One chain, two links: Class struggle and imperialism

Posted by


By Christopher C.

The socialist movement has been profoundly impacted by the Leninist understanding of imperialism. Lenin’s analysis of imperialism can be found in his pamphlet Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, written in 1916. The Russian revolutionary took care to explain that imperialism was an economic undertaking, bound up in class struggle. It is important to assert the centrality of imperialism. Capitalism is not homogeneous, but constantly changing. As such, it is necessary to describe how capitalism specifically functions at any given point, while remaining mindful of its continuities. Abstract analysis of political economy must be supplemented by a concrete historical account of the particular states and classes that make capitalism “real” in a specific historical epoch. In our current era, “naming” imperialism is a necessary part of radical critique.

The goal of Lenin’s book is to show that the imperialism found at the beginning of the 20th century was a fundamentally economic phenomenon, rooted in changes in the capitalist mode of production. Lenin was attempting to explain the extremely virulent form of imperialism that began to emerge in the late 19th century, resulting in the scramble for Africa from the 1880s, and the increasing tensions between the major powers that eventually led to world war. This capitalist imperialism differs from earlier forms because only capitalist imperialism can systematically accumulate capital on a world scale. Capitalist imperialism is less focused on the direct plunder of natural resources (though this certainly still takes place) and more focused on investing in other countries. Capitalist imperialism seeks to dominate the economic, cultural, and political life of the periphery in a more indirect-though no less brutal-way than previous forms.

This investment plugs up the falling rate of profit, and is a central feature of capitalism. The source of profit under capitalism is the extraction of surplus value from workers, in a process known as exploitation. This process mutates and replicates across the entire economy. The logic of capital necessitates expansion. It is the job of capitalists to extract more value than they invest, ceaselessly searching for new ways to do so. If capitalism is exploitative at home, then it must be expansionist abroad.

The expansionist nature of capitalism causes it to spread, as Marx and Engels put it, “over the whole surface of the globe.” The expansionists crush entire societies that refuse to bend to the whims of the global market. Self-sufficient peoples are driven from their land and transformed into wage laborers, in a process remarkably similar to the land enclosure system that gave birth to capitalism in England. From the very beginning, capitalism was driven by its need to expand, to grow. Lenin analysed this dynamic and determined that a new form of imperialism had arisen from it. Those who challenge capitalist-imperialism challenge the foundational logic of capital: expansion.

For Lenin, any worthy definition of this new imperialism needed to include these five essential features:


1) The concentration of production and capital is developed to a high enough degree that it creates monopolies, which play a significant role in economic activities. This means that capitalists join together to crush competitors. They fix prices, coordinate production, and make agreements among themselves to prevent others from entering the market.


2) The merging of bank capital with industrial capital to create finance capital. This, in turn, leads to the creation of a financial oligarchy. This had already occurred during Lenin’s era. Three to five big banks manipulated the economies of the major industrial countries.


3) The export of capital becomes extremely important and is distinguished from the export of commodities.


4) The formation of international capitalist monopolies which share the world among themselves.


5) The completed territorial division of the world among the greater capitalist powers.


Lenin was clear that the most important item on this list is the first. He wrote that imperialism was “the monopoly stage of capitalism.” He argued that the rivalries and wars between capitalist powers came about due to the tendency for capital to become more centralized and concentrated. Imperialism arises when the dominant capitalist firms acquire monopoly (or near-monopoly) status in particular sections of the national economy. This caused capitalism to “decay.” There is a tendency for production to decline under monopolies, as technological progress and innovation are discouraged since they could disrupt monopolies.

The acute concentration of capital also created inequality between those who owned capital and those who did not. Monopoly capitalism created a large stratum of capitalists known as renters. These are capitalists who live solely on the interest or dividend made on their investments. This inequality meant that the general population could not absorb the mass of commodities (new products) generated by increased productive capacity. The rate of profit would begin to fall, necessitating the expansion of banks and factories. This expansion would open up new regions for investment, sources of raw materials and cheap labor, and new consumer markets. This, in turn, would allow goods to be produced more cheaply. The masses would again be able to purchase commodities, plugging up the falling rate of profit. Think of imperialism as putting a bandage on the contradictions of capitalism.

Lenin worked from the premise that the capitalist class controls the state. It followed that monopolistic firms would become linked to the state, using its machinery for colonization. Capitalists would use this process to produce commodities and raw materials cheaply, as well as to undermine indigenous industry, making the colonies dependent on investment from imperialist nations. The overall effect of this is that the imperialist nations pumped wealth out of the countries they controlled. The wealth flowing into the domestic economies of imperialist nations stalled the falling rate of profit.

This is accomplished via a phenomenon known as super-exploitation. One of the key points in the Marxist analysis of capitalism is that workers are exploited by the capitalists. Part of the working day is taken up by the time necessary to reproduce the worker. This is known as Necessary Labor Time or NLT. The worker is paid a wage that is more-or-less equal to this amount. But it does not take the worker all of the working day to produce an amount of value equivalent to the amount necessary to sustain them. The rest of the value they produce goes to the capitalist, not the worker. This value is called Surplus Value. This is the ‘secret source’ of all profits under capitalism.

It is the job of the capitalist to extract as much profit from their workers as possible. As such, they will do whatever they can to increase the rate of exploitation. This can be accomplished in many ways. The first is that the capitalist can simply make the working day longer so that the worker spends more time producing surplus value. However, labor laws in many imperialist countries prevent this, so this is not always possible.

Capitalists need to increase the rate of exploitation, so they will often move their factories to countries with fewer labor regulations. This gives rise to imperialism. Capitalists can also increase productivity in industries that produce goods for workers, whether by increasing automation or engaging in other strategies, such as cutting wages. This impoverishes workers because they no longer have jobs. This, in turn, reduces the amount of goods they can buy. This has the effect of reducing the value of wages below that of labor power. Wages no longer represent the amount of value a worker needs to sustain themselves. This is super-exploitation, and it most often takes place in the periphery.

This is both because of lax labor laws, and because these countries are rich in the natural resources that are required to produce goods. Multinational corporations use the state to buy up these resources, further undermining indigenous sovereignty. It is through super-exploitation-the driving of wages below the value of labor power-that goods are able to be produced more cheaply. This plugs up the falling rate of profit that necessitated imperialism in the first place.

Imperialist powers are driven around the world in the export of capital as well as the concrete destruction and oppression of countless peoples. However, imperialism is neither static nor limited by our rudimentary understanding. Imperialism has dynamically transformed the social landscape of the world over the past century. Now, the principal contradiction in our contemporary social order is between imperialism and oppressed nations (of course, mediated by capital). This unequal yet vastly complex combination of social formations, markets, and concentration of monopoly capital describes our contemporary world as one dominated by imperialism.

Lenin argued that this strategy could only be effective for a relatively short period. In the long term, it would undermine capitalism rather than strengthen it. Competition between imperialist nation-states would escalate to war. These wars would cause financial drain and destruction of productive capabilities that would weaken imperialist states because their ability to exploit their victims would decay. Nationalist and anti-colonial movements would also weaken imperialist nations, leading to increased class antagonisms, increased class consciousness, and eventually socialist revolution.

Imperialism hit its stride, as Lenin argued, in the 19th century. Industrial nations were plagued with a falling rate of profit exacerbated by economic inequality. They saw the Third World not only as a source of raw materials and cheap labor (which would make goods cheaper and therefore stem the falling rate of profit) but also as a market for goods that had already been produced. Barely a century later, the industrial nations were exporting not only goods but capital. This capital often took the form of machinery, investments, and loans that were used to control the markets and governments of Third World countries. This was a vital part of the “new imperialism” that Lenin identified. Although the world has seen dramatic changes since Lenin’s book was published, the core points of the theory are more relevant now than ever.

It is first worth reflecting on the primary shift in imperialism since Lenin’s time: socialist revolution. When Lenin’s book was published, the Russian revolution had only just taken place. As such, its effects on the world situation could not be completely analyzed. Capital, too, could not yet have adapted to it in totality. In the years since, however, socialist revolutions have shaken the world to its core. At one point, socialism covered over a fifth of the planet. This, coupled with the explosion of anti-colonial movements in the periphery, has forced the imperialists to alter their strategy. No longer is inter-imperialist conflict the motor force in relations between different imperialist countries. They have been forced to band together to hold onto power, establishing organs of cooperation such as the World Trade Organization.

Wars between differing imperialist powers thus appear to be a thing of the past, but the capitalist class’ unceasing drive to consolidate their control over markets has led to endless bloodshed and countless deaths. One of the results of, for example, the Iraq War was that the United States directly appropriated the oil that belonged to Iraqis. Rather than rebuilding Iraq after the war, American companies have stolen billions of dollars, with Haliburton making out with almost eleven million dollars. Tariq Ali rightly calls this “imperialism in the epoch of neoliberal economics.”

Lenin pointed out that the oligarchy of finance capital in a small number of capitalist powers, that is, the imperialists, not only exploit the masses of people in their own countries but oppress and plunder the whole world, turning most countries into their colonies and dependencies. This leads to independence movements in the colonies. The imperialist countries will do anything they can to crush these movements, including war. Imperialist war is a continuation of imperialist politics. World wars are started by the imperialists because of their insatiable greed in scrambling for world markets, sources of raw materials and fields for investment, and because of their struggle to re-divide the world. So long as imperialism exists, the source and possibility of war will remain. War is inevitable under an imperialist system. Since imperialism is a specific stage of capitalist development, it follows that we cannot abolish war until we abolish capitalism. Lenin pointed this out over one hundred years ago, and it remains true to this day.

Most obviously, monopolies or near-monopolies play massive roles in economic life. A handful of corporations and banks, based primarily in the United States and Europe, have unprecedented power over policy and global markets. In the late 1980s, twenty-seven percent (27% ) of world manufacturing industries were dominated by four firms or less, according to John Bellamy Foster’s The Endless Crisis. By 2007, forty percent (40%) of the industries here examined were concentrated in this manner.

These monopolistic entities are fused with the states in which they are based. Investment banks and other firms use the power granted by these states (in the form of the military, legal centers, and so on) to appropriate and concentrate the surplus value of the international working class. This creates yet more inequality, where the capitalist class lives in luxury, and workers in the periphery live in abject poverty.

Modern Multinational corporations do, admittedly, constitute a higher form of capitalist monopoly than the cartels and trusts of Lenin’s era. But Lenin never argued that specific forms of monopoly (that is, specific technical stages) represented the highest “stage” that monopoly could take. The specific forms monopolies take is not the point of Lenin’s analysis. What matters is that monopolies increase the degree to which property is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The stifling of competition that follows from this is part of what leads to imperialism. Thus, the fact that multinational corporations are not necessarily owned by the states in which they are based (as was the case in Lenin’s time) matters little when discussing the continued relevance of his theory of imperialism.

In earlier capitalism, the state (or private and semi-private militias, etc.) had to substitute for the weakness of undeveloped capitalist commodity relations. State-sanctioned monopolies like the British and Dutch East Indies companies gave way to higher forms of commodity exchange. Slavery was replaced by wage labor. Colonies won political independence. Bukharin’s “state capitalist trusts” are now superseded by Multinational Corporations. These all represented advances within capitalist relations of production.

The neoliberal era illustrated one principal advantage of private monopoly over state ownership. Private corporations can have a more flexible relationship with the state. They can call for state intervention when they are in crisis, thus allowing multinational corporations to socialize their losses while privatizing their profits. Capitalists also achieve far greater security of privilege when a business is held as private property. The “decoupling” of monopolies from the state does not represent a blow to Lenin’s theory of imperialism. Rather, it shows that the capitalist class has a greater degree of unmediated control over markets. In the neoliberal era, imperialism is more likely, not less.

Foreign investment, the export of capital, plays an even larger role today than it did when Lenin was writing. The exception was paradoxically the years of the post-war boom (the 1950s and 1960s) when the rate of growth of international trade surpassed the rate of growth of foreign investment in as the growth of international finance was consciously restricted to be mainly the handmaiden of trade. But this has changed under globalization of the 1980s and 1990s, which is proof in itself of the re-emergence of the classical features of imperialism in this its latest phase.

Upon breaking down the figures for “income receipts on US-owned assets abroad.” one discovers that the proportion of income from investment in fixed assets held abroad grew faster than income from bonds and loans in the decades up to 1980. Since 1980 overseas income from bonds and loans outpaces the growth of income from fixed assets. The UK alone, for example, receives a staggering 26 percent of all global US foreign investment. Hence the main capital exporters are also the main capital importers (although the reverse is not necessarily the case). This is a confirmation of the point Lenin makes that, “The export of capital influences and greatly accelerates the development of capitalism in those countries to which it is exported.”

Exported capital also comes in the form of foreign “aid.” This is often used by the United States to alter the policies of victimized countries. One example of this would be anti-gay laws in Uganda. In this case, there is a lack of direct coercion involved in the passage of the laws. The imperialists are not literally forcing anyone to pass these laws, but the governments of these countries often feel compelled to follow the wishes of the imperialists so that they do not lose what little aid they are given. This is one way in which imperialism is used to expand the hegemony of capitalist states.

Imperialism is used to exploit the labor of workers in other nations, driving down the price of goods and plugging the falling rate of profit. The clearest example of this takes place in the Congo. Corporations such as T-mobile buy up military officials, who then force residents of nearby villages to work themselves to death in cobalt mines. These workers are, in many cases, young children. They are subject to the super-exploitation mentioned above.

It is worth noting that in the neoliberal era, the category of imperialism itself enjoyed a resurgence in popularity among the imperialists. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, many writers asserted that “Western imperialism-though few will like calling it that-can now unite the European continent.” Even Foreign Affairs, a journal in the pocket of the state department, asserted that “the logic of imperialism….is too compelling…to resist.” Far from being irrelevant in the epoch of neoliberalism, imperialism has become so ubiquitous that even members of the capitalist class have been forced to say so.

Lenin’s theory of imperialism answers vital questions. Why is the United States always at war? Because war is a tool to plug falling rates of profit and stifle class struggle. War is not the result of a few individual politicians. It is baked into American capitalism. Only when we understand imperialism as a systemic issue arising from dynamics inherent to capitalism can we hope to combat it effectively. Lenin’s book is as timely as it was when it was first published, and the analysis of imperialism contained within is vital for the victory of the revolutionary movement.

Lenin thought that challenging imperialism would involve cross-class alliances. This necessitated not only a reassertion of the Marxist conception of class but also an expansion of it. He believed that contradictions between classes could be antagonistic (necessarily settled through violent means) or they could be non-antagonistic. There could be different class interests between, for example, the proletariat and the peasants, but this did not necessarily need to end in bloodshed or the domination of one class by another. It could lead to an alliance against a common enemy.

One key context in which non-proletarian classes can become revolutionary is in anti-imperialism. When imperialism threatens an entire nation, many classes who would otherwise have conflicting interests-such as the bourgeoisie and the proletariat-find a common enemy in the in imperialist aggressor nation.

During the Chinese revolution, the national capitalists worked as a revolutionary force with the peasants and the proletariat against the foreign invaders. This is why Marxist-Leninists often lend support to some bourgeois nationalist governments, particularly in the Third World. Although these nationalist movements are not guided by proletarian interests, they still serve to weaken imperialism and therefore strengthen the proletariat in the long term. Failure to conform to imperialist foreign policy is the most common wedge issue between bourgeois nationalists and the West. Often driven by pan-national ideological unity, bourgeois nationalist countries objectively support revolutionary people’s struggles and national liberation movements abroad, placing them at odds with imperialism.

Stalin addresses this issue in his book Marxism and the National Question. He writes, “The revolutionary character of a national movement under…imperialist oppression does not necessarily presuppose the existence of proletarian elements in the movement, the existence of a revolutionary…program of the movement, the existence of a democratic base of the movement.” The determining factor in the revolutionary character of a national movement is whether it “weakens, disintegrates, and undermines imperialism.”

Syria, for example, has consistently functioned as the most progressive of the multitude of Middle Eastern countries by substantially supporting the major liberation movements in the region. Since the Syrian Ba’ath party took power in 1963, the state has always supported the Palestinian and Lebanese liberation struggles and sought to keep Israeli imperialism in check. Sharing the common trait of secularism, Syria allows the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the largest Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement in Palestine, to operate comfortably out of Damascus and materially supports their struggle with supplies and resources. Bourgeois nationalists are united with proletarian movements in their opposition to imperialism. Thus, they will often lend material support to proletarian movements. Bourgeois nationalists, in some cases, make proletarian movements more likely to succeed in their revolutionary goals.

Because the nationalist bourgeoisie finds itself opposed to imperialism, they can function as an ally for the proletariat and peasantry in these same oppressed nations. We should not accept this alliance as permanent, however. Iraq provides one of the most potent examples of the fickle and unreliable nature of the nationalist bourgeoisie. The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, for instance, was primarily bourgeois in its orientation and leadership, but it also attracted a mass following in the wake of the Iraq’s independence from British colonialism in 1958. Ba’ath was not committed to socialist revolution in Iraq, but they did preside over an aggressive nationalization program in 1972, which seized oil refineries from British and American companies and allowed them to diversify Iraq’s economy.

Though these nationalizations were motivated by the access considerations of the national bourgeoisie, they also allowed the Ba’ath state to redirect revenues into public works projects that lifted nearly half the country out of poverty. In a 2006 profile piece on Saddam, PBS News writes: “as vice chairman, he oversaw the nationalization of the oil industry and advocated a national infrastructure campaign that built roads, schools, and hospitals. The once illiterate Saddam ordered a mandatory literacy program. Those who did not participate risked three years in jail, but hundreds of thousands learned to read. Iraq, at this time, created one of the best public-health systems in the Middle East — a feat that earned Saddam an award from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

True to form, Saddam and Ba’ath rose to power in direct response to British colonialism. Acting in the interests of the Iraqi national bourgeoisie, they ‘took back’ the resources monopolized by the West’s colonial subjugation and used the revenues to rapidly construct a modern Iraq, which required an educated populace, secular government, a functional road system, and social infrastructure like  hospitals. One can question the sincerity of Ba’ath, but one cannot dispute the profoundly positive effect these nationalist policies had on the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

Like Assad, Saddam’s Ba’ath state in Iraq financially supported and championed the cause of Palestinian national liberation, which was played up by the West in the months leading up to the 2003 invasion. Just six days before the invasion–the BBC reported, “Saddam Hussein has paid out thousands of dollars to families of Palestinians killed in fighting with Israel. Relatives of at least one suicide attacker as well as other militants and civilians gathered in a hall in Gaza City to receive cheques.” Later, the same article estimates that the Iraqi government had paid out nearly $35 million to Palestinian families since 2000. This is yet another example of a case in which the interests of the bourgeois nationalists align with the interests of the revolutionary proletariat.

Understanding the role of the national bourgeoisie in combating imperialism requires an understanding of how which imperialism affects the world division of labor. Every society, be it a slaveholding society like the Roman Empire, a feudal one like Europe in the Middle Ages, or a capitalist one like America, must organize the technical division of labor in historically specific ways. Every society has to organize its technical division of labor and install relationships between people which define the social division of labor, stratifying people into classes within a labor process according to the configuration of a class society.

In capitalist society, the proletariat inhabits the lowest rungs in the social division of labor, usually comprising unskilled, low-paid and mundane employment. Those of petty bourgeois standing are found in positions of skilled labor and relatively privileged points of employment within the labor process.

The division of labor must be understood as an international issue, not confined entirely to specific borders. This is precisely because capital needs to expand. As capitalism is international in scale, the people of all nations are parts of the capitalist world system. The industrial center exploits much of the world for raw materials, food, and labor. Writes Marx, “A new and international division of labor, a division suited to the requirements of the chief centers of modern industry springs up, and converts one part of the globe into a chiefly agricultural field of production, for supplying the other part which remains a chiefly industrial field.”

The broad division of labor within capitalism is a social division, with the primary function of stratification. The technical production process and its characteristics must be understood as secondary, as it is subordinate to the social forces which condition them: capital and labor. The primary function of the division of labor is stratification of classes. The social division of labor reproduces capitalist social relations in the base. It reproduces capitalist relations of production. Relations of production concern how people enter into relation with each other in the concrete production and reproduction of society.

These relations of production remain the primary determinants of any given mode of production understood concretely; as these relations of production seize upon productive forces to form the ‘unity’ of a mode of production. Thus, reproduction occupies a great importance within capitalism (and all modes of production). The primary function of the labor aristocracy is the reproduction of capitalist social relations through its influence in politics, its ideology and its economic standing in a given point of the social division of labor. The labor aristocracy occupies a relative point in the social order as enabled by the division of labor which lends not only base reproductive capacity but also a central function in the relations of production.

The labor aristocracy is bound up with ideological, political, and economic existence, having an objective material privilege within the social division of labor. Concretely, this means better wages, benefits, housing, and living conditions, the product of concessions granted by monopoly capital. Since the money for these concessions was earned through exploitation, the labor aristocracy materially benefits from exploitation.

This “worker elite” is not simply parasitic in a classical economic sense, but also socially in the sense that it rides on the back of genuine proletarian movements. Given this, the worker elite has a contradictory relationship to proletarian struggle. While it requires proletarian struggles to justify its existence from the perspective of capital; it must work against proletarian struggles to fulfill its function for capital.

The political role of the worker aristocracy is to supplant revolutionary consciousness in the proletariat with reformist or otherwise muted struggle. One of the ways the worker elite accomplishes this is by acting as a model for the proletariat to aspire to and identify with. In this sense, the existence of imperialism “muddies the waters’ of class struggle, compelling a section of workers to abandon revolutionary struggle. Although labor aristocrats may have the literal form of the proletariat, their connection to imperialism means that they are not a revolutionary class. It is the responsibility of revolutionaries to oppose imperialism and break the influence of the labor aristocracy on the worker’s movement.

Rather than allying with the labor aristocracy simply because they appear to be workers, communists should ally with workers, as well as the national bourgeoisie of oppressed nations. The national bourgeoisie has a greater interest in defeating imperialism than the labor aristocracy. To reassert itself within the world system, some sections of the stunted national and petty-bourgeoisie of Third World countries mobilize progressive cross-class alliances. To effectively gain mass support, these aspiring sections of the national bourgeoisie and national petty-bourgeoisie promote reform agendas with numerous progressive, and even socialist, features. In a concrete sense, national bourgeois of oppressed nations  are allies of the international b revolutionary working class.

The bourgeoisie in the periphery occupies a different class position from the bourgeoisie in the imperial core. Their capital is often controlled by big imperialists, so they lack the capital to develop the productive forces of their own nation. Under imperialism, capital that would ordinarily be controlled by the national capitalist is appropriated by imperialists. The national bourgeoisie occupies a lower rung on the International division of labor than even the labor aristocracy.

Combating capitalism involves organizing the oppressed and exploited. The working class has to overthrow the bourgeoisie in its own nation. In some nations, though, the main oppressor is an imperialist ruling class, which has to be kicked out as a precondition for workers’ power. Forcing imperialism and national oppression out of a country requires mass struggle, which raises expectations of further advances that will always be frustrated as long as the capitalists–even native ones–are in power. But in an independent nation, workers and oppressed groups have the “air, the light, and the elbow room,” as Engels put it, to take power into their own hands.

Demands for “democracy” and control of a nation’s own resources are inextricably tied up with class demands. The fight for the former is bound to spill into a fight for the latter to some extent. Any defeat suffered by U.S. imperialism is a blow to the power of its rulers and by extension a victory for the working class. Therefore, socialists should take sides in wars for national liberation, even if we would like the leadership of the struggle of the oppressed to be different politically or along class lines. National liberation provides opportunities for a united front against imperialist exploitation, which can be used to carry the struggle forward.

Revolutionary nationalism should be supported over the vague, immaterial notion of a “united struggle for socialism.” There are serious obstacles (such as imperialism) to such a struggle. Often, when people talk about “uniting,” they do not mean “making a serious effort to unite,” but rather “pretending as if material differences do not exist.” This is the opposite of Marxism. We must become the “tribune of the people,” responding to every manifestation of oppression. We can only become united by ending the material differences between different sections of the working class. Imperialist super profits are one such difference. It is necessary to lay bare these distinctions and tear them out by their roots. We must be willing to ally with anyone who can do this, even if they are of different classes than we are. Marxism is a materialist philosophy, meaning that it analyzes the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. Cross-class alliances are an excellent example of Materialism in practice.

This does not mean that the proletariat and the communists should not struggle for leadership in anti-imperialist organizations. The national bourgeoisie can be a powerful ally, but it is only revolutionary so long as imperialism is the dominant exploiter within a nation. As such, its ultimate goal is not to end exploitation, but to mitigate it. The proletariat, on the other hand, seeks a society in which exploitation has been abolished. This more resolute force should always attempt to keep the national bourgeoisie in check.  For this reason, communists advocate the United Front strategy against imperialism. The united front is the method through which the communist party forms a unified coalition on the basis of either a minimalist or maximalist political program.

The purposes of the united front are categorized in agitational and organizational purposes. In the category of agitation, we put the actions of coalition and linkage which the united front carries out to expand the base of people sympathetic to the party. In the category of organization, we emphasize forming mass organizations which rally people around political goals. In every united front, the communist party must strive to exercise leadership by uniting the left-wing of the front, winning over the center, and neutralizing the right-wing. The general strategy of the united front is to isolate the enemy and unite all those who can be united among the masses in action under the leadership of the party. This will help us draw out the revolutionary inclinations of the national bourgeoisie while mitigating their anti-revolutionary capabilities.

Imperialism exploits and oppresses whole swathes of the world. At the same time, imperialism enriches everyone in the home country. We might then say that imperialism is the globalization of class struggle. That is, it transforms the nations of the world into exploiter nations and exploited nations. Imperialism propels class conflict onto the world stage. As the latest stage of capitalism, it is the dominant exploiter. To fight against exploitation, we must bring imperialism to its knees.
Christopher C is a Marxist-Leninist activist and writer.


  1. Lenin, Vladimir Ilʹich. Imperialism: The highest stage of capitalism. Resistance Books, 1999.
  2. Marx, Karl. Capital: a critique of political economy, Volume 1. Arsalan Ahmed, 2015.
  3. The Party for Socialism and Liberation, Imperialism in the 21st Century, 2015.
  4. Arnove, Anthony. Iraq: The logic of withdrawal. Macmillan Education AU, 2007.
  5. Foster, John Bellamy, and Robert W. McChesney. “The endless crisis.” Monthly review 64.1 (2012): 1.
  6. Anghie, Antony. Imperialism, sovereignty and the making of international law. Vol. 37. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  7. World Investment Report 2003, UNCTAD.
  8. Parenti, Michael. Against empire. City Lights Books, 1995.
  9. Losurdo, Domenico. Class Struggle: A Political and Philosophical History. Springer, 2016.
  10. Mao, Zedong. The role of the Chinese Communist Party in the national war. Foreign Languages Press, 1956.
  11. Stalin, Joseph. Marxism and the national question. Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1954.
  12. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, “PFLP condemns attack on Syria,” November 3, 2008, Fight Back! News.
  13. Said K. Aburish, “How Saddam Hussein Came to Power,” 2002, From Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge, Published in The Saddam Hussein Reader, pg. 41-42.
  14. Jessica Moore, “Saddam Hussein’s Rise to Power,” 2003, PBS News.
  15. Turi Munthe (Editor), The Saddam Hussein Reader, 2002, pg. Xv-xviii.
  16. Bob Feldman, “A People’s History of Iraq: 1950 to November 1963,” February 2, 2006, Toward Freedom.
  17. CNN, “Iraqi insurgents being trained in Iran, US says,” April 11, 2007.
  18. Michael Perry, “So what if Iran is Interfering in Iraq?,” February 21, 2007,
  19. Althusser, Louis. 1971. On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Verso Publishing; 2014.
  20. Bromma, “The Worker Elite: Notes on the Labor Aristocracy,” Kersplebedeb,  2015.
  21. John Smith, Imperialism in the 21st Century, Monthly Review, 2016.
  22. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The communist manifesto. Penguin, 2002.
  23. Hou, Fu-wu. A Short History of Chinese Communism, Completely Updated. Prentice Hall, 1973.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s