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Submitted by martin on Mon, 16/04/2007 - 07:28

Go back a few posts, and we find this key thought:

"The only outstanding [issue?] is was Argentina an oppressor nation? i.e. an imperialist nation. Clearly not on the basis of an assessment of its economy, the only decisive criterion for a Marxist".

So from some measure of Argentina's economy - GNP per head, percentage of foreign ownership, size of foreign debt, I don't know - it follows that Argentina is an "oppressed nation" and therefore in any conflict with Britain, about anything, we must positively support Argentina...?

How was the settler community of Argentina oppressed by another settler community of different European origins living on small islands about two thousand miles away from Argentina's main population centres? In Galtieri's conquest of the Falklands, wasn't the actual "oppressed" community the islanders subjected to foreign conquest? No need to puzzle about that. Just get out the yearbooks of economic statistics, and the case is proven!

On such measures, Tsarist Russia and the Ottoman Empire were not imperialist. Trotsky was dead wrong when he described Serbia's conquest of Kosova in 1913 as "Serbian imperialism". When Trotsky, on the eve of World War 2, described Czechoslovakia as "imperialist" because of the subject nationalities within its borders, he was in error in not instead consulting its yearbook of economic statistics. Etc.

Obviously, all other things being equal, richer nations are more likely to be able to dominate and conquer than poorer nations. But you can't read off politics directly from economic statistics.

Especially not in the post-colonial era. Since 1975 the rich countries of North America and western Europe have had no colonies beyond insignificant specks. They have the clout and the confidence to exert their world power through economic mechanisms, backed up (mostly in the case of the USA) by episodic military actions.

Weaker powers do not. They are more likely to resort to attempts at outright colonial-type conquest: Serbia in Kosova; Russia in Afghanistan and Chechnya; Saddam's Iraq in Iran, Kurdistan, and Kuwait, etc.

The "Marxism means you take everything from the economic statistics" approach here means that you see all these drives for colonial-type conquest as... anti-imperialism, provided only that the would-be paleo-imperialist (or call it what you will) comes into conflict with the USA.

Anti-imperialism comes to mean support for primitive imperialism against more sophisticated imperialism (covered up, of course, by wild talk about those like AWL who stand against all imperialism being "pro-imperialist").

Martin Thomas

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