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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Why Marxists warn and fight against imperialism

I’m currently reading Lenin’s excellent work on Imperialism the highest form of capitalism. What a fantastic piece I must say to someone still getting to grips with Marxism and learning about the world and how it really works this piece has been a really top read.

Imperialism is as Lenin quite rightly points out is the heights form of capitalism it is born out of monopoly capitalism which arises as a contradiction to the so called free market. It’s the domination of capital on an international scale breaking out of its national confines to invade and plunder foreign markets in pursuit of greater profits and to see off the competition as much like capitalism does on the national scale.

Imperialism. Imperialism is the epoch of finance capital and of monopolies, which introduce everywhere the striving for domination, not for freedom. Whatever the political system, the result of these tendencies is everywhere reaction and an extreme intensification of antagonisms in this field. Particularly intensified become the yoke of national oppression and the striving for annexations, i.e., the violation of national independence (for annexation is nothing but the violation of the right of nations to self-determination).
This piece which Lenin wrote highlights the role imperialism plays on the world stage and the view which Marxists take towards it. The current state of imperialism is a very interesting thing from what I can understand American and British imperialism would appear to be in decline with the rise of German and Chinese imperialism on the rise in its influence and market share. Germany has done well off the back of the Euro one of the few countries powering ahead still in the world although this cannot last it is for now holding great sway over much of Europe and beyond in some cases. China due to its huge growth in the last period has enabled it to enter new markets in Africa and other parts of Asia Taiwan Malaysia etc. It is the so called strength of eastern imperialism including China which capitalists worldwide hope will pull their system out of this deep crisis it is unlikely to do so as China itself is now slowing and cooling off its growth nod a repeat of the 2008 pumping of the economy by a estimated 12 % of GDP in China is simply not possible any longer. This is a desperate stage for capitalism where it goes from here they have no idea the thinkers part of this system. Hense I think imperialism in the US and the UK for example has taken a beaten of late. The fact that Egypt and Tunisia which were both backed by Imperialism for many years have seen their regimes crumble at the force of the working class is proof that imperialism is not indestructible and immune to crisis’s and defeat. The imperialist backed invasion of Iraq by Western troops in 2003 to remove Sadam Hussein now looks a shattered idea as the idea that only imperialist forces can bring down a dictator has been blown wide out of the water.

The mass’s when they unite and bring dictators to their knees such as in Egypt although not a fully developed situation there now with the SCAF still holding the power there shows that workers and the mass’s are finding their voices and their power which has laid dormant for years is now finally being realised again.

The fight against imperialism has to be international much like the struggle for socialism. A national struggle will always be supported by other workers around the world as we all face the same oppression but a global effort to replace capitalism is what is needed more. Ending capitalism will bring an end to imperialism and exploitation. Growing ideas and building the ideas of Marxism around the globe is key to understanding imperialism. Reading Lenin and Trotsky on the matter is very helpful too I’m still learning and always will be learning. Understanding the way capitalism works and doesn’t work is key to bein a Marxist but applying it to the class strugglea and a programme for winning workers to the ideas to change society is far more important though. This is what the socialist party does day to day and will continue to do to realise a better more equal society for the 99%.


  1. Do you think so? Most Marxist economists since the 1970's, and certainly 1980's believed that "Imperialism" was one of Lenin's poorer pieces. Bill Warren, for example, says in "Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism", that for Lenin, it is rather sloppy, and that it is so full of caveats that it can only be seen for what it is, a provisional draft, written during WWI, largely for propagandistic purposes.

    Lenin, relied hugely on the work of British Liberal economist Hobson for much of thee data, certainly in relation to Monopoly etc. He also borrowed heavily from Hilferding in relation to the concept of "Finance Capital", which was really a German phenomenon, and could not be applied to the world's largest, and least monopolised economy, Great Britain.

    Moreover, the idea that the world was being divided up into Colonial Empires as a consequence of the development of such Monopolies, of the fact that Capital had to provide protected markets, and sources of raw materials was clerly unsustainable. The colonial Empires, of Britain, France, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands had largely been built before industrial Capitalism even got going, let alone the Monopolisation of that industrial Capitalism!

    In the 1920's, Stalinism removed all of the caveats of Lenin's work, in order to justify reactionary ideas such as the "anti-monopoly alliance", which lenin specifically attacks when Kautsky raised similar ideas. They did so in order to justify the establishment of Popular Fronts with all sorts of National Bourgeoisies against "Imperialism", in order to further the strategic interests of the USSR, and the idea of "Socialism In One Country".

    The idea that Capitalism had reached its zenith, and Imperialism represented its period of decay, that Capital needed to carve up the world into separate Empires was roundly disproved by history. From the start, the majority of Capital was exported, not as lenin expected to these Colonial outposts, but to other developed, indeed "Imperialist" economies.

    Where, industrial Capital was exported to developing economies, then as Warren suggests, and consistent with the views of Marx, the overall result was on average progressive. It developed the productive forces, including the working-class, which is the precondition for establishing Socialism.

    In the pots-war period, instead of Imperialism furthering the process of Colonial enslavement, there was the greatest release of slaves ever, and in part it was due to the major "Imperialist" power, the United States, demanding that the old Colonial Powers gave up their Empires. Not out of any altruism, of course, but because the expansion of multinational capital required it.

    "Imperialism" contains some good ideas about not supprting reactionary programmes that seek to hold back Capitalist development - in fact most of the ideas, that Stalinism and sections of the reformist Left fail to learn - but, overall it is a 90 year old propaganda pamphlet, that was largely wrong, and certainly describing a world that was disappearing even at the time it was written.

    It provides little of use for analysing the Imperialism of today.

  2. sorry mate i do not agree that may be your view and your entitled to it but for someone gettign to grips with the ideas for the first tiem its a e excellent pamphlett. Provides some excelent lessons and ideas to take the fight forward.