What is Imperialism? Discussion Minutes

Group definitions of imperialism:
– highest stage of capitalism (as in Lenin’s book on the subject of imperialism)
– control exerted by a state against other states (outside or within its borders)
– two key words: dominance and extraction
– Revisionist, delusional “Manifest Destiny”

Dictionary definition: a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force. (Addition to this: through economics as well)

Lenin’s summary of imperialism: A capitalist nation will always inevitably seek more power outside its borders after a certain level of power. Capitalism must grow or die. But in the hands of apologists, this definition can be used to excuse actions against nations by the Soviet Union and others which were considered not capitalist.

Lenin’s response to imperialism: for the class-conscious worker (and their allies) to oppose the capitalist rulers of their own countries. Agreement on this point, but to also create alternative forms of self-governance that can resist reinstatement of capitalism.
– A leftist reclamation of “state’s rights:” smaller communities have the right to govern themselves in the way that makes sense for them. Conservative U.S. has used this to exert homophobic and misogynist policies, but the same concept can be used to resist imperialist and fascist efforts by federal governments.
– Communalism and other forms of bottom-up organization: Kurds, Zapatistas

It is debatable whether the United States is a sovereign nation, due to corporate influence. But it always was an imperialist one in its method of dominance and extraction of resources over other nations.

How do you argue against the revisionist history of United States exceptionalism?
– Talk about politics! Don’t be “polite” at the dinner table and discuss the history of U.S. imperialism. Talk frankly about Grenada, Vietnam, and the history of our own U.S. states (Texas, Hawaii, etc.), for example.
– The United States claim to fight the wars they do for “democracy” and “human rights,” when looking into the goals and actions of the U.S. suggests anything but.
– Also religion and nationalism as motivations of empire.
– Not exclusive to Western empire. Japan organized Shinto in its imperialist formation to be more akin to Christianity, and include worship to the emperor in their worship of gods.
– “Nationalism is isolationist xenophobia described as a virtue.”
– The U.S. population in general supports universal health care, not going to war, and many other progressive ideals regardless of what hate-mongering propaganda has told them to believe – so there is hope.
– Start thinking outside established capitalist parties (who are working in the interests of a small elite) and for your own interests and in the interests of your communities and other working class people.

Further reading on related subjects:
– Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism by Vladimir Lenin
– The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution by Robert Parkinson
– An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
– Wobblies & Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History by Andrej Grubačić and Staughton Lynd
– Capitalism’s World Disorder: Working-Class Politics at the Millennium by Jack Barnes
– Washington’s Assault on Iraq: Opening Guns of World War III by Jack Barnes
– 1945: When U.S. Troops Said ‘No!’ by Mary-Alice Waters