Imperialism: A Study Series

DSA-LA’s Political Education Committee is proud to present Imperialism: A Study Series. Borrowing the structure from last year’s highly successful Class on Class, and building on key concepts introduced therein, this series examines the relationship between imperialism and capitalism as articulated by leftists thinkers from the 19th century through today.

Imperialism: A Study Series is comprised of four modules, each distinct but expanding on the content provided by the others. Each module features a selection of readings and initial discussion questions, as well as an in-person class component where a short presentation is followed by ample opportunity to discuss, dissect, and debate concepts covered in facilitated group conversations.

We hope that this series is welcoming to those curious about socialism and the historic, systemic violation of equality between proletarians around the world. Political education should not just act as a doorway to united class struggle, but a site to return to again and again for guidance in our organizing. Whether this is your first or fortieth time reading Lenin, we invite you to join us in conversation to understand, critique, and ultimately end imperial power relations.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE IMPERIALISM STUDY SERIES READER.

Is imperialism the highest stage of capitalism?: The trajectory of British capitalism and leftist debate on pre-WWII theories of imperialism 

Thursday, September 19, 2019 — 7 to 9 p.m.

United Teachers Los Angeles / 3303 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010

Written during World War I, Lenin’s landmark text, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, became a central reference point for twentieth century debates on the nature of imperialism. Core to Lenin’s thesis was an assertion that capitalism became capitalist imperialism when fundamental characteristics of capitalism changed. With attention to historical context, this module is designed to introduce readers to these initial terms of debate, raise questions around the trajectory of British capitalist imperialism, and ensure consideration of the ideologies of imperialism—including the imposition of a racial social classification of the world population.

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America’s Ascent as an Imperial Power: An examination of financialization and globalization

Wednesday, October 2, 2019 —7 to 9 p.m.

United Teachers Los Angeles / 3303 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010

Today’s world is characterized by American domination and neoliberal hegemony—and imperialism remains a central component of capitalist power around the globe. In this module we will look at how increased globalization and financialization have changed the way empire is administered, and spend time comparing current left theories of imperialism to those of the past.

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The National Question: An introduction to leftist dialogue  on self-determination, intervention, and nationalism

Thursday, October 17, 2019 —7 to 9 p.m.

United Teachers Los Angeles / 3303 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010

What role does nationalism play in political liberation? Do people have a right to self-determination? Is military intervention ever justified? This course frames these important questions with a series of specific examples from early anti-systemic movements in nineteenth century Europe, to the eve of the Sixth Pan-African Conference in 1974, to the election of Peru’s first indigenous president in 2006, and finally America today.

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Imperialism Today: An investigation of study series concepts through contemporary case studies.

*Tuesday, October 29, 2019* —7 to 9 p.m. (*note that this date has been updated*)

United Teachers Los Angeles / 3303 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010

This final module invites comrades to apply study series concepts to specific contemporary situations and investigate their correspondence. How does our understanding of national sovereignty, dispossession through debt, global financialization, and the triumph of neoliberalism inform our conception of imperialism today? Do conventional models of imperialism match contemporary reality—and if not, how do ongoing offenses against Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the periphery of the Eurozone challenge conventional theories? Importantly, how does our understanding of the contemporary nature and expressions of imperialism inform our anti-imperialist politics? 

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