Moral Outrage
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Capitalist Imperialism 101

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations.

By “imperialism” I mean the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.

By the nineteenth century, imperial powers saw the Third World as not only a source of raw materials and slaves but a market for manufactured goods. By the twentieth century, the industrial nations were exporting not only goods but capital, in the form of machinery, technology, investments, and loans.

Capitalist imperialism differs from these earlier forms in the way it systematically accumulates capital through the organized exploitation of labor and the penetration of overseas markets. Capitalist imperialism invests in other countries, transforming and dominating their economies, cultures, and political life, integrating their financial and productive structures into an international system of capital accumulation. A central imperative of capitalism is expansion.

Self-sufficient peoples are forcibly transformed into disfranchised wage workers. Indigenous communities and folk cultures are replaced by mass-market, mass-media, consumer societies. Cooperative lands are supplanted by agribusiness factory farms, villages by desolate shanty towns, autonomous regions by centralized autocracies.

North American and European corporations have acquired control of more than three-fourths of the known mineral resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But the pursuit of natural resources is not the only reason for capitalist overseas expansion. There is the additional need to cut production costs and maximize profits by investing in countries with cheaper labor markets.

One may speak of “Soviet imperialism” or “nineteenth-century British imperialism” but not of U.S. imperialism. While many people throughout the world charge the United States with being an imperialist power, in this country persons who talk of U.S. imperialism are usually judged to be mouthing ideological blather.

Today some four hundred transnational companies control about 80 percent of the capital assets of the global free market and are extending their grasp into the ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe.

[Excerpts of “Against Empire” by Michael Parenti]

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7 Responses to “Capitalist Imperialism 101”

  1. I just want to laugh at the title. Imperialism has been around since Sargon I of Akkad. Look, capitalism is a system of mutual exchange and economic accountability. It is not the embodiment of existential evil in the universe. Government, on the other hand, yeah, that institution has offed a lot of humans in its day…

  2. “I just want to laugh at the title.”

    Got your attention, huh?

  3. Back to a more serious note though, Capitalist Imperialism differs from earlier forms of Imperialism in the way it systematically accumulates capital through the organized exploitation of labor and the penetration of overseas markets.

    Today, North American and European corporations have acquired control of more than three-fourths of the known mineral resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

    And four hundred transnational companies control about 80 percent of the capital assets of the global free market.

  4. Fotos de modelos paraguayas…

    […]Capitalist Imperialism 101 « Moral Outrage[…]…

  5. Companys have too much power. They do indeed use and stamp on anything the can for a fast profit. Capitalism is an evil system which those wealth is produced by the oppressed but kept by the oppresser.
    Capitalism is basically a clever way of making slavery seem acceptable, and with globalisation these few big players have got a lot more slaves picking through the meager scraps. EVIL


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