Imperialism

Stoking the bonfire of illusions

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In August 2008 Russia went to war with its neighbour, Georgia. One month later Lehman Brothers bank went bust, plunging capitalism into crisis. In reviewing Alex Callinicos's new book, Jane Hardy explores how these apparently unrelated events signalled epochal changes in the global economy

Two recent events, unequal in magnitude, represent epochal changes to the global economy. The first was the brief war between Georgia and Russia in early August 2008. This was followed by the second: the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September of the same year, which precipitated the biggest financial crash since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Haiti - the making of a catastrophe

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After the earthquake struck, the people of Haiti needed food, water and shelter - instead they got US troops and predatory corporations. Haiti's problems are not just a result of a natural disaster, Mike Gonzalez argues, but are rooted in the country's history of slavery and exploitation

The numbers are almost incomprehensible, the devastation and loss impossible to imagine. At least 100,000 people lie dead under the rubble, and 2 million are homeless and abandoned. The news footage of whirring helicopters and aircraft carriers outside the ruined ports created a mirage of action - but as the days passed nothing changed in the devastated slums of Port-au-Prince.

System failure: Economic turmoil and endless war

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As the worst economic crisis since the 1929 crash rips through the world's markets, Alex Callinicos analyses the factors driving ever greater political instabilities across the globe

The world took a big step into even greater economic and geopolitical instability in the summer and early autumn of 2008. The credit crunch that started when the financial markets froze up in August 2007 shows every sign of becoming a global economic crisis. And the drive by the US to shore up its position as the hegemonic capitalist state has precipitated a potentially very dangerous confrontation with Moscow after the brief war between Russia and Georgia in August. Never has there been a greater need for a powerful anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist left.

The state of imperialism

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If, as some people on the left claim, the term "imperialism" is out of date, who are the world's multinationals depending on to defend their interests?

A snippet of news can occasionally lift the veil off the real motives behind high politics. One such snippet was buried on the inside pages of the Guardian last month. It revealed details about breakfast meetings held in Downing Street in 2003 between Tony Blair and the ten-strong "Multinational Chairmen's Group", which included the heads of BP, Unilever, Vodafone, HSBC and Shell. They were invited to tell the prime minister how government policies affected British based international companies and air their grievances.

Afghanistan: the other lost war

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Against the backdrop of failure in Iraq, Afghanistan is often promoted as the enduringly justifiable, and winnable, war. Jonathan Neale explains why this is not the case, while former US infantryman Johnny Rico speaks out about his experiences on the Afghan frontline

This is the fifth Afghan War. The first Afghan War was in 1838, when the British invaded to make Afghanistan part of the Indian empire. The Afghan barons and warlords did not resist. It was the ordinary people who rose up under the leadership of the village mullahs and slaughtered a whole British army. The British left.

Rights of Passage

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The rise of imperialism in the 19th century was reflected in the literature of the period. Gareth Jenkins examines the contradictions of empire's novelists.

It would be easy to dismiss the literature of imperialism as little more than boys' own stuff - adventure stories designed to glorify Britain's conquest of the globe and mask its brutality with myths about bringing light to the benighted heathen.

Middle East: Beware the Cornered Tiger

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As calls for an exit strategy from Iraq increase within ruling class circles, Chris Harman looks at what past imperial retreats could herald for the Iraqis.

Ninety percent of the politicians, generals and overpaid media hacks who enthused in support of the blitz against Baghdad three and a half years ago are now agreed on one thing. They made terrible mistakes. Not in terms of the death toll. For such people the US and Britain cannot, by definition, commit war crimes.

Imperialism Reloaded

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Megan Trudell looks at three recent books that have sought to analyse imperialism

War without end is the grim prognosis that seemingly faces the world since 9/11. The bid for global hegemony by the US in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, given accelerated impetus by the attacks on the World Trade Centre, is the feature of capitalism shaping contemporary politics more than any other. As John Bellamy Foster opens his recent collection of essays, "Global warfare, putatively against terrorism but more realistically in the service of imperialism, is the dominant political reality of the opening decade of the 21st century."

Cracks in the System

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Sally Campbell spoke to John Rees about the growing weaknesses in the imperialist project, and how they might be exploited by the anti-war movement.

The cover of John Rees's new book, Imperialism and Resistance, shows graffiti on a wall in Barcelona on 15 February 2003 - the global day of action on which, according to one study, 36 million people demonstrated against the pending war on Iraq. The image depicts George Bush, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld with red noses. I ask Rees whether it boosts the argument that the Iraq war is simply the result of a few bad men's stupidity. "I like the cover," he responds, "because it illustrates the theme of imperialism and resistance.

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