English · Português
ISSN 0102-8529 (Impresso)
1982-0240 (Online)
PUC-Rio - Página inicial Instituto de Relações Internacionais Revista Contexto Internacional

Vol. 40, N° 1, Jan/Apr, 2018

Imperialism and the Question of System Stability

Marcelo Fernandes


One of the main controversies within the Marxist theory of imperialism centres on the capacity of the capitalist system to organise itself economically and politically. Ultimately, this argument is linked to the notion of system stability: the end of economic crises, and lasting world peace. The famous polemic between Lenin and Kautsky in the early 20th century about whether capitalism could be peacefully managed by the great powers and private corporations that compete for global wealth persists in much of the current debate. Some authors emphasise economic stability, while others highlight political stability, using terms such as globalisation, transnational capital and Empire, but the central idea remains that of a more disciplined capitalist system. This implies that the Marxist concepts of interstate competition and imperialism have become outdated. This article examines the Marxist literature on imperialism which holds that capitalism has become more organised, to the point of overcoming the rivalries between the great powers. It concludes that the argument that capitalism has reached a degree of organisation which invalidates the concept of imperialism is questionable and does not recognise some fundamental features of the capitalist system.

Keywords: Imperialism; Stability; Organised Capitalism; Transnational Capital; Lenin.

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