Why is he convinced that this latest stage might lead to wars, depressions, and revolutions? Explain. What parts of Lenin’s analysis do you think Keynes would reject? Explain.
Guide on the essay 2
Please write a FIVE-Page essay. FOUR of the FIVE PAGES should be a detailed summary of Lenin’s views of mature capitalism from Lenin’s Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. In the FIFTH page of the essay, compare and contrast Keynes’s theory of mature capitalism (from Keynes’ Economic Consequences of the Peace, chapters 1 and 2 with that of Lenin. In this last part, choose one or two points to compare and tell which of their arguments you find most compelling and why.
1. Lenin Question
In Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin argues that the maturation of capitalism by the eve of World War I transforms the developed capitalist countries. Moreover, he believes these developments alter the relationship between the advanced capitalist powers and the developing world. Explain each of the five features which Lenin believes characterizes this latest stage of capitalist development. Why is he convinced that this latest stage might lead to wars, depressions, and revolutions? Explain.
What parts of Lenin’s analysis do you think Keynes would reject? Explain.
Lenin wrote Imperialism in the first half of 1916, while in exile in Switzerland. The historical and political context is important to understanding the significance of the work. World War I was a momentous event, which plunged the international labour movement into crisis, as the workers’ leaders failed to analyse it correctly and to politically arm the working class to fight the brutal imperialist war.
Many of the leaders of the Second International, who had capitulated to social chauvinism, portrayed imperialism as simply a “bad” policy implemented by one or another country’s capitalist government, or a consequence of nationalistic attitudes. In Imperialism Lenin cut through this confusion and politically rearmed the most advanced workers with a materialist analysis of how predatory wars, annexationism, etc. flowed directly from capitalism in its monopoly stage.
He outlined the processes through which the “old” capitalism, characterised by free market competition, has been replaced by imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. Imperialism is characterised by the domination of monopolies and finance capital on an international scale, with the export of capital leading to the big imperialist powers carving up the world.
That competition would eventually give way to monopolistic domination was something that Marx and Engels had predicted in advance. The fact that Marx and Engels’ predictions were borne out by history is a testament to the strength of the dialectical materialist method and to the continuity of theory stretching from the founders of scientific socialism to Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
Throughout the book, as he outlines his analysis of imperialism, Lenin also attacks petit-bourgeois reformists and social chauvinists like Kautsky for their failure to provide a Marxist explanation of imperialism, and consequently their failure to take an independent working class position on the eve of WWI, which was the ultimate betrayal that killed the Second International.
Imperialism remains a vital theoretical tool for Marxists to cut across confusion on this question within the labour movement. All around the world the correctness of Lenin’s argument is proven as the balance of forces between imperialist powers – declining American imperialism and rising Chinese imperialism in particular – is laying the basis for new struggles for markets and spheres of influence, reflected in growing tensions, trade wars, proxy wars, etc.