Have you pondered the recent openings of McDonalds in Tokyo
and Moscow, or Disneyworld near Paris? How many people on every
continent drive a Japanese or German automobile with computer chips
from the U.S.? Shoes are made in Brazil, Portugal, etc. Clothes
come from Mexico, Malaysia, etc.
A list of foreign investors and modern capitalistic market
expansion like the above could probably go on almost indefinitely.
However, to understand this modern economic aggression, I may have
some insight to share.
More years ago than I care to mention I was a young graduate
student seeking to understand that which I couldn't understand,
socialism. V. I. Lenin was a socialist revolutionary living in
Switzerland when he wrote a small book in 1917 while in self
imposed exile during the Bolshevik Revolution. I borrowed the
title of his book for this essay.
Basically, this book developed the idea that seemed a logical
consequence of the Malthusian theory developed by Rev. Thomas
Malthus. The Malthusian theory was that as a country became over
populated, economic forces brought pressure on the government and
capitalist powers that be, to look for relief through the
acquisition of its weakest or conquerable neighbor. Adolph
Hitler's 'Lebensraum' is a most glaring modern example. Said
acquisition meant war which meant a reduction in population with
the death of soldiers which also meant a reduction of males to sire
new burdens to the over-population problem. Also Lenin built a
parallel theory which basically said that true~laissez faire (hands
off) capitalism would produce corporations that would compete for
king of the mountain of the economic base of their country. Once
this single corporation had bankrupted or acquired all of its
competitors, then it would control the entire country with the most
powerful weapon of all, money. Lenin seemed to fear the economic
social Darwinism that his generation bantered about. Once this
giant megacorporation had conquered all, stood tall and surveyed
the horizon, it was only natural to say "lets take over our
neighbors so we can have new markets to conquer."
Lenin's thesis was plausible, but if you were to consider the
U.S. as a significant example, this theory begins to break down.
Teddy Roosevelt, after the turn of this century, saw the emergence
of these giant corporations and set out on his trust busting era
which was designed to keep them competing and subsequently at arms
length from a monopoly. Thus, from my perspective, had Lenin
written his little book thirty years earlier, I would have
considered it particularly insightful, but if you look at the U.S.
it seems a thoughtful society will attempt to adjust and correct
for the developing imbalances and abuses in capitalism. The U.S.
today has something of a controlled capitalism as opposed to hands
off, laissez faire capitalism. In fact, not controlling capitalism
is a truly scary thought.
Having the privilege of an additional 3/4's of a century to
look back and gauge the significance of his book, it seems easy to
say that perhaps he had his heart in the right place because he
seemed to want money to serve people rather than people to serve
money and monied interests. But, he was prej udiced in his
objective which left his logic lacking.
Today, however, there is a new dimension to this picture which
seems to totally change the perspective herein developed. The U.S.
and the UN as well as most of this worlds countries at large seem
to want peace. It seems in their best interest to not go to war.
With this outbreak of peace or at least peace movements, perhaps a
good question to ask is, 'Has time and circumstance forced
capitalism to a new era?' If Malthus had some truth in his theory,
then if war is eliminated (for whatever reason) as a possibility
for acquiring desired weal th and resources, then what avenue do you
take to accomplish the standard capitalist goal of profits, wealth
and resources? The answer seems to be market expansion. Look at
the tobacco industry and its market thrust into third world
countries and maybe the biggest market prize of all, China. How
many McDonalds and other capitalist franchises can be found in this
world outside their home based country? Is not that "sucking
sound" ofjobs going to Mexico, etc. founded on the capitalist
profit motive? Not only is the labor less expensive but so is
capital expenditures.
In conclusion, it is obvious that nothing stays the same and
that the evolution of capitalism is certainly at a new level. From
my perspective, I think if anyone was to write a book on this
subject today, it probably should be titled, Capitalism, the
Highest Stage of Imperialism.