Nowadays, the term “imperialism” is most frequently applied to determine someone’s imperial ambitions, sometimes to describe the United States or European policy, sometimes – to determine the policies of those years that preceded the First World War. And sometimes the “imperialism” is used at all to denounce everything bad on the planet. And everyone uses it with a different meaning, without any scientific definition, and using it casually, as if it was known to everyone. The real significance of the term eludes.
Imperialism can be defined as capitalism at that stage of development, when the dominance of monopolies and finance capital has acquired the outstanding importance of the export of capital, began division of the world by international trusts and ended the period, when the world was divided by the major capitalist countries.
There are 5 main features of imperialism:
- Сoncentration of capital and manufacturing, which has reached such a high stage that it has created monopolies, which play a decisive role in economic life;
- Merger of banking and industrial capital, and creation on this basis of “finance capital”, “financial oligarchy”;
- Unlike the export of commodities, the export of capital becomes of the exceptional importance;
- Formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world;
- The major capitalist powers ended the territorial division of the world.
Banks play an important role in the development of imperialism. It is not a secret, that the basic operation of any bank is being an intermediary in payments. Thus, inactive capital becomes working. With the development and concentration of production, the development of monopolies and their mutual settlements are spreading through the mediation of banks, all large financial flows pass through banks. By collecting all possible revenues, banks turned from intermediaries to the all-powerful monopolists, who control almost all the money capital of the monopolies and small property owners, and so many small banks are transformed into large departments. The point is, that large banks absorb the smaller ones, and so the concentration of capital occurs. Banks, whose main function was to mediate payments turn into large monopolies, completely subordinating all the commercial and industrial operations and begin to dictate their will to all other capitalists. The same situation happens with the bank and industrial capitals. It is worth pointing out that for imperialism financial capital is more typical than industrial.
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The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, especially since the dollar became the world currency – these are organizations that define the way of the development of imperialism. Yes, the IMF, the World Bank and other international financial authorities are trying to dictate their conditions.
Another feature of imperialism is the export of capital. When we claim, that under imperialism the export of capital, as opposed to the export of goods, is particularly important, it does not mean that the export of goods to the dependent countries stops. No, it simply loses its paramount importance, and quantitatively, it may even increase, but it no longer has any independent significance neither for the exporting country nor for importing one. It should be noted, that over the past half-century, even the export of capital (the investment in local production) begins to lose its independent value.
The domestic market, divided among cartels, syndicates and trusts is linked to the external market. Therefore, due to the increasing export of capital and the expansion of colonial ties, it led to the formation of international cartels. Taking into account that the economic foundation of imperialism is monopoly, therefore, imperialism is decaying, congestive stage, since most typical qualities of monopoly are the retention of technical progress, incentives to improve quality and lower commodity prices.
The impact of imperialism on the socioeconomic development of the dependant countries and territories has been controversial. The natural course of events has been broken, the local system of the productive forces in many places eroded, the colonial conquests accompanied with crime and obsession and the subsequent management of the colonizers, forever imprinted in the memory. However, imperialism has shifted a lot of stagnant societies, broke their isolation, introduced elements of the higher economic system, social organization and culture. The world is divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast majority of debtor states. However, there is one big plus of imperialism. Imperialism is the last stage of capitalism, which is inevitably followed by socialism.