V. I. Lenin in Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1917) assessed the underpinnings of world war as basically a result of capitalist nations striving to maximize profit in an insatiable search for new export markets. To Lenin, as capitalism matured, it required increasingly numerous markets to penetrate and war was frequently the preferred means of doing this. To Lenin, one of the 20th Centuries greatest figures, “imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.” Although capitalism grew out of a laissez-faire competitive environment, it eventually transforms into fewer economic units dominating entire cartels on a global basis. Actually Lenin got many of his ideas on the linkage between capitalism and imperialism from the British writer John A. Hobson, Imperialism (1902).
Karl Marx certainly critiques the expansive revolutionary nature of capital, and posits his theory of crisis in which capital, desperate to find new markets, lays off workers and introduces mechanisation as a means of sustaining profits in an ever diminishing market. He also acknowledged the revolutionary nature of capitalism and its desire to break down or overcome trade barriers. Yet Lenin gave it a more time specific focus as he surveyed the competitive capitalist world with its thirst for colonialism which would propel the world into the Great War.
While one may indeed construe economic determinism, a singularly Marxist-Leninist trait, as oversimplification and reductionist in attempting to understand the causality of war and colonialism, it is certainly part of the landscape. To ignore the economic component of war’s urgings would be highly restrictive in assessing the thirst for power which frequently catapaults nation’s national-security elites to send the children of the working class to kill and be killed in the interests of the powerful. Then they build memorials to trick the public into believing their sacrifice was for the “fatherland” when it was actually for power maximizers who see the planet as a toy to be dominated and controlled. Whose twin daughters are nowhere to be seen in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, much less in the uniform of a branch of the United States of America’s armed forces?
I doubt if the United States would have invaded Iraq in an immoral and almost Nazi-like manner under Mr Bush, had its vast oil reserves not existed. That is not to infer that other reasons, which I have chronicled, were not in play but it is to aver that wealth and economic motivations play a role in most decisions to go to war. I recall some war supporters were overtly defending this notion because oil is such a vital resource and the U.S. must insure its accessibility to adequate reserves. This is rather unseemly that a nation that purports to be the City on the Hill, is simply an outlaw terrorist state that thinks only of itself and burns babies, children and other innocents to satisfy its insatiable appetite for markets, raw materials and other accoutrements of national wealth: wealth by the way that is reserved for the few in this country. How about Kyoto and the American criminals who refuse to ratify that sacred and beautiful treaty. What a country!! How could this happen?
The importance of Marxism-Leninism is that it is the most vibrant critique of the west and its mania for capitalism, free markets and slave non-white labour in developing countries. It is essential for any nation, any group, any ideological cohort to reexamine itself and to submit itself to robust introspection. One does not have to be an adherent of Marxism, and certainly not a devotee of Leninism, to benefit from the questions and insights it raises about ourselves and what we stand for. A confident nation, a confident people should be able to tolerate and even embrace criticism. America’s history is one of savage repression as seen most starkly with McCarthyism where ideological auto da fes were unleashed on those even remotely construed as being communist.