I'm working with two groups that are developing a working definition of imperialism to share. We have formed a Just Peace Committee. More on that later. Also, we are preparing to lead a workshop to discuss what imperialism is and what it is doing today.
Reviewing this definition, it is plain to see that it is inherently violent. It is necessarily full of conflict and it is defended militarily. Seeking to overtake and control territorial, economic and social spaces wherever it can, it conflicts with other social orders. Also, it is forceful, and it communicates aggressively. IN some cases, it sustains cruel local governance and backward arrangements and practices such as absolute rule, military dictatorships, big landlords and so on.
Developing unevenly around the world to start with, pre-existing and co-existing cultures and social systems are at odds with it: peasant-landlord relations, tribal or clan associations and practices, and colonial arrangements and values are all still present. Imperialism's threats and penetrations result in counter-militarization and war, revolt and armed revolution. Another pillar of its foundation is gender oppression, for it upholds patriarchy and exploits women in various ways.
By controlling markets, moreover, it seeks to control supply and demand, and can cause or even directly orchestrate mass deprivation, causing untold suffering. This is done with embargoes against rivals, ans well as through import substitution, and resource and labour exploitation. Conflict with labour, as well as local producers, is another outcome of imperialism.
We could delve into a myriad of violent methods and outcomes of imperialism, and there have already been tons of books written about it. Let me put forward the definition we have come up with, and you can reflect further.
Imperialism is a class-based, patriarchal and euro-centric system of monopoly capitalism that is expanding around the world. Transnational corporations and a political system based in the US grew, which are defended by a military and intelligence apparatus led by the US. A smaller and smaller number of powerful capitalists around the world seek to enrich themselves, increasingly and ruthlessly, by taking over or creating more markets and exploiting the world's resources and people to the maximum. Methods of take-over include coercion, financial and trade dependency, direct occupation, militarization, control by proxy, military deployment against national and social liberation struggles, control of the media and knowledge, discrimination and chauvinism on various bases, and alliances that serve its interests.
Lenin's definition (sfr-21.org)
Lenin undertook his detailed study of Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism in 1916, basing it on the research of an English economist named Hobson. ...
Lenin saw capitalism evolving into a higher stage. The key to understanding it was an economic analysis of the transition from free competition to monopoly: "...imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism." As Lenin would point out in another article written in 1916 (Imperialism and the Split in Socialism), imperialism was a new development that had been predicted but not yet seen by Marx and Engels.Lenin provides a careful, 5-point definition of imperialism: "(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this "finance capital", of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed."
It followed colonialism after World War 2, though its development has been uneven. (Some colonies still exist and vestiges of colonialism, such the British parliament and relations with Aboriginals in Canada, as well as feudal, that is landlord-peasant, relations and values still exist in some parts. Also, imperialism continues to disrupt and harm surviving tribal or clan relations and practices.)
Illustrations of imperialist domination and control
1.financial and trade control- IMF, World Bank, WTO and other economic fora such as APEC
-cartels such as OPEC
-partnerships (agreement with Philippines, exercises with South Korea and Japan), especially against liberation movements and states that follow their own paths
-arms trade and industrial -military complex
-strategies (example, PIVOT to Asia, military budgets)
-propaganda campaigns (war on drugs, anti-terrorism)