Bampanth The Left

The October Revolution and the Survival of Capitalism

(A century and four years have passed since the October Revolution of 1917. Bampanth_The Left deemed it important to republish this seminal article for the benefit of its readers written on the occasion of centennial celebration of this epoch-making event. We will also make its Nepali translation available in near future. -Editor)



The October Revolution was the first revolution in human history that was theoretically conceived, and executed according to a plan. While the February Revolution, like the earlier bourgeois revolutions in England and France, had occurred spontaneously, this was not true of October. At the same time, it certainly was not what its detractors often suggest, namely a mere Blanquist uprising. It was not an uprising of the “revolution is a wonderful thing, so let us have a shot at it” variety. On the contrary it was based on a precise theoretical assessment of the conjuncture, and on a development of this theory to a level where, to borrow Georg Lukács’s words, “theory burst into praxis.”1 It is this theoretical comprehension of the conjuncture underlying the revolution that explains its sweep, the enormous energy it generated, the profound changes it wrought in the world, and the extent to which it threatened the very existence of capitalism. That this threat proved ultimately to be evanescent is because the conjuncture itself got altered in a way which the earlier theoretical understanding of it had not anticipated.

The Worker-Peasant Alliance

This theoretical understanding of the conjuncture developed in stages. Two steps were of particular importance. The first, going back to the early twentieth century, and expressed in V. I. Lenin’s polemic against the “New Iskra” trend of Alexander Martynov and others within the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party to which all of them belonged, was the understanding that in countries coming late to capitalism, the newly emerging bourgeoisie was no longer capable of completing the bourgeois revolution against the feudal order, the way for instance the French bourgeoisie had done in the revolution of 1789.2 This was because in the new situation that confronted it, it was afraid that an attack on feudal property could well rebound into an attack on bourgeois property itself. It therefore tended to make compromises with the old feudal order, which implied that the task of carrying forward the bourgeois revolution, and especially of freeing the peasantry from its feudal yoke, now fell upon the proletariat in these countries, despite its relatively small size and its belated appearance on the historical scene.

This necessitated a worker-peasant alliance under the leadership of the working class. But such an alliance, having carried forward the bourgeois revolution against the feudal order, could not just stop there, with the working class merely reverting to the role of an exploited class within the new, now-unleashed, capitalist order whose unleashing it had itself helped to bring about. The working class, having carried forward the bourgeois revolution, would obviously push on toward socialism in an uninterrupted revolutionary process, during which of course the precise constituents of the worker-peasant alliance would keep changing. As Lenin put it in his Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution (1905), “The proletariat must carry the democratic revolution to completion, allying to itself the mass of the peasantry in order to crush the autocracy’s resistance by force and paralyze the bourgeoisie’s instability. The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution, allying to itself the mass of the semi-proletarian elements of the population, so as to crush the bourgeoisie’s resistance by force and paralyze the instability of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie.”3

This concept of a proletariat-led worker-peasant alliance with changing class composition over time, carrying the democratic revolution to completion and moving beyond it to socialism, was not just a major step in understanding the conjuncture. It represented a fundamental advance within Marxist theory itself in several ways: first, it was a shift in the attitude toward the peasantry, an inclusion of it within the ranks of the revolutionary forces which the working class could lead. The bourgeoisie’s ability to get the support of the peasantry in the French Revolution had stood it in good stead not only at that time but also later, in defeating the Paris Commune (with Adolphe Thiers instilling the fear among the French peasantry, beneficiaries of the 1789 revolution, that an attack on bourgeois property would also entail an attack on petty property); in the new conjuncture, however, the peasantry could become a part of the proletarian camp. Second, this shift in attitude toward the peasantry also made Marxism, till then confined to Europe, a revolutionary doctrine of relevance to the entire world, no matter how limited the degree of its capitalist development had been. And third, the transition through stages to socialism was now the course that all countries in the world had to follow for the liberation of the people. Socialism was not just a matter concerning advanced capitalist countries; it could also be inscribed on the revolutionary agenda of underdeveloped capitalist countries, which amounted to a total rejection of any attempt to reduce Marxism to a “stage theory” where different modes of production had to succeed one another in a pre-determined manner as a matter of historical inevitability. True, the journey of the advanced capitalist countries to socialism could be a direct one, while that of the underdeveloped capitalist countries had to be a prolonged historical transition passing through different phases; but socialism could be the ultimate goal of all revolutionary struggles everywhere.


The second important theoretical step for understanding the conjuncture came with Lenin’s theory of imperialism, developed in the context of the First World War. The fact that centralization of capital in the realms of finance and industry, an immanent tendency under capitalism according to Karl Marx, had led to the formation of monopolies in these spheres, and of a small financial oligarchy that straddled both spheres and controlled vast amounts of “finance capital,” and the fact that it developed a “personal union” with state personnel, exercising control over the state and altering its character, constituted the essence of the new phase of capitalism. In this phase, competition between capitals took the form of rivalries between different monopoly combines, belonging to the different advanced capitalist countries, to acquire “economic territory” across the world at each other’s expense; and in a world already partitioned among them, such rivalry necessarily took the form of attempts at repartitioning it through wars.4 These wars, of which the First World War was an instance, forced workers of these different countries to kill each other across the trenches; they also drew in the oppressed people of the colonies, semi-colonies, and dependencies, as cannon-fodder for promoting the interests of the different financial oligarchies. Capitalism in other words had arrived at a stage where periodic wars for repartitioning an already partitioned world, to reflect the changing relative strengths of the different powers (which necessarily occurred because of the ubiquity of “uneven development” under capitalism), had become inevitable.

This understanding of the latest stage of capitalism, which Lenin, following J. A. Hobson, called “imperialism,” had several implications. First, an important element of Marxist theory had been a recognition that no mode of production got superseded until it had become historically obsolete. Typically, however, this “historical obsolescence” had been defined in narrowly economic terms, in terms of engulfment in a protracted crisis. Eduard Bernstein had asked for a “revision” of Marxism, to substitute an agenda of reforms within the capitalist system for a revolutionary overthrow of it, on the grounds that no such protracted crisis or “collapse” was on the horizon; and Rosa Luxemburg had asserted the revolutionary vision by developing a theory of accumulation of capital that pointed to an eventual collapse of the system. The Leninist argument altered the basis of this debate altogether.5 Capitalism had become historically obsolete, or “moribund” as he called it, because in its imperialist stage it engulfed humanity in periodic and devastating wars. The only choice it offered the workers in the advanced countries was between killing fellow workers across the trenches and turning the guns on the system itself, between “socialism and barbarism” (to use Luxemburg’s words).

Second, it was not the workers in the advanced capitalist countries alone, but the “working people” of the oppressed countries too, who were victims of imperialist exploitation and were used as cannon fodder in these wars, who also underwent a change because of these wars. Their consciousness as well as training (including military training) developed by leaps and bounds because of these wars, and they too rose up against the rule of capital because they too were faced with the same choice, between barbarism and liberation.

Third, not only had the system become historically obsolescent in this general sense, but it had brought a world revolution on to the historical agenda as an imminent phenomenon. The choice between barbarism and socialism had to be made right then, as a practical choice that had been thrust on humanity because of imperialism and its attendant wars.

If the first step in understanding the conjuncture was to see that all countries within this conjuncture had to proceed through various routes toward socialism as a condition for the liberation of their peoples, then the second step in understanding was that their journeys were interconnected, that imperialism had linked them in a chain, whose breaking at the “weakest link” would set off a collapse of the chain altogether. And such a break in the chain was imminent within this conjuncture. A consequence of this understanding was the setting up of an International, the Communist International, the like of which the world had never seen, where delegates from France, Germany, and Britain rubbed shoulders with their comrades from China, India, Mexico, Egypt, and Vietnam.

Understanding the Conjuncture

The view underlying the October Revolution that capitalism had reached a climacteric, that it simply could not go on as before, was shared by many thinkers of the time, including even staunchly anti-communist ones, which suggests that it was a fairly accurate understanding of the conjuncture. Thus, John Maynard Keynes, writing in 1933, had this to say: “The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war, is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous—and it doesn’t deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed.”6 Even Keynes had begun to “despise” the capitalism of that time.

Earlier, in his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace, Keynes had given a vivid description of the disintegration of world capitalism, which Lenin had quoted at length at the Second Congress of the Communist International in 1920 to argue that the time for a world revolution had arrived. As Lenin put it: “If on the one hand the economic position of the masses has become intolerable, and, on the other hand, the disintegration described by Keynes has set in and is growing among the negligible minority of all-powerful victor countries, then we are in the presence of the maturing of the two conditions for the world revolution.”7 The perception of Lenin and the Bolsheviks with regard to the state of world capitalism, of which they considered the October Revolution to be the first significant product, was thus shared by many; and it represented a valid understanding of the conjuncture.

This conjuncture was to last from the run up to the First World War to the immediate post-Second World War years when decolonization began. Among its many features, the key one related to inter-imperialist rivalry. The First World War, the ruthless Treaty of Versailles (whose lambasting by Keynes was highlighted by Lenin), the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, the massive annexationist drives by the fascist countries, and the Second World War, were all expressions in one way or another of a state of acute inter-imperialist rivalry.

Even the survival of the Soviet Union was attributed by Lenin to the fact of inter-imperialist rivalry. In one of his last articles, “Better Fewer, but Better,” he attributed the failure of the joint military intervention by several imperialist countries in support of the Russian counterrevolution during the Civil War to the conflicts between the imperialist countries of the West and the East, and wondered if these conflicts would “give us a second respite.”8

The conflicts between the imperialist countries of the West and the East, and those between the victors and the vanquished in the First World War, which the Treaty of Versailles had exacerbated, reached their climax in the Second World War. However, this climax also marked the end of the very historical conjuncture that Lenin and the Bolsheviks had grappled with, whose theoretical understanding had been developed by them to a level where it had “burst” into the revolutionary praxis of October and the subsequent struggles for a world revolution.

The end of the war saw a great advance of Communist rule; an assertiveness of the working class in the advanced capitalist countries, of which the defeat of Winston Churchill by the Labor Party in the British elections, and the enormous strength acquired by the French and Italian Communist parties were obvious manifestations; and an unprecedented restiveness among the people of the colonies, semi-colonies, and dependencies. Metropolitan capital, weakened and disoriented by the war, was forced to make several concessions, of which the three most significant ones were: decolonization; state intervention in demand management for maintaining high levels of employment, which finance capital, always opposed to such direct intervention and responsible for preventing it in the pre-war years, was nevertheless forced to accept; and the institution of democratic governments formed through elections based on universal adult franchise (which, even in France, came only in 1945).

These concessions created the impression that capitalism had “changed,” that the old capitalism had given way to a new “welfare capitalism.” This idea persisted despite the fact that state intervention to achieve high levels of employment in the United States, the leading capitalist power, took the form of large-scale military expenditure, and also despite the fact that notwithstanding formal decolonization (which itself was often incomplete), metropolitan powers were everywhere reluctant to cede control over third world resources to the new post-colonial states.9 Nevertheless, the perception remained that capitalism had fundamentally changed, because some of the gains made by the workers in the metropolis, and by the people of the third world, were indeed real and substantial.

But alongside these changes, the postwar conjuncture was also marked by something that went beyond what Leninism had visualized, namely a replacement of acute inter-imperialist rivalry by an overarching domination of one power (which some called “super-imperialism”). The fundamental perception of the Communist movement about the imperialist stage of capitalism, on the basis of which the proposition about the imminence of world revolution had been argued, namely that it would be characterized by inter-imperialist rivalry and wars, ceased to be valid in the postwar conjuncture. No doubt the Cuban and Vietnamese Revolutions occurred during this conjuncture, but they were more a belated product of the earlier conjuncture, rather than a specific product of the postwar one.

Nevertheless, this postwar conjuncture itself proved to be only an interregnum. Centralization of capital, the tendency underscored by Marx, led to the formation not just of multinational corporations, but of enormous blocs of finance. These blocs were fed from several sources: through continuous U.S. current account deficits during the Bretton Woods years, when the U.S. dollar was deemed “as good as gold,” exchangeable at $35 for an ounce of gold; through huge petro-dollar deposits after the OPEC price-hike; and through savings pouring in as deposits into the financial system during the prolonged postwar boom that was engineered through state intervention in demand management. Finance capital in this new situation, keen to have the unrestricted freedom to move all over the globe, sought to break down national boundaries. It succeeded in its effort and instituted a regime of “globalization” that, in contrast to the earlier postwar regime, entailed freer mobility of goods, services, and capital flows, including of financial flows, across national boundaries.

The Regime of Globalization

Inter-imperialist rivalry remains muted in the regime of globalization for a further important reason, not just because of the overwhelming strength of one imperialist power, as was the case in the postwar conjuncture, but also because finance capital itself gets globalized and hence opposed to any partitioning of the globe into spheres of influence of particular powers that may hinder its free global mobility.

While this fact of muted inter-imperialist rivalry has been noted by many, they have interpreted it as signifying a vindication of the position of Karl Kautsky, who had visualized the possibility of an “ultra-imperialism,” against Lenin, who had emphasized the existence of a perennial state of inter-imperialist rivalry. This however is erroneous. Both Lenin and Kautsky had in mind a context of national finance capitals, where the finance capital that occupied center-stage was nation-based and nation-state-aided. This is not the case today, when finance capital itself is international, an altogether different entity from the finance capital of which both Lenin and Kautsky spoke. The muting of inter-imperialist rivalry in the era of globalization is not because of a “joint exploitation of the world by internationally united finance capitals,” as Kautsky had suggested, but because of the emergence of an international finance capital.

This fact is also lost sight of in a good deal of the discussion on “multi-polarity.” Here, it is often suggested that in a world where “multi-polarity” appears to be emerging, we may witness a revival of inter-imperialist rivalry. But what such a prognostication misses is that it is not just the political factors that have to be taken into account in this context but also, above all, the economic phenomena that underlie them; and a key element of these economic phenomena is the hegemony of international finance capital.

The fact that we have international finance capital in a world of nation-states, contrary to Keynes’s prescription in the 1933 essay that “finance above all must be national,” constitutes a defining feature of contemporary globalization. This implies that the nation-state willy-nilly has to accede to the demands of finance, for otherwise finance would simply leave its shores en masse to move elsewhere, precipitating a crisis. The fact that no matter what the complexion of the government that the people elect, it must follow the same economic policies, namely those that are favored by international finance capital, in order to prevent such an occurrence, implies a basic undermining of democracy. In addition, however, being caught in the vortex of globalized finance has several important economic implications.

First, it entails a change in the nature of the state. Instead of positioning itself, notwithstanding its class character, as an entity standing above society and apparently looking after the interests of all, the state now becomes more concerned with promoting exclusively the interests of globalized finance capital, on the plea that the nation’s interests coincide with interests of such capital. (Moody’s upgrading of the credit rating of a country becomes a matter of national pride.) A major fall-out of this, especially in a third world context, is the withdrawal of state support and protection from the petty production sector, including peasant agriculture, and exposing the vast mass of petty producers to encroachment by big capital, including multinational corporations.

The anti-colonial struggle over much of the third world had enlisted the support of the peasantry on the promise that the post-colonial regime would protect peasant agriculture from encroachment by big capital, and also from world market price fluctuations; and most post-colonial regimes had in varying degrees protected and promoted peasant agriculture and petty production generally. The beneficiaries of such measures no doubt had been to a much greater extent the prosperous segments among such producers; but the sector as a whole, though subject to tendencies toward capitalist development from within, had been protected from incursion by big capital from outside. The neoliberal state withdraws such support and protection, plunging this vast sector into a crisis. Large numbers of petty producers, and laborers dependent upon such production, either linger on, sinking deeper into misery, or migrate to cities in search of non-existent jobs, or (as is happening in India) take recourse to mass suicides.

Second, there is an increase in the relative size of labor reserves because the increase in labor demand, even with high rates of GDP growth, is not large enough even to absorb the natural increase in work-force, let alone the displaced petty producers. Hence, the real wages of workers, even of organized workers, scarcely increase, despite increases in labor productivity. This raises the share of surplus within the third world, which is saddled with large labor reserves, and hence increases income inequality.

Nevertheless, this is not true only of the third world. Since capital becomes mobile between the advanced and underdeveloped countries, even advanced country workers become subject to competition from the low-wage workers of the third world, and hence to the baneful effects of third world labor reserves that keep these wages low. This means that the real wages of advanced country workers also do not rise (though of course they do not actually fall to third world levels), even as labor productivity rises in these economies. There is an increase in the share of the surplus and hence in income inequality in these countries too as a result. (In the United states, according to Joseph Stiglitz, the real wage of an average male worker has not only not increased between 1968 and 2011, but has even decreased slightly.)10 What happens in short is a rise in the share of surplus in world output.

Third, since the marginal propensity to consume out of wage incomes is higher than that from incomes derived from the economic surplus (which typically accrue to the rich), the rise in the share of surplus gives rise to a tendency toward over-production in the world economy, exactly the way that Baran and Sweezy had argued in the context of the U.S. economy in the 1950s and ’60s.11

Fourth, the capacity of any nation-state to intervene against this ex ante tendency toward overproduction (which, according to Baran and Sweezy, is what the United States had done through larger military expenditure in the fifties and the sixties) is thwarted in the regime of globalization. For state intervention to offset this tendency toward over-production, it must be financed either through a fiscal deficit, or through taxes that fall mainly on savings, which means taxes on capitalists (whether on profits or on capital stock) since their propensity to save is high. But no nation-state in an economy that is caught in the vortex of globalized finance can either run a fiscal deficit (beyond a legislated 3 percent of GDP in most countries), or tax capitalists, for fear of causing an exodus of capital. And the United States, which neither has any “fiscal responsibility legislation” (limiting fiscal deficit to 3 percent of GDP), nor needs to worry about capital flight, as its currency is still considered, even in the post-Bretton Woods world, to be “as good as gold,” is reluctant to run fiscal deficits. This is because in the regime of globalization, in which U.S. corporations have been locating plants abroad to take advantage of low wages, a fiscal stimulus would entail generation of employment abroad, for importing goods into the United States which would raise that country’s external debt.

The tendency toward an ex ante overproduction therefore creates a structural crisis that can at best be restrained by occasional asset-price “bubbles,” but manifests itself when such “bubbles” collapse.12 Thus, the regime of globalization entails growing inequality, stagnating wages, a decimation of petty production causing absolute immiseration of large segments of the working population of the third world, and a tendency toward a structural crisis that can at best be kept at bay through occasional “bubbles,” whose collapse worsens further the conditions of the working people of the world through larger unemployment. Fiscal conservatism acts in the direction of not only accentuating the crisis (since it has a so-called “pro-cyclical” effect), but also effecting cuts in welfare expenditure and the “social wage.”

In contrast to the postwar conjuncture of dirigisme, which had seen a muting of inter-imperialist rivalry together with concessions that capital had been forced to make, thereby creating the impression that “capitalism had changed,” the globalization regime, though it continues to witness a muting of inter-imperialist rivalry, entails a “turning back of the clock” when it comes to the welfare state, the so-called “human face of capitalism,” both in the advanced and in the underdeveloped capitalist economies. The ascendancy of international finance capital, while muting inter-imperialist rivalry, brings to the fore once more the extremely predatory nature of capitalism, the fact that, to use Keynes’s language, “it is not just,” “it is not virtuous,” “it does not deliver the goods,” and it is capable only of being “despised.”

Transcending the Conjuncture

Overcoming the distress of the working people in the current conjuncture requires state intervention toward this end. This in turn requires not just that the state should be sensitive to the plight of the working people, but that it must also have the autonomy from thralldom to the caprices of international finance capital to be able to pursue an agenda that benefits the working people. This autonomy can be achieved in only one of two ways. One is through the coming together of the major nation-states (creating, as it were, a surrogate world-state) that could overcome the opposition of international finance capital to the implementation of an agenda favoring the working people; the other is through countries, singly or as a group, breaking away from the vortex of globalized finance, and putting in place capital controls that would give them the autonomy to pursue an alternative agenda.

Let me elaborate. An increase in the level of aggregate demand is essential to reduce unemployment in the world economy; in the absence of such an increase, any particular country’s trying to raise employment through mere protectionism, such as what Trump is doing, amounts to a “beggar-thy-neighbor” policy, i.e., to an export of unemployment, which would necessarily invite retaliation from other countries, undermining capitalists’ “confidence” further, and hence accentuating overall unemployment and crisis.

But in a situation where, not surprisingly, monetary policy has proved incapable of raising demand, an increase in world aggregate demand can occur only through fiscal means, of which there are only two possibilities.13 One is through a coordinated fiscal stimulus by several major nation-states in defiance of the wishes of international finance capital. But such a move (which incidentally was also mooted in the 1930s by a group of German trade unionists, and also by Keynes) can only occur as a result of pressure exercised by the coordinated struggles by the workers of these countries, of which there is no sign at present.14

The second way to raise aggregate demand (other than by “beggar-thy-neighbor” policies) is for individual countries to delink themselves from the vortex of globalized capital flows by imposing capital controls and providing an expansionary fiscal stimulus to their respective economies through larger government expenditure financed by a fiscal deficit or a tax on capitalists. Since the possibility of forging a worker-peasant alliance that can sustain such a state is far greater within a particular country than across countries, transcending the current conjuncture requires delinking from the existing regime of globalization (the exact extent of such delinking will have to be determined by circumstances).

Of course, transcending the current conjuncture through the building up of a worker-peasant alliance within a particular country (which would typically be a large third world country with sizeable petty production) cannot be the end of the story. Just as, in Lenin’s analysis, the carrying forward of the democratic revolution to completion by a worker-peasant alliance was not the end of the story, as it became part of a process of transition to socialism, likewise delinking from globalization, to reverse its baneful consequences upon the workers and petty producers, by a state based on a worker-peasant alliance, will be part of a transition, through stages, toward socialism.

Transcending the conjuncture, in other words, becomes part of a process of transcending the system itself. Even if perchance the revolutionary forces constituting the worker-peasant alliance become oblivious to this necessity, the opposition of international finance capital to their (apparently modest) effort to transcend the conjuncture itself would (in Marx’s words) “drum dialectics” into them, by reminding them of the need to go beyond the system even for going beyond the conjuncture.

The current conjuncture in short revives once again the relevance of the Leninist agenda that informed the October Revolution, though for reasons that are not identical with the earlier ones. To the peasants’ desire for freedom from the feudal yoke is now added the peasants’ desire (and that of other petty producers of the third world as well) for freedom from the oppression of the neoliberal regime imposed by international finance capital under globalization. The democratic revolution now must encompass delinking from the regime of globalization so that the nation-state acquires an autonomy vis-à-vis international finance capital, which in turn is a condition for any political intervention by a worker-peasant alliance to be effective. Globalization has created both the necessity and possibility of a worker-peasant alliance, and has brought the world to such a pass that the choice is between moving forward through the forging of such an alliance or remaining mired in crisis where finance capital will increasingly rely on the prop of fascism to sustain its hegemony.

However, an important question arises here. While capitalism has once more assumed a form where it deserves only to be “despised,” the muting of inter-imperialist rivalry makes sustaining any effort to escape the hegemony of international finance capital that much more difficult, unlike even in Lenin’s time. Transcending the conjuncture itself becomes difficult in the absence of disunity among the major capitalist powers. Or, put differently, the muting of inter-imperialist rivalry appears to create a “no-exit” situation, where despite the oppressiveness of the current conjuncture any escape from it seems impossible.

While the answer to this question must lie in praxis, what it does suggest is that the preservation of a strong worker-peasant alliance becomes that much more important for transcending the current conjuncture, even though it may make the transition to socialism that much slower. A major cause for the debility of the Soviet Union, which the October Revolution had created, was the difficulty of maintaining the worker-peasant alliance; in fact its rupture through forced collectivization is what left a permanent scar on the new system. That weakness must be avoided.15 The need for delinking from the current regime of globalization is often not appreciated within the left, which makes significant segments of the left, no doubt unwittingly, subject to the hegemony of neoliberalism. Breaking out of that hegemony is the first priority for transcending the current conjuncture.


Georg Lukács, Lenin (London: New Left, 1970).

V. I. Lenin, Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, in Selected Works, vol. 1 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977).

Lenin, Two Tactics of Social Democracy, 494.

V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, in Selected Works, vol. 1.

On this, see Paul M. Sweezy, The Theory of Capitalist Development (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1956).

J. M. Keynes, “National Self-Sufficiency,” Yale Review 22, no. 4 (1933): 755–69.

V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, vol. 3 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), 397.

Lenin, Selected Works, vol. 3, 724.

See Harry Magdoff, “Militarism and Imperialism,” Monthly Review 21, no. 9 (February 1970): 1–14.

Joseph Stiglitz, “Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery,” New York Times, January 13, 2013.

Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, Monopoly Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1966).

This argument has been set out in greater detail in Prabhat Patnaik, “Capitalism and Its Current Crisis,” Monthly Review 67, no. 8 (January 2016): 1–13.

Michał Kalecki had noted the inadequacy of monetary policy for stimulating activity in a classic article, “Political Aspects of Full Employment,” reprinted in Selected Essays on the Dynamics of the Capitalist Economy 1933–1970 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1971).

C. P. Kindleberger, The World in Depression 1929–1939 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1986).

A view, widely prevalent on the left, that contributes to this weakness is that any petty production for the market is a progenitor of capitalism. This is neither theoretically nor historically true. See Prabhat Patnaik, “Defining the Concept of Commodity Production,” Studies in People’s History 2, no. 1 (2015): 117–25.

Monthly Review - 2017Volume 69, Issue 03 (July-August 2017)


About The Author

Prabhat Patnaik is a distinguished Marxist intellectual, Professor emeritus at the Center for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and coauthor, with Utsa Patnaik, of A Theory of Imperialism (Columbia University Press, 2017).


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