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.
In this piece – originally published inEffimera, and translated from Italian by David Broder – Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi grapples with how to disentangle ourselves from a global order that shapes our politics as well as our imagination.
The tangled thread of the possible
Is it possible to reduce the infinite complexity of chaotically evolving social forms to one central tendency, a universal attractor for the becoming of the world? To do so would not be legitimate from a philosophical point of view, because we have to hold firm to the principle that the becoming of the world infinitely – and thus irreducibly – exceeds what is known.
At the beginning of March, in the run up to the International Women's Strike, Left Voicespoke with Nancy Fraser — author of Fortunes of Feminismand Henry A. & Louise Loeb Professor of Political & Social Science at The New School — about the motivations behind the strike, and the call for a "Feminism of the 99%" that Fraser co-wrote with other organizers (including Angela Davis, Barbara Ransby, Cinzia Arruzza, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Linda Martín Alcoff, Rasmea Yousef Odeh and Tithi Bhattacharya).
Susie Day's interview with organizer and artist Amin Husain was first published in Monthly Review online.
Rounding up immigrants, pissing on transgender bathroom rights, barring press from press briefings… The only good thing Donald Trump has done is to galvanize millions of people into political outrage. For months now we've gone to dozens of marches and rallies. Of course, this isn't enough, but what more to do?
Then I happened on a Facebook post by Amin Husain:"I wish I could share what's wrong and what's missing in how we're handling the Trump era without many of my dear friends thinking that I am just being a downer on the 'resistance.'" I had to hear more.