North and south

What is the nature of modern imperialism, asks Michael Roberts, one hundred years after Lenin?

Rise of US imperialism: ‘Panama and yellow fever’ (1904)

Has imperialism changed since Lenin wrote his seminal work, Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism,1 exactly 100 years ago? Two new books on imperialism by British Marxists help us to answer that question. The first, by Tony Norfield (The City - London and the global power of finance, published by Verso Books2), looks at the ‘centre’ of imperialism in the major financial hubs of mature capitalist economies. He analyses the ‘superstructure’ of modern imperialism, if you like. In the second, John Smith (Imperialism in the 21st century, published by Monthly Review Press3) looks at the foundations of exploitation under modern imperialism in the ‘periphery’. These books thus complement each other and offer new insights into the economic nature of imperialism that bring Lenin’s work up to date.


In The City, Norfield emphasises that finance and production in 21st century capitalism are inseparable - “they are close partners in exploitation”. They always were from the beginnings of industrial capitalism, but it is even more the case now. So the view often expressed in Keynesian and Marxist circles that there is a categorical division between finance and productive capital, where the former is ‘bad’ and the latter is ‘good’, is an error that leads to a misunderstanding of the nature of imperialism and the role of financial centres like the City of London.

Norfield reveals that Britain is second only to the US in the importance of its financial sector globally, and in some areas, like foreign currency trading, it leads. Britain has the second largest stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) of nearly $2 trillion, equivalent to 30% of UK GDP. Of the top 500 global companies, the UK was second only to the US, with 34 companies. The UK had six financial institutions in the top 50, compared to the US with 10. And UK bank assets are four times UK GDP - the highest ratio in the world after Switzerland and tax-haven Luxembourg.

The advantages of London as a global financial centre are its central time-zone for financial dealing, the main language of imperialism (English) and the huge back-up in professional services, contrasting with the relative weakness of US money markets and banks that have less global reach.

British capitalism lost its hegemonic status a hundred years ago, but in the post-war period its financial sector has maintained its global role, while its manufacturing base diminished.4 The Eurodollar market in the 1960s and the ‘Big Bang’ of the 1980s, when US banks and foreign banks were allowed to operate without restriction, have preserved the City’s pre-eminence.

Norfield gives a global pecking order for imperialist powers, given a range of criteria (GDP, military spending, FDI, bank assets and FX trading). The US is the hegemonic power, but Britain is second, followed by Germany, China, Japan and France. He makes the point that financial privilege is a form of economic power, enabling imperialist countries to draw upon resources and value created elsewhere in the world. For Norfield, the definition of imperialism follows: the domination by a small number of countries of world markets through their multinational corporations, which can be both making things, providing services and finance, or often all three.

And he recounts the valuable research of some Swiss engineers on how just 147 companies globally control the world (p113).5 Interestingly, the same Swiss researchers have recently published a new report that shows how US and European companies still dominate the levers of financial and corporate power globally,6 with Asia hardly getting a look-in, despite the great Asian ‘production miracle’ of the last 30 years.7 Finance cannot be divorced from productive capital: it is a feature of the modern world economy. That means just looking at the activities of corporations within the nation-state is to miss the real story. As Norfield points out, US corporation revenues from abroad are worth $3 billion a day and total more than the annual GDP of Switzerland.

Norfield points out that banks can create money (p83), so that money can appear to make money “completely independent of capitalist production” (p85). Money dealing and commercial banking are not ‘parasitic’ as such, because they are necessary to lubricate the wheels of capitalist production. But interest-bearing capital (money to make money) is parasitic, as it deducts from the profits of productive capital. And imperialism is interest-bearing capital globalised. Marx connected the phenomenon of money out of money (p90) with his term, ‘fictitious capital’: a claim on the value-creating assets of companies and their future earnings.

Norfield reveals the outdated nature of Hilferding’s classic Marxist account of finance capital.8 Hilferding focused rightly on fictitious capital as a key feature of monopoly capitalism or imperialism, but he considered the banks as the only levers of financial power, whereas in modern imperialism there are many other sectors of fictitious capital. Also, the nation-state now plays a key role in supporting and expanding monopoly capital and imperialist power.

One advantage for modern capital accumulation is that bonds, stocks and derivatives are extremely liquid (easy to buy and sell by the second). But, as Norfield says, fictitious capital does not break the link between the production of value from labour-power or with the value of ‘real’ assets like commodities, plant, equipment, etc: it just ‘stretches it’. The expansion of fictitious capital enables capitalism to accumulate faster, but also to crash further. Indeed, the development of modern finance and the expansion of fictitious capital in all its new forms from the 1980s onward were really a response to the fall in the profitability of productive capital in all the major capitalist economies from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s.

Back in 1916, Lenin described Britain as the world’s largest ‘rentier’ economy.9 That is an old-fashioned French word for an economy based on sucking up ‘rents’ through the monopoly ownership of capital (or land) from the profits of the productive sectors. Both sectors exploit labour, but the rentier economy relies on its financial and legal monopoly to take a share of the surplus value appropriated from labour. This gives British capital its important role in modern imperialism, but also its Achilles heel in any financial crash. British capital would be more vulnerable than most in another global crash.

One of the consequences of Britain’s rentier economy is its ambiguous relationship with European capital - in particular Franco-German capital and the European Union. British imperialist strategists have looked across the Atlantic to the US for partnership in financial power, but also to Europe for trade and investment. The UK is the piggy in the middle between the US and Franco-German Europe.

That ambiguity continually surfaces - in its latest guise, as British capital considers whether it wants to break with the EU or not, given that Europe continues to stutter along in its long depression. Norfield shows why the City of London is overwhelmingly in favour of the UK staying in the EU and opposing ‘Brexit’. The City depends on the free flows of capital between the ‘capital surplus’ economies of the oil and resource producers (Brics) and North America’s multinationals into and out of Europe. That nexus would be seriously impaired if the UK were outside the EU, especially if the EU were to disintegrate itself in the future.

Foundations of exploitation

At the other end of the story of modern imperialism, John Smith starkly reveals the exploitation of billions of people in what used to be called the ‘third world’ and is now called the ‘emerging’ or ‘developing’ economies by mainstream economics. Wage workers in the periphery of imperialism (Smith calls these countries, “the south”) are “superexploited” with wages below the value of labour-power. He gives the example of Bangladesh textile workers: “The starvation wages, death-trap factories and fetid slums in Bangladesh are representative of the conditions endured by hundreds of millions of working people throughout the global south, the source of surplus value sustaining profits and feeding unsustainable overconsumption in imperialist countries ...” (p10). The surplus value created by these superexploited workers is captured by the transnational corporations (TNCs) and transferred through the ‘value-chain’ to the profits of the imperialist countries of “the north” (Apple i-phones and Foxconn):

The only part of Apple’s profits that appear to originate in China are those resulting from the sale of its products in that country. As in the case of the T-shirt made in Bangladesh, so with the latest electronic gadget, the flow of wealth from Chinese and other low-wage workers sustaining the profits and prosperity of northern firms and nations is rendered invisible in economic data and in the brains of the economists (p22).


Smith points out that “about 80% of global trade (in terms of gross exports) is linked to the international production networks of TNCs”. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that “about 60% of global trade ... consists of trade in intermediate goods and services that are incorporated at various stages in the production process of goods and services for final consumption” (p50). Smith argues that outsourcing has been a conscious strategy of capitalists, a powerful weapon against union organisation, repressing wages and intensifying exploitation of workers at home, and has led above all to a huge expansion in the employment of workers in low-wage countries. As Smith quotes Gary Gereffi,

A striking feature of contemporary globalisation is that a very large and growing proportion of the workforce in many global value chains is now located in developing economies. In a phrase, the centre of gravity of much of the world’s industrial production has shifted from the north to the south of the global economy.


Smith exposes the neoclassical view that wages are low in the south because productivity is low there. This view, Smith points out, has

never been systematically criticised by heterodox and Marxist critics of neoliberalism … (and) contemporary Marxist scholarship … with few but important exceptions … [it] is astonishingly indifferent to and accepting of bourgeois economists’ argument that international wage differentials merely reflect international differences in labour productivity.


There is a deliberate attempt by neoclassical bourgeois theory to identify wage growth with the productivity of labour and many Marxists go along with this, because they confuse use-values (the production of things and services) with their value (the prices of production). Instead, “wage differences are significantly affected by coercive suppression of labour mobility - in other words, by a factor that is, on the face of it, quite independent of productivity” (p240). But mainstream economic theory denies this reality. This leads to the idea that workers in China receive their ‘fair share’ in wages, given their productivity level.

Global exploitation

Smith quotes Martin Wolf from his 2005 book, Why globalisation works (Wolf forgets these perceived benefits of globalisation in his later works):

It is right to say that transnational companies exploit their Chinese workers in the hope of making profits. It is equally right to say that Chinese workers are exploiting transnationals in the (almost universally fulfilled) hope of obtaining higher pay, better training and more opportunities.

In contrast to Wolf’s view, the huge low-wage proletariat that has emerged in the last 30 years is the key to the profits of imperialism, transferred from the south to the north. In 2010, 79%, or 541 million, of the world’s industrial workers lived in “less developed regions” - up from 34% in 1950 and 53% in 1980 - compared to the 145 million industrial workers, or 21% of the total, who in 2010 lived in the imperialist countries (p103). For workers in manufacturing industry, this shift is more dramatic still. Now 83% of the world’s manufacturing workforce lives and works in the nations of the global south.10

The world’s “economically active population” (EAP) grew from 1.9 billion in 1980 to 3.1 billion in 2006 - a 63% increase. Almost all of this numerical growth has occurred in the “emerging nations” - now home to 84% of the global workforce, 1.6 billion of whom worked for wages, the other one billion being small farmers and a multitude of people working in the infinitely variegated “informal economy” (p113).

The global proletariat has never been larger in numbers and in its share of the total workforce.11 And yet the share of wages in domestic income has fallen, both in the south and north. According to the International Labour Organisation, since the early 1990s the “share of domestic income that goes to labour … declined in nearly three-quarters of the 69 countries with available information”. The decline is generally more pronounced in emerging and developing countries than in advanced ones. The declines in labour’s share in emerging and developing economies were very steep - falling in Asia by around 20% between 1994 and 2010; moreover, “The pace of the decline accelerated in ... recent years, with the wage share falling more than 11 percentage points between 2002 and 2006.”

This leads to Smith’s main theoretical point and the most contentious. Capitalism started with the exploitation of labour through absolute surplus value (a longer working day) and bringing more people into the workforce. Then, as capitalism developed (as Marx showed for Britain in Capital), it was a rise in relative surplus value that dominated: namely, labour-saving technology is introduced to reduce the value of labour-power in the same working day. But now in the 21st century, Smith argues, the exploitation of the workers of the south is performed not so much through an expansion of absolute and relative surplus value, but rather through driving wages below the value of labour-power (superexploitation).

In Capital, Marx recognised this as being an important form of exploitation of labour, but argued that, even without it, capitalism could exploit labour-power and capture surplus value. Marx considered that, of the counteracting factors to the tendency of the rate to fall for capital, there was not just a rising rate of exploitation or falling costs of technology, or increased foreign trade and financialisation of capital, but also the reduction in wages below the value of labour-power (superexploitation). Marx ruled this latter factor out in his abstract analysis of the laws of motion of capital:

Like many other things that might be brought in, it has nothing to do with the general analysis of capital, but has its place in an account of competition, which is not dealt with in this work. It is nonetheless one of the most important factors in stemming the tendency for the rate of profit to fall (p240).

But now, according to Smith, all three modes of exploitation of labour are operating, with the third being the most significant in the south, Smith argues, because the imperialist north finds this the best and easiest way to capture surplus value there. In Smith’s view, this development has been ignored, missed or confused by what he calls the “Euro-Marxists”, who argue that the workers of the north are more exploited than those in the south because they are more productive.

Smith reckons that this confusion arises because of the use of ‘gross domestic product’ and ‘value-added’ by mainstream economics and is accepted mostly without question by Marxist economists. You see, GDP hides the fact that much of the value in, say, US GDP is not created by American workers, but is captured through multinational exploitation and transfer pricing from profits, created from the exploitation of the workers of the south. GDP confuses value-creating with value-capture and so does not expose the exploitation of the south by the imperialist north:

GDP as a measure of the part of the global product that is captured or appropriated by a nation, not a measure of what it has produced domestically. The D in GDP, in other words, is a lie (p278).

Thus, according to Smith, Lenin’s is still right. There are ‘oppressor nations’ and ‘oppressed nations’ and which is which is not determined by just financial power (Norfield), but also by the superexploitation of the proletariat of the oppressed south on a systematic basis. It was this that was described by Lenin.12 But - as Smith quotes Andy Higginbottom - what is inadequate now about Lenin’s analysis at the end of the 19th century, is not that exploitation is actually less in the south than the north or that there are not really oppressor and oppressed nations any more, but that

Lenin does not theorise imperialism with respect to the rising organic composition of capital or the tendency of the rate of profit to fall ... This theoretical incompleteness in the study of imperialism is atypical of Lenin, and stands in marked contrast with his own economic analyses of the development of capitalism on Russia, which are firmly based on the categories of Capital (p229).13

Oppressor and oppressed

But I have to say that I am troubled by some of Smith’s analysis. First, there are the categories of ‘north’ and ‘south’. Now I know that these are shorthand definitions for imperialist economies/nations, on the one hand, and ‘dependent’ economies/nations, on the other, just like ‘third world’ was. But shorthand terms can cause confusion. For example, obviously Mongolia and Moldova are geographically in the north, but not part of the ‘north’ as Smith categorises it.

And can we be so clear about the division between ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed’ nations? Take the Belgian Congo. In the 19th century, the people there were cruelly exploited and subject to slavery and genocide as a personal fiefdom of King Leopold. Their natural resources were devoured and so were the people. But the Congo was not an oppressed nation, because there was not one nation, but lots of small ‘nations’ or tribes in the region now called the Congo Republic.

For that matter, India was not really one nation when it became a firm colonial possession of British imperialism from the mid-1750s. Indeed, since independence in 1947, it has divided into three nation-states. The people of India were exploited hugely by the British state and its commercial and industrial companies, ensuring that no budding Indian-owned industry could develop. But is India an ‘oppressed nation’ in that sense now, when it is a nuclear power, has major industries under local ownership and the state machine?

Yes, the foreign multinationals of the north flourish in India, but so do domestic capitalists - big time - in the exploitation of the urban workforce and capitalistic farm production from tenants on the land. Some of the top local bourgeois have become international players - billionaires living in the north. And India has imperialist ambitions of its own in Nepal, Bhutan, Kashmir and even Burma. It is not all black (north) and white (south). Brazil too fits into this category of local bourgeois development alongside the multinationals of the north.

‘Oppressed nations’ like Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia or Taiwan now export not just goods (cars, phones, tablets, TVs, etc) for profit, but also capital into the rest of Asia and Europe. And they use cheap labour in China, Vietnam, etc. Indonesia was an archipelago of nations owned by the Dutch. After independence, the Indonesian state in Java brutally suppressed smaller islands like East Timor and New Guinea. Is Indonesia an oppressed nation or an oppressor? And is China an oppressed nation facing imperialism, when its cheap labour force (increasingly less so) is exploited in the same way by Chinese capitalists and state industries, and not just by foreign multinationals?

Take Greece. It was increasingly dominated by Franco-German capital in the euro zone, which eventually brought the economy to its knees in the crisis. But Greek oligarchs also operated in shipping, pharma and mining to exploit Greek workers (of whom some were superexploited). And Greek capital has always harboured its own imperialist ambitions in the Balkans in rivalry with Turkey. Or Ireland, which is highly dominated by American multinationals, which take out a sizeable part of value created by Irish workers every year. Yet Irish capital has also built ‘nationalist’ financial and pharma sectors.

So are these examples of oppressed nations or oppressor nations? Sometimes the oppressed is also the oppressor. There is some ‘north’ in the ‘south’. From an economic standpoint, imperialist domination means the appropriation of wealth and surplus value from other national economies. But imperialism is an articulated structure, from the dominant imperialist countries to the dominated ones. The dominated ones are in their turn dominant vis-à-vis other countries.

Smith reckons that Marxist economists of the north, in debating the role of Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, make no allowance for international variations in the rate of exploitation, nor for changes in the organic composition of capital (technology to labour). Well, it may be true that Marxist economists like myself have “ignore[d] the fact that a substantial part of the surplus value that is captured by firms in imperialist countries and realised as profit was extracted from workers in low-wage countries” (p248). But we debaters have not ignored global movements in the rate of exploitation. Indeed, one of the features of the post-1945 period is that the rate of surplus value has risen in the major economies while the rate of profit has fallen (on a secular basis). In my own work, I have shown this to be the case in the US14 and also in recent work on a world rate of profit that included the economies of the south in the G20 nations like Brazil, Russia, China and India. Esteban Maito has done similar work with similar results.15

Indeed what these works show is that, although the level of rates of profit are higher in the south, they too have fallen despite rising and higher rates of exploitation, whether caused by absolute surplus value, relative surplus value or superexploitation.16


Indeed, I am not sure that Smith has proved that ‘superexploitation’ is the dominant characteristic of modern imperialism. As he shows, imperialism of the 19th century also relied on superexploitation of the masses in the colonies (to the level of slavery) and that, in the industrialisation of imperialist countries like Britain in the late 18th and early 19th century, driving wages below the value of labour-power was a powerful factor in the exploitation of labour (see Engels on The condition of the working class in England17).

For that matter, superexploitation is visible in the imperialist economies too. ‘Zero-hour’ contracts, where workers are at the beck and call of employers at all hours for minimal pay, now affect two million workers in Britain. Across southern Europe, where youth unemployment rates are around 40%-50%, young people are forced to live with their parents and earn pitiful amounts in low-wage retail and leisure jobs. And the data show that poverty has risen for the bottom 10% of households since the 1980s in the north (including the US).

The other side of the coin is that, alongside superexploitation, there is also exploitation of the proletariat of the south through absolute surplus value and through the latest technology to save labour (relative surplus value), just as there was in the development of industrial capitalism in the 19th century onwards. Foxconn may superexploit its workforce, but it also employs the latest technology. This is a feature of what Trotsky liked to call the ‘combined and uneven development’ of capitalism in the imperialist epoch.

That brings me to the question of whether imperialist domination in the 21st century is mainly through ‘superexploitation’ of the workers of the south, rather than mainly through the usual methods of exploitation (absolute and relative surplus value) that Marx concentrated his analysis on in the 19th century. The fact that the level of wages or hourly compensation is way lower in the ‘south’ than in the OECD countries does not prove ‘superexploitation’. There could be confusion here between exploitation and poverty. Exploitation is not given by wage levels, but in Marxist terms by the ratio of surplus value or profits to the value of labour-power or wages. Lower wages may mean higher exploitation, but not necessarily so - and lower wages may mean ‘superexploitation’, but not necessarily so.

Indeed, superexploitation is a term that must relate wages to the value of labour-power. But the latter is set by a ‘socially accepted’ level of wages, the length of the working day and intensity of labour. And that is decided by the class balance of forces in each country. In one national economy, there can be different levels of exploitation: ie, different wage levels, different intensities of labour and different lengths of the working day. In this case, superexploitation comes with lower wages relative to those segments of labour that are paid the wage deemed socially necessary for the reproduction of the working class in that national economy.

But what holds within a country does not hold between countries. Different countries have different ‘socially accepted’ parameters. So I do not think it is correct to talk of ‘superexploitation’ internationally, of labourers in the north relative to labourers in the south, simply because wages in the latter are lower than in the former. There is no level of wages socially accepted as ‘normal’ by all nations. That does not mean that ‘superexploitation’ in many countries of the south might not be the main form of exploitation. But the level of wages in these countries compared to those in the north does not prove that. There is not one ‘value of labour-power’, as set by the north.

Of course, imperialism also involves monopoly as well. In this case, that means controls and tariffs on the trade of the weaker capitals, the might of financial firepower for the dominant capitalist economies; and the restriction of labour flows from the poor to the richer countries (witness the current migrant crisis - this could boost growth and profits, but lower wages, in the north, as a sort of ‘in-sourcing’). Monopolistic structures are another way of transferring even more value from the south to the north, but it is still the same process value transfers from capitalists to capitalists, not from workers to workers. Marx’s law operates in a monopolistic market, as in non-monopolistic markets.

However, there is no pure monopoly over technology, finance and markets; it is really an oligopoly. So some northern multinationals, attracted by the superexploitation in the south and the potentially higher rate of profit, may set up with the latest technology to compete against other northern multinationals and southern capitalists. And some southern capitalists may gain access to finance and new technology to compete too. That will start to drive up the organic composition of capital and lower the rate of profit. Superexploitation may continue, but Marx’s law of equalisation will still operate and rates of profit will fall.

This transfer of value through the market for capitalists does create the “illusion” that Smith refers to. The price of output (GDP) in the north is higher than it would have been without the transfer of value from the south. For example, US corporate profits were $2.1 trillion in 2014, but $418 billion came from profits derived from “the rest of the world” (although this includes those from the other imperialist economies of the north) - nearly double the ratio of the early 1980s. And probably even part of the ‘domestic’ profits will be due to transfer pricing accounting with subsidiaries in the south. Gabriel Zucman has shown that around $7.6 trillion is hidden in tax-haven accounts around the world - a stock of value captured and hidden by multinationals operating in the north and south18. Oxfam reckons 30% of Africa’s wealth is held offshore.

Superexploitation can be important, but I would submit not in all cases, not always for long and not just in the south, as compared to the north. That is because, when wages are forced below the value of labour-power and are held there for some time, that can change the value of labour-power itself (which, remember, is a socially as well as physically defined category). When wages fall below the value of labour-power and are each time in the succeeding production process kept lower than the value of labour-power, this eventually becomes the new standard of living for labour and so the value of labour-power falls. The lower wage becomes the money manifestation of the new value of labour-power and ‘superexploitation’ disappears! That is because the value of labour-power and thus the rate of exploitation is codetermined by the power relations between capital and labour.19

Cause of crises

Smith firmly dismisses the idea that is prominent among mainstream and heterodox economics alike, that the global financial crisis and the great recession were financial in origin. Alternatively, he suggests that the crisis was only postponed by imperialist combines shifting to the south because of “overproduction” in the north.

But was it “overproduction” in the north that led to superexploitation of workers in the south and lay behind the great recession and global financial crash? The concept of overproduction covers a multitude of sins.20 In Marx, overproduction of commodities is the result of over-accumulation of capital, but over-accumulation of capital is the result of falling profitability and profit (absolute over-accumulation). Using the term ‘overproduction’ does not get to the heart of the causes of the global crisis. It hides away from the ultimate contradiction between an expansion of use-values that people need and the profitability of capital. It is the tendency for profitability to fall as capital accumulates that drove capitalists in the imperialist north to ‘outsource’ and to exploit the huge, growing labour force of the south (including through superexploitation).

Capital in the north restored much of the fall in its profitability suffered during the 1970s on the back of the exploitation of the south, globalisation: “surplus value extracted from these new legions of poorly paid workers helped to dig the capitalism system out of its hole in the 1970s”. Increased debt, as Smith notes, added to the final crisis, so that it took a financial form. As Smith says,“Exponentially increasing indebtedness succeeded in containing the overproduction crisis, but it has brought the global financial system to the point of collapse.” For this sentence, take the word ‘overproduction’ out and replace with ‘profitability’.

There may well be more room for imperialism to exploit the proletariat globally and so counteract falling profitability again, for a while. There are still reserve armies of labour from the rural areas in many countries to be drawn into globalised commodity production (and, yes, often at below-value wages). But there are limits to the ability of imperialism to raise the rate of exploitation indefinitely, not least the struggle of the burgeoning proletariat in the south (and still substantial numbers in the north).

Marx’s law of profitability has not been and will not be counteracted indefinitely, even with superexploitation. The law of profitability and the struggle of the global proletariat are the Achilles heels of imperialism.


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4 . “Great Britain,” says Schulze-Gaevernitz, “is gradually becoming transformed from an industrial into a creditor state. Notwithstanding the absolute increase in industrial output and the export of manufactured goods, there is an increase in the relative importance of income from interest and dividends, issues of securities, commissions and speculation in the whole of the national economy.” Quoted by Lenin.

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9  . “The income of the rentiers is five times greater than the income obtained from the foreign trade of the biggest ‘trading’ country in the world! This is the essence of imperialism and imperialist parasitism … For that reason the term ‘rentier state’ (Rentnerstaat), or usurer state, is coming into common use in the economic literature that deals with imperialism. The world has become divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast majority of debtor states.”

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12  . “The imperialism of the beginning of the 20th century completed the division of the world among a handful of states, each of which today exploits (in the sense of drawing superprofits from) a part of the ‘whole world’ only a little smaller than that which England exploited in 1858; each of them occupies a monopolist position in the world market, thanks to trusts, cartels, finance capital and creditor and debtor relation.”

13  . “The need to export capital arises from the fact that in a few countries capitalism has become ‘overripe’ and (owing to the backward state of agriculture and the poverty of the masses) capital cannot find a field for ‘profitable’ investment.” This is as far as Lenin gets on this point.

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19 . See K Marx Capital Vol 1, pp522-23.

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