Tuesday, October 25, 2016

On The 100th Anniversary Of Lenin's Imperialism: The Highest Stage Of Capitalism

On The 100th Anniversary Of Lenin's Imperialism: The Highest Stage Of Capitalism

Workers Vanguard No. 1091
3 June 2016


Imperialism and Capitalist Plunder
(Quote of the Week)
This year marks the 100th anniversary of V.I. Lenin’s 1916 work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Written amid the carnage of World War I, Lenin’s pamphlet was a pioneering Marxist analysis of the origin and workings of capitalist imperialism. For Leninists, the development of imperialism underscores the urgent need for an internationalist revolutionary party to lead the proletariat to power and root out the decaying capitalist order.
It is characteristic of capitalism in general that the ownership of capital is separated from the application of capital to production, that money capital is separated from industrial or productive capital, and that the rentier who lives entirely on income obtained from money capital, is separated from the entrepreneur and from all who are directly concerned in the management of capital. Imperialism, or the domination of finance capital, is that highest stage of capitalism in which this separation reaches vast proportions. The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the predominance of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy; it means that a small number of financially “powerful” states stand out among all the rest....
Typical of the old capitalism, when free competition held undivided sway, was the export of goods. Typical of the latest stage of capitalism, when monopolies rule, is the export of capital....
On the threshold of the twentieth century we see the formation of a new type of monopoly: firstly, monopolist associations of capitalists in all capitalistically developed countries; secondly, the monopolist position of a few very rich countries, in which the accumulation of capital has reached gigantic proportions. An enormous “surplus of capital” has arisen in the advanced countries.
It goes without saying that if capitalism could develop agriculture, which today is everywhere lagging terribly behind industry, if it could raise the living standards of the masses, who in spite of the amazing technical progress are everywhere still half-starved and poverty-stricken, there could be no question of a surplus of capital. This “argument” is very often advanced by the petty-bourgeois critics of capitalism. But if capitalism did these things it would not be capitalism; for both uneven development and a semi-starvation level of existence of the masses are fundamental and inevitable conditions and constitute premises of this mode of production. As long as capitalism remains what it is, surplus capital will be utilised not for the purpose of raising the standard of living of the masses in a given country, for this would mean a decline in profits for the capitalists, but for the purpose of increasing profits by exporting capital abroad to the backward countries. In these backward countries profits are usually high, for capital is scarce, the price of land is relatively low, wages are low, raw materials are cheap.
—V.I. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)

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