‘Long Depression’


Imperialist wars, loot and plunder are destroying the lives of people, especially in the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Middle East has remained at the centre of US imperialist aggression as well as the theatre of intensifying inter-imperialist rivalry. The working masses of these countries have been going through the horrors of wars for past many decades. The recent US imperialist intervention in Ukraine as well as in certain Latin American countries has destroyed the economy and sovereignty of these countries. For the working people around the world, the US imperialism particularly and Imperialism in general remains the arch enemy.

However, despite the military aggressiveness, Imperialism in general and especially the US Imperialism has become much more fragile than ever. The recent crises have shown its hollowness quite clearly. The unprecedented financialisation, integration of world markets, globalisation of capital, deregulation of labour markets, phenomenal increase in speculative and unproductive capital has made the entire world capitalist system extremely integrated and prone to recessions and collapse. The present crisis broke out in a cataclysmic fashion in 2007-08. However, various Marxist and heterodox economists have effectively argued that imperialism has remained in recession since the 1970s. It never really recovered after the 1973 crisis. All the booms after that were either extremely short-lived or were due to speculative bubbles. Neoliberalism, globalisation and financialisation only delayed the cataclysmic collapse by excessive financialisation and at the same time made the collapse even more cataclysmic. As a result, now economists are calling it the 'Great Recession' or the 'Long Depression'.

The outbreak of capitalist crisis in 2007-08 was followed by various spontaneous anti-capitalist movements throughout the world. However, due to the lack of revolutionary subjectivity, these movements ended either in collapse and dispersal or a mere regime change, rather than a systemic change. These anti-capitalist movements and increasing working class militancy along with the increased military interventionism by imperialism and the threat of a major imperialist war (even if not a world war) proves the prognostications of Lenin correct after a century of publication of his 'Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism.' It must be understood that Lenin is not arguing chronologically, but logically when he is talking about Imperialism as the 'highest stage' or 'eve of proletarian revolution'. Crude hermeneutics of Lenin have attempted to misappropriate these statements of Lenin as his unnecessary excursus into the realm of prophecy. However, if one reads Lenin's writings on imperialism carefully, the absurdities of these interpretations become evident.

However, it would be equally dogmatic to argue that there have been no changes in the modus operandi of world capitalism since 1916. Imperialism has undergone profound changes since the end of the Second World War and especially since the early-1970s. The crisis of 1973 marked the end of Fordism, Welfarism and the Golden Era of North-western capitalism. This also marked the beginning of what later came to be known as neoliberalism and globali-sation. These policies were identified with deregulation, financialisation, informalisation of labour, unhindered flow of capital across national boundaries and unprecedented financial integration. The collapse of the namesake "socialism" of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc gave impetus to this process. The extent of financialisation that people are witnessing at present is far beyond anything imaginable in 1916. The integration of world capital markets, the increased dominance of speculative capital, deregulation of labour and capital markets has been unprecedented. And most importantly, this is the era of imperialism without colonies. The national question has largely been resolved, barring a few exceptions. The countries of the so-called ‘Third World’ have undergone the transition into capitalism, albeit, a peculiar kind of post-colonial relatively backward capitalism. It's more than urgent now to analyse the significant changes in the structure and dynamics of Imperialism in the age of Globalisation, which might arguably be called 'the highest stage of imperialism'. Without understanding these important changes, one would not be able to develop the Marxist-Leninist theory of imperialism. Nor will revolutionaries be able to develop the strategy and general tactics of proletarian revolution in this latest stage of imperialism.

In view of these significant developments, it has become essential not only for the revolutionary activists but also for serious scholars and academics to theorise these changes and develop a comprehensive theory of imperialism in the age of globalisation from a Leninist perspective.

Vol. 50, No.19, Nov 12 - 18, 2017