V. I.   Lenin

The Ideas of an Advanced Capitalist

Published: Rabochaya Pravda No. 4, July 17, 1913. Signed: W.. Published according to the Rabochaya Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 275-276.
Translated: The Late George Hanna
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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One of the richest and most eminent American merchants, a certain Edward Albert Filene, Vice-Chairman of the International Congress of Chambers of Commerce, is now touring Paris, Berlin and other big European centres to make personal contact with the most influential people of the commercial world.

At the banquets arranged, as is fitting, by the richest people of Europe in honour of one of the American rich, the latter is developing his “new” ideas on the world power of the merchant. Frankfurter = Zeitung,[1] the organ of German finance capital, reports in detail the ideas of this “advanced” American millionaire.

We are experiencing a great historic movement,” he proclaims, “that will end in the transfer of all power over the modern world to representatives of commercial capital. We are the people who bear the greatest responsibility in the world and we should, therefore, be politically the most influential.

Democracy is growing, the power of the masses is growing,” argued Mr. Filene (rather inclined, it seems, to regard those “masses” as simpletons). “The cost of living is rising. Parliamentarism and the newspapers, distributed in millions of copies a day, are providing the masses of the people with ever more detailed information.

The masses are striving to ensure for themselves participation in political life, the extension of franchise, the introduction of an income-tax, etc. Power over the whole world must pass into the hands of the masses, that is, into the hands of our employees,” is the conclusion drawn by this worthy orator.

The natural leaders of the masses should be the industrialists and merchants, who are learning more and more to understand the community of their interests and those of the masses.” (We note in parenthesis that the cunning Mr. Filene is the owner of a gigantic commercial house employing 2,500 people, and that he has “organised” his employees in a “democratic” organisation with profit-sharing, etc. Since he considers his employees hopeless simpletons, Mr. Filene is sure that they are completely satisfied and infinitely grateful to their “father-benefactor” ....)

Wage increases, the improvement of labour conditions, that is what will bind our employees to us,” said Mr. Filene, “that is what will guarantee our power over the whole world. Everybody in the world who is at all talented will come to us to enter our service.

We need organisation and still more organisation—strong, democratic organisation, both national and inter national,” the American exclaimed. He called upon the commercial world of Paris, Berlin, etc., to reorganise international chambers of commerce. They should unite the merchants and industrialists of all civilised countries in a single, mighty organisation. All important international problems should be discussed and settled by that organisation.

Such are the ideas of an “advanced” capitalist, Mr. Filene.

The reader will see that these ideas are a paltry, narrow, one-sided, selfishly barren approximation to the ideas of Marxism propounded over sixty years ago. “We” are great masters at upsetting and refuting Marx; “we”, the civilised merchants and professors of political economy, have refuted him completely!... And at the same time we steal little bits and pieces from him and boast to the whole world of our “progressiveness”....

My worthy Mr. Filene! Do you really believe that the workers of the whole world are actually such simpletons?


[1] Frankfurter Zeitung (Frankfort Newspaper)—a bourgeois daily published in Frankfort-on-Main from 1856 to 1943.

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