THE FIRST PART of this essay, published in these pages last month, was mainly intended to sketch in the background relevant to the general concept of imperialism in the modern world. This approach has the advantage of freeing the discussion from the kind of fallacy that arises when a historical phenomenon is lifted out of its proper context. At the same time, by going back to earlier types of imperialism one can begin to establish a perspective that enables one to understand why hegemonial patterns have survived into the modern age. We are now obliged to make a detour through economic theorizing before returning to history. This procedure is once again imposed by the nature of the subject, but also by the fact that imperialism was perceived by its critics after 1900 primarily as an economic relationship. The debate thus came to turn very largely on considerations having to do with the peculiar mechanism of capitalist market economics. This is what imperialism has come to mean to the general public since the Russian Revolution dramatized the issue, but the theoretical discussion had started some twenty years earlier. Before turning to this important and complex debate, it will be useful to eliminate a misconception current among people who have come to associate the topic with the conflict between the Third World and the industrial superpowers. Hence the notion that capitalism-or Western capitalism plus Soviet state-socialism-relates to the underdeveloped world in a manner similar to the classical colonialism of the 19th century.
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