In advanced capitalism, the uneven development of different enterprises leads to monopoly, as the stronger overpower the weaker. Highly concentrated, combined monopolies divide the market among themselves, fix the amount of production and prices, and eventually share the profits among themselves.
These bigger, stronger monopolies seek sources of raw materials all around the world, evaluate the capacity of markets and create new markets by all means, even by force.
But this is not the end of monopoly capitalism. Banks, which first serve as intermediaries for making payments, grow into powerful, concentrated monopolies.
“Monopoly! This is the last word in the latest phase of capitalist development,” Lenin wrote in “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.” Lenin continued, “But we shall only have a very insufficient, incomplete, and poor notion of the real power and the significance of the modern monopolies if we do not take into consideration the part played by the banks.” As in the case of industrial enterprises, small banks and other “money industry businesses” like insurance companies and mutual funds are being squeezed out, subordinated, absorbed or annexed by big ones.
These banking giants hold enormous amounts of capital in their hands. When they open an account for an enterprise, they acquire knowledge and control of the firm’s economic situation. Lenin wrote, “The result is that the industrial capitalist becomes more completely dependent on the bank.”
The merging of “money industry capital” with “industrial capital” leads to creation of “finance capital,” which plays a decisive role in economic life. Bankers are transformed into industrial capitalists, creating a financial oligarchy. Here we have modern imperialism, which is quite different from ancient empires.
Brutal exploitation and rampant plunder of nations and their natural resources lead to enormous accumulation of capital in the imperialist countries. This “surplus capital will be utilized not for the purpose of raising the standard of living of masses,” Lenin observed, “but for the purpose of increasing profits by exporting capital abroad to the backward countries. In these backward countries profits are usually high, for capital is scarce, the price of land is relatively low, wages are low, raw materials are cheap.”
To increase its grip on other nations, finance capital does everything from “paying modest sums to buy off competitors, to the American device of employing dynamite against them,” Lenin noted.
“Competition,” which was the main pride of capitalism, gives way to “connection.” Contracts are made with companies not because of their merit but because of their connection. The culture of “connection” pervades all aspects of society; corruption mars every phase of life.
Capitalism is no longer satisfied to remain simply an exporter of goods. The profits from exporting capital are so huge, and monopolist capitalist associations become so powerful, that they inevitably force their way out of their home countries into every part of the world.
In 1916 Lenin wrote, “Capitalism long ago created a world market” – today it’s called globalization. “As the export of capital increased, and as the foreign and colonial connections and ‘sphere of influence’ of the big monopolist associations expanded in all ways, things ‘naturally’ gravitated towards the formation of international cartels” – today these are represented by the IMF, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. “This is a new stage of world concentration of capital and production, incomparably higher than the preceding stages.”
With ever-progressing technology, not only shortages of all kinds of raw materials are strongly felt, but the hunger and hunt for new materials, using for new advance technology, begins throughout the whole world. In the words of Lenin, “Finance capital in general strives to seize the largest possible amount of land of all kinds in all places, and by every means.”
Interestingly, the process of imperialist colonization had been stopped (or was changed to covert neo-colonization) with the rise of Soviet Union, but re-emerged with the fall of that country.
The term “globalization” used today does not reflect the full essence of economic, political and social changes taking place in the world. What is happening today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Philippines … is not soft and media-proclaimed civilized “capitalist globalization,” but harsh and brutal imperialism, the highest and the latest stage of capitalism, which was described 87 years ago by V.I. Lenin and which is still applicable. This is a stage that necessarily paves the way for emergence of another stage, which is called global socialism.
H. Salari is a doctor and a member of the Communist Party of Canada (Quebec). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.