The free market triumphalism of the 1990s is over. Early 21st century capitalism looks like Karl Marx’s description: growing extremes of wealth and poverty, and irrepressible boom-bust cycles. The centre-left clings to nationalist and bureaucratic-statist nostalgia for the social-democratic Cold War era. The far left clings to the coat-tails of the centre-left. It cannot unite itself – let alone anyone else – because it is unwilling to reinterrogate the ideas of the early Communist International, especially on the revolutionary party.
To move beyond this impasse we need to re-examine critically the strategic ideas of socialists since Marx and Engels. In this book, Mike Macnair begins the task.
Kautsky on Colonialism (2013) | buy
With a critical introduction by Mike Macnair.
The approach of the majority of the left on imperialism is drawn from Lenin’s ‘Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism’ and the conclusions drawn from this by the Communist International: ie unequivocal hostility to imperialist wars and critical support for nationalism in the subordinated countries, even where this takes unattractive forms, like Ba’athism or Islamism. A small minority has criticised this line as anti-democratic or even pro-fascist, arguing either for support for the “War on terror” or for non-opposition to it. Both sides of this argument rest on a myth: that in the past there was a non-imperialist capitalism.
The origins of this myth can be traced back to Karl Kautsky’s 1898 articles on colonialism. This book publishes these with an introduction exploring the articles and their legacy. The aim is to expose the rotten foundations of the myth and to help the left escape from the political traps of both pro-nationalist “anti-imperialism” and Yankee-philiac “anti-anti-imperialism”.