Lenin Collected Works: Volume 39: Preface by Progress Publishers

Lenin Collected Works:
Volume 39

Preface by Progress Publishers

Volume 39 of the Collected Works contains Lenin's Notebooks on Imperialism, the materials he gathered for his classic Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, written in the first half of 1916. In it, Lenin for the first time gives a profound and comprehensive analysis of the highest stage of capitalism, the inception of which dates to the turn of the century. He shows that imperialism is a development and continuation of the chief characteristics of capitalism, that its economic basis, its very substance, is the dominance of monopoly, that imperialism is the last stage of capitalism. Lenin conclusively proved that, in contrast to the pro-monopoly stage, when capitalism was still on the ascent, monopoly capitalism is parasitic, decaying and moribund capitalism, with all the contradictions of capitalism carried to extreme limits, beyond which begins the socialist revolution.

The historic significance of Lenin's book lies in its economic substantiation of the new theory of socialist revolution. Proceeding from a Marxist analysis of imperialism and the law discovered by him of the uneven economic and political development of capitalist countries, Lenin scientifically proved that in the era of monopoly capitalism the simultaneous victory of the socialist revolution in all or in most civilised countries was impossible, but that it was fully possible, and inevitable, first in several countries, or even in one country. Lenin's theory of the socialist revolution is an immense contribution to Marxism; it equips the working class of all countries with a clear and precise programme of struggle for liberation from imperialism, for the victory of socialism. The great power and vitality of Lenin's theory of the socialist revolution has been confirmed in practice by the experience of the proletarian revolutions in Russia, China and other countries of Europe and Asia, which now form the world socialist system.

Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism was the fruit of tremendous and intense labour. Striking evidence of this is the Notebooks on Imperialism, the mass of varied preparatory material that went into the writing of the book. Marx, it will be recalled, used a vast amount of factual material in working on Capital. Studying capitalism in the new era of history, Lenin also analysed and generalised a vast amount of data on the most diverse problems. He drew his data from hundreds of books, theses, pamphlets, magazine and newspaper articles, and statistical reports. The Notebooks contain extracts from 148 books (106 in German, 23 in French, 17 in English and two translations into Russian), and 232 articles (of which 206 in German, 13 in French and 13 in English) from 49 periodicals (34 German, 7 French and 8 English).

Although the Notebooks are not a work in its final form, they are of immense scientific value and represent an important contribution to Marxist political economy. The wealth of material brought together in the Notebooks provides a closer picture of monopoly capitalism, and supplements and elucidates the principal theses of Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.

The great scientific and cognitive value of the Notebooks is that they reveal Lenin's method of scientific work, his approach to the material under investigation—economic and historical facts, and statistical data. The Notebooks show us the methodology of Lenin's analysis, his research technique. The preliminary materials showing how Lenin drew up the plan for his Imperialism will be read with great interest. They trace the full process, from the first rough draft (or subject-outline), with an approximate enumeration of the problems, to the final research plan, with its detailed structure of the book and summarised contents of each chapter (see this volume, pp. 116-17, 196, 201-02, 230-43).

In the Notebooks Lenin meticulously traces the emergence and development of the principal features of monopoly capitalism: concentration of production and capital, which has reached such a high level as to create monopolies that play a decisive role in economic life; the merging of bank capital with industrial capital and the rise of a financial oligarchy; the export of capital, which, as distinct from the export of commodities, has acquired exceptional importance; the formation of international monopolist associations of capitalists; the completion of the territorial division of the world by the biggest capitalist powers and their struggle for its redivision; the progressive parasitism and decay of capitalism. Lenin shows that the omnipotence and domination of finance capital and the monopolies is characteristic of imperialism. Reaction in .every sphere is its political feature. Lenin reveals, against a massive background of factual material, the profound contradictions of imperialism.

To do this, Lenin draws on all available international literature on economics and technology, modern history, geography, politics, diplomacy, the labour and national liberation movements in the era of monopoly capitalism. No country, no branch of the economy, or of social policy and politics, remain outside his field of vision. He made a close study both of economic and historical monographs on the main development trends in the capitalist countries, and of small magazine and newspaper articles on particular problems. All these numerous and diverse sources are critically assessed and analysed to produce a firm and reliable foundation of facts and figures for a comprehensive substantiation of his theoretical propositions and conclusions about imperialism.

In his study of the monopoly stage of capitalism Lenin used sources reflecting diverse trends in economic science— books by bourgeois and petty-bourgeois economists and statisticians, historians and diplomats, financial experts and parliamentary leaders, reformists and revisionists. But in using these sources, and selectively drawing on their rich factual data, Lenin exposes the bourgeois ideologists and reformist. apologists of imperialism and their pseudo-scientific views.

After working through the “half-thousand pages” of Professor Robert Liefmann's Holding and Financing Companies, Lenin remarks: “The author is a double-dyed idiot, who makes a great fuss about definitions—very stupid ones—all revolving around the word 'substitution'. His factual data, however, mostly quite raw, are valuable” (see p. 373 of this volume). Lenin used Liefmann's statistical data, checked against and supplemented from other sources, in his Imperialism to illustrate the growing concentration of production and the growing incomes of the top monopolies. Of Schulze-Gaevernitz, the out-and-out apologist of German imperialism, the author of British Imperialism from which he made copious notes, Lenin wrote: "Scoundrel of the first order arid vulgar to boot, Kantian, pro-religion, chauvinist,—has collected some very interesting facts about British imperialism and has written a lively, readable book. Travelled in Britain arid collected a mass of material and observations. You've done a lot of plundering, you British gentlemen; allow us, too, a bit of plundering—--with Kant, God, patriotism, and science to 'sanctify' it--such is the sum and substance of the position of this 'savant'!! (Also a lot of needless verbiage)" (ibid., p. 446). Lenin used the factual material in his Imperialism.

The Notebooks show how, from the welter of material in the numerous sources he used, Lenin selected trustworthy data on fundamental and typical phenomena of monopoly capitalism. "...a host of unnecessary and boring details; I omit them"—he writes about one hook (p. 99). About another he remarks that it contains “a most painstaking summary of very rich data ((a mass of basic figures)).... I select the most important” (p. 474). In many cases Lenin compiles his own summaries and tables from scattered data. When studying any book Lenin takes special note of the sources used in it and afterwards examines and checks them.

The Notebooks set out detailed factual and statistical data characterising the principal features of the monopoly stage of capitalism. They contain revealing admissions by bourgeois experts of all countries concerning the new developments in the capitalist economy. All these materials, Lenin points out, are necessary “to enable the reader to obtain a more rounded-out idea of imperialism” (present edition, Vol. 22, p. 267).

The Notebooks contain important data on monopoly capitalism in Russia. Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism was intended for legal publication and Lenin therefore had to discuss Russian imperialism, and in particular the tsarist government's predatory policy, “with extreme caution, by hints, in an allegorical language—in that accursed Aesopian language—to which tsarism compelled all revolutionaries to have recourse whenever they took up the pen to write a 'legal' work” (ibid., p. 187). The Notebooks were not trammelled by censorship arid in them Lenin cites, appraises and comments on numerous facts relating to various aspects of Russian imperialism. This is a very valuable supplement to his remarks about Russia in Imperialism.

In analysing the highest stage of capitalism, both in the Notebooks and in Imperialism, Lenin uses mostly factual data and statistics of the period preceding the First World War. More recent and present-day data on the capitalist economy fully confirm Lenin's analysis of imperialism, its principal features and development trends, and convincingly demonstrate the growth of monopoly dominance and oppression, the progressing parasitism and decay of capitalism, the accentuation and deepening of its contradictions.

The Notebooks are a brilliant example of partisanship in science, a basic feature being their militant, attacking approach to bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideologists, reformists and revisionists. Lenin makes a point of exposing Kautskyism; he sharply criticises the lackeys of imperialism parading as Marxists. The Kautskyites glossed over the contradictions of imperialism, sought to whitewash capitalism, and were “in favour of a cleanish, sleek, moderate and genteel capitalism” (see p. 116 of this volume). Lenin shows that “finance capital does not abolish the lower (less developed, backward) forms of capitalism, but grows out of them, above them”, and that “finance capital (monopolies, banks, oligarchy, buying up, etc.) is not an accidental excrescence on capitalism, but its ineradicable continuation and product” (p. 196).

Lenin's scientific analysis of imperialism, confirmed by the reality of contemporary capitalism, fully exposed the fallacious and reactionary Kautskyite theory of ultra-imperialism. The Notebooks show that the opportunists and revisionists, instead of fighting to overthrow imperialism, strive for reconciliation with capital; they distort the essential character of imperialism as the highest and last stage of capitalist development, as the period of the decline of world capitalism. “The struggle against imperialism without breaking with and combating opportunism is deception," Lenin wrote in an outline plan for his Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (p. 241).

In our day, too, the Notebooks are a potent weapon of revolutionary Marxism. They help the Communist and Workers' Parties combat the ideology of imperialist reaction and all manifestations of modern reformism and revisionism. In this era of transition from capitalism to socialism, when the socialist system is successfully competing with the obsolescent capitalist system, the defenders of the old order exert every effort to embellish capitalism, divert the masses from active struggle for socialism, and infect them with reformist ideas of collaboration with capital. The imperialists .encourage every manner of theory and plan for “reconstructing” and reforming capitalist society. Their aim is to perpetuate it under the guise of “people's capitalism” or “democratic socialism”. And in this they are aided by the modern revisionists, who repeat the bankrupt ideas of Kautskyism and try to excise the revolutionary soul of Marxism. Declaring that Marxism-Leninism is “obsolete”, they oppose the socialist revolution and the dictator ship of the proletariat. Distorting reality, they maintain that modern capitalism has undergone a radical change—the proletariat, they allege, is no longer an oppressed and exploited class, and the capitalists have become working people. The antagonism between labour and capital, the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, we are told, have been replaced by peace and co-operation, and capitalist society is on the way to prosperity and “universal well being”. For revolutionary Marxists the Notebooks are a guide and model of scientific criticism and exposure of these latter-day theories about the conversion of imperialism into “people's capitalism” and its peaceful evolution into socialism.

The plans and outlines of some of Lenin's articles and lectures during the First World War, included in this volume, complement the material of the Notebooks and are of especial value for an understanding of Lenin's theory of imperialism and socialist revolution. In the Preface to the first edition of his Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (dated April 26, 1917), Lenin refers the reader to his articles of 1914-17, published outside Russia. Appearing in the uncensored Party press, they substantiate and develop the propositions that imperialism is the eve of the socialist revolution, that social-chauvinism (socialism in words, chauvinism in deeds) is a complete betrayal of socialism and defection to the bourgeoisie, that the split in the labour movement is inseparably connected with the objective conditions created by imperialism, etc.

The present volume includes Lenin's twenty notebooks on imperialism together with miscellaneous notes written between 1912 and 1916. They were first published in 1933-38 in Lenin Miscellanies XXII, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI. Notebook "δ" ("Delta"), which was discovered later, was first published in 1938 in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 9, pp. 171-84. All the Notebooks were put out in a separate volume in 1939.

The first fifteen notebooks, numbered by the letters of the Greek alphabet, are here given in the order followed by Lenin. He used them in the plan for his book on imperialism, as indicated in Notebook “v” ("Gamma") (pp. 230-43 of this volume. Lenin's references to the pages of the Notebooks are followed by the corresponding pages of this volume, given in square brackets). The material of these fifteen notebooks was extensively used in the writing of Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. The other five notebooks were not numbered by Lenin and are here published after the numbered ones in chronological order. In addition to the notebooks, the present volume contains miscellaneous notes made by Lenin in 1912-16. Directly connected with the Notebooks, they continue Lenin's elaboration of the theory of imperialism. They were published in Lenin Miscellany XXIX and, partly, XXX.

Compared with the preceding 1939 edition of the Notebooks, the section “Miscellaneous Notes, 1912-16" has in this volume been supplemented by the following items: 1) E. Corradini, Italian Nationalism; 2) Nitti, Foreign Capital in Italy; 3) B. Liefmann, “Does the War Bring Socialism Nearer?"; 4) Conrad's Jahrbücher, 1915, No. 2, August; 5) Papers of the Society for Social Policy; 6) “Social Imperialism and Left Radicalism”; 7) E. Rappard, Towards National Agreement; 8) A Good Summary of Comparative Figures; 9) A. B. Hart, The Monroe Doctrine; 10) Eug. Philippovich, Monopolies. Several items have not been included in this edition as having no direct relation to the subject.

Lenin made all extracts in the language of the original. With the exception of the notebooks “κ” ("Kappa"), “Brailsford”, “On Marxism and Imperialism”, “Imperialism”, and also, in part, the notebooks "ζ" ("Zeta") and “λ” ("Lambda"), which were made by N. K. Krupskaya on his instructions, all excerpts were made by Lenin personally.

All the headings in the Notebooks were given by Lenin. Excerpts from books, articles, outlines and source references are given separate headings taken from Lenin's contents table to each notebook, or from the text of the excerpts.

Lenin's arrangement of the material, his marginal notes, underlinings, etc., are fully reproduced in this volume by type variations: a single underlining by italics, a double underlining by s p a c e d   i t a l i c s, three lines by heavy Roman type, and four lines by s p a c e d   h e a v y   R o m a n   t y p e. A wavy underlining is indicated by heavy italics, if double—by s p a c e d   h e a v y   i t a l i c s.

The entire text has been rechecked with Lenin's manuscripts and the original sources. Any inaccuracies discovered in the deciphering of the manuscripts, or in checking with the original sources, have been corrected.

All the statistical data have been rechecked and are here given in full accordance with the manuscripts. Apparent inexact figures of totals, differences and percentages, which occur in some cases, have been left unchanged, since they are due to the figures being rounded off by Lenin.

Numerous references to Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism and to other Lenin's works are given in footnotes. This helps to bring out the close connection between the Notebooks and Imperialism and clearly shows how Lenin used his vast fund of preparatory material in his scientific study of imperialism.

Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.

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