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International Socialist Review Issue 44, NovemberDecember 2005
Classics of Marxism: VI Lenin
The Highest Stage of Capitalism
by BRIAN JONES
IMPERIALISM” USED to be a dirty word, associated with the humiliating colonial occupations of the people in the so-called Third World. But in the last few years, the term has made a comeback, only this time as a badge of pride, not of shame. Only a few months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Michael Ignatieff penned a couple of articles for the New York Times Magazine, the first called “American Empire (Get Used To It),” and the second called “Nation-Building Lite,” in which he argued:
Imperialism used to be the white man’s burden. This gave it a bad reputation. But imperialism doesn’t stop being necessary just because it becomes politically incorrect. Nations sometimes fail, and when they do, only outside help—imperial power—can get them back on their feet. Nation-building is the kind of imperialism you get in a human rights era, a time when great powers believe simultaneously in the right of small nations to govern themselves and in their own right to rule the world.