Giovanni Arrighi's The Geometry of Imperialism was published by New Left Books in 1978, in a translation by Patrick Camiller. "I was disturbed, at the time," Arrighi later told David Harvey, "by the terminological confusions that were swirling around the term ‘imperialism’. My aim was to dissipate some of the confusion by creating a topological space in which the different concepts, which were often all confusingly referred to as ‘imperialism’, could be distinguished from one another."
In Marxist debate, Arrighi argued, such confusions could be traced to Lenin's classical theory of imperialism, which at times fails to clearly distinguish it from "the monopoly stage of capitalism" or "finance capital." Arrighi's study would then be neither "a simple reproduction of the thought of this or that theoretician" nor the development of a new theory of imperialism, but rather an examination of "the presuppositions of the theory of imperialism in order to explicate, specify, and delimit them." Those presuppositions were to be located not in Lenin's own theory, but in that of J.A. Hobson, which preceded it.
In the excerpt below, the book's first chapter, Arrighi identifies four primary elements of Hobson's conception of imperialism and isolates them in the form of Weberian ideal types, which them serve as the coordinates for his "topological" reconstruction.
It is no easy task to define the concept of imperialism. The same term is customarily used to designate diverse, and in certain respects antithetical, concepts. Indeed, theoretical controversy is often based on nothing more than a failure to grasp what is the object of reference.
The statue of a Jewish Marxist intellectual in Budapest is being taken down, while at the same time, the statue of an anti-Semite fascist (Bálint Hóman) is being raised up. This is a deep insult to all those who fought against fascism. A trampling of history typically accompanies any fascist regime. One need only look at Spain under Franco, Greece under the Colonels, Brazil under Vargas and so on: a recurring trend is the revision of history and the expulsion of facts that don’t gel well with the predominant narrative.
As the Hungarian government moves to close the archives of the Marxist philosopher and political theorist Georg Lukács, we share an article originally published by RS21 opposing the closure.
The Hungarian government is threatening to close the Georg Lukács Archive. Anyone with an interest in the role that intellectuals have played in left-wing politics should be appalled at such a possibility, writes Joe Sabatini. Sign the petition to keep it open here.
In order to commemorate Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who died on this day 92 years ago, we present a reading list of books that respond to, critique and chronicle Lenin's life and work. The books in this library emphasise the intervention and impact he made in Marxist discourse, most evident in the juncture between theory and practice.
In the above video, Andrew Feenberg discusses his new book The Philosophy of Praxis: Marx, Lukács and the Frankfurt School. The talk was held at the Vancouver Institute for Social Research on 27 October, 2014. Within Feenberg covers a range of issues, from Lukács’ theory of reification to technology, crisis capitalism, and contemporary social movements.
Originally published as Lukács, Marx and the Sources of Critical Theory (1981), The Philosophy of Praxis represents a substantial revision of Feenberg's earlier text. Chris Cutrone reviews the revised text here. The introduction to Feenberg's updated work is excerpted below.
The Philosophy of Praxisis available directly through the Verso website, with a 30% discount and postage and an ebook included free.