Note: This article has been updated: Multidimensional and Complex Nature and Effects of Imperialism On Democracy, Society, Nature, and Human Nature by Fazal Rahman, Ph.D.
Multidimensional and complex nature and effects of imperialism on democracy, society, nature, and human nature
“At the same pace that mankind masters nature, man seems to become enslaved to other men or to his own infamy. Even the pure light of science seems unable to shine but on the dark background of ignorance. All our invention and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life into a material force.” Karl Marx. Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 500. “That hideous pagan idol (imperialism), who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.” Karl Marx. On Colonialism, Moscow Publication, 1968, p. 87.
The nature and effects of imperialism are extremely complex, diverse, and multidimensional, including, among others, those on democracy; society; culture; ideology, mass psychology, and philosophy; productive forces; nature; and human nature. Starting with Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, numerous Marxists and Leninists contributed their insights and analyses of many of these. The most original and profound of these were those of V. I. Lenin, who was gifted with the extraordinary intellectual abilities to hit the nails on the head in diverse areas of extreme complexity.
After the betrayal of socialism in the former USSR, Peoples Republic of China (PRC), and Eastern Europe, it has gone out of fashion to even mention imperialism, much less engage in any in-depth analyses of contemporary world reality and events that are being shaped and generated predominantly by imperialism. Even Russia and PRC have now become capitalist countries and have joined the inter-capitalist and inter-imperialist competition for the planet’s resources and markets. Of course, the godfather and coordinator of all imperialism continues to be the US. Never before in human history, there was such a conglomeration and proliferation of imperialist and wannabe imperialist countries. And yet, with very rare exceptions, the intellectual resources on this greatest problem and danger of all history to mankind, human nature, democracy, culture, other forms of life, and biosphere, have dried up at a time when these are needed most.
The most sinister dimension of imperialism (advanced capitalism) has been related to its effects on the human nature itself. However, it has remained, by and large, in the dark, even though, its symptoms are gigantic and everywhere. This author wrote two papers in the 1980s-one of them published in an interdisciplinary scientific journal in the US-to initiate efforts to fill this gap and address this deficiency (1, 2). Both these papers contained a new and original macro-level interdisciplinary theory on the biosocial regulation of human nature by the combined and intertwined social forces of advanced capitalism, technocracy, and culture, and showed the historical causal connections between these forces and the plague of one-sided advanced capitalist-technocratic civilization, which has been devastating both the ecology of nature and the inner ecology of human nature, the Human Soul-source of the spiritual-emotional parts-being its greatest casualty. Human Reason also underwent extreme reductionisms and is now reduced to capitalist-technological rationality, under the above civilization. This is indeed a most sinister development, as it distorts, perverts, and deforms both the Human Soul and the Human Reason.
As expected, the author’s above papers have been condemned to remain in the darkness by the priests and high priests of the Advanced Capitalist-Technocratic Civilization-and the masses under their influence-which are all in a diabolical frenzy to incessantly worship Capital, Technocracy, Things, and Power-constantly mutilating their own human nature in that process-in the most sinister rush towards the Great Abyss in history.
Among other contents, some general laws of interactions between imperialism, democracy, and human nature have also been proposed in this article.
Dual nature of US politico-economic system: capitalist democracy and imperialism
It is of paramount importance to understand the real nature of US politico-economic system in order to understand its national and international realities. Domestically, the system constitutes a form of capitalist democracy, mostly defined in terms of holding regular elections after definite periods of time. To go into the numerous flaws and erosions of this form of democracy in the US is beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice it to say here that this democracy has been evolving into a demonocracy in its interactions with its international counterpart, i-e., imperialism. Nothing has deformed and eroded the domestic democracy in the US more than its international imperialism. During 1986, this author had presented a new theory on this subject at the Pacific Northwest Marxist Scholars Conference in Seattle, under the title, “Some aspects of the developing dialectic of US capitalist democracy and international imperialism” (3), in which he had elaborated on this subject in some detail and also shown that US imperialism frequently transformed into fascism in many countries, as it was the godfather of numerous fascist dictatorships throughout the world in the post Second World War period. He also hypothesized that the dialectics of national capitalist democracy and international imperialism and fascism would eventually lead to national fascism too. This is still a transitory and rather obscure stage but the events and facts seem to be leading in that direction.
The US politico-economic system has been demonocratic throughout its history for the peoples of the Third World, starting with the genocide of Native Americans and theft and colonization of their country. Its crimes and sins against humanity are too many to list or discuss here. But it is self-evident that billions of human beings have suffered incalculable damages, deprivations, repressions, mass murders, plunders and theft of their resources, and the loss of the best among them, as a direct result of the policies, actions, conspiracies, and crimes of this godfather of all imperialism and fascism in the world. They have done all that wearing the formal “democratic” masks and cloaks. If that is democracy then Hell is Paradise. This system also has been demonocratic towards the minorities here, at its center, which have been, and continue to be, subjected to demonic levels and types of racist discrimination and oppression. These minorities here are people from the same Third World countries that have suffered its imperialism and fascism internationally. Throughout its history, the real heroes of the Third World were demonized and targeted for destruction by US imperialism while the traitors were elevated and inflated to the status of heroes. Total and absolute perversion! They continued, and continue, to claim without even batting an eye, that their policies and actions would lead to progress and advancement of democracy in the victimized nations! US imperialists developed such sinister hypocrisy, deceptions, and lies to new heights under the Bush and his Oil-Military-Industrial-Complex (OMIC) gang. The current Obama administration has not only continued the imperialist policies and actions of the Bush administration, but has vastly expanded them.
All the imperialist countries have had a predatory history. However, in the aftermath of the Second World War, many of them substituted non-militarist politico-economic methods for achieving their objectives in the Third World. US has been an exception in this regard and since the Second World War, it has unleashed and sponsored countless military conflicts, interventions, and disruptions of independent politico-economic development in numerous countries throughout the world. It has wreaked havoc throughout the world and devastated and extinguished the lives of countless human beings, including many who were the best and highest expressions of human nature. Presently, it is engaged in three major invasions and wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. Many of the NATO countries have also reverted back to the militarist forms of imperialism.
The most repressive, anti-democratic, and humiliating rule in any country is that of a foreign occupying imperialist and colonialist power. One would have thought that in the 21st Century, everyone understood that truism. However, it is shocking to learn that US government and its tens of millions of followers in the most “developed” nation of this world – following in the footsteps of their ancestors who “liberated” Native Americans, Filipinos, Hawaiians, and Africans in slavery – still think it is possible to fool people by calling things by their opposite names. Their ancestors were using the Orwellian language long before George Orwell wrote his 1984 and Aldus Huxley his Brave New World. They think that when they are based on such enormous military and economic power as that of the US, they have the power to present mental retardation as wisdom; colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism as liberation; theft, plunder, and robbery as generosity and giving away aid; high-tech mass murders as humanity; and demonocracy as democracy. They think and act like that as they know that they can not only get away with it, but will be rewarded for that. One wonders about the vastness of contempt they must have for the intelligence and integrity of American people! One also wonders whether that contempt is well deserved! Imperialism has always been the greatest enemy of democracy in the Third World periphery, as well as in the imperialist center. The history of imperialism is overflowing with establishment of the most brutal dictatorships and puppet client regimes in the Third World by the Western imperialist nations. In the second half of the last Century, US became the godfather of all imperialisms and has developed the art and science of blocking and crushing the independent national development and national liberation movements of the developing countries – as well as of overthrowing and replacing the national liberationist and democratic governments with puppet and client regimes – to unmatchable heights.
In the imperialist center itself also, imperialism has been the greatest enemy of democracy, in spite of some superfluous appearances and contradictions. For example, in the US, American people have been treated to constant bombardment of lies, hypocrisies, deceptions, secrecies and disinformation by their leaders to cover up and misrepresent their international imperialist operations. Consenting to such lies, hypocrisies, and deceptions of the “democratic” government- some of them of extremely sinister and evil nature-by the general populace, destroys the very essence of democracy, which consists of people consenting to policies and actions based upon facts, truth, and honesty. As is self-evident, the erosion of democracy in the US has greatly accelerated in the current structural crisis of imperialism and capitalism. The dialectical interactions between imperialism and democracy in the advanced capitalist societies play the most powerful role in the development and evolution of these, both at the center as well as in the periphery. These play particularly powerful role in case of the US, which is, by far, the most powerful, militarist, aggressive, conceited, and deceptive imperialism of all history. Because of its power and its nature, it is wreaking havoc with genuine democracy everywhere, at its center, in the periphery, in other imperialist countries, and in socialist societies. It is the most powerful distortion, perversion, erosion, militarization, and imperialismization of democracy – everywhere, all over this planet. A more sinister, evil, and antidemocratic force is hardly imaginable.
The reality of democracy is eroded in such a context even if the mechanical formalities and appearances are maintained. As is self-evident, even the formalities and appearances of democracy are being greatly eroded at this stage of the development of US imperialism-democracy complex. US imperialism-democracy system has been routinely transformed into fascism in various developing countries, e.g., Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, Zaire, Philippines, Iran, Indonesia, El Salvador etc. etc. under various dictatorships in the service of US imperialism and its big capital. The chickens are coming home to roost now and the transition to the uniquely American form of fascism has already begun at the center. Internationally also, the fascist nature of US imperialism is becoming transparent more than ever. The so-called “war on terrorism” and wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are manifestations of the naked fascism of US imperialism. These are the self-evident expressions of the most brutal, most plunderous, and most mass murderous domination of rich oil, natural gas, and other resources of Iraq, Central Asia and Caspian Sea, and Libya, on behalf of the giant US oil and military-industrial transnational corporations by the US government and military. Some leftovers may be thrown into the bowls of the corporations of NATO countries too for their participation in this imperialist-fascist plunder.
Effects on American people
The fundamental responsibility of American people for this state of affairs is undeniable. They have always elected the representatives of the capitalist-imperialist class to the highest offices of the government and congress and supported the main directions of their foreign and domestic policies and actions. So far, the worst brutalities, sufferings, and deprivations of these policies and actions have been inflicted on hundreds of millions of Third World peoples and the minorities within the US. However, as a result of the historical additive accumulation of diverse economic and other problems that have been generated by these policies and actions, a grave all-round structural crisis of the system-with the economic crisis at its center-, and the society it has produced, is now accelerating rapidly in its development, and victimizing major parts of the population within the imperialist center itself that were complacent with, subservient to, and instruments of the ruling imperialist-capitalist class. That is the essence of the origins of the so-called Occupy Protests. The current crisis has very long historical and structural roots and must be understood within that context. It is a continuation of innumerable and diverse crises of variable magnitudes and natures, which have been accumulating, developing, and merging into each other for decades and centuries, and are now revealing themselves and exploding uncontrollably. The pundits and wannabe pundits of almost all the political ideologies, academics, economists, and intellectuals have, by and large, resorted to reductionist and abstract approaches in their analyses and discussions of this most complex all-round crisis that has developed in the history of advanced capitalism. They have failed to see, much less comprehend, the real concrete historical nature of this crisis. Hence, all their proposed or imagined analyses, solutions, and predictions are bound to fail.
Related to above, one of the most important questions is: What is wrong with the American people? Part of the answer to this question is that the advanced capitalist-technocratic system and its leaders are also responsible for the deformation of the human nature of great majority of American people. They have, by now, inflicted deep and severe damages on the human nature of great majority of American people, making them incapable of seeing or feeling even the simplest of facts and truth or of speaking clearly about them. The manufacture of mass false consciousness and mass psychology by the politico-ideological factories in the US is the most frightening nightmare that comes true and manifests itself over and over again in various parts of the Third World. It is now also returning home with a vengeance. All these facts are apodictic. However, these are most shamelessly denied by the swarms of intellectual prostitutes and brainwashed and disinformed officials of all the institutions of this society. Exceptions are very rare in this regard. It makes one sick to death to see such great uniformity and self-righteousness in evil, denial of reality, injustice, lies, and corruption of the spirit and intellect. How can the people, who are so advanced in science and technology, be so maldeveloped in their human nature? This author analyzed this matter in some depth in two of his papers (1, 2). In these papers, he synthesized knowledge and information in various areas of social and biological sciences and developed a new comprehensive theory of formation, changes, and biosocial regulation of human nature under the powerful forces of different integrated complexes of social systems, cultures, and technocracy. The contents and conclusions of this new theory are too complex and technical to describe here. However, extremely dangerous malformations of human nature and their causes, under the advanced capitalism-technocracy-culture complex, have been identified and analyzed in these papers.
Successive American governments have been playing a colossal con game with the American people. Their real agenda involves using the US armed forces, belonging to the American people and the nation as a whole, for their private plunder of the rich natural resources of rest of the world. Exorbitant national financial, military, human and other resources of the US are being utilized for private profits and gains. They have been using the national armed forces of the US as their private armies and getting away with it! How is that possible in any genuine democracy? Just the financial costs of the war on Iraq have been estimated to be $3 trillion, coming out of the pockets of ordinary tax payers. Overwhelming majority of American people will not gain anything from such imperialist plunder and robbery. They will lose enormous amounts of financial resources, not to mention many of their lives, for the private greed of the giant corporations and the rich and wealthy, which totally dominate the US governments. Even though much of rest of the world knows exactly what the US government is after, relatively few Americans show any awareness of it. Even if they are aware inside, it is buried under layers and layers of diversions and rationalizations and as such, this deeply buried and suppressed awareness is as good as none. This is the result of prolonged brainwashing, desensitizing, and other forms of conditioning by the most powerful propaganda and mass psychology manipulating machine in history, which have made most Americans incapable of perceiving or feeling even the simplest of truths and facts or the most horrible consequences of military invasions and assaults of other nations, in spite of their leaders getting caught red-handed, repeatedly, with lying and deception in such matters. For example, they were lied to and deceived systematically and constantly throughout the Vietnam War, during the Gulf of Tonkin concoctions, U2 incident in the former USSR, about a non-existing missile gap etc. etc. The history of many of these lies and deceptions is well documented and has been well publicized. Just as a result of policies and actions, based on such official lies and deceptions, more than 3 million Indochinese and 58,000 Americans lost their lives during the Vietnam War, which also devastated and polluted that country enormously and diabolically. David Wise had documented these and numerous other lies and deceptions of the US government leaders, to which American people were subjected, officially and systematically (4). Things have gotten much worse since then. Leaders of US are now totally intoxicated with being the only superpower on this planet. They are now most shamelessly and self-confidently engaged in the ruthless perversion of all values, perverting lies into truth, evil into good, injustice into justice, war into peace, occupation and invasion of other countries into “liberation”, etc. etc., and vice versa , ad nauseam. Much of the American public is also trapped in a similar mass psychology.
The mentally retarded lies and deceptions, being offered as pretexts for the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya can only be accepted by people who have already been brainwashed to the state of mental retardation. No one with any intellectual and spiritual competence or integrity can fall for them. People need to ask themselves: Is it really “patriotism” to be accomplices in such great thefts, robberies, crimes, mass murders, lies, hypocrisies, and deceptions, that their leaders are engaged in these countries? Is such behavior consistent with any religious or secular values of any kind?
The imperialist thugs and thieves at the helms of the US government are, objectively, turning this whole nation, as well as its military forces, into thieves, robbers, mass murderers, criminals, and sinners of the worst kind. It is not patriotism to be accomplices in this great sin and crime. It is a great sin and crime, and distortion, perversion, evilization, and destruction of one’s human nature, to be an accomplice in all this. True patriotism consists of opposing such great sins and crimes with everything one has, to the best of one’s abilities. First of all, every human being is a human being with a human nature. One cannot be a good American, Russian, German, French, English, Chinese, Afghan, Libyan, or Iraqi with a bad, evilized, unjust, falsified, plunderous, and poisonous human nature. Neither can one be a good Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, or Buddhist with these. It is self-evident that almost all the leaders of the US politico-economic system are severely infected with the worst forms of these and they are, in turn, infecting American people with these too. Such mass psychological pathologies can be transmitted massively, effectively, and rapidly under particular conditions and circumstances. For example, Hitler and Nazis were able to transmit such mass psychological pathologies to overwhelming majority of the German population, quite easily and rapidly. Germans were also highly “advanced” and “educated” in the fields of science, technology, and industry.
Such distortion, perversion, and evilization of the mass psychology of Americans, by leaders and controllers of the US politico-economic system, constitute a powerful and massive attack on the human nature and intellectual and spiritual competence and integrity of American people. What a price to pay for oil and other resources!!! Jesus Christ’s saying, “What is a man profited if he has gained the whole world but lost his soul”, is most relevant to this situation. The souls of Americans have been already greatly eroded and polluted by successions of imperialist, deceptive, lying, plundering, conspiring, hypocritical, and mass murderous leaders. The recent administrations are trying their best to erode whatever soul or spiritual and intellectual competence and integrity might be left in them. This is the greatest damage that can be done to any human being. It is even worse than dying to be systematically evilized in one’s human nature. Seen from this most important perspective, the worst enemies of American people have been their leaders, as they have been drastically eroding, distorting, perverting, and destroying their souls and intellects, their human nature, in pursuit of their private lusts for resources, profits, and power. In reality, these leaders have been the greatest enemies of all authentic American patriotism.
Under the guise of “patriotism”, people are being conned into unquestioning support for policies and actions of grand plunder, robbery, theft, deception, lies, atrocities, injustice, mass murder, evil, and imperialism by the imperialist-demonocratic government. Such “patriotism” is a great imperialist-demonocratic evil, of an extreme nature. People who participate and support such a great evil are doing just that. They are not being patriotic in the true sense of that much abused and manipulated word. Genuine patriotism is always consistent with the values, policies, and actions of justice, truth, goodness, freedom, peace, ecology, and other higher values. When patriotism is mobilized against all these higher values, it is not patriotism but mass mobilization for injustice, evil, robbery, plunder, and imperialism. The greatest terrorists of all history are claiming to be fighting the “war against terrorism”! The godfather of almost all the weapons of mass destruction has been accusing weak little Third World countries, like Iraq, Iran, and North Korea etc., of being a threat to them and to the whole world! It is like a huge herd of elephants, which has stampeded on a large area of the jungle, causing devastation (elephants actually do that in some parts of Africa when they get drunk after eating fermenting fruits), accusing chipmunks to be planning a stampede and posing the threat to the whole jungle! Such behavior is self-evidently bizarre. However, when the bizarre is not only empowered but is the only superpower, it can continue stampeding successfully until the whole jungle is destroyed. As is obvious, such superpower mental retardation can prevail over the highest of human intelligence and wisdom, under the conditions of contemporary evilized reality of this world. And yet, they never tire of boasting about this reality being the epitome of “civilization”, “development”, “progress” – and above all – “democracy”!!!
Problems of abnormal and unhealthy psychology are widespread in this society, including in its private and government organizations. Psychologists LaBier (5-8) and Maccoby (9), among others, have done large-scale in-depth studies in this connection. LaBier found that under the façade of surface sanity, various types of mental disorders were widespread and that the culture and environment of many large government and private organizations encouraged, nurtured, and rewarded sick attitudes, behavior, motivations, and values. Within these organizations, these are the keys to success in one’s career! National Institute of Mental Health estimated that almost 20 percent of all Americans have a diagnosed mental disorder, with anxiety, substance abuse, and depression being the most common problems (10). The actual incidence of mental disorders in this society is certainly much higher as these estimates only consist of people who have sought help from the mental health system. There are numerous others who suffer from such disorders but have not entered the mental health system. Estimates of people who suffer from work related problems like stress, burnout, acute psychiatric symptoms, as well as from a broad range of work-related values conflicts, malaise, and loss of identity, range as high as 45 percent (11). Indubitably, such massive problems of mental health in society are basically being produced by destructive biosocial regulation of human nature by powerful, complex and combined socio-economico-political, cultural, and mass psychological forces of one-sided, anti-ecological, and anti-human-nature science and technology and extremist forms of imperialism and capitalism. And yet, knowledge and information in this area is non-existent. This is the result of extreme forms of classist covert censorship as well as self-censorship, which, in this society, in matters like these, work even more effectively and powerfully than the overt and legalized censorship of some other societies.
Inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts
After the collapse of former USSR, Russia has strived hard to join the imperialist camp. Other major members of this camp include US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan etc. Even the Peoples Republic of China is now going through such transformations. There is now an unprecedented conglomeration of imperialist countries on the world stage, which is leading to an unprecedented dangerous situation for mankind and other forms of life on the planet. Both World War I and II were the result of inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts between major imperialist powers for division and redivision of the world in favor of their economic and political interests. Such contradictions and conflicts between the economic and military interests of the major imperialist powers flared up many times during the prolonged Iraqi crisis. As was self-evident, control over the huge multi-trillion dollar oil and other resources of Iraq was at stake there. Russia, France, Germany, and China had huge multi-billion dollar contracts with the government of Saddam Hussain, either finalized or in the process of completion. US and UK, and their giant oil and other corporations, were being left out from these highly profitable and lucrative projects and contracts in Iraq. With their mouths drooling with epileptic frenzy, the US and UK governments bid farewell to all pretensions of elementary decency, ethics, international and domestic law, democracy and democratic values, as well as all other human values, and rushed to Iraq with great means of violence and destruction, in an uncontrollable frenzy of imperialist greed and plunder. USSR, France, Germany, and China attempted to stop this US-UK imperialist aggression through the UN mechanisms and the international law but failed to do so. They could only have prevented it if they were willing to confront the aggressors militarily, either directly or indirectly, by threatening to give military assistance to Iraq. They did neither and the US-UK imperialist frenzy went full speed ahead. That recent history is now being repeated in Libya, where US and NATO countries are not content with their share of the control of Libyan energy and other resources and plan to enhance it greatly through the war and regime change, as well as to thwart and reverse the developing economic and political independence of the African Union countries, in which Libya, under Muammar Gadhafi, had playing a key role.
In the Iraqi, Libyan, and Afghanistan crises, inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts did not lead to war between the major imperialist powers precisely because the opposing powers failed to confront the US and its allies in their plans and actions. However, these were, and still are, potentially very dangerous situations for the whole world. If the other imperialist powers chose to protect their economic interests with military force, it could have, and still can, lead to the World War III, which will be catastrophic for all mankind and the whole world. Even if it did not and does not happen this time, continuation of the current course of action by the US and its collaborators will lead to it sooner or later. When there was USSR, inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts between the major capitalist-imperialist powers were kept to a minimum. USSR also tried its utmost to prevent the Third World War, in spite of numerous US provocations. Now that the USSR has collapsed and Russia and Peoples Republic of China have become competing imperialist powers, the inter-imperialist conflicts and contradictions are certain to increase greatly and so is the threat of Third World War.
Social sciences, imperialism, and democracy
Social sciences, and especially the political science, are fundamentally flawed in the Western capitalist countries as these omit any serious knowledge, information, or analysis of the gigantic reality of imperialism, much less of its effects on democracy in the center or periphery or on human nature or behavior. This great flaw in the very foundation of these “sciences” has retarded, distorted, perverted, and deformed their contents as well as knowledge and information about changes in the nature of overall politico-economic system and in the contents and forms of democracy. In the Marxist and socialist sciences, there has been extensive discussion and analyses of imperialism. However, almost all such discussion is focused on the international economic operations of imperialism. The area of developmental interactions between imperialism and democracy in the imperialist center and periphery has remained largely unexplored in these as well, even though, Lenin, had shed some light on this matter, almost one hundred years ago.
A few writers in this country have published extremely knowledgeable, informative, and honest analyses, exposes, and critiques of US imperialism and the flaws and decay of democracy in the US. Among others, Michael Parenti (12, 13) has written extensively on both these subjects, while David Wise, William Greider, and Seymour Hersh (4, 14, 15) have documented and analyzed the various inherent problems of democracy; its decay and erosion; the highly institutionalized cult of secrecy, deception, and lying to the public by the government leaders and other elites etc., in great depth. In his recent writings, Parenti has discussed the nature of US politico-economic system in terms of strong empire and weak republic. Victor Perlo’s book, Super Profits and Crises: Modern US Capitalism (16) remains one of the most important and informative books ever written on the political economy of US imperialism. However, none of these and other writers on these subjects have examined the dialectical interactions between the US imperialism and democracy in the center and the periphery or the effects of imperialism on human nature and its internal and external ecology. These areas have remained especially unexplored in relation to the imperialist center, i-e., in the US.
Most people do not even know what imperialism is, much less about its effects on democracy or human nature. They think it is just the military conquest and domination of other nations. They are unaware of the modern economic nature or operations of imperialism, so concisely defined by Lenin as the highest stage of the development of capitalism (17), in which the export of capital, foreign investments, dominance of finance capital, and other older as well as newer neo-colonial methods of exploitation of natural and human resources in the countries of the periphery are deployed for the purpose of maximization of profits and transfer of wealth from the periphery to the imperialist center. Military conquest, regime changes, reestablishment of direct control over the resources of other nations, colonialism etc. are older and antiquated methods of imperialism which the Bush and Obama administrations are now reviving, starting with Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Many NATO countries are also now following in their footsteps and reverting back to a previous era of colonialist and militarist imperialism.
In discussing imperialism, the author has started from Lenin’s premises as imperialism being the highest stage of the development of capitalism. The focus of Lenin in that work was on the economic nature and processes of imperialism. However, political, cultural, and mass psychological factors and processes of imperialism are also of great importance, and he also dealt with these in his other works. It is crucial to identify, analyze, and comprehend these and their evolution at various stages of the development of imperialism. In this rather brief article, an effort has been made to present an outline of these interactions and processes at the current stage of history. This outline needs much further development and substantiation.
Positivist and neo-positivist Vs dialectical approaches to reality
For historical, philosophical, and cultural reasons, much of the politico-economic, sociological, philosophical, and related literature in the US, Canada, and UK is dominated by positivist and neo-positivist approaches and attitudes. Most authors confine themselves to listing of information and facts, mostly obtained from the major media, and interpreting and analyzing them from the leftist or rightist perspectives. However, the analysis rarely penetrates the surface, the appearances. Hardly any effort is made to relate the events, facts, and information to their law-regulated causes and processes or to any proper theoretical frameworks. The former are examined in abstraction, disconnection, and fragmentation from the later. Dialectical approaches and ways of thinking and analyses-that grasp the phenomena in their contradictions, interactions, interconnections, and developmental movement, and aim at arriving at their essences, by penetrating deeply below the surface-are very rare in these societies.
With positivist and neo-positivist approaches, it is impossible to arrive at the real and full nature of phenomena, like wars, crises, symptoms of sickness of societies and human nature etc., much less to propose any effective solutions. For example, in case of wars, the leftist web sites and publications start overflowing with empirical articles that tend to reduce them to merely the problems of policy, without identifying and illuminating the origins of policy from the structure of the politico-economic system of imperialism, technocracy, and culture. Such approaches are extremely detrimental to any in-depth and objective understanding and illumination of the real nature and causes of wars and other such phenomena, which are inextricably connected with and originate in the political economy of imperialism.
New dimensions of imperialism
In spite of the richness of literature and abundance of knowledge and information in this area, there are some dimensions of imperialism, which have remained almost totally unidentified, unstudied, and unknown thus far. One of those dimensions involves the effects of imperialism on human nature, culture, mass psychology, and behavior- the internal and external ecology of human nature- as well as its effects on the ecology of nature. Another involves the interactions of imperialism with democracy. These dimensions consist of interactions between various macro level components of social and human reality. It is a truism that all reality involves interactions between various components, and that all observable phenomena are the products of such interactions. Powerful social forces of macro level systems- like imperialism, capitalism, socialism, science and technology, cultures, religions etc. – interact with and produce powerful effects on all social and human reality, including the human nature itself. And yet, these areas have, by and large, remained in almost total darkness, in spite of the fact that the results, symptoms, and evidence of these large-scale interactions are everywhere, multiplying, and growing ever more gigantic.
This author has done in-depth and original interdisciplinary investigations of these most important and neglected dimensions of imperialism. His first paper on these complex subjects, Effects of the contemporary technological model on the genetic regulation of inner human faculties, was published in the Journal of Social and Biological Structures, during 1980 (1). This was the first biosocial investigation ever of this dimension, in which a new macro level and comprehensive theory was developed and presented. During 1982, he wrote a more comprehensive paper on this subject, Biosocial regulation of human nature by social system-science and technology-culture complexes, in which, the original theory of the first paper was somewhat refined and further elaborated upon (2). These papers have dealt with an extremely complex subject, using some of the most advanced knowledge and information in various areas of social and biological sciences. The central conclusion of the theory is that the contemporary forms of imperialism-technocracy-culture complex create and develop profound biosocial conflicts between various parts of human nature, on populational levels. The ecological balance of the inner ecology of human nature, in populations existing under the contemporary forms of this complex, has been, and continues to be, greatly disrupted, on biosocial regulatory levels. Spiritual part of human nature- the source of drives for justice, cooperation, goodness, truth, beauty, love, altruism, synthetic and holistic modes of thought and feelings, the sacred, and other higher human faculties-is repressed, deformed, and perverted, while, materialistic part of human nature- including scientific and technical abilities; drives for domination, power, competition, selfishness, greed, desecration, aggression, militarism, and consumption; analytical, calculative, and fragmented modes of thinking and feelings-and the human faculties underlying these-is activated and regulated to high levels- all of this on the biosocial regulatory levels- under the powerful biosocial forces of this complex. This is the worst form of dehumanization and inhumanization imaginable, in which, technically highly advanced “humans” become disabled in some of the most important higher human faculties, emptied out of the drives and feelings of cooperation, true and genuine freedom, justice, love, grace, the sacred, truth, goodness, beauty etc., and molded into the drives and feelings of capitalist materialism, slavery to the Capital, greed, injustice, hatred, disgrace, desecration, lies, evil, ugliness, aggression, militarism, selfishness, sadism etc, in variable combinations and to variable degrees, depending upon particular individuals, families, groups, and their interactions with the socio-economico-politico-cultural forces of the complex. The mainstream processes are being described here. It is important to recognize that these processes are not exclusive and other types of biosocial regulatory processes are also functioning in the given populations. Not everyone in the advanced imperialist societies is being biosocially conditioned and regulated in the same way or to the same degree. However, the human nature of most people in these societies is being conditioned and regulated to variable degrees. Moreover, such conditioning and regulation are also being internationalized, through the dominance and penetration of the economic, political, cultural, educational, institutional, scientific, technological, and industrial models of the imperialist centers, throughout the various countries of this world. As far as the Third World is concerned, such conditioning and regulation of human nature, as is characteristic of the advanced imperialist societies, is mostly confined to the economic, political, educational, and military elites there, especially those trained by the institutions or personnel of the imperialist centers. However, countless millions of ordinary people are also constantly bombarded with it, by great variety of imported products, as well as by the various media, especially the TV.
The basic laws of imperialism-democracy complex
The following general laws are proposed to be operating in the interactions and processes involving imperialism and democracy in the imperialist center and its periphery:
1. The Law of Inverse Relationship Between the Development of Imperialism and Development of Democracy:
Politically, the highest stage of the development of imperialism manifests itself in the transformation of democracy and democratic institutions into demonocracy and demonocratic institutions, both in the imperialist center and the periphery. The development of imperialism is inversely proportional to the development of democracy in all these countries. In its simplest interpretation, this law means that higher development of imperialism in the imperialist center erodes real democracy in that center as well as in the countries of its periphery. There is an inverse relationship between the development of imperialism and development of real democracy.
In its relationship and interactions with democracy, imperialism is almost always more powerful and dominant and molds democracy and its institutions in its own image, almost always dedemocratizing them. Imperialism is the most powerful enemy of all democracy. As shown elsewhere (1, 2), it is also the most powerful enemy of some of the most important parts of human nature and of the integrity of human nature. Objectively, people who support imperialism, under the guise of patriotism or any other slogan, are, in reality, supporting the erosion and destruction of democracy as well as of human nature, including their own. A greater and more sinister folly is hardly imaginable. And yet, a great majority of Americans are conditioned and addicted to that so massively that it must make Pavlov wish in his grave that his theory of conditioned stimulus-response were not correct. But, unfortunately, it is correct. Nowhere one finds such massive confirmation of Pavlov’s theory than in the US, the epitome of Western democracy and imperialism.
When pollution and deformation of mass intellect and soul, of the social mental and spiritual apparatus, reaches a certain threshold, there is no possibility of any real democracy in that society, no matter how the mechanics and formalities of the system are maintained or reformed. When human nature itself becomes demonocratic, it constantly produces and reproduces demonocracy, and not democracy, even though the mechanics and formalities of the system may still maintain the appearance of democracy.
2. The Law of Inverse Relationship Between the Power of Capital and of Human Nature:
Empowerment of capital in a given society is inversely proportional to empowerment of human nature and people in that society. In its simplest interpretation, this law means that the more capital is empowered in a society, the more disempowered human nature and people become .
3. The Law of Mutual Negative Conditioning and Reinforcement of the Imperialist-Capitalist System and Human Nature
Evils, injustices, distortions, and deformations embedded in the politico-economic system and institutions of society constitute powerful social forces which evilize, distort, and deform human nature massively in that society. Conversely, such evilization, distortion, and deformation of human nature maintain, reinforce, and enhance these features in the system and its institutions. This mutual conditioning and reinforcement progressively leads to the development of demonocracy in the advanced capitalist-imperialist societies. That is precisely what has been happening in the US.
As in case of all such laws, these laws work complexly in dialectical ways. There are zigzags and modifications of their operations by various mediating forces and factors. However, ultimately, the results of the operations of these laws conform to their contents.
Economic costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
According to government’s figures, the invasion of Iraq has cost the American taxpayers more than $1 trillion and that of Afghanistan is also fast approaching that level. Some other estimates have been much higher, e.g. those of Stiglitz and Bilmes, amounting to $3 trillion (18). Only the big oil and military production corporations have benefited enormously from these, and have made record profits. The American people and their economy have suffered devastating damages. These wars have been one of the major causes of the current all-round structural crisis in the US. As usual, Americans, in the beginnings of these wars, overwhelmingly supported these. Now, after a decade of devastations and mass murders in those countries-amounting to millions-and great damages to the US economy itself, the public opinion is shifting against them.
Predatory political economy of imperialism creates a predatory imperialist mass psychology; human nature; culture; politics; military, militarism, militarist policies and actions; and all the international relations. These manifest themselves in constant production and reproduction of various international and national crises and problems. Within the existing balance of social forces, mitigation and opposition to such individual crises and problems is extremely important. However, one must not lose sight of their context in that process. The nature of systematic and constant generation of these crises and problems under a highly militarized political economy, like that of the US, requires a systematic, integrated, and dialectical approach to their understanding and creation of a mass movement based on this. Abolition of the constant production and reproduction of these crises, problems, atrocities, and crimes requires the abolition of imperialist political economy. In a highly brainwashed, disinformed, and unimaginative society like that of the US, it may seem to be an impossible goal. But nothing short of it will do the job. That must be the aim of any genuine, rational, and sincere peace, social and international justice, and environmental mass movement.
In the absence of scientific theoretical grounding, empirical facts and research are entirely inadequate to reveal the necessary, the stable, and law governed processes of reality, its various phenomena, and their essence. This is the greatest flaw of most publications in social and politico-economic “sciences”, including those on current events, in the imperialist countries in general, and US in particular. This deficiency is also prevalent in much of the leftist literature.
1. Rahman, F. Effects of the contemporary technological model on the genetic regulation of inner human faculties. Journal of Social and Biological Structures. 3, 375-389, 1980.
2. Rahman, F. Biosocial regulation of human nature by social systems-science and technology-culture complexes. 60 pages, 1982. Paper presented at the International Conference of Scientists and Scholars in Grenada, Spain, during 1982. The conference was organized jointly by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture and the Swedish International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Studies (IFIAS).
3. Rahman, F. Some aspects of the developing dialectic of US capitalist democracy and international imperialism. 18 pages. Paper presented at the Pacific Northwest Marxist Scholars Conference in Seattle, Washington, on April 11, 1986.
4. Wise, D. The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy, and Power. 1973, Random House, New York.
5. LaBier, D. Modern Madness: The Emotional Fallout of Success. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc. 1986.
6. LaBier, D. Uncle Sam’s working wounded. The Washington Post Magazine, February 17, 1980.
7. LaBier, D. Emotional disturbance in the Federal Government. Administration and Society, 14:403-448, 1983.
8. LaBier, D. Bureaucracy and psychopathology. Political Psychology, 4:223-243, 1983.
9. Maccoby, M. The Gamesman. Simon & Schuster, 1976.
10. National Institute of Mental Health, 1984.
11. Corporate Commentary: Worksite Health Evaluation Report, Washington Business Group on Health, March 1985.
12. Parenti, M. Democracy for the Few. 8th Ed., 2008, Thomson Wadsworth.
13. Parenti, M. Against Empire. 1995, City Lights Books, San Francisco.
14. Greider, W. Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy. 1992, Touchstone, New York.
15. Hersh, S.M. The Dark Side of Camelot. 1997. Little, Brown and Company.
16. Perlo, V. Super Profits and Crises: Modern US Capitalism. 1988, International Publishers, New York.
17. Lenin, V. I. Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. Selected Works (English Ed.), Vol. 1, Part 2, 1952, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow.
18. Stiglitz, J. and Bilmes, L. The three trillion dollar war. The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have grown to staggering proportions. The Times, February 23, 2008, London.
Some parts and ideas of this article were written in April 2003, as part of this author’s paper, “War on Iraq in perspective: the developing US imperialism and demonocracy” https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/war-on-iraq-in-perspective-the-developing-us-imperialism-and-demonocracy/
As those parts and ideas are not only relevant to imperialism in Iraq, but also to imperialism in general and its multidimensional nature and effects on democracy, human nature, nature, society, culture etc., these have also been included here.
Re: Sin, evil and evilization: These terms have been used in this article to describe actions and policies that are against justice, truth, goodness, beauty, peace, love, compassion, spirit, soul, ecology of nature and of human nature etc. As such, these words may be interpreted both in religious and secular terms. Use of the word crime is extremely inadequate to describe such actions and policies, especially in class-divided societies, in which the laws and the legal system are, in their essence, reflections of the power and interests of the ruling classes, and, as such, are instruments of injustice, inequality, and evil.
Re: Human nature: Human nature consists of contradictory and opposite parts. In this paper, the erosive and destructive effects of biosocial and politico-economic forces of imperialism etc. on human nature are in reference to the positive parts of human nature. The same forces have activating and developmental effects on some of the negative parts of human nature. Under capitalism and imperialism, even some of most important and positive parts of human nature are transformed into their opposites, into negative.
Re: Language of the paper: It is consciously holistic. In social sciences, it is most important to include spiritual, emotional, ethical and other such categories to describe social and human phenomena. These are some of the most important parts of human and social reality and purging them from the methodology and language, dealing with this reality and its components, purges and excludes these most important contents from investigation and discourse. Such purging is systematic in modern social “sciences” and constitutes the Great Distortion of Knowledge in these, in the service of the powers that be.
Dr. Fazal Rahman is an interdisciplinary researcher and writer. He has worked as a scientist and administrator of R & D programs in several countries, like Brazil, Lebanon, Pakistan, Zambia, US etc. He can be reached at Unpollutedfaz(at}aol.com. Article completed on January 27, 2012.
Multidimensional and Complex Nature and Effects of Imperialism On Democracy, Society, Nature, and Human Nature by Fazal Rahman, Ph.D. (updated version of this article)