The Working of Imperialism in the Era of Globalisation: Draft Ideological Resolution of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

2.1   The CPI(M), steadfastly upholding Marxism-Leninism and its inviolable tool of ‘concrete analysis of concrete conditions’, evaluates the working of imperialism in the present concrete conditions and its impact on India. The latter is of utmost necessity to work out the correct and appropriate tactics that will advance our strategic objectives.

2.2   Globalisation must be understood in its totality. The internal dynamics of capitalism, as Marx has shown, leads to the accumulation and concentration of capital in a few hands. It is on the basis of a scientific analysis of the development of this tendency that Lenin identified the emergence and growth of imperialism from the stage of monopoly capitalism. The Leninist analysis of the politics of imperialism – the last stage of capitalism – laid the foundations for correct revolutionary strategy and tactics for intensifying class struggles leading, for the first time in human history, to the triumph of the proletarian revolution – the great October Socialist Revolution of 1917.

2.3   This current phase of globalization, within the stage of imperialism, led to gigantic levels of concentration and centralization of capital and, hence, accumulation led by international finance capital during the last two decades. [2] Thisled to a reordering of the world where this capital seeks unhindered access across the globe in its quest for profit maximization. This, in itself, imposes conditions for the removal of all restrictions on the flow of this capital, the essence of financial liberalization. The accompanying neo-liberal offensive of economic reforms, seriously threatens and undermines the economic and, hence, the political sovereignty of the nation-states, particularly in the developing countries.

2.4   As we have noted in the past, the emergence of a new stage in history does not mean that the stage itself, during its existence, remains immutable not undergoing any changes. In every stage, like socialism in the transition towards Communism; like the functioning of the proletarian State under socialism, or, for that matter in the stage of imperialism, various phases emerge as a result of quantitative changes that lead to a qualitatively new phase. The period of a stage in history is, hence, neither a linear process nor a ‘one way traffic’. This current phase of imperialism vindicates rather than repudiating the Leninist prognosis of the character and the hegemonic role of finance capital in the stage of imperialism.

2.5   This phase of globalization unfolding when the political correlation of class forces internationally has shifted in its favour, permits imperialism to pursue its quest for profit maximisation relatively unhindered except, of course, in those countries where the strength of popular peoples’ struggles have mounted effective resistance. Such pursuit has resulted in colossal levels of capital accumulation leading to the further consolidation of international finance capital (IFC). This is one of the salient features of post-Cold War world capitalism. This scale of accumulation has also been substantially aided by the counter revolutions in the USSR and Eastern Europe and their re-entry into the fold of the global capitalist market. Further, the structural changes in global capitalism, aided by technological advances in information and communications, resulted in relocating production and outsourcing of business operations to areas where natural resources are abundant and labour power cheap. Maximizing profits in this manner has vastly aided raising the levels of accumulation.

2.6   Unlike in Lenin’s time, however, IFC operates not in the pursuit of specific strategic interests of specific nation-states alone but internationally. While developed capitalist nation-states will continue to seek to advance their specific interests, IFC operates in a world not riven by intense inter-imperialist rivalry. It operates in a world where such rivalry, at least temporarily, is sought to be muted. The very character of this international finance capital defines its efforts to operate unhindered over the entire world. On this score, it is often erroneously argued that the world has moved beyond Lenin’s analysis of finance capital and imperialism. Therefore, his analysis of imperialism, it is argued, is today outdated, and hence, irrelevant.

2.7   Lenin, analyzing the emergence of finance capital, coalescence of banking capital with industrial capital, in his time, concretely analysed the impact of this phenomenon and concluded that capitalism had undergone a qualitative change which went beyond the traditional role played by finance capital, leading to the emergence of a new stage – imperialism. This was characterized by five features [3] amongst which the competition between different imperialist centres led to inter-imperialist wars in pursuit of a re-division of the world for their profit maximization. This was resoundingly vindicated by the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Lenin was, thus, employing his own inviolable principle of ‘concrete analysis of concrete conditions’ in his time in order to correctly assess the international correlation of class forces that would assist the advance of the Russian Revolution by ‘breaking the weakest link in the imperialist chain’.

2.8   However Lenin, with penetrative clarity, anticipates that in the imperialist stage, with the rise of finance capital, ‘The “business operations” of capitalist monopolies inevitably lead to the domination of a financial oligarchy’. He defines imperialism with the domination of finance capital as the highest stage of capitalism where the supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital is established. Furthering the analysis of the feature of ‘export of capital’, Lenin anticipates the future saying, ‘Thus finance capital, literally, one might say, spreads its net over all countries of the world’. Further, ‘The characteristic feature of imperialism is not industrial but finance capital.’ [4]

2.9   Lenin, thus, anticipates not only the dominance and leadership of finance capital in the stage of imperialism, but he also shows that this process will lead to the enmeshing of all forms of capital under its leadership in the pursuit of profit maximization. Clearly, therefore, it is not Lenin’s analysis of imperialism that has been superseded. What has been superseded is the concrete conditions of Lenin’s time which he had presciently analysed, estimated, assessed and also anticipated the future course of its development. Lenin’s prognosis of the leading and dominant role of international finance capital under imperialism is today being resoundingly vindicated. It is thus incumbent upon today’s Marxist-Leninists to analyse, evaluate and estimate its role in the current phase of imperialism in order to advance the strategic revolutionary objectives in individual countries.

2.10   This preponderant domination of IFC, however, does not suggest the cessation of inter-imperialist contradictions. These not merely exist but are bound to intensify in the future, given the basic capitalist law of uneven development. This leads to conflicts of interests between capitalist centres given their relative future strengths often reflected, today, in the conflict of interests over control of world’s resources or in seeking a reordering of the world – a new re-division for creating specific spheres of influence. This can also manifest in future currency wars between different imperialist powers. Such conflicts also put pressures on socialist and developing countries to revalue their domestic currencies to benefit imperialism.

2.11   Surplus under capitalism can only be generated in its production process. How this is appropriated and deployed may generate additional cash flows. Under the dictates of international finance capital, the surplus appropriated through the production process is so further deployed in different ways. Additionally, the avenues for cash flows are vastly enlarged through the creation of new financial instruments to enhance market capitalization of the corporates through speculative trading. ‘Bubbles’ are thus created, which temporarily inflate the economy, but when these invariably burst, the economy plunges into a crisis.

2.12   International finance capital is, today, thus enmeshed with industrial and other forms of capital in its pursuit of profit maximisation. The IFC now leads the commonality of purpose to unleash fresh attacks to vastly increase the levels of capital accumulation and profit maximization even further.

2.13   Such reordering of the world for profit maximisation, under the dictates of IFC, defines neo-liberalism. It operates, firstly, through policies that remove restrictions on the movement of goods and capital across borders. Trade liberalisation displaces domestic producers engendering domestic deindustrialization, particularly in developing countries. This also happens in the developed countries due to relocation of production and business operations outside their countries. So also liberalisation of capital flows allows multinational corporations to acquire domestic productive assets abroad (like our public sector), vastly enlarging capital accumulation.

2.14   Other ways of consolidating capital accumulation are through the imposition of deflationary policies like restrictions on government expenditures in the name of fiscal discipline (making available larger quantum of liquidity to IFC to multiply speculative profits) which leads to the lowering of the level of aggregate demand in the world economy; a shift in the terms of trade against the peasantry in the developing countries; a rolling back of the State sector in providing social services globally, more pronounced in the developing countries, which increasingly become privatised and the opening up of huge new areas of public utilities for profit maximisation. Thus, a new feature of contemporary imperialism is the coercive prising open of new and hitherto non-existent avenues for profit maximisation.

2.15   This new phase of imperialism pressurises large segments of the bourgeoisie in developing countries to turn collaborators. In several of these countries, the struggle for decolonisation had been fought under the leadership of the domestic bourgeoisie which, after independence, had tried to pursue a path of relatively autonomous capitalist development. While allying itself, as in India, with domestic landlordism and compromising with foreign finance capital, it had sought to pursue a path of capitalist development with a degree of autonomy, pursuing non-alignment in foreign policy which enabled it to use the Soviet Union to bargain with imperialism. But the inherent internal contradictions of such regimes, combined with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of international finance capital seeking to prise open these economies for furthering profit maximisation, altered the perspective of the bourgeoisie in the developing countries. From a position of relative autonomy, the domestic ruling classes of developing countries, notwithstanding certain areas of conflict of interests, are increasingly moving towards advancing the capitalist path of development with greater collaboration with IFC and, thus, embracing neo-liberalism.

2.16   All through the history of capitalism, accumulation takes place in two ways: one is through the normal dynamics of capital expansion (appropriation) through the unfolding of its production process and the other is through coercion and outright loot (forcible expropriation), whose brutality Marx defines as the primitive accumulation of capital. Primitive accumulation is often erroneously interpreted as a historical category – primitive vs. modern. For Marx and therefore Marxists, primitive accumulation is an analytical category that historically continues to co-exist with the normal dynamics of capitalism. The process of primitive accumulation has taken various forms in the past, including direct colonisation. The aggressiveness of primitive accumulation, at any point of time, is directly dependent on the balance of international correlation of class forces which either permit or inhibit the manifestation of such capitalist brutality. In the current phase of contemporary imperialism, the intensification of such brutal primitive accumulation is assaulting a vast majority of the people of the world’s population, both in the developing as well as the developed countries.

2.17   All over the capitalist world, especially in the developing countries like India, such assault leading to disinvestment and privatisation of the State sector is nothing else but private accumulation through the expropriation of State assets. Public utilities like water and energy, public services like education and health, have increasingly become domains of private accumulation of capital. Control over mineral resources is increasingly becoming private. Agriculture is increasingly being opened up to multinational seed and marketing companies leading to the virtual destruction of traditional agriculture in the developing countries, throwing the peasantry into acute distress. The removal of trade tariffs and imposition of Free Trade Agreements is leading to deindustrialisation in many developing countries. In direct contrast to the freedom of movement for capital, the strict domestic immigration laws in developed countries leads to intensified exploitation and oppression while maximizing profits. Common resources like forests, mines, water, etc., are increasingly being taken over as private property.

2.18   Under capitalism, the State, whatever be its form, is always the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Under contemporary imperialism, the role of the State changes in accordance with its current needs to advance the interests of IFC and it often acts at its dictates. The State’s abdication of social responsibilities and obligations towards the people, therefore, does not mean its withdrawal from economic activities. Its role changes to brazenly advance the interests of IFC. In the process, not only does it relinquish its social responsibilities but also undermines democratic institutions, subverts people’s sovereignty over the law making processes and increasingly adopts an authoritarian character.

2.19   Such an assault of the process of primitive accumulation has opened up hitherto unknown avenues for large-scale corruption. Many a regime has fallen, both in developed and developing countries, due to corruption scandals. [5] The large-scale loot in India through mega scams is mainly due to such new avenues created by neo-liberal reforms under imperialist globalization.

2.20   While both the processes of capital accumulation simultaneously operate, this ‘accumulation through forcible expropriation’ as opposed to the normal and natural process of capitalism’s ‘accumulation through appropriation’ has become an important feature of contemporary imperialism.

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