Super-exploitation in the Third World results in super-profits for imperialist companies

by Sam King

Almost 100 years after it was written, Lenin’s classic Marxist theory of imperialism, principally articulated in his book Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism[1] remains the best framework to understand capitalism’s international political economy. Subsequent capitalist development shows the key aspects of Lenin’s thesis to be correct. Just as the basic ideas of Marx’s Capital have been proven correct by developments in contemporary capitalism, so too, have all the fundamentals of Lenin’s theory of imperialism. It remains an essential starting point for understanding the principal international developments today, such as“globalisation” and the “rise of China”.

This article is divided into three parts. The first outlines Lenin’s theory and the key ideas necessary to apply it in today’s conditions. The final section applies the Leninist theoretical framework to show that China is not a rising imperialist power, and that even its full development as a capitalist economy is blocked by imperialism.Before looking at China, however, it is necessary to dispense with misunderstandings that prevent Marxists from grasping Lenin’s theory and encourage us to dismiss Lenin as wrong, dated or marginal. There are many distorters of Lenin. Marxist academics, on the whole, are as guilty of this as any party.[2] However, ideas held by politically active Marxists have the most important consequences. The International Socialist tendency (IST) is the strongest active Marxist tendency in the English-speaking world today (outside India). Thus the second section focuses on misunderstandings within that tradition and of various writers at one time associated with it.

Lenin’s theory in the 21st century

Lenin’s theory of imperialism revolves primarily around the systematic exploitation of the poor economies by monopoly capital based principally in the rich economies. Within Lenin’s framework, inter-imperialist wars are secondary to exploitation of the poor economies, as these wars are ultimately about redrawing the terms and conditions of that exploitation.

For Lenin, the key to understanding imperialism is monopoly. He argued: “If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism. Such a definition would include what is most important”.[3] Lenin outlined five principal features characterising imperialism at the beginning of the twentieth century. Monopoly is at the core of all five. They were Read the rest of this entry »

Trends in World Debt

Posted: September 29, 2016 by Admin in Economics, World economy

by Tony Norfield

The reality of a global economy is shown by close connections in trade and investment, and is reflected in similar trends that affect many key countries. One of these trends is the rise in debt held by governments, households and corporations, as borrowing grew to provide the funds to maintain economic activity. After the acute phase of the economic setbacks in 2007-08, the world is now in the chronic phase of stagnant growth. Occasional blips higher look good, and the patient goes for a walk, but the economy is never far from stumbling back into a ditch.

There are individual deviations from the average picture, but each country’s details express the evolution of a world economy. Even though one country may be impacted less, or more, that deviation usually reflects its position in the hierarchy of world economic power. Higher debt levels, or ratios of debt to GDP, are common among the richer countries, especially those that have a privileged position in world finance. After all, they can raise funds from the world market fairly easily since they are the guys in charge and, in the market’s ‘wisdom’, are likely to remain so. Poorer countries have what is called a ‘less developed’ financial system and tend to hold less debt, at least in relation to the size of their economies. This general point is borne out by the data on debt/GDP for those the Bank for International Settlements considers the ‘advanced’ versus the ’emerging’ countries, as shown in the next chart for the period 2000-2015:


Two features of the previous chart stand out: first, the much Read the rest of this entry »

17197454-abstract-word-cloud-for-imperialism-with-related-tags-and-terms-stock-photoWe’ve been a bit tardy in reporting the continuing discussions of the Imperialism Study Group.  Some updates should go up over the next week.

Our next international hook-up will be the second weekend of October, when we’ll be joined by John Smith, the author of Imperialism in the 21st Century.  There is a Redline interview with John, here.

See also our interview with Tony Norfield, a member of the study group and author of The City: London and the power of global finance, here.

And check out the anti-imperialist manifesto produced by the old MidEast Information & Solidarity Collective in 2001, here.











by The Spark

Forty-five years ago, prisoners rebelled in Attica, a New York state prison. The rebellion lasted five days until it was savagely repressed, leaving 31 prisoners and nine guards dead, all shot by the police.

There had been previous revolts in the prisons. From 1950 until Attica, there were some 50 other prison uprisings. But that didn’t prevent a prison official from declaring in 1966, they were “proud, satisfied and happy” with their system.

In fact, as events were to show, the prisons were becoming a breeding ground for revolt.

By 1970, many prisoners had begun to call themselves “revolutionaries.” The black movement and the U.S. war in Vietnam led to political radicalization for many. These attitudes had spread throughout the population, including among prisoners.

A new type of prisoner appeared: those condemned in ordinary criminal cases whose political consciousness Read the rest of this entry »


TVNZ/Colmar Brunton poll, Sept 3-7

by Phil Duncan

The latest Colmar Brunton poll, taken in the first week of this month and issued earlier this week, shows yet another fall in support for Labour, now down to just 26%, with National steady on 48% and the Greens and NZ First rising to 13% and 11% respectively.  Given that National is now almost two-thirds of the way through its third term, one might expect the shine to have gone off the Key-led government and Labour to be ahead in the polls instead of so far behind.  Moreover, Andrew Little is the fourth Labour leader since the party, then led by Helen Clark, lost the 2008 election.  Plus, it’s not as if there aren’t some serious issues which National has been very clearly unable to get sorted – in particular rising house prices, especially in Auckland.

So why can’t Labour get traction?  Is the Labour Party in terminal decline? Should serious leftists be at all concerned?

At the heart of Labour’s electoral woes is the fact that the NZ ruling class likes to have two large parties to do its bidding.  Around them are clustered lesser parties that will enable moderate multi-party governments to be formed, thus guaranteeing political stability.  These are the best political conditions for the capitalist class – they can go about the business of exploiting the working class without having to worry about social, economic and political conflict disturbing the peace.

The two main parties of the capitalist class are, of course, Read the rest of this entry »


Unrest is growing in Ramon prison since Tuesday, 13 September after Kamil Abu Hanish and Nidal Daghlas, imprisoned leaders in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were transferred from the prison.

The transfer of Abu Hanish and Daghlas comes in violation of the agreement of the Israeli prison administration following the 71-day hunger strike of Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed to cancel all punitive measures against PFLP prisoners and leaders. Numerous PFLP prisoners were subject to fines, solitary confinement, lockdowns, denial of family visits and arbitrary transfers as they joined in collective hunger strike protests demanding Kayed’s freedom. Kayed, 34, was imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention imposed upon him after completing a 14.5-year sentence; he ended his hunger strike last month in an agreement ensuring Read the rest of this entry »

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Building the Irish revolutionary movement

Ireland: the class struggle is the source of the national struggle

Building an alternative movement in Ireland: interview with eirigi national chairperson Brian Leeson

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