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Imperialism and Self-determination Revisiting the Nexus in Lenin


Radha DSouza

This essay examines the nexus between self-determination, imperialism and the importance of Marxist theory in Lenins writings. It argues that the three strands were inseparably connected in Lenins thinking. The breakdown of the unity of the three strands of thought has impeded our understanding of contemporary imperialism.

Rereading Lenin a Century Later

This paper presented at the conference on Lenins Thought in the 21st Century, School of Philosophy, Wuhan University, China, 20-22 October 2012. Radha DSouza (R.Dsouza1@westminster.ac.uk) is with the School of Law, University of Westminster.

t the turn of the 19th century critical intellectuals in Europe noted that the character of capitalism was changing before their eyes. The hallmarks of industrial capitalism characterised by class conicts, competition, factory production, the gold standard, domestic markets, the nation state as the umbrella institution for protecting home markets and domestic industries and the Empire system was undergoing radical structural transformation. Marx acknowledged that the inevitable logic of competition was monopolies (Marx 1974 [1894]: Ch 15). However, monopolistic tendencies became visible much later. In the economy, the period from 1873-96 in western Europe was one of economic depression, instability of currency backed by the gold standard, political pessimism and repression (McDonough 1995). Policy responses to the crisis had the effect of restructuring the relations between banks and manufacturing. In turn these interventions transformed the structure of capitalist production and entailed comprehensive changes in the economic regime.1 The separation of nance from manufacturing enabled rms to survive through mergers and acquisitions, and by forming cartels and syndicates to maintain prices. The emergence of cartels and syndicates, the backward and forward integration of production, and other means of achieving economies of scale gave successful entrepreneurs the ability to stall the falling currencies. Closely related to these issues was the behaviour of competition and its implications for prices. In turn these changes in the structure of capitalism implied corresponding changes in the relations between currency and value (the labour-time) as well as the circuits of production and consumption and money and price in commodity production that Marx wrote about.2 These changes led socialists to revisit Marxs analysis of capital. Did Marxs analysis need revision and could capital self-correct the inner contradictions that Marx described in Capital and Theories of Surplus Value? In politics, after the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871 in western Europe, the home of capitalism, socialist movements became mired in factional politics and enamoured by bourgeois democracy and parliamentary politics (Engels 1968 [1874]; Lenin 1972 [1908]; Lenin 1971 [1919]: 150-54). Germany was late amongst the European states to consolidate the nation state project which was accomplished under Bismarcks unication as late as 1871. By that stage the third world had been effectively divided between Britain, France, Spain and Portugal.
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Germany was forced to ght for redivision rather than discovery of colonies. Russia inherited colonies from the pre-capitalist feudal era. However, as a latecomer to capitalist development her industrialisation was overshadowed by European expansion, and internal class relations were slow to develop. In the colonies, including the colonies of the Russian Empire, popular movements demanded independence from colonial rule. These historical developments posed new questions for socialist movements. While Marx referred to the Jewish, Polish and Irish questions in his writings and the unity of workers of all nations in the struggle for socialism, these questions had not assumed the programmatic urgency they did at the beginning of the 20th century. When rereading Lenins writings it is important to locate the arguments of different actors within the context and the polemics generated by it. In revisiting the legacy of Lenin it is important to ask: (i) why do we wish to engage in the exercise of reassessing Lenins legacy; (ii) what are the problems in the present that invites us to remember Lenin; and (iii) how does the legacy of Lenin help us to address our futures if at all? Methodologically, the present mediates the past and the future. When the past is read without regard for the future, the analysis becomes disengaged from praxis and theory becomes something for its own sake. Marx wrote that the role of philosophy is to change the world (Marx and Engels 1969 [1888]). If philosophy is to help us change the world, the questions for theory must be posed from the standpoint of political praxis. The type of answers we get depends on how theoretical questions are posed. Equally when the future becomes disengaged from the past, political praxis remains unconscious, spontaneous and instinctive (Lenin 1970 [1902]). This essay revisits Lenins writings on self-determination, imperialism and Marxism from the standpoint of the people of the third world. In most third world countries socialist movements of the early 20th century had a profound inuence on the national liberation struggles for independence from colonial rule. Since the end of second world war and the emergence of the United Nations (UN) system as the so-called New World Order, people in these countries have faced increased militarisation, ethnic and sectarian conicts, economic dependency, expropriation of their natural resources, exploitation of cheap labour, and the burden of successive economic crises of capitalism. 1989 was a turning point for third world states. It saw the rise of the Washington Consensus, the end of the cold war, and the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the last round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations. Together, these developments undermined any gains the people of the third world had made from the struggles against colonialism for a just and free world. In recent times the third world has seen a return of the politics of the Mandate years in new forms. The majority of the worlds population face unemployment, wars, displacement and polarisation of wealth and poverty on scales that is unprecedented in human history. All this comes together with what scholars have described as capitalist triumphalism. Triumphalism as ideology proclaims
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that all past struggles for freedom from class and national oppression by people everywhere have failed and therefore there is no alternative to bourgeois liberalism (Fukuyama 1992). Lenins writings remained, at all times, focused on how oppressed people should intervene in politics so as to bring about structural transformations in their conditions of life. In addressing these problems Lenin on his part drew from the legacy of Marx and Engels to address the theoretical problems of revolutionary transformation. How should scholars understand Lenins legacy in todays global context where bourgeois triumphalism has displaced the legacies of internationalism, socialism and third world solidarities born from the anti-colonial struggles? How should people understand isolated struggles for survival of the revolutionary traditions in small pockets of the third world today? Lenin wrote that there are three fronts in the struggle for socialism: the political front, the economic front and theoretical front. Each front, he argued, must be challenged on its own terms as a distinct arena (Lenin 1970 [1902]). Far too many struggles in the third world today are intuitively against imperialism and for self-determination, but politically inspired by identity politics that manifest as ethnic, religious and cultural conicts. Equally there are many struggles on the economic front against the policies of international organisations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and WTO and G-8 states. These struggles propose liberal democracy and constitutionalism as solutions even though historically these solutions have proven to be limited. The point of departure for this article is the understanding that whereas struggles for social justice by people of the third world on the economic and political fronts have been relentless since the end of the world wars, the struggle on the theoretical front in the third world remains the weakest. These methodological observations and approaches inform the analysis of the nexus between imperialism, self-determination and the theoretical struggle for socialism within Marxism in this article. We rst summarise Lenins arguments on each one of these questions in the historical context in which they arose. We then provide a brief summary of the development of institutional infrastructures for imperialism after the end of the second world war. Following this, we draw out the signicance of the rupture in the three strands of thought.
Lenin on Self-determination, Imperialism and Socialism

The period from 1898 until the end of the second world war in 1945, spanning over half a century, was uid, a period of rapid transformations and also a period of polemics and debate. Lenin responded to early developments as they occurred in the trajectory of developments during this uid period. As early as 1899 Lenin noted the emergence of cartels in the United States (US) and wrote that they limited production for home markets, sold their products overseas by undercutting prices and charged domestic consumers monopoly prices (Lenin 1974 [1899]). Lenins writings on imperialism and selfdetermination were part of his overall strategy and tactics for successful socialist revolutions in Russia and elsewhere. His
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writings cover over 25 of the 50 years it took for the New World Order to emerge under the institutional umbrella of the UN. One of the key arguments in this paper is that Lenins writings must be read in their totality. Selective readings of Lenin emphasising one text over others, or for that matter, emphasising his main pamphlets over observations in speeches, innerparty debates and other sources could well lead to a one-sided, reductive reading of imperialism, self-determination or socialism. As Bagchi points out imperialism and self-determination are inseparably intertwined in Lenins writings. To this insight we may add another. The struggle against imperialism and for self-determination is contingent on the struggle for socialism (1983). A reductive reading limits imperialism to the sphere of economy, self-determination to the sphere of international relations, and legal sovereignty or socialism to abstract ideas about a normative social order hinders our understanding of contemporary struggles in the third world. Subsequent writings on Lenin have done just that. This paper argues that when revisiting Lenins writings in the contemporary context the relations between the three strands in Lenins thinking hold important clues to our understanding of contemporary problems. It is useful to recall that Lenins purpose in investigating imperialism was prompted by the struggles for self-determination within the Russian Empire initially and later in other colonies and protectorates in the world. Chronologically, the right of nations to self-determination predated imperialism on the agenda of socialist movements. In the early years from 1901 to 1910 Lenins energies were devoted to organisational questions. As early as 1903 the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party adopted support for the right of self-determination in its organisational programme. Dissensions arose within the socialist movement about the interpretation of the right especially amongst members from Russias colonies, protectorates and minorities in particular the Poles, the Ukrainians and the Jews who demanded special status within the party based on ethnicity (Lenin 1974 [1913]; 1974 [1903]). These arguments prompted Lenin to set out the Marxist premise for selfdetermination in The Right of Nations to Self-Determination published in early 1914 more than three years before Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, which was published in the middle of 1917 (Lenin: 1970 [1914]; 1970 [1917]; see Lenin 1974).3 It must also be noted that the Right of Nations consolidated observations, speeches, and other shorter writings from 1899 onwards on the subject. What is important is that Lenins writing on self-determination before 1914 as well as in the 1914 pamphlet reveals the nexus between self-determination, imperialism and socialism. Lenins arguments unied theory and practice by bringing together economic developments, political necessity as well as philosophical (theoretical) insights into debates on political programmes. Lenins arguments on self-determination, imperialism and socialism may be grouped and organised thematically as follows: Is self-determination a legal right or a political right? Nation states and imperialism Imperialism, revisionism and the corruption of Marxism
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Is Self-determination a Legal or a Political Right?4 This question is closely tied to the emergence of nation states as the institutional umbrella for market relations in societies founded on commodity production, i e, capitalism. When this question arose within the socialist movements at the turn of the century, the anti-feudal revolutions in western Europe were more or else complete. The bourgeois revolutions were fought on grounds of cultural, religious, and linguistic freedoms and for recognition of secularism and nation states as the foundations of international law. The Peace of Westphalia in 1638 recognised secularism and nation states but as treaties between states, i e, as contractual obligations of states and not a legal principle. It was left to the new US to advance self-determination as a legal principle in international law much later. The US advocated self-determination as a legal principle governing interstate relations. The Monroe doctrine5 argued against forced colonisation and for the legal principle of mutual recognition through bilateral treaties (contractual relations between states) as the basis for interstate relations. The Monroe doctrine was premised on philosophical liberalism with emphasis on formal legal equality between unequal social, political and economic actors, in this case, states. Nations under this doctrine were based on cultural, historical and linguistic ties. The Monroe doctrine was invoked to expand the inuence of the US in Latin American countries struggling against Spanish and Portuguese colonialism. Within the British Empire the system of protectorates, known as indirect rule coexisted alongside direct rule and settler colonialism (see Dsouza 2006; Mamdani 1996).6 The Monroe doctrine systematised it as a universal principle in international law. The Monroe doctrine, far from bringing freedom to Latin American states, merely switched masters, and transferred Latin American states from Spanish colonialism to indirect rule by the US as protectorates with formal independence and economic subjugation. The US had forcibly occupied North America denying the indigenous people their self-determination. Equally, the settlement of Latin America by slaves and indentured labour meant that the people there were forcibly removed from their ties to their histories, languages and cultures. American expansionism took the occupation of the American continent and denial of self-determination of indigenous people, slaves and indentured labour as given and expanded its sights to the colonies of European Empires including Russia. During Lenins time the Monroe doctrine saw a revival under Woodrow Wilsons presidency later formalised in the Fourteen Points (see Lenin 1971 [1920]: 449-64 at pp 455-56; Cassese 1995 at pp 13-23).7 The US under Wilson used the legal right to selfdetermination as a diplomatic tool in its engagement with western European states, especially Britain, to gain access to resources and markets in the colonies.8 Nevertheless the power of formal liberal rights remained as attractive then as it is now to socialists and nationalists. Lenin noted that the Monroe doctrine had actually institutionalised a system of protectorates.9 He argued that formal equality in international relations is nothing more or less than liberalisms formal legal equality between unequal actors in
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society; it fetishised and camouaged real inequality and oppression between states.10 Keeping in the Marxist traditions Lenin argued that social relations are the basis for legal relations and that principles of jurisprudence must not be taken at face value but probed deeper. What law does in society (sociological aspects of law) and not what law says (normative aspects of law) must guide socialists.11 Continuing the legacy of Marx and Engels and their writings on the Irish, Jewish and Polish questions, Lenin argued that socialists must anchor understandings of nation states to the nature of capitalism and on class relations and not derive it from essentialist ideas of culture, language, religion or ethnic characteristics. Lenin was the rst to articulate the kernel of the idea that nations have class content and nation states are not empty institutional forms.12 The argument against self-determination as a formal legal principle raised further questions about the nation state as an institution. If the anti-feudal revolutions in western Europe were progressive, as Marx argued, and they brought forth new forms of knowledge and new freedoms for working people under the institutional umbrella of the nation state, surely people in backward nations where anti-feudal revolutions were slow and late in developing were also entitled to travel the same historical road as western Europe? Should they not therefore seek formal legal rights which socialists could use as democratic spaces for real equality between states? This question led Lenin to investigate the institutional form of nation states.
Nation States and Imperialism

The demands for self-determination came amidst a series of annexations and wars. At the heart of demands for self-determination was the demand for statehood, in other words, for states to be free of national oppression.13 Would independent statehood alone be a sufcient condition for freedom from national oppression? The demand for self-determination presupposed two classes of states: oppressor and oppressed states. It also presupposed the existence of a collective social entity, a society, formed by multiple interest groups with shared natures and cultures, entities that were threatened by the developments in capitalism (Dsouza 2012). Wars inamed national enmity and threats of subjugation brought out the worst in people.14 What made some states oppressors and others oppressed? Lenin analysed all the wars since 1870 between the Great Powers to understand the impending rst world war and the demands for self-determination. What is interesting is that far from taking a reductive view of wars from economic or political standpoints he analysed them by taking into account a wide range of factors including diplomatic relations, colonial policy, economic policy including trusts, customs agreements, largescale concessions, workers movements and socialist parties in the countries at war, non-proletarian revolutionary movements, national movements and the national question, democratic reforms including electoral reforms, social reforms, including reforms in colonial policies and other factors.15 The comprehensive assessment of all aspects led Lenin to develop his theory on the changing character of capitalism and nation states and the relations between them.
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Marx made an important distinction between capitalist and pre-capitalist societies. He argued that pre-capitalist social structures were founded on the unity of nature and people (labour). Capital ruptured the unity and mediated the relations in new ways. The key to understanding the formation of social structures is to analyse the ways in which capital organises and mediates the relations between nature and people (labour) (Marx (1973 [1930]): 898 at p 276). By the same token capital reorganises and restructures relations between people and nature and the institutional formations for the relations. Lenin extended Marxs analysis of the mediating role of capital to argue that there were distinct stages to capitalism. Each stage is characterised by the ways in which capital remediates and restructures social relations and institutions while keeping the basic attributes and features.16 It does not follow therefore that remediation and restructuring is a self-correcting mechanism capable of resolving the inner contradictions of commodity production as many of his contemporaries argued.17 If anything the restructuring expands the scale and intensity of the next crisis. Taking a reductive economic standpoint several intellectuals, progressive and reactionary, highlighted the economic aspects of imperialism, the emergence of monopolies and trusts and other features; others taking a reductive view of politics wrote about diplomacy, colonial policy and treaties; and on the Left many took a normative view of socialism, seeing it as an ideal standard which socialist movements must measure up to. Lenin synthesised the three strands. The synthesis revealed the transformations in capitalism as well as in the nation-state as the institutional form. In Rights of Nations Lenin argued that nation states during the early stages of capitalism arose from the collapse of feudalism and absolutism. The nation state of the nascent capitalism had metamorphosed into something qualitatively different in the mature phase at the end of the 19th century. This is because capitalism itself had changed and developed into a new stage. Nation states that were well developed, i e, with established constitutional regimes, class divisions, and institutions were in a position to dominate nation states that were not so well established, i e, where legal, institutional and class formations were nascent or not rmly established. The unequal development of capitalism historically and geographically meant that some nation states could dominate others by mobilising a variety of military, economic and ideological resources.18 He called the new stage of capitalism imperialism following what other intellectuals around him were calling it and with whom his writings engaged. In the imperialist stage, dominant nation states incorporated weaker nation states as entities in their entirety as satellite states in systemic ways into the political economy of capitalism (Chua 1995).19 Protectorates were the institutional form for the domination, and formal self-determination the legal principle. The incorporation of nation states as satellite entities in their own right was made possible because of the separation of nance/bank capital from manufacturing. Dominant nation states20 could become rentier states by being home to nance and banking capital and by remote controlling appropriation of natural resources as well as
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contracting out manufacturing at cheaper rates to the protectorates Noreld (2011).21 The character of mature capitalist nation states had changed from being home to manufacturing and protecting home markets to becoming rentier states by becoming home to nanciers and bankers and living off the return on capital from nation states that were formally independent but economically subordinated to centres of nance and banking. Annexations and wars were integral to national oppression.22 Annexations and wars could be motivated by competition between dominant states for spheres of inuence or collaboration between them to subjugate weaker nation states (Lenin 1970 [1916]). In the new stage of imperialism capital called forth two types of formally independent nation states that were asymmetrically related. On the one hand, capital in the imperialist stage united all nation states by making them interdependent, and on the other hand it created asymmetrical relations between nation states. The unequal development of capitalism made it possible to insert collective social units as states, communities or social groups into capitalist relations.23 It was no longer necessary under monopoly nance capitalism to have old style empires with colonial settlements or settler colonies. Protectorates could be drawn into asymmetrical relations with rentier states in ways that will make them dependent nations. In his notebooks Lenin notes:
+ Why division into nations when imperialism is the epoch of the union of nations? Why national movements in the Ukraine, China, Persia, India, Egypt, etc, if (when) the advanced countries have reached the stage of imperialism, which unites nations, if capitalism (=imperialism) in the advanced countries has outgrown the bounds of national states?24

content of each struggle and take an informed position on it from the perspective of working people and not the nation states. Also dominant nation states in the imperialist stage wanted self-determination to be a legal principle precisely to exploit every cultural, religious, ethnic difference between people to foster wars and conicts as a strategy to constantly restructure their internal relations to suit imperialist agendas (Manbekova and Khomenko 1974).28 The purpose of this section has been to revisit the nexus between nation states and imperialism in Lenins writings. The emphasis has been over the nexus rather than the economic aspects of imperialism as such. There is a large body of literature on the economic features of imperialism, or rather capitalism in the imperialist stage, since the end of the world wars. Theories of dependency, neocolonialism and world systems have emphasised the economic aspects of exploitation of the third world. Imperialism has returned in recent writings especially since the events of the so-called 9/11. What is missing in these writings is the nexus between the changes in the structure of capital and restructuring of nation states. What is missing too is the theoretical understanding of the analytical categories of capital and nation states in the era of imperialism.
Imperialism, Revisionism and the Corruption of Marxism

To this he answers,
imperialism is the era of oppression of nations on a new historical basis. [...]25

However that is only half the problem, the other half being the emergence of national movements:
Self-determination is the tattered slogan of a bygone era of bourgeoisdemocratic revolution and movements. Imperialism gives new life to this old slogan.[...] imperialism cannot be purged of national oppression [...] the struggle must be revolutionary and, under socialism, for joint determination, not self-determination.26

The most important distinction between liberal legal rights of self-determination and socialist self-determination is the right to secede. Secession was the safeguard against national domination. Socialist movements would ensure that secession was recognised internationally.27 Capital in the imperialist stage called forth another universal category of analysis in Marxisms conceptual repertoire: the contradictions between nation states and global capital, the unity of capital and diversities of nation state structures. Unequal development created the asymmetrical relations between them. Lenin was the rst to argue that nation states have class content depending on their internal composition and their positions in imperialist relations. Socialist movements cannot therefore accept a blanket principle of self-determination as liberal legal rights did, but they must examine the class
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On the theoretical front, Lenin argued that the emergence of imperialism as a distinct stage of capitalism shifted the arena, or the battleground for theoretical struggles. Throughout his life Lenin riled over and over again relentlessly against corruption and opportunism within the socialist movement. His interventions on this question spanning 25 years are far too many to summarise easily (Lenin 1974 [1916]: 61).29 Until the 1890s, in the main, Marxism developed in opposition to liberal theories that drew inspiration from different strands of philosophical liberalism. Lenin argued that after the 1890s the arena for theoretical struggles shifted to the domain of Marxism as something internal to it. As early as 1908 Lenin observed that in philosophy Marxists had returned to Kant and other thinkers of the early stages of capitalism; in political economy, reliance on narrow empirical analysis minus the philosophical foundations of Marxism whittled down or undermined the essential inner contradictions of Marxism.30 In the sphere of politics Marxists used revisionist interpretations of Marxism to return back to legalism, constitutionalism and parliamentary democracy as norms valuable in themselves. Theoretical liberalism manifested as a tendency within Marxism. Bourgeois ideologists used the vocabulary of Marxism precisely because the Marxist critique of capitalism had been thorough and comprehensive. Theory, for Lenin, was an international phenomenon that straddled a variety of national conditions.31 It could not be limited to this or that nation. The unstable class composition of nation states under imperialism was the source of revisionism in the new stage of capitalism.32 The nation state as a category in capitalist relations which was called forth in the imperialist stage was based on a coalition of classes that experienced national oppression under imperialism.33 New nation states in the imperialist stage could
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no longer be stable establishments embedded in legal and institutional histories as the dominant states were. During the early stages feudalism and theocracy were unable to shore up the institutions of economic, political and ideological power of feudalism. The vacuum created by the collapse of the old order provided the space for nascent capitalism to entrench institutions and systems of knowledge to bring about structural change in social relations. In the imperialist stage the entrenched capitalist powers would only allow new nation states to remain as such if they remained satellites. The ght against capitalism in the imperialist stage necessitated a ght against national oppression. The stance of the Marxists within socialist movements in the dominant capitalist states towards their own capitalism and nation state was therefore central to ghting revisionism and chauvinism.34 This is all the more so because there is a bond between imperialism and opportunism in the working class movement that is mediated by the nation state. It allows the dominant states to win over the workers of their own states to ght workers of other nation states.35 In the imperialist stage of capitalism old ideas about the progressive role of capitalism were no longer valid. After the defeat of the Paris Commune and the German revolution in 1905 capitalism had become incapable of leading the struggles against feudalism or theocracy or bringing forth new forms of knowledge, or agrarian reforms that would bring freedom to people. In the imperialist stage capitalism compromised with reaction and with social chauvinism. The idea of an independent capitalist state in the era of imperialism was impossible. Only socialism would guarantee freedom from national oppression. The super-prots in the imperialist stage enabled dominant states to bribe and buy out their own working-classes, the labour aristocracy.36 Imperialism invokes crass national prejudices, social chauvinism in Lenins words to ght people against people, one nation state against another. In the imperialist stage all social life is militarised.37 Capitalist militarism is an economic, political and ideological phenomenon. Wars include wars within states (civil wars) and between states, and periods of truce/peace must be seen as an interregnum between wars.38 If self-determination became a legal right, imperialist powers would utilise it to fan ethnic conicts to subjugate nations. Real self-determination was not possible without socialism; equally socialism is not possible without freedom from national oppression. The two struggles were two sides of the same coin. It follows therefore that the theoretical developments supportive of revolutionary social transformation must, in the imperialist stage, emerge from within Marxism. Lenin qualied this by saying opportunism could not be fought by words but by deeds, as the words would sound Marxist anyway! Lenin foresaw the possibility of another imperialist war if socialists failed to unify the struggles against national and class oppression.39 Much of the work of the third international after the Second Congress turned its attention to this task. The brief overview above has drawn attention to the unity of the three strands in Lenins thought between imperialism as a distinct stage of capitalism, national oppression, nation states
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and self-determination as issues arising from the development of capitalism into a new stage and the interrelationships between imperialism, revisionism and social chauvinism within Marxism.
The Third World, Imperialism and the Legacy of Lenin

Lenin never synthesised his thoughts, or rather, he never got the time or the space to write a comprehensive work on Marxism after Marx. Yet his writings in the form of pamphlets and speeches covered in 45 volumes of collected works shows remarkable consistency and incremental development of ideas. The lasting international legacy of Lenins intervention was the emergence of the three world architecture of the world after the end of the world wars.40 The breakdown in the unity of the three strands in Lenins thinking: economic imperialism, political self-determination and Marxist theory within socialist movements provide the cues to the trajectory of developments of imperialism and its implications for people of the third world. After the end of the world wars the unity of the three strands in the analysis of imperialism broke down. The breakdown of the unity of economics, politics and socialist transformation manifested differently in the dominant capitalist states, the socialist states and the third world states. In each of these three worlds different sets of internal and external circumstances impelled the changes. Admittedly these observations are based on broad generalisations. Beginning with socialist transformation, the legacy of Lenin survived longest in the Chinese revolution. Mao Zedong, in the course of the Chinese revolution, systematised the incremental evolution of Lenins analysis of imperialism, national liberation and revisionism. Imperialism in China colluded with feudal forces to subjugate China (Zedong (Tse-tung) 1965 [1939]). In the imperialist stage no progressive social outcomes could be expected from capitalism because capitalism could survive only by making compromises with feudalism and comprador capitalists (ibid). In turn the compromise made third world states protectorate and satellites of dominant nation states. Following on from Lenin on the class content of nation-states Mao synthesised the idea more clearly with his thesis on the Four Class Alliance (Zedong (Tse-tung) 1965 [1926]). As nation states had class content the socialist movements should identify which classes were adversely affected by imperialism and subjected to national oppression; they should develop a political programme that unied those classes that stood against imperialism to unite the many to defeat the few. In the Four Class Alliance of workers, peasants, small landowners and national capitalists, the peasants and workers were the most resolute opponents of imperialism because they bore the brunt of national oppression (ibid). The national capitalists could vacillate or switch sides. As the class alliance in a nation state was inherently unstable in the age of imperialism, communists should learn how to handle the contradictions amongst classallies and class-enemies (Zedong (Tse-tung) 1977 [1957]a). According to Mao, what Lenin called democratic revolutions under the dictatorship of the proletariat was in fact not a dictatorship at all. For Mao the Four Class Alliance was actually a new kind of democracy that was based not on formal legalisms
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but rather on real relations between people in an oppressed nation (Zedong (Tse-tung) 1961 [1949]). Again Mao argued that the main ideological struggle was against bourgeois ideas within the party, i e, within Marxism.41 For Mao, the struggle against national oppression was tied to the struggle for socialism. Either socialist revolutions would prevent a third world war or a third world war would bring forth struggles for socialism.42 These formulations had profound effects on the national liberation struggles throughout the third world. The legacy of Lenin lasted until the Mao-era in China. It continues today in isolated pockets outside China in various Maoist movements that continue to be inspired by the revolutions of the early 20th century. Having acknowledged very briey the survival of the Leninist traditions in isolated pockets, what can we say about the nexus between the three aspects of imperialism more generally in the international arena?
Capitalism and Its Institutional Architecture

In the epoch of imperialism there are three moments in the trajectories of developments of capitalism internationally. The period from 1905-45 may be seen as the transitional moment.43 The second moment from 1945 to 1989 may be seen as the reconstruction period.44 And, the period from 1989 to the present may be viewed as the maturing of imperialist stage. Of these phases, the reconstruction period from 1945-89 is the least theorised by Marxists. Yet it is the most important period for understanding contemporary imperialism. It may be worth recapping the formative developments during that period before returning to the rupture in the three strands of Lenins thinking about imperialism, self-determination and revisionism in the international arena. Transnational monopoly-nance capital presupposes legal, institutional, scientic, technological, social, cultural and ideological preconditions for the new imperialist stage. The hallmarks of the new stage were new systems of production, the global outreach of nance capital, a permanent war machine, a system of protectorates, institutions to sustain asymmetrical relations between nation states being the more important ones. The old institutional infrastructures of industrial capitalism, including the legal, organisational, scientic, technological, military, social, ideological infrastructures were inadequate and unsuited for the new stage. The breakdown of the institutional infrastructures in the early 20th century gave socialist movements and national liberation struggles an opportunity to intervene and inuence the structural changes underway. Their interventions were economic, political as well as theoretical with profound impact on the architecture of the world after the second world war. The three world architecture that emerged was the result of three types of struggles during the transitional years: the ght against fascism, the ght for socialism and the ght for national liberation. The three world architecture of the world produced structural breaks on imperialisms effort to rebuild the institutional infrastructures appropriate for the new phase of capitalism. The world wars caused extensive destruction of the physical, social and institutional infrastructure of capitalism of the
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industrial stage. Reconstruction was the slogan of dominant capitalist states in the post-war era for building new infrastructures for the imperialist stage of capitalism. Reconstruction meant systemic reconstruction: i e, the reconstruction of institutions, ideologies, relations and mechanisms of imperial governance. Broadly speaking, there were three types of systemic reconstruction: reconstruction of the physical, social and institutional infrastructure conducive to the imperialist stage of capitalism; reconstruction of the colonial relations ruptured or weakened during the world wars; and undermining the socialist experiment by encircling, containing and isolating the socialist bloc states. The conceptual resources for reconstructing the institutional infrastructures for transnational monopoly nance capitalism came from social democracy, the very trend in the socialist movement that Lenin fought against all his life. European social democracy synthesised liberalism and socialism to rebuild the institutional preconditions for the imperialist stage. Key conceptual resources included: (i) modifying the role of the state in traditional liberal theory; (ii) bringing about a truce between labour and capital in the tripartite structures of trade-unions, monopoly corporations and capitalist states, known as the welfare state; (iii) developing international organisations premised on western liberal ideas of institutional separation of economic relations from social, political and cultural ones on a global scale; and (iv) developing a legalistic view of nation states and sovereignty. The UN system for the rst time provides and institutional mechanism for transnational monopoly nance capitalism on a global scale in the imperialist stage. Until then relationships between states were primarily based on treaties. It must be noted too that institutional nuts and bolts for the UN system was conceptualised initially bilaterally between the United Kingdom (UK) and the US in the Atlantic Charter as early as 1941, two years after the second world war broke out. President Roosevelts Four Freedoms formed the normative basis for the Charter.45 The Atlantic Charter formed the basis for negotiations with the former USSR and China which concluded in the 1943 Moscow Declaration. Thereafter the Charter was put to other states. Thus, most of the present member states had very little say in the writing of the UN Charter.46 In the architecture of the UN system the distribution of power runs through its organs and provides important insights into the institutional reconstruction of the post-world war phase. Of the six organs: the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Trusteeship Council, the International Law Commission and the Secretariat, we may, for the purposes of this article, leave out of consideration the Secretariat. Political power is exercised through the Security Council and the General Assembly. The Security Council alone has the power to take punitive action including economic sanctions, military interventions and arbitrations between states. The Security Council in the nal analysis is controlled by the victors in the world war of whom the three western allies dominate. The General Assembly is often seen as the assembly of all nation states. It is important to remember that the General
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Assemblys powers are limited to making recommendations. General Assembly recommendations are not binding on the Security Council or the International Court of Justice. Most third world states had little say in the drafting of the Charter as they were not recognised as sovereign entities. The Trusteeship Council was seen largely as a transitional arrangement to oversee the dissolution of old colonies under the Empire system and the Mandate territories, regions acquired by the Axis powers during the rst world war. Except for a few outstanding issues like Palestine most colonies are now restructured as nation states and admitted to membership of the General Assembly. Their role in the General Assembly, besides making recommendations to the Security Council on political issues, is to develop international conventions, declarations and make social and cultural policies. The General Assemblys role secures the consent of states in developing the normative frameworks for global governance without corresponding powers. The UN charter gives the UN an economic role that the League never had before. Two chapters in the charter are devoted to the economic role of the organisation. The role of the ECOSOC, the least understood organ of the UN, is to coordinate the mechanisms of governance and align the social and cultural policies formulated by the General Assembly and the economic policies of the specialised agencies. The specialised agencies are international economic organisations set up outside the UN but brought under the institutional umbrella of the UN through specialised agency agreements. The international organisations may be classied into two groups: the international economic organisations (IEOs) formed under the Bretton Woods treaty and the international standard setting organisations (ISSOs). Many of the ISSOs were formed under the oversight of the League of Nations. Although the League failed to hold the peace between warring states after the rst world war, the League oversaw the development of economic infrastructures for post-world war capitalism. More than 400 ISSOs ranging from the International Labour Organisation, International Postal Union, World Meteorological Organisations, the scientic unions and other standard setting organisations were formed under the League. These standard setting organisations laid the foundations for standardisation of technical, scientic and labour standards that provided the preconditions for transnational monopoly nance capitalism after the end of the second world war.47 The second world war broke out in 1939 and in the same year UK and US opened negotiations for a global nancial system to be put in place after the world war ended. By 1943 the terms of the shape of the system to come was in place under the Draft Bank Plan proposed by the US treasury. The IEOs were formed outside the UN and modelled on shareholding structures adopted by private corporations. Thus, the economic interventions of the state were modelled along corporate lines. The shareholding structures of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund give the largest voting rights to ve states making the largest contributions to the capital base of the IEOs. The Articles of Association of the two organisations make any constitutional changes impossible without the consent of the ve largest capitalist states. The specialised agency agreements
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exempt the IEOs and ISSOs from the oversight of the political organs of the UN. The ECOSOC nevertheless mobilises the UN system, sets up special organisations and regional interstate organisations to coordinate the work of the economic organisations with the UNs work.48 The socialist bloc countries had very little inuence in the formation of the IEOs. The third world, much of it under colonial rule, had even lesser inuence.
Reconstruction of Colonial Ties

The socialist revolutions and national liberations struggles created powerful political opposition to the advance of imperialism but had very little inuence over the economic and standard setting institutions of capitalism during the imperialist stage.49 The UN Charter adopts the Wilsonian conception of self-determination as a legal right. The Charter has an openended denition of self-determination which can be claimed by peoples, nations, states or countries.50 The legal principle of recognition in international law makes self-determination contingent on the consent of the veto members of the Security Council. By the time the last of the IEOs envisioned in the Bretton Woods agreement, the WTO, came to be formed in 1995, the reconstruction phase was complete. Turning to reconstruction of colonial ties ruptured by the national liberation struggles the development agenda conceptualised under the Truman doctrine and adopted by the IEOs and capitalist states played a key role in breaking the link between self-determination and economic oppression of nations.51 Before long third world states complained about dependency and neo-colonialism. Many Marxist writings analysed various aspects of transnational monopoly nance capitalism, neo-colonialism, unequal trade and dependency but their analysis saw these issues reductively as economic oppression. They drew from Lenins Imperialism but rarely mentioned Right of Nations and even less the nexus between imperialism and the corruption of Marxism. The legal right of self-determination in the charter created the belief that the third world could use the right to assert economic independence. This position reverses the Marxist understanding that economic relations cannot be separated from political, legal, social and cultural questions. Indeed economic relations create the conditions for particular forms of political and cultural relations. Instead critical and radical theory took what scholars have described as the cultural turn. The cultural turn shifted the attention of theory from class, capitalism and structural analysis to identity, culture and subjectivity. In turn the cultural lens for understanding third world societies brought out the crassest forms of religious and ethnic prejudices and conicts and created an environment for conicts that imperialist powers could intervene in. The UN resolution on the New International Economic Order in the 1970s was the last concerted attempt by the third world to change the UN system. Beleaguered by indebtedness, colonial legacies, civil wars, cold wars and political interventions by dominant states, the third world states were transformed, by and large, into satellite states of imperialist powers by the end of 1989. In 1989, the Washington Consensus initiated the
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neo-liberal reforms implemented by the IEOs. The reforms restructured third world states rolling back the gains of the national liberation movements. Lastly, the socialist bloc created structural breaks in the expansion of capital after the end of the second world war. Onesixth of the world was inaccessible to transnational monopoly nance capital. In the UN the socialist states were the strongest defenders of the principle of the political principle of selfdetermination. However, they saw it as a legal right in international law, contrary to what Lenin had argued. As a legal right it became anchored to abstract norms disconnected from the materiality of imperialism. The period from 1945-89 in the second world may be seen as one where there was a contest to break the class alliances on the basis of which the new nation states had succeeded in the national liberation struggles. Here Lenins analysis of the nation state as a category called forth by capital in the imperialist stage holds the clues to understanding the present. The most important difference between early capitalist states constituted through the struggle against feudalism and theocracy and late nation states constituted by capitalist expansion lies in the fact that the early capitalist states innovated institutions and systems of knowledge that were necessary conditions for capitalism to exist in systemic ways. The later states adapted the institutions and forms of knowledge from the dominant capitalist states. They remain alien social institutions without roots in their own natures and cultures and unable to constantly innovate and restructure (Dsouza 2012: 6-43). The year 1989 was a crucial milestone in the trajectory of contemporary imperialism. It was a period when the structural breaks on imperialist expansion by the socialist revolutions and national liberation struggles were nally removed. The year saw three signicant developments: (i) the fall of the Berlin Wall and the integration of the socialist bloc states into the political economy of imperialism, a project stalled by the revolutions that Lenin was inuential in promoting; (ii) the Washington Consensus that mandates the intensication of economic exploitation of the third world and increases the scale and scope of each crises; and (iii) the conclusion of the GATT negotiations that set up the WTO with the mandate to restructure international organisations along neo-liberal lines (Dsouza 2010: 491-522). Once again the dominant capitalist powers had the upper hand in institutional innovation and scientic and technological infrastructures for capitalism in the advanced imperialist stage. As Lenin warned capitalist ideologies in the
Notes
1 For a theoretical understanding of regime changes in history, see Lloyd (2002: 238-66). 2 The statement is necessarily an indicative statement of the issues covered by Marx in his economic writings in the three volumes of Capital. 3 Lenin (1970 [1914]); Lenin 1970 [1917]. Throughout this essay, key texts are read along with Lenins notebooks on imperialism to glean insights into his thinking on the subject. See Lenin (1974). 4 Lenin, 1970 (1914).

garb of Marxism within the socialist movement were crucial in reconstructing the institutional preconditions for capitalism in the imperialist stage. Ironically the very bourgeois triumphalism has exacerbated the contradictions of capitalism and threatens to shake its foundations on a scale far bigger than the rst half of the 20th century.
Conclusions

This article highlights the nexus between imperialism, selfdetermination and socialism in Lenins thinking. There is the wider question of the development and maturing of the imperialist stage of capitalism, and where it is taking the world. Lenin argued that imperialism will not simply disappear under its own weight. If socialist struggles do not ght back, Lenin argued, imperialism will make it impossible for people to reproduce conditions for human life due to militarism, wars, and impoverishment. Much of that is happening in the third world today. The single-most important question on the agendas of social movements is the search for alternate models of development that are self-sustaining and resilient. If capitalism grew from the ashes of disintegrating feudalism by ghting theocracy and developing new social institutions, socialism can only grow from the ashes of imperialism by developing new forms of knowledge and building new types of institutions that can sustain and reproduce a different kind of society. The challenges of development call for new forms of knowledge in the natural and social sciences and capacities for institutional innovation, not mere adaptations of capitalisms models. Marxist theory has developed extensive political and economic aspects of the critique of capitalism. The critique of science and technology and law and institutions remain the weakest aspects of Marxist theory. It is precisely in these areas that imperialism pushed forward for new innovations that eventually reversed the revolutions of the early 20th century (Dsouza 2011). Every revolution contributes something positive to the human condition. The positive contributions of bourgeois revolutions were limited to western European society and ended by the late 19th century. It is ironic that bourgeois triumphalism points to the failure of later revolutions but says little about the failed promises of bourgeois revolutions. As an ideology, bourgeois triumphalism seeks to erase the memory of the revolutionary upheavals and the theories and practices that helped to change the world. Remembering those efforts is an important step to nding solutions for the present. If the past lives in the present, the future too is conceived in the present.
10 Lenin, Right of Nations 1970 (1914). For a theoretical critique of formalism in liberal theory see Ci (1999). The free labour markets for example guarantees formal legal freedoms to workers but nevertheless transform their real status to wage slaves of capital. The reasoning about formal legal rights to self-determination and real national oppression is analogous here and based on the philosophical critique of liberalism in Marxist theory. 11 For a more in-depth Marxist approach to legal norms and social relations see Pashukanis 1989 [1929].
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5 James Monroe 1738-1831. See Lenins noting on Monroe in Notebooks 1974, p 752. 6 For indirect rule in India see Dsouza (2006); for indirect rule in Africa see Mamdani (1996). 7 Woodrow Wilson 1856-1924, president of the United States from 1913-21 and a contemporary of Lenin. For Lenins critique of Wilson see Lenin (1971 [1920]: 449-64 at pp 455-56; for a legal account see Cassese (1995 at pp 13-23). 8 US opposed British colonialism in India in 1919 but never supported Indias freedom struggle. See DSouza 2006, p 290. 9 Lenin, Notebooks 1974, especially p 732.
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12 By the Critique of Imperialism [...] we mean the Attitude of Different Classes of Society Towards Imperialist Policy in Connection with their General Ideology in Lenin Imperialism n 13 at p 752. 13 Lenin, Right of Nations 1970 (1914), p 598. 14 Lenin, Notebooks 1974, p 739. 15 Lenin, Notebooks 1970 (1914), pp 680-735. 16 Lenin, Imperialism n 13 supra at 680-83; 698; 736-37. In Notebooks Lenin qualies highest stage of capitalism as highest modern capita lism. See Lenin, Notebooks 1970 (1914), p 202. 17 Lenin, Imperialism 1970 (1917), pp 725-26; Ch IX, pp 752-63. 18 Lenin, Right of Nations 1970 (1914), p 602. 19 For co-relation between global economic policies and impact on particular communities within third world nation states see Chua (1995). 20 It is important to note that Lenin refers to rentier states as those states that come to rely on overseas investments of its corporate and individual citizens for revenue. See Imperialism, 1970 (1917), Ch VIII at pp 745-52. 21 With regard to contemporary British states reliance on revenues from overseas investments of banks see Noreld (2011). 22 Lenin, Notebooks 1974. 23 For e g, see Chua Nationalisation, etc, n 29, supra. 24 Lenin, Notebooks 1974, p 736. 25 Lenin, Notebooks 1974, p 736. 26 Lenin, Notebooks 1974, pp 736; 757. 27 Lenin, Right of Nations 1970 (1914), pp 608-13. 28 See generally articles and speeches Manbekova and Khomenko (ed.) (1974); in particular article on Events in the Balkans and Prussia at pp 32-43; also Notebooks 1974, pp 739-40. 29 The main texts referred to here all engage various liberal bourgeois tendencies within Marxism. In particular see collection of speeches and articles , Lenin (1974), and Lenin (1974 [1916]: 61). 30 Lenin 1970 [1908] #221@74-75. 31 Lenin, ibid at p 77. 32 Lenin, ibid at p 77. 33 See in this connection {Lenin 1971 [1920] #218}. 34 See Lenin articles and speeches at 1974 on The Defeat of Ones Own Government in the Imperialist War at pp 116-18. 35 Lenin, Imperialism 1970 (1917), pp 765-77. 36 Lenin, Imperialism 1970 (1917), p 677. 37 Lenin, Notebooks 1974, pp 739-40. 38 Lenin, The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution at p 773. 39 Lenin, ibid at p 775. 40 First world the dominant capitalist states, second world states that underwent socialist revolutions and third world states that attained independence from colonial rule and formal protectorate systems. 41 Mao, Combat Bourgeois Ideas in the Party. Several other articles in the same volume deal with the question of bourgeois ideologies within the Community Party of China. 42 Mao, On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People. 43 1905 was the year when the socialist revolution in Germany and the bourgeois democratic revolution in Russia were unsuccessful. The second world war ended in 1945 and the UN was set up as the institutional framework for international law and international relations for the rst time. 44 From the formation of the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions and emergence of the Three World architecture to the end of the cold war, the Washington Consensus and the last round
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45

46 47 48 49

50 51

of GATT treaty which concluded with the decision to form the WTO. Dsouza, Interstate Conicts over Krishna Waters: Law, Science and Imperialism at Ch 11 p 294. DSouza, ibid, Ch 11. DSouza, ibid. DSouza, ibid. It may be noted here that Palestine remains an unresolved question primarily due to US veto in favour of Israel. It may also be noted that the International Trade Organisation was conceptualised as a Bretton Woods Organisation in 1944. Even though the UN had adopted a resolution soon after it was formed in February 1946 to set up the ITO, an international trade organisation was formed only after the end of the cold war. It may also be noted that the two most important socialist states China and Russia were granted accession to the WTO only in 2001 and 2012 respectively after both countries had restructured their states and their institutions in ways compatible with capitalism in the imperialist stage. UN Charter Preamble Articles 2, 55, 73, 76. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/trudoc.asp, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library.

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(1970 [1914]): The Right of Nations to SelfDetermination, Selected Works in Three Volumes: Vol 1 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 597-647. (1971 [1920]): Speech at the Second Congress of the Communist International, V I Lenin Selected Works in Three Volumes Vol 3 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 449-64. (1971[1919]): First Congress of the Communist Internatonal, V I Lenin Selected Works in Three Volumes Vol 3 (Moscow: Progress Publishers). (1972 [1908]): Lessons of the Commune, Lenin Collected Works Vol 13 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 475-78. (1974): Notebooks on Imperialism, V I Lenin Collected Works Vol 39 (Moscow: Progress Publishers). (1974 [1899]): Review: Karl Kautsky, Bernstein und das socialdemokratische Programme, Enine Anti-kritik, Collected Works Vol 4 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 193-203 at p 202. (1974 [1903]): Concerning the Statment of the Bund, Collected Works of Lenin Vol 6 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 317-23. (1970 [1916]): The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution, V I Lenin Collected Works in Three Volumes: Vol 1 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 769-78. (1974 [1916]): A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 61. Lloyd, Christopher (2002): Regime Change in Australian Capitalism: Towards a Historical Political Economy of Regulation, Australian Economic History Review, 42 (3), 238-66. Mamdani, Mahmood (1996): Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Kampala: Fountain; Cape Town: D Philip; London: J Currey), 353. Manbekova, S and A Khomenko ed. (1974): Lenin Against Imperialist War: Articles and Speeches (Moscow: Progress Publishers). Marx, Karl (1973[1930]): Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft) (Harmondsworth: Penguin; London: New Left Review), 898. (1974 [1894]): Capital Vol 3 (Moscow: Progress Publishers). Marx, Karl and Fredrick Engels (1969 [1888]): Theses on Feuerbach, Marx-Engels Selected Works Vol 1 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 13-15. McDonough, Terrence (1995): Lenin, Imperialism, and the Stages of Capitalist Development, Science & Society, 59 (3), 339-67. Noreld, Tony (2011): The Economics of British Imperialism, Economics of Imperialism: Analysis of How the World Economy Works, http:// economicsomperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2011/ 05/economics-of-british-imperialism.html, accessed 03/01/2013. Pashukanis, Evgeny B (1989 [1929]): Law & Marxism: A General Theory (Worcester, Britain: Pluto Press). Tse-tung, Mao (1961 [1949]): On The Peoples Democratic Dictatorship, Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung Vol V (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), 411-25. (1965 [1926]): Analysis of Classes in Chinese Society, Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung Vol I (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), 13-21. (1965 [1939]): The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party, Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung Vol II (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), 305-34. (1977 [1957]-a): On the Correct Handling Of Contradictions among the People, Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung Vol V (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), 384-421. (1977 [1957]-b): Combat Bourgeois Ideas in the Party, Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung Vol V (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), 103-11.

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