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.

Plus current-event segment: Viral Strain of Pro-Putinism Injected into US Left by Stephen Cohen, via Katrina vanden Heuvel and The Nation. Brendan and Andrew discuss investigative reporter Duncan Campbell’s shocking revelations and the cover-up by the Columbia Journalism Review.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

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March 3, 2023

1 Comment

  1. This is a great episode of RFH! The content is that one can critique one side, but also the other.

    Critics then follow the line of: “well, if you not for us, you are automatically against us”. On the one hand, it is is a deliberate apologist line. If it not that, it is people again and again falling into the trap of false dichotomy, that there can only be two sides.

    I guess the latter, falling into the trap of a false dichotomy, is an expression of the–seemingly–objective situation in the world that, in any conflict, there are two sides; and that’s it, there is no other “side”.

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