Saturday, May 31, 2003

John Bellamy Foster turns in a nice overview of "Imperial America and War" in the latest Monthly Review. The best part of this piece is Foster drawing our attention away from a strictly military-political interpretation of imperialism and toward its true essence, namely economic control. Foster cites not only Marxists but many non-Marxists (Hobson, Gallagher and Robinson, Mommsen) to demonstrate the importance of "informal" empire as opposed to the "formal" kind, the latter being of course the only kind that current mainstream commentary can wrap its brain around. The informal imperialism of free trade gives rise to the formal imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to inter-imperialist competition. When Britain can't keep Africa and South Asia under its thumb through informal means any longer, it turns to formal colonies. Rivalry with France, the Netherlands, and even Germany forces that odd form of empire which is far more the exception than the norm throughout history.

Surely in a situation of US hegemony almost wholly uncontested, there will be no formal US colonies in the Middle East. No need! All can be achieved (for now) informally. Watch the Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis, however. The hyperpower won't rule alone forever.

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