Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي An Error in Lenin's Analysis of Imperialism and Why it Matters for Democracy
Sam Ghandchi

یک اشتباه در تحلیل لنین از امپریالیسم، و چرا این موضوع برای دموکراسی مهم است

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Lenin's book entitled 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,' was written during WWI in Zurich, and not only impacted the Left during Comintern years, it has also influenced other anti-West forces, including the Islamists, to the present day. The book uses a lot of research by an Austrian Marxist Rudolf Hilferding although Hilferding opposed the Leninists long before the October Revolution and played a role in Weimar Republic. But to be fair, a lot of the ideas in Lenin's book that I am criticizing, were shared not only by Rudolph Hilferding, but are present in Karl Marx's third volume of Capital which was written by Friedrich Engels from Marx's manuscripts! Basically, Lenin defines the era of imperialism by exporting of *capital* from metropolitan countries rather than just exporting *goods* of the era of colonization, with three goals: using raw materials, cheap labor, and the markets of the dependent countries. This could well be the definition of globalization in our times today which the leftists opposed around the turn of the century but support today! Nonetheless, this is not a topic of my critique at all and I agree that those three elements are the focus of exporting capital, whether one likes to call it the so-called "imperialism" or today's terminology of "globalization!" Where I believe Lenin made a mistake was when he thought this stage of capitalism will erase competition of private firms within the metropolitan countries because of forces of monopoly capital and thus only envisaged competition between capitalist countries to become an issue of worldwide dimension, and by which he tried to explain WWI and later we know the Left used the same analysis to explain WWII. I believe Lenin following other Marxists including Karl Marx himself, made a mistake when they thought competition within nation-states will cease by monopolization of capital. A century later, today at the highest levels of huge corporations in the United States, we can easily see Walmart's brand called 'Great Value' competes with all major brand producers such Kellogg's, Campbell Soup, Post Consumer Brands, FritoLay, just to name a few, continuously, and one can see this in every industry right here in the U.S. Why does this competition matter? Because the existence of such forces of private capital helps sustaining democracy in a society, as discussed more than two years ago in an article entitled 'After Democracy, How to Prevent Regeneration of a Tyranny in Iran.' In other words, state property kills competition of private firms, and the private firms in the U.S. are not ending up in one giant firm killing all competition. Is it thanks to the antitrust laws in the U.S.? I agree that antitrust laws help to keep this competition to continue, but even without them, it is in the nature of private capital that such competition will not die and not only Lenin, before him, Marx and Engels made the same error about the era of Monopoly Capital that was just starting around the end of Marx's lifetime and it has been with us to this day and ironically the main threat to democracy was not the Monopolization of Private Capital in the Western World, rather it was the State Property in the Socialist countries themselves that killed democracy in half of the world! Not only big capital and their competition helps democracy, we have seen even capital-intensive industries such as space exploration started using private firms like SpaceX which started in 2002 to build Space Shuttles rather than the government doing it with a lot of success already making deliveries to ISS and it is already working on plans to go to Mars, and this company of Elon Musk is not the only one and has a few competitors too!


Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi
December 31, 2020
















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