Discussion has been sparked by a recent article posted at Anti-Imperialism.com about the situation in Syria. Particularly, some of the feedback questioned to the nature and existence of Russian and Chinese imperialism. The following is part of a correspondence which briefly deals with the development of monopoly capital outside of the post-WWII trilateral bloc of the US/Canada, Britain/Western Europe and Japan. -Nikolai Brown
I think is is evident that Chinese capital is increasingly involved and invested in foreign and far away places, Africa being a prime example (China is now the continent’s top trading partner), but also Latin America and it Asian-Pacific neighbors. This certainly is not a form of benevolence, but Chinese capital probably offers better terms of trade than, say, France or the US.
The question of whether China is a net-importer or exporter of surplus value is, I believe, separate, as it is a lagging indicator of imperialism. I don’t think resources will be available for Russian/Chinese capital to create as large a labor aristocracy as has historically existed in post-WWII imperialist countries.
While it would be hyperbole (and liberal) to describe Russia/Chinese imperialism on par with US-led imperialism, I think we have to remember to society is constantly in a state of motion. In this case, we have to look at particulars to understand which bloc is in decay due to its inherent contradictions (US-led imperialism) and which is ascendant and attempting to ‘fill the void’ (Russia/Chinese capital). Obviously, a qualitative change in power dynamics between these two blocs won’t occur smoothly, and I believe what we are seeing in Syria is primarily an expression of the conflict between these two blocs. Interestingly, US-led imperialism has already been dealt a blow by the ‘international community’s’ refusal to back its aggression. Again, this might have something to due with the fact that Russia and China have been pouring money into global media outlets which challenge the Washington-London-Tokyo narrative. …..
Getting into this a bit more… I think US-led imperialism is increasingly decadent, i.e. increasing invested into the means of maintaining rule and realizing value at the expense of investing in developing the means of production to create new value [or rather, which utilize labor more efficiently thus producing greater amounts of surplus]. Materially speaking, countries such China, Russia, Brazil, etc have large resource bases and huge productive populations. Over the course of decades and given political initiatives, enough capital can be accumulated to create competing monopolies.
With regards to Syria, I think there is a thin line between comprador and national bourgeoisie. Often times, compradors will take (usually superficial cultural) nationalist measures as a way of achieving some popular support. Likewise, even progressive bourgeois nationalist governments (i.e. Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, DPRK, et al) rely on popular domestic cross-class coalitions while nonetheless operating within the world-economy.
If anything, I think the development of a competing Russian/Chinese monopoly bloc adds an interesting dynamism which is both inevitable yet has been lacking since the 1930s.
All of this said, strategy is necessary in all circumstances. US-led imperialism is still the principal enemy of the world’s people. However, it is increasingly upstart Russian/Chinese monopoly capital which is emerging as the primary threat to it rule, and not the world’s masses per say. The challenge, I suppose, is maneuvering between the two to create through struggle a better alternative.