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Imperialism and human rights – on the Arab Spring

25 Mar

Growing out of the discussion on Syria in a previous thread, one fellow partisan of the Syrian revolution, using the name Voltairepaine, made series of criticisms of the perspective put forward in my article Imperialist Hands off the Syrian revolution. When composing the reply, I realised that to do the issues justice would require more than just another comment.

For those interested in following the debate, Voltairepaine’s full comment is here.

Voltairepaine says:

“Your definition of imperialism is ‘the West’.”

No, imperialism is the form of advanced capitalism that dominates the world today. The productive forces that it gives rise to are international in their social significance, and have a degree of social power that demands that they be subordinated to democratic social control, again on an international level. But in fact they are both largely privately owned and depend on particular very powerful nation states to defend the interests of the ruling classes that command these resources. That is, to defend their predatory interests against political developments in those countries which are its victims, which threaten its interests.

In that regard, Russia as I pointed out is hardly a world player, having a smaller GDP than India. China on the other hand has struggled very hard and by virtue of its natural resources and enormous population together with an state-owned economic system that in some ways has substituted quite effectively for its lack of a cohesive capitalist class (and more recently has been instrumental in developing such a class), appears to be on the verge of joining that exclusive club. But it is not there yet.

Voltairepaine continues his criticism with the following substantial point about Hizbullah and Lebanon:

Hezbollah was an Iranian project. Funds, arms and training from Iran’s revolutionary Guard corps filtered through to Lebanese Shiaa militants. It was a resistance to an extended Israeli occupation, yes, but equally, it was the empowerment of the Shiaa community and their status as a sect in Lebanon, backed by ‘Al Fakih’ (the Shiaa supreme leader and direct representative of God on earth). Hezbollah was a materialization of Ayatollah Khomeini’s dreams of exporting the Islamic Revolution. On a more grounded level, it was about expanding the re-born Shiaa empire. Lebanese Hezbollah members will tell you this themselves. They’re proud to be part of it. Khomeini’s war with Iraq was also about exporting the Islamic revolution. It failed back then, but Iran’s aims haven’t changed today. This spiritual concept of ‘exporting revolution’ in reality amounts to Iranian military expansion and the securing of a regional status-quo that is protecting the Assad regime.”

But what Voltairepaine describes here could be said about every confessional community that has fought in Lebanon both in and since the civil war in the 1970s. Hizbullah only appears special because of its ideological inspiration by the Iranian Shiite revolution, which no one denies by the way. Its motive for supporting the Syrian regime against the uprising, however, is not that it is a tool of ‘Iranian imperialism’, but simply that it fears the Sunni majority in Syria gaining effective power will marginalise it in the region. Hamas, which has also received considerable aid from Iran, but is itself Sunni, has abandoned the Syrian regime precisely because the Syrian opposition reflects the Sunni majority. These are autonomous forces with their own interests, who make alliances according to perceived interests that can change, not tools of foreign powers. Ultimately, ‘exporting revolution’ does not work, as the history of communism also shows. For a mass movement to arise, it has to base itself on real support among the people of the country it is based in. If that is not there, it will simply fail. Hizb’s success is due to indigenous factors that made its pro-Iran ideology appealing to a lot of Lebanese Shia, not an Iranian plot.

Voltairepaine asks: Do I support human rights? Yes, but I don’t like that term because it implies that all human beings have common interests. I am opposed to degrading or inhuman treatment of any human being, even one who has committed monstrous crimes, who should be dealt with by a proper judicial process whenever possible.

But I would also note that the wealth and economic power of the West gives its population a degree of privilege which the West’s exploitative economic relations with many backward countries undermines for the populations of those countries.

One privilege that we enjoy in the West is a degree of formal democracy and some democratic freedoms. This has been won in general through struggle, though its longeivity, which cannot be taken for granted, is a result of relative affluence. But we still live in a class divided society where the real choices people are offered are massively constrained by class power, where democracy is institutionally corrupted by the economic power of the capitalist ruling class.

Thus we get the situation where all the capitalist parties are seen by the population as being the same, all tools of big capital, who all act the same way in power no matter what they say beforehand, and as a result, increasingly people do not see any point in voting. But that is in a society that has enormous wealth.

Even in advanced countries, democratic gains are insecure, as the 1930s showed. But in backward capitalist countries, this is much more frequently true. Such gains even where they exist are much more liable to be overthrown in the more frequent periods of social instability. The ruling class do not feel secure enough to allow even a properly formal democracy. That is main cause of bourgeois despotisms such as exist in Africa, Asia, Latin America etc. They are actually a sign of capitalism’s weakness, not its strength.

When despotic regimes become the norm, as they have in recent decades in the Arab world, you get conflicts between them. Some such regimes will even get into sustained conflicts with the imperialists, demanding a better place in the international pecking order. Some may even make alliances with ‘enemy’ states such as the USSR or ‘Red’ China (as was) to put pressure on the imperialists for concessions.

In such situations, the imperialists begin loudly talking about ‘human rights’ for those suffering under such regimes, which is rather odd because they never showed any sign of caring about such rights before. What is worse about such talk is that it is their economic exploitation and their system in general that creates the conditions for despotism.

So the answer is, yes, ‘old fashioned’ socialists (as Voltairepaine calls me and others), do support democratic rights, but don’t endorse the concept behind the talk of ‘human rights’ that comes out of the mouths of imperialism and such bodies as the NED, because their real aim is to promote economic exploitation that in fact undermines democratic rights.

Voltairepaine’s talk of socialism being ‘old fashioned’ is a little ironic given his choice of internet name. Voltaire and Tom Paine were admirable figures in the Enlightenment and the era of the great bourgeois revolutions, whose ideas were furnished on a completely different social and economic basis to today. These revolutionary bourgeois figures fought to overthrow the old feudal social order that preceded capitalism and replace it with ‘democracy’ which in their minds was synonymous with the capitalism of free competition, where the enlightened bourgeoisie supposedly had a vested interest in the free play of ideas, political freedom and human rights. That however proved to be something of an idealistic view even in its day, as early capitalism was also tainted with such things as slavery and the birth of racism, as well as rampant and inhuman forms of exploitation as is well known to have been commonplace in England in the 19th Century.

But at least in those days sections of the bourgeoisie did lead some actual revolutionary struggles. It really is naïve in the extreme to believe that today’s US and British ruling classes have anything in common with them. The entire neo-liberal policy throughout the last several decades has been about subordinating all kinds of politics to the dictates of the market. If democracy gets in the way of the market, democracy has to go.

One earlier example of the incompatibility of democracy with neo- liberalism was the Pinochet coup in Chile, where an elected social-democratic government was brutally overthrown after a working class upsurge, in order to subsequently try out economic ‘shock treatment’ on a powerless population. This provided the inspiration and model for further experiments in neo-liberalism, i.e., subordinating every element of society, including ‘democracy’ to the market. The experiement of Pinochet’s Chile was then applied to Britain and the United States in the 1980s, this bourgeois programme being widely exported as it achieved hegemony in the 1980s and 1990s. In the former Soviet bloc, it replaced Stalinist despotism with a facade of democracy where the real power lies with cliques of corrupt oligarchs – which is the basis for the ‘despotism’ that Voltairepaine deplores in Russia.

The systematic imposition of ‘structural adjustment programmes’ on third world governments in the name of the ‘market’ and democracy has led to a situation where throughout Africa and Asia, many governments again simply act as tools of the international financial institutions in imposing privatisations, the destruction of social programmes such as social health care, all in the name of the market and democracy. In Latin America, this has led to a economic collapse, most notably in Argentina a decade, leading to a major backlash reflected in the coming to power of aberrant bourgeois governments hostile to the main elements of neo-liberal policy. But this is something that the high priests of neo-liberal ‘democracy’ in the West regard as anathema, something to be rolled back by whatever means are available when the opportunity arises. Hence the imperialist propaganda campaign against Hugo Chavez’ elected government in Venezuela.

Then there is the recent situation with the Euro, where unelected governments of technocratic bankers have been imposed in Greece and Italy, to make the population pay for a capitalist economic crisis that is more than anything else the result of untrammelled neo-liberalism. For the imperialists, the solution to the failings of neo-liberalism is even more neo-liberalism, with even formal democracy increasingly thrown overboard.

The fact is that capitalism is no longer a system built on free competition and democracy, or anything like it, as Voltaire and Paine no doubt believed it would become. It is rather a system based on monopoly exploitation, and the subordination of politics, including any form of putative ‘democracy’ to monopoly exploitation.

That the imperialists are hostile to the Ba’athist regime in Syria does not make them friends of democratic rights for the masses of the people of Syria or anywhere else in the Arab world. Indeed, their hostility to Assad is not on democratic grounds at all, but in part because the relatively statified economy in Syria is something they would like to privatise as they have done in many other countries.

Not that that is any reason to support Assad’s regime against its own people as the various dead-head Stalinists do, but it is grounds to warn militants and supporters of the Arab spring against being seduced by siren voices of neo-liberal imperialist politicians who are also enemies of democracy, genuine freedom and self-determination for the Arab masses.

To achieve genuine democracy today, you cannot echo the very outdated political programmes of the 18th century bourgeois revolutionaries like Voltaire and Paine. It is comprehensible why partisans of the Arab spring might be inclined to do that, but they are making a strategic error if they do. To achieve democracy today, you have to attack capitalist exploitation and capitalism itself.

How to do this is something that is still to be thrashed out by a renewed revolutionary socialist left. There are some important unresolved questions from the experience of the Russian revolution, which have not as yet been properly addressed by the left. For instance about how to implement attacks on capitalist power in developing countries in alliance with the working class in the advanced/ imperialist countries while avoiding some of the pitfalls experienced in Russia as a result of the revolution becoming isolated in a very backward country. Some elements of Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution, for instance, need to be revisited and critically re-evaluated in this regard, which is something I intend to write about in due course.

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11 responses to “Imperialism and human rights – on the Arab Spring

  1. sanculottist

    March 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Firstly, a word on “Hezbollah”; neither Volatairpaine’s synthesis of what Hezbollah is, nor your rather inadaquate dismissial of the orgranisation as just one confessional community “that has fought in Lebanon both in and since the civil war in the 1970s”, do the organization justice.

    On the surface it might appear that Voltairepaine’s conclusions, and your own agreement with at least some of those conclusions, only substantiate Judith Palmer Harik’s contention in her book, ‘Hezbollah: The Changing Face of Terrorism’ that:
    “Hezbollah arose amidst the chaos of the Lebanese civil war to resist the Israeli invasion of 1982. Based amongst the poor Shi’ite population, it takes its inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of Ayatollah Khomeni.”
    However, Ms Harik then goes on to add that “it is a democratically elected party within the Lebanese parliament, backed not just by Shi’ites, but by Christians and secular Muslims.” Having lived in the Lebanon, this is my own understanding of Hezbollah primarily is. Moreover, while the bar keepers in Tripoli were cursing Nasrallah in 2006 for spoiling their summer, they had no doubt as to who the real enemy was when the bombs were falling on Southern Beruit and the south of the country. Indeed, any doubts there were dispelled when the first bomb hit Hamra, the area I was living in, an afflluent Christian and mainly secular Muslim part of the city.

    To that might be added that the Shi’te weren’t just another confessional group in the Lebanese ciivl war, but that they were the confessional group which was most under threat. If you are looking for a parallel, you might want to think about the I.R.A. digging out their weapons in 1971 when the catholic community in Northern Ireland was genuinely under an existential threat. Robert Frisk’s book, ‘Pity the Nation’ remains essential reading.

    There is too much in your own arguments to permit me a general criticisism of them. Meaning that, once again, I essentially agree with much of the content. However, you might qualiify your use of the label “imperialism”. All the more so as you appear to hit the nail on the head time and time again with comments like:
    “The systematic imposition of ‘structural adjustment programmes’ on third world government in the name of the ‘market’ and democracy has led to a situation where throughout Africa and Asia, many governments again simply act as tools of the international financial institutions in imposing privatisations, the destruction of social programmes such as social health care, all in the name of the market and democracy.”
    Here you are making a very relevant point but in doing so it might be worthwhile revisiting John Pilger’s film – the New Rulers of the World’ (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7932485454526581006).

    In doing that we might want to see, as he does, “globlization” as constituting Imperialism under a new name. Moreover, in accepting this we might agree that it is time to move beyond a “nation state” (my own term) “Weltanschauung” in order to identfiy who the real imperialists are. Yes, they are for the most part in the west but not entirely so and our reaction must be that it is just as important to identify with workers struggling for their rights in Shenzehn, Shanghai or Suzhou, Mumbai, Moscow or Mexico City, as it is to identify with those who struggle for those rights in the west. In doing so we might want to reference Trotsky on “True and False Internationalism” (writings 1930:93) but even a superficial reading of Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Therapy’ will do.

     
  2. commfourth

    March 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    `When despotic regimes become the norm, as they have in recent decades in the Arab world, you get conflicts between them. Some such regimes will even get into sustained conflicts with the imperialists, demanding a better place in the international pecking order. Some may even make alliances with ‘enemy’ states such as the USSR or ‘Red’ China (as was) to put pressure on the imperialists for concessions.’

    A better place! Mubarak was one of the richest men in the world and the Gadaffi family likewise. Their `conflict’ with imperialism is due to growing internal contradictions. The heads of these semi-colonial states demagogically spout a bit of anti-imperialism periodically. Unsurprisingly it was Gadaffi’s denoument with the West that triggered his downfall and the fact that the US was bogged down in Iraq sparked the Arab Spring or at least the semi-rebellion in Iran that went just before it, when Ahmedinejad foolishly, from the point of view of the fascistic Iranian theocratic regime, stated that US imperialism was no longer a threat. In that case thought the people: fuck you. In Iran and Iraq the use of anti-imperialist rhetoric had made a successfull normalisation of relations impossible. In Iraq and Afghanistan military force was used to overturn regimes that had `fallen out’ with the West but of course what they will be leaving behind are new semi-colonial regimes: the indigenous ruling elites running their countries like colonies of the West until due to internal pressures they fall out again. They do not fall out with imperialism because they are anti-imperialist as you suggest.

    Russia was a huge feudal imperialist empire before the 1917 revolution and it has returned to being an imperial power since the collapse. China could never be an independent capitalist state let alone an imperialist one though of course the attitude of the chauvinist bureaucrats is as despicable towards minorities as any imperialists’.

    Lenin explained how the democratic nations carved out of the old feudal empires had, with monopoly, themselves become imperialist.

     
  3. redscribe

    March 26, 2012 at 9:23 am

    “A better place! Mubarak was one of the richest men in the world and the Gadaffi family likewise. Their `conflict’ with imperialism is due to growing internal contradictions.”

    A ‘confict’ between Mubarak and imperialism? I never heard of such a thing.

    ” They do not fall out with imperialism because they are anti-imperialist as you suggest.”

    I did not suggest that they were.

    “Russia was a huge feudal imperialist empire before the 1917 revolution and it has returned to being an imperial power since the collapse.”

    This is not using ‘imperialism’ in the sense that Lenin used it. It was not Russian feudalism that Lenin considered ‘imperialist’, but the monopoly capitalism that the Tsarist state had transplanted into Russia as part of its effort to compete with more advanced capitalist states. Lenin was talking about capitalist imperialism. And since capitalism was abolished in Russia for more than 70 years and only restored in the past couple of decades, it is a huge logical leap to say that the fairly primitive, gangster capitalism that has been restored can be ranked alongside the United States, Western Europe or Japan as being ‘imperialist’ in that sense.

    As I pointed out, Russia’s economy is currently reckoned lower in absolute GDP terms than that of India.

    China has considerably more economic power and capitalist dynamism than Russia. Indeed the state-directed core of its economy combined with that dynamism is what gives some not-very-left-wing social democrats, like Andy Newman, the hots for China as some kind of model economy, thus giving their Stalinist impulses something to latch onto.

    I also have grave reservations about the ‘deformed workers state’ theory of the Trotskyist movement. I see no sign that the Chinese bureaucracy has any features analogous to a labour bureaucracy, or any connection or affinity to the working class movement in any shape or form. That theory does not fit reality, even though none of its rivals – ‘state capitalism’ etc fit very well either. The idea that a ‘deformed’ workers state in an originally backward country is poised to overhaul the US as the world’s largest economy, and is doing so largely by capitalist economic methods, is utterly fantastic to me. Obviously it is something else, that has not been fully theorised by any of the Marxist left. It is a mutant, subsitutionist form of capitalism.

    But it is still not imperialist in its relations with the rest of the world. At least not yet.

     
  4. redscribe

    March 26, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Sancullotist wrote:

    ” the Shi’te weren’t just another confessional group in the Lebanese ciivl war, but that they were the confessional group which was most under threat”

    That is a fair point, I think, but the final outcome of civil war meant that this was no longer such a marked difference. As Sancullotist seems to acknowledge by pointing to Hizb’s broader coalition of support, including among Christians.

    “In doing that we might want to see, as he does, “globlization” as constituting Imperialism under a new name”

    I dont know that it even needs a new name. Globalisation is a deepening of the already-existing tendency for the productive forces to overflow national boundaries, which really was the root cause of WWI and by extension WWII also (since the causes of WWII were really inherent in the outcome of WWI). What was different was the political conditions – the ‘unipolar world’ of the 1990s and 2000s in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, together with the greater marketisation that went with aggressive neoliberalism (as opposed to social democratic policies aimed at co-opting labour movements in the preceding period). This led to an accentuation of tendencies towards internationalisation of capital and the ability of capital to push further down this road than it had been able to do previously.

    In fact, the ‘unipolar’ configuration after the collapse of the USSR led to a dominance by one power (the US) that had not been seen before, and may be short-lived and exceptional. In more ‘classic’ periods of inter-imperialist rivalry such phenomena as the existence of rival power blocs is a counter-tendency against this kind of internationalisation. It may be that the rise of a classic inter-imperialist rivalry of the US with China will throw ‘globalisation’ into reverse, though I don’t think China has yet reached that level as a potential imperialist power.

    I certainly agree though that it is “just as important to identify with workers struggling for their rights in Shenzehn, Shanghai or Suzhou, Mumbai, Moscow or Mexico City, as it is to identify with those who struggle for those rights in the west.” That is elementary internationalism.

     
  5. David Ellis

    March 27, 2012 at 9:55 am

    `This is not using ‘imperialism’ in the sense that Lenin used it. It was not Russian feudalism that Lenin considered ‘imperialist’, but the monopoly capitalism that the Tsarist state had transplanted into Russia as part of its effort to compete with more advanced capitalist states. ‘

    No, Russia was a feudal empire that was also being penetrated by imperialist capital. Lenin didn’t deny the existence of the old imperialist empires he was trying to explain how the democratic nations carved out of the old feudal imperialisms could themselves under the influence of monopoly capitalism become imperialist. Something nobody at the time believed could happen.

    Russia has resumed its imperialist relationships with the surrounding peoples and nations since the collapse of the Soviet Union though of course the chauvinism of the Stalinist bureaucracy was not noticeably different from the old and new ruling classes. It is big enough and strong enough to do so.

    As for China it is falling more and more under the influence of Western monopoly capitalism which has penetrated it to unprecedented levels and is creating a semi-colonial class ready to carve it up and sell it off to them when the need arises.

     
  6. redscribe

    March 27, 2012 at 11:12 am

    David Ellis

    “No, Russia was a feudal empire that was also being penetrated by imperialist capital. Lenin didn’t deny the existence of the old imperialist empires he was trying to explain how the democratic nations carved out of the old feudal imperialisms could themselves under the influence of monopoly capitalism become imperialist. Something nobody at the time believed could happen.”

    I think that is a wrong understanding of imperialism. The title of Lenin’s famous pamphlet is ‘Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism’. He was not talking about pre-capitalist empires, but something specifically capitalist. For Lenin, progressive capitalism prior to approximately the dawn of the 20th Century was not imperialist, but the monopoly capitalism that allegedly came into existence at that point was imperialist. This had nothing to do with the ‘imperialism’ of any pre-capitalist empire, which is a completely different thing in class terms.

    Its not that capitalist states somehow derived their ‘imperialism’ from pre-capitalist empires. If that is the case, where did the most powerful imperialism – the US, come from… since there was no pre-capitalist US or anything like it? But rather the new form of capitalism that Lenin believed came into existence around 1900 was what he meant by ‘imperialism’. Its features were the export of capital and the redivision of the world between competing, mainly European (but also US and Japan) nation-states fighting for control of raw material supplies and captive economic space for capital exports.

    I said “allegedly” above because I think Lenin’s timing is a bit wrong. In my view, the ‘scramble for Africa’ in the 1880s was the point when capitalist imperialism was definitively born.

    “Russia has resumed its imperialist relationships with the surrounding peoples and nations since the collapse of the Soviet Union though of course the chauvinism of the Stalinist bureaucracy was not noticeably different from the old and new ruling classes. It is big enough and strong enough to do so.”

    If you are talking in conventional terms about ‘imperialism’, i.e. big state dominates small states, then you can talk about Russia being imperialist. As with the Roman empire, for instance. But is Russian capital qualitatively more advanced than say, Ukrainian capital or even that in the former Soviet Turkic republics some of which are becoming Western, not Russian client states precisely because Russia cannot compete very well with the US economically? The Russian Federation is certainly dominated by Russia even though it has considerable non-Russian elements in it, and it is oppressive, but whether its domination is capitalist-imperialist or simply semi-Stalinist is highly problematic, I think.

    China is a different matter, but I’m not so sure that China is as delicate as that analysis implies.

     
  7. David Ellis

    March 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I didn’t say he was talking about pre-capitalist empires in his pamphlet. He was talking about how capitalism, in its highest stage, also became imperialist, like its feudal predecessor whom it had overthrown on the basis of anti-imperialist national democratic revolutions but the fact that Tsarist Russia was a big old feudal-imperialist empire was taken as read by everybody at that time. Capitalist imperialist penetration of the Russian feudal empire had created the conditions for permanent revolution i.e. for a socialist revolution in a largely peasant feudal society but where there was now a small but important working class.

     
  8. redscribe

    April 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Ok, but its still not clear to me whether you see what you say is Russian ‘imperialism’ is in some way related to that ‘feudal-imperialist empire’, or that Russian capitalism should be ranked alongside US, European, Japanese capital which is certainly what I mean when i talk about imperialism. To say that capitalism ‘also’ became imperialist implies an equivalence between capitalist imperialism and ‘feudal’ imperialism. But they are completely different things.

    If Russian imperialism today is somehow related to the ‘feudal-imperialist empire’ that was overthrown in 1917, then there is a problem explaining how that regime could be reborn three quarters of a century after it was totally destroyed. And that would not be modern imperialism, but some kind of living fossil,

    On the other hand, Russian capitalism is pretty backward and has only existed in a systemic sense since the collapse of the USSR. There are huge theoretical problems in defining this as imperialist capitalism, since for one thing the bulk of its productive forces were created under a non-capitalist regime. How can this just simply snap into place as an capitalist-imperialist power? Such a conclusion might not be impossible, but it would have to be demonstrated both in terms of detailed economic data and a theorisation, otherwise it just sounds like a position developed on the hoof on the basis of superficial impressions.

     
  9. David Ellis

    April 2, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Clearly `feudal imperialism’ and `capitalist imperialism’ are different but not completely different. Socialists oppose both. National democratic revolutions were conducted against feudal imperialism. But whilst feudal imperialism was almost entirely based on military might capitalist imperialism is monopolty industrial and finance capital backed by military might. Today’s Russian imperialist oligarchy are clearly not the same as the old Russian Tsarist feudal ruling class and are much more based in raw material and financial monopolies. They have returned to being the weakest link in the imperialist chain and an even weaker one than in 1917.

     
  10. redscribe

    April 3, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    It depends what you mean by ‘completely different’. In class terms, they certainly are completely different as they represent the rule of different classes. National-democratic revolutions were indeed carried out against feudal ‘imperialism’, but it is an interesting and important question whether it was the ‘imperialism’ that was being overthrown or the feudalism. This is important because national democratic struggles can be waged against capitalist imperialism without actually overthrowing capitalism iteself. Whether or not they really solve the oustanding democratic tasks is a different question, but the achievement of at least formal political independence is in a sense the acheivement of a democratic task or at least a step forward. The independence of Britain;s Asian and African colonies was a real gain, but in no case was capitalism overthrown in the process, for example.

    The Russian oligarchy of today (whether they are a stable bourgeois ruling class has yet to be proven in practice in my opinion) are certainly weaker than the Russian bourgeoisie was in 1917. And not only that, but they have virtually no continuity with that eariler bourgeoisie. They do have considerable continuity with the Stalinist oligarchy that preceded them, however, and that is in large measure where their illegitimacy and weakness comes from.

    This is actually an important question – several left groups now define Russia as ‘imperialist’ yet there is no theorisation of this anywhere that I have come across. But in terms of economics, not only is Russia’s GDP lower than that of India, but even its per-capita GDP is lower than that of many of its former East European client states, such as Poland and the Czech republic, which can hardly be called imperialist either in the ‘moral’ sense or the materialist (they are raw material for EU expansion as dependent forms of capitalism in my opinion).

    Its one of many questions that need to be addressed as part of dealing with the legacy of Stalinism, and there are no shortcuts to a rounded Marxist analysis as I see it.

     
  11. David Ellis

    April 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    `Its one of many questions that need to be addressed as part of dealing with the legacy of Stalinism, and there are no shortcuts to a rounded Marxist analysis as I see it.’

    Agreed.

     

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