< < <
Date Index
> > >
Re: r.biel@ucl.ac.uk
by Mark Jones
05 September 2002 20:57 UTC
< < <
Thread Index
> > >
At 05/09/2002 19:29, Louis Proyect wrote:
>Robert Biel's "The New Imperialism: Crisis and Contradictions in 
>North/South Relations" (Zed Books, 2000) is everything that Hardt-Negri's 
>"Empire" is not.

This is a wonderful book by Biel and, prompted by my mentor Lou Proyect, I 
just spent a day at the British Library going thru it. Great, especially, 
on the importance to capitalist accumulation and to the wealth enjoyed by 
the big swinging dicks of Wall St and their fashionable-parlor-socialist 
acolytes and alleged critics, is the unsung and unpaid domestic drudgery of 
Third World Women. As Biel points out, the same people who argue in favour 
of the maquiladoras and the entrenchment of wage-slavery in the 
peripheries, as somehow enlightening alternatives to such domestic 
drudgery, are in  their own persons and in their engrossment of the labour 
of others, beneficiaries of that domestic drudgery, for without the 
immiseration and cruel exploitation of unseen masses of women, 
part-peasant, part-proletarian, hag-ridden by patriarchy and ultimately at 
the service of Wall St and its mouthpieces, imperialism could not continue 
to exploit the South at all. These silent, invisible women, hundreds of 
millions of them, are a condition of existence of late capitalism, of US 
imperialism in  its exterminist phase of final decay. Those  who want to 
silence such authentic voices of the oppressed women of the South as 
Vandana Shiva are its servants. Biel provides a rebuttal to their craven 
politics in terms which even economists can understand.

However despite its strong points, so well summarised by Lou that you don't 
need to buy the it, there are one or two, no, make that four, thing wrong 
with Biel's book.

First, his approach to the USSR (his Maoist inflection doesn't permit him 
to comprehend either the scale of the human catastrophe ongoing in eastern 
Europe, or the implications, positive and negative, of the disappearance of 
the USSR for global relations of production and for US hegemony).

2nd his approach to the nature of contemporary imperialism (he's a 
semi-kautskyite who believes in ultra-imperialism. Now. while it is true 
that there exists a baleful solidarity of the thieving North against the 
abused South, the idea that the USA is merely one imperial power among 
others, a primum inter pares, is absurd. The US is the heart of the global 
cancer of capitalism, the primary tumour).

3rd Biel's approach to the ongoing and apocalyptic eco-crisis, which 
combines man-made climate change, mass extinction and poisoning of the 
ecosphere is far too weak (He kind of mentions it, but it is hardly central 
to his thinking; but, to paraphrase Trotsky, you may not be interested in 
eco-catastrophe, but eco-catastrophe is sure interested in you).

4th Biel's political conclusions are tepid, insipid and utopian; and here I 
diosagree with Lou's more upbeat judgment.

I'm glad of Lou's review and despite my overall negativity, this is a good 
book. Especially good factually (but an archive search of marxmail or the 
A-List will bring up a lot better and more recent stuff, for free. Where do 
Zed get off charging $25 for a slim paperback?)

Mark Jones

< < <
Date Index
> > >
World Systems Network List Archives
at CSF
Subscribe to World Systems Network < < <
Thread Index
> > >