Saturday, February 20, 2016

Modernism and Imperialism

"But such is not the only restriction on the present topic: it also involves some restrictions that concern its other term — imperialism — which must also now be delimited. I take it, for instance, that only those theories of imperialism which acknowledge the Marxist problematic (in however heretical or revisionist a fashion) are of concern here, since it is only within that problematic that a coordination between political phenomena (violence, domination, control, state power) and economic phenomena (the market, investment, exploitation, underconsumption, crisis) is systematically pursued. Exclusively political theories of imperialism (such as Schumpeter’s) slip not merely towards moralizing, but also towards metaphysical notions of human nature (the lust for power or domination), which end up dissolving the historical specificity of the thing itself and disperse the phenomenon of imperialism throughout human history, wherever bloody conquests are to be found (which is to say: everywhere!). At any rate, if it is the link between imperialism and modernism that is in question here (and between imperialism and Western modernism at that), then clearly imperialism must here mean the imperialist dynamic of capitalism proper, and not the wars of conquest of the various ancient empires."

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