The New Imperialism of Globalized Monopoly-Finance Capital: An Introduction

John Bellamy Foster
Monthly Review

This article is part of a series Middle-East-4-Change is highlighting that look at the economic impact of imperialist globlisation on peripheral countries

It is now a universal belief on the left that the world has entered a new imperialist phase.1 That imperialism should evolve and take on novel forms is of course not surprising from a historical materialist perspective. Imperialism, like capitalism itself, is characterized by a constant process of change, passing through more or less concretely defined epochs. Already in the 1890s, when an intense debate over imperialism was taking place in England, the contemporary historical reality was commonly referred to as “the new imperialism,” to distinguish it from the earlier colonialist phase of the British Empire.2 It was the attempt to account for this new imperialism of 1875–1914 that inspired the early Marxian contributions to imperialism theory in the work of V.I. Lenin, Nikolai Bukharin, and Rosa Luxemburg (and, less successfully, Rudolf Hilferding and Karl Kautsky), introducing a set of propositions that were later modified by the dependency tradition.

In the current phase of capitalism-imperialism, it is clear that these classical theories are no longer directly applicable. Nevertheless, it is the morphology of imperialism as depicted in these early pioneering accounts that provides the indispensable key to present-day evolutionary forms. As Atilio Boron put it in 2005 in Empire and Imperialism, “the fundamental parameters of imperialism” delineated in the classical works remain central, even though the “phenomenology” of imperialism has changed.3

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