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Sam King

Contrary to celebrations of China’s ‘rise’ or ‘the rise of the rest’, imperialism of the rich countries is alive and well. China does not threaten the global dominance of the imperialist states and it cannot within the global capitalist system. In contemporary capitalism, domination over the most sophisticated parts within the overall labour process would be the only path to ‘catch up’ with the rich societies. However, imperialist monopoly capital dominates the highest aspects of the labour process, so that other, ‘non-monopoly’ capital must specialise in low-end and ordinary labour. This kernel within the international division of labour leads to the development of two poles – a pole of high-end labour and its opposite, a pole of low-end, ordinary labour. Capitalist producers and countries are divided on this basis into rich, monopoly and poor, non-monopoly capitals and countries. For large non-monopoly societies – that is, large ‘Third World’ states – the path to ‘catch-up’ is closed. The nature of Chinese and other Third World participation in the global division of labour does not prepare them to challenge imperialist monopoly. China’s rapid expansion of production has profoundly reshaped the world economy, however, this does not indicate China is catching up with imperialist countries. China has caught up with the other large Third World economies, like Brazil and Mexico, but these occupy an intermediate position within the international division of labour. They have a high level of development compared to poorer Third World societies, but far below that of the imperialist core societies.

in Imperialism and the development myth