Imperialism Without Colonies

“Introduction” to Harry Magdoff, Imperialism Without Colonies (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2003), pp. 9-19

In the decades after 1945, as colonial possessions became independent states, it was widely-believed that imperialism as a historical phenomenon was coming to an end. The six essays collected in this volume demonstrate that a new form of imperialism was, in fact, taking shape—an imperialism defined not by colonial rule but by the global capitalist market. From the outset, the dominant power in this imperialism without colonies was the United States.

Magdoff’s essays explain how this imperialism works, why it generates ever greater inequality, repression, and militarism, and the essential role it plays in the development of U.S. capitalism.

His concluding essay presciently points out the limits of any attempted reform of the global economy which does not directly challenge the framework of capitalism.

Written in the 1960s and 70s, Magdoff’s essays constituted a major contribution to Marxist theory and provided a model of rigorous argument in which theory is constantly checked against the economic reality. They provide an indispensable guide to the basic forces at work in the global politics of the twenty-first century.

  • Published also in Monthly Review, vol. 55, no. 1 (May 2003) under the title “Imperial America and War,” pp. 1-10.
  • Chinese translation in Chinese Academic Social Science Press, 2012.

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