Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Editorial Department of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily)

Chairman Mao’s Theory of the Differentiation of the Three Worlds is a Major Contribution to Marxism-Leninism

The Two Hegemonist Powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, Are the Common Enemies of the People of the World; the Soviet Union is the Most Dangerous Source of World War

The emergence of the two superpowers is a new phenomenon in the history of the development of imperialism. The uneven development of imperialism inevitably leads to conflicts and wars which in turn aggravate this uneven development and give rise today to the predominance of imperialist superpowers over the run-of-the-mill imperialist powers. Lenin said: “Imperialism means the progressively mounting oppression of the nations of the world by a handful of Great Powers; it means a period of wars between the latter to extend and consolidate the oppression of nations.”[1] Today, this handful of imperialist powers has been reduced to only two superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, which are capable of contending for world hegemony, and all the other imperialist powers have been relegated to the status of second- or even third-rate powers. The distinctive features of a superpower are as follows: its state apparatus is controlled by monopoly capital in its most concentrated form, and it relies on its economic and military power, which is far greater than that of other countries, to carry on economic exploitation and political oppression and to strive for military control on a global scale; each superpower sets exclusive world hegemony as its goal and to this end makes frantic preparations for a new world war.

Instances of a couple of great powers trying to gain world supremacy can be cited in the history of imperialism, but they are not in the same league with the Soviet Union and the United States today. The scramble for hegemony between these two countries is the peculiar outcome of the developments following World War II.

In the post-war period, the concentration of U.S. monopoly capital and its expansion abroad assumed startling proportions. As recent statistics show, in 1976 the twelve giant industrial corporations with sales over 10 billion dollars each together accounted for 27 per cent and 29 per cent respectively of the total assets and sales of the 500 largest industrial corporations in the United States; the ten giant commercial banks held 61 per cent of the assets and deposits of the country’s 50 biggest commercial banks.[2] The export of U.S. capital which was highly concentrated after the war has risen by leaps and bounds in the last twenty years or so. While direct private investments abroad stood at 11.8 billion dollars in 1950, they jumped to 137.2 billion dollars in 1976.[3] The high and rapid concentration of monopoly capital formed the economic foundation of the United States as an imperialist superpower. Exploiting the economic and military superiority it acquired in the war, the monopoly it enjoyed over atomic weapons and a wide range of sophisticated military science and technology, the worldwide dollar-centred currency system it set up and the various military blocs it controlled in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Oceania, U.S. imperialism occupied an unprecedented overlord position in the capitalist world, and it had all the other capitalist countries under its thumb. For many years it acted as the world’s gendarme and perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against the revolutionary people (the people of the United States included) and the oppressed nations of the world. But however much this enemy of the world’s people blustered, it had to take crushing blows from the people of Asia in wars of aggression which it thought it could win hands down. The heroic Korean people were the first to explode the myth of U.S. invincibility. In their war against U.S. aggression and for national salvation, the people of Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos plunged U.S. imperialism into military, political and economic crises and hastened its decline. In the meantime, Western Europe and Japan steadily recovered, grew in economic strength and hardened their positions in competing with the United States. Thus U.S. imperialism was obliged to concede that it could no longer have its own way in the world. However, it remains the most powerful country in the capitalist world and is trying its utmost to retain its supremacy.

As the United States got bogged down in wars and its strength began to decline, Soviet social-imperialism came up from behind. The Khrushchov-Brezhnev renegade clique, which had snatched the fruits of the socialist construction carried out by the Soviet people for over 30 years, gradually transformed what had been a socialist power into an imperialist power. It had long been the wish of the imperialists to see the Soviet Union evolve peacefully from socialism to capitalism, but this evolution, resulting in contention for world supremacy in accordance with the law of the uneven development of imperialism, brought them face to face with a formidable and intractable adversary. As we all know, the Soviet revisionist renegade clique has converted a highly centralized socialist economy into a state monopoly capitalist economy which is centralized to a degree unattainable even by the United States. In the ten years during which the United States was mired in its war of aggression in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos, the Soviet Union strove to develop its own strength, narrowed the gap in economic development between itself and the United States and immensely expanded its military power. It has caught up with the United States in nuclear armament and surpassed it in conventional weaponry. As its military and economic power increases, Soviet social-imperialism becomes more and more flagrant in its attempts to expand and penetrate all parts of the world. It makes great play with its ground, naval and air forces everywhere and engages the United States in a fierce struggle for supremacy on a global scale, thus betraying its aggressive ambitions which are unparalleled in world history.

Lenin said that the imperialists divided the world “in proportion to capital,” “in proportion to strength.”[4] It is precisely by flexing their economic and military muscles, which other countries can by no means match, that these two superpowers are seeking world hegemony. In 1976 the GNP of the United States was over 1,690 billion dollars and that of the Soviet Union over 930 billion dollars;[5] together they account for about 40 per cent of the world’s GNP. The value of industrial output in both the United States and the Soviet Union outstrips that of the three major European capitalist countries, West Germany, France and Britain combined. In military strength, no other imperialist country is on a par with either of the two superpowers. Both have thousands of strategic nuclear weapons, several hundred military satellites, some ten thousand military aircraft, several hundred major naval vessels and enormous stockpiles of other conventional arms. In military expenditures both the Soviet Union and the United States far exceed Western Europe, Japan and Canada combined. The war machine of each of the two superpowers in peace-time assumes a magnitude unprecedented in human history.

The Soviet revisionist renegade clique has been trying hard to whitewash itself by saying that while the Soviet Union is a big power, it is not an imperialist superpower. Can this argument be taken seriously? Hasn’t the Soviet Union been carrying on the same kind of imperialist economic plunder, political control and military expansion as the United States?

The United States exploits other countries mainly through exporting capital in the form of overseas investment. According to U.S. official statistics, in 1976 it recouped profits, earnings from patents included, amounting to 22.4 billion U.S. dollars from its direct private investments overseas, the rate of profit exceeding 16 per cent.[6] Such is the sordid record of how U.S. monopoly capital sucks the blood of the people of the world. Although the Soviet Union falls short of the United States in the total volume of profits grabbed from other countries, it is not in the least inferior to the latter in its methods of plunder. It is chiefly through “economic aid” and “military aid” to third world countries that the Soviet Union buys cheap and sells dear and squeezes enormous profits in the process. For example, the Soviet Union has been selling commodities to India in the name of “aid” at prices sometimes 20 to 30 per cent, and even 200 per cent, higher than on the world market. On the other hand it purchases commodities from India at prices sometimes 20 to 30 per cent lower.[7] According to the “Statistics of Soviet Foreign Trade,” the price paid by the Soviet Union for importing natural gas from Asian countries was something like a half of what it charged for exporting it to the West. The same source revealed that the prices of anthracite, pig iron and other commodities exported by the Soviet Union to Egypt were 80 to 150 per cent higher than what it charged West Germany for similar exports.[8] It was reported in the Western press that in the Arab-Israeli War in October 1973, “Russia not only demanded payment in cash for the arms it sold but jacked up their prices when the war reached its height.”[9] After the principal oil-exporting Arab countries paid this sum in U.S. dollars, the Soviet Union used it to extend a Eurodollar loan at an interest rate of 10 per cent or more.[10]

The United States exercises control over the economy and politics of many countries through its transnational corporations and other instruments of aggression. At present, the Soviet Union is carrying on such activities mainly within the “socialist community.” In the name of “international division of labour,” “planned coordination,” “multilateral integration,” “structural integration,” etc., it controls the economic lifelines of many countries and is feverishly engaged in plundering and dominating them: with regard to raw materials, the market, prices in foreign trade, production plans, forced loans and even labour-power for capital construction, and it is trying hard to bring their economies and their “limited” sovereignty completely into the Soviet orbit, so as to establish the “community’s” so-called “international socialist ownership.”[11]

The United States has gone in for selling arms on a world scale in order to extract huge profits from other countries and dominate them. Between 1966 and 1976 it exported arms to the value of 34.9 billion dollars. In the same period and for the same purpose, the Soviet Union sold arms amounting to 20.2 billion dollars.[12] According to data issued by the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, already in 1974 arms sales by the Soviet Union amounted to 5.5 billion dollars, accounting for 37.5 per cent of the world total in that year and making it the second biggest merchant of death after the United States. Furthermore, the Soviet Union endeavours to control its clients by such means as terminating supplies of needed parts and accessories and dunning them for payment.

To clear the way for its hegemony, the United States has subverted a number of lawfully instituted governments in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The Soviet Union has done and is doing the same thing in a number of countries in Africa and Eastern Europe.

The United States has some 400,000 of its armed forces stationed in foreign lands. The Soviet Union has about 700,000 troops in other countries and has put Czechoslovakia, which is a universally recognized sovereign country, completely under prolonged (actually indefinite) military occupation.

The United States has turned the territories of many countries into U.S. military bases through military treaties. The Soviet Union has gained or availed itself of military bases or installations in Eastern Europe, the People’s Republic of Mongolia, Cuba and Africa, and in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean; it has also insolently tried to perpetuate its occupation of Japan’s northern territories and territorial seas. It has even tried to take the Spitsbergen Islands away from Norway. “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is negotiable.” This is an ironical remark going the rounds in Western diplomatic circles, but the Soviet Union does not always bother with troublesome negotiations to decide “whether yours is mine.”

The United States dispatched mercenaries to invade Cuba, earning a very bad name for itself. Likewise, the Soviet Union sent mercenaries to perpetrate armed intervention in Angola and to invade Zaire, and it is continuing to extend the scope of its aggression.

In short, both the Soviet Union and the United States are imperialist superpowers, the biggest international exploiters and oppressors, the largest forces for war and aggression and the common enemies of the people of the world. Lenin said, “A proletariat that tolerates the slightest coercion of other nations by its ’own’ nation cannot be a socialist proletariat.”[13] The conduct of the Soviet Union in international affairs is quintessential imperialism and hegemonism, without a trace of a socialist proletarian spirit. Nor is that all. Of the two imperialist superpowers, the Soviet Union is the more ferocious, the more reckless, the more treacherous, and the most dangerous source of world war.

Why must we say so? Is it because the Soviet Union occupies Chinese territory along China’s northeastern and northwestern borders in contravention of treaty obligations and threatens its security? No. The United States, too, has invaded and occupied our Taiwan, likewise posing a threat to our security. Undoubtedly the people of each particular region can decide which superpower or imperialist country poses the more immediate threat to them according to their own specific conditions. But here we are discussing a general question concerning the world situation as a whole rather than a particular question concerning a particular region. It is not due to any accidental, transitory or partial causes that the Soviet Union has become the more dangerous of the two superpowers on a world scale. This is determined by a whole set of historical conditions under which the Soviet Union has grown and become an imperialist superpower.

First, Soviet social-imperialism is an imperialist power following on the heels of the United States and is therefore more aggressive and adventurous. Lenin said long ago that late-comers among the imperialist countries always wanted the world to be divided anew and since they ”came to the capitalist banqueting table when all the seats were occupied,” they were “even more rapacious, even more predatory.”[14] “Without a forcible redivision of colonies the new imperialist countries cannot obtain the privileges enjoyed by the older (and weaker) imperialist powers.”[15] To attain world supremacy, Soviet social-imperialism has to try and grab areas under U.S. control, just as Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II and under Hitler and the post-war United States had to try and grab areas under the control of Britain and other old-line imperialists. This is a historical law independent of man’s will. Therefore, Chairman Mao pointed out in a talk in February 1976: “The United States wants to protect its interests in the world and the Soviet Union wants to expand; this can in no way be changed.” Surely U.S. imperialism will continue to seek world domination, but it has over-reached itself and all it can do at present is to strive to protect its vested interests and go over to the defensive in its over-all strategy. On the other hand, while peddling the catch-word of “peace,” Brezhnev has brazenly declared, “Strengthening its economic and defence potential has enabled the Soviet Union to launch an active and successful ’offensive’ in the international arena,”[16] and “in shaping our foreign policy we now have to reckon, in one way or another, with the state of affairs in virtually every spot on the globe.”[17] This actually means that the Soviet Union has decided to employ an offensive strategy to encroach on the sovereignty of all other countries and weaken and supplant U.S. influence in all parts of the world in its attempt to establish its own world hegemony.

Second, because comparatively speaking Soviet social-imperialism is inferior in economic strength, it must rely chiefly on its military power and recourse to threats of war in order to expand. Although economically the Soviet Union has far surpassed the second-rate imperialist countries, it still compares unfavourably with its powerful rival and its economic strength falls short of its needs for world hegemony. Therefore it feverishly goes in for arms expansion and war preparations in a bid to gain military superiority so that it can grab the resources, wealth and labour-power of other countries to compensate for its economic inferiority. This is the beaten path trodden by tsarist Russia and fascist Germany, Italy and Japan in the past. At present, the Soviet Union’s armed forces are double those of the United States, and it has over 400 strategic nuclear weapon carriers more than the United States.[18] It has vastly more tanks, armoured cars, field guns and other items of conventional weaponry. It now boasts an “offensive navy” with a total tonnage close to the U.S. navy’s. According to a Western estimate, Soviet military expenditures have been rising in recent years at an average annual rate of 4 to 5 per cent and they absorb approximately 12 to 15 per cent of its GNP (U.S. military expenditures account for roughly 6 per cent of its GNP). Soviet military spending for fiscal year 1976 has been estimated at 127 billion dollars, which is about 24 per cent more than the projected U.S. outlay of 102.7 billion.[19] All this shows that the Soviet Union will inevitably adopt an offensive strategy and resort chiefly to force and threats of force in its contention with the United States for world hegemony.

Third, the Soviet bureaucrat monopoly capitalist group has transformed a highly centralized socialist state-owned economy into a state-monopoly capitalist economy without its equal in any other imperialist country and has transformed a state under the dictatorship of the proletariat into a state under fascist dictatorship. It is therefore easier for Soviet social-imperialism to put the entire economy on a military footing and militarize the whole state apparatus. The Brezhnev clique has appropriated 20 per cent of the national income for military expenditures and is clamouring for getting “ready at any time to switch the economy to the military programme.”[20] The clique is continuing to strengthen the state apparatus and is striving to fasten the Soviet people to its war chariot. The K.G.B., the Soviet secret service organization, has become a sword hanging over the heads of the people of the Soviet Union and of many other countries. The Soviet authorities exert every effort to poison the minds of the people with militarism and to fan great Russian chauvinism through the media, literature and art, education and other channels. They systematically extol the military and political chieftains and adventurers of tsarist Russia who performed “meritorious services” in carrying out aggression abroad, and openly call for carrying on the old tsars’ expansionist “tradition” so that at a minute’s notice millions of people can be driven to serve as cannon-fodder for their new wars of aggression.

Fourth, Soviet social-imperialism has come into being as a result of the degeneration of the first socialist country in the world. Therefore, it can exploit Lenin’s prestige and flaunt the banner of “socialism” to bluff and deceive people everywhere. U.S. imperialism has been pursuing policies of aggression and hegemonism for a long period and has time and again met with resistance and been subjected to exposure and denunciation on the part of the proletariat and oppressed people and nations throughout the world and of all fair-minded people including those in the United States. Progressive world opinion is already familiar with its true nature and will go on fighting against it. Soviet social-imperialism is a new and rising power and wears the mask of “socialism.” The struggle to resist, expose and denounce it is consequently far more exacting. Arduous efforts are called for to help the people of the world to recognize its true features. Although more and more people have come to see the Soviet Union’s policies of aggression and hegemonism in their true colours and the paint on its signboard of “socialism” is peeling day by day, it must not be supposed that the Soviet Union has completely lost its capacity to deceive. In carrying out aggression, intervention, subversion and expansion, it always dons the cloak of “fulfilling internationalist obligations,” “supporting the national liberation movements,” “combating old and new imperialism,” “safeguarding the interests of peace and democracy,” and the like. It takes some time to recognize its essence, and China has had its own experience in this respect. It must be admitted that this duplicity peculiar to the Soviet Union increases the special danger it poses as an imperialist superpower.

These objective historical features of the Soviet Union undoubtedly make it more dangerous than the United States as a source of world war.

U.S. imperialism has not changed as far as its policies of aggression and hegemonism are concerned, nor has it lessened its exploitation and oppression of the people at home and abroad. Therefore, the two hegemonist powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, are both common enemies of the people of the world. There is no doubt about this. But if, despite what has been said above, we should still undiscriminatingly put the two superpowers on a par and fail to single out the Soviet Union as the more dangerous instigator of world war, we would only be blunting the revolutionary vigilance of the people of the world and blurring the primary target in the struggle against hegemonism. Therefore, in no circumstances must we play into the hands of the Soviet Union in its deception and conspiracy and give the green light to its war preparations and acts of aggression.


[1] V.I. Lenin, “The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination,” Collected Works, Vol. 21.

[2] The U.S. journal Fortune, May and July issues, 1977.

[3] The U.S. Department of Commerce, Survey of Current Business, August 1977.

[4] V.I. Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” Collected Works, Vol. 22.

[5] International Economic Report of the President, January 1977.

[6] The U.S. Department of Commerce, Survey of Current Business, August 1977.

[7] Jad-0-Jehad Weekly, Jammu, December 1973 and India Today published in April 1974 by the Indian Workers’ Association in Britain.

[8] See “Statistics of Soviet Foreign Trade,” 1970-76.

[9] Le Monde, April 18, 1974.

[10] The U.S. journal Money Manager, April 14, 1974.

[11] Speech by O. Eogomolov, Problems of Peace and Socialism (World Marxist Review), No. 6, 1974.

[12] U.S. News & World Report, August 1, 1977.

[13] V.I. Lenin, “Socialism and War,” Collected Works, Vol. 21.

[14] V.I. Lenin, “War and Revolution,” Collected Works, Vol. 24.

[15] V.I. Lenin, “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism,” Collected Works, Vol. 23.

[16] L.I. Brezhnev, Speech at the Meeting in Celebration Of the 250th Anniversary of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., October 7, 1975.

[17] L. I. Brezhnev, Report to the Twenty-fifth Congress of the C.P.S.U.

[18] From “The Military Balance 1977-1378” published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London.

[19] Ibid.

[20] V.D. Sokolovsky, Military Strategy.