V.31: 3-4 March-April 2003 #358-359

Editorial note, p. 1

"Capital Accumulation and the Exploitation of the 'Unequal' World ? Insights from a Debate within Marxism." Irfan Habib, p. 3

"The Colonial Political Perspective," Biplab Dasgupta, p. 27

"Constructing a Narrative of Love: Early Romantic Poems of Kaifi Azmi," Mazhar Hussain, p. 57

"Iraq and the Crisis of the U.S. Imperium: Of dollar hegemony, debt and the English language," Sukumar Muralidharan, p. 74

p. 90-93. Projit Bihari Mukharji's review of Gender and Nation, Nehru Memorial Museum And Library, New Delhi, 2001, pp 424, Rs. 600

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Editorial Note

To see the imperialist aggression on Iraq as a mere episode, albeit of a horrendous nature, would be a grave error; it is symptomatic of the onset of a whole new era of imperialism. This era is defined by two basic features. The first is the emergence of a new form of international finance capital. This has created the need for a surrogate "World State". Capital always needs the support of the State, the nature of the capital determining ultimately the nature of the State that would service its requirements. Not surprisingly therefore the emergence of globalized finance creates the need for a corresponding State whose writ would run over the global domain as a whole. Secondly, the gap between the relative strengths of the US and other capitalist powers has become extraordinarily large. Inevitably, under these circumstances, the US is increasingly taking on this role of a global imperialist State, with other powers willy-nilly having to support it: some like Britain have joined the bandwagon already while others like France and Germany are having to reconcile themselves sullenly to the dominant position of the US.

In short, the two basic features of contemporary capitalism combine to usher in a global dictatorship of US super-imperialism, the path for which has been cleared with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The occupation of Iraq is of course a symptom of this tendency; it also in addition provides a powerful impetus to this tendency, since this occupation, by putting the massive Iraqi oil reserves at its disposal, helps the US to resist the challenge from the European Union to its dominant role.

It is important for everyone, especially those of us who are in the third world, to understand the nature of the transformations that are occurring in world imperialism and to locate the developments in Iraq within that context. The article on Iraq by Sukumar Muralidharan in the current number of Social Scientist should help the readers to get an insight not only into the travails of that hapless country, including its history as a victim of imperialist aggrandizement, but also into the contradictions that exist today, and are centred on Iraq, between the rival imperialist powers.

Professor Irfan Habib, the outstanding historian, develops in the lead article of this number a theory of imperialism, taking Rosa


Luxemburg's celebrated work as his starting point. The hallmark of this theory is a categorization of economies and sectors on the basis of their "capital?intensities" (differing "capital intensities" being a characteristic feature of "uneven development"), which permits the more "capital-intensive" sectors to earn surplus profits through exchange with the less "capital-intensive" ones. The exchange between the advanced and the backward capitalist economies on the world scale is the most obvious and extreme form of this phenomenon.

By a curious coincidence the historian Irfan Habib's excursus into political economy is followed by the economist Biplab Dasgupta's excursus into the realm of history. Dasgupta analyzes the nature of colonial state power in order to answer the question: how could the British rule such a far?away and enormous country like India despite there being such a minuscule physical presence of Europeans in colonial administration? Obviously it was the Indians who provided the personnel of the administration, but they were kept in place through a combination of the use of cultural tools and coercion. Both these instruments however progressively lost their edge as the anticolonial upsurge acquired momentum.

Finally, we publish a critical appreciation by Mazhar Hussain of the work of Kaifi Azmi, the outstanding poet who was a life-long fighter in the cause of the progressive movement in the country. This piece constitutes Social Scientist's tribute to the poet whose first death anniversary is being observed in May.

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