Out of “The Programme of the Communist International - Together with the Statutes of the Communist International”
"The epoch of imperialism is the epoch of moribund capitalism. The world war of 1914-1918 and the general crisis of capitalism to which it led, being the direct result of the sharp contradictions between the growth of productive forces of world economy and the national State barriers which intersect it, have shown and proved that the material pre-requisites for socialism have already ripened in the womb of capitalist society, that the shell of capitalism has become an intolerable hindrance to the further development of mankind and that history has brought to the forefront the task of the revolutionary overthrow of the yoke of capitalism.
Imperialism subjects large masses of the proletariat of all countries-from the centres of capitalist power to the most remote corners of the colonial world – to the dictatorship of a finance – capitalist plutocracy. With elemental force, imperialism exposes and accentuates all the contradictions of capitalist society; it carries class oppression to the utmost limits, intensifies the struggle between capitalist governments, inevitably gives rise to world-wide imperialist wars that shake the whole prevailing system of relationships to their foundations and inexorably leads to the world proletarian revolution.
Binding the whole world in chains of finance capital; forcing its yoke upon the proletariat and the nations and races of all Countries by methods of blood, iron and starvation; sharpening to an immeasurable degree the exploitation, oppression and enslavement of the proletariat and confronting it with the immediate task of conquering power, imperialism creates the necessity for close union of the workers of all countries, irrespective of State frontiers, and of differences of nationality, culture, language, race, sex or profession into a single international army of the proletariat. Thus, while imperialism develops and completes the process of creating the material prerequisites for socialism, it at the same tie musters the army of its own grave-diggers and compels the proletariat to organise in a militant international association of workers.(...)
3. THE FORCES OF IMPERIALISM AND THE FORCES OF REVOLUTION.
Expressing the tendency for unification of the various sections of the dominant class, the imperialist form of capitalism places the broad masses of the proletariat in opposition, not to a single employer, but, to an increasing degree, to the capitalist class as a whole and to the capitalist State. On the other hand, this form of capitalism breaks down the national barriers that have become too restricted for it, widens the scope of the capitalist State power of the dominant Great Powers and brings them into opposition to vast masses of nationally oppressed peoples in the so-called small nations as well as in the colonies. Finally, this form of capitalism brings the imperialist States most sharply into opposition to each other.
This being the case, State power, which is becoming the dictatorship of the finance-capitalist oligarchy and the expression of its concentrated might, acquires special significance for the bourgeoisie. The functions of this multi-national imperialist State grow in all directions. The development of State capitalist forms, which facilitate the struggle in foreign markets (mobilisation of industry for war purposes) as well as the struggle against the working class; the monstrous growth of militarism (armies, naval and air fleets, and the employment of chemistry and bacteriology); the increasing pressure of the imperialist State upon the-working class (the growth of exploitation and direct suppression of the workers on the one hand and the systematic policy of bribing the bureaucratic reformist leadership on the other), all this expresses the enormous growth of the power of the State. Under these circumstances, every more or less important action of the proletariat becomes transformed into an action against the State power, i.e., into political action.
Hence, the development of capitalism, and particularly the imperialist epoch of its development, reproduces the fundamental contradictions of capitalism on an increasingly magnified scale. Competition among small capitalists ceases, only to make way for competition among big capitalists; where competition among big capitalists subsides, it flares up between gigantic combinations of capitalist magnates and their governments; local and national crises become transformed into crises affecting a number of countries and, subsequently, into world crises; local wars give way to wars between coalitions of States and to world wars; the class struggle changes from isolated actions by single groups of workers into nation-wide conflicts and subsequently, into an international struggle of the world proletariat against the world bourgeoisie. Finally, two main revolutionary forces are organising against the organised might of finance capital-on the one hand the workers in the capitalist States, on the other hand the victims of the oppression of foreign capital, the masses of the people in the colonies, marching under the leadership and the hegemony of the international revolutionary proletarian movement.
However, this fundamental revolutionary tendency is temporarily paralysed by the fact that certain sections of the European, North American and Japanese proletariat are bribed by the imperialist bourgeoisie, and by the treachery of the national bourgeoisie in the semi-colonial and colonial countries who are scared by the revolutionary mass movement. The bourgeoisie in imperialist countries, able to secure additional surplus profits from the position it holds in the world market (more developed technique, export of capital to countries with a higher rate of profit, etc.), and from the proceeds of its plunder of the colonies and semi-colonies-was able to raise the wages of its “own” workers out of these surplus profits, thus giving these workers an interest in the development of “home” capitalism, in the plunder of the colonies and in being loyal to the imperialist State.
This systematic bribery was and is being very widely practised in the most powerful imperialist countries and finds most striking expression in the ideology and practice of the labour aristocracy and the bureaucratic strata of the working class, i.e., the social democratic and trade union leaders, who proved to be direct agents of bourgeois influence among the proletariat and stalwart pillars of the capitalist system.
By stimulating the growth of the corrupt upper stratum of the working class, however, imperialism, in the end destroys its influence upon the working class, because the growing contradictions of imperialism, the worsening of the conditions of the broad masses of the workers, the mass unemployment among the proletariat, the enormous cost of military conflicts and the burdens they entail, the fact that certain Powers have lost their monopolist position in the world market, the break-away of the colonies, etc., serve to undermine the basis of social democracy among the masses. Similarly, the systematic bribery of the various sections of the bourgeoisie in the colonies and semi-colonies, their betrayal of the national-revolutionary movement and their rapprochement with the imperialist powers can paralyse the development of the revolutionary crisis only for a time. In the final analysis, this leads to the intensification of imperialist oppression, to the decline of the influence of the national bourgeoisie upon the masses of the people, to the sharpening of the revolutionary crisis, to the unleashing of the agrarian revolution of the broad masses of the peasantry and to the creation of conditions favourable for the establishment of the leaders of the proletariat in the popular mass struggle in the colonies and dependencies for independence and complete national liberation.
4. IMPERIALISM AND THE DOWNFALL OF CAPITALISM
Imperialism has greatly developed the productive forces of world capitalism. It has completed the preparation of all the material pre-requisites for the socialist organisation of society. By its wars it has demonstrated that the productive forces of world economy, which have outgrown the restricted boundaries of imperialist States, demand the organisation of economy on a world, or international scale. Imperialism tries to remove this contradiction by hacking a road with fire and sword towards a single world State-capitalist trust, which is to organise the whole world economy. This sanguinary utopia is being extolled by the social democratic ideologists as a peaceful method of newly “organised” capitalism. In reality, this utopia encounters insurmountable objective obstacles of such magnitude that capitalism must inevitably fall beneath the weight of its own contradictions. The law of uneven development of capitalism, which becomes intensified in the epoch of imperialism, renders firm and durable international combinations of imperialist powers impossible. On the other hand, imperialist wars, which are developing into world wars, and through which the law of the centralisation of capitalism strives to reach its world limit-a single world trust-are accompanied by so much destruction and place such burdens upon the shoulders of the working class and of the millions of colonial proletarians and peasants, that capitalism must inevitably perish beneath the blows of the proletarian revolution long before this goal is reached.
Being the highest phase of capitalist development, imperialism, expanding the productive forces of world economy to enormous dimensions, and re-fashioning the whole world after its own image, draws within the orbit of finance capitalist exploitation all colonies, all races and all nations. At the same time, however, the monopolist form of capital develops increasingly the elements of parasitical degeneration, decay and decline within capitalism. In destroying, to some extent, the driving force of competition, by conducting a policy of cartel prices, and by having undivided mastery of the market, monopoly capital reveals a tendency to retard the further development of the forces of production. In squeezing enormous sums of surplus profit out of the millions of colonial workers and peasants and in accumulating colossal incomes from this exploitation, imperialism is creating a type of decaying and parasitically degenerate rentier-class, as well as whole strata of parasites who live by clipping coupons. In completing the process of creating the material pre-requisites for socialism (the concentration of means of production, the enormous socialisation of labour, the growth of labour organisations), the epoch of imperialism intensifies the antagonisms among the “Great Powers” and gives rise to wars which cause the break-up of its single world economy. Imperialism is therefore capitalism moribund and decaying. It is the final stage of development of the capitalist system. It is the threshold of world social revolution.
Hence, international proletarian revolution logically emerges out of the conditions of development of capitalism generally, and out of its imperialist phase in particular. The capitalist system as a whole is approaching its final collapse. The dictatorship of finance capital is perishing to give way to the dictatorship of the proletariat."