|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).
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his alias Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1922 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, Russia and then the wider Soviet Union became a one-party communist state governed by the Russian Communist Party. Ideologically a communist, he developed a variant of Marxism known as Leninism; his ideas were posthumously codified as Marxism–Leninism.
Financial capital is any economic resource measured in terms of money used by entrepreneurs and businesses to buy what they need to make their products or to provide their services to the sector of the economy upon which their operation is based, i.e. retail, corporate, investment banking, etc.
In economics, profit in the accounting sense of the excess of revenue over cost is the sum of two components: normal profit and economic profit. All understanding of profit should be broken down into three aspects: the size of profit, the portion of the total income, and the rate of profit. Normal profit is the profit that is necessary to just cover the opportunity costs of an owner-manager or of a firm's investors. In the absence of this profit, these parties would withdraw their time and funds from the firm and use them to better advantage elsewhere. In contrast, economic profit, sometimes called excess profit, is profit in excess of what is required to cover the opportunity costs.
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".
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
An empire is a sovereign state functioning as an aggregate of nations or people that are ruled over by an emperor or another kind of monarch. The territory and population of an empire is commonly of greater extent than the one of a kingdom.
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).
A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates credit. Lending activities can be performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Due to their importance in the financial stability of a country, banks are highly regulated in most countries. Most nations have institutionalized a system known as fractional reserve banking under which banks hold liquid assets equal to only a portion of their current liabilities. In addition to other regulations intended to ensure liquidity, banks are generally subject to minimum capital requirements based on an international set of capital standards, known as the Basel Accords.
Finance capitalism or financial capitalism is the subordination of processes of production to the accumulation of money profits in a financial system.
In economics, capital consists of assets that can enhance one's power to perform economically useful work. For example, in a fundamental sense a stone or an arrow is capital for a caveman who can use it as a hunting instrument, while roads are capital for inhabitants of a city.
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.
Rudolf Hilferding was an Austrian-born Marxist economist, leading socialist theorist, politician and chief theoretician for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) during the Weimar Republic, almost universally recognized as the SPD's foremost theoretician of his century, and a physician.
The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.
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:
Karl Johann Kautsky was a Czech-Austrian philosopher, journalist, and Marxist theoretician. Kautsky was recognized as among the most authoritative promulgators of Orthodox Marxism after the death of Friedrich Engels in 1895 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
Nationalism is an ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation,, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations, with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland. Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity, and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power. It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history—and to promote national unity or solidarity. Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements. It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism. Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism or socialism for example.
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.
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.
The core–periphery model of global capitalist exploitation, developed by Lenin in the early 20th century, exerted much intellectual influence upon world-systems theory. World-systems theory was developed by the social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein and emphasises world systems of international labour, that divide the world into core countries, semi-periphery countries, and periphery countries. The core–periphery model also influenced dependency theory, whose proponents Raúl Prebisch, Andre Gunder Frank and Fernando Henrique Cardoso propose that natural resources flow from a periphery of poor and underdeveloped countries to a core of wealthy and developed countries, enriching the latter at the expense of the former, because of how the poor countries are integrated to the global economy.
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).
Leninism is the political theory for the organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party and the achievement of a dictatorship of the proletariat as political prelude to the establishment of socialism. Developed by and named for the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, Leninism comprises socialist political and economic theories, developed from Marxism and Lenin's interpretations of Marxist theories, for practical application to the socio-political conditions of the Russian Empire of the early 20th century.
In political science, Marxism–Leninism was the official state ideology of the Soviet Union (USSR), of the parties of the Communist International after Bolshevisation, and is the ideology of Stalinist and Maoist political parties. The purpose of Marxism–Leninism is the revolutionary transformation of a capitalist state into a socialist state, by way of two-stage revolution, which is led by a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries, drawn from the proletariat. To realise the two-stage transformation of the state, the vanguard party establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat, which determines policy through democratic centralism.
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.
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.
Dependency theory is the notion that resources flow from a "periphery" of poor and underdeveloped states to a "core" of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former. It is a central contention of dependency theory that poor states are impoverished and rich ones enriched by the way poor states are integrated into the "world system".
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.
In Marxian economics and preceding theories, the problem of primitive accumulation of capital concerns the origin of capital, and therefore of how class distinctions between possessors and non-possessors came to be.
The theory of state monopoly capitalism was initially a Marxist doctrine 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.
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 Marxist 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.
The ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was Marxism–Leninism, an ideology of a centralised command economy with a vanguardist one-party state to realise the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Soviet Union's ideological commitment to achieving communism included the development socialism in one country and peaceful coexistence with capitalist countries while engaging in anti-imperialism to defend the international proletariat, combat capitalism and promote the goals of communism. The state ideology of the Soviet Union—and thus Marxism–Leninism—derived and developed from the theories, policies and political praxis of Lenin and Stalin.
Uneven and combined development is a concept in Marxian political economy intended to describe dynamics of human history involving the interaction of capitalist laws of motion and starting world market conditions whose national units are highly heterogeneous.
Exploitation colonialism is the national economic policy of conquering a country to exploit its population as labour and its natural resources as raw material. The practice of exploitation colonialism contrasts with settler colonialism, the policy of conquering a country to establish a branch of the metropole (motherland). A reason for which a country might practice exploitation colonialism is the immediate financial gain produced by the low-cost extraction of raw materials by means of a native people, usually administered by a colonial government.
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.