V. I.   Lenin





N.B. Kautsky on Imperialism

Hobson’s book on imperialism is useful in general, and especially useful because it helps to reveal the basic falsity of Kautskyism on this subject.

Imperialism continually gives rise to capitalism anew (from the barter economy of the colonies and backward countries), giving rise anew to transitions from small- scale to large-scale capitalism, from weakly developed to highly developed commodity exchange, etc., etc.

The Kautskyites (K. Kautsky, Spectator and Co.) quote these facts about “healthy”, “peaceful” capitalism, based on “peaceful relations”, and counterpose them to financial robbery, banking monopolies, deals by the banks with the state, colonial oppression, etc.; they counterpose them as the normal to the abnormal, the desirable to the undesirable, the progressive to the reactionary, the fundamental to the accidental, etc.

This is the new Proudhonism.[2] The old Proudhonism on a new basis and in a new form.

Petty-bourgeois reformism: in favour of a cleanish, sleek, moderate and genteel capitalism.

N.B. N.B. || || On the concept of imperialism + the artificial halting of progress (buying up of patents by the trusts: e.g., in this notebook the example of the German bottle manufacturers[1] ).

Approximately: N.B.
(1) banking capital
(2) monopolies (trusts, etc.)   {{ (3) division of the world. [Colonies] (4) alliance (connection, merging) of banking (finance) capital with the state machine (5) highest degree of concentration


[1] See p. 86 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] Proudhonism—an unscientific, anti-Marxist variety of petty-bourgeois socialism deriving its name from the French anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon. Proudhon criticised big capitalist ownership from a petty-bourgeois standpoint and dreamed of perpetuating small private ownership. He proposed the formation of a “people’s” bank and an “exchange bank”, through which the workers could acquire their own means of production and ensure the sale of their product at a “fair” price. Proudhon did not understand the role and significance of the proletariat, rejected the class struggle, the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. An anarchist, he denied the necessity for the state. The Proudhonists idealised small-scale commodity production and exchange. “Not abolishing capitalism and its basis—commodity production—but purging that basis of abuses, of excrescences, and so forth; not abolishing exchange and exchange value, but, on the contrary, making it ‘constitutional’, universal, absolute, ‘fair’, and free of fluctuations, crises and abuses—such was Proudhon’s idea” (see present edition, Vol. 20, p. 34).

The new Proudhonism is how Lenin described the reformist theories of the Kautskyites, who depicted the dominance of the monopolies and banks, the omnipotence of the financial oligarchy, colonial plunder, annexations and other intrinsic features of imperialism as accidental excrescences on capitalism, and concocted all manner of plans for “reconstructing” capitalism, removing monopoly “abuses”, etc. Lenin exposed the reactionary nature of such theories, whose proponents “want to go ‘back’ to small capitalism (and not towards socialism)” (see p. 93 of this volume). p. 116


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