What is the Meaning of Imperialism?


  • Harry Magdoff






It is indeed strange to come across proposals to jettison the term imperialism when the classic features of imperialism are so central to current affairs. Certainly the end of the Cold War has not made that much difference. The invasion of Panama and the massive war against Iraq should be evidence enough that the nature of the beast has not changed. If anything, the collapse of the regimes in Eastern Europe has opened doors of opportunity for the advanced capitalist countries, and at the same time created space for competitive maneuvers among the major powers as to which of them gets to play the major role in one or another of the "newly opened territories." The steps taken to dominate the old and the new peripheries are, of course, not limited to direct military intervention: a variety of political, economic, and indirect military devices, depending on circumstances, are exploited. Moreover, the United States is not the only player. Other powers—France, Germany, Japan, and England—have in their own ways pursued the goal of controlling or influencing the affairs of former colonies and spheres of influence.

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