Australia $26.2. 14. Canada $22.5. 15. Turkey $18.2. [20]

It is not sufficient to take just one index to determine whether a country is imperialist. For instance if we take GDP alone immediately the question of GDP per capita arises. It is the relationship between the nations that is the crucial question; is that nation oppressed by the big Imperialist powers or is its economy integrated into the world Imperialist structures to exploit other nations for the mutual benefit of both? These are sometimes called piggy-back Imperialist powers; they follow and penetrated markets opened up by the big powers. Arguably on all those indices Brazil, South Africa, and India are not Imperialist powers, with big question marks around Russia and China. On the other hand how different is the relationship today between Russia and China to the world market and that of Russia in 1917, which Lenin was very sure was an imperialist power on the basis of economic statistics? And the size of the military expenditure is another indicator. Military might was surely a big factor in Lenin’s mind when he wrote Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism in 1916. But for instance Portugal is traditionally regarded as a minor Imperialist power as is Belgium and Holland because they held colonies in the past and so exploited them to develop their own economies and build up big domestic monopoly companies from that relationship. However Britain mainly benefited from the Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia; Portugal was a sort of a semi-colony of the UK.

But that debate aside it is clearly nonsense of the highest order to regard Argentina, Serbia (or Yugoslavia back in the 90s), Iran, Iraq or Libya as any kind of Imperialist powers at all. They are/were relatively advanced semi-colonial nations on Lenin’s clear definition above. In the article Matgamna says the USSR was a colonial power as evidenced by its invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, a clearly ridiculous position, which flies in the face of all serious Marxist analysis of Imperialism. The USSR invaded as a Stalinist bureaucratic defence against the CIA-sponsored attacks by the Mujadiheen on a relatively progressive regime in a nation which was traditionally allied to the USSR.

But it is not a question of supporting Assad or the Taliban or reactionary anti-Imperialist forces against their own working class or supporting women’s oppression at their hands. No, it is a question of fighting Imperialism and seeking its defeat. Of course it is true bourgeois nationalist regimes like that of Gaddafi in Libya or Assad in Syria would fight on behalf of Imperialism if it suited them. Remember the many favours Gaddafi did for the West; how can we forget that the terrible Tel al-Zaatar massacre during the Lebanese Civil War on August 12, 1976 was facilitated by Assad’s father Hafez al-Assad? And also fundamentalists fight on behalf of imperialism for instances in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, in Libya, and now in Syria. But when they are fighting against it as in Mali, Palestine and the Hezbollah in Lebanon we must be with them.

The question is, are they fighting for or against Imperialism right now? Principled Marxists must fight Imperialism alongside those who are fighting it right now to the point politically of forming an Anti-Imperialist United Front in practice, either by means of formal agreement if possible but at any rate politically against Imperialism and its proxies. We insist this is an absolute imperative for every revolutionary socialist. Imperialism imposes an anti-human mode of production on the entire planet that is so oppressive that it distorts human relationships everywhere, it causes great personal unhappiness and mental illness, it brings war and famine to humanity whose material recourses and technological advancement are such that every reasonable want and need of every human being on the planet could be satisfied right now if these were deployed in a rational and planned manner. And that is before the great leap in human wealth and culture a global planned economy would bring. Imperialism gives humanity a glimpse of what is possible only to deny its benefits to the great bulk of humanity and leave us contemplating the obscene spectacle of the greatest gap between the poor and the rich the world has ever known; the richest 1% of adults alone own 40% of global assets and the richest 10% of adults account for 85% of the world’s total wealth. In contrast, the bottom half of the world’s adult population own barely 1% of global wealth.

If we understand fully what imperialism is we must take the side of all anti-Imperialist fighters, not uncritically, not foolishly to risk their own lives or concede to them the mantle of socialism or communism or indeed any consistent anti-Imperialism at all. But in a principled manner to fight together to defeat the central enemy of all oppressed humanity in order to expose the inconsistencies of the existing leaders of the semi-colonial masses and TU bureaucratic misleaders everywhere and thereby lay the basis for a true revolutionary internationalist anti-Imperialism, a reforged Fourth International.  This will strengthen the internationalism and fighting capacity of the working class in the semi-colonial countries as they see revolutionary forces in the metropolitan countries fighting on their behalf against their own imperialists. And it will encourage the working class in the metropolitan countries to reject their own imperialist rulers and embrace the common cause of workers’ internationalism. Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains!


[1] The Anglo-Chinese War of 1840–42; the first Opium War. The Second Opium War was from 1856 to 1860

[2] Engels in New York Daily Tribune, Articles On China, 1853-1860,

[3] Matgamna, Sean, The poverty of “anti-imperialism” and today’s left, (

[4] Ibid.

[5] Lenin, V. I. A caricature of Marxism and Imperialist economism, August-October 1916 Vol 23 Collected Works p. 42

[6] Ibid. p. 55-56

[7] Ibid. p. 63

[8] Ibid. p. 58-9

[9] Matgamna, Op. cit.

[10] Foster, Colin, The politics of globalisation and imperialism today, Workers Liberty 2/2, 2002,

[11] Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, IV. Export of capital,

[12] Have Kautsky and Gramsci replaced Lenin; is ultra-imperialism the new world order? By Gerry Downing,

[13] Splinter Sunrise blog, Goyisher kop! Matgamna on Gaza,

[17] DeCarlo Op. cit.

[18] Rank Stock Exchange Economy Head-quarters Market Capitalization,

[20] Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2013, wiki,

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