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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 12/31/18

Is Russia Imperialist?

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Is Russia Imperialist?

Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarit y


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Russia is said to be an imperialist world power, one in conflict with the imperialist superpower, the US. Russia has been characterized in this manner both during the period of the Soviet Union, and after the Soviet Union collapsed and separate states were formed. Russia has said to be imperialist both when it was a socialist state and now as a capitalist state.

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Russia is also said to be a non-imperial capitalist state, one still struggling to recover from the crisis of the Soviet collapse and the political and economic catastrophe of the Yeltsin years, when it degenerated into a near neo-colonial client looted by the US. [1]

Lenin recognized that modern capitalism "is everywhere becoming monopoly capitalism." [2] "Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the overwhelming majority of the population of the world by a handful of "advanced" countries." [3] This domination of the world by a few imperialist powers is not only the biggest barrier to the economic and social progress of the less developed countries, but to resolving the pressing problems that afflict humanity as a whole and now the planet itself.

Lenin defined modern capitalist imperialism:

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without forgetting the conditional and relative value of all definitions in general, which can never embrace all the concatenations of a phenomenon in its full development, we must give a definition of imperialism that will include the following five of its basic features:

(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this "finance capital", of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed. [4]

In the following we will look at how capitalist Russia today shares in these features by considering the role Russian capitalist monopolies play in the world imperialist system, the nature of Russia's export trade, the export of Russian capital, the world role played by Russian finance capital, and finally Russian military power.[5]

1. Russia's Strength among the International Capitalist Monopolies

Russia's role in "(4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves" can be measured by the country's corporations position among the 2000 most important international corporations.

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Forbes listed the top 2000 corporations in the world based on total sales, profits, assets and market value. Of the top 10 companies, 5 are Chinese and 5 are US. China is home to 291 Global 2000 companies (up from only 43 in 2003).The U.S. is on top with 560. Canada has 50, Australia 39, India 58.

Russia has just 4 in the top 100, ranked 43, 47, 73 and 98. It has only 6 in the top 500, and 25 in the top 2000. Its total corporate share shows a slight declining, not an ascendant trend: in the 2008-2013 period 29-30 Russian corporations Russia made the Global 2000 list.

The 2000 companies on this list account for $39.1 trillion in sales, $3.2 trillion in profit, $189 trillion in assets and $56.8 trillion in market value. Russia's 25 corporations' sales total $568 billion, merely 1.45% of the total. Their collective assets amount to $1,757.3 billion, comprising just less than 1% of the total. Among the international monopolies, Russia is a very minor player.

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anti-war and solidarity activist, of Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee

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