The relation of imperialism with the third world has two dimensions. Firstly, imperialism means extraction of surplus from and control over natural resources of the third world countries. This aspect of imperialism and struggles to oppose this exploitation has been discussed and commented upon extensively. The other, second dimension of imperialism and the struggles to oppose it need more discussion.

This second dimension consists of imposition of a certain model of development of third world, which is fundamentally inimical to the all-round, sustainable development in these countries. It is not merely a profit-oriented classical capitalist model, but is also highly iniquitous, centralized, inefficient, wasteful and unsustainable. This model of development that emerged with the domination of monopoly capital; is based on highly capital and resource intensive technology; is geared to create markets through advertisements than to fulfill human needs; is unsustainable. In agriculture, it is based on neglect of primary productivity of agriculture with the consequent total dependence on external inputs for increase in agricultural production; in transport sector it is based on individualized car/scooter transport rather than the far more efficient, less polluting mass transport; in health care, it is based on resource intensive, hospital oriented, doctor-centric, technocratic approach rather than paramedic based, preventive oriented, optional resource use comprehensive approach…etc. etc. Monopoly capitalism imposed this highly centralized, resource intensive, wasteful path of development in the first world despite the fact that it was not in the interests of the ordinary people in the first world. But it was successful in achieving all-round modernization of the first world and attaining higher living standards, thanks partly to the exploitation of cheap labour power and natural resources of the third world.

This developmental model was then imposed on the third world, (albeit in a vulgarised form) with disastrous results. It created islands of transplants of caricature of the first world in the third world. These islands use prime resources of the country and hence very little resources are left for the development of other areas. These other areas became primarily a source of cheap labour power and cheap raw material for these islands.

Unless this very model of development is rejected and an alternative model is adopted, third world countries cannot achieve all-round, egalitarian modernization involving benefiting equally all sections of the people in all regions. In these islands of imperialist model of development, the per capita requirement of energy, water, metals, sand etc. etc. is so great that, we simply do not have the natural resources if the whole population is to use these resources at this rate. The rejection of this resource intensive, unsustainable, iniquitous model of development should be the other dimension of anti-imperialism. One of the important reasons for the downfall of State Socialist Societies (Soviet Union and Peoples Republic of China - PRC) was their inability to completely reject the model of development imposed by monopoly capital. One example would illustrate this point -

In the PRC in the early eighties, the policy-makers decided to impose the one-child norm because they decided to follow the food consumption standards in the Imperialist countries. They argued that like in the developed countries, Chinese should aim at consumption of 80 gm. of proteins per capita per day, major part of which derived from animal sources. This imitation of the West was blind to the fact that this ‘Western Standard’ is unhealthy for human beings and is unsustainable. (The desirable standard is 60 gm. per capita of which up to 20% being from animal sources). The ‘Western model’ of food consumption is based on feeding grain to cattle and deriving most of the protein from cattle. But this means 7-8 kg. of grain being fed to the cattle to get one kg. of animal proteins. This means effectively a very high level of grain requirement per capita. The Chinese policy-makers decided to follow this ‘developed’ nutritional standards and estimated the grain requirement for the 21st century Chinese society. They concluded that to meet these standards and hence the grain requirement for everybody, China will have to drastically control its population by imposing a one-child norm. Thus in short, though in the eighties, China was growing adequate food for its population, once they decided to imitate the West, China’s estimated grain requirements went up drastically and the one-child norm policy emerged to cope up with this requirement! China had thrown away the yoke of imperialist capital and hence extraction of surplus by the imperialists had stopped. But the Chinese planners in the post-Mao China did not take a break from the second dimension of imperialism. The imitating of the Western model of development resulted in an inhuman population policy!

I would argue that opposition to this other aspect of imperialism - the monopoly capital’s model of development - is at least as important as the first one. This opposition would involve popularizing critiques of the dominant developmental model and concretely of different developmental policies being imposed at the behest imperialists like the green revolution policy, the water-policy, transport policy, health policy etc. etc. It also involves putting forward alternative developmental policies on different issues. Organising struggles to oppose the imperialist inspired policies and for pressing for socially and environmentally healthy policies would mean a struggle for a qualitatively different social order. This struggle would not limit itself to the issue of who owns the means of production - the Indians or the ‘foreigners’ but also questions what is produced and how. Opposition to mono culture agriculture, to the ‘Green revolution’ model of agricultural development and propagation of regenerative, low external inputs based sustainable agriculture is anti-imperialist struggle, irrespective of whether or not ‘foreign capital’ is directly involved in it or not. Similarly the struggle for equitable distribution of water in Maharashtra and for alternative, regenerative agriculture is anti-imperialist struggle irrespective of whether there is a direct involvement of any foreign capital interest in this sector.

Petty bourgeois or bourgeois anti-imperialism is only concerned with opposing foreign capital. A much deeper, broader revolutionary anti-imperialism would encompass in addition, this ‘developmental model’ issue also. This latter aspect has not been adequately discussed in the Left circles and hence this brief note.

Permission to uload granted on October 15 2005


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