V I Lenin, who was a firm follower of Karl Marx, was a revolutionary who led the Bolshevik Party in the Russian Revolution (1917) that established the modern world’s first socialist state – the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR).
Lenin’s name is associated with a particular interpretation of Marxism which was described as Marxism-Leninism and which was adopted as the official ideology of the USSR. It also serves as the source of inspiration for many communist parties all over the world. Lenin’s thinking about Marxism became quite clear and he systemized his ideas. He is also regarded as the principal figure in the development of Marxism in early 20th century.
Like Marx, Lenin was also a bitter opponent of capitalism. The hard fact is that he criticised capitalism more than Marx did. In his book, “Imperialism, The Highest State of Capitalism”, he writes that imperialism is the final or last stage of capitalism. He says that modern imperialism is different from ancient and medieval imperialism. Ancient and medieval imperialism was the real form of the victorious urges of emperors, while modern imperialism is mainly subject to economic considerations.
Lenin described that modern imperialism happened for three main reasons-
1. Search for a new sphere of investment
2. Which is for a new market
3. Which is for a new source of raw materialism
Lenin also asserted that all three reasons have come out through colonisation. Basically, the underdeveloped countries are the market place for imperial nations.
Lenin has defined imperialism in the following words, “Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.”
Revolution is an existing situation where society will be changed all its way. After this, a new version of the society will be established as compared to the old one.
According to Lenin, imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. He also asserted that once imperialism starts, it can influence political, economic, cultural and social aspects to enter and dominate the State machinery. This is easy and convenirnt for a powerful state only.
Imperialism refers to the policies, practices or processes by which an advanced nation uses its military, political or economic powers to expand its rule and extend its control over backward, distant political communities for the purpose of gaining economic advantage, military, security and international prestige as well as establishing its cultural domination over other nations. Lenin attacked imperialism as it is a method of exploitation. Lenin argued that imperialism was an economic necessity of the capitalist community.
Again, Lenin put faith his thought and opined that when exploitation is more, then the next stage will be revolution. And, shortly after this, conflicts arise. This happens in two ways:
1. Developed country vs under-developed country/dominating country
2. Master class vs poor class in dominated country
By means of imperialism, a powerful country is easily able to dominate another nation or state economically, politically, socially and culturally. It’s a kind of colonialism.
According to Lenin, imperialism will also lead to a conflict between an imperialist nation and its dependent colonies. It will result in a class struggle where the dependent colony will fight for its independence against the imperialist – and hence, imperialism is bound to decline.Lenin exhorted all oppressed nations of the world to unite against their oppressors and play the role of the revolutionary proletariat against oppressive, capitalist nations. This is the struggle against imperialism, which is best known as the Lenin’s concept of revolution.
It should be added that Lenin’s attitude toward imperialism became a source of inspiration for many progressive thinkers and activists all over the world who sought to identify and eliminate all apparent and subtle forms of imperialism.
Lenin’s prophecy has come true. Britain was an imperialist power at the time of World War I. However, after World War II, its imperialist power began to decline. India, Burma, Sri Lanka and many other Asian and African countries gained independence. Like the British colonial empires, French and Portuguese colonial empires have also come to an end.
Political imperialism may have come to an end but the US’ economic imperialism still continues. After the collapse of the USSR, the world has turned into an uni-polar system. The hegemony of the US has became more powerful, and it still continues arguably as the world’s lone power-axis.