Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
Chapters I, V, VI, VIII, IX, X
Lenin (1870 – 1924) was a Russian revolutionary and the first head of the Soviet state.
This essay was written during the First World War and just prior to the Russian
Revolution of 1917.
During the last fifteen to twenty years, especially since the Spanish-American War
(1898) and the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902), the economic and also the political
literature of the two hemispheres has more and more often adopted the term
“imperialism” in order to describe the present era. In 1902, a book by the English
economist J. A. Hobson,
was published in London and New York. This
author, whose point of view is that of bourgeois social-reformism and pacifism which, in
essence, is identical with the present point of view of the ex-Marxist, Karl Kautsky, gives
a very good and comprehensive description of the principal specific economic and
political features of imperialism. In 1910, there appeared in Vienna the work of the
Austrian Marxist, Rudolf Hilferding,
(Russian edition, Moscow, 1912).
In spite of the mistake the author makes on the theory of money, and in spite of a certain
inclination on his part to reconcile Marxism with opportunism, this work gives a very
valuable theoretical analysis of “the latest phase of capitalist development”, as the
subtitle runs. Indeed, what has been said of imperialism during the last few years,
especially in an enormous number of magazine and newspaper articles, and also in the
resolutions, for example, of the Chemnitz and Basle congresses which took place in the
autumn of 1912, has scarcely gone beyond the ideas expounded, or more exactly,
summed up by the two writers mentioned above.
Later on, I shall try to show briefly, and as simply as possible, the connection and
relationships between the
economic features of imperialism. I shall not be able
to deal with the non-economic aspects of the question, however much they deserve to be
dealt with. References to literature and other notes which, perhaps, would not interest all
readers, are to be found at the end of this pamphlet.
I. CONCENTRATION OF PRODUCTION AND MONOPOLIES
The enormous growth of industry and the remarkably rapid concentration of production
in ever-larger enterprises are one of the most characteristic features of capitalism.
Modern production censuses give most complete and most exact data on this process.