|Original title||Империализм как высшая стадия капитализма|
|Published||1917 (written 1916)|
Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1917), by Vladimir Lenin, describes the function of financial capital in generating profits from imperialist colonialism as the final stage of capitalist development to ensure greater profits. The essay is a synthesis of Lenin's modifications and developments of economic theories that Karl Marx formulated in Das Kapital (1867).
In his Prefaces, Lenin states that the First World War (1914–1918) was "an annexationist, predatory, plunderous war"among empires, whose historical and economic background must be studied "to understand and appraise modern war and modern politics".
In order for capitalism to generate greater profits than the home market can yield, the merging of banks and industrial cartels produces finance capitalism—the exportation and investment of capital to countries with underdeveloped economies. In turn, such financial behaviour leads to the division of the world among monopolist business companies and the great powers. Moreover, in the course of colonizing undeveloped countries, business and government eventually will engage in geopolitical conflict over the economic exploitation of large portions of the geographic world and its populaces. Therefore, imperialism is the highest (advanced) stage of capitalism, requiring monopolies (of labour and natural-resource exploitation) and the exportation of finance capital (rather than goods) to sustain colonialism, which is an integral function of said economic model.Furthermore, in the capitalist homeland, the super-profits yielded by the colonial exploitation of a people and their economy permit businessmen to bribe native politicians, labour leaders and the labour aristocracy (upper stratum of the working class) to politically thwart worker revolt (labour strike).
Lenin's socio–political analysis of empire as the ultimate stage of capitalism derived from Imperialism: A Study (1902) by John A. Hobson, an English economist, and Finance Capital (Das Finanzcapital, 1910) by Rudolf Hilferding, an Austrian Marxist, whose synthesis Lenin applied to the new geopolitical circumstances of the First World War, wherein capitalist imperial competition had provoked global war among the German Empire, the British Empire, the French Empire, the Tsarist Russian Empire, and their respective allies.
Three years earlier, in 1914, rival Marxist Karl Kautsky proposed a theory of capitalist coalition, wherein the imperial powers would unite and subsume their nationalist and economic antagonisms to a system of ultra-imperialism, whereby they would jointly effect the colonialist exploitation of the underdeveloped world. Lenin countered Kautsky by proposing that the balance of power among the imperial capitalist states continually changed, thereby disallowing the political unity of ultra-imperialism, and that such instability motivated competition and conflict, rather than co-operation:
Half a century ago, Germany was a miserable, insignificant country, if her capitalist strength is compared with that of the Britain of that time; Japan compared with Russia in the same way. Is it "conceivable that in ten or twenty years' time the relative strength will have remained unchanged?" It is out of the question.
The post-War edition of Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1920) identified the territorially punitive Russo–German Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918) and the Allied–German Treaty of Versailles (1919) as proofs that empire and hegemony—not nationalism—were the economic motivations for the First World War.In the preface to the French and German editions of the essay, Lenin proposed that revolt against the capitalist global system would be effected with the "thousand million people" of the colonies and semi-colonies (the system's weak points), rather than with the urban workers of the industrialised societies of Western Europe. He proposed that revolution would extend to the advanced (industrial) capitalist countries from the underdeveloped countries, such as Tsarist Russia, where he and the Bolsheviks had successfully seized political command of the October Revolution of 1917. In political praxis, Lenin expected to realise the theory of Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism via the Third International (1919–1943), which he intellectually and politically dominated in the July and August conferences of 1920.
Lenin's use of Hobson pre-figured the core–periphery model of unequal capitalist development and exploitation. He argued in the preface to the 1920 edition of Imperialism, the structural causes of the reformist failure; that imperialism afforded ‘superprofits’ to the capitalists of the advanced countries and that
...out of such enormous superprofits (since they are obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their ‘own’ country) it is possible to bribe the labor leaders and the upper stratum of the labor aristocracy. And that is just what the capitalists of the ‘advanced’ countries are doing: they are bribing them in a thousand different ways, direct and indirect, overt and covert.
Making use of English economist J. A. Hobson's work, Lenin understood capitalism as world system of unequal development that created the reformist labor aristocracy in industrial countries:
Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the overwhelming majority of the population of the world by a handful of ‘advanced’ countries. And this ‘booty’ is shared between two or three powerful world plunderers armed to the teeth (America, Great Britain, Japan), who are drawing the whole world into their war over the division of their booty.”
Lenin specifically used the term "world system," which, combined with his use of J. A. Hobson and Rudolf Hilferding to emphasize the global accumulation of wealth among colonizing countries, was an insight into the global dimensions of capitalism. Such ideas were early contributions to the development of world-systems theory, but similar ideas are found in Marx's work as well. Immanuel Wallerstein adopted the term "world-systems" from Ferdinand Braudel's concept of the Mediterranean "world-economy" and applied it to the "capitalist world-economy" which is also known as "the modern world-system" as an entity that is a "world" not necessarily global in size, though it eventually became global in size, and that is a "system" through the integrated functioning of a division of labor manifest in zones: core countries, semi-periphery countries, and periphery countries. The core–periphery expression originated in dependency theory, whose proponents Raúl Prebisch, Andre Gunder Frank and Fernando Henrique Cardoso proposed that countries and colonies become peripheral zones because they specialize in the low tech and labor intensive activities, including the supply of raw materials and cheap labor to core zone areas, and thus become "underdeveloped" through unequal exchange mechanisms consequent to colonization and/or imperialism.
In 1916, Lenin wrote Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, in Zürich, during the January–June period. The essay was first published by Zhizn i Znaniye (Life and Knowledge) Publishers, Petrograd, in mid 1917. After the First World War, he added a new Preface (6 July 1920) for the French and German editions, which was first published in the Communist International No. 18 (1921).
Imperialism is a policy or ideology of extending a country's rule over foreign nations, often by military force or by gaining political and economic control of other areas. Imperialism was both normal and common throughout recorded history, the earliest examples dating from the mid-third millennium BC. In recent times, it has been considered morally reprehensible and prohibited by international law. Therefore, the term is used in international propaganda to denounce an opponent's foreign policy.
Leninism is the political theory for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, led by a revolutionary vanguard party, as the political prelude to the establishment of socialism. The function of the Leninist vanguard party is to provide the working classes with the political consciousness and revolutionary leadership necessary to depose capitalism in the Russian Empire (1721–1917). Leninist revolutionary leadership is based upon The Communist Manifesto (1848) identifying the communist party as "the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country; that section which pushes forward all others." As the vanguard party, the Bolsheviks possessed the scientific understanding of history that allowed political commitment to the successful overthrow of capitalism, and then to instituting socialism; and, as the revolutionary national government, to realise the socio-economic transition by all means.
Marxism–Leninism is a political philosophy and self-proclaimed science that seeks to establish a socialist state and then develop it further into socialism and eventually communism, a classless social system with common ownership of the means of production and with full social and economic equality of all members of society. Marxist–Leninists espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of orthodox Marxism and Leninism, but they generally support the idea of a vanguard party, a communist party-led state, state-dominance over the economy, internationalism and opposition to bourgeois democracy, capitalism, imperialism and racism. As an ideology, it was developed by Joseph Stalin in the late 1920s based on his understanding and synthesis of both orthodox Marxism and Leninism. It was the official state ideology of the Soviet Union and the other ruling parties making up the Eastern Bloc as well as the political parties of the Communist International after Bolshevisation. Today, Marxism–Leninism is the ideology of Stalinist and Maoist political parties around the world and remains the official ideology of the ruling parties of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam.
State capitalism is an economic system in which the state undertakes commercial economic activity and where the means of production are organized and managed as state-owned business enterprises, or where there is otherwise a dominance of corporatized government agencies or of publicly listed corporations in which the state has controlling shares. Marxist literature defines state capitalism as a social system combining capitalism with ownership or control by a state—by this definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single huge corporation, extracting the surplus value from the workforce in order to invest it in further production. This designation applies regardless of the political aims of the state and some people argue that the modern People's Republic of China constitutes a form of state capitalism and/or that the Soviet Union failed in its goal to establish socialism, but rather established state capitalism.
John Atkinson Hobson was an English economist and social scientist. Hobson is best known for his writing on imperialism, which influenced Vladimir Lenin, and his theory of underconsumption.
Neocolonialism, neo-colonialism, or neo-imperialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalisation and cultural imperialism to influence a developing country instead of the previous colonial methods of direct military control (imperialism) or indirect political control (hegemony). Coined by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in 1956, it was first used by Kwame Nkrumah in the context of African countries undergoing decolonisation in the 1960s. Neo-colonialism is also discussed in the works of Western thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Noam Chomsky.
Superprofit, surplus profit or extra surplus-value is a concept in Karl Marx's critique of political economy subsequently elaborated by Vladimir Lenin and other Marxist thinkers.
A theory of capitalism describes the essential features of capitalism and how it functions. The history of various such theories is the subject of this article.
World-systems theory is a multidisciplinary, macro-scale approach to world history and social change which emphasizes the world-system as the primary unit of social analysis.
Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism has developed into many different branches and schools of thought, with the result that there is now no single definitive Marxist theory.
The theory of state monopoly capitalism was initially a Marxist thesis popularised after World War II. Lenin had claimed in 1916 that World War I had transformed laissez-faire capitalism into monopoly capitalism, but he did not publish any extensive theory about the topic. The term refers to an environment where the state intervenes in the economy to protect larger monopolistic or oligopolistic businesses from threats. As conceived by Lenin in his pamphlet of the same name the theory aims to describe the final historical stage of capitalism, of which he believed the Imperialism of that time to be the highest expression.
Imperialism: A Study (1902), by John A. Hobson, is a politico–economic discourse about the negative financial, economic, and moral aspects of imperialism as a nationalistic business enterprise.
Criticism of capitalism ranges from expressing disagreement with the principles of capitalism in its entirety to expressing disagreement with particular outcomes of capitalism.
Ultra-imperialism, or occasionally hyperimperialism and formerly super-imperialism, is a potential, comparatively peaceful phase of capitalism, meaning after or beyond imperialism. It was described mainly by Karl Kautsky. Post-imperialism is sometimes used as a synonym of ultra-imperialism, although it can have distinct meanings.
Prabhat Patnaik is an Indian Marxist economist and political commentator. He taught at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning in the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, from 1974 until his retirement in 2010. He was the vice-chairman of Kerala State Planning Board from June 2006 to May 2011.
Rentier capitalism is a term currently used to describe the belief in economic practices of monopolization of access to any kind of property, and gaining significant amounts of profit without contribution to society. The origins of the term are unclear; it is often said to be used in Marxism, yet the very combination of words rentier and capitalism was never used by Karl Marx himself.
Maoism , often stylized as Maoism–Third Worldism or simply MTW and not to be confused with Third Worldism generally, is a broad tendency which is mainly concerned with the infusion and synthesis of Marxism—particularly of the Marxist–Leninist–Maoist persuasion—with concepts of non-Marxist Third Worldism, namely dependency theory and world-systems theory.
Anti-imperialism in political science and international relations is a term used in a variety of contexts, usually by nationalist movements who want to secede from a larger polity or as a specific theory opposed to capitalism in Marxist–Leninist discourse, derived from Vladimir Lenin's work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. A less common usage is by supporters of a non-interventionist foreign policy.
Within Marxist theory, modern warfare is described as existing as result of capitalism. Marxist theory states that all modern wars are caused by competition for resources and markets between great and imperialist powers, claiming these wars are a natural result of the free market and a class system.
Theory of Imperialism concerns the global systemic outcomes of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall in the capitalist system, and the objective impact of the consequences of those dynamics, and counter-tendencies in the world economy which are now generally associated with Marxian economics. As such it is often considered distinct and differentiated from the history of imperialism that extends through earlier historic periods and economic formations. J. A. Hobson's liberal critique of the emerging phenomenon has been considered as seminal by many writers on the subject, preceding and influencing Hilferding, Lenin "the principal English work on imperialism" and Luxemburg's formulations and teaching.