[Marxism] Lenin's "Imperialism" in context
Jscotlive at aol.com
Jscotlive at aol.com
Sun Jun 22 12:51:32 MDT 2008
I wrote an international paper for Solidarity in Scotland last year, when I
was a member. The preamble is relevant to this thread. I'm sorry but I don't
have a link to it, and instead I have posted it below.
Lenin amended Marx’s dictum ‘workers of all lands unite’ to ‘workers and
oppressed peoples of all lands unite’. He did so on the understanding that
with imperialism capitalism had entered a new stage in its development,
involving the exportation of capital and the carving out of new markets for
manufactured goods as domestic production outstripped demand.
This process resulted in the brutal oppression of millions throughout the
developing world. However, despite living in nations where the productive
forces were undeveloped, where the organised and indigenous working class remained
small proportionate to the total population, these colonised peoples proved
that they were able and willing to rise up against the chains of their
oppression. Lenin's advanced thinking in this field was typified in his response to
the Easter Rising of 1916 by Irish revolutionaries against British
colonialism. Whilst most orthodox Marxists in Europe dismissed the rising as no better
than a 'Putsch', Lenin had a different view. He said: "Those who can term
such a rising a Putsch are either the worst kind of reactionaries or hopeless
doctrinaires, incapable of imagining the social revolution as a living
Lenin also viewed anti-colonial struggles taking place in India, Asia, and
throughout the Middle East, as progressive, despite the fact they invariably
came with a religious or ethno-centric integument. Weaken the imperialist
expansion of the industrialised nations abroad and they would be weakened at
home, making it inevitable that the ruling classes would move against the jobs,
wages and conditions of the working class at home as their profits suffered,
leaving the proletariat with no choice other than to rise up and resist.
Thus, Lenin saw the necessity of an alliance between the working class of
the developed nations and the colonised peoples of the undeveloped nations
against a common enemy: capitalism. He also identified inter-imperialist rivalry
as the cause of most wars and conflicts around the world. This is an analysis
which holds true today with regard to the ongoing wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, undertaken by the US ruling class to assert control over the world’s
energy reserves, using their military hegemony to sustain an economic hegemony
threatened by the emerging and rival economies of China, India and the EU.
This brutal process of colonisation, both economic and military, continues,
though now with more emphasis on securing sources of cheap labour and
production costs rather than markets. By increasing the spending power of broad
sectors of the working class domestically, through the easy and wide availability
of consumer credit, and having married this increase in spending power to
the creation of artificial demand through the prevalence of advertising, there
is no longer any need to develop the infrastructure or society of nations in
the developing world beyond the minimum required for production.
The method of colonisation has also changed, with the focus now on economic
control through debt and the control of an indigenous ruling class from the
various imperialist centres, rather than through overt political and military
administration. (note: the fact that the twin military occupations of Iraq
and Afghanistan are ongoing is a consequence of the resistance to those
occupations by the Afghan and Iraqi people. In each case the intention was for a
quick, short military operation to install a puppet government, before leaving
to continue exerting control in the manner described).
Regardless of the method, however, the result is the same: a human
catastrophe for the peoples of the developing world and a sharp increase in poverty in
the developed world.
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