1. The power of the colonising regime is not absolute. This power is not only shared between the institutions of the regime but also power relationships can be challenged from within - within the regime itself by competing institutional factions. Consequently, the strategies imposed on Irish civil society were not a necessary result of a consensus approach between the institutions of the regime. In reality, the relationship between the colonising institutions of the political regime were often conflictual, full of tension and contradictory strategic orientations. Colonialism within this Marxist framework cannot be a unidirectional power relationship played out between a centre (political) dominating a periphery (economic or civil society or both). In actual fact, complex internal power struggles can emerge within the colonising regime itself as well as between the colonising state institutions that make up that regime and the civil society they are attempting to dominate

    — Marx on 19th century Ireland: Analysing colonialism beyond dependency theory.

    (Source: academia.edu)

  2. Yet the obvious reason for centuries of resort to colonial conquest and rapine is that even if capitalism was already in full bloom in various imperial powers, the choice of political instruments used for its expansion overseas was dictated by the environment in the target zones. A central element in that environment was the existing regime of property relations not in the home country, but in the region it sought, or came, to control. Where producers were still equipped with access to land and other productive assets, imperial forces had to resort to the same techniques of surplus extraction as did empire-builders in pre-modern times. Only when producers had been stripped of their access to the means of subsistence in the subject lands could imperialism rely on the ‘dull compulsion’ of economic relations alone.

    The reason why direct subjugation was abandoned in the second half of the twentieth century was not that imperialism could now dispense with it, but because it had become impossible to maintain. This, of course, was due to the struggles of resistance movements within the colonies themselves. It was not the needs of imperialism, or its ex ante ‘strength’ (whatever that means) that drove colonial control off the agenda; it was the conditions in the colonies themselves.

    Historically, capitalist development made it possible for dominant classes to extract a surplus without relying on direct political coercion, but that did not mean they readily did so. It would be quite wrong to assert that, as capitalism develops and becomes stronger, capitalists simply dispense with political control; they were very happy to use it as long as they could, in the form of debt peonage, company towns, private police forces and Pinkertons, well into the twentieth century.

    These practices were only abandoned once labour movements made their continuation impossible. So it is with imperialism. However strong European capitalism became, this had no direct bearing on the duration of colonial rule. Imperial powers would most likely have been quite happy to continue with direct political control well beyond the time that it was abandoned. Decolonization set in not because imperialism was now strong enough to stand on economic force alone, but because it was left with little choice but to do so. With the emergence of modern nationalism and popular movements, the options available were to either switch to new techniques, or to get out of the game altogether.

    — Chibber on Ellen Wood’s ‘Empire of Capital’.

    (Source: newleftreview.org)

  3. Consider one final, non-Soviet example. The boundary between Hungarians and Romanians in Transylvania is certainly sharper than that between Russians and Ukrainians in Ukraine. Here too, however, group boundaries are considerably more porous and ambiguous than is widely assumed. The language of both politics and everyday life, to be sure, is rigorously categorical, dividing the population into mutually exclusive ethno-national categories, and making no allowance for mixed or ambiguous forms. But this categorical code, important though it is as a constituent element of social relations, should not be taken for a faithful description of them. Reinforced by identitarian entrepreneurs on both sides, the categorical code obscures as much as it reveals about self-understandings, making the fluidity and ambiguity that arise from mixed marriages, from bilingualism, from migration, from Hungarian children attending Romanian-language schools, from intergenerational assimilation (in both directions), and - perhaps most important - from sheer indifference to the claims of ethnocultural nationality.

    Even in its constructivist guise, the language of “identity” disposes us to think in terms of bounded groupness. It does so because even constructivist thinking on identity takes the existence of identity as axiomatic. Identity is always already “there”, as something that individuals and groups “have”, even if the content of particular identities, and the boundaries that mark groups off from one another, are conceptualized as always in flux. Even constructivist language tends therefore to objectify “identity”, to treat it as a “thing”, albeit a malleable one, that people “have”, “forge”, and “construct”.

    The tendency to objectify “identity” deprives us of analytical leverage. It makes it more difficult for us to treat “groupness” and “bounded-ness” as emergent properties of particular structural or conjunctural settings rather than as always already there in some form. The point needs to be emphasized today more than ever, for the unreflectively groupist language that prevails in everyday life, journalism, politics, and much social research as well - the habit of speaking without qualification of “Albanians” and “Serbs” for exampe, as if they were sharply bounded, internally homogeneous “groups” - not only weakens social analysis but constricts political possibilities in the region.

    — Brubaker & Cooper, ‘Beyond Identity’.

    (Source: sscnet.ucla.edu)

  4. Neil Davidson: The trouble with 'ethnicity' (Autumn 1999) →

  5. Thus capital accumulation must be viewed on the regional scale rather than within the box of each of its nation-states. The same applies to class formations. The capitalist class is regional because ownership of capital cuts across the borders of the individual states. The working class too is regional, as a very large number of workers — mainly from Egypt, but also from other MENA countries — migrate to work elsewhere in the region, especially in the Gulf.

    — Review of Hanieh by Machover.

    (Source: internationalviewpoint.org)

  6. The Rise and Rise of the UK's Student Drug Dealers | VICE United Kingdom →

  7. Localism? I don't buy it →

  8. Comrade Markin's Blog: A Response from Venezeula →

  9. Subalternists Scrutinized. Review of Vivek Chibber's Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital →

  10. While admiring the pedantry of the authors of the Harvard Guide to Using Sources, and acknowledging their gallant defence of the private ownership of knowledge, I failed in those 60-odd years to spot the influence of the obedience to technical procedural rules of quotations on the quality (reliability, effectiveness and above all social importance) of scholarship: the two issues that Mr Walsh obviously confuses. As his co-worker in the service of knowledge, I can only pity him.

    — Zygmunt Bauman’s response to being accused of plagiarism

    (Source: timeshighereducation.co.uk)