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New Left Review I/60, March-April 1970

Gareth Stedman Jones

The Specificity of US Imperialism

Since the Russian Revolution, the rulers of America have been increasingly concerned to justify their imperial system against revolutionary attack. They have employed two constant methods to maintain their domination. The first has been physical—the proliferation of us bases, the mobility of the American fleet, the alertness of the marines, the manoeuvrings of the cia, the bribery of friendly politicians. All this is well known. The second method has been ideological: the construction of a mythological, non-communist, non-socialist and even non-nationalist road to political independence for the countries of the Third World. To woo the aspiring politicians of these new states, the us has offered them the model of the ‘American Revolution’ of 1776. It was on this basis that Franklin Roosevelt considered that the us was uniquely equipped to advise India on the road to independence, and it was again on the basis of this claim that Eisenhower felt entitled to ditch his Anglo-French imperialist allies at the time of the Suez crisis in 1956. America, in the estimation of her ruling politicians, was the first ex-colony, and so was uniquely equipped to steer a benevolent course through the stormy waters of post-war decolonization.

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Gareth Stedman Jones, ‘The Specificity of US Imperialism’, NLR I/60: £3

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