[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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