Sam King
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What Lenin’s book does not say
in Imperialism and the development myth
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The substantial posse of Marxist writers and academic specialists who have for decades declared Lenin’s Imperialism as wrong and antiquated could be expected to have unearthed and popularised countless errors and misjudgements from the book. Yet no such list appears to exist. In place of one, various caricatures of ideas that do not actually appear in Lenin’s book Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism keep getting repeated. Two common caricatures are that Lenin viewed colonialism as a necessary form of imperialist domination and that Imperialism is overly fixated on the ‘export of capital’ (that is, foreign investment). The first is supposed to show that Lenin’s work is irrelevant now that colonialism is over. The second was supposed to show the same. Even though foreign investment has now bounced back, the label still sticks. However, Lenin emphatically rejected the idea that export of capital is the central question in understanding imperialism. This is evident both from the text of Imperialism itself and also from arguments Lenin made in the Bolshevik party and elsewhere about how to understand imperialism. Similarly, Lenin explicitly argues both in Imperialism and elsewhere – such as against Bukharin – that colonialism is not a necessary feature of imperialist domination. On this question Lenin makes a whole series of insightful observations on national independence, national struggle and anti-colonialism that were later proven correct by the national liberation movements and political independence after the Second World War.

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Imperialism and the development myth

How rich countries dominate in the twenty-first century


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