What is imperialism? Imperialism in Russia
The first, but fairly correct idea of what imperialism is, is the translation of the Latin noun imperium, from which the root of the word is derived. It means - power, domination. And indeed, it is commonly understood as government policy, which is based on military force used for external expansion and the seizure of foreign territories.
Colonialism is synonymous with imperialism.
In general, the era of imperialism is characterized by the formation of colonies, as well as economic control, which the more powerful states establish over countries that are inferior to them in their development. In this regard, the term "imperialism" in the last quarter of the XIX century appeared synonym - "colonialism", almost coinciding with it in meaning.
For the first time the term “world imperialism” was introduced into circulation by the English historian and economist J. A. Hobson, who dedicated his capital work to him in 1902. Such prominent Marxists as V.I. Lenin, N.I. Bukharin, R. became his followers.Hilferding, and also Rosa Luxemburg. Having carried out a wider development of this category, they used its basic provisions to substantiate the class struggle aimed at accomplishing the proletarian revolution.
V. I. Lenin's statement about the characteristic features of imperialism
In one of his works, V.I. Lenin gave the definition of the main features of imperialism. First of all, he pointed out that monopolies formed as a result of a high concentration of production and capital are beginning to play a key role in the country's economy. In addition, according to the "leader of the world proletariat" (as he was called in the Soviet period), the essential characteristic of the imperialist state is the merging of industrial and banking capital in it, and as a result of this process - the emergence of a financial oligarchy.
Giving a definition of what imperialism is, Lenin also emphasized that at this stage of development of capitalist society, the export of capital begins to dominate the export of goods. In this he practically quoted Marx. Monopolies, in turn, are beginning to unite into powerful international alliances, dividing the world into spheres of their influence (economic imperialism).And finally, the result of all the processes described above, becomes the military division of land between the most powerful imperialist states.
Criticism of Leninist theory
On the basis of the signs of imperialism, listed by V. I. Lenin, a so-called Marxist understanding of this phenomenon was formed, which was considered the only correct one and propagated in its time by the organs of Soviet propaganda. However, observations of scientists of a later period are largely refuted.
Analyzing the historical processes that took place in the period of the XX and at the beginning of the XXI century, many of them came to an unexpected conclusion. It turned out that regardless of their socio-economic system, states are capable of performing actions that result in the seizure of foreign territories, the global division of spheres of influence, as well as the formation of dominant and dependent countries. The policy of the major imperialist powers of the 20th century was determined by a number of objective factors that did not fit into Marxist-Leninist theory.
In the 21st century, the formation of a qualitatively new stage of imperialism, called “globalism”, is observed.This term, which has been widely used in recent decades, is understood to mean a wide range of various military, political, economic, and other measures aimed at dominating the doctrine, as a rule, enforced by the most developed and powerful state, claiming world leadership. Thus, at this stage, the policy of imperialism is reduced to the creation of a "unipolar world."
In the lexicon of modern political scientists entered a new term - "neo-imperialism". It is commonly understood as the military-political and military alliance of several of the most developed powers, united by the common goal of imposing their hegemony on the rest of the world in all areas of life and thus creating a profitable model of society for themselves.
Neoimperialism is characterized by the fact that the place of individual powers, overwhelmed by ambitious aspirations, was taken by their alliances. Having thus acquired additional potential, they began to pose a real danger to the global political and economic equilibrium.
No wonder the turn of the XX and XXI centuries. was the birth of the global anti-globalization movement,opposing the domination of transnational corporations, and various kinds of trade and government organizations, such as, for example, the high-profile WTO (World Trade Organization).
What is imperialism in Russia?
At the end of the first decade of the 20th century, Russian capitalism acquired many features characteristic of imperialism, in its understanding, which was proposed by theorists of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine. This was largely due to economic growth, which has replaced a strip of depression. In the same period there was a significant concentration of production. Suffice it to say that, according to the statistics of those years, about 65% of all workers worked in large enterprises engaged in fulfilling government orders.
This was the basis for the formation and development of monopolies. Researchers, in particular, note that in the pre-revolutionary decade, this process covered even the textile industry, in which the patriarchal-merchant order was traditionally strong. The period of the emergence and subsequent development of imperialism in Russia was also marked by the massive transition of the Ural mining enterprises, from the hands of private owners, into the possession of banks and joint-stock companies, thus receivingcontrol over the vast amount of the country's natural wealth.
Of particular note is the growing power of monopolies in the most significant areas of the industry. An example of this is the “Prodetata” syndicate founded in 1902, which managed in a short time to concentrate almost 86% of the total national sales of metal in its hands. At the same time, three powerful associations associated with the largest foreign trusts appeared and successfully operated in the oil industry. These were some kind of industrial monsters. Extracting more than 60% of domestic oil, they were, at the same time, the owners of 85% of all equity capital.
The emergence in Russia of large monopoly associations
The most common form of monopoly in pre-revolutionary Russia was trusts - associations of enterprises, and in some cases banks for the implementation of profitable pricing policies, as well as other types of commercial activities. But gradually they began to force out monopolies of a higher type, such as trusts and cartels.
Continuing the conversation about what imperialism in Russia was, standing on the threshold of the colossal political and economic upheavals of the 20th century, it is impossible to ignore the phenomenon of the emergence of a powerful financial oligarchy,caused by the merger of banking and industrial capital. This was already mentioned above in the section devoted to Lenin's definitions of world imperialism, which almost completely correspond to the Russian realities of that period.
The growing role of the financial and industrial oligarchy
In particular, it should be noted that from the end of the 19th century and until the October armed coup, the number of commercial banks in the country remained almost the same, but the volume of funds controlled by them increased fourfold. A particularly powerful breakthrough was made from 1908 to 1913. A characteristic feature of this period in the development of the Russian economy was the placement of banking securities - stocks and bonds not abroad, as was customary earlier, but within the country.
At the same time, financial oligarchs did not limit their activities only to speculation with shares of industrial enterprises and railways. They were actively involved in managing them, and in addition they themselves were the creators of monopolies in the most diverse industrial sectors, from metallurgy to the production of tobacco and salt.
The interaction of the financial elite with the government
As Lenin pointed out in his works, the close interaction of the oligarchic circles with representatives of the state apparatus served as an important stimulus for the development of Russia on the imperialist rails. To this there were the most favorable prerequisites. It is noted that after 1910, four of the five largest metropolitan banks were headed by persons who had previously held key positions in the Ministry of Finance.
Thus, in matters of domestic and, not least, foreign policy, the Russian government was the executor of the will of the highest circles of the industrial-financial oligarchy. This explains many decisions emanating from both the cabinet and directly from the emperor. In particular, the interests of the monopolies that were part of the military-industrial complex were, in many respects, predetermined the country's entry into the First World War, which turned out to be disastrous for the three hundred year dynasty of its kings, and for millions of ordinary people.