Classic books to read. Imperialism by Lenin

Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism  by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

Full text :


“Lenin saw capitalism evolving into a higher stage. The key to understanding it was an economic analysis of the transition from free competititon to monopoly: “…imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.”

Lenin provides a careful, 5-point definition of imperialism: “(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.”


1 comment
  1. Robert Locke said:

    I read this book for a class in “Colonies in World Politics” in 1954; my introduction to the argument. We also read Schumpeter’s “Imperialism,” which looked at Imperialism as an atavism. In other words Lenin saw Imperialism as the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Schumpeter saw it as an expression of outmoded civilizations. Might add that Lenin’s view was not very original, the idea of finance capitalism having been discussed widely by John Hobson and other socialist. Still, I think after sixty years that Lenin’s view (1916) has been a good description of how finance capitalism operates. The booklet is not long but turgid reading.

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