The New Imperialist Structure

 

Samir Amin

C
ontemporary capitalism is a capitalism of generalised monopolies. What I mean by that is that monopolies no longer form islands (important as they may be) in an ocean of corporations that are not monopolies—and consequently are relatively autonomous—but an integrated system, and consequently now tightly control all productive systems. Small and medium-sized companies, and even large ones that are not themselves formally owned by the oligopolies, are enclosed in networks of control established by the monopolies upstream and downstream. Consequently, their margin of autonomy has shrunk considerably. These production units have become subcontractors for the monopolies. This system of generalised monopolies is the result of a new stage in the centralisation of capital in the countries of the triad that developed in the 1980s and ’90s.

Simultaneously, these generalised monopolies dominate the world economy. Globalization is the name that they themselves have given to the imperatives through which they exercise their control over the productive systems of world capitalism’s peripheries (the entire world beyond the partners of the triad). This is nothing other than a new stage of imperialism.

As a system, generalised and globalised monopoly capitalism ensures that these monopolies derive a monopoly rent levied on the mass of surplus value (transformed into profits) that capital extracts from the exploitation of labor. To the extent that these monopolies operate in the peripheries of the globalised system, this monopoly rent becomes an imperialist rent. The capital accumulation process—which defines capitalism in all of its successive historical forms—is consequently governed by the maximisation of monopolistic/imperialist rent.

 

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ECONOMIC ASSESSMENTS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT