Episode 88: Pseudo-Anti-Imperialism Defends the Indefensible—interview with Rohini Hensman
The co-hosts welcome back Rohini Hensman (whom we interviewed in Ep. 65 of RFH about Ukraine’s protracted struggle for national liberation). They discuss her 2018 book, Indefensible: Democracy, Counter-Revolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism, which argues that opposition to “Western” imperialism alone, rather than to all imperialism, is “pseudo-anti-imperialism.” Rohini explains why she wrote the book and discusses why it remains relevant today, five years later. She delineates different viewpoints and motivations within the pseudo-anti-imperialist camp. She and the co-hosts explore why pseudo-anti-imperialists equate imperialism with foreign investment (“export of capital”) and how they actually differ. They also discuss differences between Lenin and Stalin regarding national liberation, Russian imperialism under Stalinism and how the theory of “socialism in one country” tied into it, and the continuing relevance of Russian imperialism to the issue of pseudo-anti-imperialism. Rohini then responds to claims by detractors that her book endorses imperialist war and attacks opponents of US imperialism. Finally, she and the co-hosts discuss what the genuinely anti-imperialist left needs to do about the continuing problem of pseudo-anti-imperialism.
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