Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The shifting definitions of the word "imperialism" by progressives

This is important to understand an get a grasp of. Often times, when the word "imperialism" is thrown around, they don't mean wars and empire, they mean capitalism and free markets.

In the little known communist manifesto "Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism" the following is written:(Page 24, in the PDF version page 36)(Alternate source of text)

Our final goal is the destruction of imperialism, the seizure of power, and the creation of socialism. Our strategy for this stage of the struggle is to organize the oppressed people of the imperial nation itself to join wilh the colonies hi the attack on imperialism. This process of attacking and weakening imperialism involves the defeat of all kinds of national chauvinism and arrogance; this is a precondition to our fight for socialism.

The Vietnamese struggle provides a strategic mode]: as the anti-colonial liberation movement advanced, contradictions within the LIS heightened, creating more favorable conditions for revolutionary organizing and action —we organized our people and our movement advanced; as anti-imperialist movement gathered strength and moved forward, this aided the Vietnamese who dealt a decisive blow to US imperialism.

Revolution is a dialectical process of destruction and creation. In the US, revolution is intimately bound to the process of defeating imperialism around the world. Any conception of socialism defined in national terms, within so extreme and predatory an oppressor nation as the US, is a view that leads in practice to a fight for particular privileged interest and is a very dangerous ideology. Active combat against empire is the only foundation for socialist revolution in the oppressor nation.

Socialism is the total opposite of capitalism/imperialism. It is the rejection of empire and white supremacy. Socialism is the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the eradication of the social system based on profit. Socialism means control of the productive forces for the good of the whole community instead of the few who live on hilltops and in mansions, Socialism means priorities based on human need instead of corporate greed. Socialism creates the conditions for a decent and creative quality of life for all.

After a long struggle, power will be in the hands of the people. Society will have to he reorganized, toward the integration of each with the whole, where people can realize themselves in peace and freedom. There will be rebuilding to do, but the tremendous power of creative human energy —revealed now in flashes of liberated space and in struggle— will be freed to fulfill its potential. Freed from the constrictions, prejudices and fearful anxieties of imperialist society, people can be better. Our values are
collective and communal.

The oppressor nation. That's us, the USA. It's important to note that this book Prairie Fire repeatedly talks about the war in vietnam, so they're using the word 'imperialism' with both meanings. But this particular section isn't about war at all. We're not just imperialist because we have been at war with other nations in the past, or currently are, or will be in the future. We're imperialist because we're a free society and people freely interact with markets when and where they choose.

The important part of any assertion that some may think is outlandish is testing it in the real world. I can point to any number of people who have demonstrated a belief in this alternate definition of the word 'imperialism'. How many times have you been reminded that America is only roughly 4% of the world's population, yet consumes nearly a quarter of the world's resources? This is something that Obama himself has stated:(As Mark Steyn notes)

"We can't just keep driving our SUVs, eating whatever we want, keeping our homes at 72 degrees at all times regardless of whether we live in the tundra or the desert and keep consuming 25 percent of the world's resources with just 4 percent of the world's population, and expect the rest of the world to say, 'You just go ahead, we'll be fine.'"

What is Obama saying in this quote? America as a capitalist society is imperialist. You're an oppressor nation. Some years ago, the first time I had heard someone use this phrase I was left scratching my head and thinking to myself "but we aren't oppressing anybody. We aren't stealing their resources. We buy it from them. They sell it to us on the markets, and it's a legitimate business transaction". Knowing that these people view free markets as imperialism will go a long way in helping us all decipher what it is that progressives are really saying. And it will help us to understand how much disdain they have for the United States of America, the constitution, and our way of life.


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