1. Basic Laws and Features of Capitalism and its Development to its Highest Stage - Imperialism
Capitalism arose on the basis of commodity production. In capitalist production relations, a numerically small class monopolizes the most important and largest means of production, thus depriving the proletarians and semi-proletarians -- the vast majority of the population -- the means of production. As a result, they are compelled to sell their labor power to the capitalists, who exploit wage labor to produce commodities for profit and create great wealth for themselves through a planless and anarchic production process. Capitalist relations with the exploitation of wage labor are enforced through the organized capitalist State, the instrument for the suppression of the proletariat.
Driven by its pursuit of profits, the bourgeoisie develops the productive forces on an ever-increasing scale, strengthening and expanding the domination of capitalist relations of production. Concurrent with the development of capitalism is the constant reproduction of all the inherent contradictions of the capitalist system, especially the fundamental contradiction between the social character of production and the private character of appropriation, between the growth of the productive forces and the capitalist property relations.
The private ownership of the means of production and the anarchy of the productive process condition a contradiction between the tendency toward unlimited expansion of production and the limited consumption of the proletariat, which ultimately leads to periodic crises of over-production and mass unemployment for the proletariat. At the same time, private capitalist ownership generates competition within capitalist countries and between these countries in the expanding world market, the latter causing capitalist rivalries that resulted in wars - an inevitable corollary of capitalist development.
Capitalist accumulation of surplus value produced by the proletariat fosters the concentration and centralization of capital, where tremendous wealth is amassed in the hands of fewer people. The law of the concentration and centralization of capital expresses itself in the ruthless struggle against pre-capitalist economic forms. In the sphere of industry, small manufacturers are ruined and eliminated or reduced to auxiliaries of large enterprises. In the sphere of agriculture, a broad section of the peasantry is either proletarianized or squeezed into a subordinate role to big capital.
Hand in hand with the concentration and centralization of capital is the increasing mechanization of both industry and agriculture, which together with the constant improvements of technology result in the rise of the organic composition of capital, accompanied by an ever-higher division, increased productivity, and intensity of labor. These developments translate into the increased employment of female and child labor, as well as the formation of enormous industrial reserve armies, comprised of the unemployed proletariat, the declassed peasantry and the urban petty-bourgeoisie.
Capitalist society becomes crisis-ridden and polarized along class lines. The key polarization occurs between a handful of parasitic, capitalist exploiters and the overwhelming majority of the population. It is caused by a number of factors. These are: (1) the increasing rate of exploitation of the proletariat, (2) the constant growth of social inequality, (2) the intensification of the fundamental contradictions of capitalism leading to crises and wars, and (3) the rising discontent of the proletariat and their growing inclination to unite in struggle against the existing order of things. All these combined with the concentration of the means of production and exchange, the socializing process of labor, and the advance of technology create the material possibility of capitalist production relations being superseded by socialist relations. Such phenomena confirm the theories of Marx and Engels concerning the laws of development of capitalist society and concerning the contradictions of this development that must inevitably lead to the downfall of the whole capitalist system.
Industrial capitalism is characterized by “free competition,” the steady development and expansion of capitalism throughout the world, and the conquest and division of “available” territories, turning them into colonies. However, inherent contradictions of capitalism are continuously replicated, expressing themselves most sharply through the aggression, plunder, and oppression unleashed upon the colonial periphery. Capitalism then transitions to a new stage -- imperialism -- with the ascendancy of monopoly over “free competition,” more spasmodic and turbulent capitalist development, and the struggle among the “great powers” for the re-division of the already divided colonies.
Imperialism grew out of the development of industrial capitalism and its fundamental laws. It marks a new epoch in the history of capitalism, where all of its major contradictions and antagonisms intensify and come to a head. The epoch of imperialism emerged at the turn of this century as the epoch of moribund capitalism. By continually sharpening the fundamental contradiction of capitalism - that between the growth of the productive forces and property relations - imperialism brought on world inter-imperialist war and, as a direct result, the general crisis, thus further conditioning the material prerequisites for Socialist revolution. Imperialism's dictatorship together with its consequents - World War I and the general crisis - exposed and accentuated all of the contradictions of capitalist society, revealed its rottenness, and proved itself to be an intolerable hindrance to the further development of humanity.
Historically, the growth of industrial capitalism, continuously influenced by the law of accumulation of capital and the law of the concentration of production and capital, leads to its development into modern day monopoly capitalism - imperialism, where (1) the concentration of production and capital creates monopolies which play a decisive role in the economic and political spheres; (2) bank capital merges with industrial capital to form finance capital, thereby elevating the biggest bankers and financiers to a predominant position and creating a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital rather than the export of commodities becomes the decisive economic activity of capitalism; (4) national state and international trusts, syndicates, cartels, etc. of the monopolists divide up the world market; and (5) the territorial division of the world by the major capitalist powers is completed.
In the process of industrial capitalism going over to imperialism the tendencies of the finance capitalists and the big trusts to combine and monopolize sectors of the state and international markets exist alongside the growing competition among them. The drive for concentration of capital and production as well as the need to counteract the tendency of the rate of profit to fall compels the monopolies to pursue maximum profits, a pursuit that reflects the fundamental law of modern capitalism, superseding the law of the average rate of profit or even superprofit that had operated during capitalism's industrial era. Compelled by the law of maximum profits, the big capitalists engage in a fierce, inter-imperialist rivalry over markets, raw materials, and spheres of influence throughout the world. This growing rivalry intensifies the contradictions between the bourgeoisie. These contradictions are also aggravated by the law of uneven capitalist development, which now no longer simply operates through the anarchic and spasmodic growth of individual enterprises and branches of industry, as it expressed itself during the 19th century, but through the spasmodic development of entire countries. Once economically less developed countries begin to grow apace with the previous dominant ones, resulting in a constant striving to crowd each other out of markets and to redivide an already divided world. Thus, inter-imperialist antagonisms grow to the point where military force is used in predatory wars of conquest that have no parallel in world history.
As imperialism develops after World War I, the general crisis deepens through definite phases, resulting in far reaching economic and political crises and the intensification of the class struggle between labor and capital. The biggest monopolists of the capitalist countries, who form financial oligarchies, begin to use extreme and extraordinary measures to secure maximum profits and absolute dictate for themselves. In the process, they push both the non-monopoly and the smaller monopoly capitalists into subordinate class positions. Bourgeois democracy, which developed to serve the capitalists as a class, is gradually replaced by state monopoly capitalism, a system characterized by the financial oligarchies' subjugation of the most important sectors of the economy and levers of the state to serve their interests. The oligarchies' unrestricted domination of the political sphere in the major capitalist powers logically leads to more brutal anti-democratic policies of the governments to sustain their tyranny over the entire society; it also results in more aggressive foreign policies of governments to expand the interests of monopoly capital. To cope with the growing economic and political crises fascism is designed and the fascist state is erected by the big bourgeoisie and its political representatives. Through various forms and degrees, fascism carries out a continuously hostile policy against imperialist rivals while it works both nationally and internationally to systematically destroy the vanguard units of the proletariat and peoples and to wage continuous counter-revolution against the struggles for democracy, liberation, and Socialism. Fascism is the response of a dying class to save a system in chaotic decay.
Over the 100 years of monopoly capitalism's existence, its twisted drive for maximum profits has disorganized the economic base and unhinged any rational superstructure of society, deforming the humanistic relationships between man and man while severely damaging the organic relationships between man and nature. Imperialism's destructiveness constantly and increasingly bleeds the workers dry and slaughters them in predatory world wars and local conflicts. Imperialism's destructiveness treacherously or flagrantly crushes democracy, undermines the peoples' social organisms, cultures and progressive achievements, despoils the earth and ravages the health of its inhabitants. Capitalist relations falling into a state of decomposition causes the creative side of capitalism to shrivel and die. Now imperialism completely unbridles its dumb and irrationally violent tendencies to enrich the financial oligarchies and secure their global dictatorship, enslaving the workers and peoples to an increasingly intolerable, inhuman system. In view of these facts, imperialism has proven itself to be the mortal enemy of humanity and of civilization; it has lost its right to exist and must be smashed before it plunges the world further into chaos and catastrophe.