Joseph Schumpeter and Lenin’s Theories of Imperialism

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This essay will be discussing Joseph Schumpeter and Lenin’s theories of Imperialism in order to understand how they differ from each other, and what each theorist has to say about reasons for imperialism. The goal of this essay it is to compare both authors, in order to interpret, understand and analyze what Schumpeter and Lenin have to say on Imperialism. This paper will begin by outlining each theorist thoughts on Imperialism, following that, this essay will analyse each theory to give a better understanding of the theories and then finish off by discussing their strengths and weaknesses, as well as a general critic.

The goal of this essay is to develop a deeper understanding of their schools, and theories of learning on Imperialism while further developing a personal understanding of both their strengths and weaknesses. This essay will be offering a critical reflection on Joseph Schumpeter and Vladimir Lenin`s understanding of Imperialism. Joseph Schumpeter understands Imperialism as imperfect and irrational tendency to cause war and to conquer with no real goal or aim. Schumpeter believes that this urge to create war is not innate and came from a time in the past were people were warriors in order to avoid extinctions.

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This mindset to conquer and to war remains even until the present day, but not to the same degree. He also believes that the ruling class sustains and urges along this mentality of war. Schumpeter unlike Marxist did not believe that Imperialism grows naturally out of capitalism. Where there similarities lie is that Schumpeter like Marxists does believe that the idea that class forces play a strong role in Imperialism and his understanding of the class struggle is reflected in his theory on imperialism.

He believe that if the ruling class didn`t sustain conditions to war and conquest, that Imperialism would have disappeared by now. Lenin understands Imperialism to come from monopolies having a concentration of capital, with these monopolies controlled and lead by a small governing group that was only interested in their own gain. He theorized that the concentration in monopolies created inequalities because the general population could not consume all the commodities being created thanks to higher productivity.

Lenin understood Imperialism to be a lack of wealth trickling to the lower class from the higher class, forcing the lower class to depend on the higher class. Because the elite would create their commodities cheaper, they would essentially push out the smaller indigenous industries pushing them to depend on the elite class. As previously discussed, this essay has given a brief understanding of each theorists theory on Imperialism, and in this section, this paper will discuss and interpret their ideas further more. Joseph`s Schumpeter’s theory on Imperialism as a state’s aimless goal towards unlimited war and conquest.

Schumpeter analyses Imperialism from a historical standpoint to more modern times, understanding Imperialism to be shaped by way, monopolies and an irrational tendency towards war by the elites. He believes that as capitalism begins to grow, no social class will desire to expand through war, because free trade will be too alluring a choice over expansion. Finally Schumpeter theorizes that as capitalism begins to modernize, cartels and large finance industries such as banks that have created alliances would `wither and die along with Imperialism.

Vladimir Lenin seems Imperialism as the utter domination of finance capital, the exploitation of other nations as well as the immense accumulation of wealth by a small few countries. He theorized Imperialism as a concentration of capital by the small few which are under the supreme control of oligarchies of financial institutions such as banks. Lenin also understood Imperialism as a special stage of capitalism, and that ultimately capital rich countries would fight over the red vision of the world into smaller monopolies that large oligarchies would control and lead.

This section represents this essays interpretation of each theorist understanding of Imperialism at the core of their arguments. The next section of the paper will critically analyze Schumpeter and Lenin to discuss strengths and weaknesses as well as any similarities and differences found in their respective theories. In comparing the two theorists, Schumpeter believes that the socialist understanding of the Imperialism problem has been the one with the best attempt at a solution. Though he oes agree with some parts of the Marist-Lenin theory, he does not agree that institutions can only be seen through modes of production on solely economic terms and disagrees with Marxian Lenin ideas that modern Imperialism relates to modern capitalistic modes of production. Schumpeter views Imperialism in more psycho-social sphere. This essay’s critic of Schumpeter’s theory will look at his idea that imperfect Imperialism is learnt through watching other states and nations acting in a violent warlike manner.

His idea that this violence and irrational tendency to for nations to conquer is learnt and comes from antiquity where people needed it to survive extinctions; is one this essay believe passes blame. This essay sees Schumpeter’s explanation as a means to justify violent actions, thereby diffusing the blame. This essay finds some weaknesses in Lenin’s theory, and believes that he neglects the fact that when the capitalist core deals with the periphery, it is often done in an exploitative manner.

He fails to mention the fact that this relation between classes in the Imperialist phase isn’t something new and unique, it has been happening for a long period of time. Unlike Schumpeter, the Marxist-Lenin perspective sees Imperialism in the economic sphere, and considers it a necessary stage of capitalism moved forward by the very idea of capitalism itself. This paper has discussed and analysed Joseph Schumpeter’s theory on Imperialism as the aimless goal to conquer and an irrational tendency towards, and Vladimir Lenin’s theory to be a lack of capitalistic wealth trickling down to the periphery, forcing them to depend on the core.

This essay has interpreted and analysed each theorist in order to discuss their strengths and weaknesses as well as to offer insightful critic on their theories of Imperialism. By understanding their ideas on Imperialism, such as its causes and consequences, their ideas can continue to be used contemporarily and furthermore, it can be applied to today’s understanding of Imperialism.

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Joseph Schumpeter and Lenin’s Theories of Imperialism. (2016, Oct 01). Retrieved from

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