By Doug Lorimer

[Talk presented to January RSP Marxism education conference.]

In a December 1915 introduction to Bolshevik theorist Nikolai Bukharin’s book Imperialism and World Economy, Lenin wrote:

“There had been an epoch of a comparatively ‘peaceful capitalism’, when it had overcome feudalism in the advanced countries of Europe and was in a position to develop comparatively tranquilly and harmoniously, ‘peacefully’ spreading over tremendous areas of still unoccupied lands, and of countries not yet finally drawn into the capitalist vortex. Of course, even in that epoch, marked approximately by the years 1871 and 1914, ‘peaceful’ capitalism created conditions of life that were very far from being really peaceful both in the military and in a general class sense. For nine-tenths of the population of the advanced countries, for hundreds of millions of peoples in the colonies and in the backward countries this epoch was not one of ‘peace’ but of oppression, tortures, horrors that seemed the more terrifying since they appeared to be without end. This epoch has gone forever. It has been followed by a new epoch, comparatively more impetuous, full of abrupt changes, catastrophes, conflicts, an epoch that no longer appears to the toiling masses as horror without end but is an end full of horrors.

[Talk presented to RSP Marxist Education conference January 2-5, 2010]

By Allen Myers

The 19th century US writer and humorist Mark Twain said that everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. He was able to make that joke because nobody at that time realised how capitalism was changing the weather. On the other hand, Twain’s remark has an unexpected relevance today: it could be a commentary on the Copenhagen meeting, where hundreds of heads of government talked about the weather but did nothing about preventing further changes.

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