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Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism Paperback – November 9, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

V. I. Lenin (18701924) was a leader of the Russian Revolution and wrote extensively on the issues facing the working-class movement of his time.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Martino Fine Books (November 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1614271909
  • ISBN-13: 978-1614271901
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Eugen Lepou on March 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This pamphlet by Lenin was first published 90 years ago in the midst of World War I and on the eve of the Russian revolution.

In this work Lenin sets out to achieve two things; first, to give a concise and scientific explanation of the nature of Imperialism and, secondly, to debate the ideas of influential and long time German Social Democratic Party leader Karl Kautsky who, under the pressure of war helped to lead the capitulation of the majority of his party to the side of the German ruling class.

Advocates for social change familiar with arguments on the "left" blaming the cause of the today's ills on various forms of globalisation, - which is meant to represent a more aggressive and rapacious form of imperialism - will find Lenin's polemic against Kautsky invaluable.

Lenin presents a more than convincing case that what we see today is no more than the normal workings of imperialism and therein lays the source of the problem

Taking in Lenin's five principal features of imperialism starting from the first chapters is essential to understanding his discussion with Kautsky near the end of pamphlet. In fact, it goes a long way to clarifying the world as it is today.
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By CB on August 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the second book I've read by Lenin. This one's short, invective, and theoretically sweet. Could a Marxist ask for more...?

In this book, Lenin is exploring the contradictions inherent in 18th century capitalism, and the resolution capitalism seeks, within its own structures, to resolve the contradiction - or, the negation of the negation - which equals Imperialism. For Lenin, the increased concentration of the means of production, by those who `win' on the `free market' (even if winning means cheating and free market is a misnomer) will rise to a monopoly position. Lenin of course seems spot on about this observation, and this view is now generally accepted, hence trust busting, heavy state regulation, the requirement for too big to fail intervention, etc. Monopoly is a stage of capitalism, we've come to accept it, and Lenin chose to fight against it.

Lenin believes, again rightfully so, that members of an industrial and productive monopoly will begin to sit on the board of directors, intermingle with, and holds strong ties, with monopoly banks, or those that garner profit via `Finance Capital.' Again, this is no surprise today. If you analyze who sits on the board of most of Wall Street's banks, along with GE, Lockheed Martin, Shell, etc, you'll find the same names cropping up. Thus, there is no real democracy in this `free market,' there is influence and oligarchy. A financial oligarchy to be precise.

This oligarch will then be sure to guarantee that finance capital works in its interest, and prevents up-and-comers, from usurping their position, or even damaging their position, as the newest Monopoly Man.
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Format: Paperback
The durability of Lenin's Imperialism no doubt owes as much to the stature of the man as to the accomplishment of the work itself. Lenin drew a distinction between the contemporary (late 18th, early 19th century) imperialism of the European great powers and pre-Capitalist imperialism. "Thus, the beginning of the twentieth century marks the turning point at which the old capitalism gave way to the new, at which the domination of capital in general made way for the domination of finance capital." He argued that monopoly had become the inexorable result of the capitalist system, with the concentration of production into vertically integrated enterprises. Moreover, he argued that the banks had come to play a central role in this new system, "instead of being modest intermediaries they become powerful monopolies having at their command almost the whole of the money capital of all the capitalists...". The financiers and the industrialists had now fused into a complex in which the means of production were socialized but the profits remained private.

This pattern of capitalist development within the state, Lenin argued, was also repeated at the international level. "The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy; it means the crystallization of a small number of financially "powerful" states from among all the rest." This system was predicated on the export of capital by the great imperialist nations, especially Britain. As financiers in the metropolis sought ever-higher returns, they exported capital across the empire, maintaining peripheral states in subjugation via a system of debenture.
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Format: Paperback
Inside the thicket of familiar Communist polemic are some thought-provoking and still-relevant insights.

In the 1990s I used to read The Globe and Mail, and one of my favorite contributors was Donald Coxe, who had a column in the business section. Coxe is an investment analyst and he manages one or more mutual funds of his own. Recently I was reading an interview with him on BullionVault.com, a British website devoted to buying and selling gold, and in the course of it he mentioned this book by Lenin, praising it as a brilliant analysis of how the business machinations of the European powers led to World War I. Intrigued by this recommendation from a capitalist I respected, I took the plunge and bought my own copy of Lenin’s Imperialism.

Now I’ve read it, and while I think that Mr. Coxe overstated the quality of this book, I did find some valuable ideas in it.

First the negatives: this is a Communist tract that is mainly preaching to the converted. It is filled with the typical rhetorical clutter of name-calling, sarcasm, and ad hominem jabs, all of which severely impair the seeming objectivity and credibility of the author. He spends much time excoriating other Marxist authors for their perversion of Marx’s doctrines. And it doesn’t help that Lenin himself went on to become a dictator and a tyrant.

Allowing for all of that, I found the book to be of definite interest. For one thing, Lenin is comfortable with facts and figures, and he presents a number of short tables showing the growth of industrial and then banking monopolies and cartels in 19th-century Europe and America.
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