british imperialism

5. Imperialism

150 years ago, capitalism was in its infancy. By the end of the 19th century, it had become a world- wide system, and had divided the world into oppressed and oppressor nations: imperialism. The political form of this division was colonialism, as a handful of oppressor, imperialist powers divided the world between themselves in countless wars of conquest. Colonies provided a source of super-profits for imperialism, whereby it could postpone the periodic crisis of capitalism.

However, it could not abolish such crises, and when they took place, they would necessarily have a world dimension. The first such crisis matured at the turn of the 19th century as the various imperialist powers, having divided the world between themselves once, sought to re-divide it. The inevitable consequence of this was world war - the First Imperialist War of 1914-18. Tens of millions of working class people were slaughtered to protect the interests of ‘their’ bankers and monopolies, ‘their’ ruling class. Not even this carnage and mass destruction resolved the crisis: it took the Great Depression of the 1930s, the rise of fascism and the Second World War before imperialism was able to obtain a significant measure of political and economic stability during the post-war boom.


FRFI 206 Harman: making imperialism disappear

FRFI 194 Britain: Parasitic and decaying capitalism

Lenin: Imperialism - the highest stage of capitalism

RCG: Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist Group -Part 2 pp 24-34

Imperialism, National Oppression and the New Petit Bourgeoisie by David Yaffe, Editorial Revolutionary Communist 9 June 1979

FRFI 158: Globalisation: Parasitic and decaying capitalism

FRFI 150: Globalisation = poverty

FRFI 137: The politics and economics of globalisation

FRFI 131: Globalisation: a re-division of the world by imperialism

FRFI 114: A history of British imperialism

Supplementary reading

FRFI 143: The age of anxiety

The politics and economics of globalisation by David Yaffe, from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 137


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