Kautskyism and the Theory of Imperialism

(From  the Evolution of the Social-Democratic Centre)
E. Leikin
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With this essay we continue the series of the Soviet critiques of the social- democratic theories of imperialism which were published in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. At the root of many of these theories was the understanding of
Kautsky. The 20th Congress of the CPSU while raising the flag of Lenin in opposition to that of Stalin adopted theories which effectuated a return to the understanding of Kautsky. Karl Kautsky had argued that with the withdrawal of the imperialist power from its colony the imperialist state was no longer imperialist while the former colony lost its colonial status and became ‘decolonised’. Mikoyan at the 20th Congress of the CPSU lambasted the Institute of Oriental Studies for stressing the decisive role of foreign capital in the semi-colonial and dependent countries in the tradition of Lenin and Stalin. He demanded studies which established the independence and economic development of the semi-colonial and dependent countries. The Institute of Oriental Studies rapidly fell in line and ‘established’ rapid industrial development in these countries. The communist parties around the world were persuaded by these Kautskyiannotions. Whether we look at the ‘communist parties’ in Brazil, Greece, India or others around the world nearly all of them discovered capitalist development and national independence in their countries. Trotskyist theories of imperialism were also based on the theories of Kautsky so that a business merger took place between the Khrushchevite and Trotskyite traditions on imperialism and the colonial question. There have been many localised versions of ‘decolonisation’ theory. In India we have seen the wholesale Kautskification and Trotskification of Marxist-Leninist theory on questions relating to imperialism, industrialisation, capitalism, feudalism and the stage of revolution such as have been pioneered by Ram Nath and the Communist League of India in the 1980s and followed by Sunil Sen and Moni Guha. This two-part essay on Kautskyism and Imperialism may be read in conjunction with the essay of V Serebryakov of 1932: ‘Trotsky’s Theory of Imperialism and the Universal Crisis of capitalism’ (available in the On Trotskyism Archive at www.revolutionarydemocracy.org

Vijay Singh

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