Decline of Marxist analysis of imperialism
in Imperialism and the development myth
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The ‘neoliberal period’ was not the scene of widespread anti-imperialist mass movements like those of the post-Second World War era. One result of this has been a collapse in anti-imperialist writing inside the imperialist countries since around 1980. While Marxist scholars focused on the domestic class struggle or other issues, they mostly did not openly claim imperialism had ended. Rather, they renounced Lenin’s theory of imperialism but did not replace it, and produced few new works. Lenin’s work was rejected mostly without being discussed or even read. Rather, for decades, it was repeatedly dismissed by almost all First World Marxist scholars, usually with simple reference to other contemporary scholars, often using clear caricatures and demonstrable misinterpretation, or was just ignored. Rejecting Lenin was spearheaded by Bill Warren, whose 1980 book Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism argued the poor countries were catching up to the rich ones. Warren is the only modern Marxist scholar to elaborate a rejection of Lenin. His analysis also pioneered (among Marxists) the now typically neoliberal idea that expanding capitalist production (GDP growth) leads countries towards breaking the chains of imperialist oppression. Warren was an open supporter of imperialism – arguing it brings development to the Third World – so few contemporary Marxists endorse his work. However, the overwhelming majority (including Harvey and Callinicos) adopt his economic analysis: GDP growth equals development and means poor countries are breaking imperialism’s grip (or becoming imperialist themselves). Warren thought Brazil, Zaire and Colombia were catching up. Today’s Marxists believe it is China.

Imperialism and the development myth

How rich countries dominate in the twenty-first century

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