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Russian Imperialism 1900-1945 Essay

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Updated: Jan 14th, 2022


Lenin was Russian Marxist revolutionary who believed the imperial colonialism to be the last stage of capitalist development. The main trait of capitalism was a free competition and trade. Private owners should have formed a net of trades that could bring more profits and transit capitalism to imperialism. In Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism Lenin explained the emergence of monopoly while the free competition gets mature. Therefore, small businesses are taken up by large industries, which in their turn form solid co-operation with banks in order to control millions. Lenin elaborated on the details of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, he developed and modified it in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. This paper will provide evidences of imperialism to have negative consequences while being the last stage of capitalism.

The Premises to Article Writing

In order to understand why Lenin decided to elaborate on such issues, the overall social and political situation in the world has to be considered. The article was written in 1917 when Lenin gave his explanation of why the World War One broke out stating the ‘predatory’ essence of the powerful states to take over each other economically and politically. Once capitalism develops into imperialism and the large-scale industries make it possible to dominate for a certain country, there appears a need to invade other economies for more profits. To be more exact, once capitalism undergoes the stage of maturing and transforms into a form of finance capitalism when advanced economies invest in under-developed economies, there appears a conflict between monopolies and the great powers. Lenin states that business and government inevitably face a problem of geopolitical conflict and the desire to take over those territories for economic exploitation (Lenin, p. 150).

Socio-Political Situation in the World, 1910s

The economical politics of the beginning of the twentieth century all around the word was different from what Lenin introduced. Although he considered that industries were the ones to develop economical financial cooperation with banks, there also existed converse relationship; namely, the banks were conquering the industries and that is how finance capitalism appeared. There are several explicit examples of such economical order. While the Case Manhattan bank was controlled by Rockefellers in the United States of America, German banks used to purchase shares rather than dominate entirely. So, the US and Britain sustained the same capitalist order unlike Japan, for example, with its conglomerates with industrial divisions and banks – Zaibatsu and Keiretsu.

Lenin devoted special attention to cartels as integrative parts of the imperialist –building process. He claimed that the cartels that had divided the economical capital between themselves may have been demolished during the war. Significantly, after Lenin wrote his pamphlet, the strong nationalism among world economies turned out to raze international trusts. This left the cartels to imperialist countries’ disposal only. The international trusts, however, did not present vital importance later.

The Earth was divided into several sections of economical influence and dominance of super powers. This was the major premise to the World War I, in fact. The entire war’s concept was a fight for the geographical territory of economic exploitation. As a result the colonies of different countries were established as the aftermath of WWI and this gave a reason for the WWII premises’ emerging. Capitalist states were fighting each other to acquire dominance for more profitable economical position.

There were other scholars trying to support Lenin in his claims that imperialism is the advanced stage of capitalism. Kautsky also thought that in 1900s imperialism was a heightened capitalism due to the annexations of large agrarian areas. This was a feature portraying those times’ current political order very vividly. Moreover, this was a farsighted strategy of capitalists since they annexed agrarian territories for the sake of further capturing of industries (Lenin, p. 178). This gives an understanding that capitalism was a gradating imperialism politics order working for capturing great capitals and power for future single dominance.

However, the world saw other examples of such annexations. Germany had intention to conquer Belgium; France wished to get Larraine into their ownerships. This, of course, aroused many contradictions on the world’s political arena. There were rivalries all over the states as the powers wanted to subdue each other. Interestingly, the countries involved in that historical division by super powers have been influenced then with an impact until nowadays. For example, the economic statistics of those times showcases the rivalries among several colonies, while the Central Europe was seemingly peaceful and still undergoes the development stage.

Social Perception of Imperialism

The beginning of 1900s was significant for the way different social layers accepted the political changes and geopolitical race. In 1916 there were people who had properties and so it was beneficial for them to support imperialism. The reason for that was concentration of finance capitals in the hands of several oligarchs, which in its turn implied those people being controllers of the entire financial situation. It was an age of great transformations in political order due to technical developments, industries, and banks. Individuals, holding capitals in their hands, saw great opportunities and met imperialism enthusiastically. Those were German social and Britain’s Fabian imperialists. The bourgeois supported imperialism latently. In Russia Lenin’s speeches aroused many debates and influenced revolutions, especially the Bolshevik Revolution.

Bolshevik Revolution

So, the Revolution itself came in two parts. First, it was the Russian Revolution in 1917, February. The second Bolshevik Revolution was organized on 1917, October. The latter brought unbelievable changes to the political and social order of Russia. Lenin’s role in it was huge. He was the one to explain to people that the gap between proletariat and wealthy people can be closed. The conditions Russia of those days offered its people were dreadful. People had to pay enormous taxes and barely had anything left to provide families with. The major order was autocratic presented by Tsar Nicolas, which people hated eventually after Lenin’s proclamations. Bolsheviks wanted Tsar to uphold communist way of ruling. As a result the Bolshevik Revolution broke out. Another reason for people to underestimate Tsar was a failure in Japanese-Russian war, 1904. People lost their faith and evidently needed another leader. So, Lenin took a position of a leader chosen by people. Educated and confident in his opinions, Lenin appeared as a fighter for proletariat’s rights and people’s hope that the never-existed social equality can prevail.

To get closer to this aim, although using peaceful methods, people went out in the streets in 1905 and organized a demonstration in order to show they want better life conditions, hence, another way of governance. Unfortunately, such airing of their views was met violently by Tsar’s troops. Nevertheless, the continuing protests by people made the Tsar agree to form the Dumas. The later, however, never justified their initial appointment and people wanted Tsar’s abdication.

The Bolshevik Revolution occurred eight months after the end of WWI. The strategy of WWI was also a premise for people to become completely exhausted and hate Tsar Regime. The Bolshevik Revolution was a gradual and growing discontent of people with the government. They did not want to live under terrible life conditions and experience ill-conceived warfare. The beginning of the previous century was a turning point in the history of Russia because people felt they could have another way of life and they expressed their desire through educated and straightforward Lenin, who in his turn pursued more global aims then simply satisfaction of nation with quality of life.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was the one to lead Russian working class under the communist flag. This was a very well organized movement. The newspaper Pravda (translated to English as Truth) was founded. It served as a distribution of propaganda and news to people. He appealed to people and made them revolt. This affected the history greatly because all speeches Lenin had opposed government, the proletariat wanted power in its hands.

Lenin’s slogans like ‘peace, bread, and land’ were extremely appealing to people. The anti-war protests and desire of peace became prevalent among Bolsheviks. To stop the war was the best offer for Russians who were fed up with hunger and poor economy. In fact, people would have supported anyone who could promise the end of war. Lenin ensured the supplies of food and work places. Importantly, Lenin claimed he would divide the land among farmers and let them make their own money – Tsar denied this kind of business. However, Lenin ended up escaping to Finland after he was wounded during one of the demonstrations.

The Revolution, therefore, was the only way out. Of course, any peaceful methods were no more relevant. Trotsky was the one to work out the strategy. He plotted the capture of main government buildings. Having the troops from Petrograd, Trotsky and Lenin seized essential railway stations and roads. The hardest task was to capture the Tsar Palace, where they faced strong opposition, which resulted in their victory, however. The members of Tsar Family were apprehended and killed. Tsar Nicolas II was the last Emperor of Russia after Bolshevik’s victory.


The aftermath of the WWI caused significant changes in economic order in Russia. Imperialism was then the major form of government due to Bolshevik leaders, like Vladimir Lenin. The industries reached their utmost development in order to form imperialism out of capitalism. Therefore, imperialism became the only possible form to keep the entire economic system working because of its growing potential. However, it was a threat to the existing government forms at the same time. Hence, imperialism is the last stage of the capitalism development since only this way the capitals can be controlled and expanded. Nevertheless, the actual form of imperialism was devastating for the social orders and war broke out. Evidently, the war was a fight for more profits and territories of economical exploitation. Hence, imperialism holds nothing but destruction and devastation. Imperialism should be avoided in contemporary society since the power and finances are kept in hands of minorities, leaving others in poverty.

Works Cited

Lenin, Vladimir. Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. New York: Pluto Press, 1996. Print.

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