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Capitalist Imperialism in Contemporary Theoretical Frameworks

New Theories

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Filip Ilkowski

This book analyzes the controversy surrounding imperialism associated with capitalist development. The last dozen years passed under the shadow of two momentous events: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan conducted in the framework of the broader «war on terror», and the economic crisis. They occurred against the backdrop of global economic integration, but also against the contradictions in its development. Those events and processes are explained in the theory of contemporary capitalist imperialism that the author attempts to reconstruct.

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1. Capitalist imperialism as an expression of a system of competing capitalist states in the framework of the global economy

Every capitalist state is an integral part of the capitalist mode of production, playing the role of guardian and promoter of the accumulation of capital in a given territory. This role is performed not only by monopolizing and legitimizing the application of force against various forms of contestation and disruption of the process of said accumulation. It does so through harmonisation of the interests of owners of private capitals, as well as through far-reaching, direct economic intervention. Together with the formation of increasing large units of capital in processes of its concentration and centralization, this harmonizing and direct economic role of the capitalist state is continually gaining in importance.

At the same time, these processes entail an increasingly global perspective taken by the most powerful units of capital, a tendency towards the formation of a global capitalism as a system of competition on an international scale. One of the characteristics distinguishing the capitalist mode of production from those which came before it is the potential for a relative autonomy from political authorities on the part of competing entities of economic power striving for their own growth, and operating outside the borders of their home countries. This autonomy does not change the fact that capitalist states and enterprises are linked by bonds of interdependence. Historically, relations between private capitals seeking their accumulation and the capitalist...

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