ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Imperialism in the Age of Globalisation

A Theory of Imperialism by Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik, New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2016; pp xxviii + 206, 695.

Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: The Globalization of Production, Super-Exploitation, and the Crisis of Capitalism by John Smith, New York: Monthly Review Press, 2016; pp 382, $28.

Capitalism has always been a worldwide phenomenon and historically, imperialism has been an integral part of its growth. Imperialism has been driven by territorial expansion in search of new economic outlets. The end of colonial rule, therefore, sometimes seems to be the end of imperialism, but that is not necessarily so. In analysing the imperialistic character of capitalism, the writings of Marx (2001 [1962]), Hobson (1902), Hilferding (1981 [1910]), Bukharin (2010 [1915]), Luxemburg (2003 [1913]), and Lenin (2010 [1917]) have been invaluable. While no longer directly applicable in the contemporary phase of imperialism–capitalism, these classical theories are not totally irrelevant either; even though the phenomenology of imperialism has changed, the fundamental parameters of imperialism delineated in the classical works remain central (Baron 2005).

The process of decolonisation—followed by the coming to power of a dirigiste regime in newly independent countries and by China’s move towards socialism—constrained the imperialist nature of capitalism. The period from the 1950s to the 1970s was a phase of controlled capitalism and imperialist exploitation. During the 1970s, overproduction and a decline in profitabilityin the global North caused stagflation and a synchronised global recession. Exogenous stimuli were needed to bring the capitalist system out of this twin crisis, and Marxists termed this new set of practices, and this new era, New Imperialism. It is now an established belief among Marxist thinkers that new concepts and categories are needed to understand the contemporary phase of imperialism. The books by John Smith and Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik attempt to present the invariant properties of imperialism in the contemporary scenario.

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Updated On : 2nd Feb, 2020

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