LeninIn the 1960s and into the early 1970s, imperialism was a crucial focus of the international left.  It was very widely written about and very widely protested against.  The imperialist assault on Vietnam became the major issue in the world for many young people in particular.

Liberation struggles in Asia, Africa and the Americas inspired a new generation of radicals and led to a profound questioning of how and why capitalism functioned in the way it did, where the oppression of the Third World seemed inherent in the global system.  In this period, struggles against imperialism were widely seen as the driving force of the world revolutionary process.

Third World liberation figures also proved attractive to this new generation.  People like Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Che Guevara, Carlos Marighella, Bernadette Devlin – figures outside the traditional/official communist movement – were widely read and admired, as were earlier anti-imperialists such as C.L.R. James and Carlos Mariategui.Norfield

However, after the long postwar boom came to an end in 1973-74 and revolutions were more often defeated than successful, much of the left began a long political retreat.  One of the features of this retreat was that sections of the left began to stop paying all that much attention to imperialism.

Yet imperialism is not some esoteric, theoretical question.  The simple fact is that as long as workers in the First World fail to see themselves as part of a global class, the majority of which is now in the Third World, they will fail to present any really serious challenge to their own exploiters at home.  They will line up behind their own rulers against other workers, the workers of the Third World.

We should also keep in mind that the vast majority of the working class today reside in the Third World.

Imperialism, then, is a pressing question for the working class in ‘the West’ or First World and for serious opponents of capitalism.

This is especially the case in New Zealand where the bulk of the left 51qPsB+E2aL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_currently prefers to engage in kiwi nationalist campaigns on issues like the TPPA than engage in the harder – but essential – work of promoting international working class and anti-imperialist solidarity.  Such political work is either absent or takes second place to softer issues.

This study group, which is being initiated by some of the people involved in Redline, is primarily concerned with imperialism in the 21st century, but will begin with the first great Marxist work on the subject.

We will be focusing on studying and discussing three books:

V.I. Lenin, Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism

Tony Norfield, The City: London and the global power of finance

John Smith, Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis

You will need copies of these books – or, at least, access to them to take part in the study group.  For further info on the study group, email: redlinemarxists@gmail.com



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