MSZ (March 1981)
A topical but false classic
Lenin: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
In this series we discuss classics of Marxism that have acquired some esteem in the history of the labor movement and/or the bourgeois sciences: either as an ideological court of appeal or as an exhibit for conditional utility. The old writings are supposed to be given the honor that their statements are immediately taken as settled knowledge – which offers insight into why some are so useful and others so reprehensible. It has been noticeable to us for a long time that exposure to the classics has little to do with whether they are correct or not: that is why they have their ups and downs even with friend and foe! So Capital pleases many a philosopher, The German Ideology a lot of sociologists, Lenin’s What is to Be Done not a single Green – and since the conversion of the PR China from the socialist model into a developing country, nobody wants to know any more about the views of Mao Tse-tung. As a correction, as it were, to this exposure to the honored and hated teachers of revolution as a matter of taste, we would like to advise complete non-commitment to the dogmatic exposure to their ideas, whereby maybe the problem is cleared up whether we are a M-L sect: we believe in nobody, and if L stated something that is correct, it is as dear to us as M…
Lenin’s widely disseminated writing – it entered into the training canon of the ML parties of West Germany in the golden 70s, unlike Marx’s Capital, from which only the chapters on the working day and original accumulation have received such an honor – was written in the middle of the first world war. In view of this fact, what he aims to prove seems rather strange. He wanted to prove
"that imperialist wars are absolutely inevitable under such an economic system, as long as private property in the means of production exists.”
At a point in time when the battle of nations was in full sway, to demonstrate the necessity of wars in a theoretical pamphlet, to state the reasons for the imperialistic resort to violence, with the help of and at the expense of millions of nation- and duty-conscientious people, in private property – this is for a revolutionary a not at all self-evident undertaking. In no case does such a proof turn to the affected persons who are just very practically concerned with killing and dying. It is not agitation, showing to the victims of imperialism that what they think is incorrect junk and that what they wreak is their own damage; it is also not a theoretical message that aims to change the practical position of the class whose interests communists want to assert. How should a discussion about how enormously the contradictions of imperialism intensify under the rule of finance capital be any good as a practical manual for a revolt by those who directly pay for these contradictions?
Lenin’s imperialism theory is a polemical pamphlet of a different kind. It is to be a settling of accounts with the politics of the parties that – as organizations of the workers movement – brokered their peace with the class state and joined the war to enforce its foreign policy demands. The social democratic politicians, who had just agreed to the Basle Manifesto, showed themselves to be eager advocates of their nations’ designs, so that Lenin, “with feelings of the deepest bitterness,” wrote in 1914:"The most influential socialist leaders and the most influential organs of the socialist press of present-day Europe hold views that are chauvinist, bourgeois and liberal, and in no way socialist.”
With his analysis, which is to represent “a composite picture of the world capitalist system in its international interrelations,” he opposed the patent development of formerly communist parties into today’s typical social democracies, parties that compete with reform alternatives for governing the class state. After the major theorists of the Second International, just like scientists from the bourgeois camp, had provided ideologies for leftist nationalism, it was up to Lenin to fundamentally refute these supporters of the class state and its Ministry of Foreign Policy. With a correct theory of imperialism, he wanted to set straight what the socialist parties had to do, what they had to represent, and what illusory objectives they had to correct:
"Unless the economic roots of this phenomenon are understood and its political and social significance is appreciated, not a step can be taken toward the solution of the practical problem of the communist movement and of the impending social revolution.”
Nevertheless, in such methodological remarks, which not only pile up in the Preface, Lenin insists on the fact that communists must know what they line up against; that political decisions have to follow from an understanding of the reasons and purposes of the imperialist goings on and not from hopes and peace ideals. So he polemicizes against Kautsky’s compliment to the politics of capitalist nations that they hold the possibility of peaceful interaction with the rest of the world; he castigates the farewell to class war and the concern for the best political alternative in foreign policy, which is only consistent for a party if it holds protection of peace as a state order:
"The essence of the matter is that Kautsky detaches the politics of imperialism from its economics, speaks of annexations as being a policy ‘preferred’ by finance capital, and opposes to it another bourgeois policy which, he alleges, is possible on this very same basis of finance capital.”
In addition, Lenin addresses here the content of the argument by which he wants to show the necessity for the violent encroachments of capitalist states. For him it lies in the economic laws of motion, the crucial business interests of “finance capital.” These interests and their developing forms determine the course of international disputes – finance capital throws “in the literal sense of the word its nets out over all countries of the world,” and it “also leads directly to the subdivision of the world.”
The reason for imperialism: the economy of modern capitalism
Lenin’s objection against the theorists of opportunism in the Second International – that they separate politics from their economic basis – is the prelude to the analysis of capital and its business conduct, which does not start with politics and its purposes at all. Lenin unstintingly commits to the distinction between economics and politics and to the “orthodox” certainty that the latter consists in nothing other than the execution of the business interests of capital. In this respect, his writing belongs to that branch of Marxist theory which, with the recognition of the “economic base” that “determines” everything else, gets the specific subject matter very consistently out of the way and carries out a backwards “determination” of politics. How the connection of the profit interest of the capitalists and the foreign policy of the ideal total capitalist appears to Lenin is revealed in a few remarks about the relation of the state and capital in imperialism:
“Salvation lies in monopoly, said the capitalists as they formed cartels, syndicates and trusts. Salvation lies in monopoly, echoed [!] the political leaders of the bourgeoisie, hastening to appropriate the parts of the world not yet shared out.”
And on this basis the self-critical regret in the preface is quite superfluous:
“I shall not be able to deal with the non-economic aspects of the question, however much they deserve to be dealt with”
since the deduction of imperialism from monopoly and finance capital is Lenin’s big idea for successfully showing the necessity of annexations and wars between imperialist states as a business process – and, in reverse, international business initiated beyond all state means and actions completes the continuity of capitalist enrichment. Lenin also does not deal with the world market together with the developing forms of foreign policy as a consequence of capitalist private property and its advancement by the class state, but as a transformation of capitalism; and the undeniable service of the class state for national enrichment, which exists as capital, is settled for him – according to the title: imperialism as a stage – by the innovations that he ascribes to capital. Ironically, the methodology following the Marxist credo – the mistake of his wrong views is that one has to understand the “economic roots,” the “separation” of the political superstructure from the economic base – is a strong revision precisely of Marx’s explanation of the economy. This revision begins for Lenin with the discovery of
These are economic structures that revoke competition, which their enormous size allows them to do. On the one hand, for the purpose of demonstrating his discovery that capitalism has fundamentally changed – “competition turns into monopoly” – Lenin refers to statements by Marx about concentration and centralization; on the other hand, he draws completely unusual conclusions from the statement that the size of capital represents a means of business. The suspension of competition is something completely different than its abolition, and that monopoly is the ideal of every entrepreneur still does not mean that this ideal has long been reached by price and marketing agreements. Or to allow Lenin himself to deny it: competition (for the others which are still there, nevertheless!) is difficult and “monopoly” is a tendency:
“Almost half the total production of all the enterprises of the country was carried on by one-hundredth part of these enterprises! These 3,000 giant enterprises embrace 258 branches of industry. From this it can be seen that at a certain stage of its development concentration itself, as it were [!], leads straight [!] to monopoly, for a score or so of giant enterprises can easily arrive at an agreement, and on the other hand, the hindrance [!] to competition, the tendency [!] towards monopoly, arises from the huge size of the enterprises. This transformation of competition into monopoly is one of the most important—if not the most important—phenomena of modern capitalist economy …”
Neither the statistics about the size of companies, nor about the number of firms involved in competition proves the transition to its absence; and still much less is this proved by the agreements between competitors that they use as temporary means for their profit. Lenin also seems to know this, which is why he makes the opposition between “transitory” and “foundational”:But still so many, counted and mentioned by name “monopolist manufacturers’ associations [?], cartels, syndicates,” are not evidence of the “replacement of capitalist free competition by capitalist monopoly,” and if sometimes industrial protective tariffs, which in another time of free trade served as the motor of cartel formation, are explicitly spoken of as a means of competition, Lenin sure enough again elicits from them the “monopoly-capitalist tendency.” He adamantly holds to this tendency, and that inspires him not to explain the logic of it, how the age of monopolies breaks out as “the direct opposite of free competition,” but to a peculiar sort of moralism, to depict the deeds for which he reproaches the monopolies: they attain “super profits,” and if then nevertheless annoying competitors prevent the “direct opposite,” even the sacrifice of profits serves them, by going over to dumping, “throttling those who do not submit to them, to their yoke, to their dictation [!].” Again and again, Lenin succeeds in making clear the absolute lack of solvent demand, the absolute lack of market barriers hindering the monster from the data on competition: in the end, dictation and omnipotence are the rather uneconomic characteristics of monopoly, their recklessness knows no borders, their motto means control – exactly as if love of “free competition,” being the basis of “early capitalism,” had been an assembly of respectful testimonies to humankind:
“instead of being a transitory phenomenon, the cartels have become one of the foundations of economic life.”
“Domination, and the violence that is associated with it, such are the relationships that are typical of the ‘latest phase of capitalist development’; this is what inevitably had to result, and has resulted, from the formation of all-powerful [!] economic monopolies.”
Thereby Lenin praises a very bourgeois man for the term “dominating position,” which he takes from him, although the quoted man speaks of the rule of one industry (!) over another. And this manner of constantly calling on bourgeois witnesses for his discovery of the profound change to monopoly completely corresponds to the bourgeois, and not at all to the revolutionary, rhetoric of Great Men who do what they want, which a Marxist better not follow. But Lenin knows very well how to recite moral denunciation “in a marxist manner.” After once again worrying about competition, he castigates the baseness of monopoly –and he continues to the damage that the monopolies wreak, indeed for the whole society. He takes the ideology of the “elimination of crises by cartels” as the occasion to condemn the “anarchy” of capitalism and assumes the main enemy – monopoly – to function worse:
“In order to prevent competition in such a profitable industry, the monopolists even resort to various stratagems …”
“On the contrary, the monopoly created in certain branches of industry increases and intensifies the anarchy inherent in capitalist production as a whole.”
And who benefits from this damage? Monopoly, of course, at least if concentration is the same as centralization and again the same as monopoly:
“Crises of every kind—economic crises most frequently, but not only these—in their turn increase very considerably the tendency towards concentration and towards monopoly.”
Of course, the capitalism of monopolies only seems properly decadent to a Marxist if it increases the historic advances of capitalism, but nevertheless fails in the end. The result of the monopolies is
“immense progress in the socialization of production. In particular, the process of technical invention and improvement becomes socialized. This is something quite different from the old free competition between manufacturers, scattered and out of touch with one another, and producing for an unknown market … Skilled labor is monopolized, the best engineers are engaged …”
But the beneficial uses of the socialization progress of humankind, nevertheless, do not arrive so properly, despite the overcoming of competition, which Lenin holds for a lack of capital and not for the motor of accumulation and the complaint of capitalists who just rationalize! Certainly, at last, production is ... nationalized, however, the appropriation remains private – and so the “gigantic technical progress” faces absolute “stagnation and decay”:
“Since monopoly prices are established, even temporarily [!], the motive cause of technical and, consequently, of all other progress disappears to a certain extent [!] and, further, the economic possibility [!!!] arises of deliberately retarding technical progress.”
So monopolies accomplish the trick of retarding the progress that they themselves organize, but still unload a huge amount of pressure on the “rest of the population,” and for the epigones half the theory of state monopoly capitalism is already complete. Now only the reproach is needed that the state sticks up for the monopolies instead of, like a real class state would, for the mistreated, in other words for the “underprivileged” – and already the “social revolution” goes onto the stage of ideas on behalf of the “majority” as a way to “anti-monopoly capitalist democracy.”
Thus indeed imperialism has not yet been identified at all, but a new criticism of capitalism was lifted in the name of Marx for baptism. Courtesy of the line issued time and again ever since Engels on social production (good!) and private appropriation (bad!). This popular opposition, which has precious little to do with the contradiction identified in the commodity analysis between private and social labor, is already based in its original version on a high opinion of the social character of production, for which capitalism reaps a big plus mark, although it shares this quality with every mode of production. Its social form of production, the thing with private property, in which wealth confronts its producers as capital and has them work for it, turns into the bad side of capitalism, which like all transient things needs two sides. With Lenin this dialectic — incidentally, the party-line is upside down sociology: “Capitalism is a society,” there is doctrine No 1, “everything is social,” doctrine No 2 and the progressive sociologists imagine that this concern with wanting to observe everything socially follows in Marx’s tracks – emerges to a new stage. Monopoly, which aims to increase private wealth by expelling others, makes everything more social – ultimately it always finds more property for common useful purposes – and in this way private appropriation only rightfully becomes a scandal.
The relationship of entrepreneur and banker is similar. Each alone is already not very nice; if they merge, however, and one becomes the servant of the other – at least in the view of a Marxist – capitalism steps into its imperialist stage. At least, in accordance with Lenin’s famous second characteristic feature,
In the bourgeois credit system, Lenin the imperialism theorist discovers not imperialism, but enough opportunities for him to repeat another objectionable tendency in the capitalist mode of production. As in the section on “monopoly,” the correct statements sometimes explicitly extracted from Marx's Capital about economic processes are no good for this: just as little as the separation of competition and the new quality of monopoly capitalism can be demonstrated from the laws of concentration and centralization, so it is difficult to have an epoch of finance capital dawn by means of the logic of explanations of the relationship of industrial capital and money capital. Therefore headway is achieved in moral condemnation of capitalism by another well-known argument:
“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.”
For a new role of the bank capitalist and his “parasitic” existence, as well as that of the “coupon clippers,” a reproduction of remarks on the separation of money capital and industrial capital are useless; in this connection, incidentally, Marx spoke of the necessity of the division, therefore also of their economic functions: through the credit superstructure, which even in share capital allows the size of a capital to be used as a means of competition very adequately for its assignment, capital obtains the freedom to make itself independent of its investment in a special sphere, whereby also its connection to special persons and its ties to special crafts are removed. Marx was quite indifferent to the fact that bankers and shareholders live off their money capital; rather it seemed interesting to him that they do this at the expense of the working class – and by no means do they differ in this from their industrial colleagues. The moral standard good because useful, applied to the “productive” capitalists, and criticism of the newest conditions of exploitation with that, is known only to a theorist who wants to show the progress of capitalism in the “decline” of its ruling class!
At the same time, the “innovation” consists, as said before, first of all in the usual size of a thing for capitalism. Lenin, who goes around again and again about the “deep” and “deepest” essence of imperialism, discovers in statistics and charts about bank assets and the enormous amounts of circulating securities that which, in view of the magnitudes, makes the new era clear to the reader.
He gives the missing argument for a determination of imperialism, as a Marxist faithful to his claim, in dialectic reading glasses: We have
“detailed statistics which enable one to see to what degree bank capital, etc., has grown, in what precisely the transformation of quantity into quality, of developed capitalism into imperialism, was expressed.”
He lands the third blow with statements from bourgeois economists who make the concerns of a part of the business world their own and deplore its unhealthy developments – by which he would like to have his “conclusions” set into irrefutable facts:
“To enable the reader to obtain the most well-grounded idea of imperialism, I deliberately tried to quote as extensively as possible bourgeois economists who have to admit the particularly incontrovertible facts concerning the latest stage of capitalist economy.”
With the use of these aids one certainly gets astonishing insights about masters and servants within the ruling class. Banks are something different than they appear; namely, they are what they are, quite over-sized, which can be seen in their power:
“When carrying the current accounts of a few capitalists, a bank, as it were, transacts a purely technical and exclusively auxiliary operation. [Now is not possibly, as with Marx, the concept of the bank, no] When, however, this operation grows to enormous dimensions we find that a handful of monopolists subordinate to their will all the operations, both commercial and industrial, of the whole of capitalist society; for they are enabled-by means of their banking connections, their current accounts and other financial operations—first, to ascertain exactly the financial position of the various capitalists, then to control them, to influence them by restricting or enlarging, facilitating or hindering credits, and finally to entirely determine their fate …”
Without the slightest indication as to what is going on between banking and industrial capital when capital is lent and traded with securities, he aims to search for the subject that controls everything and in its omnipotence is responsible for imperialism. One almost starts to pity the nice industrialists in view of the finance capital Moloch. The poor fellows must show their books if they want to prove their creditworthiness – and not that their business is carried out with the help of credit, but that their destiny is completely determined! The simple thought that the bank is also “subject” to the demand for credit and the trend of business for industry, that in the competition between money and industrial capital two departments of the ruling class bring about their economic success and argue over the profit produced, does not even arise here! The decent industrial exploitation of old faces the “dark and dirty” machinations of the banks of today; instead of respectable interest there is “usury” again, which in its moral despicableness ruins the economic role of credit for capitalist production.
Occasionally, one asks in reading this, whether there still are industrialists – the competition between money and productive capital, which surely agrees with both quite well, does not really exist at all for Lenin:
“the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this ‘finance capital’, of a financial oligarchy”
Certainly he also takes the identity in the personnel of banks and industry as evidence that the latest economic stage has made credit and factory disappear and insist, like his epigones, that even the poor class state stands “under the control” of finance capital and “must” go into debt! But the evocation of a ruling authority whose omnipotence takes a terrible toll on the rest of society also requires the existence of victims. Thus there is a “predominance of finance capital over all other forms of capital,” a “supremacy of the rentiers and the financial oligarchy” – a small indication that even the nastiest parasite depends on a victim, just as the deceiving speculator needs something on which to speculate. Which also confirms the foolishness of a doctrine that does not characterize capitalism by its mode of production:
“The characteristic feature of imperialism is not industrial but finance capital.”
Capital export and the subdivision of the world
Imperialism is for Lenin the business of the monopolies. Finance capitalists have everything under control inside the nation – “Germany is governed by not more than 300 magnates of capital” – just as they do abroad, where they indeed come into contact and organize one “imperialist battle between the biggest monopolies over the division of the world.” Thus the theorem deems that every phenomenon of international trade, every contact between states, every war is merely an example of the machinations of the monopolies, merely a “link in a chain” of the “operations of world finance capital.” After Lenin has located the subjects of imperialism, he matter-of-factly stresses and names the purposes and means of their acts:
“The capitalists divide the world, not out of any particular malice, but because the degree of concentration which has been reached forces them to adopt this method in order to obtain profits. And they divide it ‘in proportion to capital’, ‘in proportion to strength’, because there cannot be any other method of division under commodity production and capitalism.”
In this manner the theorist of imperialism shows that he indeed has to clarify economic and political procedures of their own kind — “capital” and “power” — though the clarification of the relationship of economics and politics, in view of the (for him) obvious state of affairs, is considered pure hairsplitting:
“But strength varies with the degree of economic and political development [a fine discovery!]. In order to understand what is taking place, it is necessary to know what questions are settled by the changes in strength. The question as to whether these changes are ‘purely’ economic or non-economic (e.g., military) is a secondary one, which cannot in the least affect fundamental views on the latest epoch of capitalism. To substitute the question of the form of the struggle and agreements (today peaceful, tomorrow warlike, the next day warlike again) for the question of the substance of the struggle and agreements between capitalist associations is to sink to the role of a sophist.”
Certainly, business, exploitation and war by no means relate to each other like form and content, indeed in profit making and warfare completely different subjects are at work – but what is interesting about this! The evidence of colonialism is still no good for the equation politics = “business” of the monopolies; if France and England argue about the occupation of the southern Sahara and Germany gets hold of the Namibian desert as a German southwest; if the English state has good relations with the Portugese; if England maintains trade relations with Argentina or Egypt; if France supplies ordnance to Serbia – “in the end” everything is one and the same. Lenin has the monopolies make their business abroad even in the middle of war, completely as if finance capital regards conquest “of raw material sources yet to be opened” as an investment opportunity and not a mobilization ordered by the state! That is why Lenin’s staunch advocates, if the equation war = “profit” is attacked, always think of the speculation on fictitious accumulation that a state sets in motion when going to war – if not immediately of the arms industry.
What does “the epoch of late capitalism” show to someone who knows finance capital is at work and exposes the political leaders as second fiddles? Just this,
“The epoch of the latest stage of capitalism shows us that certain relations between capitalist associations grow up [that is very certain!], based on the economic division of the world; while [!] parallel to and in connection [which?] with it, certain relations [again!] grow up between political alliances, between states, on the basis of the territorial division of the world, of the struggle for colonies, of the ‘struggle for spheres of influence’.”
Anybody who accepts so much certainty as the wit of Imperialism and can similarly twice imagine the subdivision of the world in this connection, will also find brilliant the historic comparisons which Lenin uses for his stage:
“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.”
This is a serious historical change in the interest in exports, thus in the fact that commodities and capital cross borders between states that organize business, open it up with their power, promote it or, at the very least, hinder it. English colonial history was really no exchange of finished goods for raw materials (who let these raw materials be cultivated and neglected with what means; what were the Indian investors called then, what were they paid with!). Here it happens here nonchalantly as a trade, and for the rule of monopoly Lenin invents investment criteria which allow “backwards countries” to become capitalist markets with low prices:
"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.”
It is incomprehensible why this economy has to go to so-called “backwards countries” in the world market, why capitalists cram their motherlands with industry and still today do not want to use the cheap workers of Africa who are available for 20 pennies per week and they would quite prefer die! That the mentioned countries, owing to the political and economic uses by the capitalist nations, do not yield a “market”; that with the destruction of the traditional modes of production still many South American and Asian people do not become a useful work force; that the export of capital also does not “tend to a certain extent to arrest development in the capital-exporting [!] countries” – all this Lenin could have noticed without living to see how the competition of the monopolies for wonderful investment sites is supplemented by the competition of umpteen nations seeking capital and development assistance. But the simple analysis of the customs that characterize the world market, by which nations ensure the competition of capital, botches the perspective. First, Lenin’s idea that the foreign business dealings of capital are made just like investments at home, and second, are initiated because they are particularly opportune, is only the continuation of his favorite idea that monopoly capitalism has long opposed its own principles. Some of its basic qualities have long turned into their opposite, so that one can talk only of a “parasitic,” “rotting and decaying” capitalism, etc. – in every chapter Lenin tries to make the decadence and overdue days of imperialism convincing. Here, he establishes it with capital exports, the freedom of the imperialist nations, on account of the successful accumulation of wealth – which also equips the state with the necessary faux frais! – to tap the whole world for its economic, political and military usability, to transform it into pure misery:
“The need to export capital arises from the fact that in a few countries capitalism has become ‘overripe’ and (owing to the backward state of agriculture and the poverty of the masses) capital cannot find a field for ‘profitable’ investment.”
Of all things, the phase of colonialism that Lenin experienced should indicate helplessness from a shortage of accumulation. The “striving towards violence and reaction,” according to his own definition of finance capital, should be signs of decline – and every conquest a new expression of the contradictions that intensify and strengthen. How old the theory of the paper tiger is already! In the controversial question of the labor movement, in the matter of
War and peace
Lenin also does not become, because of his “deep” understanding of the political economy of imperialism, the opponent of reformism and bourgeois peace illusions. On the contrary: his belief that finance and monopoly capital represent, on the one hand, the decline of capitalism; on the other, that they therefore act aggressively, become addicted to conquest and dominate the world in order to grab it from everyone else, brings him to his theory of the necessity for war. For the – quite silly – question: “Is peace possible?” the errors in his explanation of the world market even make superfluous any knowledge of the reasons for wars, the developing forms of international business with the specific service of states for capital. War and peace are both considered by him as a means to the same strategy of conquest, the lust for booty; and he even goes so far as to regard peace as the improper mode of competition and determines the competition of weapons as the way to make unmatched monopoly capitalist profits, whose characteristic he does not even seek in the relationship of state and capital. Thus the occupation of any wasteland is listed under the column of extra profit, in case of doubt its “possibility,” and these errors by no means are excused by the facts of colonial conquest. The First World War in any case did not revolve around the conquest of new lands...
The fact that a modern war between imperialistic states – first they challenge each other’s means of sovereignty and then, in the competition of weapons, where there are only military and not commercial “calculations,” their sovereignty itself – must bring material gain, or at least the promise of it, is the revisionist way of maintaining the economic reason for acts of state violence. The fact that in its services for capital, in which the armed forces represent an important weapon of competition even in peacetime, the class state encounters a barrier in another sovereign that no longer can or will perform a mutual “dependence” or “use” – this simple truth, which makes peace so heavy with armaments, followers of Lenin’s imperialism theory still do not want to admit to this day. In exact reversal of the dogma that the war must settle, of all things, the accounts of businessmen, such an enlightened person immediately misses every gain from wars, denies the materialism of the state and proves the “madness” of the path to weapons in the costs of armaments – of course, not without reference to the income of the arms monopoly.
The talk about the folly and madness of war, its wording as a fathomless and useless thing from which nobody, least of all “humanity,” gains anything, measures genocide by the same scale as the economic profitability which determines “the peace” and still applies, according to revisionist teaching, even in war. In so far as Lenin’s epigones are concerned, those who for a decade learned his writing on imperialism and now take part in peace initiatives, are absolutely consistent citizens, but converted revisionists. Because it is always a bourgeois ideology that confronts the state war purpose with, of all things, consideration for what then derails in the course of this, and for whom...
A document of the revisionist philosophy of life
Lenin’s imperialism writing is, certainly not only in this respect, also a little treasure chest of “bourgeois morality,” which hurls righteous and reactionary reproaches against the world of capital and state. And its decades-long success with the state-loyal labor movement around the whole world is based solely on the method of this worldview, which permits no objective judgment:
- Even after the fascist distinction between parasitic and productive capital the epigones do not consider Lenin’s invention of the finance monopolists completely objectionable and the charges impugning them as useless coupon clippers who dupe the good industrialists and fleece the whole society.
- Even less does it cross the minds of the repeaters of Lenin’s theory to discontinue the appeal to the “decaying,” parasitic character of monopoly capitalism. They see themselves, as members of an opposition movement, a group of people actively fighting for a revolution, in conformity with – as they find in Lenin’s teaching – the tendency of historical progress. Overdue capitalism justifies the anti-monopoly-capitalist democracy, the real people's government; the main tendency = “revolution ...” (no wonder; the slow pace of the tendency allows such people to become greens and much worse!)
- Just as popular remains the promise that one only has to point to bad experiences if “peace-loving” people are to work miracles:
"The tens of millions of dead and maimed left by the war … and those two ‘peace treaties’, are with unprecedented rapidity opening the eyes of the millions and tens of millions of people who are downtrodden, oppressed, deceived and duped by the bourgeoisie.”
As if a class state, in the peacetime political preparations for and leadership of wars, does not prove to such friends of peace how it sets up its victims for the successful continuation of its rule! As if writing about the character of imperialism and anti-war agitation would really be necessary if corpses and war films were so eye opening!
And Lenin’s reactionary twist, that “of all people” the working class stoops to the service of monopoly capitalist factories and barracks and campaigns, also enjoys to this day enormous popularity. In the leftist remnants of the movement Lenin’s version of the people's saying “the people have it too good!” survives as the bribery thesis:
"The receipt of high monopoly profits by the capitalists in one of the numerous branches of industry, in one of the numerous countries, etc., makes it economically possible for them to bribe certain sections of the workers, and for a time a fairly considerable minority of them…”
Otherwise the proles are not dragged into war on the side of the government by wage increases, but with wage cuts and the ideology of: “We are comparatively well off!” or from the mouth of Helmut Schmidts: “The people are spoiled!”
If Lenin could not explain the agreement of the European workers and their parties with the war – which in his view only finance capital has an interest in –, wrote a wrong theory of imperialism and could do nothing against the “bourgeoisification” of the communist parties and labor unions, there is no reason to despair. First, there is now a correct explanation of exploitation, imperialism and war. And, secondly, Lenin will forgive us because nationalistic petitions to politicians for peace do not follow from this explanation.