The theory of imperialist capitalism, as is well known, has so far attained its most significant treatment in Lenin’s works. This is not only because Lenin attempts to explain transformations of the capitalist economies that occurred during the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th, but mainly because of the political and historical implications contained in his interpretations. In fact, the descriptive arguments of Lenin’s theory of imperialism were borrowed from Hobson’s analysis. Other writers had already presented evidence of the international expansion of the capitalist economies and nations. Nevertheless, Lenin, inspired by Marx’s views, was able to bring together evidence to the effect that economic expansion is meaningless if we do not take into consideration the political and historical aspects with which economic factors are intimately related. From Lenin’s perspective, imperialism is a new form of the capitalist mode of production. This new form cannot be considered as a different mode of economic organization, in so far as capital accumulation based on private ownership of the means of production and exploitation
From that broad picture of a new historical stage of capitalist development Lenin inferred new political tasks, tactics and strategies for socialist revolution.
The main points of Lenin’s characterization of imperialism that are essential to the present discussion can be summarized as follows:
a) the capitalist economy in its ‘advanced stages’ involves a concentration of capital and production (points that were well established by Marx in Capital) in such a way that the competitive market is replaced in its basic branches by a monopolistic one.
b) this trend was historically accomplished through internal differentiation of capitalist functions, leading not only to the formation of a financial stratum among entrepreneurs but to the marked prominence of the banking system in the capitalist mode of production. Furthermore, the fusion of industrial capital with financial capital under the control of the latter turned out to be the decisive feature of the political and economic relations within capitalist classes, with all the practical consequences that such a system of relations has in terms of state organization, politics and ideology.