13 October 2009


[CU for Thursday, 15 October 2009]

This is the second of a series on Anti-Imperialism, Peace, and Socialism. Therefore we are not only concerned to discover Imperialism, but to see it in its particular aspect of war-mongering. [Image: Lord Kitchener, master of war and lying face of Imperialism]

In Chapter 7 of “Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism” (linked below) Lenin “sums up” in a highly compressed way as to what capitalist imperialism is. In the first paragraph, among other things, he says:

“…the monopolies, which have grown out of free competition, do not eliminate the latter, but exist above it and alongside it, and thereby give rise to a number of very acute, intense antagonisms, frictions and conflicts.”

A little later on Lenin writes: “… politically, imperialism is, in general, a striving towards violence and reaction.”

South Africa has seen Imperialism in all its aspects, but especially in war. It was the Anglo-Boer war of 1899-1902 that announced Imperialism’s intentions to the world, as much as the Spanish-American War of 1898 did, or the defeat of the Khalifa Abdallahi's forces at Omdurman by the British under Kitchener in the same year. The system of state-monopoly capital and dominance of the mineral-energy complex over the South African productive economy dates from that time, and it has never been fundamentally changed. To change it will mean a new confrontation with Imperialism.

Imperialism is a system of war. Lenin pours scorn on Kautsky's silly little fable about "peaceful" ultra-imperialism,” calling it “the reactionary attempt of a frightened philistine to hide from stern reality.”

Lenin concludes:

“The question is: what means other than war could there be under capitalism to overcome the disparity between the development of productive forces and the accumulation of capital on the one side, and the division of colonies and spheres of influence for finance capital on the other?”

The age of Imperialism has been an age of war. From Lenin’s work to that of William Blum’s “Killing Hope” it is clear that Imperialism is an aggressive force which at some stage will have to be confronted. One cannot hope to be exempt from this confrontation.

In “The Nascent Trend of Imperialist Economism” (linked below), Lenin attacks “Imperialist Economism” that is against the right to self-determination and opposed to the struggle for reforms and democracy. Imperialist Economism has “the knack of persistently “sliding” from recognition of imperialism to apology for imperialism (just as the Economists of blessed memory slid from recognition of capitalism to apology for capitalism),” says Lenin.

The Imperialist Economists promoted the idea that socialism was the end-destination of the Imperialist bus-ride, and that all that was necessary was to encourage Imperialism’s progress, in the name of socialism.

In opposition to this particular brand of treacherous liquidationism, Lenin was obliged to re-state the necessity for the right of nations to self-determination (see the third linked document, below), and in due course, after the Russian Revolution, and in the second Congress of the Communist International, to pronounce the policy of National Democratic Revolution (NDR) which we in South Africa still uphold today.

Immersed as we may be in our domestic concerns, we should never forget that the NDR is as much a response to Imperialism as it is a preparation for socialism.

Click on these links:

Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter 7, 1916, Lenin (3696 words)

The Nascent Trend of Imperialist Economism, 1916, Lenin (5218 words)

The Right of Nations to Self-Determination, 1916, Lenin (14196 words)

Report on National & Colonial Question, 2CCI, 1920, Lenin (1983 words)


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