Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism V.I. Lenin 1916

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“Social-chauvinism (socialism in words, chauvinism in deeds) is the utter betrayal of socialism”

Lenin believed World War 1 was about financial marauding by the more powerful states.

"Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the over-whelming majority of the people of the world by a handful of ‘advanced’ countries."
Primarily function of banks is to serve as intermediaries in making of payments, thus transforming inactive capital into active capital. As banking develops and is concentrated in a small number of establishments the banks become powerful monopolies of money capital, means of production and raw material. Small banks pushed aside by big banks = concentration.

"As long as capitalism remains what it is, surplus capital will never be utilised 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"

Imperialism emerged as a continuation of capitalism. A high stage of capitalism. Freed trade and competition is the fundamental attribute of capitalism but it’s become a monopoly. Imperialism is the monopoly of capitalism.

Thoughts on the book

This is a turgid read. Perhaps due to no frame of reference due to the disparity in time between Lenin and us. We’re living in different eras and there's also the lost in translation phenomenon. Nevertheless, the equation of imperialism with a higher form of capitalism would be relevant today. The wars super-powers embroil themselves in is always about resources, directly of indirectly.

Helpful vocab:
Proletariat – working class regarded as a collective
Concatenations – series of interconnected things
Turgid – congested/swollen
Coolies – [offensive] unskilled labourers from South or East Asia
Appraise – assess the value of