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 BlogviewJames Petras Archive

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Introduction Nero played his fiddle, Obama shot baskets and Trump twittered while their empires burned. What makes empires decay and what makes empires expand has everything to do with their relations between rulers and the ruled. Several factors are decisive. These include: (1) rent, land and housing, (2) the direction of living standards, (3) the... Read More
Introduction Over the past half-century, I have been engaged in research, lectured and worked with social movements and leftist governments in Latin America. I interviewed US officials and think tanks in Washington and New York. I have written scores of books, hundreds of professional articles and presented numerous papers at professional meetings. In the course,... Read More
The Sun Never Sets but the Mote remains in the Emperor’s Eye
Post-colonial empires are complex organizations. They are organized on a multi-tiered basis, ranging from relative autonomous national and regional allies to subservient vassal states, with variations in between. In the contemporary period, the idea of empire does not operate as a stable global structure, though it may aspire and strive for such. While the US... Read More
Over the past 50 years the US and European powers have engaged in countless imperial wars throughout the world. The drive for world supremacy has been clothed in the rhetoric of “world leadership”, the consequences have been devastating for the peoples targeted The biggest, longest and most numerous wars have been carried out by the... Read More
Introduction: The principal reason why Washington engages in military wars, sanctions and clandestine operations to secure power abroad is because its chosen clients cannot and do not win free and open elections. A brief survey of recent election outcomes testify to the electoral unattractiveness of Washington backed clients. The majority of democratic electorates rejects candidates... Read More
Military or Economic Imperialism?
Despite vast amounts of imperial data to the contrary, the great majority of writers on imperialism continue to describe and analyze US imperialism strictly in economic terms, as an expansion of “capital accumulation”, “accumulation on a world scale”. In fact the major and minor US imperial wars have more to do with “capital dis-accumulation”, in... Read More
[Spanish] “El requisito para cualquier proyecto socialista en el país vasco pasa por la independencia” Intelectual comprometido con los movimientos sociales, James Petras es uno de los sociólogos más destacados del mundo. Respondiendo a la invitacion del sindicato LAB y la Fundacion Ipar Hegoa estuvo en Euskal Herria para hablar de la crisis del imperialismo... Read More
Introduction: The configuration of 21st century imperialism combines patterns of exploitation from the past as well as new features which are essential to understanding the contemporary forms of plunder, pillage and mass impoverishment. In this paper we will highlight the relatively new forms of imperial exploitation, reflecting the rise and consolidation of an international ruling... Read More
One of the great paradoxes of history are the claims of imperialist politicians to be engaged in a great humanitarian crusade, a historic “civilizing mission” designed to liberate nations and peoples, while practicing the most barbaric conquests, destructive wars and large scale bloodletting of conquered people in historical memory. In the modern capitalist era, the... Read More
The world is at the crossroads of social change, in the vortex of forces that are bringing about a different world, a post-neoliberal state. This groundbreaking book lays out an analysis of the dynamics and contradictions of capitalism in the twenty-first century. These dynamics of forces are traced out in developments across the world—in the... Read More
Introduction: The relation between imperialism and democracy has been debated and discussed over 2500 years, from fifth century Athens to Liberty Park in Manhattan. Contemporary critics of imperialism (and capitalism) claim to find a fundamental incompatibility, citing the growing police state measures accompanying colonial wars, from Clinton’s anti-terrorist laws, and Bush’s “Patriot Act” to Obama’s... Read More
In this paper we criticize contemporary theorizing about imperialism for its economic reductionism and a lack of class analysis and institutional specificity regarding the imperial state. Abstract: In this paper we criticize contemporary theorizing about imperialism for its economic reductionism and a lack of class analysis and institutional specificity regarding the imperial state. In the... Read More
Imperial states build networks which link economic, military and political activities into a coherent mutually reinforcing system. This task is largely performed by the various institutions of the imperial state. Thus imperial action is not always directly economic, as military action in one country or region is necessary to open or protect economic zones. Nor... Read More
Almost all theories of contemporary imperialism lack any but the crudest sociological analyses of the classes and political character of the governing groups which direct the imperial state and its polices. The same is true about the theorizing of the imperial state which is largely devoid of institutional analyses. Social Basis of Imperial Politics Most... Read More
Imperialism, its character, means and ends has changed over time and place. Historically, western imperialism, has taken the form of tributary, mercantile, industrial, financial and in the contemporary period, a unique ‘militarist-barbaric’ form of empire building. Within each ‘period’, elements of past and future forms of imperial domination and exploitation ‘co-exist’ with the dominant mode.... Read More
SYNOPSIS: These extraordinary times –unprecedented in modern history– are marked by a worldwide depression and regional wars involving all the major imperial powers. This book exposes the roots of the crisis in the unsustainability of the United States’ military-driven empire building based on a volatile speculative economy, and influenced by Zionist policy makers committed to... Read More
Throughout modern imperial history, ‘Divide and Conquer’ has been the essential ingredient in allowing relatively small and resource-poor European countries to conquer nations vastly larger in size and populations and richer in natural resources. This article is to be published in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol.39, No.1. feb 2009 Introduction: The Historical Context It... Read More
From the middle of the 19th century but especially after the Second World War, two models of empire building competed on a world scale One predominantly based on military conquests, involving direct invasions, proxy invading armies and subsidized separatist military forces; and the other predominantly based on large-scale, long-term economic penetration via a combination of... Read More
President Bush’s visit to Uruguay, Brazil ,Colombia, Peru and Mexico reflects the ‘two tracks’ of US empire-building - military intervention and political-diplomatic instruments. Bush’s visit to Latin America at this time is an attempt to gain support from client electoral rulers at a time when he has lost the support of over 75% of US... Read More
Economic Empire building (EEB) is the driving force of the US economy and became more central over the past five years. More than ever before in US economic history, the principal US banks, oil companies, manufacturers, investment houses, pension and mutual funds all depend on exploiting overseas nations and peoples to secure high rates of... Read More
The most difficult prediction for the year 2006 is the direction and trajectory of the US economy. In 2005 the US economy defied all the known tenets of economic theory: In the face of record high trade deficits, monstrous budget deficits, a failed war and major political scandals involving presidential aides, the dollar strengthened against... Read More
It was Christmas day and while the fathers slept off a big meal and an excess of beer and rum, the children were racing around the neighborhood: The lucky ones showing off their toys, others crowding around a youngster with his own new bicycle. “Pedro! Come in and get dressed or you will miss the... Read More
The question of war and peace evokes many conflicting responses. For the ideologues and civilian militarists in Washington ?peace? can be secured with the consolidation of a world empire, which in turn implies? perpetual wars throughout the world. Introduction For the ideologues and political spokespeople of the multinational corporations, the operation of the free market... Read More
Over the past 40 years, many ”socialist” and nationalist regimes attempted to combine public enterprise with private investment, including foreign investment. Introduction In the beginning, decisions were made to limit the scope of foreign investment to particular sectors and in some cases to a limited time frame via ‘fade-out formulas’ (over time the foreign shares... Read More
Paradoxically the defeat of Communism led to the relocation of imperial capital, which in turn led to a decline of domestic manufacturing and high technology industries in the ?advanced countries? Myth 1 The ?US? has a huge trade deficit with ?China? amounting to $162 billion in 2004. Reality: There are two basic problems with this... Read More
It is a well-established fact that US intelligence and state agencies have penetrated civil and political society directly or via intermediary organizations, foundations and other ostensible private groups. Introduction Penetration involves funding, influence, control and setting political agendas that serve US imperial state and business interests. US penetration is largely directed at destabilizing or pressuring... Read More
Ideologues and prophets, left and right
2003 was not a year of Historic Victories or Historic Defeats; it was a year of constantly shifting relations of power between imperialism and popular resistance movements. The US empire and its Israeli colonial partners were able to conquer new countries and territories but were not able to consolidate rule in the face of increased... Read More
To understand the nature and dynamics of anti-imperialist politics it is important to answer several key questions. These include: 1. What constitutes an anti-imperialist movement (AIM)? Are anti-globalization, anti-ALCA, anti-Iraq (or anti-war) movements or events anti-imperialist? 2. Under what conditions and geo-political locations do AIMs emerge and expand? 3. Which specific classes initiate and which... Read More
The degeneration of Empires from Roman times to the present involves two interelated processes: (1)Massive corruption of the political class and indebtedness of its principle cities leading to social decay; (2)Overweening imperial hubris, which leads imperial publicists and politicians to engage in the most blatant justifications of imperialist wars which provoke violent resistance within and... Read More
The Bush Doctrine set out in his ”U.S. National Security Strategy” speech ( September 20, 2002 ) promotes a ”single sustainable model for success” - the United States through unlimited, unilateral, offensive (”pre-emptive”) wars. While couched in the language of “defense” and “liberty” the Bush doctrine is an extreme departure from the previous Truman doctrine... Read More
In the past year U.S. empire building has largely focused on military conquest, threats of regional wars and a massive enlargement of clandestine military and intelligence operations. Particularly since the war and occupation of Afghanistan, the imminent attack on Iraq and the failed military coup in Venezuela, the military track in U.S. policy has been... Read More
In the year since 9/11 the Bush Administration has been engaged in a massive, second effort to impose a New World Order which Bush\’s father attempted in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War a decade earlier. To understand the current Administration’s effort at empire building it is essential to locate it historically, particularly in... Read More
Contradictions, challenges and opportunities
The general thesis of this article is that the U.S. attack on Afghanistan is an effort to reverse the relative decline of U.S. empire and to re-establish its domination in conflictual regions. The war in Afghanistan is only part of a general imperial counter-offensive which has several components (1) to re-establish the subordination of Europe... Read More
Empire (*) is a strange book. At a time when the U.S. is the only super power, when almost fifty percent of the 500 biggest multi-nationals are U.S. owned and headquartered, and Washington is leading a war of intervention against Afghanistan (after previous interventionary wars in the Balkans, Central America (Panama), Carribean (Grenada) and proxy... Read More
The 1990s was a decade in which the most influential writers, journalists and academics wrote, spoke and polemicized about two over-riding themes: the ”globalization” of capital, and the ”New Economy” (NE) based on the growth of information technology (IT), the bio-technical and telecommunications ”revolution”. Introduction The expansion of capital into the ex-Communist countries, the neo-liberal... Read More
James Petras
About James Petras

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

He is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, TempsModerne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet.

His publishers have included Random House, John Wiley, Westview, Routledge, Macmillan, Verso, Zed Books and Pluto Books. He is winner of the Career of Distinguished Service Award from the American Sociological Association’s Marxist Sociology Section, the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book, 2002, and the Best Dissertation, Western Political Science Association in 1968. His most recent titles include Unmasking Globalization: Imperialism of the Twenty-First Century (2001); co-author The Dynamics of Social Change in Latin America (2000), System in Crisis (2003), co-author Social Movements and State Power (2003), co-author Empire With Imperialism (2005), co-author)Multinationals on Trial (2006).

He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

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