Lenin’s Imperialism in Retrospect

  • Mary Holdsworth


This essay attempts to examine Lenin’s Imperialism and his attitude to national problems in the light of modern studies in the politics of development, in particular the conceptual approaches worked out by groups of American and some British scholars concerned with the study of modernisation and development. The reasons which have suggested this study are diverse. One is that the new conceptual approaches widen the range of inquiry beyond the by now very well-studied area of how and why Soviet nationality policies have petered out in a static and uniform system, and stimulate one to ask why this particular legacy of Lenin nevertheless remains a relevant political factor today. It is in this range of political studies that Leninism is most often discussed. Another reason is that the modern functional approach moves away from polarities, both of the established communist/non-communist type, and of the traditional/modern type of thinking, and works in terms of a continuum, with overlapping stages, or of a ‘mix’ which varies in the relative importance of its components but which nevertheless remains a ‘mix’. This methodology and these attitudes seem particularly relevant in approaching the legacy of Lenin.


Conceptual Approach Minority Language British Scholar Political Study Political Messianism 
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  1. 1.
    G. Lichtheim, Imperialism (New York: Praeger, 1971) gives a modern historical analysis, and covers the main interrelated problems.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    D. Apter, Some Conceptual Approaches to the Study of Modernisation (Englew and. Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968 ).Google Scholar
  3. G. A. Almond and J. S. Coleman, The Politics of the Developing Areas (Princeton U.P., 1960) was one of the pioneer books in this field.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    R. Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital, Introduction by Joan Robinson (London: Kegan Paul, 1951).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Herbert Hyman, Political Socialisation (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1959), quoted by Almond, op. cit.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, XXXIX (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1968) 672, quoting Engels’s letter of 12 Sep 1882.Google Scholar

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© Mary Holdsworth 1974

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  • Mary Holdsworth

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