Vladimir Lenin • 1870 – 1924 • Russian Communist Revolutionary • Founded the Bolshevik Party which came to power in Russia in 1917
Major Works • What is to be Done? (1902) • Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)
Key Concept: Imperialism • Elaborated upon Marx’s assertion that monopolies are a natural tendency in developed capitalist economies and will prove capitalism’s undoing* • Capitalist economies postponed social and economic chaos and their inevitable demise through colonization • Colonial markets absorbed excess production that could not be sold to the impoverished working class in the mother country • Imperialism and colonialism are a consequence of monopoly capitalism, or “Imperialism is the monopolystage ofcapitalism.” *see next slide for how this process works
Marx and Monopoly Capitalism • Marx believed that various tendencies in capitalism would promote class conflict. • processes of capital accumulation and competition would combine to produce monopoly capitalism and ever more extreme crises of capitalism, • The progressive development of technology would bring deskilling of jobs creating a more homogenised and potentially united labour force; • the relative gap in wealth between the dominant and subordinate classes would steadily increase; propelling processes of class conflict towards an ultimate social revolution.
Lenin’s Marxism: Key Concepts • Communist Revolution could occur in a backward peasant country such as Russia which had only just begun to emerge from its pre-capitalist stage • “Sometimes--history needs a push.”
A small elite of disciplined and determined revolutionaries “who make revolutionary activity their profession” could lead the masses in revolution
Lenin’s Quotable Quotes • “Fascism is capitalism in decay” • “The goal of socialism is communism.” • “While the State exists there can be no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no State.” (What does he mean by this?) Think Marx’sSuperstructure – the legal, political, and social institutions which reflect, express, and consolidate the relations of economic power that flow from the mode of production practiced by a society.
Critique • Many, on the right in particular, argue that Marxism goes against human nature. • How important is class and inequality in social life? In many societies, kinship, religion, and ethnicity seem to have provided stronger connections than has class. • Marx’s framework cannot deal adequately with other dimensions of inequality. To conceptualize a society as mode of production is inevitably to privilege economic relations over other aspects of inequality. There is more than simply the class struggle going on in society. • At the international level, nationalism trumps working class solidarity.