IV. The Marxist Criteria for an Imperialist Great Power




In the following chapter we will summarize our theoretical understanding of the consequences of the Marxist theory of imperialism, as it was developed by Lenin, for the respective definition of imperialist and semi-colonial states. [1]




Main Characteristics of an Imperialist respectively a Semi-Colonial State




Lenin described the essential characteristic of imperialism as the formation of monopolies which dominate the economy. Related to this, he pointed out the fusion of banking and industrial capital into financial capital, the increase in capital export alongside the export of commodities, and the struggle for spheres of influence, specifically colonies.


In Imperialism and the Split in Socialism – his most comprehensive theoretical essay on imperialism – Lenin gave the following definition of imperialism:


We have to begin with as precise and full a definition of imperialism as possible. Imperialism is a specific historical stage of capitalism. Its specific character is threefold: imperialism is monopoly capitalism; parasitic, or decaying capitalism; moribund capitalism. The supplanting of free competition by monopoly is the fundamental economic feature, the quintessence of imperialism. Monopoly manifests itself in five principal forms: (1) cartels, syndicates and trusts—the concentration of production has reached a degree which gives rise to these monopolistic associations of capitalists; (2) the monopolistic position of the big banks—three, four or five giant banks manipulate the whole economic life of America, France, Germany; (3) seizure of the sources of raw material by the trusts and the financial oligarchy (finance capital is monopoly industrial capital merged with bank capital); (4) the (economic) partition of the world by the international cartels has begun. There are already over one hundred such international cartels, which command the entire world market and divide it “amicably” among themselves—until war redivides it. The export of capital, as distinct from the export of commodities under non-monopoly capitalism, is a highly characteristic phenomenon and is closely linked with the economic and territorial-political partition of the world; (5) the territorial partition of the world (colonies) is completed.“ [2]


A widespread flaw in defining the class character of states is to attempt analyzing them in isolation. One takes this or that figure of wealth, this or that number of corporations and derives from them the supposed class character of a given state. However, such an approach is not appropriate for Marxists as it is in fundamental contradiction to the method on which our philosophical Weltanschauung is based. It is impossible to arrive to a correct understanding without approaching this issue from the viewpoint of materialist dialectic. This method, which is the methodological basis of Marxism, obligates us to analyze each thing, each phenomenon not in isolation but in relation to others.


Abram Deborin, the leading Marxist philosopher in the USSR in the 1920s before the Stalinist clampdown, formulated this issue very well. “Nothing in the world exists in and of itself but everything exists in relation to the rest of the totality.” [3]


Such a view is based on the dialectical view of things and their development which Lenin formulated so concisely in 1915 on his philosophical article On the Question of Dialectics. In this article Lenin emphasized that it is fundamental to understand that development (or evolution) in general is based on unity of opposites, a unity which is characterized by struggle and interaction or, in other words, relationships of contradictions in permanent motion.


The two basic (…) conceptions of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation). In the first conception of motion, self - movement, its driving force, its source, its motive, remains in the shade (or this source is made external—God, subject, etc.). In the second conception the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of “self”- movement. The first conception is lifeless, pale and dry. The second is living. The second alone furnishes the key to the “self-movement” of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to the “leaps,” to the “break in continuity,” to the “transformation into the opposite,” to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new. The unity (coincidence, identity, equal action) of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute.[4]


Approaching things, including states, by analyzing them in relation to others is the fundamental basis to arrive to a correct understanding. Thus, a given state must be viewed not only as a separate unit, but first and foremost in its relation to other states and nations. Similarly, by the way, classes can only be understood in relation to one other. This is self-evident since states, by definition, could not exist in isolation but only because other states exist too. The same, again, in the case of classes: There is no bourgeoisie without a working class. There are no big landowners without rural workers and peasants. Likewise, there are no imperialist states without colonies and semi-colonies. There is no single Great Power but several Great Powers which are in rivalry to each other. [5]


We note, as an aside, that the German centrist theoretician Karl Kautsky developed in 1914 a theory, according to which the economic laws of capitalism would push the bourgeoisie to overcome the stage of imperialism and to enter a stage called “ultra-imperialism.” This epoch would be characterized by an increasing exploitation of the working class as well as of the colonial and semi-colonial countries. At the same time, the imperialist powers would increasingly overcome their rivalry and unite in a single imperialist trust or alliance. However, this theory of ultra-imperialism has been totally refuted by the history of the 20th century. Nevertheless, there are a number of revisionist theoreticians today who advocate a remake of this theory by suggesting that modern imperialism would be characterized not by rivalry between Great Powers but rather by the existence of a global “Empire” (e.g. Negri, Panitch, Gindin, etc.). In fact, those Marxists who deny the imperialist character of China and Russia and who claim that there exists only a more or less united imperialist bloc, led by the U.S., come very close to Kautsky’s theory of ultra-imperialism! [6]


The comparability of states and classes in this context is particularly valid given the fact that states, in the Marxist understanding, are “special bodies of armed men which serve the ruling class,” as Lenin put it in 1917 in his famous book State and Revolution. [7]


The formation of monopolies and Great Powers increasingly led to the division of the entire world into different spheres of influence among the rival imperialist states and the subjugation of most countries under these few great powers. From this follows an essential feature of Lenin’s (and Trotsky’s) analysis of imperialism: the characterization of the connection between the imperialist nations and the huge majority of people living in the capitalistically less developed countries as a relationship of oppression. In fact Lenin, and following him, Trotsky too, came to the conclusion that this division of the world’s nations into oppressor and oppressed nations is one of the most important characteristics of the imperialist epoch:


Imperialism means the progressively mounting oppression of the nations of the world by a handful of Great Powers (…) That is why the focal point in the Social-Democratic programme must be that division of nations into oppressor and oppressed which forms the essence of imperialism, and is deceitfully evaded by the social-chauvinists and Kautsky. This division is not significant from the angle of bourgeois pacifism or the philistine Utopia of peaceful competition among independent nations under capitalism, but it is most significant from the angle of the revolutionary struggle against imperialism.[8]


From this, Lenin concluded that the division between oppressed and oppressor nations must constitute a central feature of the Marxist program:


The programme of Social-Democracy (this is how the Marxists called themselves at that time, Ed.), as a counter-balance to this petty-bourgeois, opportunist utopia, must postulate the division of nations into oppressor and oppressed as basic, significant and inevitable under imperialism.[9]


The economic basis of the relationship between imperialist and semi-colonial states is what Lenin called the super-exploitation of these oppressed nations by the imperialist monopolies. Because of this super-exploitation, monopoly capital can acquire – in addition to the average profit rate – an extra profit. These extra-profits are important additions to the profits which monopoly capital already extracts from the workers in the rich countries. They are, by the way, an essential source to bribe the upper, aristocratic sectors of the working class and in particular the labor bureaucracy in the imperialist countries – features which help to strengthen the rule of monopoly capital.


In our book, The Great Robbery of the South, we have elaborated basically four different forms of super-exploitation by which monopoly capital obtains extra profits from colonial and semi-colonial countries: [10]


i) Capital export as productive investment


ii) Capital export as money capital (loans, currency reserves, speculation, etc.)


iii) Value transfer via unequal exchange


iv) Value transfer via migration (based on the super-exploitation of migrants, a nationally oppressed layer of the working class)


The relationship between states has to be seen always in the totality of its economic, political, and military features – “the entire totality of the manifold relations of this thing to others“ (Lenin). [11] An imperialist state usually enters a relationship with other states and nations whom it oppresses, in one way or another, and super-exploits – i.e., appropriates a share of its produced capitalist value. However, this has to be viewed in its totality, i.e., if a state gains certain profits from foreign investment but has to pay much more (debt service, profit repatriation, etc.) to other countries’ foreign investment, loans etc., this state can usually not being considered as imperialist. Likewise, the different forms of oppression and super-exploitation can occur in various combinations or only in one but not another form. Smaller imperialist states usually do not attack or threaten semi-colonies by armed forces. This can be even true for a Great Power like Japan. The latter, however, super-exploits many oppressed people via capital export but only to a very small degree via migration. Such super-exploitation of migrants figures prominently in Russia, which, on the other hand, exports much less capital than Japan.


Naturally, it is not sufficient to divide countries into categories of imperialist or semi-colonial states. There are of course many different shades. This already begins with differences among Great Powers. There are Great Powers like the strongest one, the US, but also others which were economically strong but militarily much weaker in recent decades (like Japan or Germany). As said above, one needs to consider the totality of a state’s economic, political, and military position in the global hierarchy of states. Thus, we can consider a given state as imperialist even it is economically weaker, but still possesses a relatively strong political and military position (like Russia before 1917 and, again, since the early 2000s). Such a strong political and military position can be used to oppress other countries and nations and to appropriate capitalist value from them.


We have elaborated in much detail in past works that such unevenness between the Great Powers themselves has always been a prominent feature throughout the whole history of modern capitalism. [12] In Chapter VII below we will give a few examples to demonstrate such unevenness. At this point we limit ourselves to refer to the vast differences in industrial development, economic productivity, capital export, loans, etc. between different imperialist states at a time when Lenin and Trotsky elaborated the Marxist theory of imperialism.


We can state in general that the unevenness in historical developments resulted in the situation that old, “mature” imperialist powers (like Britain or France) existed (and rivaled) with newer, rising powers (like the U.S. or Germany) as well as with more backward powers (like Russia, Austrian-Hungary Empire, Italy or Japan).


Lenin himself drew attention to such unevenness repeatedly. In his Notebooks on Imperialism, for example, he suggested a “hierarchization” among the Great Powers. In one of his notes, he differentiated between three categories of imperialist states:


I. Three chief (fully independent) countries: Great Britain, Germany, United States


II. Secondary (first class, but not fully independent): France, Russia, Japan


III. Italy, Austria-Hungary [13]


Furthermore, we have to differentiate between Great Powers and smaller imperialist states (like Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, the Scandinavian countries, etc.). Obviously they are not the equals of the Great Powers, but rather are subordinated to them. These smaller imperialist states are politically and militarily dependent on one or several Great Powers in order to participate in the global imperialist order. Hence, they ensure their privileged position by entering economic, political, and military alliances with the Great Powers like the EU, OECD, IMF, World Bank, WTO, NATO, and various “partnerships.” However, these smaller imperialist states are not super-exploited by the Great Powers but rather participate in the super-exploitation of the semi-colonial world by appropriating a significant amount of value from semi-colonies.


The Marxist classics have always recognized that there can be important differences in power, political regime, etc. between the different imperialist powers. In their famous pamphlet Socialism and War, Lenin and Zinoviev explained that during the imperialist epoch, it is typical to see stronger and weaker, more advanced and more backward imperialist powers. However, these disparities did not lead the two leaders of the Bolshevik party to abandon their conclusion that all of these great powers were imperialist.


The principal spheres of investment of British capital are the British colonies, which are very large also in America (for example, Canada), not to mention Asia, etc. In this case, enormous exports of capital are bound up most closely with vast colonies, of the importance of which for imperialism I shall speak later. In the case of France the situation is different. French capital exports are invested mainly in Europe, primarily in Russia (at least ten thousand million francs). This is mainly loan capital, government loans, and not capital invested in industrial undertakings. Unlike British colonial imperialism, French imperialism might be termed usury imperialism. In the case of Germany, we have a third type; colonies are inconsiderable, and German capital invested abroad is divided most evenly between Europe and America.[14]


To summarize, it is impossible to understand imperialism without recognizing the unevenness of world capitalism which includes also understanding the uneven development among the Great Powers themselves. It is not for nothing that Trotsky considered unevenness as “the most general law of the historic process. [15]


It is also essential to see finance capital as fusion between industrial and banking capital. It is a widespread eclectic mistake among various centrist to understand finance capital, in a bourgeois sense, as solely "banking capital". [16] As a result of such mistake such people characterize only those states as imperialist which have the most powerful banking or financial system (like the U.S.). Furthermore, finance capital in Marxist sense is characterized by a high degree of monopolization. As a result we can observe important changes compared to the period of ascending capitalism. Hilferding, Lenin and Bukharin noted that policies like protectionism and even simple trade have changed their character in the monopolistic stage of capitalism. Here the state plays an increasingly crucial role. One of its tools is protectionism which helps in securing position of monopolies via permanent tariffs, subsidies, credit policies of imperialist states, etc. Other examples are state financial diplomacy via credit support, the creation of customs unions or free trade agreements, etc.


In conclusion, how shall Marxists define an imperialist state? The formula, which we have developed in past works and which seems to us as still the most precise, is the following: An imperialist state is a capitalist state whose monopolies and state apparatus have a position in the world order where they first and foremost dominate other states and nations. As a result they gain extra-profits and other economic, political and/or military advantages from such a relationship based on super-exploitation and oppression. [17]


Likewise, one also has to differentiate between different types of semi-colonies. Obviously there are huge differences today between Peru and Argentina or Brazil, Congo and Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, Nepal and Thailand, Kazakhstan and Poland. Some countries are more industrialized than others, some have achieved a certain political latitude and others not. Hence, we can differentiate between advanced or industrialized semi-colonies like for example Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Poland or Thailand on the one hand and poorer or semi-industrialized semi-colonies like Bolivia, Peru, the Sub-Saharan African countries (except South Africa), Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia etc.


Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that these different types of semi-colonies have much more in common than what differentiates between them, as Trotsky has already pointed out:


Colonial and semi-colonial – and therefore backward – countries, which embrace by far the greater part of mankind, differ extraordinarily from one another in their degree of backwardness, representing an historical ladder reaching from nomadry, and even cannibalism, up to the most modern industrial culture. The combination of extremes in one degree or another characterizes all of the backward countries. However, the hierarchy of backwardness, if one may employ such an expression, is determined by the specific weight of the elements of barbarism and culture in the life of each colonial country. Equatorial Africa lags far behind Algeria, Paraguay behind Mexico, Abyssinia behind India or China. With their common economic dependence upon the imperialist metropolis, their political dependence bears in some instances the character of open colonial slavery (India, Equatorial Africa), while in others it is concealed by the fiction of State independence (China, Latin America).[18]


To summarize our definition of semi-colonies we propose the following formula: A semi-colonial country is a capitalist state whose economy and state apparatus have a position in the world order where they first and foremost are dominated by other states and nations. As a result they create extra-profits and give other economic, political and/or military advantages to the imperialist monopolies and states through their relationship based on super-exploitation and oppression.




Is a Transition from Being One Type of State to Another Possible?




The analysis and division of countries into different types must not be understood in a dogmatic, mechanistic way, but rather in a Marxist, i.e. dialectical, way. Lenin already pointed out that definitions are not abstract dogmas but have to be understood as elastic categories: „…without forgetting the conditional and relative value of all definitions in general, which can never embrace all the concatenations of a phenomenon in its full development…“. [19]


Hence, it would be wrong to imagine a Chinese Wall separating the two categories, imperialist and semi-colonial states. As we have argued on other occasions there have been several examples where, under exceptional circumstances, a dependent state was able to become an imperialist country as well as the other way round. The central reason for this is the law of uneven and combined development which explains the different tempos of development of productive forces in different nations and their interaction which again results in instability, clashes, wars and transformations of existing political and social relations. It is therefore only logical that such developments can bring about the emergence and growth of new capitalist powers as well as the decline of old powers. [20]


Lenin himself has explicitly pointed out the possibility that backward, semi-colonial countries could transform their class character:


Capitalism is growing with the greatest rapidity in the colonies and in overseas countries. Among the latter, new imperialist powers are emerging (e.g., Japan).[21]


Indeed, as we have pointed out elsewhere, there have been various historical examples of such transformations. There is the example of Czechoslovakia which was a colony in the Habsburg Empire but became – after the implosion of the latter in 1918 – a minor imperialist power. Likewise, South Korea and Israel became imperialist states in the 1990s as did Russia and China in the early and late part of the first decade of the 2000s respectively. [22] On the other hand, Portugal lost its imperialist status during the last four decades following the loss of its colonies in 1974.




“Sub-Imperialism” – A Useful Category?




A number of progressive theoreticians support the conception of a “transitional” or “sub-imperialist” state as a third, additional category of countries in addition to colonial and semi-colonial countries. [23] We have elaborated our criticism of the theory of sub-imperialism in The Great Robbery of the South and we will only summarize here briefly some conclusions. [24]


Naturally if states undergo a process of transformation from an imperialist to a semi-colonial country or the other way around, they are “in transition” and in this sense it can be useful to describe a temporary process of transformation. However, the supporters of the theory of sub-imperialism don’t understand this as a category to describe the transition process but rather see it as a separate, independent category. And here lies the fundamental problem.


Capitalism unites all nations in the world via economic and political expansion and the formation of a world market. This process has taken place from the beginning of the capitalist mode of production and has tremendously accelerated in the epoch of imperialism. Under these conditions, no nation escapes the formation of ever closer economic and political ties with the dominant imperialist powers. Such close relations automatically create, modify, and reproduce mechanisms of exploitation and super-exploitation. In other words, under capitalism – and even more under imperialism – all nations are sucked into the process of super-exploitation. Either they are strong enough and become part of the oppressing nations, or they are pushed into the camp of the majority of humanity – the oppressed nations. There is no “third camp” in between.


Of course, there are significant differences in the development of the productive forces among the imperialist states as well as among the semi-colonial countries. This is only logical given the unequal dynamic of development between nations. Hence, it is indeed true that there are bigger and smaller imperialist countries which are unequal. However, the point is that the smaller are not exploited by bigger imperialist powers. For example the USA and Canada are certainly not equal but also don’t systematically exploit each other. The same is true for Germany and Austria or France and Belgium, Luxemburg or Switzerland. However they are all imperialist nations. Why? Because they have developed significant monopoly capital which systematically exploits and transfers value from the South, and they are part of an international imperialist order from which they profit and defend by various means. Likewise there are advanced semi-colonies which have a certain regional influence (e.g., Brazil, India, Greece) and others which have none; some are stronger and others are weaker. But as Marxist we must focus on the law of value and the transfer of value between countries and the political order associated with this. And here it is obvious that the industrialized semi-colonies are also dominated and super-exploited by the imperialist monopolies. For these reasons we reject the usefulness of the category of “Sub-Imperialism” as part of the Marxist analytical apparatus.


Finally, as an aside, we draw attention to the fact that objectively the theory of sub-imperialism is a rehash of similar attempts in the 1920s. As we pointed out somewhere else, the Japanese ex-Marxist Takahashi Kamekichi developed at that time his notorious theory of Japan as a "petty imperialism". Takahashi noted that, given Japan’s backwardness in the areas of financial capital and capital export, Japanese capitalism "had not yet attained the stage of imperialism," to use Lenin's terms. From this he concluded that Japanese socialists should not see the main enemy as being the domestic bourgeoisie, but rather the Western powers.


If you look at Japanese capitalism internationally, [he argued,] it may indeed be imperialistic. However, at the most, it is an imperialistic country as the petit bourgeois is to the grand bourgeois. If we take the term petit bourgeois and establish the category of petty imperialism, Japan is but a petty imperialist country. Thus, just as the interests of the petty bourgeoisie coincide with those of the proletariat and are not one with the interests of the grande bourgeoisie, the interests of petty imperialist countries coincide more with those of countries subject to imperialism than with those of large imperialist countries.”


Takahashi went on to assert that there was considerable evidence that Japan too “is in the position of a country subject to imperialism. (…) Consequently, [Japan's] international class role, rather than coinciding with that of imperialist countries like Britain and the United States, coincides far more with that of China, India, and other countries subject to imperialism.[25]


In short, Takahashi objectively provided a social-imperialist theory which justified the expansionist aspirations of the Japanese ruling class and Japanese communists correctly attacked him for this bankrupt theory.


Unfortunately, a number of modern successors are, most likely without being aware, following the path of Takahashi’s theory in order to “belittle”, i.e. to justify, Russian and Chinese imperialism and, among other things, to propagate an alliance of oppressed peoples with the great Eastern powers.


[1] We have dealt with Lenin’s theory of imperialism extensively in other publications. See, for example: Michael Pröbsting: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 25, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, 2013, http://www.great-robbery-of-the-south.net/; Michael Pröbsting: Imperialism and the Decline of Capitalism (2008), in: Richard Brenner, Michael Pröbsting, Keith Spencer: The Credit Crunch – A Marxist Analysis (2008), http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-and-globalization/

[2] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism and the Split in Socialism (1916); in: CW Vol. 23, pp. 105-106 [Emphases in the original]

[3] Abram Deborin: Lenin als revolutionärer Dialektiker (1925); in: Nikolai Bucharin/Abram Deborin: Kontroversen über dialektischen und mechanistischen Materialismus, Frankfurt a.M. 1974, p. 136 [our translation]

[4] V.I. Lenin: On the Question of Dialectics (1915); in: LCW 38, p.358 [Emphases in the original]

[5] This, by the way, is also true for workers states (including deformed ones). Such countries represent, casted in the form of a state, the state of the international equilibrium between the antagonistic classes. This was also true in the case of the Stalinist states, albeit this relationship was complicated by the bureaucratic machinery of the ruling caste. See on this our analysis of Stalinist states: Michael Pröbsting: Cuba’s Revolution Sold Out? The Road from Revolution to the Restoration of Capitalism (Chapter II), August 2013, RCIT Books, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/cuba-s-revolution-sold-out/

[6] We have dealt with these arguments in Michael Pröbsting: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 25, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/

[7] A state arises, a special power is created, special bodies of armed men, and every revolution, by destroying the state apparatus, shows us the naked class struggle, clearly shows us how the ruling class strives to restore the special bodies of armed men which serve it, and how the oppressed class strives to create a new organisation of this kind, capable of serving the exploited instead of the exploiters. (V. I. Lenin: The State and Revolution. The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution (1917), in: LCW Vol. 25, p. 395). Such an understanding was based on the state theory of Marx and Engels. See for example, the latter’s’ book Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State in which he analyzed the historical origin of the state: This public force exists in every state; it consists not merely of armed men, but also of material appendages, prisons and coercive institutions of all kinds…” (Friedrich Engels: The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. In the Light of the Researches by Lewis H. Morgan (1884), in: MECW Vol. 26, p. 270)

[8] V. I. Lenin: The revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (1915); in: LCW 21, p. 409

[9] V. I. Lenin: The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (1916); in: LCW 22, p. 147

[10] Beside the extensive analysis in our book The Great Robbery of the South (see above) we refer readers also to our booklet on the super-exploitation of migrants (in German language): Michael Pröbsting: Marxismus, Migration und revolutionäre Integration (2010); in: Revolutionärer Kommunismus, Nr. 7, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/werk-7. A summary of this study in English-language: Michael Pröbsting: Marxism, Migration and revolutionary Integration, in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 1 (English-language Journal of the RCIT), http://www.thecommunists.net/oppressed/revolutionary-integration/

[11] V. I. Lenin: Conspectus of Hegel’s Science of Logic (1914); in: Collected Works Vol. 38, p. 220

[12] We have elaborated such a historical examination on various occasions, most importantly in Michael Pröbsting: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power.

[13] V.I.Lenin: On the Question of Imperialism, in: LCW 39, p. 202

[14] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism. The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916), in: LCW Vol. 22, p. 243. In the same book, Lenin also explained that he judged imperialist states not only in terms of their present condition, but also in terms of their direction of development. In other words, he recognized – in contrast to the pro-Eastern social-imperialists, who refuse to recognize China and Russia as imperialist powers – the character and dynamic of emerging great powers like Russia or Japan during his time: “This is because the only conceivable basis under capitalism for the division of spheres of influence, interests, colonies, etc., is a calculation of the strength of those participating, their general economic, financial, military strength, etc. And the strength of these participants in the division does not change to an equal degree, for the even development of different undertakings, trusts, branches of industry, or countries is impossible under capitalism. Half a century ago Germany was a miserable, insignificant country, if her capitalist strength is compared with that of the Britain of that time; Japan compared with Russia in the same way. Is it “conceivable” that in ten or twenty years’ time the relative strength of the imperialist powers will have remained unchanged? It is out of the question.“ (V. I. Lenin: Imperialism. The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) ; in: LCW Vol. 22, p. 295)

[15] Leon Trotsky: History of the Russian Revolution (1930), Haymarket Books, Chicago 2008, p. 5

[16] We have dealt with this issue in more detail in Michael Pröbsting: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power.

[17] We think such a definition of an imperialist state is in accordance with the brief definition which Lenin gave in one of his writings on imperialism in 1916: „… imperialist Great Powers (i.e., powers that oppress a whole number of nations and enmesh them in dependence on finance capital, etc.)…“ (V. I. Lenin: A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism (1916); in: LCW Vol. 23, p. 34)

[18] Leon Trotsky: The Chinese Revolution (Introduction to Harold R. Isaacs, The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution, London 1938); http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/xx/china.htm

[19] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism; in: LCW 22, p. 266

[20] We have dealt with the issue of the emergence of new imperialist powers extensively. On China as an emerging imperialist power see the RCIT's literature mentioned above. On Russia as an emerging imperialist power see:

Michael Pröbsting: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 25, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; Michael Pröbsting: Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 21, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/

[21] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) ; in: LCW Vol. 22, p. 274

[22] We have analyzed South Korea’s transformation into a minor imperialist power in Michael Pröbsting: Der kapitalistische Aufholprozeß in Südkorea und Taiwan; in: Revolutionärer Marxismus Nr. 20 (1996). A shortened version of this article appeared as “Capitalist Development on South Korea and Taiwan” in: Trotskyist International No. 21 (1997), http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/capitalism-in-south-korea-taiwan/. On Israel as a minor imperialist power see Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine“, in: Revolutionary Communism Nr. 10 (June 2013), p. 29, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/permanent-revolution-in-palestine

[23] See e.g. Ruy Mauro Marini: Brazilian Subimperialism, in: Monthly Review Vol. 23, No. 9 (February 1972), pp. 14-24; Mário Costa de Paiva Guimarães Júnior, Tiago Camarinha Lopes: Trotsky’s Law of Uneven and Combined Development in Marini’s Dialectics of Dependency, Fourth Annual Conference in Political Economy, July 9-11, 2013, The Hague, The Netherlands; Tiago Camarinha Lopes: Marx and Marini on Absolute and Relative Surplus Value, on: International Critical Thought, Vol. 3, Issue 2 (2013); currently, Patrick Bond and Ana Garcia are among the most prominent supporters of the theory of sub-imperialism. See e.g. Patrick Bond and Ana Garcia (Eds.): BRICS – An Anti-Capitalist Critique, Pluto Press, London 2015; Patrick Bond: Towards a Broader Theory of Imperialism, 2018-04-19, http://roape.net/2018/04/18/towards-a-broader-theory-of-imperialism/; Patrick Bond: BRICS and the tendency to sub-imperialism, 2014-04-10, Pambazuka, Issue 673, http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/91303

[24] See Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South, pp. 220-228. See http://www.great-robbery-of-the-south.net/great-robbery-of-south-online/download-chapters-1/chapter9/

[25] All quotes are taken from Germaine A. Hoston: Marxism and the Crisis of Development in Prewar Japan, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1986, pp. 80-81