Theorizing Capitalist Imperialism for an Anti-Imperialist Praxis

Towards a Rodneyan World-Systems Analysis

  • Kristin Plys University of Toronto
Keywords: political economy, world-systems, capitalism, imperialism, class struggle, dar es salaam school, Walter Rodney

Abstract

How does one craft an explicitly left theory of anti-imperialism that would animate an anti-imperialist praxis? World-systems analysis has a long history of engagement with theories of anti-imperialism from an explicitly Leninist perspective. For the founding fathers of World-Systems Analysis—Immanuel Wallerstein, Giovanni Arrighi, Samir Amin, and Andre Gunder Frank—anti-imperialism was an early central concern. Each of the four founders of world-systems analysis reads Lenin’s theory of imperialism seriously, but each has slightly different interpretations. One significant commonality they share is that they adopt Lenin’s periodization of imperialism, seeing imperialism as emergent in the late 19th century as part of a particular stage within the historical development of capitalism. However, as I will argue in this essay, perhaps it would be preferable to temporally expand Lenin’s concept of imperialism. Walter Rodney’s concept of “capitalist imperialism,” as I shall show in this essay, similarly calls Lenin’s periodization into question. Thereby, putting Rodney in conversation with Amin, Arrighi, Frank, and Wallerstein, leads me to further historicize world-systems’ theories of global imperialism thereby refining existing theories and levying that to build stronger praxis.

References

Amin, Samir. 1976. L’impérialisme et le développement inégal Paris: éditions de minuit.

Arrighi, Giovanni. 1970. “International Corporations, Labor Aristocracies, and Economic Development in Tropical Africa.” Pp. 220-267 in Imperialism and Underdevelopment: A Reader, edited by Robert I. Rhodes. New York: Monthly Review Press.

______. 1978. The Geometry of Imperialism London: New Left Books.

______. 1994. The Long Twentieth Century London: Verso.

______. 2000. “Globalization, State Sovereignty, and the 'Endless' Accumulation of Capital.” Pp. 125-148 in The Ends of Globalization: Bringing Society Back In, edited by Don Kalb et al., Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.

Arrighi, Giovanni and David Harvey. 2009. “The Winding Paths of Capital.” New Left Review 56: 61-94.

Austin, David. 2018. Moving Against the System: The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Consciousness. Toronto: Between the Lines.

Bahl, Vinay. 2003. “What Went Wrong with ‘History from Below.’” Economic and Political Weekly 38(2): 135-146.

Benjamin, Jesse J. and Robin D.G. Kelley. 2018. “An ‘African Perspective’ on the Russian Revolution.” Pp. xix-lxxiii in Walter Rodney The Russian Revolution: A View from the Third World London: Verso.

Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi. 1983. “History from Below.” Social Scientist 11(4): 3-20.

______. 2007. “Introduction.” Pp. 7-19 in India’s Labouring Poor: Historical Studies c.1600-2000, edited by Rana P. Behal and Marcel van der Linden. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.

Burton, J.W. 1966. Nonalignment New York: James H. Heineman.

Boukari-Yabara, Amzat. 2010. “Looking at the Walter Rodney Papers: Atlanta, Georgetown, and London.” African Research & Documentation (113): 3-10.

Campbell, Horace. 1991. “The Impact of Walter Rodney and Progressive Scholars on the Dar es Salaam School” Social and Economic Studies 40(2): 99-135.

Campbell, Trevor. 1981. “The Making of an Organic Intellectual: Walter Rodney (1942-1980)” Latin American Perspectives 8(1): 49-63.

Dembélé, Demba Moussa. 2015. Contribution à la déconstruction des théories conventionnelles sur le développement de l’Afrique: Samir Amin, Thandika Mkandawire, Dani Wadada Nabudere, Walter Rodney, Yash Tandon. Paris: L’Harmattan.

Denoon, Donald and Adam Kuper. 1970. “Nationalist Historians in Search of a Nation: The ‘New Historiography’ in Dar es Salaam.” African Affairs 69(277): 329-349.

Frank, Andre Gunder. 1974. “Dependence is Dead, Long Live Dependence and the Class Struggle: An Answer to Critics.” Latin American Perspectives 1(1): 87-106.

______. 1978. World Accumulation, 1492-1789. New York: Monthly Review Press.

______. 1998. ReOrient. Berkeley: University of California Press.

______. 2014. Reorienting the Nineteenth Century: Global Economy in the Continuing Asian Age. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Gonsalves, Ralph. 1979. “The Rodney Affair and its Aftermath.” Caribbean Quarterly 25(3): 1-24.

Hill, Robert A., ed. 1990. Walter Rodney Speaks. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Iles, Anthony and Tom Roberts. 2012. All Knees and Elbows of Susceptibility and Refusal: Reading History from Below. London: The Strickland Distribution.

James, CLR. 1963. The Black Jacobins. New York: Random House.

______. 1982. “Walter Rodney and the Question of Power.” Pp. 133-146 in Walter Rodney: Revolutionary and Scholar, edited by Edward A. Alpers and Pierre-Michael Fontaine. Los Angeles: University of California Los Angeles Publications.

Jeater, Diana. 2016. “Terence Ranger, 1929-2015.” History Workshop Journal 81: 306-315.

Kamata, Ng’wanza. 2020. “Samir Amin and the Debates at the University of Dar es Salaam.” Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy 9(1): 63-77.

Lenin, Vladimir I. 1939. Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism. New York: International Publishers.

Lewis, Rupert C. 1998. Walter Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Maddox, Gregory H. 2018. “The Dar es Salaam School of African History” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved September 1, 2020. (https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.013.314).

Morris, Aldon. 2015. The Scholar Denied: WEB DuBois and the Birth of Modern Sociology. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Nyerere, Julius. 1968. Ujamaa: Essays on Socialism London: Oxford University Press.

Payne, Anthony. 1983. “The Rodney Riots in Jamaica: The Background and Significance of the Events of October 1968.” The Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 21(2): 158-174.

Petras, James. 1981. “A Death in Guyana Has Meaning for Third World.” Latin American Perspectives 8(1): 47-8.

Plys, Kristin. 2019. “Subaltern Historiography, the Working Class, and Social Theory for the Global South.” Economic and Political Weekly 54(43): 49-58.

Prashad, Vijay. 2007. The Darker Nations. New York: The New Press.

______. 2018. “Foreword.” Pp. vii-xiii in The Russian Revolution: A View from the Third World by Walter Rodney. London: Verso.

Qaddafi, Muammar. 1987. “A Critique of the Non-aligned Movement.” The Black Scholar 18(2): 40-47.

Ranger, Terence. 1971. “The 'New Historiography' in Dar es Salaam: An Answer.” African Affairs 70(278): 50-61.

Rodney, Walter. 1969. The Groundings with my Brothers. London: Bogle L’Overture.

______. 1970a. A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545-1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

______. 1970b. “Some Implications of the Question of Disengagement from Imperialism.” Cheche, special issue Tanzania: The Silent Class Struggle October: 49-53.

______. 1972. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Washington DC: Howard University Press.

______. 1974. “The Black Scholar Interviews: Walter Rodney.” The Black Scholar 6(3): 38-47.

______. 1980. A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rojas, Carlos Antonio Aguirre. 2013. “The World-Systems Analysis Perspective: An Interview with Immanuel Wallerstein.” Pp. 1-100 in Uncertain Worlds: World-Systems Analysis in Changing Times, edited by Immanuel Wallerstein, Charles Lemert and Carlos Antonio Aguirre Rojas. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.

Scott, James. 1985. Weapons of the Weak. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Sen, Sukomal. 1997. Working Class of India: History of Emergence and Movement, 1830-1990. Calcutta: KP Bagchi & Company.

Shivji, Issa. 2012. “Issa Shivji.” Pp. 83-94 in Walter A. Rodney: A Promise of Revolution, edited by Clairmont Chung. New York: Monthly Review Press.

The Victor Jara Collective (1983). In The Sky’s Wild Noise. Guyana: Autonomedia Films.

Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1970. “Frantz Fanon: Reason and Violence.” Berkeley Journal of Sociology 15: 222-231.

______. 1973. “Imperialism and Capitalism: Are Workers the Most Oppressed Class?” The Insurgent Sociologist [since renamed Critical Sociology] 3(2): 25-28.

______. 1979. “Fanon and the Revolutionary Class” Pp. 250–268 in The Capitalist World-Economy, by Immanuel Wallerstein. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______. 1983. Historical Capitalism with Capitalist Civilization. London: Verso.

______. 1984. The Politics of the World-Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______. 1986. “Walter Rodney: The Historian as Spokesman for Historical Forces.” American Ethnologist 13(2): 330-337.

______. 2006. “Introducción: Aimé Césaire; Colonialismo, comunismo y negritud.” Pp. 7-12 in Discurso sobre el colonialism, by Aimé Césaire. Madrid: Ediciones Akal.

______. 2009. “Reading Fanon in the 21st Century.” New Left Review 57 (May–June): 117-125.

West, Michael O. 2008. “Seeing Darkly: Guyana, Black Power and Rodney's Expulsion from Jamaica.” Small Axe 12(1): 93-104.

Zhan, Shaohua and Ben Scully. 2018. “From South Africa to China: Land, Migrant Labor and the Semi-Proletarian Thesis Revisited.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 45(5-6): 1018-1038.

Published
2021-03-21
How to Cite
Plys, K. (2021). Theorizing Capitalist Imperialism for an Anti-Imperialist Praxis: Towards a Rodneyan World-Systems Analysis. Journal of World-Systems Research, 27(1), 288-313. https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2021.1022