MIA > Archive > Mandel E. Germain The Marxist Theory of Imperialism and its Critics (August 1955) From Two Essays on Imperialism, New York 1966.
Transcribed by Joseph Auciello.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive. Introduction Since the spring of 1916 when Lenin wrote his pamphlet Imperialism, that work has been a focal point of discussion by both Marxists and non-Marxist political economists. Many critics have attempted to prove that Lenin’s analysis of contemporary capitalism is essentially incorrect; others that it is partially incorrect, but not outdated. Lenin’s “official” defenders in Moscow have tried to prove that every word written in 1916 is still totally valid today, while
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All this he thought represented “the preparations for a general industrial war for the domination of the world market.” Lenin began with these remarks by Engels in developing his theory of the imperialist struggle for the division and re-division of the world market, as well as his theory of the workers’ aristocracy. The Theory of Imperialism by Karl Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg The most “obvious” phenomenon of the new period in the history of capitalism, which opened with the last quarter of the 19th century, was undoubtedly the series of wars and expeditions, the creation or the expansion of colonial empires: the French expeditions to Tonkin (now Vietnam), Tunisia and Morocco; the conquest of the Congo by Leopold II; the British expansion to the boundaries of India, Egypt and the Sudan, East and South Africa; the German and Italian expansions in Africa, etc. This colonial expansion stimulated the first efforts by Marxists to interpret the development of this period of capitalism. Karl Kautsky emphasized the commercial reasons for imperialist expansion. According to him, industrial capital cannot sell the whole of its production within an industrialized country. In order to realize surplus value, it must provide itself with markets made up of non-industrialized countries, essentially agricultural countries. This was the purpose of the colonial wars of expansion and the reason for the