Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Changing Face of Imperialism: Colonialism to Contemporary Capitalism — Sunanda Sen and Maria Cristina Marcuzzo

How is imperialism relevant today? How has it mutated over the past century? What are different theoretical and empirical angles through which we can study imperialism? These are the questions we deal with in our edited volume on The Changing Face of Imperialism (2018).

We understand imperialism as a continuing arrangement since the early years of empire-colonies to the prevailing pattern of expropriations, on part of those who wield power vis-à-vis those who are weak. The pattern of ‘old imperialism’, in the writings of Hobson, Hilferding and Lenin, were framed in the context of the imperial relations between the ruling nations and their colonies with political subjugation of the latter, captured by force or by commerce, providing the groundwork for their economic domination in the interest of the ruling nations. Forms of such arrogation varied, across regions and over time; including the early European invasions of South America, use of slaves or indentured labour across oceans, and the draining off of surpluses from colonies by using trade and financial channels. Imperialism, however, has considerably changed its pattern since then, especially with institutional changes in the prevailing power structure.

The essays in the volume offer a renewed interpretation, which include the alternate interpretations of imperialism and its changing pattern over space and time, incorporating the changing pattern of oppression which reflects the dynamics underlying the specific patterns of oppression. The pattern can be characterised as ‘new imperialism’ under contemporary capitalism as distinct from its ‘old’ form under colonialism. The varied interpretations of imperialism as in the literature do not lessen the significance of the common ground underlying the alternate positions, including the diverse pattern of expropriations under imperialism....

It's a system effect rather than a conscious program administered by the political authority, e.g, the crown. Prabhat Patnaik explains:

Interestingly, Patnaik takes issue with interpretations of imperialism as a political project undertaken by the ruling state of US, through enlisting the support of other advanced capitalist States. For him, taking the leading country as the driving force behind imperialism means attributing to its state an autonomy, which none of the present capitalists countries have. Instead, as he argues, today’s imperialism is marked by the retreat and subservience of the state to international finance and, consequently, as the only political option, a selective delinking of the national economy from the global economy....
Like I've been saying — neoliberalism, neo-imperialism, and neocolonialism go hand in glove. It's a system that has morphed to preserve itself. The direction is toward a translational corporate totalitarianism that in effect replaced nation states and therefore democracy. This is clearly an excess of liberalism that ventures in the illiberal in the name of liberalism.

Sunanda Sen, former Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, and Maria Cristina Marcuzzo, Professor of Economics, University of Rome, ‘La Sapienza’, Italy, and Fellow of the Italian Academy of Lincei

1 comment:

Peter Pan said...

Exploitation and killing has morphed into more exploitation and killing... for reasons that only academics know.